Writing a Film Script

Here is a film script I wrote when studying with the OU. Although it may not be perfect it got me my highest mark. I hope it can be of help to anyone attempting something similar. Some of the layout may have been affected when I copied and pasted it on to here so don’t take it as gospel. I have used montage to convey flashbacks and they will be in black and white and without sound to highlight and add drama.

NURSING A GRUDGE (A Film)
By
Carole Richardson (2014)

CAST:
Laura Connor: A forty year old nurse with career ambitions.

Jack Connor: Self employed engineer. Family orientated.

Molly Connor: Five year old daughter of Laura and Jack. Daddy’s little princess.

Rufus Downs: Retired accountant and father who left Laura when she was only five.

Gracie Downs: Rufus’s daughter from second marriage.

Sally: Staff nurse and friend of Laura.

Mr Hobson: Patient

Jenny: Care Assistant.

Isobel: Laura’s mother

Katie: Nurse

FADE IN:
INTERCUT – INT. MODERN KITCHEN/ EXT. BACK GARDEN. SPRING EVENING.
A light and airy, galley style kitchen with units down one side and a breakfast bar running down the opposite wall. Off screen distant sound of a lawnmower, birdsong and the sound of a man and a child laughing and talking can be heard through an open window. We see Laura, side view, leaning over the sink and gazing out of the window. She is wearing a pale blue nurse’s uniform. CU to Laura’s face then camera pans round to show view through window of well tended back garden. Jack is kneeling down beside a pergola. He is mending a trellis that is supporting a large pink Clematis. Molly is by his side trying to help. Laura taps on the glass of the window.
LAURA
I’m off now.
(silence)

JACK
Pass me another tack please, Molly.
(combs fingers through his hair)

MOLLY
(bends down and picks up flower head)
Careful with my flowers Daddy. They die when they’re
broken.

JACK

(stroking her face)
Sorry princess. I’ll try to be gentle.

LAURA

(taps glass again and speaks louder)
I should be home early enough to give Molly breakfast and take her to school.

JACK
(continuing to fix trellis)
Let’s hope there won’t be any emergencies then.

LAURA
(frowns and mutters)
I’ll just tell all the patients not to be ill and come home just when I fancy, shall I?

MOLLY
(waves and smiles at Laura)
Bye Mummy.
(blows kiss and turns back to Jack)
LAURA
Bye Molly.

(CU Jack and Molly. Off screen, we hear the sound of car keys being picked up, followed by door slamming. Jack glances back towards window and frowns before smiling at Molly and continuing his repairs.)

FADE OUT

FADE IN:
INT. HOSPITAL WARD. EVENING
Laura is standing at the nurse’s workstation with Sally. The workstation has a desk and two chairs. Behind this is a small staff room with a couple of chairs, a small table, sink unit, kettle, cups etc. Sally is doing the handover for the night shift. The ward has a main section with eight beds down each side. There is a side ward just off the main ward. The lighting is low and the blinds have been drawn so that patients can sleep. Katie is attending to a patient at the far end of the ward.
SALLY
Mr Hobson’s eaten well today. Obs are fine and he’ll
be going home tomorrow. Moving in with his son…poor thing…won’t be able to sneeze without an inquisition.

LAURA
I know. He’s a right old woman. Still, better than not being wanted at all.

SALLY
Too right. We can’t trace any relatives for Mr Freeman. He’s had another stroke today. Meds have been altered and he’s responding positively. Katie’s with him now.
(nods in general direction of Katie)

LAURA
That’s a shame. Nice man. Never complains.

SALLY
There’s a new patient in the side ward. Rufus Downs, seventy, not expected to last the night… Cancer…

BLACK SCREEN

INT. SITTING ROOM. MORNING. MAY 1978. FLASHBACK

Shot in black and white with no sound. Isobel is arguing with Rufus. There is no sound. The room is poorly furnished with a small dining table in one corner. The tiled mantelpiece has an open grate and there is a clock and ornaments on top. He is holding a briefcase and keeps looking at his watch. In front of them, a five year old Laura is sitting on the sofa. She is holding her hands over her ears and crying.

END FLASHBACK

INT. HOSPITAL WARD. EVENING

SALLY
Laura? Laura? Are you OK? Come and sit down. (manoeuvres Laura into a chair)
Are you Ill?

