Writing a screenplay---need help
Hello: I'm new to the forum, and seeking some assistance.
I'm a screenwriter/filmmaking professor in Dallas and working on a
screenplay about a black ATF agent who investigates some church burnings in a small Texas town.
I've been having trouble getting a handle on this story because I don't know squat about fire, firefighting, fire investigation techniques, etc.. In other words, I don't know what the hell my bad guy should know, or how my hero should stop him. I'm not even sure who my bad guy should be: an experienced arsonist? An amateur with an axe to grind? Seems to me it'd be pretty easy these days to nab a dilletante, but at what point would ATF be called in on a "serial" arsonist---or would they? Also, being a responsible writer, I don't want to write a handbook for arsonists, yet I need some details about the crime and combatting the crime to make it realistic.
I don't have any money to pay consultants, but will certainly acknowledge in the script the contributions of anyone who helps with my research. Thanks! Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org---John