Antihero Protagonist: Louis Bloom

NIGHTCRAWLER

Louis Bloom

Antiheroes come in shades of grey. Lou is the darkest of dark grey. He would be black in any story that didn’t feature him as the protagonist. There is not much redeeming to him. He is willing to manipulate and harm people to justify his own ends. Dan Gilroy, the writer of the film, describes him as a sociopath and refers to the film as an antihero success story.

The introductory scene brings Lou’s darkness out in a quick two pages. It is not available on YouTube unfortunately. So here is the scene in screenplay form.

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In two pages, Lou gets established as a creepy man who shouldn’t be trusted by people. Common story convention says to introduce your main character doing something that shows us who we are. So we begin here with our sociopathic antihero cutting a chainlink fence. As he notices that he is not alone, he turns and gives this charming yet unsettling smile.

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It’s not in the screenplay but it gives us our first impression of Lou. This is the first we actually see of him as the shot prior to this had him in the dark. Jake Gyllenhall killed it with his starved coyote look.

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He seems so feral in both appearance and in how he moves. When the security guard’s light hits him, he reacts like a nocturnal animal caught in headlights.  He gives his first words, a lie to get the guard’s defenses down. He feigns not knowing what he’s doing. We can tell he’s done this sort of thing his whole life. There is no worry nor tremble in Lou once he’s caught.

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He smiles wider and advances toward the officer, where he can get a better look at what he’s dealing with. His confidence grows once he sees that his opposition is only a security guard. He takes out his ID, continues his lie until he’s close enough to pounce.

We are given this image to close out the opening sequence.

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The fate of the guard is left up to our imagination. After seeing the entire film through and see what Lou is capable of, it’s scary to imagine just what he could have done to this man.

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Perception of Truth: Carcetti’s Speech

The Wire is arguably the greatest television show of all time. I haven’t seen enough classic television shows to give a definitive answer on that. The Wire never talked down to its audience and expected them to pay attention. Its messages were subtle. So subtle that at times the show’s messages could sail over the heads of its small, but dedicated audience.

How the audience perceives the message of scene is an important thing for a writer or director to consider when constructing a scene. The scene below is meant to show that Tommy Carcetti is no better than any other politician. He gives a long speech on how the city needs to be harder on the drugs-trafficking taking over the city. Carcetti’s words are passionate but lacking in substance. He offers no real solutions to the struggle of the people in Baltimore.

On the commentary for this episode, David Simon says that the performance of Aidan Gillen and the push-in of the camera imply truth to the audience. Aidan is so genuine in the fire behind his words that people don’t play attention to what he’s saying. Simon states that the push-in was done to show that this is Carcetti’s moment. This is where he becomes mayoral in the eyes of the people. He inspires people with the same words that have failed them in the past.

Simon commented that this showed that politics was more about the visuals rather than the words being spoken. Success in politics is about coming across as fitting for the position through your poise and articulation in debates. The content of your speech is secondary.

Antihero Protagonist: Light Yagami

Audiences have grown tired of the traditional heroic story. A virtuous person rising up against the forces of evil and darkness is saved for children’s stories nowadays. Adults are bored with idealistic heroes. They want flawed individuals at the center of their stories.

What is it about antiheroes that audiences love?

I have been watching films and television shows about antihero protagonists to find out the answer to that question.

DEATH NOTE

Light Yagami

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Every story needs the right protagonist. Death Note has a money one in the god of the new world, Light Yagami. A story about a high school student that finds a notebook that can kill people is a novel concept by itself. When that high school student is a genius sociopath with a god complex, you get the intriguing cat and mouse game that is Death Note.

The Character:

Under other circumstances, Light would be a traditional hero. He has many heroic qualities. He is highly intelligent. Determined.  Battling against the evils of society. His major flaw is his hubris. That same flaw is shared by many ancient Greek Heroes.

However, Light Yagami is a sociopath who revels in the destruction of his opposition. He murders thousands of criminals over the course of the story. He is so driven to his goal that he will manipulate anyone to achieve his ends. He believes he has the right to judge the world and no one should dare stand in his way. Those who do deserve death.

