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12 March 2011 @ 10:09 pm
Vampyr Draft Two - Day One  
Working title for now; obviously the title of one of the most influential and classic vampire movies, but I have to call it something until I can come up with something better.  Suggestions welcome!

Today was a glorious, productive day.  Woke up and it was gorgeous outside, decided to pack a picnic lunch and write at the park.  As so often happens, once I arrived at the park it was twenty degrees colder and super windy, so I ended up eating my lunch huddled over with my jacket all zipped up, then just walked for awhile.  Went up to Starbucks to write, everything was flowing nicely, and they were giving away free pastries!  Came home, wrote some more, cleaned house, KU won the Big 12 tournament, watched last night's Fringe.  Awesome Saturday, just awesome.

FADE IN:

EXT. CARPATHIAN MOUNTAINS - WOODS - DAY

Autumn. Dappled sunlight, fluttering butterflies, chirping birds. Beautiful, idyllic. The terrain here is easy to walk, the slopes gentle.

PETER (16), thin and gangly with patched clothes, doesn’t hear the bird song or notice the charms of the sylvan glade. Carrying a satchel, he hurries through the woods, darting nervous glances over his shoulder.

Scurrying over behind a huge oak, Peter checks a TRAP - a SQUIRREL caught inside, recently dead. Peter removes it, stuffs it in his satchel, checking the woods constantly.

Peter hurries forward again. Scared. He knows the woods well, though. Down a steeper hill, he doesn’t take the time to choose his route carefully. Peter trips and FALLS.

He looks all around, gasping hard, but the woods look peaceful, innocent. He stands, brushes himself off, picks his satchel back up. Prepares to continue.

Far ahead of him stands a FIGURE. So far away the face is not recognizable - just the shape of a man in a black cloak.

If Peter were scared before, now he is petrified. He can’t run up the hill so he heads to his right. Comes to a shallow creek. Peter runs along it, water splashing. He looks behind - nothing - and runs even faster. He drops his satchel.

Peter breaks free of the woods, onto a DIRT ROAD that weaves through the trees. A moment to pause, catch his breath. The sun shines down brightly, warmly.

A noise from within the woods. Perhaps a branch snapping. Peter spins, peers that way, but the undergrowth seems thicker, darker.

A noise from the OTHER side of the road, from inside the forest. Peter spins around again. Nothing. He pulls something out of his jacket - a BUNDLE OF HERBS tied with twine. Peter clutches it, holds it in front of him, as though it will ward off whatever he fears.

Silence. Peter turns, around and around, looking, looking. But there’s nothing.

Something unseen PUSHES Peter and he falls to the ground. He never loses his grip on the herb bundle, holds it aloft. But whatever he sees above him is terrible, and does not stop. Peter SCREAMS, a thin and pathetic sound.

CUT TO:
 
INT. VILLAGE CHURCH - DAY

Peter’s CORPSE on a bier in the apse. Clean, starched clothes a little big for him. His face is totally white.

The VILLAGERS file inside the church. Like Peter, they all bear haunted, paranoid expressions. Their faces are pinched.

OUTSIDE

The villagers climb the steps to the church doors, each passing by a wooden placard. Peter’s BUNDLE OF HERBS has been nailed to it. One young girl, LÉONE (14), touches the herbs with reverent fingers.

INSIDE

The villagers take their seats. Sturdy wooden pews, tall stone walls, stained glass. This is a church fit for a real city. The few dozen villagers huddle together, filling only a few pews. The church seems to swallow them up.

JANOS (O.S.)
Why do you insist on ignoring the Lord?
 
Footsteps coming up the aisle, ringing out in the stillness. The villagers don’t look up - shame on many faces. FATHER JANOS (25) finishes walking to the apse, stands beside Peter’s corpse. A gaunt man with fever-bright eyes, but a rich, melodic voice.

JANOS (CONT’D)
Blessed Saint Briccius was martyred here, right where
this church was built. Stoned to death by your ancestors! And
when the men and women of this village saw what they had
done, they cast aside their pagan superstitions
and finally accepted Christ’s redeeming love.
 
Janos looks down at Peter. Tenderly brushes a lock of hair away from his forehead.

JANOS (CONT’D)
(quiet, almost to himself)
Have you all forgotten? Have I failed you? When this boy
found himself set upon by a wild beast
in the forest, he did not pray to God. He did not
reach for his rosary, but for...for that!
 
Janos points to the front of the church. The villagers turn to look, where the herb bundle has been nailed up.

