Pitch a Film on a Friday: Liverpool Greets Southampton: April 1912.

Scene 1: a waiting room at the quayside of Southampton docks. Posters on the wall exhort everybody to mind their luggage, their personal safety and boarding papers. The launch day of the Titanic has arrived. Whilst full of noise and bustle outside – porters shouting, announcements on the p.a. Etc., the room is quiet until Dick, and his wife, Ros, enter. They’ve arrived late for embarkation. Dick is nervous, excited at the thought of his wife’s imminent departure and the thought of being able to leave her: but he’s trying to translate his excitement into something resembling concern over his wife’s journey. Ros is subdued, uneasy about something but unable to identify the cause of her unease. She doesn’t want to leave Dick but desperately wants to see her parents again – they haven’t met since the marriage 10 years previously.

DICK
You’ve got the ticket haven’t you?

ROS
I thought you did.

DICK
Oh.

ROS
Calm down. You’re making me nervous.

DICK
Just imagine, setting off on the greatest voyage in the history of mankind within seconds.

ROS
I can’t fathom why you had to go and buy such an expensive ticket.

DICK
Don’t you want to see your mother?

ROS
Of course I do.

DICK
You haven’t seen her since the marriage. Now you’re going and you’ve not stopped complaining.

ROS
I know. I’m sorry.

DICK
She might be dead next week. Then how would you feel? Guilty, that’s how.

ROS
I wanted us both to go, not just me. They’d get to meet you at long last.

DICK
Well, I can’t can I? Someone’s got to earn the money to afford these holidays. Let’s have a look in that shoulder bag. (HE STARTS TO LOOK THROUGH IT).

ROS
Dick, I’m sorry, really I am. I didn’t mean it to be like this.

DICK
It must be here somewhere. Make-up case. Perhaps it’s in your make-up case.

ROS
I thought you wanted to come, I thought you’d meet them, I thought you could do with a break, I don’t want you slaving away at work, no-one to come home to of a night, it’ll be awful for you being on your own, I know how you hate it.

DICK
Why haven’t you got a decent makeup case?

ROS
(INCENSED THAT HE’S NOT BEEN LISTENING)
Look at that bag. I had it all neatly packed and you’ve ruined it.

DICK
I’ll put it all back.

HE STARTS STUFFING THINGS INTO THE BAG BUT IT DOESN’T FIT.

ROS
I spent an hour on that.

DICK
Let me try again.

ROS
All that fuss and you’ve forgotten the ticket.

DICK
I don’t understand it.

ROS
I won’t be able to go now.

DICK
You bloody well will, after all that palava. I’ll fix it.

ROS
D’you know, it’s as if you’re trying to get rid of me?

DICK
Don’t be daft.

A STEWARD ENTERS THE WAITING ROOM.

STEWARD
Morning everyone, bright as buttons are we? Ready for the big adventure?

DICK
You could say that.

ROS
You are, aren’t you?

DICK
Ros, please, not now.

STEWARD
Jolly good, jolly good. That’s what I like to hear. Got your ticket sir?

DICK
No.

ROS
I’ve hit on something here, haven’t I?

DICK
No.

STEWARD
Don’t go thinking you’re boarding the Titanic without a ticket.

ROS
What have you got planned up that sleeve of yours?

DICK
Nothing at all. Steward, I’ve come to wave off my wife. I shall be straight off your premises afterwards, fear not.

ROS
I bet you will.

DICK
But we have a problem, we can’t find our ticket. But we must be on your passenger list… look, there we are… Stubbs… Rosalyn Stubbs.

ROS
And who’s on your passenger list then Dick? Who are you sailing off with after you get shot of me?

DICK
Nobody. Rosalyn my dear, you really do talk the most indisputable garbage.
STEWARD
Are you sure? She might be anybody.

DICK
Well she’s not anybody. They’re nobody.

STEWARD
Pardon? No-one said anything about this sort of incident. I’d better report back.

DICK
But what about her, she’s got to get on the boat.

STEWARD
She’ll be allowed to board when it’s clear her papers are in order. If you’ll excuse me, I need to see my chief.

ROS
You’re panicking aren’t you?

DICK
I am not panicking.

ROS
Just suppose I miss the boat, then what? We go home and try again, but we can’t do that can we, because do you know why?

