Granted, Safeer’s English “not good”, but neither is his examiner.
The job interview has a long history with filmmakers. There’s terrific raw material to be mined especially in the comedy genre. Just take a look at Owen Wilson hamming it up in You, Me And Dupree, Monty Python’s skit The Lion Tamer with John Cleese and Michael Palin; Big Keith’s Appraisal in The Office, and Kevin Spacey’s turn in American Beauty – ‘would you like smiley-fries with that’?
In reality, job interviews are seldom easy and always challenging. Preparation is essential, as are nerves of steel. It’s essential to put your best foot forward. After all this is high-stakes stuff – this is your life, your future. More often than not you get one chance to make that all important first impression.
In Speaking Test, Manolis Froudarakis’ main character, Safeer, is determined to impress. A foreign national from an undisclosed country he has an extra challenge to overcome – English is evidently not his first language. Safeer’s applying for a job as a private investigator. He’s worked at the job successfully in his own country for the past four years. Now all he has to do is pass a test for ‘oral proficiency’ or rather, overcome the language barrier and convince the powers that be that he is indeed the man for the job.
This is no easy feat, especially when The Examiner is a man named Colton – a condescending, obnoxious, prejudiced and racist upstart who does little to disguise his disdain for Safeer by reacting to his test answers with a series of smirks, sneers and guffaws. He continues by stereotyping Safeer and ultimately rejecting his application.
My English good?
Colton laughs even harder. Safeer gulps.
Please, please! … Good detective
is important. Me, I search good, I
find many things.
So you could find another
job, if necessary, right?
You know, like… in a restaurant…
(slowly, with exaggerated gestures)
Plates. Glasses. Water. You wash.
With those final words the interview is over and Safeer is shown the door. Little does Colton know however that by ignorantly equating Safeer’s broken English with stupidity he is the one who’s just made a big mistake. Safeer is nobody’s fool and he’s about to prove it by utilizing the very talents for which he’s just been passed over. Oh, such sweet irony.
Filmmakers: Want a cleverly plotted comedy with an equally powerful message? One that delivers with a terrific punchline guaranteed to have your audiences laughing in the aisles?
Well, don’t delay. Apply now! We predict this one will have applicants lined up around the block.
* We also recommend you read this imagining the role of Safeer being played by the late great Peter Sellers, the author’s inspiration for the character. Alternately, Sacha Baron Cohen would also do the trick. J
Budget: Minimal: yet more reason to interview and “hire” this one!
About the writer: Manolis Froudarakis has won two awards in short screenplay competitions. His main focus is comedy – preferably, comedy with a little edge. You can contact him at: mfroudarakis (a) yahoo.gr
Read Speaking Test (pdf format)
This screenplay may not be used or reproduced for any purpose including educational purposes without the expressed written permission of the author.
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About the reviewer: L. Chambers has been writing all her life – especially in her head, and on scraps of paper. It’s only in the last few years she began to get serious about screen-writing. Prior to this she worked in the Features Department for ABC TV as a Program Assistant, and trained as a FAD. She currently works as a freelance web-content editor and lives with her husband (also a screenwriter) in Sydney, Australia.