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I Don't Even Think About You Anymore by Ben Clifford - Short, Drama - A young man takes his sick father to hospice, hoping to dump the man and the baggage that comes with the relationship. 6 pages - pdf, format
Ben, good atmosphere, good characterisations, dialogue is natural etc. A lot of things alluded to and questions left unanswered, which is I guess the whole point. I can hazard a good guess here specifically with regard to the daughter, but ultimately the story left me a bit unsatisfied. It all ends rather abruptly even though I see the irony in the ending and in the words Timothy speaks to top n tail.
You should give it another proofread, few errors here and there.
Timothy is pulled over on the side of the road (at first I really thought he was pulled over by someone) Timothy pulls the car over...
'sits in a pregnant pause' ? I'd just separate with a comma, or just, 'a pregnant pause' Beat, as Timothy keeps unpacking.
I don't think you need the 'beats, when the action of unpacking, not answering, actually creates the beat. INT/EXT DESERT HIGHWAY You need a period within that slug You can turn off CONT'Ds in your software, except for going over the page they're not really needed. I'm not a fan of underlining slugs - personal preference, I suppose. Commas are needed after you intro your characters prior to their ages... Some commas are not needed in spots etc.
All that stuff is tech, not a big deal, but it could read cleaner.
I like the touches of humour, specifically the cigarette line, and other small 'relationship' touches. I also like the final visual with the (possibly?) Grand Canyon, the dusty outlook, and the Super 8 flash.
I'm undecided as to whether there's enough story. That's my main point, if when I'm watching it'll be enough to make an impact. I'm all for films not answering all of our questions but I don't think there's quite enough.
Timothy doesn't seem to really need any answers, seems resigned to the situation as if he's had it out with his dad before. If not, then I'd expect him to be going after a goal more i. e., to get an apology from his father for whatever he did or didn't do. Likewise, Alfred only goes so far with desperately wanting his son to stay and listen to whatever he has to say, or plead to have his daughter by his bedside. I guess you/and the Director who gave you the outline, doesn't want this verging on melodrama.
With a great cinematographer the ending may well hold all this together.
I think however, it could do with a bit more... But that may be just me.
I really liked this. I think the dialogue between the two character's works really well. They bounced off each other. It was quite intense at times, especially towards the end with the "Don't let me die here" and I also liked the ambiguity around the whole sister situation and whatever happened with Alfred not protecting his kids. It's telling us something but not telling us. I think this scene would be done really well with two great actors.
I agree with some things LC mentioned. Like him being pulled over. I was like, wait... he's being pulled over? Maybe reword this. Liked the Super 8 footage, that would be cool on screen.
Good job with this. I liked it a lot. Would be great to see this picked up by a good filmmaker.
"No matter what you do, your job is to tell your story..."
This was pretty well written overall, but ultimately the script felt thin.
This struck me as the story of a man who's made up his mind to run away from the emotional responsibility of caring for his terminally ill father. The issue is; I don't understand why Timothy's behavior is so vitriolic and apathetic. He forces his sickly, wheel-chair bound father to stand up from said wheel-chair on his own to close a window. He tells his father, flat out, "you're going to die here (the hospice house)" and "I'm going to move on with my life". I got the feeling he blames his father for the cancer, but I don't think I have enough information for certainty.
The closest we get to an explanation for Timothy's behavior is when he says "You didn't protect us!", and Alfred responds "I don't owe you anything". If that's meant to imply some dark secret, it's too vague. He could easily be referring to the trauma of having to watch his father die young.
It reads like "whiny, irrational guy badgers cancer patient for no discernible reason". When Alfred asks "what did I ever do to you?", I'm completely on his side, and I don't think that was your intention.
The next issue is relatively minor in comparison; Why is Timothy so talkative? I got the feeling that, while he didn't want to, he decided to help Alfred move into hospice out of some subconscious desire to remain loyal to his father (even after his sister abandoned him). But under these circumstances, he doesn't strike me as a character who would be engaging in small talk like he does in the script. He would reject his father's attempts at connection until something sets him off.
The script is so character driven, Timothy's lack of development kept me from getting emotionally involved with him and, by proxy, the story. And that made the script feel thin and unsatisfying.
