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(Har)Bringers of Freedom

Written by

Luca Nicolaescu


ANDREW(14) is putting his backpack together. He’s a slim boy,
wearing unusually clean glasses and a perfectly ironed school
uniform. There’s a note on the fridge saying “ Didn’t have
time to make your lunch box today. Fresh bread in the
cupboard. I’ll try to be home by midnight. Love you, Mom”. He
takes the note, folds it neatly and puts it in his pocket. He
eats his breakfast cereal. The television set is turned on
FOX NEWS. The anchor is reading a list of all the Iraqi
Resistance fighters who had been killed this month by the
American military. He washes the dishes after, careful not to
stain his uniform then takes his back pack and goes out the
front door.


The teacher writes math equations on the white board. Andrew
sits in the first row, writing every word down. However, the
rest of the class doesn’t seem to pay attention. Sitting in
the last row, MATTHEW (16), the class bully throws a ball of
crumpled up paper that hits Andrew on the top of his head. As
Andrew looks back he see the bully and his friends giggling
amongst themselves. He sighs and resumes scribbling. As soon
as the school bell rings, all students hastily leave their
desks, hurrying to leave the classroom as fast as possible.
Andrew stays behind to neatly pack up his books.


During lunch break the hallways come to life, erupting with
children. In groups of twos and three ,they walk towards the
school cafeteria. The combined sounds of all the voices,
children screaming, laughing, talking to one another gives
the space a jungle atmosphere. Andrew walks alone.At the
other end of the corridor Matthew scouts the hallway with his
eyes. He cups his hands around his mouth and yells
Last one to the cafeteria is a sand
rat !!!
Like a switch had been turned on, all the boys rush to the
cafeteria, pushing and pulling one another, struggling to get
to the door quicker. Andrew ignores this as he keeps walking
at the same pace. As Matthew runs past him, he gets shoved ,
hitting the wall slightly. Andrew picks up his backpack,
glares at Matthew and resumes walking towards the cafeteria.


Andrew sits near the end of a table, munching on his meal.
The noise coming from Matthews’s table draws everybody’s
attention. The boys, all sitting around Matthew seem in
trance as they are chanting “WAR MODE ”.Matthew, clearly
enjoying the attention, gesticulates a shotgun loudly mimics
the movement of a soldier , rapidly crouching, aiming,
shooting at invisible assailants. Andrew is too intrigued by
what he is seeing to realize JEREMY (14) is about to sit
down next to him.
Long time no see.
He can be such an ass sometimes,
but he’s a good guy. He don’t mean
half the things he does.
(under his breath)
Well he certainly got me fooled.
I know, I know. But I've known him
since primary and trust me, his
life wasn’t a walk in the park. Go
figure, a 16 year old in 8th grade.
(a bit angrier)
What sort of excuse is that
supposed to be?
And you think getting angry will
help you?
Why are you here exactly? Am I cool
enough for you to hang out with me
Look I just came here to give you
this. I thought maybe we’d play
together again, like last summer.
Jeremy slides a tiny game CD. Andrew seems reluctant but in
the end takes it anyway.

Thanks, but I don’t play these
games anymore. They give me
( as he leaves)
It could help you blow
off a little steam.


Andrew sits on a bench waiting. Next to him, on each side
there are huge commercial screens spelling “Bringers of
Freedom” in crimson letters. A robot covered in blood, is
pointing it’s finger, in a clear Uncle Sam reference. The
backdrop is the smoking rubble of a mosque.


