The Director
Last updated: Monday, March 06, 2000.


In the summer of 1996, some friends of mine from Science One (Amy Poon, Warren Van Winckel, and Wesley Wong) decided that it would be fun to make a movie. The idea: a short about a director who doesn't know what to shoot... something comedic but perhaps a little bit profound (or at least with as much profundity as us Science students can muster), and interesting self-reference.

Some ideas came out, and then we went back to school.

Fortunately, before our spring break, Warren started the ball rolling again and managed to beg, borrow, and steal enough video equipment that we could make the movie for almost no budget. We also had no actors and no script, so I whipped up a script based on the ideas we had and we managed to coerce enough suckers to help out by sending press gangs to the Computer Science labs and knocking on doors around residence.

After two solid days of shooting (where "solid" starts at the holiday wake-up time of 12 noon), we managed to get most of the raw material together. Then in May we got out hands on a Video Toaster and did the editing. Now we just have to sit back and wait for the money and awards to come in. Well, actually, the distribution side of things hasn't really been worked out, but until we acheive worldwide acclaim, you can read the script below. The Credits are at the end, and Warren has put up another page of production photos.

The Script

                          The Director
                Copyright (c) 1997 Brett Allen

SLATE, sitting on a table, with our movie info on it (i.e.: "The
Director", Scene 1, Take 1, directed by ..., etc.).

                       DIRECTOR'S VOICE:
          What is this?

DIRECTOR's hand comes on screen, flips the slate over.  On it is
his movie information: Scene 1, Take 27, and several titles (9
2/3, Citizen Walker, Romeo of the Spirits, The Magic Piccolo,
Green, Gone with the Gale) - all crossed out except for the last
one.  He crosses it out, pauses, and, failing to think of a
better title, puts the chalk down.

Now we look at a book - a French-English dictionary.  Pulling
back, we see that it is under a tiny stool.  Next to the stool is
a folding chair.  ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, casually dressed, walks on.

                       ASSISTANT DIRECTOR:
          Put that light over there!

He then sits comfortably in the folding chair.  Director walks
on, dressed completely in black and sporting a turtleneck, beret,
and reeediculous accent.  He points in the opposite direction:

          Move that light over there!

                       ASSISTANT DIRECTOR:
          I told him, I told him, people just don't

Assistant Director hastily scrambles onto the tiny stool.
Director looks at the folding chair and sniffs as if it is not
quite good enough.  He points at a passing crew member:

          You! Bring me a new chair!

Immediately the Director's chair is whisked away as another,
identical one is brought back on, which he accepts and gingerly
sits down.

                       ASSISTANT DIRECTOR:
          I hope you don't mind me saying again, what a
          great opportunity it is to work with you.

Director pauses just long enough for one to think that he is not
going to acknowledge the statement.

          This is not work, this is ART! 
               (gestures broadly)
          These are not cameras, they are windows to
          the soul, doors to the inner psyche,
          skylights to the spirit...

                      ASSISTANT DIRECTOR:
          Hatchways to the human condition?

               (ignores him)
          ...and yet, they are flawed.  But I will not
          be flawed.  The mistakes of imbeciles and
          moral cowards will not be made here.

                         ACTRESS'S VOICE:
          Oh, oh, sir!

          Yes? You have a question?

                         ACTRESS'S VOICE:
          Can we move this camera over here?  It
          catches my bad side. I look much better from
          the right.

          No, no!  This camera will not be moved. No
          more questions! Let us begin! Places,
          places... aaaaaand action!

                          ACTOR'S VOICE:
          Listen, my darling...


                       ASSISTANT DIRECTOR:
          Oh, that was terrific! Terrific! The passion
          in those words...

          It was merde!!  
                       ASSISTANT DIRECTOR:

Even as he is nodding in agreement, Assistant Director whips out
the French-English dictionary and flips through it.  He then
turns to the actors:

                       ASSISTANT DIRECTOR:

          You should be ashamed, I mean...