The dialogue was passable. Most of my issues lie solely at the feet of Timothy's character defects.
There's also a really weird transition on page 2.
ALFRED (CONT'D) I'll never see her again.
TIMOTHY That's not really up to me.
ALFRED Don't get old.
Going straight from "i'll never see my daughter again" to "don't get old" is a pretty big leap.
On the more technical side; it's pretty well written for the most part.
There are a few areas of scene description that could have been cut down more. Example; you could shorten--
"TIMOTHY (very early 20s), leads his wheel-chair bound father ALFRED (40's), a man who looks older than his age, to the front door.
Timothy carries two duffel bags."
"TIMOTHY, (early 20s) two duffel-bags slung over his shoulder, hauls wheel-chair bound ALFRED, (40s, looks much older) to the front door"
That saves you two lines of space.
I'm also not sure about this line;
"The hospice house was once a family-home, now converted into something more clinical."
I like the idea, (what was once a symbol of togetherness and life, now represents apathy and death) but it's not visual enough. If I were watching the finished short, I don't think i'd be able to tell what the hospice home used to be in comparison to what it is now.
Herbert: Awesome feedback. I love how much effort you've put into this.
Timothy isn't necessarily supposed to be "right" or be the center of our empathy, so if he comes off as whiny, I'm OK with that. The reason he has so many lines is because I wrote this on assignment and the director informed me the younger actors (who would play Timothy) would be the professionals, whereas the older actors who play Alfred would be amateurs.
The weird scene description of the hospice house wasn't for stylistic reasons, it was me speaking directly to the director so he knows how to dress the set.
But again, this is some great feedback - you're a new user but everytime I see you post criticism it's always so well thought out
Hey Ben, In my youthful years I took some acting lessons at HB Studio in the West Village. Your short would have been a great scene to perform. Great unsolved drama between a father and son? Good stuff! Vague, poignant; lots of emotional conflict in the dialogue. And it's always About That! Ain't it!
Richard, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Your suggestion is very valuable, but I was writing this for a student who had limited funds, and resources. I felt like even the Super8 footage would be too hard for them. Thanks
JakeJon, haha, hey maybe I can make a career out of writing stimulus for acting students. Thanks for the read
I'm torn on this one. The mystery of what Ďthatí is and why itís created such a strong rift between family members works to pull me along (not to mention the short page count). I want to know, or at least leave with a hint of what this is all about. That it never really delivers the Ďwhatí leaves me cold, with too many options to point at a likely answer or really where your characters go from here.
I like the cut back to the Super 8 footage, though it leaves me none the wiser (if you havenít already, check out Shane Meadowís Dead Manís Shoes, itís used brilliantly at the outset).
Strong scenario, and the emotion is there, itís just a bit too cryptic to take much away from it and I wish that wasnít so. Maybe Iím missing the idea?
Good luck with it,
My short scripts can be found here on my new & improved budget website:
The first line (VO) is different than the title and the closing line - i.e., I Don't Even Think About You at all Anymore. I couldn't tell if that was purposeful or not. Regardless - I am not a fan of using the VO in the opening - it spoils the reveal to some extent and dampens the use of the line at the ending, IMO.
In the opening - Tim is "leading" his wheel chair bound Dad - didn't quite get the visual for me - I think he should be pushing the wheelchair
ALFRED(40's),a man who looks older than his age...
Don't think you need "a man" - already know he is one.
Okay - enough with the nit stuff.
The picture painted is pretty vivid and the dialogue from Tim is excellent. I thought the Dad's dialogue was solid for the most part - there were parts where I thought it was a little off the mark. It just seems to me that he must know what he did and his protests should have focuses more on defending that rather than being bewildered by the fact that he did something. Long winded way of saying - being dumped in a nursing home is the end of the argument that they must have had for quite a while before that. The Dad knows what he did.
But we don't. That left me a little unsatisfied. I envisioned that the Dad might have killed their Mom in a drunk driving accident or burned the house down while falling asleep with a cigarette - something that. Although the Grand Canyons scene was very poignant - it left me wondering what it had to do with whatever it was the Dad did. Maybe it's just me - but I wanted to know.
Solid writing for the most part - best of luck with this.