INT. UPSCALE BAR
The Upscale Bar is busy, but not exceedingly so and the sound of modern pop lounge suffuses the atmosphere. Friends are hanging out, having a good time, laughing at inside jokes, whilst couples cosy up to each other in booths with glasses of champagne in hand.
The lighting is soft but dark, just enough to create a sense of intimacy and disguise any ugly features on people’s faces. It’s the type of place that makes people look, feel and behave better than they normally do.
At the bar, leans RYDER, a lean, sharp and intelligent man with a natural charisma and confidence that makes life look easy. He’s casually dressed in a suit, with just enough buttons undone to say he is dressed for a party, despite the expensive cut. He surveys the area with all the natural perchance of a King. This is his domain.
Yo, Alex, over here!
ALEX the Bartender dances over, his hands polishing a glass as he does so. Their natural rapport indicate that Ryder is a regular here.
Ryder, my man. You’re early today. You want your usual?
One Mojito comin’ right up!
Ryder turns away as Alex begins to mix his drink and surveys the room again.
His eyes catches sight of a girl sitting alone in a lounge chair. She is attractive, in a street smart, witty way.
Her clothes indicate that she had just finished work and is now trying to relax, but something is stopping her from doing so. Ryder scans her up and down, and smiles. He spins around at Alex, who is in the middle of shaking his cocktail.
Alex, who’s the brunette in the centre over there?
Oh her? She’s a journalist. Not a regular otherwise you woulda messed with her already. *laughs* But she’s a great tipper.
Alex finishes making the cocktail and places the drink in front of Ryder who takes a appreciative sip and nods approvingly but in a absent-minded way. He is still thinking about the girl.
Be right back.
Alex just shakes his head in mock disbelief and turns to another customer.
Ryder walks up to the brunette and assess her again. She is just as stunning up close as she is afar. She looks up at him, and gives him a questioning look.
Hi. Ryder. Author and Mojito-lover.
Ryder raises his cocktail in a mock salute to her. The girl laughs at the short introduction.
Mind if I order you another drink after I catch your name?
The girl pauses for a beat before giving in to her curiosity. She smiles back at him, coy and impressed.
Sara. Journalist and Martini-aficionado.
Ryder looks over at Alex and wink, while holding up a single finger and gesturing to Sara’s near empty drink. He turns his attention back to her and settles into the chair beside her.
Journalist huh? You look like you’ve just finished writing a massive article and are trying to relax. Anything interesting?
Sara gives Ryder a coy smile. She settles back into her chair and takes a sip from her martini. She’s enjoying the control she has over the conversation.
Sign up to the Guardian and you’ll see my column in a couple of days.
The Guardian! Please tell me you’re not a reviewer because my book got savaged by a columnist there.
No, I’m an investigative journalist. You wrote a book? Which one?
A crime story, Melbourne Noire.
Really? I’ve read that. It’s not bad, a little bit too soap-opera for my taste but it’s pretty good.
Ryder smiles and cocks his head graciously. He nurses his drink and considers his next step carefully.
If you don’t mind me asking, but if you’ve just finished writing a big investigative piece, why are you celebrating alone?
Can’t a girl have a drink on her own?
Sorry to say this, but you’re much too attractive to be left alone. Foolish men wishing to get burnt like me are always going to bother you. You could have chosen a quieter place to celebrate and the martinis here are good but not stellar. What’s really going on?
A bit impetuous, don’t you think? We barely know each other and you’re already psychologically analysing me.
Sara gives Ryder a skeptical look but maintains strong eye contact. Ryder doesn’t miss a beat.
How else are we supposed to get to know each other? One of us have to play the journalist and the other the subject.
Or I could just thank you for the drink and wave goodbye.
Sara gives Ryder a look to say she isn’t fully serious but is considering it. Ryder gives her his best thousand-watt smile and settles back in his chair, clearly enjoying the banter.
Yes I suppose you could do that … *pauses* but … I suspect you won’t.
Oh? and why is that?
Because it must be nice to be the one being interviewed for once, not the other way around.
Sara laughs and leans in closer to Ryder. He matches her movement and they both look at each seriously. Ryder raises a questioning eyebrow and Sara chuckles again and lean back, looking off into the distance.
OK, fine. *sighs* It was a very long day at work today. But not for the reason you think. (looks over at Ryder) My boss said a couple of inappropriate things and delayed my article for a week over an argument I had with him. So I’m not really in the mood to be interviewed or analysed.
Ryder’s smile fades and he takes on a much more concerned expression. He knows when to call it quits
Ah shit. Well, I’m sorry to hear that. I guess the last thing you want then, is more unwarranted male attention. It was a pleasure to meet you Sara. Drinks are on me.
Ryder stands up before Sara can respond to the contrary and gives her a sympathetic smile combined with a casual shrug, before simply walking away.
Sara is dumbfounded by the casual dismissal and the easy going way how he took her rejection. She looks after him, intrigued by his maturity.
Alex walks up to Sara and put down a coaster and places a martini in front of her.
From the gentleman that just left.
Sara looks down at the drink and laughs wryly. On the coaster is a phone number and elegant script that reads:
I’m available for an interview anytime. R
She picks up the coaster, fans herself slightly, and lifts her martini in the direction Ryder left and takes an appreciative drink.
This screenplay took me over 4 days to design. I just couldn’t nail the rhythm and tone of the characters and I think re-watching the flirtatious scene between Will Smith and Eva Mendes in Hitch (2005) messed with the way how I wanted the characters to speak.
I finally unlocked the code when I actually tried to act it out in reality, how I would approach an attractive journalist and the lines and wit, I deploy to get into her good graces. This simple act of pretending to be Ryder, leaning at a bar, finally made the two characters come alive and hence their interplay shone much brighter than my terrible 2000 word draft before.
Being a poor flirt in reality probably also didn’t help, as it is hard to convey body language through dialogue. A rule I discovered though, is that anything said can be flirty, it just comes through in the way how you say it and your body language.
So I tried to focus more on body language and getting down little gestures that I expect actors to do whilst saying my dialogue. I think this is an improvement and looking back at the overall script, I’m pleased I did that, because it looks much more concise now. Each line has more meaning and you can really see how this might be a quick 5 minute flirtatious sequence on screen.
I must thank my only patron for giving me such great feedback and for subtly encouraging me to get better. Her main issue was that my screenplay involved too many lines and not enough gestures and pauses as would be seen in a real script.
The next one I am writing will be challenging, as I will be obeying 48HR Film Project rules. Stay tuned for that!