I started writing a screenplay… or a treatment… or whatever… a while back….
Never finished. Never got anywhere close.
The genesis for the idea that became Amazing Grace- hammer and chains arrangement… was conceived in that screenplay. I suppose it might make more of a music video now….
Here is the part surrounding Amazing Grace….
Warning: probably not for the faint of heart….
EXT. FACTORY COMPLEX – PRE-DAWN
EXTREME LONG SHOT-
Darkness. Moonless. Starless.
Complete Stillness. Utter silence.
No movement or even a hint of movement.
Dark grey-black high tension power-lines become visible slightly to right of center on the upper edge of the screen and trail off in distance towards the right edge of the screen, angling towards a hyper-modern factor complex like lines of perspective in Donatello painting or montage. A railroad track leads along the power lines to the facility.
No trees. No birds. No movement. Just reddish-golden hills creeping into view.
CAMERA PANS TOWARD RIGHT PICKING UP POWER LINES THEN MOVES ALONG RAILROAD TRACKS SLOWLY APPROACHING FACILITY –
AXIAL CUT –
LONG SHOT –
One quick, sharp, quiet “Chug!” like a steam freight freight-train. Then a steady, undulating droning begins, punctuated by an occasional, emphatic “Chug!”. The predominant sound is a deep drone note. Urgent higher note builds from nothing to become barely audible. Mechanical. Quick. Emphasis promiscuous. Sometime upbeat. Sometimes down. Industrial. Subliminal. Subversive. (Same Common Time pacing persists throughout entire film despite changes in music.)
A single High Efficiency Plasma streetlamp shines in the extreme right of the frame, near the edge illuminating the ultra-modern factory complex. The layout is art deco-ish–greys, silvers and golds, some chrome, but mostly flat tones. Most of the buildings are flat. Squat. Utilitarian. Industrial. But the factory building itself is larger and shaped like series of obtuse triangles folded down the hypotenuses where they join one another with the line of those peaks extending out from the center–radiating like beams of light. The outer walls are glass and appear reddish-golden and silver: some reflecting the Sun–others the Plasma streetlamp. The roof peaks jut up like jagged peaks. The administrative complex is towards the right side and stands erect, rising, gesturing towards the sky like a silver-grey steeple robed in the reddish-golden reflection of the sunrise. The gestalt of the factory complex is majesty–like a cathedral. A basilica. The steeple structure of the basilica shoots skyward and its lines converge. Silver and golden in turn with sharp shadows forming right triangles near the base. Seemingly effulgent. The building towers above the landscape and seems to extend all the way to heaven. Art Deco–like the Chrysler Building. Even more like The Tower of Babel in Metropolis by Fritz Lang, but here, the supporting factory is connected and clearly demonstrable.
CAMERA PANS TOWARDS LEFT –
The Sun begins to rise along the left center of the roof of the factory, on the opposite side of the steeple from the streetlamp. Sunlight burst from behind the factory like corona appearing like Sol sleepily emerging from behind Luna at the end of total Solar Eclipse; first a few beads of light gather in the craters along the moons edge, then a single sunbeam undulating, seemingly struggling to obtain escape velocity and ultimately is successful. Then the entire surface of the roof erupts in effulgence as the Sun pulls itself haltingly over the edge.
At precisely the same time, Polaris winks into view, silvery blue-white, immediately aligned with the tip of the spire of the steeple, but high above. No other stars are visible and only a few scattered streaks of clouds low on the horizon to the left of the factory complex reflect the reddish-golden glow of the sunrise.
CAMERA PANS SLIGHTLY SKYWARDS –
Polaris pulses and grows in intensity, forming a cruciate, effulgent orb, that suddenly winks out of existence as the Sun appears.
CAMERA PANS TOWARDS RIGHT AND DOWNWARDS –
The Plasma streetlamp blinks and then winks out in an accelerating series of flashes.
The rhythmic rattling of a chain begins to fade into earshot from off to the left. The clinking of the upbeat is followed by the sound of the chain dragging. The rhythm is steady and unhurried.
