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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Scripts  ›  Soulshadows II: Tanis Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: May 1st, 2010, 9:37am Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Soulshadows II: Tanis by Robert G. Newcomer (bert) - Series, Supernatural, Thriller - Tanis finally reveals her own dark history of love, magic, and loss. 29 pages - pdf, format

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Don  -  May 1st, 2010, 10:01am
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screenrider
Posted: May 1st, 2010, 10:48am Report to Moderator
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Bert,

I freaking despise these demonically-influenced Soul Shadow scripts, but only because I'm a born-again Jesus freak and I know you're playing with fire.  If I was a non-believer I'd love 'em to death.  Literally.

I still read them because in each one I see glimpes of brilliance and truth.  You're descriptions are spot-on.  "The hut falls silent. Batu is finally calm. Even the flies are stilled.  Nice touch.  And the character names and use of words like stallictite are nothing short of genius.

Other than that, the story turns my stomach and sends a shiver down my spine.   What else was I expecting...a box of kittens? I guess not.

Well done on storytelling.  Good luck with it.


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Don  -  May 1st, 2010, 11:01am
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bert
Posted: May 1st, 2010, 1:08pm Report to Moderator
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Thank you, S.R., for going first.

Nothing short of genius...and I am going to hell.

I can live with that, I suppose -- I have certainly heard worse on my works in the past.

I take your comments in the spirit intended, S.R., and appreciate your taking the time to drop your thoughts.

In fact, I like your comments so much, I have decided to adopt them for a bit.

I had a great time getting Tanis out of her cave, and using her in a slightly different fashion.  I hope that those who decide to give it a look find something they like.

Thanks to Don and Cornetto for pulling everything together.


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GM
Posted: May 1st, 2010, 1:33pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Bert,

SPOILERS!

Cool. Very cool. I actually heard this story as I was reading it. I enjoyed this story very much so that I can't think of anything to critque. But I'm sure others will do. This is a great story. Reminds me alot of Clive Barker.

You know, something did come to mind. Can you explain a bit on how Sabu died? I'm bit confused on how that happened.


GABE



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Angry Bear
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SPOILERS�for those of you who think there are none in a script review...

Bert,

a pleasure to be reading a story by you again as they are few and far between.

I bet you Jeff will go absolutely crazy over your writing "style".  I don't remember you writing in this style before other than Tanis of course. I'm not going to complain over everything, just say that I hope you go back to a more normal screenplay style. However, if this is how you want to write, then it's your right obviously. I did learn a new word too. Tome.  

Story wise, I really liked it. I liked the world you created and the characters. Tanis wants to learn magic from Sabra, Tanis thinks Juma and her belong together. Juma has his eyes on Afya. Tanis gets jealous when she sees Juma and Afya together. She attacks Afya via a Goshawk. Then Tanis casts a spell on Afya and she dies. To her horror she realizes that she accidentally killed Juma as well. She drags Juma's body to Sabra to have him revived. Sabra says no and Tanis accidentally kills Sabra as well. Tanis is so sorry. She opens that TOME to find the spell she needs, but that old book of secrets consumes her. Very good. I'm glad she didn't get away with her evilness. That would have been wrong. So, no complaints about the story at all.

I liked how it started and ended the same way.

My only question is why is Tanis the only one with an accent?

If you have any questions about any particular areas, just ask.

This seem like very short comment on a 30 page script, but I liked the story just the way it is. Should I have commented on the writing style, it would have been much longer.  

PS. I read it and listened to it separately. I think iScript did a good job on it.


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bert
Posted: May 1st, 2010, 2:22pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from GM
Can you explain a bit on how Sabu died? I'm bit confused on how that happened.


I do not have a character named Sabu, Gabe.  There is a Sabra, and a Juma -- and Sabu sounds like a mix of the two -- so not sure who you mean.


Quoted from Angry Bear
I bet you Jeff will go absolutely crazy over your writing "style".  I don't remember you writing in this style before other than Tanis of course.


