Ozymandias

Hello!

Part 2 of my short film series will be coming a bit later as I am in Chicago right now and don’t have the time to write. I’ll try and update next week, though! In the meantime, here’s the short film I wrote.

JOSEPHINE DELUCA- She’s wilder than she appears, but pales in comparison to her melodramatic friends who make her look like the cynical straight man. She’s Mercutio if Louise and Percy are Romeo. She’s Jordan if they are Daisy. She’s been friends with Percy and Louise forever, but recently has been becoming more and more dis-enlightened with her friends’ worship of poetry. She doesn’t like what she’s seen them become as they shut themselves away from the rest of society. Watching as Percy grows more isolated and Louise grows more careless, she knows that their group is on the brink of an explosion, but doesn’t know how to prevent it or save them.

 

LOUISE BAKER- Louise is pretty and everyone knows it. Most people, including herself sometimes, don’t understand why exactly she hangs out with Josephine and Percy. She has always been preoccupied with herself and has yet to learn that others are not. She has a difficult time adapting to situations that do not go as planned and tends to idolize people before throwing them away, creating an unstable balance in the trio as she tosses Josephine to the side for Percy. She expects unreasonable amounts from people, and does not take no for an answer, but is still undeniably charming at times and seems genuine.

 

PERCY CONRAD- Percy has never fit in and in response he isolates himself in order to spare himself the hurt of being ostracized. Social situations are hard for him- he often doesn’t understand people’s motives and is easily taken advantage of. Naïve and innocent, Percy simply wants the best at heart, but doesn’t know to pursue it and is susceptible to putting other’s people’s needs before his own so he doesn’t have to focus on himself.

 

 

 

 

Scene 1.

The screen starts out as white as the woods fade into focus behind a quote that reads:

 

“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

 

A rock TAPS against a window pane. The first image fades to JOSEPHINE sleeping in her bed. It is barely light outside. Another rock TAPS against the pane as something outside tries to get her attention. The TAPPING stops for a few moments as the camera panes across her bedroom to a calendar where the date is circled. It is her birthday. Footsteps echo outside the room as something ascends the stairs. The camera stops panning at the door as it swings open. PERCY and LOUISE stand in her doorway.

 

LOUISE

Jo, wake up! You’re late.

 

Josephine moans and rolls over in her bed, but doesn’t wake up.

 

PERCY

Josephine!

 

Groggily, Josephine sits up, still rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.

 

JOSEPHINE

Percy? Louise? How’d you get in?

PERCY

Your mom leaves the door open after she leaves for work.

LOUISE

Come on, Jo. You promised us you’d wake up early to meet us at the Twilight Kingdom. We waited for an hour and you didn’t show.

 

PERCY

We made a surprise for you. It is your birthday, after all.

 

Josephine flops out of bed and stretches.

JOSEPHINE

She reaches for the clock on her bedside table.

Guys, its 6:30 on a Saturday morning. Can’t we do this later? Maybe at like 12:30 on a Saturday afternoon?

 

LOUISE

No! We have to meet at sunrise for Poetry at Sunrise. If it’s not at sunrise, then it’s just poetry!

JOSEPHINE

You’re reading the same words, you know. They don’t change depending on whether the sun’s rising or setting.

 

LOUISE

It’s for the symbolism! Sunrise is all about new life and rebirth and we can’t read poetry in the midmorning when there’s no symbolism.

 

PERCY

Please, Josephine?

 

JOSEPHINE

Fine. Give me five minutes.

The scene cuts to the wheels of three bikes as the trio heads towards the woods. The sun has barely just began to rise, and for a morning in late April, it is stifling hot. The three have already begun to sweat. They drop their bikes at the edge of the woods, a dark mass compared to pink morning sky surrounding them. After hovering at the tree line for a moment, the three enter, and climb over shrubs, and walk across strategically placed rocks to cross the river that winds its way through the forest. They pass through an old stone gate and continue through the forest until they reach a treehouse with a sign hanging haphazardly from it reading: The Twilight Kingdom. They climb the ladder and inside are stacks of books, notebooks, crumpled paper, and red candles and in the middle of the floor sits a stack of pancakes dripping in red and white frosting, meant to look like a cake.

 

JOSEPHINE

A birthday cake, huh?

 

LOUISE

Nods.

