Short Short Screenplays

New to this edition we have included three short screenplays that are 8 minutes long or less. A great deal of feedback prompted us to pose the question, "How long is a short film?" Our point in including these three screenplays is to suggest a wider view of the short screenplay. In fact, screenplays in this category can run as short as 90, 60, or even 30 seconds. However, since we wanted to focus on the apprentice-early filmmaker categories, we excluded the commercial. Of the three screenplays, Vincent, by Gert Embrechts, became a prize winning European film. The second and third screenplays were both written and produced in the undergraduate film and television program at New York University. Sob Story, by Matthew E. Goldenberg and Michael Slavens, is a situation comedy that poses the question, "How far is a young man willing to go for a girlfriend?" The answer is as far as necessary. Pigeon, by Anthony Green, is a melodrama based on a real event that occurred in France in 1943. An elderly man, a Jew, is using false papers to escape from France. His kindness to pigeons endangers his planned escape. All three films have an abundance of narrative, given their brevity, and each tells its story through creative choices of story form, character, and structure. They are remarkable examples of what can be accomplished in 8 minutes or less.

VINCENT

A short film by Gert Embrechts

EXT. VINCENT'S HOUSE. DAY

Roofs of cottages in an idyllic working class neighbourhood with a lot of greenery and well-kept, extremely colorful front gardens. We hear the voice of a boy.

VINCENT 9 YRS. (V.O.) This is my village, Farillage.

In the front gardens stand a few families dressed in their Sunday best summer clothes. We pass an old couple. As we pass them, they wave to the camera proudly.

VINCENT 9 YRS. (V.O.) (CONT.) And in my village there are various types of people: old people and young people, nice people and nasty people . . .

We pass a young couple. The man is leaning on crutches. They wave to the camera proudly.

VINCENT 9 YRS. (V.O.) (CONT.) . . . sick people, beautiful people and ugly people . . .

We pass a villainous looking family. They wave at the camera arrogantly.

VINCENT 9 YRS. (V.O.) (CONT.) . . . unpleasant people . . .

We pass angelic families, goodness incarnate.

VINCENT 9 YRS. (V.O.) (CONT.) . . . and good people. And those differences are okay, as long as they are not too big. Because my dad says people don't like big differences.

Two boys of 11 appear on screen. They are wearing identical summer clothes and have identical haircuts. The two are following someone down the street and making fun of him.

BOY 1

Is your hair so ugly, you don't dare let anyone see it?

BOY 2

Egg cozy!

BOY 1

Pixie Blue Cap!

VINCENT 9 YRS. (V.O.) Some of the boys in my village don't like differences at all. They want everyone to be the same.

BOY 2

(sings aggressively, provocatively) Little Pixie Blue Cap . . .

The other boy joins in.

The mocking boys are following VINCENT (9). Despite the heat he is wearing a thick, bright blue cap with earflaps. There are beads of sweat on his face.

VINCENT 9 YRS. (V.O.) They get jealous if you look different. If you're wearing a blue cap, for instance.

Vincent walks down the street as fast as he can. When the boys get closer he holds on to his blue cap. The boys are still singing their mocking rhyme. They try to snatch Vincent's cap from his head. Vincent defends himself.

BOYS 1 & 2 (singing aggressively, provocatively) . . . along came a gust of wind and down fell he.

One boy pushes Vincent to the ground. The other snatches the cap from his head. The boys stare at Vincent in amazement. They drop the cap and run away yelling. Vincent stands up. He only has a left ear. Where his right ear should be there is only a shriveled remnant around a tiny hole: the auditory canal. We move into the hole. Black.

INT. BODY

A journey through the internal organs. We hear in succession the heartbeat, the stomach, the intestines. Finally we hear the groaning and moaning of a woman in labour.

INT. DELIVERY ROOM. DAY

An opening appears in the black screen. A bright light appears in the opening. The smiling face of a GYNECOLOGIST appears.

VINCENT 9 YRS. (V.O.) I have that blue cap and my name to thank to Dr. Van Bellegem, a famous gynecologist, says my mum.

The doctor reaches out and grabs the camera lens. He is trying to pull something out of the lens. The woman groans. The doctor is still smiling from ear to ear.

VINCENT 9 YRS. (V.O.) (CONT.) Because originally I was going to be named Adam, but when I was born the doctor pulled so hard on my ear . . .

The gynecologist's hands suddenly pull away. One of his hands is holding a baby's ear. The woman gives a heartrending scream. The gynecologist looks at the bloody ear. His smile fades.

VINCENT 9 YRS. (V.O.) (CONT.) . . . that Adam was no longer appropriate. So they named me Vincent, after a famous painter with a blue cap, says my dad.

INT. BEDROOM VINCENT. DAY

Baby Vincent sleeps in an idyllic and romantic baby bed. He has his blue cap on.

VINCENT 9 YRS. (V.O.) The next day I was given my blue cap. And each year my mum knits on an extra piece so that it always fits me.

EXT. DESERTED STREET. NIGHT

A sultry summer night. An almost empty street. Vincent, who is now 17, is wearing summer clothes and his bright blue cap. He has beads of sweat on his face. He is walking down the street.

