Pluck and Spirit is an extract from a feature film by James MacDonald.
“Old Socrates spoke truly when he said ‘No man goeth about a
more Godly purpose than he who is mindful of the right
upbringing not only of his own, but of other men’s children.’”
EXT. SCOUT HUT – DAY
SUPER: July 1919
The warm summer sun shines through a canopy of green leaves and bathes the Scout hut in light. A country lane leads away from the hut, past a playing field, oak tree, and pond, and through a dense woodland.
Scouting has been described by more
than one enthusiast as a revolution
in education. It is not that.
SLOW MOTION: ROGER (11, wild eyed, Scout uniform in disarray) emerges from behind the hut at a dead run. His face a rictus of terror, he looks over his shoulder for his pursuers.
It is merely a suggestion thrown out as a venture
for a jolly outdoor recreation.
SLOW MOTION: A pack of WOLF CUB Scouts (aged 5-7, in shreds of uniform, with war paint and feathers in their tangled hair) swarm around the hut, chasing Roger. They screech, spittle flecking their dirty faces, as they brandish clubs.
Our aim is to make the rising
generation into good citizens.
SLOW MOTION: A Wolf Cub throws a stick, tripping Roger to the floor. He curls into a ball as they pounce, beating him.
Scouting puts into the lad
discipline, pluck, and chivalry.
SLOW MOTION: GEOFFREY (14, blonde hair, immaculate uniform) dashes from the trees with a bow in one hand and a quiver of arrows on his back. He drops to a knee, nocks an arrow and aims.
Through a system of games we instil
the values of Christian service-
SLOW MOTION: He fires. The arrow misses a Wolf Cub’s face by an inch and sticks into the thick haft of a war club. The Wolf Cubs turn to see Geoffrey nocking a second arrow and scarper into the trees. His second shot sticks into a tree trunk beside a retreating head.
– so the lads may grow and work for
the betterment of their fellow-men.
SERIES OF SHOTS:
FREEZE FRAME: Geoffrey, on one knee, lowering his bow.
FOCUS ON: Geoffrey’s sweater sleeve, full of Scout badges.
FOCUS ON: A badge of crossed arrows over an archery target.
SUPER: Master at Arms Activity Badge: Archery Proficiency.
Geoffrey walks over to the curled figure of Roger.
I don’t think so.
Geoffrey offers Roger his hand.
Roger takes the proffered hand and is pulled to his feet.
Don’t mention it old chap. We should move.
I startled the Wolf Cubs but they’ll be back,
now they’ve tasted blood.
Geoffrey runs off towards an opening in the woods. Roger takes a moment to catch his breath then follows. SCOUTMASTER GILL (62, skeletal thin with blotchy skin) stumbles from the hut and sits heavily on the top step. He gesticulates with Baden Powell’s Scouting for Boys.
That’s it lads, practice your…knots or… something.
He closes the book.
No, wait, don’t clo-
The voice is cut off by the book slamming shut. Gill tosses it aside and pulls out his own copy from his back pocket. He opens it: the inner pages are hollowed out, the cavity filled by a hip flask. He removes the flask and takes a deep swig.
Filthy little bastards.
TITLE: Pluck and Spirit
INT. KITCHEN – DAY
SUPER: July 2019
A spacious modern family kitchen that opens into a dining room. Both are freshly decorated but unfurnished. KATE (24, black suit) leans against a worktop, checking emails. Her eyes dart from her phone screen to uneasily scan the room. Muted voices and dulled footsteps can be heard from upstairs. Beside her a kitchen drawer begins to slowly open with an unsettling rattle. She watches, horrified, before slamming it shut.
No, please, not now.
She stares at the now unmoving drawer. A door slams in the distance and she starts. Behind her a fog of breath begins to slowly rise on a window pane. A circle is drawn in the condensation. Kate hears the squeak of an invisible finger and turns to watch, terrified, as three dots appear, two for eyes and one for a nose. An arc is traced to form the smile of a ghostly face.
It’s a beautiful house.
Kate jumps and turns in alarm to see TOM (34, jeans, jumper, cheery face) and CARRIE (31, hoodie, tired eyes) with baby Jess (6 months old) descending the stairs in the hallway. She wipes the window clean and forces a smile as they enter.
What’s the catch?
Carrie sits Jess on the worktop and plays with her.
You don’t get this much house for that
much asking price.
We just have a very motivated seller.
What happened, did somebody die here?
Kate stares aghast for a moment until Tom begins to laugh. She joins him, her laugh verging on the hysterical. Tom stops and she continues for just a second too long.
No, no. Nobody died in this house.
Well, that’s a relief. What
do you think Carrie?
I like it, it’s nice.
Well then, I think we’d like to put in an offer.
