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WeCrashed Scene: Sustaining Spirit in Startups

WeCrashed is a mini series about the founding, growth, and downfall of the commercial real estate company WeWork.

My favorite scene shows the founder and his wife returning to the essence of WeWork in the wake of “lifeless” formalities. They are frustrated by the robotic quality of the S-1 document that’s needed to take their company public and decide to replace legal speak with words of passion that align with the company’s mission. To tap into the spirit of WeWork and discover new words, they throw papers, center themselves, and strike a gong inside the WeWork headquarters.

The scene starts at 32:11 in Episode 7. You can watch this scene by subscribing to Apple TV+. There is currently no official clip on YouTube.

Scene Meaning

The meaning of this scene is to not pander to people in positions of power or submit to traditional ways of doing business if they are not aligned with a mission that is positive in nature and responsible for making a company successful. You must find ways to uphold the spirit of a company’s mission during times of difficulty. To do this, you must seek to understand the point of view of people in positions of power and traditional ways of doing business. Adam and Rebekah do this by reviewing the S-1s of companies with successful IPOs. Then, you must create space for something better. Adam and Rebekah do this by centering themselves in the heart of the WeWork headquarters.

Scene Lift

After joining a high-growth startup as an early employee, I published disruptive content that helped us attract iconic investors. But, as the company grew, so did formalities that subdued the spirit of the company. I challenged these formalities and my managers and HR turned against me. Was I crazy to think spirit had a place in high-growth business? No. But I was alone in thinking this. Even then, I knew spirit was worth advocating for and leaving a company for. Like Adam did at WeWork and like I did at that startup. True growth over topical business growth is what matters.

Scene Script

This is my fan version of the script. I wrote it to connect with the scene on another level and practice screenwriting.

INT. WEWORK HQ LOBBY - DAY

Rebekah exits her office at the top of the stairs, cradling the stack of S-1 filings from other companies. We see Adam on a couch below reviewing some papers. She walks down.
Now, standing in front of him...

REBEKAH
You were right.

She raises the S-1 filings for him to see. They become flimsy in the air.

REBEKAH
They're useless. Lifeless.

She slaps them down on another paper stack nearby. Frustrated.

ADAM
Dead things.

She needs to sit down.

REBEKAH
It reminded me of why I hated working on Wall Street.

She recovers.

REBEKAH
What's that?

ADAM
These. More dead things from the lawyers. Take a look.

He hands her his papers.

REBEKAH
Risk factors? One: Our rapid growth might not be sustainable. Two: We have a history of losses and if we continue to grow at an accelerated rate we may be unable to achieve profitability for the foreseeable future.

ADAM
And? The number three. Small men...

He stands and takes papers from the stack.

ADAM
Proceed...

He WHIPS them into the air.

ADAM
From fear!

He sends more FLYING out.

Rebekah follows.

REBEKAH
And we!

Another WHIP.

REBEKAH
Are not!

She sends more FLYING out.

REBEKAH
Small!

They turn toward each other, on the edge of epiphany.

ADAM
No! And we proceed from hope. From creativity. Imagination. And-

He places his hand over his heart.

ADAM
From love.

He presents his open hand to her. Their connection is returning.

REBEKAH
Okay.

She moves closer to Adam and points with both hands at his heart.

REBEKAH
So how do we capture that?

ADAM
Creation began with a word, right?

REBEKAH
So what are our words?

He moves toward the gong.

ADAM
Come. Come, come, come, come, come.

He positions the gong center with the stairwell. Rebekah removes her jacket and throws it to the side.

He hands her a mallet and picks up his own. They stand at opposite ends of the gong, facing each other.

He inhales deeply. They close their eyes.

ADAM
The word...

They put their hands in prayer pose. We hold here.

Adam's eyes flash open.

ADAM
Community.

He SMASHES the gong with the mallet and it makes a CRASHING sound that fills the room. Rebekah laughs, nearly keeling over with joy.

Adam waves his mallet in the air, celebrating.
Rebekah raises her hands. Something is coming to her like in an epic game of Charades.

REBEKAH
Consciousness.

She SMASHES the gong. Another CRASH fills the room. She jumps up and down. The joy flows through her unfiltered.

ADAM
Growth!

Another SMASH and CRASH.

REBEKAH
Spiritual growth!

SMASH and CRASH.

ADAM
Intention!

SMASH and CRASH.

The words pour out of them now.

REBEKAH
(louder)
Positivity!

ADAM
(even louder)
Meaning!

REBEKAH
(the loudest)
Hope!

She SMASHES the gong a final time with everything she hopes for.

ADAM
We.

REBEKAH
We!

Adam sees Rebekah as she is. Speechless. The vibration of the gong seals the space between them.

ADAM
I am nothing without you.

They embrace and kiss.

Scene Notes

  • You can get a sense of the real Adam and Rebekah in this interview.
  • The soundtrack for this series helps make this scene powerful. You can listen to it on Spotify or YouTube.
  • The director of this scene, Tinge Krishnan, directed three episodes for the HBO series Industry. This series has atmospheric tones like WeCrashed.

By Robert Gibb

Practicing screenwriting and writer @ Scene Lift

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