There is no ‘How’

Exterior, a residential street in Mt. Druitt, day. Pan across a row of boxy public houses. An old man sits on his front step, smoking a cigarette. A white van pulls up in front of his house.

Interior, van. Sunil and Emily, both in their early 30s, well-dressed but casual, give each other sidelong looks. They’re both slightly nervous, but reassuring each other with their solidarity.

EMILY: You ready?

Sunil nods.

SUNIL: Let’s make some TV stars.

Close up of the old man as we hear them exit the van. He watches, slightly curious.

Interior, Ian’s bedroom. It’s dimly lit, sparsely furnished and messy, but the walls are covered in pencil drawings of human subjects. Ian, mid 20s, tall, lanky and bearded, works on another drawing at his desk; a half-finished portrait of a beautiful woman’s face.

Interior, kitchen. Small and cramped, but quite clean. Charlene, mid 30s, lined face and generally bedraggled-looking, puts a few frozen chicken pieces in the microwave. A baby cries in the next room. Charlene sighs with frustration and hurries off.

Interior, interview room. Fluorescent lighting, plastic chairs and table. Close up on Amanda, early 20s, hair pulled back, minimal make-up. Dressed in a button-up shirt and cardigan, her best attempt at business attire.

MAN: (offscreen) So, why do you think you’re suited for the position?

Amanda opens her mouth to reply, but says nothing. She fumbles for an answer and comes up short. Hold on her for a few seconds.

Exterior, street. Amanda walks home, despondent and angry. She passed a house with the front door open. Sunil and Emily stand on the front doorstep, talking with the man at the door. We don’t hear their conversation. She also passes the old man, who looks at her with the same mild curiosity he’s had all along.

Ian stands in his front yard, leaning on the fence and holding his sketchbook.

IAN: Hey! Amanda!

Amanda looks up and gives a small, reluctant smile.

Exterior, Ian’s back porch. Amanda and Ian sit on lawn chairs. Ian’s sketchbook and a bag of chips sit on a small table. Ian is packing a cone.

IAN: So you reckon you won’t get the job?

AMANDA: No way. I fucked it up.

Ian shrugs.

IAN: Not a big deal. There’ll be other ones.

Ian passes the bong to Amanda, who lights in and takes the hit.

AMANDA: And I’ll fuck those up too and end up back here getting high with you.

IAN: Is that so bad?

Amanda passes the bong back to him.

AMANDA: Who are those two people knocking on doors? I saw them talking to Brett Barlow.

IAN: The ones in the van? They’re making a documentary or something. Looking for people to be in it.

Amanda laughs.

AMANDA: Seriously?

Ian nods as he packs another cone.

AMANDA: A documentary about what?

IAN: I dunno. People around here, I guess. How we live and shit.

AMANDA: And they talked to you?

IAN: Huh?

AMANDA: You know what they’re doing, so they talked to you.

Ian gives a non-committal grunt, lights the cone, and inhales. Amanda looks vaguely troubled as she works something over in her head.

AMANDA: You wanna live here forever?

Ian is surprised by the question, but keeps his mouth around the bong and shrugs.

AMANDA: It’s just… Never mind.

Ian exhales. Amanda picks up his sketchbook. Close up of the finished portrait of the woman. It’s clear Ian is very talented.

AMANDA: They did talk to you, didn’t they?

Ian sighs, annoyed, and puts down the bong.

IAN: Yeah, they talked to me and my mum.

AMANDA: About?

IAN: Shawnee. How I’m trying to get custody and shit. And my dad’s medical stuff.

AMANDA: Is that it?

Ian is slightly angry now.

IAN: I showed them my drawings, but they weren’t too interested. They really wanted to know if I was doing drugs. Seemed disappointed when I said only pot.

AMANDA: And that pissed you off?

Ian grabs a handful of chips to avoid talking.

AMANDA: Do you think I could get on it?

He looks at her incredulously. She shakes her head in annoyance.

AMANDA: Forget it.

Ian takes his time chewing and swallowing.

IAN: You think this’ll help you.

AMANDA: I want to make movies. It’ll be a step towards that. Something to put on a resume.

IAN: ‘Reality show freak’.

AMANDA: Fuck you. You said it was a documentary.

Hold on the two, silent for a long moment, both a little resentful. Ian starts to pack another cone.

