Tag Archives: sitcom structure

Plot break down of “The Twilight Zone,” Season 1, Episode 1 Where is Everybody

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This is a break down of the first episode of The Twilight Zone. For the past year I’ve been experimenting with different ways of breaking down movies and sitcoms, and I’ve found the easiest way to do it is to paste a set of prompts in between each beat of the script. Then, I fill out the prompts and add headings that break the beat itself into its components. The prompts and headings are self-explanatory. The one confusing things about this script is that the antagonist of each beat isn’t a character, it’s the absence of life.

The script was written by Rod Serling and copyrighted by CBS. This break down is obviously for educational purposes. So I hope it falls under fair use. All of my original analysis is free domain. Enjoy.

Click here to download a Word document of this break down

Click here to download a PDF document of this break down

BEAT: 1

SUMMARY:

Mike walks to a diner but doesn’t know if he has any money. He checks his pocket and is delightfully surprised to find some. Then he goes in the diner.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Introduce the hero

Setup main conflict

Mystery

Teaser

QUEST CHAIN:

1: Hero’s introduction

Step 1: Introduce the hero

 

ACT ONE
ESTABLISHING SHOT

The camera has begun to pan down until it passes the
horizon and is flush on the opening shot (each week the
opening shot of the play). We are now looking down the
small two-lane asphalt highway. It is dawn, the road is
deserted save for a small diner on the left hand side. A
broken neon light flashes on and off over the front door.
From inside the sound of a rock-‘n’-roll record lends a
strange, raucous dissonance to the early morning silence.

SETUP
Then the camera sweeps right for a
LONG SHOT MIKE FERRIS
Who suddenly appears, walking down the road. His step is
tentative, unsure. He’s a tall man in his thirties. His
dress is nondescript, his only identifiable garment being
army pants. There’s an indecisiveness, a puzzlement, in his
features as he comes closer to the camera, sees the diner,
stops, rubs his knuckles over the side of his face and
feels his beard’s stubble.

OPPORTUNITY

He pats in his pocket, unsure,
reaches in and pulls out a couple of dollar bills.

OUTCOME

For some
reason this buoys him up. He looks a little more resolved
as he walks up the steps and into the diner.

 

BEAT: 2

SUMMARY:

Narrator gives his opening speech, stating the quirk in the universe, Mike inexplicably has no memory.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Narrator’s prologue

State the problem

Teaser

QUEST CHAIN:

1: Hero’s introduction

Step 2: Narrator’s prologue

 

SETUP

NARRATOR’S VOICE
We are looking at a male Caucasian,
age approximately thirty-one, height
approximately 5’11”.

CONFLICT

As to his name,
where he is, and what he’s doing
there — this even he doesn’t know.

OUTCOME
For the journey that this man will
take is an excursion into the shadows,
and all of you are invited to go
along.
DISSOLVE TO:

 

BEAT: 3

SUMMARY:

Mike sees signs of life in the diner but no life.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Show the hero’s problem

Hero investigates

Escalation

Mystery

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 1: Investigate the diner

Step 1: Setup

3: Find out who Mike is

Step 1: Investigate American money

 

ESTABLISHING SHOT
INT. DINER
It is a small, nondescript, typical eatery with a row of
small booths along the outside window, a counter, and a
kitchen beyond. The room is empty.

SETUP
PAN SHOT MIKE
As he walks over to a stool and sits down at the counter,
reaches over, takes a menu, studies it for a moment, then
turns and looks over toward the juke box.
MED. CLOSE SHOT JUKEBOX
Garish, multicolored, still blaring out the music.
MED. SHOT ROOM
He turns on his stool to look toward the opening to the
kitchen.
CLOSE SHOT AN OVEN INSIDE KITCHEN
Through the glass we can see a row of six or seven pies
baking and almost fully browned.

CONFLICT
MED. SHOT ROOM
Mike calls out.
MIKE
(sardonically calling out)
Is this thing loud enough for you out here?
I mean, can you hear it all right?
He grins wryly, waits momentarily for an answer that never
comes, turns and looks again at the juke box. He rises,
gets off his stool, goes over the juke box, looks all
around it, pushes it away from the wall a few inches,
reaches back, fiddles with a knob. The music goes much
lower. Then, satisfied, he pushes the machine back against
the wall and goes back over to the counter.
MIKE
Kind of early for that kind of music, isn’t
it?
Still, silence.
MIKE
I noticed there’s a town just up the road.
What’s the name of it?
Again, silence. Mike puts the menu down, peers through the
little opening to the kitchen.

A small room with a couple of stoves, et cetera. He goes
over to the stove, turns down the oven, and looks around
the room. He goes over to a back door, tries it and it
swings open. He steps back as it creaks open and reveals
the diner’s backyard.

HERO’S RESPONSE
MIKE
(calls out)
Hey? You got a customer out front! Hey!
Customer here!

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
Still no answer. Mike turns, retraces his steps to the
lunch counter.

HERO’S RESPONSE
MED. SHOT ROOM
Mike still shows no real emotion beyond a puzzlement. He’s
neither frightened nor concerned as yet. Again he picks up
the menu and studies it. He talks out loud, now.
MIKE
I think ham and eggs. Eggs up and soft.
Hash browns. Coffee. Black.
(looks up, calls out again)
Customer! Got a customer out front!
(he rises from the stool
again — sticks his head in
the kitchen)
Ham and eggs. Hash browns. Coffee black.
He stands there by the open, swinging door staring into the
empty kitchen. His eyes dart about now and for the first
time we see something beyond puzzlement on his features.
What supplants it is irritation, not acute, but definitely
there. He reaches into his shirt pocket and takes out a
crumpled pack of cigarettes, goes back to the lunch
counter. Now he scratches his head, sits down on the stool
for a long moment.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE

Suddenly the music on the juke box
stops. The sudden cessation of noise brings with it a
silence even more obvious.

HERO’S RESPONSE

Mike turns to stare at the juke
box. He looks up at the clock.

CLOSE SHOT CLOCK
It is on the counter near the coffee urn, its face turned
sideways so that Mike can’t see it.
MED. CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As he goes over to the clock to turn it around and stare at
it.
CLOSE SHOT CLOCK
It reads a quarter to six.
MED. SHOT MIKE
Mike turns away from it, but in doing so brushes against it
and knocks it to the floor.
CLOSE SHOT CLOCK
On the floor as Mike bends over and picks it up. The face
of it is broken. He puts it back on the counter, then goes
back over to his seat.
MED. CLOSE SHOT MIKE
His fingers tap a nervous staccato on the counter top. The
silence now begins to be oppressive and nerve-racking.
Suddenly, as if an afterthought, he reaches into his pocket
and pulls out the money, looks at it in his hand, then
reaches into all his other pockets. He finds nothing. He
rubs at his face again.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE

Mike speaks aloud but obviously to
no one in an attempt to make noise or sound or just to end
the stillness.

