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A Snowflake Fell by Simon Lewis (niles crane) - Drama - When a job goes wrong, underworld enforcer Cage returns to his home town to hide out, but finds himself haunted by the ghosts of Christmases Past 54 pages - pdf, format
This was my entry in the Seven Week Feature Challenge, but I missed both the deadline and the page count! It is still, at 53 pages, the longest script I have written in 10 years. I completed it on Christmas Day, which seemed appropriate.
Although currently taking a bit of a break from SS to concentrate on writing that elusive feature, I will be keeping an eye on this thread, and will respond to any feedback.
Yes, James and Brand are the same person. As are Simon and Cage - to differentiate the ages (which would mean in all likelihood different actors playing the part), I used different names, but it is stated in the script that he is James Brand.
As to the flashback to the Mr Roberts/Danny party argument. I would say that, given what we learn during the course of the story (I can't say too much) he would not have had to be present at the original scene as a child.
Also, Ariel cannot really have much depth to her, given her character. She is not someone who can have quirks and background and the like!
Niles, As usual, a well written and very deep little tale. IMO you're at your best in this kind of thing. Delving into morality, with all its depths and despair, seems to suit you.
Not quite sure why you intoduced Lina. I would have thought Simon's inability and frustration from Ted's treatment of his mother, would have been best taken out on his one true love Kirsty. Causing her to run off with his so called best friend Danny. That way you get both the guilt and shame wrapped up in one parcel. It also gives more reason to beat Danny to death and Simon's change in character to Cage. But that's only my oppinion.
I enjoyed this. Keep up the good work.
Why have you used bold for your slugs? Was this deliberate, or new software?
You are probably right about Kirsty - I should have addressed her leaving Cage better than I do, and having him just slap her after an argument would perhaps have been a way to show why and how they broke up, though I would still probably have shown Lina, as she indicates how far Cage had fallen. The Kirsty thread is severely under developed, but oddly this never struck me when I was writing it!
Re the bold scene headers - Final Draft allows you to do this if you want and as I have seen it in other scripts and it caught my fancy, I used it. I found that when reading a page of script, especially when there may be two, three or more scene changes on it, it helps me follow the script.
Damn, this is a very very good script you’ve written here. The tone sucked me in right from the get-go. Deep but not artsy deep, sad but not too sad. A full and complete story that covers then entire character arc of Simon Cage, basically an entire lifespan (well, pretty much). As it stands now, it works. It’s as simple as that. I did have a little problem with the end. Well, not really a problem, more of an “opportunity wasted” feeling (will get to that later).
ENTER SPOILER TERRITORY
Ariel worked for what she is but I can not help feeling that it would have been better for the story if you hadn’t telegraphed the ending so early on. I mean, it was obvious almost from the start that Cage was going to die at the end. Don’t get me wrong, it’s the perfect ending to his character but it was just a little too predictable.
I understand that this was supposed to be your 7WC feature that simply didn’t get “long” enough. My suggestions to you, if you still plan on turning this into a feature, is to explore the following:
- Lina and Cage’s relationsship. Lina is only mentioned in one scene and I think it would be beneficial, for that scene, if there’s a lead-up to it. I would’ve liked to have seen Lina being nice to Cage because that would really underline how low Cage has fallen when he beats her up. I don’t mean she should be overly-sweet, just supportive – maybe too supportive?
- Kirsty and Cage’s relationship. This was only touched upon sporadically throughout the script. Don’t get me wrong, it worked for what it is but it would have been nice to actually “see” Cage’s love for Kirsty, his hurt when she chooses Danny over him, the pain he goes through after the car accident, maybe she doesn’t die right away – maybe Cage sits at her hospital bed, watching over her?
- Danny and Cage’s relationship. Danny is referred to as a bully by his father and, yes, you did have that scene at the bridge but as a setup for Danny’s character, I thought it was rather weak actually. The way I see it, Danny and Cage were friends – good friends, but Danny is one of those shrewd friends that lures his friends to do the things he’s afraid of doing himself – like stealing maybe. I feel that there’s some character development missing from him being a kid to him being an adult – people change, some don’t, but at least show that he doesn’t. You could even work in a scene with Mike where he takes Cage’s money (as kids) and Danny could have helped him but doesn’t.