IAN: I hear Dave Brewer’s signed on for it.

AMANDA: The fucking ice addict with a billion kids?

IAN: Yeah. That’s who they want for this. That’s what they wanna show this place is.

There’s a long pause. Ian offers Amanda the bong, but she pushes it away. He lights it himself.

AMANDA: But you think I could get on?

Amanda stares steadily at Ian. He exhales and meets her gaze.

IAN: Yeah, I think if you really wanted to. You’ve got the baby, all your mum’s problems, your dad not being around —

AMANDA: Jesus, Ian! And you think that puts me in the same category as Dave Brewer?

IAN: You’re the one who said you wanted to be on TV. I’m saying if you are, that’s the stuff it’ll be about. They’re not gonna want to know anything else.

Amanda glares at him and fidgets in her seat.

AMANDA: Pass the fucking bong.

Interior, Amanda’s living room, evening. It’s cramped, with a dining table, couch, tv, and baby cot. The baby is crying when Amanda enters. She picks him up and sits on the couch with him, making comforting cooing noises.

The bedroom door opens and Charlene enters the room, yawning.

CHARLENE: Oh. Hey, sweetie. I thought I heard you come in.

Amanda raises a judgemental eyebrow and gestures her head toward the baby in her arms.

CHARLENE: I was just tired, honest.

Amanda doesn’t entirely believe her, but doesn’t press it. She submits to a hug. Charlene sits on one of the dining chairs backwards to face Amanda on the couch, her chin on the backrest.

CHARLENE: Wasn’t your interview today?

AMANDA: Yeah. I didn’t do good.

CHARLENE: You’ll find something.

Amanda shrugs it off, sick of hearing that.

AMANDA: Did TV people come today?

CHARLENE: TV people?

AMANDA: People are making a show about how people around here live. They’ve been talking to everyone on the street.

CHARLENE: I must’ve been asleep when they came here. You want some dinner?

Charlene gets up and heads for the kitchen without waiting for a response.

AMANDA: Would you ever want to be in something like that?

Charlene turns around and looks at her daughter carefully.

CHARLENE: Do you want that?

AMANDA: I was thinking about it.

CHARLENE: Why would you…?

Charlene trails off. There’s a long pause.

CHARLENE: Okay.

AMANDA: Seriously? Just like that.

CHARLENE: If you think it’ll help you, yeah.

Amanda looks down at the baby in her arms to hide how happy she is.

AMANDA: Thanks, Mum.

Street, day. The old man watches the van pull up. Sunil climbs out the driver’s side and is immediately confronted by Amanda, dressed in a pink hoodie and jeans. There’s a kind of hostile determination to her interactions with Sunil and Emily.

AMANDA: I want to be on your show.

Sunil is taken aback, but recovers quickly. Emily comes round from the other side of the van.

SUNIL: Well, we’d be happy to talk to you about the possibility, Miss — ?

AMANDA: Amanda. I live in number 17 with my mum.

EMILY: Didn’t we go to 17?

AMANDA: There was probably no one home, but we both wanna talk to you. My mum’s waiting right now.

SUNIL: Great, great. Let’s go meet her.

Amanda leads them back towards her house. Sunil glance back at the doubtful Emily and gives her a ‘come on’ look.

Interior, Amanda’s living room. Charlene sits at the dining table across from Sunil and Emily. Amanda paces around behind them holding the baby. Her pacing is making Emily nervous, but Sunil is focused on Charlene.

SUNIL: So, Charlene, tell us about yourself.

Charlene is awkward here. She’s doing this for her daughter, but it clearly makes her uncomfortable.

CHARLENE: Er, I was born in Redfern. I moved here when I was seventeen. This used to be my uncle’s house —

SUNIL: And you moved in after he left it to you?

CHARLENE: No, he only died five years ago.

SUNIL: So you lived with him. Why leave your parents?

CHARLENE: Oh… they…

AMANDA: Nan and Pop weren’t good parents.

EMILY: Are they still alive? If we end up using you in the show, we should probably talk to them.

CHARLENE: R-really?

AMANDA: They still live in Redfern. We don’t talk to them anymore.

Amanda puts the now-sleeping baby down in his cot. Emily watches her.

EMILY: Is he your son or your brother.

AMANDA: Brother.

SUNIL: Do he and Amanda have the same father?

