I’ve just—and when I mean just, I mean four-nights-ago I ‘just’ forgot to write this post—finished writing the first act of the screenplay. I will post a link to it at the bottom for anyone who wants to read it, please bare in mind I literally haven’t read it back through for spelling mistakes—it’s rough as guts.
I did however want to talk about some key ideas of the first act. First of all, please don’t laugh at the character names—they will change.
FROM THE BLACK WE HEAR-- MARCEL (V.O.) Do you know what the plastic thing on the end of shoe laces are? LEANDREW (V.O.) What? MARCEL (V.O.) You know. The plastic nib thing on the end of (shoe laces) LEANDREW (V.O.) (over) Yeah what about it? FADE IN: INT. ELEVATOR - DAY MARCEL MERCURY is a 29 year old man who's been fighting his way through life, at any stage where there is a hurdle he hits it. His thick black beard has not been trimmed in months, Red Bull in hand, disheveled and crinkled working overalls with a hoodie on top.
We start the story with voices over the black and then into the action. I like when movies start off like this, so this is how I start it. The opening scene is a fairly innocuous conversation between our male-lead and his friend. It sets the mood and introduces the main character as someone who likes to think about these random parts of life and goes down rabbit holes seemingly with each breath he takes.
The first act follows two stories simultaneously and cut between them; one is this story of the male, and the second is following the female-lead named Bryn.
SANDY Good morning boys, I've just had my coffee and-- CUT TO: INT. BEDROOM - 9AM We are looking at an alarm clock on the bedside table of a particularly clean teenage girl's room. As the alarm rings Bryn is already awake and sitting on her bed ready to disarm the clock. BRYN BRIDGETTE a high school senior, straight A student, well dressed prim and proper. Red hair and colourful perky personality. BRYN (waking up) --I'm ready for a new day. Bryn is already dressed for the day, the bed is made, room is spotless. She picks up a book sitting on her bed, we can clearly read the title "An Introduction to Shoe Making". As we follow her out her room and downstairs into--
The entire act happens in real-time as we cut back-and-forth between the two stories. SPOILERS: What we will learn in later acts is that these two stories while they are real-time they both don’t happen simultaneously in the story world. Bryn’s arch happens in the ‘present’ time, while Marcel’s arch is happening in a different time—it is actually the finale of Bryn’s arch.
There is a thread (pun-intended) that runs through the first act it’s a shoelace—to be more specific it is the tip of the shoelace, the aglet. The first scene is an extended conversation about aglets, Bryn’s talks about aglets and finally in the finale of the act this happens.
ADRIAN Can you help? MARCEL Yes. MARCEL runs towards the controllers, as he does he trips on his broken shoelace and falls and hits his head on the table and falls unconscious. MARCEL (CONT'D) (to self) Oh fuck. No. No. This is my chan-- ADRIAN WTF. TECHNITION (radio) The Calvary is here. INT. COFFEE TABLE - THE NEXT DAY A newspaper is dropped onto the table, the headline reads "Superman Boils Water". MARCEL (O.S.) Fuck. CUT TO BLACK:
Some of that might not make sense out of context, but the final scene loops us back right to the beginning scene and the shoelace is the thing that ties it all together (pun-totally-intended).
In the middle of the act, Marcel has a crisis of confidence about his job, and the shoelace once again is the catalyst for these feelings. This idea actually comes from a real life story of a podcaster I listen to, Myke Hurley. He tells a story when he left his ‘corporate’ job to pursue his podcasting career came down to a moment when he broke his shoelace, and didn’t want to buy a new shoelace because it would reaffirm his staying at this job. Ultimately, this was the tipping point he needed to give his notice, the story is a pretty romanic idea and nice little nugget. After writing the first scene with the aglet, I was reminded of this story of Myke’s I heard years earlier and ended up adapting it into the story of Marcel.
MARCEL --it's these fucking aglets man. LEANDREW Not this again. MARCEL I mean, if I am going to have to get a new pair of (laces) LEANDREW (over) I thought you were going to repair them. MARCEL If I'm going to get a new pair of laces, I might as well buy a new pair of boots-- LEANDREW Or repair them. MARCEL Or repair them. But the point is (I'm) LEANDREW (over) There's a point to all of this. MARCEL Let me speak. LEANDREW Speak. MARCEL If I get a new pair of boots, them I'm saying to myself--I am committing to myself--that this is where I'm going to be. LEANDREW What are you talking about? MARCEL I'm saying, I'm not about to buy new boots for this fucking job.
I will need to expand on a few sections, for what should be 30-minutes of screen time I scraping in with about 30-pages of screenplay. The rule of thumb is one minute for every one page of writing. However, the majority of it is dialogue which takes up more space on page, but less time on screen. I already have notes to expand some scenes and re-write some dialogue—like I said I have not even checked for spelling mistakes yet—I wanted to finish writing it all before going back and changing things.
So that is act one, I am already writing out act two which is a little bit trickier to write. In act two I have philosophical debates about the roles of superheroes in this fictional world and once again is very dialogue heavy and need to put in some more research before I nut it out. For those interested you can download the (roughest of all rough) draft for act one here.