Author Topic: beginning of screenplay set in Australia  (Read 6308 times)

Offline kilter

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beginning of screenplay set in Australia
« on: August 02, 2006, 01:56:23 AM »
WARNING: Some strong language used

Sorry about the formatting. I'm sure everything could use a lot of work here. But am interested to know if this seems like the start of a 'proper' screenplay- in the balance of description and dialogue etc.
There's the 'f' word a couple of times.


FAULT LINES

SCENE 1

EXT. AUSTRALIAN DESERT- 1957.

The pale blue sky turns white, and a bright shadow covers the land. Screams. Burning saltbush. People stumble amid the flames.

An old man falls to his knees. Pieces of skin hang off him like a moulting snake’s. His eyes are seared shut.

A young man rushes to him.

YOUNG MAN
Father!

OLD MAN
They have woken the world’s end. Sing it back.

YOUNG MAN
Father!

OLD MAN
Promise me you’ll sing it back!

CUT TO- INT. BEDROOM- MORNING

THE WATCHER wakes with a start. He lies in twisted sheets, and light streams through orange curtains.

THE WATCHER
Father!


Coughing, he reaches for a cigarette. He lights it and exhales, watching the smoke blend with the shadows and the light.


EXT. SOUTH AUSTRALIAN HINTERLAND- DAY

Earth the colour of rust passes by a car window. Saltbush lines the side of the road.

A man drives an expensive four wheel drive. A boy sits next to him.

DRIVER (AMERICAN)
   Welcome to Woomera.   

The car enters a weather-beaten town. Wind blows red dust along the streets. The sky is a pale empty blue.

INT. BEDROOM- DAY

A suitcase is placed next to a neatly made single bed.

WOMAN (AMERICAN)
   This will be your room. Here, I’ll help you unpack.

The boy walks to a window and looks out. He sees a green lawn bordered by lush plants. Across the street is a vacant lot. Saltbush grows amid the dried out husks of European plants.

A swirl of wind whips up a plume of dust.

EXT- OUTSKIRTS OF WOOMERA- DAY

The boy sits in the passenger seat of the four wheel drive. He looks out the window.

DRIVER
Just take your time.

They drive past pre-fabricated buildings surrounded by wire fences. Razor wire shines bright under the harsh desert sun. 

DRIVER
That was the detention centre for illegal
immigrants.

The black car moves out into empty lands. There is only red dirt, dry plants and blue sky.

The car pulls up at a checkpoint. A high wire fence stretches to the horizon on either side. 

A man steps out of a small hut and approaches the driver’s side.

The driver winds down his window.

DRIVER
Hey Charlie.

CHARLIE
   G’day, Mr Defranco.

MR DEFRANCO
This is my nephew, Daniel. I’m going to show him round. Is that okay?
      
CHARLIE
   Hi Daniel.
No problems- Nothing on today.

DANIEL looks out his window.

An old aboriginal man sits outside the fence, his arms locked around his knees.

MR DEFRANCO
   Thanks, Charlie.

The car moves forward and DANIEL looks back over his shoulder.

DANIEL (AMERICAN)
   Who was that man?

MR DEFRANCO
   Charlie? He’s one of the guards.
      
DANIEL
   No, the other man- the black man.
   
MR DEFRANCO
(LAUGHS)      
Oh! I think they call him ‘The Watcher’.

DANIEL
   What’s he doing?

MR DEFRANCO
Watching.
(LAUGHS AGAIN)

THE WATCHER follows the four wheel drive with his eyes. It crawls across the land like a black beetle.

EXT. WOOMERA ARMY BASE- DAY

The boy and his uncle step out of the car. In front of them is a short ravine set in the side of a gently sloping hill. Two high metal structures rise from over the other side of the hill.

MR DEFRANCO      
Come on then.

MR. DEFRANCO begins to walk up the hill, but then stops and looks back. DANIEL has not followed.

MR DEFRANCO
Don’t you want to see a real launch pad?

EXT. LAUNCH PAD- DAY

DANIEL and his uncle stand before the metal structures. The struts are rusted and beside each is a wide hole in the ground.

DANIEL walks toward one of the holes and his uncle puts a hand on his shoulder.

MR DEFRANCO
Not too close. I heard a soldier fell in once. They never found his body.

