00 Ext. - day: Allotment
A gardener (Adam) digs his vegetable patch on an allotment; he pauses, leaning on his fork, to wipe the sweat from his brow.
01 Int. - day: Supermarket
Shot of some pristine vegetables on display, the camera rises and pulls back to fix on the automatic doors and the customers who are coming in.
A man (Don) enters, wearing blue overalls with a company logo. The camera tracks him as he takes a trolley.
He takes a list from his pocket and proceeds to the milk aisle. He puts one pint of milk in his empty trolley. He consults his list and moves on to put a box of teabags in the trolley. He pushes his trolley round a corner into another aisle. He stops in front of the sugar and takes one bag off the shelf, putting it in his trolley. He then takes another, then another. He now speeds up putting more and more sugar into his trolley.
When he has over fifty bags he stops and pushes the trolley to the check out. We see the reaction of the checkout person when he starts to put the sugar on the conveyor.
02 Ext. - day: Supermarket Car Park
Don puts the last of the sugar into the boot of his old and battered car. He closes the trunk.
03 Ext. - day: A road
Don is driving along. He turns a corner and slows down as he passes St. Erica's school. The children are leaving; He peers about, looking for someone. Up ahead on the footpath are two girls (Lucy and Emma). Don sees them and pulls up, he sounds his horn. Lucy turns round, sees the car and waves him away, gesturing that she will walk. Don nods and drives off.
04 Int. - day: The Harris kitchen.
Jean Harris is at sink peeling potatoes, through the window she sees the car pull to a stop in the drive. Don comes in, carrying the tea and the milk.
DON: Evening. I got the things.
JEAN: Right. Can you put them away? Where's Lucy?
DON: She wanted to walk, .. with a friend.
JEAN: Right. Go get changed, I'll make the tea.
Don leaves the kitchen into the hall. (Fade down, Fade up)
05 Int. - day: The Harris kitchen.
Don re-enters wearing a green overall (without a logo). There are two cups of tea on the table.
DON: Which one has sugar?
JEAN: Postman Pat. (Or whatever figure is on the cup.)
He takes the other one, sits down at the table and reads the paper.
(Fade down) (Fade up)
The door opens and Lucy comes in.
JEAN: Hello dear, there's tea for you there.
DON: Evening love.
Lucy puts two spoons of sugar in the cup.
DON: It had sugar.
LUCY: Never mind.
Lucy goes out into the hall. Don closes his paper, finishes his tea, and stands up.
DON: I'm off down the plot for a bit.
JEAN: Well your tea will be in an hour.
DON: Right. (Fade down)
06 Ext. - day: Allotments.
Don wheels a wheelbarrow full of sugar bags down a track beside the allotments. The gardener from the opening scene is working his vegetable patch.
DON: Evening Adam.
ADAM: Evening Don.
Don goes to his shed, unlocks the door, he looks suspiciously around and starts to carry sugar inside. Cut to Adam watching him. Cut back as Don picks up the last bag, has another cautious look around, before entering and closes the door.
07 Int. - day: Don Harris's Shed.
He bolts the door behind him. There is a large object covered in sackcloth on the workbench, next to a pile of sugar bags. He puts down the last one. He draws a sackcloth curtain across the window, adjusting it slightly to make sure it covers the window completely. He turns on the single bare light bulb. After another glance about, he removes the cover to reveal the pointy end of his rocket. He contemplates it with pride for a few moments before purposefully picking up a screwdriver. (Fade down.)
08 Int. - late eve.: The Harris kitchen.
Jean & Lucy are seated at the kitchen table eating their pudding in silence when Don comes in.
DON: Sorry, I didn't notice the time.
JEAN: It's in the oven.
Don brings his plate to the table.
LUCY: Have you been working on the rocket, dad?
DON: Yes. It is...
LUCY: Emma Carstairs says her dad is building one too.
JEAN: Richard Carstairs? He's at Pinkertons, isn't he?
DON: Yeh, he's one of our design engineers.
LUCY: Emma says he's planning his on his computer. Do you think you can beat him, Dad?
DON: Well, he is very smart, but I don't reckon he's practical.
LUCY: When is the contest?
DON: Another month, yet. Is this Emma a friend of yours?
LUCY: Emma is my best friend.
DON: Does she know what he is planning?
DON: You could find out? Ask a few questions?
LUCY: I don't know, I don't know how rockets work.
Don thinks for a second, before removing a crumple envelope from his pocket, flatting it out. He removes a stub of pencil from behind his ear and licks the tip.
