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03 November 2010 @ 10:07 pm
NaScreeWriMo - Day Three  
Sometimes I wish I could Ctrl-Z real life.  I was blowing out the candle I had lit and picked up the holder to bring it to me, instead of leaning up to it.  The candle tilted, and I spilled melted wax on my keyboard and desk.  Ctrl-Z!  Undo!  Undo!

So I finished Sequence One today!  I divide a screenplay into eight sequences, each about 10-15 pages long; Act One is S1-2, Act Two is S3-6, and Act Three is S7-8.  It helps me keep track of structure, and it breaks a draft down into more manageable chunks.  So this installment takes us up to the inciting incident, or catalyst.  Whee!

INT. MIRA’S COTTAGE - NIGHT

Mira and Dominik huddle together on a straw-stuffed mattress laid in front of the roaring wood stove. Mira studies her sleeping son’s face.

She hears something. Peers around. Pushes the stove door closed - it's quieter.

FOOTSTEPS crunching outside.

Mira sits up, calm, and watches the door. It creaks open. A DARK FIGURE, huge and shapeless, enters. Stands still a moment after closing the door, looking at Mira.

MIRA
So you decided you didn’t
want to freeze to death tonight?
 
The figure pulls off its cloak as Mira opens the stove again - it’s Samuel. He climbs onto the mattress, Dominik between them.

SAMUEL
I was thinking about the first time I saw you,
when I was first apprenticed to Alfred.
He’d sent me to the tanner, and on
the way I see this little girl, still a child,
march right up to Lazar and his cronies outside
the tavern. She points her little finger right at his
face and screams that if he ever
tries to cheat her father again... Lazar laughs,
as do his friends, and he pats her on the head.
She goes on to explain exactly how he
tried to cheat her father, and slowly Lazar’s friends
begin to look at each other, realizing that Lazar
must have cheated each of them in the same way.
 
Samuel touches Mira’s face. Tender.

SAMUEL (CONT’D)
I had never seen anyone so brave, so...righteous.
Standing there in the mud with a pile of hides on my
shoulders, I fell in love. It didn’t matter that you were a
child and I was nearly a man, that you were the daughter
of a rich merchant and I was just a poor
apprentice to a cobbler. I knew I would marry you.

MIRA
And to think, when I first saw you, all I could
think about was how dirty your face was.
 
They LAUGH.

SAMUEL
If you had given Todor the extra basket of
eggs, you would not have been my Mira.
And I would have that for nothing.
 
He carefully leans over Dominik to kiss her.

CUT TO:

INT. CASTLE - CHAPEL - NIGHT

Ilka paces. Father Janos sits in the first pew, patiently watching her.

ILKA
You told me it would work. You promised
me he would give me what I want.

JANOS
I can only provide a path, Ilka. I cannot
force the Count to do anything. Perhaps it is
simply not in God’s plan.

ILKA
But I prayed. I sacrificed.

JANOS
And God will reward you for your
faith. It may not be in the way you expect.

ILKA
He told me I was no longer his wife. I
don’t know what to do.

JANOS
This is not the first time he has said such
things. He has not yet cast you aside. Believe
that you will reconcile, and that the Count
will make you his true wife.
 
Ilka calms, nods.

JANOS (CONT’D)
Take Communion. Pray.
 
Janos goes behind the altar. Ilka sits, eyes screwed shut, hands clasped in front of her. Her lips move soundlessly.

Janos sits beside her, bearing an exquisite crystal goblet filled with a dark blood-red liquid.

JANOS (CONT’D)
He said, ‘Drink this blood, in remembrance
of me.’
 
Ilka DRINKS.

CUT TO:

EXT. MIRA’S COTTAGE - BARN - DAWN

Mira tightens the straps holding fat SADDLEBAGS to the mule. Samuel helps.

MIRA
It’s too late in the year.

SAMUEL
There’s no cobbler in Arka. People will need
new shoes.

MIRA
You will get trapped in the mountain pass.

SAMUEL
I hope to get some tools. I would like a
new hammer.

MIRA
I will have to tell Dominik his father died in
an avalanche, or was eaten by wolves.

SAMUEL
Perhaps when I come back home, with a new hammer,
and salted pork, and bags of gold, we will
send the boy to my mother’s for a few nights
and make him a new little brother.

MIRA
If I do not already have a new little
brother for the boy in my belly by the time
you get back.
 
Samuel laughs, grabs her - a big smooch.

SAMUEL
And who else would have you?

MIRA
(whispers)
Be careful.
 
He just grins at her, climbs onto the mule’s back. Mira watches them head down the path away from the cottage - and toward the mountains.

EXT. MIRA’S COTTAGE - DAY

Dominik plays Chase the Chickens.

DOMINIK
Chicken! Chicken!
 
Mira mucks out the barn, wearing even older, more patched and worn clothes than before. She is filthy.

She takes a break, leaning on the pitchfork.

BELLS RING, coming from the direction of the village center. Mira looks that way, at the only thing visible from this distance - a narrow church spire.

