Tuesday, January 31, 2017
"NEST OF VIPERS" Episode # 1 (of 10)
Screen Australia’s ban on me, my consequent lack of access to the Producer Offset, has left me with no choice but to abandon “Nest of Vipers” as an Australian production. It is now being re-written for the US market. Here is Episode # 1 of what could have been an Australian production, starring Australian actors in the leads, with Australian co-producer, co-directors and Australian crew:
1 EXT. TROPICAL RAINFOREST CAMBODIA. DAY
Opening credit sequence
The screen is black. Angela’s voice (British) is heard amidst the rustling of papers, footsteps on a wooden floor.
$3,000! The going price to get someone killed in Cambodia. Just a few days ago Nick was telling me...
KATIE’S VOICE (American accent)
Hold on, Angela. Todd, you close?
The sound of Angela’s clip-on microphone being touched.
TODD’S VOICE (American accent)
Yes. If you could try not to touch the microphone, Angela.
FADE UP FROM BLACK
A travelling aerial shot, moving close to the tops of trees over dense tropical rainforest.
If you could you just say something.
Something more...more of something...
2 EXT. RICE PADDIES. DAY
Gliding downhill at the forest’s edge towards a vast quilt of green rice paddies stretching to the horizon.
Too much of something...
3 EXT. VILLAGE & RICE PADDIES. DAY
Moving lower now over palm tree-lined rice paddies; gliding over a thatched roofed village.
As I ever will be.
4 EXT. RURAL CAMBODIAN ROAD. DAY
A white pick-up truck with H A C written in large letters on the side makes its way along a dusty red road that intersects green rice paddies lined with palm trees.
Do I look at you? Todd? The camera?
THREE KHMER WOMEN sit on the truck tray amidst a chaotic array of vegetable and fruit -filled boxes, bags of rice and bulging plastic bags.
5 INT. FLATBED TRUCK. RURAL CAMBODIAN ROAD. DAY
Title Card: Angela
ANGELA, Eurasian, late 20s, drives. Perspiration glistens on her face. She wears Khaki shorts and a long-sleeved shirt; has a laminated H A C name tag around her neck.
Whatever you feel comfortable with.
A KHMER MAN, his WIFE, TWO CHILDREN and a Rooster in a wire cage, are crammed into the passenger seat. Angela turns to them; speaks in faltering Khmer.
Does the red kitchen of my aunt have blue snakes in the roof?
They laugh. She turns to the two children; playful.
The children laugh.
6 EXT. VILLAGE. DAY
Angela’s truck drives into a rural Cambodian village; pulls up in front of a building with H A C painted on it; gets out.
Underneath H A C: Humanitarian Aid Cambodia
So, how does this work? You want me to...
The passengers, front and back, disembark.
Maybe you could just... start at the beginning?
A THIN MAN wearing an ‘HAC’ t-shirt appears; organizes VILLAGERS to carry the bags and boxes inside.
The beginning! Which one?
One cardboard box is labelled: “Celebrity Slim Fat Burner”
7 INT. H A C OFFICE. DAY
Angela drinks water from a plastic bottle as the Thin Man lifts colourful hand-knitted blankets from a bag.
There are so many beginnings to this story.
The Thin Man looks at the blankets; smiles politely as Angela splashes water on her perspiring face.
The Thin Man holds up a box of “Celebrity Slim Fat Burner Shake Packs”. A photo of colourful chocolate, strawberry and vanilla ‘shakes’ adorn the box.
The Thin Man shakes his head, looks at Angela. She shrugs; makes a “Don’t ask me!” gesture; smiles sheepishly.
8 INT. FLATBED TRUCK. RURAL CAMBODIAN ROAD. DAY
Close on Angela driving; alone now. A song plays low in the background: “If You Leave Me” by “Mental as Anything”.
MENTAL AS ANYTHING
“If you leave me, can I come too?”
With my conception in a Cambodian refugee camp...
MENTAL AS ANYTHING
“We can always stay”
We don’t need to go back that far.
MENTAL AS ANYTHING
“Words were exchanged last night”
Oh yes we do!
MENTAL AS ANYTHING
“You could call it a fight”
How about when you first met Nick?
Angela’s laughter is heard; mixed with “If You Leave Me”.
MENTAL AS ANYTHING
“It's such a shame I never thought we would...”
Up ahead a figure looms; standing by a yellow vehicle.
MENTAL AS ANYTHING
“Wouldn't be so bad, if it weren't so good...”
As the song continues, the figure grows larger in the frame.
MENTAL AS ANYTHING
“It's such a shame I never thought we would...”
NICK, late 30s, stands by a mud be-spattered yellow 4WD holding a large dirty plastic petrol container.
MENTAL AS ANYTHING
“I've had enough of that...”
Nick has a two day growth of beard, longish tousled hair, no dress sense; sweats profusely.
MENTAL AS ANYTHING
“Other loves in days gone by.”
Angela pulls up alongside him.
MENTAL AS ANYTHING
“It wasn't much I know..”
Angela turns the engine off. Nick, empty petrol container held aloft; smiles sheepishly. His accent is Californian.
I’m a fucking moron.
Hello ‘fucking moron’.
The gauge on the ‘Yellow Peril’ is broken...
(He gestures to his 4WD )
...so I can never be 100% sure how much petrol’s in the tank so I...
He raps his fingers on the plastic container.
...anyhow, I forgot to fill it and...
Because you’re a fucking moron...
Or an imbecile. Whichever is worse.
Cretin is worse than both moron and imbecile.
OK, cretin. I’m Nick, by the way.
Nick the cretin.
Nick the cretin. And you’re...?
Angela. And you need to be rescued.
Yes...not sure what the word is for a guy in distress.
Damoiseau in distress! (A BEAT) There’s a village just a few kilometers back...
He points to the road behind Angela’s flatbed.
Do you mind?
Angela shakes her head; smiles; gestures for him to get in.
As Nick gets in Angela switches on the engine.
MENTAL AS ANYTHING
“Just enough, enough to make me cry...”
Nick’s eyes light up.
Do you mind?
He reaches forward, turns up the volume; sings along as Angela drives off:
MENTAL AS ANYTHING
“But if you leave me, can I come too? And if you go, can I come too?”
He stops singing, looks at Angela.
I love this song.
I don’t mind at all if you want to turn up the volume and sing along!
Nick laughs, turns the music down; looks at her name tag.
You work for HAC?
Angela nods. Nick nods.
You know it?
And? A good NGO?
I’m sure HAC does some good work.
Very diplomatic of you!
And what do you do with....(HAC)?
Still trying to figure that out. I’ve only been there...here...a few weeks. And you? In Cambodia?
A few years. Five, six...yes, six.
A big question.
And the big answer?
Mmmm...The twitter version...I came here to write a novel.
I needed to pay rent so I got into journalism. Stringer.
He pats the journalist’s note-pad protruding from his pocket.
Who do you write for?
Newspapers, magazines...whoever will throw a few crumbs my way. And I teach English to support my journalism.
Jack of all trades?
Yes. And you? Back home?
Home! Master of none. At a loose end.
So you thought: “Think I’ll go and save the world?
Rescue the poor and powerless?”
On the grounds that it might incriminate you?
Angela laughs, flips Nick a bird.
Escaping bad English weather?
There is that.
A bad relationship?
Shouldn’t you be taking notes?
Angela gestures to Nick’s note pad. He laughs; taps his head.
All stored up here. (A BEAT) An early mid-life crisis?
Do I have the right to remain silent?
You make a habit of interrogating people you’ve just met?
No, but with you I’m making an exception.
Angela laughs. They drive in silence for a long moment.
Can I ask you a question?
Uh oh! Research?
I’s a hot day, right?
And you’re wearing a long-sleeved shirt!
They approach a busy roadside rural market. Nick points.
Up there, on the right.
Angela approaches a stand at the side of the road selling petrol in used soft drink bottles; pulls up.
Nick opens the door, prepares to get out with his plastic petrol container.
Just an observation.
Liar. (A BEAT) You’ve guessed, haven’t you?
Angela looks at him for a long moment; torn. She holds out her arms.
Nick reaches out, rolls the shirt sleeve of one arm back; turns her arm over; revealing several thin parallel scars.
Nick looks from the scars into her eyes. And she into his. As he rolls her shirt sleeve back down to the wrist:
Do you have any scars?
Nick hesitates for a moment, his eyes locked on Angela’s. He takes her hand; places it on his heart.
In need of repair.
I’m not sure mine can be repaired.
Of course it can be.
