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ugly sisters

by Maj Ikle 

Posted: 10 March 2009
Word Count: 3733
Summary: being a pretty, middle class young dyke shouldn't be such an obstacle to finding a girlfriend


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Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.


SISTA ELL
BY
JANE CAMPBELL
FIRST DRAFT
10mins film






CAST:
ELLIE
CLAIRE BUTTERFIELD
THE OTHER WOMAN
PUB BUTCHES (2)
VICIOUS PUB FRIENDS (3)
AXE-THE-PATRIARCHY
LOUIS-THE-TRAN
SQUATTER DYKES (2)
+ EXTRAS














Premise: Itís the 1980ís; punk and Maggie Thatcher, the miners strike and the time before mobile phones. The dyke scene is hairy legs over dungarees-Greenham common chic, women are angry and fighting everyone including each other. Ellie is 20 and desperate to break into the lesbian scene but sheís too pretty and middle class. No one will believe that she is gay. Even when they do, life is still extremely complicated.
Romance comedies are always going to end well, but in the meantime what was it for a straight-looking dyke trying to get a proper girlfriend?













FADE IN

1
EXT-PUB-EVE
Ellie, long blonde hair and beautifully curved eyebrows. Sits smiling, in a smoky pub on a summer evening sipping ĎOranginaí through a straw reading a socialist worker magazine, on an quiet street in Londonís west end.

MAN
is anyone sitting here?

ELLIE Looks around at the empty tables eyes him shrewdly then shrugs
MAN
So, whatís a beautiful girl like you doing in a place like this?
ELLIE
Look, Iím not being rude but Iím not up for a conversation

Ellie gestures to the paper she is reading
MAN

something I should know about? Is it the nuclear war just about to kick off? Got any plans for the four-minute warning?
Ellieís girlfriend approaches and raises her eyebrows at the guy.
ELLIE
Claire

MAN stands up and holds out a chair for Claire

MAN
Hello Claire, wonít you join us I was just about to order more drinks, what would you like?
CLAIRE
Ellie who is this geezer?

ELLIE
heís just someone whoís sat down.
MAN
Ellie, what would you like? Same again?

MAN makes off towards bar

CLAIRE
how come he knows your name?

ELLIE
he doesnít
CLAIRE
He just used your name then.
(beat)
So, you donít know him from Adam and he is just buying us drinks to be friendly?
ELLIE
Whoís Adam?
Ellie smiles but Claire isnít smiling back
Seriously Claire, you told him what my name was
CLAIRE
Iím sick of this
ELLIE
of me?
CLAIRE
Of your ridiculous excuses. You tell me you are a lesbian, then make me prise you away from guys that are obviously chatting you up.
ELLIE gets up grabbing Claireís hand
ELLIE
Claire letís just leave now, please.
CLAIRE
What before he gets back?
(beat)
So that I canít find out that you have given him your phone number?
ELLIE
why would I do that
(beat)
Iím your girlfriend
CLAIRE
because youíre strait Ellie. You just donít want to admit it. Why donít you just stop teasing me?
Ellie gives no reply

CLAIRE
What youíre really after is a tourist ticket to lesbianland.

ELLIE
Why would I want that?
CLAIRE
so that when your ĎMr Rightí arrives he will get excited about your sexy little exploits and marry you for being a virgin.

(MAN returns from bar with tray of cocktails)
MAN
So, Ellie youíre a virgin, why didnít you tell me that before. I love virgins.

(beat)

Claire storms off

Ellie puts her face up close to the MANíS

ELLIE
if I ever see you coming towards me again I will find the nearest piece of dog shit, pick it up with a fork and stab you with it, ok?
runs off after Claire
CUT TO

2
EXT-DOORWAY GAY CLUB-EVE
Ellie has been walking around the west-end streets unable to find Claire. She sees the rainbow flag over a nightclub entrance and makes her way over. She is stopped by a big man in black bomber jacket and very short hair.
BOUNCER
sorry love itís a private party in here tonight
ELLIE
oh, right, ok
turns and walks away, but looks back and sees Claire going in. Ellie turns around tries to follow them in.
BOUNCER
Young lady, let me tell you, you donít want to down there those women are lessies
ELLIE
I do
BOUNCER
what you are saying is that you want to go in and be ravished by lessies is that it?
ELLIE
do you want to see my ID?
BOUNCER
Turns to his gang of mates
is someone giving out lessie ID and they didnít tell me?
As he turns around Ellie dives into through the door. CUT TO

