Becoming A Tree – Domenic Cuda

                                               FADE IN:

TITLE:”Becoming a Tree”

  INT. CLASSROOM, COMMUNITY COLLEGE. NIGHT.      1

A group of 10-15 men sit in a classroom making shy, small talk with one another. Most of these men either have the appearance of an average Joe or a stereotypical dork. They all seem to be nervous or unsure about what they are expecting within the next hour. Two friends, Liam [24] and Sam [25] sit at the back quietly talking to one another.

LIAM

Hey. Um, thanks for coming with me to this.

SAM

Don’t worry ’bout it. I had nothing to do tonight anyways. So what
is this? Some kind of class.

LIAM

Even better, just watch.

While the small talk continues, another man wearing ostentatious clothing – Ed Hardy T-shirt,leather vest, tilted fedora – walks in with his chest stuck out; body language representing that he is the Alpha male of the room. The chit-chat stops as each of the men stare him. He takes out a pen and writes on the white board ‘BECOMING A TREE 2 BECOME A MAN — 4DANNY ‘NOVAX’ WILLIS’. He turns
to the class.

NOVAX

Pretty interesting, am I right?

Once again silence amongst the classroom of men, a few of them nodding their heads.

SAM

[Quietly]

Who the hell is that?

LIAM

[Quietly]

I think that’s the guy. The one that teaches this class.

SAM

[Quietly]

Why does he look like Criss Angel?

NOVAX

Glad to see that this many people came out here. Not the biggest class but it’s pretty impressive. First off, let me introduce myself. My name is Danny Willis or as most people like to call me, ’Novax’. Seeing as we’re all strangers at the moment you may call me that: Mr Novax or Professor Novax and nothing else. However, Like any good teacher-student relationship, as time progresses you may call me whatever you want. Now before I begin getting into what you guys came here for, let me ask you all one simple question. Why the fuck are you here?

The class member looks confused. Is this a test? Is it an Ice breaker? Is he baiting us?

NOVAX

Huh? Come on you guys, why are you here? Why did you guys leave
your houses or apartments on a Tuesday night to come to this shitty little classroom
and hear someone like me speak?

The class is still reluctant to speak, scared of Novax’s reaction. One shy young man puts up his hand. Novax snaps his fingers and points at him.

NOVAX

Yes, you!

YOUNG MAN #1

[Quietly]

Um. To get confident with women.

NOVAX

[Taunting]

What was that? It’s a big class sweetheart, you have to speak up.

YOUNG MAN #1

To get confident with women.

NOVAX

[Shouting]

Exactly! To get confident with women. Dames. Birds! You men are here because you feel that there is something missing in your life; something that seems so far out of your reach. But what you don’t know, is that it’s always been right in front of you, only none of you have the balls to go out and take it.

The classroom is taken back with Novax. He has attitude and aggression that puts each of them out of their comfort zone.

SAM

Dude this guy is pretty intense.

LIAM

I know righ? Dedication to the craft.

SAM

[Confused and annoyed]

The craft of wha-

NOVAX

[Speaking loudly]

Now, I am sure you have all seen this flyer, am I right?

Novax holds up a flyer which reads in big block letters ‘HAVING TROUBLE WITH WOMEN? WANT TO KNOW HOW TO SEDUCE THE LADY OF YOUR DREAMS? COME TO A FREE INTRODUCTORY CLASS AND LEARN HOW TO GO FROM DUD 2 STUD’, accompanied by an address and shots of various bikini models.

CLASSROOM

[In unison]

Yeah.

Novax slowly starts to walk around the classroom, asserting his dominance. Confidently looking in the eyes of each young man as he passes by.

NOVAX

And each one of you saw this as a sign that now – Right now, is the time to change your life. By looking around the room, I can tell that you guys need it now . . . [sniff] more than ever.

The classroom still sit in silence, including Liam. Sam has a look of insult on his face. While most people in class seem to find this interesting, they are unsure whether or not Novax is just pulling strings and messing around, or actually insulting them.

