Short story workshop piece

Short story exercise based on a relationship that has become tired and cynical.

I see him everyday, too much maybe, yet I can’t bare to be apart from him… or so I thought. As the months, days and years pass I look at him and feel nothing. My mind is numb to his appearance. He speaks to me and I half listen; half caring about his life or existence. Are all relationships like this? Do they all reach a point when you look at one another and rather push them in front of a lorry than see the same person slowly draining the life out of you. Maybe that’s all I know and maybe the only way to combat my cynical mind is to start again. I  need to become a new person and change the way I look at the world or lock myself in a room until someone worth caring about knocks on the door.

‘Another Chance’ Outline

The film begins with the run-down and quiet streets of the city in view, and the houses desolate with their windows smashed in. A single person walks past, glaring into their phone.

A woman, Samantha, looks back at her partner through the window of her car and drives to another house. We see her as she puts the radio on and starts scrubbing the kitchen sink, frantically checking the time; clumsily spilling the cleaning products on her work overalls. She pauses for a moment whilst clutching her head and sighs.

An hour later, still at the house, Samantha glances up to the clock and immediately picks up the pace and frantically cleans the final surfaces before packing her bag and running to the car. Her hands are visibly shaking as she put the keys into the ignition. Back at the apartment, we then see Samantha quickly preparing food. Samantha quickly glances at the clock and swears under her breath, accidently slicking her finger as she looks away. Her eyes on the brink of tears.

Moments later we hear Alex, Samantha’s partner slam the door behind him and crash into the kitchen. Samantha does not make any eye contact with him and carries on chopping vegetables. Alex slowly walks behind her and Samantha tenses her body, quickening the speed of her chopping. Samantha flinches as Alex reaches over to the fruit bowl, he stares at her and a smile is apparent at the corner of his mouth. Samantha stays in the same position until Alex leaves the room and sighs.

At dinner, Samantha watches Alex pour more wine into her glass, noticing he is barely touching his food as he finishes off his last sip and collects a fresh bottle from the cupboard. Samantha struggles to keep up, but Alex stares at her until the drink is down her throat.

We see Samantha walking into the apartment after work the next day and shouting out Alex’s name, but there is no reply. Samantha proceeds to the living room where she finds Alex on the floor with empty bottles of beer scattered around him. Samantha sighs and approaches him to check his pulse: breathing a sigh of a relief, she lays her head delicately on his chest.  Moments later, Alex suddenly grabs Samantha by the throat and pushes her further into the ground. Samantha’s eyes widen as she struggles in his hold and she tries to escape, yet Alex’s grip grows tighter. Samantha manages to kick Alex in the chest and quickly runs upstairs. Alex watches Samantha run upstairs and stumbles carelessly back to the sofa, laughing and mumbling as he slumps down whilst opening another bottle of beer.

In the bathroom, we see Samantha locking the door and, while staring into the mirror, she takes a step back when she sees the handprint mark still pressed around her neck, wincing as she touches it. Samantha then proceeds to take off her clothes to reveal more scars on her body; she runs her hands over every one of them, looking at her reflection intently as her eyes fill up with tears.

After putting her clothes back on, Samantha runs into the bedroom, locking the door behind her before she opens the wardrobe and shoves her clothes into any bag that she can find. Samantha frequently stops to press her ear against the door and listens to any movement that she can hear downstairs. Looking under her bed, she finds a box filled with holiday pictures with the words ‘Robin Hoods Bay’ inscribed on the box from her childhood. She carefully takes the pictures out and flicks through them, her finger tracing over her as a child. She picks an image of herself laughing in the sea and places it in her purse. Samantha pauses for a moment as she looks at a photograph in a pristine diamante frame and quickly faces it down on the surface. She continues to gather everything together and quietly makes her way to her car. Samantha hesitates as she is about to start the ignition, but takes one look back at the house through her car window to see the silhouette of Alex through the curtains and turns the key.

