TWENTY QUESTIONS By MICHAEL PEDERSEN
FOURTH DRAFT JULY 2013 © MICHAEL PEDERSEN, MARCH 2013 Ph: 0404 258 670 firstname.lastname@example.org
INT. OFFICE. DAY
ERIC, a business man in his mid-40s, opens the door to his office looking stressed and focused on his smartphone. ERIC Sorry to keep you waiting James, It’s just been frantic trying to secure... Eric trails off as his gaze switches from his phone to JAMES - a man in his early 20s who is unshaven, wearing a creased old business shirt and pants with no tie and messy bed hair. James has a coffee in hand and is staring out the office window. He tilts his head back at Eric to respond. JAMES Ah....yeah no worries. As Eric approaches James to greet him, James remains seated in his chair, looking nonchalant. They shake hands as Eric takes a seat at his desk. ERIC I’ve got to say James...for someone who supposedly wants a job at this company...you aren’t making a very good first impression. JAMES I’m sorry you feel that way. James reaches into his pocket and pulls out a cigarette, and is poised to light it. Eric snatches it from his fingers. ERIC I don’t know who raised you but you’re not going to get anywhere in life showing this sort of disrespect. James’ expression turns from relaxed to angry, as he rises to leave the office. 2
INT. LIVING ROOM. NIGHT
FLASHBACK: James’ alcoholic father DANIEL is sitting at the living room table, wearing a dishevelled shirt half buttoned up and only underwear from the waist down. He appears to be heavily drunk and sombre and is swigging his hip flask. A five-year-old JAMES JUNIOR walks into the room, wearing a bucket on his head as a helmet.
JAMES JUNIOR Hi Daddy. Look what I made! James Junior holds up a finger painting that he made in pre-school that day. JAMES JUNIOR Our teacher showed us how to paint today. She’s the bestest. I wanna be a teacher when I grow up! Daniel takes a look at his son’s painting and looks disinterested. He takes another swig of his hip flask. He turns away from his son as he speaks to him. DANIEL You? A teacher? Ha. Don’t be silly, boy. You can’t even control yourself...let alone other people. Go back to bed. James Junior looks devastated by his father’s words, as he turns around and walks slowly back to bed, taking the bucket off his head. 3
INT. LIVING ROOM. DAY
James’ face is a study of concentration. His brow is furrowed and his eyes are closed. JAMES (V/O) Come on, you can do this...believe in yourself. You’ve put in so much work to get to this point. It’s now or never. James is in fact playing a video game after returning home from the job interview, still wearing the same clothes. He is just about to finish the last stage. He grits his teeth and snarls as he shoots his enemies with everything he’s got. The camera tracks in reverse as it is revealed that James is surrounded by his own filth, sitting amongst empty beer bottles, pizza boxes and confectionery packets. James’ mother SARAH returns home and enters the living room. SARAH How did your interview go? JAMES Get off my back will you mum? You’re fuckin relentless.
3. James’ gaze remains on the TV screen as he continues to play his video game. SARAH I’m relentless because you’ve been sitting on your arse doing nothing for far too long. You’re turning into your bloody father. James puts the game on pause and turns to his mother. JAMES Don’t you dare compare me to him. SARAH It’s true..the drinking, the bad attitude..even the way you’re talking to me right now. JAMES Yeah, well I’m not the one who married him, am I? James continues to play his game as Sarah walks out of the room looking disgusted. James fails to make it past the last stage of the game. JAMES Ahhhh....FUCK. He throws his controller to the ground and storms off to his bedroom, slamming the door behind him. 4
INT. PARTY LIVING ROOM. NIGHT
A group of people in their early 20s are enjoying drinks at a party, all dressed in smart casual attire. James walks through the front door with a half empty beer bottle in his hand. He is still wearing the same clothes as he was in the interview, and is looking very drunk and depressed. KELLY and RICK are two of James’ friends. They look surprised by James’ appearance as they greet him. RICK Hey...man. How ya doin? JAMES Yeah...not bad, not bad. Yourself? RICK I’m good... Kelly gestures towards James’ beer bottle.