NOVAX [CONT'D]

What, you think I’m making fun of you? You think I’m gonna make fun of a bunch of people I’ve never met before? See what you don’t know is that I used to be just like you: Plain button up shirts, casual jeans, tennis shoes. Hell I could have been a fucking extra in Revenge of the Nerds.

Novax walks back to the front of the class, Sam puts his hand up.

SAM

Umm….excuse me? ‘You were one of us’? What does that even mea-

Novax turns to the man and interrupts him. He then turns to class and addresses them as if he is Martin Luther King Jr on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

NOVAX

Sure. You see us men. We were all born the same. Each of us started off as dirt with an opportunity to grow up and be something great. But some men, like most of you here today get buried under tonnes and tonnes of horse shit. Whether it be 8th grade girls refusing to hook up with you at the school dance, jocks & bullies making you feel insecure or people just generally not respecting you, your life is defined by being buried in horse shit. And we all know what happens to dirt under horse shit. It becomes grass.

YOUNG MAN #2

Umm doesn’t it need water to become gra-

NOVAX slams his hand on the table.

NOVAX

It becomes grass! You know who likes grass; who finds it
interesting? Fucking no one. And right now, guess what. You’re all grass. You’re all boring, you’re all uninteresting and you all have no use or purpose. Right now you’re either going to stay in the background growing longer or you’ll eventually die, and no woman with an ounce of confidence is going to be willing to fuck you. You’re grass. Just like I was.

NOVAX [CONT'D]

But you see the difference between you and me, is that I became aware of the fact that I was grass. So I went out and bought a shovel. I dug it up and ripped it all out, horse shit included. You know what happened next?

The classroom of young men now all lean in to hear Novax as he starts to speak very quietly, building up for dramatic effect and motivation. Liam and Sam both look at each other, trying to figure out what is going on; Sam mouthing the words “What The Fuck?”

NOVAX

I discovered a seed. And I planted it in the dirt. Over time I took care of that seed. I watered and nurtured it, watered and nurtured it, watered and nurtured it. After weeks and months, taking care of this seed over and over again, do you know what happened?

As the classroom waits in anticipation, Novax slaps his hands together, scaring his audience.

NOVAX

I became a fucking tree! When I walk into a room, people notice who the fuck I am! When I see a pretty little thing at the club with her friends, I don’t sip on my $3 beer and hope she comes over and talks to me. I seize the opportunity, look my fears in the eye and choke it to death!

As he is pantomiming choking someone, the classroom stays quiet, unsure how to feel. Should they be scared, or is this guy a joke?

NOVAX

Oh. You don’t believe me? Then do you believe in this?

Novax turns on a projector which shows his high school. It’s himself covered in acne, wearing braces and a shirt that says “Spock 4 President”. The classroom looks amused.

NOVAX

See that guy? That was me back when I didn’t care. I couldn’t care
about how I looked or how people perceived me. When people would point to me and call me nerd or geek or fag I would just hide in the background but after years of intensive training in the art of seduction – as well as the art of re-invention –  I went from that hunk of shit, or should I say hunk of grass, to this!

The projector now shows a screen shot of his Facebook page – Novax out at night clubs and pool party’s surrounded by women who, for lack of a better word, look like coke-whores.

NOVAX

Don’t worry fellas, most of them are legal.[Chuckles to himself].
See that’s why I’m here today. You boys should consider me your fucking saviour, because rather than just living my life as a master in the art of porn persuasion, I have decided to impart my knowledge onto you; to teach my ways, my methods in order to let you know that each of have the potential to re-plant the seed [pause] and become a tree. And for just a small payment of $220 a fortnight–

SAM

Um. I thought this was a free class.

Novax slowly turns back to the young man and politely snaps at him.

NOVAX

The introduction is free. This is just a sample. In order to
become true masters in the art of seduction, it’s going to cost a bit of pocket change, but you know what? For an opportunity to change your life, $220 a fortnight over 8 weeks [speaking quickly under his breath] cash payments only, no refunds [returns to normal slow speech] it’s practically a bargain.

Once again, the class looks slightly sceptical about Novax’s offer; $185 Seems a bit too much for wolf tickets.

