“He is my Photographer.”

3rd draft of the first 30 minutes for the pilot episode for Hot Shot Reporter. Run time roughly up to 1 hour.
Updated as of 20 October 2017.

EXT. RUGBY STADIUM – DAY

The match is tied at 10-10. The crowd is in confused frenzy. In the middle of field are two rugby players, each from opposing teams, are yelling and throwing fists at each other. Referee tries to break them up.

SNAP! The scene freezes into a photograph with bold white frame, and the location TWICKENHAM STADIUM and date 1 MAY 2016 are scribbled at the bottom. The photograph is flipped around to reveal a written description: ‘PRATT’S FAULT’.

EXT. OUTSIDE PARLIAMENT -- DAY

A government official heads down the steps with her bodyguards, a look of distraught on her face. She is bombarded by paparazzi just before she enters her car.

And SNAP! A photograph, PARLIAMENT HOUSE and 19 SEP 2016 at the bottom. On the back: ‘LADY HARWOOD. ENGAGED.’

EXT. STREET CURB -- NIGHT

An injured puppy whines pitifully. People pass without even a glance at it.

SNAP! WESTMINSTER STREET and 18 NOV 2016. On the back: ‘HEARTLESS HUMANS.’

INT. STAN’S BEDROOM -- DAY

The same puppy, wrapped in bandages, lies peacefully in a box laden with a blanket. Cleaner and healthier.

A pair of feet walks past quietly.

We see a corkboard on pastel wall with photographs pinned over without organization. Those of the first two events are seen on the bottom left corner. A hand pins up a third photograph below them – the one of the puppy.

STANLEY MICHAELS (STAN), sits down at his desk. Slightly stocky, freckle-faced, not quite the appearance that gets anyone to talk about. He had just come out of shower.

STAN opens his laptop. The screen is a photo blog. His, evident on the title “SPAMLY STANLEY”. The photos in the gallery are typical. Lunch picture, selfie with a couple of friends, leaves that recently changed colours.

STAN clicks on a the notification icon for new comments. The first is from MOTHER:

“Were you drinking again?”

STAN rolls his eyes like every grown-up child of

STAN

Mother.

STAN hits the DELETE button on the comment.

Scroll down to the next comment, from a DAVE ARSON:

“Hello. May I borrow this picture to show some friends? I promise it is not for commercial purpose.”

Confused, STAN clicks into the post. It is a picture of a newly-opened antique store, with a well-dressed woman leaving through the door. Nothing suspicious here.

STAN types his reply:

“Okay. Remember to credit back.”

TWO DAYS LATER –

Same position in front of the laptop. Except STAN had a gaping mouth and a half-eaten snack bar hanging from it.

The screen this time is of a news article, with his photograph of the antique store below the headline: ‘ANTIQUE STORE ROBBED BY OWNER! PRIZED BANGLE ON WRIST.’

TITLES

INT. TY’S CAFÉ -- DAY

STAN is sat on the tall chair at the bar counter. Behind it is TY BETTIN, the young, dark owner of the café. TY is reading the newspapers.

TY

“Picture credited to Stanley Michaels of City University.” At least he’s credited back.

STAN

(scoffs)

This is copyright infringement. It has to be!

TY

I wouldn’t know how much they actually pay to use a photograph in the papers.

STAN snatches the papers to see the news article.

STAN

Who is this Dave Arson?

TY

A journalist?

STAN

I mean, who is he? Sorry, rhetorical question.

TY

You’re fine. If you’re looking for him, try emailing. He must have left an address on your blog.

STAN

The email bounced back. Apparently his inbox was full.

(waves at the papers)

He’s using Gmail!

TY

Either he’s never bothered clearing his spams, or he’s registered with a million newsletters. I think I’ll go for he’s a very busy businessman.

STAN

Businessmen don’t write to papers.

The bell above the door rings, and in shuffles a handsome YOUNG MAN, slanted by a heavy backpack carried on one shoulder.

TY

(glances at the clock)

You went to class!

YOUNG MAN

A waste of time! I should drop out already.

TY

Then drop out.

YOUNG MAN

Good idea.