Yeah, the parts where I stray were intentional, of course.  I originally took on Tanis in the first place because I wanted to play with breaking some of the sacred "rules" -- so I decided to do that in her episode, too -- taking it to a slightly higher level.

Partly because I do think some of it actually "works", and some people are being too strict when they lay down the law -- but also to find out what is really taking things too far, and what seasoned readers absolutely cannot tolerate under any circumstances.

If people feel like pointing them out, it will not hurt my feelings.  I do think the story is structurally sound -- very glad to hear you agree, Pia -- so comments on unconventional stylistic choices are certainly welcome and appropriate.

I am curious to hear them, in fact.  


Quoted from Angry Bear
why is Tanis the only one with an accent?


Do you remember Jammin' girl?  She took me to task on the way Tanis speaks -- stating that Africaners actually speak very good English -- probably better than us.

Having everybody speak with that weird way Tanis speaks would probably make for a very daunting read, so I elected not to do that. [Edit:  And, as an afterthought, I actually had Afya make fun of the way Tanis speaks at one point.]


Hey, it's my tiny, little IMDb!

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GM
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Sorry about that Bert. I meant Sabra. lol. My bad. I understand the reason why she dies but I'm confused on how she dies.

Gabe



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Scar Tissue Films
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I enjoyed this a lot...it had a lovely energy and great pacing. Lovely visuals, great storytelling.

I didn't have a problem with the new style of writing...and there are few screenwriters that write as well as this.

There were a couple of lines I didn't like...nothing major, just thought I'd mention them.

"The stuff of nightmares"...felt too cliche as it's such a common phrase. It stood out to me somehow.

Dialogue:

I didn't like when Tanis said "dark fool". Felt a bit weak somehow.

I also felt Bimkubwa's line:  

The secrets of life and death!
I have written them all! Such
secrets!


Lacked the right amount of punch.

I think it would be better without the "of life and death".

"The secrets...I have written them all! Such secrets!"

I think with the context we understand what type of secrets she's uncovered..taking out the explanation makes it both more myseterious and more sinister.

On page 12 I felt that the scene with Tanis and Juma could be more subtle...have more subtext. Maybe make it clear he is repulsed by the scarring, but not have him say it. It seemed odd for a hunter to say such a thing to a young girl. I think you could strenghten that part with a bit more finesse. It might not even be necessary for him to be repulsed...if he is nice to her it would strenghten sympathy for him at the end and also give more reason for Tanis to be in love with him, plus make her transgression all the worse. He can be nice to Tanis but still be more attracted to Afwa (Sp?)

Loved the hawk part. I think you wrote that part really well. Felt very enriching....

...got even better as well. Lovely set up for the attack.

Ah..can see where the life and death thing comes in now...scrub my earlier comment....although my gut feeling is that there is some slightly better way of saying this, something with more gravitas.

Query: Would be better to have her kill using some form of nature/animal than inanimate object?  Something more in keeping with her shamanistic persona? The deaths are visually interesting and horrific, so I think you can safely discount this...just thought I'd mention it....maybe grass/vines/snakes?

Anyway, I thought this was excellent overall. Sorry for the slightly rambling review, I was making notes as I went.

Yeah, really very impressive work.

Rick

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James McClung
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This was excellent! As much as I was anticipating this, I was a little worried. Since Tanis has been our guide throughout the series, she is, of course, familiar to us. I thought you might opt to make Tanis a more sinister character here, in which case our familiarity would've gotten in the way. Thankfully, you opted for another route. One in which even Tanis doesn't have a grip on everything and the one who does (Bimkubwa) is appropriately enigmatic, as scary as she is.