NOVAX

O.K. how about this? You pay for a $65 trial lesson, tomorrow night, and then after that we can meet in my office and talk about future payments. Seriously, what do you have to lose? I mean you guys could leave here right now, go home make yourself some Easy Mac, play video games and cry yourselves to sleep.

All eyes are on Novax now; he has them in his clutches. While these young men may not like the person who they are seeing, they seem to be interested in the promise of changing their lives, but are reluctant to see what he has planned. It may or may not be a waste of money, but it’s an experience they will never forget. Novax reaches out his arms and has a smirk on his face. He has their trust now. All but one.

NOVAX

So gentlemen; shall we begin?

LIAM

It’s a bargain man.

SAM

We’ll talk about this.

 INT. BAR NEXT TO COMMUNITY COLLEGE. NIGHT.      2

 Liam and Sam are sitting at a bar, watching a game and drinking beers. Sam has a look of concern on  his face.

LIAM

So what do you think? The guy is great, right?

SAM

Umm no. This guy does not seem O.K.

LIAM

What are you talking about?

SAM

It’s bullshit man. The mantra, the shtick; it’s all crap. I mean, please tell me your smarter than that?

LIAM

Well, O.K. so maybe the guy is a little bit eccentric.

SAM

Little bit?I think it’s safe to say that the guy is a total hypomaniac and narcissist. I mean who the fuck does he think he is telling people they’re losers? He had a leather vest and wore a fedora indoors, like some kind of gay Indiana Jones nightmare.

LIAM

OK, fine he is very, very eccentric. But you know what? Maybe that’s the key to his success; his ability to show the world that he’s not afraid.

SAM

What? Dude, that doesn’t make any sense. First off, dressing like that doesn’t make you look confident. It makes you look like a tool. And secondly, who the hell has he had success with?

LIAM

You know, when he showed us before? His transformation photos.

SAM

You’re basing his success off of that? Off of photos of him with women who obviously have serious daddy issues?

LIAM

No, dude. It isn’t about the women. It’s about the ability to change your life. I mean, look at us. We’re in our mid 20’s and we have zero confidence when it comes to this sort of stuff.

Liam notices a couple of young ladies also enjoying casual drinks. He points them out to Sam.

LIAM

I mean look at those girls over there. Why are we sitting here like a couple of schlubs not interacting with them?

SAM

Because we’re over here.

LIAM

Yeah but why aren’t we over there trying to take advantage of an opportunity?

SAM

Who gives a shit? We didn’t come to this bar for the sole purpose of hooking up. We came to drink beer, watch the game and talk. You know, guy crap. I mean, if you want to go talk to them then go for it. There’s nothing stopping you.

LIAM

Yes there is. It’s the process that we haven’t been taught yet. The idea that in order to truly talk to those women, or any other women, we have to start replanting the seed and ‘becoming a tree’.

Sam stops drinking his beer. Now his attitude has gone from mild annoyance to disgust.

SAM

No. No, no, no. Tell me that you don’t believe in that new-age magical bullshit.

LIAM

Who said anything about magic? It’s not magic. Its motivation.

SAM

No dude. Just stop right there O.K.? I will not be a part of this rebuilding yourself, motivational crap. You don’t need some coke-head at a community college to teach you that.

LIAM

How do you know that was coke? It could have been a cold.

SAM

It’s March, Liam. Summer ended four days ago, and by the way, if this guy was such a success and so powerful, then why isn’t he teaching this in like a massive hall in front of hundreds of people instead of a shitty little community college?

LIAM

Who cares where it is?

Awkward silence across the bar. Liam and Sam look at each other.

SAM

You know what? Fine. Go ahead. Waste your money. Do whatever the fuck you want but just do me this one favour. Tonight when you get back home: go online, look up Tony Robbins, look up Ross Jeffries, look up everything you can on hard selling and cold reading. Educate yourself at least, before you decide to ‘become a tree’.

LIAM

Fine. I will and on top of that I’ll let you know how well my progress is going. While you continue to spend countless nights trying to jerk off to lesbian porn without crying, I’ll be enjoying this new life changing experience.

Sam finishes his beer, steps out from his chair and puts his jacket on. 

