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Friday, June 23, 2017

Insomniac – Short Script Review (Available for Production!) - posted by Zach Zupke

Insomniac by David M Troop

A late night talk jock gets an unsettling caller.

Hollywood and its inhabitants live in a crazy paradox. In one breath, they claim originality to be extinct. Yet they pan for it… daily. Then, when a true nugget of uniqueness is found, it’s immediately turned into a movie dating game:

“Think of it as Superman meets Super Fly!”

The Godfather – meets George Burn’s Oh, God!

Mary Poppins Meets Mary Jane!”

(I think that last one actually happened. At least my hallucination-induced penguins say so.)

And David Troop’s hauntingly clever Insomniac could certainly be pitched in those terms. It’s “Play Misty for Me” meets “Se7en.” Now there’s an easy elevator sell. But I’d rather call it… screenplay gold!

Like many an evil tale, Insomniac begins at the edge of night. Late night talk show host Dave Burrows burns the late night oil in Philly – catering to listeners who’d rather not be listening, but have tuned in for multiple sorry reasons: “My husband snores.” “You catch the Eagles game, Dave?” In other words, they’re insomniacs. Sleep’s a distant memory.

But Dave’s rapport with his listeners soothes their woes… well, mostly. Treating each anonymous caller as a long-lost friend, his delivery is warm and glib. Especially when he gets a ring from “The Caller”, who tells him – “I’m having this nightmare. But I’m awake.” The Caller worries out loud that he’s gone crazy.

“No. Actually it sounds like my first marriage,” quips a weary Dave. “Get out and take a walk. Clear your head.” Spot on advice. Or so it seems.

Two weeks later, the “Caller” resurfaces. This time it’s to thank Dave for his sage advice. The Caller’s enjoyed his new practice of walking at night. Especially that time he met a freshman girl. “She looked young. Almost too young to be in college…”

The Caller trails off, his voice sinister. And Dave snaps instantly awake. Both he – and the reader – know immediately when this story’s heading. Details of a butterfly shaped toe ring. A foot tied to a bed. Muffled screams. And a bedpost slamming against a wall. Helpless to do anything, Dave (and his technicians) take the horrifying sounds in.

But ultimately – is it just a prank? A sleep-deprived man’s sick idea of humor? Or is the Caller horrifyingly real – leaving a mysterious trail of terror, wafting over the city like scattered radio waves? You’ll have to read Insomniac to find out. Inspiringly original, it’s a throwback to the golden age of terror and suspense. A case of “clever” meets “terrifying.”

Budget/casting: Locations minimal. A rented sound booth would be great, but any office setting will suffice. An apartment and a toe ring. Four actors…and a foot. Also, I immediately heard Kevin Spacey as the Caller. If you can get him, give HIM a call. Immediately!

About the writer: David M Troop resumed writing in 2011 after a twenty-five year hiatus. Since then, he has written about 50 short scripts, two of which have been produced. Dave would like to make it three. He was a regular, award-winning contributor to MoviePoet.com. Born on the mean streets of Reading, PA, Dave now resides in Schuylkill Haven with his wife Jodi and their two lazy dogs Max and Mattie. He can be reached at dtroop506 “AT” Gmail

Read Insomniac (pages in 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.

About the reviewer: An accomplished writer as well, Zack Zupke lives in Los Angeles. He can be contacted via email at zzupke “AT” yahoo

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Test – Short Script Review (Available for Production) - posted by AnthonyCawood

The Test by Richard Russell

In a futuristic society, life changes for a teenager who can’t pass the test.

In my humble but clearly infallible opinion, Ray Bradbury wrote some of the best short stories. Ever in the history of the world. Case closed; that is all.

And Bradbury’s novels aren’t too shabby either. Take for instance, Fahrenheit 451 – a story of censorship and social control echoed in Richard Russell’s SF short, The Test.

Fade in on the script. The time: the plausible near future. And the humble setting: a middle class home, with an almost 50’s domestic vibe.

