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Between The Flames

Wildfires are the least of her worries, when a college athlete lands a job on a Hotshot Crew in the 80's where she meets her best friend plus two love interests who want her for very different agendas during an intense drought year.

A college (start of summer break) introduces us to Nicki; (20) athletic, independent yet clueless to her sexuality as she departs for a new job. Her journey takes her through wilderness that turns into bland juniper/sagebrush terrain that surrounds a logging town. Stopping at a gas station market for groceries, Nicki runs into a handsome, 25 year old cad, named Sam who buys beer for an admiring 17 year old townie, and ingratiates himself in Nicki's mind yet also spikes her curiosity when she realizes his jeep is parked in an apartment near her. Watching Nicki drive past Sam's apartment then turns to park next to her apartment, is Alex, a 26 year old superwoman, Nagel epitome who mistakes Nicki for an out Lesbian and asks her out for a beer. Clueless, Nicki accepts and finds herself flustered and inspired by Alex's confident air.

Parking in a forest service lot for her first day of work, Nicki meets Karen (23) athletic, gregarious, black and stylish and they form an instant friendship as Hotshot rookies. While looking for their warehouse, they stop at a fancy large shed with fire trucks and meet two forest service regulars who inform them that their Hotshots are the psychos based in a dilapidated old cabin. Moving on, Nicki and Karen enter the cabin and their new summer job as wild land fire-fighters.

The Vets wear their crew shirts, distinguishing them from the obvious rookies. Sam hangs in the corner with Chris, (23) a low key type and MITCH,(24) a big man (handlebar mustache) to check out the rookies and finalize a bet that involves him bedding a female rookie which happens to be Nicki while Mitch bets Alex will win after overhearing a private conversation that she asked Nicki out. After an incident last year, Chris refuses to take part in the bet and sets his sights on pursuing a relationship with Karen. Upon noticing both Sam and Alex (who is a squad leader) Nicki realizes the summer might more interesting than expected. Wayne ( a fair but by the book crew boss) introduces himself to the rookies, along with his assistant Tom (an intense type). At the end of the brief meeting, Karen, who needs a place to live is invited by Nicki to be her roommate since she has an extra bedroom.

A two week session of hell starts with a two mile run, where Sam tries to charm Nicki but fails then reveals to her that Alex is a Lesbian and has a crush on her which surprises Nicki. After a tortuous round of progressives led by Tom, Nicki ends up missing a crew intro party after falling asleep while waiting to shower. Karen wakes her the next morning but they end up being late and paying the price along with the crew. That afternoon, the rookies learn to dig line in the burning sun which tests their stamina and eliminates the two weakest crew rookies.

Two weeks later, Karen and Nicki are full fledged hotshots and sport their crew shirts. By this time, Karen and Chris are dating while Alex and Sam continue flirting with Nicki for their individual goals. However, Nicki is curious about Alex and asks her to go out for the before asked beer. Sam finds out and is determined to undermine the date and gets his wish when the crew is paged to a B.L.M. fire. During the fire, Karen and Nicki learn to mop up and unroll hose then get to work their own section through the night. Alex spends the midnight lunch break with Nicki and tells her about her first love and a recently ended a disastrous relationship with a woman named Greta (a local musician control freak) before leaving to help the sawyers. By morning a freezing Nicki, joins the rest of the crew at the one remaining burning log to warm up and accepts the invitation to the crew drink up instead of the beer with Alex. Later at the bar, Sam calls Greta who shows up and kisses Alex in front of Nicki. Jealous, Nicki decides to go home with Sam and kisses him in the parking lot which Alex notices while talking to Greta in her car. However, before Sam and Nicki can enter his apartment their fire pagers go off. Relieved, Nicki departs to get her gear.

