This Technology Thing

A screenplay written for a Dell competition a couple of years ago. The rules meant that it had to include their new Ultrabook laptop and be set in a W Hotel. I’m sure it would have done quite well if Youtube hadn’t done it’s classic “I’m going to spend three hours uploading this video then crash at 96% just because I know you have a deadline” thing. Gotta love Youtube. 

INT. HOTEL RESTAURANT. EVENING.

In a blindingly modern hotel restaurant, RICHARD (60, English, grey hair, chubby) sits at a table alone. He wears an old fashioned suit with a bow tie. He stands out in the crowd of fashionable young couples in their Jimmy Choo’s and Ralph Lauren’s.

A waitress, MADISON (20, tall, short dark hair), makes her way over to the table.

MADISON

Good evening sir. I hope you’re having a good evening tonight.

Richard snorts.

MADISON (CONT’D)

Is there anything I can help you with?

RICHARD

You can turn the bleeding lights down for a start.

MADISON

I’m afraid I can’t do that sir.

RICHARD

It looks someone let Tinkerbell loose on crack.

She smiles. This is clearly a Grumpy Customer.

MADISON

W Hotels pride themselves on the latest fashions in interior design.

RICHARD

(snorting) Fashion. It’s like a Disney brothel.

Richard looks at the laptop beside him. It is slim, sexy and barely touched. It belongs in this room but not with this man.

MADISON

That’s a lovely piece of kit you’ve got there sir. Very fashionable.

RICHARD

It was a present.

The desktop shows a photograph of a young woman in graduation robes with an almost identical young man beside her.

MADISON

(nodding at the picture) From your children?

Richard slams the lid down with more force than necessary.

RICHARD

None of your business!

MADISON

I’m sorry sir. I didn’t mean to intrude. Can I get you a drink today?

RICHARD

Scotch. With one ice cube. And I’ll have the fish.

MADISON

Right away sir.

She takes the menu and leaves.

INT. HOTEL SUITE. EVENING.

The comfort, style and space of the suite is unbearably lonely. Richard sits on the king-sized bed in silence. The laptop looms beside him.

INT. HOTEL RESTAURANT. EVENING.

Another day. Another bow tie. Another scotch. Madison places the drink in front of Richard and starts removing the place settings of the empty seat opposite him. He watches her.

RICHARD

You could leave them there… If it’s easier.

She studies him for a moment then puts the cutlery back, taking much longer than necessary.

RICHARD (CONT’D)

You’re not blessed with efficiency are you?

MADISON

It’s a slow evening.

RICHARD

Tinkerbell will be heartbroken.

MADISON

(smiling) She’ll feel better tomorrow. We have a large party arriving. Most of our rooms are awaiting them.

Richard looks up sharply.

RICHARD

Tomorrow?

MADISON

Yes. There’s a wedding on Saturday. I get to work the reception. They’re my favourite shifts – you never know what you’re going to see… Are you alright sir?

RICHARD

What? Oh yes. Yes I’m fine. Go and do some work will you.

MADISON

I would if you’d tell me your order.

He throws the menu across the table at her which she catches easily.

RICHARD

I’ll have the ribeye.

MADISON

How d-

RICHARD

Rare.

MADISON

Right away sir.

She turns, missing his troubled expression.

INT. CORRIDOR – OVERLOOKING ENTRANCE FOYER. DAY.

Richard looks down at a large group entering the foyer – the bride’s wedding party. He looks for his daughter and finds her. Radiant with happiness ELLIE (26, dark, long wavy hair, naturally beautiful) looks around with excitement. He watches her, smiling.

An older woman strides in, ELLIE’S MOTHER (54, Californian, tall, confident). Richard steps back.

ELLIE’S MOTHER

Now this is nice isn’t it. I told you these hotels are good.

ELLIE

It’s fantastic! You did brilliantly Mum, thank you.

ELLIE’S MOTHER

Well it better be fantastic, the amount I’m paying.

RECEPTIONIST

Good morning. Welcome to W Hotels, San Fransisco. How can I help?

ELLIE’S MOTHER

Yes, we’re the bride’s party…

Ellie looks upwards and Richard steps further out of view. He turns and walks back to his room.

INT. HOTEL SUITE. DAY.

Richard taps at his laptop keyboard with his index fingers. It makes a loud ringing noise and he almost drops it. Richard accepts his son’s video call and his face appears onscreen. He sits in a bar at Heathrow Airport.

RICHARD’S SON

Hia Dad. Where are you?

RICHARD

Right here.

RICHARD’S SON

No, you’re not on webcam. Hit the button.

RICHARD

What button?

RICHARD’S SON

The one that looks like a webcam.

RICHARD

What’s a webcam?

RICHARD’S SON

(sighing) Nevermind. I’ll show you next time I see you.

RICHARD

When will that be?

RICHARD’S SON

I don’t know, I’m pretty busy at the moment. I’ve got a tonne of work to do and obviously it won’t get done this weekend. Anyway, how are you getting on with the tech? It’s the very latest model.

RICHARD

Yes, you said. Where are you flying to?

