THE TRIAL OF FILM
Independent Films, Comedy
Film Director extraordinaire SPUTNIK is on a quest to make the ultimate masterpiece 'Short Film'; and he'll do whatever it takes to get his vision on screen! Taking a satirical look at the pretentious side of the film industry, "The Trial Of Film" highlights the frustrations and comedy associated with getting any film made and on to the screen.
Transcripts / Production notes / Scripts
Script from THE TRIAL OF FILM by Ben Warner, July 2005.
The title “THE TRIAL OF FILM” explodes on the screen in big bold, strong, over-sized letters. The words hold for a few seconds and then explode in to nothingness.
The voice of SPUTNIK, wannabe film director, echoes out of the darkness.
We’re on, yeah?
1. INT. INTERVIEW ROOM. DAY. 1.
SPUTNIK sits down in the interview chair.
SPUTNIK’s hair is all pushed upward to the centre of his head, held together by industrial-strength hair gel. He is dressed entirely in black, sporting a black scarf and black-rimmed glasses.
SUBTITLE: “SPUTNIK” Director, ‘SHORT FILM’.
SPUTNIK focuses his attention on the off-camera interviewer.
What would you say is the essential ingredient required to make a film?
Well, it can be summed up in one simple phrase: “It’s all about the film.” And by extension, it’s all about my vision. Because a film has to have a vision. And everyone who works on a film is serving the vision; even me. It’s not about ego, yeah? Even I work for my vision. And if you want to make it in this industry, you have to be prepared to serve the director’s vision. If not, you best go back to playing with your home movie cameras in your garage and distributing your films from a cheap internet site.
2. EXT. BEACH. DAY. 2.
Overcast day at the beach.
SPUTNIK walks out toward the sand and on to the beach. He turns back...
This is perfect.
CAMERON, the location manager and first assistant director, steps forward, holding a clipboard.
So we can lock this in?
You bet love.
ED, the director of photography walks up to SPUTNIK.
You realise it’ll be a bitch to shoot down here.
It’s all about the film Ed... It’s all about the film. Besides, think how great it’ll look when we get the crane in here.
Ah... Sputnik, remember the budget meeting? We can’t afford a crane.
What are you talking about? We need that fucking crane shot.
Yeah, but we don’t have the budget for a crane, least of all dragging it down here. We went through this at the meeting!
SPUTNIK walks up to CAMERON and puts his arm around his shoulder.
Cam, do you remember me telling you about my vision? Remember, we’re all serving the film.
Yeah, but you signed off...
SPUTNIK pushes CAMERON away and walks toward the beach.
I don’t give a shit. I don’t care if you have to work 24/7 to make this happen. Just get me my fucking crane shot!
CAMERON looks back up at ED, bewildered.
ED starts whistling “She’ll be coming round the mountain”.
3. INT. INTERVIEW ROOM. DAY. 3.
ED sits in the interview chair, aloof.
SUBTITLE: “ED ZIM” Director of Photography, ‘SHORT FILM’.
Some people find it difficult to work with Sputnik. He’s a very demanding director. I guess in a way, if he had 50 of him to do his work, he’d probably get exactly what he wants. But he doesn’t. And that’s why he gets frustrated. I find it quite invigorating to be pushed by a director like Sputnik, after all he’s just pushing to get the best vision on screen.
4. INT. SPUTNIK’S OFFICE. NIGHT. 4.
SPUTNIK sits at his desk.
SUBTITLE: “Cast Meeting”
CAMERON opens the door to SPUTNIK’s office. Lead actor, JAMES WALKER III walks in.
JAMES hugs CAMERON tightly. CAMERON freezes like a deer in headlights. JAMES lets him go and walks over to SPUTNIK.
How’s it going love? Take a seat.
JAMES sits down at a spare seat at the desk near SPUTNIK.
This part is an actor’s dream.
I totally respect your vision. This is the best script I have ever read.
Well, we shouldn’t have a problem then hey?
A knock can be heard from the door. CAMERON opens the door, LILY, 19-year old lead actress enters the room.
LILY hugs CAMERON tightly, pressing her body in to his. CAMERON gasps.
SPUTNIK looks up from the desk.
It’s about time you fucking got here.
LILY races over to SPUTNIK and wraps her arms around him. SPUTNIK looks up, annoyed, and gives her a look of “stop disturbing me”. LILY lets go, and sits next to JAMES, who takes her hands in his.
So nice to see you again.
5. INT. INTERVIEW ROOM. DAY. 5.
LILY rocks back and forth on her chair while being interviewed.
SUBTITLE: “LILY SMITH” – Lead Actress, ‘SHORT FILM’.
Making this film has been so exciting. Sputnik... he’s just a delight, really! Sputnik is a really... really... good director.
6. INT. FILM SET. DAY. 6.
JAMES and LILY are acting out a take of a scene from SHORT FILM. JAMES stops acting and looks at SPUTNIK.
I’m sorry, I just can’t do this. It’s not working.
SPUTNIK jumps out of his director’s chair and stands next to JAMES.
What’s the matter, love?
I don’t know. I don’t understand why he’s doing this. Wouldn’t it be much better if I picked up the shot gun and blow her head off? It’s much easier.
I know, but your character is in turmoil. He’s searching for meaning. You have to find that meaning within you.
You’re right. I don’t know why I didn’t see it before.
SPUTNIK turns to CAMERA.
Actors have this misconception that they’re important in film. What they don’t realise is that they’re just providing elements of a performance to be manipulated later in editing. That’s why when you hear famous actors talk about “quitting” film, it means that they’ve learnt they’re not the centre of the universe. Better still, when they say a director is a self-absorbed, egotistical bastard, it means that the director changed the performance of the actors in editing despite what they discussed on set, and they feel violated. Good luck to them. It’s not the end of the world; they can always go back to theatre.
