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Saturday, April 22, 2017

Psychos (Review) - posted by AnthonyCawood

Three women receive a video message that documents their previous captivity. They compare notes about their abuse and it galvanises them into action of the revenge type. Who sent the videos is a mystery and why they now need to do something about it is beyond me – and them…

But anyway, they track down their abuser (very easily) and so ensues a cat and mouse, run around his house a lot sort of affair with him having the upper hand, then they do then…. ah who cares!

The plot here is paper thin, and certainly not something that will surprise you any, yes there is a twist but it’s telegraphed from the get-go so leaves you frustrated rather than impressed.

The film stars Angelica Chitwood, Daniele Ramos Cloutier and Melissa Elena Jones as the girls, aided and abetted by one of their boyfriends in the shape of Vince Peagler III, and with Aubrey Wakeling as the protagonist. The acting is variable and they are all willing enough, but…

This is an ultra-low-budget effort and everyone will have tried their absolute best here… but ultimately there’s not a compelling enough story to engage the audience and make you care about anything that’s going on.




Available streaming on: Amazon Streaming

About the reviewer: Anthony is an award winning screenwriter from the UK with 2 features optioned and over 30 short scripts optioned, or purchased, including 8 filmed. Outside of his screenwriting career, he’s a published short story writer and movie reviewer. Links to his films and details of his scripts can be found at www.anthonycawood.co.uk.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Prodigy – Short Script Review (Available for Production) - posted by Guest Reviewer

Prodigy (5 pages, pdf format) by Bill Sarre

In his twilight years, a teacher reminisces about one special student

“And so it stood, a warm and vivid patch in his life, casting a radiance that glowed in a thousand recollections.” – From the novel “Goodbye Mr. Chips” by James Hilton.

Prodigy, a script by veteran screenwriter Bill Sarre, casts a glowing radiance of its own. In the same vein as Goodbye Mr. Chips (as well as Mr Holland’s Opus and others), it tells a sentimental story about a beloved teacher in his waning years. In this case, the beloved teacher, a man named Ernest, is beyond “waning.” He’s 90 years old, and when we meet him he’s on his deathbed, reminiscing with a nurse who listens attentively while she does her best to make the frail old man comfortable.

His room is brimming with photographs, student photographs, taken over a lifetime of teaching, and although it’s clear that Ernest had high regard and affection for all of them (“I didn’t have my own kids,” he says, “so in a way, they became my children”), there’s one he’s especially fond of, a boy named Virgil. A prodigy.

When Ernest met Virgil the boy had issues. Serious issues. Abuse. Violence. And, ultimately, murder. The details were sketchy, even at the time, but six-year-old Virgil was found hiding under the stairs in the aftermath of the grizzly murder of his parents, and he never spoke another word after that.

Ernest rescued Virgil from this wretched existence. He took the quiet, damaged boy under his wing, and in time he found a way to break through to him. Music. The boy was a natural talent. Unfortunately, Ernest was not. But over the years, Ernest found ways to stoke the flames of Virgil’s musical genius. He found teachers, helped him enter competitions, and allowed the boy to spread his musical wings.

As Ernest says, “In the end, a teacher should learn to be part of a story’s beginning, but not the middle or the end. Allow them all to…fly away.”

Virgil did fly away. He went on to become a virtuoso pianist, touring the country, filling concert halls, and making records. Ernest watched the boy’s growing success with pride, but always from the sidelines. And now, as he lays dying, he tells the nurse, “I can think of no better way to go than having my children around me, with his music filling the air… and remember the joy I felt knowing I had once made a real difference.”

And at the very end, Virgil repays Ernest’s kindness with one last gift, but surprisingly it’s not only a gift of music.

It’s also a gift of words.

Prodigy has the two basic elements every indie filmmaker is looking for (or at least ought to be): first, it would be a fairly easy and inexpensive film to make. Second, and more importantly, it’s a film worth making. A story worth telling. Sentimental and poignant, it’s sure to please all audiences.

Budget: Fairly low.

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

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

Read Prodigy (pdf format)

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This screenplay may not be used or reproduced for any purpose including educational purposes without the expressed written permission of the author.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Madame Lucinda – Short Script (Available for Production!) - posted by Guest Reviewer

Madam Lucinda (11 pages, pdf format) by Jason K. Allen

A young man visits a psychic seeking knowledge about life.
But are there hunchbacks, dungeons, transgenderism and werewolves in his future?
And is that a bad – or a real good thing?

