Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

The Desert (Screenplay first act) Part 1 of 2 (1 Viewer)

Sock

Senior Member
This is the first act to a screenplay I posted about under the title "Psychedelic Western Opening" a while back here: http://http://writingforums.com/showthread.php?t=72144

This idea has evolved a lot, and I have decided to pursue the script (if only for practice). Just a word of warning. There is some language, and violence. Deffinetly an R Rating. So, here it is. The (almost complete) first act of "The Desert": A psychadelic western. Mind you that the below was copied from Final Draft . The format is a bit off.
(if you would like to read the PDF, it can be dowloaded here:
http://rapidshare.com/files/30449216/The_Desert.pdf
I certainly suggest doing so!)
___________________________________________________


EXT. DESERT- HIGH NOON
A sand dune buckles up in the foreground, behind it a blinding blue sky stretches off into infinity.

We follow along the top of a sand dune, as the dead body of a horse fills the frame.

A mechanical noise is heard in the distance. It is rapidly growing in intensity. A train RIPS through the frame at phenomenal speeds, its tracks hidden behind the horses body. It travels as if bounded by nothing. Something else is hidden behind the horse as well, a figure SHOOTS up, from behind the horse, in front of the train and cranks his head to watch the clanking pile of metal behind him. This is FELIX, 30. He is dressed in an earthy duster, worn away by wind and sand. His wide brim hat nearly flies off his head, but he snatches it quickly and holds it in place.

He sprints after the train. As it begins to slip away from him, he desperately grabs at the caboose. He grips metal for an instant, before he looses strength and collapses on the tracks.

FELIX (V.O.)

The desert isn’t a lonely place at all. Its not baron, or empty. It’s not a blank canvas or a sheet of glass. Its crowded. It’s full of opportunities to miss, memories to repress and people to forget. You are never alone.

Blood seeps through Felix’s pants as the train shrinks off into the distance.

FELIX (V.O.) (CONT'D)
The desert is the hell you create for yourself. The heat is provided, but the rest of the torture is up to you. Up to the inescapable prison of your mind and thoughts.

CLOSE UP-- Felix’s face

He breaths heavily into the ground as blood trickles down onto his forehead.

CUT TO:

EXT. DESERT- CONT’D

Felix staggers aimlessly through the desert.

FELIX (V.O.)

Things... objects and places and memories and people... They slip away like sand Through a loose fist; the debris left floating in your boiling skull. And they are replaces with altered versions of themselves. Skewed and distorted by the unimaginable heat.
Felix stops and looks up to the sky, screaming. He collapses on the ground, punching the sand and throwing it in the air.

FELIX (V.O.) (CONT'D)

To sleep. To dream. To dream of what? Life. Life ends in the desert. And life is replaced by one thing and one thing only.
Felix sits up rubs his face and cries.

FELIX (V.O.) (CONT'D)

Life ends here. You don’t decide if you stay or go. That’s not up to you. You can fight it...
He stands, and staggers down a sand dune before losing balance. He tumbles down the rest of the dune, landing face down in the sand.

FELIX (CONT'D)

Or you can give up... Life ends in the desert.

INT. OFFICE- MOURNING

CLOSE UP-- HANDS HOLDING A CROSS

There is faint crying and muted prayers heard as we watch a pair of thin, pale fingers clutch a golden crucifix.

We see the ghostly man behind the crucifix. JEB FRASER,60s. The only thing whiter than his face is his twisting silver hair that hangs around his head like a crown.

His pale green eyes are surrounded by the moisture of tears and sweat.
Cut TO:
INT. PARLOR- SAME

Felix examines a porcelain doll that sits on a dusty shelf.
A SERVANT enters the room and watches Felix quietly.

Felix’s notices him.

FELIX
What?


SERVANT

I’m sorry sir?


FELIX
What are you looking for?


SERVANT

I’m sorry sir...


FELIX

Sorry for what god damn it?


SERVANT

I’m merely standing here. I...


FELIX

What’s your name friend?


