This was a short script that I was asked to write by a producer pal with a set of masks that she had bought to be used as costume pieces. Since that’ heavy handed symbolism, I don’t really feel a need to share the mask photos, since they are merely artifacts and anything a person imagines is as good as what can be shown.
Books and Movies the difference is often the effort on the part of the audience to understand.
After all, User Friendly depends on how friendly the user is.
this was written in 2004 and I am surprised that I didn’t upload it to zoetrope.com peer review,so it’s taken me a while to find this.
I imagine this song that I performed in high school acting class as the theme song for this script:
INT. CELIA’S APARTMENT HOME OFFICE AREA. LATE NIGHT
CELIA (mid 20’s) hunches and head bops over a computer, working intensely. She flips between several programs creating a multi-media presentation while power drinking coffee.
Her frenzied activities are suddenly halted. Smiling, she takes a long drink of the cold coffee.
She logs into her company website and starts uploading files.
She switches to the e-mail program and opens a blank e-mail. She types.
INSERT: COMPUTER SCREEN – E-MAIL PROGRAM
RE: The Big One
Presentation finished and uploaded to project ftp directory.
You’ll knock’em dead, partner.
Celia clicks send and sits back to watch the send icon and upload progress bar. She takes another drink of the coffee and sips it back in he cup.
Celia puts the cup down. She gets up, stretches and yawns.
She looks at computer clock – 3:45 am – and yawns again.
The upload is finished. Celia turns off the computer.
She moves across the apartment room and flattens the futon couch into a bed, pulls blankets out from under the futon and falls onto the futon-bed with the covers on top of herself.
INT. CELIA’S APARTMENT. MORNING
ALARM CLOCK RINGS. A hand slips out from the blankets and smacks the alarm clock ring off and the alarm clock off the end table.
Celia’s head emerges from the heap of blankets.
Celia slunches out of bed and moves to the kitchenette area.
She makes a fresh pot of coffee, watching her distorted image in the glass of the coffee pot.
Rubbing her face, she shakes her head.
There is not enough coffee in the world to make me even half human.
Leaving the coffee dripping, Celia heads to the bathroom, emerging moments later in a bathrobe.
She goes to the phone.
Celia, wearing HALF-MASK, hovers near the phone. She makes several attempts to pick up the phone, before the ANGRY FULL MASK appears on her face.
Hi, Gladys, it’s Celia, I’m not feeling well, I think it’s one of those 24 hour things…
Celia, you have to, Tim quit, and there’s no one to do the big presentation if you don’t.
Celia with no mask.
Quit? Me? I design presentation, I don’t do presentations!
Celia, you worked on this campaign, you’re the only one,
you know how critical landing this client is to the firm.
This is no time to be shy.
Celia with half mask.
I’m not….shy….I’m sick. Coughing lungs out, not sure what end to put over the toilet sick.
Celia, there is no one else. We need you, you are the only one who knows the presentation well enough to do it.
Gladys, I’m really not well, I was up late finishing the presentation…
All the more reason that you do the presentation.
But I don’t do presentations, I just make them. Let me talk to Carol, I can explain everything to her, she’ll be fine.
Celia, this is not the time, we need you.
I’ll be in, I can make it in.
Celia hangs up, crumples to the bed in a foetal position and slowly rocks her UNMASKED self. She sits up, adjusts the bathrobe, and dries her eyes.
Can’t think, can’t think in here. Got to figure out a way to not go.
Celia gets up.
INT. BATHROOM. MORNING
Celia runs the shower water, testing the temperature. She gets in the shower.
The water hits her face, washing away her tears.
Celia, worked into a near frenzy of anxiety, slides down the shower wall to sit in the bottom of the tub.
Water cascades around her, like punishing hot rain.
She is crying, KEENING, and rocking back and forth.
I don’t want to go.
Celia sobs uncontrollably.
NON-SPACE – NON-TIME
Celia stands against a solid colour background. On a stand, a computer monitor runs a presentation of colours and shapes.
Celia holds a computer remote control in a death grip.
In the first phase of the campaign, of course we’ll launch the website supported by a banner ad claim and search engine placement, but the main initial push will be this series of teaser ads in newspapers and magazines.
