Last Days of the Caterpillar

Written by Gayla Kraetsch Hartsough, Writer/Producer
(Former script title, Year of the Caterpillar)

In 1957, a young girl'™s world is turned upside down when her dad loses his job and the uprooted family must move from their nice neighborhood to the poor side of a new city. Harassed by a local bully, she befriends a reclusive and suicidal war veteran, who teaches her to confront her fears. In turn, she teaches him to forgive himself.

Status: Seeking funding. Business plan, budget, and shooting schedule developed and available for review.


Gayla grapples with societal issues by portraying contemporary problems frequently set in other time periods.

LAST DAYS OF THE CATERPILLAR  is set in the 1950s – an era of childhood innocence – but deals with economic upheaval, bullying, PTSD, and suicide.

Inspiration for Gayla in Writing This Script...

Growing up, Gayla's family moved every few years because of her dad's work. She lived in 7 homes in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Chicago and attended 3 elementary schools, 1 middle school, and 2 high schools before heading off to college. This story is based on one of those family moves where her dad's career was in jeopardy and her mother hated their financial and life-style set back. Her family worked through those hard times and came out stronger and closer as a result. 

Her script has received recognition from BlueCat Screenplay Contest, Feature Semi-Finalist (top 1% out of more than 3,200 submissions), and Acclaim Film & Television Competition, Finalist.

For more info, go to "About Gayla" on this website.
LAST DAYS OF THE CATERPILLAR script recognitions...

  • Creative Artists' Agency (CAA), "Recommend"
  • Sundance Institute Writers' Lab, Second-Round Finalist
  • BlueCat Screenplay Contest, Feature, Semi-Finalist (top 1% out of more than 3,200 submissions)
  • Acclaim Film & Television Competition, Finalist, Screenplay Competition


Chuck I. Jones
Joyce Averna
       Joyce produced her first feature film, SILVER SKIES, in 2014 alongside seasoned TV/Film Director and Writer, Rosemary Rodriguez. The project featured a standout cast, including George Hamilton, Valerie Perrine, and Barbara Bain. Soon thereafter, she joined forces with business partner, Tricia Gilfone, to form JoyTri Productions LLC.
       Before her feature debut, Joyce worked for more than 20 years in money management, most recently as a Principal with Payden & Rygel, an $85-billion investment management firm. She was responsible for leading a global team of financial professionals in formulating investment strategies and solutions for multi-billion dollar accounts. Prior to her time at Payden & Rygel, Joyce rose to the rank of Vice President with Smith Barney in New York. She is past-president of the Southern California Association for Financial Professionals.
       Joyce holds a Bachelor’s Degree in economics from St. John’s University in New York. She completed Harvard Business School’s Investment Management Program, and holds a Master’s Degree in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica.
       An advocate for young women, Joyce is a member of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and a long-time supporter of St. Anne’s, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping at-risk young women. She serves on the Advisory Committee of the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission which provides shelter for homeless families, and volunteers at the Central California Women’s Prison, the largest female correctional facility in the US.
Tricia Gilfone
       Tricia, a versatile artist and performer, has more than 20 years experience in the entertainment business, including work in theater, television, film, and radio. A graduate of the Visual and Performing Arts High School and New York’s American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Tricia has studied with some of the master teachers in her craft, including renowned casting director, author and teacher, Michael Shurtleff, who accepted her into his master class as the youngest attending student.
       A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Tricia relocated to Los Angeles to expand her work in different areas of the business, including voice over, sketch, and puppetry. Her credits include work with NBC, Hallmark, Lifetime, Disney Corporation, Days of our Lives, and iHeart Radio, among many others.
       Her passion for the business led her to expand her talents further to include creating and producing her own projects. Her latest accomplishments include co-creating and producing web content for Disney Online Interactions, as well as her own scripted comedic series Assistant Living. Tricia produced her latest feature film, SILVER SKIES, alongside seasoned TV/Film Director and Writer, Rosemary Rodriguez starring a veteran cast of George Hamilton, Valerie Perrine, and Barbara Bain.
       On a personal level, Tricia is a supporter of animal rescue, and aiding the homeless of Los Angeles.
       Chuck is the Founder, Chairman, President/CEO of Liaison International of North America Sports and Entertainment Agency Corporation (Linasea Corp.) and Linasea Corp. Films.
       As a third-generation public relations, promotions, and marketing representative, 
Chuck is the first and only known sports agent and publicist worldwide to represent professional athletes in seven different professional sports leagues. Among the many celebrities that Chuck has represented and advised are:  drummer/composer Tony Thompson (Chic and The Power Station), Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame inductee and legendary drummer John Densmore (The Doors), Academy Award and Golden Globe nominated actor Eric Roberts, the late legendary singer Wilson Pickett, and Major League Baseball World Series champion and National League Batting Champion, Gary Sheffield.
       Chuck has worked with numerous executives and officials worldwide, representing Adidas, Buffalo Bills (NFL), CBS, CNBC, Los Angeles Dodgers (MLB), Mercedes Benz USA, Milwaukee Brewers (MLB), New Orleans Saints (NFL), Nike, Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
       Chuck has forged alliances with some of Hollywood's most talented entertainment producers, directors, actors, writers, recording artists/musicians, and other industry professionals worldwide.
       Overall, Chuck has advised, consulted with, or represented:  a) professional athletes that have collectively received contracts totaling more than $200 million dollars in monetary compensation; b) entertainers and producers that have starred/co-starred in or produced numerous feature films that have generated more than $2 billion dollars in worldwide box office revenues; and c) artists/musicians that have collectively sold more than 30 million album/recording copies worldwide attaining gold and multi-platinum status.
       Chuck attended Florida A&M University, majoring in business administration, and subsequently completed training with the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) and Canadian Football League Players Association (CFLPA).