DICK
I haven’t wasted three thousand quid for all this…

ROS
No, because you’ve got a nice little tugboat sunning herself back home haven’t you?

DICK
I don’t know what you’re talking about.

(THE SHIPS STEWARD RETURNS WITH THE CHIEF STEWARD)

CHIEF
My steward says there’s a problem with your tickets.

ROS
I think you do and I think you’re lying through your pulled back grin and your newly capped teeth. Who is she then?

DICK
Ros, you’re making a scene.

CHIEF
Do you have any receipt of payment about your person?

ROS
You bet I am, you’re about to go screw some piece of fluff the moment we’re out of sight and you expect me not to make a scene. Is it Maud?

DICK
Excited, she’s just getting excited. Don’t be silly.

CHIEF
Hmm… Difficult situation. But in the circumstances…

DICK
The receipt, I’ve got the receipt!

ROS
It’s Jane, isn’t it? Jane with the bob?

CHIEF
Jones, take Mr. Stubbs here across to HQ, get hold of Temple, tell him there’s an emergency…

DICK
Jane and Bob? Honestly, Rosalyn, what do you take me for?

CHIEF
Tell him I’m requesting a D3 embarkation, and that he has to sort it out.

DICK
Thank you, thank you. I’ll be straight back.

CHIEF
Hurry up Mr. Stubbs. There’s no time to waste.

DICK LEAVES THE WAITING ROOM RAPIDLY.

ROS
It’s Jane you conniving piece of low life isn’t it? And you expect to pack me off to the States to have some sordid affair with some half baked haddock from accounts.

CHIEF
A memorable day, madam, the Titanic, the biggest ship in history. 46,000 tons. Certain to be quite a splash when it sets sail.

THE STEWARD RE-ENTERS

STEWARD
Mrs. Stubbs? What are you doing here? I thought you were on board..

ROS
Dick… where is he?

THEY ALL RUSH TO THE WINDOW AS THE BOAT LEAVES THE HARBOUR AMIDST HORNS BLOWING AND MUCH SHOUTING AND CHEERING.

ROS
Will you look at that. He’s on the boat, waving at us all. The nerve…

STEWARD
How on earth?

CHIEF
(SPOTTING SOMETHING ON THE FLOOR UNDER THE BAGGAGE) Madam… is this yours?

ROS
The ticket, it was there all along… what’s this… a letter… Dear Ros, by the time you read this… can’t cope any more with your jealousy… need to escape… new life on my own… will write soon. Dick.

STEWARD
So he wasn’t packing you off to the States to have an affair with a haddock.

CHIEF
Steward. Know your place.

STEWARD
Sorry Chief.

ROS
He’s gone. I don’t believe it.

CHIEF
Don’t despair madam. He won’t get far. He’ll be on the next fishing boat back to Southampton before he knows it. Taking advantage of the system like that.

ROS
Jealous? I’ll give him jealous. Just wait until he gets back. He’ll regret the day he bought that ticket, I can tell you.

CHIEF
A small drink perhaps to calm the nerves? Scotch on the rocks perhaps?

ROS
Thank you captain. I don’t mind if I do. And make sure there’s plenty of ice.

THEY LEAVE THE WAITING ROOM WITH THE SOUND OF SHIPS HORNS, SHOUTING CROWDS AND BRASS BANDS DROWN THEIR CONVERSATION.

FADE TO BLACK END

Pitch a Film on a Friday: A Lifetime in 5 Years

Pushing through the market square, many mothers sighing, a 16 year old boy with knife in hand, blooded, hunting for somebody, pushes baskets aside, stalls, traders, horses, fruit goes flying, carcasses of meat crash to the floor. He’s pushed over and he wakes with a start: his day dream over, KEN finds himself herded out of a police van, through the front gates of HMYOI (Her Majesty’s Young Offenders Institution) St. Albans in the Home Counties in the Spring of 1972.

HMYOI St. Albans provides ‘a family for those with no family; a jail which provides a respite from the prison of normal life (according to the institutions mission statement).

1621 is Ken’s prison ID number and highlights the 5 years he’s been sentenced for, following the alleged knife attack on his step father.

1621 is the 5 year story of his progress through the penal system and his appeal against his imprisonment. It takes 5 years for us to find out whether he was guilty or not.

