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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Drama Scripts  ›  A Happy Family
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SimplyScripts
Posted: August 9th, 2017, 9:27pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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A Happy Family by Warren Duncan - Short, Drama, Psychological - An expectant mother's perfect family falls apart when the past comes back to haunt her. - pdf, format

Writer interested in feedback on this work



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You will miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
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Dustin
Posted: August 10th, 2017, 5:22am Report to Moderator
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Code

INT. HOUSE - KITCHEN - DAY

Neat, spacious kitchen.



It says kitchen in the slug.

Code

A Printout of a seven week old baby ultrasound displays on the fridge, amongst various photos of a happy COUPLE.



An ultrasound printout of a seven-week-old baby amidst photos of a happy COUPLE are pinned to the fridge door with alphabet magnets.

A couple of what? I think here you need to go all out and describe the couple using the photograph as a means. As it stands, you've intro'd COUPLE as a single character without an age or description.

Code

KARA, 30, girl next door kind of beautiful, sits at the kitchen table, drinks coffee and reads the paper.

HENRY, 55, solid build, looks dapper in his work suit, enters the room.



I assume we are to take it that the COUPLE previously intro'd are related to the two characters we now see in the kitchen. The previous image you had conjured of the COUPLE, plus using my own imagination, had been of Siamese twins. I now see that the COUPLE you really want to describe are sitting at the kitchen table. The previous image of COUPLE now is quite pointless. I was looking forward to the Siamese twins. Would have made a nice change.

You also gave the impression of a large house. A house so large they must eat in the kitchen? I'm confused as to the exact affluence of the location.


Code

KARA, 30, girl next door kind of beautiful, sits at the kitchen table, drinks coffee and reads the paper.



KARA, 30, girl-next-door beautiful, sits at a table, drinks coffee and reads the paper.

Reads the paper? Is this set in the early 90s? Wouldn't she be on a laptop? Hardly a girl-next-door at 30. She would be a real woman by 30. Although, I accept there always exceptions. Perhaps this is one of them. So, she's 30 going on 18 and prefers newspapers over the internet. What type of newspaper? This would help me better imagine her. Interesting clues.

Code

HENRY, 55, solid build, looks dapper in his work suit, enters the room.



HENRY, 55, solid build, dapper work suit, enters.

All the important information without the rigmarole. Not saying this is good though, either. Although it's passable, I'd be looking to redo this intro on a rewrite. Overwriting only concerns the unnecessary and is not necessarily about word count. An overwritten sentence can inadequately describe something in fewer words than a good sentence can adequately do so in more.

Code

He walks over to Kara, kisses her on the cheek.



Avoid 'walks over to'. Remember, this is camera-work. Simply... He kisses her on the cheek.

Code

Henry leans down and kisses her belly, she isn't showing.

HENRY
How are my two favourite girls this morning?

KARA
Don't get your hopes up, could just as easily be a boy.

HENRY
Not a chance.



None of the usual he wants a boy, she wants a girl for this guy. Isn't he great? He just has to be a serial killer.


Code

He produces a large cheeky smile.



The above not only reads clunky but takes up a whole line of action with a resultant double space just for a smile. Here, a parenthesis in the previous dialogue would have been better. So...

HENRY
(cheeky smile)
Not a chance.

Code

Henry goes to the coffee pot and pours himself a cup.



Henry pours a coffee.

I'll stop with that shit now, as I'm sure you get the idea...

The story itself has legs. Although not particularly well crafted in its present state, I think it has potential as both a short and a feature. I think way more should be done to lull the reader/viewer into believing the relationship is a normal one. You signpost it too early and this does the story a disservice. Be more subtle.

A director may pick it up in its present state and work with you to perfect it. The work here may be just good enough to sell. However, IMO, the story is worthy of delving deeper into and getting the best out of it.
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eldave1
Posted: August 10th, 2017, 11:08am Report to Moderator
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Warren - there is a lot to like here, there were some hiccups for me.

SPOILERS

When Kara is examining the heart shaped birthmark on the back of her neck - it is set as it's the first time she's seen it. Did not strike me a plausible - I know it's on the back of her neck, but there are mirrors, she surely has been to a Doctor, hair stylist, etc where they would have mentioned it, etc.  I like the build-up to the moment - guess I didn't buy the premise of it.