But yeah. I really enjoyed this. One of the few scripts I read before listening to. The iScript reader doesn't do a bad job with Tanis but I figured it'd be difficult to handle this kinda intimacy with the character without sounding comical. Anyway, I think you've written something really classic here. Unrequited love and forbidden knowledge make for great tragedy which is how I saw this. A tragedy within a supernatural context. The horror elements were sparse but appropriately used and placed. You've got a knack for detail as well and your more cinematic approach made this feel more like a short story than a script, which I loved. There were a few moments where I saw what was coming but was able to enjoy the ride for the most part.

A few things toward the end struck me as odd. What exactly caused Tanis's spell to backfire? Of course, it had to. I wouldn't have had it any other way. But the question remains. It seems to be a lack of understanding on Tanis's part but I'm not positive. What'd she do with Juma's face? Peel it off? I wasn't sure about this description. What causes Sabra's death? Tanis stealing the book? That's what I gathered.

Also, not that it matters, really, but you switch between WOODS and JUNGLE once or twice. It's the jungle, I gather.

The bookends were also excellent. The fact that it wasn't in the alcove made it extra special and Tanis's change in demeanor was refreshing and appropriate. I felt like I was in for something good. The only line I didn't like was Tanis saying she wasn't sure when she'd see us again. I gather this is supposed to mirror your own uncertainty as to whether or not you'll continue with the series? I don't think it was necessary and frankly, I don't think the series should continue. Of course, I'd continue to read and comment but to me, this feels like the end. The right end.

I hope you don't mind me saying so but I wouldn't be against you holding off on writing anything else for another year or so, haha! In all seriousness, the rarity of your contributions makes them extra special to me and it seems like you put more into them as a result of the time gaps. But, of course, if you were to write something else in the next month or so, I'd read it in a heart beat. So keep up the good work, in whatever fashion you see fit!


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Angry Bear
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James, you always were a great reviewer!

Bert, I will get to specifics tomorrow.  


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Bert,

Well done. Very visual story telling. The sytle fit the story. The only thing that hurt my eyes was the underlining. I know you have a zero error policy as exemplified by your technical prowess. One thing I've noticed about great writers such as yourself is that the action/description is in sync with the dialogue. Harmony.

I thought we would see a story of Tanis as she appears in the SoulShadow series but YOU took us to her early years. And still managed to keep the traditional intro/outro part for Tanis. I liked that a lot.

Maybe one day she'll reappear.

Gary
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Brian M
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This is only the second Soulshadows script I've read, but I'm guessing Tanis appears at the beginning and end of every script in the series like she does in Jeff's "Key to my Heart"? And this is her past? Cool.  

Anyway, I thought this was brilliant. It took me a couple of pages to get used to the writing style but I agree with a previous poster that many write this way also. It worked great here. Your descriptions were also great, always finding the right word or phrase for every description.

I liked many of the visuals, like the Cobra rising from someone's head was a standout for me. I watched Pirates of the Caribbean last week, so the creepy magic lady was in my mind for every line of Tanis' dialogue. Good ending. I'm glad she never got away with what she done.

Great work!

Brian
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Angry Bear
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Quoted from bert

Yeah, the parts where I stray were intentional, of course.  I originally took on Tanis in the first place because I wanted to play with breaking some of the sacred "rules" -- so I decided to do that in her episode, too -- taking it to a slightly higher level.

Partly because I do think some of it actually "works", and some people are being too strict when they lay down the law -- but also to find out what is really taking things too far, and what seasoned readers absolutely cannot tolerate under any circumstances.

If people feel like pointing them out, it will not hurt my feelings.  I do think the story is structurally sound -- very glad to hear you agree, Pia -- so comments on unconventional stylistic choices are certainly welcome and appropriate.

I am curious to hear them, in fact.


Here are some examples that annoyed me while reading, but I'm nobody so take it with a few grains of sea salt.  

"SUPER: TANIS

OVER BLACK SCREAMS. Horrible screams. And they continue as we...

INT. A HUT - DAY"

I found these occasional bolded things distracting. Some people do all their slugs that way. Even underline them and that's fine. You only do them occasionally...

