We hear a HIT. A drumstick against a drum head. Crisp, sharp.
Then a second hit. Then a third and a fourth. The hits
growing so fast they start to blur together. Like gunfire...
1 INT. NASSAU BAND REHEARSAL STUDIO - GEHRING HALL - NIGHT 1
A cavernous space. Sound-proofed walls. And in the center, a
DRUM SET. Seated at it, in a sweat-marked white T, eyes
zeroed on his single-stroke roll, is ANDREW NEIMAN.
He’s 19, slight, honors-student-skinny -- except for his
arms, which have been built from years and years of drumming.
Suddenly -- a MAN enters the practice room. Stopping, rising--
Sorry... I’m -- I’m sorry--
It’s ok. Stay there.
The MAN steps forward, removes his coat. He’s tall. Late
fifties. Black T-shirt, black slacks, black shoes. We’ll know
him as FLETCHER.
The room is silent now. And then, softly, as he’s one of
those people whose whisper can scare the crap out of you--
What’s your name?
Andrew Neiman, sir.
(It’s pronounced “Nayman”.)
What year are you?
I’m a first-year, sir.
You know who I am?
You know what I do?
So you know I’m looking for players.
Then why did you stop playing?
Beat. Andrew nods, smiles. He gets it. Summons up all his
remaining energy and resumes playing, trying to really show
off this time. Rolls, fills, speedy stick-work. He finishes.
Did I say to start playing again?
Andrew looks at him.
I’m sorry, I misun-
I asked you why you stopped playing. Your
version of an answer was to turn into a
wind-up drummer monkey.
I’m sorry -- I--I stopped playing becau--
Show me your rudiments.
Andrew nods. Plays one rudiment after another: double-stroke
roll, paradiddle, ratamacue, flam, flamadiddle.
Uh-huh. Double-time swing.
Fletcher begins clapping his hand in time. Fast. Andrew plays.
No. Double-time. Double it. Bop-bop-bopbop-
Andrew tries doubling the tempo. But he can’t. Fletcher STOPS
CLAPPING. The sign of death.
Andrew keeps playing, eyes shut... Then -- he hears the door
CLOSE. He stops, and looks up. Fletcher has left the room.
A moment later -- the door OPENS. It’s Fletcher. Andrew’s
eyes widen. Maybe it’s not over...
Woopsy-daisy. Forgot my coat.
Fletcher grabs it, steps back out, CLOSES the door. Andrew
stares ahead, alone again at the drums -- and totally
WIDE SHOT of the band room as Andrew slowly rises. A title card:
Shaffer Conservatory of Music
2 EXT. NEW YORK STREET - SHAFFER CONSERVATORY - NIGHT 2
Andrew exits, hurries off. Pasted onto his overloaded backpack
are patches, buttons, names: Krupa. Roach. Buddy Rich...
The buildings of midtown New York loom over him like giants --
3 INT. MOVIE THEATER - LOBBY - NIGHT 3
A quiet two-screen theater. Andrew buys concessions. The GIRL
at the counter is about his age. She’s pretty, but doesn’t
really know it. More to the point, she doesn’t seem to care.
Her name is NICOLE.
Nah, not this time, thanks...
Andrew and Nicole exchange smiles. He takes his items --
popcorn, Raisinets, two sodas -- and heads off. Peers back at
Nicole. She’s staring into space. She looks suddenly lonely.