# SCENE 1

INT. SCHOOL CORRIDOR — DAY

The admin section of the school, a corridor lined with doors to various offices. Cautiously, NEIL (40s, long hair, shorts, flip-flops and a Haiwaiian shirt) steps into the frame, studying the signs on the doors.

ANGLE his POV we walk past several doors labelled “Administration”, “Nurse”, “Supplies”. Neil looks around uncertainly, hoping for help. But there’s no-one else around.

He stops at a door. He straightens his posture, tidies his hair and clears his throat. ANGLE over his shoulder as we see he is about to knock on a door labelled “Women’s Restroom”.

PRINCIPAL (VO): Excuse me, Mr Reynolds?

Neil spins around to face PRINCIPAL DERWENT (50s, conservative clothes) waiting at the door opposite — the door to the Principal’s Office.

NEIL (Confident, big grin): Ah! Casandra how are you? Have you moved the offices around again?

PRINCIPAL: No we haven’t. Come in Mr Reynolds.

INT. PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE — CONTINUOUS

We follow Neil into the room and see MAYA (7, glasses) sitting expectantly. She smiles weakly and Neil gives her an affectionate cuddle.

NEIL: Hey Sugarplum! How’s my little star? (Taking a seat) So, what award is it today Princ’p?

PRINCIPAL (Clearing throat): I’m afraid it’s something else today Mr Reynolds. As you know Maya is a very bright student and she applies herself ever so well in cla —

NEIL: She’s the best.

PRINCIPAL: …Yes. But she has been struggling a bit more than usual this year, in particular with regards to her homework. As you know Mr Reynolds, we ask that parents be actively involved in assisting students with their work when they need it, it’s a good way of fostering a strong parent-child bond and teaches the child that it’s OK to ask for help.

NEIL: Excellent, yes, very good. Fantastic.

PRINCIPAL: Mr Reynolds…Maya says you haven’t helped her with any of her homework this year.

Neil flashes a look to Maya who looks to the floor guiltily, not sure who she’s in more trouble with. Neil shifts in his chair.

Principal Derwent opens a file on her desk and passes him some sheets of paper covered in child’s handwriting.

PRINCIPAL: Take for example this writing exercise.

Neil picks it up and studies it with a very academic face.

NEIL: Hmmm. Hmm. (Tutting) This is no good Maya.

PRINCIPAL: Mr Reynolds…Can you see at the top there? It specifically asks for the parent’s help in building vocabulary. But your contribution is blank.

NEIL: Look…I don’t believe in help…assisting kids with their homework. I mean, they gotta learn to look out for themselves right? When I was at school I got no help —

PRINCIPAL: Mr Reynolds, you just told me that you think this is a good idea. You just said “Fantastic”.

A beat.

NEIL: Do you know what? Maybe I’d be a bit more enthusiastic if I thought what you were teaching is gonna be useful to these kids. Look outside — the world’s changin’ man! Robots, self-driving cars! And you got these kids learnin’ like it’s the goddam 1950s! Maya doesn’t need to learn vocabulary, there are apps, or something, for that. She needs to learn…imagination! Creativity! That’s what they’re gonna need in the future. So yeah, maybe you should think about that.

Neil leans back, “here endeth the lecture”.

PRINCIPAL (Taking a form out of a draw on her desk): Be that as it may Mr Reynolds, I am going to have to insist that you play a more active role in Maya’s homework. Here, I need you read and sign this.

Neil picks up the paper and folds it up.

NEIL: Sure, I’ll get Maya to bring this in tomorrow.

PRINCIPAL (Handing him a pen): Actually if you could sign it now, Mr Reynolds.

ANGLE of Neil’s POV, a form of tiny, complicated type. Neil looks to Maya but she can’t help him. He takes the pen with all the confidence of someone who’s never held one before.

CUT TO:

INT. SCHOOL CORRIDOR — A SHORT TIME LATER

Neil and Maya exit the Principal’s Office. Neil looks up and down both lengths of the corridor. Which way was it again? Maya takes his hand.

MAYA: This way daddy.

Video artist working at The New York Times. I write a weekly newsletter about visual storytelling and creativity. https://adamwestbrook.substack.com/