Making a Short Film: Scene 22 at Inception

M. Francis Enright
4 min readNov 25, 2023
Photo by Voyage Pro on Unsplash

M. Francis Enright is co-creator with John Brancaccio of The Working Experience. Listen to the podcast on iTunes and Spotify and watch videos on Tik Tok. His first short film, HR, was accepted into zero of the 23 festivals to which it was submitted. His second short film, The Routine, was nominated for Best Dark Comedy at the Georgia Comedy Film Festival. Say Your Name is his third short film. Scene 22 is scheduled to be filmed in Summer of 2024.

Full Disclosure: This script is based on actual events. Just one actual event, really. It’s just a short film.

INT. MOTEL ROOM-DAY

The shot is of a camera monitor. Visible on the screen is the timecode and other information one would see on a camera monitor.

The actual filming camera will have to shoot the monitor. And we will need a prop camera as well, I think. I need to work that out in a shot list.

Is this piece a metacognition on the process of making a film? No, I don’t think so. What is it is about? I hate that question. It is such a film school question, and everyone asks it, even after they have read the script. I expect they want some grandiose answer: Struggle, Identity, Gender Issues, Exploitation etc etc etc.

I don’t know. You read it, supposedly. You tell me.

STEVEN RICHARDSON, A CAUCASIAN MAN IN HIS 20s, sits on the bed.

TIM ISAACSON, A MAN IN HIS 20S, sits next to Steven.

They both look confused and somewhat uncomfortable.

The make-up artist is giving one of them some last powdering.

Some crew members pass in and out of the frame.

I need a bed. I could use a couch, but the bed is more intimate. However, I don’t want to buy a bed. Can I rent one and use it in a studio? Or I might be able to just rent a hotel/motel room. I’d have to explain to the owner what it is we are doing. Some of them can get kind of weird about letting people film in their rooms. However, plenty of porn is shot in motel rooms.

That’s probably what the manager will think we are doing. Maybe they just won’t give a shit.

Part of a young woman appears in the frame. We hear the voice of Camera Assistant ANGIE RUBIERE, A WOMAN IN HER MID-TWENTIES.

ANGIE

What take is this?

SHANNON

Ah, take three.

Angie rubs the slate with a cloth and writes in the number three.

The slate appears in front of the camera. The title of the film reads: DON’T YOU KNOW? Director-TOBY SEDERMAN. Producer-JACOB LAURENT. Cinematographer-MARK LEE. Scene 22. Take 6.

I worked as a grip for five years in the film and TV industry, so I know some of the lingo. However, I’ll need to send the script to some friends who still work in film to make sure I get it right. Even if the audience doesn’t know what the actual lingo is, I think they know when something is authentic or not. It also helps the actors to have the authentic language of the crew members.

Off camera, we hear the voice of TOBY SEDERMAN, A WHITE MAN IN HIS THIRTIES. He is the director of the film.

I’m not sure about the names, but I always like to make the names of characters memorable. However, I do not want to fall back on stereotypes or make anyone into a caricature. Shows like Modern Family still do this and get away with it. I don’t mean that just in the sense that I don’t want to offend anyone; it is lazy and corny and stupid. Jesus, can’t these people put a little thought and effort into developing characters and stories?

TOBY

Wait, you know what? Guys, why don’t we try the scene with your shirts off?

The actors look confused.

We hear another voice. This is JACOB LAURENT, A WHITE MAN IN HIS THIRTIES.

Jacob left the room to use the bathroom or make a call or something. When he left after take 2, the actors had their shirts on. Now that he comes back, they have their shirts off.

JACOB

Wait, why are their shirts off?

TOBY

It will give them some vulnerability.

I need some buff actors with pecs and abs. But they also need to act.

MELISSA FONTANE, A WOMAN IN HER EARLY 30s is standing by; she looks confused.

Don’t make her a prop. Develop this person.

JACOB

Okay, we need to ah… Guys, let’s cut.

The camera cuts. The actors sit and wait.

This film has taken an unexpected turn.

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M. Francis Enright

Co-creator and cohost of The Working Experience Podcast. We explore what people do for work, how they do it and how they feel about it. Twice a week!