               (cutting him off)
          Perhaps I have not been clear.  What we are
          trying to do here is delineate the
          intellectual Libensraum of  the postmodern
          bourgeois ideology.  It is a pseudo-
          manicheistic strike against monolithic
          cognivity, breaking apart the hermeneutic
          circle like so much cottage cheese!  When
          Mirabella says "Oh, I love the way you hold
          me in your arms," it is not merely a case of
          pithecanthropic ebullition, but an
          illocutionary struggle for self-reification;
          the result of a hegemonial anodyne of class
          consciousness, vis a vis her own repressed
          Wandervogelen-ism.  This is no arbitrary
          cacophony of ideological contingencies!  We
          must make a philogenetic step towards the
          perlocutionary ideal.  This is not a movie
          for the barbarian obscurantists or university
          disimbricators!  Do you understand? From the
          top! Action!

Throughout the shooting the director appears distracted; he
stares into space, oblivious to his surroundings. The Assistant
Director is thoroughly engrossed in the action.

                          ACTOR'S VOICE:
          Listen, my darling, we don't have much
          time... I must leave soon... to fight,
          hopefully someday, to return... to you...

                         ACTRESS'S VOICE:
          Oh, Hans....

A romantic encounter ensues. Director stares into space for a

          Cut!  No, this is wrong!  
               (points at actor)
          You! Come here!

Actor walks up to director, with his back to the camera.

          What were you doing??

          Well, I...

          No!! You were not!  Why, why are you doing
          this to me? Was it too much to ask?

Director falls to his knees and begins sobbing uncontrollably.   
Assistant Director tries to console him and helps him up. A
sudden inspiration hits. The Director grabs the script.

          Aha, I know the problem.  We will remove this
          line here. And this one here. 

Director flips through all the pages frantically scratching out
lines, faster and faster, then tears the entire script to shreds
and throws the pieces in the air.


Director and Assistant Director are standing, giving
instructions.  Assistant Director's stool is there, but no
director's chair.  One is promptly brought on by a crew member
just as Director blindly sits down.

                       ASSISTANT DIRECTOR:
          This time it's going to be really good, I
          know it.
               (looks to D for confirmation; gets none)
          I *knew* that last scriptwriter was useless,
          just a real... imbecile!

          Yes, an imbecile.

                       ASSISTANT DIRECTOR:
               (overjoyed to receive a response)
          OK, everybody, get in your places now.

Director is sitting in his chair, catatonic.

                       ASSISTANT DIRECTOR:
          Oh, oh, may I?

Beat. Director nods.

                       ASSISTANT DIRECTOR:
          Aaaaaand... roll em!

                         ACTRESS'S VOICE:
          Hey Billy-Bob, what's that light up in the

                          ACTOR'S VOICE:
          I dunno Billy-Joe!

FX: spacecraft landing

                          ALIEN'S VOICE:
          Greetings, Earthlings. Take me to your

               (jerking to attention)
          CUT!!!  You -- come here!

Alien approaches director, keeping its back to the camera.

          Just what do you think you're doing?

          Well, I'm an alien from the planet Zort, with
          the mission of...

               (choked scream)
          I'm surrounded by eeeediots!

In a rage, takes off his beret and starts jumping on it. Then he
picks it up, and, finding it improved, puts it back on.


Crew is set up next to some orange webbing fence.  Director is
standing, giving orders.

          Now, this explosion, it must be perfect, do
          you understand?  It must crumble down in one
          smooth motion, just like civilization is
          crumbling. I don't want to see senseless
          smoke pouring out the sides or flames licking
          the base.  You have all seen the decay of
          modern society - that is what I want to see
          in this explosion! 

Director sits and begins staring into space.  Assistant Director
comes over and sits on his stool.

                       ASSISTANT DIRECTOR:
          OK, we've got the explosives all wired up. 
          Everybody, get behind the fence. When you're

Director absently waves his hand.

                       CREW MEMBER'S VOICE:
          OK, we're going live.  Starting countdown

          Wait, no, stop!!! That flower pot -- it's...
          it's in the wrong window!!

