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Sunday, May 20, 2018

Original Script Sunday for May 20th - post author Don

Over on the Unproduced scripts page are twenty one original scripts for your reading pleasure.

– Don

Friday, May 18, 2018

Matthew Dressel interview about The Other Man - post author Don

From Matthew:

Minneapolis/St. Paul NPR (KFAI) station did an interview with Matthew Dressel about the script he won the 2017 FilmNorth Screenwriting Residency for; The Other Man (which was also a featured script on Simply Scripts).


Thursday, May 17, 2018

The OWC cometh … - post author Don


here…

*OWC = One Week Challenge…
Open to discussion board members only…

Monday, May 14, 2018

Cassandra – Short Script Review (Available for Production!) - post author Hamish

Cassandra by George Ding

A young woman hires a company that claims it can show her future with her boyfriend. But when she discovers a future infidelity, she must decide whether to let the visions dictate her choices in the present.

Cassandra: a tragic figure in Greek mythology who had the ability to foresee future dangers, but as she was cursed, no-one believed her warnings. The term “Cassandra complex” comes from this tale and is still a popular idiom today.

George Ding’s Cassandra takes this myth and spins it into an enthralling piece of dramatic sci-fi. Greece is replaced with near-future Bejing, and Cassandra the prophet is now Cassandra the corporation, offering young couples a glimpse of how their romance will likely unfold. And our lead characters are no heroes, but Xiaoyu and Yi, two people in Cassandra’s target demographic.

Like so many lovers, this duo don’t know if they’re ready to tie the knot and become one. But Amy, Xiaoyu’s dear friend and a newlywed, proclaims that Cassandra erased all her doubts about her boyfriend. In fact, Amy’s such a friend that she wants the same thing to happen to Xiaoyu and Yi.

So Xiaoyu gets booked in for an appointment with Cassandra by Amy. But that’s where the similarities end. Her glimpse doesn’t erase her doubts, it expands them. Worse still, the doubts are self-inflicted; her future behaviour sows the seeds for them, not Yi’s. And while she hints at what she sees to Yi, he doesn’t believe she’d do such a thing…or will she?

Will Xiaoyu accept Cassandra’s caution as the inevitable truth, or will she try to alter the course of the future through her actions in the present?

By combining an ancient legend with a futuristic yet believable setting, Cassandra provides a vision not just for couples, but for budding directors too. It predicts many award wins, but be quick – blink and this glimpse will end up belonging to someone else!

Budget: Moderate. A few different scenes and settings – but despite this being SF, there’s no need for crazy FX!

About the writer: George Ding was born in Beijing and moved to the lush, yuppie suburbs of Washington D.C. at the age of four. He received a B.A. in Film Production with a minor in East Asian Languages and Cultures from the University of Southern California. After graduation, George took a two-month trip to Beijing and has lived there ever since. He currently works as a freelance writer and filmmaker. His writing has appeared in VICEThe New York Times and The Washington Post. Contact George at GeorgeDing.Com

Read Cassandra (22 pages in pdf format)

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

Find more scripts available for production

About the reviewer: Hamish Porter is a writer who, if he was granted one wish, would ask for the skill of being able to write dialogue like Tarantino. Or maybe the ability to teleport. Nah, that’s nothing compared to the former. A lover of philosophy, he’s working on several shorts and a sporting comedy that can only be described as “quintessentially British”. If you want to contact him, he can be emailed: hamishdonaldp (a) gmail. If you’d like to contact him and be subjected to incoherent ramblings, follow him on Twitter @HamishP95.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Original Script Sunday for Mother’s Day, May 13, 2018 - post author Don

Happy Mother’s Day.

In celebration thereof, I present to you twenty six original scripts for your reading pleasure.

– Don

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Whiteout on Route 89 by L. Chambers – Short Script review (available for production) - post author Marnie

Whiteout on Route 89 by L. Chambers

Tragedy strikes when a cab driver becomes more focused on his troubled passenger than the icy road.

To be truly great at certain professions sometimes involves more than just being competent at the labor itself. For instance, that rare doctor who possess good bedside manner, and bartenders who listen and serve free words of wisdom along with your cocktail. Same goes for taxi drivers. The best ones get you to your destination, while offering an ear and their two cents.

