Haunted theatre script for screenplay


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  1. #1

    Smile Haunted theatre script for screenplay

    This is my first attempt at a screenplay, so please be kind with critique. Many thanks.


    Greasepaint and sunshine
    By
    Louise Topp











    [email protected]



    Draft #__1__ rev. 5th may 2010
    Registered 5th may 2010


    1 FADE IN - EXT [THEATRE ON SEASIDE PIER] - NIGHT

    Windy night upon the seafront, it is foggy. Distant laughter comes from pier theatre, car pulls up into car park, its headlights reflect across chain link fence before going out. It has been raining and the stones are still wet, and shine under the lights of the seafront. Lights from fishing boats can be seen upon the horizon of the sea which is crashing up onto the beach. Behind are cliffs silhouetted against the orange glow of the town. The car door opens and a man climbs out holding a bunch of keys in one hand, and a torch in the other. He is met at the gate of the pier by two policemen, their luminous jackets reflect in the light as they move. They both approach the man who is closing the car door.

    FIRST OFFICER
    Mr Phillips?

    MR PHILLIPS
    Yes?

    FIRST OFFICER
    We’ve had complaints about late night music, seems like you have burglars

    HE STEPES FORWARD

    MR PHILLIPS
    I know I can hear (tries not to sound too sour).

    Mr Phillips stares along the boardwalk towards the theatre

    MR PHILLIPS
    We've had break-in’s in the past officer, but I assure you these are no burglars

    A brisk wind whistles round them as they open the gate and continue to walk past the ticket office towards the theatre. They go up three wooden steppes, stopping at the doors to the theatre.

    SCENE CHANGE

    2 INTERIOR [INSIDE FOYER OF PIER THEATRE] - NIGHT

    Mr Phillips switches on a torch as the three men enter the foyer. The beam plays long the brass rails of the staircase and off glass bottles behind the bar, also reflecting dust swirling in the light. The three men walk carefully past the lift towards the auditorium. Sounds of hilarity and laughter can be heard as through parties were in full swing, followed by clinks of glasses and scratchy gramophone music.

    SECOND OFFICER
    Should we call for backup?

    MR PHILLIPS
    No, that won't be necessary

    A glow of light shines underneath the door of the auditorium. Shadows flit backwards and forwards behind the frosted window panes. The sound of a man clearing his throat greets them as they approach the door, the noise repeats itself and all the men hear it.

    SECOND OFFICER
    There's definitely someone in there

    MR PHILLIPS
    Well lets go and say hello then (Mr Phillips shoves open the door)

    The music abruptly stop’s and everything goes silent into darkness. Everything is deserted; a long isle of beige carpet runs down all the way to a red curtained stage. Upon the stage stands a single bare light bulb attached to a pole, its radiance casts lurid shadows around the area adding to the creepiness. Mr Phillips notices the curious way the policemen stare towards it.

    MR PHILLIPS
    It's a ghost light.

    FIRST OFFICER
    A ghost light?

    MR PHILLIPS
    In Shakespear’s time the actors would light a candle to ward off ghosts. This one hasn't worked.

    Reaching behind a pair of red curtains either side of the door, Mr Phillips flicks a switch bathing the auditorium in a yellowy light.

    MR PHILLIPS
    The pier and the theatre are over 100 years old. (Mr Phillips shoves the torch into his pocket) What you just heard we think was a party that took place prior to a disaster in 1933.

    FIRST OFFICER
    What disaster?

    The officers glance nervously towards the stage at the pole.

    MR PHILLIPS
    There was a fire here during a matinee performance. Caused by a lamp; the staff of the day tried to cut it off by pulling the curtain down, but it too caught fire only adding to the tragedy. In those days there were no extinguishers, sprinklers, alarms, or water connections. The only fire fighting equipment available were six canisters of a dry chemical called "Kilfyre", which was normally used to douse residential chimney fires. If you care to check the records at the library, you will find the whole sordid details listed. They say thirty people died in the flames.