DON: Ah, simple really.
He starts to draw. Jean gets up and clears the plates. (Fade down.)
09 Int. - day: The factory floor, Pinkertons Industrial Ltd.
Don is operating a machine lathe. He is wearing his blue Pinkertons overalls. A smartly dressed man has entered the area, and Don has noticed him, he stops work.
DON: Mr. Pinkerton? Can I have a word?
PINKERTON: Not now, I am rather busy.
Mr. Pinkerton goes through a frosted glass door marked 'Design.'
10 Int. - day: The designers' office, Pinkertons Industrial Ltd.
Richard is working at a large drafting desk, wearing a white coat over his suit. There are several other designers, similarly occupied and attired. Mr. Pinkerton enters.
PINKERTON: How's it going boys?
Various murmurs of assent.
RICHARD: Ian? Can I have a word?
PINKERTON: Yes, Richard.
RICHARD: Do you know about the Netherton Space Race?
PINKERTON: That seems unlikely to me, Richard.
RICHARD: It is a rocket contest, the council are organizing it, I'm building one, I was wondering if the firm would sponsor me. Liquid Oxygen is very expensive.
'IAN': What's involved?
RICHARD: An altitude contest, the highest rocket flight wins, its open to amateurs only, but the firm could supply some of the electronic components I need. I'll put our logo on the side of it. It would be good publicity if I win.
'IAN': Sounds reasonable. You will have to tell me a bit more about it.
11 Int. - day: A classroom, St. Erica's School.
The camera faces forward, on the black board are some dates and other history stuff; the teacher is half in shot. The teacher drones on. The camera draws backs down an aisle, and then dips to peer over the shoulders of two girls in the first row. Their exercise books contain the same thing as is on the board.
Back further and the next row have some dates and some small doodles (flowers, hearts etc.) The third row are drawing elaborate tributes to their favourite boy-bands.
In the final row, the camera dips down again to see pictures of rockets and sections of engines. It swivels and pans back to reveal Emma and Lucy in deep discussion about rockets. CUT TO
12 Int. - day: Mr. Pinkerton's Office, You know where.
Similar type of shot establishing that Mr. Pinkerton is reading about the Netherton Space Race, at his large executive desk. Don knocks and enters sheepishly.
DON: Mr. Pinkerton?
PINKERTON: Yes, er, Don?
DON: Can I have a word?
PINKERTON: Certainly, Don. What can I do?
DON: Do you know about the Netherton Space Race?
PINKERTON: Aaah! Richard's roped you in as well, has he?
DON: Roped me in?
PINKERTON: Yes, I think he's crazy, but if anyone can do it, it's Richard.
DON: Richard Carstairs?
DON: Er, no.
DON: Well, I, er.., I, that is, I am entering myself.
PINKERTON: Oh, er, your own rocket?
DON: Yes, that's what I wanted to ask you about. Would you, that is would your... Pinkertons, consider sponsoring me? Just a small amount, help out with the fuel and that.
PINKERTON: Ah, yes now.... well, the thing is Don, that I have kind of already promised Richard that we would back him, and Liquid Oxygen is very expensive, and we can't have out logo on every rocket...
DON: (Non plussed) Liquid Oxygen? Logo?
PINKERTON: Yes, you know - the fuel.
DON: You should use sugar, it is cheap, safe and (he trails off.)
PINKERTON: Look, Don, you're welcome to use the company machine tools for anything you need, but we can only have one officially sponsored company entry and that is be Richards. OK?
DON: Thank you, Mr. Pinkerton.
13 Int. - day: The factory floor, Pinkertons Industrial Ltd.
In the deserted factory, Don is fashioning a nozzle on a lathe. Richard comes out of the design office, carrying some electronic circuitry and walks over to a bench where there is an oscilloscope. He has seen Don, but ignores him.
Don stops his work, pauses, then takes his part off the lathe, and turns it off. He leaves.
Richard stops his work briefly as he watches Don leave, then returns to his testing.
14 Ext. - evening: The Allotments
In the evening gloom we see the light is on in Don's shed. Adam is toiling in his garden.
15 Int. - evening: The Carstairs' dining room
The table is set with tablecloth, napkins and nice cutlery.
DOROTHY: How was your day?
RICHARD: Oh you know. I asked Ian about sponsorship, he seems reasonably enthusiastic.
EMMA: Mr. Pinkerton is going to pay you to enter that contest.
RICHARD: Pinkertons will provide me circuit boards, servos and other things I need to build the rocket.
