Merritt Andrews was a fourteen year old home-schooled fatherless boy who lived with his mother in a sparsely populated secluded rural area located in the shadow of the great White Water Valley Dam. His best friend, Josh Reed also fourteen, was the only other teenager within a radius of over twenty miles. Like most young men their age, they sought adventure and challenge. Although several previous attempts had failed, their dream was to climb to the very top of the dam. On one of their brave attempts, they discovered an old abandoned, wrecked truck, on the hills just above the dam – a music distribution truck, a victim of a rain storm flash flood many years before. Lying crippled and dormant, concealed in a dark ravine on the side of the mountain, the rusting shell of the truck reluctantly revealed its hidden treasure to the boys. Deep inside the air tight cargo hold of the truck, safe from the elements, was a library of music. Scores of boxes of music of all styles were there for the boys to find. It was as if the truck was a musical tomb awaiting someone special to rediscover the music it had preserved.
The boys quickly discovered that they could bring the music back to life in the still working stereo cassette player. During each visit to the truck, the boys would connect a freshly charged battery, turn on the key, and the amp meter would come to life.
The tuning dial would light up and a new cassette would be pushed into the player. Whenever the eagles soared to the sounds of Beethoven and the valley echoed to the beat of rock ’n’ roll, the handful of people who lived there always knew what the boys were up to.
Taped to the dashboard was a rendering of a keyboard which Merritt had cut out of a poster. He used this to pretend to play the piano along with the music.
One day the boys decided to take a different path to the truck, a path that would change Merritt’s life forever. Merritt heard a guitar playing just off to the side of the path they were walking on. Curiosity caused the boys to find its source, an old man with a long scraggly beard and tattered clothes, playing his guitar. Josh would recognize him as “the crazy old man your mother chased off one afternoon”.
The boys would get to know this person as old man “Rinker”. As time passed, fascinated by conversations about music, Merritt would visit Rinker often. In time, Rinker would become the father Merritt had never known. During that first year, Rinker taught him how to play chords, and even inspired him to begin writing his own songs. He would tell Merritt about how great it felt to play the music you knew, but by far the best satisfaction was to play your own song. He explained that a part of your life was woven into the words and chords of your work. He told Merritt that you live, you learn, you write and then you die, and after you’re gone, whenever someone plays your song, a part of you lives again.
One morning, Rinker told Merritt that when he died he’d like to be buried with his music, so “I can take it with me and play it in the Great Hall.” Merritt promised that he would carry out his wish.
A few days later Merritt was informed by Josh that old man Rinker had died in his sleep.
Before Merritt could speak a word or shed a tear for the man whom he loved so dearly, his world collapsed around him. His dream of playing and writing music also died that day with the old man.
Merritt kept his word and made sure Rinker’s music was with him on the day he was buried, but into the closet went that special guitar Rinker had given him along with the journal he kept for writing down ideas for his own songs. Certain that he would never open the door to that closet again, he slammed it shut.
The years slipped quickly away. Merritt’s mother passed. Josh got married and moved away and Merritt, a forty two year old man, was employed as a worker on the dam. During his lunch hours, Merritt often stood atop the massive wall of concrete and stared into the side of the valley where the old truck still lay.
One day, during his gaze into the valley, Merritt was interrupted by an announcement over the loudspeaker that a ferocious storm was bearing down upon the valley. He was told to quickly finish up and leave for his own safety.
On his way home that day, Merritt was overwhelmed by a desperate need to take a detour and stop by the old truck. It took some time to find her since the path he used almost thirty years before was now overgrown. When he finally found it, he was a bit spooked, like he had returned to the ghost of his past. He walked around the truck and banged on the sides to scare off any wild animals that might have been living inside. He cautiously climbed in.
His eyes fell upon an old faded photograph on the dash… a photograph of himself and Old Man Rinker. He then spotted a cassette sticking halfway out of the tape player. It was the last selection he had played almost thirty years before.
Merritt knew the battery was long since dead, but out of instinct, he turned the key in the ignition anyway. At the same moment a bolt of lightning struck the metal frame of the truck and miraculously, just as it had those many years before, the amp meter sprung to life and the tuning dial on the tape player lit up… almost as if it had been waiting for Merritt’s return. Startled by the lightning and captured by the miracle of the battery, Merritt failed to notice the dark thunderheads quickly moving over the valley. He closed his eyes and he leaned back and remembered… until the dark sky opened and unleashed its deluge. The downpour was so heavy that it was impossible to see out the window. As bolts of lightning struck all around him and thunder rocked the truck, Merritt knew he would have to ride out the storm in the old rusty truck in the ravine.
The deluge intensified and then suddenly a fierce bolt of lightning blasted the rocks which supported the truck. At the same time a wall of water came cascading down the ravine. Merritt felt the truck begin to slide. Merritt hung on for his life as the truck barreled down the side of the mountain out of control. The truck finally came to an abrupt halt in darkness, and then slowly started to creak and lean forward. Merritt panicked and instinctively turned on the truck lights. Once again he was treated to a miracle as they actually worked. Through the dense curtain of rain he could see that the truck had washed its way down the mountain and was now resting on the edge of the top of the dam, threatening to take the two hundred foot plunge to certain death for them both. Moving back with panic to try to unbalance his weight and prevent the truck from tilting over, Merritt accidently pushed the tape into the cassette player with his foot. Startled by the sound of the blasting music, Merritt jumped and in doing so, shifted the balance just enough to tip the truck past the point of no return… to the point where fate took over and his incredible journey into the world of the Tenth Symphony would begin.
Come with us as we join Merritt in this adventure. Watch, as world-renowned Cinematographer, Michael Givens, follows Merritt’s struggle for survival in three dimensions. Listen as multi Emmy winner for sound, Mace Matiosian, renders each and every sound as musical notes. Be surrounded by the great musical score of John Morgan, and be captivated by the rock ‘n’ roll symphony masterpieces brought to us by the musical genius of Robert Gugliuzza and the story writing of Robert Gugliuzza and Matteo Cucchiara, while Merritt battles for survival as he tries to escape that place between life and death, that place from which no one ever returns. That place in the Tenth Symphony.
Concept: Robert Gugliuzza
Story by Robert Gugliuzza and Matteo Cucchiara
Screenplay: Matteo A. Cucchiara
A musical adventure brings the audience into a modern-day “Alice in Wonderland” meets the “Wizard of Oz” in an unforgettable journey to the Other Side.
Cinema Island Productions, LLC, Copyright 2007 - 2015