GOD & TARGETS: TWELVE SCREENPLAYS BY CHRISTMAS from PAUL LAIGHT
“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” Frederic Nietzsche
I have over the years always wondered why I am alive. I mean: what’s the point of life? Why are humans here at all? Are we just animals or are we meant for something more? God or faith is one such thing that has papered over those cracks for some people. However, I am not a religious person as I prefer to believe in my own eyes, ears and experience. I am open to theories and hypothesis but do not require ideological brainwashing to help me get through the day.
Blasphemy it may be but much of my spirituality is gained from worshipping movies, music, sport and other cultural interests. Of course, family and loved ones are the priority and quite rightly give my life meaning and structure. But what keeps a person going from one day to the next? Money, work, exercise, drugs, travel, hobbies and the sheer desire just to stay alive are up there. Indeed, fear of the abyss can be another powerful reason to keep going; death is a great motivator!
Generally speaking my philosophy is be good to others, don’t be a cunt and if you can’t be positive make sure your negativity is either funny or interesting. I don’t need a God or a set of spurious ideologies to live my life. But, what I do like though from year-to-year is some kind of creative or personal target with which to propel me through the months. It gives me focus and takes my mind off death. There’s also a delusion in my psychology that perhaps one day my creative ability could get rewarded either in some form of employment or financial reward. You never know! Miracles do happen.
Targets of late have included:
- Lose weight and get fit.
- Start a diary where I record my events and thoughts through the year.
- Write and produce a cultural blog reviewing films, shows and events.
- Give up smoking.
- Write and perform comedy at one of the Fringe Festivals.
- Write, film and edit my own short film productions.
- To train and achieve a 10 mile distance run within a 12 month period.
- Do something for a Charity.
I can honestly say I have achieved these targets over the last ten years and in 2015 I decided to set myself another goal. On top of continuing my blog and diary and fitness routines I decided I would set about writing TWELVE short film screenplays in a year. Given I have a full-time job and am a parent this is quite a big ask. But on December 21st 2015 I hit this target! Good for me!!
So, for my own benefit I have listed the short screenplays I have written and the ideas behind them. Here’s to 2016: small victories are the way forward!
WAITING FOR GODDARD – DRAMA
PAUL MORRIS is owed money by his so-called friend GODDARD and desperately needs it back. However, he’s in for a very long wait.
This is a snapshot story of friendship and betrayal. I wanted to write something that was simple to shoot and also a kind of homage to the opening sequence of Once Upon a Time in America.
SCREENWASH – COMEDY
Comedy short satirising film shows incorporating reviews, clips and trailers of classic and upcoming film releases.
METRO LIVE is a bold, colourful and fun new TV channel serving London. It’s youthful and energetic and punchy and its USP is many of the shows are presented ‘LIVE’. SCREENWASH is its ‘LIVE’ weekly movie review show.
The show takes the structure of new movie release reviews; classic DVD/movie reviews; articles on featured movie director/actor; an artistic strand where he champions a gay/lesbian/black Eastern European filmmaker etc.; movie news and forthcoming presentations including trailers; competitions etc.
I basically wanted to embrace my love of movies through quick fire comedy sketches structured within a review show format. I also wanted to satirise the contemporary hipster styles and pretentious nature of arthouse reviewers. It’s probably my most ambitious script as it also incorporates a crumbling relationship between the presenters of the programme.
THE STAIRWELL – SURREAL COMEDY-DRAMA
Postman, JOHN MILLER, gets trapped in a spatial loop on a building stairwell and can find no way of escape.
This story is classic-one-location-short-film-low-budget-territory with a Postman trapped in a spatial-time-loop unable to escape. I was inspired by my love of Dr Who as well as the notion of characters being trapped by circumstances and a dead-end job.
SOUND WOMAN – COMEDY
MARTHA FOLEY wakes up one day and finds her every sound, movement and action is replaced by a movie sound effect.
When I was editing my comedy documentary The Rock ‘N’ Droll Experience I used some sound effects and I got the idea from that. I just liked the idea of experimenting with the form and content of sound effects. It’s a simple, silly idea with which to have fun with so for example our protagonist yawns and it sound like a duck quack. There’s no depth involved just a one-joke short.
MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS – COMEDY
At the cinema ALICE and her boyfriend JOHN are terrorised by the noises made by fellow filmgoer, DARREN. When an argument ensues between them the characters from the film also take umbrage as chaos ensues.
This was inspired by my own experience of rude crisp and popcorn munchers at the cinema. So I set out to write something ridiculous and funny that deals with that particular pet hatred of mine. The idea of the characters on the cinema screen coming to life and interacting with “real” people is not new and clearly influenced by Woody Allen’s classic Purple Rose of Cairo.
SAMARITAN – DRAMA
Two strangers reach out for each other on Beachy Head.
This is a very heavy drama about the desire to commit suicide. My filmmaking partner Gary O’Brien suggested I write something about an older man and younger woman but without any suggestion of anything sleazy. On TV and film older males are often characterised as “dirty old men” and he wanted to portray something nobler. Lastly, I had visited Beachy Head recently and found it to be a beautiful place tinged with a suggestion of tragedy as it is apparently a suicide spot for people in the UK.
C’EST FINI – EROTIC DRAMA/COMEDY
HOSTAGE and KIDNAPPER find themselves attracted to each other in twisty crime drama.
Essentially an extended sketch I wanted to write something that was risqué and a little bit saucy so utilised oft-used kidnapping scenario for a dark story with a twist in the tale.
THE SHREDDER – COMEDY/HORROR
Workaholic JONATHAN LAKE finds himself terrorised by a Shredder while working late at the office.
As someone who has spent long hours missing their family at a dead end job I wanted to do a simple morality horror story. Here the main character is committing more time to work than his family and the Shredder is a necessary evil to remind of what is actually more important. The horror genre is always good for symbolism of this sort and this film is silly but with a serious message.
RE-CYLE – POETIC DRAMA
The up-and down journey of a bike from the United Kingdom to Africa.
In Britain, millions of bikes are thrown away or lie unused in sheds, whilst many people in Africa have no access to transport of any kind. So, I wanted to chart the story of a bike from the UK and follow its journey to a new home in Africa. A bit of a preachy one this one with a serious message as in the UK and Western world we take so much for granted and chuck things without making proper use of their potential.
TOLERANCE – HORROR
SADIE CORT plots evil revenge on the sex-addicted boyfriend who did her wrong!
Good old-fashioned revenge story here with a little twist. Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe and Roald Dahl this is a sweetly plotted two-hander which I really enjoyed writing because it’s funny and involves bloody death.
FAMILY TIES – HORROR/COMEDY
Having killed his father and made it look like a suicide, SIMON BORG is hunted down by the tie he strangled GERRY BORG with.
Similar to The Shredder this finds an inanimate object – a Tie – taking on anthropomorphic powers and wreaking havoc. It’s obviously ridiculous but I like the idea of an object representing an emotion or feeling; and in this case it is guilt. Also, I love the idea of playing this one straight with heavy drama and homage to Jaws (1975) thrown in.
YOU HAVE A NEW FOLLOWER – DRAMA/MONOLOGUE
Following a mysterious time-slip, KEVIN MANN’S life is thrown into flux when he finds out he has a double.
This idea was inspired by the many doppelganger films and stories around and I wanted to have a go at one of those. I also wanted to write something about a really normal, “boring” person and how they might react to having another version of themselves in existence.