"Tanis grips the snake by its slit neck -- and with an angry ROAR of her own --
-- she rips the head from the snake with her bare hands!"

Why underline this?  You also do this -- a lot --. Probably not wrong, but it got annoying as well after a while.

"And Juma the hunter -- his finely honed instincts warn him of danger -- trapped between these two jungle cats."

This is too much, but as you might remember, I hated "Killing On Carnival Row" and you thought it was great so, maybe just a personal thing, but for me it belongs in a book. Not in a screenplay.

Like I said earlier though, the story itself was top notch.


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bert
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Thanks, all.  A few responses.


Quoted from GM
I meant Sabra...I'm confused on how she dies.



Quoted from James McClung
What'd she do with Juma's face? Peel it off? I wasn't sure about this description. What causes Sabra's death?


First off, I see the end is not as clear as it might be -- though it is meant to be quite straightforward.


Quoted from Spoiler Space
Recall that during the exorcism, Sabra had a staff that she pounded on the ground, releasing a long blade contained within the staff.  When Tanis pushes Sabra, she tumbles backward onto this same staff.  The staff releases the blade, and Sabra is skewered.

As for the book, Tanis never casts a spell from this book.  She opens the book, and it releases its secrets.  Tanis becomes their keeper.  Sabra and Juma appear only as ghosts beside Tanis -- ghosts that she can now see.




And some more stuff, specific to Rick here:


Quoted from Rick
I also felt Bimkubwa’s line…lacked the right amount of punch.


I agree, and thought the same thing at the time -- though you see how those lines come back into play later.  You confirm many of my own suspicions with your early comments.


Quoted from Rick
...the scene with Tanis and Juma could be more subtle...have more subtext.


More subtle?  I only gave him 12 words of dialogue haha.

What is (supposed to be) going on here is that Juma is cold and distant -- and Tanis is blind to that.  And then Tanis' scars are juxtaposed with Afya's flawless beauty.

I was not interested in building sympathy for Juma here -- but for Tanis -- even if it was only a sort of pity at her naiveté .


Quoted from Rick
Would be better to have her kill using some form of nature/animal than inanimate object?


I see what you are saying here.  But have you ever had a scene -- and I am sure you must have -- something you have been carrying around for years, just waiting for a chance to use it somewhere?

The sheet magic is one of those.  I have been carrying it around for a very long time, and was thrilled to at last get it out on the page.

Thanks for your thoughts, Rick -- not nearly so rambling as you might have thought -- and certainly appreciated.



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bert
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James, you are almost too kind.  Almost.


Quoted from James McClung
Thankfully, you opted for another route. One in which even Tanis doesn't have a grip on everything...


Like I mentioned elsewhere, part of the challenge here was not to undermine everything that had gone before with Tanis -- not to make her hateful.  So yes, making her kind of helpless in the face of powers beyond her control -- but not completely innocent, either -- seemed like the best approach.


Quoted from James McClung
The iScript reader doesn't do a bad job with Tanis but I figured it'd be difficult to handle this kinda intimacy with the character without sounding comical.


I have been impressed with their work over the course of this series as well, and knew this particular episode would be a challenge, which they rose to pretty well.

I suppose my only real issue is the closing passage, where they did not quite capture the bitterness I had hoped to inject into those final lines.

But that is my fault, really.  I have always felt that if that iScript reader does not pick up on my intent, then that is a failure on my end, not theirs.


Quoted from James McClung
The only line I didn't like was Tanis saying she wasn't sure when she'd see us again. I don't think it was necessary...


I debated including that for a while.  Just hedging my bets.  That is something I have yet to discuss with Cornetto, and probably won't for at least a little while.


Quoted from James McClung
I wouldn't be against you holding off on writing anything else for another year or so...


Ha!  I have less control over that stuff than you might think.  But yeah, it only gets harder and harder to find the time, and I do obsess over things for quite a while before putting them out there.

Thanks, James.  Great thoughts from you that I enjoy reading, as usual.


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