Tag Archives: Film Treatment

Film Treatment 3

Here’s an updated film treatment based on what we discussed last time. The previous version has been edited/shortened so that more time can be spent in the average world view – examining the effect the festival has on each of our protagonists and suggesting some changes in its aftermath.

Currently, the intent for the jury is to present the treatment as a spoken short story over an animated storyboard/soundscape to communicate the intent of the piece. *Images are indicative WIP!


Like a slippery pool of mercury, it glinted at her from her fingertip. As the morning light danced across the concave lens, it shifted from mirrored glass to transparent gel. Of all Aisha’s morning rituals, this was the first. With practised delicacy, she lifted it to her face and covered her eyes.

v03-1_island-villages_postIn a dense settlement, built out over an endless glossy ocean, under a white misty sky, a child played. Aisha’s village was one of several, connected by long walkways that extended over the waters. Each morning, slipped under their door, Aisha’s family received papers from Le. Papers that could be exchanged for food and goods at the local markets. One morning, no papers arrived, and as Aisha played at the edge of her settlement, she wondered if Le had forgotten them.

2-progressives-view-01Miri’s city was a garden of Dionysian delights. Nestled in a mountainous lush forest, her city’s streets were mirrored arcades, shaded by lattices of grape vines, and flowering coffee plants. Every morning, as Miri sipped her tea and practised yoga amongst the bleating sheep that shared her city, she would submit a prayer to Le, wondering why it had taken her so long to ban the cruel slaughter of livestock for human consumption.

ricks-house-03-rgb_color-0-00-00-00A great mirrored wall surrounded Rick’s house; a beautiful detached home that had been in his family for generations. The walls were to keep the crazys out. For a long time, Rick had felt estranged in his own city, and in recent years his movements shrank to a routine set of walled paths leading to trusted friends; the butcher, the barber, the school and the cricket pitch.

ricks-house-02-rgb_color-0-00-04-09Recently, Le’s behaviour had bewildered him. Culture and civilisation herself were being eroded by all the newcomers Le was letting into the city – and districts once rich with identity and character were now overrun by immigrants and hooligans.

In these three cities and many others, a Festival in celebration of Le was announced, promising insight into the subtleties of culture, and unprecedented spectacle.

Aisha ran to the gathering place to see the festival’s opening, moving swiftly across the walkways. As she ran, the strange sounds of spirits’ conversations in foreign tongues echoed from the fog. The exotic fragrances of unfamiliar spices drifted across the air. On occasion, shadowy figures emerged from the mist, crossing her path before gliding back out over the water. These figures she dodged with rehearsed nimbleness – they would not harm her so long as she did not interact with them.

Miri’s walk to the festival site took her through golden arbours around which cafes full of friendly faces gathered. She was nervous and excited. Her friends had heard rumours that during the festival, personalisation services would be suspended, and she didn’t know what to expect.

3-conservatives-view-01Somewhere else, Rick walked down one of his narrow walled pathways, seeing himself reflected to infinity in the mirrors to either side. This excursion to the city plaza made him feel like a tourist in his own home, but despite his reservations, a curiosity he couldn’t quite place drove him to the centre of the action. The chaotic sounds of a great crowd signalled that he had arrived at the city square. Peering through them, he began to shuffle toward the great tree that marked the centre of his city.

Miri arrived early. She had made it in plenty of time to ensure she had a prime position near the mother tree at the centre of her city. In full bloom and covered in ripe fruit she took comfort in its shade. A small child stood directly opposite her, staring up into the canopy.

A sudden noise took Aisha out of her daydream. The crowd was counting backwards from ten. She stood under the tree that stood at the centre of the great pontoon that connected all the settlements. The volume of the counting increased as the crowd grew excited and as they reached zero, the air in front of the tree shimmered and a lone fruit fell.

The fruit hit the ground and pontoon vanished. She looked around and was startled to see that the ocean had gone too. Instead she stood in a white city, covered in the strange glyphs of an unknown language.

Aisha, Miri and Rick all stood dumbfounded around the tree. No longer organic, it appeared as a black mass of seething wires and antennas, all connected to whirring servers.

When the city rematerialized it was like nothing any of them had ever seen. Aisha could make out her settlement but it was now mostly obscured by neon-lit towers, punctuated by golden arcades covered in vines. Rick sank to his knees as he saw that his house, once protected by great walls, now stood exposed on all sides to strange architectures he couldn’t even begin to comprehend.

People were looking all around, but the settlements so familiar to Aisha and so foreign to everyone else had captured the most attention. Many stared in bewilderment at the slums that had until now, invisibly grown around their city. As the crowds focused on them, the settlements grew taller and denser until their scale was so preposterous Aisha laughed out loud. A whining in her ear told her that her older brother was calling. She answered with a nod. Her brother spoke urgently. ‘Bring as many people as you can home with you. We need to show them around’. ‘Why?’ asked Aisha, but he was already gone.

Miri looked down to see the child she had seen by the tree tugging at her sleeve. ‘Do you want to visit my house?’ the girl asked. Miri looked around. The square was starting to empty. As people started to wander off to explore this strange new city the slum settlements that Miri had until now thought were mountains started to shrink back to their previous size. Why not, she thought and she nodded to the girl. As they walked off small green buds grew where Miri had walked.

