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Friday, August 28, 2015

Cooked – Short Script Review (Available for Production) - posted by wonkavite

Laptop-Shorts

Cooked

A this-or-that of urban legends as an old cat lady goes about her day. …

There’s something about mixing horror and comedy that just works so well.  You know, like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – mix chocolate and peanut butter (or is that peanut butter and chocolate?), and the result is better than any single ingredient.  Doubt me on that?  Try some of these titles on for size: Army of Darkness, Shaun of the Dead,  American Werewolf in London (in parts.).  ‘Nuff said.  Game, set and match.

Following in that noble of tradition of laughing at potentially grisly events, Cooked follows the story of little old lady Barbara, as she pulls into her driveway.  Her son Jacob has lent her the family cat for a day of fur-baby sitting – and Barbara’s thrilled.  But, as old people sometimes are (especially in films), Barbara can be a bit… absentminded.  As the script progresses, the feline dangers in house begin to mount.  An open microwave.  Upended knives in the sink.  Will Barbara be a good grand-mamma to little pussy?  Or is there a cat-astrophe in their future?

Give Cooked a read.  It’s a fun little script with a strong ending.  And hey…  any script that endangers a cat is fine with me.

About the writer: Chris Shamburger was a semi-finalist in the 2011 Shriekfest Film Festival and finalist (Top 10) in 2013 for his recently-produced script, Hiccups. He was a semi-finalist in the 2008 Straight Twisted Horror Screenplay Contest and has been published in Twisted Dreams Magazine and Horror in Words. He lives in Marietta, GA with his partner and their Chow-mix rescue, Walter. Aside from writing, Chris has been teaching pre-kindergarten for the past five years.

Pages: 4

Budget: Low budget ; the entire script takes place at a single house (interior and exterior shots.)  One character.  Two, if you count the cat.  Which  is probably the only tricky part.  But that’s what stuffed props are for!! Or housecats you no longer need…

READ THE SCRIPT HERE – AND DON’T FORGET TO COMMENT!!

FOR YET MORE SCRIPTS AVAILABLE FOR PRODUCTION:

PLEASE SEARCH SIMPLYSCRIPTS.COM

OR THE BLOG VERSION OF STS HERE.

All screenplays are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved. The screenplays may not be used without the expressed written permission of the author.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Fabric – Short Script Review (Available for Production) - posted by wonkavite

Fabric

“A newly hired accountant searches through a village balance sheet to weed out inefficiencies. But is cutting corners always wise?”

Anticipation; it’s an experience vital for any script reader. Not to mention film audiences everywhere. Want to experience that tingly, edge-of-your-seat sensation?

Then crack open a script. And stop. Page One.

There it is. Can you feel it?

Before reading a single paragraph – anticipation’s the emotion you crave. That foreboding sense of things to come; the ebb and flow of narrative.

Now, imagine sitting in the theater. The lights dim; your dreams and hopes soon to appear. I hope this movie’s really good. You focus attention on the screen. And before you know it, the story grabs you by your very soul. Anticipation rules the day. Your sense of wonder; riveted. What’s going to happen next? That’s the best question of them all. What a captivating feeling!

The undercurrent of Anthony Cawood’s script Fabric, Anticipation is a gift to any script reader. One that keeps on giving.

The hero of our story: Jeremy Saunders – a newbie 20-something accountant, hired by a tiny village to audit its stumbling finances. When we first meet him, nebbish Jeremy’s hard at work at his PC – scrutinizing questionable payroll activity. The suspicious sum: “twenty thousand pounds a year” – an exorbitant amount being paid to some local man named Pater. And Pater’s “services” are suspect: winding the one and only church clock in town. One single time. Every day.

Though he presents his findings, Jeremy finds his concerns rebuffed by superiors: Pater provides an “essential service”, Old Man Gutherie claims. That of ‘clock winder’? How can this be? Unsatisfied by Gutherie’s dismissal, Jeremy’s bean-counter mind rebels. So he strikes off to tour the village, interviewing reluctant town folk everywhere. His mission: to uncover the suspected scam – in search of ‘truth’ and ‘clarity’.

As they say – game on.

As the day winds towards a close, Jeremy’s quest for Pater widens. Eventually, he tracks the elusive man down – meeting Pater at his very door.

And so, the mystery is laid bare. Who truly is Pater? Does he exist? And what do his “services” actually mean? A delicious underdog fantasy, Fabric weaves anticipation into a lyrical tale. One filled with wonder, and a pevertedly satisfying moral twist: “Be careful what you wish for. Pursue one’s questions, if you dare…”

Are you a director with imagination? Then give fairy-tale Fabric a whirl. Anticipation is a beautiful ingredient. One that will fill your audience’s hearts. Not to mention, the silver screen.