9 EXT. TRAT. THAILAND. FISHING PORT. DAY
A busy fish market on the coast of Thailand.
Title Card: Trat, Thailand
Lean fishermen, darkly tanned, sweat profusely in the hot sun; carry baskets of fish from boats lining a jetty that juts out into the sea.
Nick, dressed in floral shirt and shorts, looking very much like a tourist, stands with other TOURISTS alongside a tour bus; small digital movie camera in hand.
Title Card: Nick
Nick and the other TOURISTS cluster around their TOUR GUIDE; take photos and film with smart phones and digital cameras.
Trat is one of Thailand’s biggest and busiest fishing ports, bringing in King mackerel, barracuda, trevallies...
Nick, wanders a short distance away from the tour group, filming, tourist style, with his small digital camera, in the direction of GUNTHER - a bald, saffron-robed, Caucasian monk.
...snappers, gropers. And fishmeal, made from dried fish, ground into a brown powder to feed to farm animals...
(He calls out.)
Mr Nick, Mr Nick...
Do not walk too far. And be very careful with your camera. Here there are many thieves.
Nick nods, waves acknowledgment with one hand; holds his camera tightly as he films.
Using fish byproducts to feed animals was observed...
Nick makes eye contact with Gunther; moves towards him.
...by Marco Polo around 600 years ago and today is a huge industry...
The Tour Guide pauses; looks with concern as Nick moves further away, into the throng of fishermen at work. He sees:
Nick walk up to Gunther, hands him his digital camera; positions himself in front of it – Gunther filming him.
NICK (to camera)
Slavery is not an inhumane practice of the past.
Behind Nick, a LARGE THAI MAN has noticed Nick and Gunther and is not happy.
Through the lens of the camera being held by Gunther we see:
It is alive and well and a thriving industry in Cambodian and Thailand.
The large Thai Man begins to make his way towards Nick and Gunther; a large fishing knife in his hands.
GUNTHER (voice off)
The shot wobbles; points at the ground. Gunther shouts; his accent thickly German.
Nick turns; sees the Large Thai Man coming for him.
He turns and runs, following Gunther – also hightailing it. His voice over is heard.
NICK (voice over)
One of the biggest Thai men I have ever seen.
10 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. DAY
Nick, hair unkempt, unshaven, talks to a small hand held digital video camera in his run down low rent apartment.
Books, newspapers, magazines and folders cover every available surface - along with the polystyrene remnants of late-night take away meals.
He talks as he walks towards his cluttered work desk. On the wall in front of it is a collage of photos, newspaper articles, notes connected by different coloured threads.
And the knife! Fuck!...
He points the camera at a printer, out of which emerges a photo of Nick with the knife-wielding Thai man behind him.
Now here’s the interesting thing.
The camera tilts up to the cluttered collage; to a photo of Knife Man talking with two men - one with red-hair; fishing boats in the background.
NICK (voice off)
Here is Mr Knife Man talking to the Captain of the boat and....
(closer on red-haired man)
...our old friend Terry Swinton, who is married to Srey Mal who...
The shot pans to a Khmer woman, late 30s, standing in front of Girlie Bar “Pussy Galore”
NICK (VOICE OFF)
...runs Pussy Galore, where girls from the provinces like Srey Pec...
Close on a photo of teen Khmer girl in short skirt, tight tank-top and high heels standing in “Pussy Galore” entrance.
The sound of a mobile phone ringing.
Nick stops filming, takes his yellow mobile phone from his shirt pocket, looks at the screen: Meas
Nick listens for a moment.
I’m on my way.
11 EXT. PHNOM PENH STREET. DAY
Nick drives his 90 cc motor bike fast through chaotic traffic; turns onto an unpaved side street.
12 EXT. PHNOM PENH SLUM DISTRICT. DAY
Nick makes his way down a pot-holed dirt road past make-shift homes; weaving his way through people, stalls, dogs, chickens and pigs - towards a large crowd.
He approaches a Police Vehicle, pulling up close to the crowd; parks his motor bike as BALIN MEAS, a uniformed policeman, steps from the Police Vehicle onto the dirt road.
Balin Meas shakes his head, grimaces as Nick walks up to him. Nick pats Balin Meas on the shoulder: old friends.
Together they walk towards the crowd. People turn; watching their approach.
The crowd parts; allowing Balin Meas and Nick through.
On the ground there is what looks to be a body covered with a sheet of dirty blue plastic.
Balin Meas lifts back the sheet of plastic. A 12 year old girl, wearing a white dress, stares at the sky with dead eyes.
Balin Meas shakes his head; upset.
Who found the body?
A KHMER MAN steps forward. Nick takes out his note-book, talks with by-standers.
TWO KHMER JOURNALISTS make their way through the crowd; note-books in hand; plastic ID PRESS cards around their necks.
This is the third young girl to die at the hands of a rapist who dresses his victims in white...
13 INT. NICK’S APARTMENT. DAY
Close on a newspaper clipping; the headline of which reads:
KUNTHEA’S FINAL FAREWELL
A pretty, smiling, 12 year old girl- Kunthea. A smaller photo shows the body of Kunthea, in a white dress, lying in tall grass by a river.
To the side of the article there is a small photo of Nick, with the words: Nicholas Morecombe.
The clipping is nestled amidst other photos and newspaper clippings relating to the rape-murders of pre-pubescent girls. One headline reads: “White Dress of Death”.
Nick unpins the clipping, places it on the desk beside his computer; a desk covered with note-books, notes on scraps of paper, magazines, newspapers with sections highlighted, pizza boxes and the remnants of late night take-aways.
Nick rummages amongst the desk detritus; locates a manila folder on which is hand-written:
He opens the folder to reveal a photo with the name Sok Lin attached to it:
Sok Lin, around 12 years old, dressed in a white dress, stares ahead of her with dead eyes.
Nick thinks for a long moment before starting to type; fast.
14 EXT. RICE PADDY. DAY
11 year old girl, Monkey, stands at the base of a coconut palm at the edge of a muddy fallow water-filled rice paddy.
Title Card: Monkey
Her baggy tattered trousers held up with a length of frayed rope, Monkey secures a machete between the rope and her body; climbs the tree with remarkable (Monkey-like) agility.
Monkey’s 7 year old brother, DARYA, and 5 year old sister, SREY NIAN, covered in mud, watch her climb; eyes open in awe.
At the top of the palm Monkey removes the machete from her waist; chops 3 coconuts free; calls to her siblings in Khmer.
The coconuts fall to the ground.
A LITTLE LATER
At the base of the palm, Monkey uses the machete to slice the top off a coconut and pierce a hole in it.
Monkey, Darya and Srey Nian drink from the coconuts.
A LITTLE LATER
Monkey chases a frog in the muddy rice-paddy; catches it. The frog slides from between her hands.
Darya and SREY NIAN join in the chase. Darya slips, falls into the paddy.
Monkey laughs, continues with the chase, catches the frog, places it in a sack filled with live frogs.
15 INT. RAMSHACKLE HUT. DAY
A skinny dog, on a dirt floor, suckles 3 new born puppies. A pair of dark slender hands, holding a six month old BABY, appear in frame, placing the baby alongside the puppies.
A wide shot. The most basic of thatch-roofed 3rd world dwellings. MI, an emaciated Khmer woman in her late 20s, sweating profusely, positions the BABY to suckle.
In the background, outside the ramshackle dwelling a pig, a chicken and a dog fight over a scrap of found food.
Close on BABY suckling on the dog's teat. (CGI)
Close on MI - tired, ill, sweat glistening on her face.
16 EXT. RURAL CAMBODIAN VILLAGE. DAY
Monkey, Darya and Srey Nian walk into an impoverished village; Monkey carrying a bag of squirming frogs.
They make their way between ramshackle houses with thatched roofs, past a small shop that sells rice, cooking oil, bottled water, washing powder and other basic necessities.
Signs of extreme poverty abound - skinny malnourished children with red-tinted hair.
Monkey, Darya and Srey Nian stop at the village water pump.
17 INT. RAMSHACKLE 3RD WORLD HUT. DAY
Mi squats close to where her baby suckles with the puppies - her face wet with sweat. She is clearly very sick. She leans against a wooden post, closes her eyes.
18 EXT. VILLAGE. DAY
Monkey pumps muddy water into Darya’s and Srey Nian’s cupped hands. They drink.
19 INT. RAMSHACKLE 3RD WORLD HUT. DAY
The dog stands, walks off. The puppies follow. The baby lies alone on the dirt floor kicking its legs, flailing its arms.
MI leans against the post, asleep.
