In 2001, I was young and full of hope. Eleven years later I’m older and full of something other than hope.
Anyway, I took many writing classes at Orange Coast College back then with one of them being Screenwriting. While watching SpongeBob with Anthony tonight, they showed the episode titled Reef Blower which is the only episode without dialog. It’s only SpongeBob and Squidward acting out all of the scenes.
While watching I told Anthony that those are the most difficult scenes/episodes to write. As proof, I give you this: a scene I wrote from my younger and impressionable years as a college student. Note that this scene is not long but because I had to describe everything the character did, it only appears to be.
An apartment at night in Las Vegas, Nevada, lit only by a soft blue light from UPSTAGE RIGHT. We see a large window, a computer and mini stereo UPSTAGE CENTER, a couch, coffee table and TV at CENTER STAGE. The entrance is at STAGE LEFT, a bedroom door is STAGE RIGHT and the bathroom door is UPSTAGE RIGHT. A small kitchenette is located UPSTAGE LEFT. The coffee table has an answering machine and a picture of JAMES, a man in his mid-20’s, and his girlfriend YVONNE, his girlfriend of 3 years, who is in all respects his opposite: serious, demanding and older.
The sound of footsteps and jingling keys can be heard from behind the door from STAGE LEFT. The footsteps stop as the sound of jingling keys can still be heard. Fumbling, the keys fall to the ground and we hear JAMES utter an inaudible word. The keys can then be heard being inserted into the lock and the doorknob is turned, JAMES ENTERS in business attire, carrying his briefcase. He flicks the light switch near the door and the lights refuse to turn on. He tries again, then again to no avail. He pauses, thinks, sets down his briefcase and then claps twice – an action that then turns the lights on. The blue light fades. Shaking his head in disbelief and perhaps disgust, he walks to CENTER STAGE where he sees the red light flashing on his answering machine. JAMES sets his briefcase on the couch and plays back the message. It is from YVONNE, she explains that she will be working late tonight and not to wait up for her. Seeing this as an opportunity to be alone, JAMES throws his hands in the air, jumps wildly and lets out a loud howl. He looks at the answering machine which is still playing YVONNE’S message, sticks his tongue out at it, flips it off, turns around and slaps his rear end at it, all while laughing and dancing this crazy jig. JAMES EXITS UPSTAGE RIGHT through the bathroom door and returns seconds later barefoot, in boxer shorts and a “Make 7 Up Yours” t-shirt. While making his way to the kitchenette UPSTAGE LEFT, JAMES passes the answering machine and plays the message again, mimicking YVONNE’S voice. He opens the refrigerator door and pulls out a carton of milk. Still mimicking her message, he opens the cupboard for a glass. JAMES stops, thinks, puts the glass back and takes a huge drink of milk from the carton. YVONNE’S voice still taunting him, he takes another drink and sticks out his tongue at the machine. Milk dribbles from the side of his mouth. JAMES wipes the milk from his face with his hand, places the carton of milk back and goes to the window at UPSTAGE CENTER. He puts his hands on his hips and looks out, admiring the city lights. We see the back of his shirt, which reads, “Up Yours” in bold white letters. JAMES walks away from the window and sits on the couch. He reaches for the remote control, points it at the TV and presses a button. The TV does not turn on. JAMES shakes the remote and tries again, still nothing. He opens the back of the remote and shifts the batteries around and tries again. This time it works and he triumphantly raises his hands. From the TV we hear the sound of the Jerry Springer show, which consists mostly hoots and hollers. JAMES changes the channel until he finds something interesting: Japanese TV with subtitles. He watches for a second and changes the channel. He then comes across a Spanish TV station and watches the commercials intently. He points at the TV and laughs. While watching, he sees the picture of himself and YVONNE on the coffee table staring back at him. JAMES makes a face at the picture, reaches over and turns it face down so as not to be bothered. Deciding that watching TV was a waste of time, JAMES goes UPSTAGE CENTER to the computer and turns it on. The computer monitor blinks and the tower starts to hum. JAMES begins to bob his head to a tune in his mind. He then steps over to the stereo and inserts a CD. Bobby Darin’s “Mack the Knife” begins to play. JAMES mouths the words to the song as he sits in front of the computer, moving and grooving like a lounge singer. The computer still warming up, JAMES reaches for a rubber band on the computer desk and shoots it in the air. He grabs it as it falls back to earth and repeats this action three times while waiting for the computer to warm up. JAMES then clicks the mouse and in seconds he is online. The song continues in the background, JAMES still mouthing the words and bobbing his head. JAMES checks his email, which consists mostly of lame jokes he’s heard before. JAMES logs off. He sits in the computer chair and stares at the screen. JAMES moves his face closer to the monitor, then closer. He stares at the pixels making up the icons on the monitor and is amazed – for a moment. The phone rings, JAMES jumps from his chair. After the second ring, he walks to the phone, picks it up and hears nothing. He hangs it up, flips it off. JAMES stands in place for a second, his face crinkles and then he smiles and is relieved. “Mr. Sandman” begins to play in the background. After a few seconds, JAMES’ face of relief turns to disgust as he takes a casual whiff and he begins to fan the air in front of him, dodging it and waving at it like an unwanted fly at a picnic. JAMES pulls his shirt over his nose and mouth. He runs to the kitchenette for a can of air freshener and sprays the entire apartment. JAMES mumbles and slowly removes the shirt from his face, carefully takes another whiff and deems the air safe. JAMES removes the briefcase from the couch, lies down, closes his eyes and tries to get some sleep. Another song begins to play and JAMES gets up, goes to the stereo and turns it off. He lies down again, staring at the ceiling. He cannot sleep. He takes a deep breath and sits up, trying to think of a way to spend his precious time alone. JAMES scratches his head, looks around and sees his golf clubs in the corner. He walks over to them, grabs the driver and takes a few practice swings. He then goes to the window and opens it and moves the couch and coffee table out of the way. Facing the window UPSTAGE CENTER, JAMES places a golf ball on top of a small practice putting green. He takes a few more practice swings. JAMES takes aim at the open window and swings the club. He hits the ball, which flies out the open window perfectly. JAMES runs to the window laughing and looks out to see where it lands. A second later we hear a crash and someone yelling “HEY!” JAMES runs away from the window, EXITS UPSTAGE RIGHT to the bedroom with the golf club. He ENTERS, now wearing shoes and a pair of pants. He quickly places the table and couch back to their original position. JAMES runs across the stage, ducking to stay out the view of the window. He turns the lights off and EXITS STAGE LEFT. A few seconds later, JAMES ENTERS STAGE LEFT, still ducking and stumbling, goes to the coffee table and places the picture of YVONNE and himself face-up. JAMES EXITS.
There you have it. And before you ask, no, I don’t remember what grade I got on this.