Crossfaders (screenplay excerpt) (site word-processor skewed the formatting but you get the picture)
INT. HOUSE – DAY
The film opens with HOME VIDEO FOOTAGE from the 80’s. A father holds his baby while playing the opening notes of Charles Mingus’ “Myself When I Am Real”. The baby joins in, slapping at the keys excitedly.
MOTHER (from behind the camera) You like when daddy plays this song, huh?
The HOME VIDEO FOOTAGE JUMPS SCENES in the child’s life, providing a TIME LAPSE of sorts; THE BABY, now a three-year-old, gets a Fischer Price record player for Christmas.
THE FATHER watches Total Recall with the five-year old boy.
MOTHER (from behind the camera) Danny! I don’t want him watching this!
FATHER (DANNY) (lazily) He’s fine.
MOTHER No, it’s not right.
A SHARP CUT to the boy PLAYING WITH G.I. JOES, quoting the line he heard from “Total Recall”.
CED Sue me, dickhead!
CED (holding figurines up) It’s not me, mom- it’s them.
NEXT SHOT is in a MOVING VAN. Ced is 7.
MOTHER You ready for your first time camping, buddy? About time we got you out of the city. I can’t believe he’s never even seen a real forest, yet.
NIGHTTIME AT THE CAMPSITE and Ced is SPELLBOUND by the number of stars in the forest sky.
CED Holy crap! It’s incredible! It’s outer space! Is it real?!
LAST SHOT is of Ced as a young teen playing piano.
MOTHER I wish your father was here to see this… I miss him so much.
CED (stops playing) I wish you wouldn’t say that anymore.
INT. CED’S APARTMENT – DAY
We hear the SCRATCHING and TWISTING of the lyrics, “One nation under a groove” by George Clinton, as these words appear on screen:
“To the makers of music- all worlds, all times.”
OPENING CREDIT SEQUENCE begins with a shot of CEDRIC SCOTT, 27, from behind, at his turntables still SCRATCHING, doing a break-beat routine, dropping a Blackalicious lyric.
TURNTABLE “I can do anything, I can do anything.”
The names on the CREDITS have small “45” records as “O’s”.
The studio apartment has wood floors and is so small that Ced’s turntables are only a few feet across from the foot of the bed- the camera is on the headrest of the bed looking at Ced’s back dead-on. The shots range and move swiftly from FULL RANGE to REALLY TIGHT on his FLYING HANDS- the viewer, a little turned around by the closeness and rapidity of the shots.
POV from the perspective of a groove on the record facing out, SPINNING and JOLTING back and forth when the record is scratched, COLORS MELD like travelling at light-speed. We hear the sound of going under a freeway overpass each time it passes under the tone arm and the shot goes black for split-second when it actually goes under the needle.
Ced ends with a back-n-forth of opener lyrics from seminal hip-hop songs by the Beastie Boys, Double Trouble, and Slick Rick.
TURNTABLE “-Here’s a little story, I got to tell- -Here’s a little story that must be told- -Once upon a time not long ago-“
Ced reaches for a new record to put on but it’s not there. The mix is falling apart- TRAIN WRECK!
He leaves the decks and is flipping through crates of records looking for this one record.
CED (V.O.) There’s nothing more maddening to a DJ than not being able to find a record that should be at hand… DOLLA probably did it. He always bums stuff or just ends up with it and doesn’t take care of it. I bet it was him. Son of a... wait, there it is.
END OPENING CREDIT SEQUENCE
INT. CED’S APARTMENT – MORNING
TURNTABLE (V.O.) “LIKE TODAY” BY ATMOSPHERE
We basically see a music video for the song, “Like Today” by Atmosphere. CED is sprawled out in bed. His actions follow the songs lyrics directly.
TURNTABLE (V.O.) “Woke up got up near 11 o’clock, butt naked except I was wearing my socks…”
Ced gets ready.
TURNTABLE (V.O) (CONT’D) “My place has been a cave since she left me.”
We see a framed picture of his ex-girlfriend, SAM. Somewhere, we also see the photo of Einstein and Chaplin shaking hands on the wall.
TURNTABLE “…towards the record store.”