Andrew is sitting in his bed reading a book. He puts it down,
stands up off his bed and turns on his computer. He dusts a
box off his shelf, and takes out a Virtual Reality Helmet. He
stick the small CD in, hooks the set up and starts playing
The game itself is a quite basic first person shooter game.
The player is in control of a robot, equipped with heavy
weaponry, sent in the fictional land of “Akka Bahar” ,
location modeled after the topography of Iraq. Each robot has
to eliminate the target to complete the mission and to do so
has various type of weapons at his disposal. After a charging
time, the player can trigger the WARMODE superpower which
launches a barrage of bullets and shrapnel that instantly
kill anyone within close range of the robot as an ultimate
move to use against difficult targets.
A window pops up announcing the fact that he has 1 friend. He
uses the chat to message “xX JMan Xx*.
Hey. I decided to give it a try
after all”.
A request to join his team comes up on screen. Andrew accepts
and begins playing. From the very beginning he can’t keep up
with the other players. He misses targets constantly, shoots
his team mates by mistake. He gets increasingly more
frustrated but manages to get to the end of the first level.
Another message pops up

Tears run down his cheeks, behind the helmet as he reads “You
have 0 friends” on screen.
Andrew is sitting alone again. He sees Jeremy sitting at a
nearby table along with two other boys. He looks at him for a
few seconds, then starts walking towards their table.
What the hell was that about? I
thought you wanted me to play
Jeremy ignores him the first time so Andrew taps him on the
Hey I'm talking to you.
Jeremy turns to him, quickly.
I can’t play with you anymore.
What? What’s going on?
We lost our rank because of you? Do
you know how hard that is to get
So you block me instead?
It wasn’t my decision. They made me
do it. Matthew said he’d ban me if
we ever played again. I had no say
in it.
What a friend you are.
You almost cost us the upgrade. You
almost cost me the upgrade. Only a
handful of users get to experience
the 4k HD skin pack. Do you even
know what that means?

(walking away)
No and I don’t care.


Andrew comes into his bedroom. He throws his backpack on the
floor. He starts changing into his home attire.
A noob. It was the first I time I
played this shitty game. So he
blocks me?
His computer bleeps.
(imitating Jeremy)
Ah they made me. I lost the
freakin’ upgrade.
Andrew pulls a chair up in front of the computer and gets behind
the keyboard. He puts on his helmet.
I’ll show them.
Andrew writes notes in class as usual


Andrew eats his home brought meal alone. He looks up to see
the school janitor trying to erase “DESERT MONKEYS OUT!”


Andrew is sitting with his headset on playing as daylight
fades into night.
Andrew takes notes but is visibly more tired, yawns


Andrew is eating his food but his eating keeps getting
interrupted by the gameplay videos he watches on his phone.
The gunshots sounds coming from his headphones are constant.
Andrew hits his screen whilst playing. He also yells and
swears constantly
Andrew is sleeping on his desk, with a pen in his left hand,
resting his head on the open notebook. Matthew is drawing a
caricature of Mohammed which he proudly presents to the
students at the back of the class.
Andrew doesn’t touch his food anymore but instead he’s
drawing a gun,. Every once in a while he glances at Matthew’s
table. He is getting his friend to throw their food at a
Muslim student
End of montage


A soldier is torn to pieces, blown back by a shotgun shot.
Once he is killed, the body slowly fades away The other are
retreat. A robot moves in, turning his head slowly, looking
for something.
You’re not getting away.
A beep is heard once the target is located. The robot begins
sprinting north. He climbs on top of a low ceiling house and
the proceeds to jump from roof to roof. The beeping increases
, as the target gets closer. But the red dot shows the target
getting away. Andrew gets on top of a bigger roof and zooms
in the distance. He see a desert car driving at full speed
towards the desert. He fires a rocket, leaving a blazing
trail of fire.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Come on. Come on.
As the missile hits the target, the screen goes white, and an
update request comes up with the words: “You have been

No way. No fucking way. I did it.
Andrew takes of his headset and hears the front door opening.
He triggers the update, then goes downstairs to say hello to
his mom. The headset visor reads: “Downloading Geographical
Maps 20%” “Testing Binaural Sedative Soundwaves 50%”
“Acquiring List of Targets 90%” “Unit Ready for Battle 100%”


Andrew comes in the room looking pale with dark circles under
his eyes. His hair is unkempt. His school uniform is stained.
He takes a long look at the fridge and notices the piled up
notes from Mom. He opens the fridge door and has a drink of
milk from the carton. He begins to make himself a sandwich
and turns on the TV just to keep his eye busy while eating.
The news channel is on, showing the picture of Rasool ur
Ra'ahmaha, one of the leaders of the Iraqi Resistance Army.
The news anchor, states the crimes against American troops
that he is suspected of. Andrew pays attention for a few
minutes, then switches to Comedy Central before he leaves for