The YOUNG MAN sets his backpack down with a bang on the chair next to STAN, who looks on quizzically. Then the YOUNG MAN pulls a mobile phone from his pocket, speeddials a number, and puts it to his ear.

Two rings later –

YOUNG MAN

(into phone)

Father, may I drop out of school –

YOUNG MAN’S FATHER (O.S.)

(loudly)

No.

Click – his father hangs up. The YOUNG MAN looks at his phone.

YOUNG MAN

(unfazed)

Not this time either.

TY

Too bad. Coffee?

YOUNG MAN

No, Ty, I have business.

(rummages in his backpack)

Police has finally confirmed Julian Anderson’s disappearance. Took them seventy-two hours, can you believe it? I need first dip on this.

STAN

Julian Anderson? The journalist?

The YOUNG MAN pauses from his searching. He looks up at STAN, as if seeing him for the first time.

YOUNG MAN

Oh. You.

STAN

Excuse me?

YOUNG MAN

I like your blog.

STAN

Thank you. What?

TY

Buy a coffee and I’ll give it to you.

YOUNG MAN

(looks at TY)

You got something for me?

TY

Twenty-two Canniston Street.

YOUNG MAN

(breaks into a smile)

Marvellous! Knew I could count on you.

The YOUNG MAN pulls out a notebook, flipping to the first empty page and jotting down the address. Then he closes it with a bang.

YOUNG MAN

Am off then. Got a story to write.

STAN

A story?

The YOUNG MAN shoves everything into his backpack, zips it up, and slings it onto his shoulder. He smiles at STAN.

YOUNG MAN

Good to finally meet you, Stan. I expect to work with you more in the future.

STAN

What --

TY

Coffee in three hours if that’s enough time, Dave.

STAN

Dave?

DAVE

Wonderful, Ty! Laters!

The YOUNG MAN, now we know as DAVE ARSON, dashes out the door.

STAN gapes, turning his head to TY.

STAN

Dave Arson?

TY

(shrugs)

Like I said. Very busy businessman.

STAN slams the counter as he stands, and sprints out of the door.

EXT. OUTSIDE TY’S CAFÉ -- DAY

STAN steps out of the café. He scans the street. DAVE is already gone.

But STAN will not give up. Clearly the copyright infringement on his photograph is dearly important to him. Hence he hops onto his bicycle and speeds off.

EXT. CANNISTON STREET -- DAY

STAN arrives, hopping off his bicycle and looking down the street.

No sign of DAVE. In fact, not a soul is present.

STAN realizes now how stupid this is. He turns to leave...

DAVE

(appears)

Stan!

STAN

(jumps)

Hell!

DAVE

Dave, actually. And you’re just who I need right now.

STAN

Sorry, me?

DAVE beckons and turns to head down the street, flipping through his notebook. STAN leans his bicycle against a lamppost and runs after him.

DAVE

I’m terrible at photo-taking. Tanya points it out all the time, talks about angles and focuses. Frankly, I don’t have the season to think about all that.

STAN

Wait, are you saying you want to use me?

DAVE

(looks at him quizzically)

What? No, do I look like a brothel to you?

STAN

(appalled)

To take photos!

DAVE

Oh!

DAVE stops abruptly, causing STAN to stop as well.

DAVE

(waves notebook at STAN)

You understand me well, my friend.

And DAVE continues walking. STAN rolls his eyes, and continues following.

STAN

I am not your friend. I just want an explanation on why you infringed the copyright on my photograph.

DAVE

Your photograph was not used for commercial means, I assure you.

DAVE pulls out a card from his notebook and passes it to STAN.

STAN

(reads off the card)

Intern Journalist. Interns have name cards?

DAVE

I’m out so often, it’s tedious always having to introduce myself. Cards are a lot faster.

(back to his notebook)

Now, you heard of Julian Anderson?

STAN

Hang on, I wasn’t finished. About my photograph –

DAVE

Later, this one is important. Julian Anderson, fifty-eight, well-known for his coverage on terrorism and opinion columns. He’s gone missing for three days now, but police didn’t want to investigate until they were absolutely sure he didn’t disappear at his own volition. Journalists tend to do that, but not this time.

