Other than my two-minute initial challenge for Project Publish, this was my first-ever attempt at a screenplay. It’s my entry for the NYCMidnight 2013 Screenplay Challenge. My assignment was to write a screenplay of up to 12 pages that was a Fairy Tale (also a first), about a billionaire, with the subject of pregnancy. I ended up coming in fourth (of 25) in my initial heat, allowing me to advance to Round 2! If you are a veteran screenwriter, it will be obvious that I am a beginner, due to extraneous shooting directions (and probably other faux pas) that don’t belong in the script. Otherwise, hopefully you’ll find it a fun read!
And after you’re done reading the screenplay, look up what Cordwainer means (if you don’t already know)!
[Image Courtesy of The Graphic Fairy. Used with permission.]
Lady Cordwainer Puts Her Best Foot Forward
When the Monarchy of the Kingdom of Gosselin cannot solve the overpopulation and housing crisis throughout the land,
wealthy Lady Cordwainer comes to the rescue with an innovative idea as well as a plan for its implementation.
History of the World, Part I meets Extreme Home Makeover, and Mother Goose will never be the same!
INT. – KING’S ROUND TABLE ROOM
The KING and his inner court stand at one end of the table.
Parchment “newspapers” are scattered on it, with screaming
headlines about overpopulation and lack of proper housing in the kingdom.
The KING turns angrily on the men.
I thought this was taken care of!
We have tried several measures, your highness, but to no avail…
We sent the men off to war, but the women keep having babies… only
now they all look like the traveling peddlers.
Sire, my pages have been providing tales to the scribes from the
Karashian Empire to the northwest in the hope of creating a
diversion, but they have not awakened their quills.
Two things are clear. We cannot stop the population explosion. And
efforts from the crown to provide adequate housing will not work.
Send a proclamation to the wealthiest tradesmen in the
kingdom, demanding their most clever ideas to deal with the housing crisis.
EXT. – WALL OF PUBLIC AREA
A PAGE nails a parchment with the word PROCLAMATION at the
top to an outer wall, then moves along to do it again.
The proclamation reads:
PROCLAMATION! HEAR YE! HEAR YE!All merchants and tradesmen
in the Kingdom of Gosselin are commanded by the King to
present by the next full lunar rotation a plan to provide
dwellings for the growing peasant population of the Kingdom.
Failure to obey will initiate higher tariff levies.
INT. – ANOTHER CASTLE ROUNDTABLE
Four men surround a table scattered with parchments, some
crumpled, showing frustration at the lack of good ideas.
INT. – STILL ANOTHER CASTLE ROUNDTABLE
Another group of men recreate the same frustration.
INT. – A THIRD CASTLE ROUNDTABLE
LADY CORDWAINER sits at the head of the table. She is the
only female executive in the land, worth more than the King
and his Kingdom combined, and her cool and collected
self-confidence shows it.
She reviews neat stacks of parchments, their contents not
visible to the camera. Her own “court” of three women stand
These are very good. My messengers
advise that the King has rejected
all ideas. It is now time to show
him you don’t send a man to do a
INT. – KING’S ROUNDTABLE ROOM:
The KING is again sitting at the head of the table. LADY
CORDWAINER is facing the king, with her back to the camera.
She looks on as he reviews the parchments.
Lady Cordwainer, you have created a design that is like none I have ever seen.
Why are you confident it will work when other designs have not?
LADY CORDWAINER :
Your Highness, you have called in artists and carpenters to find a
solution to housing for these large families. My team has a perspective
that no man can ever understand…
(shot pulls back and she turns, showing a very pregnant belly)
…we all have children.
A design is one thing. How will it be funded? Alas, the quills scripting
the royal treasury parchments these days need only red ink.
In order to show that this housing is both beautiful and functional, I
will provide the necessary florins and materials to build the first
dwelling, and suggest we use defaulting patriarchs as laborers.
