Writing a treatment (cont’d)

Here’s an updated version of the treatment I have written for my short script. The original treatment can be found here.

Working Title: Grocery Store Hostages

Genre: Drama/Thriller

Logline: Michael Wood is a shy, young, bookseller who has for a long time loved the beautiful Kristi Connolly from afar. When he makes an attempt to stand up for Kristi against her disrespectful boyfriend, Michael accidentally takes a grocery store hostage.

Story Synopsis:        

ACT ONE

MICHAEL WOOD, 27, walks in to a small grocery store. He looks nervous, sweaty. A hand suspiciously tucked in his inside jacket pocket. He keeps his eyes on KRISTI CONNOLLY, an attractive young woman who works behind the counter.

Another CUSTOMER walks in, heads straight towards the counter. Michael turns, steps away, hand still fiddling in his inside pocket. The other customer dealt with, Kristi turns her attention to Michael. He clearly wants to wait until the other customer is completely out of the way, but Kristi calls him over.

Kristi greets him as a familiar face. Michael says he wants to ask her something, but he’s shoved out of the way by JOHN, Kristi’s boyfriend, who tells Kristi to get him something from behind the counter, but she says she’s dealing with someone. Michael says it doesn’t matter. Kristi gets what John wanted. John says he’ll pay her back later, but has a disrespectful attitude. Michael starts saying something, but backs down when challenged. John pushes Michael, tries to get him to come out and say whatever it was. Michael, nervous as hell, puts his hand inside his jacket, unconsciously fiddling with the note.

The other customer, watching the scene unfold, wary of Michael’s peculiar behaviour, declares Michael’s got a gun. Michael backs away, his hand still in his pocket. Everyone else stands well away from him, watching him carefully. He slumps down in front of the door. Someone tries to get in from outside, the door bashes against Michael. The Customer yells for help. In a moment of panic, Michael reaches up and locks the door. The person outside stops trying the door, and Michael turns the sign to read ‘Closed’.

ACT TWO

John asks what the plan is, hotshot. Michael glares at him. It’s clear there’s no plan. Kristi tries talking to him, telling him he should let them go. Michael seems like he wants to, but then John announces he has plans with Kristi for the night, which upsets Michael, so Michael makes them all stay where they are.

The Customer starts coughing, badly. John tells Michael she obviously needs a drink. Michael says he hasn’t got anything, to which John responds by making Michael look around – there are drinks everywhere. Michael goes to the water refrigerator, turning his back for the briefest moment. John takes his opportunity and hits Michael hard from behind, knocks him out. John looks through his pockets. Just a set of keys, which he tosses to the ground.

He cautiously puts his hand inside Michael’s jacket, watching Michael carefully for signs of life. Michael doesn’t stir.

John pulls a piece of paper from Michael’s pocket. John looks at it briefly, confused, then tosses it on the floor.

Kristi says they should just call the police and let them take care of it, but John tells her not too: he wants to teach Michael a lesson. John drags him to a chair, ties him up. Kristi tries to stop him, but John shoves her out of the way, causing her to fall and bump herself, a bad cut on her forehead.

John slaps Michael across the face, pours water over his head, until he comes around. Michael immediately notices that Kristi is hurt. He asks if she’s okay, but John tells him not to worry about Kristi, but to worry about himself, and what exactly was he playing at, pretending to have a gun.

Kristi says she needs to use the bathroom. Michael lets her go. Once out of sight, she calls the police.

Michael notices his piece of paper on the ground. He tries not to look at it, but it’s so obviously there that he can’t help but look. John notices his gaze, picks up the piece of paper. It’s addressed to Kristi.

John scans through the note. Looks up at Michael when he’s finished. Grins. Holds the note in front of Michael’s face. Tells him to read it. Eventually Michael relents, reluctantly reads the note out loud. The other Customer watches Michael’s humiliation.

Kristi returns from the ‘bathroom’. John tells her that the whole situation is because of her, and tells Michael to tell her what’s in the letter. Michael stays silent, so John starts hitting him, over and over.

Though it’s clear he wants to tell the truth, Michael’s shyness cripples him, and there’s no apparent sense of self-worth. He can do little more than take the beating John’s dishing out.

ACT THREE

The police turn up; banging on the door, they demand to know what’s happening. Michael tells everyone they should just leave. But John gets between them and the door, says they’re not going anywhere until Michael tells Kristi what’s in the note.

Michael finally relents. He tells Kristi that he’s in love with her. John forces him to read the note in its entirety.

John smiles, seeing the defeated look on Michael’s face. He says that now they can go, and Michael should hand himself in to the police – be a man.

Michael nods his head in agreement, spent, unable to argue anymore.

He opens the door to the shop, puts his hands above his head. The others follow him out, with John at the back.

As Michael reaches the group of police officers, he rushes to them, turns and points to John, tells them that John went crazy, held them hostage and beat him up. He points to his bruises and chaffed wrists to prove the point.

The officers move in and grab John, who protests his innocence as he’s handcuffed. His bloody knuckles are enough evidence for them, for now, though.

A police officer asks Kristi if she can corroborate Michael’s story. She looks at him for a long moment, his eyes pleading with her. She rubs the cut on her forehead. She tells them that, yes, that’s the truth. John, hearing everything, screams at her that he’ll kill her. Echoing his words to Michael, Kristi tells him to face up to his actions – be a man.

The police turn to the other customer, ask her if their version of events is correct. She says it is. She takes Michael’s hands in hers, says that he’s dropped something. He looks at his hands – she’s given him back his note for Kristi.

As John is led away, Kristi slips her hand in to Michael’s.

Character biographies

MICHAEL WOOD – 27 years old, Michael works in a bookshop. His days are long and slow, as there isn’t much business in the shop. But Michael loves books and reading, and seems to believe that he can become a writer through osmosis, somehow. To fulfil another writerly cliché, Michael is also hopelessly romantic and ridiculously inept at social situations. His nerves always get the better of him, and he will do anything he can to resist any sort of confrontation. The one thing he wants more than being a published writer is Kristi Connolly, who he has admired from afar for quite some time.

KRISTI CONNOLLY – 25 years old. Kristi works in a grocery store, trying to save up for a deposit for her own place. She still lives with her parents, which is fine in its own way, but she wants her space and independence. She, too, has a love for writing, and, having somehow managed to get out of Michael one time in the shop that he was an aspiring author, often gives him snippets of poems or prose to take a look at, believing Michael to be a more accomplished writer than he actually is.

Visual realisation

This story is mostly a drama, but because of the absurdity of the whole setup, there will be elements on humour in there as well, mostly about Michael’s inability to deal with social situations, which is what leads to the whole thing happening in the first place.

Because the location is a single, small grocery store, for the most part, and because of the situation, it will feel quite claustrophobic, and feel as if things could blow up at any moment, should the wrong thing be said, or the wrong look exchanged. The scope of location only expands once all the characters emerge from the grocery store, only to be surrounded by police officers.

Statement of intent

Whilst the principal purpose of this film is for entertainment value, it is all about how bottling up emotions and feelings towards someone can have a destructive force on a person’s life. Extreme fear of rejection or humiliation can cause people to do crazy things they would not otherwise necessarily do. Most people would be able to relate to this in some way, though the film takes this concept to the extreme.

Research statement

Whilst certainly not a true story, a lot of Michael is based on personal experience to some degree – fear of rejection and humiliation and unable to deal with conflict are all traits which are very familiar to me.

I have, perhaps unsurprisingly, spent a great deal of time in bookshops and grocery stores, so am familiar with the types of locations dealt with in the film.

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