Pivotal Scene:

After killing Raye Penbar and a team of FBI agents sent to investigate him, Light Yagami realizes he has left himself exposed. Penbar’s fiancee, Naomi Misora discovers a clue that could implicate Light in the murders. Light runs into her and finds out her discovery through idle chitchat. He asks for her name. With a name and face, he can kill anyone. She gives him a fake one. With his life on the line, Light slyly gets the woman’s real name and kills her.

I chose this scene as it shows all the facets of Light’s character. This woman is his first real challenge. If he fails, he will be arrested and executed. He acts out of survival. He gains her trust with subtle lies and compliments. Once he has won, he tells her he is the killer the police are looking for. By then it is too late for Naomi to do anything.

On the surface, this scene is a man killing a young woman and getting away with it, a villainous endeavor. But this scene is  a battle of wits. Two intelligent people go back and forth until one comes out the victor. Ultimately Light uses Naomi’s emotional attachments against her.

This scene is very well-thought out and logical, among the best in all of Death Note.

Things To Be Learned:

An intriguing protagonist only remains intriguing against strong opposition. The eccentric L. Lawliet is Light’s rival in this story. L is the world’s great detective. He is as ruthless and cunning as Light is. He has the support of the police force and applies immense pressure onto the wannabe god. The cat-and-mouse game between the two of them is the backbone of this story. The story drops in quality after Light defeats L.

It’s important to not try to force the audience to feel a certain way about characters. Death Note lets the audience decide on whether they want to side with Light or L. The story teller should be putting on a show, not trying to push morality onto the audience.

Closing Thoughts:

Death Note‘s Light Yagami is the reason this anime is able to appeal to people who do not usually enjoy animation. He draws the audience in. People want to see him caught. People want to see him get away with everything. No one would want to be friends with him, but we do all want to see how he gets past his next big obstacle.

I look forward to the upcoming live action adaptation of Death Note. There have been interesting casting choices made. The portrayal of Light Yagami will be the key to the success of the adaptation. If the writers and director accurately transfer his character to the screen, then American audiences will be in for a treat.

But that’s a big if.

 

 

Movement in “Ghostbusters”

My copy of Robert Towne’s screenplay of Chinatown has a foreword from the man himself; An essay on the role of the screenplay in the film-making process and the importance of movement by actors. Here are a few noteworthy excerpts from that foreword.

“But it has always struck me that in movies, far more than in any other dramatic medium movement, not simply action, is the most defining of character.”

“Consider Fonda in Clementine again. His way of moving embodied paradox: at once awkward and graceful, diffident yet full of purpose, his ambling walk would shift effortlessly – like a powerful thoroughbred changing gaits to a long stride straight and relentless as a plumbine.”

“No one, I think, can really say what makes an effective screenplay because no one really knows what makes a screenplay effective. Certainly part of the problem stems from the fact that screenplays can’t be judged by reading them. They may read well or badly but that often says more about the reader than the screenplay.

The only way a screenplay can be evaluated, almost by definition is not on the page, but by viewing the movie it caused to be made. It certainly can be read and even enjoyed, but you’re stuck with the inescapable fact that it was written to be seen.”

The first quote is the one that stuck with me. Movement is the most important character aspect on the screen. It is fitting. Movies are moving pictures after all. The words on the page help the actor internalize the character and bring them to life.

1984’s Ghostbusters relies on the gifts of its talented acting staff, in particular Bill Murray. Murray is known for his one-liners and comedy. His movement is as essential as his voice to getting the audience behind Peter Venkman. gb1

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The “manic gleam” and “underlying instability” (this latter of the two would be considered cheating by an old writing professor of mine) are the information the page gives to the reader on the Peter Venkman character.

The scene flows well on the page, but is so much funnier on the screen.