The dog snarls at the large pig standing at the entrance, as it walks past. The pig’s eyes are focused on the baby. (CGI)
20 EXT. VILLAGE. DAY
Darya tries to operate the pump but he is too small. Monkey laughs, pumps muddy water into one cupped hand, drinks.
21 INT. HUT. DAY
The baby, lying on the ground, makes happy gurgling sounds as the pig walks slowly towards it. (CGI)
The pig sniffs the baby lying on the dirt floor. (CGI)
MI, rivulets of sweat running down her face, sleeps up against the post.
22 EXT. VILLAGE. DAY
A minor dispute takes place between Darya and Srey Nian as to who is going to carry the bag of frogs. Srey Nian wins.
Monkey takes Darya’s and Srey Nian’s hands as they walk towards their ramshackle home - four posts, a thatched roof, walls made of tin, cardboard, hessian and frayed plastic.
As they get close to the hut a baby’s cry is heard, closely followed by a loud scream from MI.
Monkey runs fast to the hut.
23 INT. RAMSHACKLE 3RD WORLD HUT. DAY
Monkey runs into the hut to see MI struggling to her feet, screaming, as the pig licks the baby’s face. (CGI)
Monkey rushes at the pig; kicks it hard. The pig retreats.
Monkey picks up the baby.
MI’S face, a mask of panic, glistens with sweat.
MI lies on a bamboo mat, sick, as Monkey ladles thin rice soup from a pot over an open fire into four bowls.
Monkey hands one bowl to Darya and Srey Nian, sitting on the dirt floor, and takes another to spoon feed Mi, her mother.
Monkey wipes Mi’s wet face with a cloth. Her attention is caught by a car arriving. She looks out to see:
A shiny white sedan pull up outside.
Monkey looks to her mother, with a puzzled expression on her face. Mi turns her head away.
Anurak, mid 30s, gets out of the car and walks towards the hut. Monkey walks out to greet him.
MI half sits, looks out to where:
Anurak talks animatedly to Monkey; who claps her hands excitedly, turns, beams a smile to her mother.
Mi waves to Monkey but cannot manage a smile.
Anurak takes out his mobile phone; gestures to Monkey to hold still whilst he takes a photo.
Monkey beams a huge happy white smile at Anurak. Click. He glances at the photo; presses ‘send’.
Mi looks on as Monkey, Darya, Srey Nian and OTHER KIDS look in wonder at the white sedan. Tears well in her eyes.
A ping announces the arrival of a message on Anurak’s phone.
Anurak nods to Monkey. She smiles, claps her hands excitedly.
Close on MI’s sweating face, tears rolling down her cheeks.
24 EXT. NICK’S 4 WD. RURAL CAMBODIA. DAY
Nick’s 4 WD rolls to a standstill at the side of a road in the middle of nowhere.
I read it.
Nick gets out of the 4 WD, yellow mobile held to his ear.
Liked it, but...
“It’s not for us”?
Three dead girls in white dresses is not a story, Nicko! Sorry. Not for our readers. Local interest.
The land dispute idea? Again...
It’s not just a ‘land dispute’, Al! The wife of the minister for indigenous affairs is stealing...
Nick opens the back door of the 4 WD.
I get that. I do. Maybe if someone gets killed...
Nick lifts the dirty plastic petrol container from the floor.
See what I can organize.
He realizes the petrol container is empty. Mouths: “Fuck”
The more bodies the merrier.
Nick nods, mouths “fuck, fuck, fuck”
25 INT. NICK’S 4 WD. DAY
Nick, sweating profusely, sits in the front seat reading Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”; sees a vehicle approach.
26 EXT. NICK’S 4 WD. DAY
Nick gets out; watches as Angela’s white flatbed gets closer; pulls up alongside him. She looks at him over the top of her sunglasses; shakes her head.
I’m a fucking moron.
Angela beams him a beautiful smile.
Hello ‘fucking moron’.
27 INT. TROPICAL GARDEN. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Nick, wearing a sarong, bare-chested, sits in the small tropical garden adjacent to his Living Room - seen in the background through a sliding glass door. He has a beer in one hand; small video camera in the other. He talks to it.
Love at first sight? Or just lust at first sight?
Seen through the lens of the video camera:
Damoiseau in distress!
He holds up his beer: a toast; laughs.
28 INT. ANGELA’S FLATBED TRUCK. DAY
Angela watches Nick walk back from the petrol stand lugging the now full plastic container. He gets into the front passenger seat; places the container between his legs.
The cap on that’s tight, right?
Yes, but probably best not to light a cigarette...
Nick glances at HER nicotine stained fingers.
I’ve given up.
Nick nods; smiles. Angela turns on the ignition.
Got any plans for the next few hours?
No plans? Good. Turn around. We heading in the wrong direction.
Angela points ahead.
Phnom Penh is that way!
Yes, the wrong direction.
Angela laughs; commences a U-turn.
29 EXT. RURAL CAMBODIA. DAY
Angela’s flatbed truck drives on a dirt road bisecting rice paddies towards mountains.
Where are you taking me?
For a ride.
Angela’s laughter is heard.
30 INT. ANGELA’S FLATBED TRUCK. DAY
As they drive through rainforest:
Now, you’d think that the Minister for Indigenous Affairs’ job is to protect indigenous people, right!
From loggers etc.
So, the Minister’s wife...Srey Mean is her name...wants to enlarge her rubber plantation, right?
One side of the road has been cleared and replaced with a rubber plantation: trees in neat rows.
But she has a problem. The land she wants...needs...has indigenous people living on it.
So she asks her husband...
Tells her husband!
31 INT. ANGELA’S FLATBED. DAY
Through the window, as they approach, Nick and Angela see:
A bulldozer parked in front of a segment of rainforest it has recently destroyed. Mutilated trees lie in piles at the edge of a large red-brown patch of exposed earth.
In front of the bulldozer, surrounding it, are make-shift huts; around which a few dozen indigenous men, women and children process forest products, cook food, play etc.
A Khmer BULLDOZER DRIVER stands by the bulldozer talking on his mobile phone. In front of him, waving her finger aggressively at him is an old woman named BUN.
32 EXT. RAINFOREST CLEARING. DAY
BUN - strong-willed, feisty - gives the Bulldozer Driver a piece of her mind. In Khmer:
This is our land. You cannot steal.
The Bulldozer Driver, intimidated by Bun, nods his assent to instructions he is receiving over the phone.
Bun sees Nick and Angela walking from the flatbed towards her. She smiles; walks to greet them. Nick speaks in Khmer.
Causing trouble again old woman?
Over my dead body they take this land, young man.
This is my friend, Angela.
(to Angela, in English)
This is Bun.
Bun brings her hands together in a gesture of greeting. Angela reciprocates. Two INDIGENOUS GIRLS (12’ish) approach.
Bun is one of the traditional owners of the forest.
Nick looks at the bulldozer; shakes his head.
The Indigenous Girls, closeby, arms around each other’s shoulders, look at Angela shyly; in awe.
Angela makes a face. The girls giggle; hold their hands to their mouths. Angela addresses Nick:
Is it OK if I take some photos?
Angela takes a small digital camera from her pocket.
Can my friend take some photos.
Bun nods. Angela takes a photo of Nick and Bun without looking through the viewfinder; spins around, points it in the direction of the Indigenous Girls, takes a photo.
The girls run off laughing; stopping a few meters away; looking back at Angela. One whispers to the other, who nods.
Angela walks towards them, holds the camera screen up so they can see the photo.
The girls look at each other, decide to take the risk; walk up to Angela tentatively; look at the photo; giggle.
Angela flips the camera around, takes a photo. It happens so fast the Girls’ expressions of surprise are captured.
The Girls look at the new photo:
Surprised expressions on the Indigenous Girls’ faces.
The Girls laugh. Angela practices her rudimentary Khmer.
My name is Angela. What are your names?
My name Chanda.
My name Sokha.
Nick and Bun are engaged in a spirited conversation. Nick talks fast. He is trying to convince Bun of something. Angela can be seen in the background handing her camera to Chanda.
Chanda takes a photo of Angela and Sokha. Angela looks back to where Nick and Bun talk.
Bun shakes her head; speaks to Nick forcefully.
Angela retrieves her camera from Chanda; takes a photo of Nick and Bun.
Nick hangs his head, exhales; bothered by what Bun says. He looks up to see:
Angela walking towards the Bulldozer Driver, camera in hand taking photos.
Angela turns; holds up her thumb: “OK”.
