Hey, I've been meaning to get back to your other e-mails. The Chess movie... What are you writing during your UCLA class? If you haven't committed to anything, maybe this could be it. Believe me, I'm in no rush. I have seven different scripts going simultaneously. I had a breakthrough with THE BLACK AMULET last night and I should finish sooner than I'd originally planned. Then I have a hilarious comedy I came up with, a la ZELIG or SWEET AND LOWDOWN that I want to write before my assasin movie. Anyway, the way things go, everything is going to collide against each other and life will decide which film I make first. If you wrote the chess movie, it would be on my list and I'd do it sooner or later. Maybe as my first feature. Maybe as my second or third. I love the idea of it. So anyway, no rush. Just let me know if you're interested...if it sounds like YOUR kind of movie. If there's one thing I hate it's fucking around. I like working with people who are serious and have a passion. I think your love of Hitchcock and Chabrol would translate well to the story elements I mentioned to you. Maybe not. Perhaps I'm wrong. If you're passionate about it, though, then I think you'd have a great time with it. Hope all is well. I'll get back to you on your plays soon. :) -A - - - This is between you and me. Currently, I am in a BIG thought on my script THE BLACK AMULET. I don't expect anyone to understand, but I opened up a side of myself I was not previously aware of and it's going to take me some time to digest it before I can finish what I began almost a year ago. I'm on the cusp of something incredibly worthwhile and significant. Meanwhile, it rolls through my head that I had intended long before now to be directing some sort of feature by this time. Somehow or another, I got so caught up in the nuances of various projects I pursued that I got lost in my own desire to make them happen. I've learned volumes from the scripts I've begun and finished. I have not learned how to write a low-budget movie, however. Jean-Luc Godard needed to Francois Truffaut to make BREATHLESS a reality. I consider that, perhaps, I may need something similar to get my own first feature going. I'm not without ideas. I have too many of them. What I need are some limitations. With that said, perhaps we could filter one of them together into a script. I would like to do something incredibly difficult and make it look easy. Tell me what you think of this scenario: Two characters. In a room. Playing chess. One finds the other by a secret code in a newspaper. They are in some exotic locale like Peru or Bolivia. [Not Thailand, Possibly France, Croatia, Sicily, ] While they play chess, they occasionally break to tell the story that brought them to this moment. [Movie references] They haven't seen each other in years.\ [because of affairs] Perhaps there is an entire CIA, MI6 connection in which they were spies and whatnot. One of them is dying of cancer. The other is unaware of this. They have something huge in their past which is unresolved. [affair] One will kill the other. [cancer kills the non-cancer] Chess is a metaphor for the game of wits going on between them. 80 pages of suspense and intensity. A film about passion and ideas. passion and ideas -A 1. BACKSTORY: Two old secret agent friends are hired to kill each other. 2. MAIN & SUPPORTING CHARACTERS: Nolan Miles Robert Gentry Protagonist: Jimmy Antagonist: Social Services Worker, Cop (those who will take Anie away from Jimmy) Foil: Eric Toady/Nemesis/Villain: Mr. Maiers Head of Campus Maintenance Mentor: Charlie 3. GENRE/TONE: Drama/Spy/Suspense 4. HOOK: The sun is just beginning to rise in New York City as Jimmy is awakened by the sound of gunshot. He goes to his closet and grabs his baseball bat and sneaks to the door of his room. He hears voices and as he sneaks out of the room we can hear a female voice saying every line before the voices of the husky men. He drops the bat as he falls to the floor in relief. 5. ORDINARY WORLD -- What is valued? Gentry likes blondes. Miles likes brunettes. Gentry values stability. Miles values fidelity. They both value their friendship, families, and careers (spies). 