A Working Script For Any Extreme Sports Documentary

[V.O. - offscreen talking head]

So if the _____ doesn’t get you, then the _____ will. And if there’s no _____, you’re not off the hook yet, because that means the _____ is on the way. So at this point it’s just you and yourself out there, after ____ hours and _____ miles of _____. Your last _____ left hours ago. You don’t know what time it is, you don’t know if there’s anyone left out there still competing, and it’s like: Why am I doing this again?

[Cut to VISIBLY-UNHINGED OLD-TIMER with a backcountry beard]

Yeah, I started the competition back in ‘71…couple of us guys had been doing a local version of it for three, four years when we heard about the D.B. Cooper manhunt on the shortwave. I turned to my buddy Teeth Garrity – we called him that on account of how he still had all of his teeth even after a decade of [name of extreme sport] – and I said, Hell, I could do that. And that’s how things really got started.

STARRY-EYED, RANGY CONTENDER #1

Sometimes you have to ask if someone has to be crazy to do this.

STARRY-EYED, RANGY CONTENDER #2

I’ve heard crazy – obsessed – fanatic – addicted –

[Cut to shot of CONTENDERS milling around by the start point; in the background several WIVES and GIRLFRIENDS put together meal packs, assemble trail gear, and set up camp.]

BEARDED OLD-TIMER

It’s not, heh, a game of tiddlywinks down at the malt shop with your kid grandmother.

STARRY-EYED, RANGY CONTENDER #1

Oh yeah, you definitely get addicted to it.

SEASONED VETERAN

And I’m bleeding, I’ve got tears running down my face, I’m missing most of my shoes, and I have to ask myself – am I crazy? [Laughs] But maybe it’s everyone else who’s crazy.

SOMEONE NAMED “SCRIMMER,” INEXPLICABLY WEARING SUNGLASSES IN EVERY SHOT, EVEN THE INTERVIEW PORTIONS THAT ARE FILMED INDOORS

Imagine, okay, imagine like a pickup game with the 1960 national basketball team. Nothing but hall of famers – Adrian Smith, Terry Dischinger, Walt Bellamy. Now imagine instead of a ball it’s a nine-day course without a map or an anchor rope. And if you miss a free throw, you die. And the referee is the Donner Party. That’s basically it.

BEARDED OLD-TIMER

It’s, heh, it’s not the annual Harvard-Yale boat race.

THE LONE FEMALE COMPETITOR, WITH UNBELIEVABLY MUSCULAR ARMS [Last seen in the background of the “setting-up-base-camp” sequence, quietly assembling her own gear and talking to no one]

I’ve been coming back every year since 1988, my second year in grad school.

[V.O.]

And have you ever completed the course?

LONE FEMALE COMPETITOR

No, sir. Not yet. But every year I fail out on a different part of the course. I never make the same mistake twice. And I get a little farther than the year before.

STARRY-EYED, RANGY CONTENDER #1

Everyone tells you, you know, okay, go ahead and live for the weekend, just put in the hours and get a great job and make a ton of money and then when you’re sixty you can retire and do all the things you didn’t have time to do before. But you could die any minute.

STARRY-EYED, RANGY CONTENDER #2

I mean, could I go buy, I don’t know, some closed-toed shoes and like, walk into a job interview and start licking envelopes all day like my dad did? Sure. All my girlfriends wanted me to. And they were great girlfriends, with lots of envelopes. But I think you can’t really appreciate those envelopes until you’re out here, you know, getting eaten by wolves while you have to saw off one of your feet, to really appreciate just how great not getting eaten by wolves while you have to saw off one of your feet is. And, you know, my dad died before he even got to retire, so what’s the point of wearing shoes that cover your toes up if you can’t even be sure you’re going to make it to retirement?

BEARDED OLD-TIMER

It’s not, heh, the Akron Soap Box Derby with your daddy’s manicurist at the wheel.

SEASONED VETERAN

Look, some people, they maybe train to do a little city marathon for their thirtieth birthday or something, and that’s great. Maybe you take it a little farther, maybe you get accepted to ____ and you manage to get through the first loop, make it home with a nice little war story. But I’m here to do something no one’s ever done before. I didn’t come here to lick envelopes with my dead dad.

BEARDED OLD-TIMER

Back in ‘82 we started handing out a trophy to the first guy to quit and come down off the mountain: The Blister Pack.

INEXPLICABLY GOOD-NATURED REPEAT FAILURE

Yeah, I guess I got pretty sick of looking at the Blister Pack.

BEARDED OLD-TIMER

Same guy won it ‘85, ‘86, ‘87, ‘88, and ‘90-’92.

INEXPLICABLY GOOD-NATURED REPEAT FAILURE

I lost a foot in ‘88 so I had to take the next year off. But I was back the next year.

STARRY-EYED, RANGY CONTENDER #2

Some people have no business _____.

STARRY-EYED, RANGY CONTENDER #1

I’m just hoping not to get the Blister Pack. Obviously I want to finish. But as long as I’m not the first off the mountain, I’ll be happy. [Laughs] Although I guess we have a different definition of “happy” than most people. Otherwise we wouldn’t be here.

SEASONED VETERAN

Three days in, I’m bleeding, I’ve got tears running down my face, I’m missing most of my shoes, I don’t know where the next check-in station is, and I’m saying to myself: This is the happiest I’ve ever been.

STARRY-EYED, RANGY CONTENDER #1

I’m not happy unless I’m out there. You know? Sure, you might die out there, but dying’s mostly fake. Or it’s like, a fake idea.

STARRY-EYED, RANGY CONTENDER #2

Maybe you have to be a little crazy to be happy doing this. Or maybe you have to be happy doing this in order to be crazy. I don’t know, you know? I’m just a particle physicist.

LONE FEMALE COMPETITOR

I do not accept this word, crazy. Excuse me, my soup is ready and I must ingest 600 calories in the next 45 seconds to stay on schedule without losing consciousness.

BEARDED OLD-TIMER

It’s not, heh, a leg of the Tour de France with pretty little baskets to hold your flowers and your baguettes in as you cruise down the Pyrenees. You want to go do that, they’ve got a signup sheet a mile long.