Angela walks towards the Bulldozer Driver; smiling at him as she takes photos - not looking through the viewfinder or at the LCD screen. He holds up a hand to cover his face.
Angela, the Bulldozer Driver, Nick and Bun’s attention are caught by the sound of police sirens.
Two police cars approach; red lights flashing. Behind them comes a shiny white 4WD vehicle.
Angela lifts her camera; takes photos as FOUR POLICEMAN and VICHET get out of the police cars and walks towards them.
I wouldn’t do that, Angela!
She ignores Nick’s warning; keeps taking photos.
Vichet, a senior bureaucrat in a grey safari suite, his angry face red and sweaty, marches up to the Bulldozer Driver; shouts at him in Khmer.
Do your job. Now.
He becomes aware that Angela is taking photos; strides up to her hand outstretched.
You! Get out of here the fuck!
Angela pulls the camera out of his reach, turns away, walks back towards Nick; passing Bun as she strides towards Vichet.
Be careful with that.
(He indicates her camera)
He is a dangerous man.
Angela nods, turns to see:
Bun in front of Vichet prodding his chest with her finger.
Angela spins around, walks back towards Bun and Vichet; ignoring Nick’s gesture to stop.
33 INT. 4WD. DAY
SREY MEAN, a Khmer woman in her 50s, looks out through the dark tinted windscreen; sees:
Bun prodding Vichet’s chest with a finger; Angela taking photos; Nick walking up; notebook in hand.
In a rage Srey Mean gets out of the 4 WD.
34 EXT. RAINFOREST CLEARING. DAY
A crowd has gathered around Bun, Vichet and the Bulldozer driver; all voicing their opinions loudly. Nick writes notes.
Srey Mean pushes through the crowd; screams at the Bulldozer Driver in Khmer.
SREY MEAN (subtitled)
What are you doing? Why are you not working?
The Bulldozer Driver, intimidated by Srey Mean, gestures to the people and makeshift huts in front of the bulldozer.
SREY MEAN (subtitled)
She pushes her way through the crowd, past the bulldozer, and starts to tear down a a hut in front of it. A scuffle breaks out between Srey Mean and INDIGENOUS WOMEN. The police move to break it up. Srey Mean turns to the Bulldozer Driver.
SREY MEAN (subtitled)
Drive, you idiot.
The Bulldozer Driver walks tentatively to his vehicle; is intercepted by Bun: standing between him and his bulldozer.
Angela takes photos. Nick films with his mobile phone.
Srey Mean rushes Angela, trying to stop her taking photos.
Vichet walks up to Nick, places his hand over the mobile.
Nick slips the mobile into his shirt pocket. In Khmer:
Do you have any comment to make about the Minister’s wife stealing these people’s land.
Fuck you, Morecombe! Fuck off!
That is your only comment?
Vichet points a finger at Nick’s head (a ‘gun’) and pulls the trigger. Angela, closeby, takes a photo.
Vichet rushes her, tries to grab her camera. She walks backwards, fast, taking photos.
Two Policemen walk towards them. Nick turns to Angela.
Time to go.
Angela spins around, takes photos of the approaching police.
He grabs Angela’s arm, pulls her away. She breaks free, turns to confront Vichet. Nick grabs her again, pushes her towards the flatbed truck.
Angela! For fuck’s sake.
Angela gives up resisting and allows Nick to hustle her back to the 4WD. Vichet pursues them for a few steps only; signals to the approaching Policemen to return to the bulldozer.
Nick opens the passenger door and indicates to Angela to get in. She shakes her head, pulls away, walks around to the driver’s door; gets in. Nick gets in the passenger door.
35 INT. FLATBED TRUCK. DAY
Angela, fists clenched, sits in the driver’s seat; exhales. She looks at Nick; eyes ablaze. He shakes his head.
You are crazy!
That was fun.
Nick raises his eyebrows.
Their attention is caught by Srey Mean’s shouting. They see, through the windscreen:
The Bulldozer Driver, hands in the air, shaking his head. Srey Mean screams at him but the driver shakes his head. Srey Mean turns; makes her way back to her white 4 WD.
The Police follow her. The crowd of Indigenous People cheer.
Angela punches the air with her fist; turns to Nick.
Nick smiles; looks at Angela as turns on the ignition, commences a three-point turn.
NICK (voice over)
Balls of steel?
Close on Angela; from Nick’s POV:
NICK (voice over)
Or just plain reckless? Not sure which!
Angela looks at Nick; smiles.
Welcome to Scambodia.
36 EXT. TROPICAL GARDEN. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
Nick talks to his small video camera.
We shall see! Bun was happy but she knows that’s not the end of it. Srey Mean and her thugs will be back.
Nick takes a sip of his beer.
37 INT. ANGELA’S FLATBED TRUCK. DAY
As Angela drives Nick scrolls through photos on her camera.
- Nick and Bun engaged in intense conversation
- The bulldozer driver with his hand held up
- Sokha and Chanda laughing
- Vichet, his finger pointed at Nick’s head like a gun
You’ve got a good eye.
Two good eyes, actually. Beautiful eyes. But you need a decent camera.
I had one but...stolen!
Not a problem.
38 EXT. NICK’S 4 WD. DAY
Angela watches from the passenger seat of her flatbed as Nick, bottom in the air, rummages around in the back seat of his 4 WD; finds what he is looking for; turns to her smiling; holding aloft a dusty leather stills camera case:
He walks up to Angela; camera in hand.
It’s just gathering dust...
He blows dust from the leather camera case; hands it to her.
Angela opens the case, takes out a professional stills camera.
THANKS YOU. (A BEAT) If you want to use one of my photos...?
You send me an email and...
She hands Nick her H A C business card.
I don’t have a business...(card on me.) But I do have a pen, because I’m a journalist and...
(He can’t find his pen)
Shit, have you got...?
Angela laughs, takes out a biro, hands it to him. Nick takes her hand, writes his phone number on the back of it; holds onto her hand. Their eyes lock for a long moment. They smile in unison; then laugh in unison.
39 INT. BACKPACKING HOSTEL. NIGHT
Close on the home page a computer screen as it boots up:
An old photo of a young Asian woman (late teens) holding a baby. It is frayed at the edges, stained and lined where it has been folded.
Angela sits at a table in the crowded dining area of a backpacking hostel; a meal at her side. She types ‘Nicholas Morecombe’ into Google. Several entries pop up. She clicks on “Despatches from the East”:
The Home Page of his blog. A photo of Nick in front of Angkor Wat. There are several icon/stories. Angela opens one at random; takes a bite of her meal as the clip loads; glances at Nick’s phone number on the back of her hand.
On a computer screen can be seen:
A deeply tanned, thin, Khmer man in his 30s, looking directly into the camera with frightened eyes.
NICK (voice over)
Kimsong Seng, from Prey Veng Province in Cambodia, had been a fishing slave...
Nick speaks to camera. In the background, outside a Thai police station, Kimsong Seng can be seen sitting on the ground alongside a dozen or so other men and boys.
...for the past five years before he was rescued this week by Thai police, along with...
40 EXT. TROPICAL GARDEN. NIGHT
From the POV of Nick’s ‘diary’ camera:
Nick sits for along moment with a big smile on his face; looks directly down the lens.
What can I say! A great day.
(He sips on his beer)
I hope if you’re looking at this that I am alive and well...hey, maybe we will be watching it together... and we can laugh about all...you know... all that shit...
Signing off. Love you.
41 INT. BACKPACKING HOSTEL. NIGHT
Angela eats as she watches another of Nick’s blog stories:
A Cambodian fishing village. White beach fronting onto an aquamarine sea. Children play on the beach as fishermen mend their nets alongside boats whose design and function has not changed in 100 years.
Nick speaks to camera:
The community of villagers lived on this island for generations before Wing Chou Industries...
A photo of Wing Chou, Chinese, impeccably dressed in a white suit, standing in front of a helicopter with WCI printed on it.
NICK (voice over)
...entered into an ‘arrangement’ with authorities to build Cambodia’s first ‘Eco Casino’.
Angela’s mobile phone rings. She glances at the screen.
Shaky hand-held smart-phone footage of a stand off between angry villagers and police.
She answers her phone; a little tentatively. A man’s voice; French-accented.
Angie, its me.
Angela hesitates a moment before replying.
42 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. NIGHT
With background music playing the camera drifts over the collage in front of Nick’s desk, down past a framed photo (the glass cracked) of two smiling teenage boys, each with an arm around the other’s shoulder and each carrying a tennis racket, across to where Nick’s fingers fly fast across the keyboard.