LAURA
No…sorry Sal. Just a bit of a turn. I’m fine…what were you saying?

SALLY
Are you sure? You don’t look fine? Shall I get you some water?

LAURA
No. Honestly, I’m OK. Carry on.

SALLY
Well… I was saying that his daughter is sitting with him.

LAURA                                                SALLY
Daughter?                                           She’s a bit distraught

SALLY CONT’D
Calling us in every few minutes. We’ve put him on a syringe driver for the pain. He’s refusing food but he’s on a drip for fluids. Everyone else no change from last night.
(takes hold of Laura’s hand)
Are you sure you’re OK?
LAURA
(stands up)
I’m perfectly alright. Stop fussing.
SALLY
Is it Jack? Still giving you a hard time? He knows how important this job is…
LAURA
He hates me being on nights. Thinks I don’t spend enough time with Molly. You know what he’s like.
SALLY
A flaming dinosaur, that’s what. Don’t take any notice. He’ll come round. Look, I’ve got to rush off. It’s Doc Martin tonight. Can’t miss that.
(hurries away along the corridor as she talks)
We’ll catch up in the morning.

Jenny races past Sally towards staff room and removes her coat.

JENNY
Sorry I’m late. Bloody dog wouldn’t have a poo. Can’t leave him in the house alone ‘til he’s done it. Anythin’ I need to know? – Laura?
(Laura stares at door to side ward)

INT. HOSPITAL WARD. EVENING

Laura is by Mr Hobson’s bed in the main ward. The blood pressure monitor is attached to his finger and she is holding his thin wrist, her fingers on his pulse. She looks at her watch to check the rate.
LAURA
It’ll be nice to live with your son, won’t it, Fred?
FRED
I’d rather live with you Laura. (he winks and chuckles) I’d die a happy man if I had you to look at every day.

LAURA
Now, Fred. You behave yourself. You’ll have my Jack after you.
(mumbles to herself)
Probably not actually. Not anymore.
(stares at side ward)

FRED
Hey! You alright love?

(She pats Fred’s arm and smiles)

LAURA
I’m absolutely fine. Now you settle down. Need to be fresh and raring to go in the morning.

Laura tucks him in and walks down the ward stopping at each bed and checking patients. She stops in her tracks as a voice calls from behind her.

GRACIE
Nurse…Nurse?

INT. HOSPITAL SIDE WARD. EVENING

The room is sparse with a small cabinet for clothes and personal belongings. There is a single bed and one chair. A drip is set up at the side of the bed opposite the chair. Rufus is lying in bed breathing heavily and spasmodically. He has little hair and his face is lined and grey. Gracie is sitting in the chair, hunched up and holding Rufus’s hand. She looks up as Laura enters the room. They both have similar coloured hair. Laura stares at Gracie before turning her attention to the drip.

LAURA
Everything see… (coughs) seems fine.

RUFUS
Gracie? Is that you?
(peers at Laura)

GRACIE
No, Dad. It’s the nurse. She’s come to make you comfortable.

LAURA
That’s right. I’m the nurse Mr Downs. Laura. My name’s Laura.

RUFUS
Laura? (he stares up at her) Laura?

GRACIE
Don’t stare Dad. It’s rude. (smiles at Laura) I’m sorry
Laura, he gets a bit confused.

(she lifts his hand to her lips and starts crying again)

RUFUS
(whispers) It’s OK Gracie. It’s OK.

LAURA
I…I need to go… (rushes from room)

INT. HOSPITAL. NURSES WORKSTATION. EVENING

Laura is leaning over desk with papers in her hands. She is distressed and has difficulty concentrating. The light is on in the staff room where Katie and Jenny are having a break and chatting.

GRACIE
Nurse…err Laura?

LAURA

(wipes away tears and looks up)

Can I help?

GRACIE

I’m sorry to keep bothering you…it’s just…it’s Dad. He … He keeps saying your name…
(looks in direction of staff room)

I know you’re busy…

LAURA
I’ll be along in just a minute.

BLACK SCREEN

INT. HALLWAY. EVENING. LATE JUNE 1978. FLASHBACK

Shot in black and white with no sound. Scruffy stair carpet and tiled floor. Telephone stand on side wall. Childs bicycle leans on wall next to tel stand. Isobel sits on stairs, crying. Rufus stands by door with suitcase in hand. Five year old Laura clings to his legs as he strokes her hair. Rufus bends down to hug her before holding her by the arms and mouthing the words ‘I love you’. He walks out of the door. Laura runs to Isobel.

