Sunday, December 9, 2012


For those who have expressed an interest, here are the notes I included in my application to Screen Australia re  the Director and the Producer of SHIPS IN THE NIGHT– the Oct application that Screen Australia refuses to read or assess on the grounds that doing so would place SA staff at risk:


At what point does a director become involved in a project such as this? Ideally, as soon as possible.  However, the director has to be the right one for the film and this is a matter for the writer, producer  and the director to decide. And it is a decision that necessitates a meeting of minds and a sharing of sensibilities. Once the right director has been found, once a final draft has been prepared that  producer, writer and director agree on, the project is the director’s baby – the writer and producer’s job being to support the director in the way s/he wishes to make the film. 


I will eventually acquire a co-producer for SHIPS. This is someone whom I and the director agree  would be the right person for this particular project. Needless to say this would be someone who  loved the project, had faith in both the screenplay and director and has talents in the loaves and fishes department! 


Given that my name associated with the project  in any way would be the kiss of death to it, I will step aside as Co-Producer and hand the entire project over unencumbered by any involvement on my part at all.

…continuing on from SHIPS IN THE NIGHT # 8

The mobile in MATT’S pocket rings. He takes it out, thinks of taking the call, looks in his rear-vision mirror, decides against it, hands the mobile to BLUE.


BLUE Babe, it’s me. You okay? I’m talking with Matt. He’s giving me some advice on how to be a better person because you know that’s what I want to be – a better person.

TRACY’S VOICE I need to talk to him.

BLUE He’s driving and…

TRACY’S VOICE Tell him I just had a long talk to Juliet? 

BLUE Tracy says…

MATT Yeah, I got it (TO TRACY) She with you?

The mobile in MATT’S pocket rings. He takes it out, thinks of taking the call, looks in his rear-vision mirror, decides against it, hands the mobile to BLUE.


BLUE Babe, it’s me. You okay? I’m talking with Matt. He’s giving me some advice on how to be a better person because you know that’s what I want to be – a better person.

TRACY’S VOICE I need to talk to him.

BLUE He’s driving and…

TRACY’S VOICE Tell him I just had a long talk to Juliet? 

BLUE Tracy says…

MATT Yeah, I got it (TO TRACY) She with you?

TRACY’S VOICE No. What’s taking you so long, Matt?

BLUE We’re just taking a little detour.

TRACY’S VOICE Detour? You’re on your way to Gary’s, aren’t you? To do a fucking drug deal?

BLUE’S panic is written across his face.

MATT No, Tracy, I’m almost out of LPG and the closest station that sells it is 8 ks in the other direction.



MATT pulls up outside ‘Gluttons’, BLUE in the passenger seat. TRACY, waiting for him, walks up to the driver’s window.

MATT  Hello Britney.

TRACY glares at MATT.

BLUE  Britney!

TRACY signals ‘no’ to MATT with her eyes.

MATT (to Blue) A joke between me and Tracy.

BLUE Poor Britney, ay! Now there’s a girl with a fucked up dad! 

TRACY glares at BLUE.  

BLUE Okay, I’m fucking off.

He leaps out of the cab, meets TRACY in the front of it as she walks around to get into the passenger seat. MATT watches as:

TRACY and BLUE stop close to each other for a moment. BLUE grins at TRACY. She turns her head away haughtily. BLUE leans forward to kiss her on the cheek. TRACY accepts the kiss, glancing at MATT with an expression that says: “Look what I have to put up with!” TRACY gets into the passenger seat. BLUE stops by MATT’S window.

BLUE Thanks, Matt, for…listening… 

BLUE turns, start’s to walk off.

TRACY Listening!? What’s that supposed to mean?

MATT Get in.

BLUE walks towards the ‘Gluttons’ entrance, looks back at MATT and TRACY, smiles warmly. TRACY tries to act aloof but doesn’t quite pull it off. She turns to MATT:

TRACY So, talking to Juliet…

MATT Get in, Tracy. Now.