STAN

(apparently interested)

And how did you know that?

DAVE

Informants. Always useful when you want to get the latest scoop before everyone else. Here we are.

DAVE stops in front of a house. Look up; a window on the second floor is open.

DAVE

(hurriedly)

A photograph of the house, Stan.

STAN

What?

DAVE

A photograph of the house, now.

STAN looks confused, but does take out his small camera. He positions himself, holds it up, and as DAVE suddenly takes off to the door... SNAP!

DAVE is at the door after, banging his fist on it.

NICK ANDERSON, unkempt with sunken eyes even for one as young as the boys, opens the door.

NICK

Who is it –

DAVE

(shoves card into NICK)

Dave Arson, believe your house is broken in. Pardon me.

DAVE brushes past a shocked NICK into the house.

STAN, appalled for a second, quickly goes up as well.

STAN

Uh, Stanley Michaels, not with him, but I’ll get him. So sorry.

STAN, again, follows DAVE.

INT. ANDERSON RESIDENCE -- DAY

DAVE runs up the stairs to the second floor. STAN tries to catch up.

STAN

Dave, you realize you’re breaking into the house right now!

DAVE obviously doesn’t hear him. He runs to a door, throws it open...

Sees a THIEF in a cap standing in the middle of the bedroom.

The THIEF panics and bolts for the open window.

DAVE

No, you don’t!

DAVE sprints forward and tackles the THIEF as he gets one leg out...

Both of them fall out of the window, while STAN watches in horror from the doorway.

STAN

DAVE ARSON!

Fwump.

INT. POLICE INSPECTOR’S OFFICE – DAY

A slam of a hand on a stack of papers.

INSPECTOR CARL PARSON, having finished reading the report, rubs tired eyes and looks over his hand at DAVE and STAN, who are sat across from him. DAVE looks chilled, but STAN is terrified.

CARL

You could have gotten hurt.

DAVE

He broke my fall.

CARL

You broke his ribs.

STAN

He broke into the house.

CARL and DAVE look at STAN.

STAN

Sorry.

CARL rubs his eyes again. The eyebags and wrinkles between his brows make him look older.

CARL

I am running out of excuses to give to your father, David.

DAVE

Dave. Just tell him the truth. It’s much easier.

CARL

If it’s much easier, I would, Dave. Did you know? I was this close --

(thumb and index finger a centimetre apart)

– to a promotion, two years ago.

DAVE

(cheerily)

Which means you can continue helping me. Wonderful, isn’t it?

CARL can’t fight with DAVE, so he looks at STAN instead.

CARL

And who’re you? His assistant?

STAN

No! I was just passing by –

DAVE ^

Yes, my photographer.

STAN

(sputters)

For one photograph!

DAVE

(impatiently)

So show him!

A beat. Then STAN rolls his eyes, taking out his camera and passing it to CARL.

CARL takes it and turns on the display. It’s the picture of the Andersons’ house.

CARL

A house.

DAVE

Yes, obviously. And the evidence?

CARL

(perplexed)

What?

DAVE

Look at the window. It’s open. Who would leave a window wide open when it’s spot midst of winter? You see me right there, running to the door. Shows that I have no part in the break-in, if that is what you were thinking. Besides, I have a witness, right here.

DAVE claps a hand on a startled STAN’S back.

DAVE

He’s been with me for an hour before we got there, since Ty’s. Judging from the temperature of the room at the time we got there, the thief couldn’t have gotten in for any longer than ten minutes.

DAVE leans forward, whipping out his notebook and a pen from his pocket. The pen is a voice recorder. DAVE presses a button on the pen with his thumb.

DAVE

So, who is the thief, and what was he looking for, Inspector?

A beat. CARL gazes hard at DAVE.

CARL

A nobody. Just a scruffy kid hired to do some dirty work. Doesn’t know a name, didn’t see a face. Said he was looking for a book.

DAVE

A book?

CARL

A diary, to be precise. Julian Anderson’s. But a specific volume, because he’s kept loads of written diaries. God knows who does that anymore, but he did.

