I found the script a lot more straight forward to write than the film treatment, which had at least three rewrites and took me several days, of going away and coming back to it, to complete. Although, admittedly, i seem to have written a film treatment for a feature film rather than a three minute short so i have confined my script to just one scene. I chose one of my favourite scenes from my story, where Bonnie and Clyde first meet. As it is set in a bank i am also hoping it will be the least problematic scene to film as most of the other scenes required period cars, deserted roads and American gas stations.
The treatment really works as a great guide to tease the additional details out of your brain and get them into a working script. The celtx application also really helps with the correct layout. The dialogue was definitely the thing I struggled with the most. I wanted it to sound natural yet get in all the details our audience needed to know without coming across as contrived. If you click on the picture below you can see the finished script and make up your own mind:
To ensure that my script really was 1 page = 1 minute I took the role of script supervisor and walked myself through the script step by step. I walked through my kitchen and lounge imagining I was Clyde walking through the bank. I repeated both the bank manager and clyde’s lines and mimicked their actions and it does seem that the 1 page = 1 minute rule, pretty much, works. For this script’s first page, anyway. The first page was 57 seconds, the second page….. and the third half a page …. The few remaining seconds leave me room for a title and credits.
After holding up a local bank our main characters, Bonnie and Clyde, are soon on the run from police with their loyal gang in tow. What follows is a tense high speed car chase from Texas to Oklahoma ending in a lethal shoot out and the demise of our two anti-heroes.
1930’s Oklahoma. Early evening, the light is just beginning to wane. ‘Frankie and Johnny‘ by Sarah Tidwell plays quietly on the radio.
We begin at the end. The scene opens to Bonnie cradling Clyde in her arms as he takes his last breath. Bonnie is quite clearly fatally injured too. Their gang lay dead around them and the police are closing in on their bullet ridden car.
Texas. Midday. Inside Texas State Bank. Sun shining through windows.
Bonnie is sat at her desk as a very dapper Clyde struts through the doors of the grand bank. She looks up as he walks past. Clyde is there to see the bank manager to arrange a loan and start up a new business. His application is refused quite loudly and pompously by the manager in front of a bank full of customers. After getting his paperwork together and composing himself, on the way out of the bank Clyde sees the bank manager making inappropriate advances towards Bonnie. Pinned in a corner Bonnie can do little to escape. Clyde walks towards them and ‘accidentally’ bumps a table next to them sending a pile of paperwork flying. The bank manager turns to see what has happened and it gives Bonnie the opportunity to squeeze out past him. She heads straight for the files and starts tidying them up. Clyde bends to help and as he passes Bonnie some of the stray papers they exchange a smile. As Clyde turns to leave the bank Bonnie looks down and sees a small folded piece of white paper on top of the files he handed her. The paper is folded into the shape of a bird with outstretched wings.
cut to…. (flashback sequence)
The Parker Family House. Oklahoma. Early Morning. ‘Nagasaki‘ by Jack Kaufman and The Seven Blue Babies plays loudly on the radio contrasting the seriousness of the situation.
A small, red headed boy is being beaten about the head by a large man with a belt. We soon realize the man is the boy’s father. As the small boy cries we see his three younger brothers and elder sister cowering in the next room (kitchen) against the wall that backs onto the one he is being beaten against. (We see a crossview as if the outer wall has been removed) The elder sister, no more than ten herself, is trying to comfort her crying young brothers while keeping her ears covered to block out the suffering boy’s screams. As she can squeeze her hands to her ears no harder she suddenly calms. She tells the boys to get into the pantry, tells them they’re playing hide and seek and gently closes the door. She goes to the kitchen drawer takes out a knife and heads towards her brother’s screams.
Outside the Texas State Bank. Late afternoon.
Bonnie’s brother, Ralph, whose life she saved in the last scene, is sat in a car just around the corner from the bank, staring repeatedly at his watch. One of his younger brothers, Joe, sits in the backseat directly behind him. Ralph is visibly sweating and keeps asking Joe what is taking so long. As Joe tries to reassure him we hear an alarm bell fill the air. Gunshots are fired and Bonnie and Clyde run into view as the alarm gets louder. Henry and Raymond also appear carrying two large bags each. They jump in the car and speed away, as the sirens reach a cacophony and several police cars screech into view.
Deserted road. Early evening.
Coasting along the road Bonnie is now driving with Clyde in the passenger seat while Joe, Ralph, Henry and Raymond are crammed in the backseats. Everyone is singing along to ‘Minnie the Moocher‘ on the radio and passing round a bottle of gin. They discuss how happy they are now with new dreams on the horizon.
Next day. Petrol Station. Early morning.
After driving all night the gang pull into a rundown, remote petrol station to buy food, more alcohol and cigarettes. Bonnie turns off the radio that is playing ‘In the Mood‘ by Glenn Miller and heads into the store while Clyde and the gang stand around the car smoking and laughing. Ralph nips to the toilet at the back of the garage. As Bonnie opens the door of the garage, with a large paper bag of groceries balanced in the crook of her arm, she sees Ralph careering towards her. Into view comes a uniformed sheriff racing after him. The sheriff raises his gun and shoots at her brother. Ralph is hit in the side and collapses on the floor. Bonnie reaches into her handbag and pulls out a small pistol. In doing so she off-balances the bag of shopping and it begins to fall in slow motion. At the same time we see her raise her arm and the pistol in the direction of the sheriff who hasn’t yet recognised her and has turned towards Clyde and the car. As Bonnie’s gun fires repeatedly into the back of the law enforcements officer’s head we see the bottle of tomato juice, she has just bought, smashing on the white tiled floor in what looks like a pool of blood. Clyde and Joe run over, pull up the injured Ralph and drag him to the car as the petrol station owner comes running out with a large rifle. He aims at the car but shoots into nothing but dust as the car hurtles away.