    FIRST OFFICER
    Terrible loss of life, but we'll check the details just to confirm it


    MR PHILLIPS
    The past is better left off alone (reaches for light switch)

    The three men retreat back into the foyer leaving the theatre in darkness. The only illumination comes from the ghost lamp on the stage.

    FADE OUT.

    2 FADE IN - EXT [PIER THEATRE BACKDOOR] - DAYTIME

    Janet Ray is five minutes late when she arrives at the theatre stage door. She is let in by Stan Parker and usherette just leaving for the day; they smile briefly at each other as they pass. She hangs up her coat in the cloakroom; she can hear the clock chiming seven despite the wind blowing. She puts on a blue overall and goes to a cupboard, where she picks up a duster and a can of polish before heading towards the auditorium. She stops before the main double doors to stare up at an old painting of a man, called John Coles hanging in the foyer. Janet adjusts her apron nervously before opening the door. The empty stage looks like an open mouth, above it is a painting of a garden with palm trees.

    Starting to dust the wooden armrests of the red velvet chairs, she fails to notice a woman walk quickly across the stage in a black high necked dress with her head down in mourning. Janet looks up hearing footsteps but see's nothing except the empty stage. Resuming her cleaning, she has a strong feeling she is being watched. Looking up she is shocked to find a man in a dark suit and top hat standing motionless on the stage watching her cleaning.

    JANET
    We're closed to visitors

    The man continues to stand there watching her.

    JANET
    I said we're closed!

    The figure of the man begins to collapse in on itself followed by a whooshing sound until he isn't there anymore. Janet stares dumfounded at the empty space where he has just been. Janet drops the duster, and runs towards the double doors of the auditorium. She passes the lift and see’s a man in 1930’s clothes dashing into a lift, just as the doors close behind him. Janet flies out the doors and along the boardwalk never looking back.

    FADE OUT.

    3. FADE IN - INT [PIER OFFICE] – DAYTIME

    Two men are sitting in the pier office on their break. One of them is smoking, while the other man is sitting cross legged. Outside the wind whistles eerily in through the eves.

    MR PHILLIPS
    Did you know they had to use the theatre as a morgue?

    MR DAWSON
    A morgue, what the hell for?

    MR PHILLIPS
    When the influenza epidemic struck camp Wentworth in 1918, the theatre was used to store the bodies. Autopsies were performed on the soldier’s bodies; embalmers had to work under the stage lights in grim conditions. Whilst others stood in the rain clutching blankets and dying. They called it the blue death because on opening the bodies, the lungs had turned blue.

    MR DAWSON
    God how awful!

    MR PHILLIPS
    Yes, apparently a dead body was once spotted on stage during a performance. We had to lie and say it was part of the act. (LAUGHS NERVOUSLY)

    MR DAWSON
    You’ve lost another cleaner then? (LIGHTS A PIPE)

    MR PHILLIPS
    Janet? Yes, refuses to come back, even for her wages. I can’t keep losing staff, not the way things are at the moment.

    MR DAWSON
    So you still might have to sell this place to old Harrison after all then?

    MR PHILLIPS
    Not a thought I like to think about, you know he’s been after this place for years. Wants to turn my theatre into a casino!

    MR DAWSON
    Damn fool, it’s not meant to be a gambling Den!

    MR PHILLIPS
    This place has seen a lot of history. Did you know when my great grandfather John Coles built the pier in 1898 ; it was the place to be? The theatre has seen many plays and shows; we once had Mary Cunnings the famous 20’s singer here. Now all we have are the ghosts… PAUSE

    Both men jump as the door of the office suddenly bangs.

    MR PHILLIPS
    Who is it?

    A woman puts her head round the door.

    MR PHILLIPS
    Gemma, how can I help you?


    GEMMA
    There’s two men wanting you to sign for a delivery at the backdoor.

    Mr Phillips gets up stubbing out his cigarette into a metal bowl.

    MR PHILLIPS
    End of break I suppose, duty calls.

