Some of The Nines

As promised, here’s your first look at The Nines, as scripted. The following represents roughly the first three pages of each section.

Part One: The Prisoner


A MAN’S HAND unwinds a short length of green string. We’re extremely close, with a shallow, blurry focus. It’s like the first moments after a dream -- just fragments.

Scissors cut the string. The man wraps it around his left wrist. A loop. A bracelet.

We see the man’s teeth, the edge of his chin as he pulls the knot tight.

His fingers pull against the string. Solid. It won’t break easily.

FADE OUT.

PITCH BLACK

There’s no music. No sound at all, really, except for some distant birds CHIRPING.

Then a SQUEAK. A SQUEAL as rusty springs engage.

A GARAGE DOOR LIFTS, revealing GARY BANKS in silhouette. He’s 30, effortlessly fit, with movie-star good looks (although for now, he’s merely a TV star).

Like most Laurel Canyon garages, this one has never held a car. Instead, it’s the resting place for all the detritus of bachelordom: shitty Ikea furniture, a drum set, a styrofoam snowman, and the Harley he always meant to get running.

Gary spots what he was looking for.

CUT TO:

EXT. BACK PATIO / LAUREL CANYON HOUSE – MAGIC HOUR (DAWN)

Gary drags a beaten Weber kettle. One of its wheels is broken, SCRAPING against the deck.

WIDER, we see Gary’s house has an incredible view of the city. He couldn’t fucking care less.

He yanks the circular grill out of the Weber and throws it down the canyon.

He empties a garbage bag into the barbecue: mostly women’s clothes, but also some stuffed animals and photos still in their frames. There’s too much to fit, so he tries stomping it down with a flip-flopped foot.

He cracks open a container of lighter fluid and begins drenching everything inside. He sprays until the container is WHEEZING air. He shakes it, making sure it’s really empty.

Then he cracks open a new container and keeps spraying. And spraying.

We follow the dripping fluid as it runs across a photo of Gary and a BLONDE WOMAN.

Her eyes are scratched out, making her unrecognizable.

Under the grill, lighter fluid is dripping in a stream, soaking into the wooden deck.

Finally satisfied, Gary throws the lighter fluid aside. He takes five steps back and pulls a box of matches from his pocket.

EXTREMELY CLOSE as the match SCRAPES, erupting in flames.

On Gary’s left wrist, we see a green string bracelet.

MUSIC STARTS: a pounding, hypnotic track that will carry us through these MAIN TITLES.

In EPIC SLOW-MOTION, we follow the burning match as it sails through the air, tumbling end-over-end.

Just as it’s about to reach its target, we...

CUT TO:

A DIGITAL METER shoots to 100 miles per gallon. It’s the display of Gary’s Prius. We are...

INT. THE PRIUS – DAY

Gary’s at the wheel, driving, as he finishes a fifth of bourbon. JUMP CUTS take us out of Hollywood, heading downtown. Our TRAVELLING MUSIC is serving us well.

Gary stops at a light. He looks left and sees himself on the side of a bus. It’s an ad for CRIME LAB (“This fall, Mondays are killer.”) Gary watches himself drive away.

CUT TO:

Further along, Gary spots two THUGGY TEENAGERS sitting on a low wall. He calls out to them:

GARY

Hey! Do you sell crack?

The boys look wary.

GARY (CONT’D)

It’s cool. I’m only a cop on TV.

QUICK CUTS:

Money changes hands.

Gary holds a small ziplock bag -- and has no idea what to do with its lumpy beige contents.

CUT TO:

HOLLYWOOD.

Gary pulls up to a curb. He’s now on Sunset Blvd. A matronly black streetwalker (OCTAVIA, 35) approaches the passenger window.

Gary holds up the little bag.

GARY

Is this crack?

She takes a closer look.

GARY (CONT’D)

Do you know how to do it?

CUT TO:

INT. SHITTY MOTEL ROOM – DAY

Gary and Octavia jump up and down on the bed, each trying to bounce higher than the other, LAUGHING all the while.

Part Two: Reality Television


ANIMATED TITLES

We RUSH IN on a television set, which spins around revealing a blinding constellation of pixels.

MELISSA (V.O.)

Previously, on “Behind the Screen.”

CUT TO:

EXT. STUDIO LOT – DAY

GAVIN TAYLOR (30) walks to a meeting, with his laptop bag over his shoulder. He has a tidy, Banana Republic sensibility and an easy smile that belies his manic schedule.

