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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Horror Scripts  ›  Ghosts, Ghouls and Demons Moderators: bert
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  Author    Ghosts, Ghouls and Demons  (currently 110 views)
Don
Posted: September 8th, 2018, 11:08am Report to Moderator
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Ghosts, Ghouls and Demons by Christopher Brown - Horror - After a violent incident at an office building, two of the employees are hired by a television producer to investigate the event. 123 pages - pdf format

Writer interested in feedback on this work



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Cacutshaw
Posted: September 8th, 2018, 12:17pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks in advance to anyone who dares give this a read. It's a long one.

It's a "found footage" film kind of inspired by Japanese and South Korean horror films and the events going on in the world today.
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Zombie Sean
Posted: September 8th, 2018, 3:23pm Report to Moderator
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First and foremost, your page count is extremely high for a found footage film. Usually they run from 70-90 minutes/pages. Yours is just over 2 hours long if filmed, based on the page count. That is really long, even for just a regular movie. This better be a blockbuster hit, otherwise, I’d decrease the page count at minimum 20-30 pages.

Commenting while I read...

For the interrogation scene, maybe it would be better structuring it as an INTERCUT rather than bouncing from slugline to slugline. Something like:

INTERCUT: PETER/MARLON

And just use CUT TO to differentiate when we’re focusing on Peter’s interrogation and when we’re focusing on Marlon’s interrogation.

Speaking of CUT TO, you don’t necessarily need to utilize it every time we cut to a different location/scene. With the slugline we already know we’re in a different location. The only time I would feel it’s appropriate to use CUT TO for a found footage script is when there’s an obvious cut in the footage, but for the same location. As I said, a change in slugline indicates a cut.

Page 13 -


Quoted Text
THE SHOT IS A POV OF SOMEONE WALKING TOWARDS A CONVENIENCE STORE. IT STAYS RUSSELL’S POV THROUGHOUT THE SCENE.

It is dark out with only a few cars parked in front of a convenience store. Russell (who’s POV we are seeing) approaches the window and looks inside. A voice comes from one of the cars beside him.

JOHN
Fucking disgusting, isn’t it?


1) I say cut down the CAPS action line and just say “THE SHOT IS RUSSEL’S POV AS HE WALKS TOWARD A CONVENIENCE STORE” 2) We already know that it’s Russell’s point of view so we don’t need to be told again 3) JOHN’S line should have (O.S.) next to it, I believe

John and Joe are really similar names. Might wanna consider changing one of them so that it reads a little bit smoother.

I hope that this scene at least introduces characters that appear later in the script, but really it seems out of place especially with its racism. We jump from a ghost story to sudden drama with racist comments. Are we currently set in a small town? Also, why is Russell filming this? He’s just setting himself up for criminal acts and harassment.

Also, I’m curious as to know whether this is a documentary found footage, or just a compilation of found footage-esque shots/happenings, or if someone has actually found all of this footage and has put it together for us to see.

The whole “inside of the motel room” scene can be cut. This will help reduce the page count.

I’d say cut the last half of the scene in the compound/meeting room with Russell, Stephen, and Hagan. After the “Alcoholics Anonymous” comment.

Where are these hidden cameras coming from? Does Russell have a whole setup of the entire compound? Unless I’m mistaken/confused.

Page 50 -

Finally, something spooky is happening. If this is gonna be a horror, you gotta jump to the horror sooner than this. We start off with a horror, then it’s mostly drama from there on out. There aren’t really any horror bits in between the drama either. Cut out a bunch of scenes involving the skinheads. Get back to the horror as quickly as you can. Remember to enter a scene as soon as possible and leave as soon as possible. There’s a lot of talking, even for a found footage script, where audiences are probably going to be getting bored real quick. If this is going to be marketed as a horror movie, audiences are going to want to expect horror stuff to happen throughout.

Page 65 - 66 -

This scene seems way out of place. We just saw Russell get killed/possessed? Is this a “flashback”? Or, footage filmed from earlier? Also, she just ran off, how could she be halfway into town right when she ran off?