The monitor flutters with colours and shapes. Celia tries to maintain a brave face, but each criticism hits her like a bullet.
UNSEEN AUDIENCE VOICES
Magazines? Do people still buy those?
Banner ads? May as well spam.
Those aren’t the real colours?
Teasers? Can’t we just market the product?
Celia hits the wall and slides to the floor, crying. The computer remote falls from her hand.
INT. BATHROOM. AS BEFORE
She feels along the tub edge, encountering various bottles. Her hand drops out of frame and comes back in with an electric razor.
I don’t want to go. I can’t go. Please, don’t make me go, please.
Celia brings it to her wrist and drags it across her wrist a few times.
She comes to her senses a bit and LAUGHS at herself, slightly maniacal. She puts the electric razor down.
That’s not going to work.
Celia rinses her face under the steamy water.
But I have to.
Celia stand up, drawing the shower curtain around the tub.
EXT. APARTMENT STREET. MORNING
Anxiety ridden, Celia walks slowly to her car, balancing her laptop bag, briefcase, travel mug of coffee and purse.
Celia makes a big slow production of stacking her possessions on the car hood in order to search her purse for her car keys.
C’mon, c’mon keys, where are you wretched things.
PASSERSBY pay her no attention, but Celia makes herself smaller against her car to avoid them.
Her purse search has an edge of franticness and then relief.
Can’t go if I can’t find the damn keys.
Emanating with relief, Celia returns to her apartment.
Solid background colour and monitor.
Celia has a twinge of guilt.
Someone else can step in, they have all the materials.
INT. APARTMENT HALLWAY. MORNING
Celia happily stashes her laptop, briefcase, purse, travel mug and overcoat.
She walks to the living room with her coffee.
The colour background and monitor with a series of 5 CO-WORKERS holding the computer remote and changing like the presentation with each rapid click.
INT. APARTMENT LIVINGROOM. MORNING
Celia plunks down on the couch with her coffee. She takes a deep relaxing swallow, and puts the cup down on the endtable – right beside the car keys.
Celia reaches for the phone, and sees the keys. She dissolves into tears.
EXT. APARTMENT/INT. CAR. MORNING
Celia sits with a steely grip on the wheel, as she slowly inches her car into traffic.
Celia circles the block three times.
Celia stands against a colour background.
In phase two of the campaign, we’ll do a full press of these ads, which will include the magazines, papers, internet ads and banners, bus shelter posters in major markets, and by this stage we’ll also have established a listserve through the website…
The monitor scroll through colours and patterns.
UNSEEN AUDIENCE VOICES
Bus ads? Don’t they get vandalized?
Listserve? Isn’t that spam?
Those are wimpy colours, we need bold colours.
Celia remains rigid, her mouth opening and closing helpless and soundless, the mask rotating on her face like the presentation.
EXT. APARTMENT/INT. CAR. AS BEFORE
On Celia’s fourth pass, she is nearly struck by a car racing to get to the curb parking.
(full angry mask)
That’s my parking space you dipshit!
Bite me, bitch!
Celia in partial hairlip mask is frozen faced as she drives listlessly away.
EXT. FAST FOOD DRIVE THRU. MORNING
Celia in quarter face mask pulls up to the menu. She dithers over what to order.
CARS back up behind her. Some HONK.
Celia pulls abruptly forward to the order window – partial hairlip mask in place.
DRIVE THRU CLERK
Anything else? Egg burrito? Bagel? Muffin?
Yes, that sounds fine.
DRIVE THRU CLERK
Celia pays with exact change, then pulls ahead to the food window.
The FOOD CLERK smiles at her and hands her a bag and a coffee.
Someone’s hungry this morning. You want salsa or hot sauce for the burrito?
Celia accepts the bag as if it contains a live snake, and drives away.
EXT. PARKING LOT. MORNING
Celia, no mask, sits in her car, mechanically consuming the food and coffee.
PASSERSBY hurry to work without giving her a glance.
Why can’t I be like that?
Why does this have to be so hard?
Colour background. Celia stands partially hidden by the monitor as VOICES JEER.
UNSEEN AUDIENCE VOICES
You call that a presentation?
This is a joke, right?
We’re not paying for this.
Celia moves behind the monitor; which flashes a series of mask images.