Rick stood in front of a restaurant two doors down from his house. For the first two days of the festival he had not stepped out his front door once, and now it was only the necessity to buy food for dinner that drove him into the streets. He had stopped outside this restaurant when the smell of exotically spiced barbequed meat wet his palette. He had smelt this before he realised, but never so strongly. The diffused scents of this foreign eatery must have sometimes carried in the wind to his front door. Inside a foreigner’s shout was followed by raucous laughter. Tentatively, he stepped inside.

Since the festival had started, Aisha’s family had received more papers from Le than ever before. In just four days, they had stockpiled food that would have taken weeks to gather before. Though she had already spent many hours roaming Le’s city, she still took pleasure in watching the shifting forms of the busy metropolis where once there had only been fog. Between errands to fetch new passers-by to show around her home, Aisha liked to guess at the lives of all those strange people who were her new neighbours.  

After five days running around the city, attempting to infuse it with the greenery she was so familiar with, Miri was ready to give up. Her influence simply wasn’t great enough to make a dent in the city’s average concerns. On the other hand, the last few days had seen an explosion of boisterous animated creatures roaming the city as groups of children rich, poor and everything in between and played out their epic games in larger communities than ever before. In a last ditch effort to convince someone to care, she offered a complete stranger the address and password to her lens profile. Shocked by this self-breach of privacy, Rick found himself surrendering his own details in return.

In the days following the festival’s conclusion, patches of fog returned to Aisha’s community. However, much of the City of Le that had so briefly been revealed remained in Aisha’s view, although for her older brother the fog came back much more quickly.

Miri, inspired by her spontaneous exchange in the last days of the festival, set up a service, facilitating the safe swapping of lens profiles for those who wanted to recapture that ephemeral experience of Le. Her city, still luscious and green now revealed the settlement she had visited with Aisha on that very first day.

Sitting in the safety of his porch, Rick reflected on whether he’d made a terrible mistake in compromising his lens security. His walls were back up, although he had added several new paths to restaurants he had discovered, and an old movie theatre he had not known of. Lately, though, he had started noticing holes appearing in some of his walls, revealing glimpses of gardens beyond. That woman must have been exploring his profile he thought. To his surprise, he found he didn’t care. Resetting his lens, he entered the address and password the woman had given him and around him his world transformed.

I also came across this experiment to ask conservatives and liberals to swap facebook feeds. Not that scientific, but an interesting read.



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Film Treatment 2

As discussed last tutorial – a second go at a treatment for the short, building in the new scenarios and characters from Tuesday.



They can romanticize us so, mirrors, and that is their secret: what a subtle torture it would be to destroy all the mirrors in the world: where then could we look for reassurance of our identities?

- Truman Capote (Other Voices, Other Rooms)

They stared at her from the bedside table. The table’s surface was bare but for the two tiny concave pools that glinted in the dim light. Depending on how she looked back at them they sometimes appeared as reflective as mercury, or as transparent as pure alcohol. Of all her morning rituals this was the first. She reached over, picked them up with practised delicacy and covered her eyes.


If it had been possible for an impartial observer to watch her walk the streets, her city would have appeared to them as a garden of Dionysian delights. She was shaded by a lattice of grape vines and flowering Coffea branches that hung between the mirrored glass arcades she walked through. Friendly faces sat in the windows of cafes and restaurants. At her feet, chickens freely roamed and the peaceful bleating of a lamb reminded her of her new resolve to do her part for the planet and try veganism. The buildings around her were seamless; all connected together it was impossible to tell where one ended and the next began. Down alleyways she could see the green mountains on the horizon that ensconced and protected her city.

She took a different route today. Usually, she’d wend her through the covered arcades to the city’s lifestyle district, where she would begin her day with an hour of yoga and a steaming cup of tea, before she settled into her garden office where she worked as a recruiter. But today she found herself taking the path toward the city plaza. The Festival of Le began at midday, and people were gathering to witness the opening of the city wide event.


Fog. Thick, blanketing, fog lapped at the sides of the walkway. A child walked purposefully through the mist. Behind her, the lights of her little city pierced through the white. Her home was a bustling shanty metropolis built out over an endless ocean, so calm it could have been glass. Over the waters dense fog gathered; all she could see were the lights of her community and those of neighbouring villages, which appeared as distant bright spots in the haze. Around her, her friends and family walked too. All were heading to the great market to see. Rumour had it a mythical event was destined to occur today.

The further she got from her settlement the denser and stranger the fog became. Foreign sounds of spirits conversing in unknown languages carried across the water, and the smells of exotic spices hung in the air. A breeze cooled her face, but the fog did not move an inch, nor did waves disturb the water’s surface. On occasion, shadowy figures emerged from the mist, crossing her path, and sometimes even drifting for long lengths down the walkway before crossing back out over the water. These figures she dodged with rehearsed nimbleness – they would not harm her so long as she did not interact with them.


