LaPlace screenwriter puts new spin on horror genre

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 27, 2011



LAPLACE – While working overseas as a medical safety supervisor, LaPlace resident Jim Jackson often spent much of his off time writing various stories with the hopes of one day compiling them into a screenplay.

“Every now and then I would jot down an idea or two and string them together,” Jackson said. “It has always been a real passion of mine.”

One of those stories follows a group of teenagers growing up in the 1950s, something Jackson knows a thing or two about.

“I grew up in the ‘50s, it was a fun time for me,” he said. “The greasy hair styles, the constant sense of braggadocio among the boys, it was all the things I latched onto and piled into this story. Characters and clothing descriptions similar to the film ‘Grease’ because ‘Grease’ got it spot on.”

Jackson’s story has now developed into a screenplay called “Jerome High’s Scream Team” that is currently in production. Scenes were recently filmed on the north shore in Madisonville, and more are scheduled at various locations on the south shore in the coming weeks.

Jackson explained the story sends five nerdy high school students in a strange hallucinogenic trip after they eat a pizza containing psilocybin mushrooms. The teens, Greg, played, by Wes Lagarde; Susan, played by Michelle West; Maryanne Fowler, played by Claire Garrett; Doug, played by Zac Waggener; and Martin, played by Jay Rome, are forced by their English teacher, played by veteran actor David Joseph Martinez, to write a screenplay over a weekend in order to graduate. The five gather at a farmhouse, and while there dine on the pizza containing the “silly shy ben” mushrooms.

After eating the pizza the five become caught in a horrific thunderstorm and confused and find themselves in a Gothic church and graveyard where they meet up with the devil himself.

“Suddenly things are not as they seem,” Jackson said of the plot.

Not sure if what they experienced was real or imagined, the five end up writing the perfect screenplay and go on to be Hollywood screenwriters.

“It has a very strange ending,” Jackson warned. “I don’t want to say much more, but I really think you will be surprised the way it turns out.”

Although it is a rather low-budget production, Jackson said the work of the producers has made the film into something that look much more refined.

“We have a very talented cast and a great crew,” he said. “The scenes filmed in Madisonville went extremely well, and everyone was having fun with it. The finished project will be something really nice.”

Jackson said “Jerome’s Scream Team” is one of three of his works he is fashioning into a screenplay. One is an action film based on a terror attack, and the other is a comedy set in the Australian outback in the early 20th century.

Jackson said he attributes his fountain of ideas to his strong imagination.

“There is something to having a strong imagination,” he said. “It isn’t as valued as it should be. That is one of the themes of the film. It is all about imagination.”

Suzanne LeBreton of Pontchartrain Newspapers contributed to this story.