69 Minutes to Titan: Master Reference Document for Script
Note: IMDB.com shows a movie titled “69 Minutes” dating to 1975. It appears to be an adult movie. To avoid confusion, I am changing the title to “69 Minutes to Titan” (a reasonable time for light to reach Titan from Earth, though a bit low -- visit http://members.optusnet.com.au/bnbg6billion/6billion_traveltimes.htm .) It is common in the industry for movies to have the same title over many decades, but one should avoid duplication of titles if possible.
Latest from Cassini Probe http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/whycassini/30dec_titan.html
OR http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/cassini/main/index.html (Huygens on Titan,
Link to (feature-length) script. (Format: PDF from FinalDraft). This is a “spec script, not a shooting script. Paid resources would be required to develop a detailed professional shooting script up to industry standards. Estimated length: 110 minutes
(Here is a link to a four-page short “Surprise Planet” that suggests what a “human” settlement on Titan could look like.)
An aging gay man befriends a “geek” who can hack into the computer network of an alien civilization. The geek disappears, and the man is arrested upon demands of the geek’s family and goes to prison. Then the man is redeemed, well, maybe.
Analysis of Plotline Beats
(From the point of view of Clem)
Source: Michael Hauge’s “Screenplay Mastery” outline at http://www.screenplaymastery.com/structure.htm
Opening Situation: (pp 1-4)
Clem is in jail but is allowed to visit with a young adult male friend, Tobey (and Tobey’s fiancée Sheila), and he hopes that they will help him get an early release from jail in time to attend Tobey’s Mormon wedding, on terms that he will continue to be able to write.
Stage 1: Setup (six years ago): Clem has self-published a political book about gay rights and is trying to market it, while holding down an information technology job, in which he may have lost some interest.
Turning Point 1: “
Stage 2: New Situation. Clem has a new “friend” Tobey who, though outwardly heterosexual, seems like a possible partner. Clem augments the friendship by taking Tobey to dinner for his graduation (pp 18-20), where his explusion from college for being gay (a motivator of his book) is shown in very brief montages. In the meantime, Tobey has been student teaching and getting to know a particular student, Erich Jzzet because of his unusual spiritual abilities (including a bizarre take on speaking in tongues), particularly after a medical incident in the classroom.(p. 12).
Turning Point 2: “Change on Plans”: Clem meets Erich while doing ballot access petitioning for Tobey. Erich teases Clem at bit (p. 25)
Stage 3: Progress: Clem has a new “friend” who may be more “promising,” however dangerous. He needs Erich, as his social situation in the gay community has grown ambiguous as he is less welcome at gay bars where he hangs around (he is surprised when he believes he sees Tobey and Sheila there). In the meantime, he is getting into trouble at work as his technical competence is slipping.
In the meantime, Tobey is inching forward with his acting and modeling career, and presents a head shot to Sydney, whom Tobey suspects (after seeing Clem’s book in Syd’s office) could have been involved in Clem’s college expulsion 40 years before (p. 30).
Turning Point 3: “Point of No Return.” Clem and Erich meet again at Erich’s house (his dad’s estate) after they meet each other petitioning, and Erich teases Clem into a at least suggestive encounter. But Erich also shows him a sneak preview of the supernatural.
Stage 4: “Complications and Higher Stakes.” Clem now lives
in a veiled threat of arrest, as the world around him changes with terrorist
incidents. His domain is taken away by his
Frank (and one of Tobey’s friends Patrick) talk Clem into accepting an apprenticeship at the Academy, where Clem will “pay his dues” so that he can be an important person in the coming transition. They go on an initiation ritual in the woods.
Erich pays Clem a surprise visit in his apartment (while Clem still has the lease), and tracks down the hackers who got his domain shut down. Erich shows that his domain has been hijacked by extraterrestrials about “69 light minutes” away, which places them on Titan. Clem begins to sense that Erich is extraterrestrial himself, or could be some kind of superior human, like an angel, who doesn’t have to breed to be a first class citizen.
