Copyright (c) 1988
March 1, 1988


ABOVE THE LINE

An Original Screenplay
By
Josh Becker

Story
By
Josh Becker
&
Rick Sandford

INT. LIVING ROOM - BLACK & WHITE - NIGHT

We are in an old movie from the 1940s. A handsome male ACTOR and a beautiful blonde siren named SHEREE are doing a dramatic scene in a living room.

                                                                 SHEREE
                                I'm telling you, after work he stops for a
                                drink every night in the same bar, then
                                takes the same route home.

                                                                 ACTOR
                                And you'd bet your life on that?

                                                                 SHEREE
                                I am betting my life on it.

The Actor nods thoughtfully, then exits the living room. Sheree sits down on the couch and crosses her lovely long legs. Suddenly, Sheree gets an odd look on her face, then slowly turns and looks directly into the lens . . .

INT. MOVIE THEATER - DAY

Sitting all by himself in the front row center seat of a large old movie theater is AARON BROOKS, a handsome 29-year old man with dark curly hair. He is watching the movie and is slightly taken aback as Sheree in the movie seems to be looking directly at him. Sheree looks back toward the other room where the Actor just disappeared, then returns to looking right into the lens. She grins.

Aaron grins.

Sheree stands up from the couch, straightens her skirt and stockings, then walks forward, toward the lens. Suddenly, Sheree steps out of the screen and is actually standing on the stage in the theater, but she's still in black & white.

Aaron is amazed at the special effects. She really seems to be there.

Sheree steps forward, hikes up her skirt and seats herself on Aaron's lap, her arms around his neck. She pulls his head forward and gives him a long, luscious kiss. As Aaron's hands slide up Sheree's back and begin unzipping her dress. Sheree's hand slides down to Aaron's crotch and . . .

...Aaron groans and has his orgasm. His eyes slowly open as he turns and realizes...

INT. AUTOMOBILE - DAY

...that he is in the front seat of a car bumping down a patch of bad road. Aaron gasps and coughs as he realizes that the driver is a bored-looking middle-aged MAN, seemingly oblivious to his wet dream.

Aaron glances down at his crotch.

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (hesitantly)
                                Uh... Could we pull over at a gas station?

The man doesn't look over.

                                                                 MAN
                                Sure.

Aaron looks out the window, blinks several times and shakes his head.

                                                                                                       DISSOLVE:

EXT. RURAL COUNTRY ROAD - DAY

Aaron walks up the road with his backpack on. Green rolling hills surround him. He passes a sign that says, "MORRISTOWN, TENNESSEE." The sign is full of buckshot holes. Looming up from behind a hill is the parapet of a castle! Aaron's eyes light up. Soon the entire enormous stone castle is visible rising fifty feet into the air. It is three hundred feet wide.

As Aaron comes up to the castle he sees that it is just a facade, a flat, with wooden supports. A carpentry crew is pounding nails into the back securing it in place. Aaron sees a tall, blond-haired fellow, just wearing shorts, barking orders to everyone with an Australian accent. He also sees a gorgeous, dark-haired girl in tight silk shorts listening to the orders. She turns to a another girl, a strangely scowling, very pretty blonde and says something. They all go back to work.

As Aaron banks the next hill he sees a twenty foot crane glide past with a gold Chevy Impala swinging from the end of it.

And then Aaron comes upon an entire motion picture FILM CREW -- lights, trucks,
lots of people, confusion. Aaron walks right into the center of it.

A thin, tall kid wearing shorts and a utility belt with a walkie-talkie steps up to Aaron. He is a production assistant, or P.A.

                                                                 P.A.
                                Can I help you?

                                                                 AARON
                                No thanks.

Aaron walks right past him. The P.A. steps back into Aaron's path.

                                                                 P.A.
                                Need some help?

                                                                 AARON
                                Nope.

                                                                 P.A.
                                You can't go this way.

                                                                 AARON
                                Oh yes I can.

