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Pick-Up by Brian Lewis - Short, Horror - Stranded on a desolate country road, Julie is forced to call her recent ex for a late night ride. However, the couple's bickering is quickly cut short by an unseen creature who will stop at nothing to get inside. 11 pages - pdf, format
This is really solid stuff. Some great visuals. Dialogue is good. Reminded me a lot of the beginning of Jeepers Creepers. I mean that as a compliment, never actually saw the movie, but I thought the beginning of that script was very intense (although couldn’t maintain it throughout).
Only issue I had was with pgs. 6-7:
I’m not sure about transitioning to a new scene right after they realize there’s a giant creature on the hood of their car. I think you could just go straight from:
NICK What the fuck?!?
Julie grabs Nick by his coat, her knuckles white.
JULIE (whispered) It's not human.
To Nick slamming his foot on the gas, tries to shake the creature, the tire pops, etc… it’s all one continuous scene of mayhem.
Also, not sure about this:
JULIE I'm so sorry I got you involved in this Nick. I'm sorry...for everything.
Nick meets her gaze.
NICK No, you were right. I'm sor-
Might be a little hard to have this conversation as Nick is fighting desperately to keep the car upright. I like what you’re trying to do here. Just not sure how to pull it off without it looking a bit awkward. Maybe something like this:
The steering wheel almost spins out of Nick's grip.
NICK I'm losing it! I can’t—I’m sorry, Julie.
JULIE No, I’m sorry… for everything. I—
The truck violently rocks to one side, as if about to tip, before screeching to a halt.
One final nitpick, I’d cut this line from the opening:
Julie pulls out her cellphone, studying the device, as if unsure of how to use it. She returns it to her purse.
Typo top of page 2 where you have Jill but should be Julie.
Swoosh of the tyres on the sidewalk? I always thought a sidewalk was a pavement i.e. something pedestrians walk on?
I wasn't keen on Julie saying she shouldn't have got Nick involved as it seemed like she knew what was happening but that transpired at the end. Also I was a bit lost by the creature returning at the end, what did they run over? I thought there was going to be a reveal of a creature/human still on the road at the very end.
Overall though this was a good little piece. The tension was good throughout but it was the dialogue between the two and mainly the way you described the awkwardness between them that rang true and believable. Great effort.
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Nicely handled slice of nightmare logic. It felt ‘real’, with suspense and writing that worked to put me into the scene. It captures the tension of the situation - not being able to stop, and being largely powerless as this creature tries to get inside. The downside, like your other recent short, the bigger mystery surrounding the creature is left as just that.
Entertaining and effective (you’ve even got these two characters with a backstory that adds an extra touch of conflict/depth), the suggestion of a bigger story leaves me wanting a bit more.
Some background on this short: I am attempting to direct a short this summer, so I've been going through my backlog of short ideas to see which are doable within budget. This is the first of six.
First off, don't you just hate it when you proofread your script a dozen times, convince yourself that it is 100% correct, and then immediately notice there are typos after you've sent it out? It's the bane of my existence.
MarkItZero: I agree with all of your comments! I added the scene break because I was worried the scene was just dragging along, but you're right it slows down the momentum. I also like your idea with the dialog before the crash. I will definitely make this revision.
As far as the cellphone line, yeah I kept thinking this stuck out like a sore thumb, but I liked the idea of seeing her pull the phone out and then deciding not to use it.
Alffy: In the U.S. we normally refer to pavement as any paved surface, be it the blacktop of a road or a sidewalk.
As for Julie apologizing for getting Nick involved, I definitely see what you mean. In my head I saw this as her apologizing for everything wrong in their relationship, thus if they never would have broken up then she wouldn't have gone to the party and they wouldn't be in the predicament that they are in. I can see how this might not be immediately recognizable from just the short dialog. I'll work to change that.
Yeah same creature at the end as from before. I'll add something in to make it clear that it wasn't really dead on the road.
Steve: Yeah, as you read more of my stuff you'll find I keep the monsters/aliens/ghosts/etc. pretty vague, especially in shorts. I guess my logic is that the meat of this story is about the third act of a relationship and the monster is just the B story. I actually did have a bit of exposition about an old folklore about this road that Julie had heard from her grandfather and yada yada yada, but I felt like it slowed things down a bit.
This one is not part of the AllDark anthology, just a stand alone. I've actually taken your advice and just started re-outlining Stationary as a feature.
Thanks again guys! I really appreciate the feedback. I'll pay it forward to you as well.
I read this in its entirety. It's pretty well written, but there are some mistakes/missing words/punctuation issues/etc.
