by Anikó J. Bartos & Alan C. Baird [return
Anikó J. Bartos & Alan C. Baird
© Anikó J. Bartos &
Alan C. Baird
e: HotTip [at] Gmail.com
. . .
EXT. FAIRGROUNDS - DAY
Huge signs proclaim "INDIO DATE FESTIVAL" and "OSTRICH DERBY THIS
AFTERNOON." CROWDS of people stream under the archway entrance
to the grounds. A carnival atmosphere prevails: cotton candy,
stuffed animals, etc.
EXT. OSTRICH CORRAL - CONTINUOUS
A CLOSE-UP of a veritable forest of long necks, bobbing around
nervously, slowly PULLS BACK to reveal the competitors in the
upcoming spectacle. "Chariots of Fire"- or "Ben-Hur"-type MUSIC
swells in the background, as the jittery ostriches strut around
EXT. FAIRGROUNDS BLEACHERS - CONTINUOUS
It's a small set of bleachers, but it's filling up fast - MIGRANT
WORKERS, FARMERS and LOCAL TOWNSPEOPLE crowd in to root for their
favorite bird. VENDORS walk through the crowd, selling popcorn,
sodas and fake ostrich feathers. JAKE and HARRY sit up in a
corner; Harry's as excited as a kid.
Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to welcome you to the
Indio Date Festival Ostrich Derby!
The crowd CHEERS.
Just to briefly acquaint you with the ancient sport of
ostrich racing, these birds are hitched to a chariot,
much like you would a horse, but that's where the
ANGLE ON FAIRGROUNDS TRACK
On the quarter-mile oval dirt course, three sets of
ostrich-chariot conveyances are being led to the starting line,
at the beginning of the near straightaway. The ostriches are
skittish, and their HANDLERS have a hard time keeping them on the
Ostriches do have wings, but they cannot fly more than
a few feet. Although it looks like they're trying to
prove me wrong today...
The crowd LAUGHS and a few people point at a particularly
Through trial and error, its been found that ostriches
will not respond to a bit, like a horse. So, in order
to steer an ostrich chariot, you have to understand
that an ostrich will shy away from an area he can't
see. (pause) Our chariot drivers have brought the
highly specialized equipment they need in order to
block the vision of their steeds on either side of
Three COWBOY-types walk on the track, carrying ordinary household
brooms. As the crowd reacts with LAUGHTER, the cowboys smile and
brandish the brooms in the air, like conquering heroes. They
mount their chariots, and the handlers let go - the race is on!
It soon becomes apparent that steering an ostrich is an inexact
science at best - one chariot gets turned around, and starts
heading off the track, despite the best efforts of the driver,
with his broom, and the handler, who simultaneously tries to grab
the bird's neck, and stay out of the way of his powerful feet.
The other two birds head for the end of the straightaway, with
minor detours - one wants to fly into the crowd, only being
restrained by the weight of the chariot he drags. The people in
his intended path, despite two protective railings, decide that a
seat further back in the bleachers might be a wise idea.
The third bird runs, more or less in a straight line, directly
toward a ten-foot wall at the end of the straightaway - he pays
no attention to the broom blocking his vision on the right side
of his head. Rather than starting a left turn to stay on the
oval track, the hapless ostrich runs smack into the wall, and
unsuccessfully attempts to scale it. A crowd of handlers
converge on the would-be escapee; it's all in a day's work for
The crowd, after a stunned silence at the apparent randomness of
it all, TITTERS nervously, then gets into the spirit of the
The next round of competition involves clowns and funny hats on
the ostriches, with pretty much the same inconclusive race
Over "Keystone Kops"-type MUSIC in the background, a MONTAGE of
CAMERA SHOTS captures the zany bedlam of ostriches, chariots,
brooms, thrills, spills, and a cowboy riding bareback on an
ostrich headed straight for a wall.
ANGLE ON HARRY AND JAKE
Jake is laughing, and Harry's having the time of his life - until
he spots a face in the crowd.
The MAN Harry sees is in profile; he does not look toward Harry.
We get a fleeting impression of a swarthy face, with bushy black
eyebrows and a black handlebar mustache, wearing a dark homburg.
ANGLE ON HARRY AND JAKE
Harry climbs over the back railing of the bleachers, and motions
for Jake to follow him, never taking his eyes off the man. The
two clamber down through the girders to the fairgrounds below,
and hustle off through the crowd.
. . .
Anikó J. Bartos & Alan C. Baird · return to