Pages: 16

Budget: A small challenge, due to the rural setting. You’ll need some creativity to pull this one off, but the story is so worth it. 😀

About the Reviewer: California über reader/reviewer KP Mackie is working on a historical feature.

About the Writer, Anthony Cawood: I’m an award winning screenwriter from the UK with over 15 scripts produced, optioned and/or purchased. Outside of my screenwriting career, I’m also a published short story writer and movie reviewer. Links to my films and details of my scripts can be found at: www.anthonycawood.co.uk

READ THIS SCRIPT HERE – AND DON’T FORGET TO COMMENT!

FOR YET MORE SCRIPTS AVAILABLE FOR PRODUCTION:

PLEASE SEARCH SIMPLYSCRIPTS.COM

OR THE BLOG VERSION OF STS HERE.

All screenplays are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved. The screenplays may not be used without the expressed written permission of the author.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Zombie Chicken – Short Script Review (Available for Production) - posted by wonkavite

ZOMBIE CHICKEN

Big brothers will always scare little brothers.  Even after a zombie apocalypse

If you’ve ever had an older sibling, chances are you’ve been the target of a prank, a butt of a joke, or even be falsely accused of a crime you didn’t commit.  Big brothers and sisters will always have your back, but let’s face it, sometimes they can be real jerks.

Then, of course, there’s always urban legends specifically created to scare the crap out of unknowing, naïve little kids.  You know, the ones that sound almost too weird to be true, but will still keep you awake all night shaking under your covers.

Such is the tale of the Zombie Chicken.

Our story begins at Creek Farms.  Immediately, we know from the maximum security fences and guard towers that this is no ordinary idyllic rural landscape.  And soon afterwards, we discover this is no ordinary world. Indeed.

Two young boys, Oscar and Michael, gather eggs in the chicken coop while they discuss a disturbing story about a man accused of stealing food and being fed to — zombies.

Could this be true, or is it just a legend created to scare people straight?  Even if they doubt there’s any truth behind the story, Oscar and Michael aren’t brave enough to find out.

After their chores are finished, they encounter Michael’s younger brother Billy, and decide to scare him with their own urban legend about a hideous, undead creature known as the zombie chicken. Billy refuses to believe the older boys, but it’s too late – the seed has been planted in the young one’s impressionable brain.

Is the zombie chicken stalking Billy, waiting for a chance to peck him and turn him into one of the undead?  Or is Billy the gullible victim of his brother’s vindictiveness?

Author Phil Clarke Jr. captures the innocence of childhood in a dangerous world.  Even in the most deadly situations, kids will be kids. Even after the zombie apocalypse.

Zombie Chicken is that rare horror film which is both suitable for and stars pre-teens.  Directors who enjoy working with young actors and are fans of the horror genre have an opportunity  to  make a truly scary family film. Just think about how much this one could stand out – and keep your audiences talking!

Pages: 9

Budget: Small.  A stock shot of a prison.  A farm location complete with chickens.  And, of course, the dreaded zombie chicken.  Friends of guys like Rick Baker – should totally apply.

About the Guest Reviewer:  David M Troop has been writing since he could hold a No. 2 pencil.  He’s a contributor and award winner on websites such as the late lamented MoviePoet.com, WriterArena.com, and this here one.

About the Author: Phil Clarke, Jr. is a contest winning writer who has had multiple feature films optioned.  Produced shorts of Phil’s have been featured at Cannes and Clermont Ferrand.  More of his work is available at his website: www.philclarkejr.com.  (IMDB Credits listed here.)

READ THE SCRIPT HERE – AND DON’T FORGET TO COMMENT!!

FOR YET MORE SCRIPTS AVAILABLE FOR PRODUCTION:

PLEASE SEARCH SIMPLYSCRIPTS.COM

OR THE BLOG VERSION OF STS HERE.

All screenplays are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved. The screenplays may not be used without the expressed written permission of the author.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Afraid of the Dark – Short Script Review (Available for Production) - posted by wonkavite

AFRAID OF THE DARK

In a world over-run by electricity-consuming monsters, only one source of power remains…

The Creature From The Black Lagoon, The War Of The Worlds,  Cloverfield, The Thing…

Notice a common theme? That’s right – monsters. In all their slimy, shape-shifting, slamming, shrieking, marauding glory. A few other films with monsters that leave a lasting impression: Alien, The Day of The Triffids, The Fly, and that granddaddy of all monster flicks (recently remade) – the 1954 classic, Godzilla.