JANOS (CONT’D)
Magic! The folly of witches, the province of Satan!
 
A man stands. TODOR (45), wealthy, as evidenced by his fine clothes, his neatly trimmed beard, his girth.

TODOR
The boy was killed by no beast of this world! The woods are not safe!
 
Murmurs of agreement.

JANOS
Nonsense! All of the Count’s lands - from the
castle and mountains to the river that surrounds us - are
safe! It is you who invite evil into our midst, foolishly
clinging to dangerous superstition.
 
Silence. Todor sits. The villagers huddle even closer together.

Janos reaches down, retrieves a BASKET. He walks down, hands it to the old woman in the first pew.

JANOS (CONT’D)
You must trust in the Lord to protect you. Cast aside
the charms and trinkets of your ancestors.
 
The old woman stares at the basket. Then reaches into her dress, pulls out a piece of BONE, worn smooth. She drops it in. At a gesture from Janos, she passes the basket.

The basket moves from villager to villager, like a collection plate. Iron rings, bundles of twigs and herbs, knots of hair, chunks of bone, carved pieces of wood - all are surrendered.

The basket comes to Léone. She hesitates, then drops in her charm.

EXT. CHURCH - DAY

The bells ring. In the middle of the dirt road in front of the church, the villagers cluster around the basket. It is ON FIRE.

Léone watches the flames, misgivings on her face. She looks up through the smoke to the snow-tipped MOUNTAIN that looms over them, and the CASTLE that stands upon its heights.

CUT TO:
 
EXT. MIRA’S COTTAGE - EDGE OF WOODS - DAY

Small, with a thatched roof. One little window, the glass thick and bubbled. A few chickens here and there. Little vegetable garden, the plants left dead. An old mule eats hay in front of a tiny barn.

MIRA (25) leaves the house, tying her hair back. The dirt on her face and her threadbare dress don’t hide her beauty, or the imperious tilt to her jaw. She looks over the trees - a smudge of smoke. The church bells still ring.

MIRA
Dominik? Dominik!
 
She places a bag over her shoulder, waiting until DOMINIK (5) runs around from the back of the barn. A bright, though stubborn, boy.

MIRA (CONT’D)
Feed the chickens.

DOMINIK
Mama, I’m playing.

MIRA
And stay away from the well.
 
She turns away from her son, heads toward the WOODS.

EXT. WOODS - DAY

Mira picks her way through the trees. Stops. Pulls an AMULET out from under her bodice. A piece of polished amber, strung on a delicate gold chain. Beautiful, worth a lot of money. Mira kisses the amulet, replaces it. She walks around a tree--

An animal TRAP. Empty. Mira purses her lips.

Deeper in the woods, on a narrow trail. A gust of wind blows red and yellow leaves across her path. Another trap. Sprung, but empty. Mira sets it again.

Still deeper. Mira’s bag is clearly empty. A NOISE up ahead. Perhaps a branch snapping. Instead of fleeing, Mira hurries toward the sound. She pulls a WOODEN CLUB from her waist.

She comes to a trap. A rabbit caught inside - a FOX tries to drag it out. Mira shouts, runs up, and the fox darts away, the rabbit hanging from its mouth. Mira throws the club and hits the fox, but it disappears into the forest.

MIRA
Damn!
 
She stands for a beat, sighs.

EXT. MIRA’S COTTAGE - DAY

Dominik peers over the edge of the well. Drops a rock. His eyes grow wide at the SPLASH.

Dominik chases the chickens, hands hooked into claws.

DOMINIK
I am the Count! You belong to me, chickens!
 
Dominik tugs on the mule’s reins, but the creature doesn’t budge. Dominik pulls harder and harder.

MIRA (O.S.)
Dominik!
 
Dominik is startled, falls. Mira watches him, hands on hips.

MIRA (CONT’D)
Feed the chickens.

DOMINIK
I already did.
 
She just stares at him. Glumly, Dominik goes into the barn. Comes out with a feed sack. Scatters the feed on the ground.

CUT TO:
 
EXT. VILLAGE - ROAD - DAY

Dominik holds a BASKET OF EGGS, sitting on the old mule. Mira leads the mule, walking alongside. The road winds through the woods.

DOMINIK
Tell me the story of the castle.

MIRA
I’ve told you a hundred times.

DOMINIK
Please, Mama.

