Espace from New NEW York
In 1981 Escape From New York, a dystopian science fiction film depicting a future (1997) in which the Island of Manhattan, New York has been transformed into a high security prison into which the President of the United States has been forced to crash land, taken hostage and held to ransom the President can only be rescued by one man, Snake Plissken. Played by Kurt Russel (with stunt double work by Dick Warlock) Plissken is a thoroughbred badass and the only man for the job.
Due to budgetary and administrative restraint John Carpenter was unable to shoot the majority of the motion picture in New York City. As luck would have it a large fire in downtown St Louis, Missouri offered the film crew a chance at a genuine dystopian landscape. Much of the film was made in a nocturnal downtown St Louis with very little set dressing or changes to locations required.
Espace from New NEW York, set in the modern day St Louis, Missouri, locations from the original film and on The Internet is an exploration of space within both a geographic, cultural and emotional context.
Two characters KURT2.0 and DICKWARLOCK explore sites from the original motion picture attempting to deal with a sudden death of the Director of the original film. At the heart of the film DICKWARLOCK, the stunt man from the original film, feels that as a stunt performer he should have been able to take the directors place, stepped in for his death, save him the trouble.
Left over members of the production team, THE CREW, follow our main characters acting as a greek chorus through which a narrative is woven.
Loosely following the five widely recognised stages of grief; shock/ denial, anger/frustration, depression/detachment, dialoguing/bargaining and finally acceptance. Touching on themes of post-representation, fiction as non-fiction, post-geographic space (the internet) and cultural (filmic) historic common grounds as well as the process of grieving in the face of all of this the film attempts to be both a goofy rehashing of the original John Carpenter film as well as an intentionally highly self regarding piece of conceptual art film.
© Joshua T Howell 2016
Espace From New NEW York by
Joshua T Howell
1 OPENING CREDITS 1
Google Earth slowly follows the Mississippi River, over downtown St Louis, MO.
Overlaid, a map of the city as a prison in the future. Overlaid, a map of New York.
Overlaid, a schematic of a film studio in LA in turn the Hollywood sign.
The sound is that of a re-recorded version of the theme to the original film.
2 EXT. PRESIDENTIAL LANDING SITE - PRESENT DAY, NOON 2
Close, from behind KURT2.0, a shambolic remaking of Snake Plissken, older, drunker and better looking. His costume is obviously put together, tinfoil shin pads, an 80s style bouffant a top an unshaved face, eyepatch, under armour tank top with zips glued to the shoulders, one shoulder lower than the other and a limp.
Ambient street sounds of downtown St. Louis.
KURT2.0 shambles slowly through the parking lot as the camera catches in the back of shot remaining location details from the original film.
KURT2.0 is looking for "The Director"
Kicking through a pile of trash bags, discarded film equipment, a clapper board and a broken directors chair.
KURT2.0 sits down. KURT2.0 looks to middle distance intensely.
3 EXT. SCHLAFLY TAP ROOM - PRESENT DAY, NOON 3
Close from behind DICKWARLOCK, A hastily made replica of KURT2.0, leans against the corner.
DICKWARLOCK is KURT2.0’s former stunt double.
DICKWARLOCK is noticeably shorter than KURT2.0, the limp is with the other leg. Everything about DICKWARLOCK seems to be just a little bit wrong.
Checking his iPhone for directions he turns to go one direction and then doubles back to limp away from camera
4 EXT. PRESIDENTIAL LANDING SITE - PRESENT DAY, NOON 4
KURT2.0 stands and limps away from camera and out of shot followed by "The Crew".
The Crew consists of a boom operator sound man and a spotter. Dressed in black with full film crew equipment.
I think we got that one
Should someone tell him?
SOUNDMAN (sage like)
There is a time for
everything and a season for every activity under the heavens.
5 EXT. SCHLAFLY TAP ROOM - PRESENT DAY, NOON 5
DICKWARLOCK limps out of shot and away from camera followed by "The Crew"
You think that he knows?
The SOUNDMAN shrugs his shoulders and continues to follow DICKWARLOCK whilst replacing his headphones over his ears.