43 EXT. UP-MARKET HOUSE. NIGHT
A Tuk Tuk pulls up. Angela gets out, pays the TUL TUK DRIVER, walks to where a UNIFORMED GUARD, armed with an AK 47, stands by a tall security gate. He greets Angela warmly, presses a button and speaks briefly into an intercom. The gate begins to swing open.
Seen from behind a MAN IN A BATHROBE, as the gate opens. Angela moves towards him; embraces him; smiles.
44 EXT. PHNOM PENH RUBBISH DUMP. DAWN
Tip-trucks unload rubbish at a huge dump.
SCAVENGERS - men, women and children - use lengths of wire with hooked ends to extract what can be recycled and sold.
The air is thick with smoke; the work conditions hellish.
A YOUNG GIRL, 8 or 9, climbs a mound of rubbish with her hooked wire in one hand and a plastic sack in the other - into which she places plastic bags and other plastic items she finds. The process requires her to empty the bags first - of mouldy rice, rotten fruit, sanitary napkins etc.
One plastic bag resists her attempt to lift it with her hooked wire. She lifts the bag with her hands, upends it. Out falls the severed head of a Caucasian man - his eyes open in terror, his ears have been sliced off and his mouth taped shut with gaffer tape.
45 INT. BEDROOM. DAWN
Angela is asleep in a bedroom that bespeaks money. There is a man beside her - his back turned to both her and the camera.
Angela is awoken by the sound of her mobile phone vibrating on the table alongside the bed. She reaches for it, listens for a moment before quickly extricating herself naked from the bed - careful not to wake her bed mate.
46 INT. HALLWAY. DAWN
Angela closes the bedroom door behind her softly; holds the mobile close; speaks quietly.
OK, OK...thanks. How will I find you?
She listens for a moment.
47 EXT. UP-MARKET HOUSE. DAWN
Angela stands at the front gate of the up market house, Nick’s camera slung around her neck. The Security Guard standing there holds a red wand aloft - signalling to moto dop (motor bike taxi) drivers parked at the corner closeby.
48 EXT. BAR DISTRICT. EARLY MORNING
The moto dop, with Angela on the back, drives down a street lined with bars and clubs. She has Nick’s camera in her hand.
Flashing neon signs- “Pussy Galore”, “69” “Dream Girls” etc - adorn most establishments. The night is over but a few scantily clad Khmer women vie for the attention of the few remaining drunken men staggering from the bars.
Angela’s attention is caught by a TEENAGE GIRL, in a micro-mini skirt, standing alone outside “Pussy Galore.” She looks very sad; lonely. Angela readies her camera to take a shot.
The Teenage Girl notices, looks directly at Angela: Click.
Freeze frame: the Teenage Girl looking directly at the camera.
49 EXT. RUBBISH DUMP. EARLY MORNING
Angela’s moto dop drives past rubbish trucks heading into the tip, pulls up close to the base of a mountain of rubbish - on top of which can be seen a small crowd of SCAVENGERS - men, women and children.
50 EXT. RUBBISH DUMP. EARLY MORNING
Angela makes her way past scavengers, walking up the side of the rubbish mountain - quickly coming to realize that she is wearing the wrong shoes to be trudging through toxic sludge.
She makes her way through a throng of scavengers to where Nick kneels alongside Balin Meas, looking at the severed head resting in amongst the rubbish.
Nick turns to Angela, nods his hello as Balin Meas takes out his smart phone.
Angela sees the severed head, grimaces.
Nick introduces Angela and Meas.
Meas, Angela..Angela, Meas?
Balin Meas speaks English with a Khmer/American accent.
Balin Meas positions his phone to take a photo of the head.
Angela readies her camera; takes photos.
Balin Meas puts his mobile phone in his pocket, starts to remove the gaffer tape from the mouth of the severed head.
Angela takes photos of the curious onlooking Scavengers.
Balin Meas finishes peeling the tape from the lips. There is something in the head’s mouth. He tries to prize the mouth open. It is not easy. Rigor mortis has set in. He succeeds.
Nick and Angela react with shock. Angela vomits.
51 INT. POLICE CAR. DAY
A plastic bag with the severed head rests on the back seat.
Angela sits alongside the head. Nick, in the front passenger seat, is turned towards her. Balin Meas drives.
We don’t know that yet but my guess is...yes.
We were on our way to... before...
(He indicates head in bag)
...we heard about this.
52 EXT. SLUM. DAY
Balin Meas’ police car pulls up in a back street of an impoverished slum.
Nick and Angela get out of the car and make their way, with Balin Meas, to where a small crowd of SLUM DWELLERS has gathered around the body of a pre-pubescent girl lying in a drainage ditch. She is wearing a dirty white frilly dress.
Curious Slum Dwellers with mobile phones take photos of the dead girl. The POLICEMAN standing closeby greets Balin Meas.
Angela prepares her camera to shoot.
BALIN MEAS (subtitled)
A sarong. A sheet. Anything...
He gently pushes the crowd back, gestures to those taking photos to stop. A KHMER WOMAN admonishes Balin Meas in Khmer.
Our daughters are not safe.
A KHMER JOURNALIST pushes his way through the crowd; breathlessly questions Balin Meas in Khmer.
Do you have a suspect yet?
Balin Meas ignores the Journalist.
Nick takes notes and Angela photos.
The Policeman hands a sarong to Balin Meas.
Balin Meas covers the body of the young girl.
A LITTLE LATER
As the young girl’s body is put into the ambulance, Balin Meas addresses a small group of journalists in Khmer.
Yes, all four of the girls were wearing white dresses, but this does not...
And you have no suspects?
I did not say that.
53 EXT. DIRT ROAD. SLUM. DAY
The ambulance drives away from the death scene, closely followed by Balin Meas’ police car, closely followed by Nick on his motor bike. Angela sits on the back; in shock. She clings to Nick tightly.
54 EXT. ANOTHER ROAD. SLUM DISTRICT. DAY
Close on Angela, very pale, on the back of Nick’s motor bike.
Nick stops. Angela gets off the back of the bike; vomits.
55 INT. MORGUE. DAY
The severed head, mouth open, rests on a metal tray, beside a shriveled penis. In the background a DOCTOR, (soft focus) peers between the legs of the dead girl.
Angela, camera in hand, stalks the room in search of angles.
The Doctor covers the body with a dirty white sheet, speaks to Balin Meas in Khmer.
A loud anguished scream. A KHMER MAN attempts to force his way into the room; restrained by MORGUE STAFF.
Balin Meas indicates to the Morgue Staff to let him in.
The Khmer Man stares at the figure covered with the white sheet. Frozen.
Angela continues to take photos.
The Khmer Man moves slowly forward, stands alongside the shrouded body. He both wants and doesn't want the Doctor to lift the sheet. The Doctor looks to Balin Meas. He indicates to the Doctor to lift the sheet. He does.
The Khmer Man stares at the face of his daughter - his shock giving way to profound grief. He begins to shake, to tremble. Tears run down his cheek.
He reaches out to touch his daughter’s face; shakes his head, refusing to believe what he can see with his eyes.
KHMER MAN (subtitled)
No, no, that is not my daughter. No, no, no...
He turns, looks directly at Angela, his face streaked with tears: Click. He looks at Nick in despair.
Nick walks up, wraps his arms around the Khmer Man, holds him; indicates to the Doctor to cover the girl's face.
56 EXT. SLUM DISTRICT. DAY
Balin Meas’ police car drives along a crowded, narrow slum back street. Third world poverty abounds.
57 INT. BALIN MEAS’ POLICE CAR
Angela, distressed, looks at the photos she has taken with her digital camera:
- The Khmer Man reaches out touches his daughter’s face.
- The Khmer Man looking directly into Angela’s camera lens.
- The Khmer Man, tears streaming down his face, wrapped in Nick’s arms.
She looks at Nick, sitting beside her; his face streaked with tears. She reaches out, takes his hand; squeezes it.
Balin Meas looks at Nick and Angela in the rear-vision mirror.
58 EXT. NICK’S APARTMENT. DAY
Nick and Angela stand by the driver’s window; Balin Meas in the driver’s seat.
I will keep you posted.
Nick pats Balin Meas on the shoulder.
I am sorry to meet you under these circumstances, Miss Angela.
I hope you catch the man soon.
I hope so also.
59 INT. LIVING ROOM. NICK’S APARTMENT. DAY
Nick holds the door open as Angela walks into his messy Living Room.
You’re a bachelor, I take it!
Tea, coffee, water...?