SERVANT

Jackson.


FELIX

Jackson eh? Felix.


JACKSON

How do you do sir?


FELIX

Very well thank you Jack... Say you wouldn’t happen to have a spot of
whiskey in this place would ya?

JACKSON

I’m sorry but the Mister does not drink alcohol sir. He is quite against it.

FELIX

And how about yourself?


JACKSON

Me sir?


FELIX

Yeah, you don’t ever knock a few back while your on the job?


JACKSON

No sir, I wouldn’t dream of it...

Before he can finish his sentence, Felix reaches into Jackson’s over coat swiftly and grabs a flask.

FELIX
Ha. A drunk and a liar, eh Jack?

JACKSON

(whispering, anxious)
No! Please sir, I beg you. I am very sorry if my alcohol use has offended you in anyway its just that its very stressful with Mister Fraser in mourning. And not only that but they’ve sealed up his mines. There’s nothing left to mine...


FELIX

Nah nah... No need to worry about that. Just feel a little sad that you’re holding out on me after all we’ve been through.


JACKSON

My apologies Mr. Felix.


FELIX

I’ll tell you what Jack, you let me polish of this Bug Juice and run on up to the man upstairs, tell him I’m tired of waitin’ and we’ll call it even.


JACKSON

Of course sir. I will do just that...
Jackson turns to leave the room.


FELIX

Hold it Jackeroo.

Jackson stops for a moment and looks back at Felix. Felix hands him the flask.

FELIX (CONT'D)

Knock a little back... y’know, for the stress and all.

Jackson does so. Then he hands the flask back to Felix, straightens his jacket and leaves the room.
CUT TO:
INT. OFFICE- CONT’D

Jackson moves through the door tactfully.

JACKSON

Sir?


JEB

I told you to stay the hell out of here!


JACKSON

I’m very sorry sir but, your guest is getting very impatient. He has threatened to withdraw from business with you if I do not grant him access to your office.


JEB

Jesus... okay, alright. Send him in!
Jackson leaves. Jeb grabs a hanky from the desk and wipes his eyes.

From his desk he pulls a bottle of rye and stares at it begrudgingly. He uncorks in and takes a hardy gulp.
Felix enters, strutting casually.

JEB (CONT'D)
Sorry for the wait. I hope it didn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth.


FELIX

Nothing a few dollars couldn’t fix.


JEB

Straight to business then, eh?


FELIX

You don’t look like your up for small talk.


JEB

Is it so obvious?


FELIX

Yes. Frankly.


JEB

If you could have seen what they did to my wife...
(distraught)
There was six of them. They came into the bank I own in town. I was working that day, in my office in the back. My wife... My wife, worked up front handling money and what not... They came in, the six of them... bean eaters. They shot Wilfred, he was one of our tellers. Then they shot Bill, right...right in the face.

There was blood everywhere. All over the walls... all over everything. And then he pointed the gun at Claudia... My beloved wife. That’s when I tried to wrestle the gun from his hands. One of the other bastards cracked me in the back of the head, and they wrestled me up against the wall. And... and they had their way with my wife... Right there in front of me. Those fucking Mexican cowards!

They raped her. They raped her and they ran off with her. And I don’t know what they’ve done with them but I want them dead. All of them. I want them to suffer like they made me suffer. Like they made my wife suffer. They are probably headed for Welsher Valley... They’ve been hitting bank after bank for at least a month and Welsher would be the next logical location...

I’ll give you $500 a piece. You kill all of them, you get $3000 dollars. You bring me my wife back... you get $1000 more.


FELIX


I came in here, I played nice. I was sweet as a freshly fucking baked pie to that colored fellow you got down there, nice boy I must say... So why are you getting cheap on me?


JEB

I’m gunna make you rich you ungrateful sack of horse shit!


FELIX

Now I know I have been nice. And I know I’ve minded my god damn manners and I know you are in a heap of a lot of stress right now, grief and all, I know this. But 500 dollars a head ain't nothing friend. I know you aren’t savvy to the hired gun referendum but, for a job of such proportions I would say 700 a head at the very least.