The stories of HMYOI St. Albans are about the stories of young people who are about to lose 5 years of their lives. But it’s not just about the usual, stereotypical things we associate with prisons: haircuts, drugs, rough diamonds, violence, solitary confinement, bullying, Dear John letters, boredom, the inanity of it all.

1621 is about friendships, moralities, justice, criminalisation, socialisation, the subterranean lives of young men locked up: the secret laws, codes of conduct, languages, allegiances, ‘otherness’, punishment, reward, the journeys through adolescence (for both teenagers and staff), the myths of childhood, of adulthood, of adolescence.

But 1621 is not only their story; the program follows the stories of staff, friends and families who converge on the prison and play out their own conflicts and dramas over a 5 year period.

1621 is not a soap played out in ‘current real time’ but has a historical perspective. It starts in 1972 and has a cut off date, 1977, which is reached 5 years after the start of the series. It is seen as a mix of ‘soap opera’, ‘faction’ and ‘fly on the wall documentary’ with a cast of professional and non-professional actors. It is played against the soundtrack of the era, opening with David Bowie’s 5 Years from Ziggy Stardust.

Pitching Your Film on a Friday

In these days of austerity, going out to the cinema is beginning to cost more than a good night out. You’ll need to be thinking about parking, candyfloss, 3D glasses, meal after and before, a few drinks in the intermission never mind the price of the seat. And then there are all those interminaable adverts to sit through!

So why not settle back, buy in a few six packs and create the film in your own head?

Pitch a Film on a Friday allows you to do exactly that. By giving you – absolutely free – a pitch for a film that hasn’t yet been made, this blog enables you to become your very own film maker, casting agent, distributor, audience and critic all rolled into one. You can even imagine your own awards ceremony!

Pitch a Film on a Friday is released every Friday (surprisingly) just in time for the weekend. Settle down, settle back, put away your credit card and throw away your parking ways: the film is in your head and its just about to begin!

Pitch a Film on a Friday: Silly Games – there’s always some-one who breaks the rules and ruins it for everyone.

In these days of austerity, going out to the cinema is beginning to cost more than a good night out. You’ll need to be thinking about parking, candyfloss, 3D glasses, meal after and before, a few drinks in the intermission never mind the price of the seat. And then there are all those interminaable adverts to sit through!

So why not settle back, buy in a few six packs and create the film in your own head?

Pitch a Film on a Friday allows you to do exactly that. By giving you – absolutely free – a pitch for a film that hasn’t yet been made, this blog enables you to become your very own film maker, casting agent, distributor, audience and critic all rolled into one. You can even imagine your own awards ceremony!

Pitch a Film on a Friday is released every Friday (surprisingly) just in time for the weekend. Settle down, settle back, put away your credit card and throw away your parking ways: the film is in your head and its just about to begin!

PITCHING THIS FRIDAY: SILLY GAMES: It’s like all kids games: there’s always some-one who breaks the rules and ruins it for everyone.

It’s 5am, dark, a prison cell. WILLIAMS, MAYER, JONES, SMITH and BLACK gather together illicitly to embark on a game of An Eye for An Eye.

An Eye for An Eye is a routine prison game and is based on the children’s game of ‘Stuck in the Mud Tag’. Its goal is for a ‘judge’ to judge a ‘suspect’ (by knifing them) and for the ‘suspect’ to avoid being knifed by either running away or by receiving help from a ‘policeman’. The ‘judge’ can similarly call on help from a ‘witness’ if he feels his ‘judgement’ is not being particularly effective.

As in many games, the action of An Eye for An Eye is circular and roles of ‘judge’, suspect’, ‘witness’ and ‘policeman’ become interchangeable and when someone decides to break the rules as well, the consequences are shocking.

WILLIAMS, playing the role of judge, interrogates and terrorises JONES, who plays the role of suspect. WILLIAMS calls on MAYER as witness to JONES’ crime, which is unspeakable and unnameable.

The game gathers pace and excitement when SMITH and BLACK, playing the ‘policemen’, enter the game. WILLIAMS eventually wins the game; but he gets carried away and knifes JONES, MEYER and BLACK. He’s broken the rules and so has to play the part of ‘suspect’ next time round.