The man sighed as he strode away from his home; a beautiful, detached townhouse that had belonged to his family as far back as he could trace. His city was under siege. For the last decade, foreigners had been streaming in from all over and the glass city that had once been his haven was now a battlefield where he had to fight for his right to live. Great mirrored walls kept him and his community safe, but when he occasionally came to gaps in the wall he could see that the structures being built on the other side were garishly decorated and precariously thin. Districts once valuable for their strong character and identity were now chaotic and naïve playgrounds for immigrants and hooligans. No one would take his home from him he vowed to himself. His neighbourhood, the butcher, the barber, the school, and the cricket pitch would be his last bastion of civilisation.

He stopped on a street bounded on both sides by mirrored walls and saw his reflection extending into infinity on both sides. He was far from home, in a foreign part of his city. He was sceptical about this so-called ‘Festival of Le’. ‘Open your eyes’ the adverts said, ‘see the city like never before’. He was only going to the city square for his grandson. ‘It’ll be good for you’ he’d said. ‘To get out there and see the sights for once’. He felt ridiculous going on this excursion, feeling like a tourist in his own city, but at least after today Robert would stop harassing him to go outside.


As she entered the plaza she saw the familiar World Tree planted at its centre. There was already a significant crowd here. She had no idea what to expect – announcements for the festival had only said that for this week, from midday today, everyone would be transported to another place. She looked at the tree, flowering abundantly and covered in ripe fruit. Mother nature, protected from the prying hands of thieves by an invisible, unspoken barrier. Four minutes to go.


Stepping into the square, the man was overshadowed by the classical architectures of the courts of justice and the city cathedral. At the centre of the square stood a great monument. A circular shield balanced atop a long blade – the weapons of his city’s founding father. Entering the crowd, he was jostled forward and he found himself nearly colliding with a young woman. In another language, she spoke what sounded like an apology, before she moved aside to let him pass.


The great markets were busier than she had ever seen them. The child pushed her way through the legs of shadowy figures in the crowd, her family somewhere far behind her. She wanted to be as close to the action as possible. The market was a huge floating pontoon with walkways radiating out to the outer settlements. At its centre a giant ladle stood proudly, the life giving instrument of the family hearth.

Despite the thousands around her, it suddenly grew very quiet. The figures around her started staring around, eyes transfixed on some unseen phenomenon. Then she saw it. The world around her started to fade away and the shadows revealed themselves to be ordinary men and women. In front of her a man with a walking stick lowered himself to his knees and a woman, no older than her own mother rubbed her eyes furiously. The giant ladle had disappeared. In its place was a tree made of metal – of cables and dishes. As she looked around, she was astonished to find that the sea too had disappeared. All around her were white buildings, covered in the strange markings of an unknown language.


She fiddled with her lenses. Something was wrong. Her augmentations were disappearing! She was going to miss the festival’s opening! The fruit had started falling from the world tree and then the world had vanished, replaced by the bare white buildings and the markers that were the infrastructure of the mixed reality city.


The man knelt as the mirrored walls came down all around him. He later reflected that it was a good thing he was already on his knees as had he been standing, what happened next would surely have knocked him off his feet. In the cold streets of the un-augmented city a voice boomed, and everyone heard. ‘The Festival of Le has started. From now, personalisation services are disabled for one week. Go and find yourself in the city you’ve never seen’.


Her lenses were starting up again, thank god. She calmed herself as the reboot process started. She saw a child in front of her, skinny, scrappily dressed but grinning ear to ear. She was staring at her, no at something behind her. As the world began to fill itself back in it was clear this was someplace else. The world tree came back, but it was barely recognisable. It looked more like a ladle, but with one sharp edge. Strange symbols covered the trunk and the familiar fruit now dangled from a canopy in the form of a great shield. Around her the city shifted. Traces of her favourite cafes and arcades remained but overwhelmingly foreign signs surrounded her. The distant green mountains looked to be slums, shanty towns stacked so densely they created a terrain around the city. Neon lights revealed huge towers she had never seen before, covered in Mandarin script and strange fairytale creatures leapt from building to building. She saw an elderly man ahead of her, struggling to get to his feet. She walked over and offered him her hand. ‘Where are you going?’ she asked him. He pointed with a frail finger toward a single detached townhouse at the end of a long avenue leading away from the square. ‘Come on’, she said. ‘I’ll take you home.’


‘In order to find his own self, [a person] also needs to live in a milieu where the possibility of many different value systems is explicitly recognized and honored. More specifically, he needs a great variety of choices so that he is not misled about the nature of his own person’

- Christopher Alexander (A Pattern Language)

I’ve also been reading Chistopher Alexander’s ‘A Pattern Language’ for my HTS essay. He proposes three conditions that I think are useful for describing the different views presented in my story:

1. The Heterogeneous City

This is Le’s view – the average of all people – what is seen during the Festival of Le.

2. The City of Ghettos

The hyper-personalised view seen by each of my protagonists

3. Mosaic of Subcultures

The condition where Le’s view is not always present, but rather occasionally interrupts the ‘normal’ personalised perspective. Here choice and identity in world view and lifestyle still exist, but (hopefully) within a more complete and balanced context. 

Excerpts of his text are below:ca_01 ca_02 ca_03

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