Friday, November 30, 2012
Given that I have been banned by Screen Australia and that this project is dead in the water as far as SA is concerned if my name is in any way associated with it, I am confronted with two options: (1) Sell the screenplay to another filmmaker and let him or her do what they like with it or (2) Make the film for no budget at all using unpaid amateur actors. Option (2) is not really desirable (though I will pursue it if necessary) as this film (dialogue and character-driven) requires first class acting. My publishing the first part of the screenplay online is, in part, an attempt on my part to see if a filmmaker is interested in acquiring the rights.
…continuing on from SHIPS IN THE NIGHT #3...
16 INT CAB. NIGHT
sits in the passenger seat studying him. TRACY
MATT Lousy judge of character.
MATT Leaping to the conclusion that…
MATT Guess I’ll find out soon enough.
MATT Not too many…but too many. Had a couple tonight.
MATT No, a ‘couple’. As is boy and girl. About your age. Lovers.
MATT ‘Fraid not. (A BEAT) Matt.
TRACY Complex and convoluted, ay, Matt! Love?
MATT laughs, looks at her.
MATT (laughs) Hadn’t picked you as someone who would use a word like ‘convoluted’.
TRACY Yes, from the Latin ‘convolvere’…
MATT (incredulous)You do Latin at school!?
MATT (laughs) You got a pause button,
TRACY Nup, just fast forward, Matt.
The muffled sound of a rooster crowing emanates from the pocket of Matt’s jacket. MATT takes the mobile from his pocket, looks at the screen, puts it back in his pocket.
MATT Can I ask you a question?
TRACY A personal question?
MATT I guess.
MATT (nods) How can your dad know you all your life and not know he’s your dad?
MATT nods, smiles to himself.
TRACY Do passengers…like…tell taxi drivers all sorts of personal stuff? You know, like secrets and shit? (MATT NODS) But if you had a choice, they’d keep their mouths shut, right?
zips her mouth shut, pauses a moment before starting up again. TRACY
MATT Most people love to talk about themselves.
MATT You like to talk about yourself?
MATT I don’t know…I guess, maybe…and no?
MATT Too much of a good thing?
TRACY Too much of something. Way too much! You ever get, like, you know, bored with being fascinated by yourself?
MATT When I was young, maybe.
TRACY How old are you, Matt? (A BEAT) Old enough to be my dad, I reckon.
MATT I’m not. (A BEAT) Your dad, I mean.
MATT Least I don’t think I am! What’s your mum’s name?
MATT As in merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, gently down the stream?
TRACY But with only one r. And ‘gentle’s’ not a word I’d use to describe mum!
MATT Nup, don’t remember any Merily.
TRACY Can you remember all the women you’ve slept with?
MATT raises his eyebrows; doesn’t answer.
TRACY Maybe there’s a little Matt out there somewhere with your genes. Or a little Matilda. Wondering who her dad is. You ever think about that?
MATT shakes his head.
MATT looks at
. Her smile betrays her vulnerability. TRACY
MATT A young girl like you?
The muffled sound of a rooster crowing again. MATT ignores it.
MATT You still at school?
MATT You a good student?
MATT Are you?
TRACY Not ‘good’, but I do well in exams.
MATT Any idea what you want to do when…?
MATT Yeah, but…you’re so full of questions I was thinking…maybe…journalist, private eye…therapist…
Wanna know why?
MATT You’re going to tell me anyway, right?
MATT Why do you need to see a shrink?
TRACY Well The Rapist thought it was pathological and The Shrink thinks it’s just obsessive-compulsive.
MATT What is?
MATT is dumbfounded, tries to think of something to say but nothing occurs to him. The beginnings of a smile appear at the edges of
’S lips. When MATT glances at her, TRACY ’S smile broadens and becomes a laugh. TRACY
MATT There’s a difference?
MATT So you can’t stop yourself lying?
TRACY If I want to. It’s just mostly I don’t want to.
MATT What kind of lies?
TRACY Oh, telling taxi drivers that I’ve lost my wallet…that I’m a nymphomaniac.
MATT So, you haven’t lost your wallet and you’re not a nymphomaniac?
MATT Which one?
TRACY If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me.
MATT Because you’re a pathological liar?
MATT looks at her, smiles, shakes his head.
TRACY If I lived in Cronulla, would you’ve given me a ride even if you thought I was going to do a runner?