Echoes out as he walks into a record store.
INT. ‘DIZZY ON VINYL’ RECORD STORE – DAY
CED walks into a record store playing muzak. Sun Ra, the musician, is behind the counter, dressed in Egyptian garb, glaring at him above his spectacles.
Ced approaches a section of vinyl but someone has their records all spread out on top of the stacks, so he moves on. Someone else gets too close to him, he looks over menacingly, and moves to a different section. A cat (one that resembles the one on the DJ Shadow Endtroducing cover) whips across the top of the records in front of him before disappearing. Ced looks over confusedly.
He rifles through a row of LPs and finds an open slit where the bottom and back of the shelf meet. He pulls the bottom of the shelf forward to pull out the yellowed paper that peaks through the crack. Up comes a record in a worn sleeve that reads “Voyager Record Test Press” in marker.
TURNTABLE (V.O.) "DO I LOVE YOU" BY FRANK WILSON
Ced’s elated face is lit up with an amber hue as he admires the record.
A surprise CABARET SHOW ensues. The RECORD SHELVES BACK-OUT, the WALLS OF THE STORE FALL, and in come CABARET DANCERS WITH HEADRESSES and 45’s (with adaptors) as tops. They dance a whole routine around him, and the whole thing becomes a sort of homage to The Big Lebowski dream sequence. This works because we find Ced to be a lover of film as the story progresses.
Sounds of his alarm clock which is “Sex Machine” by James Brown (“Get up, Get on up!”) start invading the dream.
We see the alarm-clock getting SWIPED in one fell swoop.
EXT. BUS STOP – EARLY MORNING
Ced is bundled up, looking miserable, sitting at the bus stop early on a grey morning.
He boards the bus, swipes his pass, and drudges to the back. Ced carries with him, Fahrenheit 451, the book (not really displayed but if you know the cover, you can pick it out). We can hear the same Denham’s Dentifrice advertisement playing as Guy Montag (Fahrenheit 451’s protagonist) hears when he enters the bus in the book.
Other bus riders include THE HOMELESS and HOSPITAL PATIENTS- a wretched group of people. Ced rests his head on the window at a stop. In the middle of the bus a TERRIBLE MOTHER fights with her three year old, abusively SCREAMING at him.
TERRIBLE MOTHER I told you to sit down! Now do it, now!
The bus proceeds forward and the window starts SHAKING HEAVILY, which JOGGLES Ced’s head.
Ced’s POV of the rest of the bus VIBRATES with COLORS and blending forms…
It is implied that the woman spanks her child, so the child is CRYING while she continues SCREAMING…
The vibrating becomes HEAVIER and HEAVIER as the noise from the mother and child become LOUDER and LOUDER…
It all CLIMAXES and ends abruptly. A brief moment of silence.
EXT. WALKING TO WORK – EARLY MORNING
A major city intersection is FAR AWAY (ESS) and from about 20 feet up looking south with sound muted, the cars and people move, pursuing whatever it is we are all pursuing.
TURNTABLE (V.O.) "WHAT'S YOUR WORLD" BY GLORIA ANN TAYLOR
We can see (from far away) the bus cross the intersection and stop at a bus stop to the left of the screen, but hardly notice it. As the bus takes off, the CAMERA ZOOMS to CED (after just getting off), kung-fu flick style. Right when the singing starts the camera faces him as he walks down the bustling street with his hands in his jacket pockets. CED, the film’s protagonist, narrates after the verse.
CED (V.O.) Albert Einstein once said that if he were not a physicist, he would have been a musician. That he thought in music, that he lived his daydreams in music, that he saw his entire life in terms of- music- his greatest joy. Kurt Vonnegut voiced that music was the ultimate evidence of the existence of God. Theirs’ were personal testaments to Nietzsche’s universal proclamation, “Without music, life would be a mistake.” But what does it mean when everything but music seems a mistake? When silence is cold to the touch. I don’t know- you may be able to convince me that life outside of music is good and right. Shit, you might could convince me that Decca, HMV, and Columbia were all right to pass on signing the Beatles. But there’s one mistake that you’ll never be able to make light of- that I, Cedric the Magnificent, the Gran Maestro, Winner of the DMC county finals, The Ever-So-Itchy-One, I, the Danny Glover of this record game, work here at Long Beach’s cherished prize, Burt’s Driving School.”