Turning Point #4: “Major Setback.” Erich disappears on the trail toward the ritual, as “he goes up.” (p. 93) Clem and Patrick apparently enjoy being brought low by Frank. When Clem gets home to his apartment for the weekend from the initiation at the Academy and then tries to fly back, he is arrested.(p. 96). The government claims his domain has been stealing classified information (based on what happened during Erich’s visit) and Erich’s father makes further charge. (DC)
Stage 5: “Final Push”: The Judge agrees to drop the “espionage” charges if he will plead out as a with a sealed secret conviction to a vaguely worded offense, that seems to involve thought-crimes and alternate universe-jumping. Clem does so and goes to prison.
Turning Point #6: “Climax” - Clem is “redeemed” in prison by female therapist Tovina, particularly in group therapy encounters with a film personality Peter, who had struck Sheila with a car. At the same time, Erich, abducted an on Titan, learns what the responsibilities of an angel will be as he takes the torch from his predecessor, Roger.
Stage 6: “Aftermath” – Erich returns, and Clem gets out of jail after all, in time for Sheila to have her baby, and for Tobey and Sheila to wed, as they will stay on earth and ride out the storm. Clem may marry Tovina, and his is somewhat redeemed (even if he is, unlike Erich, decisively “slain in the spirit”), although his future is more limited that that of his two heroes Tobey and Erich. It seems that he will become a teacher dedicated to the disabled.
Genre: “dramatic” science fiction in near present
day. Recommended rating: R Length: 125 Minutes
Special effects and
I have been quite impressed by the variety of television series which present strong young male characters. Many of these are on TheWB. I have wanted to explore the idea of presenting these sorts of characters in feature films, and combine the dramatic genre of family or even gay-related drama with science-fiction-like premises concerning how our society might change abruptly, partly because of political threats (like terrorism) but also because some grander quasi-religious reality (or perhaps some interpretation of who the extraterrestrials, or beings like angels) plays out through characters like these.
So I have the basic plot setup of an older gentlemen (Clem) who befriends two young men (Erich and Tobey) and finds himself sinking, partly because of his own character, into legal troubles which, nevertheless, will lead him to the answers about “life” that he seeks. (Director’s Cut – more details)
Some of the background material does come from my first “Do Ask, Do Tell” book. I have tried to minimize the use of flashbacks and produce a narrative that is relatively linear and with clear beat (or turning) points and situations, at least with respect to the driver character Clem. I have two other feature manuscripts which are much less linear and use flashbacks much more for expository and topical material. In screenwriting workshops I have found that less linear scripts are very difficult to follow (without the visual help of the actual pictures on the movie screen to watch) and very difficult to get into table readings or stage readings with actors. So partly this project was intended to develop a story line with interesting teen and young adult characters (interacting across generations with older characters), present provocative social messages and religious, theosophical or scientific speculations.
The “rooting interest” scheme appears to center around Clem at first in terms of turning points. But it is Erich whom one wants to be the “best person” at the end: he outgrows his childhood diabetes miraculously, develops telepathic-digital abilities to find the angels inhabiting Titan as a staging area to interact with earth, and graduates on his own terms to become one of “them.” It seems that he may have been responsible for Clem’s being accused of compute hacking (by being the hacker that made Clem a “nuisance”) but one of Erich’s qualifying tasks was to demonstrate his “special” abilities to another (Clem) who could benefit from looking up to him. Tobey, on the other hand, marries and has kids for one more generation, in order to enjoy family life. Yet the menacing end to life as we know it grows and sees unstoppable, and one can only depend on faith or personal graduation. Clem is left in his own ambiguity, finally coming to terms with connecting to other people on an aesthetically realistic basis, even if he may come to nought. “Billy Budd” becomes perfect, but those who are less so can be left behind.
Except for one reference to
DISCRETION” in script means to shoot within legal requirements and
As the film opens in present day, CLEM LDZEK (60) is led, in orange prison jumpers, to a conference room where he talks to a previous friend TOBEY STRICKLAND (27), who has brought his pregnant fiancée SHEILA DANIELS (26). Tobey rebuffs Clem’s friendliness, but seems more concerns when Clem mentions the Cassini probe in conjunction with their mutual friend Erich (below). Tobey then reviews their earlier friendship with a video of their earlier friendship, when Tobey, as a college senior, had invited Clem to speak about his book at his college. The film also reviews that Clem’s Mother and others had been suspicious of his relationship with Tobey as “too young.” (But now Tobey should have ripened a bit.) Apparently Clem can be released if Tobey will invite Clem to attend his wedding, though not as a best man.
