Monthly Archives: January 2013

Find Me A Spoon.

You were starting to think it had gone a bit quiet hadn’t you? It’s true to say I don’t write every night, in fact I don’t usually plan when I do and the early stages of a script are the hardest because you haven’t got a foothold yet and nothing is making sense. Luckily I’ve hit the turning point in this one and now have a ‘feel’ for it, it’s mainly due to a last minute plan of adding in another character all together. How exactly would Tony start to doubt his surroundings? Originally I had the TV reports start to talk to him personally but this somehow seemed old hat and a bit one sided. It would just be a screen telling Tony what to do. Enter ‘Michael’ a man who isn’t afraid to speak his mind.

Or ‘gob shite’ as they call them from where I’m from.

We’re up to page 14 now and it it certainly has rough patches but this is all draft one stuff.

Tony throws the book towards Andrea who catches it and places it back in her pocket.

ANDREA

Right, I’m going to get moving. Anything else you need?

TONY

Not that I can think of.

ANDREA

Okay, call me if you need me then and try to get some sleep.

Andrea exits the room, leaving Tony flicking through a puzzle book.

  1. INT/ TONY’S BEDROOM/ NIGHT

Tony is in bed, not asleep, just resting.

There’s only the bare minimum of light.

He gets up, walks over to the window, pulls back the curtains.

He sees streets, city lights and cars moving.

He quickly closes the curtains again.

There is a knock at the door.

Tony looks shocked and stands perfectly still.

Another knock

Tony creeps towards the door, getting close to it.

TONY

Who’s there?

A male voice responds

VOICE

I’m here to tell you something.

TONY

Then tell me now.

VOICE

Open the door first.

TONY

Do you know what time this is?

VOICE

Yes, I have a watch.

Tony still pauses.

VOICE

Open the door.

Tony opens the door very slowly.

On the other side is a man wearing dark trouser, a shirt and tie. He wanders straight into the room, pushing past Tony.

VOICE

(Offering handshake)

The name’s Michael.

TONY

(Accepting handshake)

Tony

MICHAEL

Yeah I knew that.

TONY

It’s 3am by the way.

MICHAEL

Were you asleep?

TONY

Well, not really.

MICHAEL

I knew that.

TONY

You seem to know a lot.

MICHAEL

I’ve been living opposite for the last few weeks and I started thinking about you.

TONY

Me?

MICHAEL

You never leave the house, you only get one visitor.

TONY

I’m just not that social.

MICHAEL

And that one visitor is a woman. She’s either your Mum who keeps up a good skincare regime or newly qualified hooker.

TONY

Excuse me?

MICHAEL

Well which is it?

TONY

Have you just come round here to offend me?

MICHAEL

No, this is a social visit. I am visiting you, I am greeting you in the warmest possible circumstances.

TONY

At 3am.

MICHAEL

At 3am.

TONY

The time means nothing to you does it?

MICHAEL

Does it mean anything to you? You’re probably awake through most of it right?

TONY

How do you know?

MICHAEL

It’s a lucky guess, you’ve just confirmed it by agreeing.

Michael picks up the box of pills.

MICHAEL

What are these?

TONY

My pills.

MICHAEL

It’s nothing contagious is it? Are you in quarantine?

TONY

No, just vitamins.

MICHAEL

Why?

TONY

Because I’m not exactly walking in sunshine right now.

MICHAEL

You don’t need these, seriously stop taking them. Just eat some food or something y’know.

TONY

Thanks for the great advice, shouldn’t you be going?

MICHAEL

Let me show you something.

TONY

What?

MICHAEL

Just follow me.

Michael moves towards the door.

He stands in the doorway gesturing to Tony

Tony eventually follows him.

They walks down the corridor together.

MICHAEL

Just so you know I live right over there.

He points towards a door.

TONY

Great, fantastic.

MICHAEL

Any time you need somebody to talk to, a shoulder, anything you come round right?

TONY

Why are you doing this?

MICHAEL

Doing what, reaching out to a friend?

TONY

I’m not your friend.

MICHAEL

I’m hurt, really hurt. You might not be now but you’ll soon be. Consider something for me?

TONY

What?

Michael opens the door to his flat.