TRACY does as she is told.

TRACY I have to tell you about Juliet…

MATT No, you have to pay me?

TRACY But, I don’t have any money.

MATT Yes, you do. You lied about being a pathological liar, didn’t you?

TRACY stares at MATT, not sure how to respond.

MATT I know. For a fact. Cough up.

MATT holds out his hand. TRACY opens her purse, extracts 4 $20 bills, hands them to him.

TRACY How did you know?

MATT  I didn’t. I lied. Now, my phone.

TRACY hands MATT his phone. He hands TRACY her mobile.

MATT Now don’t go anywhere.

MATT moves to get out of the cab.



TRACY (grins) Woof!

MATT smiles, get out of the cab.


MATT stands by his cab, taps a ‘J’ and then a ‘U’ onto the keypad. Juliet shows up onscreen. The phone rings. Tracy has left it in ‘speaker’ mode. Juliet answers. In the background TRACY can be seen lifting her mobile to her ear.  

MATT You still awake?

JULIET’S VOICE No, dad, I’m sound asleep. Having this weird nightmare…


MATT gets back into the cab. TRACY finishes her conversation.

TRACY OK, see you soon.

TRACY hangs up as MATT settles into his seat.

TRACY Matt, I have to tell you what Juliet…

MATT holds up his hand.

MATT No, listen to me.


MATT No buts. I want you tell me about your dad.


MATT If I told you now, you’d laugh.


MATT I’ll tell you later. Promise.

TRACY What did Blue tell you? About my dad?

MATT That you’d never met him.

TRACY That’s not true.

MATT (smiles) So Blue’s a liar!?

TRACY No, he told the truth and…weird, ay, how something can be true and a lie at the same time, ay! Promise you won’t tell anyone…especially my mum.  

MATT Since I’m never going to meet her… 

TRACY   Mmmm (A BEAT) I’ve never talked to anyone before about my dad…not properly.

MATT Not even…The Shrink? Or The Rapist?

TRACY shakes her head.

TRACY Don’t trust them. 

MATT nods. TRACY bites her lip, starts tentatively.

TRACY Well, mum said that my dad…my biological dad…lived on the other side of the world…that he deserted us before I was even born. She’d never tell me his name and..anyhow, I believed her, up till a few days ago when…I just wanted to know his name and…I asked her and she said ‘Tony’ but I could tell by the way she hesitated…you know the way people do when they are about to tell a lie…that she was lying. So I did a bit of…investigating…(SMILES) Private Investigator Tracy Small!

MATT (smiles) Britney Small.

TRACY Tracy Small…I hate Britney…Mum’s always kept a diary, see, but she’s always kept them hidden. And even though I’m a nosy little bitch I never looked for them…until a couple of days ago.


TRACY Because she lied to me about my dad’s name and I wanted to find out why.

MATT So you read her diaries?

TRACY It’s not that simple.

MATT Complex and convoluted! (TRACY LAUGHS) She’d hidden them really well?

TRACY No, she hadn’t gone to that much trouble at all. They were in a shoe box in the back of a cupboard.

MATT So why wasn’t it simple?

TRACY Because I keep a diary too, see, and mum promised she’d never ever read it. And I know she hasn’t because if she had she’d have bitten my fucking head off. 

MATT Lying to taxi drivers about lost wallets and being a nymphomaniac and that sort of thing?

TRACY (laughs) So how could I look at her diary…!?

MATT But she’d lied to you about your dad.

TRACY Yes, but I lie to mum all the time. That doesn’t make it OK for her to look at my diary! Does it?

MATT No, I guess not. But you did look at her diary, right?

TRACY Yes, but just to be fair I left my diary open on the kitchen table when I went to school. ‘Accidentally’. There’s no way mum could not have seen it.

MATT Did she read it?

TRACY Obviously not, because…

MATT …she didn’t bite your head off?