Back on the road. Driving at breakneck speed. Still morning. ‘Motherless Child‘ by Sara Tidwell plays quietly on the radio.
Clyde is now in the driver’s seat. Bonnie explains if they can get back to Oklahoma, and her home town, she knows a doctor who will be able to help Ralph. The same one who operated on him when he was a small child to save the remnants of his ear after being beaten so badly about the head by their father he became deaf on one side. Everyone is very quiet in the car as they drive and the music and it’s mood dominate.
Late evening. It is dark with several stars in the sky. Car headlight illuminate the sign for Oklahoma.
Bonnie and everyone in the car breathe a sigh of relief as they see the sign. Ralph looks very ill now, he is pale and has a high temperature. Their relief does not last long as once past the town sign they hear the wail of sirens once again. Three police cars are now in pursuit. They have been lying in wait at the outskirts of the town. A high speed chase follows and concludes in the gang’s car being cornered. Everyone jumps out, except for Bonnie, who stays in the car to look after Ralph. The brothers and Clyde shoot it out with the police, standing their ground and taking the upper hand. Until a tirade of bullets hit the car from another side and Ralph is shot in the side of the head, Joe and Raymond are also shot dead and Clyde and Henry are seriously injured. Bonnie is incensed and jumps out with a tommy gun and starts blasting everyone she can see in a uniform. She is shot but not before she has killed all the officers left standing. She and Clyde try to drag bleeding Henry back to the car but he dies before they can get him there.
We return to the very first scene and watch it through with a much heavier heart than our initial viewing at the beginning of the movie. We zoom in on Bonnie and Clyde’s hands entwined. Holding between them the white folded paper bird, it’s wings now stained with their blood. Sarah Tidwell’s voice gets louder on the radio singing ‘Frankie and Johnny’ as we fade to black.
GTA gets a 1930’s gangster makeover.
starting in texas and driving to oklahoma, for the ultimate shoot out, you travel in classic cars;
Tommy guns replace sawn off shotguns, fired over the sounds of louis armstrong and billie holiday playing on your very own customisable swing radio station.
set in the 1930’s depression era we meet bonnie and clyde, desperately in love with one another and equally in love with the thrill of action and adventure. after holding up a local liquor store in texas they are soon on the run from police with their loyal gang; Buck Barrow, Blanche Barrow, Raymond Hamilton, W. D. Jones, Joe Palmer,Ralph Fults, and Henry Methvin.
through flashbacks we see the couples reasons for falling into crime. bonnie’s abusive, alcoholic mother and clyde’s family’s reputation making him a target for local law enforcement. but these are kept brief, enough for the audience to relate to our anti-heroes but the action is of upmost importance.
the styling of the film is very suave and sexy with stunning 30’s fashion. hats, suits and spatz. dresses,cigarette holders and furs. the gang travel in classic cars; the stubebaker, the chevrolet, the buick. holding up banks and garages, driving at break neck speed and ruthlessly gunning down anyone that gets in their way.
the squeal of tyres and the firing of tommy guns ring out over the melodies of louis armstrong and billie holiday as we watch the ultimate shoot out. bonnie and clyde are finally cornered by the police in oklahoma and die courageously in a hail of bullets.
In France there is a underground political movement around the idea of never working out of necessity with Ne Travaillez Jamais graffiti’d across walls in Paris and other cities. I would love to work this into a screenplay or story. Setting it in the ‘not too distant future’ and pushing the idea to the extreme with unemployment being banded and an underground movement of Ne Travaillezers fighting against the government. Anyone caught not working would have a hand amputated using the idea of ‘The Devil makes Work for Idle Hands’ and if caught again would be killed for their ‘crimes. All workers would be fed amphetamines to make them need less sleep and be able to work an 18 hour day.
As you’ve probably guessed my influences for the movie are Bladerunner (1982) and Gattaca (1997) But the current political climate and stories of the unemployed having to work for free or lose their benefits has also had a strong influence on my idea. Could these imaginings one day become reality?
Many thanks to the BBC for the Radio 4 programme:
Archive on 4 – Work Is a Four Letter Word – @bbcradio4 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06tky20
which introduced me to the Ne Travaillez Jamais ideal and started my imagination whirring.
my elevator pitch is a film about a man who does good deeds.
we follow the man for the same five minutes of his life over four days of the week.
we see him visiting different families and helping them.
we consider the man to be good and kind and we really warm to him and admire his selflessness.
then in the last five minutes it is revealed, to the audience but no one else, that the man hasn’t actually been visiting these families doing good deeds.
he is, in fact, a serial bigamist and we have been watching him at home with his own families, all four of them.
the audience should be left questioning themselves and their judgement for trusting our main character and warming to him.
the film is meant to leave us contemplating the rights and wrongs of such a moral dilemma and the age old suggestion that ‘what you don’t know won’t hurt you?’ wondering ‘how much do we really know about one another?’, outside the day to day interaction we have with them.
filmed in the bright style of cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel.
- who would produce the film? Claude Ossard
- How will the film be funded? Kickstarter campaign
- What festivals would you submit to, and why? London Film Festival, Encounters Short Film Festival. Both are BAFTA recognized festivals and feature the hottest new talent.
- What is your market? i would say our target audience is aged approx 24-48
- What are the comparable titles and what business did they do by territory? Amelie ‘grossed over $33 million in limited theatrical release and is still the highest-grossing French-language film released in the United States’. Wiki
this idea is so simple yet so effective. it would be a great way to advertise anything not just post it notes.
spotted this today and thought how ridiculously cool this would be for filming action shots for a short film. not quite sure how i’d incorporate it yet but hopefully i’ll come up with something.
work in progress: more to follow