Iola is the mother – tooling around the kitchen with her trusty tablet, preparing the family’s meals. Everything’s colored coded. For instance, today’s dinner is “green.” Which is probably just as well, because Iola doesn’t appear to be all there…

Husband Ron arrives from work moments later, dressed in a cop-like uniform. He regales his wife about his day (he’s some sort of ‘inspector librarian’) – and asks Iola about their son Josh’s test. Important scores came in today. But Iola’s unsure where they are; she’s forgotten already. A fact which doesn’t surprise Ron. And so he grabs a beer, and heads to Josh’s room…

…to be confronted with some cold, hard facts. Fourteen year old Josh failed his test miserably. And that means dire consquences – including “Educational Camp”. A prospect that Ron fears at all costs…

After dinner, Ron escorts Josh to “old man Granger’s” house. A thin old man with “wispy hair”, and dusty secrets in his basement. To save Josh from his mother’s fate, Ron’s arranged a special trip…

And that’s where my summary stops. No need to spoil a great script.

Instead, take a read for yourself – discover the multi-layered narrative and well-drawn characters; each with their distinct voice. Despite the SF setting, this is one cautionary tale that would be easy to produce. There’s no elaborate special effects – and a very human story at its core. It’d be a winner at festivals. And Ray Bradbury would be pleased.

Budget: Relatively small, interior locations.

About the Writer: Richard Russell lives in North Carolina where he plays golf and writes.  He has been writing since college when his short stories appeared in the university literary magazine.  He loves writing screenplays, and THE CALL, written with his partner, Felice Bassuk, is one of their best.  They have written an award-winning feature, THE KOI KEEPER, which they hope to see on the screen in the not too distant future.  Richard has a trove of shorts and feature length screenplays and continues to add to the inventory.  Writing remains the sole source of sanity in Richard’s chaotic world.

Read The Test (12 pages in 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.

About the reviewer: Anthony Cawood is an aspiring screenwriter from the UK with a number of scripts in various stages of production, two of which have just wrapped shooting. His script, A Certain Romance, recently won in the Nashville Film Festival Screenwriting Competition (short script category). You can find out more at AnthonyCawood.co.uk.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Mile 42 – Short Script (Available for Production) - posted by AnthonyCawood

Mile 42 by John Dowgin

When an extreme distance runner encounters a human trafficking ring during a desert ultramarathon, he must battle both exhaustion and criminals to save innocent lives – and himself.

 Sometimes, a story grabs you. Instantly. Takes command of your senses and doesn’t let go. Maybe it’s the opening action. Perhaps a telling line of dialogue. With Mile 42, it’s the clear and intense imagery that sucks you into the script. A tale solidly set in New Mexico: baking heat, jagged outcrops of rock, parched tarmac shimmers in the sun. NM’s not a state I’ve visited. But now I can say I’ve “seen” it – at least, through this script.

…and the eyes of Jose. The protagonist of the story, Jose’s a competitive long distance runner of the ultra-extreme kind. When we meet him, he’s hitting Mile 42. His base camp support, Cynthia, chatters via bluetooth in his ear, quoting lines from movies. Jose spits titles back at her; it’s a game that keeps his mind focused, even if his physical energy’s on low reserve. But Jose’s determined to soldier on. Miles ahead of him (out of sight) is Timson. His running nemesis and competitor.

Soon, a reception dead spot cuts off Jose’s connection to Cynthia. And he catches up to Timson.

Bullet ridden and dead in the road…

A shot rings out. A bullet tears through Jose’s sleeve. Someone’s shooting at him! The runner darts for shelter – summoning what meager energy he has left.

Scaling a rock, Jose spots his would-be shooter… And uncovers a whole truck of trouble, far beyond the normal concerns of marathons. Corrupt border guards have intercepted a group of illegal immigrants, and plan to hijack them for a slavery ring. Jose’s run smack dab into hell. Stranded in the desert. Alone – and being chased – by a sadistic group of criminals determined to wipe all witnesses from the earth.

Faced with a series of unexpected challenges, Jose battles the odds and desert heat. But can he overcome his own frailties in time to save himself and the others? Or will he end up like poor, dead Timson?

Excellently paced, Mile 42 moves swiftly towards the finish line – a top notch action thriller, with a vibrantly real protagonist. It’s an action short that’ll leave you (and your audience) breathless. Cheering for the hero all the way.

Budget: Given the action scenes and extras, this one’s not meant for a newbie. But a skilled indie director looking to put a shining gem on his resume? That would be a perfect fit!

About the writer: John P. Dowgin is a playwright, screenwriter, director and actor, as well as a founding member of the production company The Porch Room (PorchRoom.com) for whom he directed the original work ‘Antony & Cleopatra: Infinite Lives” at the 2013 New York International Fringe Festival. Two of John’s plays have been published in the compilation “Accidents Happen” by Samuel French, and have been performed in New York, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Toronto, Dublin, and Australia. A number of his screenplays are also in ‘development’, which he suspects to be a theoretical dimension like Oz. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and son.

