Thursday, August 9, 2007

Major Project - Day 32 - Script (First Draft)

Okay, although I have already created a storyboard and should be (theoretically) submitting an animatic on Monday ... I am actually in the process of rewriting my script into a much simpler and pure form. What is my story? In short: A ROBOT WHO LIKES TO PLAY IN THE RAIN!!! But it's more complex than that ... seriously ...

Okies, here's my first draft (second draft should be up in the next couple of days ... and then the storyboard ... and then the animatic!!!).

by Joanne Fong


WIDE SHOT of an irregularly designed two-storey house sitting crookedly atop a craggy hill, far removed from the smoggy, mechanical city in the distance below. It is constructed of odd bits of wood and rusty metal, leaning perilously to the right; small wisps of smoke rise out of a narrow pipe protruding from the roof. There is a dim light flickering from a single ground floor window.

The scene starts off as an overcast afternoon. The background quickly rotates into night with an almost full moon set low in the sky. Clouds gather and the camera zooms in through the lit window and we see CORNELIUS with his head bent down, sitting on the floor in a corner and slowly tapping his left index finger on a remote control sitting on the floorboards. His right arm hangs limply between his long, mismatched legs (one foot is missing, in its place, his lower leg tapers to a point) which are splayed carelessly about him. From the reflections of the flickering light on his metal surfaces, we can see that the light comes from a television screen, the flickering caused by Cornelius incessantly changing the channels.
Like the exterior of the house, Cornelius is made of odds and ends, random bits of electronics and metal discards, a little rusty but not altogether dirty. He has a single large eye in protruding from the centre of his head and no torso, his arms are attached where his ‘ears’ should be and his legs are attached directly to the bottom of his head. A few pipes and buttons are arranged haphazardly on his head.

The interior of the house is sparsely furnished and there are obvious signs that housekeeping is not a priority. Various stains spot the floor which is made of mismatched wooden planks and aged wallpaper is peeling from the walls which are further decorated with water marks and discoloured by rust.

The camera rotates so that we are looking out of the window that we first zoomed into. Ratty, stained curtains hang limply on either side of the window frame. A single, neglected pot plant sits on the window sill; a dried brown leaf falls off and out of frame. The sky darkens and a rain drop hits the window pane, then another, and then more in faster succession until it is raining somewhat heavily.

Cornelius stops his finger tapping and his pupil looks up at the window. Seeing the rain, he rotates his head to focus his attention. Like a telescope, his eye extends in excitement and recedes back to its original position. He stands up awkwardly, moves quickly to the window and struggles for a short while before flinging the window open. The curtains billow inward, the sickly plant sways and rain splatters the window sill and the floor.


Cornelius is relishing the moment. Accidentally knocking the pot over (it falls outside and proceeds to roll a little away) he leans heavily on his hands until his whole weight rests on the window sill. Closing his eye, he sticks his head outside, turned up to face the sky. As the rain cascades down his face, his buttons flash rapidly and puffs of smoke erupt randomly from his pipes. He opens his eye and turns his head downwards.

Cut to Cornelius’ view from the window; the steepness of the hill and the distance of the city is exaggeratedly far away. Camera zooms slowly to a bird’s eye view of the city from afar. As the rain continues, some of the haze clears from the thick layer blanketing the city and some of the lights become clearer. A red light stands out at the edge of the city; it is slightly larger and brighter than the others, flashing slowly and deliberately.

Cut back to front view of Cornelius through the window. He blinks in surprise and we see the red light reflected in his eye for a brief moment before it disappears. His buttons flash rapidly and then stop when the red light fades from his eye.
He tries to draw his head back through the window but in his haste, he knocks his head against the frame causing the whole house to shake dangerously. He stays completely still and looks around carefully to ensure that all is safe before slipping his head carefully back into the house and sliding the window closed.


The television is still casting an irregular and dim light through the front room. Cornelius looks around undecidedly, clenching and unclenching his hands. He turns his head up and watches as murky water drips through the ceiling. He looks at the wall and sees the wallpaper peeling off in large chunks. Turning towards the entranceway, there is a small side table with a dead flower sagging in a vase. Above the table there is the dirty impression of a picture frame that had hung there a long time ago.

The image on the television briefly casts a deep red light on the room. Cornelius quickly turns his head towards it but the image has already disappeared and the light returns to its usual dimness. He envisions the red light from the city and suddenly straightens up and rushes over to the front door, flinging it open. Rain runoff is forming an almost solid waterfall from the flimsy roof covering the entrance outside.


Without hesitation he leaps out and slams the door behind him causing the house to shake violently again but he does not notice. In his hurry, he catches one of his feet in the mud causing him to fall face first into the ground, head level with the pot plant he had knocked over. He lays there for a moment, a little dazed. Thinking he has heard something behind him, he whips his head around to look at the house.

A robot figure shaped exactly as Cornelius stands at the ground floor window, the one eye looking worriedly and straight at Cornelius. It is half-hiding behind and tightly gripping one of the curtains and once it realises it has caught Cornelius’ eye, it shuts the curtain, blocking any light from the television.

Cornelius keeps staring at the window in confusion. Deciding he is mistaken, he faces forward again and holds his head with one hand, shaking off the effects of the fall. Looking down the hill he sees the city and once again the red light blinks.