The creation of the monster/creature feature has long held our attention. As a genre, Science Fiction and in particular ‘end of the world’ scenarios gained renewed popularity following World War II and the advent of the Cold War, when the combined fears of foreign occupation and the threat of global annihilation by nuclear weapons entered the public consciousness.

In Afraid Of The Dark Paul Clarke creates a unique monster of his own imagination. Cleverly combining elements of sci-fi, horror, and heart-pumping action, with a cursory nod to The Matrix and sub-genre cyberpunk, the story is set against that perennial crowd-pleasing backdrop of a post-apocalyptic ruin – burning waste, burned out cars, weeds, no electricity…

We open on a darkened room in the dead of winter. A conversation takes place between a young woman and a child, both of them huddled over their only source of light and heat, a solitary tungsten bulb. But this bulb is not connected to a cord and it’s not plugged into the wall. Instead we’re given a rather startling and surreal image. The bulb is connected to a writhing and pulsating black blob. And that blob is locked inside a cage.

The bulb is just about to go out. And for the remaining survivors now forced to live in lockdown, it appears time is running out.

Cue our protagonist and the female narrator of the tale and her retelling of how the beast came to be:

WOMAN (V.O.)

No one knows where they came from.

Some say a meteorite. Some say from

deep under the Earth. Others even

believe they’re something we cooked

up in a lab.  …

Whatever this monster is, and wherever it came from, there’s no doubt it is nightmare inducing… a formidable monster with a selective appetite.  Appetite for what? Well, you’ll just have crack this one open to find out.

Let’s just say the hunter is about to become the hunted. The remaining survivors are going to have to use the one element in the beast’s arsenal that they now need to survive – the beast himself.

Afraid Of The Dark is a richly layered and allegorical tale with a specific cautionary message about our reliance on energy and technology.

Filmmakers: Want to jumpstart your sci-fi/horror short-film career? Well, this one has the spark and surge you’ve been waiting for, and the power to leave audiences with a long lasting impression.

Pages: 10

Budget: Mid-range. You want a decent budget to do this right. But trust us – this one’s worth it!

About the reviewer: Libby Chambers has been writing all her life. Over her career, she’s worked in the Features Department for ABC TV as a Program Assistant, trained as a FAD, and served professionally as a freelance web-content editor and proofreader. She lives with her husband (also a screenwriter) in Sydney, Australia, and describes him as being both a good and a bad influence on her writing. You can contact Libby at libbych “AT” hotmail

About the writer: Paul Clarke is an Australian based screenwriter who works as a cinema manager by day and paid coverage writer by night. His success so far has included a top 10 place in the Writer’s Store Industry Insider competition. And is currently working on a selection of short, feature, and pilot scripts. He can be reached at paul.clarke.scripts “AT” gmail

READ THE SCRIPT HERE – AND DON’T FORGET TO COMMENT!!

FOR YET MORE SCRIPTS AVAILABLE FOR PRODUCTION:

PLEASE SEARCH SIMPLYSCRIPTS.COM

OR THE BLOG VERSION OF STS HERE.

All screenplays are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved. The screenplays may not be used without the expressed written permission of the author.

 

 

Monday, August 24, 2015

El Paso Loco Luchadoras – Optioned! - posted by wonkavite

Yep, the notorious CJ Walley does it again!  This time, STS is thrilled to announce that El Paso Loco Luchadoras has been optioned to director Darian Fardghassemi in Dallas Texas!  Fortunately for you indie directors out there, CJ’s got a lot more available.  We have a few scripts currently in queue, and some reviews you should check out right away:

Dixie Gash Bandits – When they stop to fix their get-a-way vehicle, two runaway sisters must tackle both love at first sight and the bounty hunters hot on their tail.

Lone Star Runner Hunnies – Fleeing a drug deal gone wrong, four girls held up in a lonely Texas diner face the dilemma of capture vs saving a mortally wounded friend.

About the writer, C.J. WalleyI began writing in 2012 and I’m pleased to say it’s been very exciting so far. I have been fortunate enough to have a short produced by a director in London and Amazon Studios have spotlighted one of my features as a notable project. My scripts place within the top 10% of various major screenwriting competitions and, as I continue to write new specs, I am remotely collaborating with a producers, directors, and actors in LA, NYC, New Orleans, Atlanta, Washington DC, Zurich, Amsterdam, Sydney, and Dallas while occasionally blogging for Stage 32.  If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, then I’d love to join forces with you whatever the scale, do not hesitate to reach out and drop me a line. (CJ “AT” CJwalley DOT COM; http://www.cjwalley.com

Friday, August 21, 2015

Dixie Gash Bandits – Short Script Review (Available for Production) - posted by wonkavite

“Dixie Gash Bandits”

When they stop to fix their get-a-way vehicle, two runaway sisters must tackle both love at first sight and the bounty hunters hot on their tail.