I watched the scene with the sound off and watched all the little nuances he put into his performance. The little smiles he gives to the blonde Co-Ed. His eyes go wide when he’s talking to her. He’s encouraging her as he talks. He feigns amazement at her answers. Contrast that to how quickly he turns the cards around for the guy. He relishes in the electroshocks he gives the guy. He moves his hand over slowly and pretends like he’s not going to shock him. He moves his eyebrows to get the co-ed’s attention. Winks at her and Then he shock the kid. With no sound, it’s apparent that he wants the guy to go and for the co-ed to spend some time with him.

This is a just a damn good introductory scene because we’re given information about the supernatural and introduced to a character in a unique humorous way. By the end of the scene, we know Venkman. We can’t wait to see this guy bust some ghosts

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True Horror

David Fincher’s Zodiac is at its best when it uses the power of the screen to dramatize the horror and brutality of the Zodiac Killer’s killing spree in the 1970s.

I consider the depiction of the Lake Berrysea attack to be the film’s strongest scene. The scene where Robert Graysmith flees from the cellar as he hears steps above is a close second.

The horror in the scene is in the powerlessness of the two victims. Held at gunpoint, they have no choice but to listen to the demands of a hooded man. Horror films rely on excessive gore and creative murders to engage the audience. Unconventional deaths and weapons are used to shock the audience into jumping or grimacing at the violence on the screen.

In this scene, all we have is a pistol. It gives the Zodiac Killer all the power he needs to impose his twisted fantasies on this innocent couple. He does not need to shoot it. The threat of violence is enough to subdue them.

Fincher could have chosen to show us the backs of the the victims being pierced by the giant knife of the Zodiac Killer.  We could have seen blood splattering all over the place. Instead Fincher keeps us on the faces of the couple. They do not lose their humanity as the attack occurs. And that is why this scene works so well.

In your traditional horror film, humanity is stripped from the victims. We want to see them smashed, bashed, sliced, and crushed in crazy new ways. The killer becomes the hero. We root for them. How are they going to dish out the pain? Much like how we turn our heads as we drive to see the aftermath of car crashes, we watch horror films to see blood and gore. We want those stupid people to get what is coming to them.

Take this scene from Jason X.

Does anyone care about this blonde as her face is frozen and then smashed to pieces? We aren’t supposed to. She’s attractive but the lure and appeal of this franchise is the murder of attractive young teenagers. She is killed and then thrown away unceremoniously. She becomes an object for the audience’s blood lust.

These two films are wildly different in execution and concept but that is why I am comparing and contrasting them. They do both have the same job of trying to engage the audience using horror.

To go back to scene from Zodiac, Fincher does not give the audience a chance to turn the Zodiac Killer into a hero. The sound of the knife entering and exiting their bodies is terrifying. It’s unnerving to watch the couple’s reactions to the attack. No score is played underneath the attacks. The events play out like they did on September 27th, 1969. All we hear are the sounds of nature, the knife stabs, and the screams of the victims.

If one is to succeed at horrifying the audience, they must allow the victims of violence to retain their humanity.

 

When’s It’s Over, It’s Over.

The ending to The Matrix is so freaking awesome.

We go full circle from the beginning. Call backs to the opening scene can be a cheap narrative device but not here.  Neo completes his character arc, but the conflict of the story is not fully resolved. The war isn’t won yet. The human race is still enslaved by the robots. But as he takes off in the air, we know that he’s going to do it. He’ll save everyone because anything is possible if Neo can fly.

Here’s what it looked like on paper.

 

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It’s executed more effectively on the screen. The decision to cut the dialogue of the boy and his mom is a perfect example of less  meaning more.  “Men don’t fly.” was a good final line, but the music is a better fit.  I wonder if this scene was filmed and then changed later because it didn’t work.

I love this ending because the concept of The Matrix is fully realized. Neo can do anything. He’s gone from another guy trapped in the Matrix to the One. I love this ending so much I wish that there weren’t sequels to The Matrix.

The sequels have some intriguing concepts, but do not live up to the original. Seeing Neo flying around and fighting was not a thing I needed to see. I wouldn’t say the two other films were flat out garbage, but they leave a lot to be desired. Sometimes it’s best for films to stand alone.

