SLOW DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. INTERNATIONAL CREATIVE MANAGEMENT - DAY

International Creative Management is located in a squat, ugly, ten story building on Beverly Blvd. in Beverly Hills.

INT. ICM LOBBY - DAY

Aaron sits on a couch in the reception area reading Variety. On the list of fifty top-grossing films "The Dead Don't Die" is listed at number fourteen. Aaron smiles and shakes his head.

A dark-haired woman of thirty wearing baggy pants and a sport coat comes walking in the front door. She sees Aaron, smiles and walks over. This is finally SANDY.

                                                                 SANDY
                                Aaron.

Aaron drops the Variety and stands.

                                                                 AARON
                                Sandy. Just the person I wanted to see.

They take each other's hands and peck each other on the cheek.

                                                                 SANDY
                                What are you doing here? I mean, we didn't
                                have an appointment I missed or anything, did
                                we?

                                                                 AARON
                                Uh-uh. I came to pitch you a story.

                                                                 SANDY
                                Fabulous.

They step into the elevator.

INT. ELEVATOR - DAY

Sandy pushes ten.

                                                                 SANDY
                                Your film is really doing well.

                                                                 AARON
                                Number fourteen in the country. Not too shabby for
                                a low-budget horror movie. Have you seen it yet?

                                                                 SANDY
                                Yeah. I caught it at a midnight show on Hollywood Blvd.
                                The audience screamed with laughter the entire time.
                                You never told me it was a comedy.

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (grins)
                                I wanted to surprise you.

                                                                 SANDY
                                You did.

INT. SANDY'S OFFICE - DAY

The office is ten by twelve, has a good view of smoggy south LA and has a metal shelf covering the entire east wall completely filled with screenplays with their titles written in black magic marker on the bindings. Aaron's eyes automatically search out and find, "The Dead Don't Die." Sandy putters around with some papers on her desk, then abruptly looks up.

                                                                 SANDY
                                So, what have you got? Shoot.

                                                                 AARON
                                All right. It's a romantic comedy.

                                                                 SANDY
                                                           (lighting up)
                                Fabulous.

                                                                 AARON
                                It's about this guy who falls in love with a beautiful
                                girl, but she's still hung up on her old boyfriend.
                                Anyway, when they finally have sex, she gives him
                                the clap...
                                                           (Sandy's eyebrows go up)
                                …They somehow get past that, have sex again and
                                she gets pregnant...

                                                                 SANDY
                                This is kind of heavy stuff.

                                                                 AARON
                                It's contemporary.

                                                                 SANDY
                                                           (skeptical)
                                Well... It could be good. It depends on how it's written.
                                Let me see the pages when you start it.

                                Aaron grins, opens his briefcase and takes out a script.

                                                                 AARON
                                It's finished.

Sandy takes the screenplay with an impressed look on her face.

                                                                 SANDY
                                Well, well, well, we've been a busy little beaver,
                                haven't we?

                                                                 AARON
                                Absolutely.

Sandy looks at the cover page.

                                                                 SANDY
                                "Above The Line." That's a pretty good title.
                                                           (she flips to the last page)
                                One hundred and ten pages. That's perfect.
                                                           (she sets it on a pile of scripts
                                                           on her desk)
                                I'll read it and let you know what I think.

                                                                 AARON
                                Terrific.

Aaron stands and picks up his briefcase.

                                                                 SANDY
                                You're the kind of client an agent loves -- self-
                                motivated.

                                                                 AARON
                                That's me.

INT. AARON'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

The lights of LA twinkle outside his window. He sits in front of his television set watching "The Bridge on the River Kwai" on video. Alec Guiness and Sessue Hayakawa follow a wire that's covered with sand. It leads around a corner to a plunger where a blond boy waits with a knife.

The phone rings. Aaron shrugs and freeze-frames on William Holden screaming, "Kill him!" Aaron answers the phone.

                                                                 AARON
                                Hello?

                                                                 SANDY
                                Aaron. This is Sandy. I just finished "Above The Line."

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (eagerly)
                                Yeah? So?

                                                                 SANDY
                                I didn't like it very much.

Aaron's smile fades.

                                                                 AARON
                                Really? How come?

                                                                 SANDY
                                Well, it's about Hollywood. Everyone knows that
                                Hollywood stories don't sell. No one's interested.

                                                                 AARON
                                But everyone's interested in Hollywood. I've always
                                been interested in Hollywood.