CUT TO –
EXT. PLANTATION – PRE-DAWN
EXTREME CLOSE UP –
A single cotton bole. The Sun is hidden behind the horizon, which is not visible in the frame. The cotton bole is white and the dark grey-brown seeds and stalk are barely visible in the limited silvery-golden light. The cotton bole vibrates slightly, as though it were disturbed by the breeze in the rhythm of rattling and dragging chain. The sound of singing… moaning… a work song… groaning… a song of deliverance… a spiritual… a soulful version of “Amazing Grace” slowly builds in volume accompanied by the steady rhythm of the rattling, dragging chains. The buzz of a house fly builds and stops as the grey shape with iridescently shimmering gossamer wings lands on the edge of the cotton bole. The trembling of the cotton bole builds.
Location of music moves from surrounding screen slowly drifts to focus off of upper left corner and becomes single voice with other voices and chains in background. A single chain is heard distinctly separate below bottom center of screen.
Suddenly, the hyper-acute zip of the fly’s buzz erupts and drops off the bottom of the screen like a rifle shot as the wailing rendition of “Amazing Grace” and rhythmic clanking of the chains continues separate from the individual moaning voice that is sung with slightly stronger emphasis (like a groan or strain) at certain points of the upbeat–a black hand darts in frame from the upper left corner of the screen and snaps the bole of cotton off of the stem with surgical precision and a lightening quick flick of the wrist, and is just as quickly withdrawn in the same direction, leaving the naked stem of the cotton plant quaking violently to the rhythm of the spiritual. The single singing voice and chains drifts towards right of screen and fades to join other voices and chains. The trembling quickly dampens, and as it does…
EXT. PLANTATION FIELD – PRE-DAWN
AXIAL CUT – EXTREME LONG SHOT
Prisoners at Parchman Farm picking cotton dragging long, heavy bags and chains along rows as they are overseen by guards and trustees. A disproportionate number of the prisoners are black compared to the guards and trustees, who are all white. All prisoners are wearing blue denim work shits and blue denim jeans with white stripes down the outer seam either all the way down the leg or from hip to knee. Some wear straw Panama hats. The trustees wear blue denim shirts and white denim pants with a navy stripe down the entire length of the outer seam of their pants. The guards wear navy blue uniforms and side-arms and carry sawed-off double-barreled shotguns in the crooks of their arms. Some drink water. A rusty grey and blue Ford Work Master tractor and flatbed trailer visible on the red dirt road. A single black man stands, puts his hands on his hips in his lumbar region, and stretches his back, then wipes his sweating brow with a faded, dirty bluish-grey bandana. As he moves to wipe his brow, the guards draw down–some covering the prisoner who moved, others covering the other prisoners. He raises his hands quickly, then slowly and carefully replaces the bandana into the right back pocket of his jeans, and gets back to work picking cotton. His voice joins the others as he begins to sing. He casually stares off-screen towards right intermittently and briefly.
As camera pans, the edge of a grey corrugated tin roof of a shack comes into view, and into focus as camera zooms in.
“Amazing Grace” and rhythmic rattling chains continues as…
CUT TO –
EXT. MINING COMPLEX – DESERT – DAWN
EXTREME CLOSE SHOT –
Grey, rusted corrugated tin roof of mining building. Angle of roof is more acute than Parchman Farm shack–a right triangle with long side near left of screen and hypotenuse towards center as zoom out from edge of tin roof.
“Amazing Grace” continues, but fades, as does rhythmic chain. Begin to hear steady pounding of metal on metal: “BANG! Tap, tap, …. BANG! Tap, tap, ….” The first “TAP!” is partially concealed in the “BANG!” As camera zooms out, “Amazing Grace” becomes inaudible.
CUT TO –
EXT. MINING COMPLEX – DESERT – DAWN
LONG SHOT –
Sun casting golden glow on sky. Grey corrugated sheet-metal refining building. Grey smoke rising from various-sized smokestacks. Some patches of reddish-golden rust on buildings and smokestacks. Grey and rusty reddish and yellowish-brown tailings piled up near conveyor belt. Hear rhythmic, mechanical “clank, clank, CLANK! …, clank, clank, CLANK!” (Silent space is on fourth beat.) Initially in background, but slowly builds to become audible. Hear rhythmic hacking cough intermittently.
