Jonathan LaPoma

Author / Screenwriter / Songwriter

The Kidnapped



In Mexico, a drug cartel boss kidnaps a washed-up Hollywood director, and the two are driven to insanity while shooting a documentary about the boss’s once-powerful cartel–a project meant to help both men reclaim lost glory.


After his latest film flops, once-famous director BURT ROMAN, 50, travels from LA to Mexico with his loyal producer, REUBEN REYNOLDS, 45, to get his mind off the fact that his career is essentially over. While sipping drinks at a cantina and complaining about how the glory days of cinema are now behind them, Burt and Reuben are kidnapped by members of a drug cartel run by film-obsessed narco boss, PABLO MONTIELl, 50. Pablo’s once-great cartel has been losing members due to fighting with a rival cartel and a local militia, and he’s turned to kidnapping to make ends meet.

When Pablo realizes he’s kidnapped one of his cinematic heroes, he asks Burt and Reuben to film a documentary about his triumphs as a narco boss, meant to be a propaganda piece to recruit new members and to boost his fragile ego. At first, Burt and Reuben are reluctant to take on such a disturbing project, but the more Burt begins to identify with Pablo’s struggle to regain his dignity and honor, the more passionate he becomes to get started.

Pablo takes Burt and Reuben on a tour of his territory, showing off the hospitals and schools he’s built for the local citizens and complaining about how ungrateful they are for fighting back against him. He also shows how large his territory used to be and explains how it’s been diminishing due to the fighting and the fact that the younger men now prefer to join the flashier and more powerful cartels.

While on this tour, a militia group attacks Pablo and his men, and they capture Reuben, bringing him back to their base. Once they realize that Reuben was kidnapped by Pablo, and that he isn’t one of Pablo’s solders, they explain to him the horrors that have been inflicted upon them by the cartels, and they explain why they’re fighting back. Reuben realizes that he and Burt should be filming a documentary on these heroic fighters instead of Pablo. The militia group releases Reuben and urges him to return to LA, but Reuben, loyal to Burt and wanting to tell the story of these freedom fighters, returns to the narco compound instead.

As tension from a rival cartel increases, Burt and Pablo become more delusional, seeing themselves as the victims of an unjust world rather than the monsters they are, and the documentary spirals out of control, confusing fantasy with reality. Soon, Burt must make a terrifying decision: risk death by escaping with Reuben or commit himself to the film, and his own demise, by doing something unthinkably horrific.

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  • Twister Alley Film Festival, 2019, Finalist
  • Las Vegas Screenplay Contest, 2019, Finalist
  • Sacramento Film Festival, 2018, Official Selection
  • Beverly Hills Film Festival, 2019, Official Selection
  • Southern California Screenplay Competition, 2018, Semifinalist