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Fire And Murder: “Darkroom” Screenplay Excerpt

daed1c987a5d1f31ab274950fb878c2e

An agent from California is contemplating my novel manuscript for Darkroom. It is a first-person novel about Norman, a psycho serial killer who likes fire.

Oddly, the last agent to be interested in this novel was also from California. He made many suggestions, which I took. I also, from that interest, wrote a screenplay that I had totally forgotten. So let’s let Norman have a bit of action.

DE

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

INT. HEAD OF STAIRS – NIGHT

INT. HALLWAY – NIGHT

INT. DOOR – NIGHT

INT. SMALL ROOM – NIGHT

One dim table light is on. NORMAN sits huddled over the desk. Norman is a slenderman in his early twenties. He is humming “What’s Love Got To Do With It” as he works at the desk.

INT. DESK TOP – NIGHT

Norman is ripping rags and letting them fall into a pail at his feet. As he looks up and turns toward the door he rubs his finger over his bushy Hitler mustache. He smiles and nods and grabs more rags.

NORMAN
No one sleeps long tonight.

Norman tears additional rags, but now arranges them more carefully in the pail. He takesa can of lighter fluid from a desk drawer and puts it on the table. He looks at his watch.

NORMAN
Norman gives them another forty minutes.

Norman starts to unwind a long piece of wire.

INT. HALLWAY – NIGHT

INT. LARGE ROOM – NIGHT

The lights are out with every bed filled. There is breathing and snoring and the creak of bedsprings.

INT. HALLWAY – NIGHT

Norman tiptoes along the hall. He holds the pail carefully in front of him.

INT. HEAD OF STAIRS – NIGHT

Norman takes the bottle of lighter fluid, and the wire, out of the pail. He squirts lighter fluid into the pail then drops the bottle into it. He carefully ties the wire at ankle height across the top step, winding it around the banister. He lights a whole book of matches and throws it into the pail.

INT. HALLWAY – NIGHT

Norman runs back to his own room.

INT. HEAD OF STAIRS – NIGHT

Flame erupts from the pail and smoke starts to billow.

 

(image) https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/da/ed/1c/daed1c987a5d1f31ab274950fb878c2e.jpg

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Turning A Novel Into Film – Characters On The Loose

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When adapting a novel manuscript to a film script, I realize it will take a whole host of other people to tell me how successful I might be. I’ve done this twice before, and realize that I must not only ignore my usual method of writing, but often go exactly against it.

I attempted to “learn” how to write for film. I read many instruction books, attended classes and workshops, and had meetings with people. I read many film scripts, which did help me accept the (to my eye) arcane format. But the one thing that actually turned me visual, was the comment of a writer/editor friend who said, after reading my attempt, “I can’t see it.”

That is, it did not cause visual action in her mind.

And I understood.

Perhaps the biggest hurdle is to accept that a movie is not a book, and that changes, additions and omissions will be necessary. As with a play, there is a finite time limit, that generally clocks in under two hours. The threads and plot points of a movie are different. And the characters (I swear) feel this freedom, and choose to accentuate other aspects of themselves than revealed in a novel.

The very fact their paragraphs of dialogue are best reduced to two or three lines makes them uppity. And because they can, in mere seconds, be in diverse locations, performing radically different actions, they become exact without apology. They don’t have to fill in the spaces.

The writer has to fill in the spaces however, and do so with visual stimulation. The transitions have to be swift and their descriptions exact. The road is always the fast lane and the characters kick the tires with gusto.

DE

(image) http://www.indiewire.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/screenplay_square.jpg

God And Death Keep Me From Poetry

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Admittedly,  I had set out later than I should, but the poetry readings were to go from 7-9. Enough time to attend some of them.
However, when I was a few blocks away from the harbour ( I was also going to stop by the harbour first) I heard Latin chanting. I greatly enjoy Latin chanting, so imagine my surprise.
 It turned out there was a large tent set up in a parking lot beside the Roman Catholic cathedral. Six men were chanting a service for a small group. It seemed related (in some way) to the jazz festival happening in the city. They had mics and lights. I lingered by the  fence and listened. Evocative and effective.
I did feel I should go to the poetry readings, so off I went. But I gave in to my temptation of visiting the harbour.
As I sat looking out to sea,  an elderly, white haired man struck up a conversation. A visitor who had arrived by train for a week of vacation. The first vacation without his wife, dead these fourteen months. She was eighty-four. When he said this, he saw the look of surprise on my face.
“Bet you can’t guess my age,” said he.
I answered, with some truth, that I never answer that question.
“Eighty-one,” he said.
I granted I would have shaved a dozen years off his age.
“Married sixty years,” he said. Always had travelled with her. Always went by car. “But it wouldn’t be the same,” he said. So he took the train.
So – yes – I stayed to talk to him.
“Get up every morning to fill the day is my motto,” he said.
I answered his questions about the islands, and if the helicopters flying overhead were military, and if all the ships needed the use of the tugboats we were standing beside, and was there somewhere close he could buy magazines, and how he got this real good travel deal through CAA, and how he talks to everyone.
“Is that really the ocean out there?”
He pointed.
I nodded.
It was.
DE

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