Comments on The Scriptwriter.
Joined: Nov 11, 2007
Location: UK *up north somewhere*
Total Topics: 63
Total Comments: 195
Posted 05/29/08 - 5:54 AM:
Subject: The Scriptwriter.
She took out the manuscript from protective case. She was now about half-way through the movie but had become a little stuck. Only a few nights before she had been watching a nicely crafted comedy at home; it was a fairly recent release, only just transferred to DVD and it had surprised her and also made her feel a slight tingle of envy. There was a crispness and efficiency that she thought, perhaps, her work lacked. Certainly she had tried her hand at most genres; there had been suspense, horrors, romances serious or more inclined towards comedy and even less easily defined works where all these elements could have been said to have had their role: sprinkle a little suspense here, a little romance over there, hey presto! Never action movies as such, previously. She had actually thought they were probably harder to write than they seemed; there had been a serial killer piece that she'd been a co-writer on but it leaned more toward the psychological though there had been some fast paced scenes. Science fiction; yes, sort of. 'Time Reversed' had seen a couple going back through their relationship from break-up to first meeting after the husband makes a break through in the lab and decides to put his hard work to the test in his private life with mixed results. That hadn't done so well but she thought there had been a tautness, a refreshing wittiness, yet after that movie the other night she was back doubting whether she'd ever really stuck out as any good. Historical drama - no; political drama - no; conversion from the book - yes! It was a novel too. 'Analysed Lives' had been a serious book and the movie of the same title following the intertwining narratives of three female friends all unknowingly going to see the same psychoanalyst had done quite well. The reviews had been fairly good anyway; she thought, in reflection now, that she had tried to be 'too serious' instead of applying her comedic skill; comedy had been present in the book but the film, she had decided, had needed the more dead-pan dialogue to help deliver a sense of how the women's lives were drifting in an undefined misery. The helping hand of comedy didn't seem needed at the time but now she wondered. She was married to a man whose name was Joseph.
(Joseph enters the living room and finds Kimberley worrying over her new script. He is part of the business world, they have been having troubles in their relationship recently. He is late home and this is a source of contention between them; he is slightly drunk and holds a bottle of expensive German beer. They have already argued the night before and he spent the night in a separate room.)
Joseph: Ah, that new one is it? The one about hitman who is a poet on the side and blames his career choice on his distant father?
Kimberley: (She thrusts the script firmly down to her side.) Drunk again Jo?
Joseph: I had to entertain some clients, you know it's an important part of what we do.
Kimberley: I don't belittle what you do so why do you have to belittle my work? At least movies give something to people even if it is just a bit of relief. I don't see that IT services could make a claim like that do you?
Joseph: Well it's strictly business. You forget what you take away from people too; they have to sit through about thirty minutes of adds these days and that just takes from people. You treat people like kids enough at every chance you get and the weaker ones start acting like kids: they let fools rule the country and make wars. I won't even start on the movies themselves.
(There is a pause and both appraise one another. Joseph turns on the TV and an advertisement for the latest model Ford comes on. People's unwanted models are seen floating by strings from balloons into the city sky, an ecstatic man pushes his old model car from his garage and the new model awaits on the street.)
It was the kind of thing which would attract a mass audience but she felt if she could bring it off the action and pace could share equally with some poignant character development and dialogue. Of course smaller productions could handle weightier and more worthy themes but the chances of many people paying to go and see such a movie were always minimal. They usually needed some kind of distinguished performance from a one of the few Hollywood regulars who could actually act and this first would need to be picked up by a bunch of erstwhile critics.
(Rimmington is positioned on a rooftop over the street. He sees the target giggling happily with his lover and they play lovingly in the snow. There is a flashback to a teenage romance before the induction programme; still the memories are slipping through reprogramming and implants. His finger plays with the trigger and we get a glimpse of the flashback. He is, perhaps, eighteen; they are sitting in a dinner sharing a huge milkshake: it is the girl's birthday.)
(Note: This is the same memory that Kimberley has of her present lover when they were in their early twenties and just graduated from college.)
Young Rimmington/Joseph: (He is laughing and playful but with some serious intent.) But how do we ever really know each other? Maybe we have secrets we could never tell each other.
Girlfriend/Kimberley: Oh sure, like you're a hitman or something. Who did you kill off last then? Heh, this is good dialogue, you hear that in a movie or something?
Young Rimmington/Joseph: (Blows bubbles in the shake then starts grinning; suddenly his face changes to a more serious expression.) There's a dark side to life you know kiddo. It's so dark that people don't look at it. I don't know why I talk about these things at times like this.. I suppose it's when life is really good that people understand these things more clearly. Shit, I'm sorry babe. (He squeezes her hand.)
Girlfriend/Kimberley: You seemed such a light hearted guy when I started going out with you but sometimes you get so serious. (Her expression is serious, she is still very attached to him but the mood has clearly changed.)
