2/27/16

Little Carmen

“LITTLE CARMEN”


FADE IN. CREDIT SEQUENCE.


INT. HOUSE – NIGHT


A young girl, LISA, with big glasses is lit by the glow of the TV. She watches with rapt attention.


INT. HOUSE – NIGHT


A TV plays footage of Carmen Miranda singing and dancing to “I Yi, Yi, Yi, Yi”.



INT. HOUSE – NIGHT


A table with photographs shows the same little girl with a woman, her MOTHER, theatrically posed with the young girl, each of them in various costumes.


INT. HOUSE – NIGHT


More footage of Carmen Miranda, we don’t see the TV now, only the movie star performing in close-up.


INT. HOUSE – NIGHT


The little girl smiles and tries to make a facial expression like Carmen. It's not even close.


INT. HOUSE – NIGHT

Carmen is suddenly live and in person, performing along with the song still playing on TV.



INT. HOUSE – NIGHT

Lisa dances with Carmen as they keep their attention on the TV, trying to mimic the movements they are watching.


MOTHER (O.S.)
Are you awake?


LISA
No!


MOTHER (O.S.)
No movies at bedtime.


LISA
I know.


Lisa mutes the TV, lays down and keeps watching.


MOTHER (O.S.)
I see the light from the TV, turn it off.
You have school in the morning and the talent
show to win tomorrow night!
   
Lisa turns the TV off.



EXT. POST OFFICE – MORNING


Lisa dances past the post office. DENNIS the Postman looks at her through the window. Enthusiastically, she waves at him and continues on her way. He gives her a sympathetic look.


EXT. SIDEWALK – MORNING


Now skipping, she dances along to the song playing in her headphones, though we can't hear what it is. Her energetic dancing stands in stark contrast to the normal street sounds of every day life. She passes by FOUR GIRLS dressed in expensive-looking clothing. The girl waves at them.


They laugh at her. GIRL ONE from the four girls cups her hand to her mouth and yells toward Lisa.

GIRL ONE
When are you gonna get a phone
like everyone else instead of that Goodwill 
thing?

She turns to the other girls.

GIRL ONE
Weird.


Lisa continues forward, bobbing her head. Suddenly, she TRIPS and FALLS. Her walkman skitters across the sidewalk. “Cuanto Le Gusta” plays distantly from the headphones.


EXT. ROAD – MORNING


A school bus with KIDS hanging out the window rolls by. They are laughing at her. One boy in particular points at her and shouts through a crack in the window.


BOY 1
Walk much?!


Her lip quivers and she pushes her glasses up a little bit. She squeezes her eyes shut tightly and waits until the sound of the bus begins to fade away. She opens them when it is faint. She watches the bus grow smaller in the distance. Carmen appears and helps her stand back up.


Carmen snatches the walkman off the sidewalk, slides the headphones back over Lisa’s ears, and with the song full blast again, the two dance down the road toward the elementary school.


EXT. ELEMENTARY – MORNING


The elementary school, well lit by the morning sun, looms in the distance as the girl approaches alone.


INT. ELEMENTARY - MORNING


In quick succession we see shots of the empty school before everyone has arrived. There is an empty classroom, all of the desks are identical, except for one, which has several photo copies of pictures of old movie stars taped to it and a flyer hanging off the front that says “WILDCATS TALENT SHOW”.


INT. ELEMENTARY – MORNING


A display case in a hallway features dozens of student art projects. We see them all together. Then we see a close up of a rudimentary papier-mache baseball player. Another is a teacher. A third is two figures dancing intertwined. Written in messy handwriting on the tiny wooden block on which they're mounted reads “Fred and Ginger - Lisa". The tiny little papier-mache woman has feathers glued to the bottom of her paper skirt.


EXT. ELEMENTARY SCHOOL - MORNING


The girl walks up to the flagpole and stands near a group of students clustered together. They're watching something playing on a phone. We don't see what. She looks toward them. Nobody looks her way. Eyes closed, she pushes the headphones closer to her ears. Another GIRL stands on the other side of the cluster of students and shyly waves at Lisa. but Lisa doesn't see.