But how will my subjects know…
Sire, I propose a kingdom-wide search to find the family growing
at the swiftest rate. It can be conducted by…
(begins digging through handbag and says to herself)
where did I put that mini-parchment?
(pulls out parchment business card)
The search can be conducted by
(hands card to the KING)
the squires of “Glass Slipper Quests.” We would bestow the dwelling on
this family as a gift. After that, we can begin a thrice-annual rivalry
in the town square, where peasants in the family way are
randomly paired with court jesters; townspeople will then provide
ratings on parchment, eliminating one team per quarter moon until only one remains.
Such a display would would be beneath the dignity of the fine subjects of my king….
Florins will be forthcoming at an amazing rate as everyone from
peasants to noblemen vie to participate.
Upon further consideration I command that work begin immediately.
INT. – MEDIEVAL SHOP
A variety of WORKERS can be seen crafting large pieces of material
that looks like black and brown leather. Others are cutting large
sections of rope. LADY CORDWAINER looks on with approval.
EXT. – DOORWAY OF HUT
A REPRESENTATIVE from Glass Slipper Quests knocks on a door that is opened
by a PREGNANT WOMAN holding a BABY. The representative asks her
questions and makes notes on a parchment attached to a clipboard.
EXT. – OUTSIDE ON THE HOUSE SITE
WORKERS circle a large black foundation that looks like a giant piece
of rubber with white molding. LADY CORDWAINER, wearing a medieval
armor helmet as a hard hat, gestures instructions to the WORKERS.
EXT. – DIFFERENT DOORWAY OF HUT
REPRESENTATIVE and another PREGNANT WOMAN holding a BABY stand on
the doorstep. The REPRESENTATIVE has a look of amazement mixed with relief.
Would you repeat that please?
I said this baby will be number 19 or 20, I’m not sure. Why?
(REPRESENTATIVE takes her arm and gleefully leads her away.)
EXT. – STREET MARKET PLACE
A wooden stand holds parchment “newspapers,” ala the
tabloids in a grocery store aisle. The headline reads:
MOTHER OF 18 (OR MAYBE 19, SHE ISN’T SURE) AND COUNTING TO
RECEIVE NEW KINGDOM DWELLING IN PUBLIC CEREMONY IN A FORTNIGHT
EXT. – WORK SITE OF NEW DWELLING
A large crowd has gathered for the presentation of the new dwelling to the
to the PREGNANT WOMAN. She and a mob of children stand with
the KING and LADY CORDWAINER, among others.
SCRIBES stand together, writing and drawing on parchment with quills.
A KNIGHT signals the crowd to be silent as the KING moves forward to speak.
It is a wonderful day in the Kingdom! A successful royal-commoner
partnership – funded by the generosity of Lady Cordwainer –
has resulted in the creation of a new generation of housing,
and a solution to the Kingdom’s overpopulation problem.
We welcome to the home its new owner and her 18, or maybe 19
children, she’s not sure – Cottager Duggar…
(KING’s speech trails off as camera shifts to two MEN in
the crowd, one holding a parchment)
MAN WITHOUT PARCHMENT:
What are they calling these new houses?
(camera moves to over the shoulder of the man with parchment)
MAN WITH PARCHMENT:
It’s the King’s Excellent Dwelling Solution…
(camera back to close-up)
(instant/almost overlap cut to KING – shouting)
KING & CROWD:
MOVE THAT HORSE!!!!!
EXT. – SHOT OF LARGE TROJAN HORSE IN FRONT OF HOUSE
SERFS pull large rope to move Trojan Horse, revealing the new dwelling –
a five-story house, shaped like a shoe. Camera shows various angles, cutting
between the house and the crowd. As it scans the house, a large, red decorative
circle is observed at the mid-point of the white trim on the back of the “shoe.”
EXT. – CROWD SHOT
COTTAGER DUGGARD and 18 (or 19) children cry and jump for
joy, the crowd goes wild, and LADY CORDWAINER is seen
passing out mini-parchments to others in the crowd.
(Camera pulls back and scene fades to black)