Young Rimmington/Joseph: This is your birthday! I'm sorry, forget it.
(We return to the project at hand. The is a close up of Rimmington's finger as he squeezes the trigger and then change to his victim as he reels back into the snow; his lover falls to him in disbelief and the snow is flooded with blood. Rimmington packs up his equipment in a business like manner.)
"You used to be deeper than me; you seemed to see everything coming when we were first starting out. You should have been the artist. Don't you think I see that?" Kimberley was in kitchen now, Joseph had collapsed onto the sofa in front of a sitcom.
"I had the sense to choose something that could provide a decent income. The kind of stuff I was writing had no commercial future, you said so yourself." His tone was resigned, slightly resentful.
"Well I was right wasn't I? Still, I think my work has its moments, I try to create places of substance if I can. I'm just too much of realist; I've only just started to get a foothold and if I start turning out 'Rain Man' scripts I'll probably just disappear from view. Unless you have a major hit you're nothing in this industry and even after that they expect you to come up with the same style, you create an expectation." She poured out some freshly made coffee.
(Rimmington sits in the hotel room and the prostitute seems asleep now. He is writing a poem under lamp light, the camera scrolls down the moving words that talk of heart breaking loneliness and isolation. The prostitute wakes up and straightens herself against the headboard.)
Prostitute: What you doin' there babe?
Rimmington: Don't worry yourself pretty thing. I'm just writing what I have to do tomorrow.
Prostitute: Your boss won't tell us what you guys do but your sure take care of yourselves; it must be something physical babe. Is it babe? Do you have to do the rough stuff? (She strokes his firm biceps then works down to his six-pack.)
Rimmington: I can't tell you what I do, you know better than to talk about that shit.
Prostitute: It's just they pay us so well and it is always such a pleasure, sexy. (She leans now toward what he has written.) Always such a pleasure... (She begins reading from the notebook.) 'Shattering silences/ I am the metal shrapnel breaking into darkness/ never leaving the darkness/ undoing God's work that he has left alone.' Wow baby, this what you doin' tomorrow?
(Suddenly there is a noise outside. Rimmington pushes the girl aside and rolls onto the floor, grabbing his handgun.)
Kimberley handed Joseph a ready-made meal on a tray. They stopped having dinner together some time ago since their schedules were so different; her's is mostly spent in solitude at home whilst his has meant he is sometimes away at weekends. Increasingly they have become like strangers yet still she insists on doing things for him to try and reach at something that had once been between them but is now increasingly far from reach.
"We were going to be a modern couple. I used to like to cook for you but I'm just turning into a serving girl."
"Well you spend all this time at home. Don't bother; I can heat this stuff myself, if you don't want to cook anymore just leave me to my own devices." His eyes remained fixed on the screen. Suddenly he let off a groan as a predictable line is fed from the sitcom. "At least you don't have to write that shit, I'd rather work at McDonald's than have to come up with that shit!"
Kimberley sat down again with the piles of paper she had been reviewing before her husband made his indelicate entry. With him sat there and after the unflattering references to her work she felt little desire to go back to her computer and begin the latest scene. However, her agent had been on her back about coming up with something new. The same production company that had been behind 'Analysed Lives' had suggested she should try her hand at something a little more commercial. It was almost finished now and she worked at a caffeine fuelled pace for the next two hours as her husband went into a kind of foetal contentment in front of the TV screen. It was probable they would again spend the night in separate rooms and wouldn't speak beyond a routine 'goodnight' to suggest things weren't as bad as they were before going to bed. What did he think about now? He had been so bristling with ideas and feeling at one time but now work seemed to take all of his most vital energies.
(Rimmington returns to the safe house after the battle. He is clearly badly hurt but his first aid training means he can patch himself up with some skill. We watch some bloody reparations taking place in the kitchen; he self medicates with a bottle of whisky. We now change scenes to a past moment with his girlfriend. They are just out of their teens now and they are living together in a similarly low key apartment.)
(Note: This is much the same scene Kimberley had with her fiancé soon after they got their first apartment together.)
Rimmington/Joseph: It's what I'm good at. The company are going to train me and pay me well; all our problems will be solved.
Girlfriend/Kimberley: But you wanted to be different, you wanted to do things your own way. You don't know what they are going to ask you to do. (She tries to draw close but he pushes her away.)
Rimmington/Joseph: Don't tell me what is good for me, I know what is good for me and for us. We can't live off nothing, we can't pretend we're special. Sooner or later you've got to give in, do what they want to some degree, play by the rules.
Girlfriend/Kimberley: Who says? I'm going to find a way, I'm not going to let them take my life from me! (She rushes out of the room and knocks over his wallet. She picks up a wallet and it reveals his 'new' identity.) Who the fuck is Rimmington?