KELLY Getting the party started early eh? Haha. James looks down at his beer bottle as if he’s forgotten he was even holding it. He finishes the beer and pulls a party popper out of his pocket and shoots the streamers over Kelly. JAMES Genius....didn’t even know I had that on me. Kelly and Rick look weirded out by James’ behaviour. RICK So, what’ve you been up to recently mate? Had a job interview today did you? James pauses for a while. He then walks past Rick and Kelly, affectionately scruffing Rick’s hair up as he walks away. 5
INT. DANCE FLOOR. NIGHT
The room is full of people, dancing and drinking, enjoying themselves. James is drinking a hip flask on the far side of the room with his back against the wall staring vacantly at the crowd. He’s approached by ANTHONY, an acquaintance he hasn’t seen for some time. ANTHONY James! Wow you’re really hitting it hard aren’t you... JAMES Mind your own business. ANTHONY Geez take it easy, I’m just taking the piss. No wonder everyone’s been giving you shit behind your back. JAMES Good to know. Now piss off. Anthony shakes his head at James and leaves him be, joining the rest of the party on the dancefloor. Despite the energy of his friends surrounding him, James looks distraught, upset with where his life is heading and his Mother’s earlier comparison of him to his estranged father. He pushes his way through the dancefloor and heads for the front door of the house.
EXT. DRIVEWAY. NIGHT
FLASHBACK: Sarah is carrying both hers and James Junior’s luggage, looking extremely upset and holding James Junior’s hand. The sound of a glass smashing can be heard from within the house that Sarah and James Junior are walking out of. DANIEL (O/S) Go on then! Fuckin leave! See if I care. You"ll come crawling back eventually! Sarah puts the luggage and James Junior into her car as they drive off. James Junior stares out the window as he sees his house fade off into the distance. 7
INT. CAR. NIGHT
SARAH I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through this Jamesy. You’ll be OK now, we’re going to move far away from your father. James Junior continues to look out the back window, wondering if he’ll ever see his father again. 8
EXT. STREET. NIGHT James is sitting in the gutter with his hip flask and sobbing quietly to himself. He throws it onto the road in anger. Rick appears behind him, walks onto the road and picks up the hip flask. RICK Mate...this is the worst I’ve seen you. You’ve got to pull yourself together. JAMES It’s not that simple. RICK Yeah it is...and you’re going to start by getting rid of this. Rick holds up the hip flask. RICK I know you’ve been struggling to find some sort of direction (MORE)
6. RICK (cont’d) lately but this isn’t doing you any favours. You’ve got to stop feeling sorry for yourself because if you keep acting like this you’re not going to have any friends left! Rick leaves James sitting in the gutter and starts to head back to the party, while James stares into the distance thinking about what was just said to him. Time elapses and James appears to be passed out on the lawn to awake to three guys jumping him and stealing his wallet. He is keeled over in pain and passes out once again. As people are leaving the party moments later they spot James and rush to his aid. 9
INT. BEDROOM. DAY
James is sprawled on his bed, lying on his back. An alarm sounds, waking James from his hungover slumber. He reaches for his alarm and winces in pain, feeling his stomach. 10
INT. BATHROOM. DAY
James stares at himself in the mirror and lifts his shirt, seeing bruising all over his body from being mugged the previous night. He starts to tear up, when suddenly his phone rings. He seems startled by it and tries to compose himself, before answering hesitantly, not knowing who is on the other end of the call. JAMES (on phone) Hello?...yes it is...sure, I can come in for an interview...this afternoon will be fine...great, see you then. James ends the call, looking surprised and contemplative. He looks in the mirror once again and feels his unshaven face. MONTAGE - James showering. - James shaving. - James getting changed into a business suit. BACK TO SCENE
James returns to the mirror, looking well groomed and focused. JAMES Alright. First impressions, first impressions. Firm handshake, eye contact, build rapport. You got this, you got this. 11
INT. LOBBY. DAY
James is seated in a lobby, awaiting an interview. A pensive look is on his face. His deep thoughts are interrupted by the voice of his interviewer, ROB. ROB James? JAMES Yes? Mr Edwards? ROB Call me Rob. Nice to meet you. James and Rob shake hands as James forces a smile. ROB Sorry to keep you waiting. Please, come through. James and Rob leave the lobby and enter through an office door. 12
INT. OFFICE. DAY Rob and James are both seated either side of a desk. Rob is flicking through James’ resume. ROB Seems like you’ve had quite a lot of change throughout your working life, James. I see you’ve been in retail...hospitality...admin. What sort of direction do you think you want to take in your career? Where do you see yourself in 10 years time? James’ gaze leaves Rob as he stares into the distance to think about his answer.