The Anti-Climax

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The Sopranos is arguably the greatest television show of all time and has arguably the most controversial final scene of any television series.

At the core of The Sopranos’s final scene is the anti-climax.

The audience comes into the scene at Holsten’s expecting that something must happen to Tony. This is the last scene of a long-running mob show. Someone has to get shot or arrested.  But if look at the scene with no such expectation, you see it is a scene of a man sitting down to have a meal with his family. His daughter is late and some unknown man continues to stare at him before heading into the bathroom. Then the scene is over as he looks up. Fade to black.

What we have here is Act One of a story with no Act Two or Three. The normal world of Tony Soprano eating with his family and then a stranger appears. What does he have in store for Tony? Why does he continue to stare at him? Does he shoot Tony after leaving the bathroom? We will never get those answers. I do not have much interest in the answers to those questions. But I do have a very vested interest in the power of the Fade to Black and the lack of finite resolution.

David Chase could have given us three other endings here. He could have had the stranger in the Member’s Only jacket blow Tony’s brains out in front of his family for the shocking ending. He could have had the cops burst in and arrest Tony. He could have had Tony’s daughter park her car neatly, join her family and send the show off on a warm message.

But he chose none of those paths. Instead, Fade to Black as a door opens. The abruptness of the ending is what gives it its lasting appeal. The audience’s expectations are shattered and it is for the better of the show. Would anyone discuss the ending to this day if Tony were shot in the head? Or arrested? I know of people who dislike the ending and thought it was a middle finger to the fans.

But it was anything but that. David Chase rewarded his audience’s intelligence with an enriching ending. I found the ending to be reflective of how events pan out in life. Often times in life, we do not get the answers that we seek. Yet we can still be satisfied with what happened.

I do not think every story should have an ambiguous ending like The Sopranos. It requires a certain build-up. Those who paid attention to The Sopranos can see why it had to end the way it did. The abruptness of death is referenced throughout the final season.

There are lazy writers who write ambiguous endings because they don’t want to spend the time to figure out what the best ending for their story. They hide behind ambiguity and use it as a shield from criticism.

The anti-climatic ending can be a powerful story-telling tool in the right hands.

The Old Hat.

I used to be in a film club back in college. Our first year we struggled to complete a short film. I must have wrote this script about three to four years ago. The only locations available to film in were the college so I tried to think of a college story that could happen. Out came this script. We didn’t end up shooting this script. I can’t recall what we did instead, but I learned a lot from writing this little script. So I’m posting it.

FADE IN:
INT. SMITHSONIAN HALL – DAY

The inside of a standard college educational building. Recently painted white walls, and bland grey tiles. COLLEGE STUDENTS rush out of classrooms.

STEPH LEAF, 18, a brunette girl, walks a bit behind everyone. She stuffs her notebook into her dull purple purse. Suddenly a HAND grabs her arm!

She is whisked away into a dark, isolated corner where the lights are dim.

A HOODED FIGURE spins her around.

ERIC
It’s gone.

STEPH
Eric?

The man pulls his hood down REVEALING that he is ERIC DERING, 19, a Yankees fanatic who acts half his age.

Steph covers her mouth and averts her eyes! It’s the worst bed head that’s ever been in this or any universe. His hair stands on its edges, like he’s out of a Japanese anime.

Eric pulls the hood back down and starts banging his head into a nearby wall.

ERIC
I’m nothing without that hat. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

Eric bangs his head into the nearby wall.

STEPH
Stop!

Eric slumps to the floor. Steph sits down next to him.

STEPH (CONT’D)
Can’t you get another one?

ERIC
Yeah right, Steph! Another 1962 Vintage Yankees hat? Like my grandfather just has another one of those lying around, Steph! Oh gosh. What if my grandad finds out? He’ll kick me out of his will or worse, he’ll tell grandma! And she’ll tell Aunt Tes. And she’ll tell Uncle Riley. And then he’ll say “Not now I’m watching the game!” I HAVE TO FIND THAT HAT, STEPH! WHERE IS MY HAT?! OH GOD! WHERE DID I LEAVE IT!