MICHAEL

When was the last time you made it as far as the lifts?

Michael closes the door behind him leaving Tony in the corridor alone.

Tony stands looking around, shocked amazement.

He runs back to his own door, shutting it behind him.

  1. INT/ TONY’S FLAT/ DAY

Andrea and Tony sit drinking coffee.

ANDREA

You left your flat?

TONY

Yeah, there was this guy here.

ANDREA

Who?

TONY

Called himself Michael, lives down the hall apparently.

ANDREA

And he visited you when?

TONY

3am.

ANDREA

Who visits people at 3am?

TONY

He does it would seem.

ANDREA

Why did you open the door anyway?

TONY

I thought I was dreaming it.

ANDREA

And you had to open it to make sure.

TONY

Pretty much. He showed me where he lives.

ANDREA

What do you mean ‘showed you’?

TONY

We were out in the hall.

ANDREA

What were you doing there? You haven’t went beyond that front door in months.

TONY

It just kinda happened.

ANDREA

Well ignore him, I don’t think anybody should be coming into other people’s homes when they might just be asleep.

TONY

I think he was just one of these crazy guys.

ANDREA

Thin line between crazy and idiot. Where does heE
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TONY

Out the door, turn right, last one before the lifts.

ANDREA

If he knocks again let me know, I’ll be knocking on his door when he’s trying to sleep, see how he likes that.

TONY

He sounds like he’d enjoy the company.

ANDREA

Have you taken your pill today?

TONY

Not yet, I’ll take it soon.

ANDREA

You’d better, you’ll look even worse if you don’t.

TONY

Thanks for the uplift in confidence.

Andrea gathers her things.

ANDREA

That’s what I’m here for.

She leaves the room.

  1. INT/ TONY’S ROOM/ NIGHT

Tony sits alone.

A knock at the door.

Tony goes straight over and opens it.

Michael wanders in again.

TONY

My friend isn’t happy with you

MICHAEL

Who? Your sister?

TONY

She’s not my sister.

MICHAEL

Then it’s okay for me to fancy her a little bit then.

TONY

You’re not here at your usual hour?

MICHAEL

I can go and come back if you want to?

TONY

No, it’s okay.

Michael looks on the table.

MICHAEL

38.

TONY

Sorry?

MICHAEL

38 pills left in that packet.

TONY

Really?

MICHAEL

38 yesterday too, you didn’t take one today did you.

TONY

I forgot.

MICHAEL

And yet you live, amazing isn’t it?

TONY

If you say so.

Michael tilts his ear towards the ground.

MICHAEL

Did you hear that?

TONY

(looking confused)

What?

MICHAEL

(points at the wall)

That!

There is no obvious noise.

MICHAEL

No wonder you’re not sleeping with that.

TONY

What?

MICHAEL

You seriously can’t heard that?

TONY

No, there’s nothing.

MICHAEL

When I was a kid I always had a thing for being able to pick up high frequency sounds. You have this high pitched buzz coming from your wall.

TONY

Stop being a fool.

MICHAEL

Look I’m trying to help you here, no wonder you’re not sleeping if this is all your hearing. You might not be hearing it but I’m pretty sure your brain will be.

TONY

How is that even possible?

MICHAEL

Get me a spoon or something.

TONY

Why?

MICHAEL

Just do it!

Tony searches around for an implement.

He finds a fork.

TONY

I’ve only got this.

Michael snatches it.

MICHAEL

It’ll do nicely.

TONY

What are you…

Michael starts jabbing part of the wall next to window.

TONY

(Shocked)

Have you gone mental? Why are you doing that?

MICHAEL

It’ll just be a small hole, something’s making this noise.

TONY

The only noise now is you gouging lumps out of my wall!

MICHAEL

It’s minor, a bit of plaster after this and you’ll be fine.

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Sudoku

Andrea reaches into the bag again.

She produces a small booklet of puzzles.

ANDREA

I bought you this as well.

She flips it towards Tony.

Tony completely misses it and it lands on the floor.

He picks it up.

TONY

Another one?

ANDREA

Do you remember the last time you slept all night?

TONY

No.

ANDREA

Do you remember the last time you slept for an hour?

TONY

Combined?

ANDREA

No, just an hour straight.