CUT TO –
INT. MINE –
AMERICAN SHOT –
Sweaty, dirty miners. Many young ones anxiously staring. Some hands on hips. Rhythmic CLANK! and intermittent hacking cough continue.
ZOOM OUT TO MEDIUM SHOT –
Some miners are working with sledgehammers and drills (one hammers, one wets, one turns). A track and mining cart come into view as camera pans. Some men are scooping up ore and loading it into the carts. Clearly most of the men have red hair and speak with a brogue. Their faces are gaunt. Some are sullen. Others are fearful. Still others resolute. Some scowl at the fearful faces with scorn. As the camera continues to pan deeper into the mineshaft, the ethnicity of the workers changes.
The sound of tinkling hammer work rises as the camera pans and dolly advances along the track. “TINK! Tink, tink, tink. TINK! Tink, tink, tink.” The upstrokes of both the loud, low-pitched “CLANK!” and the soft, high-pitched “TINK!” are simultaneous and Common (4/4) Time that has continued since chains began with same rhythm and pace. The light fades as camera proceeds deeper into tunnel; workers wear long pony-tails Coolie hats.
CUT TO –
EXT. DESERT – DAWN
EXTREME CLOSE-UP – RAILROAD TRACK
Reddish-golden hues. Brilliant on right side of screen, but darker on the left. Long shadows cast towards left. Focus tight on golden-brown tie in red clay, rusting reddish rail, plate and spike as sledge-hammer suddenly crashes out of the shadows into spike with a tremendous crash very near and immediately in front of the screen in rhythm with clanking. The spike is visibly driven deeper into the tie with the blow. A small drop of moisture splats onto the rail on the down-beat of the clanking rhythm, just as another sledge hammer slams into the spike from a right side in rhythm followed by two drops of sweat on the downbeat, and another hammer strike from the top, followed by three drops of sweat, also in rhythm. This clanking rhythm is continuous with the background drone of clanking as…
CAMERA CHANGES ANGLE 900 TOWARDS LEFT AND PULLS BACKWARDS ALONG TRACKS TO FRAME LONG SHOT-
Revealing three sweating workers with sledge-hammers who are WEI, JOHN and MOHAMMED–obviously intent on their work. They form a triangle as…
CAMERA CHANGES TO BIRD’S EYE SHOT AND MOVE OVERHEAD
WIPE TO SPLIT SCREEN –
LEFT SIDE SCREEN –
EXT. DESERT – DAWN
LONG SHOT –
WEI, JOHN and MOHAMMED continue to hammer in rhythm.
MOHAMMED put down his sledge-hammer in rhythm, props his left hand on the handle, reaches into his back right pocket, pulls out a wet, dirty, blue-grey bandana and wipes his brow, then replaces it looking off-stage towards right with developing curious expression.
RIGHT SIDE SCREEN –
INT. MINE –
MEDIUM SHOT – CHINESE WORKERS
Chinese workers continue tapping and charging. “TINK! Tink, …, tink. TINK! Tink, …, tink.” Other busy workers shown further down shaft, some straining their necks occasionally to look still further down the shaft as as…
LOW ANGLE LONG SHOT – CHINESE WORKERS
Sparsely, intermittently lit mine-shaft extends diagonally from lower left corner to upper right corner of screen. Lighting is from sconces above heads of workers that give very faint, flickering light.
CAMERA PANS TO RIGHT DOWN SHAFT AND MOVES TOWARDS WALL ON LEFT MOVING TO LONG SHOT PAST WORKERS DOWN SHAFT –
DUTCH ANGLE –
DIAGONAL ROTATED TO HORIZONTAL AS CAMERA MOVES –
LEFT SIDE SCREEN WIPES FROM TOP AND BOTTOM EDGES TOWARD CENTER TO ALIGN WITH RIGHT SIDE IMAGE AS THAT IMAGE REACHES HORIZONTAL –
THEN EACH HEMISCREEN IMAGES GROWS TO FILL RESPECTIVE SIDES OF SCREEN IN SPLIT SCREEN –
More Chinese workers further down shaft. Rhythmic pounding of sledge-hammers continue and higher-pitched tapping grows louder. A deep rumble begins off towards right and grows. A few Chinese workers run into frame from distant shaft chattering incoherently and others drop their work and join them running–panicked.
