The following is a script for a video production that was never filmed. It is what I had envisioned whenever I heard the song “Beside You In Time”, from Nine Inch Nail’s 2005 album, With Teeth. In order to truly enjoy the impact of this script, I recommend reading it while listening to the song in the background. The timecode before each section indicates the duration of the song play that would have occurred for each scene.
I hope you enjoy it. If you have any thoughts, I’d love to hear them.
Fade from Black.
0:00 – 0:20
The camera pans through an open window. We see an the outstretched arm of a Caucasian woman, in her mid-thirties to early forties woman, dangling over the edge of a four poster bed that is lined with shiny black satin sheets. In her hand she clutches a white Madonna lily that is in full bloom. The camera pushes in gradually on her hand. She heaves one final breath off screen and we see her hand grip the Madonna stem a bit tighter before going entirely limp, allowing the Madonna lily to float slowly to the wooden floor. As it descends it ages quickly, drying, and turning brown until it shatters as it strikes the floor into nothing more than a diffuse collection of dust.
0:20 – 0:55
We cut to a cubicle that is formed by hanging sunflower yellow curtains. The cameras view from above and behind the bowed head of Trent Reznor. The camera pushes slowly in on him. The curtained spaced is very confined, merely inches from touching Reznor creating a disturbing feeling of claustrophobia. Only his head and shoulders are visible. His ebony hair is cropped close to his skull. His shoulders and neck are framed by a very ordinary black T-shirt.
0:56 – 1:10
We see Reznor’s loved one laid out in her pearl colored casket at a funeral parlor. Reznor observes in the same pose as the previous cut, but he is outfitted in a dark black suit, white shirt, black tie, and simple pair of black leather shoes.
1:11 – 1:30
We now see a fresh grave cut into a lush green lawn in a largely unoccupied cemetery during what appears to be an overcast sky that is gradually becoming more leaden. From a bird’s eye view we see the pallbearers lowering her casket into the grave. Reznor reluctantly picks up a shovel and tosses the first bit of dark topsoil onto her casket. The black soil is a stark contrast against the bright white pearl inlay of the casket.
1:40 – 2:34
We cut back to a high shot of Reznor on one knee. He outstretches one hand and lays it upon the cold marble of the gravestone,whose back is visible to us. We cannot see what is written upon the gravestone. Instead, we continue to watch genuflect endlessly. The camera begins to pull out gradually. Time accelerates, the clouds move faster and then faster. A time lapse shows the grave filled with soil and grass emerging from the once bare soil. We cut to a snail’s eye view of the grass growing, as it reaches for the sky. Torrential rains begins. We cut back to the bird’s eye view. While Reznor continues to genuflect, we see clearly that life and time is marching on without him. Just as we watched the grass grow earlier, we now see his hair begin grow slowly. His faces ages, and yet he remains resolute in his devotion. Cars zip by endlessly. People become nothing more than blurs who zip quickly from one spot to another. The weather occasionally improves only to be replaced by winter, eventually melting beneath spring rains, until finally, the grass begins to wither slightly beneath the August heat. Reznor finally collapses.
Dusk fades to night and as it does, we pan upward to the stars that twinkle quietly in an expansive sky.
We fade to black.
2:35 – 2:50
We cut back to the cubicle. It is still Trent in outfitted in his simple black T-shirt, but we now see that the curtains forming his walls are now at a distance of about five to ten feet away from him. The curtains begin a slow color transformation from yellow to red, passing through all of the hues between the two colors.
2:51 – 3:17
POV: foot level. In the cemetery, we see the feet of the pallbearers donned in the same simple black leather shoes. They move in unison, over dew laden grass, clearly burdened beneath weight of some object.
We cut to the bird’s eye view. Reznor is inside the casket. The once elderly visage of Reznor is now reversing in age. Just as he reaches his early forties, the once open casket has been closed and he begins his descent into the earth. These faceless pallbearers who represent the fans pick up shovels and begin to bury him.
Fade to black.
3:18 – 3:30
3:31 – 4:13
We see Reznor in his cubicle again from the same point of view as the last two times, only we see the curtains are set much further back, the cubicle reveals a stage. The curtains continue to pass through the color spectrum, from Red to Purple, from Blue to finally black. The black curtains appear to have stars twinkling in them. As we pull in closer we are able to see him hold a microphone that is held by a stand with a black circular base in a white knuckled grip with both hands.
Reznor slowly raises his head from genuflection. As he does so the curtain begins to rise. As the curtain rises we push down towards him and pan the camera outward to see what is beyond the rising curtain, from his point of view. It is clear now that the stars on the curtain were merely the flashes and twinkles of cameras by adoring fans on the other side of the curtain. The transformation of grief has reached completion.
4:12 – 5:00
We are looking down at Reznor’s grave which is right beside his love’s grave.
We cut to snail POV. It is difficult to see at first, but something is emerging slowly from the grass. Gradually it becomes clear. It is hundreds, if not thousands of Madonna Lilies all pushing relentlessly upward through the soil.
5:01 – 5:17
We gradually crane upward with the camera and pan downward, revealing that the Madonna Lilies are emerging from the soil to form the NIN logo as white letters against black earth.
5:18 – 5:24
Fade to black.