The game restarts after some disagreement as to who is playing what role. The game finishes prematurely when the prison’s first bell of the day sounds and the men have to return to their ‘normal’ lives…

Pitch a (football) film on a Friday: Fifty Years of Hurt! A football fantasy film with fun for all the family.

A rough and ready premise for a football rags to riches jumpers for goal posts toad turned prince naturalistic mythic saga about four ordinary lads who set out to do the extraordinary – taking a lower division football team to the heights of the premiere league, the league cup, the FA cup, European championships and world domination in Mexico city – and then management of the England football team in just one extraordinary, ordinary season.

Tom, Rick, Dave and Sally are four ordinary football punters – going down to their local team every Saturday, sitting through intolerable football matches played against intolerable opposition on intolerable Saturday afternoons in the wet rain snow sunshine fog and hailstorm, week in week out. Their team – Onthe’ead United has been suffering in recent years with a lack of money, gates, management, players and the final straw is the imminent take over of the ground by the devious property developers Snout Grubb and Lovely who are making no bones about their collective desires to buy up the ground and turn it into a multipurpose sports, shopping, leisure, youth justice community and DiY centre with optional allotments.

Our four heroes reckon in a drunken binge that they would be far more capable of running a football club than any of the erstwhile owners are obviously capable of. In a rash new years resolution they decide to take on the forces of the football association and law and order and make a rash attempt to take over the club. They offer anonymously through a third party New York financial executive who is in the process of bringing down the whole of western capitalism, a paltry sum to buy up the club, its players, grounds, assets, liabailities and club mascot – a mingy terrier called Jimmy Hill who has just been slung out of the kennel clubs’ regional annual dog show rounds, the finalists of whom will be making it to Crufts at the next international show. Jimmy Hill, a miserable little specimen is aggrieved at his rejection and plans, at the next available opportunity to take his revenge.

Much to our gangs surprise and chagrin their offer s snapped up by the clubs owners. Before the first week of the new year is up, the four have moved in and carved up the responsibilities between them. Tom fancies himself as a coach, only having ever been rejected by the school football teams when he was in primary school all those 40 years ago. He has a bone to pick with Stanley Unctuous, the teams centre forward who rejected him all those years ago but who has since fallen on hard times himself, turning into a semi part time alcoholic who plays football as a means to salvaging his credibility with his family who look askance at him from the side of the pitch every Saturday afternoon.

Fifty Years of Hurt! Your Saturday afternoons and English football will never be the same again.

Pitch a Film on a Friday: shaking up the habits of the film going public

In these days of austerity, going out to the cinema is beginning to cost more than a good night out. You’ll need to be thinking about parking, candyfloss, 3D glasses, meal after and before, a few drinks in the intermission never mind the price of the seat. And then there are all those interminable adverts to sit through!

So why not settle back, buy in a few six packs and create the film in your own head?

Pitch a Film on a Friday allows you to do exactly that. By giving you – absolutely free – a pitch for a film that hasn’t yet been made, this blog enables you to become your very own film maker, casting agent, distributor, audience and critic all rolled into one. You can even imagine your own awards ceremony! And as for the overwheening power of Hollywood? This is the place to put Hollywood firmly in its place!

Pitch a Film on a Friday is released every Friday (surprisingly) just in time for the weekend. Settle down, settle back, put away your credit card and throw away your parking worries: the film is in your head and its just about to begin!

Find all Friday pitches here.

Pitch a Film for a Friday: STUCK!

And you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?
Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime

A series of twelve five minute observational vignettes, Stuck portrays the tragi-comic stories of 12 people who are stuck: stuck in what look like bizarre routines to outsiders but to themselves, make perfect sense of their everyday if somewhat unconventional – some might say unsettling lives. It’s about outsider’s attempts to ‘unstick’ those people and connect them with ‘normality’ – when it was a bad dose of ‘normality’ which is what put our characters in their predicament in the first place.

Stuck-ees include:

Edith, 70, lives in an OAP home – she’s Polish, had – according to her photo album – a life of partying, family and good times – but now, after a stroke, can only speak 15 words of Polish in a perpetual cycle, broken up by her occasional and obvious frustration that she can’t say anything else. Her speech therapist tries to snap her out of this cycle using a variety of speech therapy methods – and just when she thinks she’s about to succeed, it appears that Edith resorts to her 15 word mantra, thwarting her therapist, her family and perhaps herself.

