|Feed My Sheep
by Scott Ennis - Short, Family - A live action film of a short, illustrated story which was also adapted into an award-winning script. A farming accident leaves a young boy disabled. Other young boys mock his disability. His mother passes away shortly thereafter. His father teaches him confidence and responsibility through the task of feeding the sheep on his farm all by himself. 9 pages - pdf, format
Writer interested in feedback on this work
thanks for sharing your script. First thought that came to mind is why did you post an award winning script on "Simplyscripts"?
EXT. SHEEP FARM - EARLY 1900S - DAY
ABRAHAM, mid 30�s, sheep rancher dressed in work clothes,
focuses on a sheep giving birth. Suddenly, a loud noise comes
from inside the barn, followed by pained CRIES of a young
We need to know where this story is happening. I pictured a Christian Mennonite or Amish settlement in middle America. Was I right?
Here�s some of your favorite soup.
Isaac reaches for the soup, but isn�t able to remain steady
and drops the bowl.
Oh, my dear boy! I�m sorry, I
should have set it down where you
could reach it. You stay still now
and let me clean up this up.
The dialogue is too on the nose. It tells the audience literally everything that the characters should already know themselves.
If my mother made something she and I knew was my favorite meal, she wouldn't have to tell me. If you are saying this just for the audience's sake, it should help move the story along, but from my perspective this information is a non sequitur.
Sarah quickly scoops up the liquid mess with a cloth. Isaac
I�m sorry, mom. I know this is your
favorite place and now I�ve ruined
Hush now, it�s not your fault.
Once again more dialogue in which the thoughts and backstory are told so the audience is caught up. However this information isn't necessary - the characters don't need to recite information they already know - because it doesn't move the plot along.
Isaac, now with a crooked leg, hobbles around the room. Sarah
reaches out to take Abraham�s hand while watching Isaac
struggle to walk around the room.
There is a bit of redundancy here. You mentioned how Issac walks twice and I don't think you need to. Since it is implied earlier in the story he has a disability, and "hobbles" as he walks, the audience gets it.
Together, Sarah and Abraham watch as their son hobbles across
the room. A sad expression faintly crosses over Sarah�s face.
Your log-line stated that the mother dies, but it's not directly mentioned in the story. If I didn't read the log-line I would be wondering why she never appears again.
A log-line cannot add any new information to the story. All of the information must come directly from the story.
If the mother died, we need you to make some kind of reference to her passing in the story. Don't just imply it with sickness and a sad face. We need to know that she died.
He limps on his left side as he
walks and his left arm hangs loosely at his side.
We already know how Issac walks, there is no need to remind us again.
If you do all that you can, it will
I'm not a fan of this voice over. I think it's a very literal message that leaves no room for interpretation. But if you must use it, pick a moment in which Issac can't possibly continue his journey without it.
Think about the "Lion King", or "Rocky". They're moments in the story where the hero remembers something important that will help him overcome the biggest obstetrical standing in his way. He has lost all will to continue, which makes the internal monologue necessary.
If you keep using this V.O. you remove any possibility for that moment to exist. I encourage you to find other ways for Issac to overcome his psychological weakness (his self-doubt). And at the last moment (you've been saving) where Isaac's sheep will parish if Isaac doesn't start believing in himself, you hit him with the V.O.
Isaac cries out with frustration.
Father, I�m so tired and sore and
hungry. Where are you, father?
Why have you left me all alone?
If you do all that you can, it will
Isaac sighs deeply as he pushes himself out of bed.
Unfortunately, because Isaac is a passive character, I have very little emotion invested in his plight. I recognize Isaac is in pain, but I personally don't empathize with him yet.
Think about "Passion of the Christ". Whether you're a Christian or not, that's a good movie that makes you feel for Jesus. I don't think anyone left that movie without tears in their eyes.
We witness a man who has gone through hell, and when we hear Jesus cry out, "God why have you forsaken me", we feel the same way too! That moment of distress is powerful, and that's what's currently missing in your story.
I'm sorry to use this term, but your story is just so "vanilla", even for a kids movie it's not interesting.
Thank you, father. I don�t think I
could have cared for your sheep
My son, these sheep are yours now.
All that was mine is now yours. You
must care for them.
But father, I was failing. If you
had not returned when you did, the
sheep would have gone hungry.
Abraham remains patient and kind, nodding with a faint smile.
Son, I told you that if you did all
that you could, it would be enough.
I knew just when to return. I know
that you did all that you could.
I know that it was enough. And now
you should know it too.
I don�t understand.
You have loved these sheep and
cared for them. You did all that
you could for them. The sheep know
that too. That�s why they came to
you when you entered their pen.
That is why they followed you along
the road. These sheep know that
you will always love them and care
for them. Now that they know you
and trust you, all you have to do
is lead them to a green pasture and
they will feed themselves.
I�ll always do all I can for them!
What I tell people who depend on dialogue to convey the actions and thoughts of a character is show don't tell. The perfect script is one that doesn't need dialogue.
Sometimes we can't show everything so we use dialogue as the last resort. Screenwriters are writing a piece of work that is going to be conveyed by visuals and sound.
Go through your dialogue, and ask yourself, can I show this instead? If the answer is yes, then you know what you must do.
At the end you might find you have a story with very little dialogue, but who cares, you have a story worth watching.