I believe Mr. Torrance said it best when he tapped: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Pulling for good to triumph over evil is human nature. Rooting for and wanting to be the bad guys once in awhile – it’s just fun. Especially when they’re on the run.

Butch and Sundance riding from state to state. Bonnie and Clyde driving from bank to bank. Thelma and Louise flying in their T-Bird to a better life. We all have an inner want to be the one pushing the pedal to the floor, thumbing authority as we streak down the highway.

In the opening scene of CJ Walley’s “Dixie Gash Bandits,” a Mustang blazes down said highway through the night and we know we’re in for a helluva ride. The car is being pushed to the limit by Savannah, whose sister Ginger implores her to ease up on the gas and give their stallion a break. No way Savannah’s giving in. And no way these women are going back or stopping for whatever’s chasing.

The stage is set for the entire story in less than half a page. Brilliant.

GINGER

You’re pushin’ too hard.

SAVANNAH

Baby, you run fast enough for long

enough, people have to stop chasin’.

GINGER

Yeah, and if you run too fast or push too hard,

you crash and burn. You’re burnin’ us up.

They’re running on empty and troubles a comin’. Savannah spots a lonely and much-needed gas station “with small store and a rusting hut workshop” and pulls the tired ‘Stang into its lot. Is this gas station an oasis or their final resting place? Or neither?

A mechanic, Bobby, saunters out. He stares a little too long at Savannah. Instant connection.

BOBBY

What can I do you for?

 The Mustang hisses, steam erupts, a definite foreshadowing of the steam to come after Savannah admits “we got cash flow problems.” Soon after, she and Bobby crash as one into the workshop, kissing, groping and unbuttoning.

Not too far off in the horizon, relentless and ruthless bounty hunters Colt (what an awesome name for a “suited and booted” good old boy) and Jessie are hot on the sisters’ trail, questioning a man about Savannah and Ginger’s whereabouts when…BANG! Question time is over. Man slumps.

COLT

Now that was an overreaction.

JESSIE

No, that was a waste of time. Now

what? I’m getting impatient.

 You won’t lose patience racing through the rest of this tightly-woven tale as Jessie and Colt catch up to the runaways at their gas station. The story ends with multiple bangs as all five characters find themselves in a bloody shootout leaving just two survivors.

Do Savannah and Ginger go down in a blaze of glory a la Butch and Sundance? Do they go out on their own terms like Thelma and Louise? Or, do they write their own classic ending? I’m guessing you know which and you also know this superbly-written story will find a director faster then you can type “All work and no play….”

Pages: 8

Budget: Find a kick-ass Mustang and a rusty old gas station and call ‘er a day, partner.

About the reviewer: Zack Zupke is a writer in Los Angeles. Zack was a latch-key kid (insert “awww” here) whose best friend was a 19-inch color television (horrific, he knows). His early education (1st grade on) included watching countless hours of shows like “M*A*S*H,” “Star Trek” and “The Odd Couple” and movies like “The Godfather,” “Rocky” and “Annie Hall.” Flash forward to present day and his short “The Confession” was recently produced by Trident Technical College in Charleston, SC. He’s currently working on a futuristic hitman thriller with a partner and refining a dramedy pilot perfect for the likes of FX. You can reach Zack at zzupke “at” yahoo.

About the writer, C.J. Walley: I began writing in 2012 and I’m pleased to say it’s been very exciting so far. I have been fortunate enough to have a short produced by a director in London and Amazon Studios have spotlighted one of my features as a notable project. My scripts place within the top 10% of various major screenwriting competitions and, as I continue to write new specs, I am remotely collaborating with a producers, directors, and actors in LA, NYC, New Orleans, Atlanta, Washington DC, Zurich, Amsterdam, Sydney, and Dallas while occasionally blogging for Stage 32.  If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, then I’d love to join forces with you whatever the scale, do not hesitate to reach out and drop me a line. (CJ “AT” CJwalley DOT COM; http://www.cjwalley.com

 READ THIS SCRIPT HERE – AND DON’T FORGET TO COMMENT!