Clem meets then (after a prison inspection) with a WARDEN BOGGS, with a “right wing conspirator” FRANK L’ISTESSO (40) in the room to approve of the release. Clem insists that he be allowed to write (presumably with computer Internet access) again. Finally, Clem has an encounter with ERICH JZZET (24) in the recreation room, and Erich shows a hint of his adult supernatural powers.
Clem hints at his understanding at what may happen when he reads Clarke’s “Childhood’s End” in his cell. He would like to be able to sleep in the always lighted cell but can’t.
The film now goes back six years (p. 7). There is an extraterrestrial landscape, which is appearing on Erich’s screen (Erich is now just 14). ROGER KIEHL (26), converses with Erich in a 3-D image on the monitor and even displays a vista of the living quarters (“barracks for programmers”) for new residents on this planet.
At this time, Tobey (now 21) is student teaching world history, 9th Grade, and Erich is in his class. Erich has an apparent seizure, Tobey gives CPR, and Erich recovers quickly. In the hospital, there is evidence that his juvenile diabetes has miraculously disappeared. Very quickly, Erich grows and matures physically (entering puberty and adolescence) in the expected fashion seemingly in just weeks. Over family dinner, the Jzzets recount Erich’s friend ROGER, whom we now learn had collapsed and supposedly died in an Assembly of God speaking-in-tongues exercise, but then disappeared with his body never accounted for.
Tobey meets Clem at a libertarian political reception in which Clem is signing his books. Meanwhile, Tobey (also student teaching PE) is working with Tobey on the jogging track and baseball fields and notice that he is maturing physically very fast.
Erich dares his fate at an
Tobey is becoming serious about nerd girl friend Sheila, and we also learn that he is planning law school when he challenges her about her downloading. She teases the most recent changes in his body as he approaches his own biological early summer. Tobey is going over to meet Clem (who by now has given his famous speech, depicted in the opening sequence, above) for Clem’s own version of a graduation dinner.
At the café. (p 17) Clem recounts his college expulsion telling the Dean that he is gay, and the aftermath that led to his present day book and the chance to become a celebrity. Tobey tries to recruit him into more street activism, ballot access petitioning, in order to make Clem more “real” and Clem is tempted to go along to see Tobey again. There is a certain distance in Tobey’s manner as they leave the restaurant, which soon closes permanently.
Tobey and Clem meet again at gay pride at a libertarian party tent, and then again when Clem takes up the ballot access petitioning. Here Clem meets Erich for the first time. Erich tells Clem that he is a student in Tobey’s class and is a “teacher’s pet.” They go out tailgating the fairgoers and Erich is very effective as a salesperson collecting signatures. (The Donald would be proud.) Erich shows Clem a slight amount of physical affection as they work some math problems back in the tent. Tobey later advises Erich to tell Bill that he (Erich) is a senior.
In the mean time, the status of Clem’s life as an author, after the initial honeymoon/”blessed event” period is going downhill. His department head at work questions his technical skills. There are family responsibility issues, too, and a surgeon begs Clem to move back but believes Clem when he says he cannot afford to move back without losing his job.
Clem is also creating a bit of nuisance socially. At a gay
disco that tends to attract straight couples he spots Tobey, Sheila, and a
flashy roommate Patrick. Clem gawks at Patrick doing dirty dancing, and is
Tobey, besides his academic world stuff, is advancing his acting and modeling career, and meets with his agent (p 28), Sydney Gibbs, and, while submitting his head shot, learns that Syd knew Clem before and may well have been connected to Clem’s prior college expulsion. Syd seems to understand better now the homosocial fascination with the idea that the male should be beautiful as well as the female.
Clem encounters Erich alone while ballot petitioning at a downtown block party—and Erich does most of the salesmanship. Erich mentions that he is a senior.
