Category Archives: Herd Maintenance

The Delicate Art of Book Promotion…A new audio interview!

Just a quick little blog today… mentioning an interview I did yesterday with Jim Goddard from The Goddard Report. This is a podcast that’s distributed online at talkdigitalnetwork.com and also on youtube.

Our chat on September 2 was combined with an interview Jim did with Mary Cummings, from my publisher, Diversion Books.

Please give it a listen. Mary talks about what makes Diversion different from the traditional publishers. And I talk about… well… my books. And me. 🙂

The interview on youtube…Click here

The interview on talkdigitalnetwork.com…Click here

Thank you!

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Filed under Cold Play, Herd Maintenance, My novels

Herd Maintenance

This short screenplay was written in 2003, when I was a student at Vancouver Film School. It was optioned by a young emerging director who loved it, and wanted to take it back to England to have it produced as a festival short. Alas, as is often the case with screenplays, the intent was there but the money wasn’t…and so the option ran out.

I had a lot of fun with this over the years. It was presented at a script-reading series in Vancouver called Final Draught. Actors were competing to play the part of “Penis Man” – a small role, but such a worthy one (especially if you’ve ever been the recipient of those annoying Enlargement Supplement spam emails!)

Anyway, here it is, in all its glory. Apologies if you’re not used to reading a screenplay format. It might take a little getting used to, but I think you can see why it works much better as a film script than it would as a short story…. Please note: I’ve had to modify the format a little to make it fit a non-screenplay friendly layout.

HERD MAINTENANCE by Winona Kent
(Copyright 2003 by Winona Kent)

FADE IN:
EXT. DOWNTOWN OFFICE BLOCK – DAY
CAMERA PANS UP to a window on the 14th floor.

INT. HERD MAINTENANCE OFFICE – DAY
The decor is very bland, and consists of cubicles. Although telephones ring and keyboards clatter, no workers are visible.

CLARA (V.O.)
I once had a job that required me to be concerned about cows.

INT. CLARA’S CUBICLE – DAY
The walls are covered with colourful postcards and pictures, all featuring cows. On the desk are more cow ornaments: cow figurines, a black and white cowhide mouse pad, a large coffee mug shaped like the backside of a cow, complete with udder.

CLARA (mid-20’s) faces her computer monitor. As she types on the keyboard, the words appear on the computer screen.

INTERCUT between computer screen, Clara’s face as she concentrates on typing, the ornaments and pictures in her cubicle.

AL ZINKOWSKI (V.O.)
Dear Mr. MacDonald. The Herd Maintenance Assistance Program Review Board has upheld your appeal to have your eligible herd size increased. Your application has been resubmitted for re-processing. This may result in either an assistance payment or rejection. You will be advised of the results. Yours truly, A. Zinkowski, Coordinator, Herd Maintenance Assistance Program.

Clara clicks the Save button, then the Print button.

INT. HERD MAINTENANCE OFFICE – DAY
The letter to Mr. MacDonald sits on the printer, waiting to be picked up.

Clara walks past the printer, ignoring it, and enters an open elevator.

The elevator doors close.

AL ZINKOWSKI (40’s) runs out of his cubicle, holding a large yellow folder labelled EXTREMELY URGENT MESSAGES FROM THE PRIME MINISTER in huge black letters.
He looks around. The office is silent and deserted.

INT. COFFEE ROOM – DAY
Four WOMEN sit around a table, drinking coffee.

Clara sits alone at a separate table, reading a pamphlet: STOCK-POISONING WEEDS OF THE RURAL WEST.

Al Zinkowski appears from a nearby stairwell, out of breath. He throws the folder onto the table and stands waiting, his arms folded, foot tapping impatiently.

CLARA (V.O.)
The Prime Minister of the country was on the warpath.

EXT. FARMER’S FIELD – DAY
A FARMER and his WIFE stand side-by-side, each holding official-looking forms. Behind them is a small herd of cows.

An ANIMATED DOTTED LINE divides the herd into two equal parts (possibly bisecting individual cows as well).

CLARA (V.O.)
A husband and his wife had both successfully claimed for the same herd, each filing separate applications.

INT. FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OFFICE – DAY
An efficient-looking SENIOR GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE looks furious as he holds one form in each hand and silently compares the details.

