In a futuristic society, life changes for a teenager who can’t pass the test.
In my humble but clearly infallible opinion, Ray Bradbury wrote some of the best short stories. Ever in the history of the world. Case closed; that is all.
And Bradbury’s novels aren’t too shabby either. Take for instance, Fahrenheit 451 – a story of censorship and social control echoed in Richard Russell’s SF short, The Test.
Fade in on the script. The time: the plausible near future. And the humble setting: a middle class home, with an almost 50’s domestic vibe.
Iola is the mother – tooling around the kitchen with her trusty tablet, preparing the family’s meals. Everything’s colored coded. For instance, today’s dinner is “green.” Which is probably just as well, because Iola doesn’t appear to be all there…
Husband Ron arrives from work moments later, dressed in a cop-like uniform. He regales his wife about his day (he’s some sort of ‘inspector librarian’) – and asks Iola about their son Josh’s test. Important scores came in today. But Iola’s unsure where they are; she’s forgotten already. A fact which doesn’t surprise Ron. And so he grabs a beer, and heads to Josh’s room…
…to be confronted with some cold, hard facts. Fourteen year old Josh failed his test miserably. And that means dire consquences – including “Educational Camp”. A prospect that Ron fears at all costs…
After dinner, Ron escorts Josh to “old man Granger’s” house. A thin old man with “wispy hair”, and dusty secrets in his basement. To save Josh from his mother’s fate, Ron’s arranged a special trip…
And that’s where my summary stops. No need to spoil a great script.
Instead, take a read for yourself – discover the multi-layered narrative and well-drawn characters; each with their distinct voice. Despite the SF setting, this is one cautionary tale that would be easy to produce. There’s no elaborate special effects – and a very human story at its core. It’d be a winner at festivals. And Ray Bradbury would be pleased.
Budget: Relatively small, interior locations.
About the Writer: Richard Russell lives in North Carolina where he plays golf and writes. He has been writing since college when his short stories appeared in the university literary magazine. He loves writing screenplays, and THE CALL, written with his partner, Felice Bassuk, is one of their best. They have written an award-winning feature, THE KOI KEEPER, which they hope to see on the screen in the not too distant future. Richard has a trove of shorts and feature length screenplays and continues to add to the inventory. Writing remains the sole source of sanity in Richard’s chaotic world.
Read The Test (12 pages in PDF format)
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This screenplay may not be used or reproduced for any purpose including educational purposes without the expressed written permission of the author.
About the reviewer: Anthony Cawood is an aspiring screenwriter from the UK with a number of scripts in various stages of production, two of which have just wrapped shooting. His script, A Certain Romance, recently won in the Nashville Film Festival Screenwriting Competition (short script category). You can find out more at AnthonyCawood.co.uk.