"It Likes Italian": A Short Screenplay

“… a little silly, a little strange, and a little WTF thrown in”

“It Likes Italian” is a short screenplay I’ve had kicking around in my head for awhile. If you want to get to the action, got ahead and skip down to the header below, but I thought I’d take a moment to talk about the process of writing this screenplay because I’ve never actually done one before.

Of course, this won’t be a surprise to the screenwriters in the house as I’ve totally botched the formatting. 🙂

In any case, blasting out reams of dialogue is one of my oldest methods for starting a new story. I just sit down and let a group of characters start talking. Eventually, they tell me what’s going on.

My work with Kip Frazier is a lot like this: he talks, I listen, when I interrupt he usually says something like, “Well, Mister Writer, you stick to the scribbling and I’ll stick to the story spinning, cause I’m sure ain’t nobody wants to hear it the other way around.”

And, as usual, Kip is right. My job is to write. The characters are supposed to tell the story.

Another thing worth mentioning about “It Likes Italian” is that it has a liberal dose of colorful language. This is a little different from things I’ve posted of late, but I’m also trying to get back to writing from the gut… And as the son of a man who was a sailor and then a cop, my gut often coughs up some rough edges.

Of course, this story is really me, through and through (a little silly, a little strange, and a little WTF thrown in), and that’s one thing I like about it.


“It Likes Italian”: A Short Screenplay

[Setting; Space] [Open with a small research craft orbiting a gas giant planet. Close by is an enormous black sphere, metallic and smooth.] [Interior of craft: One man is asleep at his terminal, while another pokes at the keyboard in a bored way.] [Terminal Screen close-up: Saying hello in different languages, math questions. A delay… nothing comes back in response. Bored man at the terminal (Roy), stops the script. Types in something and chuckles.]

Roy: “Apparently, it likes Italian…”

[Clay wakes up]

Clay: “Huh? What do you mean, ‘It likes Italian?'”
Roy: “The protocols weren’t working so I tried flirting with it in Italian.”
Clay: “What the fuck do you know about Italian?”
Roy: “I spent a summer in Rome.”
Clay: “We’re supposed to be following protocol.”
Roy: “I know. I was just screwing around.”
Clay: “Keep running the scans…”
Roy: [sigh] [Roy goes back to running the scans, but there’s no response. He looks to see if Clay is watching. He’s back to sleep.] [Terminal: Roy taps in a few Italian phrases. The entity answers back.]

Clay: “Are you doing the Italian thing again?”
Roy: “Yeah…”
Clay: [Frustrated resignation] [Clay leaves his terminal and watches Italian streaming across Roy’s screen.]

Clay: “Fuck. What are we going to do?”
Roy: “I guess we report in and say it likes Italian.”
Clay: “Brilliant, Jackass… That’ll look great on the report.”

[Terminal: More Italian flowing across the screen]

Clay: “What’s it saying?”
Roy: “I don’t know. All I learned to do is flirt. I can ask directions too.”
Clay: “Directions? Somewhere you need to go?”
Roy: “Hey, man, I’m just telling you what I know.”

[Terminal: Italian insult]

Roy: “Oh shit.”
Clay: “What’s wrong?”
Roy: “I think it’s pissed off.”
Clay: “How do you know?”
Roy: “It just told me to fuck my mother. I think it’s angry because I haven’t responded.”

[Terminal: More insults come across the screen.] [Exterior shot: Entity begins moving toward the craft.] [Interior: Clay and Roy see entity moving on the monitor.]

Clay: “Jesus! Well, if it wants a response – respond!”
Roy: “What should I say?”
Clay: “I don’t know! Ask for directions or something!”

[Roy types quickly.] [Terminal: A single word answer comes back in response “sì” ]

Roy: “Shit.”
Clay: “Now what? What did you say?”
Roy: “Well, I asked it if it wanted to sleep with me and it said yes.”
Clay: “Christ! Stop flirting with it!”
Roy: “What else do you want me to do? That’s all the fucking Italian I know. It’s all I ever needed to know.”
Clay: “I took some Spanish back in high school. Maybe we could try that.”
Roy: “I don’t know. I think it might not like that.”
Clay: “What the hell do you know? Now you’re the shrink?”
Roy: “That never worked in Rome. The girls there got pissed if you tried to switch to Spanish.”
Clay: “So now it’s a girl?”
Roy: “It wants to sleep with me, doesn’t it?”
Clay: “You don’t know that. Shit. We need to call this in.”