Eric’s freaking out! Steph grabs him!

STEPH
Chill! Can you do that?! Please. Stay chill and I’ll help you find it!

Eric nods his head. Steph lets go of him. Eric opens his mouth wide. Steph stares him down. Eric shuts his mouth.

STEPH (CONT’D)
Be cool.

ERIC
But-

STEPH
When did you notice it was gone?

ERIC
This morning. I can’t

STEPH
Okay. Run me through your daily routine.

INT. ERIC’S ROOM – THIS MORNING
We see Eric sleeping in his bed. His room is disturbingly filled with Yankees Memorabilia. His walls are plastered with Yankees posters from the franchise’s history. His sheets are Yankee sheets. His chair has a giant Yankee TEDDY BEAR on it. Eric’s fast asleep under the covers with his butt in the air.

ERIC (V.O.)
My usual routine for Monday. First I wake up for my morning class. I get up and make my bed first thing. I wan to start my day off good.

STEPH (V.O.)
Mmm hmm.

An alarm goes off and it scares the bejeesus out of him!

Eric flops out of bed like a fish. He’s only wearing underwear! Derek Jeter’s wide grin smiles from the center of his bum. He panics and runs right into his Yankee Teddy Bear. He holds his back in pain and limps toward the bathroom.

INT. ERIC’S BATHROOM- DAY
Eric’s bathroom is the same as his room, Yankees stuff. There’s even Yankees toothpaste.

ERIC (V.O.)
Then I like put on deodorant. And then like brush my teeth. And try to catch a quick shower.

Eric stumbles into the room, still holding his back. He gazes into the mirror and tries to fix his horrendous hair. He takes out SPRAY DEODORANT with Alex Rodriguez on the side of it.

It’s empty. He shrugs his shoulders and chucks it behind him. It lands on a large pile of empty canisters.

He grabs his toothbrush. He brushes vigorously, so vigorously that it FLIES out of his hands and straight into the toilet!

Eric glances down into the toilet bowl. It’s filthy. Greenish-brown with a yellow tint.

He PLUNGES his arm into the depths of the toilet, splashing water all over himself.


STEPH (V.O.)

Can you get to the hat already?

ERIC (V.O.)
Oh. Okay.

INT. ERIC’S ROOM – LAST MONDAY MORNING

ERIC (V.O.)
I usually keep it in a special safe place. Nobody would ever think to look.

Eric unzips the back of the teddy bear. He checks to see if anyone’s around then pulls THE HAT of it. The hat is beat up and has several stains of questionable origin on it.

Eric breathes in the scent of the hat. Then places it on his head like a crown. It covers his head completely. He looks like a normal person now. Eric walks out of the room, beaming.

INT. SMITHSONIAN HALL – DAY

STEPH
So you had the hat when you left your house today?

ERIC
Yeah! That was the last time I saw it.

STEPH
What was the first class you took today?

INT. SOCIOLOGY 101 – THIS MORNING
Boring lecture. Eric is in the back. His legs are propped up on his desk with his cap over his face. He’s snoring up a storm. He sporadically scratches his crotch to the disdain of the GIRL sitting next to him.

ERIC (V.O.)
My socialism class.

STEPH (V.O.)
Sociology.

ERIC (V.O.)
No. I took that last semester.

Steph sighs.

INT. SMITHSONIAN HALL – DAY

STEPH
Wait! Isn’t that the class with The Chad in it?!

ERIC
Who?

STEPH
The Chad. Eric you don’t know The Chad? He’s the biggest guy on campus! Really big. Not the good kind of muscly big. Not that I like muscles on guys that much anyway.

Steph extends her arms to show his size. Eric’s lost.

STEPH (CONT’D)
He definitely stole your hat!

INT. SOCIOLOGY 101 – THIS MORNING
THE CHAD, a behemoth of a man, waddles in behind Eric. He belly-laughs to himself then swipes Eric’s hat off his head.

ERIC (V.O.)
How can you be so sure?

STEPH (V.O.)
He’s a Red Sox fan, Eric! How could you not know that?