Page 76 -

Finally Peter’s brother is coming back into the picture.

Page 102 - 106

They’re just having this casual conversation while there’s a bunch of dead people roaming around? They should be shutting the hell up!

Page 107 -

Why are they feeling sorry for Hagan now? After all the hate that he and his group had brought to the town, they’re now feeling sorry for him?

Okay finished…

That was quite the doozy of an ending. So I’m assuming it wasn’t a Wendigo, and it wasn’t Nazi demons, but pure evil? That sort of…”infects” people? What is this vortex? Does it open to another dimension? Is it a portal to Hell? How does all of this tie into the person jumping off of the bridge at the beginning? I get the smiling man that comes out of the water, because everyone who gets “infected” are smiling. Is Fred a demon? Is he this evil god? Or is Ross Helms the evil god, since he claims to be? What was the deal with Marlon at the end, shooting everyone up? Did the same thing that happened to Adam happen to him? Why didn’t he just kill himself? Is he another “evil” person? As you can tell, I have a lot of questions that I hope you can answer.

I’d say you can cut out at least 20 pages of this script by leaving out the majority of the skinhead and racist stuff. I understand you’re trying to bring in real-world events, but they really do not correlate with the story you’re trying to tell. The beginning tells us it’s going to be probably a ghost story, as well as your title, but the majority of the script was talking about skinheads, racism, and people trying to drive out minorities. This can all definitely be drastically cut and only implied without showing it. Like toward the end when Alice is talking about the Wendigo, and the skinheads, and how Hagan talks about something like a skinhead cult or demonic ritual, that is all good information to give us toward the end. We don’t necessarily need to see it all happening.

I honestly believe you can cut out Eka, Dana, Bill, Theo, and Robert. You could keep the scenes with Stephen, Joe, John, and Karen, and just shorten them down. But the scenes with the other characters don’t really move the story any further. Focus on only the main characters and leave these minor characters out of the story to help move the story faster. As I had mentioned previously, you’re selling this as a horror, but it reads a lot more like a political drama. It starts off as a horror and had me really intrigued, but then it slows down dramatically with all of the skinhead fluff. The main story and the horror elements don’t pick up until page 50 or 60 which is really late for a horror movie. As a found footage, your audience is probably going to get real bored real quick.

Try to give our main characters a bit more voice. They all sort of sound the same for the most part. Make Marlon sound more black. Give Hagan an accent, even it’s cutting off ‘ing’ endings and making him say “hangin’” or “bringin’” or have him say “ain’t” a lot. He’s a skinhead, probably not very educated, so make him sound more dumb. Have Peter maybe cuss less and sound more like a fatherly figure. In the end, a lot of the characters were sounding similar to each other, and especially with so much going on, it was hard to tell them apart. Have a character say “yeah” a lot, even.

Focus on condensing this script. Like I said, unless this is going to be a blockbuster hit, you have to cut back a lot. Try to make it a goal to make this at most 100 pages, but go even further than that and make it 90 pages. Cut out a bunch of the talking. As I mentioned above, enter the scene as late as possible and leave as early as possible. Get to the horror aspects a lot quicker. The first 10ish pages are super intriguing, but then it slows down dramatically afterward, and gets more dramatic than it should be if you’re going to sell this as a horror.

This could be a good horror found footage, just leave it more as a horror if you’re going in that direction and sprinkle the dramatic/political aspects throughout.

Sean


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Dustin
Posted: September 8th, 2018, 4:17pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Zombie Sean
First and foremost, your page count is extremely high for a found footage film. Usually they run from 70-90 minutes/pages. Yours is just over 2 hours long if filmed, based on the page count. That is really long, even for just a regular movie. This better be a blockbuster hit, otherwise, I’d decrease the page count at minimum 20-30 pages.


We should steer clear of giving advice like this, partly because we're not qualified to say so and partly because it could be completely wrong. Just because a script is 130 pages doesn't mean it has to film at 2h 10mins.