Remembering his motive, he picks up the pot plant, gets up and opens a compartment on the side of his head and places the plant inside. In his signature lopsided walk/limp, he starts his journey towards the city.


The hill side is rocky and muddy. Dead trunks of trees are standing here and there; general natural detritus litters the ground as well as mechanical and electronic parts. Random mechanical creatures (rodents, insects) scurry around. The moon casts a cool, pale light over the landscape.

At first, Cornelius walks at a normal pace, sometimes his pin leg catching in the mud causing him to stagger even more and further impeding his progress. Looking down at the city and seeing how far away it still is frustrates him and he stops for a moment, his buttons flashing slowly as he tries to think.

Looking at the ground around him, he eye extends out when he notices a large flea-like creature carrying a sack attached to a pole on its shoulder. Its sodden wings hang limp and useless. Unable to fly in the rain, it is avoiding large puddles by leaping from rock to rock.

After studying the flea for a short time, Cornelius surveys the hill side in the direction of the city. Medium-sized rocks are scattered fairly evenly all the way down the hill. He cautiously places his pin foot on a rock and quickly, before he loses balance, brings his proper foot to meet it. He surveys the hillside again, his buttons flashing as he computes the visual information.

Beginning slowly and then speeding up, Cornelius hops from one rock to another, now starting with his foot proper and bringing his pin leg to meet it. As he gains confidence and speeds up, he starts to leap from rock to rock, having enough momentum so that he does not lose balance when standing only on his pin leg. At one stage, he even does a pirouette on it before leaping onto the next rock with a twirl.

After this twirl, he bows to an invisible audience but as he does, he sees one of the flea creatures struggling in the puddle in front of him. Bending low to scoop the creature up in his hand, Cornelius then places the flea on a nearby fallen branch where shakes itself off. Once it has regained its composure, the flea salutes Cornelius then bounds away.

Cornelius glances around briefly in search of other creatures in trouble and, finding all is well, continues along his way, bouncing from rock to rock. He starts to revel in the joy of the movement and closes his eye to soak it all in, spreading his arms wide. On his next leap, he has misjudged the distance and his foot lands on the edge of a rock and he falls and tumbles a little way down the hill.

Slowly opening his eye, he sees the pot has fallen out and has broken into a few large pieces. The plant is lying on its side, half submerged in a puddle that is enlarging rapidly. Once the plant is fully submerged, it starts to pulse with a faint glow. Cornelius’ eye extends to take in more detail.

Everything is still apart from the rain, then the earth starts to shake and Cornelius’ eye opens wide. Abruptly, the plant grows up explosively, taking Cornelius with it on one of its branches.


Clinging on tightly to the wet and slippery branch, Cornelius has his eye closed as he rises higher and higher. From a VERY WIDE SHOT, we can see that the plant has grown high enough such that Cornelius is level with the house. From this same shot, the water level is seen to rise rapidly submerging the entire valley and city; a great lake has been created.

Cutting back to Cornelius, his head is facing towards the house. When he opens his eye, he sees the same figure as before standing in the window, poking its head through the closed curtains. Pulling his head back in surprise, he loses his grip and plummets downwards, plunging deep into the new lake.


Once Cornelius has decelerated his descent in the water, he starts to struggle upwards, a light beam now emitting from his eye. After the initial panicky and uncoordinated scrambling upwards, he starts to move fluidly with his arms at his sides, using his legs in rhythm to propel him. Every now and then, a mechanical aquatic creature passes him by.

Looking down at himself, he realises the ease with which he is now moving, in contrast to when he was land bound and limping. He starts to play in the water and his goal is no longer to reach the surface, he starts to glide horizontally, sometimes flipping to swim on his back or doing figure-eights and somersaults. Using emissions from his pipes, he can give himself extra bursts for direction or to propel him forward and without realising it, he has reached the submerged city.

The red light that he saw from his house actually sits inside a bowl attached to the top of the iron gate into the city. Idling in the water, Cornelius has his back to it, his posture similar to that as if he were lounging on a deckchair, his legs lazily kicking him towards the gate. Opening his eye and realising what the source of the red tinge to the environment must be, he whips around and sees an object that is transforming continually between different creature designs. Enthralled, hypnotised, Cornelius remains suspended for a while in the water, watching the object. Then slowly, he raises his right arm towards it, carefully removes the object from its cradle and puts it inside himself (where he had previously placed the pot plant).


Cornelius’ buttons start flashing uncontrollably and his body shakes violently but only for a brief moment. Clenching his hands into fists and closing his eye, he transforms into a swordfish version of himself and zooms upward. Upon breaking the surface, he transforms smoothly into phoenix Cornelius and continues his ascent. Upon reaching the moon, he circles it once, lands with grace and then transforms back into his original self, sitting down and leaning on his elbows behind him. Plucking a dandelion-esque flower from beside him, he places it in one of his pipes, blows it out with a puff and scatters the petals around him. Watching them slowly fall, he slowly closes his eye and leans back to rest his head in his hands and lies still.

Camera zooms out until the entire scene (moon, hill, giant plant, city) are seen in relation to each other, with the flower petals continuing to fall from the moon into the sea.