INT. PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE – DAY
We see only the back of a large leather chair, facing a computer screen. Outside a nearby window, we can see the country’s flag flying rather limply.

The Senior Government Employee hands both forms to the person sitting in the large leather chair.

CLARA (V.O.)
Urgent letters to the guilty parties were required at once, demanding the immediate return of one of the assistance payments.

We see the Prime Minister’s hand reaching for a telephone – the Hot Line. CAMERA ZOOMS IN to show an EXTREME CLOSE UP of the receiver and the Prime Minister’s mouth, screaming the name (silently): ZINKOWSKI!

INT. COFFEE ROOM – DAY
The women look up at Al Zinkowski, blink, then continue drinking their coffee, ignoring him.

CLARA (V.O.)
It is not good to cheat the government. It upsets those whose job it is to oversee this fine country. It particularly upset Al Zinkowski.

INT. HERD MAINTENANCE OFFICE – DAY
A hand tapes a scribbled notice to the women’s washroom door:
Attention! There must be at least two Clerk Typists available at all times. This means YOU!! A. Zinkowski, Coordinator, Herd Maintenance Assistance Program.

CLARA (V.O.)
The other women considered me peculiar and were afraid to ask me to have coffee with them. However they were extremely annoyed that they could no longer have coffee with each other.

The women, all silently chewing gum, glare at the notice.

CLARA (V.O.)
Soon afterwards, strange paper circles began to appear in the photocopier.

A REPAIRMAN kneels beside a photocopier, surrounded by his tools. The photocopier is in pieces.

The repairman slides the main paper tray out, and turns it upside down. Small paper circles (the kind that come from a 3-hole punch) fall onto the floor.

The repairman pulls out the toner cartridge. More paper circles.

He opens a door to the inner workings of the copier, and hundreds of paper circles fly out.

Al Zinkowski runs out of his cubicle with a red folder marked EXTREMELY URGENT PHOTOCOPYING FOR THE PRIME MINISTER in large black letters.

He pulls up in front of the mound of paper circles.

The repairman looks up at him, confused.

Al Zinkowski stalks back to his cubicle.

EXT. MR. ZADO’S FIELD – DAY
It is raining. Mr. Zado, in rubber boots and with a raised umbrella, stands beside his herd of cows. He is reading Al Zinkowski’s letter.

AL ZINKOWSKI (V.O.)
Dear Mr. Zado. Your appeal to have 100 milk cows redesignated as dairy cattle has been upheld. A supplementary payment will follow.

INT. SMALL TOWN POST OFFICE – DAY
Mr. Zado, still in his rubber boots, dumps a jam jar full of coins out onto the top of a very old photocopier. He laboriously inserts five coins, and waits for one copy to come out. It comes out only half-copied (he has the original paper placed the wrong way on the glass).

Mr. Zado scratches his head.

AL ZINKOWSKI (V.O.)
Please forward 100 copies of your revised application form. Yours truly, A. Zinkowski, Coordinator, Herd Maintenance Assistance Program.

INT. WOMEN’S WASHROOM – DAY
Clara enters. She climbs up onto the counter, and then stands on her toes to look out of a very high window.

CLARA (V.O.)
Because there were no windows in the Herd Maintenance Office, I had to go into the women’s washroom in order to see outside.

INT. WINDOW (CLARA’S POV) – DAY
Clara looks out, and sees an identical window in a building across the road.

A WOMAN is staring back at her.

INT. HERD MAINTENANCE OFFICE – DAY
Al Zinkowski approaches Clara’s cubicle with a large orange folder labelled EXTREMELY CRITICAL URGENT MESSAGES FROM THE PRIME MINISTER.

He finds her cubicle empty. He fumes.

INT. WOMEN’S WASHROOM – DAY
Clara continues to look outside. Below, on the street, a small demonstration is taking place. A handful of PROTESTORS marches up and down the sidewalk, carrying signs which identify them as the Bovine Liberation Front.

O.S., distant THUNDER rumbles ominously.

EXT. CLINT WASYLENKO’S OFFICE – DAY
A portable government trailer in a muddy field, surrounded by cows.

