Friday, August 10, 2007

Major Project - Day 33 - Script (Second Draft)

By Joanne Fong


WIDE SHOT of an irregularly designed one-storey shack 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 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 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 camera pans across the room and we see the television sits in the opposite corner from Cornelius, the image changing at regular intervals casting the room in darkness in between changes. Cornelius’ head is not facing the television and his eye is merely staring off into space.

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.

There is another window on the wall opposite to where Cornelius is sitting; a neglected and sickly pot plant sits on the sill, stained and patched curtains hang limply on either side of the frame. The camera zooms in towards the window. The sky gradually gets darker (from a soft, overcast grey to an ominous charcoal) and it starts to rain softly; some drops hit the window panes and slide down slowly.

MIDSHOT of Cornelius. His eye is half-open, he is struggling to stay awake but his finger continues to tap on the remote. It seems that he is doing this without realising it.

CUT back to the shot of window where we see the rain escalating into a storm with infrequent flashes of lightning in the distance accompanied by the subtle shaking of Cornelius’ fragile shack. A drop of water falls from a crack in the ceiling.

CUT back to Cornelius as the shaking of the shack becomes more frequent and pronounced, his head has rolled forward almost onto the floor, his eye is closed.

XCU of a rusted area in the ceiling directly above Cornelius. A drop of water slowly forms; when it finally falls, the camera follows it down, it hits Cornelius on the back of the head.

CUT to MIDSHOT of Cornelius. He has awoken in a fright and is sitting very upright. His left hand whips around to the back of his head to feel what has happened. Bringing it back around to his front, he looks at his hand to find a spot of moisture sitting on his middle finger; his eye extends out (like a telescope) to examine the spot, he rubs it with his thumb. He looks behind him and then from side to side, searching for the source of the disturbance. Another drop hits him on the top of his head making him jump. Looking up, he sees the crack in the ceiling where another drop of water is forming.

CUT to POV of the water drop (ie Cornelius from above). When the water drop falls, we see Cornelius start in terror and jump out of shot.
CUT to MIDSHOT of Cornelius as he finishes his jump and is leaning forward cautiously to examine the floor where a small puddle is beginning to form as the drops fall with more frequency.

Looking up again, he tentatively reaches a hand out to catch the drops in midair. Once a small pool of water has formed we see his distorted reflection. He then opens his fingers and lets the water run through them (like sand) while twiddling his fingers.

CU of his head, eye blinking, buttons flashing slowly as he brings his hand towards his face, flipping it upside-down and back again, his head tilting to the side as he contemplates this new experience. Then he looks around for an explanation and as the camera pans around (from his POV) we see the dirty walls once again. His survey of the room stops at the window.

WIDE SHOT of room. Cornelius stumbles/limps slowly over to the window and looks upwards, first to the right, then to the left. CUT to Cornelius’ POV and we see the view of the dark sky (moonlight is the only constant source of light outside), heavy downpour and intermittent lightning.


WIDE SHOT of the window (at which Cornelius stands) from the outside. He is still glancing up at the rain. He then looks down at the window and slowly unlatches it and struggles briefly before pushing it up and open. In doing so, he accidentally knocks over the pot plant with his right elbow and it rolls off the sill, landing on the ground outside. The curtains start billowing inwards violently and rain splashes onto the sill and onto Cornelius’ body.

At first, Cornelius jumps back away from the initial spray of water. Then he sticks one hand cautiously out the window, palm up towards the sky and watches the rain splashing on the palm before slowly closing his eye. Then he reaches his other hand outside as well, palm facing up.

He opens his eye again and only then does he notice the stain left by the pot on the windowsill and realises that the plant is no longer there. Placing his hands on the windowsill to take his weight, he poked his head out of the window and sees the broken pot has rolled a small distance away from the house. The plant has fallen out of the pot and appears to be moving slightly and has become less brown (almost imperceptibly). In his curiosity about the plant, he has momentarily forgotten about the rain but closing his eye again he relishes the rain pouring down the back of his head.

Shot of Cornelius from above. Still with his eye closed he tilts his head to face the sky and it streams from his big round head. He is completely relishing the moment. 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 and sees the plant has greened considerably but is still quite frail. Suddenly, one of its exposed roots can be seen snaking around the primary branch and burying itself into the soil.

Cornelius starts in surprise and in trying to draw his head back through the window hastily, 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 quickly surveys his house. He turns his head up and watches as water is now dripping from several spots in the ceiling. Turning towards the entranceway, there is a small side table with a dead flower sagging in a vase. Above the table there are dirty impressions of picture frames that had hung there a long time ago.
Taking another glance at the plant through the window, he sees a few more roots have started to bury themselves into the ground and the primary branch is slowly becoming upright (with great effort). The plant is noticeably greener and brighter.

He rushes over to the front door, and flings 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.
CUT to shot of him in profile in slow motion as his head passes through the waterfall from the roof. In his hurry, he catches one of his feet in the mud causing him to fall face first into the ground. 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 holds his head with one hand, shaking off the effects of the fall. Turning to his left, he sees a faint glow coming from around the corner. He scrambles to his feet and limps over to the corner of the house but hides behind the wall. He slowly peers around and the plant has fully established itself and is standing completely straight. Some dead leaves are lying around its base but some smaller, new leaves are emerging from its branches.

Taking a step towards it, Cornelius’ good foot lands heavily in a puddle and creates a sizeable splash. Looking down, he stamps his foot again to recreate the effect. He stamps a few more times, a little faster each time and then takes a great jump into the puddle creating a monumental splash. As the aftermath of mud and water slides off him, his pipes and buttons are flashing wildly, his eye is darting around rather maniacally. Eying another puddle nearby he takes a great leap, and then pauses only briefly before leaping into another one.

Cornelius’ leaping escalates into an almost trancelike state; he closes his eye and eventually starts twirling and pirouetting in puddles. His path is a loose spiral that brings him closer and closer and closer to the plant which is growing steadily and glowing stronger and stronger.

Eventually the plant becomes taller than Cornelius and one of its leaves has become big enough to cast a large shadow over Cornelius who stops in mid-leap. He peers up at the plant which is swaying softly. The leaf that is covering him is curled slightly, collecting a small amount of rain water. The leaf begins to bend slowly as the water gets heavier and heavier and eventually bends far enough to release the water and in doing so, the leaf is positioned in such a way as to beckon Cornelius.

Cornelius hops onto the leaf causing it to bend downwards and in bending back up, it bounces him onto another branch (along with a spray of water). Grabbing onto the main trunk for balance, he looks down at the house from this new height and sees the ‘other’ figure in the window again. This time, they make eye contact for some time before the figure walks away from the window and is no longer in sight.

Taking a contemplative moment, Cornelius looks around him, at the rain, the sky, the moon. His house looks smaller and smaller as the tree continues to grow. A leaf on another branch is swaying, seeming to beckon him once more. Cornelius recommences his leaping/dancing joyfully, amongst the branches of the tree until he reaches the top branch.

Camera ZOOMS OUT as Cornelius sits down on the branch, resting his right hand on the trunk and looking at the moon. Swinging his legs in a carefree manner, the camera continues to zoom as the song fades out.