The following, “Family Affair” (script, excerpt), is an excerpt of a completed script by Jeff Kaliss.
Jeff Kaliss studies writing and jazz piano at CCSF after completing an MFA in Creative Writing at SFSU. His poetry appears in the Suisun Valley Review and he reads it around town. Jeff wrote a biography of Sly & the Family Stone and thousands of articles about music.
by Jeff Kaliss
EXT., YASGUR’S FARM, NEAR BETHEL, NEW YORK, AUGUST 16, 1969, CIRCA 4 AM.
FADE IN, over sound of an insistent rock drumbeat, to a scene tinted psychedelically:
PAN, hordes of slowly stirring sleeping hippies, most in sleeping bags across the occupied meadowland, some wandering half-naked, some smoking doobies. CAPTION: “Woodstock Music & Art Festival, Bethel, New York, August 16, 1969, 4 a.m. On stage: Sly & the Family Stone.” An amorous, still-sleepy HIPPY COUPLE, he black, she white, embrace as they listen:
SLY (OS, AMPLIFIED)
What we would like to do is, sing a song together.
(Pause) But most of us need approval.
HIPPY COUPLE embraces, kisses, then turns their smiling faces towards the glow of the stage. CUT to CU of SLY STONE, 26 years old:
Most of us need to get approval from our neighbors,
before we can actually let it all hang down.
CUT TO HIPPY COUPLE. He looks down towards his midsection, looks at her, they both start laughing. CUT back to:
Now, what we’re gonna do here is a singalong. A lot
of people don’t like to do that, because they think it
may be old-fashioned. But you must dig that it is not
a fashion in the first place! It’s a feeling, and if it was
good in the past, it is still good! So what I want you to
do, I’d like everybody to join in, when we say “Higher!”,
I want you to hold the peace sign up. It’ll do you no harm.
SLY starts to sing, against the continuing pulse of GREG’s drumming. INTERCUT with the hippy couple responding vocally and with peace signs.
(Chanting:) I wanna take you higher!
Chant is repeated.
Way up on the hill! I wanna hear y’all!!
CUT TO dusky vista of hippie throng on the hill, some distance from the stage. Many more now are standing and displaying peace signs, as well as many more illuminated joints.
CUT TO entire Sly & the Family Stone band on stage. JERRY, on saxophone, and CYNTHIA, on trumpet, launch into the brassy instrumental tag from “Music Lover”, then transition to “I Want to Take You Higher”, with SLY taking the lead on vocals and keyboard, ROSE on backup vocals, LARRY on backup vocals and bass, and FREDDIE on guitar, along with JERRY, CYNTHIA, and GREG. During the performance of the song, we get to see all of them in closeup, intercut with shots of an audience reclaimed from the night, the Hippy Couple among them, moving to the music. We may or may not run opening credits and the film title here. On the chorus line, “Baby light my fire”, the Hippy Couple can do just that. On the extended chant of “Boom-laka-laka-laka”, CROSSCUT to:
INT, LIMO, STREETS OF OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA, PRESENT DAY