My screenplay The Norm placed 3rd in the 2009 Slamdance Screenwriting Competition. This is an early draft, cleared of formatting in order to paste it onto this site. Only a few scenes.
The Norm (screenplay) by Britt Aamodt
INT. Right SIZE BOX company, ASSEMBLY FLOOR – DAY
The life cycle of a cardboard box. Machinery die-cuts
cardboard, shoots it along a conveyor belt to fold and stack it into
cookie-cutter box templates.
A progressive workplace. You might as well say progressive
life. Homelife. Worklife. Home, work.
int. norm's bedroom - day
LCD numbers CLICK 05:00. Alarm BUZZES. A LUMP wearily slides
from covers, plants stiff feet in waiting slippers. Trudges in matching pajamas
The two blend seamlessly together, influencing each other.
You wake up. You go to work. Go home. Every day.
int. norm's bathroom – continuous
A bathroom bereft of personal expression, spotless. Bleary
eyes flash in the mirror. This is NORM CALDWELL, 58, the balding, puffed-out
poster child of middle-class boredom.
The mirror swings back. Shaver, toothbrush, toothpaste, pill
holder, all tucked in appropriate corners. Norm palms today's pills.
You are a living, breathing creation. A vibrant work of art.
But what about your workplace? Does it deserve the investment of eight, ten,
twelve hours of your life every workday?
montage - right size box company as workday begins
Shift workers punch clock.
Transit to smoking pen for a quick drag.
Find positions on assembly floor, ear protection and goggles
Right Size's senior vice president, JACK WAGGONNER, 57,
stands at the plate-glass viewing window, with coffee mug and email printout.
Crumples the printout into trash.
Here at Right Size Box Company we think about that a lot.
Not only should there be a box to fit every occasion, but a job to fit every
employee. A benefit, a policy, a regulation to keep pace with advances in
society and technology.
int. norm's kitchen – day
Now in shirt and tie, Norm confronts a shelf of identical
cereal boxes. Pours cereal into measuring cup, tips cereal into bowl.
A progressive society demands a workplace that bends to
INT. NORM'S LIVING ROOM – day
A denuded living room. Boxes of diminishing size march down
center. Norm, tie slung over shoulder, removes the last trace of
personality--artful bric-a-brac--and boxes it. Pauses at a photograph of his
wife and himself. Boxes it.
A workplace which understands that health care includes
healthy food in the cafeteria and discounted athletic club memberships. Which also
understands that our children get sick and need us to take a day off work, and
that sometimes our personal lives fall apart.
INT. RIGHT SIZE BOX company, ASSEMBLY FLOOR – DAY
An EMPLOYEE supervises the automated work. From behind, a
hand grabs his shoulder. It's the floor supervisor, RUTH BROWN, 58, sporting
gag glasses, nose and mustache.
As you sit in this room planning your future at Right Size
int. company classroom – day
Norm commands a white board on which is lettered
"MOTIVATED EMPLOYEE + PROGRESSIVE WORKPLACE = SUCCESS". He grins down
on rows of tired, scruffy NEW HIRES.
...I want you to consider this word "success"--not
just in terms of your job, but your life. Eight hours a day, Monday through
Friday, this is your life. We can supply an enlightened workplace, but you
provide the motivation in the partnership. Together that equals success.
Norm's triumphant expression is greeted by silence. A hand
What's it you wanted us to do with this paper?
Holds up a white sheet that sits before each of the new hires.
That acknowledges that you've attended the Human Resources
Briefing, conducted by none other than myself.
Deploys his marker to underscore "NORMAN CALDWELL,
HUMAN RESOURCES DIRECTOR" printed on the white board.
You want us to sign it?
Heads dip to the task. Norm, deflated, chucks the marker.
Shuffles pages arrayed on desk. The pages are titled: "PROPOSAL -
PROGRESSIVE WORKPLACE AWARD. AUTHOR: NORMAN CALDWELL".