INT. BURT’S DRIVING SCHOOL – MORNING Ced, wearing a tie, talks to a class of teenagers.
CED Alright y’all, welcome to day two. Let’s begin with a quick review of yesterday. SMOG-
Ced gets ready to fill the blanks of the acronym on the board. A SHOWBOATING WHITE KID with blonde hair interrupts.
SHOWBOATING WHITE KID Didn’t I see you getting off the bus?
SHOWBOATING WHITE KID What happened to your car?
CED It broke down. Okay guys, so-
CED (annoyed) A couple years ago. I-
The class starts giggling and jeering.
SHOWBOATING WHITE KID And you’re going to teach us how to drive?! We’re fucked!
CED (V.O.) Can you believe that? Kids these days are straight rotten.
EXT. DRIVERS TRAINING CAR – DAY
CED (V.O.)(CONT’D) Then I spend the rest of the day risking my life with these maladroits. Police, firemen, service-men... they got nothing on me.
A MONTAGE begins of various student drivers driving ERADICALLY while Ced SHOUTS instructions at them.
1) The car stops and jolts forward abruptly and Ced starts pushing a rather GEEKY STUDENT’S leg to get him to break appropriately. 2) A FEMALE STUDENT is driving too close to the right. Ced starts to squirm. “More to the left, more to the left. To the left! Left!” The car takes off a parked car’s review mirror. Ced sighs deeply, “That’s okay.” 3) Ced is explaining a particular scratch in Dr. Octagon’s “Bear Witness” to another poor, and exceedingly annoyed FEMALE STUDENT (#2). 4) The same GEEKY STUDENT going too fast and losing control. Ced is screaming, “Hit the break!” Its not working on Ced’s side either. They scream for their lives, staring at each other, “AAAAHHHHHH!”
CED (V.O) But they do serve some purpose.
EXT. DUDE IN SLIPPERS’ HOUSE – DAY
The GEEKY STUDENT waits in the student-driving car, in front of a house. CED gets in.
CED Okay, now just up the street.
Ced gets out of the car, walks up to a house, and knocks. A bearded DUDE IN SLIPPERS answers. He is the personification of a “lazy Sunday”.
DUDE IN SLIPPERS (in affected manner) Well, good den, sirrah.
CED Good eventide, me lord.
They take part in a “Hercules” handshake whereby they grab each others’ forearms with a slight bow. This is followed by another handshake in which they inconspicuously exchange weed for money, Ced being the supplier.
The Dude in Slippers looks to the Geeky Student in the car and enthusiastically/sarcastically waves to him with a big open mouth smile. The kid returns a repulsed, mean frown.
OSS from the Geeky Student’s perspective, then back to Ced and the Dude in Slippers.
DUDE IN SLIPPERS (between his teeth, still waiving and smiling) You’re despicable, you know that?
CED (flicking his robe) It’s 2PM in the afternoon and you’re still in your pajamas. Who’s the despicable one?
INT. GILMORE MUSIC - DAY
A POLAR VIEW shows a cramped, dusty room. Metal shelves full of messy electronic equipment run all the way up to the high ceiling. CED is hunched over a turntable with a meter, apparently trying to fix it.
CED (V.O.) My other, less paying, but better job is at Gilmore Music.
Ced answers the phone.
CED -Dude, this is a business number. -Business number meaning I’m at work. I don’t wanna buy shit. Jesus Christ, what planet do you live on?
Ced hangs up the phone.
A CUSTOMER walks up to the open doorway holding a keyboard.
CUSTOMER Hey, I’m looking for Gordon? CED He’ll be out for the whole week. The sorry old sap is finally on his first vacation.
CUSTOMER Ah, I see. I guess there’s always something to look forward to, eh?
CED (half-laugh, then pensive) Hm. Yeah.
CUSTOMER Well, can you fix this? Been having a heavy buzzing sound.
CED (know it all) -Yeah, I got it. Just give me until the end of the day, brother.
