"Hey there, I'm Derek Venturi and well, this is hopefully going to be a film for Professor Lenox's class. Now, the Prof didn't give a specific theme for the film, just kind of a vague 'a short film about something that inspires you', and then he gave that smile like he knew he was being a pain in the ass- sorry Prof but you know it's true. He said 'make sure to film as much as you can for prosperity-"
A voice cuts over his, an edge to it as they correct him, "Posterity!"
Derek snaps his fingers and quickly points to the voice off camera, "I'm as bad as Marti. Anyways, I guess this is gonna be my introduction. Let's see, it has my name in it, the unprofessionalism expected from me, and a couple swear words thrown in so you definitely know what you're in for," Derek smiles, all teeth "Yep, the perfect intro."
The camera pans to a girl cooking at a stove, wearing a tank top and sweatpants and hair thrown into a ponytail.
"Here, we see the rare Casius Klutzilla in her natural habitat-"
"I swear to god if you crack a 'women belong in the kitchen' joke I will literally shove this hot spoon up your ass," the girl turns towards the camera, glaring at a spot just above the frame, brandishing a cooking spoon.
An impressed whistle from behind the camera, followed by laughter, "why Casey, I'd never," more laughter, "I was going to say, 'looking like a mess'."
The laughter just gets louder as she yells, lunges forward, and the scene cuts off.
Someone's feet walking along the sidewalk, the edge of worn jeans rubbing against sneakers.
"So we're out about town today," the frame swings up and around, focusing on Derek as he continues to walk.
"Thank god for the modern age and vlogging, or else people would be looking at you weirdly about now," a familiar voice pipes up next to him.
Another swing of the frame, this time landing on Casey, her hair in a much neater ponytail this time, sunglasses perched on her nose. She sticks her tongue out before the camera settles back on Derek.
"Should I just start yelling, 'I'm a film major!'"
A laugh from Casey, "just film yourself, you narcissist."
"Can do captain," he clears his throat, flashes a smile, pushing his own sunglasses onto the top of his head before squinting and pushing them back down, "fuck it's sunny out."
"Wasn't there going to be a point to this Derek?"
"Maybe or maybe I just wanted to film us walking down the street on a sunny afternoon," it's his turn to stick out his tongue at her.
"Alright fine- but can we finish this after we grab some froyo?"
Derek makes a disgusted face, finally facing the camera again. "Really? you eat enough yogurt at home as it is!"
"But none of it is frozen," Casey says, as if it's the most obvious thing.
Derek lets out a long suffering groan as he reaches to shut off the camera.
The shot is unsteady as it's set up, panning around a room.
"Alright, so time for a house tour! I mean, this is supposed to be about something that inspires me, so I might as well show the house, maybe I'll get inspiration!"
The camera is trained on his feet for a bit as he walks around, before he stops and rights it, onto his face. He smiles before turning the camera again.
"This is the front door. I know, it's amazing. The best front door. I mean, look at that craftsmanship," his hand runs down the wood, "beautiful, really."
He turns, showing a small hallway, and walks up to a side table sitting near the front door, with a decorative looking bowl sitting on top. “This is supposed to be our key bowl,” Derek rakes a hand through the small puddle of loose change in the bowl, “I think there might be a set of keys in here somewhere.”
The camera moves back to the hallway, and then he's turning into a kitchen, "this is where I try not to cook. I know the fridge like the back of my hand though." The fridge door opens, to show a bunch of containers with labels.
Derek's hand shoots forward to paw through some of them, going straight for a pile with labels all saying 'derek'. "Wait, I won't be able to eat and film, shit."
The door slams shut, and he takes the time to refocus the shot, unintentionally giving a clear view of the front of the fridge.
There's some magnets, mostly ones that restaurants or pizza joints hand you, one with a hockey schedule on it, a handful of poetry magnets clustered in the corner, a colorful drawing stuck on the door with a small little 'Marti' written in the corner, and a white board in the middle of the freezer door, a marker dangling from it with a reminder to take out dinner in loopy handwriting and underneath it a 'you suck' in slanted handwriting and a smiley face with its tongue sticking out.
He moves back into the hallway, quickly turning again, this time showing a navy blue couch with worn edges, what looks like a burn hole in the arm, and stark white and yellow pillows stuffed into the corners. "This is the living room, with the sweet as fuck Tv and my favoritest chair," he pats a dingy looking brown recliner.