HERO’S RESPONSE
MIKE
Cash customer here. Hungry cash customer.
(he rubs his face again)
I got two dollars and eighty-five cents.
(he looks at the money very
thoughtfully, almost
questioningly)
Two dollars and eighty-five cents, American
money.

OUTCOME
(then he stops and looks off
in obvious puzzlement)
American money.
(he throws it out into the
air as if to reassure
himself as to the meaning of
the phrase)
Sure, American money.

 

BEAT: 4

SUMMARY:

Mike admits he doesn’t know who he is or anything about himself. He discovers he’s American because he has American money.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Escalation

Catalyst

State the problem

Mystery

Discover a clue

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 1: Investigate the diner

Step 2: Shout for help

3: Find out who Mike is

Step 2: State the problem

SETUP

He looks at the clock again, and into the opening to the
kitchen and the swinging doors, at the silent juke box, and
back at the money in his hand.

OPPORTUNITY
MIKE
Well, we got this much settled. I’m an
American.
(he raises his voice a
little now as if to wake
someone in the next room)
There’s a little question about my
identity. Let me put it to you this way —
I’m not sure who I am.

HERO’S RESPONSE
(he holds up the money)
But I’ve got two dollars and eighty- five
cents and I’m hungry.
This much is established!
He gets up off the stool and suddenly slams both palms down
hard on the counter, making all the salt shakers and catsup
bottles quiver and rattle.
MIKE
(shouts)
I got two dollars and eighty-five cents and
I’m hungry!

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
He stops dead now, listening to the silence that enfolds
and surrounds him.

HERO’S RESPONSE

Then he looks around. Again the sense of
irritation.

OUTCOME

He takes a drag on his cigarette, then butts it
out, rises, goes to the front door and stares out.

 

BEAT: 4

SUMMARY:

Mike looks outside the diner for signs of life.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Escalation

Mystery

Character development

Investigation

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 1: Investigate the diner

Step 2: Look outside

 

ESTABLISHING SHOT
EXT. LUNCH ROOM
The long road that leads away from the lunch counter
without a sign of traffic, people, or anything.

SETUP

He whirls
around to look back into the lunchroom.
MIKE
(aloud)
I’m gonna wake up in a minute. I know I’m
gonna wake up.

CONFLICT

I wish… I wish there’d be
a noise or something to wake me up.

HERO’S RESPONSE
He suddenly sticks two fingers in his mouth and whistles,
listens for a moment, then he whistles again, kind of
grinning to himself.
MIKE
A little noise, please!
(now he sings at the top of
his voice)

HERO’S ESCALATION
“Yes sir, that’s my baby. No sir, don’t
mean maybe. Yes sir, that’s my baby now!”
He laughs a little sheepishly,

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE

listens for a moment to the
silence,

OUTCOME

then he turns and goes back to the lunch counter.

 

BEAT: 5

SUMMARY:

Mike gives up looking for clues in the diner.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Failure

Escalation

Mystery

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 1: Investigate the diner

Step 3: Fail quest chain 2.1 (Investigate the diner)

 

SETUP
INT. LUNCH ROOM
Mike sits down, buries his face in his hands, rubbing his
eyes, massaging his temples as if trying to force out with
his fingers some connective link… some reassurance of
existence… some knowledge of where he is and what he’s
doing. Once again he looks around the room.

CONFLICT
PAN SHOT WITH HIS EYES
Taking in the shots of the coffee urn, the menus, the salt
and pepper shakers, all the simple, commonplace, terribly
normal adjuncts to what should be a normal scene but
somehow isn’t.

OUTCOME

He rises now, looks around again, then walks
to the door.
CLOSE SHOT THE ‘OPEN’ SIGN ON THE DOOR
CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As he slowly reaches down and turns the sign over to read
CLOSED. Then he walks out.

DISSOLVE TO:

 

BEAT: 6

SUMMARY:

Mike finds no life outside and starts to crack up a little.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Escalation

Mystery

Investigation

Restate the problem

Character development

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 2: Investigate outside

Step 1: Look at the stores

 

ESTABLISHING SHOT

EXT. TOWN STREET MIKE’S P.O.V.
It’s still early morning, and what we’re looking at is the
main drag of a small town, flanked by stores, a courthouse,
a post office, et al. The most singularly overwhelming
feature of this is the complete absence of motion and all
noise.

SETUP
LONG SHOT MIKE FERRIS
As he walks down the sidewalk looking from one side of the
street to the other.

CONFLICT
TRACK SHOT
Past stores as Mike goes by them. Drugstore, grocery, soda
bar. Most of the doors are open and there are lights on
inside, but there are no people. There’s an odd,
indefinable feeling that permeates the scene, a sense of
activity and yet coming with no players, and no people, as
if it was a place full of motion and movement suddenly
stripped of the people performing it.

OUTCOME
LONG SHOT DOWN THE STREET
From Mike’s point of view. It is devoid of any kind of
movement whatsoever. It is absolutely quiet. Over this
tableau we superimpose the title, “Where Is Everybody?”
along with major credits.

 

BEAT: 7

SUMMARY:

Mike thinks he sees a person, but it turns out to be a mannequin.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Mystery

Escalation

State the problem

False hope

Failure

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 2: Investigate outside

Step 2: Investigate the woman

3: Find out who Mike is

Step 3: State the problem

 

SETUP

CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As he stops and looks around. He is suddenly startled by
the sound of chimes.

He whirls around and looks up.
LONG SHOT CHURCH STEEPLE BELL
As it rings.
CLOSE SHOT MIKE
He shades his eyes to search out the church and then, in
turning away from it, he stops abruptly, staring at
something across the street.

OPPORTUNITY
LONG SHOT ACROSS THE STREET
A little clothing store and alongside of it an alley where
a large delivery truck is parked. In the cab, in the
passenger- seat, a human figure can be seen.

HERO’S RESPONSE
LONG ANGLE SHOT
Looking down as Mike goes to the curb, cranes his neck to
look over to the truck.
MIKE
Hey, miss? Miss?
(he makes a gesture that is
part a wave, part an attempt
at reassurance)
Over here, miss. Look, I wonder if you
could do me a favor? I don’t want you to
think I’m nuts or anything. I mean, it’s
nothing like that. It’s just that —
(again he grins a little)
I don’t seem to remember who I am. It’s the
craziest thing. I’ve looked all around and
I haven’t seen anybody around. I guess it’s
just early or something. Literally there
hasn’t been a soul.
(he takes a step off the
curb, looks again toward the
cab of the truck, a little
puzzled. He smiles again.)
You know, it’s a real oddball thing but…
well, I woke up this morning…
(he stops and rubs his jaw)
I didn’t exactly wake up. I just sort of
found myself on the road walking.
(and then suddenly)

HERO’S ESCALATION
Amnesia, that’s what they call it, isn’t
it? Amnesia? Well that must be what I’ve
got. I just don’t remember a thing… I
can’t find anybody to ask…
TRACKING SHOT
As he starts to walk across the street.
MIKE
(as he walks)
You’re the first person I’ve seen. Look, I
really don’t want you to be frightened or
anything, but I was wondering if you could
just tell me if maybe there’s a doctor or
something.

CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As he stops dead in his tracks. He’s about ten feet from
the truck.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
MED. LONG SHOT THE TRUCK
The female figure is outlined in the passenger seat but
very much in the shadows.

HERO’S RESPONSE
MOVING SHOT MIKE
As he gets close to the cab.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
CLOSE SHOT PROFILE FEMALE HEAD

HERO’S RESPONSE
FLASH CLOSE SHOT MIKE’S EYES
As they suddenly narrow in reaction.
CLOSE SHOT MIKE’S HANDS
On the door handle as he suddenly yanks the door open.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
MED. CLOSE SHOT INSIDE THE CAB
The female figure suddenly slumps down in the seat, her
head sticking out of the open door, the hair cascading
down. The camera pans slowly across her body until it stops
at what should be arms. There are no arms. Mike reaches
over, grabs at the hair of the figure and pulls it up and
around, to stare into the wooden face of a mannequin. He
very slowly lets loose and the mannequin tumbles back onto
the seat and then down to the floor of the cab.
CLOSE SHOT FLOOR
he mannequin staring up with glassy, manufactured eyes.

HERO’S RESPONSE
MED. SHOT MIKE
As he slowly backs away, then turns to read the lettering
printed on the side of the truck.
CLOSE SHOT LETTERING
It reads, RESNICK’S STORE MANNEQUINS.
CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As his lips form the words that he’s read. Then he turns to
look through the window of the cab at the figure of the
mannequin, He takes a few steps over to her and then very
gently picks her up and sets her back on the seat.
MIKE
I’m very sorry, Madame. I can assure you
that at no time did I mean to be so
upsetting. As a matter of fact I’ve always
had a kind of secret yen for quiet women.
(then he grins)
You get what I mean, Babe?
(he kisses his fingertips
and then plants them on the
mannequin’s nose)
Now don’t take any wooden boy friends.

OUTCOME
Then he looks at her again for a more pensive moment as if
unspoken now were his earnest wish that this creature was
alive and could be talked to. He turns away and walks back
across the street.
LONG SHOT MIKE
As he walks.

 

BEAT: 8

SUMMARY:

Mike uses a payphone to ask the operator what’s going on.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Mystery

Escalation

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 2: Investigate outside

Step 3: Investigate the phone booth

Step 1: Make a call

 

ESTABLISHING SHOT

SERIES OF SHOTS MIKE WALKING
In different sections and on different streets. The last
scene ends with him stopping abruptly to stare at something
down the street.
LONG SHOT GAS STATION
Out in front is a glass-enclosed public phone booth.

SETUP
LONG ANGLE SHOT LOOKING DOWN AT MIKE
As he walks toward the gas station and goes into the phone
booth.

CONFLICT
MIKE
Look, I wonder if anyone there could tell
me —
He stops abruptly, grins, shakes his head, slaps at the
side of his head with an open palm, fishes in his pocket
and takes out a coin, deposits it in the phone, then dials
the operator. He listens to the dial tone that comes on and
off with dull regularity. He jiggles the receiver
impatiently.
MIKE
Operator. Operator. Will you listen to me?
He pounds on the phone and then just indiscriminately dials
a bunch of numbers. He’s about to throw down the phone in
disgust when suddenly at the other end of the line he hears
a dial tone ringing. He very slowly and very gratefully
picks up the phone now and hears a voice filtered at the
other end.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
VOICE
(filtered)
This is the Special Operator.
(MORE)
VOICE (CONT’D)
The number you have reached is not a
working number. Please make sure you have
the right number and are dialing it
correctly.

HERO’S RESPONSE
Mike starts to shout into the phone.
MIKE
Is everybody asleep over there? What kind
of operation do you people run?

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
Then she repeats all she’s just said as Mike listens to
her, excited beyond words that he has found someone alive.
When she finishes repeating the message he grabs the phone
and is about to speak when suddenly he hears the Operator’s
voice again.
VOICE
This is a recording.
There is a certain suggestion of tenseness that suddenly
shows on Mike’s face.
VOICE
(filtered)
This is the Special Operator. The number
you have reached is not a working number.
Please make sure you have the right number
and are dialing it correctly.

OUTCOME
MIKE
A recording?
(he pounds on the receiver
hook and shouts)
Operator! Look, all I want to know is where
I am. I just want to know the name of this
place.

 

BEAT: 9

SUMMARY:

Mike looks in a phone book for answers

BEAT PURPOSES:

Mystery

Escalation

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 2: Investigate outside

Step 3: Investigate the phone booth

Step 2: Escape the phone booth

 

4: Who’s watching Mike?

Step 1: Evidence on the street

SETUP

Then he slowly lets the receiver loose and it hangs down
from the phone box.

Mike’s hand touches and then grasps a
telephone book, a thin one that he grabs and looks at
hungrily.
CLOSE SHOT TELEPHONE COVER
On it is written OAKWOOD.
MED. SHOT MIKE
He rips open the cover, looks down at the first page.
MIKE
A. Abel. Ackerman. Adams. Allenby. Arnold.
All right, boys, where are you?
(his voice is a little
edgier now)
Where do you all live? Just in this book
here?
(he rips the page open)
Baker. Beldon. Biltmore. Botsford. Well,
look, gang — who’s watching the store?
He suddenly turns to look out at the street.
FULL SHOT THE STREET MIKE’S P.O.V.
MED. CLOSE SHOT MIKE
MIKE
Who’s watching any of the stores?
He lets loose of the phone book now, lets it fall to the
floor, and stands there motionless for a moment, deep in
thought. Then he automatically reaches for the door handle,
turns it, and pushes.

CONFLICT

Nothing happens. He tries again and
it remains locked.

HERO’S RESPONSE

He waits a moment, then puts all his
weight against it.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE

It does not yield.

