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.
So you decided you didn’t
want to freeze to death tonight?
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.
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.
And to think, when I first saw you, all I could
think about was how dirty your face was.
If you had given Todor the extra basket of
eggs, you would not have been my Mira.
And I would have that for nothing.
INT. CASTLE - CHAPEL - NIGHT
Ilka paces. Father Janos sits in the first pew, patiently watching her.
You told me it would work. You promised
me he would give me what I want.
I can only provide a path, Ilka. I cannot
force the Count to do anything. Perhaps it is
simply not in God’s plan.
But I prayed. I sacrificed.
And God will reward you for your
faith. It may not be in the way you expect.
He told me I was no longer his wife. I
don’t know what to do.
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.
Take Communion. Pray.
Janos sits beside her, bearing an exquisite crystal goblet filled with a dark blood-red liquid.
He said, ‘Drink this blood, in remembrance
EXT. MIRA’S COTTAGE - BARN - DAWN
Mira tightens the straps holding fat SADDLEBAGS to the mule. Samuel helps.
It’s too late in the year.
There’s no cobbler in Arka. People will need
You will get trapped in the mountain pass.
I hope to get some tools. I would like a
I will have to tell Dominik his father died in
an avalanche, or was eaten by wolves.
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.
If I do not already have a new little
brother for the boy in my belly by the time
you get back.
And who else would have you?
EXT. MIRA’S COTTAGE - DAY
Dominik plays Chase the Chickens.
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.
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.
I was in the middle of the most perfect
little flower. I hate leaving my
embroidery so suddenly.
How can you worry about silly flowers?
The Count wishes to see us! That
has not happened since I was a girl.
Why has the Count assembled us?
Look, Kata. It’s the cobbler’s wife. I was
wondering why my nose was filled
with the reek of pig shit.
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.
Who is she?
I don’t know her name. Herczeg Miklos’s
daughter, though she married a cobbler.
I’ll expect her tonight.
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.