INT: A large American stadium. Five Nighthawk helicopters are descending over centerfield. Instead of groomed turf, the outfield has been transformed into a barren area of sand, stones and tall brown grass. It is the set for what will be a series of filmed messages from the President of the United States, designed to gently prepare other nations for a policy shift. To increase psychological impact, the clips are being shot using the new beta single-camera 3-D technology, developed by two Estonian brothers.
DIRECTOR: (shouting over the helicopters): Take one. Yemen landing. Ready and...let's roll!
(One of the five Nighthawks touches down, awkwardly teetering on its landing struts. It steadies itself in the arid artificial landscape. A marine clambers out and turns to assist US President Barack Obama, who is wearing a dark suit (by de Paris) and tie (Armani) and a combat helmet (USMC) The marine salutes Obama. Obama salutes. The helicopters ascend and Obama gives a thumbs up to the aircraft.)
(Obama removes helmet and turns toward the camera. He walks slowly through the tall outfield grass, holding the combat helmet in the crook of his index finger)
OBAMA: Hello, I'm Barack Obama. I'm here to talk to you today about something that is facing our nation -- and yours. Let me be clear: this is not something that I sought. When I first took this job, one year ago...
(Camera cuts to two technicians sitting at a monitor behind a movie camera and wearing 3-D goggles. The picture on the monitor shows that the waving grass is in focus but Obama is blurry.)
CAMERA OPERATOR #1: Crap. I think we have to cut.
CAMERA OPERATOR #2: He's already orating.
CAMERA OPERATOR #1: We still need to cut.
CAMERA OPERATOR #2: I'm not interrupting the President, are you crazy? You call it in.
OBAMA: ..., and I never imagined that a year later, I would be walking through the tall grass, on an unannounced visit, by your leave....
CAMERA OPERATOR #1: Well, I'm calling it. (Into headset): Um, camera's on the fritz. Could you tell the President to, uh, take it again from the top?
(The director of the clip is sitting in a cordoned-off area in the bleachers, wearing a headset, surrounded by writers, consultants and White House staff, including Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. All are wearing 3-D glasses)
DIRECTOR (listening intently, absent-mindedly): Not now, please. (snaps to attention) What? You're not getting any of this? (Looks over at Rahm Emanuel, who is signalling a slashing motion across his throat). All right! Cut!
OBAMA: ... today we face extreme challenges of an unprecedented kind...
DIRECTOR: Mr. President. I'm sorry, sir, we have to take it from the top again.
OBAMA: (stops walking) Did I go on too long? Is this the infield already?
DIRECTOR: You were fine, sir Just a camera problem, sir.
OBAMA (lighting cigarette): OK. So do I put this helmet on again? Or just start my spiel over?
DIRECTOR: Mr. President, actually, I'm going to have to ask you, sir, to take it from before you start your oration. We have to get into the helicopter again. It has to be one seamless take.
OBAMA: I'm not sure my life insurance policy covers that. (Laughter from aides)
(Marine One descends, teeters from one strut to the other, then settles into the rocky dust, raising a cloud. Obama stubs out the cigarette in the sand, puts on his helmet and boards the chopper.)
OBAMA: All right, but next time we're sending a drone with an audiotape. Seriously. (The chopper ascends.)
DIRECTOR: All right, take two, ready and...let's roll!
OBAMA (as before, clambers out of helicopter behind marine, removes helmet, is saluted by the marine, and nods): Hello, my name is Barack Obama. I apologize for being here in your country today on an unannounced visit to tell you about something important that is going to happen here -- and soon. Let me be clear: when I first took this job a year ago today, I didn't imagine...
CONSULTANT (in the bleachers area): Wow, is he ad libbing?
DIRECTOR: Looks like it.
CONSULTANT: This is the best part of this job. The listening.
DIRECTOR: Tell me about it. This is costing someone here ten thousand dollars a minute, but it's worth every penny right now. Are we good down there?
CAMERA OPERATOR #1 (over headset): Not really.
DIRECTOR (into headset): Why?
CAMERA OPERATOR: Still blurry.
DIRECTOR: Still blurry?