INT. TRAIN. DAY
FLASHBACK: James is sitting inside a train on the way to the job interview with Rob. Opposite him is a FATHER and SON. The son is about 5 years old. SON How much money do they pay the train driver, daddy? FATHER I’m not sure. Why, do you think you’ll want to be a train driver when you grow up? SON No, I want to be a policeman and shoot all the baddies! FATHER Haha. You can be whatever you want to be..always remember that. Tears well in James’ eyes, as he tries to stop himself crying in front of the father and son. 14
INT. OFFICE. DAY
A smile creeps over James’ face as he remembers the events that took place on the train. JAMES I want to be a teacher. Rob looks bemused by James’ answer. ROB That’s all well and good but this is a role in communication. Why are you here? JAMES You’re right. I’m sorry for wasting your time sir. I’ll see myself out. 15
INT. HALLWAY. DAY
THREE YEARS LATER: James is wearing a collared shirt, tie and business pants and is waiting outside a classroom with the SCHOOL PRINCIPAL and his mother Sarah. SARAH I’m so proud of you. Sarah gives James a hug, beaming with pride.
SCHOOL PRINCIPAL I know this is your first class but remember, they’re just as nervous about meeting their new teacher as you are about teaching them. You’ll be fine. The School Principal gives James a pat on the back as James walks in. 16
INT. CLASSROOM. DAY
A class full of kids fall silent as they see James enter the classroom. James places his bag on the desk and turns to face the class, taking a deep breath. JAMES Good morning everyone. My name is Mr Harrison. We’re going to start the class by getting to know each other a little better. When I point to you I’d like you to answer one question for me. James walks slowly down the corridor, assessing his students. He bends down to the level of a boy sitting at his desk. JAMES What do you want to be when you grow up? THE END CHARACTERS James - male protagonist, early 20s. Sarah - female in early 50s. Daniel - male in early 50s. Eric - businessman, mid 40s. James Junior - five-year-old james. Rick - male in early 20s. Kelly - female in early 20s. Anthony - male in early 20s. Rob - Businessman in early 30s. Father - mid 40s.
Son - five years old. Principal - mid 40s. 10 extras in mid 20s needed for house party scene. 10 kids needed for classroom scene. 3 extras needed as muggers. LOCATIONS 1. Any office building for scenes 1, 11, 12 and 14. 2. 1 suburban household/street for flashback scenes, James’ house and party scenes. 3. The use of someone’s car. 4. Any cityrail train. Can be changed to a bus station if necessary. 5. Any primary school. COSTUMES - Three business suits for interviewers and principal. - Creased shirt and pants, kids clothes from 90s, business suit/teacher’s outfit for James. - Grubby shirt for Daniel and old school underwear. - Two different casual outfits and 90s casual outfit for Sarah. - Smart casual for Rick, Kelly and Anthony. - Hoodies, tracksuit pants and trainers for muggers. - Casual for father and son. - School uniforms for 10 kids. - Smart casual for 10 party extras. PROPS - Smartphone. - Coffee. - Cigarette and lighter. - Two different hip flasks. - Finger painting.
- Bucket. - Video game controller. - TV. - Beer bottles. - Pizza boxes. - Confectionary packets. - Party popper. - Luggage. - Wallet. - Alarm. - Razor. - Shaving cream. - Bag. - School work booklets and pencils. - School bags.
A young man must overcome the demons of his past to pursue a dream that was crushed by his alcoholic father.