MATT Nah! I’m a millionaire, driving a taxi for fun…ay!
TRACY Lucky you got a fun-loving passenger.
MATT Who shouldn’t be out looking for fun at this time of night.
MATT A good night’s sleep.
MATT laughs, shakes his head.
MATT I reckon the boiling oil’d be less painful.
MATT It’s a rooster.
MATT How old are you,
MATT looks at her. It is difficult to read his thoughts.
MATT You make a habit of talking to taxi drivers like this?
MATT You could get yourself into a lot of trouble joking like that.
TRACY Yay! Trouble rules, ay! (A BEAT) But if I wasn’t joking, would you be able to resist…the temptation?
MATT looks at her, his face giving nothing away.
! You talk this way with total strangers, dressed like that… Tracy
MATT holds up his hands: OK. She looks out the window, plays with her hair nervously. MATT watches her.
TRACY Sorry, but…I’ve had a shit night.
MATT Me too.
TRACY Bet mine was shittier than yours.
MATT Mine’s been pretty shitty.
TRACY Even before I got in? (A BEAT) You probably think I’m mad, ay?
MATT As a cut snake.
MATT No, a little unusual, maybe…
MATT smiles but says nothing.
MATT Do you think you’re peculiar?
MATT It’s everybody else that’s peculiar?
MATT nods. The muffled sound of a rooster crowing emanates from Matt’s sport’s jacket pocket again.
TRACY Who’s driving you crazy this time of night apart from me?
MATT clearly does not want to pursue this line of conversation.
zips her mouth shut, looks at the pocket of MATT’S jacket. The ringing stops. She looks at MATT’S face, his jaw clenched tight. Suddenly she leans over, reaches into the pocket of MATT’S jacket, extracts his mobile. TRACY
TRACY Hey, same as mine.
MATT (annoyed) Give it to me, Tracy!
MATT reaches for his mobile. TRACY slides out of reach, holds up her mobile in one hand, Matt’s in the other: Identical.
MATT (angry) I’m serious. Give it to me.
MATT’S breathing is deep, rapid.
MATT holds out his hand, snaps angrily at her.
MATT Give me the fucking phone…
MATT swerves on the road as he reaches out to grab his phone. The cab screeches to a halt.
, oblivious to being thrown up against the dash when the car suddenly stops, ploughs on: TRACY
MATT, more than a little out of control, wrestles with
to get his phone back. He succeeds, but his grip is not firm and it drops to the floor – along with TRACY ’s phone and her hand bag. Tracy is shocked and hurt by this moment of anger in MATT – a moment that he is already regretting. TRACY
MATT I’m sorry, Tracy…So so sorry…
In a highly emotional state
picks her hand bag up from the floor, puts into it the items that have fallen out. TRACY
TRACY Why are you driving me home when Juliet needs you?
MATT wants to say something, but he is at a loss what! He reaches out to her.
recoils, holds up her hands. TRACY
She opens the door, gets out of the cab.
MATT Don’t! Please,
17 EXT. CAB. ROADSIDE. NIGHT
MATT Please! I’m sorry. I…
She stops, turns, looks at MATT from the shadows, expecting something. MATT shakes his head. He has no understanding of what is going on. He is in unchartered emotional territory.
MATT I don’t know…I’m so fucking…I even thought of asking…but no I can…
MATT looks at
, immobile in the shadows. Frozen. The silence is deafening. Then the soft sound of TRACY crying. TRACY
He takes a tentative step towards her. Then another. He is close to her now. She looks up at him, her eyes filled with her need. She leans toward MATT. He opens his arms. She falls into them, holds him tight. MATT’S face is a battleground of emotions. Suddenly
yelps like a wounded animal, pushes him away, turns and run off. MATT shouts after her. TRACY
She is gone. MATT stands alone in the dark, shaking. He tries to control his deep rapid breathing; puts his wounded hand on his heart, sees that his knuckles are bleeding again. He wipes his moist eyes, walks back to the cab, around to the driver’s side, looks at the crack in the window. It has grown a couple of inches and now has three small branches, tributaries. He reaches into his pocket for his mobile. It is not there. He remembers, moves to the open passenger door, reaches down and picks it up from the floor. He opens the keypad, types ‘J’, then ‘U’, pauses. Nothing happens. He types ‘L’, pauses, then ‘I’. He is puzzled now. The mobile rings but it is not the crowing of a rooster. It is the distinctive sound of
’s mobile. MATT presses the appropriate icon. Onscreen, the image of: Tracy
A naked young man with curly red hair, his hands joined to conceal his genitals. It is BLUE, the young red-headed man from the opening sequence. The frozen image comes to life.