FOR YET MORE SCRIPTS AVAILABLE FOR PRODUCTION:

PLEASE SEARCH SIMPLYSCRIPTS.COM

OR THE BLOG VERSION OF STS HERE.

All screenplays are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved. The screenplays may not be used without the expressed written permission of the author.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Shelter – Short Script Review (Available for Production) - posted by wonkavite

Shelter

A homeless teen faces eviction from a men’s shelter – the last haven in his troubled world.

Theres no story if there isnt some conflict. The memorable things are usually not how pulled-together everybody is. I think everybody feels lonely and trapped sometimes. I think its more or less the norm. – Wes Anderson, six-time Oscar nominee, three times for screenwriting.

Ask any screenwriter. Conflict glues a story together. It’s an inevitable binding ingredient; essential for one’s masterpiece. Depicted in war, drama and action, Conflict’s always effective. Both to a macro – and micro – degree.

In his rivetingly tale Shelter, talented scribe Bill Sarre wields conflict with subtlety. As we journey through the script, Wes Anderson’s words ring out clear as a bell. “…everybody feels lonely and trapped sometimes.” The result is a truly gripping story – on a raw, bone achingly personal scale.

The two main characters: Daren, a 17-year-old denizen of the New Hope Mens Shelter, and 50-year-old Maggie – the world weary mistress of the space. Daren is a good kid – but one plagued by substance abuse issues. Not to mention homelessness. It’s a brutal life for anyone to survive. And unimaginable for a teen. And as bad as it is, it’s about to get worse. As the script opens, Daren’s hopes spiral out of control when his best friend is gunned down in a drug deal. Daren reacts to the news by trashing his room. He passes out in a drunken binge… bringing down Maggie’s wrath on his head. A woman at the breaking point, she shrieks at Daren: “I thought you were different. But you’re just like the rest…” Disappointed by his actions, Maggie screams at Daren. She demands he pack his things. And leave….

Enter Lucinda – Daren’s guardian angel. A bright and cheerful case worker, Lucinda is the teen’s only hope – stuck between Daren’s hard knock life and the world weary pain of Maggie. Stepping into harm’s way, Lucinda fights for Daren. She gently leads the teen through his problems. And begs Maggie for compromise.

The result as the narrative unfolds: a dizzying literary display of characters – conflict and despair. A dramatic masterpiece ala Wes Anderson, Bill Sarre’s Shelter is a raw, crisis riddled tale. Drama directors take note: Shelters a ‘slice of life’ story for the festivals – one that speaks of strength of character. Not to mention kindness. And hope.

Pages: 7

Budget: Low. The main ingredients: modern settings. Solid actors. P.S. If someone makes this movie, let me suggest the music for the closing credits here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJtq6OmD-_Y

About the reviewer: Helen Magellan (a pseudonym) is a successful screenwriter with several produced short scripts under her belt.

About the writer: An award winning writer, Bill Sarre has had scripts place both finalist and quarter finalist with Page and Bluecat.  Another short of his, The Grieving Spell, was recently grand prize winner of the London Film Awards. Bill can be reached at Bill.sarre “AT” gmail.com

READ THE SCRIPT HERE – AND DON’T FORGET TO COMMENT!!

FOR YET MORE SCRIPTS AVAILABLE FOR PRODUCTION:

PLEASE SEARCH SIMPLYSCRIPTS.COM

OR THE BLOG VERSION OF STS HERE.

All screenplays are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved. The screenplays may not be used without the expressed written permission of the author.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Danny Manus No Bullscript Analysis – Thistles - posted by wonkavite

Recently, STS reviewed Mark Lyons’ very raw, and very real dramatic script, Thistles.  (Script available here.) As readers of Shootin’ the Shorts are aware, our goal at STS is to find new and promising writers, and provide them with the platform they need to get their work seen (then hopefully optioned, and produced!)

One of our not-so-secret weapons in this quest is Danny Manus of No BullScript Consulting. Having worked as a development executive in Hollywood, Danny is an in-demand script consultant, named by Creative Screenwriting Magazine at one of the “Top 15” consultants in their “Cream of the Crop” list.   Partnered with STS, Danny provides wonderfully detailed and helpful notes for the monthly STS feature script.  This coverage is provided free to the writer, and can be posted our site or kept confidential – at the writer’s discretion. But wait – there’s more!  Any script that gets a coveted “recommend” from tough but eminently fair Danny will be featured in his monthly newsletter and may also receive further exposure to his production contacts…

Below, please find Danny’s notes/coverage for Thistles. Read, learn, comment…. and don’t forget to submit your best work for possible review!