SAM

Fine.

Sam leaves Liam at the bar alone, as Liam orders himself another beer and looks over at the two women from before.

 EXT. OUTSIDE BAR, NIGHT      3

Sam starts walking outside to find public transport. As he walks down the street, he comes across a small building with a red light out the front of it and sees Novax coming out the door. Both catch each others attention. 

NOVAX  

Hey, even Tiger Woods needs to practice his swing. Am I right?  

Novax points and winks at Sam as if to say to him ‘please don’t tell anyone you saw me here’. Sam nods his head and walks off.

NOVAX  

[Yelling out to Sam] 

So I’ll see you in class tomorrow night bro.

SAM

[Quietly to himself] 

Unbelievable.  

 INT. CLASSROOM. COMMUNITY COLLEGE. AFTERNOON    4

Once again the classroom is full of young men awaiting Novax’s arrival. Each of them have notepads and laptops out, ready to take notes. Liam walks in late to class and tries to find a seat. He has a look of slight skepticism on his face. The men around him yesterday had no ambition, no gusto, no nothing. Now their eyes are filled with excitement at the possibility of realizing their potential as men. Although why now? Novax walks in; eyeballs bloodshot, hair messy and looking like crap.

NOVAX

So[coughing and sniffing], how is everyone doing today?

CLASSOOM

[In unison]

Great.

NOVAX

So let me ask you gentlemen something. Who here is ready to do some muthafucking landscaping? Am I right? Who here has a shovel? Who here has a bucket and pale? Who here has a book on horticulture, because now is the time we plant the tree!

Everyone in the classroom jumps up from their chairs and starts screaming. The classroom is now a   zoo. Liam reluctantly gets up and tries to join the fun. However he just isn’t feeling anything. He feels lost in a group of men who he doesn’t understand; being run by a man who’s identity is so far from reality that Liam is starting to question himself. The classroom lunacy stops as people start to sit down and Novax takes centre stage.

NOVAX

Finally. You know what? Congratulations gents. Every class I teach, I always wonder who actually wants to be a successful man and who just wants to appear to be a success. And I’m proud to say that tonight I have my answer. You see, tonight gentlemen, we start planting the seed and -

LIAM

Excuse me? Didn’t you say the first thing we need to do is remove grass or something?

NOVAX

No. Well yes but – um. The grass has already been lifted out just by you coming here tonight.

LIAM

– But we don’t know anything yet. Like, aren’t you supposed to offer us some motivational advice or something? I mean surely we can’t just all of a sudden learn this stuff now? Right?

NOVAX

Sorry what did you say your name was?

LIAM

Um, I’m Liam.

Novax starts to draw his attention to Liam instead of the classroom as a whole.

NOVAX

You see gentlemen, Liam here is trying to learn the soft way. The light-hearted, sensitive flower way. Liam is still holding onto the belief that in order to change yourself, you need to treat life as if it was a marathon. We’ll I’ve got news for you my friend. Life ain’t a marathon; It’s a sprint!

LIAM

I’m sorry that doesn’t make any sense.

NOVAX

It doesn’t make any sense to you now but it will. Anyway fella’s, this is actually a three step process that we will be working on over the next few wee-

LIAM

Um, sorry but if the process of completely re-inventing ourselves is just three steps then why can’t we just learn this stuff on our own?

NOVAX

O.K. Lachlan, buddy –

LIAM

It’s Liam actually.

NOVAX

Whatever, look, have you spent the last several years mastering the art of seduction and then developing it into a simple three step plan so you can help your fellow man? Well? Have you?

LIAM

No but – 

NOVAX

So how about this? You let the teacher [pointing at himself], do the teaching, O.K.? This shit’s not supposed to make sense now ’cause you’re the rookie and I’m the pro.

Novax returns his attention back to the class as Liam starts to straighten up his posture.

NOVAX

Now. Like I was saying, in order to achieve success you must learn and implement these three steps into your life. Step 1: Dress to impress. Step 2: the mantra money shot. Step 3: ain’t no time for pussies.

Novax pulls up his projector screen and opens up a powerpoint presentation; the first slide containing a picture of a peacock surrounded by animals in the wild.