Although, I definitely like this, as horror is my genre, it's really a copy of Jeepers Creepers scene with the cop car, although here, you have only 1 car. Even your creature seems to be "The Creeper". So, originality-wise, this doesn't work at all.
Your dialogue is good for the most part. Really good in parts, not so great in only a few places. But kudos on solid dialogue writing.
Your action is also well written, which is why all the peeps are enjoying this.
Your biggest issue writing-wise, is your omission of a comma before names (or anything that can serve as a name) in dialogue. Names always have to set off with a comma(s) in dialogue. Example - "Hey, Harry, what the fuck do you think you're doing, you douchebag." "Listen to me, Lisa, you ugly whore." "I'm so sorry I got you involved in this, Nick."
As a final note, you say you want to film this. It's a tough script to film on a budget. Lots of CGI, high speed car, inside and outside, night, car damaged by creature, man killed by creature, creature itself. IMO, not a good choice to a first film.
Good effort, though, but it reads exactly like a takeoff from a scene from Jeepers Creepers.
To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
Hello Dreamscale! Thank you so much for taking the time to read my script and commenting. Also, Happy New Year!
Yeah, I'm really kicking myself for not doing a better job of proofreading this a little better. I just received the comma before someone's name note on my previous script and completely missed it on this one as well. Lesson learned!
I definitely can't deny the influence of "Jeepers Creepers" in this script. I'd originally gotten the idea from a "true" story I'd heard in passing that took place on a Native American reservation, but as I was adapting I could feel the Creeper seeping in!
I appreciate the feedback on dialog! I am definitely the most self conscious when it comes to dialog so hearing you say it's solid makes my day.
I realized it my first reply it sounded like this would be my first short I've directed, but I should have been a bit more clear. I've actually been a working cinematographer/editor for years with a dozen shorts under my belt. This would definitely be a challenge, but that's the best part of independent filmmaking! That being said, I don't think this will be the one I direct this year. I have another 5 that I'm circulating for funding.
Thanks again for taking the time! I really appreciate it and will pay it forward.
Pick-Up is solidly written. The dialog is good, the pacing is good. There’s some nit-picky stuff, like:
“The truck's speedometer needle begins to move to the left” “Nick notices he's begun to decelerate”
Which are redundant. But that’s me: I am a nit-picky guy.
I think the larger elements I would like to see in this story:
Some kind of allusion or backstory to the origin of the creature, even if it’s just a couple lines of dialog. If you could work in the Native American reservation anecdote, or show a street sign that says “Wendigo Rd.” or something along those lines, then the creature wouldn’t feel like it came out of nowhere.
At the end, have the characters address what they’ve just been through. They’ve been attacked and they get away, but they don’t call the police or barricade themselves inside for the night. They seem kinda relaxed at the end, it doesn’t really ring true.
The ’gotcha’ ending feels abrupt. I mean, by their very nature ‘gotcha’ endings are abrupt, but I feel like there’s another page or two of denouement that needs to happen first. Like in Sam Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell, there’s the realization that they used the wrong coin, THEN the gotcha happens.
As for Jeepers Creepers, there’s definitely strong similarities to the scene when Darry & Trish run over the Creeper. But I think with a little creativity you can rework the details of the scene so as not to appear derivative.
I enjoyed reading it - a strong effort. Looking forward to seeing more of your work!
Hey, Brian, if for nothing else that was smooth read which counts for a lot in my book. Narrative description must of done its job if that's the case, right. It followed story structure which too goes a long way. There's an issue (relationship) before the "shape" even appears and this new obstacles (the attack) ends with the old issue being resolved as a result. But, in the case your story that resolution is abruptly brought to a halt.
Hopefully, we can see this up after the summer. Good luck. Good read.
Commodus: But the Emperor Claudius knew that they were up to something. He knew they were busy little bees. And one night he sat down with one of them and he looked at her and he said, "Tell me what you have been doing, busy little bee..."
This definitely has a strong "Jeepers Creepers" vibe, one of my favorite horror films of all time. While I enjoyed this vibe at first, I was a little disappointed that you never really veer away from it and make it your own thing. As it is now it almost reads as a short fan-fiction.
I'm not saying this was bad by any means, just not very original. You developed the characters well enough that I wanted to see them get away. The attack sequence on the road was tense and well written, very easy to visualize.
No problems with format, and no typos that jumped out at me.
Good job, Brian. I enjoyed this.
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For as long as the studio has been dragging their feet on Jeepers Creepers 3, maybe I should just change the monster to the creeper to generate some buzz in the franchise.
But really I didn't catch how much this borrows from JC until it was too late. My original outline of this script had more of a "Terror at 20,000 Feet" feel, but then I decided to make both of the characters aware of the monster right away, which I think really aligned it with Jeepers Creepers.