SPUTNIK turns away, throws the end of his scarf around his neck and walks back to the director’s chair. As he sits down CAMERON approaches.
Don’t tell me you didn’t get me my fucking crane...
We don’t have the money!
You piece of shit. You really aren’t serious about this. You’ll never work in this fucking town again.
SPUTNIK walks back to his director’s chair. CAMERON stands still, seething with anger.
CAMERON picks up the megaphone and yells in to it.
All right you fuckers, get in to your positions...
SPUTNIK focuses intently on the television monitor. He looks to CAMERA and smiles.
Sometimes all you need is reverse psychology.
SPUTNIK looks back at the television monitor.
7. INT. INTERVIEW ROOM. DAY. 7.
JAMES sits in the chair, perfectly still.
SUBTITLE: “JAMES WALKER III” – Lead Actor, ‘SHORT FILM’.
I love working with directors who know their vision. It’s just so much easier. We talked for hours about his take on the character, and the types of shots he wanted to do... it was just incredible. And the script is hands down the best script I’ve ever read in my entire career.
8. INT. FILM SET. DAY. 8.
SPUTNIK paces up and down in front of the crew.
Where the fuck is she?
Sorry I’m late everyone.
LILY hugs SPUTNIK tightly.
I am SO sorry I’m late.
You can show me how sorry you are tonight. But for now, get in the fucking make-up chair!
SPUTNIK walks over to ED and starts discussing a new camera angle.
LILY stops for a moment and looks to CAMERA.
He really is a good director. Hmmm...
9. INT. INTERVIEW ROOM. DAY. 9.
SPUTNIK sits back in the chair.
So what made you decide on the title, “SHORT FILM”?
Well, it’s all about the film. So my first thought was to call it “FILM”. Works well yeah? But then I realised the film was only about five minutes long so I decided to change the title to “SHORT FILM”. Makes sense.
Would you ever consider embracing digital technology to make your films?
I’m sorry, did you say digital? DON’T FUCKING SAY THAT WORD AGAIN! Fucking upstarts with their fucking digital cameras and their fucking digital computers, thinking they can take over the world. Memo to digi-nuts: REAL FILMS ARE MADE ON FILM!!
10. INT. COMPOSER’S HOUSE. NIGHT. 10.
JON is playing his guitar in his living room.
SUBTITLE: “JON” Composer, ‘SHORT FILM’.
I start work on the film next week after shooting wraps. I got this gig because my half-sister’s friend is the second cousin to the mother of Sputnik’s brother-in-law. It’s an extraordinary opportunity. It’s not often you get to work with a visionary. I always wanted to work in movies but haven’t been given a break. You know, I start with this, and one day, I could be the next John Williams or Jerry Goldsmith.
JON plays his guitar.
11. INT. INTERVIEW ROOM. DAY. 11.
Can I ask you about your name? Where did you get it?
My mother named me. Good name for film yeah? She must have known I was going in to the entertainment business. Fate.
Your mother supports you?
Oh yeah, she’s a big fan. She knows how special I am. And I listen to her a lot. Not in a “Norman Bates, Psycho” kind of way mind you; don’t get the wrong idea there, I’m really quite normal.
12. INT. FILM SET. DAY. FINAL DAY OF SHOOTING. 12.
SPUTNIK sits behind the monitor.
And CUT! THAT’S A WRAP!
Cheers erupt from the cast and crew.
Thank fuck for that.
I wish I was dead.
13. INT. INTERVIEW ROOM. DAY. 13.
CAMERON sits down in the chair, dishevelled.
SUBTITLE: “CAMERON LONG” 1st AD/LOCATION MANAGER, ‘SHORT FILM’.
It was a tough shoot, and I wanted to kill that fucker... no, I’m sorry. He got everything on screen and it looks spectacular.
Fucking Bastard... and his fucking crane shot...
14. INT. EDITING SUITE. NIGHT. 14.
SPUTNIK sits next to JON, the composer. JON plays the music and SPUTNIK listens intently.
What the fuck is this? It’s fucking bullshit! Do it again!
But I’ve re-done it 76 times. I don’t know what you want.
How can I describe music? You can’t. You’re the composer, you’re meant to know how to score film.
Yeah, but you need to tell me what you want.
Dumb bastard. Don’t even know to write music for film. Fucking composers! You’re bigger drama queens than fucking actors.
SPUTNIK storms off and leaves the room. JON returns to the computer.
JON starts whistling “She’ll be coming round the mountain”.
15. INT. INTERVIEW ROOM. DAY. 15.
SPUTNIK sits in the chair.
You know, most people can’t even get up off their sorry arses for two seconds to concentrate and do something. I got up and concentrated for four whole days to make this film. FOUR DAYS. STRAIGHT. Sometimes, I worked up to 7 hours in one day! It’s intense. But I was up for it.
It’s all about the film, and like any art form, it’s always a struggle. Being the director is not a popularity contest. You have to push people to get the best. If you step on a few toes doing it, so be it. As long as the results end up on screen. I don’t give a shit if they don’t like me. That’s the trial of film.
SHORT FILM was finished on time and budget to Sputnik’s exacting standards.
Sputnik screened the film for his mother.
She was very pleased.
Year of Production: 2005
- Ben Warner
- Ben Warner
- Colin MacPherson Lee Mason Michelle Cele Simon Kearney Drew Tingwell Ian 'Paddy' McIvor