NOVAX

Now let me introduce you gentlemen to step 1, and the beauty behind the concept of peacocking.

Novax then changes to the next slide which features the same photo of the peacock next to a photo of himself dressed in ostentatious clothing.

NOVAX

You see what I’m wearing people? What do you think it says about me?

YOUNG MAN #1

That you might be rich.

NOVAX

Incorrect. You see a fella’s, money is not the statement I’m trying to make by dressing the way I want. The statement I am trying to make is: ‘Hey, I don’t give a fuck what you think about what I’m wearing.’ See all of that up there? The shirt, the vest, the bling? This is known as the art of peacocking; designed to get attention in any busy, distraction filled environment. Just like a peacock.

YOUNG MAN #2

Um, how do we know that will work?

NOVAX

How do you know? Well [sniffing] let’s say you’re at a night club. You and your friend walk in. One of you is wearing a suit and tie, while the other is wearing a studded t-shirt, cowboy hat and glitter jeans. Who do you think women are going to notice more?

LIAM

Probably the second one, but that doesn’t mean its a go-

NOVAX

Exactly! The second one and you know why? Because he has the balls to stick out; because he doesn’t care what he looks like or how other people perceive him. He has the power to look social pressure in the face and say ’Fuck You!’ By doing that he becomes the alpha male of the room. You have to remember something fella’s. The modern day woman is a very hormonal creature. She is attracted to bright and colourful things, just like a peacock.

LIAM

Hmmm. Um, excuse me.

NOVAX

[Annoyed]

Yes Lucas, what is it?

LIAM

Once again, its Liam.

NOVAX

Liam, Lenny, Lester, it doesn’t matter. What. Is. Your. Question?

LIAM

Can’t anyone just buy these clothes? Like, it doesn’t really change anything.

NOVAX

Didn’t you just hear what I said? The clothes change people’s perception of you, thereby changing your attitude.

LIAM

Right but how? Like, it’s clothes. It’s material. People won’t understa-

Novax quickly snaps his attention back towards the classroom, while he is interrupting Liam.

NOVAX

Anyway, back to the task at hand!

Liam now looks more annoyed. The bullshit is starting to unravel but he still wants to see where this goes. Novax changes to the next slide which reads ’STEP 2: THE MANTRA MONEY SHOT’. It is accompanied with two photos: one of new age guru to the stars, Deepak Chopra shaking hands with Oprah Winfrey, and the other actor/rapper Jaden Smith looking of into the distance as if he just said something profound.

NOVAX

So, now that we have attracted the female species with our outward appearance, it is time to hit them with what’s on the inside. Now those two men, up there on the big-screen. Deepak Chopra and Jaden Smith. Two of the most prolific motherfuckers the 21st century has ever seen.

Novax changes the slide to reveal inspirational quotes from Chopra, and tweets from Jaden Smith. Each line reads along the lines of: ‘Understanding is the healing of purpose, and of us’, ‘School is the tool to brainwash the youth’, ‘Green, White & Blue make dreams come true’ and ‘Love can only   blossom with a return to innocence.’ Novax turns back to the classroom.

NOVAX

Women. Eat. This. Shit. Up. It’s literally amazing what you can say to a girl, in order for her to believe that you’re the mystical man she has been searching for all her  life. The best part is there is tones and tones of this crap being produced every day. I personally use the last before I go in for the first kiss. So in order for you to become one with this mantra. Find these guys online, print out a few quotes onto flash cards, revise them till your eyes bleed, and guess what? Oh My God, someone just became the ultimate source of enlightenment in the eyes of anything with a pussy. Now onto the third and final ste-

LIAM

Excuse me.

Classroom moans and groans, Novax once again acts annoyed.

NOVAX

O.K. I know we’ve been through this before…but I still don’t know your name, so just say what your gonna say and once again for the millionth fucking time, I’ll respond.

LIAM

This mantra stuff. It isn’t sincere at all. Your just repeating a bunch of words that don’t make any sense, they just sound impressive. Isn’t that misleading?

