Fallen words... (_fall_) wrote,
Fallen words...
_fall_

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Empty Frame


I wrote it. This is the draft submitted for their approval, one day there'll be a director's cut but for now this will do. This is only the 2nd thing I've written that I've completed and I don't even think this is done, but I have a finished product. Mixed emotions, I'm glad I went on this journey but it's sad to come to the end. I wrote this in the introduction of my evaluation...

'My Journey in Creating an Original Short Film Script'

When I started this class I wasn’t sure of how it would be assessed. I knew that writing would be involved, I knew that there was a lot I needed to learn, I wasn’t sure how well I would cope with that. I had never been to a writing class before, the last time I’d done anything creative with the knowledge that others would look at it with evaluation in mind was when I was in college. I never took criticism well; I certainly didn’t take it well when it concerned something that I had written. Here I was, about to start a course where the kind of criticism I feared the most was guaranteed to occur.


That title isn't mine, but the rest of those words are and here are the rest...

EMPTY FRAME


1. INT LIVING ROOM, NICK’S FLAT – LONDON - DAY

In an otherwise tidy flat an open suitcase lies open on the floor with JFK airport tags on. A large pile of mail sits unopened on the coffee table next to the suitcase.

NICK, late 20s, handsome, collapses onto the sofa. He reaches over to the open suitcase and takes out a shirt, he starts to unwrap something inside it as he walks over to his desk.

He turns on his computer and as it boots up he finishes unwrapping the package in his shirt. It’s a New York frame, one you can buy from a souvenir shops but not tacky. On the desk the light on the answering machine is flashing. Nick presses the play button as he flips over the pages of his calendar, one of them says ‘My Birthday.’ He has been gone one week. Today is August 31st 2003.

MACHINE

You have four new messages.

WOMAN 1/JULES (OS)

Hey, just trying to catch you before you go get your heart trodden on, again. I’m guessing I’m already too late for that. Call me.
Machine BEEPS.

JULES (OS)

Hi, me again. Call me.
Machine BEEPS.

RYAN (OS)

Jules wants me to knock your door down if you don’t return her calls. Call her.

JULES

Me again –
Nick hits the erase button on the machine.

MACHINE

Message erased. You have no more messages.
Nick sits the frame next to his computer. He stares at it momentarily before turning to the screen. He opens up his e-mail folder. There are 36 new messages. He scrolls down the list of messages but does not open any of them.

He looks to his left. On the wall there are five photo frames containing photos of Nick and KATE, she is in her mid 20s and amazingly beautiful. They are photos of Nick’s birthday for the last five years. In each of them they are sitting close to each other, sometimes with their arms around each other, a birthday card and a cake in the foreground.

KATE (OS)

You didn’t expect me to keep that promise did you?
Nick turns slowly in his chair. No one is there. Nick turns back to his computer. He brings up a file entitled ‘Kate.’ He clicks on it, there are thumbnails of the two of them included in the file as well as numerous letters and e-mails he has saved. He right-clicks and a delete window pops up asking him if he is sure he wants to complete the action. Nick moves the mouse over the ‘Yes’ button but does not click. He turns around again.

2. INT LIVING ROOM, NICK’S FLAT – DAY

On the desk the date on the calendar now says January 12th, 2003. The desk is otherwise bear apart from Nick’s PC. On the wall the same five pictures are there.

Nick turns in his chair. This time the flat is empty except for camera equipment and unpacked boxes. Kate sits on a sofa.

KATE

Did you?
Kate recognises his disappointment. She motions for him to come and sit next to her. He doesn’t move.

Besides, you were the one who was always best at keeping promises. Look, your birthday’s August twenty eighth –

NICK

Twenty-sixth.

KATE

That’s what I said. August twenty-sixth. Come to New York –

NICK

I can’t afford New York.

KATE

Of course you can. Sell one of your photos or something. Imagine. A photographer with an exhibition! It’ll be summer, you’ll come to New York. I won’t be working weekends. Is it on a weekend?

NICK

I’m not sure, I –

KATE

Doesn’t matter anyway, I’ll get the time off. You’ll sell a photo or two and come to New York. I’ll buy you a cake and we’ll take your photo. Then you can come home and hang it with all the others. Promised kept. Nothing’s gonna change. It’s just New York not…Cambodia or something.
Nick isn’t convinced. She wraps her arms around his neck.

Nothing will change. You’ll still be my Nick, only 3,000 miles away.
Kate looks disappointed when Nick doesn’t respond. He sees the hurt in her eyes and quickly smiles.

NICK

Of course. It’s just an ocean.
3. INT PRIVATE CHANGING ROOM, DEPARTMENT STORE – NYC – DAY

Kate is inside the changing room alone. She is wearing a dressing gown. She looks upset. She takes her mobile phone out of her bag and dials Nick’s number.

