Parts 3+4 Christmas challenge

Okay so I want to tweak scene 3 more than any of the others, there isn't enough action to really get to know such a large group of characters all at once. But this was a first draft challenge not a finished work, so you will have to forgive me😊 Maybe I'll finish ahead of schedule and get a chance to go back and polish. 🤞


Scene 3: Elves at Work

Scene: Cuts between conference room

For individual interviews and the design

Floor break room.

MAYA: office secretary a bit self-involved 

But eager to help. Female later thirties.


FRANK: grouchy, antagonistic designer, 

male early forties.


ANGELO: prankster of the office, male 

late twenties, marketing


CAROL: Prim female later forties, friendly 

but reserved. Head of distribution.


HANNAH: accountant, sweet but focused

 Female mid-thirties 


Conference Room



How did secret Santa work last year? (rolls eyes) Badly.


Break room. A counter with microwave 

Sink a small table with three chairs and 

a Refrigerator MAYA, FRANK, ANGELO 

And CLARA talking around a table.


I hear there’s going to be Secret Santa again this year but its just one person getting all the presents. 
That’d have to be Coleman then. Unless the new limit is one dollar. I don’t know which is worse?
Coleman! How is that even Secret Santa anyway? The whole fun us guessing who stole the printer toner for your gift. 


All laugh.

Cut to conference room.


How did Secret Santa work last year? (laughs) Honestly it wasn’t that bad. Just a little…(waves arms) stressful right in the middle of a busy time of year. So a lot of people half assed it. You get a name that you must keep secret and for the twelve days before the office closes for the year on December 24th you give them little stuff like candy, coffee…whatever and one big gift the last day, limit forty dollars. 


Cut to CLARA, conference room.


Four of us are J. W., there are several Jewish people, Miriam is Muslim, and Andrew’s…I don’t know a hippy maybe. He doesn’t celebrate because he dislikes the commercial nature of the holiday (shakes head) Really? He works for a company that designs dolls. Our biggest seller is Krissy the Christmas doll, she has a pet reindeer and is somehow the child of this…thousands of years old couple. Maybe she’s adopted. I mean she comes in various races. 


Cut to MAYA conference room.

Then there was this screw up because a memo went out calling it mandatory. I warned him, but Coleman never listens to me. He said “everybody loves Secret Santa.”


Cut to conference room.


ANGELO (laughing)
But the kicker is all these people refused to participate for religious reasons and the boss just says fine but doesn’t adjust anything! (overcome with laughter) 


Cut to conference room



Secret Santa never bothered me. I participated the first three years I worked here. The problem last year was that pesky little word they used in the memo: mandatory. Just because I was okay with it didn’t mean every Jewish member of staff would be. Or every member of staff period. So I signed onto the complaint. The problem was at the executive level and the fix was simple (rolling eyes) but never done. All they had to do was send out another email that said our bad we meant to say Secret Santa was optional, and it would have been over. But Coleman gets very defensive and it makes him overlook tiny details.  


Cut to conference room FRANK.


I bought ten days worth of nice Christmasy treats for Clara before getting yanked into HR for religiously discriminating against her. 


Cut to conference room CLARA. 


My complaint was always with management. I told HR that. I chose to practice a truth that I believe in with all of my heart, but that doesn’t mean I begrudge anyone else their celebrations. I just don’t participate. The trouble was nothing to do with Frank, I would have continued to get the presents and left him with a thank you at the end. But I didn’t want management putting me or anyone else in that awkward position again. Thats what the complaint was about.


Cut to conference room FRANK.

It was seriously frustrating. And! (growing agitated) When I tried to sign on to her complaint and just aim it at the management I was called combative. Can you believe that?


Cut to ANGELO in conference room laughing.




I didn’t get gifts. My secret Santa was supposed to be Miriam from the design team. But when she and the others opted out Coleman forgot to reassign any of us. So like fourteen people went without gifts but bought stuff for other people. 
Cut to conference room
      ANGELO (with laughter tears)
So me and Ed, trying to be nice, steal a bunch of supplies from the closet for the people who were getting stiffed! (chuckles) You know we never ever got thanked. 



Little Krissy is selling far better than expected. We had two additional rush orders, the factory workers are all on over time if we make the crunch this could be our best year yet.
FRANK (dismissively) 
Your point being?   


