Sunday, June 7, 2009

"The Pop-Up Prophecy"

This is the short film I wrote in 2003, for a Clemson University film festival - the Toaster Film Festival. I gave the script to an obscenely talented bunch of Jackson filmmakers. They're the ones that made it look as good as it did. Don't get me wrong, it's super low-budget, but I'm proud of it, and I'm pretty sure everyone else was, too.

It was the winning entry in the Toaster Film Festival, and it's been shown in a few festivals and film summits since. If you do watch it - and I hope you do - and you feel like, you could wander over to its IMDb page and vote on it. We'd like to know what everyone thinks.

I also want to add that it took 12 hours to film and it's been edited to about 4 different lengths - 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 7 minutes, and 9 minutes. This should demonstrate to budding screenwriters just what a film crew can and will do when they interpret your script. The YouTube version is the 7-minute (6:55) version. I think it's pretty much the best, but what do I know? I'm just a writer.



A man, average-looking, thirtyish, is moving around his kitchen, getting ready to begin his day. He is a bit rumpled from sleep. He reached into a cabinet to grab a coffee cup. When he moves past, we see an old TOASTER, big and rectangular, all chrome and right angles. It resembles something Mrs. Cleaver would have used. It sits near the sink.

The man, whom we'll call VICTIM, takes his cup and turns toward his coffee maker, putting his back to the toaster. He pours a cup of coffee.

He hears the SHUNK sound of the toaster lifting something up. He turns and looks. A Pop-tart is waiting to be lifted out. Victim looks confused. He reaches for the Pop-tart and pulls it out.
On the tasty toaster pastry a message is written. He reads it out loud.

----"You are going to die."

He looks more confused than scared. He puts the Pop-tart down and looks into the toaster. Seeing nothing, he turns around to pick up his coffee cup.

The toaster SHUNKs again.

He turns around, holding his cup. Another Pop-tart awaits. He is starting to look concerned. He didn't put one in and he didn't push the lever down. He pulls the tart from the slot and reads this frosted message.


He tosses this message down and looks into the toaster again. There is no hidden Pop-tart. He fiddles with the lever, unplugs it, and then plugs it in again. He turns, to see if anyone is watching him.

The toaster SHUNKs again.

This time he jumps, spinning around. He spills his coffee on himself. He sets the cup down, near a block of sharp knives. The block sits near the ene of the counter. He lunges for the toaster, yanking the Pop-tart out.

----"It will hurt."

He spins around, looking to see if anyone is watching him. He looks out a window for hidden camera crews. He reaches for the cup of coffee and spies the knives. He pulls one slowly out of the block and looks through the kitchen door to the room beyond.

----Hello? Am I on TV or something?

The toaster SHUNKs again.

He jumps, lunging at the toaster again. He slips and hits the sink. The knife flies out of his hand and drops into the sink.

He grabs the Pop-tart. It reads "NO" in large letters. He crushes it and throws it into the sink. He turns the faucet on and turns on the disposal. He grabs the other pastries, crushing them and throwing them into the sink as well. He looks down into the sink.

The Pop-tart bits are in the sink with the knife and the disposal is grinding loudly. He starts to reach for the knife and stops. He looks worried and steps back. He darts a look at the toaster, which waits silently.

Victim looks out the window again and then shuts off the disposal. He turns and moves toward the knives.

The toaster SHUNKs again.

He jumps and leaps simultaneously, grabbing at his knives. The block falls off the counter, scattering knives across the floor. He turns in circles and then rushes back to the toaster. He rips the Pop-Tart out.

----"You are going to die."

He throws it down.

----Stop talking to me!

The toaster SHUNKs again.

He grabs the Pop-Tart. It says "NO" in large letters.

(calmer, but still loud)
----You're talking to me!

The toaster SHUNKs as he watches. This time, the tasty toaster pastry is launched into the air, arcing up toward the ceiling and back down into Victim's waiting hands.

He looks down and reads it. This time the frosting says "YES."

----I'm going to die?

The toaster SHUNKs again.

He pulls the Pop-tart out, slower. The frosting again reads "YES."


He watches the toaster. But this time, instead of SHUNKing, it makes a CLICK noise. He looks confused and grabs the toaster. He looks inside. A Pop-tart is wedged inside. He jams his hand into the toaster, trying frantically to grab the fateful pastry.

The toaster begins to smoke and electricity rips through Victim's body. He shakes and grimaces as he is electrocuted. He continues to stand until the electricity stops. He falls to the floor, surrounded by spilled coffee and dropped knives.

The toaster dangles against the counter, held in place by its power cord. It's slots face outward, toward Victim's body. There is a soft grinding noise and the toaster SHUNKs again.

The Pop-tart is launched out of the slot and hits the floor, sliding to a stop next to Victim's face.
The frosting is in the form of a happy face.

The camera pans back to the dangling toaster and then zooms in on the trademark. The trademark reads, "Oracle."


Watch "Pop-Up Prophecy" on YouTube.

Check out our IMDb Listing.

Yep, I'm on IMDb, too.

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