6. FEAR & FLAW SHOWING WHAT IS VALUED: Jimmy is afraid of hurting his sister. He tries to make her feel independent while keeping enough control over her that she will be protected. His biggest fear is that the state will deem him an unfit guardian and put Annie in a home, so he works for a college maintenance department rather than attending school. He values the respect of his peers at work and the safety of his sister. He dreams of designing landscapes rather than trimming them. His biggest goal in life is to live up to please his late mother who he tells Annie is an angel watching over them. 7. ESTABLISH TIME LOCK, THEME NEED: There is a looming deadline. One of them must kill the other. 8. ABOUT PAGE 4—DO WE KNOW WHAT THE MOVIE IS ABOUT YET? 9. ABOUT PAGE 10—CATALYST OR INCITING EVENT creates the first ripple 10. ABOUT PAGE 17— MINI-CRISIS, SET UP. 11. ABOUT PAGE 30—FIRST ACT BREAK. (TURNING POINT 1) ACTION TAKEN ON MAIN GOAL/PLAN: All the electricity is out in NYC. Annie has to find a new way home. Jimmy has to find her. What happens if goal is not attained? What's at STAKE? 12. NEW WORLD - NEW RULES: No cell phones, no subway, no electricity. 13. FORMATION OF TEAMS: Protagonist's team: Jimmy, Eric, Maile, Maile’s assistant, Charlie Antagonist's team: Annie, the boys who taunt Annie, everyone who takes her farther away from Jimmy by guiding her home. 14.) DEVELOPMENT OF SUBPLOTS Maile Smith is a child actress who’s no longer “hot stuff” in the gossip columns. Her escape from the elevator at the hands of hunky hero Jimmy is just what she needs to revamp her career, but as she’s about to go into an interview to tell all about the traumatic event she realizes there’s more to life and goes to help Jimmy find Annie. 15.) LOVE STORY: Protagonist and love interest should have kissed, literally or figuratively, by about page 40/45 NOT A LOVE STORY 16. TEST OF PROTAGONIST, WHICH HE FAILS. VERIFICATION OF WORST FEAR. 17. ABOUT PAGE 50. ANTAGONIST IN CONTROL OF PROTAGONIST. Sequence to Mid-point: Protagonist creates and executes a plan to shift power. Jimmy sends out his team to look for Annie checking all the places she knows. 18. MID-POINT: Superficial resolution. Annie’s friend Liz takes her to her house. Liz’s mom calls Jimmy’s cell phone. Maile helps Jimmy by getting her chauffer to take him there. 19. WITHIN MID-POINT scene or scene immediately following, antagonist defeats protagonist. Must face greatest fear and flaw-and lose again. While Liz’s mom is on the phone calling relatives to see if they are alright, Annie tells Liz she has to get back to Jimmy. Liz get a cabbie to take Annie as far as she can afford using the money Annie has been saving for a new camera. With each loss now, more determination. No going back. Jimmy arrives and is devastated when he finds Annie gone. He falls down and cries. Maile comforts him, but all that he can think of is that he has failed his mother. He calls the cab company begging for their help. RAISED STAKES. EXT Brooklyn Bridge Annie gets out of the cab at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge and thanks the cabby. He points her in the right direction to home. INT Liz’s House The cab company tells Jimmy she got out already. 20. BIG PIT: The very thing that the Pro fears the most occurs. And it's bad. Maile calls the police to put in a missing person’s report. Jimmy yells at her, because it will go on his record as her care-taker. 21. JUST WHEN IT CAN’T GET WORSE, IT DOES! Annie gets ambushed by some boys with silly string and loses her way. 22. EPIPHANY: Annie sees the sign for the subway station where she and Jimmy got on that morning. She runs to it and hugs it. She starts on her way home again. (SECOND TURNING POINT) CROSSROADS/CHOICES: Jimmy gives up. He tells Maile he will give the report to the policeman. NEW GOAL/NEW PLAN: Jimmy gets a call from his Boss. After seeing his perseverance in getting the girl out of the elevator he has decided to allow Jimmy to be taken on as one of the Assistant Landscape Architects. Jimmy calls the Social Services agency to tell them that when the police find Annie he will use his boost in income to put her in a nice home. He thinks he cannot care for her as well as his mother once did. They put him on hold. STAKES INTENSIFY: Annie is close to home. Maile’s assistant is close to Jimmy’s house too. TICKING CLOCK: BOOM. The assistant sees Annie coming. She calls Maile’s