TRACY Right, anyhow I looked at her diary anyway…one she kept a year before I was born and…well, I found out she’d fucked an old boyfriend one night almost exactly nine months before I was born. ‘Made beautiful love’ she wrote. ‘Beautiful love’! Squeeze me!

MATT Tony?

TRACY No, she just called him X – which was gay because it was the only time she ever kept a name secret. Everyone in her diary has a name except for Mr X. She wrote, “…who I still love but who, fuck it, is going to be otherwise engaged till death us do part.”

MATT He was getting married?

TRACY Yes, and I figured the…’making beautiful love’ was like a farewell present to him. For old time’s sake…know what I mean? A farewell fuck!

MATT laughs, shakes his head.

TRACY So, mum and Mr X didn’t just ‘make beautiful love’, they made me

MATT And a very good job they made of it!

TRACY (laughs)… and after nine months cooking in mum’s tum I popped into the world and when I realize that I haven’t got a dad like my friends…I was about three…I ask mum why and she lies to me – my whole fucking life! Lies, lies, lies! And then when I found out who Mr X was – Jesus fucking Christ!

MATT Who was he?

TRACY Who is he, you mean! Two days after fucking Mr X mum went to a wedding… 

MATT Whose wedding?

TRACY is just about to blurt it out but thinks twice:

TRACY  My whole family would fucking freak if the truth came out…but…fuck… the truth’s supposed to set you free, isn’t it? 

TRACY looks at MATT with a pained expression that suggests she really wants him to give her an answer. MATT shakes his head, smiles. He hasn’t got an answer.

TRACY  Her sister’s.

MATT doesn’t join the dots immediately.

TRACY  My uncle David is my dad. Dear old Uncle Dave!

MATT Fuck! Does he know? I mean, do you look anything like him?

TRACY  No, I look more like my aunt – which makes sense since she’s my mum’s sister. But if we did a DNA test…

MATT Does your aunt know?

TRACY  She’s never let on…to me…but…here’s the funny thing. Uncle Dave was like a dad to me…don’t laugh…until I started to sprout tits…when I was 10. We were real close. He would give me lots of hugs and I’d sit on his knee and, you know…dad and daughter stuff. That was when my aunt had a kind of nervous breakdown and…Shit! Mum!

A WOMAN, late 30s, is walking straight towards the cab.  

TRACY She’s come to get me. I forgot…

MATT registers MERILY only a few seconds before she arrives at the passenger window of his cab.  

TRACY Don’t tell her anything…Nothing. Promise?

MATT nods. MERILY, made up and dressed as twentysomething, greets TRACY cheerfully through the passenger window.

MERILY Sweetheart. 

TRACY nods, looks nervously at MATT.

MERILY And you’d be Matt…

MERILY’S smile bears the vestiges of her youthful coquetry.

MERILY The famous Matt Patterson. Thanks heaps for taking care of Britney for me…(A BEAT) Cool. 

TRACY rolls her eyes. MATT’S mobile rings: Serena. MATT answers it. Serena’s voice comes through loud and clear:

SERENA’S VOICE So, you’ve got your phone back!? You ‘gunna’ be here soon or should I put some new batteries in my vibrator?

MATT We’ve got an audience…

SERENA’S VOICE So who’s listening?

MATT Tracy and her mum.

SERENA’S VOICE Hi Tracy’s mum.


SERENA’S VOICE Serena. You finished with Matt yet, Tracy?

MATT It’s all over…be there soon.

SERENA’S VOICE Soon? Like…before Christmas?

MATT I love you.

There is a long silence.

SERENA’S VOICE Have we got a bad connection or did you just say…?

MATT I love you. You heard right.

There is a long pause.

SERENA’S VOICE I love you too. (A BEAT) You’re not on drugs are you?

MATT (laughs) Be there soon.


MATT hangs up.

MERILY What happened to your hand?