MR DEFRANCO waves a hand across his face.

MR DEFRANCO
Damn flies. I can take everything else, but not the damn flies.


DANIEL turns away.

MR DEFRANCO
Anyway, best get back.

The car passes back through the checkpoint.

THE WATCHER sits looking through the wire fence. His face is scarred. Flies congregate in the corners of his eyes. He looks at his watch and smiles.

EXT. DEFRANCO HOUSEHOLD- DAY

A brick veneer wall stands in stark sunlight. The shadows of two people stand out against the faded surface.

BOY’S VOICE
(AMERICAN)
   Once I got a hundred in an hour.

On the wall a fly is transformed into mush.

BOY
   Gotcha! That’s thirty!

The boy bends down and picks up an elastic band. He stretches it taut along a piece of wood- between a nail on one end and a clothes peg fixed to the other.

BOY
Come on, it’s fun.
 
He looks along the wood, using the nail as a crude gun sight. He pushes down on the peg and the elastic band shoots forward.

BOY
   Thirty-one!

MRS. DEFRANCO
   Come on Cory, Daniel. It’s supper- time.

CORY
(GRINS)
   She probably wants us to wash our hands first.

A teenage girl, MARY, walks past and flicks her blonde hair.

GIRL
Savages.

INT. DEFRANCO RESIDENCE- EVENING

The dinner table is set. Orange sunset light streams through windows. Cutlery clinks against porcelain.

MR DEFRANCO
   So, what do you think of Woomera?

DANIEL
It’s okay.

GIRL
   Yeh, right.

MRS. DEFRANCO
   MARY.
         
MARY
   Can I be excused?

MR DEFRANCO
   Damn, I forgot something. I’ll have to go and get it.

MRS. DEFRANCO
   You’re not working tonight?

MR DEFRANCO
Just for a while. Something important.

MARY and MR. DEFRANCO leave the table.

MRS. DEFRANCO sits still, looking out the window, and then stacks dirty dishes.

EXT. MAIN STREET, WOOMERA- NIGHT

MR DEFRANCO parks his 4WD and walks into an office.

A few moments later THE WATCHER walks past the car and stops. He pulls out a bottle opener and runs it along the side of the car.

He smiles and walks away.

EXT. MAIN STREET, WOOMERA- NIGHT

MR DEFRANCO walks from the office and approaches his car. He sees the scratch.
            
MR. DEFRANCO
Fuck. Fuck!

He kicks a telegraph pole and then hops around on one foot, holding the other in his hands.

MR DEFRANCO
Fuck!


EXT.  PATIO- NIGHT

THE WATCHER
You should’a seen him. Ah! My foot! (Laughs) Bastard.

THE WATCHER sits on an upturned bucket. He begins to roll a cigarette.

Two young women and a man, MICHAEL, sit on a couch across from him.

MICHAEL
You’re a bad old man, Dad.

THE WATCHER
Ha! He deserved it. They all deserve it.   

MICHAEL
Give it a rest.

The two women look at each other.

The sound of dogs barking echoes across the night, and the windows begin to rattle and the house shake.

The vibrations subside. 

THE WATCHER flicks open an old flint lighter and strikes it alight. He stares at the flame.

THE WATCHER
Yep- they bring it down on themselves.

MICHAEL
What the fuck was that?

THE WATCHER lights his cigarette and inhales deeply. He breathes out and smiles as the smoke drifts into the night.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2006, 04:27:28 AM by Nick »
-I can't tolerate fools, most likely because I am one.
-Writing is a long winding road, but every curve has its worthwhile view!

Offline troli83

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Re: beginning of screenplay set in Australia
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2006, 02:53:47 PM »
Ok, I like where this story is going, but I think there should be a little more description of the characters. For instance, how old is Daniel, what does he look like? One thing I learned about screenplays is that you have to try and write it as if you were watching right at that moment. But, I think once you get that down then everything else should fall into place. Keep it up you have an interesting concept here.  :)
Like the phoenix rising out of the ashes....