- What happens in the time frame between Danny’s death and the present day? How does Cage become an enforcer for the local mafioso?
- As I mentioned at the beginning, I did have an issue with the ending – not that Cage dies – but that his good deed (letting Peterson go) doesn’t work out. I think it would be nicer if Peterson isn’t a thug himself (that was how I read him to be – I might be wrong) but “an innocent guy”, like the Landlord. Cage standing up to Brand by sparing a thug does not work as well as him sparing a “civilian”. But in my opinion Cage’s good deed has to work, Peterson must get away – only that would justify Cage’s sacrifice. You could even take it as far as Cage having a final confrontation with Carlisle – like he’s cleaning up his mess.
Just a few suggestions.
EXIT SPOILER TERRITORY
When exiting a FLASHBACK, I would personally write (PRESENT) in the slug. That way you avoid using the “We’re back at present” in the first action line - which really doesn’t look all that good to me.
Your writing tends to be very passive, the word “IS” is used way too much. I personally tried to avoid using “IS” and “ARE” as much as possible. Try it – your writing will be much more active that way. It didn’t spoil the script for me but, in my opinion, it’s sloppy writing.
P.22 (top): Some action crept into the dialogue. P.35 (bottom): In Brand’s dialogue, he says to Cage that he should take Cage – I think he meant Peterson.
This is a good little script you've got here - very dark and brooding. If you flesh this out a little more I can see it making a really good feature length script. Throughout, I found the dialogue to be sharp and crisp. I especially enjoyed some of the exchanges between Cage & George... "Are you from the Council?"
Like some others have stated, I too would like to see more of Lina and Kirsty. Lina appears in only one scene and we have no idea who she is, or of her relationship with Cage. I'd also like to see more of the love triangle between Cage, Kirsty and Danny, and find out why she chose Danny over Cage.
I'd also like to have seen a little more of Cage working for Carlisle, possibly showing Cage feeling remorseful or disgusted with himself after carrying out an act of violence.
I didn't understand the flashback in George's house. All the other flashbacks make sense as Cage was there, but it didn't seem logical to have him remembering an event that he didn't witness.
I found it a little confusing when you switched between character names when showing them at different ages ( Cage / Simon & Brand / James). It would have been clearer for me if you had just named them Young Cage and Young Brand.
I was left slightly confused by the ending. It seemed like we'd reached the end when Ariel leads Cage away from the churchyard at midnight, but then we see him getting killed in a flashback. This left me puzzled and with some unanswered questions.
With Cage being killed in a flashback, was he a ghost in the churchyard scene previous? If not, it doesn't make sense for him to be killed in a flashback. If he was a ghost, it might be better to split the churchyard scene. Break away from it when the clock strikes midnight, show cage being killed in the flashback, and then go back to Ariel saying "Time's up" and leading him away.
Overall, besides the few minor gripes, I enjoyed the script and was left wanting to read and discover more about the main characters.
Yes - do think that there is room for development on the Kirsty front, definitely, and like the idea of a scene in the hospital after the crash. Danny is meant to be really a bad apple, and I did have thoughts of showing him taking bribes as a copper and so on, but never got round to it! I wouldn't mind having a go at this for a feature, so may incorporate some of these ideas.
Re action leaking into the dialogue - this is because half this script was written in Celtx and I then transferred it to FD when I got it - I thought I'd found all of the anomalies, but obviously not!
THE FOLLOWING IS A SPOILER - DO NOT READ FURTHER IF YOU HAVE NOT READ THE SCRIPT
Cage is dead throughout the story. He died in the car park, and everything we see in his home town is happening after that. When he says at the beginning that he has come back, he means it in more than one sense!
