"Rarely does one encounter a script with this much genuine emotional power, and the writer's deft characterization, attention to detail, and unabashed sympathy for their protagonists have the potential to move a reader to tears."
"A cinematic, understated portrait of three generations, the script is emotional without being sentimental and powerful without being overwrought, ending with the strong sense that while we are our past, we can also escape it."
"WINDFALL is an excellent script with timeless, universal themes on identity and the pathology of family, some memorable moments that are deeply moving and richly cinematic, and a consistently high level of execution."
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"Up against a history of suffering and a vicious cycle of pain, three generations of a Chinese-American family confront the difficulties in becoming who they want to be"
WINDFALL is a coming-of-age drama about a Chinese family whose story traverses multiple generations. The film brings audiences into the world of three children, each with their own unique upbringing shaped by the experiences of their parents. Dealing with themes of generational trauma, privilege, and inheritance, WINDFALL aims to bring an often silenced perspective to light through the scope of loveable and lighthearted, but troubled, characters.
Cast against a backdrop of war, poverty, and abuse, the film explores a tumultuous melding of suffering and hope, and allows the audience to step back and reflect deeply on the significance of being able to choose who we become.
The story of WINDFALL was one I had always known I’d wanted to create but, up until now, had repeatedly found difficult to begin. More than I am proud to admit, it was by chance that I finally gathered the sufficient momentum and more importantly, the nerve, to put pen to paper. But then, within moments of doing so, words would not stop flowing.
The way the characters came to life before me was mystifying. Each of them were so obviously reflections and combinations of the people in my life – from close family, to estranged friends, both silhouettes of the past and hopes for the future. Their lives and their worlds amalgamated into something unique yet all too familiar. By the time I had finished the screenplay, it had completely engulfed my day-to-day life. I walked alongside the characters I composed and breathed in the world they breathed in. Never before have I committed so much to people who only existed on paper.
This story is more than just the moments on screen – the infinitesimally small portions of three characters’ lives. It’s everything in between. All the unspoken words, all the hidden emotions, and all the unresolved ends deterred by change. More than just a story about me or the people in my life... WINDFALL is a story about countless small voices that go misunderstood and ignored.
There is not an ounce of my heart and soul that I have not poured or am unwilling to pour into this film. Even if this were to be the only film I were to create in my life, I would truly be satisfied knowing that it was. There are honestly no words adequate enough to describe the passion and desire I have to share this story with the world. I am overwhelmed with the amount of support that WINDFALL has gathered up until now and my greatest hope is that it may continue to reach the hearts of others as it makes it way to the screen.
Jing (Shanghai, 1937)
A rowdy, short-tempered, but talented boy from Shanghai. Jing is a happy-go-lucky kid whose only responsibility in life is to do well in school and have fun. His teachers are afraid that his talents are spread too thin as each attempt at an extra-curricular is easily thwarted by interest in the next. Jing’s greatest curiosity seems to lie in photography, his father’s profession, and his least, albeit most skillful is the violin.
(San Francisco, 1977) Emelia
A daughter of Chinese immigrants living in San Francisco. She is kind, forgiving, and relentlessly empathetic (often more than what is fair of her). Having grown up in poverty-stricken Chinatown, Emelia’s resolve has been molded by hard work and passion. Although troubled, she has dreams of breaking free from the dark world she’s lived in until now.
Ethan (Los Angeles, 2010)
Soft-spoken, kind, and resolute, Ethan has inherited most of the traits of his mother, Emelia, when she was younger. However, his passion for photography often comes in conflict with Emelia’s desire for him to be successful in other talents, such as the violin and academics. Yet, despite the frequent disputes he will have with her, Ethan’s greatest goal in life is to make her truly proud – a feat he has been unable to scratch the surface of his entire life.
(writer / director)
Ryan Jow is a filmmaker from San Francisco and a graduate of UCLA’s School of Film and Television. His most recent films have screened at numerous festivals across the nation. Ryan has received several accolades for his storytelling ability and his editing skills. His stories often blend real life issues and a strong philosophical core; the contrast brings into relief the parallels between questions of who we are as individuals and our role as a part of the broader world.
Chachi Ramirez is the co-founder and primary Director of Mercy Brothers LLC, a boutique creative agency operating in Santa Monica, California. Chachi has over ten years of experience making authentic content for live and digital events, commercial content for brands, scripted and non scripted entertainment, and both short and long form film and documentary features.