Andrew scribbles something on his notebook, so focused he
doesn’t even notice when Matthew throws a piece of paper
towards his head. Matthew does it one more times in hope of
eliciting a reaction. He takes a second to look at his
drawing before starting again while still ignoring the bully.
The drawings are of Hijab wearing corpses. When the school
bell rings and all the other students start walking towards
the cafeteria, except for the two boys. As Andrew is putting
his stuff away, Matthew comes to his desk and starts tapping
on it.
Well if it isn’t Mr. Freedom
himself. I heard you’ve been
playing quite a bit.
Andrew stands up and tries to leave but Matthew stands right
in front of him.
(shoving him)
That should have been me, you thick
fuck. I should have had the
upgrade. I can kill twice the
savages in half your time.
Stay away from me.
Or what? Is your dad gonna beat me
up orphan boy?
As Matthew is laughing, Andrew takes a deep breath, leans his
left hand back, closes his fist then hits Matthew as hard as
he can in the chin. Matthew falls down, almost unconscious
and Andrew gets on top of him, his face transformed by rage.
He keeps hitting Matthew. As blood starts gushing from the
bully’s nose, Andrew realizes what he’s done, he grabs his
backpack, rushes out the door, letting Matthew sigh and moan
on the floor.


I’m sorry mom. Yes, suspended. For
a week. No, they wouldn’t listen to
me. When are you getting home? Oh.
You’re busy, I understand. I’ll be
in bed by then. Ok, we’ll talk when
you can.
Andrew puts the phone down and spins in his desk chair.
He takes the headset, holds it in his grazed and bloodied
hands. Then turns it on.
The robot is sitting outside of a house with the signal
pointing towards a back room. A scan shows the vitals of 5
people in the house, all targets.
This is going to be a breeze.
Andrew busts the door open, killing two soldiers, with
shotgun shells. Their bodies lay motionless, over a growing
pool of blood. He takes precautions searching the hideout
before proceeding to the next room. On the walls, there are
various family photos
In the living room there is a praying matt on the floor, next
to a baby crib. He brushes them off the floor to check for
any hidden explosives.

He steps in front of the reinforced steel door leading to the

other room. Using a soldering iron, Andrew melts the door.
Looking for his target Andrew steps in and to his surprise he
finds a man , his wife and two children cowering on the
floor, in the corner of the room.
He gets closer to them as they become visibly more scared.
The man throws himself at the robots legs. Andrew is confused
at the sight. The man begins to plead.
Please let us go. Everything I did
was for my country and my family. I
know why you came.
Andrew tries to ignore the words the man says and tries to
take aim.
No! Please. Take me. My family has
done nothing wrong. It’s me you
want. Just please don’t harm them.
Andrew shines a flash light on him. He recognizes the man’s
face from the news. The shock makes his jaw drop. He tries to
take a step back with the robot but by mistake he presses the
WAR MODE key. The sequence he watched hundreds of times
before begins once more. Andrew is paralyzed by shock, his
face transfigured into a grimace of astonishment and horror,
and can only watch as his robot prepares to obliterates the
family. The cries of the family are too much for him to bear
so he violently takes the headset off and slams it on the
desk, slightly cracking it yet he can still hear them through
the speakers .After the blast, the only sound left is the
level up notification and then silence. Andrew can’t move. He
stares at the helmet unable to comprehend what just happened.
He, decides to uninstall the game. After pulling out all the
cables connecting the headset, he throws them all in the


He rushes downstairs to open the TV. He flicks through the
channels, searching for any news channel. When finally finds
it, the remote control drops from his hands onto the floor.
On the news report there is a picture of the man and his wife
he had killed in the game the night before. The TV anchor