HERO’S RESPONSE

It is more than
irritation that we see on Mike’s face now. There’s the
first suggestion of a real concern. He looks around his
strange, glass prison.
MIKE
All right. Who’s the wise guy? Who locked
the door?
(he tries the door once
again)
It’s a great gag.
He pounds again and then suddenly stops and looks all
around.
PAN SHOT FROM MIKE’S P.O.V.
From inside the phone booth. The camera moves all the way
around the glass, almost in a three hundred and sixtydegree pan.
MED. CLOSE SHOT MIKE
He laughs softly, shakes his head.
MIKE
Trapped in a phone booth! Trapped in a
glass phone booth, like a goldfish.
(then he suddenly calls out)
Well, here I am! You got me! Everybody come
see! I’m right here on display!
LONG ANGLE SHOT LOOKING DOWN AT MIKE
In the phone booth, as once again he starts to pound on the
glass.
MIKE
How about a hand, somebody? A little
assistance — how about it? This is an
absolutely hysterical town, and I’m growing
very fond of it, but I’d appreciate it if
ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
He stops abruptly.
CLOSE SHOT MIKE’S FACE
As he stares at something through the glass.
CLOSE SHOT A CIGAR
Half-smoked and still burning, lying on the sidewalk just
outside the booth.

HERO’S RESPONSE
ANGLE SHOT
Looking into Mike’s face through the glass. For the very
first time there’s a look of incipient fear.
MIKE
Look. Whoever’s out there. This isn’t funny
any more. You understand? I don’t like this
jazz. It’s getting dull.
(he looks around again)
(MORE)
MIKE (CONT’D)
Look, I know I can be heard. I know… I
know somebody’s watching me.
Immediately after he’s said this he realizes he has
suddenly given voice to his fear. He’s labeled what is
beginning to bother him. Simply a sense of being watched.

OUTCOME:
He suddenly bends down, picks up the phone book, flings it
against the glass of the door. The glass disintegrates.
Mike sticks his hand through, opens the door from the
outside, then kicks at it with his foot. It springs open
and halfway off its hinges as he goes out onto the street.
Then he looks down at his hand. It’s cut; a rivulet of
blood runs down through the fingers. He feels for a
handkerchief, takes it and wraps it around the hand. He
squeezes it a couple of times, trying to get more blood to
flow. Then he starts down the street again.

 

BEAT: 10

SUMMARY:

Mike investigates the police station.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Mystery

Escalation

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 2: Investigate outside

Step 3: Investigate the police station

 

4: Who’s watching Mike?

Step 2: Paranoia escalates

 

ESTABLISHING SHOT
LONG SHOT STREET MIKE’S P.O.V.
Once again the sense of emptiness and loneliness and that
bizarre quality of activity with no actors.

SETUP
TRACK SHOT WITH MIKE AS HE CONTINUES DOWN THE STREET
He pauses in front of a building and looks up.
CLOSE SHOT SIGN
Which reads, POLICE STATION.
TRACK SHOT
He walks up the steps and into the building.
INT. POLICE STATION
There’s a small anteroom, and then an open, barred door
which leads to a corridor lined with cells.
MED. CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As he enters and looks around. There is a police sergeant’s
desk, files, pictures of wanted men on the wall. A teletype
machine hums in the corner. Mike goes to look at it. The
light over it is on, but nothing is being written. He
whirls around and stares toward the sergeant’s desk, goes
behind it, picks up a microphone, fingers it for a moment,
then talks into it.
MIKE
Calling all cars. Calling all cars. Unknown
man walking around the police station.
Suspicious looking character. Probably
wanted by the FBI —
Then he stops, looks at the mike, chuckles softly for a
moment and then stops abruptly, the smile gone. He flings
the microphone away from him and looks slowly around the
room.

CONFLICT
MIKE
I wish I could shake that feeling…
(he looks around again)
That crazy feeling of being watched…
listened to…

HERO’S RESPONSE
He stares toward the cell doors then begins to walk slowly
toward them.
CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As he stands in the middle of the next room, looking from
empty cell to empty cell. Then he whirls around at a
bubbling sound. There, on a hot plate, is a pot of coffee
perking. Behind him we see the barred door leading to the
anteroom begin to close.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE

Mike’s eyes look wild, as if
subconsciously he realizes he’s in danger.

He whirls around
to see the cell door closing and then,

HERO’S RESPONSE

with a shout, throws
himself against it, pushing it away before it locks. He
seems to hang on it now, breathing deeply.

OUTCOME
MIKE
All right, time to wake up! Time to wake up
now!
He whirls around, his face distorted, close up against the
camera. He shouts.
MIKE
Time to wake up!
He stumbles through the anteroom and then back to the
street.

HERO’S ESCALATION
EXT. STREET LONG ANGLE SHOT
Looking down at Mike as he stands in the middle of the
empty street, the stores around him, the quiet. He suddenly
screams.
MIKE
Where is everybody? Where is everybody!?
FADE TO BLACK:

 

BEAT: 11

SUMMARY:

Mike tries to take advantage of his alone-ness by stealing cigars, but it doesn’t make him feel better.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Escalation

Mystery

State the problem

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 3: Exploit the situation

Step 1: Investigate the drugstore

Step 1: Enjoy a free cigar

 

ACT TWO

ESTABLISHING SHOT
FADE ON:
FILM CLIP A HOT AND HIGH AFTERNOON SUN
Shimmering in a sea of heatwaves. The camera sweeps down
until it is level with the street.

SETUP

Note: This segment could be considered its own beat.)
LONG SHOT MIKE FERRIS
As he sits on a curb, staring dully and numbly across at
nothing. The church steeple clock sounds two. He looks up,
listens to it, but is no longer shocked by it. He just lets
the sound of the chimes play along the edges of his
consciousness without really being aware of them. Now he
rises and walks slowly, methodically, without much apparent
purpose across the street. He looks up to see a sign
reading DRUGSTORE. He enters.
INT. DRUGSTORE
It is light and cheerful inside. On the left hand side is
the soda bar with a big mirror behind it full of stickers
advertising various concoctions — soft drinks, ice cream,
sandwiches.

OPPORTUNITY

Mike, as he enters, pauses by the cigarette and
candy counter.

HERO’S RESPONSE

He looks through the glass for a long
moment, then reaches behind and takes out a couple of
cigars. He unwraps one, sticks it in his mouth, lights it,
takes a couple of draws, butts it out, reaches in another
box, takes one of those, then looks in the box.
MIKE
Two for a dollar. Now that’s more like it.
I always like an expensive cigar.
Then he turns with a smile and says to nobody.
MIKE
How about you guys — any of you want a
cigar?

