Alta California

an historical action-adventure drama set in California’s mission period

  I am an immigrant, coming to the United States in my 20s.  Immigrants, particularly older ones, comes with certain ways of seeing. For me, this was particularly true of a way of seeing history.  History for me (European) was power, the struggle for land, domination, Machiavellian tactics, etc.  Yet, here I was taking a class on American history which was completely white-washed.  No indigenous peoples, blacks, or women.  Just white men. 

Somehow I got through that class.  But it set me thinking.  I set myself a task: name some California Indian tribes.  I think I got about 3!!  Yet there were once 500+!  What had happened?  I moved back through the coming of the miners, land grabbers, etc. and arrived at the mission era.  Was that the beginning of the end for the indigenous peoples of California?  Padre Serra and the secular/military authorities (Captain Felipe de Neve) had vastly different ideas on what should happen to baptized mission Indians (neophytes) when the Spanish left California.  For Serra, the indigenous peoples should be left in the mission.  God would protect them.  in contrast, Neve wanted them returned to their tribes.  Serra won and got gained sainthood and Neve—and the California Indians—lost.  How did Serra win despite orders from King Carlos of Spain and Captain de Neve.  His method can only be described as Machiavellian.

This historical truth is the background to the fictional story of a helf-blood, Paco Palido.  When his mother is slaughtered and tribe wiped out, the half-breed boy is “saved” by a Franciscan priest.  Renamed, Paco Palido, he now works as a mission guard, steadily refusing baptism.  His is a quest for his people, for a place he belongs, and a people he can call his own.

Multiple national and international award winner.

Although this could be regarded as a "period" piece, it deals with the contemporary issue of revisionist history, particularly that of a 'forgotten' people, the California Indians.

Although this could be regarded as a "period" piece, it deals with the contemporary issue of revisionist history, particularly that of a 'forgotten' people, the California Indians.

For more details see


LOGLINE:  The time is the turbulent and violent California Mission Era.  A mixed-blood, who witnesses the slaughter of his tribe and mother, now seeks a home, a place he belongs amidst the horrors of a dominating, foreign power whose "religion" assigns  his unbaptized mother to their Hell. 

Multiple national and international award winner

ALTA CALIFORNIA deals with questions of identity, dispossession, dehumanization and the tools used by the conquerors to achieve their goals.

A website dealing solely with ALTA CALIFORNIA is available at



for full list of awards see

“Exquisite”.  Lonely Wolf International Film Festival.   

 “Overall, the screenplay is a fascinating, if sometimes oppressive piece of work. Each character brings something interesting and important to the historical story. In similar vein to works such as ‘The Eagle’ or ‘The Pilgrimage’, this screenplay could make a dark and gritty but incredibly interesting and valuable historical adventure/drama feature film.”  Annie Knox, Lonely Wolf. 


With some additional character development on this front, Alta California promises to be the dramatic juggernaut it sets out to be. (Wiki Screenplay). Redrafted after this comment.


One of the script's most attractive qualities is the fact that the writer addresses the displacement and dislocation that many mixed race people have historically felt within the world of the Spanish and their occupation of the "New World". This helps develop thematic threads surrounding identity, home, and family that are still relevant to many people today (NYC Screenwriting Festival, 2021)


This script was a very enjoyable read, dealing with a period in history that is often ignored in favor of Mayflower and Pocahontas mythmaking. Don’t shy away from the history and bigger themes; anyone watching will already be interested.  (Los Angeles International Screenwriting Contest)





I won’t be here in the morning.  Do you think I wait for authorization from Captain de Neve while this—
Say it!  This heathen whose mother was a savage, a whore unbaptized at her death.  Say it!  Her soul burns in the everlasting flames of hell.  Eternal damnation.  Say it!
Palido, the Padre didn’t . . .
Remind me that no matter how much I study the scriptures, how much I fall on my knees and pray, how many ‘Hail Marys,’ I say, how many times I confess and beg forgiveness, for you the heathen is here, inside me, always!