Breaking news! Last night, violent
extremist Rasool Ur Ra’ahama killed
yesterday in a covert operation. He
was accused of housing resistance
fighters, destruction of American
property and arson.
The kill is confirmed by the CIA
who have produced photographic
evidence of the body. Find out more
tonight on FOX NEWS when we show
you the last moments of this
terrorist’s life. Live.
Through this essay I will reflectively analysing the creative process behind developing my
script in this particular direction, the factors that shaped its structure. I will also be
discussing how tried to use the science fiction genre intertwined with drama as a backdrop
to comment on how susceptible children are to popular culture propaganda not overlooking
the rising trend of toxic islamophobia in Western Countries, especially in post 9/11 USA.
The first step towards writing a script that adheres to a particular genre is to analyse the
historical evolution of the genre from the it’s inception as only after clearly defining it can
we begin applying it to our own ideas. In its most rudimentary form, a science fiction story
deals with, as described by essayist Kingsley Amis, “a situation that could not arise in the
world we know, but which is hypothesised on the basis of some innovation in science or
technology … whether human or extra-terrestrial in origin. (1960/1963, 14)”. With the key
word of technology in mind, a clear difference between Sci Fi and other film genres is
obvious. The main characteristics of the genre are not based on what the subject is or how it
is presented but rather by where the story is set and what props are used. The ambiguous
nature of the definition gives a wide range of different approaches of the genre. Hard
science fiction, soft science fiction, both aim to satisfy human curiosity as well as offer a
spectacle of what the future may be like. “A Trip to the Moon “(1902) by George Melies,
“Metropolis” (1927) By Fritz Lang, both indisputable classics of the genre, are great
examples of completely different approaches. If Melie’s film is mostly based on presenting
the future through spectacle and camera artifice, Lang uses the film to discuss the more
complex topic, anxieties present in the 1920’s such as the gap between classes created by
rapid industrialization. But what both movies manage to accomplish through sheer
creativity alone, they lack in technological means.
All genres have been shaped by the advancement of technologies, but none of them have
been so closely tied like the science fiction genre. Computer generated images have been
around since the early 1980’s but only in the 21st century has it give artist total freedom
over what is put on screen. Films like” Matrix” (1997),” Avatar” (2009) or even “Blade
Runner 2049” (2017) wouldn’t have been able to exist without it. But I feel like the use of
CGI in contemporary science fiction films is a two-sided coin. On one hand the artist gets to
fully express his vision, on the other hand sometimes it leaves little room for any character
development, mere spectacle replacing the inherent meaning of the script. “Science fiction
writing has traditionally dealt with ideas; often subordinating characterisation (or creating
what are commonly called ‘flat’ characterisations) to a more overarching premise. (…) they
are often understood as generic archetypes or one-dimensional characters representing
particular views, beliefs or principles.” (2007, 216). This along two more reasons, was what
motivated my decision to try and reduce the science fiction elements of the story, rather
build them upon the structure of a drama. Firstly, I felt that by weaving science fiction
elements into a drama as opposed to centring the story around it, would get the audience
to relate to the characters, the topic and the particular time in which is set in due to the
contemporary subject of choice.
Secondly, in most science fiction films, there is a suspension of belief that that allows
filmmakers to explore more general philosophical concerns such as the morality behind
endowing robots with sentience only to enslave them in Blade Runner or the ethical
treatment of animals in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Whilst this distance from the real
world helps the audience understand the “bigger picture” I feel like it also makes the chosen
topic lose its impact on the audience due to the fact that the they first need to get
accustomed to the whole new order of things before grasping it’s second meaning. By
presenting the life of one character in detail and the downward spiral he finds himself on
because of technology and by setting the story in the near future I tried to attract attention
to the flaws of today’s society. A person doesn’t need to travel to space to see how bleak
the future is, you merely have to open any news channel.

