published in Food, Screenwriting by Maryanne | September 17, 2011

“SITTING BY THE POOL POPPING CHOCOLATE COVERED COFFEE BEANS”

By Maryanne Pope

FADE IN

INT. PLANE – DAY

A woman, MA (that would be me), is squished in her seat, typing madly on her laptop.

CUT TO:

INT. LAX AIRPORT – DAY

MA now sits on a hard, plastic chair. Still frantically typing, her laptop is plugged in, recharging.

CUT TO:

EXT. AIRPORT – DAY

A woman, NINA, 70 waits curbside for the shuttle bus.

MA runs up. The two women hug.

The shuttle bus pulls up. The women get on.

INT. SHUTTLE BUS – DAY

MA and Nina chat excitedly, catching up.

MA
How far is the hotel?

NINA
‘Bout twenty minutes…maybe half an hour.

INT. SHUTTLE BUS – DAY                              TWO HOURS LATER

Nina is furious. MA is hot, hungry and thirsty…never a good combination (those of you who have traveled with MA will know this firsthand).

MA
Hmmmm…

NINA
This is ridiculous!

NINA
(to driver)
Where are you going?!

Driver glances in rear-view mirror, nervous.

DRIVER
The route isn’t up to me, ma’am.
(beat)
I have to drop each passenger off in the
order the dispatcher tells me.

NINA
(softly)
Too bad the dispatcher can’t read a map.

MA and Nina look at each other and roll their eyes.

CUT TO:

INT. L.A. HOTEL ROOM – DAY

Nina sits on one bed, propped against pillows. MA sits on the other bed, propped against pillows, with laptop on lap.

An open bag of chocolate-covered coffee beans (that Nina brought from Hawaii, where she lives) is on the night table between them.

MA reaches for another handful of coffee beans and pops them in her mouth.

NINA
I’m ready when you are…

MA nods, chewing while typing a last few words.

MA begins to read aloud the screenplay she’s writing about Nina’s grandmother, Nell Shipman – a silent screen star, writer, director and producer.

MA
So the film begins with 77-year-old Nell
floating on her back in the ocean,
hands clasped behind her head. The year is 1968.
As the camera pans down closer to Nell…
(beat)
we can see she is smiling.

MA looks up from computer and turns to face Nina.

MA
So this part will be played by you.

NINA
Cool.

MA
And do you know
why older Nell is smiling?

NINA
Because she’s reflecting back on her life…
which is what her voice over will tell us?

MA
Close. She’s smiling because she knows
damn well that someday, somewhere…
someone will come along and bring her story
to life again on the big screen…but in a way
that’s relevant to a contemporary audience.

NINA
That would be you.

MA
Apparently.

MA reaches for another coffee bean.

CUT TO:

MA and Nina, now in pajamas, watch a DVD on the TV. Nina has brought the DVD with her from Hawaii, knowing MA would be interested in seeing it.

It is a recording of the 1991 theatrical production of the play, “Between Pictures,” about Nell Shipman. Written by Barry Shipman (Nell’s son, Nina’s father), Nina plays Nell.

MA
This is awesome, Nina…except that it is a little
weird that Nell’s story is so familiar to me now.

NINA
I bet.

The DVD ends.

MA
So I see writing, acting and producing
film and theatre is a family tradition.

NINA
You betcha…we’re on our fourth generation.

MA
Speaking of which…what time is
tomorrow night’s show?

NINA
8 o’clock.

Nina reaches over to turn out the light.

CUT TO:

INT. L.A. THEATRE – NIGHT             THE NEXT EVENING

It is opening night of “The Falsetto’s” and the inaugural production of the Third Street Theatre.

On-stage, LANI SHIPMAN, 40, plays the role of Trina – the woman whose husband leaves her for a gay lover.

Lani (also the co-owner of the theatre) is similar in appearance to her great-grandmother, Nell: tall and lean with long dark hair and those large, expressive eyes so perfect for the silent movies.

CUT TO:

MA and Nina sit in the front row.

NINA (V.O.)
By God…I’m prouda my kid.

MA (V.O.)
So I’m sitting there in the front row
and I think to myself…this is all quite unbelievable.
(beat)
Here I am in L.A., writing the screenplay
about Nell Shipman, brainstorming about the script,
line by line, with Nell’s real-life grand-daughter…
and now I’m seeing Nell’s real-life
great-grand-daughter acting on stage.
(beat)
Lani, of course, will hopefully play the role
of the younger Nell Shipman in my film, “God’s Country.”

On stage, the characters sing to each other.

CUT BACK TO:

MA in her seat.

MA (V.O.)
Then I turn off the voiceover…my monkey-mind…
and I sit back, relax and enjoy one of the best pieces
of theatre I’ve ever seen.

CUT TO:

SERIES OF SHOTS

MA sitting in bed, writing.

MA sitting by pool, popping chocolate covered coffee beans and writing.

MA floating in pool, thinking about writing.

MA in one bed, Nina in the other. MA reads aloud from the script. Nina responds. MA types a note on her laptop then resumes reading.

MA (V.O.)
For the rest of the weekend, I wrote and wrote and wrote.
Although I’d already been working on the God’s Country
screenplay for six years, L.A. was the first time the
characters finally began to come to life…
(beat)
At long last, the magic began to happen.

FADE OUT

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening. She is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions Inc and the Board Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. Maryanne lives in Sidney, British Columbia.

A few more pics from LA…

Nina Bremer

Lani Shipman and Richard Hellstern, castmembers in The Falsetto's

Susan, MA and Nina in front row of Third Street Theatre, LA

MA poolside

3 Comments

  1. Terri Garbutt on September 17th, 2011 at 11:43 pm:

    Love it! Wish I could have been there! (except when you were too damn warm, that I could miss

  2. Susan Eyraud on September 20th, 2011 at 2:36 pm:

    Hi Maryann,
    What fun you had it was great meeting you! I’m getting ready for my trip to Hawaii, anxiety is creeping in haven’t flown for awhile.
    Happy writing,
    Fondly,
    Susan Eyraud

  3. Deborah McInnes on October 17th, 2011 at 9:50 pm:

    Are you surprise it has taken 6 years to get this far? Another piece of writing took more than that to publish, didn’t it? I could be wrong in my math. It’s not my strong suit but it certainly took awhile. It was worth the wait!! I know this one will be too. You go girl!

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