UNSEEN AUDIENCE VOICES (cont’d)
Isn’t this supposed to be a professional outfit?
No concept of our product line at all.
What a waste of time.
EXT. PARKING LOT. AS BEFORE
PEOPLE go in and out of Celia’s building.
You have to go. People are counting on you.
Celia puts the food down, and gathers her various items in preparation to exit the car.
No one’s gonna hit you. Just put down the food and get out of the car.
Celia moves to get out of the car, but is unable to open the door. Her frantic movements slow.
Celia stands silent against the solid background with the monitor flashing the colour presentation.
Celia, the remote loose in her hand, cries.
EXT. PARKING LOT. AS BEFORE
Celia, full mask, self-comforts by rocking back and forth.
She mindlessly continues to eat the fast breakfast food.
CAROL (co-worker) approaches and KNOCKS on the window.
Celia, in partial mask, rolls down the window.
Celia, you can’t just sit there, Bob needs to go over some figures for the presentation.
I can’t do this Carol, I’ve never done a presentation.
You’ll be fine, it’s no big deal, it’s just talking in front of people.
Carol opens Celia’s car door. Several fast food bags fall from the back seat.
Please, Bob knows the numbers, he can do it, just give him the presentation files.
Celia pushes her laptop case into Carol’s hands. Carol pushes the laptop back into Celia’s hands.
Celia, get a grip, numbers are not the ad campaign, numbers are not marketing strategies, with Tim gone, you’re the only one.
The women stare intently at each other, locked in a battle of wills. Carol for Celia to save the company, Celia to be freed.
Celia’s face flutters through several masks, trying to stare Carol down. Carol holds firm, backed by the need of all the co-workers.
Celia caves, her face unmasked for a moment, and then covered by a full mask.
When are the clients arriving?
You’re going to do it? We can’t loose-
Don’t, don’t add anymore pressure, I can barely manage having to do this at all.
Celia, really, this shy thing…
Carol, I’m not shy, I just…
No one’s comfortable with public speaking, but the client’s are a friendly audience, it’s not like you’re announcing government cuts to social programs and a tax increase.
Celia half smiles.
C’mon, it’s just perspective.
Yeah, it’s just all our jobs and the future of the company riding on my being able to do this.
Carol looks chagrined.
Okay, sure, but get that out of your head, take it down a notch. Just think, we just need to land this account. No more, it’s just another account.
Right, sure, no big deal. Can you hand onto this?
Celia hands the laptop case back to Carol. Carol, smiling, accepts it and stands back so Celia can exit the vehicle.
Celia hands out her purse and briefcase to Carol.
Celia picks up the last part of the egg burrito. Carefully taking a last bite, she squeezes it ever so tightly, making salsa fall from the wrapper onto her blouse.
Oh, dammit! Why is it always the last bite! And my best blouse.
Working herself into a tearful frenzy, Celia tries to mop up the salsa with a napkin, but only succeeds in smearing the salsa over a larger area of her blouse.
Why does this always happen when you wear white?
Celia, no mask, on the verge of tears, looks up at Carol.
Carol tries very hard not to laugh.
I dunno, something about having boobs. I guess it stops the food from ending up in your lap.
Celia, partial mask, is thin lipped.
I guess I’ll have to walk Bob through the presentation, Carol, I can’t go in front of clients like this.
Carol gives Celia a hard look. Celia looks at her like a rabbit in headlights. Carol softens.
It’s not that big a deal, Celia. I have a spare blouse at my desk, because I do that all the time. You can borrow it.
Carol holds her hand out to help Celia from her car.
Celia, in full mask, gets out, without taking the helping hand.
She kicks the fast food bags under her car, then closes (SOUND OF A JAIL CELL DOOR SLAMMING) and locks the door.
Celia follows Carol like a condemned prisoner walking to their execution.
They enter the building, the sliding doors closing with JAILHOUSE CLANG.
FOUR CO-WORKERS, BOB and Gladys are against the colour background.
You’ll never learn these numbers. We’re doomed.
You’re great with the computer, but you’re no Tim, when it comes to people.
Yeah, I know Tim, and Celia’s no Tim.
Guess it’s time to brush off the ole resume.
