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Numbers by Matias Caruso (mr. z) - Short, Sci Fi - Two strangers with claircognizant abilities meet at a bar, learning shocking secrets about each other. 6 pages First Place - Moviepoet's July Contest. - pdf, format
Nick and Mia meets for the first time. They know nothing about each other and seem to know everything about everyone else. But sometimes the less you know, the better...
So, Z, I guess this is the one that won you your - what? - 50th MP comp? Share the wealth, dude.
Interesting concept and definitely original. Overall I liked it a lot. It took me a little while to get into it but once I got to the payoff I was sold. Very effective. Very sad. It got a little talky halfway through but I understand you had to set up the world and lead into the end.
I wasn't crazy about your description for Stan: A rare blend between "geek" and "cool". I'm really having trouble picturing that. But other than than I have nothing to add - and that's really annoys me. Why do you have to be so damn good?
PS: What was the theme of the competition?
Down in the hole / Jesus tries to crack a smile / Beneath another shovel load
A very imaginative and original concept you have here, great stuff, I could really see it making a wonderful short film. Itís not up for debate at this stage but you really have cracked the hi-concept 5 (or in this case 5 and a bit) pagers, a real flair for brief but intelligent and challenging storytelling. This would be ideal for a fledgling, visually inclined (I suppose they all are at that stage, right) filmmaker to take on and cut their teeth with.
While I've always loved your dialogue, very sharp while remaining natural sounding, some of the prose read a bit awkward at times. While the occasional unfilmable cropped up. For example:
"her mood getting darker." -- This doesn't tell me much, I mean, how do we see someone's mood darken without some body language or facial expression cue?
"He has no clue what sheís talking about." -- I have no clue either what Stan is doing from this line.
"He just watches. Slack-jawed. No clue what to say next." -- You could probably drop the "No clue..." part. The preceding words tell us enough
Although, unlike Sniper I liked the "rare blend between "geek" and "cool"" description, I can picture that.
"The numbers are gone... at least for a while" -- I liked the repetition of this taken from earlier dialogue and incorporated into the prose, nicely done.
Anyway, nit picking aside, I feel with a premise this intriguing and innovative it would be missing the point to dwell on such superfluous details. You packed a great little quasi metaphysical/science fiction story into such few pages here, hats off, sir.
Another thumbs up from me, great work.
Postscript: Oh and please, please, please donít tell me this was inspired by a bloody Nickleback video...please.
@Rob: You're right, this one is quite talky. That's what happens when I try to write low budget. I end up with two talking heads in a room. I'll make some sh1t explode next time.
The "theme" of the competition was: "Keep your pages as white as possible; action and dialogue are limited to two lines at a time."
@Ryan: I'm familiar with that music video (very cool, by the way). I was hoping this piece would qualify as a different take on the numbers thingy. If it doesn't, don't tell Rob I'm a hack. That would break his heart.
@Col: Thanks for the detailed review, I really appreciate it as usual. About the unfilmables, I can definitely understand where you're coming from. Sometime ago I felt about them the exact same way you do now.
Then I switched sides, tempted by the dark side. Bert is the one to blame here, mainly, since he always advocated in favor of this kind of sh1t. But who knows, maybe I'l switch sides again in the future.
I dig the concept, at first I felt like you were channeling your inner Frighteners a bit much. The rookie/mentor dynamic works well here. **SPOILERS** I caught you on the number 30 though, the age pattern was too easy to spot. The 30 thing isn't that obvious, but your set up is so smart, I'm really on my toes. "$30 doesn't get you much in here, let me buy you a drink." It ties into the money pattern you already showed us and leads into your next bit. Something like that is more charming for Stan and veils your intentions better. I'd like to see more charm from Stan, it makes the coming pain more flavorful. Stan playing coy as he knows his lie count rises, even acknowledging it somehow. Strong stuff all around here, good on you! I'd like to know about these characters.
LATEST NEWS CineVita Films is producing a short based on my new feature!
I read this last night and since then I've been trying to come up with something constructive to say.
I don't have much, other than I really enjoyed this and you can really write. Liked the concept, liked the descriptions of the characters, and I didn't have a problem with it being talky. (Why does everyone always comment on that? What are two people in a bar supposed to do?).
I imagine you were under a page constraint for the Movie Poet contest so I completely understand why you ended it the way you did. Now that you're free of that, the only suggestion I would add is something along the lines of what Phil said - to make Stan a bit of "something" near the end - sad, unsure, sympathetic, enlightened, etc. Taking a little bit of time with his reactions there will heighten the drama of the ending.
Definetely a fan of your work. This piece might be my fave I've read. I love the dark overtone.
If I really have to dig, I would say my only problem would be with Stan hitting on her so quick. Thought he would be fascinated to know more, finally meeting someone like himself. His character seems to become suave instantly. Knowing she can see the numbers go up above his head, yet lying to her about getting her drunk and hitting on her.
I definitely think this short could use a couple more pages. If they could talk about something besides the numbers for a brief moment. Find a connection other then it. Then the clock strikes twelve. As it is, it's all they have in common. Lacks a bit of passion.
So there, take that. Trying to find something i don't like about your scripts is extremely difficult. Loved it. You create worlds.. Fun to dive into.
Glad you ejoyed this, guys. Thanks a lot. I agree with your suggestions about expanding this to flesh out the characters and their relationship. I had to spend so much time explaining the rules that there wasn't much room left for anything else. Now that the contest is over, I've got no excuse.
I love your writing style, Matias, and your concepts are consistently fresh, thoughtful and interesting. But the more I read your scripts, the more I feel like there's something to be desired. They always seem to be pieces of larger puzzles. That's not to say they're not complete and functional. They are. It's almost as if they're the moment in a feature where everything is introduced or comes together. But either way, I'm left unsatisfied. You've made way for a number of opportunities with the different figures and patterns these characters are seeing. I think you should try to pursue it further. I'd like to see what kind of patterns the drifter adapts to and more about how seeing these numbers affect both characters in their everyday lives. I liked the moment where he lies and she simply smiles. You've opened up too many doors just to leave off.
Basically, what I'm saying is I enjoyed the script but I wish you'd write more features. Or at least longer, denser shorts.
Another brilliant job Matias, Still kicking ass over at Movie Poet I see.
I liked this a lot, for a 5 pager it did a great job of creating an unusual world and yet making it work so well. It was nice that it was never fully resolved, in that I mean there are a couple of things left open to interpretation. I am assuming that as soon as he mentioned her age she knew what it meant, but that is not necessarily the case I guess.
Anyway, nothing to fault at all, nothing really constructive to say either, It would be like teaching my Gran how to suck an egg.
I'd like to see what kind of patterns the drifter adapts to and more about how seeing these numbers affect both characters in their everyday lives.
Thatís a good suggestion. It would give my characters more character, so to speak. Thanks for reading.
Quoted from Murphy
I am assuming that as soon as he mentioned her age she knew what it meant
Yeah, thatís correct. She met a Reaper once, so she knew how much longer she had to live. Thatís why she was drinking her brain off near midnight (something she did every midnight since she found out, I assume).