LISA
(singing)
Cuanto le gusta, le gusta, le gusta...


MRS. SIMPSON, a teacher with a creased forehead and a frown, talks at Lisa from the other side of the flagpole. Lisa can't hear what she is saying over the song. Mrs. Simpson looks at her sternly. Lisa cringes. Mrs. Simpson walks over to Lisa and rips the headphones off her head. The girl who was looking at Lisa sees this and is startled.


MRS. SIMPSON
What did I tell you about bringing this to 
school? Don't you know what it's about?


LISA
It’s for practice!


MRS. SIMPSON
Latin beats and dances were written to...


(Bends down and whispers)


Simulate something very inappropriate!


Mrs. Thompson grabs the rest of the walkman. Lisa looks disgusted.


MRS. SIMPSON
(CONTD)
You can get this from my desk on the last day of     the school year.


Mrs. Simpson walks off, muttering to herself about the old piece of electronics. Lisa sits down next to the flagpole and just stares at her shoes.


INT. SCHOOL CLASSROOM – DAY

Lisa hangs up her jacket at the coat rack, another girl takes it off and throws it on the floor. Lisa sighs.


INT. SCHOOL CAFETERIA – DAY

Lisa is sitting at her lunch table with her hand raised. A WOMAN TEACHER comes over to her.


TEACHER
Yes?


LISA
There’s a tooth in my McRib.


TEACHER
What?!


The teacher inspects her food very closely.


TEACHER
That’s not a tooth, it’s gristle.


LISA
What’s gristle?


TEACHER
Eat around it.


The teacher walks away, but turns and stalks back very quickly.

TEACHER
And please don't call that a McRib. It's a
pressed rib sandwich. We don't want
legal troubles.

Lisa just stares at her gross sandwich.

EXT. SCHOOL PLAYGROUND – DAY

At recess, Lisa watches all the other kids play while she sits alone under the shadow of the curly slide. The same four girls that were laughing at Lisa earlier are practicing a dance together. Lisa watches them intently, looking closely at the details of their dance unfolding in slow motion. She looks down at her shoes. She unties one of them just to tie them again. Carmen sits beside Lisa and watches too.


INT. CLASSROOM – DAY

Lisa’s teacher, MR. PHILBY, hands back papers by calling out a student’s name and having them collect it at his desk. He gets to Lisa. Her paper says 100%. He hands it to her, then takes a sip from a coffee cup shaped like a boot.


MR. PHILBY
Nice job.


LISA
Thanks! Are you coming to 
the talent show tonight?


MR. PHILBY
I sure am! Break a leg.


LISA
Everything’s gonna be different
after tonight.


Lisa starts to return to her seat.


MR. PHILBY
Hang on. What do you mean?


Lisa walks back to his desk.


LISA
Have you ever seen Napoleon Dynamite?


MR. PHILBY
No.


LISA
Have you seen Superstar?


MR. PHILBY
No.

LISA
Fame, even?

MR. PHILBY
Why are you asking me all this?


LISA
Mom says that movies are the greatest
American art form, you should see
more of them.


MR. PHILBY
I grew up kind of religious. Missed a lot.
What will be different after tonight?


LISA
In the movies, well, any movies that have
talent shows, which is kind of a lot if you
think about it, if you do good at the talent
show, people like you after.


MR. PHILBY
Oh.


LISA
Except in Little Miss Sunshine, that one didn’t 
happen at the girl’s school. But it still fixed
her family.


MR. PHILBY
Oh.


There’s a long pause. He has a concerned look on his face.


LISA
Can I sit back down? I don't want to lose any
points for not being in my seat.


MR. PHILBY
It's okay, we were talking.
I'm not gonna take any points away.

Lisa blinks at him nervously.

MR. PHILBY
Yes, you can go back to your desk.


She breaks out into a little run on her way back to her desk, another student sticks their leg out causing Lisa to trip and fall.


MR. PHILBY (O.S.)
Tommy!


INT. SCHOOL GYM – NIGHT

All of the talent show contestants sit together on a section of bleachers. The girl who tried to wave at Lisa at the flagpole sits at the very end of her row looking terrified. She's in a little tuxedo holding a puppet on her lap. The room is filled with parents and students settling in, holding programs. Dennis the postmaster sits next to Lisa's mother.