[Chiming sounds, warning bells]

Roy: “It’s still closing.”
Clay: “Is it going to crash into us?”
Roy: “No, it’s on an intercept vector, maneuvering to come along side.”
Clay: “I’m calling in.”
Roy: “The communications array is dead. It’s jamming us.”

[Clay takes a seat at his terminal and starts pounding the keys]

Roy: “It says it wants to be alone with us.”
Clay: “We’re getting the fuck out of here!”

[Exterior: The entity closes on the ship. Grapplers extend and clamp onto the ship.]

Roy: “Too late…”

[Clay checks exterior monitors.] [Exterior: Something else extending from the entity.]

Clay: “Are those arms?”
Roy: “No, they look more like…”

[Terminal: Sweet nothings murmurred in Italian]

Clay: “Oh hell no. This thing is not going to fuck our ship is it?”

[Crash into the hull, grinding of metal.]

Clay: “We’re getting spaced raped!”
Roy: “Technically, the ship is getting space raped.”
Clay: “We’re in the ship, Roy. So, I think that means we’re getting space raped by default!”

[Awkward moment for crew. Eventually, the grinding stops. A few moments pass. Terminal beeps.] [Terminal: Murmuring in Italian]

Clay: “Now what is it saying?”
Roy: “It’s giving directions. I think. I’m not sure.”
Clay: “It’s not letting go.”
Roy: “No, I think… I think it wants to show us something.”

[Terminal: Repeating on the screen in Italian]

Clay: “What is it?”
Roy: “It wants to show us the stars.”

[Roaring sound shakes the craft.] [Exterior: Entity’s engines igniting]

Roy: “Detecting a warp field.”
Clay: “Fuck, fuck! Drop the log beacon! Now!”

[Log beacon shoots out of the ship as the entity blasts into warp, taking the research vessel with it] —
[Some time later… A military rescue ship arrives. Picks up the beacon.]

Captain: “No sign of the ship?”
Ensign: “No, Captain. Just her log beacon, but the data is truncated. They must have jettisoned early.”
Captain: “What does it say?”

[Ensign works at his terminal.]

Ensign: “‘Apparently, it likes Italian…'”


Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed it!

16 thoughts on “"It Likes Italian": A Short Screenplay

  1. Hmm… I like the idea, but I have two issues with it. First, for such a short screenplay it has a ridiculous amount of vulgarity. I don’t think normal people talk like that, at least nobody I know does. I suppose these dudes are sailors, sort of, but still… Second, it needs some fleshing out. You can still keep it short, but to me it was a bit incongruous to go from the crew member talking to it in Italian to another ship showing up and raping it. Or was the man talking with the other ship the whole time? Either way, it was a bit confusing.

    Craig´s last blog post..French adventurers to circumnavigate the globe in a completely solar powered ship!

  2. I thought this was a great little story.
    I had to go back to re-read it after the last commenter complained about vulgarity.
    It had no impact on me. I guess we know different types of people. 🙂

  3. What a funny first screenplay!! It looks like it was a lot of fun to write. The irony of the approaching vessel knowing Italian, and it actually taking up the researchers on their offer was very clever.

    Jenny Bean´s last blog post.."Manhunt," an Excerpt…

  4. @Craig Thanks for the feedback. I had to smile at “ridiculous amount of vulgarity”, because I took out a lot of cussing. I know quite a few people who talk like this… That’s why I put a warning label at the top. 😉 On the second point, you may be right since the the entity is in fact the other ship that takes an amorous liking to the research vessel. If it seems there are two things at play here, then I might need to firm that up.

    @Kevin Glad you liked it and I’m not surprised that the vulgarity had no impact on you. As a matter of fact, I’m surprised you noticed it even after a second reading. 🙂

  5. @Jenny Thanks!! My wife had a chuckle at it too. Sometimes things just fall into place. I love it when that happens!

