treatment for psychothriller screenplay

March 11, 2012
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Setting: Our story takes place in California. Roman Polanski has recently come out of the hospital. He suffered a nervous breakdown in the month after his wife was killed.
Roman Polanski: A prominent director in Hollywood. Four months prior to when our story takes place, his wife was brutally murdered by Charles Manson and his followers in his Benedict Canyon home. At this time, she was seven months pregnant. Roman has been deeply disturbed by this and being a professional man, has decided to pour his anger into a new project, a remake of the Shakespeare classic, Macbeth.
Charles Manson: Charles Manson is the leader of a family of killers. He is responsible for the murders of many people. His family and him are responsible for the murder of Sharon Tate, the late wife of Roman Polanski. He is currently incarcerated in Corcoran State Prison.
Drew Calright: Drew Calright is the head writer with Polanski during the making of Macbeth. Calright is young and eager to get into the business, and this is his big break. Polanski tells him everything during this experience. He is Polanski’s right hand.
Dr. Anselm: Dr. Pierre Anselm is an old wise looking man with a full beard and is a very well respected psychiatrist in Hollywood. He treats patients such as Jack Nicholson, and Goldie Hawn. Roman Polanski is his newest most serious patient.
The places in which the story will mostly take place are the jail in which Charles Manson is incarcerated, the Polanski Mansion at Benedict Canyon, in which Sharon was killed, the studio where Roman Polanski works, and Dr. Anselm’s office.
Our story opens in the Polanski Mansion. Roman sits all alone in his dining room, as he does every night. This will occur multiple times during the movie. He is reading over the new script for Macbeth. He is mumbling as he reads. The camera zooms in on the clock on top of the counter next to him. It reads 3:00 a.m. His eyes close sporadically and he attempts to resist sleep. He falls asleep, and we cut to a dream sequence.
There is no speaking, as in any dream. The man pulls out a dagger and begins stabbing someone in his bed. It is quite graphic and as quick as we got in, the dream sequence disappears and Roman awakes in a cold sweat with his notepad stuck to his forehead. He gets up from the table, and walks to his bedroom.
The next morning, Roman wakes up, and takes his town car to work. Still shook up from the previous night’s dream, he makes a phone call to Calright. The screen splits and we watch the conversation. Roman makes demands regarding the cast, and Calright agrees to all but one. Calright asks why Roman insists Duncan be played by Nicholas Selby. Roman tells him that he was in his dream, and that it was meant to be. Calright eagerly acknowledges his genius and walks out.
Open auditions take place and the permanent cast is chosen. One day Roman is in his office, flustered. His hair is messy, and he appears disheveled. Calright enters and cheery as ever, hands Roman his coffee. Roman shoves the coffee from his hand and in a fit of rage storms out of the office, screaming profanities about his writing staff down the hallways. He leaves the building and he runs into his town car conveniently waiting outside for him. The car speeds off into the distance.
Next we see Roman in his psychiatrist’s office. Dr. Anselm is sitting across from him. Dr. Anselm does not talk. Neither does Roman. No exchange occurs for about thirty seconds. It seems like more. The clock exaggeratedly ticks and finally Roman begins to explain his dreams. He talks about how whenever he has a dream, it helps him with his writing. Dr. Anselm nods every once in a while, all the while taking notes. Roman stops talking for a moment and the doctor looks up to see why.
Roman is shaking in his seat. The doctor looks concerned and gets up. He walks over to Roman and shakes him hard by the shoulders. Roman stops and begins talking as though nothing had happened. The doctor goes and sits down once again. Roman says there is always one reoccurring person in his dreams and he cannot identify them. Dr. Anselm asks him why it is so important to know about his dreams and who this mystery person is. The camera dramatically zooms in very close on Romans face. He explains briefly that every person that shows up in his dreams has been cast in his new making of Macbeth. The last to be cast is Macbeth, and his mystery killer is perfect for the role.
We are once again in Roman’s dining room and he is writing. Every line he writes he quickly erases. He scratches his head frequently in thought and he drinks coffee constantly. He closes and reopens his eyes. He pushes himself out of his seat and walks into the bedroom.
Another dream sequence occurs. This time it is the dinner scene from Macbeth and we do not see Macbeth’s face once again. We watch the scene from the back of his head. Banquo is seen as well as Lady Macbeth and the scene proceeds as usual. Banquo is covered in blood and Lady Macbeth plays the innocent flower well. Just as we are about to see by whom Macbeth is portrayed, Roman wakes up and jolts forward in his bed, in shock.
We are now in the psychiatrist’s office, and Roman lies on a futon in the office. The doctor asks him questions regarding his sleep patterns. The doctor tells him that he merely needs a good night’s sleep. Roman, unsatisfied, storms out of the office, and calls Calright. They discuss Macbeth. Roman explains that he has been seeing a psychiatrist to figure out his dreams. He says that he cannot figure out whom to cast as Macbeth because in his dreams, the acting is perfect. For inspiration, Calright suggests that Roman go to see the root of his anger in Corcoran State Prison. Roman, unsettled by this idea rejects it, and instead goes home for the night.
That night another dream is experienced. This time we know who Macbeth is. Macbeth is about to be killed by Macduff, and just as Macduff raises his sword, we see the face of Macbeth. His hair is long, brown and matted. He has crazy blood – shot eyes, which pop out from his head. The last defining characteristic was unmistakable. The villain has a large swastika carved into the front on his head. It’s Manson.
Convinced, and horrified by his dream from the previous night, he travels to the Corcoran State Prison in the hopes of getting something out of this encounter. Polanski walks down the long hallways of the prison, and a large guard leads him into a small room, with two chairs facing one another. In the far chair, sits Manson. He smiles sickeningly, but does not say a word. Roman begins to ask Manson questions, frantically, anxiously. Why did he kill his wife? Why would he have to kill a pregnant woman? What compelled him to kill anyone? Manson’s smile widens, as Polanski squirms. Manson responds by saying only, “It is what I was called to do, called to be king.”
Roman gets up and walks out of the room. The camera follows Polanski all the way down the corridor.

Polanski calls Calright, and says to him that he was right. Visiting Manson has helped him to realize something about the movie. Macbeth was not nearly as evil as Charles Manson.
Roman visits his psychiatrist another time. This time Roman talks more than ever, almost enthusiastic. He says he has a full cast for his movie, and it shall be a success. Dr. Anselm does not show any enthusiasm. Rather, he suggests that Roman have some hypnotism done to calm his nerves. He also prescribes a high dosage of hallucinogenic drugs to Polanski. Polanski agrees hesitantly.
On what appears to be the next day, we are in an office with all white walls. Roman lies down onto the bed, prepared to be hypnotized. The doctor comes to stand over him, and places a mask over Polanski’s face. Just as Roman begins to slip into darkness, the doctor’s features change, and Dr. Anselm’s face changes into Manson’s. Manson’s hand rises above Polanski violently. It holds a dagger. The shot goes dark.

But, surprise, surprise. Roman jolts up in bed. He is soaked in sweat. It was all a dream.
The question for the audience is: Where did the dream begin?

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

NinjaMonster123 said...
Mar. 16, 2012 at 4:24 pm
That was really good and interesting at the end when you asked the reader where they think the dream began... Good Job! :)
Twatler27 replied...
Mar. 16, 2012 at 9:57 pm
shucks thanks!!!
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