Old Reg is one of those drivers. On a fateful winter night, Reg navigates through blustery conditions to get his fare, Edie, safely to her fiancé. He attempts to conversate, but Edie is reluctant. Through the rearview mirror, he observes several things: bruises, tears, and no engagement ring. Kind soul that he is, Reg tries to get Edie to open up.

            REG
You know they say taxi drivers are
like barkeeps and psychologists. Just
as much help only you don’t have pay
through the nose.

After a while, Edie can no longer hold it together. She begins to sob. Reg’s attention becomes more focused on Edie than the road, and he doesn’t see the deer that crosses their path. By the time he does, it’s too late. The road is too icy. Reg loses control and the cab crashes, landing in a ravine. They’re trapped. Reg is badly hurt but his focus remains on Edie as he attempts to keep her calm. Reg is definitely one of the “good ‘uns”. So genuinely kind he’d probably treat Edie the same…even if he knew the truth about her.

Reg and Edie are great characters and offer a wonderful opportunity for actors to showcase their craft. The crash and snow might be a challenge, but by no means impossible to recreate with a little imagination.

About the Writer 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 Whiteout on Route 89 (18 pages in PDF format)

Find more scripts available for production

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: Marnie Mitchell-Lister has creative A.D.D. Some of her writing can be read here: BrainFluffs.com. Some of her photography can be seen here: marnzart.wordpress.com.

Monday, May 7, 2018

A New Night – Short Script Review (Available for Production!) - post author Hamish

A New Night by Tom Zarnowski

Memories don’t always die…

We often refer to holidays as getaways for good reason. They’re a chance to “get away” from the omnipresent stress of working life and recharge the batteries. The downtime also provides us with a golden opportunity to introspect our inner lives.

But in A New Night, the getaway that former parents Emmett and Dawn take to heal deep personal wounds turns out to be nothing more than a placebo.

Or worse.

Heading to a remote log cabin to cleanse themselves of memories of their dead daughters, Dawn struggles to accept the events of the past and mournfully realizes that no matter how hard her partner tries, her family feels incomplete without her girls:

            DAWN
They’re still with us, Emmett.

This weakness is made all the more evident when – during their first night in the cabin – Dawn spies a speck of white in the pitch black darkness. Artificial shouts of “happiness” penetrate the silent forest night.

Intrigued, Dawn follows the sounds – into the dark, and through the woods.

Waking and finding his wife gone, Emmett exits the cabin and follows her trail – until he stumbles onto a sight so incomprehensible that he loses all physical control.

When it returns, Dawn has vanished. She and her companions? Nowhere at all to be found.

Intent on saving his wife, Emmett returns to the cabin. Even from the outside, it’s obvious that someone’s… been there.

Grabbing his axe, Emmett heads inside to confront whoever’s responsible for this mess… But what exactly will he find?

Why has the cabin been ransacked? Where’s Dawn? And who’s with her?

Even more pressingly, when will you read this script and discover the answers to these questions – and more?

A New Night offers ticks all the classic horror boxes: Isolated location, troubled characters, and mystery. Yet it never succumbs to clichés; the organic mixture of psychological/physical horror enables this script to appeal to fans of many horror genres. All combined into one huge scare.

Directors looking to frighten audiences both mentally and visually need to add this one to their collection of scripts to film.

You’ll end up with your own family… of festival awards, that is!

Budget: Relatively low. Get a cabin in the woods, and run from there!

About the writer: Tom Zarnowski is a screenwriter from Chicago with a variety of features and shorts written. He previously worked for Veluvana Pictures writing and developing features from start to finish. His screenplay ‘Stages’ recently placed as a finalist at the Beverly Hills Film Festival. Before partnering with Veluvana, he worked as a script consultant for Road 28 Pictures. Did New Night scare the “daylights” out of you? Then send him an email at tzarnowski (a) gmail.

Read A New Night (8 pages in pdf format)

Find more scripts available for production

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: Hamish Porter is a writer who, if he was granted one wish, would ask for the skill of being able to write dialogue like Tarantino. Or maybe the ability to teleport. Nah, that’s nothing compared to the former. A lover of philosophy, he’s working on several shorts and a sporting comedy that can only be described as “quintessentially British”. If you want to contact him, he can be emailed: hamishdonaldp (a) gmail. If you’d like to contact him and be subjected to incoherent ramblings, follow him on Twitter @HamishP95.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Original Script Sunday for May 6th - post author Don

Over on the Original Scripts page are 18 original scripts for your reading pleasure.

