Friday, May 14, 2004

scriptwriting attempt #247

As mentioned in previous entries, a group of us entered the Moc Docs contest earlier this year. It was first time I'd ever fully-written a script - any previous attempts to write one never went far (other than a bizarro-world piece written in grade 2, which I'll post when I find it again).

Here it is, a mocumentary look at the person who created Hinterland Who's Who...or is about the person filming it? It's not much more than a comedy skit, but it's something. Lots of thanks to the rest of the Robot Dog crew, who pitched in their five cents (especially Stevie D...his script should have received some consideration).

Read and laugh or groan...

Film begins with familiar strains of Hinterland Who’s Who, opening on a shot of empty parkland or forest, maybe a squirrel or dog running by.

Title card - "HINTERLAND WHO’S WHO"


A middle-aged man shuffles onto the screen, looking around at nothing in particular, like an animal popping its head out of a hole and scanning its surroundings. Notices film crew and laughs upon hearing a flute player in the crew playing a familiar tune...

Title Card - JOHN SMITH (THE CREATOR OF HINTERLAND WHO’S WHO)

He is wearing a backpack and looks like an amateur birdwatcher.


NARRATOR:
John Smiths migrate in great herds, twice a day

Subject shown in crowded subway or bus. Improvised business in background while subject looks dead-eyed in foreground. Scene switches to office tower elevator.

NARRATOR:
John Smiths will always be associated with the early days of the Canadian television industry. Members of this species are responsible for such public service announcements as Hinterland Who’s Who, Participaction, The Old Woman In The Shoe Knew What To Do, etc.

Shots of subject talking with others in elevator, then holding up elevator while one or two others in the elevator look on impatiently.

NARRATOR:
In primitive times, colleagues regarded John Smiths with reverence, and today many aging hacks...er...cultural historians show veneration for this imposing and massive animal.

Shot of subject being interviewed by an academic, who looks as moth-eaten as the subject. Fingers appear onscreen, making "loser" sign. Another hand slaps the fingers away.

NARRATOR:
As is typical of his species, he shows great energy and creativity in his youth. As he matures, that energy level is lessened, leading to an increase in weight and alcohol consumption.

Shot of subject emptying flask into a coffee cup, then drinking the contents.

NARRATOR:
Coffee and fast food are John Smiths main source of food, and much of his daily activity is spent collecting them.

Shot of subject eating, with more food landing on him than in his mouth. Offers food to the crew.

NARRATOR:
One sign of aging in John Smith is a decrease in fashion sense.

Close up of moth-eaten sweater or vest. Long pregnant shot on subject, who looks up from a pile of paperwork. He gives a peeved, yet resigned, look to the crew.

NARRATOR:
John Smiths were once well-equipped to survive natural hazards, including uncooperative animals.

Subject is shown attempting to negotiate a contract with a stuffed animal or realistic hand puppet - this is one of the animals featured in Hinterland Who’s Who. The animal repeatedly slams its paw down on the contract, gesturing to indicate its concerns about the terms.

NARRATOR:
Government bureaucrat and budgetary concerns have the potential to make John Smiths an endangered species.

Subject is shown having an animated argument on the phone. After a pregnant pause, he attempts to shoo the film crew away. Motion of hands in front of camera, which moves up and down or sideways as if it is carrying on a conversation. This is the moment the film crew decides to have fun at the subject’s expense.

NARRATOR:
As a John Smith ages, his senses grow weaker.

The crew has rearranged several items at the subject’s desk, just enough to leave the subject looking first befuddled, then furious. Pregnant pause.

NARRATOR:
Species such as John Smiths need to be replaced by their young every 40 years to keep the species alive and their environment fresh.

Camera waves up and down in agreement

NARRATOR:
Younger John Smiths are sent to film schools to learn their trade and wait for the elder members of the species to go into hibernation.

Camera catches subject asleep at his desk. Members of the crew draw on the subject’s face, making him look like a pirate. While this occurs, the narrator speaks the next batch of dialogue.

NARRATOR:
The young are often left to fend on their own, with parents unwilling to pay for student loans, (starts shifting out of HWW-type voice) forcing them to work at dead end jobs, stifling their ambition, because dammit, I...(shifts back into HWW-type voice)...the call of the young has come to symbolize Canada’s wilderness because of their lonely, haunting quality...

CREW VOICE: (simultaneously with next line)
Focus, man, focus...you’ll wake him up! We’re not done yet!

NARRATOR:
(out of HWW voice) Sorry,but I want this job so bad. I always wanted to be the person behind Hinterland Who’s Who. I love that music so much! Shoot, I’m not talking in the voice...I’ve got to stay (switches to HWW voice) in the voice and tone that narrators of this species use to communicate vital information.

The subject is woken from his slumber by a phone call. In a dopey state, wanders away, notices co-workers staring at him. A person mimes what has been done to his face. A look of intense rage runs across his face, as he grabs the nearest phone. A security guard arrives.

SECURITY GUARD:
Hi guys, we’ve just received a complaint from Mr. Smith about your behaviour around him. Everyone likes a joke, but this one is interfering with business. So, how about we pack it and move elsewhere?

Flute player begins playing

SECURITY GUARD:
Oh, and put away the flute until you leave, there’s no flute playing on the premises. Have a good day gentlemen.

Subject glares at film crew, who attempt to wrap up their film before leaving. The flute player does not put their instrument away, playing the familiar tune

NARRATOR:
For more information, contact the Canadian Wildlife Service...

SECURITY GUARD:
May I remind you that you have been asked to leave the premises and put the flute away (points to sign - NO FLUTE PLAYING ALLOWED). Please pack it and leave the building. Please leave before you require an escort out.

The narrator, not easily deterred, continues commenting on the situation

NARRATOR:
When in danger, the elderly John Smith relies on the assistance of tougher members of the species...

As he talks, other security guards gather to usher the film crew out. The subject appears, and one remaining camera focuses on him. For the first time in the film, we hear him talk. Garbled flute playing is heard, growing fainter.

SUBJECT:
For the complete story on how to find other work in the filmmaking field, contact Employment and Revenue Canada, Ottawa.

Near the end of this line, graphics similar to those used for the Canadian Wildlife Service appear. Fade to "Canada" logo.

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