This is where I felt that the drama genre would help me create a better portrait of the many
subtle ways in which the youth can be indoctrinated. As opposed to science fiction, “dramas
often illuminate characters that must carry out everyday tasks, exist in everyday family
situations, work in everyday jobs and deal with other everyday situations” (2014,77). It is
through the daily mundane activities of Andrew that I tried to present how even people the
best people, can be corrupted through if enough propaganda is pushed upon them. By
repeating the scenes in a cycle, and showing the changes in his behaviour as well as the
behaviour of his middle school peers, I tried to explore the gradual intensification of anti-
Muslim behaviour and overall violence the children exhibit. From one of the better
students, Andrew finds himself on a downward spiral, getting into a fight and even killing a
human, unwittingly but still murder nonetheless, by the end of the film. The conclusion of a
drama, in contrast to it’s ancient Greek ancestor, the tragedy, is that the character gets to
live through his mistakes or wrongdoings, having acquired a valuable yet painful life
experience that prevent him from making variations of the same mistake. In this case,
Andrew will have to live with what he has seen, but the audience will have to think further
as to what he may have done better himself.

An additional characteristic of the all-encompassing genre that is drama which is crucial to

mention when discussing the script is character relatability. When writing drama, one strives
to “to create settings, events, situations that are relatable and plausible to the audience.
The protagonist in the drama is an everyman or an everywoman. He or she has no
extraordinary powers or talents; the everyman protagonist should be relatable or feel
“ordinary” to the audience. The film viewer’s sense of identification is important” (2014, 77)
This is why most of the scenes unfold in familiar places a middle-schooler would visit, made
the most sense in the given situation. It is one of the rites of passage every person goes
through, and most times it’s not the most pleasant experience. In my experience, this was
not the case, but I used it, along with many other tales from people, to try and create a
realistic character, one whose life would present certain hardships that would push him to
seek refuge and escapism in video games. It’s this recipe of parental neglect, peer pressure
and lack of social interaction that usually leads to more extreme cases of aggression in real
life. Lastly, another important point to mention both science fiction and drama, are genres
that only exist when combined with another genre, as opposed to standalone genres such
as musicals or westerns so I felt that the combination would be successful, using both
genres to complement one another.

Initially, I struggled to find the theme for the screenplay, due to my personal lack of
knowledge concerning modern day classic genre films. The initial idea came whilst looking at
the marketing campaign of the Wolfenstein game that depicted a Nazi soldier being
punched. So, I thought to myself what if the tables were to turn, and there would be a video
game killing refuges on the walls of Cities. After struggling with at least 10 different ideas, I
finally settled on this. The amongst the cinematic inspirations for this film were Black Mirror,
the TV series and” Homeland Iraq Year Zero” (2015) the documentary that depicts the
consequences of the American Iraq Invasion in a very personal manner. The director
attentively documents his extended family’s day to day activities, before and after the
invasion. After watching it, I felt incredibly moved and this let me to research how the
general public in America perceived the Iraq War. I found out that in spite of the factual
information that 90% of the Muslim population adheres to the peaceful teaching of Islam,
except for a few extremist factions, the general public tends to view religious extremism,
Islam and race as a monolith. The completely biased way in which the western media
covered the American War on Terror in the Middle East certainly didn’t help. As Chaudhuri
Shahin states in his book “In Western news media, 9/11 victims are duly mourned, while
foreign casualties of the ‘War on Terror’ are usually hidden from view or masked under the
dehumanising imagery and nomenclature of ‘terrorists” (2014, 27). And even when they are
mentioned, the sheer number of civilian deaths prevents, prevents the public from viewing
them as anything else rather than statistics. This can also be seen in modern American
movies such as “Zero Dark Thirty” (2012), “Patriots Day (2016)” and the more controversial
“American Sniper” (2015). Once dehumanized, vilification through popular culture becomes
very easy to do. Any violence is justified in films, as long as it is the hero who does it either
vindictively or to save lives. American troops are usually portrayed as the saviours of
Muslims countries, bringing democracy and the “right” system of values to the exclusively
violent savages that live there. This not only desensitizes the audience to onscreen violence,
helps perpetuate unhealthy stereotypes but also promotes the wrong idea that the ends
always justify the means when fighting the “enemy”. These are the procursive steps towards
the general anti-Muslim attitude so widespread in today’s society. Through the script I tried
to explore what would happen if this gap between reality and prejudiced image pushed on
by the media were to be eliminated and an unsuspecting character would be put in the role
of the actual executioner. When facing the factual reality of war, how would this character
react to it and more importantly, is the shock enough to break the preconstructed image he
adopted as his view. Another, more subtle aim of the script was to inverse this accepted
cinematographic stereotype, by showing the American children slowly turn into savages
themselves. Looking back, I feel that I should have spent more time on making the character
of Abdul, more clearly redeemable in the eyes of the audience, rather than focusing on this
theme to make the viewers be more emphatic towards his character.
Structure wise, since only having written a handful of scripts as of yet, I turned to Syd Field’s
book, “The Foundations of Screenwriting” in order to understand the basics of constructing
a script and apply it to my short story. Whilst writing I took into account his theorized 3 act,
2 plot-points script formats. I settled on using Andrew being offered the game and then
winning the upgrade as the two plot points of the story because both of them represent
turning points in studying his behavioural changes. Following this plan, writing the narrative
side of the script was easy, but keeping it contained within 10 pages was clearly a more
difficult task. When I decided to base the story on character development and social
commentary I should have taken into account the allowed number of pages. This in turn led
me to try and reveal information through very small lines of dialogue for example, the death
of Andrews father or Matthews failing his classes two years in a row. This felt like the only
way present exposition, without the aid of voice over or long dialogue. On the other hand, it
may very well be that the audience would miss these points because they only got
mentioned once, through the whole story. This is a consequence of trying to create a story
too large for a short film.