RICHARD’S SON

Come on Dad, at least try and be subtle. I’m not telling you where the wedding is.

RICHARD

I’m her father.

RICHARD’S SON

And have you met your ex-wife? She’d disinherit me if she found out I was talking to you.

RICHARD

I just want to see her. If you could just talk to her…

RICHARD’S SON

Just drop it Dad. She doesn’t want to hear it. Mum has her strings pulled too tight.

RICHARD

I just want to see her.

RICHARD’S SON

Look, I gotta go. My flight’s up. I’ll be back in London in a few days and we can argue then. See you.

The screen goes blank. The room is silent again.

INT. LIVING ROOM BAR. EVENING.

Richard walks past the bar, the sound of laughter inside grabbing his attention. A group of women sit drinking wine, his daughter among them. He rushes past before they see him.

INT. HOTEL RESTAURANT. EVENING.

Once again he sits at his table alone. A waiter comes up to him.

WAITER

Good evening sir. Welcome to Trace restaurant. Shall I tell you the specials today?

RICHARD

Oh no, no. I want that waitress with the short hair.

WAITER

Madison? She’s not working this evening.

RICHARD

Oh.

WAITER

Would you like to know the specials?

RICHARD

What? Oh no. I think I’ll order room service…

He gets down from the table and walks back across the room.

INT. HOTEL SUITE. EVENING.

Richard sits on his bed alone. He has no dinner.

INT. HOTEL RESTAURANT. MORNING.

Richard’s back. This time at breakfast. He taps at his laptop.

MADISON

You like this table don’t you?

Richard looks up with surprise. He is relieved to see her but doesn’t let it show.

RICHARD

Do you ever leave?

MADISON

Only on occasion.

RICHARD

I thought you had that wedding later.

MADISON

I do, it’s going to be a long day.

RICHARD

The calm before the storm.

MADISON

You can say that again.

Richard is visibly upset.

MADISON (CONT’D)

Are you alright?

RICHARD

(pointing at the laptop) This stupid thing won’t work.

MADISON

Here, let me help. I have a break anyway.

She sits down next to him and pulls the laptop towards her.

RICHARD

I just don’t understand. My name is wrong, look.

MADISON

That’s your username. It’s what other people use to find you.

RICHARD

Why can’t they use my name?

MADISON

Because… You’re as bad as my father. I should probably show you how to use the webcam as well?

Madison works on the laptop. Richard watches her.

RICHARD

She’s getting married.

MADISON

Sorry?

RICHARD

My daughter. She’s getting married today.

MADISON

Here? I didn’t realise you were part of the party.

RICHARD

I’m not.

There is a long silence. Madison looks at him sadly but he avoids her gaze.

INT. WEDDING RECEPTION. EVENING.

The wedding. Richard stands by the open door. He watches Ellie and her new husband at the head table. A couple stumble out wrapped around each other. They ignore him.

Madison is clearing tables. She notices Richard and watches as another woman storms over to him – Ellie’s mother. She is furious. Richard leaves quickly.

INT. CORRIDOR. EVENING.

Richard shuffles quickly down the corridor.

ELLIE’S MOTHER

How dare you!

She chases after him.

ELLIE’S MOTHER (CONT’D)

You think this is just another opportunity to create a scene don’t you?! It’s her day and we don’t want you here.

She stops but continues yelling down the corridor. Richard doesn’t slow.

ELLIE’S MOTHER (CONT’D)

She doesn’t want you here!

INT. WEDDING RECEPTION. EVENING.

Madison scribbles on a waiters pad. She walks behind the head table and stops behind Ellie. She whispers something in her ear and hands her the note. She walks off quickly.

INT. ENTRANCE FOYER. DAY.

A new day and the wedding guests are leaving. Ellie looks up and around, searching for something or someone as a bellboy carries her luggage outside. Her husband appears by her side and they walk out together.

INT. CORRIDOR – OVERLOOKING ENTRANCE FOYER. DAY.

Richard watches them leave.

INT. HOTEL SUITE. DAY.

Richard packs his suitcase. The last pair of socks folded immaculately, he zips up the bag. The laptop is the last thing to go.

He looks down at the desktop picture of his children. As he starts to close the lid there is a sudden ringing. On the screen appears “ELLIE BENNET – Accept video call?”.

Richard freezes. After a moment he accepts. Ellie’s face appears onscreen.

ELLIE

Daddy?

RICHARD

Ellie?? What- Where are you?

ELLIE

On the train. You were at the wedding?

RICHARD

Yes.

A pause.

ELLIE

I missed you.

Richard falls back into his chair.

ELLIE (CONT’D)

Where are you?

RICHARD

At- at the hotel.

ELLIE

No, I mean – you’re not on the screen.

RICHARD

Oh, wait, I know how to do this. This webcam business.

ELLIE

Webcam? Since when did you join the technological age?

RICHARD

Oh I’m a tech wiz now!

She laughs.

RICHARD (CONT’D)

There. See me?

ELLIE

(smiling) I see you.

He returns the smile, tears in his eyes.

END.

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