cell phone to try to get through to Jimmy. The policeman is ringing the doorbell at Liz’s house to take the report. Jimmy is still on hold. BIG CLIMAX: Maile hangs the phone up as Jimmy gets off hold. He turns to her and is about to yell, but she tells him Annie is safe. SHOWDOWN: Liz lets the policeman in. Jimmy sends in Liz’s mother. FLAW/FEAR OVERCOME: Liz’s mother tells he policeman it was a prank call by Liz. Jimmy and Maile drive to his home. Jimmy runs up and finds his sister. Je hugs her, and she asks him if she was bad. He tells her she made momma proud. They promise one another they will never lose each other. TRUTH EMERGES: Jimmy remembers Maile. He brings her up and apologizes for how rude he’s been. He asks her to stay for dinner. 23. RESOLUTION: Jimmy looks at Annie and remembers his promise to his mother. He will never give her up. He has also learned that his family can grow. He has let Maile in. 24. END PLACE: Jimmy cooks breakfast for dinner. He knows Annie’s order. 1. How they find each other. 2. Affairs 3. Wits 4. Twist 5. Kill Nolan Miles - had affair with Gentry's daughter Robert Gentry - had affair with Miles' wife Both of them were hired to kill each other. Both were friends and didn't want to. But each has a motivation. Beginning - UNTITLED SPY SCRIPT FADE IN: EXT. PARK BENCH Miles reads a newspaper and circles certain letters. CUT TO: Beach of exotic locale. INT. CHARMING OLD, QUAINT HOTEL There is no one at the desk. Instead of ringing the bell, Miles moves to the dining area in search of his friend. A woman taps him on the shoulder. WOMAN He's waiting for you in room 308. Miles climbs the flights of stairs until he reaches the third floor. He finds room 308. He knocks on the door then moves to the side, so he will not be visible when the door opens. Gentry opens his arms dramatically. GENTRY Mon ami, entree. MILES Que pasa? GENTRY Wonderful. (he stops and stares) I can't believe it's been so long. We were such good friends. Miles, you're really here. MILES I don't know why it'd be so hard for you to believe that I'm finally back. GENTRY I guess it's just... MILES Yes? GENTRY Well, sit down. We'll play the game of chess we agreed upon. MILES What are the stakes? GENTRY Stakes? MILES Yes. If I win, what will you do? And if you win... GENTRY There should be no stakes. We're old friends. I simply wanted to have a chat. MILES No, there should be stakes. I can't play if we're not competing somehow. GENTRY When competing with friends, I usually like to lose. That alleviates the strain on our friendship. MILES That's why what I have in mind might be an incentive for you to win. GENTRY How's that? Life or death? Miles laughs. MILES No. I was thinking more like revealing a secret. And not just any secret. Something deep and dark. GENTRY I have something in mind. In fact, I may tell you even if I win. (beat) Because we're such good friends. Alright, let's commence. Miles sits down. He sets up the white pieces. Gentry starts setting up the black. MILES I know you cheated on my wife. GENTRY (uncomfortable) Excuse me? MILES Oh please. Sandra and I aren't even married anymore, so it's not like I care. She went off with the guy she got involved with after you. GENTRY (sad) I didn't know that. You aren't angry? MILES I was at first. But believe me, I knew it the whole time. I thought it was funny how you thought I didn't know. GENTRY Do you want to stop playing? MILES We've only just started. GENTRY Alright. I'm not sure I can continue. You would never do something like that to me. MILES Of course not. You were my friend. But I know the temptation to cheat. I cheated on Sandra myself. GENTRY Was it to get information? MILES Of course not. That doesn't count. GENTRY Who was it? Was it Regina? If it was, I had no idea. MILES Of course I didn't cheat on your wife. This girl was unmarried. GENTRY Who? MILES The stakes. If you win, I'll tell you. If not... GENTRY Someone I know? MILES You'll have to win. And that might not happen, because last time I beat you. GENTRY I won every other time. MILES Are you saying you let me win, the last time? GENTRY No. I actually didn't. MILES You said you'd let a friend win if you thought... GENTRY You are a friend. However, I want to find out your secret. I'm not going to let you win. MILES It's really