JEB

I will give you 700... but I want their hearts.


FELIX

What?


JEB

I. Want. Their. Hearts.


FELIX

Literally, or figuratively sir?


JEB

Literally! I want you to carve it out of their god damn chests! I want to know that they are dead... God knows they ripped mine out as well...


FELIX

Well Jesus... I suppose for... lets see now $5200 I could... do that. But friend, I gotta say...


JEB

No. You don’t have to say. You’re going to tell me I’m over reacting or tell me that there something lose in my head? Well to hell with you. I don’t give a damn. I could be the craziest son of a bitch on the entire god damn face of the planet and it wouldn’t matter now. Do you understand? I want their hearts...
(beat)
You can go talk to Charlie down at the Red Fat’s Saloon. I hear he knows where these animals are headed... Try and ring him for all he’s got but I want you on their trail by sundown... This is the father of my boys god damn it. You fail me and you will face a wrath much stronger than anything you can possibly fathom! I will make it my life’s work to find not only the men behind my wife’s attack, but you as well. I have endless funds to make you all suffer.

FELIX
(unimpressed)
What was the name of that saloon? Red Hat?

JEB

...Red Fat’s. But do you hear what I’m saying boy? This means more to me than anything ever has or ever will.
Felix gets up and begins to leave.


JEB (CONT'D)

Are you listening to me you son of a...

FELIX

You’ve given me a price, a name and one hour. We’re done here.


Felix exits the house, a confident, unstoppable march carrying his
body along as he tightens a gun belt around his waist.

SMASH CUT TO:
INT.STREET-CONT’D

Felix buckles the belt and throws his mud caked duster over his guns.
He removes (from his boot) a large buck knife. He checks its blade quickly, and then stuffs it in the waist of his trousers.
He continues on, into the town, where people are packing buggies and leading horses back home for the night. As the streets empty out, The Red Fat’s Saloon begins to fill. The after dinner crowd is a grimy bunch of angry looking, half dead, middle aged men, looking to drunk. And fast.

It seems that as Felix arrives at the front porch of the hellish building, the crowd is also arriving, in an unstoppable wave. Felix is caught in the current of floating bodies and pushed inside...

CUT TO:

INT. RED FAT’S SALLOON- CONT’D

The interior of the bar is decorated by the heads of exotic animals and native head dresses.

Felix is intrigued by a large, feathery headdress that looks as though it belonged to an Indian chief. A man walks past him.


MAN

Red grabbed these all of different in’jians. Not bad huh?

The man continues walking. Felix lifts the headdress off of its nail and stuffs it in his leather sack. A FAT MAN walks buy and notices this act of theft.


FAT MAN

HEY!

Felix chops the man in the throat, collapsing his wind pipe and silencing him. As the man begins to buckle over, Felix wrestles him into a corner seat, laying him down in a chair just in time for the man to pass out from lack of oxygen. No one seems to notice. The Bar continues to breath and seethe with the life of the grubby bottom feeders that flood through the door at every moment.

A scrawny elderly man with no teeth begins to bang out a fast paced tune on the piano.

Men argue over who's whiskey is who's and who paid for what.
Tries to bring himself as close to the bar as possible, but the pulsing crowds of a piggish men deny him passageway.


FELIX

(yelling)
Hey! Barkeep! I need to speak to Charlie. Hey! BARKEEP! Can you hear me. I need to speak to Charlie!

The bartender has devoted all of his attention and energy into dishing out whiskey as fast as possible. Felix’s words either don’t reach the bartenders ears, or are dismissed.

FELIX

You motherfucker! Listen to me!

Felix tries to push his way to the bartenders ear shot once again. He fails once again and, after shoving a large sweaty mess of a man out his way, he exits the bar. He huffs a few yards back, away from the bar. The sun is beginning to set.

FELIX (CONT'D)
(to himself)
Jesus Christ... Where the hell do all these people come from?

