by Aniků J. Bartos & Alan C. Baird [return
"ELEVEN THOUSAND VIRGINS"
Aniků J. Bartos & Alan C. Baird
© Aniků J. Bartos &
Alan C. Baird
e: HotTip [at] Gmail.com
. . .
EXT. NAPA VALLEY FIELD - DAWN
Thirtyish, long-haired, bearded ALEX helps unfold a large expanse
of nylon material which will eventually grow into a hot-air
balloon. LARS HOLSTRUM, a camera around his neck, also helps;
RICK SHEEHAN, a balloon pilot, directs the logistics. NICOLE
BOISVERT hugs Alex, then hesitantly plucks at a mass of nylon
sitting on the ground in front of her. REVEREND CLYDE HIXSON, a
Baptist preacher, stands well away from the hubbub, cradling a
Nicole, walk the envelope out downwind.
Are you certain this balloon will hold all of us, Rick?
Last week, I took up a hefty group of five Weight
Lars, Nicole and Alex join his LAUGH somewhat nervously.
Rev. Clyde's eyes venture skyward as his lips move slightly.
It's threatening to rain. Rick sets up an industrial-sized,
gasoline-powered fan next to an elaborately woven wicker basket
that's large enough for six. Propane tanks and flexible tubes
line the basket, culminating at the apex, which supports a huge
stainless steel burner. Five feet away, Rick pull-starts the
FAN, and directs Lars to suspend a fold of nylon in front of it.
The blowing air gets under the fold of nylon, and a nylon bubble
MONTAGE - JUMP CUTS - CONTINUOUS
Throughout this scene, we will jump-cut to compress time a bit;
the largest of these jumps will only be five minutes or
thereabouts. As Rev. Clyde stands apart, everyone else lends a
hand in stretching out the nylon, running inside the growing
nylon bubble to check for rips in the envelope, and clowning
around inside the circus-tent-like structure that's growing by
leaps and bounds. It's huge, it's colossal; it's certainly
bigger than a breadbox. Rick finally orchestrates everyone out
of the envelope, and has them help him tip the woven basket on
its side. He STOPS the fan, and FIRES UP the burner; while the
fan was loud, this burner is deafening. The effect is awesome,
as the flame jumps out sideways a good five or six feet; it's hot
blue on the underside of the flame, shading away to yellow on the
top. Everyone stands back, suitably impressed. Another ten
minutes pass in JUMP CUTS, while the burner heats the air inside
the envelope. As the nylon takes shape, it gradually forms into
a Gothic cathedral. The balloon/cathedral swells on its side and
slowly drifts upright, standing easily eight stories tall. Rick
keeps the burner pointed inside the nylon opening, letting the
woven basket be pulled up from its side by the growing lift in
ANGLE ON ALEX AND LARS
They stand at some distance from the balloon and the ROAR of the
burner. Rev. Clyde stands an equal distance on the other side.
(indicates Rev. Clyde)
Where did you find that guy?
We set the whole thing up over the phone. I guess not
too many preachers are willing to go up in a balloon to
perform a wedding.
Nicole joins them, rubbing her ears from the noise.
I asked the minister to keep it short.
Alex bends over to pick up two bottles of MoŽt champagne, and the
group heads toward the balloon.
Since you can't control the direction of these
monsters, you take along two bottles of champagne - one
to apologize to the farmer when you land in his field,
and one to drink while you wait for your ground crew to
pick you up!
Everyone LAUGHS as they walk, but the DIN of the burner quickly
drowns them out. The basket, with Rick in it, is finally in an
upright position again - and Rick nervously checks the clouds.
He shuts off the burner, and our ears ring from the sudden
Can everyone still hear? Lars?
(holding his ears)
I think I've gone blind.
LAUGHTER all around. Rick points up at the sky.
The weather's not cooperating. We won't be able to go
GROANS from everyone except the good Reverend. He starts walking
toward his car.
But... we can get you married in a balloon today, if
you don't mind bobbing at the end of a hundred-foot
Today's your birthday...
...and we wanted to do it on the year's shortest day...
...so let's go for it!
A CHEER from everyone - except Rev. Clyde, who looks
disapprovingly over his shoulder, then walks glumly back to the
group. Rick directs everyone to climb into the basket, as he
arranges the tether rope.
Now we have to build up some lift.
Rick pulls on the chain that fires up the burner with a mighty
JUMP CUT - A FEW MINUTES LATER
Rick is still yanking on the burner chain as he leans over to
drop a burlap bag of sand ballast outside the basket. The basket
shudders and rises a few inches. Rick motions everyone to heave
a sandbag over the side, and as they do, the balloon/cathedral
rises smoothly into the damp morning air. When the balloon is
bobbing gracefully at the end of the tether rope, Rick releases
the burner chain. The SILENCE and the fog-shrouded view of the
Napa Valley are almost mystical.
It's all yours, Reverend Clyde.
That's Reverend Hixson to you. (gathering himself) In
the beginning was the Word, and...