Paul, an old man of indeterminate age or background who cycles up and down the same road in Liverpool, searching the bins, very early every Monday morning. His encounters with the local traffic police and milk men offer no clues as to why he takes this route everyday but a wheelie bin cleaner has taken to Paul and attempts to connect to him by talking to him daily, engaging him in conversations about peoples bins and finding out what makes him tick – or what makes him stuck.

Ben, a 29 Geordie ex-student of 8 years who since leaving college has developed a highly successful business in selling Class A drugs. His business has various unsocial side effects though – and consequently he has found himself housebound, a prisoner of his success for the last 3 years, unable to make any contact with anyone outside his bedroom, kitchen and bathroom.

STUCK offers no sociological explanations or theories to our character’s ‘stuckiness’ but offers us an opportunity to review our own habits, obsessional behaviours and opportunity to ask ourselves, ‘well, how did I get here?’

Pitch a Film on a Friday! A Beggarly Account of Empty Boxes: a 5 minute Romeo and Juliet with a cast of 1 and 2 dummies

It’s Brighton Pier, late Autumn. There’s an end of the pier show about to take place in the theatre, late on a Wednesday afternoon. It’s cold, desolate. Signs are banging in the wind, advertising…

“Father Larry presents…. Shakespeare as you’ve never seen before! Come wonder at the marvels of modern science!”

A lacklustre audience of end of the pier visitors drift out of the theatre and idly kick their heels around, waiting for the start of the main attraction – Father Larry.

A shifty looking Vicar – Father Larry – rushes up the pier, straightening up his dog collar, adjusting his trousers, wiping the lipstick off his collar and generally trying to tidy himself up and make himself respectable. He avoids the audience gathering by the front door of the theatre and squeezes himself through the stage door whilst no-one is looking.

He’s had a quick couple of scotches in the interval as a desparate attempt to continue the audience suspension of disbelief for the final 30 minutes of his show. He heads back stage to his dressing room, avoiding the stage hands and curses of the theatre manager.

Back stage, Father Larry’s dressing room. 2 large cane crates are placed in the centre of the room, with two large ventriloquist dummies left carelessly on top of them, limbs askew, clothing untidy. One’s a dummy of a young girl – Juliet – the other of a young boy – Romeo.

They both are trying to hold a conversation with other dummies which are stored away in the crates. It becomes clear they’re from two warring families – both are exhorted to return back to where they came from – their crates – by their families inside the crates and both agree that’s what they’ll do as soon as they’re physically able to do so.

They can’t stand the sight of each other as it happens anyway – they trade insults relentlessly and try to move their wooden bodies into a position where they could be taken back to the bosom of their families.

Father Larry crashes into the dressing room, swearing and sweating profusely. He’s been told that unless he sharpens his act up, he’s out of a job from the end of the afternoon. It’s been a disaster out there on stage and he’s got minutes to redeem himself and his act. His livelihood is nearly over.

He gets hold of the dummies angrily and tries manipulating them to talk to each other, to care for each other. They do as he says – although we sense their own individual dummy reluctance.

He acts out their family quarrels, disputes and expectations and urges them to love each other, much against their will. They comply but find subtle ways of resisting – falling of their crates, asking for a gottle of geer, that sort of thing.

He gets angry and bullies them into doing as he decides. He forces them into uncompromising sexual positions. They resist, he breaks them up, one by one, piece by piece. His act and livelihood are falling apart before his eyes.

When the pieces of the dummies have been flung across all corners of the dressing room, he realises what he has done. He’s distraught and tries putting them back together again, in vain. He tries to exert his religious influence on them, but to no avail. “A plague on both your houses!” he hisses at them. They both end up badly and violently damaged, strewn across the floor of the dressing room.

There’s a knock on the door. The second half of the show is about to begin. His time’s up. He has no option but to go on stage, empty handed. He tries playing out the role of the dummies himself but the audience see through him and drive him off stage.

He staggers woodenly down to the end of Brighton Pier, unable to shake off the dummy mannerisms that he’s adopted. His complexion has turned grey, his eyes – a mad staring look, his mouth – fixed in a permanent grin. “Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow,” he mutters to himself. He stares out at the sea, tears rolling down his cheeks whilst still continuing to smile.