Ah, Fortune Tellers, Psychics and Tarot Card Readers – the bane of the honest service world. Or Saints in glittery costumes – depending on which supernatural side of the fence you’re on. Either way, we’ve all seen them at fairs, boardwalks, pulp magazines – and even your neighborhood strip mall (if you live in a fun place, that is.) And no matter the particular spiel, each psychic bellows a similar claim:

They can see into your misty future. Want to know if you’ll land that perfect job? Meet your true love? Win the lottery? Then just hand over that cash, and they’ll explain…

In the clever short Madam Lucinda, our story revolves around young Tommy (20s). Entering a psychic’s “boudoir”, Tom sits down with Madam Lucinda to listen to what she has to say. Make no mistake – you’ll want to know Lucinda’s visions, as well. Quickly, Tommy realizes the truth. Madam L is colorful. Witty. Sarcastic, even. Babbling about outlandish tales. But is that due to the spirits talking through her? Or a release of psychic built-up crap?

            MADAM LUCINDA
Soon you will go to grocery store.
There you will… purchase milk!

            TOMMY
I don’t drink milk.

Confused, she studies his palm.

            MADAM LUCINDA
No, not milk! You will
purchase… various groceries!

You think you know where this story will end? Well, you’re NOT psychic – don’t even try!

But we firmly predict you’ll laughing out loud. So peer into the crystal ball laptop you bought at Best Buy – and make sure to read this goofy gem, and peer into the (amusing) spirit world!

Budget: Low budget enough – depending on your tastes. Some FX is involved, which can be rectified by a visit to a Halloween costume shop. One location, two actors and one over-the-top actress (who will have a blast) for the role of Madam Lucinda.

About the Writer: Jason K. Allen is a writer and filmmaker from Nashville, Tennessee. His screenwriting credits include the short films AMERICAN SOCK, which won Best Screenplay at the 2014 San Diego Film Awards, and AUTUMN LOVERS, winner of the Audience Award at the 2013 Artlightenment Festival in Nashville. He also wrote the feature film LUCKY FRITZ starring Julia Dietze (IRON SKY) and Corey Feldman. You can contact Jason at allen.jason.k (at) gmail. See IMDB for his complete credits.

About the Reviewer: Debra Johnson is an award winning screenwriter. She currently has two shorts in pre-production. For more information on Debra, visit her website at GatoLocoFilms.com

Read Madam Lucinda

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This screenplay may not be used or reproduced for any purpose including educational purposes without the expressed written permission of the author.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Violent Domestic – Short Script Review (Available for Production) - posted by Guest Reviewer

Violent Domestic by Kirk White

While hiding out from a double-crossing son of a bitch, an outlaw couple faces their greatest fear…waiting for the results of a home pregnancy test.

“If that test is positive, then I’m scared shitless because this is the part that terrifies me… no… not the ‘is it gonna work’ because I can’t control that… but the ‘how does one raise a human being’ aspect which is one hundred percent in our court. That, my love, is the kick in the nuts that keeps me up at night.”

As a father of three I can relate to this dialogue, spoken in Violent Domestic by protagonist Ted. It’s a sentiment voiced by many men, moments after their wife pees on a stick. It’s one of those defining moments in a man’s life – the potential beginning of his legacy. Damned nerved wracking, is what it is – the entirety of one’s future resting on whether there’s one or two lines on that gizmo bought at CVS. If you’ve never found yourself teetering on that particular line of insanity, you have no idea what you’re missing.

And our hero Ted’s in those sniper-sights. As the script opens, Helen’s holed up in a hotel bathroom.

As the obligatory three minutes count down, the couple debate the issue pro and con. A nervous Ted distracts himself with busy work, pulling C-4, guns and money from a bag. Yeah, that’s right. I said C-4. ‘Cause there’s one last detail:

Our lovebirds are two badass thieves, hot off a job gone askew. It’s Kill Bill meets Mr. & Mrs. Smith – with a dose of Parenthood! Like a real life Billy Joe and Bobby Sue*, they’re planning on taking the money and run: a modern day Bonnie and Clyde!

Only it’s not Frank Hamer they’re hiding from. Nope, there’s a particular “Grease Stain in a Suit” named Conn outside. He’s come to collect his cut, no matter what price the couple must pay. Ted negotiates through the window with Conn… stalling until he can hear Helen’s news. Ted and Helen are the ultimate bad “nice guys” – a helluva more sympathetic than Conn. They’re a pair you can’t help but cheer for. And the danger and stakes are sky-high.

A master of his craft, Kirk White weaves Domestic’s dialogue seamlessly. A touch of humor – lots of danger, and protagonists that really breathe. It’s one of those scripts that make you want to know what happens next. Because you love these guys. That’s what happens when a script’s done right. It takes a lot of practice to get to that stage. But when a writer does – the story truly comes alive. (Question is, will Ted and Helen make it out in one piece?)

Brass Tax: this script’s got the goods. Low on budget. High on character. A feel-good action piece with minimal logistics. You want a short that audiences will remember and talk about? Then this is the short for you.