HERO’S ESCALATION
SERIES OF SHOTS OF EMPTY BOOTHS
MED. CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As he gets up on a stool.
MIKE
I’ll take a chocolate soda with chocolate
ice cream.
He starts to laugh, but the laugh is checked almost
immediately as he sees his reflection in the mirror behind
the counter. His fingers run exploringly across his face,
taking in the beard stubble, the hollowness beneath the
eyes, the strange, haunted, frightened look that is obvious
there. He looks at himself again for a long moment.
MIKE

HERO’S RESPONSE
You’ll forgive me, old pal, but I don’t
recollect the name. The face seems vaguely
familiar… but it’s the name that escapes
me.
(a pause)
I’ll tell you what my problem is. I’m in
the middle of a nightmare that I can’t wake
up from.
(he points to the
reflection)
You’re part of it. You and the ice cream
and the cigar. That police station and the
phone booth. That little mannequin. This
whole bloody town, wherever it is.
(a pause)

OUTCOME
Whatever it is. I just remembered
something. Scrooge said it. You remember
Scrooge, old buddy? Ebenezer Scrooge? It’s
what he said to the ghost, Jacob Marley. he
said, “You may be an undigested bit of
beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese,
a fragment of an undone potato. There’s
more of gravy than of grave about you.” You
see? That’s what you all are. You’re what I
had for dinner last night. You must be. But
now I’d like to wake up. I’ve had it… I’d
like to wake up now. And if I can’t wake
up, at least I’d like… I’d like to find
somebody to talk to.

 

BEAT: 12

SUMMARY:

Mike tries to enjoy an icecream soda, but it doesn’t make him feel better, and he sees a comic titled “The Last Man on Earth” that freaks him ou.t

BEAT PURPOSES:

Escalation

Mystery

Misdirection

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 3: Exploit the situation

Step 1: Investigate the drugstore

Step 1: Enjoy a free soda

 

SETUP

He rises now and goes behind the counter. He starts to fix
himself a chocolate soda, experimenting with some of the
cupboards until he finds the right ingredients, the ice
cream, the milk, et cetera. Then he mixes himself a soda,
tall, frosty, delicious.

He starts to sip it with a straw
as he walks around the drugstore.

OPPORTUNITY

He stops by a poster of a
high school football schedule.
CLOSE SHOT CARDBOARD SIGN
IT READS, OAKWOOD HIGH SCHOOL, 1958 SCHEDULE. A LIST OF
TEAMS AND DATES TO BE PLAYED APPEARS BELOW.

HERO’S RESPONSE
MED. CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As he takes it in one hand and reads it as he sips the
soda. But the normality of it suddenly points out the
incongruity of what he’s living through. He puts the poster
back on the counter, shaking his head, staring at it.
MIKE
I must be a very imaginative guy. Very
imaginative. Nobody in the whole world can
have a dream as… as complete as mine.
Right down to the last detail.
(he taps the poster)
Right down to the last detail.

OUTCOME
He turns, stares across at a big magazine rack near the
front window of the store. He crosses over to it, stares
down at some of the magazines, then kneels down,
interested. He begins to trace the dates on each one of the
magazines. The majority of them say October 1958 and his
mouth forms that phrase, “October 1958.”
Then he bites his lips, shakes his head again, rises, looks
down at the group of comic books, each with a lurid title
having to do with horror themes, Spook themes, et cetera.
Then suddenly he stops and looks down at one, the cover of
which is peeping out from behind the others and whose title
is visible. He reaches down and pulls it out just a few
inches farther so that he can read the entire title.
TIGHT CLOSE SHOT COVER
The title: The Last Man on Earth.
MED. SHOT MIKE
He picks it up and stares at the cover, then flings it down
on the floor. He turns rapidly away and heads back to the
counter where he puts the soda down. He is suddenly gripped
by another spasm of such utter loneliness that it forces
him out onto the street.

 

BEAT: 13

SUMMARY:

Mike tries to take advantage of his aloneness by stealing money from a bank, but it doesn’t make him feel better.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Mystery

Escalation

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 3: Exploit the situation

Step 2: Investigate the bank

Step 1: Enjoy some free money

3: Find out who Mike is

Step 4: State the problem

 

SETUP
EXT. STREET
Camera follows him out of the store. As he gets out on the
street he suddenly shouts, shrilly, illogically.
MIKE
(shouting)
Hey! Hey, anybody! Anybody hear me? Anybody
hear me?
He almost lurches to the other side of the street where he
buries his face against the window of a building. When his
head goes back he sees the letters U.S. POST OFFICE and he
starts to laugh again.
MIKE
Any mail for me? Anybody write me a letter?
I don’t know what my name is, but maybe you
can tell me in there, huh? Will you tell me
what my name is?
He pounds his fist against the glass and then suddenly has
to stifle what obviously is a sob as he begins to give in
to the loneliness and to the unknown and to the pulsating,
gnawing fear that envelops him. Then he turns away from the
window, struggling for composure.
CLOSE SHOT MIKE
He looks at something across the street. Camera sweeps wide
until it stops on —
LONG SHOT BUILDING

OPPORTUNITY
With a sign reading CITY BANK.

HERO’S RESPONSE
LONG SHOT MIKE
As he gets up off the bench, walks across the street, and
into the bank.
INT. BANK
TRACK SHOT MIKE
As he walks past all the tellers’ cages. He stops at the
end of the line, presses his face against the bars.
CLOSE SHOT ROW AFTER ROW OF STACKED BILLS
MED. SHOT MIKE
MIKE
I’d like to borrow about eight hundred
thousand dollars. How about it?
(then he nods and grins)
Thanks. I think that’s generous of you. I
think that’s really generous.
He pulls the bars up, reaches in and takes two packages of
money. Then he starts to retrace his steps toward the front
door. He’s about to leave when he looks toward the first
teller’s window.
MED. SHOT ROWS OF COINS ON TOP OF THE COUNTER
MED. SHOT MIKE
He takes some of the bills that he’s crammed into his shirt
pocket, throws them away.

OUTCOME
MIKE
Gotta make room for some silver.
He goes behind the teller’s window and starts to cram rolls
of coins into his pockets. Then suddenly his eyes look wild
again as he looks up, his eyes scanning the room. And
again, illogically, the same mixture of wisdom and
paranoia.

 

BEAT: 14

SUMMARY:

Mike almost gets locked in the bank.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Mystery

Escalation

False victory

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 3: Exploit the situation

Step 2: Investigate the bank

Step 2: Danger in the bank

4: Who’s watching Mike?

Step 3: Paranoia escalates

 

SETUP
MIKE
Somebody watching me?
He goes out in front of the teller’s cage again and looks
around.
MIKE
Somebody watching me?
He looks up toward the ceiling and around as if expecting
to see someone.
MIKE
Crazy feeling. Crazy, odd-ball feeling.
Like… like I knew someone was watching
me.
And then his eyes narrow again in an awareness of danger.
MIKE
Watching me… and trying to button me up
someplace. Trying to trap me.
He looks around wildly again.

CONFLICT

CLOSE SHOT HIS LEGS
As he starts to run toward the door. He trips over some
sort of a lever close to the teller’s cage.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
FLASH SHOT ALARM BELL
On the wall as it begins to ring.

HERO’S RESPONSE
LONG ANGLE SHOT LOOKING DOWN AT MIKE
As he stops by the front door and whirls around as the
loud, dissonant clanging pierces the quiet. Then he whirls
around and tries the front door again.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE

It’s locked.