  6. This took me immediately to a strange cross between Vonnegut or Heinlein and a bit of the “ship who sings” series. From a long time SciFi lover, I found it completely plausible, humorous and not at all confusing. Tighten it up just a bit and you have the screenplay for one of the SciFi chanel’s little “station identity” animated shorts. I am looking forward to more.

    roguepuppet´s last blog post..Bunny Sagas: the early days

  7. Brother, I love the dialog technique too! I also find it useful to do a movie synopsis for my stories prior to writing them. I actually try to write it as if I were a publicist (selling myself on the story?). It provides a vision and objective to work toward. Of course, no harm in detouring away from your plan if your characters decide to take you somewhere you didn’t plan on going (happens a lot). Even if it’s to a bit of soft porn in orbit …

    Craig Mc´s last blog post..Lives Remaining

  8. @roguepuppet Now that’s some high praise! I’m hoping I can live up to just 10% of that. 😉 [Thanks!]

    @CraigMc That’s why we ought to be writing movies together {wink, wink}

  9. Hi Jamie, I loved it! Really made me smile.

    The only bit that tripped me up was ‘space raped by default’… my brain was trying to work out what kind of a beast a default was… 😉

    I didn’t notice the swearing… that’s what comes of living in Scotland maybe.

    And I loved the fact it took us off to see the stars… We spend so much time resisting that invitation don’t we?

    See you in cyberspace sometime

    Joanna Young´s last blog post..A Blog Birthday, an Easter Egg Thank You, and a Request

  10. @Joanna Most of my favorite cussers are Scottish (Billy Connolly and Craig Mc come to mind) so I’m not surprised. 🙂 I’m also not entirely happy with the “by default line.” It lacks real punch. I think what I’m going for there is apparent, but the phrasing’s not quite right. Good to have a second opinion that concurs.

    I do think that people resist the promise of the stars. They struggle so hard to stay in their familiar mode and role… Now, I’m not saying that I’m wishing for some massive metallic sphere to descend from the heavens and carry me off, but it would be interesting to go. 🙂

  11. Very nice. I laughed a good bit at this (not sure if that’s a good thing pre-meeting, but whatever).

    Also, with the vulgarity, I hardly noticed it was there after the first cuss word (and probably only then because you said something). If in editing, some goes away, that’s fine, but I don’t believe it needs toned down.

    I loved the ending, and I laughed again to think just what adventures were being had with Roy and Clay and the “lover-ship”.

  12. Jamie,

    The cursing was a little dense for me, especially considering it could have been cut almost entirely. Plus each swear word detracts from the relevance of its brethren. I think the bit about the orb telling him to fuck his mother would be funnier without exhausting that word beforehand.

    I felt a little more background could be worked in for the less SF savvy viewer, even if just a line about how this thing doesn’t seem to want to make contact.

    It’s hard to call it rape when it was their idea and they never really said no. I’d like to see one of the guys point that out. Maybe Roy can’t remember the Italian word for “stop”.

    It’s a cute idea in a disturbing kind of way. I like a lot about it. It could almost be an Axe body spray commercial. It could make a very nice flash piece, too. Good luck with it.


    Oso´s last blog post..Ever feel brilliant?

  13. LOL, you don’t happen to know the song “She Loves Italian” by EMC, do you? Nice little story you have here. Scifi isn’t usually my cup of tea, but it’s cute (in a WTF kind of way) all the same.

  14. First off:
    Excessive vulgarity? If you’ve seen one of the “Bromance” movies that are out there, this movie is right in line with those. You’re writing towards a target audience. And anyone who evaluates written material needs to realize they might not be the intended target audience.

    Understanding that you’re writing towards the “bromance” target audience, this is my two cents:

    If anything, I’d add MORE vulgarity. I assume these characters have been trapped in space for a long time TOGETHER and by now have developed their own language and catch phases they speak to each other. “FUCK” is too elementary for them. They need something a little more eloquent like “Bitchin’ Shitfuckers” or smart like “Fuck, dude, we’re more screwed than that whore we met on Bloggeden Nine.” If you’ve seen Juno or Superbad – you know what I’m talking about.

    Next – Give the black hole more of reason to have sex with the ship – go back and rewrite the situation so that there’s more actual dialogue of flirting. In real life, you just don’t find a girl and go at it – you have to romance her at the bar and then get her home to perform the act. Give us more foreplay at the beginning.

    With that said, there needs to be more VISUALS. Movies are a visual medium. The less words – the more exciting it is. Words are for books and the theater. Your dialogue should be sparse, it makes it more effective.

    Any good screenplay goes through several rewrites. Give the characters their own language and make the situation more metaphorical of real life.

    That’s my two cents.

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