Derek points a few other things out, the bookshelf where most of the shelves are taken up by text books or poetry books or novels, but he focuses on the shelf filled with his various comic book collections, the window that leads out to the fire escape, a quick pan of all his video games, a glimpse of a set of fairy lights strung up on one wall, and then he's moving on.
"Eh that's Casey's room, but I am not going in there. She's not home for me to bug so there's no point."
Opening shot of a river, in evening sunlight. The water looks golden as the current ripples, panning backwards to show a wrought iron railing.
It's a silent shot, spending a few minutes on just the river and the few crowds bustling down the streets.
There's something calm about it, a lull, a break from the normal chaos.
Derek falls onto his bed and sighs into the camera, "I'm seconds away from asking myself some weird philosophical question like 'what is inspiration’.”
A sigh, the camera switches hands.
"I don’t know what inspires me. I'm just a senior in college living with his wicked stepsister and otherwise living a pretty boring life.
"I mean, there's inspiration for the next film, inspiration for my next idea. But not like, a life inspiration. I bet that's what you want, huh Prof? Or well, that's what I want to go with because how many people are going to go with the 'in the moment inspiration'? Too many. And Derek Venturi is not a part of the masses."
Another groan, this time with added eyes squeezing shut, "I'm being summoned."
There's a few scenes of Derek hanging out with friends, nothing note worthy, just drinking and fucking around. Inside jokes and being idiots.
He still doesn't find inspiration
"What do you think inspiration is?"
The camera shifts, centers Casey in frame.
She's frowning down at a book, her pink pjs standing out against the navy blue of the couch. Her eyes flick up to Derek, sitting behind the camera, before looking back down at her book.
"I'm not doing some weird interview for your film class. Sorry, Der."
"But I want your opinion, Case."
"Are you admitting you need help?" Her lips quirk up.
"No! I'm just saying," the creak of his chair as he kicks up the footrest, "that, all opinions are valued."
"Even mine?" Finally she's looking away from the book, raising an eyebrow directly at the camera before looking over it, at Derek.
"Yes, especially yours." It sounds like he's gritting it through his teeth, which makes Casey grin.
[Casey McDonald's speech about inspiration has been cut due to time restraints. I'm making a movie that's maybe an hour at most- I can't make a 6 hour long film just to fit your speech in Casey, geez]
Focus on Casey rearranging the bookshelf, muttering to herself.
"Whatcha doin’?" He singsongs.
"It was organized before." The sentence ends with a scoff.
"Well, I'm making it better."
"Of course you are."
The next few minutes are filled with Casey rearranging the bookshelf, occasionally asking Derek’s opinion on what books should go where, which are always met with a vague noise in reply.
"Inspiration, inspiration," he mutters as he focuses the camera on the street, strangers passing by and cars zooming past.
"Quit mumbling to yourself."
"Well, if you helped."
"It's not my assignment."
He groans, the camera shifting to face Casey, hair loose and brushing her shoulders. She has a hat on, and if Derek was narrating this he'd call it a bell hat even though he's positive Casey would glare and correct him.
Her lips twitch into a smile around the straw of her drink and she shrugs, probably at a face Derek is pulling behind the camera.
"I need to find inspiration Casey!"
"Then find a muse," she says like it's obvious, like he's an idiot for not thinking of it before, and maybe he is, "I bet you'd have dozens of girls falling over themselves to be called your muse."
Scenes of Derek filming giggling girls, using the line "I'm trying to find a muse" on everyone of them.
None of them stick.
It's like a weird montage, the editing seeming to focus on the cinematography and scenery more than the girls at some points.
It gives off the vibe that this is a transition piece, with shots of the street zipping by late at night, heel clad feet stumbling and hands reaching out to balance the giggling mess.
Each pair of heels is different.
She's cooking dinner again as he sets the camera on the kitchen table, his finger in frame for a few seconds as he picks at a scratch in the wood.
"Did you find your muse yet?" she asks, back facing the camera, this time in shorts and a baggy t-shirt and her hair in low pigtails.
His finger stops moving, slips out of frame.
"Nah, none of them had that, jen es say-"
"Je ne sais quoi," she supplies without missing a beat.
(sometimes he forgets she's the one that took french)
He hums in agreement, "none of them had that feel."
"What feel?" She looks over her shoulder.
"The feel of inspiration."