TONY

In that case no.

ANDREA

You need to keep your mind occupied on something else other than the window. Do some puzzles to pass the time if you’re awake.

TONY

I’m trying to get to sleep and you’re asking me to do Sudoku?

ANDREA

I’m asking you not to stare at a wall all night. Where’s the other one I gave you?

TONY

I finished it.

ANDREA

Where is it?

TONY

It’s over on the table, why?

ANDREA

Not much good having a completed puzzle book and plus…

TONY

Plus?

ANDREA

Recycling.

Now I’m debating if we’re setting up our slight twist a little too early with the Sudoku puzzle book. I’m trying to make this part of Tony’s psychiatric evaluation, something he can discover right at the end when all his previous scribbles are laid out on a chart monitoring his progress. It’s also probably the first scene over and done with and I’ve already noticed a problem in that the characters don’t refer to each other by name at all in this scene so as far as an audience is aware they’re nameless. That’s have to be sorted come draft 2 as I’m not a big fan of stopping for details whilst getting the first draft down. I’m much more concerned with getting a complete thing down on paper to work from as of that moment.

This is probably the bit where we’ll start to introduce the weird stuff. Tony needs a reason to start doubting his surroundings, once we get to that then business will pick up.

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Chipping

A little more done last night.

He walks over to the window and pulls the curtains apart. It’s a bright morning, sunlight fills the room.

 He quickly closes them again.

 A knock at the door, he walks towards it and opens it. A woman walks in. She is young, wearing a long woollen coat and scarf. She’s carrying a shopping bag. This is Andrea.

 ANDREA

Why don’t you open the curtains?

 TONY

I just did.

 ANDREA

They’re closed.

 TONY

It’s too bright.

 ANDREA

And you’re not.

 She struts over to the window and flings the curtains open.

 Tony visibly winces.

 ANDREA

Just because you don’t go outside doesn’t mean that you have to sit in darkness.

 She takes a bottle of water out of the bag and places it on a table.

 ANDREA

How much?

 TONY

Next to nothing, a hour and a half maybe.

 ANDREA

You look it.

 TONY

Thanks.

 ANDREA

So what do you think about?

 TONY

When?

 ANDREA

When you can’t sleep.

 TONY

Everything, mainly what’s on the news and reading.

 ANDREA

Did you try this time?

 TONY

I did, I had my eyes shut for ages but my head wouldn’t switch off.

She takes out a small packet from the bag.

 It rattles when she moves it.

 ANDREA

(Pointing at the box)

Vitamins, new ones.

Tony picks up the box and looks at the back.

 TONY

What was wrong with the old ones?

 ANDREA

They don’t sell them anymore.

 TONY

Why not?

 ANDREA

I don’t know, things just move on. Tony, you don’t go outside so how would you know? It’s the same as the other ones. Probably a different coloured packet.

 Tony takes out one of the pills, shoves it in his mouth and then gulps some water.

So we have the first look of the pills that will form the turning point in the story. Eventually Tony will work out that rather than supplement him these pills are exactly what’s keeping him awake. I’m also trying to make Andrea’s questions seem innocent enough but actually be used as medical research, hence the asking him how many hours of sleep he got. This dialogue is extremely rambling and might get cut down a bit in future drafts but I think we’ve established that Tony relies on Andrea as his connection to an outside world he doesn’t go to.

Currently, the script hasn’t hit the ‘vanishing point’. By this I mean the line or action in which you suddenly realise that you have a foothold in it and it’s pretty easy to go from there. This occurs mainly once I’ve set up the preparation  the character names, the relationships and can build on that information. I’ll probably come back to it on Friday, my next day off.

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So It Begins.

I actually started this a couple of nights ago but my computer then decided to have some kind of melt down and needed some switch off time. It’s very short thus far, it’s pretty much just setting the opening scene up but it’s a foothold at least. This is going to be rough as hell because it’s very much first draft territory and I usually wouldn’t show this to anybody other than myself.

INT/ BEDROOM/ DAY

 A clean bedroom, white linen bedcovers are undisturbed, metal bed frame and headboard. A small, minimalist alarm clock sits on a white bedside cabinet. The alarms turns to 7:00AM and a buzzing emits. This lasts for about a second until a hand comes down to switch it off quickly.