The Reverend CONTINUES in this vein, reading from his Bible in a
Fundamentalist hellfire-and-damnation theme. Alex and Nicole
slowly, discreetly snatch looks of incredulity at each other,
with raised eyebrows, shrugged shoulders, etc. Lars stops
snapping pictures to get a load of this weirdo.
(whispers to Alex)
I thought we were getting the version without the
extended drum solo.
Alex nearly loses it, smothering a laugh into a COUGH. The
Reverend is oblivious to everyone's smirks. Lars goes back to
JUMP CUT - A FEW MINUTES LATER
The balloon is CREAKING, and seems to be settling somewhat - the
once-taut tether rope hangs with several feet of slack in a
looping curve, and Rick checks it nervously every few seconds.
Finally, he gets up the nerve to interrupt the Reverend's RANT:
I'm sorry folks, but we're losing altitude, and I have
to fire up the burner again.
The Reverend gives Rick a disdainful look, but closes his Bible
with his finger in it to mark the spot. Alex and Nicole stifle
grins as Rick pulls the burner chain again - the burner THUNDERS.
Alex takes a picture out of his pocket to show to Lars - on the
back are the words "WEDDING ANNOUNCEMENT - TIMES SQUARE
ELECTRONIC BILLBOARD - NIGHT." He turns the picture over, and
sure enough, there's the billboard in stark black and white, with
the glittering lights of New York City providing a backdrop. In
letters that must have been four feet high in the original are
spelled the words "AFTER SIX YEARS OF LIVING IN SIN, ALEX AND
NICOLE FINALLY TIE THE KNOT!" Nicole and Alex hug and rub each
other's back, while Lars beams hugely and gives a thumbs-up sign.
Lars peers around them to glance at the Reverend, who is facing
away from the group. Lars holds his hands in front of him like
he's wringing out an imaginary washcloth. Yep, agree Alex and
Nicole, he's one of the more twisted human beings they've ever
met. Everyone silently laughs under the burner's ROAR, including
Rick, who has eavesdropped this visual interchange. The Reverend
continues to look out over the fields, ever oblivious.
JUMP CUT - YET ANOTHER FEW MINUTES LATER
The tether is taut, the burner is OFF, and the Reverend is AT IT
AGAIN. He sounds like he's in the middle of Leviticus, headed
straight for Deuteronomy. He's a man with a mission, he's on a
roll, and he's wailing, so to speak - he sees it as his job to
make sure these irreverent heathens are good and married, by God.
The Reverend is in the Zone: he's Jimi Hendrix with an electric
guitar, he's Wayne Gretzky with a hockey puck, he's Steven
Spielberg with a Holocaust. Everyone else in the balloon is
marking time, just waiting for their cues.
JUMP CUT - STILL ANOTHER FEW MINUTES LATER
Rick pulls and tugs at his collar - he looks hot and confined,
even though he's wearing a loose teeshirt on a cool day. He
tries throwing a sandbag overboard in the middle of the
Reverend's SPIEL, to no avail. The tether droops loosely. The
Reverend is in a world of his own - he's surprised only when the
ROAR of the burner interrupts him in mid-scripture. His mouth
continues moving for a few seconds as he looks up at the burner,
then accusingly at Rick. Rick avoids his gaze, and stubbornly
holds onto the burner chain.
JUMP CUT - A FINAL FEW MINUTES LATER
This is a WIDER SHOT of the balloon basket; the burner's OFF, and
if we look closely, we see what seems to be a couple of legs
dangling below the far side of the basket. Everyone is leaning
over that side.
CLOSER ANGLE - LOOKING DOWN OUT OF THE BASKET
The Reverend's white knuckles are barely gripping onto the
outside edge of the basket, and Alex is holding the Bible over
his knuckles, threatening to give them a sharp rap:
Say the words, Reverend.
(terrified, but grudging nonetheless)
Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?
(smiles at Nicole)
Do you take this... (chokes it out) ...man... to be
your lawfully wedded husband?
(smiles at Alex)
I now pronounce you husband and wife. (at the end of
his patience) Will you please get me back inside the
As the ceremony has been taking place, Lars has been lowering the
balloon by pulling on the tether rope and coiling it outside the
basket. Rick now grabs onto the rope with Lars, nods to Alex,
and Alex SMACKS the Bible down onto the Reverend's knuckles.
With a SCREAM, the Reverend lets go of the basket. Since the
basket has been lowered to within a few feet of the ground, he
merely stumbles backwards, unharmed. The balloon, however,
shoots dramatically upward from the loss of his weight, as Lars
and Rick release the tether rope. Alex drops a check over the
side, and it flutters madly in the strong, WHOOSHING updraft of
There's your fee, Reverend.
ANGLE ON REVEREND
The Reverend comically chases the swooping, gliding check as it
descends to the field. While he runs, he breathlessly yells
What about my Bible?
ANGLE ON BASKET
Lars breaks open the champagne for a smiling Rick, Nicole and
Alex. Accepting a glass of bubbly from Lars, Alex holds the
Bible over the side of the basket between his thumb and index
finger, then negligently drops it.
. . .
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