SUSAN (V.O.)

Gavin Taylor’s one of the best TV writers out there.

INT. SUSAN’S OFFICE – DAY

Cluttered and corporate, with stacks of scripts and a few touches of arbitrary quirk.

SUSAN HOWARD (35) and Gavin kiss hello.

SUSAN (V.O.)

Every network would kill to work with him.

INT. GAVIN’S OFFICE / GUESTHOUSE – DAY

INTERVIEW.

GAVIN

“Knowing” is a one-hour drama about a woman whose husband disappears. She starts to believe that her daughter is the key to a dark conspiracy.

INT. CONFERENCE ROOM – DAY

Gavin pitches his show to the NETWORK BOSSES.

GAVIN

Basically, it’s like “Rosemary’s Toddler.”

EXT. STUDIO LOT – DAY

Impromptu INTERVIEW. Gavin is beaming.

GAVIN

We sold it in the room.

INT. KITCHEN – DAY

Gavin leans into the speakerphone.

GAVIN

Just tell me Roger liked the script.

INT. SUSAN’S OFFICE – DAY

Susan is on her speakerphone.

SUSAN

You’re shooting a pilot.

INT. SUSINA COFFEESHOP – DAY

Gavin has coffee with actress MELISSA McCARTHY (34), his best friend. He’s pitching her the idea.

GAVIN (V.O.)

Melissa McCarthy is my first and only choice for the lead.

MELISSA

I love it. I’ll do it.

EXT. FOREST – DAY

An EPK-style INTERVIEW, on the set of the pilot.

MELISSA

Gavin and I have been friends for forever.

EXT. WARNER BROS. LOT – DAY

Melissa hangs out with her “Gilmore Girls” CAST and CREW.

MELISSA (V.O.)

It’s really hard to leave a show like “Gilmore Girls,” but I really believe in Gavin.

INT. CONFERENCE ROOM – DAY

Gavin, Susan and a LINE PRODUCER go over the figures.

GAVIN (V.O.)

The only way we can afford to shoot the pilot is in Canada.

INT. BEDROOM – DAY

Gavin stacks up clothes on his bed, preparing to pack.

GAVIN

It’s really hard to think about leaving for six weeks.

EXT. FOREST ROAD – DAY

Gavin YELLS:

GAVIN

Action!

A STEADICAM follows Melissa as she gets out the passenger door of a Toyota Prius, an alarmed look on her face.

EXT. BASE CAMP / CRAFT SERVICE – DAY

Susan is on a cell phone call. She smiles at Melissa, who walks by with two cups of coffee.

SUSAN (V.O.)

Right now, this is probably our top pilot. But things change.

TITLE OVER:

EPISODE 6: POST

Part Three: Knowing


EXT. MEADOW – DAY

In a WIDE SHOT, we see a vast field, bordered by green mountains. Unseen BIRDS call out from the trees, while insects CLICK and WHIRR.

In the distance, we spot swatches of bright colors moving our way. It’s a family: father GABRIEL (34), wife MARY (33) and daughter NOELLE (8). They’re returning from a short day hike. Mary carries a small videocamera.

Seeing that Noelle is already a ways down the path...

GABRIEL

Noelle! Don’t get too far ahead.

Noelle turns around. Instead of speaking, she moves her hands in sign language (She’s mute, not deaf).

MARY

No. You had ice cream at lunch.

Noelle begs to differ. More signing.

GABRIEL

(to Mary)

Apparently frozen yogurt doesn’t count.

MARY

I’ll make note.

EXT. SMALL GRAVEL ROAD – DAY

The family walks up to their car, a blue Toyota Prius. Gabriel sheds his daypack, trying to open the hatchback. It won’t lift.

Mary goes to open the passenger door. Locked.

MARY

Did you hit it?

GABRIEL

Shouldn’t have to.

He fishes the keys out of his pocket. Presses the remote entry button repeatedly.

Gabriel tries to open the driver’s side door. Locked. Even Noelle knows something’s wrong.

Gabriel pulls the small mechanical key out of the fob. Unlocks the door and climbs in. Opens the door for Mary and Noelle.

GABRIEL (CONT’D)

I think we left the overhead light on.

He taps it. Moves the switch.

MARY

Shit.

Noelle signs her made-up representation of “shit.”

MARY (CONT’D)

Noelle.

Gabriel slides the key into the slot. Hits “START.” Nothing.

GABRIEL

Battery is dead. Least the starter is.