Nick nods, walks to the kitchen area. Angela steps closer to the wall in front of Nick’s cluttered working desk - covered with photos, newspaper articles and notes connected with each other by coloured thread.
NICK (voice off)
Investigations in progress.
And the coloured threads?
Nick walks up with two glasses of iced water; hands one to Angela.
Connections, associations, friends, enemies...the black threads are enemies.
She points to the photo of red-haired Terry Swinton - from which black threads radiate; connecting with other photos.
This guy has lots of enemies.
Including me. Terry Swinton.
You wrote something ‘mean’ about him?
Nick nods. Angela points to the letters N O V written in large letters above the collage.
N O V?
Nest of Vipers. At one time or another all these guys...mostly guys...
There is a knock at the door. Nick walks to it as he talks.
...has had dealings with, been seen with, tried to kill, taken to court, the guy at the other end of the thread.
Angela moves closer to the wall montage, focuses her attention on a photo of:
A handsome blonde-haired man in his early 30s, identified by name: GERARD MOREAU being awarded a gold medallion by a man in a tuxedo, in front of a sign that reads “United Nations Humanitarian Awards.”
Nick opens the door in the background. There is no-one there.
Angela looks closely at the photo; interested in the coloured threads connecting Gerard with others in the montage - one of whom is red-haired Terry Swinton.
Nick looks inside the envelope.
Angela turns to see Nick placing the envelope on a table by the door, running out.
60 EXT. STREET. DAY
Nick races into the street, sees a MAN IN A FULL FACE BLACK HELMET getting onto his motor bike.
Nick runs towards the figure, who turns, looks at Nick for a moment before driving off at high speed.
Angela appears behind Nick, brown manila envelope in hand. She opens the envelope, takes out 5 crisp new US$100 notes.
Nick thinks for a long moment, takes Angela’s hand, grabs hold of the $100 bills; walks back towards his apartment.
What the fuck...!
Nick laughs, holds the money aloft.
Welcome to Scamodia, Miss Angela.
61 EXT. MARKETS. PHNOM PENH. DAY
Nick walks from a Money Changer in a crowded market with a fist full of $20 bills, walks up to Angela - standing alongside his yellow 4WD. He hands her half the bills. She shakes her head and laughs.
62 EXT. CITY STREETS. PHNOM PENH. DAY
A montage: Nick hands $20 bills to beggars - blind people, cripples, street families, old men and women - the poor, and neglected that roam Phnom Penh streets. Angela takes photos.
A black car with dark-tinted windows appears a few times - making no attempt to keep their tailing of Nick covert.
Is that black car following us?
Just trying to intimidate me.
Angela smiles, shakes her head.
63 INT/EXT. PHNOM PENH MARKETS. DAY
The montage continues: Nick and Angela buy vegetables and fruit in a local market, walk out with box loads.
They load the boxes into the back of Nick’s 4WD.
64 EXT. DUMP COMMUNITY. DAY
The montage, with music over, continues. Nick’s 4WD drives into a small community adjacent to the dump. Crude shacks are made from scrap metal, plastic, cardboard, wood.
The MEN, WOMEN and CHILDREN know Nick well. They help him and Angela unpack boxes of fruit and vegetables.
As community members distribute the food Angela takes photos.
Traditional Khmer music emanates from a tape deck. An OLD WOMAN dances to it.
Nick picks up SMALL KIDS, throws them in the air and catches them’; spins them around.
A few OTHER WOMEN join the Old Woman in traditional dancing.
The Old Woman holds out her hands; invites Nick to join them.
He does so. Nick is a bad dancer but turns this to his advantage by acting the clown and making everyone laugh.
Others join in the dance - laughing; happy.
Angela takes photos.
65 EXT. DUMP COMMUNITY. DAY
Through the long end of a camera lens Nick can be seen picking up and dancing with a small LAUGHING CHILD - against a backdrop of 3rd world shacks.
The shot pans to reveal Angela taking photos, amidst a throng of men, women and children - some of the adults dancing; the children engaged in a water fight.
66 INT. CAR. DAY
A MAN IN A BLACK T-SHIRT, sitting in the passenger seat of a car with black-tinted windows, looks at the viewfinder of his camera, the telephoto lens pointed in the direction of:
Nick, Angela and the group of dancing men, women and children some 50 or so meters away – seen through the wind screen.
A MAN IN A GREY SAFARI SUIT, wearing wrap around sunglasses, reads a Khmer magazine - disinterested in the task in hand.
67 EXT. DUMP COMMUNITY. DAY
Nick finishes dancing with the Young Child and must now choose between various children who have surrounded him, arms outstretched. He picks up a 3 YEAR OLD GIRL, places her on his hip; beams a smile at Angela – enjoying herself as she takes photos.
TWO WOMEN, both smiling happily, walk up to Angela, their arms outstretched. They want her to dance with them. She laughs, shakes her head. They are insistent. She looks at:
Nick, the 3 Year Old Girl in his arms. He makes it clear that she should join the Two Women.
Angela gestures to her camera, as if her holding of it was a reason not to dance.
Nick walks up to her; takes her camera from her hands.
Angela succumbs, dances with the Two Women. She dances well.
She glances back to Nick to see:
Nick placing the 3 Year Old Girl on the ground, then talking with a 13 YEAR OLD GIRL - her arms outstretched towards the camera. She wants to take some photos. Nick looks back at:
Angela, not sure it’s a good idea to let the girl use it.
Nick gestures to her: “It will be OK”.
Angela shrugs her shoulders, (”What the hell”), nods, laughs and shakes her head.
Nick leans close to the 13 Year Old Girl; shows her how to use the camera. She turns up to him and beams a happy smile.
68 INT. NICK’S 4WD. DAY
As Nick drives Angela looks at photos on the LCD screen of her camera. Close on:
The 13 year old girl’s photos - tilted and oddly framed, but dynamic and speaking volumes of the capacity of the members of this poor community to laugh and have fun. It is clear from the photos that Angela had fun also.
Nick’s eyes shift between Angela and the rear-vision mirror.
Angela looks at Nick looking in the rear-vision mirror; looks back to see, over the top of a box of fruit on the back seat:
The black car with mirrored windows following them.
That doesn’t bother you!?
Nick pulls over to the side of the road; reaches over to the back seat to grab something.
69 EXT. ROAD. DAY
Nick walks from his 4 WD, parked at the side of the road, to the black car parked 20 feet behind.
He taps on the driver’s black tinted window. It opens. The MAN IN A GREY SAFARI SUIT looks at him.
Nick reaches into his belt, as if for a gun, pulls out a banana, points it at Grey Safari Suit, pulls the ‘trigger’.
Grey Safari Suit stares at him, stony-faced. Man in a Black t-Shirt, camera resting on his lap, smiles; reaches out.
Nick tosses him the banana, Nick turns and begins to walk off.
MAN IN A GREY SAFARI SUIT
Grey Safari Suit gestures for him to come back. Nick walks back. Grey Safari Suit gestures to Man in a Black t-Shirt, peeling the banana; makes it clear he wants one also.
Nick smiles, holds up his finger: “One moment”.
70 INT. NICK’S 4WD. DAY
Angela laughs as Nick grabs a hand full of fruit from the box on the back seat.
I wonder if this constitutes bribery of a public official!?
He smiles at Angela; steps out of the 4WD and makes his way back to the black sedan.
71 EXT. RURAL CAMBODIA. SUNSET
The shiny white car, Monkey in the passenger seat, drives through a picture post-card beautiful Cambodian rural landscape. The sky is lit up with a brilliant sunset.
72 INT. CAR. SUNSET
Monkey runs her hands over the plush upholstery, fiddling with knobs; overawed by the interior of the car. Monkey speaks in Khmer.
What is you name?
My name is Kek.
I know, Kek.
How do you know?
That’s my job. Knowing things.
Do you know that everyone calls me Monkey?
Anurak smiles, shakes his head; turns to her:
No, I didn’t know that.
Then you don’t know everything!
No, I don’t know everything.
Monkey thinks about this for a moment.
Can I look at my photo?
Anurak nods, hands her his mobile. Monkey looks at the photo:
Monkey smiling happily
Monkey holds the phone as if it were a precious thing.
73 EXT. SHOP. VILLAGE. SUNSET
DARYA, Monkey’s brother, clutching a crisp US$20 bill, points to a tin of powdered baby formula milk in the ‘shop’ seen earlier.
74 INT. RAMSHACKLE 3RD WORLD HUT. EVENING
DARYA finishes pouring formula milk into a baby bottle.