Clem is somewhat challenged in keeping up on the job, still (page 39) when he shows up at work when “on call” in pajamas,” and a funny co-worker DAN CZERNY teases him with the “IQ test.” On the way, he sees his stand-up comic friend at a coffee shop and is warned to stay out of jail.
Tobey has graduated, and become a teacher, putting law school on hold as he looks toward a media career. Tobey and Sheila visit the Jzzet’s and enjoy a ritual in their swimming pool (with Erich), where the parents (BRIAN JZZET and ELLEN JZZET) get struck by heat lighting and are resuscitated.
There has been a background of crackdowns on civil liberties
as domestic terrorist attacks increase, as reported in the media. Tobey is
making his own spiritual changes and visits BISHOP MOORE with the idea of
getting a “recommend” to join the Mormons. The Bishop confirms that modern
western civilization will end in about a generation (the “childhood’s end”).
But Tobey wants a family for eternal “real life.”
As a year or two passes, Clem’s demise at work approaches. He is called in for a career audit by a third party company, and Frank, whom Clem remembers from a bar encounter 20 years before, gives him a hard time about his professionalism.
Clem attends an amateur film night in a café, and Erich presents a short film about teenage hackers. Peter is the host.
Clem finally gets laid off from his job, but with a friendly handshake. The scene is dramatic in that his computer access is cut off first while he is on the system.
Clem also loses his domain when his
Clem goes on some trips after his layoff and runs into Erich working in a county restaurant. Erich shares the idea that speaking in tongues is a way to hack into the extraterrestrial world without a computer.
Erich (now a top college student, if somewhat secretively) keeps seeing Tobey socially, and Tobet explains why he has to marry and have children. Tobey does some mission work, which Syd films for a local presentation at an art theater. Tobey and Sheila rehearse their wedding (p/ 60)
Clem gets a fake ID card for Erich, and a fake domain for himself.
Tobey, Sheila and Syd have a South beach lunch when Tobey talks about his functioning as an authority figure on his mission for a few more months before he marries, and the idea that their marriage will indirectly influence Erich’s spiritual growth.
Frank visits Patrick working out and getting ready for the initiations at the Academy. (Frank has hired Patrick as the Academy’s physical trainer.)
Erich, ... , visits the gay bar and sees Roger, and dirty dances with him. Clem watches, and gets bounced again.
Clem attends another amateur film showing, when Tobey proposes marriage formally on the stage (after showing Syd’s films of Tobey proselytizing and marrying), with Peter MC-ling. Clem, Erich (still “illegal”) and Tobey have a conversation at the bar where Clem reveals what makes him “tick” (loyalty to his upward affiliation). Afterwards, they are talking on the street about how they set up the marriage secretly when Sheila gets hit by a car driven by Peter. Sheila just had her first bout of morning sickness. Clem also starts doing exploratory interviews, like for teaching, and runs into walls because of his introverted nature. He does discover an opportunity to join a team of “asset persons” trained at an Academy run by Frank. He is interviewed for this by Roger (p 69). He also learns that his apartment lease will not be renewed because his notoriety creates a risk for other tenants (as with his website).
Tobey learns of Sheila’s pregnancy after the accident. Miraculously, the baby is all right.
Brian Jzzet’s wife finds the copy of Clem’s book. Tobey attends a “slaying: with Erich (maybe out of curiosity) and sees Titan while barely remaining conscious, but then gets a grip on himself. This time Erich is asleep during the “procedure.” Tobey feels glad that he will go to the LDS heaven (by getting married) rather than to the Titan staging area for angels.
Peter is sentenced for running Sheila down (p 72).
Tobey is helping Sheila with her acute care rehab after “cutting it off” and reiterates to Erich his feelings about the importance of family so he can go on forever.
Clem has actually started working as a substitute teacher and has Erich in Tobey’s civics class, late in Erich’s senior year. Clem hand’s back Erich’s essay test, the best answer in the class. (No multiple choice?)
In a Mormon church lounge, Tobey converses with his prior roommate Patrick (good clothes) and reiterates the short time frame for life as we know it.
