In Plain View: A New Police Drama by Filmmaker Joseph Conforti

By Carol Patton

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”Ex-Boston police detective Butchie Wells was forced into medical retirement after taking a bullet to the knee. He walks with a limp, has an aggravating cough caused by a cancer that’s eating away at him ever so slowly. He sleeps too little and drinks too much, and by 5 am he’s brewed a pot of nasty Ethiopian blend on a pawned percolator he’s been unable to sell; probably because he won’t open his run down pawn shop doors until noon. “

“Wells, estranged from both his ex-wife and twenty one year old daughter, seems to care about only two things, the latest point spread and the Red Sox’s chance for a pennant run. That is until he receives a strange phone call from his ex-partner, controversial rogue detective Patrick Rhodes, who is murdered, execution-style, shortly after the call.”

“The same evening the bullet-ridden remains of a beautiful Albanian girl are found in the murdered detective’s apartment. The two murders will thrust the reluctant former detective back into Boston’s sinister world of crime. A world even more violent than he remembers.

“It’s an election year and Boston’s mayor, Sal Pascale, wants the case and the controversial cop buried fast, as does the Boston Police Commissioner, Peter Grady a rising star with his eyes on the coveted NYC police commissioner job.

How do you like it so far? Enter international intrigue….

“Wells’ ‘unsanctioned’ investigation into his expartner’s murder will echo from the blood-stained streets of Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, through the frigid streets of Moscow, across Vatican Square, and into the Halls of Congress. Wells’ secret investigation to find Rhodes’ killers will surprisingly unearth a ruthless and powerful international crime syndicate, a human trafficking operation, combined with a growing heroin market producing violence and profit beyond imagination. “

Beautiful young women lured through desperation are being swept off the streets of Eastern European and Asian cities, all with promises of a better life in America. Instead, they find themselves prostitutes working for cruel pimps. The most desirable of these women becoming sex-slaves to some of the most prominent men in Boston. Men who possess both the power and the money to ensure their perverse sexual kingdom remains protected and well stocked.”

Well, that’s all you’re going to get from me.

In the strictest sense IN PLAIN VIEW is a police drama driven by character with a grander theme of redemption. It’s a rare chance for three former cops to right a wrong decades after its occurrence. It’s a bare knuckler complete with the complexities of friendship and loyalty

Bringing IN PLAIN VIEW to the screen has been a long time in the making for Joseph Conforti, a Boston based writer and filmmaker. And, of course, its actual making into a major motion picture is in the balance. The story is inspired by the 1993 execution-style murder of Boston Police detective John Mulligan who was shot five times in the face while working an overnight detail at the Walgreens Pharmacy in the Roslindale section of Boston.

Actually, the maturation of the story is a saga in itself. After the murder, Joseph Conforti was approached by several people who, “knew my father was a Boston detective, and that I was a struggling screenwriter. Trusting me because of my background, I ended up in discussions with Richard Mulligan, the murdered detective’s younger brother, and several Boston detectives. In researching the project, it became apparent to me that an inspired story was more desirable than attempting to tell the “true” story. Especially when the true story will probably never be known, and getting story rights would have been a nightmare,’ Joe told IMAGINE Magazine.

The case is rearing its ugly head as we go to print with an attempt to get a retrial for Sean Ellis, the convicted triggerman. Ellis’s attorney claims her client was framed by crooked cops.

“After finishing the feature script, I shopped it around, and eventually optioned it, for one year, to Films. He attempted to raise a four-million dollar budget, but it was not to be…” added Joe Conforti. The option expired.

“I decided to self-finance the project and serialize it via the internet. Webisodes and the New World Distribution paradigm were all the rage, and although they were more successful in the comedy genre, I thought a cop-drama, well produced, might actually work. I broke the script down into episodes and wrote a pilot. I chose Boston actor Tom Kemp as the lead. Tom liked the script and the character; we teamed up. I was ecstatic to have an actor of his caliber come aboard. It was a validation of the script for me, added Conforti.

At this point, Tom became instrumental in helping make this project a reality. He brought Robert Wahlberg to the project; he is perfect for the role of Boston Police captain, Walter Maddox. We shot a killer pitch video, raising approximately 17k through a Rockethub crowd-funding campaign.

“The scenes found their way to LA, where I took a meeting with several people in the business.

“And in spite of the fact that I did no real post-production, regarding sound and color, the LA people loved what they saw and the meetings are continuing… Of course, as much as they love it, closing a deal is what really counts. I will be heading to LA and NY in the next two months. And I will be attending AFM.

“How do I envision it when complete? I see it shot in the style of GOMMORAH; gritty and real. Lots of hand held, but not to the degree of constant distracting movement. When I was getting my master’s at Emerson College (2006), I inadvertently took a class in Grotowskian acting principles (long story). It was listed as a production course, but turned out to be an acting course. Most of us in the class were production types, had never heard of Grotowski, and all were ready to walk out on the first day. But we stayed and met the challenge of Grotowski. It was amazing! I just hope the film of what we did does not ever go public. I think I played everything from a rapid dog to a monkey climbing a wall. It was a form, as I recall, of Action Theater, completely uninhibited, with the camera moving in and out among the actors. The camera simply became another participant. For this movie I want the camera to be organic and dynamic, without drawing attention to itself,” Joe said.

Okay, those are things Joe would like to see, but what Joe really wants is to get this film made. Of course, he wants it set in Boston and with Massachusetts solid 25% film tax credits that apply to above the line and below the line, why wouldn’t it be? Of course, he wants actors with genuine Boston accents and given the script that’s a given. And yes, he is fully qualified to direct the film himself, but would defer if the right production deal was presented.

IN PLAIN VIEW is looking for an executive producer, production company, funding, attachments of note, foreign sales and distribution, His best end result is getting the film made – and a fighting chance to succeed both artistically and financially.

He does understand the importance and reality of collaboration in the film business. Joe is attending AFM and can be reached at 954 648-7607.

You can see the scenes Joe shot at

Carol Patton is the publisher and founder of IMAGINE Magazine. She introduced film tax credits to New England in 2002 and wrote the definitive piece “Tax Credits That Work Take Work” in 2004

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