Kimberley smiled to herself when she remembered how adamant she had been that they could do things differently. If the script had turned wooden she knew there was enough of a dynamic to force something palatable onto the screen with the right director, funding and cast. She was amazed how special effects and good directing could distract from a mediocre script. If they'd only let her keep the references to his poetry, the scenes from childhood with his father and step brother, all the symbols of his complex inner life, she might not feel too ashamed by the end result. Why even Shakespeare had to do with some pretty shaky plots sometimes.
She was on the final page now, approaching the horizon with a sense of relief and expectancy. Her hero had escaped the company and saved a number of targets from the bullet after finding out they were all more or less innocent of any crime. He was now with the prostitute; they had discovered many similarities within their precarious lives and she even liked his poetry.
(They are snug in the cottage and the large guard dog nestles at the ex-hitman's feet. He pats the dog's head and then strokes the girlfriend's head as she hums with pleasure. A copy of his recently published poems is resting on her chest. It is a homely abode, probably in a foreign country: as far as they can possibly be from The Company.)
Roxy: Do you think they'll ever find us Jason?
Rimmington: I don't know baby, I don't know.
Roxy: I'm so happy baby. I never thought I would have this kind of life, I thought I'd always be running, somebody always on my back, thought I'd never be able to relax.
(Suddenly something arouses her. The implant in her head has been triggered and she starts to leave the room.)
Rimmington: Where are you going?
Roxy: Nowhere baby, nowhere.
(She goes to their cosy bedroom and removes a tiny handset from the a concealed compartment in her leather jacket. The same code words that Rimmington has seen before all his kills flashes on the screen: 'Closing Credits'. Without a second thought she constructs a weapon from the fragments seen earlier in her handbag - the make-up mirror, the lipstick, the palm computer and face cream bottle- and walks quickly and efficiently back to the room that glows in the firelight. Rimmington is reading from the poetry book, we scroll down the lines which are bathed in the shadows of the fire and we flashback to distant memories as they are spoken. It is Rimmington's voice we hear.)
He died and rose again
The son of the hitman
Buried alive under black earth
Broken by God
Running toward memory
He tripped, tangled, barbed wire
Wrapping him up
Shrapnel in the dark
Shrapnel in the snow
Blood, beautiful blood,
Flooding flowers as
Death came without gratitude.
(A single shot and the page is splattered by blood. There is a close-up of the girl's eyes and a tear works its way down her cheek.)
Kimberley closed the file on the computer screen and sent the finished manuscript off by e-mail to the agent to be read in the morning. She had been so lost on the narrative that she'd forgotten entirely about her problems with her husband. Despite everything there was the pleasure and thrill that always accompanied the finishing of a project knowing now that there was a good chance her words, or some version of them, would reach the attention spans of millions of people. She walked into the living room which, strangely, had a glow similar to the hitman's final hide out. Joseph had reduced the light in the room to two table lamps, and was now lying on the sofa, a book resting on his chest, asleep. It was a collection of verse which Kimberley thought he hadn't looked at since their college days. She went over to him and sat next to him on the floor resting her head in his lap. She made a gun with her hands and pretended to blow his brains out.
Joined: Apr 16, 2005
Location: San Francisco
Total Topics: 425
Total Comments: 4672
Posted 07/02/08 - 12:43 AM:
awesome. by far the best piece you've posted here, in my opinion. reminds me of charlie kaufman's "adaptation" (as did your chapter 3 of a novel, back when i first thought it was actually a short story). the dialogue between rimmington and the prostitute feels a little awkward, but it speaks to me of kimberley's awkwardness & insecurities as a scriptwriter, and feels properly introduced by her introspective self-analysis which opens the story.
i have not read "godel, escher, bach", but some time ago someone explained to me a concept discussed in that book, one of blurring the boundaries of reality between a fictional world and yet another fictional world which exists within the first world. the concept is called "pushing" and "popping", and i'm a big fan of that sort of transcendent exploration. in fact, if anyone knows of any other fiction or movies which make use of that device, please feel free to make recommendations so i can check them out.
Call stacks are also discussed in GEB, as one dialogue describes the adventures of Achilles and the Tortoise as they make use of "pushing" and "popping" tonics. Entering a picture in a book would count as "pushing", entering a picture in a book within a picture in a book would have caused a double "pushing", and "popping" refers to an exit back to the previous layer of reality. The Tortoise humorously remarks that a friend of his performed a "popping" while in their current state of reality and has never been heard from since; the implied question is, "Did the friend simply cease to exist, or has the friend achieved a higher state of reality?" Also, since the reader is "pushed" into the world of Tortoise and Achilles, would the friend have ascended to the same level of reality in which the readers of GEB currently reside? Subsequent sections discuss the basic tenets of logic, self-referring statements, ("typeless") systems, and even programming.
Joined: Nov 11, 2007
Location: UK *up north somewhere*
Total Topics: 63
Total Comments: 195
Posted 07/04/08 - 5:00 AM:
Thank you Liberty, you're my only fan...