Claudia Karvan, Al Clarke, members of the Screen Australia Board, you say I pose a risk to SA staff. Owing to your duty of care, you say, you cannot allow SA staff to meet with or communicate with me. You refuse to provide me with any evidence that I pose a risk; that I have engaged in ‘highly offensive conduct’. The reason is simple. There is none. And you know it. Your ban is a fatwa; punishment for a critic; a warning to other filmmakers.
Friday, November 30, 2012
SHIPS IN THE NIGHT # 3
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.
…They all said no?
MATT nods, looks
back down to the parcel and greeting card.
TRACYProblem is, I haven’t got any
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
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
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
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.
leans across MATT to look at his Driver’s ID, bringing her head very close to
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.
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?
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?
shakes his head.
TRACY Someone you love, ay? Wife? Girlfriend? (A BEAT) or boyfriend?
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…
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?
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
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
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.
MATT’S bloody knuckles.
MATT (defensive) I didn’t hit anyone.
TRACY Didn’t say you did. Said you want
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
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
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.
‘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?
MATTCan 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
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.
laughs. MATT ignores him, talks into his mobile.
MATT I wish you’d stop doing that, sweetheart!
VOICE Doing what?
MATT Hanging up on me.
VOICE You don’t have a clue, do you?
MATT About what?
I’m not psychic, Juliet.
VOICE You can say that again.
PASSENGER Can’t live with ‘em, can’t shoot ‘em.
VOICE Who’s that? What did he say?
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
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.
incredulous, looks at TRACY, back at MATT.
PASSENGER You’re fucking kidding, right!?
MATT Sorry, but…the driver behind me…
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.