Charlene is visibly upset by this line of questioning.

CHARLENE: No, no, two different… different…

SUNIL: And are either of them still part of your life?

Charlene looks down.

CHARLENE: No.

AMANDA: Mum, you don’t have to —

EMILY: Are you in school, Amanda?

AMANDA: No, I graduated three years ago. I haven’t been able to find work yet.

SUNIL: Oh, so you are looking for work?

Amanda’s a little insulted by the implied assumption that she wasn’t.

AMANDA: Yes. Just some retail or data entry thing, whatever I can get.

SUNIL: Any plans other than that?

Amanda hesitates, unsure about sharing her ambitions with these people, but ploughs forward.

AMANDA: I want to make movies.

Sunil and Emily exchange surprised glances.

AMANDA: I’m hoping this will help me get recognised.

EMILY: I’m sure it will.

SUNIL: What about you, Charlene? Do you work?

CHARLENE: No… I have… psychological… Centrelink recognises it, I can show you the papers…

AMANDA: Mum, please, if you don’t want to do this, we can just stop.

SUNIL: I’m actually quite interested. What exactly is your condition? Do you take any prescription medicine for it?

EMILY: Or non-prescription? Do either of you take illicit drugs?

AMANDA: Get out.

Sunil and Emily both take a moment to process this, then look shocked.

SUNIL: I’m sorry if we’re getting too personal, but if we do use you in our documentary, this kind of thing will —

Amanda pulls the chair out from under Sunil, who stands up in a hurry, stumbling.

AMANDA: Just get out. I’m changed my mind. I’m not gonna be in your show.

Sunil looks ready to argue back, but Emily gives him a severe look.

EMILY: We’re very sorry. We didn’t mean to upset anyone. We’re leaving now.

They both leave, hurrying awkwardly. Sunil is still confused.

Amanda hugs Charlene. Close up on Charlene’s face, Amanda’s head resting on her shoulder. Charlene’s eyes are closed, but there are tears building up in the corners.

AMANDA: I’m sorry I made you do that, Mum.

CHARLENE: You didn’t make me.

AMANDA: I’m still sorry.

Exterior, street, sunset. Amanda heads toward Ian’s house, still unsettled from the day’s events.

Sunil and Emily are about to get into their van and leave. Sunil spots Amanda. Emily reaches out to grab his shoulder, but he’s already following her. She doesn’t stop or turn around to look at him. He walks as he talks to keep up with her.

SUNIL: Amanda, I’m very sorry about how we handled things today. But I just wanted to give you one last opportunity. I think you and your family would make for some very compelling television and it could help you achieve your dream.

AMANDA: I’m not interested anymore. I’m sorry I wasted your time. It was a mistake.

SUNIL: Are you absolutely sure? Because I’d hate to see someone like you pass up such —

IAN: (offscreen) Hey!

Ian is coming down the street the other way, fast and aggressively, a bottle of rum and coke in his hand.

IAN: You bothering her? What’s your fucking problem, mate? I’ll smash your fucking face in!

Sunil backs away, hands raised defensively.

SUNIL: I’m not trying to bother anyone.

IAN: That right, smartarse?

Ian comes closer, raising his fist. Amanda just looks perplexed.

Sunil runs away.

Amanda and Ian store at each other for a moment, Amanda incredulous, Ian smug.

AMANDA: What the fuck was that?

Ian shrugs.

IAN: I gave him what he wanted. I dunno why he was in such a hurry to get away.

Amanda cracks a smile and shakes her head.

IAN: So you talked to them, huh? Didn’t go so good?

AMANDA: You were right, it was a dumb idea.

The two of them walk together.

IAN: They didn’t seem that bad to me. Don’t get me wrong, it was funny when he ran away, but I thought they were okay people.

AMANDA: Yeah.

IAN: But you decided not to share your story with the world.

AMANDA: Nah, I’m still gonna do that. Someday. And I’ll be the one telling it.

IAN: I’ll drink to that.

He takes a swig of his rum.

AMANDA: There was a story they wanted to tell, it just wasn’t mine.

IAN: They just wanted to show how we live around here.

AMANDA: I don’t think there is a ‘how’. We just live.

Ian laughs.

IAN: Real fucking deep, director.

AMANDA: Shut up. Gimme some of that.

She makes a grab for his bottle.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.