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Written By: Mand Paskuski

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A Menagerie-Man, a larger-than-life lion, and the girl they fall in love with...

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Set in the backlot of an early 20th century travelling circus, a young caretaker must battle for love and freedom as a rival circus seeks to exploit the wonder of a unique lion under his care. 



Romance / Drama

LÜA is a one hour thirty minute Romance Drama. 


Set in Kentucky Illinois between 1926 to 1997 predominantly in the world of The Watling & Sons Travelling Circus Fair Grounds.


This film is a love story, made out of and for love alone. It is made for tears and joy and everything inbetween. And! Like the circus itself, it is made for all ages…ahem…well, depending on the cut.


Romantic, heart-felt, and charming…Lüa is a love letter to all the movies before that have touched our hearts and made us feel connected.



After the tease of a flashback, We pop in to present day, where we meet our storyteller: OLMA (70’s).


The book begins with a circus arriving in the town of Kentucky and fresh out the gate we meet the ones were bound to follow: Lüa the lion, of course, Ashley, and the woman who they both fall in love with: Maggie.


Fast forward, In an act of unique bravery she puts herself in harms way to protect our beloved Lüa. We find out she’s an aspiring veterinarian, as if there wasn’t reason enough to love her already. She is coaxed into the spotlight of a date at Watling Circus and the rest becomes history. 


Darker forces we discover are at play. Lüa is a rare cat and because of that a very enticing trophy for those in the business of exotic animal collecting.


A dangerous enemy, Darious Cartwin of a competing circus, returns to the fair grounds and shakes our heroes up. In a dirty hand of play, he manages to secure Lüa for himself and it’s up to Maggie and Ashley to find a way to get him back.

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We should be aware we’re watching the four-way love child of Big Fish, The Notebook, Moulin Rouge and Water For Elephants. We're in their world, and you know what? We completely belong here. 


The tone should be similar, steady paced and constantly building to a climax -- Enough for us to fall in love with our characters as they fall in love with each other.


This film should look like it was shot on film, in fact, it SHOULD be shot on film! In fact, shoot whoever says it shouldn’t be shot on film, for they should be shot! As this should be shot…on film! And if it's not shot on film...well it better be because Benoit Delhomme has a plan.... 


Wonderment and awe should fill our hearts with every new location or costume. All of it should seem so near in our senses that we can truly smell the butter on popcorn as it falls on the dewy fair ground grass.


This film should feel so much like a dream, that when we contrast between present day and the past, we long so much in yearnful nostalgia for a world we’ve never even known.

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[ From Left To Right ]

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MAGGIE MICKNOLEY (21), is beautiful, intelligent, stubborn and loves animals. So much so, that she’s studying to be a veterinarian. From a young age she had always felt drawn more to animals than people, so when she decided what she wanted to study it came as no shock to her parents though it’s not wrong to say they were a little disappointed. Her father, a wealthy man of the south intended perhaps for her to be a lawyer, or what he would call “a real doctor.” Alas, like mentioned…she’s a stubborn, sure-headed woman who knows what she wants and how to get it. When we meet her, it’s the first time she’s ever been to a circus.


ASHLEY WATLING (21), is strong coffee and grease. Born and raised in the dazzling world of the circus by circumstance, the only life he’s ever known, is an odd one. Ashley began working properly with animals around the age of six -- training them, teaching them, nursing them when they were sick – he barely left the menagerie for any reason and on most days it’s where one would look to find him still. A string of meaningless courtships, and drunken carnival nights leading to regret hardened him to the possibilities of true love and when we meet him, he’s rarely dated at all. Though, Watling men are inherently charming and it follows him like sweet cologne wherever he goes. Lüa is his chosen brother and best friend. They grew up together from infancy and know only too well the sorrows of heartbreak and struggle. That may be true, but you won't see him spend too long feeling sorry for himself. A great man of pride, he keeps his chin up, if he can.


CLARK HARTFORTHAM (26), is the man Maggie is supposed to be with. The one both their parents have been struggling, in futility, for years to arrange.  Clark is Southern, Smart, Sophistical and a total asshole where it counts even for all his heroic war medals he keeps on show at all times. It’s hard not to relate to him, he’s half the population who doesn’t understand us artists of the world and sadly you can’t blame him, it isn’t his fault he was born a rube with no talent.