                                                                 SANDY
                                But no one in Hollywood is. They work all day in the
                                business, they don't want to come home and have to
                                read about it afterward.

                                                                 AARON
                                Really? And I thought this was the best script I'd
                                ever written.

                                                                 SANDY
                                Some of the dialogue is very good, particularly with
                                the agent. Did you have a tape recorder going while
                                we were talking?

                                                                 AARON
                                But you don't think you can sell it?

                                                                 SANDY
                                I'll send it out to a few places. We'll see what
                                the coverage is like. But first, one suggestion.

                                                                 AARON
                                Okay. Shoot.

                                                                 SANDY
                                His character is fine. I feel like I need to know
                                more about her. What does she want?

                                                                 AARON
                                I don't think she knows what she wants.

                                                                 SANDY
                                Then maybe some more background. An intimate
                                detail. Something from her childhood in Pennsylvania,
                                maybe.

                                                                 AARON
                                But I don't know any intimate details from her childhood.

                                                                 SANDY
                                You're a writer. Make one up.

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (shrugs)
                                All right. I'm really surprised you don't like it.

                                                                 SANDY
                                I'm glad I can still surprise you. Talk to you later.

                                                                 AARON
                                Bye.

Aaron hangs up. He puts his chin in his hand and thinks.

                                                                 AARON
                                An intimate detail, eh?

He picks up the telephone and dials. In two rings he gets Cathy's answering machine. He frowns and hangs up. He thinks for another second, then picks up his phone book, finds what he's looking for and dials the phone.

                                                                 AARON
                                Hello, Shauna? Hi, this is Aaron Brooks. Remember
                                me?

INT. AARON'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Aaron is dressed nicely and is just ready to leave when there is a knock at the door. He opens it and there stands Shauna -- knee high leather boots, tight jeans, tight t-shirt -- she's a hot babe, even if she is always scowling.

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (surprised)
                                What're you doing here? I was just leaving to
                                pick you up.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                I decided I wanted to see where you live.

She steps in past Aaron and begins walking around.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                Where's the bedroom?

Aaron points at the door in the wall.

                                                                 AARON
                                This is the bedroom, and the living room, and
                                the office.

Shauna lowers the bed from the wall, then pushes it back up.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                Where do you keep your dirty magazines? You
                                can't keep 'em under the bed.

                                                                 AARON
                                I don't have any dirty magazines.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                Bullshit.

She scans the room. Her view stops on the bookshelf which has a pile of magazines on the bottom shelf. She goes to it. They're mostly American Cinematographers. She goes right to the bottom and finds a Playboy. She holds it up and waggles her eyebrows.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                Who're you hiding it from?

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (embarrassed)
                                I didn't even remember it was there.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                Sure. Do you lie all the time, or just to girls?

                                                                 AARON
                                That is, I, uh --

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                -- Have you got any coffee?

                                                                 AARON
                                Yeah. There's a pot on the stove.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                Can I have a cup?

                                                                 AARON
                                Sure.

Shauna sets the Playboy on the top of the bookshelf and heads into the kitchen. Aaron follows.

INT. KITCHEN - NIGHT

As he turns on the stove to heat the coffee, she picks up the pot.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                I'll drink it cold.

                                                                 AARON
                                It'll just take a second to heat.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                I like it cold.

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (acquiescent)
                                All right..

Shauna begins opening all the cupboards and looking in. Aaron points.

                                                                 AARON
                                That one.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                I'd've found it.

                                                                 AARON
                                I'm sure you would have.

Shauna takes out a cup and fills it with coffee. Aaron gets the sugar.

                                                                 AARON
                                Sugar? Sweet & Low?

Shauna drinks the cup of cold black coffee right down like water. She sets the cup in the sink.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                Thanks.

Aaron still holds the sugar.

                                                                 AARON
                                No problem.

INT. LIVING ROOM - NIGHT

Shauna strolls back into the living room and Aaron follows. He has a baffled, amused expression on his face. Shauna picks the Playboy back up, sits on the couch and begins leafing through it. Aaron sits down on his desk chair facing her.

                                                                 AARON
                                So. You're from Milwaukee, eh?

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                                           (not looking up)
                                Uh-huh.

                                                                 AARON
                                How long've you been out here?

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                Two years.

                                                                 AARON
                                And you and Cathy were friends back in
                                Wisconsin?

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                Since we were kids. You like watching girls fuck?

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (shocked)
                                What?

Shauna holds up the Playboy. There is a lesbian pictorial.