MOTHER
Hey, Dennis! Got any mail for me?

DENNIS
I'm just here to see my grandson. It would
be a federal offense for me to carry around
people's personal mail when I'm off duty.

MONTAGE.
INT. SCHOOL GYM STAGE – NIGHT


One kid is doing a juggling act, pretty well.


INT. SCHOOL GYM STAGE – NIGHT


One kid is reciting a poem.


INT. SCHOOL GYM STAGE – NIGHT


The four girls who were practicing their dance are doing it now.


INT. SCHOOL GYM STAGE – NIGHT - FANTASY


The curtain opens and it’s Lisa’s turn. She closes her eyes, takes a deep breath and the music begins. It’s “Chica Chica Boom Chic”. The lights change dramatically as she performs to traditional stage lighting. There’s a fan blowing her hair around. Bubbles start blowing out over the audience. All the parents and students collectively gasp in joy, they are LOVING it. Carmen is up on stage dancing right next to her now. Lisa and Carmen smile at each other, knowing the audience is in the palm of their hand.


INT. SCHOOL GYM STAGE – NIGHT - REALITY


We see what the audience really sees, Lisa dancing awkwardly and counting out her steps, her boombox sitting on the stage. No fancy lighting. No wind. No bubbles. No Carmen.


INT. SCHOOL GYM STAGE – NIGHT - FANTASY


Back to Lisa’s glorious version for the big finish.


INT. SCHOOL GYM STAGE – NIGHT


Her mother gives her a standing ovation. Nobody else does much of anything. Lisa looks around, confused. She sees the faces of some of her classmates laughing at her. She is genuinely baffled. She walks off stage slowly. The FOUR GIRLS are in the front row of the contestant section of the bleachers. Lisa slowly passes them by on the way back to her seat trying to keep her head down.

GIRL ONE
Nice Mexican dance.

LISA
(mumbling to herself)
Carmen Miranda wasn't Mexican.

GIRL ONE
(aggressively)
What was that?

LISA
Nothing.

GIRL ONE
That's what I thought.


INT. SCHOOL GYM STAGE – NIGHT

The winners are onstage holding awards, everyone applauds. Lisa is still sitting in her spot on the bleachers. Mr. Philby approaches.


MR. PHILBY
Hey, great job!


LISA
You’re lying.


MR. PHILBY
No. It was, they just didn’t get it.


LISA
Am I...is there something wrong with me?

Lisa looks at him with tears in her eyes, she really wants to know.


MR. PHILBY
No. Absolutely not. Sometimes in a small town,
like this, you have to just kind of… blend
until you can get out. So, maybe work on
blending in? It doesn't mean you can't be who
you are. But...just, try.


Lisa looks across the room and sees her mother completely engrossed in applauding the winners. Mr. Philby walks away slowly, looking sympathetic. She looks up at the fluorescent lights of the gym. She looks down at her own shoes yet again. She looks up and Carmen is sitting next to her. Carmen shakes her head “no”.


LISA
Who are you?


Carmen points at Lisa’s head.


LISA
I’m crazy? I knew it.


Lisa looks back down at her shoes.


Carmen lifts up Lisa’s chin, shakes her head “no” again, points to Lisa's heart and then gestures with her head toward the audience. Carmen’s version of “Chattanooga Choo Choo” begins to play.


Everyone in the audience has someone like Carmen with them now, walking or sitting beside them. Mr. Philby has a COWBOY walking next to him casually twirling a lasso. Lisa’s Mom has a MOVIE STAR from the forties reapplying lipstick. Dennis sits with his arms crossed. Behind him stands another POSTMASTER, also with his arms crossed. Lisa surveys the scene, somewhat shocked. She looks back to where Carmen was sitting, but she is gone

She looks out over the audience again, all the companions have vanished. Once more, she looks to where Carmen was sitting. A girl all the way at the end of her bleacher comes into focus and waves. It's puppet girl. Carmen shuts her eyes tight, but when she opens them again, puppet girl is still there, looking at her expectantly. Carmen waves.


CREDITS  

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