Thursday, 28 April 2016

Your Face - the movie

About six years ago I cranked out the basis of a short short-story, called Your Face, inspired by a mixture of things, Burroughs, Kafka, the Mighty Boosh and so on. I've performed it at several readings and it has always gone down well, although when I wrote it I thought of it as chilling, it turned out it was chilling and funny, people laughed. In 2013 it was included in the Hackney Writers annual publication and I still have hopes of getting into something more permanent, Penny Dreadful I'm looking at you ;-) And, as such, you won't read it here... yet... I hope... This is the film-script version, a pitch to someone who never got back to me. Enjoy, Your Face - the movie. Picture here.

Scene one: Interior – an unidentifiable office cubicle in artificial light

A rear view of a man sat at a computer terminal. He is typing away at an unseen keyboard. He is of unidentifiable age. He is wearing a suit. He has short hair.

James had a problem.

James stops typing. He sighs and holds his head in his left hand.

He had no face. 

Scene two: Interior – a bathroom in artificial light.

Rear view: James is stood, shirtless, in front of a large mirror. He gently and slowly touches his face with his hands.

Actually he had a face and he knew he had a face. He could see it in the mirror. Eyes, nose and mouth were there where they were supposed to be, on the front of his head. He could see it.

His hands fall to his side.
It’s just nobody else could.

Scene three: Exterior – a busy city street – daylight.

James walks away from the camera. He is dressed in the same suit as in scene one. People pass by, uncomprehending.

They saw through his face, around his face and everything but his face. There was nothing there except visual ambience.

Scene four: Return to scene two – pause.

Scene five: Interior – a living room – daylight.

A woman sits on a sofa. She is cuddling a small baby, swaying it gently and trying to make reassuring cooing noises. She gives up. She looks confused and slightly distressed.

Even from the beginning his mother was puzzled and standoffish.

Scene six: Interior – the same living room – artificial light indicating that it is late.

A small prepubescent boy is playing with toys on the floor, alone, with his back to the camera. A Man enters the room. Cut to POV of the boy.

Hello Dad.

The Man looks at the boy. He initially looks shocked but suppresses the emotion, smiles and extends his arms toward the Boy.

His father came home from work every day and was surprised each time little James spoke. Who they talking to? They weren’t sure.

Scene seven: Return to scene two.
He had no face.

Scene eight: Montage – a football game on a grass pitch – a class room – a busy hallway in a school.
Despite this James grew up otherwise normal. He could kick a ball, count to 100 and find Africa on a map. Nobody noticed, however. Why would they?

Scene nine: Return to scene one.
He had no face.

James takes up typing again.

Scene Ten: Montage – James POV

James approaches three different young women – one in a college lecture room – one in a nightclub – one in an office. They each talk (dialogue is inaudible), listen, interact, laugh and eventually exchange details then part.

James came of age. He found he liked girls. He was completely uncomplicated in this. If he liked a girl he’d go up to her, talk to her, try to find things in common, impress her, make her laugh.

Cut to the three young women each receiving a phone call from James. They answer the phone, speak (speech is inaudible) but warily, confused and anxious before hanging up.

But every time he spoke to her again he’d have to start over. Why? She could barely remember him.

Scene eleven: Return to scene one.
He had no face. [Pause] James had to find a way round this.

James stops typing and stands up. He walks through the office. We follow him from behind. We can now see natural light. The office is large, open plan and on a high-up floor of an office block. People pass by. James is unacknowledged however.

His solution was to listen and look and remember. He would hang on every word, every expression and every inflection of the people around him, reminding them of themselves. It wasn’t all bad, mind you. If people remembered him they often liked him. A blank canvas, people projected onto James what they wanted to be themselves. He could be...

Scene twelve: Montage – film tropes.

A black car with a siren on top pulls up at speed in front of a camera. A man in a working suit emerges from the driver door. We see him from the neck down. He is a police officer. He is in a hurry but stops, holding the door. He sees something off camera in the middle distance, points for a moment, then closes the door.


The same man is now in an interrogation room. He is strutting around the room, talking (not audible), not looking at the person he interrogating. The shot is low. The suspect is facing the camera. We see the suspect's but not that of the interrogator. Suddenly the interrogator lurches up to the suspect, talking loudly, pointing, adamant about something.


The same man though dressed differently, in jeans and a band t-shirt. He is with a similar looking man in what looks like a backstage area of a music venue. They are facing each other around a table, the man away from the camera, the friend toward it, with a piece of paper on it which they both look at while each strumming an acoustic guitar and singing.


The same man though dressed differently, in a fashionable, loose shirt. We see him frim behind at a slight angle. He is sat around a table with a woman, they are on a dinner date. They smile at each other then lean in for a kiss.


Scene thirteen: Return to scene eleven.

We continue to follow James through the office until he reaches a vending machine and stops.
anything they wanted. The one thing he couldn’t be though was a person. He wished he had a face.

James lightly pounds in the vending machine in frustration.

Scene fourteen: Alternating between James sitting at the terminal, standing in the bathroom and at the vending machine.

As this began to weigh on his mind someone came into James’s life, not a person, but a film star, a face, a famous face. Known all over as “Brad” (even though his real name was Charlie) his was the most famous face in the world, his was a wonderful face.