Do you like it? Percy and I got up especially early this morning to make it for you. He wanted to make you a book of poems, but I said no, this would be much better.

Josephine glances at the pancake cake, which is falling apart.

JOSEPHINE

I love it, Lou. Thank you.

PERCY

Even if we didn’t make a book, I do have this.

He takes out a neatly folded piece of paper from his pocket.

I present to you, a handwritten copy of Emily Dickinson’s “Birthday of but a single pang.”

 

JOSEPHINE

“Birthday of but a single pang

That there are less to come —

Afflictive is the Adjective

But affluent the doom –“

Cheery. She sure knows how to set the mood for birthday parties.

 

PERCY

What would be the point if it was happy?

 

LOUISE

She wraps herself around Percy’s arm like a snake.

I read the poem too and it begs the question: are birthdays even really about birthdays? How can we be happy when we are just counting down towards death?

 

With a raised eyebrow and a nod, Josephine pockets the piece of paper that Percy is holding. She casts a wary glance at Louise.

 

JOSEPHINE

Call me ignorant, but I prefer to just not think about that part of birthdays.

 

The treehouse is silent for a moment. Louise unwraps herself and grabs a notebook off the nearest pile of books and a pen.

 

LOUISE

We’re running late. I guess it won’t be poetry at sunrise anymore. It’ll just have to be poetry in the morning instead, thank you very much Jo for not being able to wake up on time.

She flips open to a clean page.

Now for the last April meeting of Words, Words, Words, a fellowship of poets and appreciators of the arts. In attendance we have Percy, Josephine, and Louise, the founding members of said foundation. On today’s agenda we have the celebration of the eighteenth birthday of Josephine Maria DeLuca and-

     She squints at the page.

A quote.

She clears her voice and reads aloud:

“We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless.”

PERCY

T.S. Elliot, The Hollow Men. An interesting choice, Louise. I particularly like the way he uses auditory imagery in this poem. The entire work is quiet, almost suffocating, and even when the scarecrows raise their voices to sing, it is simply a flat monotone. It-

LOUISE

I didn’t pick this one, Percy.

 

PERCY

You did then, Josephine?

 

JOSEPHINE

She shakes her head.

You know how I feel about modernism. Overdone and overwrought.

 

LOUISE

Don’t lie to us, Jo. It had to be you. We’re not stupid.

 

JOSEPHINE

She smiles to herself, half laughing.

Maybe it’s some kind of warning. We sit here reading instead of living. No other kids at school sit in a treehouse and read modernist poetry for fun.

PERCY

But we like poetry. If we like it, then we should celebrate it.

 

JOSEPHINE

Guys, it isn’t 1820. It isn’t the Romantic period and you’re not Lord Byron. Maybe it’s telling us to live a little. We sit here and whisper together. That’s meaningless. But Elliot never said anything about living our lives together.

She pauses.

And it’s in Prufrock too. He’s too afraid to live his life. It’s the same thing. Carpe diem, you know?

 

PERCY

I thought you said you didn’t like modernism.

 

JOSEPHINE

It was last year’s birthday present, remember? You said we needed to seize the day. What’s stopping us now?

 

Percy and Louise look at each other, warily, before nodding. The trio exit the treehouse, until the only thing left is the cake, which has almost completely melted in the unusual spring heat.

 

Scene 2.

Percy and Louise are sitting on the bank of the river, not letting their feet touch the water. Josephine is not with them. Next to them are books. An open notebook is in Percy’s lap.

 

LOUISE

What’d you think about Jo’s speech earlier today?

 

PERCY

Shrugs.

I don’t know, maybe she’s right. Maybe we read too much poetry.

He gestures to the blank page in front of him.

That’s why I’ve started writing it. Although, it is harder than it looks. I’ve been thinking a lot. About all sorts of things, but I just can’t write about them.

 

LOUISE

You’re listening to her? Percy, poetry has been our favorite thing since elementary school. You wouldn’t throw it all away for one of Jo’s ramblings. You shouldn’t take her so seriously.

 

PERCY

That is not what I meant at all. I was just saying that she had a point. We spend a lot of time reading poetry, and maybe it’s time that we live a little so we can write the poetry too.

 

LOUISE

So you’re going to prove her right?

 

PERCY

I wasn’t trying to prove anything. Look Louise, poets can’t write poetry if they have nothing to write about. Maybe we should give this whole living life thing a try.

