Writing in the Dark,, an apt metaphor for anyone who has ever tried to tap out words on a  backlit screen.  This book, a collection of essays gathered by Max van Manen, shows how "different kinds of human experience may be explored, the methods for investigating phenomena contributing to human experience…the process of inquiry, reflection and writing…a valuable and rich resource".   That is to say, writing is an attempt to reflect what goes on inside us.  Inside us is where "story" occurs.Scott Popjes maintains a busy schedule, writing, producing and editing major theatrical trailers, promos and EPK's and developing and producing TV series and films, such as "The Remarkably 20th Century" and "The Long Ride Home".  Born and raised in suburban New Jersey, this everyman director/editor loves making movies.Ernest Hemingway - The man who ran with the bulls.  His literary sparseness and compression, well-worn and well-earned, captured the attention of critics and public in a volatile age.  In 1952, he received the Pulitzer for The Old Man and the Sea.   In 1954, he received the Nobel Prize for his "powerful style-making mastery of the modern art of narration."  He wrote from life.  Until his life subdued and rescued him.Will Shakespeare - Aka "The bard".  Arguably the best English writer to ever glide pen to page, populist hero as well as aristocratic raconteur, though we wish he had used all women instead of all men to populate his plays.  (Not a prejudice, just a fact.)   His sonnets remain divine.  Rare is the writer who can scribble successfully in one genre, let alone two.  Some postulate this poet and playwright was, in fact, more than one man…or woman.  What would he have done with film, we wonder?Though he produced fewer than 40 paintings, Dutch painter Jan Vermeer is one of the most respected artists of the European tradition. He is known for his serene, luminous interiors populated by one or two figures. Vermeer grew up in Delft, Holland, joined the painters' guild in 1653, and worked as an art dealer to support his wife and 11 children.  In 1672, war with France ruined Holland’s economy and Vermeer's business failed.  Soon after, he died of a stroke at age 42, leaving his family bankrupt.  Vermeer's paintings were largely forgotten for nearly 200 years, until 1858 when a French critic began to write admiringly about his work.  Interest in Vermeer surged again recently with his work exhibited at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.  Contemporary writers have also been inspired by him, including Tracy Chevalier whose novel Girl with a Pearl Earring imagines the life of the girl in Vermeer's painting of the same name. L.Ron Hubbard - Whatever you may think of his other worldly beliefs, the full body of L. Ron Hubbard's work includes more than 5,000 writings and 3,000 tape-recorded lectures, spanning five, highly productive decades.  A humanitarian and adventurer, he  believes, "There are only two tests of a life well lived: Did one do as one intended? And were people glad one lived?"  We add, "And can one write about it, anyhow?"Johannes Vermeer's "Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid" records a prior chivalrous age where class decorum reigned.  (Oh, well, you can't have everything.)   One of the most talented painters in the Dutch Golden Age, that's the 1600's, Vermeer's work was forgotten for centuries.  The most brilliant artists of any century are probably never discovered, their paintings hidden till ruin, their pages dropping to dust in unfound attics.  We find this oddly comforting.  No martyr of time, this particular masterpiece hangs in the National Gallery of Ireland.  Definitely worth a gaze.Jules Verne - Ode to childhood and the player within us.  Verne was born, aptly, in Nates, France in 1828.  He promptly ran off to become cabin boy on a merchant ship but was caught and sent back to his parents.  Thus constrained, his imagination wandered.  He wrote story after story, became very rich, bought a yacht and resumed his initial intent - to sail around the world.  Or Europe anyhow.   Our favorite remains Twenty Thousand Leagues.
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First-Place Winner, November 2003 April 2004
Screenplay Contest Teleplay/Short Series

Date-by-Number

Written by RANDI BARNES

 

 

Logline

 

 

When people are marked at birth with an identifying number, its easy to find a perfect match so why is it so hard for this one lonely guy to find his soul-mate?

 

  Synopsis  

How can you tell if someone is right for you? What if there were a foolproof way of identifying your perfect match? In the world of this short film, there is: people are marked at birth with an identifying number and need only pair off with their predestined match when theyre feeling the need to settle down. Easy, isnt it? However, that match has yet to appear for our unfortunate 20-something protagonist and, as he searches all over for the one, he is forced to wonder if it isnt 5 that is the loneliest number after all.

 

 

Script Follows

 

 
FADE IN:

CLOSE ON two people making-out. Lips, tongues, hands, faces - everywhere, all over.

PULL BACK TO REVEAL:

INT. LIVING ROOM NIGHT

The guy, whom we will refer to as NUMBER FIVE, leans THE GIRL back into the couch.

 

  GIRL
(between kisses)
 
 

This... has been... avery good date so far.

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

I think... we're... really...
(as she reaches for his fly)
... clicking!

 

 

The girl unzips Five's fly. He kisses the length of her neck, down to her chest, undoing buttons as he goes. Suddenly, he stops, his face level with her breasts.

 

  GIRL  
 

Hello?

 

 

Number Five looks up at her, then back at her chest. Staring back at him, tattooed over her breast, is a small, black "14."