Suddenly, from the rear, Ruth Brown slides into the door,
wearing gag glasses. A big-boned woman with a fashion flare that borders on
Who's ready to shake, rattle and roll?
Heads bob up.
C'mon, little newbies. Get those keesters outta the seats
and let's groove to the assembly floor.
Norm rubs temples. Rallies a smile.
This is Ruth Brown, your floor supervisor. She'll be showing
you around today. Just leave the papers on your desk. I'll have someone collect
Ruth claps her hands.
Let's hop to it.
New hires file out. Norm catches Ruth's shirt sleeve.
Take off those stupid glasses.
Ruth drops gag glasses, stares over them.
These? I can't see a thing without them.
int. front office – continuous
New hires pile into front office. JACK WAGGONNER holds up the
wall, arms crossed, inspecting the female members of the herd. Slick hair,
sideburns, filling out a suit tailored to someone 20 pounds lighter.
Ruth charges to head of line.
All right, everybody, let's move out. First stop: the
cafeteria for a free low-fat bagel. How's that sound?
APPLAUSE as Ruth troops them out. Norm exits classroom,
Is it me, or are the female hires getting fatter and uglier
You see that getup? What is this, Groucho Marx day?
Not even Viagra could get a rise out of that mass of flesh.
Jack, she's driving me crazy.
Ruth? She's been driving you crazy since we were eight.
RECEPTIONIST slinks forward. Eyes Jack.
I'll collect the papers.
Glides toward classroom, smoothing the skirt over her
And make sure they're all signed.
All they have to do is a sign a paper, and sometimes they
can't even do that.
Jack wrenches his gaze from the receptionist. Checks watch.
Fuck a duck.
Meeting with el nuevo Presidente in fifteen.
It's his first full week on the job. What do you think?
He hasn't fired us yet. Mr. Ofstedahl promised--
Mr. Ofstedahl is the owner. All he cares about is making
money, and if that pimply youth he hired as our president says we go, then we
We've been here forty years.
ext. front parking lot – day
A Mercedes halts behind an ancient Volkswagen Karmann Ghia,
orange, wedged in "RESERVED" spot.
int. right size box company, entry – day
The glass doors dazzle with spring sunlight as CYRIL
MARKHAM, 38, the new president of Right Size Box Company, swaggers in, golf-course
trim, casually romantic in shirt and tie. Rips off sunglasses. Floats to
Someone parked in my spot. I got the license plate.
Slips paper to SECURITY GUARD.
I'll get her towed. Just wanted to say too, Mr. Markham,
we're all glad to have you here.
Glad to be here.
int. front office - day
Markham strides through door to receptionist counter. Slaps
Good morning, Sondra.
Sondra hands over three manila files.
Their files. And I sent Jack a reminder email about your
meeting with him.
Markham checks the area. Assured no one's around, asks:
He say anything about the meeting?
No, but I think he knows.
What about Norm and Ruth?
I haven't told them yet. Did you--
No, no. Well, actually, give me about ten minutes with Jack,
and then have those two join us, okay?
Sondra scribbles on her pad.
I'll call them. But I know Ruth's on the floor right now.
Markham cocks an eyebrow.
Touring the new hires.
That's right. Well, get hold of her somehow. I need to take
care of this today. This company's getting a complete overhaul. A year from
now, you won't even recognize this place.
Sondra produces an envelope and hands it to her boss.
From my uncle. It's a gift certificate.
He didn't have to do that. I would've hired you whether he
asked or not. You know, he got me my first executive promotion.
That's what he said.
How you liking this place?
I love it.
LAUGHTER breaks the quiet as TWO YOUNG SWELLS in tailored
suits enter office. Lock on Markham.
swell guy 1
You made it.
Raps his knuckles on counter, taking leave of receptionist.
Gives each man a quick, fraternal hug. Stands back to take them in.
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The Norm (screenplay - early draft)
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The Norm screenplay (early draft)