4. INT KITCHEN, NICK’S FLAT – NIGHT

Nick is having a dinner party with THREE OTHER PEOPLE, his sister JULES and her husband, RYAN, and their friend KAREN. In the background we can see lots of pots and pans and it is obvious Nick has gone to great effort to cook the meal. They are engaged in some casual conversation. Phone RINGS.

NICK

Sorry, excuse me.
NICK gets up to answer the phone. Whispers start between Jules and Karen as soon as he does. They are smiling and looking at Nick.

NICK

Hello. Hi Kate –
Jules looks up disapprovingly.

Of course it’s fine. No I was just having dinner with Jules and Ryan and a friend of theirs – Are you okay? You sound upset.
Nick turns away from the table and the angry glares. He takes the phone into the bedroom.

5. INT NICK’S BEDROOM – NIGHT

Nick is sat on his bed, still on the phone with Kate.

NICK

No, you just sound down.

KATE (OS)

I just needed to hear your voice.
Nick gets up and looks through the door. Ryan is talking to Karen as Jules looks angrily at him from the table. Nick sits back on the bed, this will not be a quick conversation.

6. INT PRIVATE CHANGING ROOM, DEPARTMENT STORE – NYC – DAY

At least ten minutes have passed. Kate looks a bit less upset now. She is looking at something opposite her.

KATE

Am I the marrying kind?

NICK (OS)

What?

KATE

Why didn’t you ever ask me?

NICK (OS)

Because you didn’t want me to. And then you left.

KATE

Sounds like you had that answer prepared.

NICK (OS)

Kinda. Kate what’s wrong?

KATE

Nothing. Did you get my present?

NICK (OS)

Yeah I got it.
7. INT NICK’S BEDROOM

On the bedside table is the New York frame, inside it is a picture of Kate.

KATE

It’s not your birthday yet.

NICK

Well it didn’t say don’t open.

KATE (OS)

I thought you could do your photoshop thing and put us in it together or something.

NICK

Yeah, I’ll sort something out. Are you okay now?
8. INT PRIVATE CHANGING ROOM, DEPARTMENT STORE – NYC – DAY

KATE

Yeah I’m fine. You’d better get back before Jules shoots you.

NICK (OS)

Don’t joke. It could happen.
Kate LAUGHS.

About time. Thought I’d lost my touch. Okay call me if you need to.

KATE

Bye Nick.

NICK (OS)

Bye. I love you.
Kate ends the call. She starts to cry again. She stands up and walks over to the mirror. Hanging next to it is a wedding dress. She holds it up to her. It’s a perfect fit.

9. INT EXHIBITION ROOM, GALLERY – DAY

Nick is setting up his exhibit in an empty room with white walls. He takes out the photos that are carefully stacked against the wall and starts to place them on the walls. They are all photos of him and Kate, stolen shots of her smiling. He hangs a final photo and covers it with a piece of cloth. He does not notice Ria, the gallery curator, in the doorway. She’s in her late 20s, pretty, sophisticated, dressed smartly.

RIA

Wow, very impressive. I should have you show your work here more often. Next time though we’ll let someone else pay for the exhibit space.
Nick turns and smiles.

I just wanted to say Happy Birthday before I left.

NICK

Thanks.
Nick takes an envelope from his pocket. Ria opens it and looks at the cheque. She smiles reluctantly.

RIA

I hope this is worth it.

NICK

She is.
His phone starts to RING. Ria waves goodbye as he answers it.

NICK

Hello.

KATE (OS)

Answer your phone!

NICK

I think you were looking for hi.

KATE (OS)

Hi. Where have you been? I’ve been calling for ages.

NICK

What’s wrong?

KATE (OS)

I needed to hear your voice.

NICK

Again?

KATE (OS)

Happy Birthday.

NICK

Thanks. Hey, do me a favour?

KATE (OS)

Depends on what it is.

NICK

There’s a gallery there, on Prince and Broadway. The Carter Gallery. Someone I know is having an exhibition there. I asked him to bring something over there for you.

KATE (OS)

I don’t know if I can go tonight.

NICK

Come on, it’s my birthday. It won’t even take that long. He’ll be there from seven.

KATE (OS)

I’ll try. Look I gotta go. I’ll talk to you later –

NICK

Okay, don’t forget. Prince and Broadway. Cart –

KATE (OS)

Bye.

NICK

-er Gallery.
Nick puts the phone into his pocket and looks around at the walls of the gallery. He takes a small box out of his pocket. He stands in front of the covered photo. He opens the box. Inside it is a diamond ring.

10. INT EXHIBITION ROOM, GALLERY - NIGHT.

The exhibition is complete. The lighting is soft. Nick stands in the doorway. He looks at his watch, it is six thirty.