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (confessing)
                                I've only seen it in pictures, I can't tell you for sure.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                Would you like to see it for real?

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (shrugs)
                                Yeah. Sure.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                You're weird.

                                                                 AARON
                                Am I?

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                Definitely. My first sexual experience was with
                                another girl.

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (interested)
                                It was? How old were you?

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                Sixth grade. It was with Cathy.

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (lights up)
                                Really?

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                Uh-huh. We both had a boy named Bobby Light
                                in her garage. We started kissing him and he got
                                mad and left. We were both turned on so we started
                                kissing each other.

                                                                 AARON
                                Yeah?

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                Yeah, what?

                                                                 AARON
                                Then what happened?

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                Are you getting turned on?

                                                                 AARON
                                A little.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                You are weird. Have you got a nail clipper?

                                                                 AARON
                                Well, yeah.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                Can I use it?

                                                                 AARON
                                Sure.

Aaron goes to the bathroom and returns a second later with a nail clipper. Shauna takes it and begins clipping her fingernails into her lap. Aaron watches in amazement.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                Why did you call me?

                                                                 AARON
                                Well... I think you're very attractive.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                Bullshit.

                                                                 AARON
                                I don't think you're very attractive?

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                You have ulterior motives.

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (wary)
                                Do I? Like what?

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                I don't know. That's why I came over. Do you mind
                                if I wash my hair?

                                                                 AARON
                                Now?

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                No, a week from now.

                                                                 AARON
                                Well, sure, if you want to.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                Are your towels clean?

                                                                 AARON
                                I'll give you clean ones.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                Thanks.

Shauna steps over to the bathroom doorway and begins taking off her boots. Aaron goes to the closet and gets a clean towel. He hands it to her. She takes it and goes into the bathroom. She shuts the door but doesn't lock it. In a second he hears the shower go on.

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (dumbfounded)
                                This girl is completely insane.

He stands for a moment in the bathroom doorway. He finally opens the door and goes in.

INT. BATHROOM - NIGHT

Aaron can see Shauna's incredible naked body through the pebbled glass shower door. Shauna's voice echoes from inside the shower.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                What took you so long?

Aaron doesn't answer. He quickly takes off his clothes and steps into the shower. Shauna turns to him.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                What do you think you're doing?

Aaron pushes her into the corner against the wall, pressing himself against her soapy slick body. Her arms are at her sides. She's looking at him with one eyebrow raised.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                I asked, what do you think you're doing?

Aaron puts his nose against hers and looks her right in the eye.

                                                                 AARON
                                Just shut up, okay?

He kisses her. She just stands there. He keeps kissing her and after a minute her hands come up from her sides and take hold of Aaron's butt.

EXT. AARON'S APARTMENT BUILDING - NIGHT

Aaron's apartment is on Whitley, a block above Franklin. Aaron walks Shauna to her car. Both their hair is still wet.

                                                                 AARON
                                Do you want me to call you?

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                Do you want to call me?

                                                                 AARON
                                Yeah.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                No you don't, you just want to fuck me.

                                                                 AARON
                                Yeah, but I'm a polite guy. I'll call first.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                Do. Don't. Whatever.

An old black WINO comes wandering up.

                                                                 WINO
                                Can you spare some change?

Shauna turns to him.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                For what?

The Wino is a little surprised.

                                                                 WINO
                                For a bottle of wine.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                What kind?

                                                                 WINO
                                Any kind. The cheapest.

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                Where are you from?

                                                                 WINO
                                Indianapolis. Where're you from?

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                Milwaukee. Come on.

She starts to walk away and the Wino follows.

                                                                 WINO
                                Where're we going?

                                                                 SHAUNA
                                To get some wine. How old are you?

                                                                 WINO
                                Sixty-eight.

Aaron is just standing there, all wet. He watches as Shauna and the Wino get into her car and drive down the hill into Hollywood. Aaron shakes his head in astonishment and goes back inside.

INT. AARON'S APARTMENT - NIGHT

Aaron comes back into his apartment and does right to his phone book. He looks up a number. His finger stops on, "Tom Kidd" and he dials.

                                                                 AARON
                                Hello, Tom? Hi, this is Aaron:

                                                                 TOM
                                                           (O.S.)
                                Aaron, how're ya doing?

                                                                 AARON
                                Great.
                                                           (he walks over to the
                                                           computer and switches
                                                           it on)
                                I just finished my newest script. It's called "Above
                                The Line" and I'm really getting some good response
                                on it. Wanna read it?

