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...

TRACY fastens her seat belt, looks at MATT with a big happy smile. MATT drives off.


MATT drives. TRACY sits in the passenger seat studying him. 

TRACY  Why’d you change your mind?

MATT   Lousy judge of character.

TRACY  Leaping to the conclusion I was a ‘runner’? 

MATT  Leaping to the conclusion that…

TRACY  I’m not a liar.

MATT  Guess I’ll find out soon enough.

TRACY  Guess so. (A BEAT)You get many runners?

MATT  Not too many…but too many. Had a couple tonight.

TRACY  Two in one night!?

MATT  No, a ‘couple’. As is boy and girl. About your age. Lovers.

TRACY  Lovers! What’s love, ay? Ya know the answer to that one. GQ?

MATT  ‘Fraid not. (A BEAT) Matt.

TRACY  Complex and convoluted, ay, Matt! Love?

MATT laughs, looks at her.

TRACY  What?

MATT  (laughs) Hadn’t picked you as someone who would use a word like ‘convoluted’.

TRACY  I love ‘convoluted’. You know how you fall in love with words? Mellifluous… love that word…sounds so…mellifluous (LAUGHS) Convolve… convolution… convolvulus…you know what that is?

MATT  Flower?

TRACY  Yes, from the Latin ‘convolvere’…

MATT  (incredulous)You do Latin at school!?

TRACY  No, it’s a game me and my boyfriend and I play on google – just, you know, searching randomly for…you know, when things just happen by chance. Fate. Whatever. Like you giving me a ride. Serendipity. Or me taking you for a ride!

MATT  (laughs) You got a pause button, Tracy?

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.

TRACY  ‘Long as I can ask you one.


TRACY  And you’ve got to answer it. Honestly.

MATT  (nods) How can your dad know you all your life and not know he’s your dad?

TRACY  Duh! He’s a man! Clueless! 

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?

MATT smiles. TRACY zips her mouth shut, pauses a moment before starting up again.

TRACY  I guess some people just like to talk about themselves, ay?

MATT  Most people love to talk about themselves. 

TRACY looks out the window thoughtfully, her forehead creased with worry. MATT watches her for a moment.

MATT  You like to talk about yourself?

TRACY shrugs (‘I don’t know’), closely followed by a tentative nod (‘I guess, maybe!’), closely followed by a shake of the head (‘no’). MATT smiles.

MATT  I don’t know…I guess, maybe…and no?

TRACY  (laughs) Okay, yes, because I find myself pretty fucking fascinating… And no because I get bored shitless being fucking fascinated by myself.

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.

TRACY bursts out laughing. MATT smiles.

MATT  Least I don’t think I am! What’s your mum’s name?

TRACY  Merily.

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.

TRACY  What would you do if a young woman turned up on your front doorstep one day and said, “Hey, dad!”?… Would you be…like…all excited or would you be more like…“Oh shit!”?

MATT looks at TRACY. Her smile betrays her vulnerability.

MATT  A young girl like you?

TRACY bites her lip nervously, shrugs. MATT looks at her. She becomes self-conscious, snaps back into upbeat mode:

TRACY  Don’t suppose you want another daughter, ay?

The muffled sound of a rooster crowing again. MATT ignores it.

TRACY  What if it’s to tell you you’ve won Lotto? And you miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime? Or a secret admirer or…

MATT  You still at school?

TRACY  Another year or so.

MATT  You a good student?

TRACY is uncharacteristically quiet, her eyes searching for something in MATT’S face – unnerving him somewhat.

MATT  Are you?

TRACY  Not ‘good’, but I do well in exams.

MATT  Any idea what you want to do when…?

TRACY …I grow up. Actress. I think. Yeah… actress! Be so cool to get paid pretending to be someone else. Reckon I’d make a good actress?

MATT  Yeah, but…you’re so full of questions I was thinking…maybe…journalist, private eye…therapist…

TRACY  (laughs)  Shrink! That’d be a joke! (A BEAT)
Wanna know why?

MATT   You’re going to tell me anyway, right?

TRACY laughs, looks at MATT for a moment.

TRACY  When I was 13 my mum sent me to see a therapist. I called her The Rapist. But she didn’t get anywhere with me…The Rapist…so then mum sent me to see The Shrink. And she’s not getting anywhere either.

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?

TRACY  I’m a nymphomaniac.

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 TRACY’S lips. When MATT glances at her, TRACY’S smile broadens and becomes a laugh.

TRACY  I’m not a nymphomaniac. Promise. I’m a pathological liar. At least that’s what The Rapist thought. The Shrink thinks its just compulsive.

MATT  There’s a difference?

TRACY  Mega.

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?