Struck me as odd that Henry would keep all those old newspaper articles (evidence) stuffed away in the shed shoe box. Also, just a  a bit too  convenient. I do like the flashback contrasting present day shed with what she endured as a child. To me, the flashback would be enough for her to continue her research - maybe she starts doing internet research on the missing girl and discovers the old articles on the internet - ans - the revelation about the heart shaped birthmark and that initiates the oh my God moment - i.e., cause she knows she has a heart shaped birthmark. Just a thought.

I had a problem with the abortion scene. I am  pro-choice, so it's not a morality issue. It is a character issue. Kara - ostensibly - already loves this baby to be, wants to have a child. Yet, she is willing to kill it when stuck in the shed. It seemed like an odd way out of her dilemma. Could be just me. But the way she chose lost empathy from me - like I didn;t really understand her anymore.

The ending - so a year later everything is back to where it was.  Didn't make sense to me. I think I understand the premise - but a year just seemed too soon. Again - maybe that's just me.

Anyway - just my ramblings. Hopefully they are useful.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Warren
Posted: August 10th, 2017, 4:55pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks for the read Dave,

Always enjoy your ramblings and they are always very useful.

I did struggle a bit with when to release the birthmark information and how to do it. I felt any other way would blow the page count out and at the end of the day I want my shorts read.

Yes definitely convenient, lazy writing maybe, still trying to conserve pages.

Wasn't sure how people would take that scene, I guess in my mind she has remember that she has been beaten, raped, kidnapped, and kept for 20 years and now Henry is telling her at the very least she is going to be there for another 8 or so months. I'm not sure how anybody would react in that situation. For me personally, I'd take away the incentive. I hoped that people saw it more as desperation and continued to sympathise with Kara.

Easy to blow the time frame out a bit more.

I'd say I am way over due for a return read. Any particular feature you would like me to take a look at?

Edit:

Sorry did forget to say that the premise was an extreme version of Stockholm Syndrome. I hope that came across.

I felt that if Martyrs could get you to suspend belief and have a woman beaten and mistreated to the point that she could be skinned alive, that having Kara forget who she was is a much smaller ask. Yes I know Martyrs isn't about Stockholm Syndrome but hopefully you get what I mean.

Appreciated as always.


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Warren  -  August 10th, 2017, 6:30pm
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eldave1
Posted: August 10th, 2017, 6:56pm Report to Moderator
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Very much got the Stockholm Syndrome angle - although not sure that comes with memory loss - but the point is taken.

Be interesting to see what others think on the abortion angle - hope they take a look - certainly worth a read.

In terms of reads on my stuff - not at this moment. I am about 90% thru a feature that I will be posting sometime over the next few weeks. Would appreciate it if you took a look at that - or at least part of it when it gets up.

Cheers - and best of luck with this one.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Warren
Posted: August 10th, 2017, 7:01pm Report to Moderator
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Will read the lot, you consistently read and comment on my work, and I really do appreciate your insight.

If I miss it for some reason, please feel free to give me a nudge in the right direction.

Thanks again.


To View All My Scripts Please Use The Link Below

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eldave1
Posted: August 10th, 2017, 7:06pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Warren
Will read the lot, you consistently read and comment on my work, and I really do appreciate your insight.

If I miss it for some reason, please feel free to give me a nudge in the right direction.

Thanks again.


Will do


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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StevenClark
Posted: August 10th, 2017, 10:11pm Report to Moderator
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Warren,

Good writing, well told. Absolutely gruesome to read in spots! I liked this a lot, but I have a logic issue, and I'm wondering if it's because I missed something...

SPOILERS

It's kinda like Kara/Sofia's mind got erased/brainwashed after several years the first time, right after she was abducted. The second time, after the abortion, it only takes about a year. I get it - brainwashing is a powerful tool. But, and this is what I might have missed, is Henry some kind of master brainwasher or gaslighter? I don't remember anything that suggests that he is, save for the slop, to the board games, to trust. Is that it? It just seems a stretch that he'd be able to do that - both times, really - to the same person without more explanation as to just how good Henry is at this. I feel it needs something that stands out. Really stands out for me to buy this, regarding Henry's technique. To get Kara to sort of forget all of this and start anew seems a bit of a stretch.  

Your thoughts?