Felix lights a cigar and removes his revolver stepping fiercely towards the saloon entrance. He walks a few feet and then stops. He lowers his gun. He rethinks this, pushing the gun back into the holster and dragging on his cigar. He looks around his surrounding. He strolls along to the side of the salloon.

He walks through the narrow alley way, to the rear of the building.
He notices two doors. He looks around once again, peaking back down the alley. He removes his gun and walks to the doors. He puts his ear to the one on his right.

Muffled piano, laughing, yelling, fighting etc is heard. Felix backs away. He walks to the other door. When he places his ear on this one, there is silence. He steps back once again, brining his sights into alignment.
With his boot, he pulls the door open. Felix finds himself staring down a descending staircase. The stares are an abyss, fading off into darkness. Felix is very intrigued. There is silence. He stares deeper into the blackness. A SCREAM rips through the staircase, jolting Felix.


FELIX (CONT'D)

JESUS!

Felix stumbles back, dropping his gun, tripping on his own feet. He fumbles along the sand, snatching his pistol up swiftly. He struggles to his feet and aims straight down into the inky blackness.
Another moan floats up the stairwell.

Felix pulls back the hammer and begins his descent into the shadows.

CUT TO:

INT. CELLAR- CONT’D

Felix moves tactfully along the cobwebbed confines of the dilapidated cellar. Mutters are heard faintly. A few grunts and hollers follow.
Felix moves slowly down the hallway. A missing brick casts a small strand of light across the hall. Felix looks cautiously into the room from which the light beams.

A tall, malnourished looking man in his mid thirties lugs a hefty slab of meat across Felix’s limited view point. He screams again. Felix continues along, stopping at a door. The door is barely hanging on one hinge.

He braces himself. He brings his hand onto the rusted brass know. In one swift motion, he send the door flying open and propels himself into the room.

The man lets out a yelp and collapses on the ground, tugging his head in between his legs. A slab of meat collides with the filthy concrete ground. We no see that he is naked aside from a pair of thinning long johns. This depressing sight is CHARLIE.
CHARLIE
Jesus Christ! It’s you! Please. Please spare me. Please god.
FELIX
Look at me! Look at me god damn it. Who the hell are you?
CHARLIE
Charlie. Charlie McCoy! Jesus Christ please don’t kill me. Let me live to see the sunrise! Thats one thing that they haven't thrown a steam engine in you know? These fucking... whacky... I just want to see the sun rise before you open up my head.
FELIX
You’re Charlie?
CHARLIE
Please don’t open my head.
Felix marches across the room, pressing the barrel of his revolver to Charlie’s skull.
FELIX
Answer me god damn it!
CHARLIE
No god! You're one of them. With your gadgets and your contraptions... you've come to kill me... jesus no...
FELIX
Are you Charlie?

CHARLIE
Yes. Please don’t kill me.

FELIX
Well I can’t promise anything at this point Charlie. But I can tell you that your chances get a lot better when you start telling about the Mexican fellows who came by here on Tuesday, they snatched a fair amount of money from the Jeb.

CHARLIE

What! Why?


FELIX

Because I’m going to kill them.


Charlie screams, and cries a little.

FELIX (CONT'D)
Tell me where they are headed.

CHARLIE
You don’t know what they can do... they can change you. They have ways of making the whole world around you change in these amazing ways. I’m not me. You’re not you. We’re not one but we are the same! I just don’t know if I could let you kill anyone who has such a potion.


FELIX

Potion? I’m not playing around here Charlie. I will kill you if you don’t tell me where they are.


CHARLIE

Not a potion. But...A rock. Or a disk. A pellets they called them. You
can touch and hold... and swallow. It bends everything around you into a ball of...

Felix smacks Charlie across the face and grabs him by the neck. He slams his into the wall with all his strength.


CHARLIE (CONT'D)

Agh! Wakefield! They are going to Wakefield with their horses... and their hats...

Charlie begins to drift into a daze.

CHARLIE (CONT'D)
Through the desert... Sunshine.

