When I wrote that three-act treatment last August I didn’t have the slightest suspicion that we’d be living through something like we are right now by the time I returned to expand it. Then once we were under quarantine, I thought it would be horribly insensitive to revisit it. At this point, I’m not so sure about that. The pandemic element is ultimately ancillary to this story, and thinking about it I guess helps me turn some concepts over in my mind. How constructive that is will remain to be seen. This story has come to mean a lot to me, though, and I think it will evolve a lot now that I’m fiddling with it during a strange reflection of its own premise. Maybe I will, too.
I don’t have specific plans for anything with this, but I’m writing it while imagining it in a visual medium, for practice and variety. This first draft isn’t in any kind of standard format, just something that seems to make sense to me. I hope someone else somewhere gets something out of it.
Abyssal (first draft)
Open on TECH hoeing a patch of arable land. At first low, tight shots to avoid revealing the environment. At first it’s silent except for the sounds of him working, but after several seconds he stops, presses some very tiny headphones into his ears, and taps on a mobile device to play some music. When you get a glimpse of the sky past him it just looks like a weirdly dark night. After a little more work, and muttering to himself, TECH takes out his headphones and gestures for the mobile device to play through a speaker. Shot of a speaker, which is one of many, off to the side in the field, in a cluster of other strange electronic equipment. The speaker plays a chaotic song by Sun Ra. TECH turns the volume up with more gestures. He works more, paces, mutters still. He scatters the last few handfuls of seeds from a bag, tries to tear the next one open, and the pulltab comes off. He goes to a shed to exchange his hoe for a pair of clippers, and the door sticks. He gets frustrated trying to open it before he sees that it’s running an atmosphere check before it unlocks. TECH rests his head on his arm on the shed and takes a long breath. Longer shot to reveal the shape of the space he’s in, then a lateral shot along a window, showing the glass and faint hints of sea life moving beyond it. The light amplification turns on and reveals the endless abyssal plain on which the lab is situated. TECH gets into the shed and thrusts the hoe in and gets the clippers. The glimpse you get of the shed reveals that all the equipment is old, dirty, and worn. There’s also a big vent inside with a complex readout beside it. TECH takes the clippers and stands over the bag of seeds. Worm’s-eye shot of the blades hanging down from his hand as he stands for several seconds, then tosses them down and walks away, scrubbing his hands through his hair. The music reaches a peak.