CARL goes through the papers on the table, until he finds what he needs to see.

CARL

October twenty-sixteen. That’s the one he was looking for.

DAVE

(writes away)

And did he find it?

CARL

No. And neither did we. It just wasn’t where it was supposed to be.

DAVE

I see.

DAVE is still writing. STAN doesn’t feel comfortable, so he looks at the wall, which has a poster listing the higher officials in a pyramid rank.

Under one headshot, it is shown: Deputy Commissioner, ARTHUR A. ARSON

STAN’S brows rise. As does DAVE who stands abruptly.

DAVE

Right then. I’ve given our report, and I have a class due in an hour. We’ll just leave it here, hm?

DAVE shuts his notebook and pockets it with his pen.

DAVE

Thank you for your cooperation, Inspector. Good afternoon.

DAVE turns smartly and leaves. STAN quickly gets up as well, glances at a fuming CARL, and instantly changes his mind by scurrying after DAVE.

EXT. POLICE STATION -- DAY

DAVE and STAN come down the steps from the police station.

STAN

What was that about?

DAVE

An interview, obviously. You never played reporters, Stan?

STAN stops at the bottom of steps, whilst DAVE takes several ahead until he notices. He stops as well, turning partially to raise his eyebrows at STAN.

DAVE

Something the matter? You’re not on criminal records. It was just for witness.

STAN

No, that’s not it – we barely knew each other for a day. Why are you calling me Stan?

DAVE

Single syllable for a name is much quicker on the tongue. Saves time.

STAN

Really? That’s it then?

DAVE

(genuinely confused)

Yes?

STAN hangs his head to brood.

STAN

Look. I never agreed to be your photographer. I didn’t want to get involved in the first place. All I wanted was compensation for using my photograph! You can’t just do everything without consent!

DAVE

(sharply)

Why? So the truth can be hidden longer from light? What use is that?

STAN

What?

DAVE strides towards STAN and stops just centimetres from him. He points at STAN’S camera.

DAVE

That’s a full-frame DLSR with at least thirty megapixels and fifty-point autofocus, and it shoots at a speed of minimum ten frames per second. Am I right?

STAN

Right -- wait. Huh?

DAVE

Did some research before, but turns out I have not a clue what they’re for save higher number means better camera. More importantly, it’s not cheap.

STAN hides the camera behind himself.

STAN

You better not be planning to rend it.

DAVE

(rolls eyes)

Stan, you have a photo blog. Yet your photographs are of exceptional quality and skill. Nothing that a low-end camera could produce, and certainly not by an amateur. Yet you only ever blogged about food, sceneries, people -- ordinary things. It does not add up.

STAN

That’s because I am an ordinary person!

DAVE

Yes, but you are an ordinary person with a very good camera and remarkable phototaking skill, why waste it on ordinary pictures?

STAN’S eyes widen. DAVE is right. And he is closing in like a predator to his prey.

DAVE

You don’t photograph for money. You don’t make stocks. Hence, there is only one other thing you could use your hobby on.

DAVE snatches the camera and turns on the display. He iterates through the photographs. A fighting couple, a won football match, a car accident...

STAN swallows.

DAVE

Current issues.

DAVE smiles, returns the camera, and takes a step back. STAN shakes his head, throwing his hands up.

STAN

What do you want from me?

DAVE

Julian Anderson. I need to find him.

STAN

Why?

DAVE

Because he’s disappeared. I can write an article about his disappearance, but it’s nothing without the why. That’s the problem with news now, just speculations but no concrete evidences.

STAN

So...you want to interview him?

DAVE

Yes.

(impressed)

You’re catching on.

STAN

No, but he’s disappeared. If you could even interview him, he would be found then.

DAVE

Exactly.

It finally dawns on STAN.

STAN

You’re mental.

DAVE

No! Don’t you see? If I find him, then I have first scoop of everything from the source’s mouth! It is the most reliable news one can ever write! Truth in its purest!

STAN

You really are mental! You aren’t even a detective! How are you going to find him?

DAVE

(smiles)

You really want to know?