He opens his arms wide, revealing a codpiece in the shape of an elephant’s head – replete with big ears and, of course, a trunk!
BLUE Love you heaps!
…to be continued…
SHIPS IN THE NIGHT is one of my screenplays, in development, that Ruth Harley and the Screen Australia Board believe would pose a risk to any member of staff who read and assessed it. Just what kind of risk, Ruth Harley refuses to divulge!
...continuing on from SHIPS IN THE NIGHT #2
TRACY You are the first cab in the rank, now.
...continuing on from SHIPS IN THE NIGHT #2
TRACY You are the first cab in the rank, now.
…They all said no?
MATT nods, looks back down to the parcel and greeting card.
TRACY Problem is, I haven’t got any money.
MATT, not wanting to be rude but wanting her to go away, raises his pen as if to continue writing on the card.
TRACY On me, that is. I lost my wallet and…
MATT …but you’ve got money at home, right?
MATT And you’ll just run in and get it while I wait in the street?
TRACY I’m not a runner. Promise. I need…
Realizing that she is not getting through to MATT, TRACY invests her next ‘I need’ with a ‘desperate’ edge.
TRACY I need…I need…
MATT looks at her properly for the first time. TRACY smiles innocently, plays the ingénue.
TRACY Do I look like a runner?
MATT looks at her for a moment, his face giving nothing away. TRACY spins around in a pirouette followed by an arabesque.
MATT shakes his head, smiles.
TRACY Is that a ‘no’ or a ‘yes’?
MATT Haven’t got a mum or dad to pick you up?
TRACY Nup, I’m a test tube baby. (A BEAT) A mum.
MATT She know where you are?
TRACY (cocky) Hope not. (A BEAT) You got a daughter?
MATT smiles, looks down at the card resting on the parcel.
TRACY I’ll take that as a yes. How old is she? (A BEAT) Sorry, I’m a motor mouth…
TRACY leans closer to read what he has written. MATT closes the card.
TRACY For someone you love?
MATT I’m not driving you home.
TRACY But I’m driving you mad, ay?
MATT Where’s home?
MATT That’s west! I’m heading south.
He points to the ‘SOUTHERN SUBURBS’ sign. TRACY nods.
MATT I’m Tracy by the way.
MATT Pleased to meet you, Tracy.
TRACY Liar! (A BEAT) Not gunna tell me your name?
MATT Justin Beiber.
TRACY laughs, leans across MATT to look at his Driver’s ID, bringing her head very close to his.
TRACY (reads) GQ 1734.
TRACY looks at him for a long moment.
TRACY Were you good looking when you were young, GQ 1734?
TRACY Hey, you’ve got quite a sexy smile, GQ 1734. For a man your age!
MATT And you’ve got too sexy a smile for a girl your age.
TRACY (laughs) Wanna take me home? (A BEAT) Where d’you live?
TRACY Long way from Rydalmere to Cronulla, ay?
MATT moves his taxi closer to the head of the rank; TRACY following alongside.
MATT (nods) But a good fare this time of night… $70? $80. One of these guys (HE GESTURES TO THE CABS IN THE RANK BEHIND HIM) will take you…for sure.
TRACY Not if I tell them I don’t have money.
MATT You really do have money at home?
TRACY nods. MATT drives forward a little. TRACY follows.
MATT Then don’t tell him you’ve lost your wallet
TRACY Lie, you mean?
MATT No, just don’t volunteer…
TRACY Y’reckon not telling the whole truth is the same as lying? I mean if no-one asks for the whole truth and you…someone…keeps stuff secret? Is that lying?
MATT I reckon secrets are OK?
TRACY Tell me a secret. One of yours.
MATT laughs, shakes his head.
TRACY You tell me one of yours and I’ll tell you one of mine.
MATT I’m sorry Tracy, my shift’s finished so…
TRACY I know, you can’t drive me home. That’s OK. But you can talk to me, right, till you get a fare?
MATT Even if you had money…I’ve got to be somewhere…a promise I’ve made…
TRACY Promises are important to keep, ay?