Concerning feedback, I didn’t have a clear idea ready, in time for the pitching sessions, so I
had to get feedback through an alternative method such as turning to my peers, in my own
time. The feedback I received was positive for the most part. The biggest problem for most
was the length of descriptions, giving the script more of a prose tone to it. In hindsight, I
realized a lot of the elements that were put in the description were mostly for me to
understand the story rather than pushing the story forwards. This allowed me to quickly cut
most of the unnecessary parts after completing the story. Another problem as one of my
colleagues pointed out was that there was a linguistic mix-up between words of British and
American origin that caused confusion. If to begin with, I was not sure whether to choose a
fictional country or America as the location of the script. After giving it, some thought I felt
that no matter how realistically I would try to construct my characters, making the location
fictional would undermine what I was trying to accomplish. I also believed that the current
state of things in the America of today added to the realism of the script so I removed any
inconsistencies from the dialogue.

Overall, I am not sure that I was fully able to achieve my intentions, concerning what I tried
to do with the script, and how the final draft looks. Whilst I felt that Andrew’s character was
the most realistically built one, all the other characters seem to have been created to push
the story forward towards it’s climax. Initially, the first part I wrote was the ending, and the
plot was supposed to be about finding out how this happened, but I quickly realised the idea
just was not feasible. I decided to reuse the scene as the ending, and left myself carried
away by the story. This is why all other characters, in reality just add complexity and
exposition to Andrew’s story. What I would do differently is to allow all characters to grow
organically, as standalone people, in relationship to the main character.
In conclusion, the experience of having written a short script, whilst trying to adapt it to a
certain genre, has been quite beneficial overall in spite of how much I struggled to get to a
first draft. Not only have I learned more about the chosen genre, but more importantly I had
the opportunity to actively learn from my mistakes, which in the future, will lead me to
improving on my scriptwriting skills to a level closer to industry standards.
Bibliography / Reference List
Kingsley, A., 1960-1963. New Maps of Hell. London: Penguin Books.
Cornea, C., 2007. Science Fiction Cinema: Between Fantasy and Reality. Edinburgh:
Edinburgh University Press.
Selbo, J., 2014. Film Genre for the Screenwriter. USA: Taylor and Francis.
Chaudhuri, S., 2014. Cinema of the Dark Side: Atrocity and the Ethics of Film Spectatorship.
Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Dancyger, K., Rush, J., Alternative Screenwriting. UK: Focal Press.
Chapman, J.C., Nicholas J., 2013. Projecting Tomorrow: Science Fiction and Popular Cinema.
London: I.B Tauris Publishers.
Field, S. , 2005. Screenplay : The Foundations of Scriptwriting. New York: Bantam Dell.