MATT Windscreen was pissing me off and…

MATT makes a faux boxing gesture. TRACY smiles.

MATT Got something you want to tell your mum, Tracy…Britney?

TRACY looks at MATT – terrified. She shakes her head.  

MATT You got anything you want to tell your daughter?

MERILY Tracy…where did Tracy come from?

MERILY I hate Britney!

MERILY Yes, but…you know, when you were born…there weren’t any Britney’s?

MATT Was it you or Tony decided on Britney?


MATT Tracy’s dad.

MERILY tries hard to hide her shock.

MERILY Oh, yes…! It was me…

TRACY tries to catch MATT’S eye to warn him off.

MATT Do you mind if I ask you a personal question, Merily?

MERILY Not about vibrators, I hope!

MATT Have you ever sent Tracy…Britney…to see a therapist…a psychiatrist.

MERILY No. (A BEAT) Do you think I should? (A BEAT) She’s got a vivid imagination but that’s not a problem is it? Making up stories? I mean, that Bryce Courtney made a living making up stories. A good living. Did it a bit myself when I was young …invisible magic friends…handsome princes…you know…fairy tale stuff…then of course I grew up and…

MATT nods, looks at TRACY. She is not happy at the direction the conversation is taking. To MERILY:

MATT I hear some amazing stories driving a cab.

MERILY  I can imagine.

MATT A few nights ago I had a girl around Tracy’s age…Tiffany…who really wanted to talk. Regular little motor-mouth…

MERILY Reminds me of someone I know.

MERILY looks at TRACY, smiles. TRACY is trying to make eye-contact with MATT but he avoids her stare.

MATT Tiffany’s mum had told her her dad’d died when Tiffany was young. And Tiffany spent most of her life wondering who her dad was. She wanted to know what he looked like, whether she was like him at all…that sort of thing…She’d lie in bed at night thinking about him, crying herself to sleep…longing for the father she never knew…

MERILY’S frozen smile suggests that this is not a story she wants to hear. TRACY is trying hard not to freak out.

MATT Then Tiffany suddenly finds out who her dad is; that he’s not dead. He’s alive and well. And not only that. She knows him. She’s met him…

MATT stops, looks at MERILY - having difficulty keeping the frozen ‘interested’ smile on her face.  

MERILY Sounds…(A BEAT) interesting…

MATT And with a happy ending.

MERILY Oh…! That’s nice…

MATT Tiffany decided that she’d never tell her mum that she knew her dad was alive and that she knew who he was.

MERILY I like happy endings. 

MATT That’s not the end.

MERILY It’s not!?

MATT No, the story ended when Tiffany’s mum, who had no idea that her daughter knew the truth, decided she wanted to tell Tiffany the truth about her dad.

MERILY Yes, well that’s probably the best thing, ay? What’s that thing they say about the truth?

TRACY “The truth will set you free.”

Out of a long silence, MERILY reaches out, brushes aside a strand of TRACY’S hair that has fallen out of place.

MERILY Well, I don’t know about you…Tracy, but I would die for a hamburger with the works.

TRACY  Me too.

MERILY Is that Blue?

MERILY has spotted BLUE walking out of the doorway to ‘Gluttons’ with his arms full of fast food and drinks. At the same moment, Juliet’s friend Tiffany’s little red sedan pulls into a parking space – JULIET waving to MATT from the window.

TRACY Juliet?

MATT nods. TRACY’S face lights up in a happy smile. JULIET gets out of the car and, when she sees TRACY and realizes who she is, her face lights up also. 

JULIET starts to walk towards Matt’s cab. 

TRACY takes her mother’s hand, holds it affectionately. MERILY squeezes TRACY’S hand tight.

BLUE, beaming a stupid smile, starts to make his way towards Matt’s cab also – just as the purple sedan pulls up closeby. GBH gets out, moves fast towards BLUE.

MATT Fuck.

…to be continued…

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