About the reviewer: Anthony Cawood is an aspiring screenwriter from the UK with a number of scripts in various stages of production, two of which have just wrapped shooting. His script, A Certain Romance, recently won in the Nashville Film Festival Screenwriting Competition (short script category). You can find out more at AnthonyCawood.co.uk.

Read Mile 42

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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.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Original Script Sunday for June 18th 2017 - posted by Don

Happy Father’s Day. Over on the Original Script page are eighteen original scripts for your reading pleasure.

– Don

Friday, June 16, 2017

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

Midnight Clear by Steven Clark The Birthday Boy!

Nearing Christmas, a man with a peculiar talent attempts to give his grieving wife the most precious gift of all.

“Stages of grief” have become a popular way of describing the numerous ways people navigate the loss of a loved one. But grieving is rarely unidirectional. Within moments of profound sadness, there can be instances of peace and even joy; flashes of happiness torn asunder when the reality of loss manifests again.

Steven Clark’s Midnight Clear beautifully captures the melancholic twists that the path of grieving often takes.

Married couple Steve and Bryn’s shared life seems ideal. When the script opens, they’re home together for the holiday. The house itself is cute; chock full of character and charm. Steve sips on champagne as he puts the finishing touches on a model village. He taps gently on the church steeple, the entire town lights up like a million dots of fairy dust. Magic. Or so it seems.

Bryn compliments her husband on the amazing dinner he prepared. Effortlessly, she clears the table and starts the dishwasher. As a favorite LP plays, the two embrace and affectionately reminisce about their first dance.

Continuing the late night celebration, Bryn and Steve take a walk together with their son to a nearby park. Steve leans back against the car – while mother and child play a game of hide and seek.

Basketball, tennis courts. See-saws and swings.

Bryn meanders around a jungle gym, searching. Another tug at her coat.

            BRYN
There you are!

     She giggles and gives chase.

But the specter of grief haunts them all – and in very different ways.

Maybe Bryn and Steve don’t realize it (or perhaps they do), but the harmony of their picture perfect evening will soon come to an end. The reality of their loss will return full force, leaving audiences surprised… and deeply moved.

Are you a director with a preference for naked, true drama – yearning for a story with soul? Then give Midnight Clear a read. If you’ve got a poet’s touch, maybe you’re fated to shepherd it to the screen.

Budget: Low to Moderate. Several scenes, including one setting other than the home.

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: Julia Cottle is a cultural anthropologist living in Chicago. She has worked for years as a university instructor and researcher for organizations committed to social justice. She always has loved to write, but only recently has discovered the joy of film and stage writing. She may be reached at: Cottle54321“AT”Gmail.

Read Midnight Clear (9 pages in 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, June 14, 2017

Solitaire – Short Script Review (Available for Production!) - posted by LC

Solitaire by Steven Clark

A troubled loner is about to get a second chance. And maybe more…

In the final act of Steven Clark’s screenplay ‘Solitaire’, main character Randy makes the following comment:

            RANDY
They say this game mimics life.
Ladders, chutes. Up, down. Everything
by chance.

This poses the question: Are the cards we’re dealt in life pre-determined, or is the game of life just a random result of luck and fate? Similarly, does playing by the rules, employing strategic maneuvers, knowing when to show your hand and when to keep your cards close to your chest ensure a better result in this game of life?

Steven Clarke’s characters Randy and Amy have been playing by the rules all of their lives. Randy washes dishes in a small-town diner. Amy is a waitress. During his breaks Randy can be found sitting at a table at the back idling away at his favorite card game: Solitaire – or Patience, as he likes to call it.

We get the impression life up until now has been a bit of a struggle for Randy. We know he’s recently returned from a stint in the military and has suffered some sort of trauma. Some might call him damaged goods… As a result, for the most part, he keeps his head down and his mouth shut.

Amy’s also doing it tough as a single mom supporting her daughter.

That she’s attracted to Randy is no secret, but Randy is so painfully shy he can’t even look Amy in the eye. Seems these two might be destined to be ships passing in the night…

We can tell by this line however:

     Randy’s gaze follows her as she hip-checks through a swinging door, out into the
     dining room.

So there’s still hot blood coursing through Randy’s veins. And Amy’s indomitable spirit ensures Randy’s brooding dark horse personality and solitary habits are not going to put her off.