– Don

Friday, May 4, 2018

Interviews: Mark Renshaw - post author Anthony Cawood

An Interview with Mark Renshaw

This interview original appeared on Anthony Cawood’s ScreenWritingOpportunities blog.

Q: Could you give me a little bit of background on how you got into screenwriting?
I used to write short spoof stories starring people I worked with. They became quite popular in the office. A guy called Al Lougher read one of them and approached me to see if I was interested in writing some screenplays for him to shoot. I said yes for a laugh and found a love for the craft of writing scripts.

Q: And how long have been writing screenplays, and you write fiction too – which came first?
Fiction first. Can you believe I switched from prose to scripts because I thought screenplays would be easier? HAHAHAH! What a loon!
Anyway, I dabbled around for a while just writing spoofs and really bad scripts and didn’t really take it seriously until 2013. That is when I threw away everything I thought I knew, bought a load of screenplay writing books and started from scratch. That’s also when I joined [the] Simply Scripts [Discussion Board].

Q: You have taken direct action with some of your work and helped get them made, what made you take this approach?
I quickly realised that I had a lot of competition. There are thousands of scripts online from writers who are literally begging to get them produced. Most seem willing to offer their scripts for free just to get their first sniff. There are also thousands of entries from annoyingly talented writers in every major screenwriting competition out there.
At first I just believed folks would read my brilliant scripts and be queuing up to produce them. That bubble quickly burst. I decided to take action to get one produced myself. I saved up for a year, wrote the cheapest script I could come up with, snagged a director (having the funds REALLY helps with this) and got it made.
The idea was to showcase what one of my scripts looked like on screen, made with just the money from my own pocket, and hopefully give others the confidence in my work. I hoped this would help me stand out.
That didn’t actually happen the way I imagined. It took over three years, producing three of my scripts at my own expense, taking the films around the festival circuit and spending ages promoting them before I started to get the types of queries I’d been hoping for on day one.

Q: You made a great short (and starred in it!), I Am Peter Cushing, back in 2002, was that your first foray into movie making?
It was the first short film I made and it was great fun. I made that with Al Lougher and we filmed it guerrilla style. I wrote and starred in it as the main character and used my family and friends as extras. Al borrowed a camera and we just went out, found locations, set up, took some shots and ran as we didn’t have permission to shoot anywhere.
Prior to Peter Cushing we shot a trailer for a feature film that doesn’t exist called, “Winston: The Last Known Jamaican Witch Hunter.” Can you believe we got Danny John Jules from Red Dwarf interest in making a film based on that? It all fell apart when he found out we didn’t have a clue what we were doing lol but Al kept the voice mail with him agreeing to it for ages. He may still have it!

Q: What did you learn from that experience and your subsequent shorts?
Being involved in the script to screen process is one of the most valuable lessons a screenwriter can experience. Collaborating with a director on the script is an education. It’s an amazing but sometimes challenging process. The script will change, a lot! Some is unavoidable due to budget, location etc. some simply because the other person wants to pour some of their creativity into the story. The screenwriter must learn to be open to collaboration, to weave in the changes without breaking the spine of the story. You must also learn when to stand up and challenge changes.
Also, hearing your dialogue spoken by an actor is incredible. You instantly know what works and what doesn’t and the actor helps you figure it out.

Q: Any advice to writer’s considering a similar approach?
DO IT! Even If you need to use you own phone, family and friends. Making I Am Peter Cushing and that spoof trailer was one of the most fun, educating experiences I’ve ever had.

Q: You have a number of projects, including features, in development – what’s the situation with them?
I have a TV series I’ve developed called The Nearscape. It took me a year to write the pilot script, TV bible and supporting materials. I also made a proof of concept short film called The Survivor: A Tale From The Nearscape. I have the pilot script in all the major TV writing competitions, the film in film festivals and pitching the idea to however I can. I realise I’ve got zero chance of getting a big budget sci-fi TV series sold as I’m an unknown, but I’m passionate about the Nearscape and thought, why not try.
Saying that, it’s scoring well so far and reaching the final stages in some of them. I got an email from the BBC today as I was writing these answers telling me it reached the final 4% of the Drama Writer’s Room group. It also got to the final of the Inshore Fellowship.
Apart from that I’m writing a feature length version of Cyborn. My writing time is extremely limited, so those two are my main focus for now, although I’ve loads of ideas I dabble with.