LOUISE

Fine. Side with her. She’s been trying to tear us apart, you know. That’s probably what her little speech was all about. Promise me you won’t listen to her. She’s just trying to hurt you.

 

PERCY

I promise.

 

Scene 3.

It is dark outside. JOSEPHINE pulls her shades down in her bedroom as she prepares for bed. A picture of Words, Words, Words sits on her nightstand. She picks it up and looks at it before placing it on top of a book. She climbs into bed when the TAPPING sounds again. At first, she doesn’t notice it. Another rock TAPS against her window. She gets out of bed and pulls up the shade, to reveal LOUISE in a red dress and PERCY standing outside. She opens her window.

 

JOSEPHINE

What are you doing? It’s almost midnight.

 

LOUISE

This was your idea.

 

JOSEPHINE

My idea?

 

LOUISE

Did you already forget your little monologue this morning? It’s time we started living. Let’s start by sneaking out.

 

Josephine stares at Louise for a moment, trying to piece together what is happening.

 

PERCY

Come on, Jo. It’ll be fun.

 

Percy’s never called her Jo before. Josephine hesitantly grabs a coat off a nearby chair.

 

JOSEPHINE

Give me a minute. I’ll be right out.

Once outside, the three begin to walk. It is silent for a moment.

 

JOSEPHINE

So what do you have planned for tonight? A fun evening on the town? Something illegal?

 

LOUISE

Well Jo, since you’re so worried about living your life, I’d figured we go to a party.

 

PERCY

A party?

 

LOUISE

That’s right; a party. Luke and Jake are throwing one tonight. It would be rude to not stop by.

 

Josephine grabs Louise’s arm and looks over her shoulder at Percy.

JOSEPHINE

Look Lou, I don’t know what you’re doing, but I do know it’s to punish me for whatever I said. You know he can’t do parties. Don’t punish him when you’re trying to punish me.

 

LOUISE

     She pulls her arm away

I don’t know what you’re talking about.

 

JOSEPHINE

Violent delights have violent ends, Louise. Remember that.

 

The scene shifts to the trio standing on a doorstep. Percy is fidgeting nervously, Josephine has her arms crossed, and Louise standing in the front, with her hands on her hips. The door swings opening revealing LUKE, a member of the football team. Percy swallows at the sight of him, while Josephine just glares.

 

LUKE

Louise, you made it! And you brought your weird friends.

 

LOUISE

She pushes her way past him into the house.

I hope you don’t mind. They just insisted on coming along. Neither of them had ever been to a real party before.

 

LUKE

Oh. Well, uh, the party’s downstairs.

 

Louise follows Luke further into the house. Josephine grabs Percy’s hand and drags him into the house. They descend the stairs, as the music becomes louder and louder. Once downstairs, they are greeted with tons of people and colorful lights. Louise and Luke have disappeared into the crowd. Josephine pulls Percy through the crowd until they find a place to sit against a wall in a corner.

 

JOSEPHINE

Did you see where Lou went?

 

Percy shakes his head, but doesn’t say anything.

 

Hey, I’m sorry that she brought us here. I don’t know why she’s doing this.

 

PERCY

She said you’re tearing us apart and that I shouldn’t listen to you.

JOSEPHINE

Nods, knowing she should have expected that from Louise.

Well, she’s wrong. You can trust me, okay? We’re gonna get out of here soon. We just gotta find Louise first. You think you can help me look?

 

She helps Percy to his feet and they begin to push through the crowd. Flashes of faces pass before them, but none are familiar. A circle of people form around the pair. They are singing and dancing and joyous, but Josephine and Percy are frozen in place. They continues for a few more seconds when suddenly the dancing turns to laughter. The two remain frozen as the circle around them laughs. Suddenly, Louise breaks the circle, hand in hand with Luke. Percy gasps. She glances contemptuously over the two before whispering something to Luke. Immediately, the lights turn on, the music stops, and everyone disperses.

 

LOUISE

I should have known you two wouldn’t be able to handle a simple party. Let’s go.

 

She storms up the stairs and pauses at the top, looking down on Percy and Josephine. Instead of waiting for them, she turns away. Josephine and Percy chase after her, out of the house.

 

JOSEPHINE

What was that? You just left us in there.