Samantha pulls up a small service station and looks at her satnav and the amount of petrol left in her tank and hits her fists against the dashboard. She then checks her phone and notices that she has 7 missed calls from Alex. We hear the muffled voice of Alex from the phone saying that he will come looking for her if she doesn’t come back. Samantha immediately gets out of the car, holding back her tears as she walks into the nearest café. Samantha reaches the till to buy a drink and the cashier informs her that her card has been declined; her face drops as she begs the cashier to try it again, but nothing changes. Nathan, a late twenty-something looking man, sees the commotion at the till and asks if Samantha wants him to pay for her items. Samantha thanks him, but declines, and she walks out of the door. Nathan follows her outside and expresses his concern, but Samantha insists that she will try and sort something out. Not giving up, Nathan asks Samantha whether she needs help getting anywhere. Samantha, looking into her purse, glimpses at the photograph of Robin Hoods Bay and nods slowly.

We see Samantha in Nathans’ car, looking back at her abandoned car at the service station as her head drops into her hands. Samantha watches Nathan as he drives; her body is pressed up to the door, as far away from him as possible, and she frequently checks her phone and stares out of the window. Nathan asks Samantha what has happened; his tone is inquisitive yet full of sympathy and she reluctantly explains.  After a while, we see Samantha’s body language loosen up as she starts to laugh.

Later that day, we see Nathan arriving at his family-run guest house and offering Samantha a room for the time being. Samantha fiddles with her hands and is intensely silent; however, Nathan insists and takes her bags from the car.

We see Samantha looking in the mirror, smiling, brushing her longer hair and putting on her new clothes, allowing her body to feel the warmth of the sun seeping through the window. Samantha reaches for her phone, and there are further missed calls from Alex and her smile drops. Samantha presses the phone against her ear, her eyes shut as she bites her lip whilst listening to every word until her teeth almost pierce through her skin. Alex’s voice is heard down the phone, revealing that he has tracked her location, and that he is on his way. Samantha screams into her hands, and Nathan runs in. Samantha explains and Nathan immediately holds Samantha’s face and states that Alex is lying, and is only saying that to scare her. Samantha pushes Nathan away from his hold and starts to violently shake as her breathing starts to change. She suddenly clutches her throat as it is made aware that her breathing becomes heavier. Nathan calmly sits her down and runs his fingers through her hair. After a few moments, he hands over Samantha’s medication, which he insists that she takes. Samantha takes the pill reluctantly, but moments later her breathing becomes steadier. Impulsively, Nathan grabs both of their belongings and packs everything into a bag, and hastily walks to the car.

Samantha chases after him; her face is perplexed as she watches Nathan pack the car, explaining that they need to finish off what they started out to do. Samantha takes her bag back from the boot and heads back towards the guest house. Nathan tries to grab her, but Samantha pushes him away, explaining that she doesn’t want another man controlling her life. They continue to argue, and Nathan tries to explain that he’s not Alex and will never hurt her. Samantha quickly calms down and looks at the picture in her purse again and, with a deep breath, returns to the car.

In the car, Samantha replays Alex’s voice mail, and we hear his sinister voice breathing down the phone. Nathan puts one hand on her knee and tells her to stop. Samantha is unresponsive and continues to flick through the text messages on her phone.

We see the ‘Robin Hood’s Bay’ sign in view and a door to a petite cottage and we see Nathan and Samantha in the kitchen. Samantha unpacks the final box and kisses Nathan. They both smile and collapse onto the sofa with a bottle of wine, revealing house warming cards on the mantelpiece.