JERRI (22), is older than Maggie and it shows in both manor of walking and mind. She’s wise beyond her years, and a step well ahead of everyone. She brings our girl to the circus grounds and for that perhaps is the instigator for our entire story. When possible she helps and when she can’t she’s there for support anyhow. Jerri is all our collective best friends.


EAMON WATLING (50’s), is Cotton-Candied Scotch on the Rocks. He’s absolutely swoon-worthy in every way and it only makes us love him more that he’s a widower and wonderful father. Sometimes his priorities conflict between family and business as to be expect when one runs a family business. The show sometimes comes first, but Ashley doesn’t mind most of the time and is accustomed to a “show-must-go-on” mentality. Eamon is the father we all wish we had…loving, supportive, proud and completely free. A role model to any young kid, looking for direction in life. In his humanity he makes some tragic mistakes and we’re able to see that even kings drop their crowns once in a while.


DARIOUS CARTWIN (50’s), is the Owner, Operator, Circuteer and Ringmaster of a seedy circus called UNDERLAND. His biggest attraction is a SHANTY-MAZE called FREAKTOPIA that is filled with oddities, horrors and whores. He is the underworld orchestrator of the carnival universe and he is not to be trifled with. From a young age, like Eamon and Ashley, he grew up in carnivals. However, his experience was drastically opposite to The Watling's, filled with abuse and neglect. If there is a good side of a coin and a bad side…he is the bad. A freak accident left him with a limp arm so in a twisted personal vendetta against the world, he compensates by being as brazen, bold, and evil as humanly possible.


OLMA (70’s), is patient, understanding and loyal. She wears her many hard years on her face like a beauty mark or badge of honor. Her eyes are deep and full of stories…or memories rather. She is Southern, as most of the cast, and speaks with a sort of sophistication that only comes from growing up with money. When we meet her, it doesn’t seem that she’s maintained that lifestyle. She wears simple clothes for purpose rather than fashion. Kiddo is important to her for so many reasons that we as an audience gain gradual understanding of. Olma is our voice.


KIDDO (10 going on 11), is P.R.E.C.O.C.I.O.U.S. with a capital P. She’s too young to have gone through so much tragedy, and she too, like Olma, wears it so it’ll show. Olma is important to her too, but at her age, their relationship is just beginning. When we meet her, it’s clear we’re witnessing that and by the end of our journey, it’s as if hours were years. They form a true bond, and we grow to love them and their relationship with one another.

MOOHBIE a.k.a. "MOOH", is a mischievous cheeky little monkey...a chimpanzee, actually to be specific. She's the first person our Maggie meets at the circus and gives our first insight into how Maggie interacts with animals. Mooh is our friend, our younger sibling: the one we take care of and adore. It's arguable that she may have the strongest personality of them all, but truly she's wise beyond her years and just too aware of it. Mooh is a symbol, a great symbol of the power of kindness, love and ultimately the ability for one to remember who they are even when all hope seems lost. 

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LÜA, is a son, brother and friend. Young in his way, but old in his soul, he is the lovely combination of work and play. For Lüa life is uncomplicated and free. At Watling, his home, he wears no chains, restraints or muzzles. His cage is always open, and on warm nights, he sleeps under the stars next to Ashley. Lüa represents the good in people, the ability to change, grow, and be brave in true times where such attributes are tested. Stubborn, proud, head-strong Lüa is a true lion. Sometimes he dreams of being a star like the elephants on those posters. He loves his ball and practices often. Truth is he was born to the circus and he couldn't have been more suited for carnival life. He and Ashley, cut from the same cloth spend nearly every waking moment together and when Maggie comes along it's a great surprise. Lüa is a king of hearts...and a hero of the highest caliber. 

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The Watling & Sons Travelling Circus is a place for joy and fantasy. Past down from father to son, the circus has been family run for four consecutive generations. 

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Freaks, Filth and Folly!

Run by the notorious Darious Cartwin since 1921,

Underland is a world welcome mainly to the dregs of society. A dangerous playground for people of the underworld. 

Beautiful Things

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A Screenplay By: Mand Paskuski

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