3
INT-GAY CLUB STAIRCASE-NIGHT
Ellie is triumphant at getting into the club and leans back on the doors smiling to herself, happy she descends a mirror lined staircase lit with lurid colour. Comes to a ticket booth where a heavily made up woman is sitting. There is a poster covered with pictures of crowds of women all smiling and having a wonderful time
" WEDNESDAY NIGHT Is WOMENS PARTY NIGHT AT MAXIMS"
Ellie hands over a ten pounds note. She puts out her hand for change but the woman silently shakes her head.
CUT TO
4A
INT-GAY CLUB-NIGHT
Shaking her head Ellie pushes open the doors into the club, only to find that the music is very loud but the place is virtually empty. Self-consciously she approaches the bar and orders a drink then sees Claire with her face deep in another womanís. She storms over
ELLIE
you didnít waste much time
she pulls Claireís shoulder
CLAIRE
leans her head back
I want a real girlfriend not a bicycle that everyone can ride
The women at the table laugh viciously
CUT TO
5
INT-NIGHTCLUB-NIGHT
Ellie makes her way over to the only other women there. They are two heavily tattooed women playing pool. The women act very friendly, letting her join in their game and helping her by showing her how to do some shots. Ellie keeps looking over towards Claire to see if she is noticing but she doesnít stop. The butch women break out fighting amongst themselves
BUTCH 1
stop leaning on her like that,
sheís my girl
BUTCH 2
Mate donít mess yourself up with this, sheís coming home with me
ELLIE
ladies, ladies, why canít we all get the bus together?
They laugh, but as soon as the game commences one calls a foul shot. The other denies it, then bottles are broken over the table and Ellie crawls out in the confusion. Only to be passed by the bouncers on their way down the stairs who give her a dirty look.
CUT TO
6
EXT-DOORSTEP OF LESBIAN SQUAT- AFTERNOON
Ellie knocks but gets no reply. She knocks harder, consults her bit of paper, leans back to look at the number of the preceding house, as this doesnít have one and knocks again. Finally she turns and sits down on the step burying her head in her hands. A woman with electric blue dreadlocks arrives and lets herself in leaving the door open but not acknowledging Ellie.
Ellie follows her in
ELLIE
is this Öexcuse me are you a member ofÖ
CUT TO
6A
INT-LESBIAN SQUAT HALLWAY-AFTERNOON
Ellie pushes past the enormous pile of post that has accumulated behind the door
CUT TO
6B
INT-LESBIAN SQUAT LIVING ROOM-AFTERNOON
Ellie follows the girl with the blue hair as she passes through a large room with torn curtains drawn against the sunlight. There are bodies of women everywhere some are asleep others look as though they are dead.
CUT TO
6C
INT-LESBIAN SQUAT KITCHEN-AFTERNOON
Ellie follows the dreadlock into a filthy kitchen with posters on the wall saying ďsisters are doing it for themselvesĒ with ďnotĒ added. The woman with the dreadlocks puts the kettle on
ELLIE
I was knocking for ages, I suppose everyone was asleep orÖdead?

woman ignores her pours herself a cup of hot water and goes upstairs.

(beat)
Another woman enters through the back door, she is older, hair dyed black and backcombed to the max. She carries a four big Jack Daniels bottles a finger in each of the necks. She puts the bottles in an outdoor bin which has ďrecycleĒ painted on it.
She is wearing strippy tights with a silk Chinese style dress as a dressing gown but it is torn around the collar. She has a tattoo of a spiral on her wrist
AXE
Nobody ever answers door to bailiffs.
ELLIE
But Iím not. oh dear,Ö I mean yeah, sure
Axe points to a chair for Ellie to sit down on but as she does so a cat lets out a shriek so Ellie picks another one
Axe potters about the kitchen stacking dishes into impossible piles then at the bottom of the sink she finds cups
AXE
theft?
ELLIE
Iím sorry?

