Colorado

A one-armed Civil War hero overcomes his disability to tame the wildest river in the West.

PITCH

Imagine you and nine companions are traveling down the Colorado River in the blistering heat of summer. The river is an angry torrent that threatens to crush your tattered boats and drown everyone aboard. Your food is gone and you’re trapped in the Canyon because the river is the only source of water for hundreds of miles. Your companions are going insane from fear and hunger and sheer exhaustion. To top it off, three of them are motivated to kill you for personal gain—and the arm you lost in the war makes it almost impossible to defend yourself in a fight. There are no radios, no cell phones, no possible way to reach the outside world. And did I mention this story is 100% true?

It’s 1869. Four years after the civil war. John Wesley Powell is navigating a river known only by legend and lost in a desert with no escape. He must learn to have faith in himself or drown in the raging current. Hostile Indians, imminent starvation, flash floods and insurmountable dangers lurk around every bend, the greatest of which is the saboteur among his crew. After embarking with ten men, Wes’s expedition emerges from the Grand Canyon with only six remaining—and a terrible secret. Transformed by the odyssey, Wes discovers truths about human greed and unsustainable development that haunt us to this day.

GENRE: Action-Adventure (based on a true story)
HIGH CONCEPT: Indiana Jones in the Grand Canyon
THEME: Water and the Environment.
SIMILAR TO: Dances with Wolves, Apollo 13, Cinderella Man

COVERAGE

Colorado is a rollicking yet intelligent adventure written out of a great love for the West and the men bold enough to venture into its heart. The narrative arc is strong. We follow a natural chronological progression from the Civil War to Powell’s expedition and beyond, always moving westward, a direction audiences inherently love and understand. Historically, we don’t doubt a thing. We learn a lot about the expedition, what kind of man Powell was, and the greater political context of the time. Throughout we are transported by period-specific dialogue and terrific action. All the rapids sequences are exciting, but in particular, the flash flood and the wildfire would be riveting on screen. We are compelled by what’s at stake. Powell’s financial existence, immense public recognition, and his very life are on the line. Colorado would be extremely viable with European audiences. Although the story is deeply American, Europeans are notorious history buffs. It would be popular on both sides of the Atlantic.”

Download a PDF of this script
Next page