    Mr Phillips leaves the office going along a narrow passage towards the back door where hinds Gemma waiting.

    GEMMA
    They’ve gone (SHE IS HOLDING A BROWN PAPERED OBJECT)

    MR PHILLIPS
    Did they say who they were from?

    GEMMA
    Dunno, never seen them before. There not on the pier as I’ve looked

    MR PHILLIPS
    How very bizarre. Never mind give it here.

    Gemma hands over the parcel, and goes off into Dukes bar leaving Mr Phillips alone with the parcel. Examining the object he sees’s for the first time that rough string is tied round the paper. He shakes it gingerly and He pulls at the string and the wrapping slides off, a piece of paper and some leaflets scatter to the floor. He picks them up and he goes very pale.

    SCENE CHANGE

    DUKES BAR, MUSIC IS PLAYING SOFTLY IN THE BACKGROUND

    Mr Phillips finds Gemma behind the bar wiping up glasses, and putting them on a shelf.


    MR PHILLIPS
    Gemma, can I have a word?

    GEMMA
    Certainly sir

    MR PHILLIPS
    This delivery, could you describe who delivered it?

    GEMMA
    I don’t understand, have I done something wrong?

    MR PHILLIPS
    You haven’t done anything wrong; I just need to know what the two men you saw looked like?

    GEMMA
    They was wearing peaked caps, shirts and waistcoats. I did think it a bit odd, but I’m not one for commenting sir. Why do you ask?

    MR PHILLIPS
    It doesn’t matter.

    Mr Philips turns towards the door and stops

    MR PHILLIPS
    If they return, can you let me know?

    GEMMA
    OK?

    Mr Phillips returns to his office placing the leaflets on his table. The leaflets are from a performance of June 1933, when the pier disaster occurred many years ago; and a handwritten letter.

    FADE.

    2010, Louise Topp








































    2010, Louise Topp

  2. #2
    OK
    No scene numbers. Start with FADE IN: on a separate line, then your first scene slug. EXT. - PIER THEATER- NIGHT
    So, no need to repeat that it's night. Slug - FOYER - that's all you need.

    We’ve had complaints about late night music, seems like you have burglars TWO complaints?

    Introduce characters on first appearance, CAP their names first time, describe.

    GEMMA--mid-thirties, pretty--enters shyly. Etc.

    Don't cap parentheticals. Don't use parentheticals instead of action lines.

    Last graph--you shouldn't write anything the audience can't see or hear. There is no way they know these papers are from the year the pier burned, or whatever. You have to figure out a way to tell or show them.
    See my books Hidden Content (and in heaven).

  3. #3
    Thank you for your input. What are parentheticals if you didn't mind me asking?

  4. #4
    Alll of them.

    Should be
    GEMMA
    (Sarcastically)
    Sure you do.


    (SHE IS HOLDING A BROWN PAPERED OBJECT)

    Should be

    She points a gun at them.
    See my books Hidden Content (and in heaven).

  5. #5
    I'm not the one to ask about the format, I write plays and usually use my own format to conserve paper.

    However, I spotted a few minor nits.

    MR PHILLIPS
    I know I can hear (tries not to sound too sour).
    Should be "I know; I can hear (tries not to sound too sour)."

    The semicolon could be a comma or a period.

    and

    GEMMA
    Dunno, never seen them before. There not on the pier as I’ve looked
    Should be "...They're not on the pier..."

    And you need a period at the end of that sentence.

    Content wise, I like the start. It's moody and creepy. It may be coming at us a bit too fast, but finish writing it out; if you can sustain the interest and suspense the pace won't be an issue.

    The writing shows good research and a knowledge of the subject. I've been in supposedly (and for my money you can forget the "supposedly") haunted theaters and you've caught the mood.

    If you haven't already got one, you should download a script writing program such as "Celtx", which is free and not too bad, it makes the formatting easy automatic.

    Keep on working on it.
    "PS: don't take technical advice about cold fusion from someone who can't spell fuzhun."

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