 

LOUISE

I was living a little, Jo. What’s the problem?

 

JOSEPHINE

If you cared at all- about us, about our friendship, about anything- then you wouldn’t have done that.

She stops for a moment.

Do whatever you want to me. But don’t do it to Percy. It’s not fair. He didn’t do anything.

 

LOUISE

Don’t you love how she’s so condescending, Percy? She talks down to you. I told you, she’s trying to rip us apart.

 

JOSEPHINE

What’s the point in fighting with each other? Let’s just go home and we can forget any of this ever happened.

 

LOUISE

This is your fault, Jo. You insulted us. We were just trying to prove ourselves to you.

JOSEPHINE

Look Lou, this isn’t right-

 

LOUISE

Conscience makes cowards of us all, Jo. Live your life. I am. What’s stopping you?

She grabs Percy’s hand and begins to drag him away.

Let’s go.

 

Josephine watches as Louise drags Percy away into the night. The music begins to BLARE from the house again. She turns around. There is no one else in sight.

 

Scene 4.

It is still dark. JOSEPHINE is riding her bike anxiously looking for her friends. They are nowhere in sight. She approaches the woods, which are even darker at night. She jumps off her bike and sits on the ground staring at the trees in front of her. Silently, a MAN in a long trench coat sits next to her. She jumps away, but the man just stares.

 

MAN

They’re not in there, if that’s what you’re wondering.

 

JOSEPHINE

She looks at the man. How did he know what she was doing?

Then where are they?

 

MAN

I don’t know. I just know they’re not in there.

He glances at Josephine and sticks out a hand.

My name’s Thomas. Yours?

 

JOSEPHINE

     She cautiously takes the man’s hand.

Josephine. Why are you out here?

 

MAN

Same reason as you.

 

JOSEPHINE

You’ve lost both your friends?

 

MAN

No, but I’m looking for something. I just don’t know that that thing is.

 

JOSEPHINE

I’m not sure I know what I’m looking for either.

 

MAN

Does anybody? What happened to looking for your friends?

 

JOSEPHINE

Well, I’m looking for them, but do I want to find them? One part of me says to let them go. They don’t need me. That’s at least what Louise thinks, but it’s all a giant accident. She’s taken it too far.

MAN

It takes two to make an accident, you know.

 

JOSEPHINE

And I’m guessing it takes two to fix an accident?

 

MAN

You catch on fast. How’d you lose your friends anyway?

 

JOSEPHINE

We got in an argument over T.S. Elliot of all things.

 

MAN

Really? Which poem?

JOSEPHINE

The Hollow Men.

     The Man nods knowingly but doesn’t say anything.

Anyways, I was arguing that life is meaningless if you just sit and read poetry. You got to experience life at some point. Well, Lou, one of my friends, didn’t agree. She ran away. But the more I think about it. I think she’s one of the Hollow Men. There’s nothing in her. She’s just … stuffed. She’s full of empty anger, but she depends on us so she can cause drama like this, just like the hollow men lean on each other.

 

MAN

Maybe she’s not the only hollow one then.

 

JOSEPHINE

Maybe not. Percy tries so hard to be like his favorite poets that he forgets that he’s Percy. And me? Well, I guess I spend so much of my time worrying about them that I’ve kind of lost myself. But what am I supposed to do about it? We’ve been like this for so long that it’s too late to change anything.

 

MAN

You can always change, Josephine. Nothing’s predetermined. Nothing’s predestined. There’s no one up there-

He motions up to the stars.

-telling you what to do. It’s up to you to figure that out. It’s up to you to write your own poems.

 

JOSEPHINE

So it’s my fault I’m sitting here right now? Comforting.

 

MAN

Don’t worry about it. Your friends will find you. Trust me. Nothing ever stays missing very long.

 

A shout ECHOES in the night. Josephine spins around. There is no one there. When she turns back around the man is gone. She doesn’t have time to process his disappearance as another shout ECHOES. She recognizes the voice as Percy’s and jumps to her feet.

 

JOSEPHINE

Percy? I’m over here!

     She turns away from the woods and runs towards the voice. She nearly knocks into Percy. He’s by himself.

Where’s Lou?

PERCY

I don’t know. She got into some car and told me to wait for her. I got scared and ran.

JOSEPHINE

What do we do now? She’ll come back right?

 

PERCY

She has to.

