Urban Time Machine

INT. GIANTCORP CONFERENCE ROOM – DAY

The almost-laughably-long boardroom table is surrounded by a handful of sharply dressed suits who quietly make small talk with each other. The chatter dies down as soon as JEFF JEFFERSON (old, cocky) walks in

JEFF

Time is money guys. Let’s get started.

Jeff takes a seat at the head of the table.

JEFF

Really? Nothing huh. That joke usually kills.

One executive (Frank) near the back begins to laugh maniacally.

FRANK

(between fits of forced laughter)

Because we sell time machines guys...so time actually is money for us! Very funny sir!

JEFF

It’s not that funny, Frank. Keep it in your pants. Have some self respect.

Jeff surveys the room. Like most executive boardrooms, it’s very male and very pale.

JEFF

It looks like everyone’s here. What about on the conference call? Debbie is anybody missing?

DEBBIE (V.O.)

Jen from legal had a flight delay so she’s gonna be a little late in joining but every one else is on the call.

JEFF

Great, legal tends to ruin the fun most of the time anyway. Just let me know when she joins the call and we’ll get her up to speed quickly.

Jeff turns to address the room.

JEFF

So as you all know, our machines have been severely under-performing in the urban demographic. I’ve called this meeting to see if there’s anything that we can do about that. Richard has your market research group been able to make leads on this? Or is this pointless endeavor like....like a restaurant trying to get certain customers to tip more you know?

Jeff doesn’t notice the uncomfortable silence in the room.

JEFF

HEYYOOO! God, I love it when legal’s not here. Anyway’s what do you have for us Richard?

Richard hesitates as if considering whether to address this introduction. He decides not to.

RICHARD

So um our team was actually able to find a number of interesting potential root causes. For example, there was far less brand recognition in more urban demographics which is indicative of misallocated marketing resources. We also found they were more sensitive to the relatively high entry price point. Finally and probably most importantly, we realized that urban demographics demonstrated far less enthusiasm for going back in time.

JEFF

Can you put that into numbers for me Dick? I’m a numbers guy.

RICHARD

Sure, 70% of black respondents in our survey selected the least interested response which was “I have interest in going back in time at all whatsoever.”

JEFF

Any common reasons why?

RICHARD

We didn’t have any further prompts in the survey to ask why but I can definitely take a guess at one big one.

JEFF

What?

RICHARD

Well slavery, sir.

JEFF

Of course! How’d we miss this? Shouldn’t we have caught this earlier?

RICHARD

In theory this is the type of stuff our focus groups should catch but there were some weaknesses

JEFF

Weaknesses?

RICHARD

There was only one black person in the sample focus group.

Richard looks down at his notes.

RICHARD

Fatima Withers, age 36. While most of her answers where about average, she did seem to have a weird obsession with going back in time in order to ‘give that thang up to Tupac’.

Jeff thinks this over for far too long before turning towards the right side of the room.

JEFF

That settles it, Tom I’m going to need R&D to quickly build out a version of the product that only goes forward. This’ll help ensure we don’t miss out on potential African-American market share.

TOM, the meek looking head of R&D looks confused by this request.

TOM

Well sir, that’s technically impossible. The laws of physics dictate that any motion --

JEFF

You know what else was considered impossible? Fitting every song you could ever possibly listen to into the palm of your hand. But we have iPhones now. You know who did that?

TOM

Steve Jo-

JEFF

Steve Jobs. He proved that if you believe hard enough you can make the impossible possible. So I promise you Tom that this is possible. You know why? Because I believe in you.

Tom, isn’t sure how to respond to this random pep talk.

JEFF

What are you still doing here buddy? Get on back out there and let’s start making this possible!

A flustered Tom grabs his stuff and heads out of the room.

INT. GIANTCORP HALLWAY – DAY

Tom whips out his cell phone as soon as he exits the room.

TOM

Hey Rajeev, guess what he wants now?

RAJEEV

A blowjob.

TOM

No of course not. Why would he want a blowjob?

RAJEEV

I don’t know you said guess so I did.

TOM

He wants a machine that only goes forward in time.

RAJEEV

Is that motherfucker serious? You told him that’s impossible right.

TOM

Yeah I tried but he gave the Jobs speech again.

RAJEEV

We’re so fucked.

TOM

The rest of the guys are going to hate me when they hear this.

RAJEEV

Maybe not. What if instead of building a whole new machine, we just took out the back button?

TOM

Extracting that functionality from the code base is going to be pretty painful.

