Andrew Burrows-Trotman to Pen Adaptation, ‘If We Left’

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Andrew Burrows-Trotman has been tapped to pen the screenplay for Miles Maker’s true story movie adaptation IF WE LEFT, the Valley Springs Manor story about the cook and the janitor who stayed without pay to care for abandoned elderly residents when their assisted living home was shut down.  Their selfless act of heroism led to the 2014 Residential Care For the Elderly Reform Act.

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Andrew Burrows-Trotman

IF WE LEFT is a feature-length dramatization of true events as seen through the eyes of Maurice Rowland and Miguel Alvarez.  When the California Department of Social Services issued a suspension order in 2013 to temporarily shut down Valley Springs Manor in Castro Valley, CA over a lengthy list of violations, there was a lapse in proper agency protocol that instructs its staff to work with the home and local agencies to ensure everyone is transitioned.  Many of its elderly residents were left behind, with nowhere to go. The staff at Valley Springs Manor left when they stopped getting paid — except for cook Maurice Rowland and Miguel Alvarez, the janitor.  “If we left, they wouldn’t have nobody,” the 34-year-old Alvarez said.  Their roles quickly transformed for the elderly residents, who needed round-the-clock care. They cooked, cleaned and bathed the elderly-giving them their medications and helping them in and out of their beds and wheelchairs. Overwhelmed, Maurice and Miguel were in over their heads. With medication foul-ups and residents becoming ill, they called 911 several times over the course of several days before emergency responders finally evacuated the last of the residents by ambulance. In light of their heroics, the duo received an award from the American Veterans Association, a certificate of special recognition from Rep. Eric Swalwell’s office and a commendation from the California Legislature.

Repped by Jonathan Levy at UTA, screenwriter Andrew Burrows-Trotman earned an MFA in Screenwriting from the American Film Institute Conservatory and is currently in Los Angeles on an artist visa.  Andrew was born in Toronto and raised in Scarborough, Ontario by his single parent mother who immigrated from Guyana. His short script THE GREAT COMMISSION was produced and directed by Rockmond Dunbar and aired on Showtime.  Andrew had been serving as Maker’s story researcher, and as a result of his travels to Oakland for interviews, he is already familiar to Maurice and Miguel, who are both closely guarded individuals.

“These everyday heroes opened up their world to me,” Trotman says, “they invited me in their homes, I met their family and friends–I felt a familiar energy.  We come from different countries, but these men are familiar to me from my own poor, working-class upbringing.”

Maker is pleased to bring Trotman aboard. “This collaborative synergy and momentum within an existing productive relationship is exactly what this project needs to make storytelling magic happen. Andrew’s work is compelling and his writing sample was remarkably fascinating.” Referring to Trotman’s TV series pilot The Oasis which Maker said reminds him of The Wire: “It’s about education reform in one of America’s poorest cities, East St. Louis.  Based on his ability to capture raw contemporary realism, I expect nothing less than a compelling standalone achievement with this screenplay.”

To finance production at IfWeLeft.com, Maker is seeking crowd-funded donations on Indiegogo, a global fundraising site to help individuals, businesses, and non-profits raise money online.  This is Maker’s first feature film based on a true story. It is also the first movie he will produce from script to screen that is not a producer-for-hire project or based on an existing screenplay.  The working title IF WE LEFT is a story about friendship, heroism and the plight of our beleaguered elderly care system.

“I call them the people that people forgot,” Maker says of the elderly.  “Almost everybody you ask wants to live to see the ripe old age of one hundred years old, but nobody stops to think about what their quality of life might be at that age.  Half of assisted living and nursing home residents don’t have any close relatives or children to help them.”  In 2050, the population aged 65 and over is projected to be 83.7 million, almost double its estimated population of 43.1 million in 2012.  More than 32 million Americans will be over the age of 80, and the share of the 80-plus generation will have doubled to 7.4 percent.

About The Story “If We Left”:

When the California Department of Social Services issued a suspension order in 2013 to temporarily shut down Valley Springs Manor in Castro Valley over a lengthy list of violations, there was a lapse in proper agency protocol that instructs its staff to work with the home and local agencies to ensure everyone is transitioned. Many of its elderly residents were left behind, with nowhere to go.

The staff at Valley Springs Manor left when they stopped getting paid – except for cook Maurice Rowland and Miguel Alvarez, the janitor. “We had a conversation in the kitchen, ‘What are we going to do?'” Rowland says. Neither of them were scheduled to work or asked by management to stay.

“If we left, they wouldn’t have nobody,” the 34-year-old Alvarez says.

Their roles quickly transformed for the elderly residents, who needed round-the-clock care. They cooked, cleaned and bathed the elderly-giving them their medications and helping them in and out of their beds and wheelchairs.

Overwhelmed, Maurice and Miguel were in over their heads. With medication foul-ups and residents becoming ill, they called 911 several times over the course of several days before emergency responders finally evacuated the last of the residents by ambulance. In light of their heroics, the duo received an award from the American Veterans Association, a certificate of special recognition from Rep. Eric Swalwell’s office and a commendation from the California Legislature.

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About Miles Maker, Executive Producer:

Miles Maker is a Los Angeles independent producer and influencer in the vibrant creative community of emerging talent. This is Miles Maker’s first feature-film based on a true story. It is also the first movie he will produce from script to screen that is not a producer-for-hire project or based on an existing screenplay. “Even without a first draft of the script, I’ll be in early talks with directors, name talent, distributors and streaming media platforms like Netflix and Amazon because this story is a known commodity.”  To finance production at IfWeLeft.com, Maker will seek crowd-sourced donations on Indiegogo, a global fundraising site to help individuals, businesses, and non-profits raise money online.

About Maurice Rowland and Miguel Alvarez:

An African American cook and Hispanic janitor at a Residential Care Facility for the Elderly who stayed behind without pay, after the state abandoned 16 frail seniors they cared for.  Their selfless act of heroism helped bring attention to the oversight of care for our elderly in the US and influenced the Residential Care For the Elderly Reform Act of 2014, a historic law impacting the future of senior care.

The life story rights agreement between Rowland, Alvarez and Maker may be the first of its kind: any profit Maker makes as producer will be evenly split with Rowland and Alvarez.  “The potential breakout success of this movie and its ability to increase their financial independence is intrinsically linked, and I’m motivated by that,” Maker says.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.IfWeLeft.com?
Follow the creative team on Twitter: @ABTrotman, @milesmaker, @IfWeLeft

Get tips on adapting true stories with Erik Bork’s webinar
Finding the “Story” in True Stories

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