AXE holds up a filthy mug
AXE
cup of theft,

(beat)
AXE
Ďproper teaí? property tea is theft, get it?
throws her head back, laughs a filthy laugh, delighted
ELLIE
um, have you got any coffee?
AXE
havenít got any sugar
ELLIE
thatís okay
AXE
Oh is it? Sheís from the papers?
ELLIE
No Iím a lesbian
AXE
Sheís what?
ELLIE
I want to live with women. Iím fed up of mixing with straight people
AXE
ever even had a girlfriend?
ELLIE
Yes, Iíve just broken up with a woman called Claire
AXE
Claire who?
ELLIE
Claire Butterfield
AXE
oh Butterfield, she can come up with surname and everything
ELLIE
I donít know what it is you mean.
AXE
what Axe means is where did her middle class wankership come from?
ELLIE
Ealing Broadway
AXE
White trash is a liar. No lesbians living in Ealing Broadway; rents too high
ELLIE
Iíve been living with my parentsÖ
AXE
HA
ELLIE
ÖI couldnít afford anything else then my girlfriend broke up with me cos she kept thinking I wanted guys to chat me up and now, now Iíve gotÖno..thing, nothing
she bursts into tears
AXE
All right, ease off the water works. Wanna live like a lesbian? Stay here for a while but no men. Hear it?
ELLIE
Itís okay I donít want men in here either.
AXE
Mhmm
CUT TO
5B
INT-STAIRS-AFTERNOON
Wallpaper is peeling in strips as they climb three flights of stairs. Filthy carpet peters out leaving unpainted stairs. All up the wall is graffiti done with a huge brush; paintings of vaginas with the signature beneath ĎAxe the Patriarchyí which Axe points to herself proudly
AXE
Cunt is cool
ELLIE
oh, it is Ö yes itísÖ
(beat)
interesting
AXE
heh posh girl, donít confuse kind with stupid. Might think she is Ďiní with the gang but Axe is just hoping rich girl will buy tea bags.
Finally they get to the top Ellie hauling huge suitcase. Axe flings open the tiny door, which promptly falls off itís hinges and they go through
CUT TO

7
INT-SQUAT KITCHEN-DAY
Ellie has just finished cleaning the kitchen she sits down, pleasantly exhausted. Two women come in still half asleep. Theyíre dressed in menís pjís with extreme hair. Moving like zombies they make themselves cups of tea then sit down at the table without acknowledging Ellie.
WOMAN 1
Whatís wrong with this room?
WOMAN 2
someoneís got rid of loads of stuff
ELLIE
um Iíve done it
They jump as if they didnít notice her presence
WOMAN 1
Why?
ELLIE
I think itís nice
WOMAN 2
ĎI think itís niceí. What is so great about being nice?
WOMAN 1
You canít be a dyke just by looking at it you know? You got to be out and take some of the flack like the rest of us do.
ELLIE
What would you have me do?
WOMAN 2
Why donít you take your middle class nice housewife bollocks and bog off.
WOMAN 1
to be a dyke, you need to get dirty not clean
they walk out, throwing their tea bags towards the bin which miss and leave a splat on the wall. Both laugh hysterically
CUT TO
8
INT-SQUAT LOUNGE-DAY
Ellie is bored and unhappy, she wanders around the lounge picking her way over bodies, cans and overflowing ash trays. She looks at the dusty books on the bookshelf but when she pulls one down it is full of weevils. She almost drops it on a snoring womanís head. Then she hears some noise at the front door.
8A
INT-SQUAT HALLWAY-DAY
Ellie goes into the hall, sees post come through the letterbox, takes it out of the slot and looks at it. One letter is addressed to ďthe women of the squatĒ she opens it and itís a bright funky poster advertising a DYKE only extravaganza for one night only, ďCANTĒ.
Up from behind her comes Axe who rips the poster out of her hand
AXE
Not for posh strait girls.
ELLIE
Why?
AXE
Donít even try and get in? Axe will tell posh girl is spy for DHSS.
she points to a statement at the bottom of the poster saying;
ďno straitsĒ

Axe starts waking the house up by swinging a school bell. Soon the women are awake and running around the house shrieking and jumping in the air
CUT TO

9
INT-SQUAT LIVING ROOM-EVENING
Ellie is sat on the couch watching all the fantastic costumes that the others are parading around in. Ellie is looking at Axe in fascination as if she adores her,
WOMAN
Arenít you coming Ellie?
Women laugh hysterically. Axe puts her arm around Ellie, who instantly melts but then she crumples as she hears
AXE
can clean the kitchen, can always dirty it again when gang get back.

