Jonathan LaPoma

Author / Screenwriter / Songwriter

The Way Back Home

Cody Swanson is born deaf into a working-class family in rural Wisconsin. As he grows up, he watches his father continuously beat down his mother, both physically and emotionally, and Cody escapes into a lonely world of silence. But after a touching encounter with a wild husky that wanders in his backyard, Cody is miraculously able to hear.

Cody develops a strong love of animals and pledges his life to protecting them—an ill-fated goal, as it is at odds with the tradition of the generations of Swansons who’ve worked in the town slaughterhouse and the expectation of Cody’s father that someday Cody will also work there. Cody is conflicted by his loyalty to his father and his love for animals, but after he experiences consecutive, horrifying tragedies, he runs away from home and finds work in a canning factory in Madison.

WinnerOne day after work, Cody wanders through the campus of a nearby college and meets a beautiful and intelligent girl named Karen. Though he has feelings for her, Cody is reluctant to accept her romantic advances. He fears trusting his emotions due to the abuse he’d suffered as a child and the tragedies he’d recently witnessed, but he eventually submits to his desire, and he and Karen begin dating. Karen encourages Cody to take veterinary classes at the school, and Cody adjusts his hours at the canning factory so he can enroll.

When Cody learns that his father has had a heart attack, he initially refuses to see him. Only after suspecting Karen of cheating on him does he change his mind. When Cody returns home, his ailing father fills Cody’s head with suspicion and contempt for Karen, and life in general.

2014 London Film Awards Grand Prize WinnerCody tries to ignore his father’s bitter advice, but soon it infects him. Cody begins drinking heavily, and slowly drives Karen away. As his life spirals downward, Cody’s allegiance to his father strengthens, and Cody confronts the terrifying truth that, living in a world where few people ever really listen to one another, there is only one horrific way back home.

  • Hollywood Screenplay Contest, 2014, Grand Jury Prize (Best Overall Screenplay)
  • Las Vegas Screenplay Contest, 2014, Grand Jury Prize (Best Overall Screenplay)
  • London Film Awards, 2014, Grand Prize Winner: Feature Screenplay Category
  • Chicago Screenplay Contest, 2014, 3rd Place: Drama Category
  • California Film Awards, 2015, 5th Place
  • Oaxaca Film Festival, 2015, Top 12 Finalist (of almost 1,000 submissions)
  • Cannes Screenplay Contest, 2017, Finalist
  • Los Angeles Screenplay Contest, 2015, Finalist
  • Beverly Hills Screenplay Contest, 2014, Finalist
  • New York Screenplay Contest, 2015, Finalist
  • Southern California Screenplay Competition, 2017, Semifinalist
  • Table Read My Screenplay, 2014, Semifinalist
  • Evolution Mallorca Film Festival, 2016, Semifinalist
  • Reel Writers, 2015, Semifinalist
  • Indie Gathering Film Festival, 2014, Honorable Mention
  • Los Angeles CineFest, 2016, Official Selection
  • BLOW UP Chicago International Arthouse Film Fest, 2015, Official Selection
  • The Monthly Film Festival, 2015, Official Selection
  • WriteMovies, 2014, Quarterfinalist
  • FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards, 2015, Quarterfinalist
  • Creative World Awards, 2016, Preliminary Finalist
  • Ranked in Top 2% of the over 2,600 scripts listed on
  • Compelling premise, dynamic, recognizable characters. Snappy dialogue, solid story structure…Great scene painting, well done!”  –Slamdance, 2014, Feedback
  • “The initial glimpse into the life of a Wisconsin family whose male members have worked in the local slaughterhouse works well. The characters are all strongly written…The setting of this story in the backwoods of Wisconsin is well done…The scenes flow well and logically.”  –Reel Writers, 2015, Feedback
  • “A story that will stay with you and make you look in the mirror. A boldly honest story, so unbiased it can’t help but be dark.”       -Warren Smith, Summit Talent and Literary Agency

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