Felix playfully smacks Charlie’s cheek. He takes one last look around the room. He realizes then, how bizarre this subterranean meat locker really is. Just in time to leave.

SMASH CUT TO:
EXT. STREET-SUNDOWN

The sun has set. Felix moves to the front of the saloon and onto the main drag of the city. He leaps on a horse and rips away into the West.

Felix moves through the desert confidently. A small grin painted on his face.

FADE TO:
EXT. DESERT- DAWN

Felix sleeps on his back, arm shielding his eyes. His horse is tied to a small, dried out stump. Felix’s modest camp site is located at the foot of a small escarpment.

A some one moves, some where off screen. Weight is shifted sand is heard crumbling.

A hat emerges from behind the escarpment, followed by a dark Mexican face, weathered by age. He grimaces for a moment. And then returns to where he came from.

On top of the escarpment, roughly twenty feet away five other Mexicans watch anxiously.

The man returns to the others. They speak in Spanish.


BANDIT #1

There’s only one little Americano down there. I think he’s a sheriff or something.


BANDIT #2

A sheriff? Following us?! Why didn’t you shoot him?


BANDIT #1

I didn’t have a clear shot.


BANDIT #2

(laughing)
We’ll see about that.

Bandit #2 walks to the edge of the escarpment

BANDIT #2 POV-- Felix stands, gun in hand aiming up at us
Before the bandit can gasp, he has taken three to the chest.


BANDIT #1

Jesus Christ! Rico!


The group of bandits all arm themselves. Two of them move towards their wounded partner swiftly.

Two more move along parallel to the escarpment, searching for a place to climb down.

Felix has pulled himself to the side of the escarpment tightly.
The bandits reach Rico and pull him away from the edge a few feet. The third bandit cradles his head and checks his pulse. He slumps over him, defeated. He shakes his head, informing his partner that Rico is no longer alive. His partner is so angry, he runs to the edge of the cliff, firing down blindly, however Felix is invisible to him, as he is pressed so tightly to the escarpment. The bandit is puzzled. All look his way.
__________________________________________________________

Continued here: http://writingforums.com/showthread.php?t=78239
 
Last edited:

Shawn

WF Veterans
Will you be directing this? If not, you have way too much description for the camera shots. The director calls those, bud.
 

mammamaia

Senior Member
Will you be directing this? If not, you have way too much description for the camera shots. The director calls those, bud.

'tis sad, but true!... on top of that, the action/direction is way too novelish and should have no 'we' this or that in it... you've also got goofs in there that call for a good proofread... such as 'baron' for 'barren' and 'know' for 'knob'...
 

Sock

Senior Member
Aside from that ( I will work on it, thank you) any thoughts about content so far? The story line doesnt real take off untill about ten more pages but, what do you think of the start?
 

mammamaia

Senior Member
if 'The story line doesnt real take off untill about ten more pages ' then you don't have a hook or a set-up in the first ten, which is de rigueur for a screenplay... all that VO is a sure killer... and one of the most obvious signs to the reader that the writer is an amateur... only a rare few can get away with a VO opening... and those few are the greats...

i'd strongly suggest you drop it and open with some compelling/hooking bit of action and real dialog, not all those pretentious musings of a character we don't give rat's rear about yet... sorry if that sounds harsh, but if you knew the film industry, you'd know it was a mother's hug, compared to what agents and producers would say about this... and you need to grow a thick skin, if you want in...

hugs, m
 

Sock

Senior Member
I have two alternate openings. One which is a hallucination of a disturbing emaciated child, reciting a poem into the camera. And another that opens on the gunfight between the protagonist and the bandits. Would either of these work better?

edit: nvm, I'm throwing this away. I just realized how much it sucks. Pretty sobering
 
Last edited:

mammamaia

Senior Member
it's wise of you to know when to retrench... consider it a learning exercise and value it for that...

let me know if you want any help on your next effort... as long as it has no violent content, i'd be happy to give you a hand along your learning path...

hugs, m
[email protected]
 
Top