EMMA: Circuits? Is it going to be computer operated?
RICHARD: Oh no, it's just a simple inertial guidance and propulsion control system. The design is computer generated, I've calcul..
EMMA: Are they sponsoring Lucy's daddy as well?
EMMA: Mr. Harris, he's Lucy's daddy. She says he's making a rocket in his garden shed.
RICHARD: (To Dorothy) He's one of the shop floor people, a mechanic. (To Lucy) No, Lucy, Mr. Pinkerton can only really sponsor one entry and he has chosen mine.
EMMA: That's not fair.
DOROTHY: Now then, Emma, your father is very senior at Pinkertons, Mr. Pinkerton trusts him
EMMA: It is still not fair.
RICHARD: Well, that is just how things are, darling.
They eat in silence for a few moments.
EMMA: Can I see what your rocket will look like, please daddy?
RICHARD: After you have cleared the table and done your homework I will show you the files on the computer.
16 Ext. - day: The schoolyard, St Erica's
It is a break, there are girls are playing netball and chatting in groups. Emma & Lucy are seated at a table, drawing rockets. The drawings are more technical than before. A few girls come and look at what they are doing. Then a few more. Soon there is a big crowd all craning to see what is so interesting.
17 Int. - day: The canteen, Pinkertons Industrial Ltd.
Richard is seated alone at a table, he has his food and some plans he is studying. Don enters carrying his sandwich-box. He looks around, sees Richard and goes and to sit opposite him.
DON: You don't mind?
RICHARD: No. (He turns over the papers he has been studying.)
DON: Rocket blueprints?
RICHARD: Circuit diagrams.
RICHARD: (Trying to be friendly.) They are for my rocket, actually. The guidance system.
DON: Oh... And liquid oxygen?
RICHARD: Hopefully, yes, it is the most efficient fuel, if the tests work... Burn ratios, that sort of thing... How is your coming on?
DON: Not much too it really, keep it simple I say, At the end of the day it just a long tube with a hole at one end, and a few slots and slats to stabilise it. Just a big firework, really. (He blurts out.) How much money is Pinkerton giving you?
RICHARD: It is not a question of money, I don't think. He is letting me use the equipment, and we will buy the volatiles through the company.. to avoid V. A. T. and all that, but at the end of the day I will just have the company logo on the fuselage, and that is it really.
DON: Well good luck.
RICHARD: Yes, thank you and you too. Although I don't expect to win. There is probably someone out there spending thousands.
DON: I should go now.
Don gets up. Richard watches him briefly before turning his paper back over.
18 Ext. - day: The mysterious building.
Middle distance shot of a looming and monolithic building, it might be aircraft hanger. Nothing happens.
The next few scenes are all very short and intercut. Just shots to establish the passing of time and the progress of the various competitors, to the accompaniment of vaguely appropriate and/or uplifting music (e.g. Rocketman - Elton John.)
19 Int. - day.: The factory floor, Pinkertons Industrial Ltd.
In a dark and deserted factory, Don is working at his lathe. He finishes, looks up at the light coming through the frosted panes of the design office door, and turns his worklamp off.
20 Int. - eve.: The Carstairs' study.
Emma is looking at files on her father's computer. The screen shows rocket schematics. Dorothy pops her head round the door, indicates dinner is ready. Emma starts to print something out.
21 Int. - eve.: The Harris kitchen.
Jean clears the table as Don uncrumples a largish bit of paper to draw more diagrams for Lucy. Lucy looks on intently.
22 Int. : A wall + calendar.
A girl's hand removes one day then another in typical film-cliché style.
23 Ext. - day: The mysterious building.
Middle distance shot. Nothing happens.
24 Int. - day: The physics labs, St Erica's
Emma & Lucy knock and enter a room marked 'Physics.' They go up to the physics teacher and start to explain something. The teacher nods a few times, and starts to write some equations on the board.
25 Int. - day: The factory floor, Pinkertons Industrial Ltd.
Richard is talking to someone. Indicating that he needs so long pipes/railings.
26 Ext. - eve.: The mysterious building.
Middle distance shot of a looming and monolithic building, it might be aircraft hanger. Nothing happens.
27 Ext. - eve.: The Allotments.
By the faint light behind the sackcloth curtain we can tell Don is at work.
28 Int. : A wall + calendar.
The girl removes the calendar and puts up her own 'Days till launch' chart, there are 10 days remaining.
29 Ext. - day: The mysterious building.
30 Int. - day: The factory floor, Pinkertons Industrial Ltd.
Mr. Pinkerton wanders through, acknowledges Don, before disappearing into the Design office.