MATT nods, suddenly remembers his own recent promise to Juliet. He takes out his mobile, pauses, looks at TRACY.
He makes a ‘sorry’ gesture. TRACY shrugs (“It’s OK”),
MATT It’s private.
TRACY That’s OK. I’m good at keeping secrets. (A BEAT) Girlfriend?
MATT smiles, moves forward a little further in the rank, TRACY walking alongside.
TRACY Aha! So, what did you do to piss her off or what didn’t you do you should have done?
MATT smiles, shakes his head.
TRACY Someone you love, ay? Wife? Girlfriend? (A BEAT) or boyfriend?
TRACY’S mood changes from playful to serious.
TRACY You do love her, ay? Your daughter? What’s her name?
MATT looks at TRACY for a long moment.
TRACY As in Romeo and…?
MATT As in…About your age.
TRACY No way!
TRACY You and her mum still together?
MATT No, they live in Melbourne.
TRACY Does she know you’re her dad?
MATT (laughs) Of course.
TRACY Do you love her? More than anything in the whole wide world? (BEAT) Sorry. (A BEAT) None of my business. (A BEAT) But do you?
TRACY She’s lucky, ay?
MATT I guess…
TRACY K. See ya.
TRACY, subdued now, all of her cockiness having deserted her, turns, starts to walk off. MATT calls out to her.
She turns, her face breaking into a hopeful smile.
MATT You be careful, okay?
TRACY’S smile fades.
MATT And I know this is the kind of thing that your mum and dad probably say, but…You shouldn’t be out alone at this time of night.
TRACY (childlike) Yes dad.
This throws MATT for a moment. He looks at her. TRACY slips back into acting like a confident young woman, smiling ‘sexily’ in a way she has seen women do in some movie.
TRACY See ya.
MATT nods. TRACY hesitates for a moment, her eyes on the taxi windscreen.
TRACY You know you’ve got a crack in your windscreen?
MATT nods. TRACY hesitates a moment before walking off. After a few paces she stops, thinks to herself.
MATT, mobile in hand, watches her. After a long moment TRACY walks back and stands by Matt’s window. Her cockiness has been replaced with a quiet vulnerability. She looks from his bloodied knuckles to the windscreen.
TRACY Did the windscreen do something to hurt your feelings?
MATT is thrown by the question; is not sure how to respond.
TRACY I have days like that too. Like yesterday. Yesterday sucked bigtime. But…
MATT’s mobile emits the sound of a rooster crowing. TRACY smiles but is still caught up in her own vulnerability. MATT looks at the screen: Juliet. He wants to take the call but is still processing what Tracy has just said. The rooster crowing stops. TRACY, capable of switching personas at the drop of a hat, slips back into being the ingénue.
TRACY What if I have to hitchhike home and get raped or murdered or something and you read about it in the paper? How are you going to feel?
MATT If you do a runner on me and I can’t make my mortgage payments this week how do you reckon I’m going to feel?
TRACY Like you want to hit someone.
TRACY indicates MATT’S bloody knuckles.
MATT (defensive) I didn’t hit anyone.
TRACY Didn’t say you did. Said you want to.
MATT No I don’t.
TRACY raises her fists and makes a little boxing gesture. MATT smiles, shakes his head.
MATT Can’t call your dad and get him to pick you up? Have you got a dad?
TRACY Yes and no.
MATT Test tube baby, ay!
TRACY Biological, yes, but…the rest of the dad stuff…(SHAKES HER HEAD) uh huh! Mum’s had to cope with me alone.
MATT You know who your dad is?
TRACY bites her lip, plays nervously with her hair.
TRACY Yes, but he doesn’t.
MATT Doesn’t know he’s your dad?
TRACY Maybe that too. (A BEAT) Not sure if he knows…doesn’t know… He’s pretty clueless.
MATT You’ve met him!?
The thin sound of an upbeat pop song from Tracy’s mobile.
TRACY A squillion times. I’ve known him since before I can remember.
TRACY takes out her mobile, looks at the LCD screen, sees who the caller is, walks to the front of the cab, speaks abruptly.
TRACY (on phone) What!
MATT watches her through the cracked windscreen as TRACY listens for a moment before venting her anger:
TRACY (on phone) You promised me! I trusted you and you lied to me. Your promises are worth fuck all. I never want to see you again.