NOVAX

Well duh. I mean, what do you think? A woman is gonna fall head over heels for sincerity? How’s that been working out, huh?

Panning shot of the classroom, as some of the interest in the room starts to change. Novax changes   to the slide which says “AIN’T NO TIME FOR PUSSIES”.

NOVAX

Now, for the third and final step. In order to fully understand this concept, you need to understand how to use your manliness to control a woman’s view on sexuality. You see gentlemen; the world is constantly changing its social standards of what is considered acceptable. What may be looked at as fine one day, may be deemed as sexist the next.

Novax continues to walk around the room, as each class member looks at each other uncomfortably.

NOVAX

See I have no problem with all this equal pay, civil rights bullshit. That, I can get down with but it’s this idea that a woman should have control over who she dates and sleeps with; using her lady bits & this feminist ’my body is a temple’ ideology as a sexual strategy. So for us men, we need to change our sexual strategy to become more aggressive in the eyes of women and let them know who’s boss. Let us make the decision to determine who we sleep with and under what circumstances. The best way to do that is with these three rules: Put them in their place so they know their position, show her how the physical laws of gender work, and don’t take no for an answer.

Cut to a close up shot of Liam’s face as his jaw drops. There’s an awkward silence throughout the room.

NOVAX

That gentlemen completes the process of becoming a tree. Now for the next class I would like everyone to go –

Liam stands up out of his seat.

LIAM

Dude. Did you just promote rape?

NOVAX

What? No. That’s ridiculous.

LIAM

You totally told us to go out and rape.

NOVAX

Hey class, did I say anything about rape?

Once again the classroom sits in awkward silence.

LIAM

You said put them in place. Act physical and don’t take no for an answer. Am I crazy or does that sound like rape?

NOVAX

Well when you say it like that, of course it’s gonna sound like rape. But the point is to go out and take what’s yours, hence the strategy title ‘Ain’t no time for pussies’.

Liam starts walking towards the door. He doesn’t want any part of this.

LIAM

I don’t think this class is for me. I mean, I thought this would help me out, turn me into a better man: the clothes, the philosophies, the bullshit strategies. I just can’t become this. You have ruined any faith I had left in becoming an alpha-male. You guys can have this gimmicky shit. I’m out of here.

Liam walks out of the door. Novax yells out after him.

NOVAX

You know what? Fine. Go ahead, quit. Conform to your old ways, be a pussy, remain grass for all I care! The rest of us are gonna be fucking trees! Am I right guys?

Novax turns back to the classroom, each young man silent and judging him with their eyes.

NOVAX

Right?

                             SUPERIMPOSE: 3 MONTHS LATER

 EXT. ALLEY-WAY BEHIND NIGHT CLUB. NIGHT      5

Three big burly bouncers throw Novax [now skinnier, dressed more ostentatiously] head over heels near trash cans. Novax gets up and tries to defend himself.

NOVAX

You guys don’t get it, she said that alligator skin looked nice on me. So what if I accidentally followed her into the bathroom and showed her my johnson – she seemed into that! Don’t your morons know anything about women?

BOUNCER #1

Whatever you say sweetheart.

Bouncers move in to deal out justice. Novax cowers in fear.

NOVAX

No! Not my face. I can’t seduce without my face. That’s the only thing I’ve got going for me, man. Noooooooo!

We zoom out, and see a silhouette of Novax getting beaten in the foreground. In the street, Liam and a young lady are holding hands and walking side by side.

LIAM

So there is this 6 week horticulture course coming up. I’m thinking of taking it.

YOUNG LADY

Horticulture? That seems unusual for a guy. Why that?

LIAM

I kind of have this weird relationship with nature. I wouldn’t mind understanding the beauty of it again. You interested at all?

YOUNG LADY

Sure. Wign me up.

                                    SUPERIMPOSE: THE END

                                              FADE OUT:

Dom Cuda

Dom Cuda is a freelance screenwriter and copywriter currently studying a Writing Major at Macquarie University. Whenever Dom isn't writing screenplays, he is writing and performing stand-up comedy, playing video games, learning how to make & produce music or trying to explain to his friends why professional wrestling is performance art.

Leave a Reply