31 Int. - day.: A classroom, St. Erica's.
Shots reveal that girls on all rows are now drawing rockets in their exercise books.
32 Ext. - evening: The Allotments
<Music fades out>
In the evening gloom we see the light is on in Don's shed. Adam is toiling in his garden, the shot lingers, we notice the still calm of evening, the gentle birdsong. There is a massively loud explosion. A few moments later the door of the shed bursts open, and Don emerges coughing surrounded by billowing smoke.
<Music fades back in>
He recovers and gives a cheery gesture to Adam, who 'tuts' and shakes his head.
33 Ext. - evening: The Carstairs' back garden.
Dorothy and Emma watch through the conservatory window, as Richard pours some dry-ice type liquid into a small can on trestle in the middle of the lawn. He retires (to a safe distance.) and uses some sort of radio controller to detonate it. There is wonderful billowing mushroom of blue flame. Richard looks pleased with himself. Emma looks pleased. Mrs. Carstairs wonders what the neighbours will think.
34 Int. : A wall + calendar.
First sheet is torn of. Now there are 9 'Days till launch'.
35 Ext. : The Allotments.
Adam digs his garden. Don wanders past pushing a wheelbarrow with a large covered cylindrical object in it. They acknowledge one and other.
36 Ext. - eve: The mysterious building.
It is gloomly, but we can hardly fail to notice the very bright white-light flashes seen through its windows and skylights.
37 Int. : A wall + calendar.
7 'Days till launch'., 6 'Days till launch'
38 Ext. - day: The Carstairs' garden.
Richard is assembling a launching frame.
39 Int. - eve.: Don Harris's shed.
Don is attaching nozzles to the bottom of rocket. (The 'blunt' end.)
40 Int. : A wall + calendar.
5 'Days till launch'., 4 'Days till launch'
41 Int. - day: Supermarket.
Don pushes a trolley full of sugar through the checkout.
42 Int. - day: A classroom, St Erica's.
This time it is the teacher drawing rockets on the board.
43 Int. : A wall + calendar.
The hand removes '3 days' and '2 days' at the same time. It disappears briefly, returning with sellotape to stick '2 days' back on, (slightly at an angle.)
44 Ext. - day: The mysterious building.
45 Ext. - day: The Carstairs' front drive.
Richard takes delivery of his liquid oxygen. The notices of extreme caution are highly visible.
Dorothy is aghast.
46 Int. - eve.: Don Harris's shed.
Don is pouring sugar down a funnel into the top of his rocket.
47 Ext. : Sunrise over heathland.
<The music fades>
48 Int. : A wall + calendar. (In Lucy's bedroom.)
Lucy removes '1 day' revealing a sign saying "The Netherton Space Race." She goes out of the room yawning.
49 Ext. - day: The Harris's drive.
The family leave in their car. Slowly, as it is pulling a launching platform + rocket.
50 Ext. - day: The Carstairs' drive.
The family leave in their car. Slowly, as it is pulling a launching platform + rocket (+Pinkertons Logo.)
51 Ext. - day: The Mysterious Building.
The hangar doors open and a four ton truck starts to emerge. Before we can see what is on the back. (And as if we cannot guess.) CUT TO
52 Ext. - day: The Netherton Space Race, A Blasted Heath
An odd assortment of people, cars and equipment are gathered on desolate moorland. Competitors are setting up their equipment. Some way off are the rockets, primed and ready for blast off. Lots of schoolgirls are there and are running around. Several press photographers are also present.
In the foreground is the adjudication committee sitting behind a trestle table. There is also a board showing the results and a banner reading "The Netherton Space Race." Some flags, bunting, tombola and (if budget will allow) a brass band.
The mayor acts as chairman, a tap on the microphone and some feedback gets peoples attention. He starts his speech, but his words are incomprehensible over the primitive public address system:
MAYOR: Horse, hairies, ageagetree. Dif rumwind habarra serrick. (CUT TO)
53 Ext. - day: A mysterious road.
The truck is driving along a road. Still we do not see its cargo.
54 Ext. - day: The Netherton Space Race, A Blasted Heath
MAYOR: Har, strof gnhirric lispal narm, horrens iffle carpin nespbar Richard Carstairs.
There is limited clapping from the crowd.
Richard checks a few the connection between his laptop and mobile phone, before tapping a few things on the keyboard. Some way off, his rocket bursts into life, it starts to rise off the ground. An official points some weird radar gun at the rising rocket and we see its altitude displayed on a big red LED counter. As it rises we cut between the face of Richard, Don and other members of the crowd as they watch.
