MASTRiF 2011 Student Number: 0119024 FILM Outline â€“ Past the long grass
Genre: Coming of age / Social drama / Surrealist
Logline: Past the long grass is a story about doing the right thing. It follows three children’s journeys through the transition between childhood and young adulthood. It explores the idea that a life can be bettered through accepting change and embracing solidarity.
Narrative overview: The story is told over a two day period and through the perspectives of three children who, when they come together are able to overcome the challenge that they find themselves presented with. Through the events that the children become involved in, a positive change takes place in their lives.
- Act 1 –
Film Synopsis: It is Easter Sunday – morning, 1980 Caldercrux, Scotland. MICHELE HARRIS 12(pretty kid with a passed down guilt complex) looks out of the window, onto the fields behind her house. Condensation drips down the flimsy glass, her breath steams up the window. Seeing the sun bounce brightly off a silver object in the distance she
jumps up and wipes the window to get a better look. Excitedly Michele pulls her wellies on and leaves the bedroom in a hurry.
Michele runs down the hallway dashing past her mother LYNNE HARRIS 30(a pretty bus cleaner with strong ideals). Lynne is using all of her weight, which isn’t much, to keep a door closed whilst DEANA HARRIS 10(a hyper kid with a bad stutter) kicks the shit out of it, guttural screams emanate from behind the door. Lynne is clearly at breaking point heavy bolts run down the door panel; Lynne slams them shut as Michele passes. Michele looks at Lynne; she knows it’s not right. Lynne looks back, a mixture of guilt and defiance.
Michele walks past her neighbor’s house, BIG JIM 71(a socially awkward and over friendly man). He twitches behind the curtains and runs to the front door as she walks past. He tries to engage her in conversation but Michele brushes him off, she’s on a mission.
Michele arrives at ALEC MCFEET’S house 12(a small kid with big ears and a granddad haircut). Alec sits on the front doorstep waiting; his socks are covered in holes, as are
his clothes. Michele sits down beside him and asks how long they have to wait. Alec shrugs his shoulders. We hear gunshots going off in the back garden. Ale and Michele walk through the house. It is dirty and beer cans and food wrappers lay strewn all over the place. TAM MCFEET 40(Alec’s dad, a miner and a heavy drinker) and Alec’s BROTHERS are barefoot in the back garden shooting cans off the back fence. One of Alec’s brothers gestures for them to go out and join in. Tam turns to look at Alec, who is waiting on his dad’s encouragement; it’s an awkward moment. Tam dismisses Alec and goes back to shooting the cans. ETHEL (49 a homely widow with amorous intentions) the McFeet’s neighbor to the left, comes out brandishing a hot pie in a Pyrex dish. She tells Tam that she has cooked up some rabbit pie for him and the boys. Tam can see what’s going on and makes attempts to dismiss her too, but the boys are all over her and the pie in a shot.
Michele tells Alec that she seen the Easter bunny and that they should track him down and steel his eggs. This cheers Alec up and they begin to fantasize about eating the chocolate eggs. Eventually Alec’s brother BILLY 16(a scruffy but handsome kid with a DIY haircut) comes back and gives Alec the shoes. They are much too big for him and
Alec ties them onto his feet with string. The kids make back to Michele’s. Michele sneaks upstairs and lets Deana out of the locked bedroom. The kids make to go through the garden into the field where the bunny was supposedly spotted. Deana cuts through Big Jim’s garden.
- Act 2 Lynne is hanging the washing in the back garden. SHEILA 43(slutty 80’s clothing, badly died red hair) the neighbor to the left, is standing at the fence chain smoking and leaning over her son WILLIAM 18(a weird ginger kid with bad acne) provocatively. Sheila is bragging how William is going on his first date that night and how handsome he is. Big Jim comes out and spots Deana, he winks, she winks back and sneaks to the bottom of the garden to jump the fence into the field. Big Jim offers the other kids some ice cream. Lynne asks how Dotty is doing Jim acts sheepish about the question and goes back inside, Sheila immediately starts gossiping about Jim’s intentions. The kids tell Lynne that they are going to find the Easter bunny the adults start to laugh. Lynne reminds them not to pass the long grass. William asks if he can come along, the kids run off before he can follow.
The kids search the fields for the Easter bunny but they can’t find it. Alec suggests they go past the long grass into the forest, it’s further than they are allowed to go the kids are reluctant but finally agree. They walk through the forest. It’s very dark and surreal. Deana stops behind a bush for a pee. As she is peeing she sees the EASTER BUNNY collecting eggs from the forest floor. He is tall like a man, skinny with a massive costume head and long fingers. He picks the eggs but they are attached to the ground by roots. The bunny pulls them out aggressively; the eggs make a screaming sound and blood pours from the roots. Deana gets scared and runs back to the others. They leave the woods.
The kids sit by the river. It’s sunny and unusually warm. They take their shoes off and paddle in the water. William arrives at the river. He pretends to be nice but things turn sour when he grabs Alec’s shoes. William blackmails the kids. He tells them that if one of the girls lets him kiss them, then he’ll give back the shoes. Michele reservedly volunteers. William takes his prize and then some, pawing at Michele’s body aggressively. William throws Alec’s shoes into the river and starts to laugh. The shoes
float down stream the kids chase after them but they are ruined.