Thinking that Nicki is playing games, Alex avoids her during travel to their fire which makes Nicki think her and Greta got back together. The next fire is in a jagged steep wilderness that requires a helicopter drop off to a line of thick sod. While the sawyers fall and easily limb trees the line crew struggles to make progress until Alex and Tom inspire them to try harder. While finishing the first day, Nicki nicks her leg with a Pulaski and tries to hide it at fire camp. But Alex discovers it, bandages it and fails to hide her irritation. Sam stays close and uses it to his advantage but Nicki is heartbroken and hangs with Karen and Chris. After days of line work, snow falls on the crew overnight as they come close to finishing the line. After the snow burns off in the afternoon, a plane drops slurry on the line crew as they tie into a climbable cliff. Tom asks Nicki and Alex to clean needles off the crevices and Karen to finish the top as the crew finishes the line. Hampered by the slurry, Alex slips and almost falls of the cliff but is rescued by Nicki and Karen. Lightened by the event, Nicki tells Alex she didn't sleep with Sam and Alex tells Nicki that her and Greta are over. They decide to see each other after they get back and keep their feelings on the down low until then as they finish the back burn and after their next fire, this time in California.

The plane ride to California goes awry when the plane lands, wheel up and jars the sleeping crew. A bus picks them up and drops them in a deserted park. Trying to get a good night of sleep the crew is abruptly waken by trucks, port a potties, buses, generators and more crews arriving. Wayne leads them to the end of the park with less chaos then they board a bus which takes them through a town evacuation, and a scary fire column. The bus drops them off at a heli-port located in a poorly chosen area. While waiting to see if they will fly Mitch talks Karen and Nicki into trying chewing tobacco, whoever when Howard takes too much and pukes, they remove it as the helicopters and crews desert the pad due to high winds and the fast moving fire.

While waiting the next day at a new heli-port, Nicki, Alex, Karen and Wayne notice the pilot delaying the final flight. The Heli-port boss throws a fit and tries to bully them onto the ailing helicopter but Wayne refuses. Another Crew Boss makes his crew members fly in it - it crashes. However, work continues on a new line where this time the Sawyers are overworked with the brush and the line crew has it easy. Nicki has to help Sam's team swamp and he tells her Alex is lying to her about Greta. At dinner, Nicki tells Chris, Karen and Alex about the conversation and Chris tells them about the bet then agrees to testify to Wayne, mostly because his last bet ended in the crew member committing suicide. They decide to tell Wayne after the back burn since all hands are needed.

The back burn goes according to plan until they get midway down the hill and the Burn Boss halts the burn to test out a theory. Wayne confronts the Burn Boss but realizes he is outnumbered by another crew agreeing. After the burn boss leaves, Wayne warns Tom and tells the crew where their safety zone is. Concerned about the middle zone, he is re-assured by Alex who tells him she has the fastest runners if it goes. He reluctantly returns to the top as they start burning. However, just like Wayne's warning, the winds blow the fire across the line and the bottom is lost. Code Rabbit is called and everyone runs to the zone except Nicki who waits to make sure Alex makes it. Alex yells at Nicki to run as the fire ROARS up the hill and covers everything in darkness.

The fire burns out quickly due to the already burned sections and the middle zone is unusually quiet....the fire shelters appear lifeless......until one of them moves and Chris looks at the desolation and gives the ALL CLEAR. Howard crawls out followed by Karen who hugs Chris and they declare their love for each other. Nicki crawls out and tells them to "get a room" then looks for Alex as Sam crawls out of his bag (everyone ignores him)....a lone bag near the entrance looks parched and Nicki goes to check it out. Alex slowly crawls out, her face showing signs of heat, but she is okay...Nicki helps her up, they hug then kiss....After the kiss, Alex tells Sam to pay Mitch then informs him his hotshot career is over. Sam, looks at the desolation, decides he's finished and departs down the hill, alone...

Written by:
Starring Roles For:
Miley Cyrus
Brie Larson
Tessa Thompson
In the Vein Of:
Only The Brave
Author Bio:
I love the movies so when my high school drama teacher suggested I write instead of act (I kept changing the lines) I took her advice. However, back in the eighties, it was hard to get a screenplay read so I took a break to gain true life experience by writing a small town golf column, fighting wildfires, trying every sport imaginable, working in an ER, boating, playing drums in several bands and oil painting until I realized what was missing and that was my original passion with screenwriting so I started again and this time, I'm here to stay.

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Contest Results:
LGBTQ Screenwriting (Third Place, LGBTQ Unbordered International Film Festival) [2021]
Artemis Festival (Finalist) [2021]
ISA Fast Track (Quarterfinalist, Second Rounder - Fellowship) [2022]
Go Pro!