RAJEEV

No no no no no no. Think simpler. We just have to take out the physical back button.

TOM

Brilliant! We were completely overthinking it. You’re a genius Rajeev.

RAJEEV

Well I mean technically we both are.

The two share a chuckle at this.

INT. GIANTCORP CONFERENCE ROOM – DAY

Jeff has now turned his attention to the head of finance and initial ass-kisser, Frank.

JEFF

So Frank, I understand Richard’s shared some of the data regarding the price sensitivity concerns with you. Do you have any ideas on how we can approach this?

FRANK

Yes, I was thinking that we could begin to offer no money down financing on our time machines. I’ve run the numbers and even with pretty high projected default rates we’d actually be making quite a bit more on each machine thanks to the interest.

JEFF

Wait, are you proposing that we become a bank?

FRANK

Not exactly but I do think that we have the scale to be able to handle a simple financing program. Plus fintech is a growing market and--

JEFF

-- I know you’re pretty new here Frank so let me help you out a little. Unlike your old buddies over on Wall street who seem to have no issue with directly fucking over the poor for a quick dime, we really prefer to sleep at night with a clear conscience.

FRANK

Sorry, I guess I got excited by the potentially significant revenue stream. I’ll tell the guys to stop working on it.

JEFF

Don’t be silly Frank, we’re having trouble making next quarter’s target as is. We just need to find a way to contract out the actual lending while keeping the income. We have to be at least one step removed from that type of shit because unlike your banker buddies we’ve got a half decent reputation to maintain.

FRANK

Oh. Kind of like how Apple outsources to Foxconn?

JEFF

Exactly. See you’re picking up the Silicon Valley mindset already!

Frank’s face lights up at this validation. He smiles the way only a true sycophant can.

JEFF

Great so now that we got the money stuff out of the way let’s talk marketing. Liam, you’re up.

Liam, the overly enthusiastic and dresses-way-younger-than-he-actually-is head of marketing stands up and walks towards the other end of the table where a projector and screen are set up.

LIAM

Rather than walking you through a boring and mind-numbing marketing plan I thought I’d just show you one of the new ads we’ve been working on to target the urban demographic. After all if a pictures worth a thousand words then a video’s got to be worth a couple hundred million right? So without further ado, here it is. I really think you’ll enjoy it!

The lights in the room are dimmed and the ad begins to play on the screen.

A YOUNG BLACK BOY dribbles a basket ball down the street when he comes across a large billboard. His eyes widen and he immediately sprints back in the other direction.

A TATTOOED BLACK GANGBANGER is stopped at a red light in his lowrider with outrageous rims. He looks up at the sign and immediately screeches off into the distance.

AN OLD BLACK LADY in a ridiculous hat and her Sunday best comes across the billboard and faints.

The billboard is finally revealed.

BIG CORP TIME MACHINES NOW AVAILABLE WITH 0 MONEY DOWN

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING SOUNDING VOICE ACTOR (V.O.)

Free at last! Free at last! Giantcorp time machines are free at last!

The projector fades to black and a grinning Liam steps in front of the screen.

LIAM

What do you guys think? Amazing right?!

JEFF

Liam, it’s not often that I’m speechless.

A few executives share nervous looks. No one is quite sure whether Jeff means the good or bad type of speechless.

JEFF

It’s perfect. Let’s get this ad running as soon as we can. Way to end this meeting on a high note Liam! Debbie did we cover everything on the agenda?

DEBBIE (V.O.)

Jen wanted to cover some legal stuff related to the no money down financing but I don’t see her on the call. Her flight must’ve held her up.

JEFF

Thank god! Jen would only be a downer after that amazing work of art we just witnessed. Let’s call it a meeting and send her the minutes. And make sure to attach those two ads!

DEBBIE (V.O.)

Sure thing boss.

JEFF

That’s about it. Thanks for your time everyone!

Everyone shuffles out of the room. There is an eerie few moments of silence before the phone in the middle of the table lights up.

JEN (V.0.)

Hello, are you guys still there? It’s Jen. I’m so sorry about being late.

(beat)

Helloooo?

(email notification sound followed by another beat)

Meeting minutes already? That was fast.

We hear Jen beginning to watch the first of the two ads. She instantly recognizes what it is. Her voice suddenly sounds a lot more frustrated, a lot more southern and a lot more...black.

JEN

Oh hell naw. I’m finally finna quit if this is what we’re doing. My blood pressure’s way too high for this shit.