NYC Midnight Short Screenplay Challenge: Round 1

> I entered the short screenplay challenge to kickstart my screenwriting again, and it’s definitely worked. A five minute script in 48 hours, with a randomly assigned genre, location and prop.

In this round I got…

• Comedy
• Waterfall
• Tombstone

…and after an initial reaction of WFT, I managed to come up with an idea along the lines of two men in a boat arguing about who’s read the map right while they hurtle to their probable deaths.

The plot outline was done before lunch on day one, and typed up with dialogue by bedtime, and the next day was spent rewriting and editing. A great way to spend a weekend!

 

KOOTENAI FALLS

by

Laurie Cansfield

Two recently widowed men go on the adventure of a lifetime, only to argue the entire time. But who is right about where they actually are?

FADE IN:

 

EXT. KOOTENAY RIVER, MONTANA – DAY

 

Two elderly English men drift down the Kootenay river in a old fashioned canoe. It’s a sunny day, the current is flowing slowly, and it’s blissfully silent apart from the calls of a few birds in the distance.

 

ALBERT, in the front of the boat, is rowing gently and taking it all in. GEORGE, in the back of the boat, is drinking beer and looking impatiently at a map.

 

GEORGE
I’m telling you, Albert, I’m right.

 

ALBERT
We’re fine George. Not much further and we’ll be back on the riverbank with a glass of chilled white and more riveting conversation.

 

GEORGE
Let’s go on an adventure, he said. It’ll be good for you, he said. Trip of a lifetime.

 

ALBERT
What’s that, old pal?

 

GEORGE
I should have stayed at home with the family!

 

ALBERT
The family? Our wives are dead and you don’t have any kids.

 

GEORGE
I’ve got company.

 

ALBERT
He’s more knackered than you are. Three legs, that dog. Does he chase the postman around in circles?

 

GEORGE
We’re the ones going round in circles.

 

ALBERT
(glances at the current)
Down a river?

 

GEORGE
(jabs his finger into the map)
With this argument I mean! The falls are here!

 

ALBERT
I’m telling you, we’re fine. Look around. Have a listen. That’s peace, that is.

 

George drinks his beer. He looks around, and has a listen.

 

CUT TO:

 

EXT. KOOTENAI FALLS, MONTANA – DAY

 

Further downstream, the current picks up a tremendous pace, rapids rage over jagged rocks, and the river plunges into a tumbling waterfall.

 

BACK TO:

 

EXT. KOOTENAY RIVER, MONTANA – DAY

 

A ripple in the water rocks the boat slightly and George drops his beer overboard.

 

GEORGE
Fuck!

 

Albert turns to look at George.

 

GEORGE
Call this peaceful? Give me a sunbed and a swimming pool any day of the week. Pint glass in one hand, book in the other. Then I’d be at peace.

 

ALBERT
Butlins?

 

GEORGE
Benidorm!

 

ALBERT
Every year wasn’t it? When there’s a whole world to explore.

 

GEORGE
We had a timeshare.

 

ALBERT
I would rather own but a little and see the world, than own the world and see but a little of it.

 

George sighs, leans forward and opens a cool box. He takes out another beer, opens it, and sits in silence.

 

An OSPREY lands on a branch on the riverbank. George’s eyes light up.

 

GEORGE
You was right.

 

ALBERT
What’s that, old friend?

 

GEORGE
You was right. This was a great idea! I can’t believe it! I always wanted to see an eagle.

 

ALBERT
(scans the bank and sees the bird)
Osprey.

 

GEORGE
What?

 

ALBERT
That, old china, is an Osprey.

 

GEORGE
I’ve seen David Attenborough mate. That’s an eagle. It’s got talons.

 

ALBERT
Bald eagles can occasionally be spotted in the vicinity of the Kootenay River Wildlife Managment Area, though sightings of ospreys are far more common all year round —

 

GEORGE
Oh! He read the guidebook! Pity he can’t read maps. And he certainly knows a lot about animals for someone whose wife never let him have one.

 

ALBERT
You won’t have one for much longer. One eye, that dog. Should have called him Lucky.

 

GEORGE
(taps angrily on map)
Better eyesight than you mate, if you think this is where we are.

 

Albert shakes his head and gets back to rowing.

 

George is silent. He goes to take a drink out of his can, when his attention is captured by another bird on the opposite bank. It’s a BALD EAGLE.

 

GEORGE
You was right.

 

ALBERT
What’s that, old buddy?

 

George doesn’t take his eyes off the eagle.

 

Albert follows George’s gaze and sees it too. He smiles.

 

They watch the eagle fly away.

 

GEORGE
I miss her, you know. Wish she was here… Or we were in Benidorm. The river begins to pick up pace.

 

GEORGE (CONT’D)
Churchgoer she was. Even on holiday. Introduced me to a Spanish priest once. Told me something I’ll never forget, he did. Something I haven’t shared with another soul to this day.

 

The river flows faster.

 

GEORGE (CONT’D)
Most wonderful story I’ve ever heard. He said, George —

 

ALBERT
Sorry George. Getting a bit choppy here. Would you mind helping?

 

The current is strong and Albert is struggling to row.

 

A wave crashes into the boat and George is drenched in foamy water. He sees rocks in all directions.

 

GEORGE
We’re fine, he said! Nothing to worry about, he said!

 

ALBERT
If you wouldn’t mind helping, old… Look mate, just row!

 

The river turns into rapids, and the boat is tossed around.

 

George scrambles to pick up his oar. The boat scrapes against a large rock. He drops his beer into the water.

 

GEORGE
Fuck!

 

The boat is swept along the rapids. George and Albert frantically try to control it.

 

They go over the falls.

 

CUT TO:

 

EXT. CEMETERY, LONDON – DAY

 

Albert watches two CEMETERY WORKERS placing a tombstone on a grave. A one eyed, three legged DOG stands next to him.

 

They wait for the workers to finish, then walk over. Albert places an open can of beer on the grave.

 

He places a bowl next to the beer, and pours some of it in. The dog drinks the beer and wags it’s stump of a tail.

 

Albert takes a small bottle of white wine out of his jacket and unscrews the cap. He looks at the tombstone.

 

It reads:

 

GEORGE OAKLEY
1948 – 2019
“HE WAS RIGHT”

 

FADE OUT.