The Missing Screenwriter: Part One


Robert William Hurley — The Missing Screenwriter

Who is Robert Hurley? I had touched on this a little in my previous blog but now I want to go more in depth on this topic. To fully answer this question will take more than one blog post. I have been reviewing the information available on him and there are some very intriguing aspects I do not want to gloss over. I will do my best to share with you all the facts as far as I have been able to collect from our sources, a few of my observations, and let you draw your own conclusions.

As a student of forensic criminology, I find this to be a fascinating case study. Perhaps together we can figure out new interpretations of the evidence which will help solve the mystery of the missing screenwriter.

I did not have the privilege of knowing Mr. Hurley personally. Everything I know of him is from what I have read on our website and seen in the video clips from The Missing Screenwriter and Dostoyevsky Reimagined: The Making of Notes from the New World. From what I can tell, he is a very intelligent and interesting individual.

Robert William Hurley was born July 9, 1982. It is not known where he was born but we know he was raised in an orphanage in Culver City, California. Hurley and I have something in common; growing up we both had dreams of being writers.

Hurley, however, chose to put his desires aside and instead attended the University of Southern California and earned a master’s degree in computer science. After graduation Hurley had several job offers but decided to return to his native Culver City and work as a computer engineer.

Hurley did not last more than six months in that position before he felt the urge to return to his real passion, writing. He started spending time in playhouses and it was a chance meeting at the New Playwrights Foundation, a play development lab, where he met Vitaly Sumin.

Sumin was already an established writer, director, and producer who had started his own production company VM Productions. Hurley and Sumin shared views on filmmaking and cinema in general and it was this connection which lead them to collaborate. Hurley began working on scripts for VM Productions’ Shades of Blood and Notes from the New World (Notes).

Notes_2sided_Front-SONIA-2015Notes is a modern adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s masterpiece Notes from the Underground. This retelling is set in present day Los Angeles. The main character, Steven Dumphy, is a young actor who lands a role in a modern adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s Notes from the Underground. This movie is a wonderful example of how life imitates art on so many levels. One has to wonder if this was not a foreshadowing of the events to come in the behind the scenes mysteries.

In Notes, Steven decides prepare for his role by practicing his craft on the streets of L.A., performing selections from Dostoyevsky texts.  It is during one of these performances when Sonia, an illegal immigrant from Mexico (who we find out later is actually Russian), sees him and believes he is an angel. She feels a connection to him and begins following him.

At the theater, Steven meets another woman, Irina. Irina is an American call-girl (who is pretending to be Russian) who is owned by the Russian mob. Irina wants to escape being a call-girl and dreams of being an actress. In pursuit of her dreams, she auditions and manages to win the part of a Russian call-girl in Steven’s play.

As Steven finds himself torn between the two new women in his life, the Russian mafia comes looking for a missing box which had been in Irina’s possession. Notes is filled with suspense; murder, accidental deaths, hidden cameras, the search for the missing box, the Russian mafia, and lovers triangles are just some of the events driving the non-stop action from opening scene until the end credits roll.

Hurley had produced many variations of the Notes story before he and Sumin agreed on a version. He was working on the shooting script for this film when he mysteriously disappeared. When he began working on the script, rumors started to circulate that Hurley was actually using his own life as a basis for the script. In an effort to not be negatively influenced by the speculations, Hurley began to withdraw from the cast and crew. Sumin was virtually the only person Hurley was keeping contact with, but then even that stopped.

There came a point when Sumin could not reach Hurley for several weeks. After numerous attempts to contact Hurley proved fruitless, the cast and crew became worried. In addition to their concern for Hurley they were worried about their production. Hurley was still in possession of the only shooting script. The production would be at a standstill until the script could be retrieved.

The cast and crew debated how best to handle the situation. It was eventually decided they would try to find Hurley’s apartment and see if they could get to the bottom of his absence. It was at this time when they began to film the behind the scenes events while making Notes. So many unusual events were beginning to happen the cast and crew agreed it would be best to start creating video diaries of the behind the scenes of their production.

These video diaries would serve several purposes. One, they would help document all events in case they needed to review them later for evidence or clues. Two, it would provide accurate reporting of all events which could be turned over to authorities should it ever be needed. Three, it might provide some protection for the cast and crew, and even potentially Hurley, should some of the rumors of alleged criminal involvement prove to be true. Forth, if the events they were living should play out and prove to be innocuous, they all knew it would still make for a fascinating documentary.

FLYER 11-HurleySeveral of the video diaries were compiled in VM Productions The Missing Screenwriter. In my next blog, The Missing Screenwriter: Part Two, I will take you through the events as the cast and crew track down Hurley’s apartment and search for the missing script only to find a mysterious journal written in Hurley’s handwriting. The journal contains many disturbing entries and drawings depicting a secret society and possible human sacrifices.

Could these clues have anything to do with Hurley’s disappearance? Could it just be a writing journal where he worked out plots for his scripts? I will give you more information and provide links so you will be able to review the evidence for yourself.

Be sure to visit us at home at Dostoyevsky Reimagined: The Making of Notes from the New World

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Shari Burckhardt

Born and raised in Wichita, KS, Shari went on to earn two degrees from Wichita State University. The first is in communications with an emphasis in print journalism and the second is for forensic criminology. She had just started a third degree in nutrition when she met and married her husband, Pedro. Pedro, originally from Chile, was in Wichita on a work visa. The two were married by Shari's mother at The Old Cowtown Museum in December, 2013. In 2014, the couple moved to Sonderborg, Denmark for Pedro's career. Living in Denmark and not speaking Danish forced Shari to seek employment online. She was keeping busy ghostwriting e-books when she came across the opportunity to join the visionaries at VM Productions. The couple currently live in Dusseldorf, Germany.

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