Melburn, a Screenplay by Stayci Taylor

Inspired by the panels Burning Man IS Silicon Valley and What do grown-ups do all day?, as well as her own experiences at Burning Man in 2012, Stayci’s short screenplay explores ideas of future Melbourne through her ongoing research into writing the city (and writing screen worlds more broadly).

Stayci recently graduated with her PhD on screenwriting practice, and is an early career researcher, lecturer and Industry Fellow at RMIT.

OVER BLACK:

The ding of a tram.

Title Up: MELBURN

FADE IN:

  1. EXT. MELBURN – DAY

A laneway. Of course it is.

But, through the cobble stones, an inlaid centre strip of epoxy coated concrete.

And then – two corporate women swish through on roller skates.

We follow them onto a wide road.

It’s Swanston Street. It must be, because there’s Flinders Street station on the right.

Pedestrians of every stripe. No traffic.

A ding. A tram kitted out as a dragonfly. It travels slowly. Passengers ride inside and out. Some hang lazily off the wings. One PASSENGER alights while it’s still on the move.

It stops for a smaller tram crossing Swanston from Bourke. A sleeker model, resembling a space shuttle. It flies through the intersection.

TITLE UP: “The role of the film medium to help shape the image of our cities […] addressing the possible lessons one can draw from the filmic notion of the near future” (Koeck and Penz 2003).

  1. EXT. MELBURN – DAY

PASSENGERS wait at a stop called the Citizen Explorer. One MAN, dressed for court, speaks to another MAN, dressed for labour.

MAN

How long’s your playtime?

The Citizen Explorer (Space Shuttle tram) slides in to the stop. Its changing display reads ’45 minutes’.

MAN 2

This is me.

MAN 2 boards with other PASSENGERS. MAN 1 waves. Looks down the road. Another Citizen Explorer approaches. Its display reads ‘30 minutes’.

TITLE UP: “The question of what kind of city we want cannot be divorced from the question of what kind of people we want to be” (Harvey 2012).

  1. EXT. OFFICIONADOS, ESTABLISHING – DAY

Rain over St Kilda Road high rises.

A sign dominates the façade of one building – it reads OFFICIONADOS.

A regular Melbourne tram rumbles by. We’re back in 2017.

  1. INT. OFFICIONADOS – DAY

Rain smatters the windows.

A low hum of muffled voices. A biro gouges a sketch over a printed meeting agenda on OFFICIONADOS letterhead.

A circular map. Grid lines shooting from a central point. Reveal PALLY (24), driving the pen. From the hum:

GONZO (V.O)

Pally!

PALLY looks up. GONZO (a pink man in his 50s) blinks back.  Other EMPLOYEES likewise await her response. PALLY’s got nothing. GONZO is disappointed. A woman – HELEN – leaps in.

HELEN

I can speak to staying across it moving forward.

PALLY returns to her sketch. Reinforces the circular boundary of her grid.

MATCH CUT TO:

  1. INT. CITIZEN EXPLORER – DAY

A ball-in-a-maze puzzle, navigated by two hands.

Reveal a full tram of PASSENGERS, all with one each.

Close on a ball-bearing, traveling through its labyrinth, sliding frustratingly backwards from the centre goal.

Two elderly women, TWINS, sit close together. Their puzzles performing in perfect unison. A voice:

YOUNG WOMAN (O.S)

Stop!

On the YOUNG WOMAN’s puzzle as the tram comes to a rapid halt. Her ball-bearing trembles in the centre spot.

The doors open. The PASSENGERS file out, curious to see where they’ve landed.

  1. INT. OFFICIONADOS – DAY

Bird’s eye view of PALLY in a beanbag chair, in the middle of a cluster of empty ones in a nook. She taps into a tablet.

It’s uncomfortable. She accepts defeat. Extracts herself from the beanbag inelegantly.

  1. INT. OFFICIONADOS – MOMENTS LATER

PALLY heads for her desk in the open plan office, designed to stimulate a vibrant work culture. Most EMPLOYEES work silently, wearing headphones. PALLY sits down at her computer. Nearby, HELEN perches by another employee – CAT – looking over her shoulder. PALLY pulls up a spreadsheet.

CAT (O.S)

Do I sound too pushy?

PALLY highlights a column in pink.

CAT (CON’D, O.S)

What if I make it a gentle reminder?

PALLY highlights alternate rows in different colours.

  1. EXT. MELBOURNE  – LATER

PALLY waits in a tram stop shelter. Rain drops run down the glass. She watches as one sneaks itself just ahead of the others. The other COMMUTERS are drawn by her focus. They gather around. One COMMUTER jabs playfully at the glass.

COMMUTER 1

That one’s mine!

PALLY looks up and back. Now the COMMUTERS are all yelling with glee, cheering on their own raindrops in the race down the window. She looks back at the glass. One streaks ahead, reaching the bottom. A deafening roar from the crowd.

PALLY looks back again. Daydream over. The COMMUTERS huddle in the shelter, glued to the screens of personal devices.

  1. INT. RESTAURANT – LATER

PALLY shares sashimi and sushi with a man – TEDDY.

TEDDY

So, what do you do?

PALLY has a mouthful. She points to her face – a silent apology for a delayed answer.

She chews for an unnaturally long time.

TEDDY stares. Pours a round of sake.

  1. EXT. FLINDERS STREET STATION – LATER

On the back of PALLY, standing beneath the clocks, looking up.

Close on a clock face. Its values read ‘soon’, ‘now’, ‘later’, ‘tomorrow’.

  1. EXT. FLINDERS STREET STATTION: MELBURN – NIGHT

PALLY turns from the clocks. Is she older? Perhaps.

Across the road the digital billboards flash their messages.

But these aren’t advertising.

PALLY watches the turnover. A poem. A photograph. The rules of a game.

  1. EXT. MELBURN – DAY

Balloon view of Melburn establishes a new morning.

  1. INT. TRAIN CARRIAGE – DAY

PALLY and TEDDY sit opposite each other in passionate debate.

TEDDY

How much more livable can it be?

PALLY

I could be paid as much as you for the same job.

TEDDY

That barely matters anymore.

PALLY

Then how exactly do you define radical inclusion?

TWO COMMUTERS PRACTISING RADICAL SELF-EXPRESSION travel the aisle giving out home baking. PALLY and TEDDY seize gratefully upon the food.

PALLY

Brilliant – thank you.

TEDDY

It’s never gonna be perfect.

The train stops at a station. The doors open. An ELDERLY WOMAN enters. TEN PEOPLE stand to give her their seat.

TEDDY

Just better.

  1. INT. TRAM – NIGHT

PALLY, swinging from her hold on an overhead handle, watches as an ELDERLY WOMAN struggles against the motion of the tram. No one looks up from their devices. She spies a MAN without ear phones.

PALLY

Mate.

The MAN looks up. Follows her gaze to the unsteady ELDERLY WOMAN. Flushes with embarrassment.

PALLY watches the awkward transaction, relieved when the places are exchanged. She cranks up her own listening device.

MUSIC OVER:

The ELDERLY WOMAN gushes her thanks to the nice young man. PALLY smiles. It’s something.

FADE OUT

 

We’ve teamed up with RMIT’s School and Media and Communication and asked students to respond to the themes of Melbourne Knowledge Week and reflect Melbourne’s future. This response by Stayci Taylor uses a screenplay format to explore the future of Melbourne. 

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