CLARA gives a brief glare. 

Cut to conference room FRANK.


There’s no lingering awkwardness with Clara. I only think about her every time I have a mandatory anger management assessment. So once a month.


Cut to conference room CLARA.


CLARA (rolling eyes)
 We’re fine. 


Cut to break room.


The point is maybe we can get year end bonuses instead of stupid its no one wants. 
Oh. I doubt that. Haven’t you heard. Everyone jewish keeps getting secret Hanukkah gifts?
Isn’t that religiously profiling?


CLARA grinds her teeth. 

Rolls eyes at camera.


Cut to break room



When we got the Hanukkah gifts I was a bit nervous that it would be weird or offensive, but its just cute little stuff. And the donuts…(smiles) that was actually nice. I guess it was awkward at first but once I got to talking with people it had a weird way of making it feel more like a work family. (pulls a face) That sounded really corny didn’t it?


Cut to break room.

I…I actually hope they still do Secret Santa. I like the idea of getting secret gifts from someone in the office. Even they’re little and stupid. Knowing someones thought about you and what you’d like is nice. 


 Uncomfortable silence. Everyone 

Looking at CLARA. 

Cut to conference room.


I’m sure it is nice. It sounds like fun. And if it were just a buy your coworker a gift thing I’d probably like it. But honestly what I disliked about the whole thing isn’t the lack of inclusion, its feeling that everyone in the office thinks I’m their…Grinch, because I pointed out the inequity to management. Again, all managements fault.  



I don’t know, like year end bonuses better too. The mystery part is fun but money definitely beats the sort of gifts we usually get. 


Enter GABRIELLA, crosses to coffee machine. 


Gabby! Hey, you’re a computer wiz. Could you hack into Coleman’s email and see if we’re getting bonuses this year?


Cut to conference room. 


Everyone thinks you have to be a genius to work tech. You really don’t. Maybe to work tech at a tech firm, but this (shrugs) the level of work I generally have to do here. I learned in the first month of computer science. In high school. But could I hack him? I don’t need to he kept locking himself out of his computer and having to reset the whole thing, so I have all his passwords. I suppose technically if I were to use them without his permission that is still hacking, but not very impressive hacking.




GABRIELLA (with a laugh)
We’re not getting bonuses. 
Krissy’s sells are through the roof! The factory is back ordered and working overtime.
GABRIELLA (shrugging)
Maybe I’m wrong, but Mr. Coleman doesn’t really seem the type to give away money.


Everyone nods.


So why is he having one person do Secret Santa for the whole office? Wouldn’t that have to come out of his own pocket. 


Conference room.


It’s coming out of the company discretionary fund. AKA schmoozing money. And he did raise the budget a whole ten dollars per person, to fifty whole dollars. (sarcastically raises thumbs) Secret Santa will work a little differently this year. I don’t want anyone to feel excluded. So there are complications. Did I send out Hanukkah gifts? Well…thats not really Santa’s place now is it. (smiling secretively) Today their were little Hanukkah ornaments, silly little things that make you smile for no reason. (shrugs) But it won’t all be so easy, and then there is the naughty list. I will not be passing out coal, but you can bet your ass they’ll know which list they were on. 



Who says one persons doing it?
Its just a rumor. I heard it from Cory who heard it from Jack. 


Conference room. 


GABRIELLA (glaring)
Jack! Thats three strikes. 


Beat. Unheard question.


Sure Santa checks his list twice. But I’m updating “the man, the legend,” “to the woman the evil genius.” (Beat) I never said I wasn’t a genius. I just said tech doesn’t require genius. But yeah. I’m gifted. (pops eyes brows and smirks)


Break room.


Having one person do secret Santa is just another way to cut corners. We’ll probably all get a week of candy followed by an iTunes gift card. 
CLARA (shrugging)
Could be worse. 


Conference room.

It was not be a week of candy followed by an iTunes card. This Santa has a much better bag of tricks.    




 Scene 4: You’re A Mean One Ms. Grinch 

Scene: Living room GABRIELLA’s apartment.

Large couch with snowman blanket, a large

Real Christmas tree to right, fully loaded with 

Lights and ornaments. On the wall is a 

snowflake made up of Christmas cards. 

A easel is set up with a large naught or 

Nice list with individual drawings of Christmas 

Style cartoons for each person. A counter 

separates living room from a small kitchen.  