not a secret. Regina knew. GENTRY Yes? (beat) Nina? Gentry's face becomes angry. MILES Yes, I thought you knew. Gentry flips the table over. MILES (CONT'D) Now, now, let's not get angry. You slept with my wife. I slept with your daughter. She was available! Gentry sits back down. GENTRY Fuck. MILES She told Regina. I certainly didn't. I thought you knew. Gentry silently sets back the pieces while Miles watches. Miles moves the rook. MILES This rook was actually HERE. GENTRY Shut up. MILES Now, listen. I was a good sport about Sandra. Now look what you've done. You spoiled my secret. What will the stakes be now? GENTRY I thought you said I already knew? MILES Obviously you didn't, old chap. (sighs) I need some coffee. I can't play like this. Gentry walks over to the phone which is behind him, on a dresser. GENTRY I'd like two coffees. One served black. The other with hazelnut cream and three cubes of sugar. (turns to Miles) They don't have hazelnut. MILES Why don't you ask her to use cyanide instead? GENTRY Stop acting childish. (to the phone) Do you have some sort of vanilla? Yes. Thank you. Gentry sits back down at the table and moves. GENTRY (CONT'D) You didn't sleep with Nina. She was only fifteen when you saw her last. You wouldn't risk your career for a girl. Miles laughs. GENTRY (CONT'D) So we'll keep the same stakes. I have a secret... that I won't reveal if you lose. MILES We all lose in the end. (beat) Death, nothingness. (beat) Blackness. GENTRY I get the fucking picture. MILES Why are you still sour? I'm the cuckold here. GENTRY Shut up. You probably ogled Nina, though. Didn't you? MILES Nina's a child. If I were to ogle someone I couldn't have... it would be Carla Bruni. Or Audrey Hepburn. Or... GENTRY You have terrible taste. MILES I like brunettes. You like blondes. GENTRY Why did you marry Sandra if you don't like blondes? MILES She's a natural brunette. She only went blonde after I married her. GENTRY Why didn't you protest? MILES I never liked it, but if that's what she wanted, I was fine with it. GENTRY Sometimes relationships aren't all about the other person. MILES What do you mean? GENTRY Sometimes you have to state your preference. You wanted to please her, but maybe she could have felt that she pleased you more. MILES I don't care about hair color. GENTRY It runs deeper than that. MILES You're one to talk about relationships. It never lasted with you and Regina either. GENTRY I had a hard time with the breakup. I had my affairs, but I stayed married to her because I wanted stability. If she had provided me with that, I could have been happy. MILES You wanted stability, but she wanted fidelity. The Woman knocks on the door. She sets the black coffee next to Miles and the vanilla coffee next to Gentry. Gentry signs the tab, while Miles switches the coffees. The woman walks out. GENTRY Why in the bloody hell did you switch the glasses? MILES She gave you my vanilla. Imagine that they didn't have hazelnut. I would've preferred almond flavoring instead of vanilla, you know. GENTRY I didn't know there was such thing as almond flavoring. MILES Almond extract. Something like that. Miles sips his coffee. MILES (CONT'D) Why aren't you drinking yours? GENTRY I'm not touching that. MILES Are you serious? GENTRY This is so absurd. You provoke me, you mention cyanide, and you switch our coffees. MILES Stop being a pompous ass! GENTRY I was really looking forward to this. And now you've put a bad taste in my mouth. Miles makes his move. GENTRY (CONT'D) Shit for brains. Gentry takes his queen. Miles takes takes his knight. MILES Checkmate. I guess you're not going to find out my secret. GENTRY You mentioned my daughter to unnerve me. Here's my secret: I was hired to kill you. MILES Interesting. I never would have guessed that actually. Why were you so happy to see me then? GENTRY It's not like I wanted to kill you. I wanted to have at least one good game of chess before I had to get it over with. MILES That game was certainly not that great. In fact, I think you wanted to lose. We're going to have to play another game. This time the stakes should be life or death. If you get to kill me, then you fulfill your assignment. If I kill you, well then, your misery is ended. You're completely unhappy now that Regina's left you. GENTRY I