Personal Best — short film screenplay

Personal Trainer(If you are a producer or director interested in using this, feel free to get in touch. Thanks, TA.)


Personal Best


Interior–Legs, a body bending through the frame, then lycra shorts being pulled up.

A kitchen tap and a water bottle being filled.

A dark room. Light comes on. It’s a close-up of a bicycle frame. The bottle is placed in the bottle holder.

Cycling shoes, feet go in, buckles zipped.

Hands do up helmet clasp. Click.

Cycling computer being mounted on handle bars.

Exterior–overhead–a door opens and a man carries out a bicycle.

From front, man sipping water and then looking down over handle bars.

Close up of side of cycling computer. A finger pushes a button. BEEP. Computer speaks: “Push start to Begin workout.” Finger pushes. BEEP.

[Music plays during the following]

Long shots of …

Guy riding bike casually.

Guy standing as he accelerates through a busy corner.

Guy riding along pretty good as cars pass.

[Music fades]

From close behind, just to right, guy cycling harder over gentle hill, panting a little.

Close up of his face, head down, eyes up.

Low shot from behind. Coasting down slight hill. Bike and rider pull away. Rider is hunched over bars.

Silence. Long shot, looking down a grade at rider, stopped, looking up grade.

Shot of empty road up to first bend.

Shot of empty road from first to second bend.

Shot of steepest part of road.

Shot of the crest of the mountain, looking out over the city.

Close up of water bottle being half-emptied, for weight-savings. Top being screwed on.

Rider takes a final sip, clips one foot in, looks at computer.

Close up of the computer, finger pressing a button. BEEP. “Begin climb.”

The climb, the effort, the determination, etc.

Rider comes around the last bend and speeds up as he approaches the summit, zooms past, stops pedalling.

A cheerful tune is emitted by the computer as the rider coasts along, recovering. Then from the computer: “Congratulations. You have set a new personal best.”

The rider looks at computer, exhales, more in relief than celebration, but there is a hint of celebration there.

The computer goes on, “Give yourself a pat on the back. You have worked hard to achieve this. A year ago, your time was seven minutes and four seconds. Now it is six minutes and twenty-six seconds. Ironic, isn’t it? How you’ve spent 411 hours over the past year training to shave 38 seconds off your time, 411 hours that you probably could have put to better use, if we’re going to be completely honest. If you’d spent some of that time earning money, you probably wouldn’t be $4000 in debt to Visa; or what if you’d done a little volunteer work, instead of narcissistically fixating on your own heart rate zones and lactic acid threshold; or what about your so-called screenplay? With four hundred and eleven hours surely even you could have got beyond page 13….”

Rider’s face revealing a wtf! expression.

Bicycle computer being twisted off of the handlebar mount, while computer continues, “I mean, what was your dream when you were twenty-one?…”

From behind, rider standing on other side of guard rail, on edge of cliff, while computer continues, “Was it really your life goal to pedal up this geographical anomaly in six minutes and twenty-six seconds? Pathetic really…”

Guy’s face, troubled, desperate, a snarl, as he’s about to …;meanwhile, computer goes on, “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity sayeth the preach–”

Silence. Sky twisting past, pov of something soaring through the air, what is it?

Blackness, sound of impact.

Cycling computer on forest floor. Sounds of nature for three seconds. Then, sounds of ripping leaves and a louder impact.

Wider shot, revealing cycling computer and bicycle on forest floor. Cycling computer: “Congratulations. Your personal training program is now complete. You have achieved the final challenge. Hit reset to end this program and choose another.”

Meanwhile at the top of the mountain, the rider steps back over guard rail, unclips helmet, walks along the shoulder of the road … looking relieved and thoughtful.

Meanwhile in the forest, computer on ground. Sounds of heavy breathing and footsteps become louder. Running shoes and legs appear, someone leans over and picks up the computer.

Computer in a woman’s hands. Fingers press a button. “To begin your personal training program, press start now.”

Close-up of a woman looking down, face hidden by hair fallen loose from ponytail: Hmm. Sound of the computer: BEEP.

Music as the woman disappears down the trail.


Interior. Back of rider sitting in front of a computer. Sounds of typing.

Computer screen, revealing that the rider is actually typing T-H-I-S. (Final note of music on final period.)


(c) Tom Abray, 2016

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