A few passers-by cycle past. They shout comments and point at Vincent.

PASSER-BY 1

Egg cozy!

PASSER-BY 2 Pixie Blue Cap, is your hair so ugly, you don't dare let anyone see it?!

VINCENT 9 YRS. (V.O.) I don't mind that they'll carry on teasing me . . .

A pretty girl of 17 walks up. She is wearing a bright blue cap, identical to Vincent's, that covers her ears. Where her right ear should be, the earflap is lying flat against her cheek.

VINCENT 9 YRS. (V.O.) (CONT.) . . . because I'm sure to meet somebody who likes blue caps.

Vincent passes the girl without saying a word. A few steps farther he suddenly turns around. The girl also stops and turns around. They look at each other: love at first sight.

EXT. CHURCH. DAY

Vincent (18 YRS.) and the girl are standing in the doorway of a church. They are wearing wedding clothes and—of course—their bright blue caps. People shower them with rice, cheer and applaud.

VINCENT 9 YRS. (V.O.) Then we'll live happily ever after and have at least . . .

We see that the girl is pregnant.

VINCENT 9 YRS . . . one child. And his name will be Adam.

FAMILY PHOTO, VINCENT

A family portrait of Vincent and his wife. They are both wearing their blue caps. In their arms they are holding a baby with two abnormally large ears.

VINCENT 9 YRS. (V.O.) And even though Adam has two ears . . .

The baby is also wearing a blue cap, but this does not cover his big ears.

VINCENT 9 YRS. (V.O.) (CONT.) . . . his blue cap will cancel out the difference.

EXT. VINCENT'S HOUSE. EVENING

We pass Vincent (21) and his wife who has a baby in her arms. Vincent and his wife are both wearing their bright blue caps. They wave at the camera proudly.

VINCENT 9 YRS. (V.O.) Because my dad says people don't like big differences. Not even people who wear blue caps.

The camera swerves upwards. An idyllic street with charming labourers' cottages at dusk.

FADE OUT.

SOB STORY

by Matthew E. Goldenberg and Michael Slavens

INT. STUDIO. NIGHT

Small, modern studio in downtown Manhattan. STEPHANIE, 20s, classically beautiful blonde, sits alone at a DINING ROOM TABLE all set up for a romantic dinner. She seems about as bored as is scientifically possible.

INT. KITCHEN. SAME

MARTY FRIEDMAN, 20s, orders from a Chinese Menu on a CORDLESS PHONE in a hushed tone:

(preoccupied) And, uh, what's good? . . . Chicken, I like chicken . . . Is it spicy? I like spicy . . . That sounds good. Great. Thanks.

INT STUDIO. SAME

She glances around the room. She goes to look at the picture frames on the mantle. A LARGE FRAME holds an autographed picture of Mickey Mantle. A SMALL FRAME below it holds a family portrait. She picks up the small frame.

Marty peers out of the kitchen. He sees that Stephanie is bored. He smiles at her, weakly. She does not smile back.

Stephanie spots a PICTURE ALBUM. She goes to it, picks it up and sits down on the couch. She runs her hand over it.

STEPHANIE

(calling out) Is this your family album?

She opens it carefully. It's full of perfectly displayed baseball cards.

STEPHANIE

MARTY

Please be careful with those. I've been collecting these since I was a kid.

Marty takes the album from her lap, and places it on his. He starts flipping through it. She gets up and gathers her things.

STEPHANIE

I'm sorry, Marty, I don't think this is gonna work.

MARTY

What? But, but, you just got here.

STEPHANIE

I know, Marty, I tried, I really did. I'm just . . . not attracted to you.

She starts to leave. The phone rings.

MARTY

Wait . . . Just let me get this quickly, don't go anywhere.

(answers the phone) Hello?

Stephanie rolls her eyes and waits impatiently.

(short)

Hi, Mom, this isn't a good time . . . What? Well, is she okay? . . . uh huh . . . Yeah, of course . . . Okay. Gotta go, gotta go, bye.

Marty hangs up the phone. Stephanie just looks him, as if to say "Well?"

(quickly)

My grandmother had a heart attack. She's dead.

(back to the matter at hand) But, please don't go.

There is a moment of silence.

Then Stephanie's face melts into a sympathetic puddle. She hugs Marty close to her.

STEPHANIE

MARTY

(a little baffled) They want me to deliver a eulogy . . .

She hugs him even closer. Her boobs press up against him.

STEPHANIE Oh, how terrible . . . don't worry . . . it'll be okay . . .

She pulls herself away for a moment to look at him face to face. He looks confused. After seeing his lack of emotion, so does she.

STEPHANIE

You must be in shock. I'm going to go. Give you some privacy.

MARTY

But, I still need you.

STEPHANIE Oh, you poor thing . . . I'll be back for the memorial service . . . And then I won't leave until you feel all better.

She gives him one big, sloppy kiss.

She gets up and leaves.

Marty doesn't know what hit him.

MARTY

(to himself) Until I feel better?