An example... I wrote a 26-page script (it was around 26, I can't be bothered to check) that filmed over 70 mins and was edited down to 15mins.

None of us here are directors. A great director could likely make a feature out of a one-pager. Not forgetting a great editor too. There's so much more that goes into a film than what a script suggests.

Forget all that guru bullshit... never repeat it. It's stupid shit for children.
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Cacutshaw
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Wow. Pardon my french, but shit, those are some great fuckin' notes, Zombie Sean.

I did debate shortening the script significantly, but I really wanted to the reader to feel a sense of confusion once we enter "Forest". There's police who can't be trusted, racism, "fake media" and a (hopefully) powerful sense of distrust that take away from the personal task Peter has set out for himself. And all this confusion masks who is really controlling things.

Plus, since we are essentially watching a show that was made for the "evil" people in the world, what the intended audience wants to see is all these characters become corrupted, not necessarily killed in a "horror" movie way.

Still, I wanted it to be confusing, not boring, so I probably need to work some more on the script, and shortening may be the way to go.

I really debated keeping things ambiguous, it was actually way more ambiguous in the first draft, but there is an explanation for everything happening. If you are interested in the "mythology" behind it, I can send a private message since I'm still very much of two minds of making things clearer. I like when things aren't explained, but I don't like when they are frustrating.

And BTW, I'm reading Flytrap and enjoying it quite a bit so far. I'll post some thoughts when I'm done.

And thanks Dustin, I knew when I thought up the story it may go quite long, it was shortly after Trump was elected oddly enough, and decided just to go with that. I really didn't want to create a blockbuster, but make a horror film our of what my worries at the time were.
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Zombie Sean
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To Dustin,

Good point. I was going off of the old "adage": 1 page = 1 minute and have always stuck true to that, even though I know there is some leeway for examples such as pages that are all dialogue, or pages that are all action.

Christopher,

I'm on my phone so I'm afraid to go back and forth between script and my comment for fear of losing what I write, so I'll do my best to remember what I can.

Is there a way to introduce Russell as a cop sooner? That way we will know early on that the police are corrupt and can't be trusted during that scene in the gas station. Then the comments that other characters make later on about how the cops are more corrupt than helpful will make a little bit more sense while still getting the point across.

You definitely get the racism across well.

As for fake media, I feel you could play on that a little bit more. Peter claims that the viral video is a hoax. Maybe have him go into more detail for why it's a hoax instead of the one point he makes about the smiling man. Maybe say there's a weird cut in the video, or the way the man jumps off the bridge is oddly sped up, or something.

Pardon my confusion, but how do you mean showing these characters become corrupted?

And boring is a strong term, sorry about that. I meant it more to steer you in the right direction. You market this as a horror so I expected more horror elements, but it does slow down quite a bit throughout the middle. If filmed, as a found footage marketed as a horror, your audiences may want *more* if you know what I mean. Audiences these days don't have the longest of attention spans.

I'm definitely interested in the mythology, so PM me, and moreso so I can understand the script better. I enjoyed it all for the most part, and my comments are merely suggestions. Being a horror buff, I just wanted "more horror". The third act really piqued my interest, as well as the first few scenes. You can leave things ambiguous because the audience will (Hopefully) pick up on it. But if I missed anything, please let me know.

Please also let me know if I didn't touch on anything that you wanted more feedback on.

And thanks for giving Flytrap a read. It's a B-horror and I had a lot of fun writing it so I hope you have a lot of fun reading it.

Sean


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Cacutshaw
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Thanks for the clarification Zombie Sean.  You never did say boring, I think you referred to things "slowing things down" which is much different.

I'll shoot you a PM tonight with a rundown of the mythology behind what's happening. I probably should make it clearer in the script.
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Dreamscale
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I had hoped to read the 1st 10 or so pages, but I'm out before I finished Page 1...and I'm sorry for that, but there's just way too much that's wrong here, and I'm going to try and help a bit and also touch on the page length issue/debate.