A coming of age story... written by Gayla Kraetsch Hartsough

       LAST DAYS OF THE CATERPILLAR is shown through the eyes of young GRACIE, 7, who is uprooted when her family must move from their home in an upper middle-class suburb to the poorer side of an industrial city. Before leaving her old home, Gracie rips off a corner of the wallpaper with the image of a Geisha, who becomes Gracie’s imaginary friend – her only friend.
       LILY, Gracie's mother, is determined to make the best of a home that's a major step back. No matter how hard she tries, it's hard for her to hide her true feelings from her husband DAVID. David is determined to do well at his new job so he can eventually afford a better home for his family.
       Gracie and her sister MAGGIE now must endure the impending "cracks" in their parents’ marriage and find a way to fit in to their new lives. While Maggie, a pubescent tomboy, is seemingly making friends and settling in, Gracie is mostly ignored or bullied by the neighborhood kids.
       Armed with her vivid imagination, Gracie sets out exploring the field behind her new home even though she has been told to stay away because of a scary and dangerous man who lives there. The kids refer to him as Frankenstein. The adults know he’s “not quite right.”  A local boy bullies her and chases her deep into the field. He taunts her with a branch crawling with tent caterpillars. Gracie stumbles and is knocked out. She awakens only to meet Frankenstein. She finds out that this supposed Frankenstein of a man is really a gentle giant. His real name is FRANKIE. A friendship is born. Gracie sneaks away often to visit Frankie but she must keep her new friend a secret from her family.
       Frankie is not without his demons, however. He is a tortured and despondent war veteran who struggles with suicidal tendencies. Their new friendship seems to ease his pain a bit and takes away Gracie's loneliness. Frankie helps Gracie be strong and face her fear of the thousands of caterpillars that roam the fields.
       One day Gracie shares her Geisha memento with Frankie and it triggers the horrors of his past, causing him to lash out and scare Gracie away. Devastated by his loss of control, Frankie is sent into a tailspin and begins to put his demise into plan.
       Hurt and alone again, Gracie stumbles upon her sister who is sent to find her and bring her home to her angry parents. Suddenly the local bully attacks and molests Maggie. Gracie runs to Frankie for help. Frankie rescues Maggie but the bond is frayed between Gracie and him… and something is lost.
       Things only intensify when David confronts Frankie about spending time with his young daughter, telling him "it’s not right". Although David is thankful for Frankie's help, it is clear that Gracie and Frankie won't be seeing each other again.

       Frankie plunges into a depression again. His haunting memory of World War II overpowers him. During the War, he used a flame thrower to destroy a hiding place of enemy Japanese soldiers. Instead, women and children emerged on fire. Once and for all, Frankie decides to end his pain with a baptism by fire and punish himself for his sins. When Gracie sees the fire from across the field, the family runs to try to save him. Although Frankie does not die, he is badly burned and on death's door.
       Gracie convinces her parents that she must say goodbye to her friend. At the hospital, Gracie sees Frankie bandaged in an oxygen tent, resembling a caterpillar's cocoon. Gracie concludes that Frankie is transforming into a caterpillar and will soon emerge as a beautiful moth, similar to the ones in the field. She knows he will soon be free and at peace.
       Gracie's experiences and friendship with Frankie empower and mature her. She can let go of her imaginary Geisha friend. She emerges with an inner strength, like the caterpillars… and a strength that brings her family together again.
LAST DAYS OF THE CATERPILLAR can feature named talent with high-production value for an indie budget of $4.4mil (less tax credits).
  • The State of Mississippi has allocated our project a $1.1mil cash rebate.
  • The budget includes a 10% contingency and a completion bond.