Pitch a film for Friday: TYTHING MAN!

TYTHING-MAN is a hardhitting, action packed political thriller set in Anglo Saxon Britain in 1098 AD.

We’re in a world we wouldn’t recognise as contemporary Britain or Europe: English society was organised around the Kingdoms of Mercia, Northumbria, Wessex, Kent, the Five Boroughs and East Anglia. Each Kingdom had its own King who had his own companions – The Earls and Landowners – who formed the basis of the nobility. Below them were the Ceorls – Farmers – and at the bottom of the pile were the serfs and peasants.

We’re in a time when the most significant technological advances were the horse collar, the tandem harness and the nailed horse shoe which did for the 11th century what steam did for the 19th and computerisation did for the 20th. This is a time when most people would hardly ever have seen a horse, and indeed, would have been terrifed of what a creature might represent.

This was a time of immense power and cultural shifts, with power shifting from being run on a Tribal to Feudal basis as the Norman Conquest of 1066 eventually took control of ‘England’.

But this was not a time of easy transition: tribal communities were breaking down, loyalties were changing from tribe to the state. Whilst paganism was reluctantly being replaced by Christianity it still had an active influence: Gods representing the days of the week: Tiw (a War God), Wodan (a Wizard), Thunor (God of Thunder) and Frig (Fertility Goddess) were all actively worshipped for the favours they could bestow upon their worshippers. Witches, giants, elves, dragons, sea monsters and nicors were all real forces and influences in people lives and had to be respected. Battling against these pagan forces was the Christian Church which, as well as offering moral and spiritual guidance, played an important part in the legal process: overseeing the plunging of an accused’s arm into a pan of boiling water, assessing the injuries later and then deciding on guilt or innocence on the basis of those injuries for instance.

Anglo Saxon Britain was not a place for the faint hearted.

This was a time when justice was rough, ready and directed by the community who had suffered at criminals hands. Communities would elect their own representatives – the Tything-Men – to secure peace and order for their communities. But like so much else of the era, judicial processes were also in a state of flux: ‘bottom up’ justice was giving way to ‘top down’ justice and the right to police the community was shifting away from the People to the State.

This is the time when the Tything Men secured order for the ordinary man and woman and jealously guarded their power and the film, TYTHING MAN, is their story of the struggle of progress and tradition, of community and state, of logic and superstition, of Religion and paganism, of the heart and mind.

Pitch a Film on a Friday: Len and the Art of Motorway Maintenance

LEN AND THE ART OF MOTORWAY MAINTENANCE is a full length road movie which crosses the English coast to coast, Hull to Liverpool, and traverses the musical tastes of our times.

It’s the story of a family of three – LEN (father), VAZ (son) AND JENNY LOOSE (daughter) who make a trip to their musical Meccas in Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool along the length of the M62 in a bid to heal their musical and personal differences. LEN is not just a travelogue but maintains a dramatic tension which is driven by a strong character base with strong needs and desires.

LEN – the father, hippie poet of 50 whose spiritual home is Liverpool. Into solstice lines and paranormal phenomena. Protested against Leeds becoming the Motorway City of the North in the 60s and still refuses to use the ring road. VAZ – the son, a punk ranter, 25 at ease in Bradford. Bash the rich, via Blair via pets lib. via digging tunnels via boredom. Deep in the vegan underworld. JENNY LOOSE – the daughter, a new romantic-industrialist, no-one’s too sure about her gender. Searching for Ian Curtis from Joy Division who she thinks didn’t really die, he just took up sharing a flat in Hulme and can’t find his way out.

In LEN, the family are saddled at the beginning with an unspoken and unacknowledged source of grief which is resolved by the end of the film.

Inspired very loosely by the Robert M. Pirsig novel ZEN, AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE, LEN… is intended not only as paying a humorous and quirky tribute to the ‘motorway that never freezes’ but also sees the journey along the M62 as a metaphor for the family’s healing and reconciliation.

Whilst there have been both many American films of the genre (Wild at Heart; Natural Born Killers; Thelma and Louise)and German films predominantly directed by Wim Wenders (Kings of the Road, and Paris, Texas) a successful British Road Movie has still to be made: Len and the Art of Motorway Maintenance could just be that film!