11. INT KATE’S BEDROOM, NIGHT

Kate is getting ready to go out to dinner. She is sat at her dresser putting on a pair of earrings in front of the mirror. She pauses and looks at the clock to her right. It is six forty-five.

A MAN, JAMES – early 30s, American, handsome, comes up behind her and kisses her cheek. He is dressed in a suit. He places a diamond engagement ring on the dresser.

JAMES

You left it in the bathroom. You don’t wanna forget that tonight.

KATE

Thanks.

JAMES

Come on, we’re late.
James moves to go as Kate turns to face him.

KATE

I’ve got something to do first.

JAMES

We’re already late. What’s more important than our wedding rehearsal?
Kate turns back to the mirror.

KATE

Nothing.
12. INT GALLERY – NIGHT

Nick is sat in the foyer of the gallery. He can see the door but cannot be seen from where he is sitting. There are a FEW PEOPLE still in the gallery looking at the photographs. Every time the door opens Nick looks up hopefully. He looks at his watch. It is eight o’clock. He takes his phone out and starts to type in a text message.

13. INT CHURCH – NIGHT

Kate and James are stood at the front of the church with their BEST MAN and MAID OF HONOUR as the PRIEST explains to them the order of events when Kate’s phone BEEPS LOUDLY in her bag. James looks at her disapprovingly as she goes to check her message. It is from Nick. ‘WHERE ARE YOU? MY MATE SAYS YOU HAVEN’T GONE TO THE GALLERY YET.’ She turns her phone off.

14. INT GALLERY – NIGHT

The gallery is empty now and has been for a long time. A SECURITY GUARD – MIKE, late 40s, sits in the foyer. James is sat on the steps leading up to the upper gallery. He looks at his watch. It is eleven o’clock. He looks at his phone. No messages. Slowly he gets up and walks over to Mike.

MIKE

Think it’s time to call it a night.

NICK

Yup. Thanks for the company Mike.
Nick shakes Mike’s hand as he walks towards the door.

MIKE

She ain’t worth it kid.
James turns and attempts a smile.

15. INT RESTAURANT/BAR – NIGHT

The restaurant is half full with people, there is one large party in the back. James walks up to the bar and takes a seat. A BARMAN comes up to him, late 30s, friendly looking, heavy New York accent.

NICK

Whiskey please mate.
The barman takes a new bottle and pours the drink. Nick takes out a $100 bill and hands it to the barman.

NICK

I don’t want to see the bottom of this glass.

BARMAN

Not a problem boss.
16. INT RESTAURANT/BAR – NIGHT

Nick is still drinking at the bar. The bottle has been left in front of him. It is ¾ empty now. There is a loud CLANG from the back of the restaurant. Nick turns to see what the noise is. A DRUNK MAN stands on a chair banging a tray.

MAN

Ladies and gentlemen, as the best man it is my job to embarrass the groom as much as possible. I think I have fulfilled my duty to the fullest of my incapacities. All you good-good people here, A toast to the bride and groom. James and Kate!
Nick sits up, suddenly sober. He rubs his face to make sure he is seeing things clearly. On the other side of the restaurant. Standing up as the GROUP CLAP is Kate.

Nick stands up but his legs give way and he falls back onto the bar. The barman rushes to help him.

17. INT WEDDING PARTY TABLE, RESTAURANT – NIGHT

MAN/BEST MAN

Looks like that guy’s had more to drink than I have!
The WEDDING PARTY LAUGH. Kate looks over to the bar as the BEST MAN falls off his chair. Her attention is turned back to her own table.

18. INT RESTAURANT/BAR – NIGHT

Nick takes a photo from his pocket, it’s the one of Kate that was in the frame. He takes a pen and writes on the back and hands the photo to the barman.

JAMES

Make sure that lady gets this.
He reaches into his wallet. He has no money left to tip.

BARMAN

It’s okay. I’ll make sure she gets it.
19. INT RESTAURANT/BAR – NIGHT

The barman is clearing the tables in front of the bar. James struggles towards the door propping the best man up who is struggling to walk. Kate walks a few feet behind them. He steps in front of Kate and hands her the picture.

BARMAN

Excuse me Miss, someone asked me to make sure you got this.
Kate takes the picture. She looks up at the barman.

KATE

Where is he?

BARMAN

He left right after your friend made his toast.
Kate is left standing in the bar, the picture in her hands.

20. INT GALLERY – NIGHT

Mike is sat reading. There is a LOUD KNOCKING at the door. He peers over the counter. Kate is banging furiously on the door. He gets up to open it. She rushes in.

MIKE

You’re the young lady in the photos.

KATE

Is he here?

MIKE

Sorry doll he left a long time ago.

KATE

Do you know where he is?