Aaron walks right past the kid again and up to where the shooting is going on. There are thirty people, all in shorts, crowded around four cameras. At the center of everything is the crane with the Impala swinging from the end.

The director, BEN STONE, a swirling mass of energy with unruly hair and a viewfinder around his neck, runs all over the place.

The production manager, ACE, a big guy with a pot belly and a baseball cap, spots Aaron.

                                                                 ACE
                                Bubbles. What're you doing here?

                                                                 AARON
                                My big part's coming up.
                                                           (Ace puts his arm around
                                                           Aaron's shoulders)
                                How's it going?

The P.A. skulks away.

                                                                 ACE
                                Like shit. We're behind schedule and
                                over budget.

                                                                 AARON
                                So what else is new?

                                                                 ACE
                                We're almost done. It's the only thing
                                that keeps me from quitting.

                                                                 AARON
                                Yeah? Bullshit. You'll never quit.

                                                                 ACE
                                Ain't that the truth.
                                                           (something catches his
                                                           attention)
                                What the fuck're you doin' there?

Ace runs off.

Aaron sneaks up behind Ben. He taps him on the opposite shoulder so he'll turn the wrong way. Ben doesn't turn at all. Aaron rolls his eyes.

                                                                 AARON
                                Ben.

Ben turns and looks at Aaron and takes a second to recognize him.

                                                                 BEN
                                Pal.

                                                                 AARON
                                No, not pal. Aaron. Remember, we've
                                known each other since we were little
                                kids.

                                                                 BEN
                                Yes, I know that. I'm just busy. What was
                                your name again? Just kidding. Aaron,
                                you made it.

                                                                 AARON
                                I couldn't miss my big part, could I?

                                                                 BEN
                                No way. What part are you playing,
                                by the way?

                                                                 AARON
                                Knight Number Three.

                                                                 BEN
                                                           (nods)
                                Right. That's a good part.

                                                                 AARON
                                No dialog.

                                                                 BEN
                                You don't need dialog to bring that
                                part to life. It's you.
                                                           (stands; shouting)
                                Everybody ready?

A chorus of "readys" and "yeahs" come back.

                                                                 BEN
                                Okay. Roll cameras.

All four camera operators reply...

                                                                 CAMERAMEN
                                Rolling.

                                                                 BEN
                                One, two, three, ACTION!

The crane operator hits a switch, a charge on the cable holding the Chevy Impala explodes and the car drops twenty feet. It lands in the dirt with a crunching thud. Dust rises up around it.

                                                                 BEN
                                                           (shouting)
                                Cut! Perfect. That's a wrap for
                                the day. I'm going to have a script
                                conference with the author of this
                                despicable piece of trash. We'll be
                                at the hotel.
                                                           (Ben puts his arm
                                                           around Aaron)
                                Come on, pal. Let's go talk.

Aaron and Ben get into a car and drive away.

The P.A. turns to the gorgeous dark-haired girl in the silk shorts.

                                                                 P. A.
                                How am I supposed to know he's the
                                damn writer? He looks like a bum.

The pretty dark-haired girl watches the car go.

INT. BEN'S CAR - DUSK

Ben offers Aaron a cigarette. They both light up.

                                                                 BEN
                                So, what've you been up to?

                                                                 AARON
                                I've been hitch-hiking for the last four
                                days.

                                                                 BEN
                                Why didn't you fly, or take the bus?

                                                                 AARON
                                I couldn't afford it.

                                                                 BEN
                                What about what you got paid for the
                                script?

                                                                 AARON
                                Ben, that was only twenty-five hundred
                                dollars and it was six months ago. I
                                spent it.

                                                                 BEN
                                Haven't you made any money since
                                then?

                                                                 AARON
                                Yeah, I got a thousand bucks for a rewrite.
                                That's it. And that's long gone, too.

                                                                 BEN
                                What's with all this writing anyway? I
                                thought you were a director.