TRACY punches ‘end’ on her mobile petulantly, plays absent-mindedly with a silver ring on her left index finger for a moment, walks back to stand by his window.
TRACY Men! Can you explain men to me?
MATT Can you explain teenage girls to me?
TRACY (grins) Cost ya a ride t’Rydalmere.
MATT laughs. The sound of the passenger door opening.
PASSENGER (voice off) You right for Cronulla, mate?
MATT turns, sees the smiling face of a MIDDLE AGED MAN leaning in through the front passenger door.
As the PASSENGER drops into the seat, MATT looks at TRACY. He catches the moment of disappointment in her face before she smiles, gives him a double thumbs up.
TRACY Cronulla! Way to go.
MATT nods, smiles, as the PASSENGER fastens his seat belt.
TRACY Fun talking to ya.
TRACY pauses for a moment before turning to walk off.
MATT For me too, Tracy.
TRACY turns, beams a smile at him for a moment, turns keeps walking. MATT turns on the ignition.
PASSENGER (friendly) Had a good night?
MATT seems not to have heard. He looks back out the window. TRACY has almost reached the other side of the road.
PASSENGER Guess it would have been better if you’d scored that bit of teen pussy.
MATT ignores the PASSENGER; turns on the meter. The muffled sound of a rooster crowing. The PASSENGER ogles TRACY.
PASSENGER What’s better than fucking a 16 year old girl?
MATT takes his mobile from his pocket: Juliet.
PASSENGER Fucking a 14 year old girl.
The PASSENGER laughs. MATT ignores him, talks into his mobile.
MATT I wish you’d stop doing that, sweetheart!
JULIET’S VOICE Doing what?
MATT Hanging up on me.
JULIET’S VOICE You don’t have a clue, do you?
MATT About what?
JULIET’S VOICE Anything.
MATT I’m not psychic, Juliet.
JULIET’S VOICE You can say that again.
PASSENGER Can’t live with ‘em, can’t shoot ‘em.
JULIET’S VOICE Who’s that? What did he say?
JULIET’S VOICE I heard what he said. Arsehole! Bye dad.
Juliet hangs up.
PASSENGER Hey, you know your hand’s bleeding?
MATT ignores him, taps ‘J’ and ‘U’ on the keypad of his mobile when the sound of a rooster crowing announces the arrival of a text message from Juliet: Fuck you! MATT stares at the text message. Natural sound drains away as MATT raises his eyes.
13 EXT. CAB. TAXI RANK. NIGHT
Looking through the windscreen at MATT, staring into space. His eyes focus on the two inch crack as it grows slowly another half inch, another inch, then stops. The PASSENGER’S lips move but neither MATT nor the audience hears any words.
14 INT. CAB. TAXI RANK. NIGHT
Close on MATT. Natural sound drains back in.
PASSENGER Can we fucking…go…!?
He indicates the ticking meter. MATT nods, checks for traffic before leaving the curb, sees TRACY across the road – arm outstretched; hitching. The group of THREE YOUNG DRUNKEN MEN closeby have spotted her. TRACY turns, looks at MATT looking at her. She waves to him as she did before - thumb outstretched and four fingers moving, flapping up and down exaggeratedly: ’ta ta’. Without thinking, MATT moves his hand as if to replicate the gesture but stops himself. MATT looks calmly at the PASSENGER for a long moment.
MATT Sorry, I can’t take you to Cronulla.
The PASSENGER, incredulous, looks at TRACY, back at MATT.
PASSENGER You’re fucking kidding, right!?
MATT Sorry, but…the driver behind me…
The PASSENGER stares at MATT – who reaches across him and opens the passenger door, undoes the PASSENGER’S seat belt.
15 EXT. CITY STREET. NIGHT
TRACY watches the PASSENGER get out Matt’s cab on the other side of the road, slam the door.
MATT pulls out from the curb, prepares to do a U-turn. TRACY smiles. The PASSENGER shouts at MATT as he begins his U-turn:
PASSENGER Give her one for me too, arsehole!
Matt’s cab pulls up alongside TRACY.
TRACY You offering me a ride or what?
MATT ‘Long as you don’t take me for one!
TRACY (excited) Yay.
TRACY opens the front passenger door, leaps in happily.
TRACY fastens her seat belt, looks at MATT with a big happy smile. MATT drives off.
…to be continued…