HERO’S RESPONSE
SERIES OF FLASH SHOTS
Bell. Teller’s cage. Locked door. Mike’s hand. Mike’s face.

TRACK SHOT MIKE
As he races toward the alarm on the wall. He grabs the
wires that extend from it and suddenly yanks on them,
pulling them apart. The bell abruptly stops. Then he whirls
around and stares at the front door.

OUTCOME
CLOSE SHOT DOOR
It is now ajar.

 

BEAT: 15

SUMMARY:

Mike tries lighting a cigar with money but it doesn’t make him feel better.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Mystery

Escalation

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 3: Exploit the situation

Step 2: Investigate the bank

Step 3: False victory

 

SETUP

MED. SHOT MIKE
As he goes back toward the teller’s cage, grabs the coins
and bills, crams them back into his pocket. He walks toward
the open door, then out onto the street again, leaving a
trail of silver and bills behind him.

OPPORTUNITY

He sits down on the
curb, unwraps the handkerchief from around his hand, wipes
his face with it. He reaches into his pocket, takes out a
crumpled fistful of bills, takes one out, grins at it,
takes out the remnants of a cigar, sticks the cigar in his
mouth, takes the bill, lights it.

HERO’S RESPONSE
MIKE
Here’s something I’ve always wanted to do.
Always wanted to do this.
He takes the lit bill and lights a cigar with it, then he
lets loose of the burning bill and watches it flutter to
the ground and disappear in ashes. Mike watches it burn,
and then slowly his face looks tired, hopeless.

OUTCOME
MIKE
Big deal. So what? Big deal.
He lets his head hang a moment.
DISSOLVE TO:

 

BEAT: 16

SUMMARY:

While investigating a movie theater, Mike sees a poster in a window that makes him realize he’s in the Air Force.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Mystery

Escalation

Find a clue

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 4: Investigate the movie theater

Step 1: Investigate the ticket booth

3: Find out who Mike is

Step 5: Find a clue

 

ESTABLISHING SHOT
EXT. TOWN SQUARE [NIGHT]
TIGHT CLOSE SHOT STREET LAMP
As it suddenly goes on. Camera then pans down for a
SHOT OF MIKE

SETUP
On a bench looking up toward the light. Then he turns to
look toward the street flanking the square. The lights have
gone on in front of all the stores and in the windows.
CLOSE SHOT MIKE
Reacting.
MED. LONG SHOT THEATER MARQUEE
As the lights go on around it.
TRACK SHOT MIKE
He walks across the street, stops by the ticket window, and
then, almost dreamlike, speaks.

OPPORTUNITY
MIKE
I’d like one tick —
Then he stops, shakes his head, closes his eyes, realizing
how ludicrous this is. He is about to go in when he
suddenly stops and stares at a poster advertising the
movie.
CLOSE SHOT POSTER
Which shows an air force pilot in his coveralls advertising
the movie.

HERO’S RESPONSE
MED. CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As he suddenly feels his own outfit and gradually makes the
connection that the uniform of the man in the picture is
similar to that which he wears.
MIKE
Air force. Air force.
(then he whirls around,
looks up toward the sky)
Air force. I’m air force.
(he once again looks down at
his coveralls and feels
them, grabs at them)
Air force. I’m in the air force.

OUTCOME
TRACK SHOT MIKE
As he walks from the outside of the theater, through the
lobby, on into the interior.
MIKE
(shouting)
Hey, everybody. I’m in the air force. I
remember that much. I’m in the air force.
Does anybody hear me? I’m in the air force.
And then once again he rubs his eyes, runs a hand wildly
across his face and then suddenly surveys the theater.
CUT TO:

 

BEAT: 17

SUMMARY:

Mike Ferris investigates the inside of the movie theater, fails to find anyone and really starts to crack up.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Mystery

Escalation

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 4: Investigate the movie theater

Step 2: Investigate inside the theater

3: Find out who Mike is

Step 6: Analyze the clue

 

SETUP
FULL SHOT THE THEATER
There are enough lights on to cast a soft orange glow
through the room. He looks around at the absolute, vast
emptiness of the place. Then he sits down, checks his
watch, looks up at the big white screen with nothing on it.
He looks at his watch again and then settles down in the
chair, his eyes closed, and he starts to succumb to the
fatigue that sweeps over him.
MIKE
Air force. What does that mean? Was there a
bomb or something? Is that what happened?
That must have been it, a bomb.

But if
there was a bomb —
(he looks around the empty
theater now)
It would have destroyed everything. And
nothing is destroyed.

CONFLICT
Suddenly he is aware of the lights lowering. He starts and
his eyes open wide in time to see the last of the lights go
down. A long beam of white light shines from the projection
booth and suddenly on the screen appears a big introductory
title, Cartoon Parade, with appropriate march music. Mike
leaps to his feet, looks from the projection booth down to
the screen. He suddenly starts to run down the aisle,
shouting.

HERO’S RESPONSE
MIKE
Hey! Hey, somebody up there?
He stops in front of the projectionist’s light so that we
get an almost — nightmarish picture of the cartoons
partially showing on his face and body as he screams.
MIKE
Hey, somebody up there? Who’s running the
pictures? Can you see me? Can you see me up
there? Hey!
Then he races back up the aisle, arriving at the rear of
the theater. He looks wildly around, then he sees a door
with a glass window, steps visible on the other side.
LONG ANGLE SHOT STAIRS
As he races up them.
INT. PROJECTION BOOTH
As he bursts inside. The picture is running from one of the
two projectors,

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE

but the room is absolutely empty.

HERO’S RESPONSE

Mike
races over to the machine, bends down and peers at it as
the film goes through and he hears the sound of the cartoon
music and voices. This is too much for him. He throws
himself against the wall, peering out of the small,
circular hole that the picture shoots through.
LONG ANGLE SHOT THROUGH THE HOLE
Of the vast, empty theater.

HERO’S ESCALATION
INT. PROJECTION BOOTH
He turns away, goes out the door, stumbling down the steps.
ANGLE SHOT DOWN STAIRS
He continues down the steps and out into the lobby again.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
INT. LOBBY
He stops for a moment and looks across the lobby.
MED. LONG SHOT POPCORN MACHINE
That is at this moment making popcorn.

OUTCOME
CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As he closes his eyes, shakes his head. Then he opens them.
His eyes go wide. He starts to run toward the camera,
coming up very close and almost at the point of impact we
CUT AWAY TO:
TIGHT TWO SHOT
Of Mike and a mirror as he smashes his face and hands
against it and then recoils from the reflection, backs off
a few feet, and then looks at the mirror on the opposite
side of the room. The combination throws off reflections
almost to infinity. He looks from left to right staring at
the hundreds of Mike Ferrises who ape him in his every
movement. Then he stops and looks across at the refreshment
stand where the popcorn continues to pop in the big
container. This, too, is more than he can stand. His face
screws up like a small child about to cry, and then he
shouts.
MIKE
Oh my God. Oh my dear God!
He stumbles through the lobby and out into the street.