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (adamant)
                                I am, I think. That's all I've wanted my
                                whole life. I'm just trying to use the writing
                                as a route into directing.

                                                                 BEN
                                Why don't you put the money together
                                independently like we did?

                                                                 AARON
                                For which script? I've got that African
                                mercenary one, but it can't be done for
                                less then three million.

                                                                 BEN
                                                           (shakes his head)
                                Naw, that's too much, it's the wrong
                                script. Get another idea.

                                                                 AARON
                                I know, I know. That's part of the reason
                                why I'm hitch-hiking around the country --
                                I need a new idea.

                                                                 BEN
                                Why don't you write another horror movie?

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (desperately)
                                I just wrote one. I need something new to
                                do. Something real. Something I can believe
                                in and get behind. Something I can attach
                                myself to as director.

                                                                 BEN
                                Horror movies sell. Particularly scary ones.

                                                                 AARON
                                I know. The only script I've ever sold is a
                                horror script.

                                                                 BEN
                                And I bought it.

                                                                 AARON
                                Right. It pays to have friends in the business.
                                You just need to make more movies.

                                                                 BEN
                                And hire you as director? You're going to
                                be waiting a long time. Take my advice,
                                write another horror movie.

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (frowns)
                                I'll think about it.

                                                                 BEN
                                Seeing any chicks?

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (sighs)
                                Girls in L.A. are weird. They're basically just
                                unfriendly. I can't figure it out.

                                                                 BEN
                                What's to figure out, you haven't got any
                                money. Besides, you're in Tennessee now.
                                Here you're a big-shot Hollywood movie-
                                maker.

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (lights up)
                                Yeah, that's right.

                                                                 BEN
                                You bet that's right.

EXT. LINCOLN MOTEL - NIGHT

The Lincoln Motel is an average roadside hostelry with two floors facing in toward a swimming pool.

As Aaron and Ben walk through the motel they see many crew members with "The Dead Don't Die" t-shirts, tans, work gloves, wind-blown hair and all talking and animated. Ben stops at a motel room door, and knocks.

                                                                 BEN
                                Let's see what the producer's up to?

                                                                 VOICE
                                                           (from inside)
                                Come in.

INT. TOM'S MOTEL ROOM
Ben and Aaron enter. They find TOM KIDD, thirty-three years old with red hair, sitting at a desk covered with papers. He is staring down at one of them.

                                                                 AARON
                                Hiya, Tom.

                                                                 TOM
                                                           (looking up)
                                Aaron. What brings you down here?

                                                                 AARON
                                My big part's tomorrow.

                                                                 TOM
                                Oh, yeah. Mine, too.

                                                                 BEN
                                Me, too. We're all going to be in the scene
                                together -- the producer, the writer and the
                                director.

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (to Tom)
                                So? What're you doing?

Tom lifts a sheet of paper.

                                                                 TOM
                                This is the cast and crew list. They're all
                                bad people and I'm thinking of bad things
                                to do to them.

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (smiling)
                                Do I fall into that category?

                                                                 TOM
                                Yes. But you already screwed me. These
                                people are screwing me now. A contingent
                                of the crew came to me yesterday and said
                                that morale is low. I said, if you want morale
                                they should go join the army.

                                                                 AARON
                                That's very understanding of you, Tom.

                                                                 TOM
                                I thought so. And another thing. You can't
                                trust any southerners. They'll all stab you
                                in the back.

                                                                 AARON
                                Well, I'm glad to see things are going well.

                                                                 TOM
                                As well as can be expected.

A really dynamite blonde girl steps into the room. It is SHEREE. Aaron's eyes widen in shock. It's the same girl that was in his wet dream.

                                                                 BEN
                                Aaron, this is Sheree. She's the star. This
                                is Aaron, he's the writer.

Sheree and Aaron shake hands and smiles at each other.

                                                                 AARON
                                Hi.

                                                                 SHEREE
                                Hi.
                                                           (to Tom)
                                I need to talk to you.