**To submit a script, please visit STS at the page listed HERE. Danny can also be contacted directly via the No BullScript Consulting website at http://www.nobullscript.net/contact/. Or on Twitter @DannyManus.

About the writer of Thistles: Mark Lyons is a screenwriter from Youngstown, Ohio. He’s written several scripts, most notably ‘Best Film’ award winner “God’s Empty Acre”, which was filmed as ‘Girl(s)’, at the 2013 Winter Shorts Film Festival and Best Drama at the 2013 World Independent Film Expo. He has also written the feature “Thistles” which was a Quarter-Finalist in the 2013 Bluecat Screenwriting Competition and the short “Ginger” which was a Finalist at the 2013 Shriekfest Film Festival. He can be reached at markielyons “AT” yahoo

NO BULLSCRIPT ANALYSIS

Title: Thistles

Type of Material: Screenplay

Author: Mark Lyons

Number of Pages: 92

Circa: Present

Location: Ohio/Urban City

Genre: Drama

Coverage Date: 8/12/15

Budget Range: Low

LOGLINE: A junior high school student’s crush on her teacher leads to seduction, murder and brutal and shocking consequences that neither of them could have anticipated.

COMMENTS: Mark, thank you for submitting your script “Thistles” to Simply Scripts. In the subsequent pages, I will go through the things that work well and what still needs to be worked on, developed, or changed to make this a more viable and commercial script and series.

I’m going to be as blunt in the notes as you are in the writing of this script. I’ve read many thousands of scripts and this is easily one of the most disturbing, twisted, upsetting, and brutal scripts I’ve ever read. And I love films like Hard Candy, Kids, Bully, Precious, etc. that tackle disturbing topics in interestingly dramatic or artistic ways. But if Precious met A Serbian Film, this script might be the result. And while a disturbing and unsettling tone is set up early on, with the young girls talking about what they’d do to grown men on pg 9, it really goes so far over the edge in the third act that there’s no going back. I could list maybe 3 scripts I’ve ever read that viscerally made me want to gag, and this is one of them. It’s nicely written overall, but very simply, there are just some things no producer would touch or want to film. And your third act fits that bill.

The story of a disillusioned urban teen’s seduction of her alcoholic yet very caring and supportive (white) teacher is already pushing the envelope, but in a good way. That concept can work if done well. An African American Lolita meets Precious. And you have a few very intriguing plot points and shocking twists pushing the story forward, including the death of Sazha’s brother at the hands of her teacher because of the assumed affair going on. When Sazha finally seduces him in his inebriated state and gets what she wants, I actually assumed she was going to turn on him and use that to destroy him to get vengeance for her brother…but this story takes a very different direction.

It’s a morally complex story, and I do appreciate that. It gives us enough twists and turns that the reader and audience is constantly being challenged to be at odds with our own thoughts and expectations. That can be very powerful. But for me, it just. Goes. Too. Far.

Structurally, you have a very interestingly told story. Each major plot twist really pushes the story in a new direction. An unexpected direction. You have major moments that really stand out (some for good reasons, some not), and you have a solid inciting incident, end of your first act, turning points, a hell of a midpoint, and then a build in your third act (which I’ll discuss in a moment). The opening of the script made me wonder what year this movie takes place in because the use of VHS makes it seem pretty dated, and even the school and the English lesson and the pop-it’s the kids throw at him feel a bit dated.

Crandall is set up as this pitiful character with a sad backstory who clearly has his demons but wants to do the right thing. And his story is really a tragedy, with his suicide at the midpoint being another shocking and pretty unexpected moment that jars the reader and makes us continually wonder – where could this story be going next? Crandall is somewhat of the protagonist of the story despite his actions or interactions with Sazha. We do pity him and feel for him, and even forgive his illegal transgressions, which makes us question ourselves. But once he’s gone, the script becomes something else.

Crandall is an interesting character in that he invites his 12 year old student to his home for tutoring, but then rebuffs her. But then gives in, but then feels guilty. And then with Crandall’s letters/notebook that Sazha finds, I at first thought that he had written letters to ALL the students he had molested and that he really was a bad guy and she was discovering this while reading the letters and realizing that she’s not as special as she thought she was. But in the end, they turn out to be really sweet, kind, redeeming letters to his students that show how good of a guy he was.

A small note with Crandall, but you introduce him twice on page 4. His physical description at the bottom of the page should come at the top when you tell us about his receding hairline.

Turrell sees what he assumes is Crandall taking advantage of Sazha through the window, but he doesn’t go right over there and kick his ass or do anything. He waits until a couple days later to actually kill him. Why?