 

BEAT: 18

SUMMARY:

Mike leaves the movie theater and cracks up on the street.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Mystery

Escalation

Climax

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 5: Climax

Step 2: Approach the climactic threshold

 

SETUP
EXT. STREET
He stumbles down the street aimlessly now, intent only on
moving, not finding. His footsteps start to drag and
finally he stops, sits down on the curb, buries his face in
his hands, rubs his eyes. Then he looks up to once again
find himself looking through the drugstore window, the
magazine that he’d been reading lies on the floor face up.

CONFLICT
HIGH ANGLE SHOT
Looking down through the window, distorting the cover of
the magazine in such a manner as to make the lettering
appear big and irregular. Once again the title slaps at him
across the face. The Last Man on Earth.

HERO’S RESPONSE

He rises slowly,
backing away from the window, shaking his head. He turns
and races across the street. Suddenly, then, he stops
abruptly as the light on the corner changes to red and he
instinctively comes to a halt. And then he stops dead,
realizing once again the ludicrousness of it. He begins to
laugh — the laughter becomes convulsive, wild. All the way
across the street he continues it.
ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE

TRACK SHOT
As he goes by all the stores that we’ve been introduced to.
As he goes by each one a sound emanates from it, a sound
way out of proportion to what it actually should be. When
he passes the pool hall we hear the mammoth bowling alley
sound echoing from it. From in front of the theater comes a
cacophony of music and laughter. From the drug store there
is a fizzling, bubbling sound of drinks. From the record
store, the dissonant, blaring sound of music. As each noise
joins in it becomes mumbled and part of a big morass of
noise.

HERO’S RESPONSE
Gradually the very dimension of it so frightens and shocks
Mike that he begins to back away from each store as he
passes — it as if being assaulted on all sides. He
stumbles against a street post, whirls around, frightened,
stares at it, and then suddenly, almost supplicatingly,
throws his arms around it, buries his face against it. He
starts to sob.
MIKE
Won’t somebody help me? Won’t somebody
please help me?

OUTCOME
Then his sobs subside and he stands there, breathing
deeply. His eyes slowly open. Sweat stands out on his
features. He looks haggard, desperate, close to cracking.
The noise somehow, for no apparent reason, suddenly stops
and there’s a deep, dead, all-pervading silence again.
Mike’s eyes travel up the post, stare up toward the sky. He
squints against the sun.

 

BEAT: 19

SUMMARY:

Mike gives up his quest and begs for release.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Escalation

Mystery

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 5: Climax

Step 2: Finishing move

 

4: Who’s watching Mike?

Step 4: Paranoia escalates

 

SETUP
MIKE
Who’s watching me? Who’s looking at me?
(screaming)
Who’s looking at me?
He looks down toward the street.

CONFLICT
LONG SHOT THE STREET
He moves to the middle of the road again, still looking up
toward the sky, and then as if suddenly seeing an
adversary,

HERO’S RESPONSE

begins to run.
CLOSE SHOT STORE WINDOW
As Mike backs into it, trying to get inside, reaching for
the door and missing, and then slamming his face against
the front pane.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
CLOSE SHOT MIKE’S FACE AND EYES
Looking from inside the store outside toward him. His eyes
go wide and he starts to scream.
CLOSE SHOT OVER MIKE’S SHOULDER
At a huge eye looking at him.

HERO’S RESPONSE
MED. SHOT MIKE
As he starts to run away from the store again.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE

The camera takes in a shot of an optometrist’s sign with a huge eye that Mike had seen.

OUTCOME
TRACK SHOT MIKE
As he runs back toward the post. He grabs it and holds on
tight, then he looks down. His hands have touched a button
and he looks down at it.
TIGHT CLOSE SHOT A BUTTON
With a sign over it: PUSH TO TURN GREEN.
MED. SHOT MIKE
As he looks away toward the light.
CLOSE SHOT THE LIGHT
MED. SHOT
And then suddenly Mike slams the palm of his hand against
the button and punches it over and over again.
MIKE
Somebody help me. Help me. Help me.
CLOSE SHOT THE LIGHT
As if flashes from red to green, from green to red, from
red to green, over and over again.
CLOSE SHOT MIKE’S HAND
As he keeps pushing the button. His voice, sobbing,
screeching, plaintive, frightened.
MIKE
Somebody help me. Please. Please, help me

 

BEAT: 20

SUMMARY:

It is revealed that Mike has been in a military-run isolation experiment.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Answer the mystery

Backstory

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 6: Denouement

Step 1: Reveal the answer

3: Who is Mike?

Step 7: Reveal the answer

4: Who’s watching Mike?

Step 5: Reveal the answer

 

ESTABLISHING SHOT
DISSOLVE TO:
OUT OF FOCUS ON HIS HAND
CLOSE SHOT IN FOCUS HIS HAND
Pushing a button on an instrument panel. The camera dollies
away until both the back of the panel and Mike’s face are
on a small television screen.

SETUP
LONG ANGLE SHOT
Down a line of officers in a viewing room as they intently
watch the screen. We hear Mike’s voice as it coincides with
a red light that flashes brilliantly on and off over the
viewing screen.

CONFLICT
MIKE’S VOICE
Please. Please help me. Help me.

BEAT PROTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
A general, obviously in command, turns to his aide on his
right.
GENERAL
Clock him!
(and then turning to his
left says to the officer
alongside)
Get him out of there, quick!
Officer two reaches over for a hand mike. Pushes the
button.
OFFICER TWO
Release the subject! On the double!

BEAT ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
INT. LARGE HANGARLIKE ROOM
In the center of it, illuminated by a couple of spots in an
otherwise dark room, is a small, hermetically sealed metal
box about six by five feet and about five feet high. A
sliding panel is pushed back. Several air force men reach
down and start unstrapping Mike and then carefully lift him
through the hole. A white-clad medical officer begins to
remove electrodes that have been taped to his body at
various points. By this time Mike has stopped speaking. His
eyes are half closed. He breathes deeply and irregularly,
slumps forward in his seat.
CLOSE SHOT HIS RIGHT FIST
Smashed against the instrument panel.
EXTREMELY TIGHT CLOSE UP HIS FIST
And the broken glass covering a clock on the panel which
reads six fifteen.
MED. GROUP SHOT THE AIR FORCE MEN
As they remove him.
AIR FORCE MAN ONE
Be careful. He’s cut his hand on that clock
glass there —
LONG SHOT GENERAL AND STAFF
As they hurriedly approach the scene, their footsteps
ringing hollowly on the concrete floor.