GABRIELLA stands at counter stirring a bowl

Of cookie batter. A finished batch is cooling on 

The counter.  

MARIA a twenty year old art student 

GABRIELLA’s sister, stands at the 

board sketching a hunky toy soldier 

With his head hanging sideways next to 

JACK’s name. 


GABRIELLA (smiling evilly)
The plan is coming along quite nicely. I implemented phase one before I left work today. Like the original twelve day secret santa our work set up in the past. The first few days of gifts are small and it builds from there. (cackles) By the time I’m through with him he’ll be reduced to a pathetic, regretful, puddle of mush. (beams)
MARIA (without looking up)
I think they meant the plan for the nice list. Not revenge (to camera) You know most people think she’s sweet. 


GABRIELLA (unashamed)
I am sweet. I’m just not a pushover. Santa could have really filled out his nice list if he’d just put a little more focus into his punishments than coal. 


MARIA rolls eyes at camera 


Anyway this isn’t revenge. Its a lesson. I start out with a simple, annoying reminder of the fact that he didn’t need to be in my space. Even to solve his stupid mystery. (agitated) I programmed his computer remotely to change his wallpaper to Christmas themed stuff. Every time he tries to change it it will get more Christmassy. The first wall paper is just a snowy forest. By the time it changes five times its eight cats with reindeer antlers and reins made of flashing lights. 
MARIA (to camera)
This isn’t even her at a ten. And she can go waaaaaaay beyond ten. (smiling evilly) it can actually be fun to watch if it isn’t aimed at you.


The plan builds from there. Day two has his screen saver rotating through famous Christmas movie moments. And he sees his screen saver a lot by the way. Since he makes zero effort into doing work between calls. All his punishments will serve as reminders to keep his nose out of other peoples business. A few “accidentally” shared job applications and subsequent rejections. And culminates in what he’d hate the most—


Beat GABRIELLA pausing for dramatic effect.   


MARIA (sarcastically)
A visit from elves?
No. An accidentally emailed clip of his ex-girlfriend turning him down flat when he proposed. 
MARIA (horrified)
Geeze, bruiser. Thats a bit intense. It was just a nutcracker. How’d you even find that?


It wasn’t easy actually. (grows steadily more animated/ intense) I could only find out little innocuous things about him. He doesn’t have any social media accounts. He doesn’t bring personal things into the office. Finally I back tracked through his parents. His mother’s account was a wealth of information about his past. 


GABRIELLA motions wildly. 

Cookie batter flies off spoon.

MARIA turns from easel watching



But she’d deleted all this stuff from three years ago, including photo albums and all these posts that had him tagged in them. Then I found his old account and figured out about the fiancee that wasn’t. 


MARIA approaching carefully. 


MARIA (softly)


GABRIELLA (continued)
A lot of people get upset when someone dumps them but he went off the grid. And he’s techy—and not a slouch at it either I mean he only graduated cum laude, but I’ve seen his work he’s pretty good. It just didn’t make sense, so I dug. And I found the clip. It hadn’t exactly gone viral, but locally yeah! Valentine proposal fail! You want me to show you? Its a little sad actually. 


Gabriella Anjelica Cortez. (reaches out)


GABRIALLA flinches and steps 

Back. Sets bowl on counter, and 

Grabs a unfrosted cookie.

MARIA drops hands and 

Steps back. 


MARIA (whispering)
You’re stemming.


GABRIELLA rolls shoulders stiffly.

Shakes out head and torso like

She’s attacked by chills. Turns 

Back to camera. Loud crunch can

Be heard as she bites into cookie.

MARIA crosses to board and 

Begins adjusting her sketches.


The trouble is you aren’t leaving room for him to properly feel his remorse and change. 


GABRIELLA slowly fisting hands

Breathing deeply. Taps legs 

With finger taps between fisting

Making a quiet humming noise.


If you go through with the whole thing he’ll just feel victimized. Maybe thats why Santa passes out coal. I doubt Jack intentionally broke the nutcracker and it was just—  


GABRIELLA (sharply)
Quit saying that.



Face one another silently.

GABRIELLA releases a large 

Breath and tension. 