Moments later, the doorbell rings and Samantha gets off the sofa to answer it. Standing at the other side of the door is Alex. Samantha stutters her words and steps back and Alex, without saying a word, barges past Samantha, smashing every item that he comes across. Nathan immediately runs into the hallway and confronts him and Alex replies with a sinister smirk on his face as he reveals a knife behind his back. Alex turns the knife in his hands and, as Samantha tries to take it from his grip, he quickly stabs the knife clumsily into Nathan’s shoulder. Alex’s face quickly changes from a sinister smile to a state of shock, dropping the knife in front of him and looking back at Samantha. Samantha doesn’t react and instead takes the knife and forcefully stabs Alex in the neck, looking into his eyes as he drops to the floor. Nathan winces as he tries to move his shoulder and struggling to string a sentence together, he chucks Samantha his phone. “You know what to do”.

Samantha compresses Nathans wound whilst looking at Alex’s body on the floor, her hand trembles as Nathan looks at her with knowing eyes, glancing at the clock every few seconds.

Samantha strokes Nathans hair and continues to put pressure on his wound. Moments later the door is burst open by the ambulance who takes Nathan and Alex away, then followed by the police who aggressively hand cuff Samantha and force her in the back of the car. Samantha cries out to Nathan and watches him followed by Alex from the car window the ambulance leave.

Later on at the police station, Samantha is taken to a small, gloomy room. The policewoman questions her about the events. Samantha’s hands shake and her voice stuttering every word, unable to string a sentence together as she explains that her actions were self-defence and the manipulation she went through. We See Samantha’s breathing become heavier as she frantically pinches her skin under the table and closing her eyes for a brief second.

We then see a series of trials in the court room. By the last, Samantha’s body appears to be wasting away, her figure thin with dark circles around her eyes as she barely strings a sentence together. Nathan appears at the witness stand, his body appears to be untouched but up close we see his body has been manipulated.

We then see Samantha embracing Nathan as she leaves the court with a slight smile on her face, but quickly replaces it with doubt. Nathan touches Samantha’s back as they walk towards the car and Samantha turns back for a second to look at the court room. Samantha stops for a moment and rips up the picture in her purse, leaving paper to scatter on the floor whilst making her way back to her cottage in Robin Hoods Bay.

Script sample of ‘Another Chance’

INT. SAMANTHA’S APPARTMENT, SOUTH LONDON – DAY

The house is quiet and still with only the sound of heavy breathing coming from the living room.

There is the sound of keys turning and SAMANTHA walks in, noticing the silence.

SAMANTHA

Alex?

There is no reply. Samantha makes her way into the living room where she sees ALEX unconscious on the sofa with bottles of beer surrounding him.

SAMANTHA

(On the brink of tears)

How could you.

An empty bottle of beer slips out of Alex’s hands and lands on the floor. Samantha sharply breathes and holds her chest, hesitantly walking over to Alex to check his pulse. The floor around Alex is drenched with beer and Samantha. Samantha’s shoes squelch on the carpet.

SAMANTHA

(Sighing)

Not again.

Samantha delicately places her head onto Alex’s chest and watches his body slowly rise and fall. Suddenly ALEX reacts to the movement and grabs Samantha by the throat, slowly pinning her down and looking into her eyes. Samantha screams but Alex does not let go.

ALEX

(Anger set in his face)

Don’t try and leave me again.

SAMANTHA

(Struggling to breathe)

 I won’t just let me go.

Alex continues to hold her neck. Samantha struggles to breathe as panic sets into her face, her eyes are widening. She kicks Alex and manages to break free. Samantha impulsively runs to the bathroom upstairs, tripping over the stairs in a panic. Alex smirks as he watches Samantha escape.

Alex then proceeds to stumbles back to the sofa and knocking over several beer bottles in his path. Alex opens a bottle of beer with his teeth and spits out the bottle cap onto the floor.

INT. SAMANTHA’s BATHROOM. SOUTH LONDON – DAY

Locking the door and looking in the bathroom mirror, Samantha looks at the handprint still left on her neck and winces as she touches it.

Samantha stares into the mirror at her reflection and notices the other scars left on her body. Samantha continues to reveal more scars as she takes off her clothes and runs her hands over each one. She punches the mirror and holds her head into her hands and stares at her face intently, her eyes filling up with tears.