Q: You’ve written a ton short scripts, why do you think they are useful?
They are the backbone of my writing. Due to work and family commitments, writing is a hobby. I may get 3 hours a week to write something, sometimes no time at all, so a short script or story is very much more achievable for me.

Q: Did you start with short scripts and then move to features?
I concentrated solely on shorts for the first few years, then half hour TV pilots. Last year was the first time I attempted a one hour TV pilot. I have tried writing features before but they’ve been disasters.

Q: When it comes to feature scripts, how do you approach structure in your scripts? Do you follow any particular method?
My previous two features were horrendous. Due to the time constraints mentioned, I avoided features for ages. Then I suddenly attempted to write some with no preparation or structure. The results where vomit drafts that were beyond hope. I wrote myself into corners I couldn’t get out of without scrapping the whole thing and starting again.
With Cyborn, I’m trying to do it properly. Due to my time limits I needed help, so I’ve been following the guidelines in the book, The Coffee Break Screenwriter: Writing Your Script Ten Minutes at a Time by Pilar Alessandra. I was luckily enough to attend some of her classes at the London Screenwriting Festival last year and she signed a copy for me. The book breaks down the planning, structure and writing of a feature into easy to follow ten minute segments.
So far I’m loving it. I’ve written the whole outline including character bios, broke it down into acts, sequences and scenes yet I’ve not written a single page of the script yet! I’m finally ready to begin this weekend. The plan is to treat each sequence as a short script, but one that is already planned as a connection to the next. I’ll spend the week planning the ‘short’ in my head just like I do for the Simply Scripts one week challenges, and then write it in a day. Rinse and repeat the following weeks until the first draft is done.
That’s the plan anyway!

Q: What was the first feature you wrote and how did you get it out there? Did you query Producers, enter competitions, use Inktip, etc?
The first feature I wrote was called Impulse. I paid £100 to have it professionally reviewed and it got such a bad report, I never showed it to anyone else and binned it.
The second was called The Twelve Step Killers. This was another vomit draft. I put it on Inktip to test the waters, got around 5 requests to read the script but no follow ups. I’m not surprised though, it was terrible.

Q: Your work has done well in a variety of competitions (congrats!), have you received interest from agents/producers afterwards?
Rarely. I got asked for some horror features after I reached the finals of Shriekfest in 2017 but I didn’t have anything suitable. Apart from that, nothing. I promote my wins as much as I can on social media but the queries I’ve had so far are a result of listings on Inktip, Simply Scripts, Script Revolution etc.

Q: What are your thoughts on screenwriting competitions in general?
In my opinion and experience, a lot of these competitions (and film festivals) are cash cows that take advantage of writer’s and independent filmmaker’s hopes and dreams. They are like a lottery in many ways. When I was at the London Screenwriting Festival I also attended a few sessions held by agents and producers. They said the only competition they take notice of is the Nicholl Fellowship.
So unless you are taking part in the top screenplay competitions in the world (there’s only about 10 which the industry recognise and thousands enter these) the rest are just digital laurels you can put on your writer’s CV that may help build your portfolio, but they won’t impress the big boys.

Q: Your feature script, Cyborn, recently won the Inroads Fellowship Awards, what’s the prize and what next for Cyborn?
The prize was supposed to be a trip to LA to attend the Robert McKee Story seminar. Unfortunately, the seminar changed dates late on and it was over before Inroads finished. So, they’ve given me a cash alternative of $1,200 (£814) and I’m going to the London seminar in May instead. It’s not LA but I’m still excited about it.
I also get Inktip listing and some copyright vault freebies. The main prize is they are going to promote me and my work for the next 12 months. I’ve no idea what this entails, they are getting a press release ready now. Whatever happens, I’ll try to take advantage of it.
As for Cyborn, I’m desperately trying to turn a three-page short into a feature as quick as I can in case someone asks for it!