                                                                 TOM
                                Of course I do, I've read all your scripts. Besides,
                                I'm looking for a new project.

Aaron's eyes light up.

                                                                 AARON
                                Really? How fortuitous.

                                                                 TOM
                                What?

                                                                 AARON
                                Nothing.

                                                                 TOM
                                This script wouldn't happen to be a romantic
                                comedy, would it?

                                                                 AARON
                                As a matter of fact it is.

                                                                 TOM
                                Great. That's what's hot right now. I just met with
                                someone that said they're looking for one. When
                                can you get it to me?

                                                                 AARON
                                How's tomorrow?

                                                                 TOM
                                Perfect. I can't wait to read it. See ya tomorrow.

                                                                 AARON
                                Right. Bye.

Aaron hangs up. He turns his attention to the computer and starts typing.

EXT. YAMASHIRO RESTAURANT - DAY

Yamashiro Restaurant is perched on top of a hill overlooking all of Los Angeles. It's a big Japanese structure.

INT. YAMASHIRO - DAY

Aaron and Tom, the producer, sit at a table by the big window and watch the sun set over LA. The waiter arrives with sake.

                                                                 AARON
                                I don't think I want sushi. I want something
                                cooked.

                                                                 TOM
                                Sushi's my favorite. I'd eat it every night of the
                                week but Jill won't let me.
                                                           (to the waiter)
                                We'll order in a minute.

The waiter leaves. They both drink sake.

                                                                 AARON
                                So, Tom, why have you invited me out on
                                this fine evening?

                                                                 TOM
                                Uh, well, I'll tell you. I read your script...

                                                                 AARON
                                And?

Aaron is slightly holding his breath.

                                                                 TOM
                                I liked it. I particularly like my character.

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (laughs)
                                Do you want to play it in the movie?

                                                                 TOM
                                Uh, no. Dennis Quaid might be good, though.
                                But, I'll tell you... I think it might make a good
                                movie. And very easy and inexpensive to shoot.

                                                                 AARON
                                I agree. What have you got in mind?

                                                                 TOM
                                I don't want to go to the studios, it takes forever.
                                I need to get another movie made right away.

                                                                 AARON
                                Uh-huh.

                                                                 TOM
                                So, I say we do it independently. Raise the money
                                through private sources.

                                                                 AARON
                                Such as?

                                                                 TOM
                                Such as you leave that to me.

                                                                 AARON
                                How much?

                                                                 TOM
                                Two million, below the line.

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (shrugs)
                                That's all right, I guess. How much above the line?

                                                                 TOM
                                                           (smiling)
                                None of your business.

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (nodding)
                                Uh-huh. How fast do you think you can put it
                                together?

                                                                 TOM
                                That's the thing. We'd have to start shooting
                                in two months.

                                                                 AARON
                                That's very soon. Hardly time to put a cast and
                                crew together and go into pre-production.

                                                                 TOM
                                I know. Life's rough all over. But I can get the
                                money. Now. So how much do you want for the
                                script?

Aaron sips his sake reflectively.

                                                                 AARON
                                My agent says she might be able to get as high
                                as a hundred to two hundred thousand dollars from
                                one of the majors. And the lowest budget they'd
                                make it for would be six million, with stars in it. Why
                                should I do it independently?

Tom pours each of them more sake.

                                                                 TOM
                                Because I can get my grubby paws on the cash
                                tomorrow. For the moment I am a success.

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (considers)
                                There's only one way I'd do this deal.

                                                                 TOM
                                                           (wary)
                                And that is?

                                                                 AARON
                                If I direct.

                                                                 TOM
                                But you've never directed a feature.

                                                                 AARON
                                I've directed a lot of shorts. You know that I
                                know how to make a movie. If I'm going to take
                                a reduced fee on the screenplay, I've got to direct.

Tom puts his hand under his chin and lowers his head.

                                                                 TOM
                                Uh... That is, I... Uh... Well... I don't know.

                                                                 AARON
                                It's my script. I already have it all envisioned.
                                Who could do a better job than me?

                                                                 TOM
                                Uh... Steven Spielberg, Francis Coppola, Sydney
                                Pollack, Norman --

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (cutting him off)
                                -- All right, all right. But I can do a damn good job.
                                And it's the only way I'll make this deal. Take it or
                                leave it.

                                                                 TOM
                                Uh... Okay. But if you fall two days behind schedule,
                                I'll fire you, and don't think I won't.

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (nods)
                                Okay.