 

  NUMBER FIVE  
 

You're a fourteen?

 

 
  GIRL  
 

Yeah.
   (coy)
Can I see yours?

 

 

She reaches for his pants. He scrambles off of her.

 

  GIRL (cont'd)  
 

What's wrong?

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 
          

(buttoning his pants)
We're not a match

 

 
  GIRL  
 

Oh. Well, we still could

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

What's the point?

 

 

He hastily puts on his shoes and fumbles with the laces.

 

  GIRL  
 
         

(bewildered)
You're just going?

 

 

But he is already at the door.

 

  NUMBER FIVE  
 

Sorry.

 

 
He leaves, closing the door behind him. The girl collapses back on to the couch with a SIGH.

INT. DINER DAY

Number Five sits across from his BUDDY.

 

  BUDDY  
 

I don't know why you're so stressed out
about it.

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

I'm going to be alone forever.

 

 

A WAITRESS delivers their plates. The Buddy takes her in, then shoots a "She's something, isn't she?" look at Five.

 

  BUDDY  
 
         

(to the waitress)
Thanks.
         (reads her nametag)
Cindy. This looks perfect.

 

 
  WAITRESS  
 

Yeah. Enjoy.

 

 

Five's Buddy checks her out as she walks off.

 

  BUDDY  
 

Wow.

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

I doubt that she's my number.

 

 
  BUDDY  
 

Not for you. For me.

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

You have a girlfriend.

 

 
  BUDDY  
 

Yeah, but, you know, she might not be
the one...

 

 

The Buddy digs into his food.

 

  NUMBER FIVE  
 
     (stunned)
But you guys match.

 

 
  BUDDY  
 

Yeah, but I don't know if she's the matching
match, you know?

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

No. No, I don't know. Everyone's born with a number and all anybody wants is just to find someone with that same num--

 

 
  BUDDY  
 

Eventually.

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

       (continuing)
All anybody wants is just to find someone with that same number. That's how it works. And you're lucky enough to have found one--

 

 
  BUDDY  
 

One? I've found like nine already.

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

What?

 

 
  BUDDY  
 

Yeah. You remember Sheri? And Kira?
Both my number.

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

Serious?

 

 
  BUDDY  
 

Yeah. And Kristen, and...

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

Jesus Christ.

 

 
  BUDDY  
 

...Sarah. Man, she was something.

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

How do you get so many, and I haven't
found a single one?

 

 
  BUDDY  
 

Maybe you're being too picky.

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

That doesn't make any sense.

 

 
  BUDDY  
 

Look - you should consider yourself lucky. Maybe there's only one girl out there for you. You won't have to choose.

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

       (yelling)
BUT I CAN'T FIND HER!

 

 

The other patrons turn, prompted by the noise.

 

  NUMBER FIVE (cont'd)  
 

      (settling down)
Sorry.
      (then)
I just want to find someone, alright?

 

 

Buddy is at a loss. He can see his friend is suffering.

 

  BUDDY  
 

       (trying)
Alright, what's your number?

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

What?

 

 
  BUDDY  
 

Your number. Maybe I can help.

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

      (uncomfortable)
That's... private.

 

 
  BUDDY  
 

So - we're friends. I could have seen it
in the locker room a bunch of times.

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

Did you?

 

 
  BUDDY  
 

No. But I could have. What are you?
A seven? Twenty-three?

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

Ugh.

 

 
  BUDDY  
 

C'mon, man. Spill it.

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

Five.

 

 
  BUDDY  
 

What?

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

I'm a five. That's my number.

 

 
  BUDDY  
 

Five?

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

Yeah.

 

 
  BUDDY  
 

Jesus, I've never met any fives before.

 

 

Number Five slumps dejectedly in his seat. Buddy shrugs and downs a handful of french fries.

 

  BUDDY (cont'd)  
 

Sorry.

 

 
   

CUT TO:

 

CLOSE ON A TIMER counting down from 05. 04. 03. 02. 01. It BEEPS repeatedly and we PULL BACK TO REVEAL:

INT. FIVES APARTMENT EVENING

Number Five takes a frozen dinner from the microwave.

INT. FIVES APARTMENT MINUTES LATER

Five sits at his computer, tapping at his keyboard while eating his dinner. On screen, pictures of women scroll by; he is browsing through the online personals. The phone RINGS, startling him.

 

  NUMBER FIVE  
 

Hello?

 

 
INT. FIVES PARENTS PLACE SIMULTANEOUS

An elaborately made-up woman, FIVE'S MOTHER, is on the phone. Gold jewelry drips off her fingers and from around her neck. Everything, from her attire to her heavily decorated living room, suggests the nouveau-riche, grown-up Jewish-American Princess that she is.

 

  FIVES MOTHER  
 

Hi, Honey.

 

 

INT. FIVES APARTMENT SIMULTANEOUS

 

  NUMBER FIVE  
 

Hi, Mom.

 

 

INTERCUT between Number Five and his Mother.

 

  FIVE'S MOTHER  
 

How are you doing?