Amy’s decided today is the day. She’s worked up the courage and she’s going to make her move. Brazenly, she steps up to the table where Randy’s playing his game and asks him for a date. Just like that. Game on.

Of course, as with all good dramas, things don’t exactly go according to plan. Having given his home a long overdue spit and polish, and donned a nice white shirt and tie, Randy sits down at the kitchen table to wait…

And wait… and wait…

Never has the dial on the kitchen clock ticked by more slowly, and still no sign of Amy.

It appears she may have just thrown a dummy move that no-one could see coming.

Then, just when you think game over, there’s a knock at the door.

Is Randy about to discover that Patience is indeed a virtue? That gambling on love, one of the highest-stakes games of all, is worth it? If he gets it wrong, it could be a falling house of cards. Then again, as the saying goes…You’ve got to be in it to win it, right?

With echoes of Frankie and Johnny, and It Could Happen To You, Steven Clark paints a very moving tale with Solitaire about two people searching for meaning in their lives, and that all important love connection.

Filmmakers: Know a good deal – I mean screenplay – when you see one? Don’t you dare leave this one to chance. After all, this could be that all important game changer.

Budget: Minimal. A few locations, two actors. Needless to say, make sure they’re good!

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: L. Chambers has been writing all her life – especially in her head, and on scraps of paper. It’s only in the last few years she began to get serious about screen-writing. Prior to this she worked in the Features Department for ABC TV as a Program Assistant, and trained as a FAD. She currently works as a freelance web-content editor and lives with her husband (also a screenwriter) in Sydney, Australia.

Read Solitaire (9 pages in 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, June 12, 2017

Play Dead – Short Script Review – Available for Production! - posted by LC

Play Dead by Stephen Wells

In the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse, one man believes he has the perfect strategy to survive, but what will his plan cost him?

Decades before George Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead ever hit the screen, the first feature length zombie horror film made its début. Its title: White Zombie, starring the inimitable Bela Lugosi. Prior to this in 1920, Robert Wiene mesmerized audiences with his silent film: The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which depicted a killer in the guise of a sleeping-walking zombie.

Fast forward to the 80s and Romero set the gold standard in popular culture with his unique and oft imitated vision of the Undead as plodding lumbering cannibals.

Various Zombie incarnations have proliferated since. Though the source of Zombie plagues is often not divulged, zombie outbreaks often represent a decaying society, and are depicted as allegorical and cautionary tales. In a post apocalyptic world, corrupt governments, leaked mutant viruses, radioactive fallout and even supernatural occurrences frequently act as catalyst to any outbreak.

Zombie settings and genres are equally diverse. From outer space, to period drama, and movie musicals such as: Zombies On Broadway. From the brilliantly funny Zom-com: Shaun Of The Dead, to Zom-Rom-Com: Pride And Prejudice and Zombie, and the angst-ridden romance that is Warm Bodies. From the lumbering and kooky to the frenetic superfast avalanche of zombies in World War Z, and the grim and bloodthirsty mutants of Richard Matheson’s, I am Legend. How can we forget Danny Boyle’s provocative and intelligent reworking of a world gone to rack and ruin with its special brand of Rage-Zombies in 28 Days Later and its sequel: 28 Weeks Later.

From book, to comic strip, to video game, to movie and television, it seems our fascination and appetite for the Living Dead is insatiable.

So what makes a good Zombie script? Well, a fresh angle and originality is key. An audience wants to see something they haven’t seen before.

No easy task, but writer, Stephen Well’s short script Play Dead ticks all the boxes with his very cleverly crafted story.

We open on:

    A SKELETON sits propped up against a gas pump.

            MAN (V.O.)
In every city and every country
people died in record numbers. It was
a global pandemic. The end of mankind
as we knew it.

    Suddenly, the sound of FOOTSTEPS. Slow and listless.

            MAN (V.O.) (cont’d)
Then the darndest thing happened. The
dead started to rise.

    A SHADOW looms over the skeleton and a figure staggers into
    view… A ZOMBIE.

 

We meet: Trapper Hat, the protagonist and narrator of the piece. By his own admission Trapper’s a survivor, doing his best to blend in with the Undead around him. Its also clear Trapper Hat will do anything to survive. Through every word he utters it’s clear he’s capable and smart, but he’s also conceited, full of pride, and ruthless.

And yet…

            TRAPPER HAT (V.O.)
I shouldn’t have left them alone.

Trapper is also plagued by a guilty secret. A secret that could either redeem him, or could prove deadly.