With a roll of her eyes she's back to cooking.
He's filming people walk by, again, when she puts down her notebook, at the edge of the camera's vision.
They're sitting in the grass and Casey's supplies are scattered about, flashes of neon highlighters and sticky tabs sticking out in the grass, catching the light and making them seem brighter than they are.
"What do you think inspiration is?"
He turns the camera on her, like how she turned the question on him.
She's looking forward, fingers tapping against the hardcover of her book, the other hand tucking hair behind her ear.
"You. Inspiration. Think." Casey looks towards the camera, smiling. "Oh wait, I forgot. You don't think."
"Hardy har har," the camera shifts in his lap, because Derek can never sit still, "that's the whole problem here Spacey, I don't know what inspires me."
"I didn't ask that, knucklehead," Casey tucks her legs underneath her, moves her body to face him, and he fixes the frame so she's centered, "I asked, what do you think inspiration is? In a general aspect."
"Isn't that like asking 'what's the meaning of the universe'? Or, something like that? Inspiration is just- I dunno it's a feeling. I can't put it into words."
She arches an eyebrow, "and?"
"And what?" His voice is starting to take on a defensive tone.
"And you've always been better with actions than words. So, just, put the feeling of inspiration into action."
"You make it sound easy.”
"You're a director Derek. Action is easy."
There's a section where it's a montage of a party, lights strobing, bass thumping, bodies rippling together and it pans back to show a railing to a second floor of a club.
It’s a more colorful parallel to the river scene (or at least Derek hopes it comes off that way).
There’s multiple closeup shots of people dancing, and after awhile it turns into just footage of Casey dancing, laughing, having fun.
At one point she catches the camera, looks right at it and blows it a kiss, her smile threatening to split her face.
The sound of the camera being handled, some mumbling before it focuses on Derek sitting in his chair, playing a video game.
His hair is getting long again, sticking out from the beanie he's wearing.
"Whatcha playing?" Casey's voice comes from behind the camera and Derek glances at her before smiling.
"Wow Case, you know how to work a camera. I'm proud of you." He laughs and it's safe to assume she stuck her tongue out at him.
"I know how to work your camera! It’s not that hard you doofus. Now, what are you playing?"
"Why are you filming?" His eyes still glued to the television.
"Because, I doubt you have much footage of yourself, and since this is your film I feel like you might want more footage."
"I'm the director, I don't need footage of me, I need footage of my subjects."
"Who are your subjects?" Casey moves closer, the blanket that was over her legs rustling and falling away.
His smile grows, throws another glance at her, "Well, now that's just a secret."
"Still haven't found your muse?"
He just smiles and continues with his game.
She has the camera again, focused on Derek who's sitting in one of the mismatched chairs at the kitchen table, scribbling in a notebook.
"Writing a list for inspiration?"
"No, you're the list maker," he answers without looking up.
"Then what are you writing?"
A pause, "a list for inspiration.”
"I knew it!" The camera jerks as she does a little victory dance.
He finally looks up at her, hand running through his hair, and his mouth cracks into a smile when he sees her dancing, and the camera.
She steadies the camera, centers him in frame like she's seen him do millions of times.
"Then tell me, how's the list going?" Her voice is mock serious- which only manages to make him smile more, if that were possible.
"It's going," he scribbles something down with a flourish and stuffs the paper into his pocket, standing up and making a grab for the camera in one fluid motion.
The scene cuts off with her squealing and him laughing.
"The deadline is nipping at my heels and man I'm starting to sweat," Derek says as he sits with his navy couch as a backdrop.
"I mean, I have to turn this film in soon and I just have random footage and, I haven't found anything concrete that's inspired me yet," a sigh.
The camera wobbles, and his hands shoot up to make sure it doesn’t fall from where it's most likely balancing on his knees.
"I'm going to film just a bit more in the next couple days and then I need to somehow pull an amazing film out of my ass, it'll be a miracle if I manage."
It’s a familiar shot of the kitchen, the stove and counter in frame, camera sitting on the table. Except instead of Casey standing at the stove, Derek’s there, stirring a big pot and humming to himself.
“How’s dinner going, Chef Venturi?” Casey asks, the rustle of papers following her voice.
Derek puts his fingers together and kisses the tips of them, looking like a stereotypical chef. “It’s going fantastically, the aroma of the homemade cheese sauce, the pasta cooked to perfection-”
He abruptly stops when he catches sight of the camera, quickly leaning over, knocking empty boxes of Kraft Dinner out of the shot.