6 EXT. PRESIDENTIAL LANDING SITE - PRESENT DAY, NOON 6
Ambient shots of alleyways and buildings present in the film.
7 EXT. SCHLAFLY TAP ROOM - PRESENT DAY, NOON 7
Recreated shot from film.
8 EXT. ANCHOR BUILDING - PRESENT DAY, NOON 8
Panning recreated shots from film.
9 EXT. NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY - PRESENT DAY, FADING LIGHT 9
Shot from behind KURT2.0 slowly ascends the front stairs of the ’library’ limping. As he approaches the summit DICKWARLOCK is seen crouching in stress position behind a pillar.
I thought I smelled something
(searching his combats for a cigarette)
Kurt. (Nods and ignores the
Heard you were in town.
Well, I had to come. It’s just
what you do. This is where it started.
KURT2.0 light his cigarette and looks back down the steps and away into middle distance.
10 EXT. SCHLAFLY TAP ROOM - PRESENT DAY, LATE AFTERNOON 10 Ambient shots of fading light late afternoon/evening
11 EXT. PRESIDENTIAL LANDING SITE - PRESENT DAY, EARLY EVENING 11
The suns is going down. Shots of empty streets, recreated shots from the original film.
12 EXT. NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY - PRESENT DAY, FADING LIGHT12
When did you hear?
Got the call from the family at
the hospital. No idea how they got my number, running a burner
phone these days, you can never be too careful.
A long pregnant pause between the two men.
He was a good man.
Yeah well you knew him all the
better. I’m just the star. MY face on a poster above HIS name doesn’t bring us any closer. He directed you, I was just a star.
He loved you all the same Kurt,
he loved the world we made. Together.
But it isn’t real though, this
isn’t happening. This film isn’t happening.
13 EXT. NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY BOTTOM OF THE STAIRS - PRESENT DAY, FADING LIGHT 13
We see DICKWARLOCK and KURT2.0 in the background and THE CREW in the foreground.
Man it’s weird seeing them in the
same place after so long.
Well I guess we know they know.
The Director was a good man.
The best. Long pause to ruminate on this thought.
Dick blames himself.
He wishes he could have taken his
place, taken the fall, stepped in for the action you know?
Silently they both check their equipment for an extended period of time.
14 EXT. ANCHOR BUILDING - PRESENT DAY, FADING LIGHT TWIGHLIGHT 14
Recreations of shots from the film. Empty streets and lights turning on.
15 EXT. FOX THEATRE - PRESENT DAY, NIGHT 15
KURT2.0 and DICKWARLOCK shot from behind so as to accentuate the mirrored limps of both characters shamble towards the bright sign of the Fox Theatre.
Shoot a cop, with a gun, the big
apple is plenty of fun.
Stab a priest with a fork and
you’ll spend your vacation in New York.
Rob a bank, steal a truck you can
get there if you steal a buck.
This is bliss, it’s a lark.
Extreme close up of KURT2.0’s iPhone.
KURT2.0 gets a text message from an unknown 555 number saying, ’everyone is coming to New York’.
Texts back, ’FUCK YOU’
There are no more Yankees, strike
the word from your ears.
Play the roulette, theres no more
opera at the met
This is hell, this is fate but
now it’s your home and it is great.
So rejoice and pop a cork honey.
KURT2.0 gets another text message saying, ’everyone is coming to New York’.
DICKWARLOCK sees that KURT2.0 is receiving messages but doesn’t pry. Once outside the FOX theatre both DICKWARLOCK and KURT2.0 lean up against the ticket booth tired, thinking about the lines they’ve just recited and the death of the Director.
KURT2.0 throws an empty glass bottle that smashes loudly.
16 EXT. FOX THEATRE - PRESENT DAY, NIGHT 16
With KURT2.0 and DICKWARLOCK in the back of shot The SOUNDMAN and BOOM OPERATOR are seen with their phones out but quickly put them away.
17 EXT. FOX THEATRE - PRESENT DAY, NIGHT 17
I think I last saw him at PT’s.
Well, that’s all changed now.
The strip club?
It’s Country Rock Cabaret now.