INT. FUNERAL HOME. DAY

A service is in progress. Marty, wearing jeans, t-shirt and baseball cap, walks in and sits in the back. He pulls out a note pad and pen. The organ finishes a somber song and MIDDLE-AGED MAN leaves his seat next to a HOT WOMAN and goes up to the podium.

MIDDLE-AGED MAN

(composed)

David was my brother, my business partner, my closest friend . . .

Marty jots some notes. An OLD WOMAN quietly sobs, but the rest of the mourners, including the Hot Woman, seem less than enthralled.

MIDDLE-AGED MAN To those who knew him, he was a wonderful man. To his family, he was loving, caring . . . And to those who shared his dreams, he was a truly remarkable man. David, you taught me so much— 1 loved my brother . . .

And suddenly, the MIDDLE-AGED MAN loses it and goes a big blubbery one. He can't speak he's crying so hard. Marty looks around: now, everyone is crying.

And crying the hardest is the HOT WOMAN, who gets up to hold the MIDDLE-AGED MAN.

Marty chuckles and shakes his head. He's figured it out. He makes a note: TEARS=LOVIN'.

INT. STUDIO. DAY

Marty, looking into a mirror, tries to deliver his eulogy:

MARTY

Grandma Friedman was a remarkable woman. She was a loving, caring . . .

Marty squeezes his face up, hard, trying to make a crying face.

But no tears come. He tries again:

MARTY (CONT.) Grandma Friedman was an amazing woman . . .

He gives a big GRUNT and squeezes. No tears. He goes to a DRAWER, pulls out a small, dusty photo album. He removes a picture of GRANDMA FRIEDMAN, just about the fattest old lady there ever was. He tries again:

MARTY (CONT.) Grandma Friedman . . . Oh, my grannie . . . She . . .

He looks long and hard at the picture.

MARTY (CONT.) . . . needed to lose some weight. Christ, no wonder the cow had a heart attack.

Marty stops for a second. He feels underneath his eyes, looks hopeful . . . And finds no tears. Nuts.

STUDIO. LATER

Marty, ball of tissue in one nostril, turns on the TV. He plops down on the couch, with remote poised in hand.

Welcome back to our Sunday Movie: Tears on the Wings of Sorrow.

He turns up the volume.

SAME. LATER

Defeated and bored, Marty's in the same general position. He's in total disbelief.

He puts two fingers to his wrist, and reads his watch, checking his pulse. It appears he's not dead. He closes his eyes, falls sideways on the couch. Beat. He lies there eyes closed. They slowly open and blankly look ahead. He's facing the coffee table. His blank stare slowly changes to recognition, then excitement. He bolts up.

Directly in front of him on the coffee table is the ALBUM OF BASEBALL CARDS.

He pauses. A look of trepidation crosses his face, but he picks up the album anyway.

FUNERAL HOME. DAY

Everyone is gathered around, dressed in head to toe black. The horrible picture of Grandma Friedman is present. Stephanie looks especially mournful. Marty rises and begins to speak.

MARTY

Grandma Friedman was a truly remarkable woman . . . She taught me so very much . . .

His hands are busy under the podium.

MARTY (CONT.) . . . she was always there for me . . . And she made the best macaroons . . .

Marty starts to cry. So do all the onlookers. Stephanie is bawling.

Marty is fiddling with something under the podium.

MARTY (CONT.) (really crying now) . . . and. . . she loved to eat . . .

He looks down, cringes and wails. The faint sound of RIPPING. UNCLE LOUIE is crying. He hears the ripping. Cocks his head. Goes back to crying.

MARTY (CONT.) . . . when she'd hug you with those big arms . . . and her smell . . . god, her smell!

In the podium lies RIPPED UP BASEBALL CARDS. Marty looks down to the Roger Maris rookie card in his hands. He rips, hard.

Marty can't even go on with his eulogy. He's crying too hard.

Stephanie runs up to him. He pushes the cards deep into the shadows under the podium.

She grabs him and holds him, hard. He glances over her shoulder and sees a piece of a Mickey Mantle card lying on the floor. He breaks down further.

INT. FUNERAL HOME. LATER

Marty and Stephanie sit close on a couch. She's feeding him grapes off of a paper plate. He looks spent.

Uncle Louie approaches, with bagel and lox in hand.

UNCLE LOUIE That was some beautiful speech Marty. You were really close to her, weren't ya?

MARTY It meant a whole lot to me.

Marty puts his head in his hands. Stephanie pulls him into her arms. Uncle Louie leaves the two alone. Marty willingly enters her embrace, putting his head on her shoulder. His face shows no sign of tears or sorrow.

STEPHANIE It's ok, let it out. She'll always be with you in spirit.

Marty is facing a framed picture of grandma.

MARTY

I know, but I don't know how I'm going to manage.

STEPHANIE Shhhh. I'm here for you.

MARTY It's gonna take me a while.

She pulls him out of the embrace to stare him right in the eyes. He puts on a sad face.

STEPHANIE I'm not going anywhere.

She kisses him on the lips and puts him back on her shoulder.

FADE TO BLACK.

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