You’re just going to blow it for all of us.
Don’t know why I bothered calling you in to work. Shoulda known better.
INT. OFFICE. DAY
Gladys smiles warmly. FOUR CO-WORKERS waiting in the lobby and cheer for a full masked Celia.
Bob steps forward with a raft of papers.
I got the figures.
So, you wanna do it in my office or yours?
Celia freezes, uncomfortable with Bob’s humour. Carol glares at Bob.
Bob, we’ve talked about that kind of humour.
Yeah, yeah, I was just trying to put her at ease, I didn’t mean anything by it.
Celia slips into angry mask.
No one ever does.
Sorry, just nervous. It’s a big meeting.
Don’t remind me.
Carol gives Celia a reassuring look. Celia changes to a half mask. Bob looks nervous and contrite.
Let’s just do…I mean, go over the figures. My office is better.
INT. CELIA’S OFFICE. DAY
Like her apartment, the office is minimalist and highly functional.
Bob and Celia, in half mask, pour over the papers.
I really didn’t mean anything… y’know, earlier.
Uh, huh. What’s this item?
Print ad costs. Celia, I know you don’t want to do this, and if there was any other way….
Celia’s in full face mask.
But there isn’t, I know. Why did Tim quit?
He got an offer at another firm. He’s been working on it for a while, and Celia…
He’s going to try to steal this client. We checked his computer, he copied all the files you uploaded and deleted them. So…
So, he’s going to try to scoop this client with my campaign.
And his charm, you’re going to have to…
Please, Bob, I feel like I’m going to throw up as it is. Please don’t tell me anymore how much is riding on this, just doing the presentation is bad enough.
They’re just people.
With the power to make or break us. Besides, it’s not even that.
What then? Not that shy thing.
I’m not shy, I-I, it’s so hard to talk about, I’m afraid…of people..all the time.
Afraid they’re going to hurt you?
Just afraid, they might laugh or make fun of me, just not even that specific, just afraid. Of my own shadow. I’m pathetic.
Celia has no mask.
You sound like me on a Saturday night in the bar. Look, Celia, everyone has anxiety to a certain degree, you just put it aside and live your life.
Celia has a half mask.
Bob, it’s not that easy, I freeze, I can’t breathe or calm down. Everyone’s going to know I’m a fraud, it’s just going to be a mess.
Celia cries. Bob looks helpless and hesitatingly almost puts his arm around her shoulder.
Okay, I’m just trying to comfort you, not make a pass, okay?
Celia nods. Bob puts his arm around her shoulder.
Celia calms a little. She looks at Bob with the harelip mask on. Her eyes full of fear and pain.
How about if I go in with you?
You’d do the presentation?
No, I’m just the accountant, I don’t know all the sexy current marketing lingo that going to wrap the clients around your finger.
Celia looks crushed.
But, I’ll be in the room, and I’ll answer any money questions, okay?
Celia nods, not convinced.
Besides, even if I had the knowledge to do the presentation, I wouldn’t.
Because it’s something I need to work through?
Yeah, something all zen like that.
Bob, I work through this terror every day, I don’t need more practise.
Then you should be better at faking it than this puddle of anxiety that you’re being. We need you, and babe, you are the only one.
You’d think that would help, it doesn’t. But I appreciate the effort.
PHONE RINGS. Celia answers it.
Yes?….I understand….board room, five minutes then.
Celia hangs up. Unmasked, she looks at Bob. Bob gives her a concerned, warm look. Celia has a full mask.
They’re here. I’m trapped.
Sympathetically, but not getting it, Bob hands Celia a five sets of bound documents.
They stand up. Celia has a mask firmly in place.
INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE BOARD ROOM. DAY
Celia, full mask, and Bob wait for the clients.
FOUR CLIENTS stride confidently to the boardroom. Bob and Celia shake their hands and usher them in.
FIFTH CLIENT, wearing colour mask, hesitates before shaking Celia’s hand.
They exchange looks of recognition. Celia steps back in shock.
Celia looks down the hall at her co-workers, and sees two in partial masks, and then at the clients; one of which is wearing a mask.
Celia smiles beatifically.
Bob gives her a quizzical look.
I can do this.
They head into the boardroom. The door closes.