Laughing like banshees women exit, except ELLIE
CUT TO
10
INT-SQUAT KITCHEN-EVENING
Ellie has cleaned up enough room to make herself some dinner hygienically and she is has just poured herself a glass of wine, but then has put her face in her hands crying. There is a sound of a motorbike arriving outside
Louis comes in through the back door, wearing a complete set of motorbike leathers he has a goatie beard, flat chest. He is very good looking with bright blue eyes and very dark hair in a quiff.
LOUIS
Hello, who have we got here? All out to the ball and one left at home?
Sticks out his hand
Iím Louis, lets see you must be Cinderella
ELLIE
Ellie actually
LOUIS
ĎEllie act-chillyí, well you certainly are doing that arenít you?
ELLIE
Do you realise this is a women only space?
LOUIS
I used to be a woman if that counts?
ELLIE
youíll know then, that it doesnít
LOUIS
look strait-girl or whoever you think you are. I might have a bit of facial hair but I happen to have a full set of female genitals so I do qualify as a bio-woman, not that it is any of your busy ness; ellie-act-chilly
ELLIE
oh
LOUIS
look, sorry. Your attitude just reminded me why I left the lesbian scene. To see if being a man wasnít easier.
ELLIE
That was the best you could come up with? Becoming a man?
LOUIS
Look chilly mind you own busyness would you. Iím only here because if I donít find my letters out from that junk mountain Iím going to find myself locked up.
ELLIE
And you arenít going to change back?
LOUIS
Donít be ridiculous, lifeís not that simple
ELLIE
Donít say that, about me being ridiculous
LOUIS
Stop being it then,
ELLIE
Why donít you just leave
LOUIS
look letsí neither of us pretend that you intend to call the police. Iíll go and retrieve my post, and you can pretend that the house was robbed, I could even tie you up if you like that sort of thing
ELLIE bursts into tears
LOUIS
Heh, I wouldnít really tie you up unless you asked me nicely, donít cry please. I think I prefer super bitch?
Louis puts his arm around her shoulders
CUT TO
11
INT - SQUAT KITCHEN-EVE
The kitchen is lit up with fairy lights and the radio is playing romantic music.
Ellie has a towel round her neck tears streaming down her face. LOUIS with a set of clippers is shaving off all that long hair. Ellie expression changes when he shows her a mirror.
LOUIS
Hey there really was a dyke under all that hair
Louis carefully wipes the hairs from her neck and she sees him. He sees her nod at him in the window glass and he bends over and kisses her.
ELLIE
Iím a dyke, remember? And you are trying to be a guy
Louis shrugs in agreement then pulls at a huge pile of dirty washing that is left against a cupboard door. He uncovers a wardrobe behind the bundle goes in and returns with a manís suit still in the plastic of the dry cleaners. Thrusting it at Ellie and pushing her towards the stairs to go get changed for the club
CUT TO
12
INT-SQUAT KITCHEN-MIDNIGHT
Ellie enters the kitchen looking like a beautiful butch woman. LOUIS looks up from sweeping up the hair, sees her and is obviously impressed. However he wipes the smile off his face to nod approval and throws her his bike keys,
LOUIS
Itíll take me a while to get through this post mountain, but you better be back before the others or weíll both get lynched
ELLIE
Is it a buy off for the kiss? Cos I didnít really mind
LOUIS
lets say Iíve got a weakness for maidens in distress
ELLIE goes over and hugs him
ELLIE
I wish you were still a woman
LOUIS
Are you trying to mess with my head?
ELLIE
What if I was
LOUIS
I havenít come all this way to go back now
ELLIE
What? taking a few pills and some facial hair? Long way? Sounds more like a night on the town
LOUIS
Go to the club, find yourself a real lesbian for your romance story
ELLIE
You really are my fairy godmother?
LOUIS
More hairy than fairy
He stands at the door watching her go then he goes back in the kitchen and looks round nostalgically picking up things and smiling, then he picks up a glass of wine, drinks it then puts his head in his hands.
CUT TO
13
EXT-OUTSIDE THE CLUB-NIGHT
Ellie pulls up on the motorbike under the clock as it strikes midnight. A group of women are waiting by the door just about to go in. As she parks the bike they come over admiring it. One of them tries to sneak under her arm as they walk toward the club doors.
CUT TO
14
INT-NIGHT CLUB-NIGHT
As soon as Ellie has checked her helmet into the coat check another of the women has claimed her other arm. So; as the double doors to the club open Ellie enters with a girl on each arm and a gaggle of women in her wake. Something happens with the music and it screeches with feedback then cuts out so the whole room turns just at that exact moment to see Ellieís entrance.
Women preen themselves and strike a variety of poses each obviously trying to impress her including Axe and the housemates.
CUT TO
14A
INT-NIGHT CLUB-NIGHT
Ellie has been dancing for hours, she is as happy as she is hot, but she canít stand it any longer she pulls herself free of the arms of a beautiful woman and heads towards the coat check with her jacket. Suddenly Axe is beside her curious about her,
AXE
liking a woman who can wear a suit
she appears momentarily distracted by the suit jacket as if it triggers off a memory. Meanwhile Ellie is dragged off by a beauty from the dance floor.
CUT TO
14B
INT-NIGHT CLUB BAR-NIGHT
Ellie has just placed an empty pint glass on the bar, when she turns around Axe is there with a flirty face on.
Ellie points towards the dance floor and they smooch to the music (Hazel OíConnor ďWill youĒ?)
AXE
nice looking díyou know that?

