For those you interested in reading an excerpt from the feature film screenplay I wrote that made the Semi-Finals in last year’s Scriptapalooza contest, well … here’s a sample:
THE ENEMY WITHIN
by Debbi Mack
EXT. WASHINGTON, DC – DAY
People bustle along the sidewalk, talking and texting on cell
phones. The crowd looks gray-faced and determined to go, but
not particularly happy to be going.
EXT. FBI BUILDING – DAY
A ponderous block of office building with a sign that reads:
FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION.
INT. FBI BUILDING, HALLWAY – DAY
A long line of look-alike doors. Near the end of the line,
the nameplates next to the door read: “Jeff Hanson” and
INT. FBI BUILDING, HANSON’S OFFICE – DAY
A wall features two or three placards — commendations and
awards made to Jeff Hanson for his work on previous criminal
investigations. HANSON, early 50s, a bit scruffy, sits at his
desk, shuffling papers with obvious lack of enthusiasm.
MITCH, mid-30s, is also at his desk, a clean-cut contrast to
A hammer starts pounding the wall next door. Hanson scowls at
the noise. He sets aside the paperwork and gazes at his old
awards. The pounding continues, jolting the awards until one
falls off and hits the floor. The pounding stops.
Hanson gets up, replaces the plaque on the wall.
Mitch holds different colored forms in each hand. He squints
at the forms.
I told you, Mitch. Call me Jeff. Or Hanson.
Sorry … I know this sounds dumb–
Don’t apologize. Now what’s your question?
I’m sorry, but–
Mitch cringes. Hanson nods and smiles encouragement.
I keep getting the SF-273 mixed up with the 275. I think I may have filled these out wrong.
Nothing we can’t fix–
Hanson’s expression telegraphs disbelief. RICHARD, a well-dressed man, appears at the door with a file.
Cromwell! Are you trying to completely fuck me up?
Good grief, Dick. Don’t blow a gasket. It’s an easy mistake.
Name’s Richard, asshole. If you’re not too burnt to remember.
Is … is it about the 273?
All I know is, you filled out the wrong fucking forms.
Hanson silently mimics Richard behind his back. Mitch appears not to notice.
Shit! I’ll redo them.
Better believe you will. Who’d you blow to get this job, anyway?
Mitch looks like he wants to crawl under his desk. Richard tosses the file at Mitch, hitting him on the chest.
Richard starts to leave, then stops and turns toward Hanson.
Almost forgot. Philips says he needs to see you. Conference room. Chop-chop. I’m sure it’s terribly important.
He snorts and strides out.
See what I mean?
You’ve figured out the problem. Just fill out the correct forms. You can do that?
No worries then. Just be sure to remember his name. Richard Asshole.
Mitch smirks and Hanson smiles back. As Hanson leaves, Mitch opens the file, still smiling.
INT. FBI, CONFERENCE ROOM – DAY
MATT PHILIPS, early 50s, and his boss, TED CHALMERS, early 60s, with rigid posture, watch a series of crime scene photos projected from a laptop in the dark. Both men wear nearly twin dark suits. Philips sits at a long conference table, peering intently at the photos. Chalmers paces and checks his watch.
The door opens. Hanson trudges in and plops into the nearest chair. Chalmers shoots Philips a look.
Special Agent Jeff Hanson, I’d like you to meet Deputy Director Ted Chalmers.
Chalmers straightens. Hanson gives him a little salute.
Nice to meet you.
Nice of you to show up.
I only just heard about this meeting.
Look sharp. The regional office in Portland needs your help.
Chalmers checks his watch.
Agent Philips will brief you. I have to go.
And if I say no?
Chalmers stares at him.
What kind of FBI agent are you?
Chalmers shakes his head, turns and heads for the door, then stops.
Good luck. I think you’ll need it.
Mind telling me what the hell’s going on?
A murder in Washington State near Portland.
Philips slaps a photo down on the table before Hanson. The face of a dead woman with a pi symbol carved in her forehead.