Relief floods over Kate’s face. Behind her, unheeded by the room, the upside-down crescent of a sad mouth is added to a new face drawn on the fogged window.
EXT. FRONT OF HOUSE – DAY
The large modern house sits in front of an imposing woodland. A small gravel area separates it from a grass lawn with a pond and the burned stump of an oak tree. The wheels of Kate’s Audi spin and kick up gravel as she speeds along the driveway. Tom frowns after her as he opens the back door of their car.
Did she seem off to you?
Carrie bends to put Jess in her car seat. Tom shrugs.
This is the right thing for us Caz,
to get away from… everything.
Carrie is struggling with the clasp on Jess’ car seat.
Jess’ll love playing in these woods.
Carrie is growing frustrated with the car seat.
I hate this car seat, Tom! I can’t-
Carrie stands aside. Tom leans past her and after a few moments, CLICK. He turns to her, awkward, unsure.
We need to start thinking about the
future again. I love you.
Carrie wraps her arms tightly around him, close to tears.
INT. CAR – LATER
Tom turns the car and pulls away from the house. A view of the front edifice sweeps across the rear view mirror, and the solitary figure of a small boy in a green uniform can be seen standing on the doorstep. Tom looks up and adjusts the mirror. He sees only the empty house, their new home.
EXT. THE WOODS – DAY
The day is still bright, the woods lush and full of greenery. Geoffrey runs between trees and through the undergrowth. He turns back to call to Roger.
Keep up Roger, we’re almost at base
Roger stops, hands on knees, wheezing.
I’m right behind you.
He takes a deep breath and stumbles on.
EXT. SCOUT CAMP – DAY
The Scout troop have established their base camp in a small hollow in the woods. Tents and bivouacs have been erected and the area around a large campfire is bustling with activity. Geoffrey jogs into camp and is greeted warmly by the boys as he passes. PETER (10, slight and with short slicked hair) patrols at the camp’s edge with a BB rifle.
Geoffrey smiles and nods to him. In the camp, BINGO (9, cheery, simple face) is sprawled on the floor surrounded by boys, a bandage around his head and both arms in slings. He sits up and waves awkwardly.
Geoffrey grins as TREVOR (13, tall and skinny) pushes Bingo back down in frustration and continues the demonstration.
SERIES OF SHOTS:
FREEZE FRAME: Trevor with one hand on Bingo’s chest.
FOCUS ON: Trevor’s half full sleeve of badges.
FOCUS ON: A badge showing the caduceus before a green cross.
SUPER: First Aid Proficiency Badge.
Geoffrey walks on and passes a group of boys erecting a tent. REG (11, scabby knees) holds a bundle of tent poles in his arms. He tries to wave and drops them.
Welcome back Geoffrey!
ARNOLD (14, burly) is leading the tent building. He pauses to thump Reg in the stomach and points to the dropped poles.
SERIES OF SHOTS:
FREEZE FRAME: Reg doubled over, Arnold pointing.
FOCUS ON: Arnold’s sleeve of badges, fewer than Geoffrey.
FOCUS ON: A badge showing a white tent.
SUPER: Camper Proficiency Badge.
Geoffrey stops at TOBY (12, portly, glasses) sat alone beside a tree. He is whittling arrow shafts, several are stuck in the ground.
Toby, how’re tricks?
Can’t complain. Have yourself a little
brush with the Wolf Cubs?
Geoffrey pulls a finished arrow from the soil to inspect it.
Nothing I couldn’t handle.
I take it you’ll be needing more of these.
One or two couldn’t hurt.
Isn’t that rather the point?
Toby prods the sharp end of an arrow.
TRISTAN (10, greasy hair and pinched face) runs towards them, a bundle of Molotov cocktails in his arms.
Hi Geoffrey. I’ve made these if the
Wolf Cubs get out of line.
Good God Tristan! What have I told you?
Come on Geoffrey, just the one?
What have I told you?
‘Don’t use incendiary devices on the Wolf Cubs.’
And what are those?
Right. We’re not allowed to set
other boys on fire… anymore.
The rules changed last year.
The rules changed last year.
Not even a little singeing?
But you shoot them with arrows.
I do not. I shoot around them.
What if you miss?
He never misses.
I’ve got my proficiency badge.
Tristan slinks away.
We’re going to have to watch that one.
Roger arrives, puffing. Toby takes in his bloody appearance.
What ho Roger, been having fun?
Roger’s been behind enemy lines.
So I see. How’d you get on?
I may have been spotted…
But he gave as good as he got, eh?
Geoffrey slaps Roger on the back. He winces in pain.
Learn anything useful in your
I’ve found the Wolf Cub’s lair.
By gad, good work! Muster the men.
We’re going on the offensive!