don't wish to die over it. No, I'm not going to play for life or death. MILES Fine, then I'm going to fight for my life. GENTRY I'm just joking. I wasn't to kill you. Being an assassin is hardly in my job description. MILES I'll be black this time. I was hired to kill you too, you know. GENTRY Let's call it a draw and walk away. MILES A draw? We haven't even started playing yet. So we would kill each other? And both succeed? GENTRY I said we'd both walk away. But I wasn't hired to kill you. I was just trying to unnerve you, like you did me. MILES Quit bluffing. Here's my motivation. You slept with my wife. Being hired to kill you is like being paid to be on a cruise. GENTRY But why were you hired to kill me? MILES Oh, I don't know. I don't need to know the reason; I just carry out the order. GENTRY This is absurd! MILES You've already used the word absurd once today. Why don't you try to variate, saying, "This is ridiculous!" OR "This is preposterous" or "This is insanity!" GENTRY No wonder you drove your wife straight to my arms. MILES Gentry, my dear Gentry, I already told you. I'm over that woman. I only wish her happiness. I'm over that whole ordeal. It's clear you're trying to upset me, because you're the one that's upset. GENTRY Still, you expressed your desire to kill me. And your motivation. MILES It would seem that's my motivation, yes. But no, I'm only using it as a justification. You must die. If any one of us were not to make it alive out of this room, it wouldn't be you. I'm a fighter and I'll fight to the very end, even though... GENTRY Even though what? MILES I'd tell you, but you lost the game of chess. You'll never know now. Unless you'd like to play another game. And you win. GENTRY I'd only win if we were to play again. Let's not go through formalities. Just tell me now. MILES No, we'll have to go through with the formalities. Just keep this in mind: you'll die no matter what. Say you do win. I'll tell you my secret. But you'll die. Wouldn't you like to just die now, instead of suffering through a game of chess? That way you'll be less nervous? GENTRY Less nervous? I'm not nervous. MILES You've been shaking sufferably ever since you've admitted to sleeping with my wife...which I already knew of course. You think I'll strike out at you...and I will, but not for that. Orders are orders. It's almost not worth it, but I wish to die honorably. Miles overturns the table. GENTRY Now why did you do that? MILES I wanted to know what it was like to throw a tantrum. Besides, the secret's out of the bag. I'm a dying man. GENTRY You look healthy enough. And you're acting confidently. MILES Why, yes. As long as I'm going to die, I might as well act how I want to. My whole life, I was a tad reserved. As you well know. When Sandra had her affairs, I didn't protest. I was secretly angry. I suffered through that. Whatever. Now, I express my emotions. You're my friend. Don't you have a right to know? GENTRY How are you going to die? MILES Wouldn't we all like to know that? I don't know. I could be hit by a car as soon as I leave here. I could drown when I go out swimming in the bay tomorrow morning. Highly unlikely, but I could be so distracted from killing you that I forget to wait an hour after eating breakfast. GENTRY Cut it out. You weren't hired to kill me. You're just trying to make me nervous. MILES I don't know why you don't believe me. If someone said they were hired to kill me, I'd believe them. I'd at least watch them like a hawk. You're turning away. You're nervous; you're fumbling. GENTRY So kill me. MILES Not the right moment. GENTRY When will the right moment be? MILES I don't know. That's what I'm trying to decide right now. GENTRY So, do you have health problems? Is it your heart? MILES My heart's strong. Cancer, from smoking all those damned cigarettes. I guess. GENTRY You gave up years ago! MILES A few years ago, but I had been smoking for at least twenty-two years. I started young. GENTRY My God. So why would you kill me? MILES For one, you're MIles uses British lingo (old chap) to make fun of Gentry (quite possibly British) Miles says Well and Just Flashbacks to flesh it out. A short shot of Nina in a sundress out in nature. Interaction with 2 char/Hard Candy & Sleuth
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