With Clyde, he seems like a very supportive friend but we don’t meet him until the AA meeting and suddenly he and Crandall are talking about school and the kids and curriculum. We need to see him at the school first to set up that he even works there. And it’s not clear that he’s the Principal until later.

One of my favorite and most emotionally tense scenes in the whole script is when Crandall gets on the bus that Cora is driving after Turrell’s murder, and she realizes who he is and confronts him. It’s a very cool way for them to cross paths, and it’s a powerful moment and a strong scene. However, I don’t believe that a woman who could do what she does in the third act to a baby and her own pregnant mother, wouldn’t at least PUNCH Crandall and go crazy on him in this scene. It’s also a little odd that Cora doesn’t know who he is as soon as she sees him. Doesn’t she know what the killer looks like and who he is? Doesn’t she know that Sazha’s teacher IS the killer? Doesn’t Crandall know that Cora is the mother? Wouldn’t this have all been on the news or at least around the neighborhood? They live directly across the street from each other!

Similarly, it’s unclear if Cora knows that Crandall is dead or killed himself in the third act because she seems to not address this on page 76 when Sazha tells him who the father is. She connects the dots to him being Turrell’s killer, but she seems to care more about the fact that her daughter is sleeping with a grown white man than her son’s killer.

It’s almost always a good thing when a script and a story can get a visceral and emotional reaction from readers…but if you take it too far, you will lose them and then the connection is over. The sex on page 52 you could probably shoot around and if the actress is over 16 and just looks younger, it could be okay. But not what happens on page 74 and continues thru to the end. For me, the fine line between cinematically disturbing and edgy and unfilmable is crossed and then goes even further, and I could no longer tell who would watch this movie.

And it’s not just the action that Cora takes at the start of this sequence, which would be enough to turn a viewer off. It’s really the quadruple-beat of; the hardcore beating of a pregnant 13 year old, the incest reveal of her brother raping her, the stabbing of a premature baby as it’s coming out of her vagina by her own grandmother, and then seeing the actual aborted birth and taking PIECES of the chopped up baby and putting it in a box and carrying it around? There is very little that truly disturbs me while I’m reading – but these 13 pages were almost unreadable because of its truly graphic nature.

There are a number of strong themes and societal issues that this story tackles in truly disturbing albeit original ways. Obviously abortion, teen pregnancy, teachers sleeping with students, the lack of education and the growing amount of violence and sexuality in urban cities, parenting, etc. But thematic films or message movies that are too on the nose or too graphic will not find an audience (at least not a large enough one) because people go to the movies to be entertained first and foremost. The abortion protests are very in your face and I’m not sure why Cora is SO hardcore against it. Clearly she does a 180 in her feelings, but it’s so out of character for her and SO extreme, that it doesn’t feel very believable. She was vehemently against safe, medically-induced Planned Parenthood abortions in the first trimester, but has no problem stabbing an 8 month old premature baby in the head as its being born with a wooden stake and mutilating her daughter on the kitchen floor? I just don’t buy it no matter how mad she gets.

The urban market is growing and there are a number of producers, directors and actors looking for projects that connect with many of the messages and themes confronted within this story. And actresses love to play dirty, ugly and mean. But I honestly don’t know an actress who would want to play the role of Cora. There are some things actresses just won’t do and I worry this is one of them.

Turning to the dialogue, I think it feels genuine to the characters and the world, and there are a number of well-written lines throughout. The writing is strong, and it’s obviously very visceral and impactful on the page. Taking that ability and bringing it to a more commercial concept I think would really make your voice stand out.

I do have a few additional page/line notes:

Pg 20 – Crandall’s dialogue at the bottom is awkwardly worded and doesn’t quite make sense.

Pg 34 – Maybe you don’t have to tell us that it’s Turrell on page 33 that jumps out and that Crandall kills until the next page when Sazha comes in and sees the body and runs towards it and THAT is the moment we realize it’s Turrell’s and that’s why he’s there. I think that might create a stronger moment and reveal.

Pg 66 – Why doesn’t the OB Nurse advise her to abort?

Pg 67 – The egg, making sure not to break the yolk is nice symbolism. It does not go unnoticed.

Pg 69 – It’s unclear how far long Sazha is by now. You have to track that. And she’s not set up as being big boned, so I didn’t know how it wasn’t obvious and showing.

Pg 87 – Patton’s dialogue is pretty racist at the bottom.

Pg 91 – Smithers has some serious self-control. I would have looked.