INT. SAMANTHA’s BEDROOM. SOUTH LONDON – DAY

Samantha re-clothes and runs into her bedroom, locking the door and pressing her ear against it to listen out for Alex who is mumbling loudly downstairs. Samantha’s breathing becomes heavier.

ALEX

(Slurring his words)

Come back darling we need to talk.

SAMANTHA

(Whispering under her breath)

Not this time.

Samantha immediately opens up her wardrobe and pulls out her clothes and searches for a bag.

Samantha looks under the bed and pulls out a battered box that has ‘Robin Hoods Bay’ inscribed on to it. She carefully takes the pictures out of the box and runs her fingers over a younger version of herself. Samantha folds one of the images and places it in her purse.

Samantha looks around the room and picks up an old photo on the bedside table, noticing the cracks on the picture frame. She pauses for a second but quickly places it back face down. Samantha continues to gather her belongings together.

EXT. SAMANTHA’s DRIVEWAY SOUTH LONDON – DAY

Samantha sits in her car and looks out the window. Alex’s silhouette is visible through the curtains. Samantha watches Alex collect more bottles of beer from the kitchen. Samantha notices that she can see at Alex’s silhouette through the curtains, appearing to be looking at her.

SAMANTHA

(To herself)
Just leave him.

Samantha’s hands shake as he puts her keys into the ignition. She takes another look out the window but this time the silhouette is gone. Samantha turns the keys in the ignition and watches through her rear mirror as her apartment slowly disappears into the distance.

 

 

Miss Potter short review

miss-potter

‘Miss Potter’ portrays the life and achievements of Helen Beatrix Potter, an English writer and illustrator. The film strategically combines her experiences of creating her well known novels and portrays her inspiration and struggles that ultimately leads to her success. The characters from Beatrix’s books, for example, Peter Rabbit, are delicately animated, indicating a unique and intrinsic friendship which combats Beatrix’s loneliness. The story cultivates creativity and imagination, proving that without the hindrances in her life, Beatrix Potter would not be as successful as she is today. The film can also inspire any aspiring illustrators and writers.

Interview with The Guardian

Earlier this year I was luckily chosen to be interviewed by The Guardian about my Creative Arts Degree. Below is a copy of the interview. 

Joanne Butlin, 19, an undergraduate, studying BA Creative Arts at Aberystwyth University.

What attracted you to the BA Creative Arts at Aberystwyth?

It’s a new course, now on its second year, and very small – there are just nine people on it this year. I was attracted to it because it is a very broad course, combining various disciplines – such as creative writing, film, media and art – with the option to specialise. I’m a creative individual and I didn’t want to be limited to one discipline, so this gives me the flexibility to choose what I really want to do. You can start to refine your subjects in the second year; but, even then, it remains broad. I haven’t seen a course like it – and I have been looking for two years.

What has impressed you about it so far?

If you find you don’t like a module, you can change it to something you might prefer. For example, I chose a theatre module initially, but discovered that it wasn’t for me. So I swapped it for creative writing – and that was the best thing I could have done because I developed a real passion for it. It was easy to change, too.

So is it a good course for people who aren’t sure what job they ultimately want to do?

Yes. Initially I was going to spend three years studying graphic design – but, of course, afterwards I would then definitely be looking for a job in that area. But I didn’t want to limit myself. Also, this course has given me a chance to sample what else is ‘out there’. Realising that  I enjoy and have a talent for writing has made me think that I might want to go into a career in journalism or publishing.

What has been the most surprising learning experience of this course?

The creative writing has definitely been a revelation. It was a surprise to discover that I have a knack for it because it is not something I thought I would ever return to after school. The media workshops were also surprising. I’ve never studied media before, but i’m now learning how to use a camera, and how to be a writer and a director. Dipping my toe into three roles has been very interesting. And it’s a hard job market out there so it’s good to have a range of skills.