MIKE

I couldn’t tell you.
Kate starts to cry. Mike hands her a tissue from his pocket.

The room’s still set up for you. They say picture’s worth a thousand words.
Kate looks up at him as he motions her towards the back of the gallery. She starts to walk towards it.

21. INT EXHIBITION ROOM – NIGHT

Kate walks into the room. She looks at the photos on the wall. She smiles and cries at each one. Even crying she is beautiful. She walks over to the cloth covered photo and pulls the cloth from it. A close-up photo of an engagement ring being held in Nick’s hand lies behind it. Across the front in Nick’s writing the words: ‘Marry me.’

She falls to her knees in front of it.

22. EXT STREET OUTSIDE HOTEL - DAY

Nick’s bags are being placed into a cab as he gets in.

NICK(VO)

I have a photo frame on my desk. It's empty. It's empty because our photo isn't in it. It's empty because I never got a chance to take that picture, to capture that moment.
23. INT DEPARTURE LOBBY, JFK AIRPORT - DAY

Nick is waiting for his plane. His phone RINGS. Nick looks at the number. It’s Kate. He doesn’t answer.

I don't have that photo to look at and remember. I don't have it to remember your smile, your eyes, the way your hair falls across your face, not even to remember the smile you brought to me. The smile that belonged only to you. I don't have anything to remember it because it never happened. You never allowed it to.
24. INT LIVING ROOM, NICK’S FLAT – EVENING

Nick is sat at his desk. The empty frame sat on his desk, the engagement ring next to it, his hand still hovering over the ‘Yes’ option. Nick cancels the command. He opens up an e-mail that is half started and continues to finish it.

Time has passed since that imagined moment. Time has passed and nothing and everything has changed. Once upon a time I would've said 'yes' before anything was ever asked.
25. INT KATE’S LIVING ROOM, NYC – EVENING

Kate is sat in front of her laptop reading the e-mail from Nick. Around her the photos from the exhibition. She is crying.

NICK (VO)

Once upon a time you were my world and I saw nothing wrong with that. Once upon a time I would stop to think of you and know you were thinking of me too. Once upon a time I would've died to give you a happily ever after. Once upon a time I believe you cared.
26. INT NICK’S BEDROOM - EVENING

Nick is putting away the clothes from his suitcase back into his wardrobe. Making it as it was before he left.

There is nothing left to be said, nothing can change what never happened or what I saw or how I see it now, how it felt when I realised I don't matter to you at all. I know the place I don't take in your life.
He rips the JFK tags from his suitcase and throws them in the bin. Puts the suitcase back on top of the wardrobe.

I never asked anything from you but I ask this. Let me forget you. The frame will remain empty.
27. INT NICK’S BEDROOM – NIGHT

It is dark. Nick lies awake in his bed. He has not been able to sleep. He looks over at the clock, 4am. He hears a KNOCK at the door. He gets up.

28. INT NICK’S HALLWAY - NIGHT

The KNOCKING continues. Nick looks through the peephole. He pauses before opening the door slightly. Kate is stood there. It’s obvious she’s been crying. Nick looks at her.

KATE

You’re still my Nick.
Nick looks down at the suitcase by her side. She attempts a smile. He shakes his head. Her smile drops. He SLAMS the door shut leaving her on the other side.

THE END


How was the ending? It's changed somewhat from the original one, maybe people will prefer this one. I had to go all the way to New York to get it. I didn't have to travel quite so far to get the conclusion of my evaluation although the journey was just as necessary. As was the journey from there to here...

That first sense of achievement you get when you write that first draft, when you can hold your script in your hand and see it as something complete…I like that feeling. Then of course it’s back to the computer for the re-write you know is waiting to be written. That initial feeling of accomplishment though, no matter how fleeting, is so rewarding after all those months of planning and hours spent procrastinating over it when you’re not distracted by things like online Jeopardy. Being responsible for creating something from idea to finished script, you’re a success even if it never gets made.

Writing is just as hard as I believed it to be. It’s a discipline you have to train yourself in, even if you have the knowledge and the correct tools if you can’t sit yourself down and train yourself to write then you’re only making it harder on yourself. It seems however that I’ve managed to train myself to only be able to write after midnight, and preferably after midnight on a Tuesday. Anything before midnight and I’ll sit staring at a blank screen and find a million other things to take away my attention. I like being in that space where you can call yourself a writer, even if I do find problems in knowing when to stop. I never was good with limits. I know that there is still a lot to be learnt, like all crafts it has to be practiced and developed. I’ve always hoped that writing was something I could do; now I know it’s something I want to do.


I learnt what I needed to. I'm nt quite sure what I'm going to do with my Wednesday evenings now though. Maybe I'll make that my 'Deignated writing time' - no way I'm gonna stop now, this is too much fun.
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