Institute History

  • 1997 January Screenwriters Lab


Set in Minneapolis, HYENAS is the story of four young dropouts who find strength through each other, only to grow apart. They endure car crashes, bad drugs, lost love, rifle shots, catwalks, home invasion and the dark river.

Danny, after escaping from a drug treatment center, is looking for salvation in the streets. Doing the wrong things, hunting for right.

Leroy, an African-American punk rocker, has lost everyone who means anything to him. His remaining heart and strength is used for revenge and self destruction.

Justin and Jodi have run from a farm town to the city. Pregnant, they’re searching for someplace. Justin’s fallen under drugs and Jodi’s struggling to keep him afloat.

The group is thrown together through the collective experience of bad drugs. After Leroy’s girlfriend overdoses in the bathroom of a rock club, they band together to confront the dealer. Not reaching the true source of the killer drugs, they kill one of the dealer’s cronies in self-defense.

Hiding briefly in Leroy’s hangout under the catwalks of a Mississippi bridge, they invade the house of Oscar, a sickly and elderly widower. Oscar only wants to join his wife in heaven, from his own bed.

Misleading the nosey next-door neighbor Diane, they manage to settle into the house. Bouncing off the walls, doing drugs, fighting, the frustration builds.

After more deaths occur from the bad drugs, they track to the source, a mailman named Dallas. His greed and lack of knowledge about what he’s doing make him a menace to the society of users.

Holding back Leroy’s instinct to attack Dallas instantly, Danny coaxes the dealer to meet them at the bridge for a big payday. Once there, Leroy makes a kamikaze move, taking Dallas and himself over the edge, falling hundreds of feet to the Mississippi. Only Dallas’ dead body surfaces from the deep, dark water.

Danny and Justin return to the house to find Jodi frantic and Oscar barely clinging to life, soon to die in Danny’s arms. Danny, worn to the point of a drug binge, finds himself alone, searching, and ultimately making his way back to treatment.

Now clean, Danny returns to the house to find Justin and Jodi gone, headed back home to give birth. Back alone, Danny’s on his own, stronger somehow, for the better.


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