END FLASHBACK

INT. HOSPITAL SIDE WARD. EVENING

LAURA
(brusquely) What’s the matter Mr Downs? Do you need the dosage upping?
(slips hand under pillow and checks syringe driver)

RUFUS
No…I need to tell you…

LAURA

(plumps pillow)

No need to tell me anything. Your family is more important.

GRACIE
Have you still got parents Laura?

LAURA
(glares at Rufus) No. No I haven’t Gracie. My mum died last year and my father…well he…he left home when I was five.

GRACIE
Oh, I’m so sorry. That’s awful. I’ve been so lucky. He’s been a wonderful father. Haven’t you Dad? The best ever.

LAURA

(snatches up Rufus’s wrist and checks pulse)

I’m sure he has. Wish I’d had a father like that.
(Tears are running down Rufus’s face)

I wish he hadn’t left Mum crying herself to sleep every night. I wish he hadn’t left me wondering what I’d done wrong.
(puts his hand down roughly)

RUFUS
(barely a whisper) Laura, I’m so sorry…I

GRACIE
Typical of Dad. Can’t bear to see anyone hurt or upset. It’s OK Dad. Laura’s fine. You just rest now.

LAURA
Don’t you worry about me. You just concentrate on Gracie. She’s the one who needs you. My Dad means nothing to me. Absolutely nothing.
(goes to end of the bed and writes up chart)

GRACIE
Would it be alright if I go and get a coffee while you’re here?

LAURA
You go ahead. No problem

(Gracie leaves the room)

RUFUS
She doesn’t know.

LAURA
Obviously. Perhaps it’s time she did.

RUFUS
I came back… your mum…she wouldn’t…

LAURA
(snapping) Don’t you dare blame my mother. You left us.

RUFUS
Please Laura. Don’t tell her. It would/

LAURA
What? Show her what you’re really like? What you’re capable of?
RUFUS
I’ve no right to ask…
(gasping)

LAURA
No right at all. Why? Why did you leave? For her?

RUFUS
No… I met June… her mum, after I left. There wasn’t /

LAURA
(voice softer) Then why? I thought you loved me.

RUFUS
(breathing heavily)
Because… I thought… my job… more important… I drove your mum away…
(coughs violently)

LAURA
(Lifts him to a sitting position)

You’d better rest…

(Gracie enters holding a paper drinks carton)

GRACIE
Dad…Are you OK?

(she helps Laura to sit him up)

RUFUS
So sorry…so sorry…

(stops coughing and closes his eyes)

LAURA
I need to get on.

(Laura leaves the room quickly.)

INT. HOSPITAL. NURSES WORKSTATION. EVENING

Jenny stands by Mr Hobson’s bed. She waves at Laura sitting at her desk to get her attention. Laura goes over to them.

LAURA
Everything OK?

JENNY
Mr Hobson’s a bit worried about going to his son’s tomorrow.

LAURA
I’ll have a word. Thanks Jenny.
(Jenny continues up the ward checking patients)
What is it Fred?

MR HOBSON
I don’t think it’ll work. With Tom, I mean.

LAURA
What won’t work?

MR HOBSON
Living with him. We haven’t exactly got a good track record.

LAURA
Stop worrying. Everyone has ups and downs. It’ll be fine. You’ll see.

MR HOBSON
I wish it were as simple as that. We had a massive fallout when he was eighteen. He left home it was that bad.

LAURA
You’re OK now though, aren’t you?

MR HOBSON
Well yes…he came back just before his mother died last year. More to make peace with her than me, I think. We’re trying…it’s difficult.

LAURA
This is your chance to make it right. Tell him how you feel. He’ll understand. You’re still his dad.

MR HOBSON
Not much of a dad, Laura. Too busy with my own life
back then. I wish it could have been different.

LAURA
We can all wish that. Wish we’d acted differently.
(looks over to her desk)

LAURA CONT’D
Make it right with him. Before it’s too late…I’ve just got to do something. I’ll be back …

Laura walks briskly over to workstation and picks up her mobile. She keys in a text message to Jack. CU of mobile.
‘Can you get morning off? We need to sit down and talk about things. I miss you. Laura xxx’

Gracie comes out of side ward. She stands and stares at Laura. Laura hurries over and puts her arms around Gracie before leading her back into the side ward.