*If you listen to the Steve Miller Band while reading this short, your proposal email to the author will write itself.

About the writer: Kirk White is an independent film maker, web sen”sation” and figure of note in the world of global logistics. He is currently in pre-production on his second feature, The Soul Garden, which will basically be the art-house version of Re-Animator. Kirk can be reached emailed at quitefilm “AT” gmail to request a copy of his work.

Budget: Moderate. Get a hotel room, two damned good actors, and a few props. The rest will handle itself.

About the reviewer: Rod Thompson is an award winning screenwriter of both features and shorts. His feature, “The Squire” won Best Drama for the 2014 Table Read My Screenplay contest, and he has placed numerous times for his shorts at MoviePoet.com. His short scripts “Gimme Shelter” and “A Memory in Winter” have both been optioned through their exposure on SimplyScripts.com. He is also “the most humble man alive.”

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This screenplay may not be used or reproduced for any purpose including educational purposes without the expressed written permission of the author.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

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

Shelter 7 pages in pdf format by Bill Sarre

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.

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 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

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

Read Shelter (pdf format)

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This screenplay may not be used or reproduced for any purpose including educational purposes without the expressed written permission of the author.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Original Script Sunday (has come on a Monday) - posted by Don

Over on the Original Scripts page are seventeen original scripts for your reading pleasure.

Note that script submissions are closed this week. If you are a member of the discussion board, I invite you to try your hand at the April One Week Challenge.

– Don

Friday, April 14, 2017

Whatever it Takes – Short Script Review (Available for Production) - posted by Guest Reviewer

Whatever It Takes (Reader’s cautioned. 9 pages in pdf format) by Paul Clarke

To escape imprisonment, Tom is willing to do whatever it takes…

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. — Thomas A. Edison

True, Edison’s point was about the importance of hard work and perseverance, but the fact remains — one percent inspiration is essential. Especially for creative endeavors, inspiration can be the critical ingredient that makes all the difference – between the extraordinary and the mundane.

In Whatever It Takes, a short screenplay by Paul Clarke, protagonist Tom understands the importance of inspiration well. He’s a successful writer, hard at work on his latest novel. The reason Tom’s successful is that he lives (and dies) by Edison’s rule. When we first meet Tom, he’s locked in a dingy hotel room – writing hard enough to save his life; pouring ninety-nine percent perspiration onto the page.

Yet, Tom just can’t find that last little bit – the inspiration required to make his novel pop. But he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen. How much?

We’ll soon find out.

For instance, Tom’s novel is set in a prison. So he gets down to role playing; hard core. From the get-go, he’s locked in his hotel room… barricaded from the outside. His agent has the key, there are bars on the window and Tom’s dressed in a prison jumpsuit – he hasn’t bathed in several days. A dedicated writer, he’s gone to great lengths to make it all seem real, including a primitive shiv hidden in his bed… not to mention, a make-shift noose.

Whatever it takes. So they say.

But even after a brush with death, Tom still can’t summon his muse.

Enter Katie (age 27), Tom’s girlfriend. And what a grand entrance she makes: “She rips the coat off revealing a Halloween-style slutty prison warden costume. Complete with thigh-high boots, and fishnet stockings.”

With a naked Katie, underneath. Which is when the story virtually explodes… into a funny, bawdy, high-energy romp, reminiscent of Spencer Tracy & Katherine Hepburn. Or Clark Gable & Claudette Colbert. Cary Grant & Rosalind Russell; any classic couple you can name. If they’d been making films in the twenty-first century, that is. And summoned the spirit of Mae West…

A masterpiece of set-up and pay-off, Whatever it Takes is a lot of fun. The first half? Suspenseful. The second is a riot and a great pay-off. Are you a director who likes intelligent raunch mixed with drama, not to mention a riveting tale? Then let Whatever It Takes inspire you. Put in the perspiration to do this right, and it’ll be a film festival favorite!

Budget: Fairly low.

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

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

Read Whatever It Takes (pdf format)

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This screenplay may not be used or reproduced for any purpose including educational purposes without the expressed written permission of the author.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Cards – Short Script Review (Available for Production) - posted by Guest Reviewer

Cards (5 pages in pdf format) by Rick Hansberry

A pair of copyrighters continue their career-long battle long after retirement.

There’s a lot to like about “Cards,” a short script by award-winning screenwriter Rick Hansberry. First of all, it’s so well-written that it’s a special treat for those of us who simply enjoy reading screenplays. If that’s you, go ahead and give it a read. The atmosphere is nearly perfect, vivid characters abound, and snappy dialogue almost leaps from the page. It’s a pleasure to read.