View Chachi's work here.
(director of photography)
Julia Swain is a Los Angeles based cinematographer known for her emotion-driven imagery that consistently seeks to portray the human experience. From narrative features and shorts, to music videos and commercials, Swain has shot for an array of clients including National Geographic, MTV, A&E, VH1, Coca-Cola and ARRI. Her library of work has earned her the ASC Vision Award from the American Society of Cinematographers, just after winning the Women in Film Fellowship in Cinematography and she is a proud member of the International Collective of Female Cinematographers (ICFC).
Top 1.09% of Scripts
on the BlackList
Rarely does one encounter a script with this much genuine emotional power, and the writer's deft characterization, attention to detail, and unabashed sympathy for their protagonists have the potential to move a reader to tears. The key to WINDFALL's success is its utter absence of sentimentality, melodrama, and overwrought emotion. Every emotional beat has been rigorously earned, and the results are devastating. It is impossible to overstate the utterly wrenching power of the first act's finale (one would be hard-pressed to find a more heartbreaking moment in a contemporary spec), and the writer demonstrates a strong affinity for rendering relationships between parents and children in a resonant, close-to-home fashion.
Particularly commendable is WINDFALL's ability to take the twin cliches of stereotypical Chinese interests (the violin and photography) and present them with such arresting minutiae that they ascend to the level of vibrant, cohesive motif. The textual mirrors linking Jing, Ethan, and Emelia's adolescences are vibrant without skewing neat or reductive, and the script's violence, while brutal, feels grotesquely real, vital, and entirely earned. While the script may prove too intense for some audiences, there is simply no denying that it is the work of an emotionally intelligent, deeply formidable author.
Top 1.09% of Scripts
on the BlackList
This script sucks the reader in from the first page and does not let him/her go. It's a beautifully written film with incredible cinematic potential, rich with drama and insight. What's particularly beautiful about this screenplay is how it doesn't judge its characters, it simply presents them. The film is a family saga that is timely, relevant, and universal. It manages to feel extremely personal, while also being universal. The behavior all throughout feels authentic, as do the period elements (in this regard, the script feels well-researched). There are several emotional gut punches throughout (the first being the end of Act I, which is truly riveting and puts a lump in the reader's throat). The way it shows violence trickling through different generations of one family is very innovative, and a bit reminiscent of one of the greatest films of all time -- THE GODFATHER: PART II. Yet this film's ending is uplifting and beautiful and successfully counterpoints its first story's tragedy.
Top 5% of Scripts
on the BlackList
Subtle and confident writing lays the bedrock for what could be a truly cinematic experience, leaning not on explanations or descriptions but on strong imagery and sound, bringing the reader into a dialogue with the themes at play. Where a lesser writer would lean on maudlin sentimentality or overt emotions, this script utilizes believably suppressed and repressed characters as they try to reckon with their past selves and the events happening to them. When the script ends, it is not tied with a beautiful bow and problems solved, it concludes with another small step on the road of generational progress, yet it feels like a triumph indeed.
Specific nuances help keep the script grounded as the kids or teenagers behave, whether it's spreading playground rumors about another kid's father or berating a friend for his performance in last night's video games. As each chapter begins the script delves into the world full-blown, allowing the reader to observe characters behaving and intuiting their relationships and personalities--no one in this script is reduced to a stereotype. It is an intensely specific story, shedding light on an underrepresented portion of the American community, at once about the long-felt tremors of past conflict and about the complex relationship between wanting to please one's parents and follow a unique path.
Top 5% of Scripts
on the BlackList
The narrative's premise is bold, sweeping and develops timeless, universal themes on family and identity with a specificity, depth and nuance that is, in more than a few scenes, breathtaking, and consistently engages on a deeply emotional and psychological level. The 1937 Shanghai setting is rendered with unimpeachable authenticity and rich detail. The ending to the first chapter, where Jing plays Windfall and captivates the Japanese soldiers, only for Odaka to tragically alter the course of his family's history with the merciless line that seals Ahn's fate, "But, orders are orders" (38), will leave audiences speechless.
The motif of the camera, the violin, Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso, and Windfall all help convey the narrative's theme in a manner that is poetic and cinematic. The narrative's unconventional chapter structure and discipline to not over-tell the story and tie everything together reflects a mature, sensitive writer.