“Homemade, huh?” The camera shifts over as she laughs and repositions it, the corner of a notebook poking into the corner of the shot.
“If I knew you were filming-”
“You what? Would have disposed of the evidence before hand?”
Derek narrows his eyes a bit, wooden spoon pausing in its circular journey around the pot, his other hand coming to rest on his hip.
“Yes,” he finally says, and Casey laughs, and Derek rolls his eyes. “Shut up and come over here, I need to know if it’s too salty for your precious little taste buds.”
The corner of the notebook slides away as the sound of one of the mismatched kitchen chairs scraping against the floor drowns out her laughter. Casey walks over to him, fingers wrapping around his wrist to steady the proffered spoon as she tastes some of the Mac n cheese.
She nods as she finishes chewing, “My taste buds aren’t precious, I just don’t enjoy eating a salt lick as a side dish to my meal.”
He sticks his tongue out at her, and then eats the macaroni that’s left over on the spoon.
Derek doesn't get their fight on camera, but he does switch it on for the aftermath.
Or, more specifically, him sitting up against a closed door.
"On top of scrambling to edit this film together, which I'm still not sure about, I now have to worry about Casey."
There’s some banging on the door behind him, some muffled yelling too.
He just rolls his eyes and bangs a fist against the wood in reply.
"Anyways, we got into a fight- not relevant what it's about because we always fight… but I dunno, this one just felt different. It's like- the emotional equivalent to that phrase 'read between the lines' and fuck it's frustrating," he thumps his head against the door, which gets him a few thumps in reply.
He makes a face at the door
"She’s mad at me and I'm mad at her and it's like- we're mad at things neither of us said. Like, the lines in between the actual argument are what pissed us off- but that's just such a weird thing to feel. This is why I don't do feelings, they don't make sense."
A minute or two of silence, as he alternates between staring at the camera, and over his shoulder at the door, and off into the distance.
There's muffled noises coming from behind the door and he winces every time a voice is heard.
There's a cut, but this time it's not to something different, a new scene.
He’s sitting in the same spot, except now he sighs, his head tipping back a bit.
"So, I'm an idiot," he says loudly, and the noises behind the door stop.
"I'm going to pretend you said something snarky in reply, something like 'you're just now admitting it?' or something."
"I'm sorry- for everything. I mean, I know I'm pretty fucking clever and quick sometimes, but other times I can be pretty slow. You just laughed, I heard it in my head because that's something you'd laugh at and this fucking silence from you is frying my nerves."
A deep breath.
"But yeah, I'm sorry, and you know I don't do apologies. But I am. Because it took me long enough to realize. You woulda thought I'd notice earlier but nah, that wouldn't have made for a good story, right."
Another pause, accompanied by some shuffling behind the door.
"It took me this long to figure out what fucking inspiration is and I really feel like an idiot. I feel dumb. Especially when half of my footage is of you. Actually, scratch that, more than half. Probably like 75%."
"I'm also sorry about the shit I said, that I will not repeat because whether this makes it to the editing floor or not I doubt you'd want that shit on tape. Suffice to say I was out of line, and I just used a pretty big word so I’d like to think you’re proud of me for that.
“I might like to annoy you, mess with you, make you angry- but hurt you? I hate myself for hurting you so I can only imagine what you think of me. I don't like making you cry- contrary to popular belief."
He gently raps his knuckles on the door behind him, eyes still staring at a spot between his knees.
"I managed to find my inspiration, Case. My inspiration for life."
Before he gets the chance to say anything else, the door flies open, causing Derek to fumble back in surprise, and then Casey is there, in frame, cupping his face and kissing him.
"You're a liar, Casey McDonald," he says as he pulls away, the camera somehow miraculously still trained on them, even if only the bottom half of Casey's face is in frame.
"What? Why?" Her voice wobbles, like she's been crying.
"You said I'm better with actions than I am words," his smile is all teeth, "I think I proved you wrong.”
She scowls and pinches his neck and he just laughs and kisses her.
He gets a 100 on his film assignment, titled In Plain Sight (courtesy of Casey) and even gets a copy to keep.
He makes Casey watch it.
(She personally gives it a 92 and makes an extensive list of the things she found wrong with it,
Derek stuffs the list into the space between the wall and the table near the front door.)