More importantly, though, “Cards” is a filmmaker’s dream. It tells a heart-warming story about life-long “frenemies” with a touch of humor and an element of suspense. There’s even a little romance in the air. All in five pages!

Fred and Jack, two curmudgeonly 70-somethings, have been friendly rivals for many years, in fact long before the portmanteau “frenemies” was coined. Every morning, they meet in the local greasy-spoon diner to needle each other — under the watchful eye of Ida, the waitress, who ensures their needling stays cordial. Without her scrutiny, there’s a good chance it might not. As the script tells us, “Ida dangles the coffee pot over their mugs. Her eyebrows arch, inferring that if they don’t behave, no refills.” They behave. Mostly.

And each morning as they munch their breakfast to the sound of golden oldies on the juke box, they have a friendly/not-so-friendly competition. They scribble feverishly on their paper napkins, and when they’re done, Ida judges the results. Her verdict this morning? “They’re both good,” she says. Rats!

But what do they scribble on those napkins every morning? That’s the real question. We don’t find out until the end of the script, but when we do we also learn a lot about Fred and Jack. And that’s the heart of the story.

“Cards” is a sweet slice of life, and it would be extremely simple to film. One location — a diner. Three very choice roles for some “seasoned” actors, and a few extras. This could easily be a film festival favorite.

Budget: Low

About the writer: Rick Hansberry is a screenwriter, producer and director with more than 20 years of industry experience. His SAG Foundation award-winning “Branches” features narration by Daniel Stern and garnered international festival awards. In 2017 his thriller/horror film, “Evil In Her” was released on Amazon Video and Vimeo On Demand. His most recent short, inspired by true events, has won praise for its portrayal of one girl’s positive approach to handling her Type 1 Diabetes. You can view It’s Not Permanent free. Rick has shorts and features available here and is presently available for hire for new story ideas, rewrites and adaptations. He can be reached at djrickhansberry – AT – msn, (cell phone 717-682-8618) and IMDB credits available here.

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

Read Cards (pdf format)

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This screenplay may not be used or reproduced for any purpose including educational purposes without the expressed written permission of the author.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Close To Sunset by Steven Clark – Short Script Review – Available for Production - posted by Steve Miles

Close to Sunset (16 pages in pdf format) Steven Clark

After the death of his mother, a middle-aged man learns the horrifying truth about the childhood disappearance of his brother.

Home movie footage has a way of evoking emotion. A grainy, colour faded moment captured in time. This is how Beyond Sunset starts: young brothers, Jack and Sam, fool for the camera. A fleeting memory of lost childhood.

Shadows grow over a public playground. A car prowls along an adjacent road. The boys play, each lost in a world of blissful innocence. Moments later Jack looks up to find his brother gone. He squints into the setting sun, just in time to catch Sam wave goodbye before he slips into the car and vanishes forever.

Jump forward several decades. Jack, now in his 50s and with a family of his own. It’s been a rough week for Jack. Mom’s dead. Her estate needs to be settled which leaves Jack and younger sister, Trisha, to clear the old family home for sale.

It’s a task fraught with emotion. The sting of memory carried with every trinket and family photograph. There’s that yellow dress of Mom’s or the grave of Houdini, beloved house-cat who was never fully tamed. 

As Jack delves deeper into the shadows of Mom’s life secrets begin to reveal themselves. Old wounds are opened and tensions rise, until finally Jack stumbles upon the darkest recess of them all…

Steven Clark’s haunting thriller Beyond Sunset lights a fuse that burns its way to the very end. It’s a tense, brooding mystery, delivered with a subtlety that begs to be picked up.  Any filmmaker looking for a low budget nuanced thriller would be remiss not to check this script out immediately.

About the writer: Based in upstate, NY, Steven Clark is the writer of over 30 short scripts, several of which are under option, in pre-production, or have already been made into films. On A Clear Night, a family Christmas feature aimed at a Hallmark Channel-type audience, is currently in the works. Steven can be reached at Steamroller138 (a) gmail.

About the reviewer: Steve Miles started writing scripts around five years ago after realizing that his social life was vastly overrated. He enjoys writing in a variety of genres but leans toward raw, grittier characters and the worlds they inhabit – from the deadly serious to the darkly comic. Drinks coffee, owns an unhealthy amount of plaid and uses a calculator for the most basic of sums. Check out more of his work at sjmilesscripts.webs.com

Read Close to Sunset (pdf format)

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This screenplay may not be used or reproduced for any purpose including educational purposes without the expressed written permission of the author.

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April 23, 2017

    Two Bits and A Broken Promise by Marcus D. Russell

    When a series of train robberies escalates to murder it pits a pair of Outlaw brothers against a pair of Marshall brothers. They quickly find out that they have much more in common than they realized. 11 pages
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