BTW, the birthmark scene doesn't bother me that much. It's a major plot point, and I feel the way it's written is fine. I get what Dave's saying, though, and it makes complete sense, don't get me wrong. But sometimes I feel there are certain things we can get away with for sake of the story.

Steve


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Warren
Posted: August 10th, 2017, 10:39pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks for the read Steven,

Glad you liked it.

Yeah I totally agree with you and Dave. I will extend the SUPER at the end. Honestly don't know why I went with one year in the first place.

You didn't miss anything. I just should have written it better

Again, thanks for taking the time.


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khamanna
Posted: August 11th, 2017, 10:05am Report to Moderator
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Hey, Warren.

Just read this and some of your explanation to this.
I got the Stockholm syndrome by the way.
It's still not very clear though. I'm thinking she could read about the syndrome in the paper. Or hear about it in the news. She read about the abduction. And she heard some on the news. She could have read or seen about the syndrome as well.

I'd still vote for a different ending because even if the syndrome stuff is clear it's still strange that she pulled out a baby with a hanger and changed in three years.

The birthmark - I didn't have problems with it, just bought into it.
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MarkItZero
Posted: August 11th, 2017, 1:44pm Report to Moderator
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Nice job, was an easy read. Pretty intense towards the end. I didn't really have a problem with the birthmark thing or the newspapers as logic issues. Although, now that someone mentioned them it seems glaring. But I was engrossed enough in the read those things didn't surface.

I did have a problem with the ending. Even if you make it three, five, however many years. I'd try and find some other way to go. What's that, you want me to offer alternative endings? I thought you'd never ask...

Maybe you keep the super of a year later. Except she's still locked in the shed. He opens the door, they have a little conversation where it seems like she's starting to be re-programmed. And he says something like "I think you're almost ready to come out." Then he closes the door and we see she's got a makeshift weapon ready behind her back.

Or, maybe he opens the shed door and tosses in a kidnapped little girl. Says something about how he's going to start over with a better wife. And it ends with Kara consoling the terrified girl, holding her almost like it's her own child.


That rug really tied the room together.
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Tyler King
Posted: August 11th, 2017, 3:51pm Report to Moderator
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This was pretty good Warren... overall formatting is good, could possibly cut some details/rearrange them in your action lines, as a few are a little wordy. Could be condensed is all, nothing major...

So Kara was brain washed then? Is that why she doesn't remember? And then she is brain washed again at the end? Was a little confused I guess, but I get the just of it. The abortion scene was really gross, stomach churning...

This isn't really my kind of script or whatever, but it was nicely written/formatted. Good luck man!
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Warren
Posted: August 12th, 2017, 1:40am Report to Moderator
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Thanks for the read khamanna, James, and Tyler.

Khamanna, if you got the Stockholm syndrome then how is it not clear, that doesn't really make sense. I feel to put it in words in the script in any way would be on the nose.

James, will take your endings into consideration but I really like the ending to be honest. People do seem to have a problem with it but I'll see.

Tyler, you are the first person to ever call one of my scripts wordy haha. I consider myself such a lean writer. Could you maybe give an example of what you think might be overwritten?

Yeah there is definitely a level of brainwashing, more so influenced by the Stockholm syndrome angle (I've taken some artistic licence).

Thanks again all, much appreciated


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Tyler King
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Quoted from Warren
Tyler, you are the first person to ever call one of my scripts wordy haha. I consider myself such a lean writer. Could you maybe give an example of what you think might be overwritten?


One example could be this...

"Kara washes the dishes. She places a mug in the drying rack, then lets the water out of the sink.
She grabs a towel to dry her hands and notices the paper in the bin."

It could be shortened as...

"Kara finishes up the dishes. Notices the paper in the bin."

See what I mean? I can't say too much because I tend to be overly detailed in my scripts too, however I am slowly learning, and I was told that if it isn't TRULY significant, you can shorten it. You don't have to describe every single move the character makes, the actor can figure that out. At least that's what I've been told anyway, just thought I would mention it.

By no means is it bad, though. Like I said I am learning myself.


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Warren
Posted: August 12th, 2017, 2:15am Report to Moderator
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Agreed that could be shortened. I used the mug as a CONTINUOUS, wanted the reader to kind of link it to the previous scene in the kitchen that way (not sure that makes sense).

The rest can go, it probably won't but I do see your point. I think if I knew I had an overwitting issue it would be something I'd address on a larger scale but this I can live with.


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