Offline custard

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Re: beginning of screenplay set in Australia
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2006, 06:51:11 PM »
i think this  builds up nicely, i felt like i wanted to know more about all the charecters the more i read. It is a bit hard to read, and maybe this tip will help.

try to think about actually making this film. with a small budget you would only want to use one camara. So, each time that camara changes position, consider that a change of scene, and give it a little scene heading of it's own. Explain the important things the script reader needs to know, whose in the room, where are they in the room, is anything important in the room, like a telephone that's going to ring. As troli83 said, when you introduce a new character, give them a little description, their age, what they dress like, but not to much about what they look like, cos you don't know the actor that will play them. I don't know if you know this, but film industry stadard is 1 page = 1 min. try re-writing this with the 1 page = 1 min format, and put each movement of the camara down seperatly, i try to make a scene last 1 min, there-for 1 page of script. For bigger scenes, just expand, but still try to keep a certain event to that one page. I do this just to tidy things up, you can always adjust it later.

i hope you understand where i'm coming from with this, getting the formatting correct will help your description and dialouge. if it sounds confusing, PM me and i'll try to explain more.

Other than that, you've got a very good start, it's intresting, exciting, you've given me reason to ask qusetions, i want to know more. Keep at it! :)

Offline kilter

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Re: beginning of screenplay set in Australia
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2006, 11:49:00 PM »
Thanks for the feedback. Just the kind of thing I was looking for! ;D
-I can't tolerate fools, most likely because I am one.
-Writing is a long winding road, but every curve has its worthwhile view!

Offline ChipTee

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Re: beginning of screenplay set in Australia
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2006, 11:55:35 AM »
Yes, I like building of the several people relationships - agree Custard's, would add I was not certain when the audience was in the car (internal) and when outside seeing the car. This should become clear when you split it into more scenes.
Chip

Offline kilter

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Re: beginning of screenplay set in Australia
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2006, 11:12:31 PM »
Thanks again. I deliberately avoided becoming too specific about things, because I had read that screenplays should be written descriptively, so as to entrap the reader in the story, like other written mediums. Tell the story, evoke visual imagery, and let the director/producer worry about where the camera is etc.
What's your take on that?
-I can't tolerate fools, most likely because I am one.
-Writing is a long winding road, but every curve has its worthwhile view!

Offline ChipTee

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Re: beginning of screenplay set in Australia
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2006, 05:43:27 AM »
Don't take this a s gospel, but my understanding is that the writer should be clear on what/where each scene is, the director will then decide his camera angles, etc. within that framework. That is with a car travelling the writer will state whether the scene and its dialogue is filmed in the car or from outside looking at the car, the director will decide how he films the scene, such as looking over the shoulders of front seat passengers or from the dash looking back at them, down low or high. No doubt the director will have the last word on any scene as he/she is making the film.

It is certainly correct that the writer should not intrude on the detail of the director's business. As I understand it on big features the writer will have little or no presence in the filming, on short and cooperative projects they may have a close dialogue.

Of course it depends who the writer is, whether they have three Oscars on their bookcase, or a pile of rejected scripts gathering dust.

I trust others will come in on this as it is an important topic.
Chip

Offline custard

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Re: beginning of screenplay set in Australia
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2006, 06:57:11 AM »
I agree with chip tee. You need to clarify the story enough for the script-reader, and show your professional. With such high competition, if your screenplay isn't concise enough, it will simply be put to one side. Yes it's the directors job to decide shot, but you'll need to supply an effective story before it gets that far.

A good book to explain this is,  'Screenwriting' in the 'Teach Yourself' series. The author is Ray Frensham.

he writes,       
                      the first thing you must realise is that screen-writing is a colaborative process....If your script is optioned by a producer-where they buy the rights to exploit that property for a set period of time-it will go into 'development'. Here the producer will discuss the script with you and probably give you 'notes' asking you to re-write or change certain parts....

and he also writes,
                                         ...learn to think like a camara. The standard maxim states: 'Show-Don't tell'. Remember this always.But never forget that the territory of the screenwriter is on the page; it is your job to translate those images into words and the job of the script to create the movie in the mind of the reader.....Change the nature of your thinking process:think visually and you will start to write visually.

What i got from this is that you should, explain enough so that a movie could be imagined, but later in the book it will talk about keeping camara angles, shot type out. But you can still say,

Exterior-night-Outback road,

We're looking into Mr De Francos car from the side window.He's well dressed, and his son, Daniel, is sat beside him.

MR DE FRANCO                                  Welcome to Woomera.
 