GRACIE
I think he’s gone.

INT. HOSPITAL SIDE WARD. EVENING

Laura sits Gracie down and goes over to her father. She lifts his wrist and checks for a pulse.

LAURA
Not quite Gracie, but he’s very weak. It won’t be long.

Leaning over, she puts her fingers to her own lips before touching them to his forehead.
She strokes his face gently.

LAURA CONT’D
(speaking almost imperceptibly)
Goodbye Dad. I love you.

A tear slips from her eyes and drops on to his cheek. His eyes flicker open. The tiniest of smiles forms and his eyes are wet. His hand reaches out and she takes hold of it. She watches his chest rise and fall and she strokes his hand before turning back to Gracie.

LAURA
He’s not in pain Gracie. He needs you to be strong for him now. Come closer and hold his hand.

GRACIE

(stands and leans over Rufus)
Thank you Laura. You’ve been so kind. I think we’ll be alright now.

Laura touches Gracie’s shoulder and leaves the room.

BLACK SCREEN

EXT. GARDEN. AFTERNOON. JULY 1977. FLASHBACK

Shot in full colour. Rufus is chasing a four year old Laura around a lawned garden with colourful borders. They are both laughing as he catches her and twirls her around. They collapse on the grass in each other’s arms. They are very happy

END FLASHBACK

INT. HOSPITAL. NURSES WORKSTATION. EVENING

Laura sits at workstation, head in arms. Mobile vibrates. Laura lifts her head and picks it up. CU on message.
‘I miss you too. Will breakfast in bed suit after we both take Molly to school? Jack xx’

Laura wipes her eyes and smiles. She types out her response.

FADE OUT

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “Writing a Film Script

  1. Carole, I absolutely ADORE this. I could see everything happening, no wonder you got such a high mark for it – it’s really really moving.
    However throughout Scriptwriting, I’ve always been ‘taught’ not to use camera directions like fade, Close Up, shot of, pan to… etc, so I’m not sure that’d have gone down well – even though everything in my head wants to detail this (maybe this is why I found it so blimmun’ frustrating) and also the (character directions) after the name e.g. ‘runs hand through hair’ – we’re told to leave movements like these to the actor/director’s discretion, even though (again) every bone in my body wants to convey exactly how I’m ‘seeing it’ onto the page. Maybe these are the frustrations. Also, time and again, my tutor has recommended I pare back the dialogue and let some (entire) scenes play out through action, another thing I’ve found it difficult to convey.
    Thanks for posting this, Carole, and I’m sorry it took me so long to get around to reading it. Well done, it’s a piece of perfection as far as I’m concerned – a beautiful story 🙂 x

    Like

    1. Thank you so much Deborah. I’m surprised they wouldn’t let you add those elements. We were encouraged to do it but to always leave the director plenty of scope to do his job as well. Have you finished the course now? Is there an opportunity to discuss with your tutor?

      Like

      1. I’ve just had my feedback for the last Assignment – 5 – and he’s told me in that (again) to cut out 4 pages of dialogue and try for a purely visual scene instead because it will have more impact. I get so frustrated with it. But, as I said in yesterday’s blog post, the comments he makes about my work are REALLY GOOD – I struggle to see who this student is he’s talking about because it doesn’t feel like ME!
        I did go through the 25-min screenplay yesterday and I did cut out 3 pages (dialogue) and replaced it with a diff scene (still dialogue – how the heck can you convey details without dialogue?!!!) and I’ve decided I’m going to include the reasons why I didn’t follow tutor advice completely, in my Reflective Commentary – who knows, maybe I’ll get points for sticking to my guns? 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    1. My flashbacks were just visual and no dialogue. If you would like me to have a look you can message me on facebook and I will give you my home email address. i found that you can be too close to something sometimes and need another eye. No problem if you prefer not to.

      Like

      1. Thanks, that’s kind of you. My flashbacks form the middle 2/3 of the whole screenplay – with the current ‘day’ bookending it… so an intro, followed by flashbacks explaining how the characters got to this point, ending back with current day and the terrible end. (Intended).

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s