This was good. Confusing at times, for me anyway, but still good. There were times I felt you went a bit flashback-crazy but the flashbacks are essential so I'll take that back. Taking a quick glance at the comments, a lot of what I wanted to say has already been mentioned so I might repeat a few things.
I loved the scenes with George and Cage. The dialogue here was brilliant and you realise pretty quickly that George is losing his mind, as you would if you were as lonely as he was. Then Frank entered and I must say, I didn't really get him. I didn't like the Jason Statham line (it felt so out of place for me) and how Cage kept saying he was the ghost of Christmas past. The rest worked for me, just a few lines here and there didn't feel quite right and tainted some of the best scenes in the script for me.
It's already been mentioned, but some backstory has to be added for Lina and Kirsty. I'm sure you'll see to that when you get to the rewrite.
----------------MAJOR SPOILERS FROM HERE ON----------------------------
Now for what confused me. If Cage is a ghost throughout the present scenes, how does he pin Frank up against the wall in George's house? How do Frank and George see him? One of them, I could understand, but not everyone can see ghosts. Unless they are dead too?
Sorry if I've missunderstood this as I did read this in 3 sittings due to internet connection problems and I may have some things mixed up.
You do have a problem that everyone will see the ending coming, especially with Ariel's character. I didn't really see the point in her, maybe it would be better changing her with another character, maybe a dead uncle or someone close to Cage. He could just talk to them like normal so we wouldn't know right away that they are dead and the ending would have more of an impact.
Anyway, good work here. Enjoyed reading this alot and would love to see the next draft. Good luck!
Should say that the Jason Statham line is my favourite line in the whole thing!
ENTERING SPOILER TERRITORY
Do not be fooled into thinking that because he is dead, that Cage is just immaterial (in the literal sense). Ghosts come in all shapes and sizes, and if you read enough supernatural literature (which I have done over the years, as I like ghost stories - the family religion is Spiritualism, so I suppose it is in the blood!), you soon learn that a ghost does not have to be a transparent shade.
Cage is dead. But he is still physically manifested, and solid - everyone can see and feel him. (And no, that doesn't make him a zombie!)
EXIT SPOILER TERRITORY
Thanks again for the feedback - it is pretty likely that I will come back to this script in the not too distant future - probably after I have finished the script I am currently struggling with!
By the way - I have not forgotten about "Neighbourhood Watch" and will get back to you about it asap.
Figured I still owed you a read for your comments on Hard Case. (Which happens to be up with a new and revised version using your suggestions.)
Great title. "A strong wind whips and blows of the snow" you mean blows up the snow? or blows off? Missing comma before mum, in "I'm home, mum" and several other places in dialogue. p8 Mom said she's buy the lone ranger, should be 'she'd buy' Seems kind of odd for cage to reference jason statham. specially since it seems the timeline is off. You'd think if cages home life was so bad he would have left before he was twenty. p22 "She shuts the case and prepares to leave" seems to have slipped into cages dialogue. and again a few lines later. "I became what I hated" Maybe a little cliche. Seems like he could just kinda choke up without actually stating it as the girl leaves. p35 brand tells cage to take cage, not peterson. p43 cage stands at the funeral, he is soaking? seems like your maybe missing the end of the sentence. Then he drops danny to the floor, but I thought they were outside. "And keep's stamping." dont need an apostrophe S p47 the landlord "he did want to pay up" I think you meant didn't Yea I agree the James brand thing is a little confusing. Could just do Brand (30) or something to that effect. I think maybe you got little over blatant talking about Simon and god and heaven and all. Maybe just leave it at her saying the only hell is the one we create.
What was the old christmas movie where the guy gets to disappear and see what the world would be like if he was never born? This kinda reminds me of a dark violent version of that. In a good way.
I agree the girlfriend thing was a bit undeveloped, but didnt really have problems with any of the other characters. I thought the old man was pretty well done. If you expand this to feature length probably shouldnt add too many flashbacks and smooth that out a bit, but you knew that already.
Other than that I really liked it, great atmosphere. A perfect anti-holiday holiday movie. Nice work.
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