MIRA
The castle has stood on that mountain for centuries,
since before the Turks invaded. And for as long as
anyone can remember, the family Bathory has ruled these
lands, a Count the lord of the castle. The current Count
Bathory is a cruel man, who takes and takes from us
until we are poor and tired and sick.

DOMINIK
But what will happen one day?

MIRA
(confides)
But one day, the men of this village will rise up
against him. Count Bathory will be thrown out
of his castle, and we will rule ourselves.
 
Dominik nods, satisfied.

EXT. VILLAGE - LATER

Mira leads the mule into the CLEARING at the foot of the mountain, where the village rests. First, they must pass the CEMETERY. Large, filled with graves. A coffin is lowered into a gaping, dark hole as they watch.

Mira hooks her index and pinky fingers up, the fingers between held down by her thumb. She SPITS through the space between. Dominik copies her.

DOMINIK
Why do we do this?

MIRA
To ward off evil.

DOMINIK
Father Janos says that only God can fight the devil.
 
Mira looks up to the village, a miserable cluster of huts. The huge CHURCH dwarfs them all.

MIRA
Father Janos is a fool.
 
EXT. VILLAGE - BUTCHER’S STALL - DAY

Freshly carved MEAT hangs, bloody mud underneath. Mira approaches, takes the basket from Dominik.

MIRA
Todor, I have eggs.
 
Todor HACKS at a piece of meat with a cleaver. Glances up.

TODOR
Put them by the door.

MIRA
(puts eggs down)
I’ll take that mutton shank.

TODOR
Bring me another basket of eggs, Mira, and I’ll give it to you.

MIRA
That’s never been the arrangement.

TODOR
The arrangement hasn’t changed. That basket goes to the castle.

MIRA
I sent a basket to the castle three days ago!
 
Todor sets down his cleaver, comes to Mira’s side.

TODOR
Mira, the whole village is prey to the
Count’s whims. We all must endure.

MIRA
You seem to be eating quite well.

TODOR
Go on and take the mutton. I don’t need any eggs.

MIRA
And I do not need your pity, Todor.

TODOR
Then have my affection. Didn’t I take you
in after your parents died? Didn’t I raise
you as one of my own?
 
In response, Mira retrieves the basket of eggs and gives it to Dominik, who continues to listen, wide-eyed.

TODOR (CONT’D)
Those are to go to the castle!

MIRA
If the Count wants eggs, let him raise his own chickens.
 
She leads the mule back to the woods.
 
 
 
singer_shapersinger_shaper on March 13th, 2011 05:44 pm (UTC)
It looks like there's a lot of new stuff here: Janos's speech, the characters of Todor and Leone, Peter, the story of the castle. Knowing what'll happen to Dominik later, I like the part where he's pretending to be the Count while playing with the chickens.

Titles are the bane of my writing as well. Maybe it'll come to you as you write more?
Shannonkungfuwaynewho on March 14th, 2011 01:28 am (UTC)
I think at this point, the entirety of act one is going to end up being rewritten. Which is actually par for the course for me; that's the part of the screenplay where I'm most winging it, and just throwing stuff out there.

Knowing what'll happen to Dominik later, I like the part where he's pretending to be the Count while playing with the chickens.

Eee, me too! Every now and then I write something and I pat myself on the back for it, and this was one of those.
nhpwnhpw on March 15th, 2011 02:46 am (UTC)
Oooo, I like all the new stuff! And it seems like you've abandoned Samuel altogether? (Or no, and he's just coming later?) I also wonder about the new young female character, Leone. Since you've named her and made a point of giving her stuff to do, can I assume she will have a part to play?
Shannonkungfuwaynewho on March 15th, 2011 03:28 pm (UTC)
No, Samuel's still around - he shows up around the same time he does in the first draft, actually.

Léone is going to fill a few problems I noticed in the first draft. One, I needed some named villagers because otherwise they're just this amorphous mass it's hard to care about. Two, and I can't remember if I ever mentioned this, but I felt like Mira and/or Ilka needed "a win" around the midpoint - I was watching Air Force One, and there's this sequence where they're able to get most of the hostages off the plane, and it's a solid beat. I think movies like this, if you don't want them to be too terrible, need something like that amidst all the tension and things going wrong. So hopefully I'm going to use her for that.

(But then I was trying to decide if she ends up being the girl that Bathory kills that Dominik sees - like they save her, but to no avail. I think that would give the right emotional beat but then still have her up the stakes as we near Act Three - I don't know, I'm still pondering it. I think if she's a named character we've gotten invested in, it would make that scene with Dominik that much more difficult and meaty.)