INT. CLINT WASYLENKO’S OFFICE – DAY
MRS. ZINKOWSKI (mid-30’s, stunning figure) reclines on the desktop, wearing a sexy negligee and playing suggestively with a very large, bizarre-looking sex toy.

CLINT WASYLENKO (mid-40’s and not in very good shape), wearing socks, shoes, a male thong and heavy-rimmed glasses, leaps on top of Mrs. Zinkowski. The sex toy goes flying.

CLARA (V.O.)
Al Zinkowski was not a happy man. His wife was having an affair with a Rural Communications Officer from the Prairie Farm Administration Department.

INT. BOVINE LIBERATION FRONT MEETING ROOM – NIGHT
The room is dark and lit with candles.

The Protestors, now with paper bags over their heads, huddle in a circle. Eye holes have been cut into the paper bags.

The Protestors silently pass a glass bottle filled with what looks like purple milk around the circle, each taking a sip through a bright red straw.

CLARA (V.O.)
Al Zinkowski’s 17 year old daughter, Daisy, had recently become a vegetarian and joined the Bovine Liberation Front.

In the centre of the circle sits DAISY (17), bare-headed, but with a fuschia-coloured Mohawk and numerous rings and studs in her nose and ears.

One of the Protestors steps forward, and pours the purple milk over Daisy’s head.

PROTESTORS
Mooooooo!

DAISY
Mooooooo!

CAMERA PULLS BACK to reveal an apartment laundry room. Two washers and two driers go through their cycles against the wall.

Suddenly the lights snap on, and a WOMAN IN CURLERS, wearing a drressing gown and slippers, enters with her laundry basket.

She stares at the Protestors.

The Protestors, and Daisy, stare back.

One of the driers BUZZES, indicating its cycle has finished.

INT. HERD MAINTENANCE OFFICE – DAY
A man’s hand tapes a new sign to the washroom door, below the previous sign:
Attention! Clerk Typist washroom visits are limited to three minutes. This means YOU!! A. Zinkowski, Coordinator, Herd Maintenance Assistance Program.

CLARA (V.O.)
There was no joy in Al Zinkowski’s life.

The women, all still silently chewing gum, glare at this new notice.

We see there are other signs on the door – notes about excessive toilet paper usage, paper clip consumption, and pencil sharpening – all hand-written. Some have been scrawled over with rude graffiti. Others have big red X’s drawn through them.

CLARA (V.O.)
Soon afterwards, strange messages began to appear on Al Zinkowski’s computer.

INT. AL ZINKOWSKI’S CUBICLE – DAY
Al Zinkowski sits down at his computer, and opens up his email.

The first message has large red and blue letters.

INTERCUT between the computer screen, Zinkowski’s face as he reads the message, and the cow ornaments and pictures at Clara’s cubicle.

PENIS MAN (V.O.)
(1950’s newsreel voice)
Want a BIG penis? Now there’s a MASSIVE scientific breakthrough! Our pill will expand your manhood up to 3 FULL INCHES in length! NO agonizing hanging weights! NO painful pumps! NO dangerous surgery! Experience HUGE gains in only weeks! Overcome your tiny penis, poor self-image, dismal potency and premature ejaculation NOW!

Al Zinkowski quickly deletes the email and returns to the message index, which can be seen on the computer screen.

All of the messages have a similar subject line: TRANSFORM YOUR MEMBER INTO A MONSTER! BECOME A RAGING BULL IN DAYS! etc.

There is one message with the subject line: URGENT MEETING. Al Zinkowski opens it – and it’s another penis enlargement message.

INT. HERD MAINTENANCE OFFICE – DAY
Al Zinkowski peers suspiciously over the top of his cubicle wall. Only the top of his head and eyes are visible.

In the distance, the Photocopy Repairman pulls several pairs of women’s tights out of the auxiliary paper tray.

Al Zinkowski checks to see that no one is watching, then disappears into the men’s washroom.

LATER
A new sign is taped to the women’s washroom door, which is now covered top to bottom in hand-scrawled orders and edicts:
Attention! All Clerk Typists are required to work 7.5 hours per day. Gossiping, joke telling and other unnecessary personal conversations will result in timely deductions from your pay! Work time is desk time!! This means YOU!! A. Zinkowski, Coordinator, Herd Maintenance Assistance Program.

The women, all still silently chewing gum, glare at the new notice. One of them blinks.

INT. CLARA’S CUBICLE – DAY
Clara types on the keyboard.

INTERCUT between computer screen, Clara’s face as she types, and the cow ornaments and pictures at her cubicle.

AL ZINKOWSKI (V.O.)
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Walker. The Board has reviewed your appeal against your rejection on the basis of crop yield. The rejection is upheld and your application has been removed from the process. You may appeal this rejection by submitting a new application. Your re-appeal will result in either an assistance payment or subsequent rejection. Yours truly, A. Zinkowski, Coordinator, Herd Maintenance Assistance Program.

Clara clicks the Save button.

O.S., we hear the CHANTS of Protestors on the street outside.

PROTESTORS (O.S.)
Whadda we want? Free the cows! When do we want it? Now!

Clara peers over the top of her cubicle.

INT. HERD MAINTENANCE OFFICE – DAY
Clara leaves her cubicle and goes into the women’s washroom.

INT. WOMEN’S WASHROOM – DAY
Clara climbs onto the counter and looks outside.

INT. WINDOW, CLARA’S POV – DAY
The woman in the window across the road is staring back at Clara.

On the street below, the Protestors are marching with their signs.

PROTESTORS
(singing)
Cow-i-dar-i-ty For-e-ver!

INT. WOMEN’S WASHROOM – DAY
Clara stands on her toes in order to get a better look at the Protestors.

Suddenly, a FIRE ALARM sounds.

Startled, Clara loses her balance and tumbles onto the floor, hitting her head.

INT. HERD MAINTENANCE OFFICE – DAY
Women appear from all of the cubicles. They are ushered single file into the stairwell by Al Zinkowski, wearing a Fire Warden’s hard hat and safety vest. SIRENS can be heard O.S. in the distance.

INT. WOMEN’S WASHROOM – DAY
Clara lies unconscious on the floor.

INT. HALLWAY – DAY
As the FIRE ALARM continues to sound, Daisy and a male Protestor, SPIKE, race down the hallway, carrying signs and spray-painting slogans on the walls.

CLARA (V.O.)
The Bovine Liberation Front, led by Al Zinkowski’s 17 year old daughter, had pulled the fire alarm in order to empty the building.

INT. HERD MAINTENANCE OFFICE – DAY
Daisy and Spike barge in. They unfurl a large banner.

INT. WOMEN’S WASHROOM – DAY
Clara wakes up on the floor, hears the commotion outside, and peeks out through the washroom door.

INT. HERD MAINTENANCE OFFICE – DAY
Daisy and Spike tack the unfurled banner, STOP THE BULLSHIT! onto a wall and spray paint slogans – HOLSTEINS UNITE! UDDER POWER! JUSTICE FOR JERSEYS! MILK KILLS! – as they run amok through the office.

O.S., WAILING police cars and fire engines can be heard approaching over the Protestors, who continue to chant and sing outside the building.

INT. WOMEN’S WASHROOM – DAY
Clara continues to watch.

INT. HERD MAINTENANCE OFFICE, CLARA’S POV – DAY
Clara sees that Al Zinkowski’s cubicle is empty, and his computer is still on.

INT. HERD MAINTENANCE OFFICE – DAY
Unseen by Daisy and Spike, Clara crawls out of the washroom and slips into Al Zinkowski’s cubicle.

INT. AL ZINKOWSKI’S CUBICLE – DAY
Clara sees that Al Zinkowski’s email program is open.

She touches a key on the keyboard, and Al Zinkowski’s Address Book appears, with a list of nicknames.
INSERT – COMPUTER SCREEN

The screen shows the nicknames:
“The Prime Minister”
“The President”
“The Queen”

BACK TO SCENE
INTERCUT between computer screen, Clara’s face and the cow ornaments and pictures as Clara concentrates on her task.

There are a lot of Penis Enlargement emails in the message list. Clara selects one and clicks the Forward button on the task bar.

She selects The Prime Minister’s address.

She deletes the existing Subject line of the email, then types:
EXTREMELY URGENT MESSAGE FOR THE PRIME MINISTER

She quickly scrolls down to the beginning of the body of the message and types her message.

AL ZINKOWSKI (V.O.)
Dear Mr. Prime Minister…

INT. PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE – DAY
We again see the back of the large leather chair, still facing the computer screen. Outside, the flag still hangs limply.

AL ZINKOWSKI (V.O.)
I think this will solve all of your personal problems, and all of the country’s problems too.

INT. HERD MAINTENANCE OFFICE – DAY
Daisy and Spike run through the office, tossing black, white and brown streamers over the light fixtures, the photocopier, the printer, the windows, etc.

PENIS MAN (V.O.)
When your wife sees how massive and long and hard you are, she will immediately surrender.

INT. PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE – DAY
We continue to see the back of a large leather chair, facing the computer screen. Outside the window, however, the flag is beginning to rise in the breeze.

PENIS MAN (V.O.)
As you drive your member deep inside her she’ll gasp with ecstasy. The intense satisfaction will be the BEST sex she has ever had. She will not be able to keep her hands off your manly body.

The leather chair squeaks and shudders a little.

PENIS MAN (V.O.)
And the people of this country will thank you too.

The flag is now fully extended in a very stiff wind as O.S. we hear the CHIMES from a nearby belfry playing the National Anthem.

AL ZINKOWSKI (V.O.)
Yours truly, A. Zinkowski, Coordinator, Herd Maintenance Assistance Program

INT. AL ZINKOWSKI’S CUBICLE – DAY
Clara peeks over the top of the cubicle wall.

INT. HERD MAINTENANCE OFFICE, CLARA’S POV – DAY
Daisy and Spike spray paint over all of the messages on the washroom door. O.S., POLICE SIRENS SCREAM, then stop.

INT. AL ZINKOWSKI’S CUBICLE – DAY
Ducking down, Clara clicks on address for The President.

INT. WHITE HOUSE – DAY
A FEMALE INTERN sits at the computer, reading the email. O.S. we hear “The Star Spangled Banner”.

INSERT – COMPUTER SCREEN
The intern forwards the message to the President of Russia (as indicated by Russian writing).

INT. RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT BUILDING – NIGHT
A very serious RUSSIAN PRESIDENT glares at his computer screen. A stocky Russian CLEANING WOMAN in a babuskha dusts around him, possibly also including the top of his head.

The Cleaning Woman smirks.

The Russian President reaches for the Hot Line.

INT. HERD MAINTENANCE OFFICE – DAY
Two POLICEMEN burst into the office and round up Daisy and Spike.

INT. CLARA’S CUBICLE – DAY
Clara removes the postcards and pictures from her wall and packs them into a large black and white cowhide-patterned cardboard box.

She adds her cow ornaments, mug and mouse pad to the collection.

CLARA (V.O.)
Soon afterwards, Al Zinkowski was relieved of his duties at Herd Maintenance.

EXT. MR. ZADO’S FIELD – DAY
It is raining. Al Zinkowski, in rubber boots and with a raised umbrella, stands beside Mr. Zado’s herd of cows. Mr. Zado appears, and hands Al Zinkowski a letter.

CLARA (V.O.)
There were rumours he found work at a local dairy farm, where he was put in charge of grant applications.

INT. HERD MAINTENANCE OFFICE – DAY
The office is deserted. The graffiti on the walls has been scrubbed out, but is still faintly visible.

CLARA (V.O.)
Al Zinkowski no longer needed my assistance.

Clara carries her cardboard box out of the cubicle and walks into the elevator.

INT. DEPARTMENT OF WESTERN ECONOMIC AFFAIRS OFFICE – DAY
Clara steps out of the elevator and into an office which is identical in almost every way to Herd Maintenance.

CLARA (V.O.)
I was transferred to the Department of Western Economic Affairs on the 7th Floor.

Clara pauses at the photocopier, opens her box and takes out the cow mug.

She pulls open the copier’s main paper tray and dumps in a full mugful of small paper circles.

She slides the tray shut again and puts the mug back into the box.

EXT. DOWNTOWN OFFICE BLOCK – DAY
CLOSE UP on the same window we panned up to at the beginning of the film. Then CAMERA PANS DOWN seven floors, to an identical window.

CLARA (V.O.)
I was no longer required to be concerned about cows.

FADE OUT.

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