    He rips the knife from the creature’s skull and uses it to
    open up its mid-section.

            TRAPPER HAT
I don’t need backup. I just do what it takes.

    He reaches in, takes two handfuls of blood and innards,
    smears them over his body and face. Gives himself a fresh
    coat of gore.

At this point the reader may well jump to the conclusion that this trope (above) seems a little familiar, but what happens next will shock and surprise you. From here on in this one definitely ain’t treading clichéd ground.

With its original storyline, visual writing and universal themes of love, loss, and betrayal, its multi-layered well drawn characters, and masterful twist, Play Dead is guaranteed to not only shock audiences but also bring a tear to the eye.

Play Dead was one of two Reader’s Choice picks in the April ’17 Apocalypse themed One Week challenge on Simply Scripts.

Filmmakers: We just know you’re dying to sink your teeth into this one and bite off all you can chew. You’d better move fast though, or you may well be left for dead.

Medium Budget: Depending on skills, but this one’s well worth it.
Exterior day-time shoot.
Three main characters: 40s male, mid 30s female, young lad of 14.
One motorcycle enthusiast.
Blood and gore FX, pyrotechnical skills would be handy, or use stock footage for one scene.
EXTRAS: A modest swarm of The Undead.

About the Writer:Hailing from Derbyshire, England, Stephen Wells is a graphic designer who has been writing for several years after first getting the screenwriting bug in 2009. He had a feature script optioned in 2013 and placed as a Quarter-Finalist in the 2014 Bluecat feature competition.

About the Reviewer: L. Chambers has been writing all her life – especially in her head, and on scraps of paper. It’s only in the last few years she began to get serious about screen-writing. Prior to this she worked in the Features Department for ABC TV as a Program Assistant, and trained as a FAD. She currently works as a freelance web-content editor and lives with her husband (also a screenwriter) in Sydney, Australia.

Read Play Dead (9 pages in 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.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Original Script Sunday for June 11, 2017 - posted by Don

Over on the Unproduced Scripts page are twenty two original scripts for your readign pleasure.

– Don

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Last Date – Short Script Review (Available For Production) - posted by Guest Reviewer

Last Date by Richard Russell

A man and woman meet for a last date – both of them by proxy…

Ah, life’s endless agonies. Childbirth. Root canals. Ending a relationship. Because when it’s time to say “I want out”, does anyone really want to be there? Not the one being dumped. Humiliating. And the dumpee? Awwwwkkkkwardd….

We’ve all been there and done that, on both sides of the equation. And once you’ve been through the wringer several times, you don’t want to experience it again.

But what other choice does one have? Put a happy face on a ruinous relationship, sing “fifty ways to leave your lover” with harmony, or…

Pay someone ELSE to end it.

And in an opportunistic society, that scenario’s not out of the question. Because when money’s involved, there will always be someone to do your bidding. Even if the task is crushing the soul of a soured sweetheart.

But what happens when mercenaries collide?

That’s the scenario of Last Date. A chance encounter at a bar; not between ex-lovers ending a doomed relationship – but between two paid stand-ins. Meeting on behalf of “Bonnie” and “Will”, Matt and Emily are experienced masters at their jilting craft. Having researched the relationship’s history, Matt and Emily know just what to say… Everything from “It’s not you, it’s me”, to “I know about that office affair.” On behalf of their clients, Matt and Emily face off across the table – for confrontations and drinks. Both are consummate professionals… But can these actors truly separate themselves from the play?

Dryly humorous – and deceptively simple – Last Date is the perfect match for directors who groove on social commentary. A script that skewers society on multiple levels: the eternal battle between men and women… and a modern world where anything can be bought or sold. Including the pain of a Last Date.

Budget: Very low budget. All that’s needed is a single diner or bar – and a few actors with good comedic timing.

About the writer: Richard Russell lives in North Carolina where he plays golf and writes. He has been writing since college when his short stories appeared in the university literary magazine. He loves writing screenplays, and THE CALL, written with his partner, Felice Bassuk, is one of their best. They have written an award-winning feature, THE KOI KEEPER, which they hope to see on the screen in the not too distant future. Richard has a trove of shorts and feature length screenplays and continues to add to the inventory. Writing remains the sole source of sanity in Richard’s chaotic world.

About the reviewer: Michael O’Farrell is a mathematician who worked on the Space Shuttle Program and now writes fiction.

Read Last Date (9 pages 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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