                                                                 BEN
                                We were just leaving.

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (to Sheree)
                                It was nice meeting you, Sheree.

                                                                 SHEREE
                                And you.

Aaron and Ben leave.

EXT. LINCOLN MOTEL - NIGHT

Aaron and Ben walk to the bar.

                                                                 AARON
                                I had a dream with her in it.

                                                                 BEN
                                I've had a few myself.

EXT. GRAVEL PIT - DAY

Mayhem. Horses rearing. Dust. One hundred knights in full armor and chain mail carrying broadswords and shields are running around. Twenty horses gallop past them. In front of this pandemonium is the film crew. They are in a huge dusty gravel pit. The castle flat is visible in the distance. The action reaches a crescendo and...
An ASSISTANT DIRECTOR (A.D.) speaks through a megaphone.

                                                                 A.D.
                                Cut!

Ben lifts his visor, which has a one inch slot to see out of, and waddles over to the camera in his armor. The camera is on a crane.

                                                                 BEN
                                How did it look?

The CAMERA OPERATOR shrugs.

                                                                 CAMERA OPERATOR
                                It looked like mayhem.

                                                                 BEN
                                That's what we want.

                                                                 CAMERA OPERATOR
                                That's what you got.

                                                                 BEN
                                Good. Let's do it again.

Aaron and Tom have their visors up. They are both in full armor, too. They are gasping for air and blinking back sweat.

                                                                 A.D.
                                                           (through megaphone)
                                Back to one.

All of the actors and horses turn around and walk back to where they started.

                                                                 AARON
                                I'm dying in here. I've never been this hot
                                in my whole life. And my mom won't even
                                know it's me.

                                                                 TOM
                                But we will, and that's what counts. Anyway,
                                tomorrow'll be better.

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (skeptical)
                                Oh yeah? Why?

                                                                 TOM
                                Because at least you'll know what you're
                                in for.

EXT. GRAVEL PIT - DAY

Lunch is served in a big open army tent (like in "M*A*S*H"). Flies swarm everywhere. It's blazing hot.

Aaron waddles over to a shady spot beside a bus in his armor, his helmet, sword and shield in his hands. He drops all of his stuff on the ground, drops his body back against the bus and slides himself down to a sitting position. He sighs deeply and wipes his face with a bandanna.

The A.D. walks by.

                                                                 A.D.
                                Want some salt tablets?

                                                                 AARON
                                Yeah. Please.

He is handed two pills which he tosses into his mouth and swallows. The A.D. leaves and someone else steps up. Aaron squints at them. It's the pretty dark-haired girl with the silk shorts. Right now, however, she is just a silhouette in the glaring sun.

                                                                 FEMALE VOICE
                                So you wrote this movie, huh?

                                                                 AARON
                                Yeah.

                                                                 FEMALE VOICE
                                I like your script. I read it late at night and it
                                scared me.

                                                                 AARON
                                Thanks.

Ben appears in his armor and sits down next to Aaron

                                                                 BEN
                                How's it goin', pal?

                                                                 AARON
                                Swell. I'll bet I've already lost five pounds.

The girl in silhouette slowly walks away as Aaron and Ben keep talking.

EXT. GRAVEL PIT - DAY

The cast and crew, including Aaron, are assembled in front of the castle flat. A dark-haired actor, LOREN McCAY, stands on a pedestal dressed in shredded rags, a bloody sword in his hand.

Ben addresses the assemblage.

                                                                 BEN
                                All right, everyone. This is the big scene. This
                                is the scene where Wilkes...
                                                           (indicating the actor
                                                           on the pedestal)
                                ...looks into his soul and sees pure evil. This
                                is going to be the most frightening scene ever
                                filmed. What we are creating here is raw, grueling
                                terror. When the audience sees this they will be
                                quaking in unmitigated fear. Everybody got it?

                                                                 EVERYONE
                                Yeah.