Erich pays a surprise visit to Clem’s apartment (while Clem still has the lease) to help Clem unscramble the loss of his domain. He shows that Clem’s computer had been hacked to transmit spam to another planet – 69 light minutes, about the distance to Titan. (Okay, astronomers, it might be a little more.) They go upstairs where Erich gives him a swimming lesson in the high rise spa and engages in some teasing reminiscent of the events almost 5 years ago. (pp 77-86). Yet, when Erich leaves Clem’s computers break (again) although this may be due to Clem’s own previous “lack of curiosity.”
Brian finally confronts Erich about Erich’s relationship with Clem, over the copy of the book, and that Clem shows up on old security tapes from his visit. Dad has always been watching him!
Erich, then, is glad to finish his “homework” as he fears his Dad could take away his computer setup. He chats with Roger online in Titan (delayed time feedback), and Erich finishes up his work and logs off properly before “dying.”
Clem is getting set up in his dorm at the Academy, when Patrick and another senior student Amos discuss Clem’s impending participation in the initiations or “tribunals.” Amos admits he had committed a compulsive crime like Peter’s but was sent here rather than to jail.
Clem goes on the night-hike and initiation. Erich joins him, and Clem finds it a “pleasant surprise.” They talk about the morality of Clem’s tastes. When they come to a forest clearing, Erich walks into it and seems to be struck by lightning and vanishes. Clem, following his instincts, goes back to the initiation in a pond. Patrick gets body-shaved, and Clem apparently does, although he is not sure as he throws up and passes out. Next morning Clem, alone, retraces his steps back out, and find that the tracks of Erich’s steps disappear.
In the meantime, Clem’s apartment is raided by the FBI, and Erich is on a UFO, getting a stereotyped medical examination from the Grays, who respect his body enough.
Clem makes a return trip to his apartment and finds it ransacked, and the property manager admits it was the “government.” Clem tries to fly back to the Academy and is arrested. The police postpone his Miranda (perhaps illegally) but seem concerned whether he has the savings to pay for a lengthy defense.. Clem’s legal service plan (to protect his writing) provides a black female lawyer ORKNEY.
Sheila and Tobey make love, even as she is pregnant with one leg. She titillates him now by finally depilating his chest with a cream, so he can go back to looking like a college student for his mission. Orkney debriefs Tobey, at the natatorium, for Clem’s behalf.
Clem and Orkney meet with the DA, and Clem insists that he thought that Erich was of age. But the DA talks him into plea bargaining so he can get out and get back to his computers. She agrees that the verdict should be sealed (to keep the alien abduction connections secret for the government). She does read his mind in asking if he thinks that the government really wants to take him out. He can get what he wants. JUDGE HARTNET, a young judge, sentences him to a few months of jail, pending psychiatric rehabilitation (for sealed offenses). That seems to be the cover for his having let Erich steal government documents about UFO’s and putting them on his server. There is some suggestion that extraterrestrial powers want to see someone (Clem) punished for thought-crimes because sometimes thoughts can cross “branes” into parallel universes, which apparently matter even if the angelic authorities have set something up on “nearby” Titan in our own solar system. Clem starts his reparative therapy for a sealed offense in prison by meeting Peter, who had given in to a similar compulsion when he hit Sheila. The therapist is TOVINA, 34. Harnett and the prosecutor have a brief conversation about their secret.
Roger shows Erich some of the scenery of the small world of
Titan, including the “gay bar,” the false front main street, and the “water
recreation.” They then watch time-lapse movies about Peter and Tobey. Roger
resists seeing one of himself (after seeing a discussion the Tribunals in
Clem’s book), but his pride will be his undoing as an angel. Roger then goes to
(Note: Page 111- the story would have to show that lakes on Titan are often dry, but they may fill suddenly with ethane or methane downpours.)
Clem is given a pupilometric and penile plethysmograph test of his sexual fantasies, when he grabs Tovina. They think he is “cured.”
During his outprocessing, he is given a physical and told by SURGEON WHALE that he needs bypass surgery. Despite his epilation at the tribunals with Frank, he doesn’t want to become a member of the zipper club. Nevertheless, he accepts the operation to get out; Whale also examines Sheila and promises her and Tobey a baby girl, who won’t have to carry on the family name (if there were one).
