New School image assignment. Images that connect to my screenplay at a visceral level.
Download my first scene in Word below (Rated R) :
In my last week of my online screenwriting class, I travelled to Woodstock to enjoy some privacy and quiet time to complete the rough outline of my latest screenplay. While there, I had an impulse to have a session with a psychic.
She is convinced that this screenplay will be produced. Call me a naïve optimist, but I believe her. Maybe I believe her because I just want this so much. I don't need to make any money off of it (not that I would turn it down) but I could die happy with my low five figure salary if I could just see this one fully realized. My other screenplay, my stage play, my YA novel -- they are all my babies -- but this one is my SELF in text.
If you do read my first scene, you will find that my "film within a film" here is disturbing. It is a microcosm of the theme of the film itself. How does my protagonist, Charli, process the damage that has been done to her and come out on the other side healed, new, and open to love again? How many of us who are damaged by others remain guarded and bitter? Is there a path to trusting others after being victimized?
If you would like to read the scene, but don't want to download it into your Word program, I'll paste it here. You'll just have to put up with the funky formatting. I welcome any feedback you may have. Just be forewarned, the scene involves intense violence against a young girl. Reader beware.
INT. THERAPIST’S OFFICE - DAY 1
This is a film within the film. MARINA, an attractive (a la Vera Farmiga) woman in her early forties as the character, Jennifer, speaks to THERAPIST who with clipboard. Therapist is clearly moved by her story.
I really liked him, you know? He was so good looking and he had such a nice smile... I like the way he smiled at me. I liked how he would say my name.
Say your name?
Yes... he would just repeat my name over and over like he was loving the sound of it, hearing the music of it... "Jennifer, Jennifer, Jennifer"
Why do you think he did that?
I read that you can make people like you just by saying their name you know? That it activates parts of the brain in a way that no other name would. It makes you feel good. It makes you feel important, valuable... I don’t know.
Did it make you feel that way?
Absolutely. It was like, for that moment, the sun was shining on me... like it existed just for me. I loved it. I had a huge crush on this guy.
There is a long moment as Jennifer begins to tear up. She tries to hold the emotion back. The therapist hands her a box of tissues.
How old were you?
Jennifer has to decide whether to let the story flow or continue to hold it back.
(laughing through tears) Camping. I loved it.
EXT. CAMPSITE - EVENING
JENNIFER’S FATHER, BROTHER, friend LISA, and brother’s friend, ANDY sit around the fire talking and laughing. Jennifer and Lisa are eating smores. The guys are drinking beers.
My dad let each of us take a friend. I took Cindy and my brother took him.
Andy. He was seventeen, I think. We had so much fun on that trip. We all stayed up late by the firepit talking, eating a ton of junk, vacation food, you know? And my dad let the boys drink beers... I was just as happy to have a Coke. Andy was teasing me, you know? He had a bunch of weeds, like, long grass with a fluffy kind of end. He was tickling me with the end... plucking them out of the ground, tickling me, throwing them at me.
Shoving the grass in my hair, down under my collar. It was so fun. I took off and he chased me... had a long piece of grass with the roots and dirt and all still attached and was threatening me with it.
(low volume, with humor) I’m going to get you, you little brat.
Young Jennifer runs from him, screaming and laughing. He easily catches up to her, grabs her from behind and sticks the weed, dirt and all right down her pants from behind. He immediately lets her go. She’s still laughing, but her expression shows that she thinks it’s a little inappropriate as she removes the weed.
BACK TO PRESENT 3
It was weird, you know? He stuck that dirty root right down my pants, inside my underwear. I didn’t think much of it, but looking back I can see that it was a red flag.
(tears up again) So... so.
INT. TENT/EXT. CAMPSITE - NIGHT 4
(Action follows V.O. description).
I’m not sure what time it was. 2:00? I had to get up to go to the bathroom. There were porta-potties across the campsite. I didn’t want to go alone, but Lisa was just impossible to wake up. So I went. God, I feel like he was just waiting for me.
His eyes just... honed in on me. He looked completely different. There was no smile, no teasing -- he just moved after me -- silently. He took hold of me, like... he was escorting me through a door or something and he led me right to the woods. He took my flashlight and turned it off. It was so dark. I couldn’t see. He couldn’t have been able to see. He just stumbled farther and farther into the woods.
Did you say anything during this time?
No. It was like his silence took hold of me too. I didn’t understand what he was doing, but I was terrified because this wasn’t Andy. It was something... primitive, almost subhuman. Anyway I guess he found the place he wanted to be because he turned the flashlight on and shined it in my face for a moment. And then he just dropped it and started grabbing at me, pulling off my clothes. He pushed me up next to a tree and tried to get inside of me, but he couldn’t. I guess I was too small. So he put me on the ground and he found his way in. I couldn’t see him at all, but I could feel the hate coming off of him, you know? He finished by turning me over and pushing himself into my rear... I don’t know... I didn’t even know what was happening to me. I thought he was going to tear me apart from the inside. I was sure he wanted me dead
BACK TO PRESENT 5
(compassionately, with veiled emotion)
But you’re alive.
What happened after the rape?
(surprised at the use of the word)
He spoke. Told me to get my clothes on. He walked me back out of the woods and went right back to the fire pit... but before he turned his back on me he said... "You shouldn’t have done that." Like I had done it to him.
You do understand that he was a predator? You were an innocent child.
I flirted with him.
He was a predator. You were a child.
I just let him do it. I didn’t fight. If I had fought him, or even tried to say no... I might be able to stand myself.
Jennifer, just close your eyes for a minute and imagine yourself at twelve years old. Just twelve short years on this earth.
Jennifer closes her eyes.
Can you see her? Twelve-year-old Jennifer?
Yes. She was clueless.
Of course she was. It’s natural for a twelve year old to be infatuated with a teenaged boy. It’s not natural for her to be attacked, and you know... you know... that having a crush on a boy does not mean you invited sexual violence.
(weeping, movingly) I do know that.
Then I think we may be getting somewhere.
Jennifer smiles slightly through her tears and nods.
CAMERA PULLS BACK TO SHOW THAT THE PREVIOUS SCENE IS ON THE SCREEN IN A MOVIE THEATRE.
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