Opening Slug is incorrect - When you have a "major" and "minor" part of a Slug, use a dash, not a slash.  A slash means either or.  A dash means you're going from biggest to smallest...like HOUSE - KITCHEN.  Simple fix, but something you need to know and understand.

Your opening passage, all in CAPS, is actually a "NOTE".  NOTES can be very helpful, when used correctly.  For instance, you can let your readers know that this is a Found Footage film, and every single shot is going to be through this or that camera.  You can tell peeps how characters sound, as in accents for a group of characters.  Whatever...but the way you went about this, isn't correct.

So, next, we have a 7 line passage, ending in an orphan, and I immediately know why your script is 123 pages long - it's way overwritten, it's repetitious, and it's passively written (which takes up alot more space on the page).

Let's break this down and see what's right and wrong and how to make it better.

So, first of all, in a FF script, every single shot is nothing more than a POV...from whatever camera is being used, and if you think about it this way, and write it this way, you'll find that your script will be alot more reader friendly, and you'll do away with writing lines over and over, like, the camera does this and the camera does that.  We don't see what the camera does...only what it's filming.

IMO, FF scripts are really the sole exception of when you can...and even should...use "we" in your writing, because "we're" actually seeing everything through the camera's eye.  "We follow...".  "We approach...".  Etc.

Intro your characters immediately by name.  Most names are very gender specific, so using "a man" or "a woman", before their name, is completely a waste of space.

Don't write passively - is leaning, is running, etc.  "leans"  "runs".

Give exact ages for your characters, as you are the creator of these characters and only you know how old they actually are.  Use numbers for ages, as it saves space.

Don't repeat words in passages...especially ones that shouldn't even be used once.  You used "man" twice here, and "approaches" twice.

Don't add meaningless details, like exactly what someone is wearing (unless it comes into play in the story, somehow).  But here, it's actually kind of redonkulous, as you say that Dave is filming Peter from behind, while he's leaning over a sink - How would we know he's handsome?  How would we know he's Asian?  How would we see his "button upped" (actually, it's "buttoned up") shirt an loose tie?

Finally, the last line of this passage has no reason to be part of the passage, and isn't written correctly at all.

For me, the dialogue from Dave sounds nothing like a 7 or 8 year old.

You tell us Peter takes out his earbuds...but we never knew he was wearing earbuds...and if his hands are all wet, would he really take his earbuds out like that?  Where does he put them?  Are these wireless earbuds, I assume?  What was he listening to...as in, what are the earbuds tuned in to?  Obviously not his phone, as we quickly find out that Dave is using Peter's phone to film him (which is another issue, as you started out talking about the camera filming - and yeah, phones do have nice cameras these days, but I would never call my phone a camera).

That's as far as I could get, and hopefully these comments make sense and help.

But, 1 more thing I want to bring up and that's page count and how that plays out in terms of runtime of a filmed movie.  The rule of thumb is that 1 page equals 1 minute of film...and that's all we really have in a spec script, so it's something we should shoot for.

It doesn't hold true page by page, but overall, a well written script should play out this way.  Sure, a Director can make any changes he or she wants to, but we shouldn't worry about this...or even think about it.

Dialogue between multiple characters will take up much more page time than actual run time.

Heavily detailed scenes "can" take more page time than run time, but depending on what's being filmed, the reverse can be also be true.

Multiple camera angles and/or shots will play out longer on film than on the page.

It all depends on how things are shot and also, how they're written...but...we still look at scripts and gauge the run time of the filmed version, based on the number of pages.

You have 123 pages, meaning, in theory, you (or we, actually) see this as a 2 hour and 3 minute film.  I can tell just by the 1st page, that the page count is inflated.  My guess is that you have an "extra" page that shouldn't be there for every 5 or 6 pages, meaning, if this was rewritten/edited down, you'd have about a 100 page script, and as Sean correctly said, even at that length, it will feel long for a FF film.

Hope this help, bro.


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