Noelle leans forward, aware that this is something serious.

MARY

How do we...?

GABRIEL

We call the service. That’s all we can do.

MARY

It’s just the little battery that’s dead, right? The big one is probably fine.

GABRIEL

I guess.

MARY

We can’t jump it from one battery to the other? Cross-over somehow?

GABRIEL

Who did you marry? MacGyver?

He gets out of the car, retrieving his cell phone. Mary follows him out. Noticing that he’s not dialing...

MARY

Are you getting a signal?

GABRIEL

No. Do you?

She checks her phone. A long beat.

MARY

Yes! One bar.

They’re both relieved. Finding the AAA card in his wallet, Gabriel takes the phone and dials.

It’s at this moment we notice the familiar green string bracelet around Gabriel’s wrist.

In the back seat, Noelle KNOCKS on the window. She signs, asking if everything is okay.

MARY (CONT’D)

We’re okay. Daddy’s calling people to help us.

Gabriel pulls the phone from his ear. Looks at the screen. Hits redial. Fuck.

GABRIEL

The minute you try to place a call, the bar goes away.

MARY

Keep trying.

GABRIEL

Okay, I’ll keep trying, Mary. But it will keep happening.

MARY

Well, what do you want to do?

GABRIEL

I don’t know.

He tries redial.

MARY

Maybe if you hold it up higher.

Humoring her, he holds it at arm’s length. No good.

GABRIEL

The problem is we’re boxed in. It’s a canyon.

A beat.

GABRIEL (CONT’D)

Where we turned off the main road, it was more open. And higher, too.

MARY

That’s at least a mile.

GABRIEL

I can run that.

MARY

So...we stay here?

GABRIEL

You okay with that?

MARY

I don’t think we have a choice, so, yeah. Go.

Half a beat, while each waits for the other to think of a better plan. Neither does.

Gabriel leans down next to Noelle’s window.

GABRIEL

Daddy’s going to get a truck to help us out. You take care of your mom, okay?

Noelle nods.

GABRIEL (CONT’D)

I’ll be right back.

Gabriel gives Mary a quick peck and starts running down the road.

We MOVE IN on Noelle, who smiles a little.

CUT TO:

EXT. GRAVEL ROAD – DAY

Gravel CRUNCHES under Gabriel’s shoes as he runs. He keeps an easy pace.


About the live updates

geek alert! If you’re reading this site via the RSS feeds, you may not be aware that the “real” site features a continuously updated list of what I’m doing at Sundance. Call it microblogging. It’s powered by Twitter, and doesn’t show up in the main feed.

However, you can subscribe to the just the Twitters through the previous link.

(Update March 2011: Yes, I called them “Twitters.” I don’t think the term “tweet” had been solidified yet.)


Sundance panels

In addition to the screenings, I’ll be a panelist at two different events at the festival.

HD House

Cinematographer Nancy Schreiber and I will talk about the HD of it all, with clips from the movie.
Monday, Jan. 22nd, at 7 p.m.
Yarrow Theater 2

BMI Composer Roundtable

Composer Alex Wurman and I will be talking about the music in The Nines, including the cool Yahama thing we did.
Wednesday, Jan. 24th, at 11 a.m.
Sundance House / Kimball Art Center
More info here.


The Nines, in script form

trapSince some most readers won’t be able to catch the premiere in Park City, I’ve decided to give you the literary equivalent by posting the script online. Not the whole script, mind you, but enough of it so that you’ll get a sense of what you’re not seeing.

The script will be available on this site starting at 9:30 p.m. Mountain Standard Time on Sunday, January 21st.1 Yes, that’s exactly when the movie is supposed to premiere. I’m trying to be fair to all concerned.

Anticipating the follow-up question: Yes. Whenever the movie hits real theaters,2 I’ll post the full script. But for now, this is as much as I feel comfortable revealing.

  1. That’s 8:30 p.m. Pacific, 11:30 p.m. Eastern. For readers outside the U.S., I won’t even try to do the time-math.
  2. Which is by no means guaranteed, mind you. We’re hoping to find a great distributor at Sundance.

Staring into mirrors

Your article, “Farrah Fawcett on Parade” states that the first hit in Google for the search “poitier singing porgy” gives the answer to whether or not Sidney did his own singing. But the first hit in Google is a weblog at “johnaugust.com” containing an article entitled “Farrah Fawcett on Parade” that…

Well, at that point, the web spirals into the event horizon.

– Jemal in Maryland, jealous of your Google-juice