STAN grimaces, and doesn’t answer.

DAVE

I need a photographer. Meet tonight at the New Edge’s, nine o’clock sharp.

STAN

Why do you need a photographer for?

DAVE

A photograph sheds more light on truth than words could ever. Your photographs, even more so.

(A beat.)

I’ll pay you for the photographs I used and will use. I promise.

STAN takes a deep breath and sighs out loud.

STAN

Fine. I’ll be there.

DAVE

(jumps in excitement)

Excellent! See you then, Stan!

DAVE pulls out his phone as he turns, typing on it as he walks away.

STAN watches for a bit. Then he turns to go to his bicycle.

INT. STAN’S BEDROOM -- DAY

STAN enters, closing the door behind him. The puppy bumbles over to greet him happily. But STAN goes straight to plop his upper half onto the bed. So tired.

STAN looks over to his corkboard of photographs.

First, the rugby match.

EXT. RUGBY STADIUM – DAY

The game is ongoing. Red team has the ball. Crowd is in frenzy.

TATES dives for the ball. Misses. Flops spread-eagle on his stomach.

PRATT jogs up. Purposely stomps on TATES’ leg and pretends to stumble while TATES screams.

REFEREE stops the match, running forward. Both players get on their feet now. TATES is limped, pointing accusingly at PRATT.

PRATT clearly denies the accusation, yelling back angrily.

Two more REFEREES run to them. The three of them speak among one another. Finally, one presents PRATT with a yellow card.

PRATT is frustrated. His foul play was caught after all. He still advances toward TATES, shouting abuse.

Frame freezes.

INT. STAN’S BEDROOM -- DAY

Back to the picture.

STAN looks to the next one. The second picture.

EXT. OUTSIDE PARLIAMENT -- DAY

LADY HARWOOD leaves the parliament.

Paparazzi swarms over, shooting questions left and right.

PAPARAZZI 1

Lady Harwood, is it true that you and Lord Middlestone have broken up?

PAPARAZZI 2

News was that he has shot down your decision on the Costington expansion project. How do you feel about that?

LADY HARWOOD

(waves angrily)

No comment! Go away!

LADY HARWOOD slips through them and into a waiting black car.

INT. INSIDE LADY HARWOOD’S CAR -- DAY

LADY HARWOOD settles comfortably in the back seat. Her DRIVER glances over his shoulder.

DRIVER

Is everything well, Ma’am?

LADY HARWOOD

Oh, very! Now that everyone is preoccupied by the rumours, we will have a quiet wedding after all.

LADY HARWOOD admires her engagement ring. Zooming in on the jewelry...

INT. STAN’S BEDROOM -- DAY

And pan out from the ring to the picture.

STAN looks to the edge of the bed. The puppy is climbing onto the bed and snuggling up to him.

A deep sigh.

EXT. THE NEW EDGE’S OFFICE -- NIGHT

STAN is riding down the sidewalk.

He stops in front of the building. Looks up at the second floor -- it is lit. He parks his bicycle next to the door, and goes to buzz it.

The door flies open before his finger leaves the buzzer. He stares at TANYA TARRISON, a dark woman with a fierce gaze. Looks like she was just leaving.

TANYA

May I help you?

STAN

(stutters)

Hi. Er, I’m looking for Dave Arson? My name is Stanley Michaels –

DAVE (O.S.)

Stan! Come in!

DAVE appears over TANYA’S shoulder, beckoning to STAN.

TANYA steps to one side incredulously.

TANYA

Dave, what is this?

DAVE

Tanya, Stan, my photographer. Stan, Tanya, my head editor.

STAN

Oh. Pleased to meet you --

TANYA

Photographer? You did find one?

DAVE

Yes. You liked the photograph on the jewellery store, didn’t you? That’s his.

TANYA

(looks at STAN)

Oh?

STAN

Sorry, you stole the photograph.

DAVE

(laughs nervously)

I had your consent.

STAN is speechless. TANYA rolls her eyes.

TANYA

I’m not dealing with this tonight. I want my hot bath. Dave, lock up after yourself and don’t take what isn’t yours.