Erich falls back to earth (p 114) in
Tovina dresses Clem up for the wedding, which he attends to close out the film. Well, almost. Clem has his own speaking in tongues at the end, where he sees both worlds that Erich and Tobey will live in and see what happens to self-indulgents like Roger.
Plot checkup “reading quiz” questions:
Q. Does Tobey realize that Clem has been sexually attracted to him? What is Frank’s attitude?
A. Yes. In the opening scenes, he refers to Clem’s having scoped him and hit on him. Later in the prison exit interview, Frank compares himself to the portrait in Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Gray – and Clem says that Peter, who actually committed a real physical crime (a hit and run felony that injured Sheila – Tobey’s eventual fiancée-- causing her to lose a leg) is the really decrepit entity. Clem has gotten caught by the “no man’s land” between desire and acting out. If he were heterosexual (and particularly if he were not known as gay publicly) he might not get into the same legal trouble for what he does; this is an important point. Sometimes desire is a gray area.
Q. Does Tobey reject Clem?
A. Not really. But he won’t help Clem conduct forums any more. His Mormon stake has pulled strings at the end to let Clem pursue teaching, since Clem has apparently “changed” and still “lives.” Surgeon Whale seems to believe that chemical castration for prostate problems is necessary anyway, and after that, Clem is safe around (disabled) kids (he was never even remotely interested in anyone less than the age of puberty anyway).
Q. Does Erich realize that he can be immortal?
A. After recovering from juvenile diabetes, it seems so (P 26). If you give in to a higher purpose, you might live forever as yourself. That is a bit of a paradox. You give up some choice for immortality. (There is some theology here—Jesus saves you from your “sins” but it is not so clear that eternal life has much to do with accepting a “purpose driven” life. Erich apparently now believes that it does.
Q. What is Erich’s attitude toward pain?
A. Having mysteriously recovered from diabetes, he was used
to it, as Tobey notes on the jogging track. He fights off passing out at the
Q. When Erich goes back to Bill’s highrise apartment building and finds a medical emergency, does he save the patient?
A. No. It seems as though he doesn’t have the healing gift, at least not on demand.
Q. When does the corrupted file (that led to the
A. Around p 84, Erich views it for Clem during Erich’s visit to Clem’s apartment. Earlier, on P 55, before his layoff, he has found the corrupted file but declines to call law enforcement (out of “fear”)
Q. When are the tribunals first mentioned?
A. Early, in a quick Montage about Clem’s college expulsion. Erich mentions them again before he “goes up.”
Q. What effect does the martial law in other cities have on the characters?
A. On p. 62, they first learn about the curfews in a few other cities (because of multiple sniper attacks and suicide bombers) in the media. Frankie talks about it for the “Academy” when Bill shows up at a job fair. The Erich shows Clem in Clem’s apartment how to hack into the real FEMA secrets, and that is the real reason the government wants to go after Bill, and will let Bill teach after he is “cured” (but he won’t write).
Q. What is the timeline of the screenplay.
A. It starts out in present day (with the prison visit). About page 9 it shifts back about 4 to 4-1/2 years, with Clem’s publicizing his book. (DC – more)
Q. What does it mean for Erich to “check out”?
A. Erich finishes all of his “work” (on his computers) as if to turn it over, since he may not come back in the same form. In one sense, he is going to “die” when he is abducted, but he “checks out” in a “professional manner” especially for a high school kid. But actually he will come back as an Angel, to live forever if he keeps his promises.
Q. What happens to Roger?
A. Roger was an earlier Angel who gave in to self-indulgent thoughts (Angels can read minds and their minds can be read) so he must be dispatched—never to exist again once he is gone.
Q. Compare the outcome for Tobey and Erich.
A. Erich apparent becomes an angel and is “good” enough to live forever on his own and not age (like Dorian Gray—but we’ll see, maybe in a sequel!!) Tobey goes for eternal marriage (with Sheila, despite her disfiguring injury), and that starts on this earth.
There are more QA’s and details on a private copy.
©Copyright 2004 by
This is a work of fiction.
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