 

 

She glances down at her nails, inspecting them for breaks. In the B.G., FIVE'S FATHER is asleep in a La-Z-Boy, his head back, mouth open, and the remote control on one leg. He SNORES quietly.

 

  NUMBER FIVE  
 

Fine, thanks.

 

 
  FIVE'S MOTHER  
 

What's new?

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

Nothing. Nothing's new.

 

 

Five clicks away the online dating window.

 

  FIVE'S MOTHER  
 

Are you seeing anybody?

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

Mom, I talked to you three days ago.

 

 
  FIVE'S MOTHER  
 

So? That's time, isn't it?

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

No. I'm not seeing anyone.

 

 
  FIVE'S MOTHER  
 

Good. Because your cousin's boss' mother I met her at that fundraiser--

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

Mom, you're not setting me up.

 

 
  FIVE'S MOTHER  
 

She knows a nice girl who lives out your way--

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

What are the chances?

 

 
  FIVE'S MOTHER  
 

What? "What are the chances" what?

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

What are the chances that she and I have
the same number? A random set-up.

 

 
  FIVE'S MOTHER  
 

Oh, honey. Maybe you're being too picky.

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

How does that make sense?

 

 
  FIVE'S MOTHER  
 

You young people are so consumed with finding the perfect match. "Who has my number? I want to find someone with my number." In my day, we were just looking for a suitable partner.

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

With your same number.

 

 
  FIVE'S MOTHER  
 

No, not always. Your father and I don't
match.

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

      (horrified)
What? Mom!

 

 
  FIVE'S MOTHER  
 

What? We're off by one. I thought you knew this. And we've made it work. We have a nice home, a wonderful son--

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

Oh my God.

 

 
  FIVE'S MOTHER  
 

And matching's no guarantee, anyway. I had a boyfriend once who was my number, before your father. We fought something awful. Sure, he was terrific in certain... areas... But you can't build a relationship on that.

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

I'm not even listening anymore.

 

 
  FIVE'S MOTHER  
 

Anyway, I e-mailed you her number. And some jokes your Aunt Rachel sent me. They're hysterical. Scroll down to the ones about the rabbis.

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

I have to go.

 

 
  FIVE'S MOTHER  
 

Okay, sweetie. But do yourself a favor.
Call her.

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

Fine.

 

 
  FIVE'S MOTHER  
 

Call her!
      (then)
Your father says hello.

 

 

Five's Father emits a GRUNT from the La-Z-Boy.

 

  FIVE'S MOTHER (cont'd)  
 

       (air kisses)
Mwah.

 

 
She hangs up.

Number Five looks at a picture on his desk: his parents, boarding a cruise ship, waving from the gangplank in tropical print shirts, sun visors and leis. They are like bizarre aliens to him now - strangers who look eerily familiar.

INT. RESTAURANT NIGHT

Number Five is on a date with the aforementioned WOMAN. She is average in every way: nice enough, pretty enough, okay. She and Five are both nervous, searching for conversation.

 

  NUMBER FIVE  
 

I don't--

 

 
  WOMAN  
 

      (at the same time)
Do you--

 

 

They LAUGH awkwardly.

 

  NUMBER FIVE  
 

Sorry. Go ahead.

 

 
  WOMAN  
 

Do you get set-up a lot?

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

I really -- I'm just looking for -- you know.

 

 
  WOMAN  
 

Yeah - me too.

 

 

They nod at each other. Awkward. Finally, the woman breaks.

 

  WOMAN  
 

This is so hard, isn't it?

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

      (with relief)
Oh my God.

 

 
  WOMAN  
 

I mean, your mother meets my mother's friend at an auction and so we go out to dinner? Dating is so crazy.

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

No kidding. I don't understand it.

 

 
  WOMAN  
 

       (suddenly pensive)
Still, we're not getting any younger.

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

Wow.

 

 

Five stares down at his food. Suddenly, he gets an idea.

 

  NUMBER FIVE  
 

What's your number?

 

 

The woman nearly chokes.

 

  WOMAN  
 

What?

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

C'mon. Let's just tell each other. Cut
through all this dating crap.

 

 
  WOMAN  
 

That's a little... personal, don't you think?
      (then)
What's yours?

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

I asked you first.

 

 

The woman makes sure nobody's listening. Then:

 

  WOMAN  
 

Twenty-five.

 

 
Five takes a moment for this to resonate. He sees:

An amorous couple holding hands over the table, gazing into each other's eyes.

A woman seductively shoveling spaghetti into her husband's mouth.

An old man, all alone, eating his meal. Suddenly, the old man breaks down SOBBING.

Five turns back to the woman.

 

  NUMBER FIVE  
 

Oh my God! Me too!

 

 
  WOMAN  
 

You are?

 

 
  NUMBER FIVE  
 

That's so weird!

 

 

They look at each other - the woman is in awe. Five just smiles back at her, shrugs a little. She can't help but smile, even laugh, and shakes her head with disbelief as she returns her attention to her dinner.

 

  WOMAN  
 

Wow. Another twenty-five.

 

 

They both continue eating. There's nothing more to say.

 

   

(CONTINUED)