 The hand belongs to Tony, he wears dark track trousers and a hooded top. His eyes are red around the edges and bags are visible below his eyes.

 After switching the alarm off his gaze remains on the screen for a few seconds, almost as if he’s enjoying the silence.

I’m still debating how to do this properly because the script will get broken up into sections over this blog, each with different notes on them and it’ll be in reverse order which will make it hard to read though if you just want to take it in from start to finish. I’m thinking about just setting up another page for the top menu bar here in which I’ll just have the script, at whatever stage it’s gone to at the time, available to read minus notes.

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Tissues Over The Door Handles

Back again to the notebook, I hope as this process goes on the photos will be a bit more interesting.

Please ignore the fact I’ve written ‘disintegrated when I meant ‘disintegrating’ before crossing it out and writing THE EXACT SAME WORD AGAIN!

Note that I’ve thrown in agoraphobia. This is mainly because the main character, if they were part of some science experiment disguised as a normal flat, would surely want to leave at some stage? This would blow the whole thing out of the water as the test subject wandered around at will far away from the lab setting. Essentially, our main character has to remain in the flat and be wary of leaving.

But what if this feeling of being scared of the outside world was just being suggested to our main guy? What if, as the film went on, he started to attempt to beat this and therefore discovered more and more about his actual surroundings?

With this, our characters have names.

‘Tissues over the door handles’ comes from The Kleenex Protocol which was made famous by The Manic Street Preachers. I just thought it would be an interesting sight in the opening, handles all covered in tissues for fear of germs. If Tony did have this then it’s probably a complex too far. There’s nothing to stop Andrea doing it upon her arrival though because, unknown to Tony, she’d be protecting a medical test.

With this information I think we’re ready to get going on draft one. I’ll be using the basic structure I outlined in the last post. I think I have the start already covered by subverting the usual student movie cliché of somebody waking up to an alarm and shaking themselves awake. Here well have an alarm going off and Tony switching it off instantly, wired and shaking, into the dawn.

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The Dark Folder

In other news, whilst looking through my storage cupboards on New Year’s Day, I found the folder that contains all my previous rejections letters. Some of them are absolute classics which I’m now tempted to scan and put up on here.

In fact when I get around to it I might make it so that everybody can join in on the comments section. We’ll all post the best ones and laugh together, turn a negative into a positive.

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The Chocolate Biscuit Question

Long ago, here in Britain, when Gordon Brown was Prime Minister there was an outcry in some sections of the media because he couldn’t decide what his favourite biscuit was when he was asked. It was a simple question but one that got caught up in a hailstorm of advisors all pondering what the best response to give was if he wanted to appear like a man who would be a good leader of the country. Would a Rich Tea be too boring? Would a Pink Wafer be far too obscure? Was a Kit Kat a biscuit or more of a chocolate bar? In the end he told them he’d get back to them. It was seen as indecision and the right wing press who always wanted an excuse to take him down used it as a club to beat the last bit of life out of any political career he had left.

Mind you, calling a woman who has voted for your party for the last fifty years ‘a narrow minded bigot’ live on TV probably didn’t help him in the long run.

Why am I bringing this strange occurrence of 2010 into a blog about script writing? As part of The Unlocked Project I’ll soon be thinking up names for my characters. Often in the past I’ve seen other writers stress over what to call their creations, almost to the point of it being a great achievement when it suddenly comes to them and they leap into the air shouting “Kevin! He’s most certainly a Kevin!”. I have seen downloadable forms for such character profiles which encourage you to fill in a vast pile of questions about them. What music is your character into? How many sexual partners have they had? What, indeed, is their favourite biscuit? My response to such detail is simple, it doesn’t matter.

Maybe I’m just really bad at writing characters but I’ve never, ever bothered going into masses of details about anything that won’t effect the story in the long run. As long as the story is powered along by the character’s actions rather than just some random events then I don’t give a hoot what their favourite lesson in school was. What matters is how they react in the environment you’ve created. It’s a complete mystery to me as to why many writers fret so much over something that’ll stand in the way of the important thing, your story.

Just in case you’re wondering, mine’s a bourbon cream.

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