The Chad carefully places a Red Sox Hat on Eric’s head.

INT. HALLWAY- AFTERNOON

Eric gasps!

ERIC
A Red Sox fan?! That explains this!

Eric whips out a Red Sox hat out of his backpack.

ERIC (CONT’D)
That son of a gun! I’ll throttle him! I’ll knock his block off!

Eric pops up from the floor with reinvigorated energy with his dukes up.

STEPH
Do you even know where he lives?

Eric deflates like a popped balloon back to floor.

ERIC
It’s over. I’ll never get it back.

STEPH
(rolling her eyes)
He’s a sophomore so he lives in Parker Hall.

Eric springs back up.

ERIC
To Parker Hall!

Eric kicks open a door in front of him and sprints away!

STEPH
(to herself)
Idiot.

INT. OUTSIDE THE CHAD’S ROOM- DAY
A yellow door with a Boston Red Sox 2004 World Champions poster is seen. Below the poster is “THE CHAD’S CHAMBER” written in red marker.

Eric zooms down the hallway past the door. Steph walks down the hall and stops at the Chad’s door.

STEPH
(panting and yelling)
Eric! His room’s down here!

Eric walks back to Steph. He bends over and pants.

ERIC
Hat. I gotta get it back.

STEPH
You got that figured out?

ERIC
Course I do doll.

STEPH
What did I tell about calling me, doll?

ERIC
Sorry.

ERIC (CONT’D)
So here’s the plan. I’ll knock on the door. He’s a Red Sox fan. He’ll attack me out of sheer jealousy since his team sucks complete balls! Worse than the Mets! And they really suck! Then I’ll put the boots to him. He’ll beg for mercy. I’ll kick him while he’s down and get the hat back.

STEPH
Put the boots to him? Have you seen this guy?

ERIC
The bigger they are, the harder I hit.

Eric rolls up his sleeve and flexes his stringy arms.

STEPH
Right. Go stand over there. I’ll get your stupid old hat.

ERIC
Oh. I see where you’re going with this. You’ll lull him into a false sense of security and then I’ll clobber him.

Eric winks at her and then sneaks down the hallway out of sight.

Steph shakes her head and knocks on the door. Tremendous footsteps shake the hall way. The Chad swings his door open. He’s squeezed into a quadruple extra large Red Sox t-shirt. He glowers down at Steph. Inside of his room, in the middle of his desk is ERIC’S HAT.

The Chad’s voice is deep and booming.

THE CHAD
Who dares to touch The Chad’s door?!

STEPH
I do.

THE CHAD
What business do you have with The Chad, woman?

STEPH
Are you like serious with this third person talking?

THE CHAD
The Chad is eternally serious.

STEPH
You took my friend’s hat.

THE CHAD
The Chad have not a clue what speak of woman.

Steph points at the hat. The Chad tilts his massive body slightly to the left to block the sight of it.

THE CHAD (CONT’D)
That is the Chad’s hat.
You expect me to believe you of all people would own a Yankees hat?

THE CHAD
The Chad doesn’t expect you to believe anything. The Chad expects you to get out of the Chad’s face, stop wasting the Chad’s time and skee-daddle!

The Chad slams the door closed.

STEPH
Right. Okay. I’ll leave.

Steph turns and starts to walk away.

THE CHAD (O.S.)
You better!

STEPH
I’ll go home. Fire up my computer, go online. Maybe hop on twitter! So many people on there these days. Maybe I’ll tweet at the Red Sox. They’ll love to know all about how one of their biggest fans is starting a Yankees hat collection.

The Chad’s door bursts open!

THE CHAD
(Panicking)
No! Not Twitter! The Chad will become a laughingstock in front of all the Red Sox Nation! Woman have mercy on The Chad!

The Chad grovels at her feet.

STEPH
Give me the hat.

ERIC (O.S.)
(yelling)
It’s clobbering time!

Eric runs down the hall, right into a FAKE PLANT! He topples it over and falls flat on his face! The Chad and Steph shake their heads.