Director dashes out of his chair, arms windmilling.

                       CREW MEMBER'S VOICE:
          Fire in the hole! 

FX: explosion. Debris flies past the camera: pieces of wood,
earth, a flower pot, and the director's beret.


Assistant Director and Director are sitting on their chairs.  The
director is has a bandage on his forehead.

          Is everybody ready?  Good!  Action!

FX: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly-type sounds

                         ACTOR'S VOICE:
          This town ain't big enough for the both of
          us, pardner.

          CUT!  What are those beasts doing there? 
          They are not in the script!

                       ASSISTANT DIRECTOR:
          They're the horses, sir.  This is a

          Is that so.  Very well, take them away!

FX: Horse walking

          No, no!  The actors... take the actors away! 
          I have had enough of your petty human faults. 
          We will begin again!

Actors protest in background.


                          ACTOR'S VOICE:
          Dusk on the Serengeti.  Here nature roams
          free in this untamed wilderness.  Watch as
          this young lion sneaks up on an unsuspecting
          herd of gazelles.  Closer and closer it

          Cut!!  Can't you move them any closer to the


FX: chainsaw noise, screams 

Assistant Director has covered his eyes and is peeking at the
scene through his fingers.  Director is staring into space, being
splashed by blood.  This lasts for roughly 15-20 seconds.


Assistant Director, now wearing a turtleneck, is giving orders. 
Director is next to him, completely in another world.

                       ASSISTANT DIRECTOR:
          OK, get all the dwarves lined up.  Woodsman,
          I don't think we'll be needing you again
          today.  Where's Snow White??  Sleeping again? 
          Somebody go get her.
               (turns to director)
          OK, sir, when you're ready.

Director holds up his hand to block out the Assistant Director,
and continues to do this every time the Assistant Director

                       ASSISTANT DIRECTOR:
          Sir, we're ready to start. Sir?

Director absently walks off the set.  Assistant director looks


Assistant director is sitting on talk show-style couch.  His
transformation complete, he is now wearing a black turtleneck and

                       ASSISTANT DIRECTOR:
          Oh, we really only see him during the
          filming.  The editing he always does himself,
          in private.  He needs to be alone with his
          own ingenuity to work, I guess, not
          surrounded by the common folk.  He's a
          brilliant man. Working with someone like
          that, well, it can really change the way you
          see the world.
               (adjusts his beret)
          I know I was changed.


Scenes of director "getting inspiration" -- pacing all over
different places: Nitobe gardens, through bushes, Spanish Banks
Beach, the duck pond at Jericho...

Now he is sitting under a tree, lost in thought.  Suddenly, an
inspiration hits.  He jumps up and bolts off camera...


Director's artsy friends sitting on a couch, chatting to each
other at once:

                         CONVERSATION 1:
          -No, no, I don't like black and white... it
          doesn't work for my rods and cones.
          -But did you like his latest work?  It's very
          avant garde.
          -Did I like it? Did I *like* it? Did *I* like
          it?  No.

                         CONVERSATION 2:
          -The car goes very fast, but the cook beats
          the batter better.
          -I'm waiting for the aqueduct to come and
          meet me at my windmill.
          -One can prove that social progress is
          definitely better with sugar.

                         CONVERSATION 3:
          -I thought it would be sort of the result of
          a hegemonial anodyne of class conciousness.
          -You mean a case of repressed Wandervogelen-

Director arrives.  A hush falls, then applause and whispering. 
Ignoring everybody, he sits down and raises his arm. The lights
go out...


Typical 1, 2, 3 spinning thing. A brief moment of blackness. 
Then, the final, perfect scene:
                            - fin -

                         FRIENDS' VOICES:
          - Amazing!
          - Profound!
          - Inspirational!
          - I laughed; I cried; it was better than
          - Truly a philogenetic step towards the
          perlocutionary ideal.
                         FRIEND'S VOICE:
          I don't get it.




Special thanks

See also:
Brett Allen (
This page is Copyright 1994-2006, Brett Allen.