                                                                 BEN
                                Good. Let's shoot it.

Ben seats himself on the camera crane.

                                                                 BEN
                                Roll sound.

A man with headphones sitting in front of a reel to reel tape recorder replies. He is the SOUND MAN.
                                                                 SOUND MAN
                                Rolling.

                                                                 BEN
                                Roll camera.

                                                                 CAMERA OPERATOR
                                Rolling.

                                                                 SLATE PERSON
                                Mark!

                                                                 BEN
                                And... Action!

Loren looks up in anguish then drops to his knees.

                                                                 LOREN
                                                           (bellowing)
                                Noooooo...!

The warriors and the horsemen all raise their swords, let out wild war screams and charge up the hill, past the anguished actor, toward the castle.

The camera soars into the air...

EXT. THE HOLLYWOOD HILLS - DAY

Our view is now of the Hollywood Hills and we go swooping upward. Our view stops on an apartment building perched on the side of a hill.

EXT. AARON'S APARTMENT BUILDING - DAY

Through a picture window we can see Aaron seated inside looking out.

INT. AARON'S APARTMENT - DAY

Aaron's apartment is small. On his walls are two movie posters: "THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE" and "THE SOUND OF MUSIC." A Murphy bed is folded up into the wall.

Aaron is seated in front of a desk with a computer, monitor and printer. He is facing out the window overlooking the city of Hollywood. He is wearing gym shorts, sneakers and a University Of Michigan T-shirt. He is drinking a cup of coffee, smoking a cigarette and talking on the telephone.

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (into phone)
                                ...So what you're saying is that Paramount's
                                passing on the script even though the coverage
                                was great. Well, that makes just about every
                                single studio in town that's passed on this script.
                                I guess we could start with foreign companies.
                                Maybe the Israelis or the South Africans might
                                want it?

A gravely female voice responds. She is SANDY.

                                                                 SANDY (O.S.)
                                Look, that's how it goes. Write another script.

                                                                 AARON
                                Get me a development deal so I don't have to
                                write on spec. I can't pay my rent.

                                                                 SANDY
                                Development deals are very difficult to get. Write
                                a great script and I'll get you a development deal.

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (rolls his eyes)
                                Write a great script? What do you think I tried
                                to do with the last one?

                                                                 SANDY
                                It wasn't great enough.

                                                                 AARON
                                So, who says if I spend two or three months
                                writing another script on spec it'll be great
                                enough?

                                                                 SANDY
                                No one.

                                                                 AARON
                                It's a vicious circle. Have you got any suggestions
                                for this great script?

                                                                 SANDY
                                Yeah. Write a romantic comedy. That's what they're
                                looking for right now. Good characters, strong female,
                                make it contemporary. Make it funny.

                                                                 AARON
                                Anything else?

                                                                 SANDY
                                Have it done by Tuesday.

                                                                 AARON
                                Oh, sure. A romantic comedy? What do I know
                                from romance? Why can't a subject I know come
                                into vogue?

                                                                 SANDY
                                Like what?

                                                                 AARON
                                Like despair.

                                                                 SANDY
                                Move to Sweden. See ya.

                                                                 AARON
                                Bye.
                                                           (Aaron hangs up and
                                                           it immediately rings)
                                Hello?

It's the voice of Ace, the production manager.

                                                                 ACE
                                Bubbles.

                                                                 AARON
                                Ace, how ya doin'?

                                                                 ACE
                                Great, and you?

                                                                 AARON
                                I'll live.

                                                                 ACE
                                Live until Friday night, I'm havin' a party.

                                                                 AARON
                                Great. What's the occasion?

                                                                 ACE
                                It's Keith Richards' birthday, man, pay attention.

                                                                 AARON
                                Sorry, I forgot.

                                                                 ACE
                                So you'll be there?

                                                                 AARON
                                Absolutely. Will it be a blow-out?

                                                                 ACE
                                Absolutely.