OUTCOME
MEDICAL OFFICER
He’s all right, sir. Delusions of some
sort. I guess that’s it. He’s coming out of
it now.
GENERAL
(nods)
Fine. You get all your data recorded?
MEDICAL OFFICER
Yes, sir. Every bit of it.
GENERAL
(to Officer One who comes up
from behind)
Did you get him clocked?
OFFICER ONE
Yes, sir. Four hundred and eighty four
hours, thirty-six minutes.
GENERAL
Good. I’d like to get a look at all the
data when they’re compiled. I’d like the
reaction chart on him, too.

 

BEAT: 21

SUMMARY:

A general explains the experiment to a report.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Explanation

Backstory

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 6: Denouement

Step 2: Reveal the backstory

 

SETUP
OFFICER TWO
(sotto)
The press, sir?
He points toward the opposite side of the room.
LONG SHOT THREE OR FOUR MEMBERS OF THE PRESS
As they stand waiting expectantly.
GROUP SHOT GENERAL AND THE OTHERS
GENERAL
On the run, if they don’t mind. I want to
talk to Ferris.
OFFICER TWO
Yes, sir.
He motions toward the press, and beckons them over as the
General, the medical officers, and the others start walking
in the opposite direction toward Mike Ferris, who lies on a
stretcher at the very far and opposite side of the room.
TRACK SHOT WITH THE GENERAL AND THE REPORTERS
As they join him and start to walk across the room toward
Ferris.

CONFLICT

REPORTER ONE
You consider it a success, sir?

BEAT PROTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
GENERAL
Very much so. He’s been alone in that box
for something in the neighborhood of four
hundred and eighty four hours, which is
roughly equivalent to a trip to the moon,
several orbits, and then back.

BEAT ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
REPORTER ONE
And this then was a simulated trip to the
moon? Is that right, General?

BEAT PROTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
GENERAL
(nods)
For all intent and purpose.

BEAT ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
REPORTER TWO
What about the wires attached to him?

BEAT PROTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
GENERAL
Electrodes. All of his reactions have been
charted and graphed. Respiration, heart
action, blood pressure.
At this moment they reach a point some ten feet away from
where Mike Ferris lies on a stretcher attended by a couple
of medics. Their voices become low.

BEAT ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
REPORTER THREE
What happened to him toward the end? Just
before he pushed that button or whatever it
is.

OUTCOME
GENERAL
What happened to him was that he cracked.
We assume delusions of some sort, but I’ll
tell you something, gentlemen — you spend
two and a half weeks all by your lonesome
in a five foot square box without ever
being able to hear a human voice other than
your own… I’ll give you especially good
odds that your imagination would run away
with you too, just as his obviously did.

 

BEAT: 22

SUMMARY:

Mike is debriefed by the general.

BEAT PURPOSES:

State the moral

Backstory

Repercussion

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 6: Denouement

Step 3: State the moral

 

SETUP
One of the medics looks up, motions the general over. The
general takes a few steps until he’s very close to Mike.

CONFLICT
GENERAL
How do you feel, son?

HERO’S RESPONSE
MIKE
(his voice is weak but he’s
obviously much improved now)
I feel much better, sir. I’m sorry about…
toward the end.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
MEDICAL OFFICER
(close by)
What was it like, Ferris? Where did you
think you were?

HERO’S RESPONSE
MIKE
(looks from one to the
other, wets his lips)
Some place I don’t want to visit again. A
town… a town without people. Without
anybody.

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
MEDICAL OFFICER
And you had to get out of that town, didn’t
you?

HERO’S RESPONSE
MIKE
(nods)
I sure did.
(then he looks up toward the
medical officer)
What was the matter with me? Just off my
rocker, huh?

OUTCOME
MEDICAL OFFICER
Just a kind of nightmare, Ferris, that your
mind manufactured for you.
The reporters lean forward straining to overhear this
conversation.
MEDICAL OFFICER
You see, Ferris, we can feed stomachs with
concentrates. We can supply microfilm for
recreation, reading, even movies of a sort.
We can pump oxygen in, waste material out.
The camera now moves around so that it is shooting just
over the heads of all the men assembled and is looking at
the box in the background which is on the periphery of the
light.
MEDICAL OFFICER
But there’s one thing we can’t simulate.
That’s a pretty basic need — man’s hunger
for companionship, the barrier of
loneliness. That’s one we haven’t licked
yet.

 

BEAT: 23

SUMMARY:

We find out Mike’s future, which is to go to the moon alone.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Sunset

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 6: Denouement

Step 4: Sunset

 

SETUP

At this moment the medics help Ferris to his feet. He
stands there motionless for a moment as if testing newfound
legs, and then he looks out toward the open hangar door at
the night sky.

CONFLICT
MIKE
Next time though… it won’t be just a box
and a hangar, will it?

ANTAGONIST’S RESPONSE
GENERAL
(going to his side and
looking out toward the sky
with him)
No, Mike. Next time you’ll really be alone.

HERO’S RESPONSE
There’s a long, thoughtful silence as Mike takes a few
steps toward the hangar door. He pauses for a moment near
the box. A side has been removed so that he’s staring
directly into the control panel where the broken clock can
be seen still reading six fifteen.
CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As he reacts.
CLOSE SHOT COCKPIT
As the camera pans over the broken clock, a microphone
which hangs by the cord, a small microfilm apparatus, et
cetera.

OUTCOME
MED. CLOSE SHOT MIKE
As he looks away and then continues to walk over to the
hangar door. He slowly looks up toward the sky and the
camera sweeps up for a long shot of the moon hanging bright
and lustrous in the sky.
MIKE
(grins thoughtfully, stares
up toward the silver orb,
and then quietly)
Don’t go away up there. Next time… next
time it won’t be a nightmare or a dream.
Next time it’ll be real. So don’t go
away… We’ll be there in a little while.
Then he starts to walk out in the night followed by the
others. The camera begins a slow pan back into the room
until it is shooting on the box, squatting empty and
impassive in the empty room.
BEAT: 24

SUMMARY:

Narrator gives an epilogue speech.

BEAT PURPOSES:

Epilogue

Narrator’s closing speech

QUEST CHAIN:

2: Find where everyone is

Step 6: Denouement

Step 1: Narrator’s epilogue

 

SETUP

NARRATOR’S VOICE
The barrier of loneliness. The palpable,
desperate need of the human animal to be
with his fellow man.

CONFLICT
LAP DISSOLVE TO:
NIGHT SKY
The moon and the stars.

NARRATOR’S VOICE
Up there… up there is the vastness of
space, in the void that is sky… up there
is an enemy known as isolation. It sits
there in the stars waiting… waiting with
the patience of eons… forever waiting…

OUTCOME
in the Twilight Zone.
FADE TO BLACK:
THE END

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