here’s an interpretive exercise for directors: pick a song, poem, hymn, or psalm (preferably at random… open a book, eyes closed, and point your finger, e.g.). craft a story that demonstrates visually and audibly the essence of the original work.
story and screenplay © parabolos 2012
please do not reproduce or produce derivative works without permission. thanks.
EXT. DOWNTOWN – NIGHT
KATE (mid-20s) hustles on her way. She is dressed simply, but sharply, and dark, in contrast to her brightly lit nighttime surroundings.
Other PEOPLE bustle about on this early winter evening. Some beggars hassle passers-by. Kate ignores them, lost in her thoughts, going over some sheet music.
EDDIE (50ish), a street musician, slowly strums his guitar, but no one seems to listen, least of all Kate.
INT. ELEVATOR – LATER
Kate looks over her music. She glances up at a few of the other girls in the elevator car with her. They are also dressed well and made up, going over music themselves.
Kate catches herself being distracted and turns her attention back to her sheet music.
INT. WAITING ROOM – LATER
Kate is now just pretending to look at the music.She glances occasionally at the other girls, but mainly stares across the top of the page at the floor.
A door opens.
Kate snaps out of her daze and plasters on a smile, rising.
INT. SMALL THEATER – LATER
Kate sings. Her eyes closed, she calls the music up from her memory.
A few gray heads in the front row listen and write notes. One interrupts her.
Kate, a bit stunned, stops and looks at him.
GRAY HEAD (CONT’D)
Very nice. Thank you for coming.
Kate forces a smile and does a slight bow before exiting the stage. As she exits, she looks to the gray heads one more time. They busy themselves turning pages, making notes, and checking their PDAs.
INT. ELEVATOR – LATER
Kate rides down alone. She stares at the floor, her music rolled up in her hands.
EXT. DOWNTOWN – LATER
Kate walks home. It is late, and the streets are mostly empty, save a beggar or two.
INT. KATE’S BATHROOM – LATER
Having changed clothes, Kate cries, looking into the mirror.
INT. KATE’S TINY APARTMENT – THE NEXT DAY
SERIES OF SHOTS: Kate practicing her music and getting increasingly frustrated.
INT. KATE’S TINY APARTMENT – LATER THAT NIGHT
Kate sitting in front of her one window, staring out of it, in a trance. The television plays mindlessly in the background. A microwave dinner sits on the table in front of her, half-eaten.
EXT.DOWNTOWN – COFFEE SHOP – LATER
Kate exits a coffee shop with a high-dollar drink to go. She is dressed warmly, but comfortably. She strolls slowly, burdened.
Faintly, the sound of SINGING.
She looks up, listens. Follows it.
EXT. CHURCH – MOMENTS LATER
The open doors of the church cast a warm light onto the cold street. Kate steps into the light and hears the choir practicing. She steps in.
INT.CHURCH – CONTINUOUS
She walks about a third of the way down the aisle and sits in an empty pew. The pews are almost entirely empty, except for a few parents down near the front. The choir sings “Nearer My God to Thee.”
Kate’s face starts to ease as she listens. She sips her drink and begins to relax.
A feeling… someone behind her. She turns and looks.
There sits Eddie, his eyes closed, swaying back and forth singing along quietly.
Kate turns back around, contemplates, then watches the choir.
INT. KATE’S BATHROOM – THE NEXT DAY
Kate puts on her make-up. She is dressed nicely again.
EXT.DOWNTOWN – LATER
Kate walks down the street going over her sheet music. She passes Eddie who pays no attention to her as he strums his guitar.
Kate stops and watches him. A STRANGER drops some coins in Eddie’s hat. Eddie’s face lights up for a moment as he smiles at the passer-by, but then drops as the man walks away, not listening. Eddie turns his attention to his fretboard once again.
Kate looks at her sheet music, then to Eddie. She rolls up her music and puts it in her purse and goes and sits next to him. Eddie looks at her confused. Kate smiles awkwardly.
You know “Nearer My God to Thee”?
Eddie just stares at her for a second. Kate’s smile fades to “oh crap, what am I doing?” Eddie breaks his stare and begins strumming, and then singing.
Nearer, My God, to thee… Nearer to thee…
Kate joins him, smiling.
Soon, passers-by pause to listen. Eddie pays attention only to his guitar. Kate only watches him as she smiles, swaying back and forth to their singing.
When the song is over, a smatter of applause calls their attention to the small crowd that has gathered. Kate, genuinely surprised, smiles at Eddie. He grins slightly back.
People drop money into Eddie’s hat. Dollar bills even. They look at the money. They stare at each other for a moment.
Just a closer walk with thee?
Eddie starts playing. Kate touches his arm as she begins singing with him. He playfully nudges her off. Kate laughs and continues singing.
from Psalm 95:1,2