As the rumbling grows louder and louder and moves toward center of screen, a huge cloud of grey dust floods the tunnel and as it fills the left screen…
WIPE LEFT SCREEN TO FULL SCREEN –
INT. MINE –
Filled with choking dust. Hacking coughs increase in volume and intensity and maintain rhythm while pounding and tinkling suddenly end as miners run and rumble reaches apex then slowly fades. Workers collapse in succession to rhythm as dust engulfs them.
FADE IN –
EXT. FACTORY COMPLEX – DAWN
LONG SHOT –
As factory complex illuminated in reddish-gold by rising sun…
WIPE TO –
INT. APARTMENT COMPLEX FOR WORKERS – DAWN
THREE IDENTICAL APARTMENTS SIDE-BY-SIDE IN FRAME –
CAMERA, LIGHTING AND ALL DETAILS PRECISELY SAME IN EVERY DETAIL –
INITIALLY, ALL THREE APARTMENTS SHOWN AS HORIZONTAL BAND SAME DIMENSION AS MINE-SHAFT AND RAILROAD SCENES, THEN EXPAND TO FULL THREE SPLIT SCREENS –
LONG SHOT – POV IS THROUGH MIRROR, THOUGH NOT IMMEDIATELY APPARENT – EXT. FACTORY COMPLEX – DAWN – VIEW SEEN THROUGH WINDOW LINING ENTIRE FAR WALL OF APARTMENT –
In background, barely audible, the promiscuous machinery, industrial droning soundtrack from beginning returns in same Sonaural Pacing.
Each apartment is very modern, grey, with identical accoutrements. The apartments are narrow, elongated lofts with high ceiling revealing exposed pipes and ductwork. The pipes are slate grey and so is the ceiling. Loose silver duct tape exposes flapping gold insulation immediately adjacent to a vent high in the ceiling. Each had identical image in background of sun beginning to rise behind factory with steam rising from smokestack. Sky is grey with golden sheen. Clouds seen through the windows are grey with gold guild.
The sheets are flat, light blue-grey. The desk is steel Bauhaus with ergonomic ball chair and grey steal industrial halogen lamp of desk and similar flock of lamps descending from a curved chrome stand. A flat grey steel-framed leather slung recliner and sofa with a steel-framed, glass-covered table are near window. A partially closed grey plastic shower curtain suspended by steel hangers with rollers and an arched chrome rod are apparent to the right. A small range, microwave, stainless steel refrigerator with built in icemaker and steel espresso machine and ice cream maker are in the small kitchenette along the left.
All of the following movements are carefully choreographed or created using CGI so that the timing is precise.
WEI, JOHN and MOHAMMED each get out of bed in unison, in precisely the same way wearing exactly the same flat blue-grey long pajama bottoms, put on the same flat blue-grey slippers precisely the same way, with precisely the same tempo, and wander blearily towards the camera, checking their package simultaneously.
CLOSE UP –
Each man looks into the mirror (camera) and opens his eyes wide and wipes the crust from his eyes. Each brushes his teeth in precisely the same way… same number of strokes… same speed and vigor… same number of strokes.
ZOOM OUT TO MEDIUM SHOT –
Each spits at same time, rinses toothbrush, bangs it three times on the edge of the sink and replaces it back into precisely the same position in silver cup beside the sink. Each toothbrush is precisely the same color and type–silver and white. Each man then flosses with the precisely the same strokes, tempo and motion with the same style of floss, dispensing and cutting the floss at precisely the same time. Each takes a grey disposable cup from a stack of precisely the same number of cups, grabs a bottle of purple mouthwash and pours precisely the same amount into their grey disposable cup. Each then puts the cup to his lips, throws his head back and pours the liquid into his mouth exactly the same way. Each swishes to the right, then the left, then gargles. The foaming mouthwash exudes from each one’s lips at precisely the same moment in precisely the same way. Then each spits in unison, says, “Ah-h-h!”, pronouncing it precisely the same way, turns and scratches his butt, and walks towards the espresso maker.