She FROWNS.

EXT. VILLAGE - DAY

Mira joins the villagers in front of the cemetery, carrying Dominik. She is among the last to arrive - dark looks her way.

She has no friends to talk to, and stands by herself. Still, she is close enough to overhear a conversation between two female villagers her own age, KATA and GIZELLA. Very nicely dressed - more importantly, clean.

KATA
I was in the middle of the most perfect
little flower. I hate leaving my
embroidery so suddenly.

GIZELLA
How can you worry about silly flowers?
The Count wishes to see us! That
has not happened since I was a girl.

MIRA
Why has the Count assembled us?
 
Kata and Gizella glance over at Mira with barely-concealed disdain.

GIZELLA
Look, Kata. It’s the cobbler’s wife. I was
wondering why my nose was filled
with the reek of pig shit.
 
They titter, and Mira prepares to strike, when the crowd makes a SOUND - between a moan and a shout.

Everyone turns to look - a CARRIAGE, drawn by four hugely magnificent horses, comes their way. Ornate and gilded, it is out of place in this muddy snow, these wind-chapped faces.

The carriage slowly passes the villagers. The windows are opaque. The passengers hidden.

MIKLOS (55), stern and noble, steps forward as the carriage approaches, removes his hat. But the carriage keeps moving, surprising him.

Miklos follows the carriage’s progress and catches Mira’s eye. She stares at him, color in her cheeks. Miklos makes a point of looking away.

The slow, steady pace of the carriage continues. It STOPS in front of Mira. Kata and Gizella preen. Mira checks Dominik’s swaddling, makes sure his face is covered.

INT. CARRIAGE - CONTINUOUS

Even more richly appointed inside. Bathory studies Mira.

BATHORY
Who is she?
 
His advisor, KAROLY (40), peers out his own window. Mean, haughty - a worm.

KAROLY
I don’t know her name. Herczeg Miklos’s
daughter, though she married a cobbler.

BATHORY
I’ll expect her tonight.
 
EXT. VILLAGE - CONTINUOUS

And just like that, the carriage turns and departs. The crowd disperses. Mira watches the carriage shrink as it heads back toward the mountains, toward the CASTLE, a miniature at this distance, halfway up the most forbidding peak.

Mira snuggles Dominik close, uneasy.
 
 
 
nhpwnhpw on November 4th, 2010 01:14 pm (UTC)
Very interesting... I like seeing a different, less dick-like side of Samuel here, and the gentleness and playfulness of their marriage coming through; combined with the clues that Mira comes from $$$ it adds a nice depth to her character.

And Bathory is a mysterious villain. (I assume he is the villain. Yes?)

Can't wait for more!

One other thing I'm wondering. Did you "cast" these roles like you said you usually do, and like you did with the pilot? I'd be interested to know who you're picturing, since there isn't a lot of physical description given on the characters.
Shannonkungfuwaynewho on November 4th, 2010 01:34 pm (UTC)
Yes, Bathory is a villain.

I'm glad you liked Samuel! It was a tough call to open with him being kind of a jerk - although understandably, in some respects - because it can be difficult to establish a character and then add nuance after the reader might have already made up her mind. I'm never too married with first draft scenes and order, though, so.

I did cast them! The whole thing with physical descriptions is tough, because at the end of the day, I'm not the casting director, and there aren't many roles that if written with one specific physical type in mind couldn't easily be played by another. So I tend to just write in physical description if it's necessary for plot purposes.

I just hope I can keep chugging along at four pages a day. That's around three hours of writing, and it's easy peasy now, but when I start my job (maybe, sometimes, who knows), that'll cut down on writing time a whooooooole lot.
Holly: Bill sadface :(hollywobbles on November 4th, 2010 03:36 pm (UTC)
Depending on how the actor plays Samuel, he could definitely come off as less dickish in the first scene than the first read-through might suggest. More like a disappointed little boy, maybe.
Shannon: bsg you slay me gaiuskungfuwaynewho on November 4th, 2010 03:42 pm (UTC)
It's good that both of you gave me this note on that first scene with Samuel, because I didn't want him to come off as a dick - I was hoping to show how tenuous their married life is, how they struggle to have enough to eat day by day, and how Mira screwed that up because of her pride. I think the problem is that Samuel's coming off too petulant, too whiny.

I'm not worrying about it now, though! Forward and onward! But it's a very good thing to keep in mind when I go back for revisions. (Maybe we need to see him working, see how hard his day is, how much he needs a solid meal...)
Holly: Laura UB happy colorhollywobbles on November 4th, 2010 03:53 pm (UTC)
The dialogue could go either way -- once you know his personality, it's obvious it went one way, not the other. I think it's good dialogue.
Shannonkungfuwaynewho on November 4th, 2010 09:03 pm (UTC)
I think it just may need a line or two to make it work. I think we need to see him come in, exhausted, something about how he'd been looking forward to eating all day (implying he hasn't eaten all day) - and then turnip soup. I think that will make it play better.