MARIA crosses to her sister

Runs hands up and down 

GABRIELLA’s  arms soothingly

Hums “Stand by Me”

GABRIELLA smiles softly at 

MARIA before her eyes dart shyly

To the camera.

GABRIELLA steps away. 


Its not just the nutcracker. He’s always needling me about being too “up-tight”
Thats just guy speak for you make me feel lazy. 
Yeah. I know. And I try to let it go. I even tried to let it go when he messed with my deer. I know he thinks he’s being cute for the cameras, (breaths deeply) but I can literally feel it under my skin when people mess with my space. So I remind myself that isn’t really my space. This is my space. (beat) And I think I’ve let it go. And he—(beat) He didn’t just mess with my space he literally invaded it. (gesturing, posture tightening) He broke things, made a mess, and all to poke around in my computer which he could have done from his cubical!


MARIA (nodding)
So…he needs to be punished. Good and punished. (beat, grinning) just maybe not level twelve punished. Stages one through five are pretty awesome. Subtle, annoying and funny. My favorite is the Santa memo—telling everyone to sit on his lap to deliver their Secret Santa messages. 


GABRIELLA (laughs)
Yeah. That one is pretty good. Though it won’t exactly say that. But it could get him into soooo much trouble with HR.


Both laugh evilly. 


You know you are literally a genius. You don’t have to be an evil one. Remember what Mom always said?
If you aren't behaving better than the bullies, you are the bullies. 
GABRIELLA (rolls eyes)
Yeah. Yeah.



forehead and crosses to the board. 


Fine, I won’t release the video if he shows any sign of contrition before the twenty-first. 
MARIA (laughing)


Cut to GABRIELLA alone in front 

of tree.


Maria is my little sister, She was staying with some friends near her campus but after Mom died wit wanted to be closer to each other. And anyway (loudly) I let her stay here rent free.
MARIA (from out of shot)
Yeah because you like to have something to lord over me!
GABRIELLA (laughing)
It really does help me to have her here. I think it helps her to—sometimes.


Cut to living room full shot. MARIA 

Sketching. GABRIELLA baking.


So, how about the good folks, Santa? Have you decided what you’re doing for them yet?
Some of it yeah. The donuts went really well. I mean people were actually talking about Hanukkah and the meaning and their traditions that it got me thinking. The fun of Secret Santa is someone doing something special for you. But that doesn’t just begin and end with Christmas, everyone should feel it. Hence the four hours baking. Tomorrow everyone is going to arrive at work and find a few undecorated snowflake cookies on their desks with a little frosting and decorations and instructions to give a cookie to someone they don’t talk to much. 


MARIA (rolls eyes at camera)
How can you be so sappy and so evil at the same time?
I got skills.
So nothing individual then?    
It is individual. I heard at least three people mention how much they love decorating cookies. And by decorating them themselves it shares their personality. Its individual (gestures, pushing hands together like a ball) and global at the same time. (spreads arms wide) And with them all being snowflakes I think most people who were uncomfortable before will be okay with it. Its just winter fun. 
MARIA (dryly)
Unless their diabetic or have a gluten allergy. 


GABRIELLA (throws up hands)
What do you want from me? Not everyday will be about food. And I never said they have to eat the cookies. 

GABRIELLA turns away agitated, 

Turns on Christmas music begins 

Stirring at a pace with music 

“Here Comes Santa Claus” 


MARIA (quietly to camera)
You see the trick is knowing how to properly needle her. This is going to bug her for hours. But she won’t feel it under her skin for ten days.


Beat. Unheard question. 


MARIA (to camera)
Oh its not a joke. Ten days minimum is how long she feels it when people move her things. Sometimes its months. But that hasn’t happened lately. Honestly (voice drops) the nutcracker is really important to her. She bought it with money from her first job and gave it to our Mom to decorate her desk at work like all her coworkers were. Now that Mom’s gone it was like an extra special connection, taking it to her own office. (choked up) But it being broken doesn’t take away the memories, and she’ll see that eventually. 


MARIA looks into the kitchen

GABRIELLA rolls out dough, singing. 


Anytime between ten days and a few years. Whenever she stops feeling it break beneath her own skin and seeing Moms face. I know I was teasing her, but she’s not mean. She just loses a little sense of proportion at moments like this. (beat) And if she weren’t getting revenge I’d find the jerk and punch him myself. She’d do the same for me. 


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