DAVE

Noted, Tanya. Goodnight.

TANYA gives a half-smile, and leaves them for her car. DAVE heads up the stairs, followed by a tentative STAN.

INT. THE NEW EDGE’S OFFICE -- NIGHT

DAVE and STAN enter the office. Lots of cubicles, most of them a mess of computer cables and papers. The walls full of newspaper clippings and photographs, some of them framed.

DAVE leads STAN to a corner desk and sits down behind it.

DAVE

You’re ten minutes early. Looking forward to this?

STAN

I had time to spare. Wanted to make sure I didn’t get lost.

DAVE

Glad you didn’t. Pull up a chair.

DAVE takes out his notebook. STAN looks about him, sees the chair from a neighbour cubicle, and pulls it over to sit. His lips are pressed together tightly.

STAN

Well?

DAVE

Not yet. He’s not here.

STAN

Who -- actually, it would help if you could give me some background first.

DAVE

I thought you figured it out.

STAN

(irritated)

If I did, I wouldn’t be here! Look, not everyone is smart like you, so please, stop getting ahead if you want any help!

DAVE

(blinks, shoulders drooping)

Oh.

STAN sighs.

STAN

Just, explain. From the beginning. What was it about the disappearance again?

DAVE

Right.

(looks down at notebook)

Julian Anderson, the famous journalist. Two days ago, police received a report that he had disappeared. No trace, no note, can’t even get through to his phone. They checked with the airlines, found that he was checked in for a flight to Egypt, and disregarded the case. But!

STAN

But?

DAVE

I checked with Egyptian immigration. Julian Anderson never made it there.

STAN

Wait, how did you check with Egyptian immigration?

DAVE

Just give them a call. I’m a journalist, remember?

STAN

Intern journalist. But they won’t simply answer to a journalist.

DAVE

(smiles)

Exactly.

STAN stares sceptically at DAVE. He won’t pursue for now.

DAVE

I tried to tell the police, but they wouldn’t take me seriously. Took two tries to get them to confirm the information, and they finally had it this morning.

STAN mouths a ‘wow’, impressed.

DAVE

So now the question is: where is Julian Anderson?

STAN

(shrugs)

Not in Egypt. So, England?

DAVE

Possibly.

STAN

Really?

DAVE

We’re about to find out.

The door opens. NICK enters, looks around until he spots a shocked STAN and a smiling DAVE. Saunters up to them, hands in pockets. He doesn’t look happy at all.

STAN

You’re --

DAVE

Nicholas Anderson, son of Julian Anderson! Glad you could make it.

NICK tosses a name card into STAN.

NICK

To tell you that I don’t do interviews.

DAVE

Not for that, I’m aware.

STAN looks at the name card, which belonged to DAVE. He flips it around to see written on the back: “I KNOW.”

NICK

See here. My father barely packed for any trip before he left and never returned. I reported his disappearance to the police. I don’t need some amateur telling me they know where he is.

DAVE

But why do you assume I know where he is?

A beat.

DAVE

Though, yes, I probably know where he is.

Both NICK and STAN look confused. DAVE flips his notebook to a specific page and holds it out to NICK. On it is ‘OCT 2016’.

DAVE

The thief was looking for this. You know where it is.

NICK

I don’t --

DAVE

It wasn’t a question.

(shuts the notebook)

The last column your father published was in late September about an English army official being connected to terrorist operation in London. The public dismissed it as foolish speculation, but Mr. Anderson has received death threats not from the public, hasn’t he?

NICK

(stutters)

How could you possibly --

DAVE

Julian Anderson has always been an outstanding journalist. A very clever one. The nation will lose a hero if he goes.

(wry smile)

You know what his diary contains?

NICK hesitates.

NICK

...Fine. But you can’t tell a soul.

DAVE

Thank you, Nick.

NICK

(pauses)

Nicholas.

DAVE

I know. Easier.

NICK looks at STAN, appalled. STAN swallows.

STAN

Just carry on.

NOTE: The above script is not the complete version. To obtain the full version, you must be of relevant contact in the industry or have been introduced to the script by the author or acquaintances.