CONSULTANT (cranes head to speak into director's headset): Are you getting the audio, at least? Do you hear what he's saying?
CAMERA OPERATOR: I'm getting audio, and I'm getting tall grass waving in the wind in 3-D. But the President's still a total blur.
DIRECTOR: Is the 3-D screwing it up? I knew this single-lens thing couldn't work.
CAMERA OPERATOR: No, no, it's fine. Everything was working earlier today. I think it's the auto-focus or face recognition that's fouled up.
DIRECTOR: Cut. Mr. President, I'm sorry. Apparently there are still technical difficulties with the camera.
OBAMA: Well, let me be clear on this: I'm not getting in that chopper again. (Lights a cigarette, walks over to the camera operators with a gaggle of Secret Service men following). Let's see what's going on. So what's the problem? Can I help?
CINEMATOGRAPHER: I'm not sure, Mr. President. I apologize. This is a brand new 3-D camera. We borrowed it from James Cameron just yesterday. It was working well earlier today, but it's very complex.
OBAMA: I've heard about this camera. First 3-D camera ever in a single unit, right? Estonian-made?
CINEMATOGRAPHER: You're well-informed, Mr. President. You know about movie cameras?
OBAMA: Absolutely nothing. But here's what I would suggest: have you called Mr. Cameron?
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Well, he actually hasn't seen the camera yet. It was in the box when he, uh, loaned it to us. The Secret Service picked it up.
OBAMA (puts on a pair of 3-D goggles): Let me take a look. As I said, I don't know about optics, but interfaces I can work with. And, if I know anything about the Estonians, which isn't much, the programming will be solid. (Looks over the technician's shoulder at the monitor). It's in playback. How do I get into viewfinder mode?
TECHNICIAN: Well, you...
OBAMA: Can I ask you to scoot over a bit? Thanks. (Hits a few keys) Ah, found it. Let's see. Real-time signal processing is on. Wow, look at that, 3-D and no latency at all. Yep, there we go. Where's Rahm? Ah, there. Rahm, would you run into the outfield? Pretend you're going after a long fly ball.
(Rahm runs out on the field.)
Keep on going. Run, Rahm, run! Well, look, it's tracking Rahm fine. He's not moving fast, of course. Rahm, you can stop. You were called off by the catcher. (Obama stands up, takes off 3-D goggles, fishes for a cigarette). OK, let's do the same thing with me. I'm going to run out there and you see if the camera tracks me.
ADVISER: Mr. President, I really think that...we're on a tight schedule.
RAHM: (returning, panting) Mr. President. She's right. Let's leave these things to the pros.
OBAMA: Nonsense. (Lights a cigarette) I fixed the drones last month, didn't I?
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Incredible! The President fixes missiles, too?
ADVISER: He did some troubleshooting. I don't know if I'd say 'fix', but they're more accurate now. (Pulls Obama aside) Mr President, a word. These people are in total awe of you. Let's save them some embarrassment. You know and I know what's wrong with the camera. Let's give them a few minutes to come up with something to save face.
OBAMA: What the hell are you talking about?
ADVISER (in an undertone): Well, you know. The race thing.
OBAMA (extremely loudly): The race thing? What? Have you lost your mind?
ADVISER: It's obvious the camera doesn't pick up your face. It picked up Rahm. It must not pick up black people.
OBAMA: puts hand to deeply furrowed forehead) Do you have any idea how ridiculous you sound? (turns to the film people) I apologize for this profusely. My adviser is feeling quite ill.
As for your camera, gentlemen, let me be clear: it is a wonderful piece of equipment, a true marvel of technology. I can find no inherent fault. The problem, which I was quick to detect whilst I was at the controls, was that the macro mode was enabled, reducing anything beyond a few yards blurry. However, with a few keystrokes, I took macro mode off. (Blows a perfect smoke ring)
Make no mistake: I do recommend you use manual mode. But for that, you will need to read the manual.
(Applause breaks out)
Now, if you'll excuse me, we have work to do, and a message to get out to the people of Yemen. (He flicks the cigarette away coolly and walks out into centerfield -- in 3-D.)