Tom puts out his hand and Aaron shakes it. They both smile.

                                                                                                       DISSOLVE TO:

EXT. HOLLYWOOD CENTER STUDIOS - DAY

Hollywood Center Studios is on Las Palmas and Santa Monica. It is made up of many enormous pink sound stages and offices. Cars are checked in at the gate. Actors with scripts are lined up outside a casting office. A man from the prop department rides a bike down an alleyway between two sound stages.

INT. PRODUCTION OFFICE - DAY

It's a beehive of activity. In the main room there are eight desks with someone on the telephone at every one. There are at least ten other people in the office as well: a prop girl is sorting through a rock collection with the aid of a book, one person is making copies at a copier, several others are binding scripts. At one of the desks is Ace, the production manager.

A door opens to an adjoining office and for a flash Tom can be seen arguing with someone on the phone.

Aaron sits at a desk drawing storyboards and talking on the phone.

                                                                 AARON
                                ...I need someone good. It's got to look good. It's
                                not going to be easy making LA. look good on film
                                'cause of all the smog. I'm not interested in these
                                guys that've only shot music videos on a stage with
                                bright red and blue lighting. It doesn't tell me anything...

While he's been talking Aaron has drawn a reasonably good rendering of the parapet of a castle jutting up from behind a hill. Aaron hangs up, picks up his notebook and script and heads out of the office. A dark-skinned Indian woman named SHARMILA with a British accent calls out to him.

                                                                 SHARMILA
                                Where are you going?

                                                                 AARON
                                I can't work here. I've got to get these storyboards
                                done.

                                                                 SHARMILA
                                That's fine. The first production meeting is at seven
                                tomorrow morning. Please attend.

                                                                 AARON
                                Of course I'll attend. So, is the director of photography
                                the only major position left open?

                                                                 SHARMILA
                                Yes, I believe so. You know you really ought to pay
                                more attention to who is being hired on this picture.
                                They all represent you.

                                                                 AARON
                                I should pay more attention to every aspect of this
                                film, but there's no time. We start shooting in two
                                weeks and I'm not storyboarded yet.

                                                                 SHARMILA
                                Seven A.M.

                                                                 AARON
                                Got it.

As Aaron is leaving he hears Sharmila say to some poor unsuspecting soul.

                                                                 SHARMILA
                                Why are you just sitting there? If you don't get
                                your fucking ass to work immediately then I'll get
                                rid of you and I'll do my job and your job, too! And
                                I'll do it better than you! Now move!

EXT. POINSETTIA PARK - SUNSET

Poinsettia Park in Hollywood is bathed in warm sunlight giving it a sepia hue. Three young men without their shirts play frisbee on the baseball diamond. Their girls sit on the bleachers and watch.

A blonde girl hits a tennis ball with a racket and a cocker spaniel chases it. The ball rolls near a park bench where Aaron sits drawing his storyboards. He has an intense look of concentration on his face and a cigarette between his lips.

He draws a hand holding a piece of paper. On the paper is written, "Carey Sanderson -- 464-0801" and two stick figures dancing.

INT. PRODUCTION OFFICE - MORNING

Aaron walks into the production office in the morning with his notebook and script under his arm. There is as much activity as there was yesterday except several desks are empty. Everyone greets him and he greets everyone back while heading straight for the big five gallon coffee percolator. He pours himself a cup of coffee, adds milk; a half pack of Sweet & Low, stirs, sips and sighs.

Cathy comes walking through the door. She spots Aaron and approaches him. Aaron is surprised.

                                                                 AARON
                                Hi. What are you doing here?

                                                                 CATHY
                                I'm the production designer on the film. You
                                knew, didn't you?

                                                                 AARON
                                                           (scrambling)
                                Knew? Of course I knew. I know everything that's
                                going on with this movie.

                                                                 CATHY
                                Well, I'm really glad to be working on your film.

                                                                 AARON
                                You're moving up in life. You're a full-fledged
                                production designer now.

                                                                 CATHY
                                Yeah, but Tom's getting me at the same price he
                                paid me as an assistant.

                                                                 AARON
                                Well, it's better than a sharp stick in the eye. Uh...
                                Speaking of which, have you read the script yet?

                                                                 CATHY
                                No, I'm going to read it tonight. It's not bloody, is
                                it? I haven't gotten the Karo syrup out of my clothes
                                from the last one.

Aaron holds up his hands and smiles.

                                                                 AARON
                                Nope. No blood.

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