Overall, the script is well-written and visually written, and the first half of the script is disturbing in an intriguing and dramatic way with nice unexpected twists. It presents timely themes and issues and in morally complex ways. But the last 20 pages just go so far over the edge that I’m not sure who could or would want to watch that on film. It’s so brutally and disgustingly graphic that even if this script were perfectly written, I couldn’t send this to executives because I don’t think they will enjoy the read. And I could only imagine the phone calls I’d get. As a writing sample, I worry that you will turn more execs off than impress them. Plus, you have a slutty black 12 year old, a creepy white adult, and some truly dark and depressing storylines, so I’m not sure what the demographic is for the movie. There are some really strong moments in this script and I can appreciate your writing style, but it’s not a commercial concept the way it plays out and I don’t know any producers who would make this. I’d give a CONSIDER to the writing, but the last 20 pages would make it a PASS for me. But keep writing! And best of luck! Thanks again Mark for submitting your script “Thistles” to Simply Scripts, and congratulations on being the featured script of the month!

NO BULLSCRIPT 20 POINT GRADING SHEET AND RECOMMENDATION:

PROJECT: CONSIDER W/RESERVATIONS

Elements Excellent Solid Needs Work Poor
Concept/Premise X
Story X
Structure X
Conflict/Drama X
Consistent Tone X
Pacing X
Stakes X
Climax X
Resolution/Ending X
Overall Characters X
Protagonist X
Antagonist X
Dialogue X
Transitions X
Format, Spelling, Grammar, Pg Count X
Well Defined Theme X
Commercial Appeal/Hook X
Overall Originality X
Production Value X
International Appeal X

 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Family Business – Short Script Review (Optioned!) - posted by wonkavite

Family Business

In Mickey Dolan’s world, blood means you’re related. It doesn’t mean you’re family.

Family quarrels are bitter things. They dont go according to any rules. Theyre not like aches or wounds; theyre more like splits in the skin that wont heal because theres not enough material. – F. Scott Fitzgerald

As grizzly an image as it may be, a “split in the skin that won’t heal” is a woefully inadequate description of the family quarrel at the heart of Family Business, a short screenplay by Damien Michael Aulsberry.

Why? For starters, the “family business” in question is crime, and the head of the family, Jack, is a crime lord. A mobster. And like so many fathers, he’d be pleased if his son Mickey followed in his footsteps, but Mickey has no taste for the criminal life. He wants out.

So Jack calls on one of his hired guns, Liam, to talk sense into Mickey. And if that doesn’t work, the “skin splitting” starts. “If he feels the same way tomorrow,” Jack tells Liam, “I shit you not, put a bullet in his head.”

Problem is, Liam’s been around awhile and he feels like part of the family, too. “I’m not shooting you, Mickey,” he tells him. “We’re like family. Brothers.”

But Jack is not a man who takes no for an answer. “If you can’t,” Jack warns a reluctant Liam, “Eamon moves up, and he and Martin pay you a visit.” Eamon and Martin are Jack’s hit men — two that have no moral reservations about knocking off the boss’s son. And Liam, as a bonus.

Needless to say, Liam finds himself in a conundrum. “You’ve a fucked up family, Mickey,” he says, “and I’m caught in the middle of it.”

And it’s a problem for Mickey, too. So he takes the bull by the horns, so to speak.

They say, “You can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family,” and that may be true. But they never say you can’t rearrange things a bit when the situation calls for it.

And another thing they say: “Like father, like son.”

Family Business is a great script. Screenwriter Damien Michael Aulsberry has a real winner here. It’s a fun story, which moves right along. The writing is terrific. Liam and Jack and Mickey and company are Irish, and the colloquial banter throughout make this a delightful read. It’ll be a really enjoyable movie, too. So grab this script while you can; and bring Jack, Mickey and Liam to technicolor life!

Budget: Low.

Pages: 13

About the reviewer: Helen Magellan (a pseudonym) is a successful screenwriter with several produced short scripts under her belt.

About the writer, Damien Michael Aulsberry: In Damien’s very personal words: “I write for therapeutic reasons. If I didn’t get all the mad shit out of me head, I’d be a lunatic…” What WE think is you’re a lunatic if you don’t give Damien’s work a read! That, and you can reach out to him directly at damien “AT” donovanprinting “DOT” com

READ THE SCRIPT HERE – AND DON’T FORGET TO COMMENT!!

FOR YET MORE SCRIPTS AVAILABLE FOR PRODUCTION:

PLEASE SEARCH SIMPLYSCRIPTS.COM

OR THE BLOG VERSION OF STS HERE.

All screenplays are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved. The screenplays may not be used without the expressed written permission of the author.

 

 

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