Finnian Burnett

Author, Educator, Cat Person

I had to write a brief dramatic screenplay in one of my creative writing classes. I fretted so much over the formatting, I thought I’d never get it done. While I understand the idea of having creative types write outside of their comfort zone, I don’t know that this helped me craft better novels. Still, it was fun to do something new and interesting–and ultimately, I guess I have to admit I enjoyed the process.


Michael Emley 40-year-old writer, moderately successful. He is leaving his wife of 15 years and taking only what he can fit in one large suitcase. Michael is good looking, but not model handsome. He’s just a regular guy who needs to leave and is dealing with the emotions that come from that.

Sandy Emley 38-year-old woman. Trying to help her husband pack the accumulation of a 15-year marriage into one suitcase. She knows he has to leave, so she is resigned, but sad, as well. Sandy is pretty, but visibly sad. And mostly, she is really exhausted.

Scene: The Emley living room. There are already clothes and books and notebooks and the general props of life piled all over the chairs in the living room. There is a large suitcase laying on the floor with the lid open. Michael is sitting on the floor, going through records. Sandy is standing by the bookshelf, sorting books. 70’s soft rock is playing softly in the background. (Such as Wildflower by David Foster, Sad Eyes by Robert John, etc.) The song playing as the scene opens is “Heard it in a Love Song” by the Marshall Tucker Band.

Sandy turns around to look at Michael just as he lifts a record and holds it up to her.

Michael: Cream. This was mine way before we met. I remember smoking pot to this album in my dorm room with Ben and Jackson back in the day.

Sandy: Fine, take Cream. All of the Eric Clapton solo albums are mine. Except anything after “Money and Cigarettes.” That was his last good album.

Michael: [Looking pained] That was a good one. [Shakes his head.] It’s fine, though. All of those are available on MP3 now. You can have all the albums. I can’t be carrying around a record player, anyway. I’ll stick with my Ipod.

Sandy: [Holding up a round piece of plastic] Do you remember what this is?

Michael: [Laughing.] Yeah, the insert to put into a 45 so it would play on the record player. I can’t believe we still have one.

Sandy: [Turns back to bookshelf] What about “Sirens of Titan?” You bought this.

Michael: [Looks at Sandy’s back, stiff and unyielding across the room.] I have it on my Kindle.

Sandy: [Softly, and sadly.] I remember when you said you would never buy a Kindle.

Michael: [Looking at the floor] I guess I changed.

There is silence for a few moments as they both sort through their respective piles. “Fool if you Think it’s Over” starts playing.

Michael: [singing softly] Fool if you think it’s over… got to say goodbye…

Sandy: Chris Rea.

Michael: That’s it! Remember dancing to this at what’s his name’s party… [trails off as he realizes Sandy is crying, though she still has her back to him.]

Sandy: [Clears throat.] Fahrenheit 451 is mine.

Michael: I thought we had two copies of that.

Sandy: We did, but Chris spilled a cup of grape juice on one of them. We never replaced it because…[pause]

Michael: Because we didn’t think we would ever need a second copy.

Sandy shuffles through books again.

Sandy: Do you want “Raise High the Roof Beam?”

Michael: I bought that for you.

They’re both silent again, listening to the music as “Give me Love” by George Harrison starts playing.

Michael:I guess there’s no reason to go through the albums. You can do whatever you want with them.

Sandy: Fine. Do you want your collector’s edition of Lord of the Rings?

Michael: [Looks at suitcase] Yeah. I want that.

Sandy walks over to the suitcase and gently places the boxed set in among the clothes, toothbrush and electric razor. She stands for a minute, looking down at the suitcase.

Michael returns the albums to the shelf and stretches his back, groaning a bit as his back pops.

Michael: I’m getting too old to sit like that.

Sandy says nothing, she is still staring into the suitcase.

Michael: Babe?

Sandy bends down, picks something up out of the suitcase and turns half towards him, rage and sadness in her eyes.

Sandy: [Clearly enunciating] You cannot take this. [Holds up a small, obviously well-loved worn stuffed bear.]

Michael: [Speaking softly and carefully] Sandy, you have all the other toys, the photos, everything. I have one picture and this. I want to take it.

Sandy: It was his favorite. You are not taking it.

Michael: [Angrily] I bought it for him!

Sandy: [Turning suddenly to face him full on, furious] You killed him! You killed him! You killed my baby! You will not take his bear!

Michael: I know, I know I did. It was an accident, Sandy. It was an accident!

Michael walks two steps towards Sandy, arms held out as if to embrace her. He looks sorrowfully at her face for a few moments, then moves towards to suitcase, closes it and picks it up. “Magnet and Steel” comes on.

Sandy: [Dead pan, looking at the wall.] Walter Egan.

Michael: You used to love this song.

Sandy: [Quietly, with sadness but no venom.] I used to love you.

Michael hefts the suitcase and walks towards the door. Turning back once, he looks at Sandy, tears starting to fill his eyes.

Michael: [Whispering] I loved him, too. Believe what you want, but I loved him, too.

Walks out. As the door closes behind him, Sandy collapses into a chair, sobbing.

Curtain Falls.

One thought on “5 Minute Screenplay

  1. janbeee2 says:

    Wow. I get it.

    And I’m guessing it’s not 5 minutes, straight through – or you’d only have 2 songs. I like how that expands the time out a bit.

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