Axe kisses her then as she looks into her eyes she starts to realise who she is. Ellie bolts from the dance floor towards the door.
CUT TO

15
EXT-LONDON STREET-NIGHT
It is raining very hard, a bedraggled Ellie pushes the bike. With a lot of effort she parks it outside a phone box, goes inside and dials. But the phone just rings and rings
CUT TO
15A
INT-SQUAT HALLWAY-NIGHT
LOUIS sits in the hall with a huge pile of letters in a bin bag next to him, he looks at the phone ringing but doesnít pick up
CUT TO
15B
INT-LONDON RED PHONE BOX-NIGHT
ELLIE speaks into the black plastic mouth-piece
ELLIE
Pick up, pick up the phone. Please pick up Louis, who else could it be, but me LOUIS? Please pick up
CUT TO
14C
INT-SQUAT HALLWAY-NIGHT
LOUIS stands up moves toward the phone but doesnít pick up
CUT TO
14D
INT-LONDON RED PHONE BOX-NIGHT
Ellie sees the night bus going by with the housemates on it and turns into the shadow of the phone box. She listens to the ringing for several minutes then hangs up.
CUT TO
14E
INT-SQUAT HALLWAY-NIGHT
As the phone stops ringing again LOUIS is standing over it just about to pick it up, then looks at his watch (3.30am) then curses
CUT TO
14F
INT-LONDON RED PHONE BOX-NIGHT
Ellie opens the door to the phone box pauses on the threshold, then looks at the bike, then she turns back and dials
CUT TO
14G
INT-SQUAT HALLWAY-NIGHT
LOUIS is just going out through the door with a bag full of letters, just as he is pulling the door shut the phone starts ringing again
CUT TO
16
EXT ĖLONDON STREET-NIGHT
Ellie is sat on the pavement by the bike her head in her hands. She looks up as someone calls ďhey dykeĒ from a car. Again her head drops until she realises that LOUIS is sat beside her.
LOUIS
you rang mílady
ELLIE
Louis, how did you find me?
ELLIE hugs him then goes to kiss him but she turns away upset
ELLIE
You arenít a lesbian.
LOUIS
Iím not opposed to them in principle
ELLIE
would you consider giving it another go if you had me for a girlfriend?
LOUIS looks away
ELLIE
LOUIS?
LOUIS slowly looks back
LOUIS
can I pretend to be the boy one, sometimes?

ELLIE
can I call you Louise sometimes?
LOUIS
only in the bedroom
They kiss
(MUSIC: ďTHEREíS MORE TO LOVEĒ JIMI SOMMERVILLE)
THE END.
FADE OUT







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Comments by other Members



GaiusCoffey at 12:31 on 17 October 2010  Report this post
Hi Maj,
I saw your group suggestion and came to read this to get an idea; I have to go out soon and I read it quite quickly, so apologies that I won't comment in depth.

I enjoyed the read, and Ellie's predicament has a lot of scope for both laugh-out-loud humour and heart-rending drama.

However, it felt a little rushed and superficial - you have such great material here, but you really aren't giving yourself time to enjoy it! For example, the scene where she unwittingly starts a fight between Butches 1&2 could easily make a sketch in itself, but it was over and done with in a few glib and not very satisfying lines.

At the moment, it feels like you have so many small things happening that the significance of them is lost. I think this is one where you need to concentrate on establishing the story, EmmaD's three questions for fiction are worth considering here;
1. What does Ellie want?
2. What gets in her way?
3. What does she do about it?

I can answer those for this piece quite easily, (1. To be accepted. 2. Disqualified on aesthetic grounds. 3. Keeps on trying.) but the answer to question 3. is a little bit disappointing and doesn't really tell us very much about Ellie as a person.

So, while I think this has a good premise and a lot of scope to become something really worth developing, I think you need to take what you have here and dig a little deeper and show us more of what makes Ellie tick.

In practical terms, I think that means deciding what the story actually _is_ here.

I suspect that you could halve the number of scenes but keep the same number of words to end up with a much more involving and compelling storyline that would work as a first episode.

Finally, an opinion; from a story point-of-view, the lesbianism is incidental. By mentioning it so overtly and so frequently, it begins to feel self-conscious and so might actually undermine the effect you are going for. By being more subtle, maybe not even mentioning it directly, but showing the differences in the culture and the prejudices around it so that the viewer/reader has to do a bit of work to understand, you can not only make the effect more powerful but also be more overtly honest with what you are trying to portray.

But, to sum up, I reiterate that the story premise is strong, offering plenty of scope, and I enjoyed the read.

Gaius


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