A feature film screenplay by Wiek Lenssen
*** THE HERD was officially selected for one of USA’s most prestiguous screenplay contests: the 2020 CINESTORY RETREAT in Idyllwild, California. A wonderful week with thirty finalists, intensive workshops and mentors, leading representatives of the American film industry. ***
My screenplay THE HERD is a drama about a young petroleum geologist who expects to die of cancer before he is thirty years old. He decides to put his life in the hands of nomadic herders living in a remote part of Siberia, where outsiders are not welcome.
The first thing you need to know is that it is a crazy, inexplicable fact that cancer does not exist among reindeer herdsmen living in the polar circle. This is true. My story is inspired by these tribes who remain cancer-free despite Soviet nuclear tests in their backyard .
Arnout travels into the restricted tribal territory. He discovers there is tar sand in the tundra. In fact it’s a giant oil field. The tribe’s Shaman fears Arnout will bring oil companies into the land and starts using all kind of shamanic tricks to chase the intruder away.
More than surviving the shaman’s hostility and the wilderness, Arnout is going to have to earn his trust if he ever hopes to find out what makes these men immune to the disease that is taking his life.
And for Arnout, time is running out.
- Personal motivation: I’ve spent half my life making films at the world’s frontier: where native cultures collide with the modern world, mostly because of the resources in the ground. Now I see one paradox coming to us that concerns me deeply: with the melting of the arctic icecap countries dispute their rights to win the newly accessible oil and gas reserves. This is diametrically opposed to our need to move away from fossil fuels.
In The Herd this is an overlaying paradox that is played out. So at heart, this is a story about climate change. The Shaman sees oil as the cancer of our planet. He regards this oilfield as an ultimate choice for humanity. If we can decide to leave these resources for what they are, there is a chance to prevent a collapse of the current advanced societies.
If not, the tribe believes that most of the human race will perish through global disasters and radioactive rains. Their tribal land and way of life will be the world’s sanctuary, the womb from where mankind starts anew.
And that is why this shaman is so worried about a geologist turning up.
125 p. English. An adaptation of the novel ‘Padjelanta’ by Anton Quintana.
In June 2020 ‘THE HERD’ was selected for the quarterfinals of the CineStory Screenplay Contest, one of USA’s top ten festivals for screenwriters.–
In July 2020 Wiek Lenssen was invited for the SCREENWRITING RETREAT in IDYLLWILD, CALIFORNIA, a yearly retreat for 30 selected screenwriters for networking with studio representatives (i.e. Disney, Mar Vista entertainment) , screenwriting managers (i.e.Marc Manus, David Baird), renowned writers/ directors (i.e. Mark Fergus IRON MAN, CHILDREN OF MEN , Bruce McKenna, BAND OF BROTHERS, THE PACIFIC)
After the retreat the thirty finalists formed a writers community to exchange knowledge and experiences.
In July 2020 THE HERD was selected for the quarter finals of FINISH LINE, in top ten USA based screenplay contest
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Swolgen, The Netherlands 2020