MI, lying sick on a mat close by, watches as DARYA shakes the bottle, places the rubber teat in the baby’s mouth.
Close on: MI’s wet face, her eyes filling with tears.
75 INT. NICK’S 4 WD. PHNOM PENH STREET. EVENING
Nick and Angela drive down a busy street lined with bars, restaurants and foods stalls. Angela has a black number 4 in her hands.
The number 4 is bad luck. And black is bad luck.
So this is...
Double bad luck! Someone does not wish me well.
And it was just sitting on the seat? Any idea who....(did it?)
NICK shakes his head; shrugs.
Department of Intimidation? One of my vipers...???
It’s just a game. They pretend to be scary and I pretend not to be scared.
You need to be careful.
Bit late for that.
76 EXT. STREET. BAR DISTRICT. PHNOM PENH. EVENING
As Nick’s 4WD pulls up in the background, a tiny pre-teen girl, VANNY, a tray of books slung around her neck, can be seen, in the foreground, holding a book out to a TOURIST.
Very funny. Tourists like very much.
ANGELA (voice off)
It doesn’t worry you that they might...hurt you?
The Tourist shakes her head. Nick and Angela get out of the 4 WD in the background.
NICK (voice off)
Of course. I’m a coward at heart.
Vanny spots Nick, bounds up, greets him with a smile; the book in her outstretched hand.
You buy my book, Nick?
I not buy your book, Vanny.
Vanny’s smile turns into a frown. She sizes up Angela.
You Nick new girlfriend?
Angela laughs, shakes her head.
What makes you think I’m his girlfriend?
I might be young but I not stupid.
Nick, Angela, camera in hand, and Vanny, tray of books around her neck, start to walk down a crowded street filled with ‘Girlie Bars’, food stalls, street kids, beggars.
Well, I am a girl and I am Nick’s friend so I guess that makes me his girl friend.
Vanny rolls her eyes.
You buy my book?
I don’t need a book.
You not buy my book, I cannot eat.
A wide shot. Nick, Angela and Vanny can be seen in the background making their way down the street as YOUNG KHMER WOMEN in tight short skirts, high heels and too much make-up, call out to Western men on the wrong side of 50 - on the prowl. This is the point of view of:
QUONG TRAN, an immaculately dressed and groomed Vietnamese man, mid-30s, standing outside ‘Girlie Bar’ “Pussy Galore”.
Don’t believe a word she tells you. Vanny has a big shiny stretch limo parked around the corner and lives in a big house on the river and...
You one big liar, Nick.
Bigger than you? (A BEAT) You are the Queen of liars. Queen Vanny.
I too young to be a queen.
Vanny takes Angela’s hand; holds it.
Princess Vanny is putting herself through school so...
Nick has a lot of girlfriends?
Vanny raises her eyebrows theatrically, nods her head.
Nick smiles, shakes his head.
I’m Angela, and happy to meet you, Vanny.
If you are happy to meet me, you buy my book. If you not buy my book I cannot feed my granny. She very old and sick. She need medicine and...
OK, I buy your book. How much.
This is a game that Nick and Vanny have played before.
For you, special price. $6.
$5. My last price.
OK, you choose book.
Nick ruffles her hair.
No, you keep the book.
She holds a book out to Nick.
I not beggar.
It’s a present.
77 EXT. OUTDOOR BAR. NIGHT
Nick and Angela sit at a table on the street across the road from a busy ‘girlie bar’: 'HOT STUFF'. Angela is looking at photos on her camera. Vanny can be seen in the background looking for customers.
A WAITRESS places a beer in front of Nick; a glass of white wine in front of Angela as she holds the camera out to Nick.
Nick looks at the photo of:
The Khmer Man reaching out to touch his dead daughter’s face.
NICK (voice off)
An invasion of privacy? Exploitation of...?
Depends how you use it. And why...
Angela grimaces, nods; places the camera on the table.
Wow! What a day!
Welcome to Scambodia.
Nick holds up his glass: cheers. Angela does likewise. As they clink their glasses, Nick’s attention is caught by:
FRANCOISE, a Frenchwoman, late 20s, short of stature, eccentrically dressed, flame red hair, walking towards them.
Uh oh! Here’s trouble.
Nick stands to greet her.
Mon cherie, mon cherie.
She hugs Nick, kisses him on each cheek. A tattoo of a large black scorpion adorns her neck. She talks fast:
Je suis désolé d'être en retard. My day eet ees merde...I ‘av client ‘ee is chatte. Ee talk about zee petit girl because I aussi petit and ‘e try to toucher moi and…
Francoise notices Angela. Her eyes light up. To Nick:
‘Oo eez votre beaux ami?
She smiles at Angela but before Angela has a chance to respond she turns back to Nick.
I sink ‘e comme to fuck ze petit moi...and I want to kick his testicule...but j'ai besoin de travailler!
She turns to Angela
Angela holds her thumb and forefinger close.
Un petit peu. Testicule, Testicle, oui?
Frannie is a masseuse.
Le premier est complémentaire de massage.
The first massage is free. Frannie, this is Angela.
L'ange? An angel?
Angela smiles. Before she has a chance to respond:
Avec un petit diable en vous je l'espère?
And a little devil in you I hope?
More than a little!
Nick turns to Francoise; translates.
Plus d'un peu!
Francoise throws her head back; laughs.
Bonjour mon Ange.
She takes Angela’s head in her hands kisses her on one cheek, then the other and then on her lips.
You have zee beautiful lip.
(She turns to Nick)
Neekolas, why you not tell me you ‘ve zee nouveau partenaire; zee ton amoureux.
(She turns back to Angela)
Pourquoi es-tu ici? ‘ere in Cambodge? Why you with zis man? Zis Neek-ol-arse?
Working for an NGO, but in...
Je suis zee trainer. Physical. And zee masseuse. And zee physio-the rapist.
She looks directly into Angela’s eyes for a long moment.
Pour vous also le second. Peut-être
Francoise inspects Angela’s body from head to toe – undressing her with her eyes.
For you the second massage will be free. Maybe!
Angela is unsure how to deal with Francoise’s attention.
Vous êtes le nouvel amant de Nicholas?
Are you my new lover?
I am not ‘Neekolas’ lover.
So zere is ‘ope por moi?
Angela, again at a loss for words, looks at Nick:
Francoise laughs loudly, until her attention is caught by:
Two pot-bellied men, KEN and BAZZA, in their 50’s ogling the scantily clad YOUNG WOMEN outside 'Hot Stuff'.
Francoise’s smile disappears; her face darkens.
Francoise glares at the Ken and Bazza, beer cans in hand, appraising the bodies of teen girls as Vanny tries, without success, to sell them a book.
Francoise grabs Angela’s camera, lifts it, shouts:
Hey, deux sympa coq!
Ken and Bazza turn as Francoise (’click’) takes photos of their surprised faces.
You want ze blow job?”
Click! Francoise purses her lips, blows in their direction. Ken and Bazza stare at her in shock.
Bazza makes his way towards Francoise, his hand outstretched.
Francoise turns to Angela, smiles innocently.
BAZZA (Australian accent)
Bazza stands in front of Francoise; looms over her.
You delete those photos, cunt.
Nick stands, holds his hands up to Bazza in an attempt to calm him down; turns to Francoise:
Frannie! Stop! (A BEAT) Don’t!
Francoise ignores Nick, picks up the camera, opens one of the photos, looks at it, smiles; holds it up for Nick to see.
Nick holds his hands up to let both Francoise and Bazza know that he is not buying into this confrontation!
Fucking give it to me, cunt!
Francoise shakes her finger at him; warning him. Angela gently extricates the camera from Francoise’s hands.
Vous ne devriez pas me appeler un cunt , porc .
Bazza doesn’t understand.
Pig. Pig Australien I sink, no?
Bazza looks at Ken, who laughs. Francoise stands, tiny compared to Bazza.
A small crowd of onlookers has gathered, including Vanny, as Francoise gestures towards YOUNG BAR GIRLS in the crowd.
Zee petit frog cunt want to ask zee Aussie pig a question. You want to fuck zee little girl, why not you use your hand?
She makes a masturbation gesture with her hand. Nick shakes his head: (“Here we go again!”)
Angela, taking photos covertly, is not sure whether to laugh or be concerned for Francoise’s safety as she turns her head; offers her cheek for Bazza to hit.
Come on, big pig, show zee little girl you want to fuck how zee brave big Aussie pig man with the tiny penis treat zee frog woman cunt.