                                                                 AARON
                                Far out.

INT. ACE'S LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

Aaron sits bleary-eyed in a chair in a large living room with two other people -- a guy with long hair and a black leather jacket who is asleep and snoring, and a pretty blonde girl who is absolutely scowling at the floor.

Aaron is half-crocked and takes a slug of a Corona. The sound of people partying can be heard coming from the backyard. Aaron glances over at the blonde and makes a face like, "She's not bad," but she won't look up. He shrugs and looks away.

And then a really great looking girl comes walking in the front door. Long black hair, black leather jacket, black leather skirt, high heels and radiating a wildness, a drunken abandon.

She steps into the living room and scans the premises. She and the scowling blonde look right at each other, but neither says a word. They just stare. The blonde finally looks away and continues to scowl.

The dark haired girl turns her gaze on Aaron who is looking right at her. They look into each other's eyes, daring one another to look away. Slowly they both begin to grin. Aaron finally blinks, but doesn't look away.

She steps forward until she is looming over him and she's only 5'2". She swings one of her feet over his legs and is now standing directly over him, all the while holding his gaze. She slowly lowers herself onto his lap. She is CATHY ANDERSON.

                                                                 CATHY
                                Remember me?

                                                                 AARON
                                Sure.

She leans closer to his face, smirking.

                                                                 CATHY
                                From where?

                                                                 AARON
                                Marseilles, during the war. You wore blue,
                                the Germans wore gray.

She smiles and leans even closer. Their noses are touching.

                                                                 CATHY
                                You have no idea.

                                                                 AARON
                                Burton Elementary School?

She moves her face slightly back and forth, indicating "No."

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (shrugs)
                                Who cares?

He kisses her. It's a pretty long kiss. Their lips separate, but their faces remain together.

                                                                 CATHY
                                You still don't know who I am?

                                                                 AARON
                                Would the kiss have reminded me?

                                                                 CATHY
                                No.

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (shrugs again)
                                I'll never forget you from here on out.

Cathy shakes her head.

                                                                 CATHY
                                It was in Tennessee making the movie. I was
                                assistant production designer. We talked when
                                you were down there playing the warrior. Don't
                                you remember?

Aaron is completely blank and can't hide it.

                                                                 AARON
                                ...Wait a minute, yeah, now I remember. You
                                were wearing shorts, weren't you?

                                                                 CATHY
                                                           (amazed)
                                You still don't remember.

                                                                 AARON
                                There were lots of people and I was only
                                there two days. But I'm really glad we met
                                again. It was fate.

                                                                 CATHY
                                I don't usually walk up to strange men at
                                parties and sit on their laps.

                                                                 AARON
                                You're just starting tonight?

                                                                 CATHY
                                I want to go out with you.

                                                                 AARON
                                Good. Let's go.

                                                                 CATHY
                                Another night. I've got somewhere to go now.
                                                           (she glances over at
                                                           the scowling blonde,
                                                           then back)
                                This week.

She takes a napkin off the side table, pulls Aaron's pen out of his pocket, puts the napkin against his chest and writes while saying into his face...

                                                                 CATHY
                                Catherine Anderson. Four-six-four oh-eight-
                                one-one.
                                                           (she draws two stick people)
                                These are two people dancing.

She shows him her drawing.

                                                                 AARON
                                It's beautiful.

                                                                 CATHY
                                Goodbye, Aaron Brooks. See, I know your
                                name.

                                                                 AARON
                                Goodbye, Catherine Anderson. See you soon.

                                                                 CATHY
                                                           (stands)
                                Call me.

                                                                 AARON
                                I will.

                                                                 CATHY
                                I mean it.

                                                                 AARON
                                Me, too.

                                                                 CATHY
                                Okay. Bye.

She turns and walks right out of the party. In her tight dress it quite apparent that she has a fine ass, too. Aaron takes a deep breath, sighs and smiles happily. He turns and the scowling pretty blonde is looking right at him.

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