INT. FBI, HALLWAY – DAY
Hanson and Philips burst out the conference room door, with Hanson in the lead, Philips behind him, carrying a folder.
But they want you.
They stop walking.
You were the best investigator the bureau had. Plus, you knew the case, inside and out.
It’s been ten years.
Those merit awards you got don’t come in cereal boxes. Besides, they need you.
I can’t even imagine how it was for you after Jenny ….
Sorry. But do you really want to sit behind a desk until retirement?
Hanson sighs, then nods.
Think about it.
Philips extends the folder toward Hanson. Reluctantly, he takes it.
INT. MIRA KOWALSKI’S APARTMENT – NIGHT
A small, sparsely furnished efficiency, looking barely lived in. MIRA KOWALSKI, a woman in her mid-40s wearing a smart pantsuit, packs the world’s smallest carry-on with brisk, efficient movements.
The phone rings four times, then stops. Kowalski keeps packing. She reaches to hit the speakerphone button on her land line and speed dials her voice mail.
Hi, Mira? I’m not calling to argue. I just hope you know …
Kowalski deletes the voice mail. She slides a report with Hanson’s name on it into a thin briefcase before closing it. Kowalski picks up her bags. The phone rings again. She ignores it and leaves.
INT. HANSON’S APARTMENT, LIVING ROOM – NIGHT
The apartment is comfortably furnished. Nothing fancy. Hanson enters, tosses his briefcase on the sofa and loosens his tie. On a corner table, the message light is blinking on his phone. He ignores it and heads for the bedroom.
Hanson emerges from the bedroom in a pair of jeans and a UCLA T-shirt. He heats a pot of water on the stove and checks his phone messages.
Mr. Hanson, this is Dr. Knott’s office. This makes the third appointment you’ve missed. Any more failures to–
Hanson deletes the message.
INT. HANSON’S APARTMENT, LIVING ROOM – NIGHT – LATER
Hanson watches TV with the sound down. Paperwork is strewn across his coffee table. A thick brown accordion folder sits to the side.
He opens a file and flips through the contents. Removes a set of photos. Arrays them on the table.
He looks them over, reads the report. The victim’s name reads BRIDGET DIXON, age “early 50s.”
No ID, I guess. Or they didn’t bother to check for it.
And no autopsy report. Wonder how many eons that’ll take.
He gathers the photos and the papers, puts everything back. Then, he eyes the accordion folder. The label on the accordion folder reads: PI SERIAL MURDERS. He pulls out one of the files within it, places it on the table and opens it.
He removes the photos and slowly sets them out, like playing cards. Photos of JENNY, dead in her early 40s, a pi sign carved in her forehead. Jenny is beautiful, even in death.
EXT. CITY PARK, PORTLAND, OR – NIGHT – [FLASHBACK]
Babbled sounds of talking. A radio crackles from a Portland Police Department car. A crowd presses in as uniformed cops hold it back. Crime tape is strung. A PLAIN CLOTHESMAN and two white-suited lab techs within the circle of the crowd stand over Jenny on the grass.
Hanson plunges through the crowd, yelling, “Noooo!” Two uniformed cops grab him. Hanson struggles.
INT. HANSON’S APARTMENT, LIVING ROOM – NIGHT
Hanson looks haunted. Abruptly, he sweeps everything off the coffee table.
After a moment, he collects himself and reorganizes the paperwork. Rising, he moves toward the hall closet and opens the door.
Inside is what looks like a shrine, arranged around a photo of two people whose faces are obscured. The photo is in a silver frame and placed atop the middle of a file cabinet. Articles with the words “Pi Serial Killer” and the like are taped on the closet walls.
Hanson stares into the closet. His eyes grow moist. Hanson runs a finger across dust collected on the file cabinet. His expression morphs into one of determination.
I know this screenplay isn’t going to win any Oscars as is, but damned if it isn’t a start! 🙂
So … who do you think would make a better Hanson?