Bazza raises his fist threateningly. Francoise delivers a hard and fast kick-boxers kick to his groin. ‘Click’ Angela takes a photo. Bazza collapses to the ground. ‘Click’ The Bar Girls and Vanny respond excitedly and approvingly.
As Francoise walks back to the table, Bazza struggles to his feet clutching his groin.
That was fucking stupid, Frannie!
Nick’s mobile announces the arrival of a text message.
“Silence en face de mal...zee evil... is evil. Not to speak ees to speak.”
You didn't speak! You fucking kicked him in the balls.
Nick looks at the screen of his mobile; from: rilible sauce
He turns to Angela; indicates Francoise as he stands.
Another adrenalin junkie!
As Nick stands:
You ‘av de l'alcool, I ‘av my adrenalin.
Francoise smiles at Angela. Nick and Angela’s eyes meet briefly as he turns, walks into the street.
Et les deux sont bons pour la libido, non? Good for zee libido.
Close on the screen of Nick’s mobile. The message reads.
Nick stands in the street, 20 feet from where Angela and Francoise are engaged in animated conversation.
As Nick writes a return text message:
Tonight what? Can I call you?
In a wide shot Nick is seen reading a text message; commencing to write one in return. Francoise and Angela talk and laugh in the background.
This is the point of view of:
Quong Tran, the Vietnamese man seen earlier. He observes Nick’s texting a moment; lifts his mobile phone to his ear.
Nick slips his mobile into his shirt pocket; walks back towards Angela and Francoise; looking at the LCD screen of the camera. Francoise looks at Angela with lustful intent.
Angela blushes; a little overwhelmed. Francoise looks up at Nick as he returns to the table.
Neekolas, I want to eat ‘er…
(She kisses Angela on the cheek)
...but I cannot...because I eez vegetarian.
We’ve got to go.
I’ll explain en route.
Nick is clearly impatient to be gone. Angela stands.
Neekolas, you are so impétueux.
Francoise stands, moves up to Angela; kisses her on the lips.
I think ‘ee afraid I steal you from ‘im. Au revoir, mon cherie.
Nick and Angela walk off, fast.
An old girlfriend?
No, as you may have gathered she bats for the other team. Your team.
She could bat for both teams.
She definitely wants you on her team.
Really! I would never have guessed
78 INT. NICK’S 4 WD. NIGHT
As Nick drives, Angela reads Nick’s text messaged aloud:
“No. I text. I give address.” “Can you tell me more?” “You will see.” “OK, send address.” That’s it?
Rilible sauce!? Reliable?
79 EXT. PALATIAL HOME. PHNOM PENH. NIGHT
The entrance to a large palatial home. Adjacent to a metal gate TWO GUARDS stand - armed with AK 47s. Nick’s 4 WD can be seen, 50 meters up the street, pulling up to park.
ANGELA (voice off)
My mother. Her name is...was...I don’t know if she is still alive...
80 INT. NICK’S 4 WD. RESIDENTIAL STREET. NIGHT
As he finishes parking, Nick turns off the car engine.
Her name is...was...Aspara. A celestial nymph in Buddhist mythology.
Angela takes a creased photo from her wallet.
Always smiling and dancing.
She unfolds it; hands it to Nick: the same photo she uses as her computer Home Page:
A young Asian woman (late teens) holding a baby.
But I had a Khmer name then. Srey Lin. It’s the only photo I have of my mother.
Aspara. If she was a dancer she sure didn’t pass on her dancing genes to me!
And your father?
Angela makes an “I don’t know” gesture
I don’t even know his name.
Her eyes glisten with emotion.
Did mum know his name? Were they lovers? Did he rape her? Did she...I don’t know...Not knowing has left a hole...a deep hole...
She places her hand on her heart.
Do you have any memories of her?
Angela nods, looks at him; her eyes filling with tears.
Is that why you’ve come back?
I don’t know. I really don’t. Maybe! I guess. It must be one of the reasons, right? Even if I don’t know it?
(She looks at him)
I don’t want to bore you with my...baggage.
I’m not bored. And it’s not ‘baggage’. It’s your life.
My messy life!
How did you get from a refugee camp with a mum, to Birmingham without one?
A new mum. And a new dad. Anthea and Edward. They adopted me when I was four. Good people. Kind people. Christians...They loved me...love me...and I loved them...love them, but then, when I got to be thirteen years old it all went pear-shaped...
Their heads are briefly illuminated by car headlights.
They both look towards the palatial home.
81 EXT. PALATIAL HOME. PHNOM PENH. NIGHT
A white sedan turns towards the gate leading into the palatial home; pulls up close to a Guard’s Box; manned by TWO UNIFORMED GUARDS armed with AK 47s.
Anurak gets out, looks around cautiously as GUARD # 1 walks up, opens the passenger door for Monkey.
Monkey gets out; dwarfed by the high wall and huge gate.
Guard # 1 signaling to GUARD # 2, who then presses a button inside the Guard Box.
The gate begins to swing open.
Monkey looks on in awe as the gate opens to reveal a large courtyard garden in front of a palatial mansion.
An ELEGANT KHMER WOMAN, 40’ish, and three young MAIDS IN WHITE UNIFORMS, greet Monkey with warm smiles.
The sound of multiple photos being taken.
82 INT. CAR. NICK’S 4WD. NIGHT
Angela takes photos with her stills camera. Nick films with a small digital camera. He sees:
Monkey disappearing through the front gate to the palatial home as Anurak gets back into his car and drives off.
83 INT. BALCONY. PALATIAL HOME. NIGHT
A MAN, seen from behind, stands in the dark on a balcony overlooking the courtyard and garden below - in which Monkey, the Elegant Khmer Woman and the Three Maids, talk for a moment before walking towards the house.
84 INT. CAR. NICK’S 4WD. NIGHT
Nick and Angela are both shocked by what they have seen.
Nick reaches for his yellow mobile.
Oh my God, we have to...that poor girl!
Nick locates the number he is looking for - Balin Meas - presses ‘call’. Angela sees something that shocks her.
Angela is looking out through the windscreen at:
Armed Guard # 2 looking towards Nick’s 4 WD.
Nick sees also.
Armed Guard # 2 says something to GUARD #. They both look towards Nick and Angela.
Get rid of your camera.
Nick puts his small video camera on the seat between his legs as Angela unscrews the zoom lens of her camera.
Nick turns on the ignition but the Armed Guards are just 20 feet away now and making a hasty exit is not an option.
Angela puts her camera in the glove compartment, locks it, slips the key into her shirt pocket.
85 INT. GIRL’S BEDROOM. NIGHT
Monkey is led by the Elegant Khmer Woman into a plush bedroom. The furnishings suggest that its regular occupant is a pampered teenage girl. The Three Maids follow. The Elegant Khmer Woman speaks to Monkey in Khmer:
ELEGANT KHMER WOMAN (subtitled)
Monkey nods; smiles.
86 INT. CAR. NICK’S 4WD. NIGHT
Armed Guards # 1 & # 2 are close now. Angela is scared. Nick leans close.
It’s going to be OK. OK?
Don’t look at them.
(He kisses her on the lips.)
Just pretend we’re lovers, right?
Angela nods. They kiss. As they do Angela can see:
Armed Guard # 1, standing by the window, raising his AK 47.
Oh, fuck. He’s...
Nick stops her with another kiss.
Armed Guard # 1 taps the window with his AK 47.
Nick and Angela stop kissing, turn and look at him - Angela trying her hardest to hide her fear; Nick acting innocent and puzzled. He winds down the window, smiles, speaks in Khmer.
Hello, how are you?
Armed Guard # 1, thrown a little, speaks in Khmer.
ARMED GUARD # 1 (subtitled)
87 INT. GIRL’S BEDROOM. NIGHT
Monkey explores the bedroom with her eyes; smiling excitedly at the Three Maids - who seem to have been instructed not to speak with or interact with her.
88 INT. CAR. NICK’S 4WD. NIGHT
Nick’s acting dumb act is not working. Armed Guard # 1 raises his AK 47 angrily; points it at Nick.
ARMED GUARD # 1 (subtitled)
As Nick opens the door and lifts his bottom from the seat:
His small video camera is clearly exposed, though hidden momentarily from the view of Armed Guard # 1.
NICK (sotto voce)
Camera under seat.
Angela stares at him; scared.
89 INT. GIRL’S BEDROOM. NIGHT
The Elegant Khmer Woman walks back into the room carrying a white dress; smiling. She speaks to Monkey in Khmer:
ELEGANT KHMER WOMAN (subtitled)
Take your clothes off.
Monkey looks at her; confused.
End of Episode One