THE DEAD DROP
When a group of precocious kids stumble on a mysterious coded message, they become pawns in a game of espionage cat and mouse.
The seedling of The Dead Drop was planted one afternoon when I happened by chance on the costume department of The Americans, which occupied a storefront in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn at the time. I was with my kids, so I had them pose for a snapshot in front of the sign to amuse their mother. This led to the idea of precocious kids getting mixed up in spy vs. spy games.
As the story started to form, I knew I wanted the four kids who play the gang to be in it and built everything around that. The treatment and the first draft of the script even use their real names. If any of them had not agreed to be in it, I’m not sure what I would have done, but luckily I didn’t have to confront that possibility. Oliver is the de facto leader, Talulah is the dramatic one, Jeff the sensible one, and Aiden is the instigator.
Inspired by 80s Amblin’, I picture The Dead Drop as a thriller, but as imagined by a 10-year-old. Both the spies are a little larger than life and on the cartoony side, which is how a kid would picture them, but the way the children interact and engage with each other is grounded in observation. There is truth in the portrayals, even if it’s a child’s truth.
A bit of a Viking on his mother’s side, an artist on his father’s, and with a career straddling roles from rock and roller to advertising creative director, Washburn has always been involved in some form of storytelling. As a child, he wrote spec scripts for his favorite shows (mostly long gone and in syndication at the time). He experimented with super 8 films, creating stop motion animations and generously called extended chase scenes.
He now writes and directs for narratives, documentaries, commercials, and branded content. His shorts, “The Dead Drop” and “Abasement,” have screened at festivals internationally and picked up a few awards along the way. He has another short in early development, and a few feature screenplays completed or in progress.