She’s my cherry pie was playing.
Impossible, too late. Warrant
released that one in 1990, we’re talking 1980.
But it’s 1997?
In the film.
The motion picture.
KURT2.0 begins to humm "Slow ride" by Foghat.
Damn that was it. ’Take it easy’
he said as I walked out of the door. Damn that was a cool thing to have done. Real filmic.
Sure... Come on.
KURT2.0 begins to leave.
Let’s figure it out.
Both characters wander off out of shot.
18 EXT. FOX THEATRE - PRESENT DAY, NIGHT 18
As KURT2.0 and DICKWARLOCK exit shot in the background the Crew summarise.
To settle a score?
Clear the air?
Maybe that’s what he meant. I
suppose that’s what a stunt double is for. no?
As a testing ground, a point of
release. A vent.
The SOUNDMAN offers BOOM OPERATOR a rather puzzled look
Offering up a creative way to
express frustration is an important step on the return to normalcy.
Normalcy. Do you really think
that works? With so much anger, guilt and frustration already built in to the premise, are they able to truly move along?
Offering up a creative way to
Guilt Anger A creative way
19 INT. UNION STATION - PRESENT DAY, NIGHT 19
SOUNDMAN BOOM OPERATOR SOUNDMAN
DICKWARLOCK and KURT2.0 are about to take the first throw of a beer pong game.
The Table is set up in the Bar at Union station, the setting of the grand fight between Snake Plissken and Slag (Ox Baker)
KURT2.0 and DICKWARLOCK play roshambo.
Stones. Scissors. Papers. Scissors. Papers.
This won’t work.
Let’s toss for it?
DICKWARLOCK produces a golden dollar coin.
Call it in the air.
DICKWARLOCK tosses coin in the air letting it fall to the floor, the coin bounces a few times yet lands perfectly on it’s edge. The pair seem pretty unsurprised.
Fuck this shit.
20 INT. UNION STATION - PRESENT DAY, NIGHT 20 The Crew are watching.
BOOM OPERATOR SOUNDMAN
21 INT. UNION STATION - PRESENT DAY, NIGHT 21
Fuck it, you go first.
I guess that’s how we used to do
You first for the heavy stuff
then my close up. My reaction shots.
DICKWARLOCK cuts KURT2.0 off by sinking a ball.
(lifting the cup to his lips)
So here’s the deal, one cup, one memory.
How’d you mean?
Take it easy, those were the last
words he said to me. (takes shot)
You already said that.
It was just an example, a test
22 INT. UNION STATION - PRESENT DAY, NIGHT 22
Did he just say test shot? Damn.
23 INT. UNION STATION - PRESENT DAY, NIGHT 23
KURT2.0 takes his turn and gets a cup towards the back of the triangle.
DICKWARLOCK (Raising the cup to his lips) A
man with a good soul and bad hair.
takes the shot from the cup and immediately makes a spit take.
(furious) mine are whiskey.
They’re all whiskey, Dick.
KURT2.0 grabs the front cup of DICKWARLOCK’s pyramid of cups and shoots it crushing the cup afterwards in a ridiculous pageant-like demonstration of real American strength, manliness.
KURT2.0 does the whiskey shivers a little then throws a ball to DICKWARLOCK.
DICKWARLOCK fires one into one of KURT2.0’s cups. KURT2.0 lifts the cup to drink.
KURT2.0 He made me the star, he let me
KURT2.0 sinks a ball.
A true Father of cinema, a mother
KURT2.0 and DICKWARLOCK are now sinking ping pong balls back and forth at an impressive rate. shooting whiskey every time. Getting increasingly more and more drunk
He saved my life.
(Drunk as fuck)
I should have saved him.
A director cut from the cloth of
John Ford and steeped in the waters of Howard Hawks.
KURT2.0 (to no one)
Take it easy.
It should be me.
KURT2.0 Stops playing. Holding a ping pong ball as if ready to throw
DICKWARLOCK I shouldn’t have let him face the
world. I stand in front, shoot first and take the fall.
I take people’s places, it’s what I do.
