Posted by: steveonfilm | May 18, 2009

Test Scenes: Best Served Cold

I wanted to use this post to show how I used free screenwriting to explore how I wanted to approach a story element. In “Best Served Cold” some very bad things happen near the end of Act 2, and Ryan is looking for revenge.

To accomplish his goal, he needs the assistance of the very man he just stole a large sum of money from. That man is Anthony Gambini (I’ll likely change that name), the head of the mafia organization the Detroit Partnership.

Both sequences start the same:

EXT. RIVERSIDE MANSION – FRONT GATE – NIGHT

An art deco house sits back past a lush and well landscaped yard. A ten foot metal fence surrounds the perimeter.

Two goons, LEO and FRANKIE, sit at the front gate, smoking, and taking it easy.

Ryan walks up.

RYAN
I need to see Anthony Gambini.

Frankie laughs and looks back to Leo

FRANKIE
Get this shit.
(to Ryan)
Listen assclown, fuck off before I turn you in to ground beef and feed you to the dogs.

Frankie flashes a gun.

Ryan is unimpressed.

RYAN
I’ve got information he might want to know.

LEO
Oh yeah, chissle chest? What kinda information?

Ryan looks at Leo, then over to Frankie.

It’s not the strongest scene, but you get the gist of how he approaches Anthony Gambini’s house/compound. With that out of the way, and giving context to what happens next, I approached the scene from a few different ways. Here are two examples that are significantly different and demonstrate how I experimented with creating Gambini’s character, and how I wanted to present the stakes of the final act.

—Example One—

INT. ANTHONY GAMBINI’S OFFICE – NIGHT

Modern furniture and dressings, with a classic 1950-60s vibe.

Anthony Gambini (50s), balding, but well groomed, sits behind a mammoth rosewood desk.

Ryan sit on the other side, Leo and Frankie tower behind him like two gargoyles.

Gambini’s head tilts.

GAMBINI
Have we…met before?

RYAN
My father did some work for you.

Gambini leans back in his chair, ponders. A subtle grin slides across his lips.

GAMBINI
You’re Alex Matthew’s kid.

Ryan nods.

GAMBINI (CONT’D)
Your pops made me a lot of money. Kept quiet too, right to the end. All he had to do was give a name and he’d have walked.

RYAN
My dad ain’t no rat.

GAMBINI
No, no he wasn’t. Shame it was that dipshit Koteric that nailed him. Bringing down his own brother in law. Holidays must be fun.

RYAN
A regular Normal Rockwell painting.

Gambini opens a desk drawer. Takes out a bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label and two glasses.

GAMBINI
Drink?

RYAN
I’m good.

Gambini pouts himself two fingers worth.

GAMBINI
Now…tell me how you know who took my money.

Gambini takes a sip.

RYAN
Because it was me.

He swallows hard, a soft cough follows.

GAMBINI
Excuse me?

RYAN
You heard what I said.

Gambini looks to Frankie.

GAMBINI
Frankie, line the Lincoln’s trunk with plastic. Leo, take this fucker outside and shoot him.

Leo grabs Ryan’s shirt. Ryan keeps his cool.

RYAN
The question you might want to ask is who ordered the score.

Gambini signals for Leo to let him go.

GAMBINI
You’d better start making some sense real quick.

RYAN
Louis Garnier.

GAMBINI
Never heard of him.

RYAN
He’s the point man for the cartel that’s going to stomp out the last simmering coals of what’s left of you and the rest of the Detroit Partnership.

GAMBINI
Larogue?

RYAN
On the nose.

GAMBINI
Motherfuckers.

Gambini takes another sip of his drink.

GAMBINI (CONT’D)
You like sliders?

—End Scene—

There’s some character history that’s presented here. I’ve toyed with the idea that the FBI agent (Koteric) that arrested Ryan’s dad back in the day is actually Ryan’s uncle. That’s spelled out here with a line by Gambini. I also play up Gambini as more of a goof instead of a hard nosed gangster. I wasn’t overly pleased with the scene, but I decided to leave it and come back to visit it later.

Here’s what I came up with a few days later. This scene comes in a bit later than the first. It’s implied that Ryan already told Gambini he’s the one who took his money.

—Example Two—

INT. ANTHONY GAMBINI’S OFFICE – NIGHT

Modern furniture and dressings, with a classic 1950-60s vibe.

Anthony Gambini (50s), balding, but well groomed, sits behind a mammoth rosewood desk.

Ryan sit on the other side, Leo and Frankie tower behind him like two gargoyles.

GAMBINI
I could kill you right now.

RYAN
Or you can get some work out of me first.

Anthony looks to Leo and Frankie.

GAMBINI
Excuse us.

The two goons nod and give Ryan the eye before they exit.

GAMBINI (CONT’D)
Scotch?

RYAN
I’m good.

Gambini pours himself two fingers of Johnny Walker Blue Label.

GAMBINI
I’ll be frank with you. Regardless of the money he made me, I never liked your father. I don’t like you. And I don’t like that the same guy who took my money, is coming to my house, and making me offers.

Gambini sips his drink.

GAMBINI (CONT’D)
But that ain’t to say you don’t got a point. These fuckers from the Laroque cartel have been a major pain in my ass. They’re undercutting our deals in Florida, and they’re taking over our suppliers Canada. And now they’re ordering scores on my bank.

Gambini stands up and walks over to a window looking out across the front lawn.

GAMBINI (CONT’D)
Twenty years ago this shit woulda’ never happened. But now…

He sips his drink again.

GAMBINI (CONT’D)
Now any two bit hack with five guys and some guns wants to make a run on Partnership turf. If it ain’t the gang bangers downtown, it’s the fucking Caldeans on the west side.

RYAN
Then end it.

Gambini watches some traffic pass on the street below.

GAMBINI
This town’s got enough God damn trouble. The last thing it needs is an all out turf war.

He turns to Ryan.

GAMBINI (CONT’D)
What do you need?

RYAN
The partnerships eyes and ears. I give you names, descriptions, your boys give me locations. And one by one your problems disappear.

GAMBINI
And if they get you first?

RYAN
Then I’m a problem that solves itself.

—End Scene—

In scene two you get a feel for how much influence the Partnership has lost in the city of Detroit. Gambini doesn’t go into huge details, but the overview is there. The backstory about Ryan’s father is still hinted at, though there is no mention of Koteric. I came up with a different scene that would deal with the reveal about Koteric, and his relation to Ryan, and thus dropped it from this one.

At any rate, none of this stuff is set in stone. It’s just me experimenting with story notes I’d been working on. It gives you an idea of how I’ve been working through some of my problems, and ideas, and enjoying it more than I had in the past.

I’m going to get started on the screenplay in earnest tonight. I’ve got about 80 pages of free screenwriting for this project and have a good sense of how the story will play out now. I’ll begin by setting up my markers using the paradigm, I need a visual reference for how the story will break down.

I’ll likely hit 120 pages in my words on paper draft. I’ve just got a feeling this is going to go long. Ideally I’d like this to land at 95 to 100 pages by my second draft, but we’ll see how that goes.

Until next time–

Enjoy.
-Steve

Advertisements

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

Categories

%d bloggers like this: