"Merlinsky" 3-page sample

by Anikó J. Bartos & Alan C. Baird   [return to synopses]


                          Screenplay By

                  Anikó J. Bartos & Alan C. Baird

                                    Registered WGAw
                                    © Anikó J. Bartos &
                                      Alan C. Baird
                                    e: HotTip [at] Gmail.com
                                    w: www.9TimeZones.com

. . . EXT. FAIRGROUNDS - DAY Huge signs proclaim "INDIO DATE FESTIVAL" and "OSTRICH DERBY THIS AFTERNOON." CROWDS of people stream under the archway entrance to the grounds. A carnival atmosphere prevails: cotton candy, stuffed animals, etc. EXT. OSTRICH CORRAL - CONTINUOUS A CLOSE-UP of a veritable forest of long necks, bobbing around nervously, slowly PULLS BACK to reveal the competitors in the upcoming spectacle. "Chariots of Fire"- or "Ben-Hur"-type MUSIC swells in the background, as the jittery ostriches strut around the corral. EXT. FAIRGROUNDS BLEACHERS - CONTINUOUS It's a small set of bleachers, but it's filling up fast - MIGRANT WORKERS, FARMERS and LOCAL TOWNSPEOPLE crowd in to root for their favorite bird. VENDORS walk through the crowd, selling popcorn, sodas and fake ostrich feathers. JAKE and HARRY sit up in a corner; Harry's as excited as a kid. ANNOUNCER (O.S.) Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to welcome you to the Indio Date Festival Ostrich Derby! The crowd CHEERS. ANNOUNCER (O.S.) (continuing) Just to briefly acquaint you with the ancient sport of ostrich racing, these birds are hitched to a chariot, much like you would a horse, but that's where the similarity ends. ANGLE ON FAIRGROUNDS TRACK On the quarter-mile oval dirt course, three sets of ostrich-chariot conveyances are being led to the starting line, at the beginning of the near straightaway. The ostriches are skittish, and their HANDLERS have a hard time keeping them on the ground. ANNOUNCER (O.S.) (continuing) Ostriches do have wings, but they cannot fly more than a few feet. Although it looks like they're trying to prove me wrong today... The crowd LAUGHS and a few people point at a particularly obstreperous bird. ANNOUNCER (O.S.) (continuing) Through trial and error, its been found that ostriches will not respond to a bit, like a horse. So, in order to steer an ostrich chariot, you have to understand that an ostrich will shy away from an area he can't see. (pause) Our chariot drivers have brought the highly specialized equipment they need in order to block the vision of their steeds on either side of their heads. Three COWBOY-types walk on the track, carrying ordinary household brooms. As the crowd reacts with LAUGHTER, the cowboys smile and brandish the brooms in the air, like conquering heroes. They mount their chariots, and the handlers let go - the race is on! It soon becomes apparent that steering an ostrich is an inexact science at best - one chariot gets turned around, and starts heading off the track, despite the best efforts of the driver, with his broom, and the handler, who simultaneously tries to grab the bird's neck, and stay out of the way of his powerful feet. The other two birds head for the end of the straightaway, with minor detours - one wants to fly into the crowd, only being restrained by the weight of the chariot he drags. The people in his intended path, despite two protective railings, decide that a seat further back in the bleachers might be a wise idea. The third bird runs, more or less in a straight line, directly toward a ten-foot wall at the end of the straightaway - he pays no attention to the broom blocking his vision on the right side of his head. Rather than starting a left turn to stay on the oval track, the hapless ostrich runs smack into the wall, and unsuccessfully attempts to scale it. A crowd of handlers converge on the would-be escapee; it's all in a day's work for them. The crowd, after a stunned silence at the apparent randomness of it all, TITTERS nervously, then gets into the spirit of the event. The next round of competition involves clowns and funny hats on the ostriches, with pretty much the same inconclusive race results. Over "Keystone Kops"-type MUSIC in the background, a MONTAGE of CAMERA SHOTS captures the zany bedlam of ostriches, chariots, brooms, thrills, spills, and a cowboy riding bareback on an ostrich headed straight for a wall. ANGLE ON HARRY AND JAKE Jake is laughing, and Harry's having the time of his life - until he spots a face in the crowd. HARRY'S P.O.V. The MAN Harry sees is in profile; he does not look toward Harry. We get a fleeting impression of a swarthy face, with bushy black eyebrows and a black handlebar mustache, wearing a dark homburg. ANGLE ON HARRY AND JAKE Harry climbs over the back railing of the bleachers, and motions for Jake to follow him, never taking his eyes off the man. The two clamber down through the girders to the fairgrounds below, and hustle off through the crowd. . . .

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