 

Suddenly, headlights appear behind them. A red car is stopped at the end of a road facing them.

 

JOSEPHINE

Is that her? What kind of car was she in?
PERCY

I don’t know. I didn’t get a good look at it.

 

Josephine sprints towards the car, waving her arms, praying that Louise is in it. She can hear Percy yelling for her to stop, but she doesn’t. She stands in the road, as someone gets out of the car. It is Louise. Her makeup and hair are messed up and she is a little tipsy.

LOUISE

You were right, Josephine. Everything is meaningless. You. Me. Percy. Poetry. It’s all meaningless.

 

JOSEPHINE

What happened to you, Lou? Where’d you go?

 

LOUISE

I tried to find meaning. I couldn’t. I couldn’t do it. I failed. You happy? I failed. And now there’s nothing left. We’re barely friends; there’s no point to poetry anymore; and I simply don’t care about anything that used to matter to me.

 

JOSEPHINE

What happened, Lou? You can tell me.

 

LOUISE

We have nothing. We are nothing. We act so superior because we can read poetry, but so can everyone else. We’re just empty. We’re … we’re the hollow men. I’m hollow.

 

JOSEPHINE

Lou, what’s going on? What happened to you? Who’s in that car?

 

LOUISE

Goodbye, Josephine.

 

Louise signals to the car as she steps away from Josephine. The car starts up and begins barreling towards her. Louise goes to Percy, who is screaming for Josephine, but she can’t move. Louise wraps herself around Percy once more.

 

 

JOSEPHINE

Percy. Don’t waste your love on somebody who doesn’t value it.

 

She turns to face the car. The screen goes black.

 

Scene 5.

 

JOSEPHINE is lying in her bed. She awakes suddenly and sits up. Where the events of the previous night a dream? How did she end up in her bed? She looks to her nightstand where the picture of her, LOUISE, and PERCY should have been. Instead, there is a note scrawled in red pen that reads: Happy 18th Birthday, Josephine! Put something nice on and meet me by the gate at 2:30. – Percy. She puts the note down and looks down at herself. She is wearing her pajamas, and not the outfit she went out in last night. She has almost convinced herself that what had happened was just a dream. The scene cuts to Josephine approaching the gate. She is wearing a black dress. The sky is grey and it begins to rain. Louise is already waiting at the gate, also in a black dress. They stare at each other for a moment both wondering the same thing. What had happened the night before?

 

JOSEPHINE

You got Percy’s note too?

 

Louise nods. They don’t speak again and stand silently in the rain. The scene shifts to Percy running through the woods. He checks his watch. It is nearly 2:30. It is raining there too. He splashes through the river he used to be so careful not to touch. Percy’s voiceover begins and lasts until the last scene with the girls.

 

PERCY

Between the desire

And the spasm

Between the potency

And the existence

Between the essence

And the descent

Falls the Shadow

For Thine is the Kingdom

 

For Thine is

Life is

For Thine is the

 

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

 

He keeps running through the woods until he gets to the Twilight Kingdom. Soaking wet, he ascends the ladder. Hurriedly, he begins throwing all the books out of the treehouse. The scene shifts back to Josephine and Louise standing at the gate.

 

JOSEPHINE

Percy?

LOUISE

Percy, this isn’t funny!

 

In the distance behind them two men dressed in suits appear and begin to approach them.  As they get closer, one is wearing a red tie, while the other’s tie is white. The scene switches back to Percy who has finished emptying the treehouse of everything but one candle and a lighter. He clicks it, staring at the flame for a moment. Switches back to the gate. Josephine and Louise scream and turn around as the men near them. The voiceover stops.

 

JOSEPHINE

Percy!

 

The scene switches back to Percy in the treehouse. He jumps when he hears his name called. Quickly, he lights the candle and stares at it. Behind him an alarm clock that was not previously there goes off. It is 3:00. The candle extinguishes and a flash of light bursts through the treehouse. He falls over, blinded, and the candle rolls from out of his hand and out of the treehouse. The scene switches to the men leaving the gate. The girls are nowhere in sight, but Percy’s note is crumpled on the ground. The scene switches back. Percy pulls himself to the edge of the treehouse and stares at the candle on the forest floor. He reaches for it. Blackout. The words: “Till human voices wake us and we drown” appear on the screen before fading away.

THE END.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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