Colaborator Success Stories: Actress Monica Lawson Selects BLOOD AND TRUTH script by Colaborator Sylvester Folks for Colaborator Script Project!

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From Alabama police officer to Hollywood screenwriter.

Sylvester Folks has always been passionate about writing. When he enrolled in Faulkner University in Montgomery, Alabama, he declared as an English major. But then a girlfriend convinced him to switch to a more practical path. He chose criminal justice. 

After school he worked for years as a police officer in Montgomery, but the creative itch kept coming back. In his spare time he wrote plays and produced them at the Davis Theater in Montgomery. But he still felt stifled. He wanted to reach a national audience. So he left the force and started writing for the screen. That was when he found Colaborator's Facebook page, through a link shared by a friend.

Back in September, Actress/Producer Monica Lawson posted a fully funded project on Colaborator, with a video describing her search for the perfect script. She wanted something with a strong female lead that she could both act in and produce. Her video post, which was shared on Facebook, is here:

At first Lawson was worried no one would respond, but to her surprise she received literally hundreds of entries. "I was happily flooded with emails," says Lawson.

Then came the difficult process of narrowing them down.

"I wanted a story that will speak to people, to shift the way people think about something," says Lawson. With that in mind, she began sifting through the entries. Using log lines alone, she was able to cut about 40% of the pile. From there she requested resumes, which further narrowed the pile, but not by that much. 

"Resume was a factor," says Lawson, "but not as much as log lines. I really just wanted a powerful story."

She does note, however, that if candidates gave push back on a requested resume, she did not pursue them further.

It took months, but ultimately she selected five favorite scripts, which she re-read. She put them down for a few days then re-read them again, and realized that three of the five just wouldn't work. That left her with two finalists.

"The other one was a psychological mind tease sort of script. It was interesting and dreamlike. But I just kept coming back to Sylvester's. It was more purposeful. It's current. It's very every day. It's part of Black Lives Matter. It has more of a message."

The script was called Blood and Truth and was the story of a white police officer who kills a black youth. Folks wrote it on spec after seeing Lawson's project on Colaborator's Facebook page. It explores the tragedy's impact on the officer and his wife, who happens to be black. Lawson will play the wife character, Diana.

"There are so many things I've experienced as an African American woman that I can bring to this role," says Lawson.

As an African American and former police officer, Folks was in the perfect position to write this kind of script. He's not interested in finger pointing or beating the audience over the head with moralistic allegories, but rather the human struggles of the people behind these headline-making events.

"We don't see how families are truly affected when an officer is part of a shooting like this," says Folks. "We all want our loved ones to be innocent. That's what Blood and Truth explores. Who is really innocent? Who is really telling the truth?"

Folks is an expert in creating human drama, and has written and directed a short film on the subject before, 2014's One [below].

The next steps will be to find a director, then "start crewing up," as Lawson puts it. She aims to shoot in Los Angeles this Summer.

Folks, a small town writer with national ambitions, couldn't be more excited to work with a bona fide Hollywood actress/producer like Lawson. 

“Monica is a phenomenal actress. I had an opportunity to look at her work and see some of the things she’s done," says Folks. "It was great to see the professionalism and poise she brings to the thing. It was great to coordinate with someone so professional!”

Folks, who started as a Montgomery police officer, appears to have taken a major step towards national recognition as a storyteller.