Icons & Idols by Rohan Stephens | Script Revolution

Icons & Idols

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Page Count: 
26pp

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Logline: 
A look back at the historical events that lead to the trend of all actors becoming CGI.
Synopsis/Details: 

Inside a darkened hotel room sits one of the most famous actresses in the world, Rachel Anderson. She is in her 60's, tall and thin. She twitches as she stares into the camera. Someone off screen fits her with a microphone and then finally asks her, ‘Who was Vivian Fontaine?’

A montage then starts filled with archival, mostly black and white footage explaining the life and career of actress Vivian Fontaine. She is shown as an incredibly successful, beautiful but mostly troubled icon of Hollywood who after a highly publicized struggle with drugs and bad relationships, takes her own life at the peak of her career, leaving her final film, Catwalk, perpetually unfinished. The montage is narrated by Gerry Taylor, a flamboyant entertainment journalist and also Cynthia Winston, an entertainment lawyer. Both comment on moments in Vivian’s career and influence throughout.

At the conclusion of the montage, Cynthia begins to describe the aftermath of Vivian’s death and the enduring power of her legacy as the greatest icon of Hollywood’s golden era. She explains in depth how her image and likeness quickly became a multi-million dollar business, all managed by the daughter of her ex-bodyguard who unexpectedly inherited her estate, Patricia O’Brien.

More modern footage is shown of Patricia in a newsroom, being interviewed. She is now middle aged and is answering questions about rumours she is planning to begin to cast an actress to attempt to finish Catwalk. The host mentions the name of actress, Rachel Anderson.

Back in the darkened hotel room, Rachel Anderson sits smoking, looking pensive into the camera. She begins to describe the process in which she was contacted about the role and the negotiation she went through. Someone off camera confirms that she was at the time, the highest paid and most famous actress in the world. Something Rachel awkwardly confirms.

Cynthia Winston is seen describing the negotiation of Rachel’s contract with the Vivian Fontaine estate for her role in Catwalk in greater detail, stating that it was usual for it to be done so publicly and then it all broke down quite spectacularly when the final figure was delivered by Rachel’s team regarding her salary. She was demanding an unprecedented $45 million.

Cynthia continues on discussing the moment, claiming it to have the potential to be a truly defining moment for the film industry and for women in particular. Gerry, also compares the moment to other historical scenarios such as Liz Taylor’s million dollar salary in Cleopatra and Julia’s Robert’s in Erin Brockavich. It was however, Cynthia confirms, the beginning of the end.

Patricia O’Brien, working directly with the head of the studio that was to produce the completion of Catwalk, outwardly refuse Rachel’s offer. And not only do they refuse, they announce that as the studio owns the rights to all of Vivian’s back catalogoue of films, her estate has given them permission to use all her pre-recorded dialogue to develop a wholly CGI version of Vivian to star in the film.

Contemporary news footage shows the subsequent outrage from not only within the industry about the decision but soon the rest of the world, that such a precedent could be set to allow dead actors to star in and then profit from films.

More news footage shows small protest groups gathering outside the offices of the studio producing Catwalk. People are holding signs and demanding the decision to use a CGI version of Vivian be dropped and that all actors and artists must be given the chance to live off their craft.

Back in the hotel room, Rachel begins to squirm and becomes more uncomfortable as the story unfolds. She stares blankly into the distance and appears like she might begin to cry. She states she never meant to become the figure head of any movement, but it just seemed to happen against her will.

News footage is shown now with protestors wearing shirts with Rachel’s face on them, appearing also to have adopted a slogan, Non Ex Machina, which is emblazoned on posters and placards. The protestors are getting visibly more aggressive.

Two protestors in particular, young women dressed in shirts showing Rachel’s faces, are shown being interviewed over and over again. They appear to be leaders of the movement against the decision of the studio and are shouting their slogan over and over again.

Gerry Taylor, goes on to describe the production of the film and it’s subsequent, triumphant release. One of the protestors, who’s voice is heard through a phone call, claims the studio was arrogantly pushing its success in their faces by hosting multiple premieres and parties throughout the city and the country, night after night.

Cynthia goes on to describe the more aggressive methods of the protesters as the films success grew and grew, with mention of a bomb at one of the London premieres. In spite of the harassment, she mentions, the goes on to be come one of the highest grossing film of all time.

Footage shows Patricia O’Brien and some of the heads of the studio doing the media circuit, beaming with pride over what they have achieved and the vast sums of money they stand to make from one another, whilst more and more the protests grow in size and violence.

Cynthia describes the day the announcement came that Vivian’s estate was going to collaborate with the studio on a second film, also using Vivian as a CGI character, but as a remake of one of her previous films.

In the hotel room, Rachel is now visibly crying. She has tears streaming down her face and she is mumbling inaudibly. Finally she gets out some information about being notified late in the evening of something horrible happening at the studio’s headquarters.

Cynthia appears and seems hesitant to talk about it. Gerry appears also and doesn’t seem to be able to talk coherently. Cynthia eventually refuses.

Gerry’s voice is describing the event as archival news footage is plays. He states that the morning after the announcement of the second film by Patricia O’Brien and the head of the studio, Daryl Peters, both of them were found dead on the steps of the studio headquarters. Each of them had had their limbs and other parts of their bodies removed and replaced with various bits of machinery and wires. His final comments are, ‘I think what was left of them, was mostly machine.’

Gerry goes on to describe the aftermath of the event. Rachel Anderson disappeared totally from public life. She never gave another interview, never appeared in another movie and was never photographed. She died, he continues, completely alone and isolated from what the world had become.

In the darkened hotel room, Rachel Anderson wipes tears from her face before sniffing loudly and stubbing out her cigarette. She glares into the camera and before asking, ‘Are we done?’

The scene flickers briefly and suddenly Rachel Anderson is gone and all that can be seen is an actress in a motion capture body suit sat, in the exact same position on a chair, but against a green screen. The actress gets up and removes some of the wires and walks off camera.

As she exits a clapboard appears with the text: RACHEL ANDERSON: THE ‘LOST’ INTERVIEW written across it.

Submitted: December 28, 2019
Last Updated: December 29, 2019
Times Downloaded: 2
Last Downloaded: December 29, 2019

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Rohan Stephens's picture

The Writer: Rohan Stephens

I consider myself simply a writer first and foremost. I look for stories to tell. Good stories. Interesting stories. Stories that capture moments and feelings in time, that replicate as best as possible our greatest loves, fears, joys and horrors. If that story is best told in a short, a feature, a novel or a poem, then so be it. It will make its own way there. I’m just here to see it come to life. My name is Rohan Stephens and I am a London based, Australian raised, semi-professional adult, full time homosexual, casual traveller and freelance citizen of the world. And I of course, write. My stories tend to be about characters typically associated with queer culture. Not necessarily gay,... Go to bio

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