SOUND OF THREE ESPESSO MAKERS ARE SLIGHTLY OUT OF PHASE AND FROM DIFFERENT AREAS OF SCREEN –
ZOOM OUT TO LONG SHOT –
As each approaches their espresso maker, their alarm clocks go off at precisely the same time.
Each walks to his bedside table, picks up his small, silver alarm clock, turns it off, and triggers the same radio station at precisely the same volume.
SOUND OF RADIO STATION IN THREE RADIO ARE SLIGHTLY OUT OF PHASE AND FROM DIFFERENT AREAS OF SCREEN –
The radio announcer starts speaking precisely when they turn on the radios, as if on cue. The voice is monotonous–emotionless and unisex.
“Good morning, Workers. Production quotas are all currently running according to schedule. Today’s weather is clear and cool–a pleasant 720 Fahrenheit, 250 Celsius–with a light breeze out of the South-southwest and no appreciable chance of precipitation. Temperature outside the Factory setting will also be clear and cool–a pleasant 720 Fahrenheit, 250 Celsius–with a light breeze out of the South-southwest and no appreciable chance of precipitation. The social agenda for this week includes a special treat for everyone: Friday Night will feature State Sanctioned Race Cards in each Committee Quarters Lounge.”
WEI, JOHN and MOHAMMED each scrunch face, purse lips, and fist pump and pull with right arm as they silently scream, “YEAH!”, then quickly look around to right, then left sheepishly. “Oops! Sorry!” each mutters.
The Party News continues in background like rap music to the beat of the droning, machinery, industrial music punctuated by the sound of espresso machine in perfect rhythm as WEI, JOHN and MOHAMMED brew their espresso precisely the same way at precisely the same time. The sound of steaming milk suddenly burst out of the near silent background noise from three separate and slightly out of phase directions.
Each espresso cup is translucent–apparently silvery ceramic or metal-ceramic mix–and shows the brew to be dark grey. The material heated in the translucent silvery-grey dispenser is golden. The golden mixture begins to steam and they remove it from the machine. WEI, JOHN and MOHAMMED pour the steaming golden mixture into the silvery-grey cup with the dark grey, steaming liquid and the entire mixture becomes steaming, glowing golden.
WEI, JOHN and MOHAMMED each pounds his espresso and slams ceramic cup onto counter at precisely same time in rhythm. “SLAM!” is loud like sudden clap. Again, in rhythm and slightly out of phase and from different relative positions.
WEI, JOHN and MOHAMMED abruptly pull a prepackaged container from what appears to be a chiller and open the top. They pull packet of premeasured grayish powder from cabinet, and dump that packet into the grey liquid in the container. They each rifle through a different group of identical packets in a slightly different location and select precisely the same packet of golden powder, then dump those contents into the container, push that into a round opening on the counter and touch a spot. A very loud “WHIR!” like a blender starts and the concoction begins to glow–silvery-golden. Each then doffs the mixture, smiles broadly and wipes his mouth with his left arm as he moans, “Ah!” The container is still smoking and glowing slightly as they slam that down next to still smoking and glowing ceramic espresso cup.
CUT TO –
MEDIUM SHOT –
Iron y Works Factory, formerly Xtream (Iron)-Li, Inc.
“Proving privatization an Xtream-Li good idea!”
“What is that? A statue?”
Statue of Blind Justice hidden in secret basement of garden of Just Us Building where Broadcasters, Celebrities and Party Elite enjoy lavish State-sponsored affairs. Statue over-grown with grayish ivy and covered with pigeon droppings–surface dark grey with black streaks, some with silver edges–appears to be crying.
“Do you think this is pretty?”
“Pretty lame? Or pretty, pretty…? No, not pretty.” Puts finger on scale and pulls down. “But potentially pretty museful…. An odd old concept that must be greatly modified.”
“Art… mere proles could never possibly understand art. Good thing we removed all of it: so they won’t be frustrated and distracted while they work.”
“Yes, I agree completely….