The kids decide their only option is to steal some shoes from Big Jim. They know he will be out at the bingo and wearing his Sunday best. At first Alec tries to get in through the cat flap but he is too big. It becomes obvious that the only one who will fit is Deena but Michele is reluctant to let her do it. Eventually the desperation of the situation becomes too much and Michele gives in, allowing Deana to break into the house. This is a turning point in their relationship and Deana thrives when she is finally â€˜neededâ€™. (see sample scene)
Deana rolls onto the kitchen floor. The room is bathed in dark blue light and the sink and other furniture dwarf her small frame. Deana must move through the hallway and open the latch on the front door to let the others inside the house. There is a heavy sent of lavender and a dust hangs thick in the air. Deana moves into the hallway. Bunches of lavender are fixed to the walls and banister; they hang off the picture frames and many ornaments. A slice of yellow light shines out from beneath the living room door a faint crackling sound plays out in the distance. Deana senses
that she is not alone in the house, she backs up against the wall trying to disappear into the woodchip. She takes a deep breath and begins to side step towards the front door. She sees Michele’s fingers poke through the letterbox as if to usher her over. Deena makes over to the front door and slides the latch open. The kids come inside. They all comment on the smell. Deana tells them that there is someone in the living room; it’s the first time she talks without a stutter. Alec begins to panic; Michele talks him down and reassures him. She pokes her head under the door and tells the others that she can see Jim’s shoes underneath the coffee table.
Alec must go in and get the shoes. Alec pushes the door open slowly and creeps into the room. There is a lamp on in the corner but he focuses on the shoes. Even more lavender is pinned to the walls he recoils at the smell covering his mouth and nose with his sleeve. Alec grabs the shoes and turns and makes to leave. He takes two steps then stops dead focusing intently on the far right corner of the room. Michele and Deana ask him what he’s doing he doesn’t reply. Alec drops the shoes and begins to scream. Michele runs into the room telling Deana to stay where she is. Michele makes toward the object of Alex’s terror. It is DOTTY,
Jim’s wife but she’s dead and has been for months. Her green flesh is sunken into her skull her false teeth hang loose in her mouth. An immaculate blanket sits on Dotty’s lap; she is wearing a clean yellow dress. A plate of bourbon creams and cup of tea lay untouched on the coffee table beside her. The stylus of the record player continues to scrape over the paper pressing of a VERA LYNN record. Michele walks up close to the body, un-phased. Alec is still freaking out. Deana has entered the room by this point and suggests they get a doctor, she doesn’t understand the concept of death. Michele explains that it is too late for that and the kids become even more upset, learning the meaning of death for the first time. Alec doesn’t know what to do, he looks to Michele for reassurance but she tells him he shouldn’t take the shoes, only bad things can happen if he does. Alec does it anyway, it is a turning point in their relationship, Alec knows he’s done wrong. The kids leave Jim’s house. They sneak into the passage adjoining the houses and hide in the shadows. Jim comes down the path holding a bunch of daffodils; he goes into his house without seeing the kids.
- Act 3 -
Alec goes home. He runs up to the bedroom he shares with his five brothers he hides the shoes at the bottom of the cupboard. He can hear his dad and brothers play fighting down stairs. They call for him to go down. Alec walks into the living room, it’s a taxidermist’s heaven, reindeer and stuffed fox heads line the deep green walls.
walking sticks are laid out on the coffee table like objects in a shrine. Alec’s brothers play fight each other with their tops off, is a scene of masculinity. Tam sits in his chair drinking can after can of Tenants Bitter, GYPSY a Lurcher rests at his feet. The boys are more excited than usual. They explain that Tam has bought them all a pair of shoes each with his pay rise. Alec’s heart sinks.
The boys are three to a bed. They talk about how much their lives will change now that they all have their own shoes. Billy says that he’s going to ask the girl that he fancies, to go out with him. STEVEN 19, is going to get a job at the butchers. Rab 14 is going to pass his math’s test tomorrow. Alec doesn’t join in; when the boys ask him what he’ll do, he pretends to be asleep.
Alec meets Michele and Deana at their house to walk to school. Big Jim is in the garden trimming and gathering
lavender from his bushes. He notices Alec’s new shoes and comments on how all the girls will think he’s so handsome now. Michele and Deana come out Big Jim tells them if they all hurry home he’ll have some ice cream waiting for them in the oven. The kids feel terrible.
Alec wants to fix things. Michele tells him that he must tell his dad. Alec thinks his dad will literally kill him.
Alec goes into the garden. Tam is leaning over a bucket of water, he is skinning a rabbit with a huge knife and his hands are covered in blood. Both Alec and Tam are awkward in each other’s company. Alec tells Tam what has happened, he closes his eyes and tenses up expecting to be hit. Tam washes away the blood and puts the knife and dead rabbit behind the bunker. Alec opens his eyes. Tam sits down on the bunker and clears a space for Alec. Tam tells Alec that he reminds him of NANCY, Alec’s dead mother. He reassures him that he’s done the right thing.
Tam walks into his bedroom; he opens up the cupboard to take out a clean shirt. Half of the cupboard is still taken up with Nancy’s dresses, they are dusty and moth eaten.
Tam and Alec leave the house. Ethel twitches at the curtain as if she’s been waiting there all day. She comes running out with a hot rabbit pie encased in a dishtowel. Tam tells her that she can bring it over and have dinner with them later if she likes. Both Alec and Ethel and Tam himself are shocked by this, but it’s smiles all round.
Michele and Deana look out onto the street through Deana’s bedroom window condensation drips down the flimsy glass, their breath steams up the window. They see smartly dressed Tam and Alec approaching the house with Jim’s shoes in hand. They look at each other with expression of panic, remarking how they never thought Alec would do it. Alec looks up at Michele and smiles, Michele smiles back. Tam and Alec make up to Jim’s house and chap on his door.