Something like that, anyway... ;D                                       

Offline kilter

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Re: beginning of screenplay set in Australia
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2006, 11:52:27 AM »
Good feedback. thanks!  :)
-I can't tolerate fools, most likely because I am one.
-Writing is a long winding road, but every curve has its worthwhile view!

Offline eric

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Re: beginning of screenplay set in Australia
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2006, 06:32:26 PM »
More but more vague feedback . . . I know a professional screenwriter in Cuba, though I've lost his address, and he showed me two or three of his film scripts.  These were extremely crisp, leaving much of what we'd write out to the imagination, but also very tightly plotted as well as controlled in terms of camera angle, scene, etc.  All about thinking visually it seemed.              eric

Offline eric

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Re: beginning of screenplay set in Australia
« Reply #10 on: August 06, 2006, 06:44:14 PM »
If the writer gets to be good enough, he may become the director, thus obviating a potential tension. Otherwise I agree with Chip-tee that the exact angle is obviously the director's business, etc., and it is important to keep one's directions clean.  Nothing I said was meant to contradict that. The crunch can come when the producer and derivatively the director want to re-write the writer's script, potentially causing mondo ulcers.  But that is a story for another time.

eric

Offline eric

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Re: beginning of screenplay set in Australia
« Reply #11 on: August 06, 2006, 07:11:35 PM »
Okay, I'm confused.  How does the Watcher get to the point where he's wearing a watch, er, and where his kid calls him Dad and where they converse in English? Would this Aborigine be using aboriginal language in character? He is not singing the world back, and therein may lie much of his frustration. Hopefully I think you may address this.

BTW, did you see the movie "McArthur Station"?  Several years old?  If not, I really think you must find it somewhere.  About a journey into the aboriginal heart of Australia.

In regard to the great pending what-lifeform-and-which-planet mystery, I am going to go out on my limb and guess that you, K., may be Australian because of your treatment of the subject matter.

Finally, you can see I do not have a get together tonight with writer friends at a coffeeshop in San Diego, unlike one other erstwhile member of this Board from said place, so I have chosen to pester you.  I hope you find that, if not illuminating, at least acceptable.

e.

Offline kilter

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Re: beginning of screenplay set in Australia
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2006, 09:38:49 PM »
Pester away, Eric. Australian, yep. As for the watcher, he is the young man at the very beginning. But that was 50 years earlier. Sadly, it is rare for the younger generations of first Australians to be fluent in their mother tongues- English is often the common language- Conflict between the generations is one of the issues I want to analyse here- however, I have to be extremely careful, and all this might come to naught, because I am not aboriginal, and writing aboriginal characters is probably a bit presumtuous of me...
-I can't tolerate fools, most likely because I am one.
-Writing is a long winding road, but every curve has its worthwhile view!

Offline custard

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Re: beginning of screenplay set in Australia
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2006, 06:23:43 PM »
Quote
Conflict between the generations is one of the issues I want to analyse here- however, I have to be extremely careful, and all this might come to naught, because I am not aboriginal, and writing aboriginal characters is probably a bit presumtuous of me...



Quinten Tarrentino had to face alot of questions after the release of 'Jackie Brown' about whether he as a white man, could write a script predominantly about black people. He answered them on 'The opera winfrey show'. Basically saying, as long as your research is acurate and you are respectful, you can write about any group of people or thing.

So as long as you are careful not to put your foot in it, i think it's okay, especially as you are enlightening people of their social dillemas, rather than mocking them in any way.

Offline Cyndith

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Re: beginning of screenplay set in Australia
« Reply #14 on: March 29, 2011, 08:43:11 PM »
This has a nice pace and I consider it a clean script.  You used CUT TO: in the first scene, but didn't continue throughout your work.  Usually this precedes abrupt transitions between the locales and should be inserted at the end of each scene to indicate change  At first I thought the series of scenes were a montage, but they are more significant than that, since important information is given regarding the characters.

Nice job!  I like it.  
« Last Edit: March 29, 2011, 09:06:53 PM by Cyndith »
--Cyndie

"Why do you do it in the first place? I mean you paint a picture, but you can't explain what it means because the audience is supposed to get it.  But then a judge comes along and says, 'I see this painting, but what you intended for me to see is not what I see; therefore, it isn't'"