Equity Partner Considerations
In exchange for providing equity funding, investors will be repaid from all revenue received by producers from distribution and exploitation of the picture, net of third-party out-of-pocket expenses if any, plus a return on investment of 20%. Investors will also receive 50% of net profits.
We are filming in the State of Mississippi, which has locations that can easily be adapted to create the aura of the 1950s. The film is scheduled for 3 weeks of prep time and 20 shoot days in Mississippi with post-production in Los Angeles.

Comparable Coming-of-Age Films

Films in the spirit of LAST DAYS OF THE CATERPILLAR tend to win the hearts of audiences and critics. They frequently garner Oscar and AFI awards and nominations, as well as  healthy returns on their investments.

In 2014, the U.S. suicide rate was 13 per 100,000 people,
the highest recorded rate in 28 years: 43,000 Americans killed themselves. 

Comparable GI Films
The film also deals with Frankie'™s Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a condition not recognized at the time, but experienced by many World War II GIs.
PTSD is prevalent among our veterans today. 1 in 5 veterans returning from combat will have PTSD:
  • 11% to 20% from the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars
  • 10% from the Gulf War
  • 30% from the Vietnam War
  • 36.6% of PTSD victims classified as severe cases (at-risk for suicide)
Among veterans, the greatest PTSD cause is combat-related guilt , which is also the greatest predictor of suicide attempts and preoccupation with suicide.
  • Individuals with combat-related PTSD have 3 times the likelihood of reporting hopelessness or suicidal ideas.
  • PTSD-related suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. In 2012, more than 5,000 suicides in the United States occurred as a result of combat-based PTSD.
But PTSD is not unique to veterans. Today, 5 million Americans suffer from PTSD. Women are 2 times more likely to acquire PTSD than men. $42.3 billion is allocated to the prevention and assistance associated with PTSD treatment.

Comparable Classic Films

A child'™s coming-of-age remains a timeless story, particularly when a child'™s transformative experiences involve relationships with adults who do not fit mainstream society.


LAST DAYS OF THE CATERPILLAR may be set in 1957, but many of its lessons apply to today.
It is an everyman'™s story, which many generations can relate to.
  1. U.S. Audience Appeal
    The American audience will relate to the film, as the U.S. economy emerges out of the recession that caused high unemployment rates and the uprooting of families.
  2. Gen X and Millennials
    These two generations have recently faced broken dreams with unemployment and the inability to afford mortgages. They will be drawn to the redemptive ending.
  3. GIs, PTSD, and Suicide
    Many of our veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have had to grapple with Post-Traumatic Syndrome Disorder. Too many take their lives as a consequence.
  4. Foreign Appeal
    As a family drama, it will have universal appeal. Foreign audiences account for 45% to 60% of the gross box office receipts of the top movies.
  5. Baby Boomers
    Baby Boomers were children in the 1950s, so they will relate to the era. They are also attracted to intelligent period pieces and family love stories.
  6. Child Bullying
    Americans are more aware of the issues of child bullying, which has intensified with the Internet.

Great Talent Options for Key Roles

Once initial financing is obtained, we can finalize the talent.

Role of Frankie

The role of the emotionally riddled Frankie, the GI who befriends Gracie, is a part that will attract box office talent. Our top candidates have  a track record of portraying complex characters that win the hearts of audiences.

Role of Lily

Gracie's mom, Lily, is a critical part because of the major transformation she goes through. Her dreams of the American ideal life are crushed when her family is uprooted. In the end, she realizes that "you shouldn'™t cry over something that can'™t cry over you." Through Frankie's death, she learns to love her husband, her daughters, and herself again.
Gayla Kraetsch Hartsough is the sole writer of the script and owns the script'™s options. LAST DAYS OF THE CATERPILLAR has a copyright with the U.S. Patent Office and is registered with the Writers Guild of America (WGA).
Gayla Kraetsch Hartsough, Ph.D.
KH Consulting Group
Gayla Films in KHaos Entertainment Division
1901 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 200
Los Angeles, CA 90067

310.203.5417 tel
310.203.5419 fax
[email protected]