Screenplays & Opening Scenes

Surf view, Farallone Islands, Pacific Ocean, b...

Opening Scene to Whistling in the Graveyard
By Elizabeth Cutright


Interior: BEDROOM-6:00am

The red numbers of a digital alarm clock read 5:59 am. As they click over to 6:00 am, the radio turns on and Tom Petty’s “American Girl” blares out, tinny and scratchy over the radio’s tiny speaker. A tanned, androgynous hand appears from off-screen and attempts to hit the snooze button but misses and instead the clock skids off the night-stand and onto the floor, still playing the music. A grunt can be heard, and then a slim figure with short blonde hair, dressed in blue boxer shorts and a white t-shirt, rolls out of the bed and walks in front of the camera – face obscured. The body belongs to Andy Hutchins, 26 years old and currently the number one surfer in the world. The radio continues to play and the noises of someone getting dressed can be heard off-screen.

Cut To

Interior : LIVING ROOM – Continued

(With song continuing to play in the background)

ANDY, back to the camera, walks into a beach bungalow styled living room dominated by wicker furniture and hastily strewn beach towels in a variety of hues and patters. A sliding glass door with no curtains leads out to a weather-worn wooden deck similarly adorned with beach towels and also housing a dark blue wetsuit and three or four surfboards, one of which has been lovingly waxed and shines a pale yellow in the afternoon sun. Beyond the deck lies an empty lot filled with California firs, and through the tops of their branches one can just barely glimpse the cold blue of the Pacific Ocean.

ANDY, now dressed in red swimming trunks and a white tank top, races out to the deck and grabs the wetsuit drying on the bannister and – after a quick appraisal of the boards leaning against the deck – chooses a small, bright green board with black trim. ANDY steps into the wetsuit, pulling it up and over the shorts and then removes the tank top before pulling up the sleeves, all the time facing away from the camera.

ANDY grabs the board and begins to descend the steps of the deck out of view of the camera.  A cell phone rings, causing Andy to turn and stare for a moment into the living room, revealing that she is in fact a woman. The phone rings a couple of times and Andy hesitates before deciding to the caller go to voicemail.

The camera closes in on a cell phone rattling on a table, before going still and silent.  After a few moments, there’s the ding of a new message.  The phone’s screen lights up moments later with a text from someone named Drue:


Aunt Andy, please come over.  Something bad’s happened.  Please come quick.

Just at that moment, the song by Tom Petty peters out as well, and the muffled voice of the DeeJay takes over.


 It’s 6:03 in the am, and time for a weather update. Looks like a cool and morning on the central coast – with a high of 65 expected later today. Tommy tells me conditions out at Suicides are optimal, glassy with a 4 to 5 foot swell.  Enjoy your dawn patrol.

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