SAM THE MAN: The creator of Dispatch Me Home is hoping the tale of a gentlemanly trucker will eventually hit the big screen.
Do you think it’s time for another trucking movie? Writer Greg Martin thinks so and he’s got a story that he thinks is a winner.
Dispatch Me Home is a narrative of the North American truck driver, embodied in the figure of Sam (the Man) Morris, an independent truck driver making his way across the US one last time. Not surprisingly, his truck Chloe (a 1986 Freightliner XL) is his closest companion. According to the author, “Sam the Man is a gentleman trucker who’s walked the walk for 40 years.”
He’s feeling his age, and so is his truck. In one chapter Sam even turns down a heavy load over some mountains because he doesn’t want to embarrass Chloe.
We all know drivers like Sam, what Martin calls the last of a dying breed.
He’s from the old school and believes strongly in hard work and fair play.
He wouldn’t hesitate to assist a broken down motorist or help change a flat tire -courtesies that have been lost in the modern world of just-in-time freight and computer-controlled dispatches.
“This is a man who embodies all the best qualities of this great profession,” says Martin. “The times call for a feel-good story about someone we can all relate to, someone who’s made a decision in life and done it his way. He set the bar for other drivers whether he knows it or not.”
Sam runs into adventures on his way across the States: encountering old friends and drivers, reminiscing about old times, and even gives advice to a young driver still wet behind the ears.
Sam has decided to hang up his keys and put Chloe up on blocks at his sister’s place in Washington State. It’s time, he figures, “to leave the good dispatches for younger drivers.”
Author Martin is no stranger to the world of trucking.
The writer began his career as a swamper for Mayflower Lines in Indio, Cal.
Later, he became a motor transport officer in the US Marine Corps, and spent some time working with a fleet of trucks in waste management.
To sell the project to Hollywood, Martin has enlisted voice-over artist Troy Duran and has posted a very sophisticated audio storyboard on the Internet ( www.dispatchmehome.com)where you can sample a few chapters.
As expected, the narrative is spiced with lots of trucking music from Dave Dudley to Alabama to Bob Seeger.
It’s also fun to speculate about who would play the lead role. Martin consulted various Web site forums including Women in Trucking and came up with a short list that includes Kevin Costner, Harrison Ford, Sam Elliot, Tom Sellick, Ed Harris, Bruce Willis, and Sam Shepard. What he’s looking for is someone in his early sixties who could best fit into Sam the Man’s cowboy boots.
“What about Clint Eastwood?” I ask Martin on the phone from his home in the San Francisco Bay area. “I think he might be a little too old,” he says. Even the name Billy Bob Thornton comes up, who Martin admits might be perfect for the part.
A couple of recent documentaries like Drive and Deliver (a film made by International to showcase its LoneStar tractor), and Big Rig, have missed the mark, Martin thinks.
“What’s important,” he says, “is to spotlight the industry in a good light and present a positive stereotype. There are a lot of career opportunities in trucking for hard-working men and women, it’s an opportunity to become your own person.”
Martin knows he has something good here that could go in many directions. It could spawn a truck radio serial, a book, or even a compilation CD of the great music he wants to include.
But most importantly, he believes a feature film is just waiting to be made.
So here comes the pitch: Martin needs about $35,000 to finish the script and secure the music rights. When that’s accomplished he’ll tuck the screenplay under his arm and take it to the major studios.
“My hope is that some gentleman or lady who’s been in the trucking industry will read about this and will want to get involved,” he says.
-For more on this topic as well as Harry’s thoughts on ‘Trucker as an anti-hero’ check out his blog on Trucknews.com.
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