CUSTOMER Cool, thanks… Later.
Ced walks over to a Polaroid of Gordon on the wall by the door. He’s an old man with glasses, long white hair and a mustache. Ced’s thinking, “Please don’t let me turn out to be like him.”
INT. CED’S APARTMENT – SUNSET/NIGHT CED walks up the outdoor stairs to his third story apartment. His gate-door is riddled with pamphlets of the same advertisement. He sighs, picks them all off, and enters. A dry-erase board in the window reads, “ABSOLUTELY NO SOLICITING!”
Ced is eating pizza while on the computer, Skyping with his ex-girlfriend, SAM, who is teaching English in Tanzania. She sits outside in the shade of a large bush. There’s a muffled, ambiguously “animal” noise in the background coming from her end.
CED Jesus Christ, is something going to eat you right now!?
SAM (laughs and looks to the side) No, I think I’m good.
CED So you don’t have running water, but you’re Skyping me right now?
SAM (smiles) I know, but that’s how it is.
CED That’s bananas. You’re whole situation so far in… Tazmania, I mean Tarzania-
CED Right. You’re whole situation in… Africa just seems so crazy. But I guess that’s why you fit in so well there. Do those little kids know their American teacher is insane in the membrane?
SAM Sometimes it seems like they’re on to me. But hey, you’re the one that made me insane in the membrane.
CED (big piece of pizza in his mouth) True, but we were insanely beautiful together… uh- in the membrane.
SAM Well, maybe you shouldn’t have done all that sleeping around when we were taking a break.
A few seconds of silence.
CED (under his breath) Ouch.
SAM I’m sorry, that just flew out. But hey, I gotta go. Kwaheri, lala salama.
CED Shabba-shabba-ding-dong to you too.
SAM You can’t call me anymore.
SAM This is too hard. You’ve always been my best friend so I’m going to give in. But it’s over, and I just feel like you’re getting this false impression that there’s a chance that when I get back-
CED Really? SAM (tearing) I just need to be alone, for now- for good. Let me do my thing.
CED Alright… bye.
INT. CED’S APARTMENT – NIGHT
Ced is in his kitchen, expunging an eyedropper into a water bottle, while talking to his best friend, DOLLA, on the phone.
CED -I’m telling you Dolla, I know you’ve known us for a long time and- -Well, of course, she was the one, but at the time, I wasn’t ready for the one. I was thinkin’ bout two, three, four, and so on. -Yeah, I’m putting the “2CE” into a water bottle now. -Well, when we’re ready to do it, we’ll just split the bottle ‘cause there’s two doses in here. -Yeah, I’d say so. It’s basically Lucy meets a mellow molly, but a little more intense than both. -But yeah, I don’t think things will ever be the same. After that happened, she got so insecure. I was always suspect, you know. I couldn’t even come home without being interrogated, man, straight suspected murder status. She’s never going to let it go.
CED PUTS THE WATER BOTTLE (CONTAINING 2CE, A PSYCHEDELIC DRUG) ON THE BOTTOM RACK OF THE FRIDGE, RIGHT NEXT TO ANOTHER BOTTLE OF WATER. He then plops on the bed facing up and puts his hand on his head.
INT. HALLWAY OF CED’s APARTMENT BUILDING – LATE NIGHT
A BLAST from the PAST takes place…
TURNTABLE (V.O.) "EPITAPH I" BY CHARLES MINGUS CED, inebriated, comes home. We can only see his SILHOUETTE stumbling down the hallway, moving dramatically with the music, as if on a theater stage.
The whole scene is mute except for the Mingus’ instrument-argument piece.
SAM is in the kitchen, but Ced walks past her. She speaks and he comes back.
The TRUMPET AND BASS SPEAK IN THEIR PLACE as they move into a serious argument.
CED walks off to bed. Sam falls to the ground, with her back against the oven and her face in her hands.
Camera ZOOMS into Sam’s hands until the shot is unfocused.
When the shot pulls out again, it’s Ced’s hands holding his face while he’s on his bed in PRESENT TIME. We then see his apartment building from the outside. The light in his apartment, visible through the drapes, goes out.