THE CHAD
Just like a Yankees fan to get riled up over nothing.

The Chad hurls Eric’s hat out of his room.

THE CHAD (CONT’D)
Here! Take it! I don’t want the hat of a team that hasn’t won a championship in years. Haha! Suck it Yankee Doodle!

ERIC
(picking himself off the floor)
Yeah well, at least I can see my own feet.

THE CHAD
(almost crying)
Hey! Shut up!

The Chad scurries away and slams the door shut. Steph holds her nose and picks up Eric’s hat. She hands it to him.

Eric grasps it like it is his first born son. He kisses the hat then smells it. Steph nearly vomits.

ERIC
I missed you.

He places it on his head. The universal order has been restored.

EXT. OUTSIDE PARKER HALL- LATE AFTERNOON

ERIC
Thanks Steph. I don’t know what I would have done without your help.

STEPH
Just promise me, you won’t lose it again.

ERIC
Sure thing doll.

A strong wind whisks the hat right off Eric’s head.

ERIC (CONT’D)
NOOOOO!!!

Eric runs after it. Steph rolls her eyes and heads off in the opposite direction

FADE TO BLACK.

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Hope?

We live in a fucked up broken world. As of right now, there are people starving to death  while other people throw away excess food. There are people in countries dying of diseases that we’ve found cures for.  Someone has been raped. Someone has been tortured.  Someone somewhere has decided that enough is enough and ended their life. Someone just lost their home of many years. Someone had their lover cheat on them. Somewhere someone lies in a ditch dead with no one looking for them.

For the majority of my adult life, I haven’t believed in hope.

I saw it as delusion. Whenever my mother would hope for something, I’d always sigh. She was setting herself up for disappointment.

I thought there was no light at the end of a tunnel, only a long painful struggle with bright spots. Then you get hit by a bus and leave your wife to raise three kids and pay the mortgage. Even if things go right and you don’t die young, you watch your grandparents die then your parents die, then your friends die, and then you die

What hope could there be in our chaotic viciously violent world?

I was quite the Debbie Downer. I surrounded myself with cynicism which slowly became nihilism. I saw my life as purposeless. I wasn’t going to be remembered.

I’m not the smartest man. I’m not the richest. I’m not the best looking. I’m just a silly kid who likes complaining. I would be forgotten within two to three decades after my death. I thought that I was no one special and I could never be. I’d exist for 50 to 70 years and then I’d be gone for the rest of eternity.

But this ideology made my life feel like a waste of time. I couldn’t focus on my studies anymore. What difference did an A or B or C make in the grand scheme of things? I didn’t matter. Why waste my time trying at anything? It’d just be erased and invalidated the second I died. And that could be at any time.

I didn’t like this mindset. I didn’t have much reason to get out of bed when I thought my life was purposeless. I wanted to matter again. I reshaped my ideology and I left in room for hope.

It’s true that I couldn’t fight back the sands of time. I would grow irrelevant and forgotten once I was gone. But I could still do things that I find worthwhile during my time here. I could do work that I would be proud of. I had hope that I could figure out what this was before I died.

Recently I’ve figured out what I want to do. I want to drown myself in cinema. A movie takes years to make, but when it’s all done, it’s a beautiful thing to experience. On the big screen, we head off to worlds that existed merely in the heads of writers and directors before they put in work so the world could see. We see parts of the human spirit that we wouldn’t be able to experience otherwise.

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I want to be one of those people who could make their dreams come out of their head for everyone to gaze at. I want to be a screenwriter.

Since I’ve figured that out, I can’t think about anything else. I still can’t focus in my classes. I just want to learn more about this crazy industry.

Am I deluding myself by hoping I can write movies one day? Maybe. The chances of success are extremely low. I’d say 1 percent of all people who attempt to become screenwriters get anywhere in the business. It takes years of dedication and learning to become a competent screenwriter. That’s not even a recipe for success. You still need luck even if you have all the tools.

I don’t have the advantage of a going to a four year film school or even knowing anyone in the industry. All I have is passion. It’s all I got.

I hope it’s enough.