It rises to 997 feet.
It splutters out, and falls, its parachute deploying gracefully.
Richard is clearly pleased with himself.
Another official writes Richard Carstairs and 997 ft on a display board. Below are two other names Julian Morrison - 311 feet, Mike Rochester 0 ft.
55 Ext. - day: A mysterious road.
The truck is driving along a road.
56 Ext. - day: The Netherton Space Race, A Blasted Heath
MAYOR: Sill carpet, umbarac balall isci non (pause) Donald Harris
Don finishes trailing some wire from his rocket to a big car battery, he wraps on wire round one terminal and then after a dramatic pause, touches the other end to the opposite terminal, there is a big spark but the rocket does not respond.
MAYOR: Orange boffle...
Don follows his flex a little distance to where two bits are taped together. He fiddles with the connect goes back to his battery:
DON: Lucy, Ten?
Lucy looks round at the other girls; they start the countdown again
LUCY & FRIENDS: Nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one!
On 'one' Don touches the wire to the battery there is a loud bang and his rocket explodes into the air,
People watch in amazement as it rises higher and higher (300 ft, 600 ft 900 ft,) the counter whizzes through 1000 ft and continues to 1720 ft
Richard comes over and shakes Dons hand.
MAYOR: Barrara fereric isthmus, car carapace willis... (He is interrupted by someone handing him a piece of paper. He reads it, and continues.) Offoral granding half neheesdoric simper, competitor.
57 Ext. - day: Blasting area checkpoint
The truck pulls to a stop, and a change of camera angles reveals that it is at the gates to the launch area, the army/security guard looks up to the drivers cabin quizzically, the driver nods his head towards the rear of his truck. The guard looks, is enlightened and lets the truck through. It comes to a stop, the driver takes the keys out, gets out and runs to the bunker, he waves in the direction of the spectators.
58 Ext. - day: The Netherton Space Race, A Blasted Heath
The Mayor shrugs, looks about catches Lucy's eye and shrugs again, Lucy turns round to her friends and then they begin to shout the countdown at the tops of their voices. With longer pauses than before.
LUCY & FRIENDS: TEN ! ... NINE! (the rocket's engines start to rumble,)... EIGHT! ... SEVEN! ... SIX... FIVE!... FOUR! (The noise is so loud that people cover their ears. The girls shout even louder.) THREE!!! ... TWO!!! ONE!!!
The rocket rises into the air, it is so loud that we cannot hear as they shout
LUCY & FRIENDS: ZERO
As we watch, it rises further and further. The counter goes through 980 and 1000, (cut to Richard, then to Don) Back to counter as it goes through 1720 (back to Don)
<Sound is restored>
<People are clapping & cheering>
The counter stops at 3115 but the rocket is still going higher. The official gestures that his counter has stopped working, Richard gets one from his silver camera cases and hands it to the official. It is plugged into Richards computer and the official squints into the sky trying to see the rocket, a tiny speck is pointed out to him, the counter on the computer reads 10073.0 ft and increasing.
The hysterics reach a new pitch and eventually the counter stops at 15422 ft.
The Mayor picks up the trophy and all eyes turn to the bunker waiting for the mystery competitor to emerge. A man in protective clothing and fireproof balaclava comes out and walks towards the crowd.
Murmured discussion circulates in the audience as to who it might be. The man at the leaderboard has put up the height, but has a blank card in front of him, unsure what to write.
The man reaches the throng. The mayor hands him the cup, there is some loud cheering. He silences them with a gesture and walks over to schoolgirls, handing the trophy over to Emma & Lucy. We see the stunned reactions of Don and Richard. The girl's friends give a huge cheer, the scorer shrugs, writes "St. Erica's" on the card. He puts it at the top of the leaderboard and there is another huge cheer. The band starts up (the theme from Starwars or similar) and there is much merriment. The camera rises high above the crowd. Then goes higher and higher until they are no bigger than ants. (Fade down)
59 Ext - day: Allotment
Adam walks towards his allotment; he stops dead in his tracks and stares at the schoolgirls' rocket embedded upside-down in his vegetable patch.
©The Jerwood Foundation. - Strange though it may seem, as author of this populist rubbish, I have no control over it. I gave away the copyright to a bunch of people who I have never met, who guarantee nothing in return and who have decided to waive my moral rights for me. All in the small print to a competition I have no hope of winning. (Damn my vanity.)