Q: You’ve managed to go a step further than many with some of your work gaining distribution in a variety of places, how’d you go about that?
I got a bit lucky there. The distributors saw my film online and approached me with a distribution deal. This is a first for me, it is a 3-year deal, so I’ll see how it goes.

Q: And where can people see these released works?
I Am Peter Cushing, Surrender and The Survivor: A Tale From The Nearscape are all on Vimeo and YouTube. The links are on my website at www.Mark-Renshaw.com. No More Tomorrows and the So Dark episodes are on Amazon Prime.

Q: There are a ton of people out there who offer coverage services, position themselves as gurus etc, what’s your view on such services?
I’ve used such services for spelling an grammar. But if I want an opinion on the script as to the story, characters etc. I’m not willing to trust some anonymous person’s opinion who I have no idea how much experience they have. I like to get feedback on trusted beta readers, fellow writers at Simply Scripts and other writing groups I’m a part of. Some of these people’s work I’ve seen and really admire. I tend to reach out to those for feedback.

Q: What are your thoughts on the business side of screenwriting, getting your scripts ‘out there’ and networking to make connections?
I love writing. Producing, promoting, networking; I pretty much hate all that. I wish I had a producer to do such things but I don’t, so it’s down to me for now. It’s a necessary evil, so I put on a mask and do it.

Q: You are fairly active online, SimplyScripts, Facebook groups and the like, why do you think these are important?
I think staying in touch with other writers is very important. We are like a clan, we support each other, which I do like. Sometimes it’s a very naughty distraction though. I end up checking Facebook when I should be writing sometimes.

Q: If you’ve used services/sites like Inktip, SimplyScripts, The Blacklist, what’s your view on this type of model for screenwriters to get their scripts seen, and hopefully picked up?
Anyway to get your script out there is gotta be good right? I just don’t like paying a lot for these things, so I’ve used Blacklist but didn’t really like it. Similarly, I use the free Inktip short listings but the paid for section is used sparingly.

Q: What other projects are you working on now and when can we next expect to see your name on the credits?
Due to time constraints I can only focus on one thing at a time. For now it’s writing Cyborn while promoting Nearscape and some shorts. I do collaborate with Al Lougher a lot and I’m always working on something with him. The latest was a brilliant short film called The Dollmaker, written by our old Simply Scripts pal Matias Caruso. I helped out with the producing on that, don’t think I got a credit (yet), but I honestly don’t mind as I just love collaborating with another creative like Al. The Dollmaker is killing it at the horror festivals at the moment.

Q: What’s the best and worse screenwriting advice you’ve been given?
Some feedback notes I’ve received from film festivals have been horrendous. The last bunch of notes I got for Nearscape was basically a list of TV shows they recommended I watch…and I’ve seen them all lol. The best, was to get honest feedback from people who don’t know me and therefore have no vested interest. Family & friends are nice, but they won’t tell you the truth.

Now for a few ‘getting to know Mark’ questions

Q: What’s your favourite film? And favourite script, if they’re different.
Predator. Cheesy I know but I think that film is pretty much perfect. My current favourite script is The Expanse TV pilot.

Q: Favourite author and book?
Legend by David Gemmell.

Q: Beer or Wine (or something else)? And which variety?
I quit alcohol a little over 4 years ago. Now my guilty pleasures are coffee and chocolate.

Q: Favourite food?
See above!

Q: Any other interests and passions?
Just the usual boring stuff, reading, music, training vampire dragons etc.

Q: Any final thoughts for the screenwriters of SimplyScripts?
You guys are amazing. You are creators. Most people on this planet, they destroy stuff. You are the creators of stories; there are not many greater callings in my opinion. The feedback and support I’ve received on Simply Scripts have been priceless. The One Week Challenges, I’ve enjoyed them more than any film festival. Keep up the great work!

Thanks to Mark for taking time out for the informative interview and check out his site for links to some great material!

About the reviewer: Anthony Cawood is an award winning screenwriter from the UK with 4 short films produced and another 10 or so scripts optioned and/or purchased. Links to his films and details of his scripts can be found at www.anthonycawood.co.uk.

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May 24, 2018

    Turning by Marty Chartrand

    An infected man runs for his life from the group pursuing him. 8 pages
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