(back to pp 32-37)
INT. EARL’S COURT COMPUTER SHOW -- DAY
A big convention-center space, full of crazed computer people selling things to each other as fast as they can. An incredible ROARING DIN of voices from salesfolk, attendees, and loud sound systems.
The Erickson stand is one of the largest in the show -- a small seating area with big screen, and numerous smaller stands, sales areas for the staff (including Harry) to see buyers and take their orders, a small bar, cardboard cutouts of Robert Erickson, etc etc.
To one side, near one of the cutouts, a TV REPORTER from the London 24-hour news channel, is taping the lead-in for the interview she’s about to do with Erickson. In B.G. of this shot we see Joy go by, craning her neck to see past, looking for Harry, then EXITING SHOT.
Three, two, one... By far the best-known face at ACAPS this year is Robert Erickson, self-made billionaire and one of the ten richest men in the United Kingdom. From his humble and unlikely beginnings as an maverick inventor working in a shed in the London suburb of Islington, Erickson has seen the company he founded grow to
dominate the markets of three continents. But he’s never lost the personal touch, so it’s no surprise to see him here at ACAPS for the world product launch of Erickson Computers’ hottest new item, the epsCetera Pocket P.A., a WiFi-, 4G- and Web 2.0-friendly “smart” personal assistant device that fans and critics alike have labeled the “BlackBerry Killer”.
The Erickson stand has a sales area -- tables, chairs, a soft drink dispenser, surrounded by posters and displays -- where the sales staff are talking to retailers and taking orders from them. Harry sits at one table, writing in a looseleaf notebook with one hand, working with one of the abovementioned Pocket P.A.’s otherwise.
POCKET P.A. “VOICE”
Harry, I’ve got a message for you.
Harry TOUCHES AN ICON on the little touchscreen.
POCKET P.A. “VOICE”
Call incoming from Nigel at oh nine thirty.
Put him on hold for three minutes. If he can’t hold, call back then.
POCKET P.A. “VOICE”
He looks up, his expression annoyed. Joy comes rushing up to him, flustered. She puts her carry-all bag down on the table and starts rummaging through it, trying to find her badge for the show: can’t find it.
Where’ve you been?
I’m sorry I’m late! I got lost on the subway.
The Underground. But it’s okay. They’ve rescheduled the husband-and-wife seminar. It’s not till four.
She stops going through the bag in search of the badge, starts going through her secret pockets instead. Underground tickets, scribbled notes, and Heaven knows what else pile up on Harry’s work surface. He pushes them out of the way of his work.
But I went back to the hotel to get some things, and I couldn’t get into the room. You had the key!
Didn’t they have another one?
(one more irritation)
Little family hotels here don’t usually. When you go out, you leave the key with them, okay?
Okay. Sorry. How’re you doing here?
Joy finds her badge, sits down by Harry to pin it on. Harry PEERS over her shoulder, alert for approaching clients.
Like a house afire. Everybody wants our new baby here. I haven’t stopped writing orders since I got in.
(sees someone past her)
And here come some more. Listen, hon, I can’t stop to socialize right now. Got plans for today?
Yes. Gunter and I are having lunch.
(wants to tell him, doesn’t know how)
Hon, the hotel --
I know. I promise I’ll get us out of there as soon as I can.
No! I don’t want to go. The hotel’s fine.
Yes. The people there are nice.
Harry looks at her suspiciously, wondering what this means. As he’s about to ask, his immediate superior in sales, BOYCE, mid-thirties with a too-slick look and feel, walks by. He pauses, a hand on each of their shoulders, friendly, but with a get-a-move-on feel to the interaction.
And you must be Mrs. Collins! I’m just delighted to meet you. I’ll be seeing you at the husband-and-wife function later on, yes? Super. Harry, those people from Electronic Arts are on their way over, and we can sell them about a hundred units on the spot if we have enough people to concentrate on them. So nice to see you, Mrs. Collins --
He’s off. Harry and Joy look after him with expressions of annoyance. Harry gives Joy a hurried smooch.
Go on, hon. We’ll talk later. Have a nice lunch with Gunter.
Joy nods, GETS UP and EXITS. As Harry is surrounded by a bunch of other sales people and prospective clients, he looks after her as if hearing what he’s just said.
On her way out, Joy STOPS, intrigued, and with many others rubbernecks as the reporter from L!ve TV interviews Robert Erickson. Erickson stands there with his hands in his suit pockets, exuding accessibility and charm. He is upbeat and pleasant, even while rattling off buzzwords.
Many of your competitors have claimed that you must be using substandard materials or manufacturing processes to keep your prices so low.
You mean, so low that we routinely undercut theirs by more than forty percent.
All we’re doing is using British manufacturing skill and know-how to run a lean, effective organization. With our employee-friendly work structure, we can afford to take lower profits than our competitors, without resorting to ethically questionable practices like mass outsourcing. Erickson produces a world-class product while also creating jobs in the British workplace and plowing the benefits back into the local community.
There’s a brief interruption as a group of POWER-RANGER CLONES in flashy costumes walk by behind Erickson with signs advertising a videogame. He reacts with amusement, turns back to the interviewer.
The exact source of that know-how has been a bone of contention for some time, hasn’t it?
If you mean, would our competitors like us to tell them exactly how we cram five hundred percent more performance into our components than they can, of course they would! The Erickson chipset is the standard for performance and durability all over the world: our components are guaranteed to keep the memory burnt into them forever, or until the silicon and plastic wear out -- whichever comes first. That kind of reliability, anyone would want in their hardware! Especially our competition. But they can’t match it. I understand how frustrated that must make them. I was frustrated too, a lot of those late nights in the shed, until I found the secret.
Maybe I should rent them the shed.
LAUGHTER from some of the assembled crowd.
Is it true that only three senior executives of your company know all the details of the production process?
Sorry, no. Only one man knows them all: me. The data can only be released to my successor after the courts declare me dead.
Pity I’ll miss the sideshow when it kicks off. Sometimes I think it’d be fun to fake my death at least once to get a preview.
More LAUGHTER: the interview continues. Joy, unconvinced by the charm offensive, wanders off to one side and has a last look at Harry. He is with a client, all animation and laughter: he makes his sale. It’s the kind of animation he does not have with her. Thoughtful, Joy EXITS.
(to be continued…)