Scene fifteen: A new montage – more film tropes.

A man, short haired, clean shaven and handsome in a strangely familiar suit jumps from a bridge onto a moving train. He lands with uncanny ease and grace, dusts off his jacket and smiles into the camera.

It could grace action movies...

A man long-haired, with stubble dressed similarly in jeans and a band t-shirt runs down a partially lit back alley, hollering and flailing and occasionally smiling at the camera, being chased by a mixed group similarly dressed young men, teenage girls, a TV crew, inaccurately uniformed police officers and someone in an ostrich onesie.

light up madcap comedies...

A man in a loose shirt and flared jeans clutches a woman mid-swoon. Before kissing her he smiles at the camera.
carry romantic leads...

Scene sixteen: Series of illustrative pictures.

Quick recap of previous featured trope/scenes.

Brad’s face was everywhere; in films and on TV...

Slow scan across a series of film posters featuring Brad.
on posters...

Sample clips of Brad endorsing mostly mid to high end consumer products, aftershaves, filter coffee, mobile phones, cars and so on.

in adverts...

Longer montage of a variety of news paper and magazine articles featuring Brad in some way.
in newspapers and magazines... Everyone wanted to know Brad. Stories of his life were everywhere. Everyone wanted to know him yet they knew almost nothing real and true. Brad's public persona, his image was very closely guarded. It was key. He could be anyone to anyone. With such a lack of personal detail people filled in with rumour and there was so much rumour it may have seemed that behind the face was a very ordinary man; fragile, vain and fearful.

Headlines: Separation! Rumour! Denial! Divorce!

Behind the face was a divorcee (huge alimony)

Footage: a man looking a lot like Brad is led by a police officer into a the back of a car, cuffed, head held down.

and a reputed drunk driver (convictions paid off with money).

More footage: a short recap of the earlier film tropes and adverts.

There were suspicions of gambling debts and drug abuse (his career alternated between art-house movies, cash cows and coffee adverts). On discovering Brad, James now knew what to do.

Scene seventeen: James studies Brad from all these angles.

Rear view, silhouette of James sitting alone in a cinema.

He went to see Brad’s films,

Rear view, Brad watching television from a couch.

Watched his TV interviews,

POV of James flicking through the same newspaper and magazine articles as before.

Read all about him in books and magazines. He studied Brad, everything about him, in particular his face. He ended up knowing pretty much all there was to know about Brad, the official and unofficial stories.

Scene eighteen: Exterior, travel scenes.
James POV, in a black cab. Arriving at an airport. Rear view James in a queue. POV, James finds his seat. POV, James hails another taxi. The taxi progresses through Los Angeles. The taxi arrives at the gates of a hillside mansion.

James had saved up a lot of money over the years and now he figured he'd spend it. He quit his job. The morning after he left work he took a flight to America, to Los Angeles. Getting off the plane he immediately booked a cab, up the hills to the great mansions, to one mansion in particular, Brad’s stately abode.

Scene nineteen: Exterior day and dusk outside the gates of Brad's home.

James stands unnoticed amid various street scenes, people come and go, cars, joggers, a tour bus, trucks make deliveries, a police prowl car glides by.

Every day, and some nights, James would go up to the gates of Brad’s palace and watch what went on. He did this for several weeks. Normally someone doing this would be spotted quickly and arrested. No one spotted James. No one ever remembered him. He had no face.  James would watch people come and go, cleaners, builders, executives; he watched and waited.

A black sports car with tinted windows appears at the gates of Brad's home and stops.

Then late one afternoon he saw a blacked out sports car pull up into the drive. The occupant didn’t get out and speak into the little box, asking to be allowed in like all the others did. The gates just parted. It was Brad. It had to be.

Scene twenty: Exterior night.

We follow James up a ladder by a wall. He cuts through a set of wires. He climbs over and jumps down the other side of the wall. We follow James tiptoeing through a garden toward Brad's house.

James waited until it was dark before springing into action. He broke into the compound with a ladder and some wire cutters. Clambering over the wall he then crept up the long garden to the foot of Brad’s house.

POV of James looking at Brad's house. There is a light on at the first floor; at the window there was a silhouette of a man.
Brad was alone. James crept into the house.

Scene twenty-one: Interior, night, the living area of Brad's home.

Brad is roaming randomly around the room, mumbling something, holding a piece of paper and glancing at it every now and then until he spots James standing, a shadow in the shadow of the doorway.

[Optimistically – after a pause]
Hey, are you here about the pool?

[Calm and unemotional throughout]


[Audibly frightened but holding it back]
Who are you?
My name is James.

[Backing away from the shadow in the doorway]
What do you want?
[A quiver in his voice]
I have money.
I don’t want money
[Begins to babble]
Why can’t I see you? Come into the… I’m not afraid. What do you want? I have a car...? A TV, widescreen…? Drugs…? I have drugs…?
I don’t want those things.
[Looking around for something to arm himself with]
Why can’t I see you...? What do you want?

James walks forward, into the light, his face begins to appear in focus then cut to POV of James looking at Brad, who is aghast.
It’s quite simple... I want your face.

Brad opens his mouth to scream.


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