I've missed workshopping as I write! It's so much fun! The last couple scripts, I've been writing in isolation and then shipping the whole thing out; it's a completely different experience. So thank you for reading!
Holly: Peekaboohollywobbles on November 4th, 2010 09:21 pm (UTC)
Glad to help!
Holly: A/R Schnuggowshollywobbles on November 4th, 2010 09:45 pm (UTC)
Y'know, I've been mulling this over, and I wonder if the line about looking forward to eating all day maybe isn't necessary. If you have him come in looking dog-tired and dirty, people will probably assume he's been working all day and is starving-hungry, and if she's only giving him turnip soup, people will assume they don't have much, and that's probably all it needs. I mean, they may assume he had something to eat at lunch, but it's a minor detail.

...Or maybe you could have him say something like, I haven't eaten all day, and do you have any idea how hard I've been working?
I need meat, Mira....
That might be a bit smoother.
Shannonkungfuwaynewho on November 5th, 2010 01:10 pm (UTC)
You're right; it's always a mistake to immediately jump to dialogue to fix something. Just starting that scene a beat earlier, with him coming in the door and sitting down, will get the point across.

:D:D:D
nhpwnhpw on November 4th, 2010 07:09 pm (UTC)
I do like Samuel. You're not gonna kill him, are you? :(

I like their relationship dynamic in general. It's very real - he was angry with her. He stormed out. He had a tantrum off-screen, and then he came back and apologized and then we get to see their playfulness as a couple. Yes. I like this.

I did cast them!

Care to share? I keep picturing Michael Ironside as Bathory. IDK why. And until you tell me differently I'm just going to keep doing that.

I just hope I can keep chugging along at four pages a day.

I know that feeling. I'm trying to get ahead if possible because I know eventually I'm going to fall behind.

Shannonkungfuwaynewho on November 5th, 2010 01:16 pm (UTC)
Care to share?

Well, I feel like I should point out that casting for me isn't about who I'd actually want to see in the movie - because sometimes it's actually impossible. It's just about me being able to see/hear the actor/character in my head. So, for instance, when I was coming up with Ilka, I was like, who's a very pale blonde with patrician good looks and an optional Eastern European accent? And the little man behind the self-help desk in my brain was like, oh! You mean Meryl Streep circa Sophie's Choice! So that's who Ilka is.

Mira is Mira, this we know; for Samuel, Michael Trucco (who played a character named Sam on Battlestar, which was enough for my brain to make the connection, but he's handsome enough and the right physicality in my head); I've got Sam Neill for Bathory, Brad Dourif for Karoly, Brendan Gleeson for Miklos, Michael Pitt for Janos, and Miracle Laurie for Gizella. There's one other major character you haven't met yet, so I'm holding on to that one.
Holly: A/R Ringsidehollywobbles on November 4th, 2010 02:31 pm (UTC)
Dammit, you've got me all caught up. I hope she BITES him.

Is your keyboard ok????
Shannon: bsg adama profilekungfuwaynewho on November 4th, 2010 03:17 pm (UTC)
You hope who bites whom?! These are the things I need to know.

Yeah, the wax missed most of the keys. I pried the other ones off and scraped them clean - pretty much no wax got underneath the keys, so that was good. I had about thirty seconds of "I have ruined the world!" though, which was fun. (At least it was a regular keyboard and not my laptop; that would have been ultra terrifying.)
Holly: Bill gettin crunkhollywobbles on November 4th, 2010 03:21 pm (UTC)
Oh, ha, yes. I desperately hope Mira bites Bathory. Hard. Draws blood.

Dude, my cat barfed on my laptop once.... It was such a good thing it was closed at the time or I'd have seriously thought about killing the cat.
Shannon: bsg dradiskungfuwaynewho on November 4th, 2010 03:25 pm (UTC)
Oh, ha, yes. I desperately hope Mira bites Bathory. Hard. Draws blood.

Squee! Okay. Mira was going to do something to Bathory, but I am suddenly quite taken with this image. Um. Let's see, I need to talk to myself; hang on a minute.

"Only do awesome stuff if it works for story purposes. Don't just throw awesome shit in because it makes you squee. It has to fit. Remember."

I MAY HAVE TO WARP MY STORY, IDK.

When I first bought my laptop, the very first day, the very first hour, I left the room for, I don't know, eight seconds, and came back and a cat was already purring happily while sitting on the keyboard. Cats and laptops, man.
Holly: Admiral Badasshollywobbles on November 4th, 2010 03:33 pm (UTC)
What were you going to have her do to him? Or should I wait and find out? ;)

It's a really good thing cats are cute and soft or they'd totally not be worth it.
Shannonkungfuwaynewho on November 4th, 2010 03:42 pm (UTC)
Holly: Kara Pwndhollywobbles on November 4th, 2010 03:52 pm (UTC)
Awesome.

Edited at 2010-11-04 04:04 pm (UTC)