These should be his reaction shots not mine. I’m the stand in, I’m the stunt double. Why wasn’t it me?
KURT2.0 slowly lowers his ball placing it silently on the beer pong table.
It’s just so unfair. Years and
years behind the lens.
Flaring up in anger DICKWARLOCK swipes all of the remains cups off the table.
24 INT. UNION STATION - PRESENT DAY, NIGHT 24
KURT2.0 and DICKWARLOCK leave the scene in the back of shot, The Crew, in the foreground, try to explain what just happened.
Was that creative Kubler?
I think a deal was made.
I mean, really? Did that help?
Was that the platform we needed?
This isn’t meant to be linear
Ross, it’s going to be muddy.
25 INT/EXT. CAR DRIVING NORTH - PRESENT DAY, NIGHT 25
DICKWARLOCK is driving, KURT2.0 is the passenger. Both look away from each other an out of their respective windows. The mood is sombre.
Randy Newman’s I love LA begins on the stereo yet fades into piercing static at the end of the initial sombre opening.
KURT2.0 changes the station tuning through Chuck Berry’s ’no particular place to go’ and a section from Ennio Morricone’s ’The Thing’ soundtrack which fades abruptly to piercing static once again.
Fourteen thirty, KZQZ.
The ’sweded’ Escape from New York theme plays through the radio as the camera pulls away and the car pulls off out of shot. Followed by the crew car desperately trying to keep up, SOUNDMAN and BOOM OPERATOR are leaning out of the windows haphazardly trying to get the best sound.
26 EXT. CHAIN OF ROCKS BRIDGE CARPARK - PRESENT DAY, LATE NIGHT 26
DICKWARLOCK and KURT2.0’s car pulls into the carpark and parks on gravel.
The mood is bleak.
Both DICKWARLOCK and KURT2.0 exit the car and begin shambling, not obviously wasted but neither is sober, towards the bridge.
The CREW aren’t far behind, pulling in to the carpark hurriedly jumping out of the car to catch the action. The BOOM OPERATOR and SOUNDMAN follow KURT2.0 and DICKWARLOCK onto the bridge.
27 EXT. CHAIN OF ROCKS BRIDGE - PRESENT DAY, LATE NIGHT/EARLY MORNING 27
We follow KURT2.0 and DICKWARLOCK along the historic route 66 bridge connecting Illinois and Missouri.
The 69th St Bridge in the original film Chain of Rocks bridge, now closed to automotive traffic, stands silent. Potent with memory, a constant. Scheduled indefinitely for destruction yet too expensive for demolition a skeleton of great american highway, solemn, somber, reflective.
KURT2.0 and DICKWARLOCK make it eventually to the centre of the bridge, high above the Mississippi river. Leaning against the hand rail of the bridge the pair stand silent in reflection.
KURT2.0 is first to break the silence. Reaching behind his head he begins to untie his eyepatch.
You know, where we’re going, we
don’t need these.
DICKWARLOCK (also removing his eye path)
I sure can see better without it.
Theres a time for blindness and a
time for seeing. Just as there is a time for joy and a time sadness.
I see it now, there are no
substitutes. There are no stand-ins in this film.
There may be re-dos and second
chances but there is no trickery. When you’re there you’re there.
(Tossing his eyepatch off the bridge into the river)
And when you ’aint you ’aint.
KURT2.0 also tosses his eyepatch over the rail, off the bridge and into the darkness below.
Quietly the CREW are watching. Neither close nor faraway the crew stand at an awkward distance.
On seeing the pair discard of their eyepatches the performance is over (in a way the grief has passed). The CREW approach the pair.
Come. (SOUNDMAN indicates for everyone to leave)
28 EXT. COUNTRY ROCK CABARET (YELLOW BRICK ROAD) - PRESENT DAY, DAWN 28
DICKWARLOCK and KURT2.0 exit their car parked alongside the CREW’s car both of whom are leaving their vehicle.
The camera follows the foursome from behind walking in slow motion from their parked cars towards the strip club, neither of the actors are limping anymore.
Panning upwards we see the signage ’Country Rock Cabaret’, the pan continues upwards to the dawning sky.