TRACY  No, one of those is not a lie.

MATT  Which one?

TRACY  If I told you, you wouldn’t believe me.

MATT  Because you’re a pathological liar?

TRACY  (grins) Right.

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  Probably.

TRACY  So it’s not losing eighty bucks worries you most, ay?

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.

TRACY  (smiles) Yes dad! (A BEAT) So, what are you looking for late at night, GQ?

MATT  A good night’s sleep.

TRACY  I guess that’s an age thing. (A BEAT) Plenty of time for sleeping when you’re dead, ay? You think a lot about being dead? D’ya reckon it’d be worse being boiled alive in oil or bitten to death slowly by carnivorous ants?

MATT laughs, shakes his head.

TRACY  Or being stuck in a taxi with a motor-mouth like me?

MATT  I reckon the boiling oil’d be less painful.

TRACY laughs. Again, the muffled sound of a rooster crowing emanates from MATT’S jacket pocket.

TRACY  I don’t want to be rude or nothing, but seems like you’ve got cock in your pocket that wants to get out

MATT   It’s a rooster.

TRACY  What ya doing with a rooster in ya pocket? (MATT LAUGHS) Ya not going to let it out?

MATT  How old are you, Tracy?

TRACY  Old enough for you to not get into trouble if you let your…rooster out!

MATT looks at her. It is difficult to read his thoughts.

TRACY  You ever get girls…women…you know, offering to pay their fare with sexual favours?

MATT  You make a habit of talking to taxi drivers like this?

TRACY  Only when I haven’t got any money to pay my fare. (A BEAT) Just joking.

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.

TRACY  Has it ever happened to you? What would you do if a young woman offered…?

MATT  Don’t, Tracy! You talk this way with total strangers, dressed like that…

TRACY  (angry)  Stop trying to be my fucking father.

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.

TRACY  Really?

MATT   No, a little unusual, maybe…

TRACY  (delighted) Loveable?

MATT smiles but says nothing.

TRACY  My friends think I’m peculiar. At least I think they do, but its heaps hard to know what other people really think, ay! And just coz they say they think something doesn’t mean they do, know what I mean!

MATT  Do you think you’re peculiar?

TRACY  (shrugs)  Don’t feel peculiar. I just feel…me…

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. TRACY 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  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.

TRACY laughs, shakes her head, presses an icon. The smile disappears from her face. She looks at MATT. He can’t hold her gaze, looks away. TRACY, dumbfounded, presses an icon; reads:

TRACY  “Please dad, talk to me”.

MATT’S breathing is deep, rapid.

TRACY  That’s one minute ago. This one’s five minutes ago. “I need to tell you something…” Hello! Juliet…

MATT holds out his hand, snaps angrily at her.

MATT  Give me the fucking phone…

TRACY slides further out of his reach, continues reading:

TRACY  “…something important.” Hello! Your daughter has something important to tell you at 3 in the morning and you don’t want to know…

MATT swerves on the road as he reaches out to grab his phone. The cab screeches to a halt. TRACY, oblivious to being thrown up against the dash when the car suddenly stops, ploughs on:

TRACY  Twenty minutes ago. (READS) “I’m sorry I hung up on you”. What kind of a fucking father are you?

MATT, more than a little out of control, wrestles with TRACY 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.

MATT  I’m sorry, Tracy…So so sorry…

TRACY plays nervously with her hair. Tears well in her eyes.

TRACY  What if she’s in trouble?

In a highly emotional state TRACY picks her hand bag up from the floor, puts into it the items that have fallen out.

TRACY  What if she feels she’s going mad? 

TRACY  Needs her daddy?

TRACY’S eyes have filled with tears as she retrieves her mobile.

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. TRACY recoils, holds up her hands.

TRACY  (screams) Fuck off!

She opens the door, gets out of the cab.

MATT  Don’t! Please, Tracy!

TRACY walks away from the cab. MATT opens his door.


TRACY walks fast from streetlight into shadow. MATT runs after her, stops, calls out.

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 TRACY, immobile in the shadows. Frozen. The silence is deafening. Then the soft sound of TRACY crying.

MATT  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 TRACY yelps like a wounded animal, pushes him away, turns and run off. MATT shouts after her.

MATT  Please…Juliet…

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 Tracy’s mobile. MATT presses the appropriate icon. Onscreen, the image of:

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.

BLUE Babe!

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…


  1. James, I'm hooked. More please. Have you thought of shooting with Go Pros and broadcasting on the internet?

    1. Yes, this is one option I am considering.

  2. Am guessing that this is the end of Act One. If so, a good read. Have a few observations to make if you would not be offended, James.

  3. Yes, end of Act One. Feedback welcome. Thanks: