The Shelf #1: NIGHT RIDE

ON NIGHT RIDE:

Night Ride (2015 – incomplete):
Night Ride was intended to be a unison between the B-Movie monster films of John Carpenter with the realism and social commentary of Ken Loach.

It follows the trials of Leighton Boyce, a London paramedic, who discovers that there is a real-life superhero carrying out brutal justice upon criminals in the city.  We follow only Boyce, we do not get to see, first-hand, the ‘heroics’ of the superman.  Instead, we witness the aftermath, where the violent brutality of the superman’s capability is shown in disturbing gory detail.  Boyce begins to wonder, what can justify this?

Boyce is a native Londoner; and from the poorer neighbourhoods.  When the killings are taken out on people he has known; people who are criminals , drug dealers and delinquents, he decides that it is too much.  As he investigates why the newspapers are not reporting on the superman or why the police are not trying to catch him, he realises that there is a conspiracy to help the superman locate the criminals and take them out.

However, Boyce’s investigation alerts the superman and he becomes a target.  Hunted and powerless he falls in with two outcast men, committed to killing the Superman.  They know only that the superman keeps his distance from their explosive vests – they know he can be killed, if they can get close enough…

HA:
Now, I wanted to talk about Night Ride.

JF:
Yes.

HA:
This is a relatively recent script you have written.  It’s grisly and dystopian; but it is hopeful.  Your attention to detail to the complications and boldness of character that is required to be a paramedic is very moving.

JF:
I stumbled upon (http://theparamedicsdiary.blogspot.co.uk/) many years ago.  I read the two books by Stuart Gray.  It seems an overwhelming job.  The stress and pressure is great, and the systemic problems – budget cuts etcetera – are the same with all jobs.  Yet there is a sense of value that these medics feel in their role.

HA:
Were his stories taken directly?

JF:
Not really because the details of his work, as Stuart Gray would report himself, were quite routine.  The unique moments were involved with the situation and the people.  What I thought was interesting was to show a character who could A: deal with pressure, such as saving a life and B: that he would enter into very personal areas.  The aspect that interested me was the crossing into people’s apartments and houses.  So we could show someone who is valued across all socioeconomic barriers.  His role supersedes class, because anyone can have a heart attack, or a nasty fall, in their home.

HA:
He is proud of his role, I can see this.  But his pride is also his downfall.

JF:
Absolutely.  One of the key points that made Boyce work for me is that he believes himself to be a hero.  Only he discovers there is a “real” hero.  Not just a man, a Superman.  Boyce’s pride is stung.

HA:
You take aim at Hollywood’s wanton destruction of cities.  You must have been disappointed to find Zack Snyder got there first with Dawn of Justice?

JF:
(laughs) I was devastated.  It was about time that they started taking that into account. Well done Zack.

HA:
It reads at 103 pages.  There is a chaotic, but exhilarating ending.  But you say it’s not finished?

JF:
I have problems with it.  Did you think it was complete?

HA:
I think what you have delivered is something … there is an uncomfortable angle, if one were to look at this story a certain way.

JF:
And it’s a very controversial idea.  Most of my trusted readers have questioned what Night Ride is justifying.

HA:
In order to confront the superhero, Boyce aligns himself to a a kind of guerrilla force.

JF:
I think it’s a very important debate, but authorship of such a story is hard.

HA:
Would you say it justifies terrorism?

JF:
Absolutely not, but it does not shy away from the fact that my character’s actions, in the search for justice, slides into the area of terrorism. Night Ride is a warning to the actions of a state.  Disempowering people, leaving them no avenue for debate, dispute and disruption, will engender extreme reactions.

HA:
and if the disenfranchised have no voice, they become … well their distinctions…

JF:
…their definition on who is the citizen, who is the state?  Become dangerously diluted.

HA:
Your character, Boyce, has a sense of justice; an acute sense of justice.

JF:
He is a fundamentalist, but he is fundamental about the lawful society he believed he was living in.  His backstory is a man who wanted to be a police officer, but finding the corruption and cronyism within that institution, he turns away from it.

HA:
He becomes a paramedic because it is a position that is truly there to help people, and everyone.

JF:
Yes.  He wants everything to be clear; and it is his biggest weakness.  There is less ambiguity as a paramedic, he is there to help and save lives.   But he does have an epiphany, that the paramedic, ultimately, is really only to pull people back from the brink of destruction.  There is a lack of humanity to his role, there is no intimacy, he re-starts the heart, he clears the airways, he stems the floods – his only course of action for reason is to work harder and work more, he is grossly unhappy but he has this identity, which he soon realises is not enough.

HA:
Yes, because in an early scene he fights to save the life of someone who is a criminal.

JF:
He believes in indiscriminate justice – as I said a fundamentalist.  But this is a pipe-dream in our society.  Night Ride, what started in my head as a B-movie-noir-monster movie, became a far more complicated reflection on the only defence a citizen can have against a formidable power.

HA:
But the formidable power is also a super-hero.   And he does only kill ‘bad’ guys.

JF:
Yes.  I toyed with the idea of having this superman kill an innocent, but I didn’t want to make it so easy for the audience.

HA:
Though it’s perfectly acceptable to do so.  If we are talking about the nature of terrorism, then we cannot deny that there are terrorists who take up arms and commit atrocities because innocent lives are lost at the hands of the power – things like air raids and drone strikes, are proven to be inaccurate and have created many innocent casualties.

JF:
Sure, but to show the audience that a man commits to terrorism for this (a tit-for-tat, if I can be so callous); it is shallow.  The issue we have is the relation to power.  When the ability to inflict pain; physical or socio-economic; without platforms for debate, for negotiation, for representation, then those who feel oppressed will only see a few options to express their outrage.

HA:
And this came to you while writing?

JF:
This came to me while I was trying to ask myself why it isn’t finished. To deal with a scenario like this, with the implications of what I am saying, this would lead to difficult questions.

HA:
You feel you can’t answer them.

JF:
I feel the fear of terrorism is too close to us right now.  We have children (at the Manchester bombing) being targeted.  My script cannot be a ‘reasoning’ with these kinds of acts, because the acts are indefensible.

HA:
You do not wish to be a spokesman?

JF:
The spotlights are turned on so many.  People who see the interminable conflicts in Israel, for example, and say there must be a unilateral agreement for peace, are told they are justifying the awful acts of Palestinian terrorists.  It is a frightening world to engage with the great ambiguities of modern warfare, and I admit that I am self-censoring Night Ride, until I know what I am doing with it.

 

“The Shelf” will return next week with another of Fonseca’s failed screenplays.

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