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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board  /  October 2017 One Week Challenge  /  Living Nightmare - OWC - filmed
Posted by: Don, October 21st, 2017, 11:01am
Living Nightmare by Warren Duncan writing as Um… (Warren)  - Adult, Short, Horror - A woman with severe Insomnia finally gets some rest, but it comes with horrific consequences. 10 pages - pdf, format

Oneirophobia - Fear of dreams

Posted by: MarkRenshaw, October 21st, 2017, 2:30pm; Reply: 1
I thought the writing was fine and it met the criteria of the challenge. It took a while to get going, there's 4 pages of setup before anything interesting happens. I think you could start this later and get to the nightmares quicker.

It then becomes predictable with a very well-trodden twist but it was a decent effort.

Posted by: Cam Gray, October 21st, 2017, 2:41pm; Reply: 2
Hey writey, writey, writer,

Yay!!! Someone's done the dream sequence thing correctly!! Huzzah!!!!

Right, it is well written, visuals were good and it has a barely believable, but yet good twist at the end.

Now the brief. I'm not really sure here about the phobia. She apparently just doesn't have dreams? Is this because of a phobia brought on by previous bad times on the sleeping front? It doesn't seem that clear, and maybe should have been emphasised if this was the case.

I liked it though, it read well and couldn't really see any typos or formatting issues.

Good job,

Posted by: eldave1, October 21st, 2017, 4:17pm; Reply: 3
Solid writing - good craftsmanship.


For me at least could see the end coming along way away.

Yes, it met the challenge - however, I don't quite buy she had a fear of dreams. She wanted to sleep, took some beds, had a dream which she found quite pleasant.  Then she had a horrific nightmare - one that any rational person would not want to have. i.e., it was at that point a rational fear.

Anyway - despite the above - one of my favs so far.
Posted by: khamanna, October 22nd, 2017, 8:00am; Reply: 4
Hey, read your short.
Very nice progression here.
The dream sequence works very well and I'm glad you started with them being friends.

The only thing I didn't like is the talk about their father. I think Jemma's running away could stem from something that Cassie did to her. Maybe initiated a rumor not through the fault of her own - something like that. We want Cassie to remain positive character though. But Dad did something to Jemma - this derserves more than just a line. THis is a whole other short.

Anyway, this worked very well for me. And I think you can get it produced in a short time. It's budget friendly and all.
I read recently Polia - a horror about dreams and such. It got produced of this site, I think. At least I read it on this site, and then shortly after it got produced. Yours resembles that one but at the same time different settings and all.
Not that I'm saying it's a cliche to write something like that. It's hard to write something like that and still come up with something that reads well and unique. So I salute you on that. I thoroughly enjoyed it, thanks.
Posted by: Scar Tissue Films, October 22nd, 2017, 10:34am; Reply: 5
I thought the horror beats were well written.

Personally I found the story elements disconnected. Her dreams are about guilt over not mentioning her sister's abuse and then she kills the sister, mistakenly at the end.

The denouement is neither connected to the dream phobia,  nor to the information revealed in the dreams.
Posted by: JakeJon, October 22nd, 2017, 12:33pm; Reply: 6
Bad timing on Jemma's part, I guess.

Good Writing on your part.

I thought it took a little long to get going;  I  kinda got bored with the dreams, probably because they were "just" dreams; go figure.

Never bought into the horror.  I think I got turned off at the top of page 5.  The Linda Blair, Exorcist gyration.

Another "Bad Dad" episode, but I liked how you "snuck" that in.

Pretty Good Sigmund.

Posted by: GM, October 22nd, 2017, 2:02pm; Reply: 7

Congrats on finishing the challenge. Even though some have said that it took a while to start the story, I would have to disagree. I’m most likely in the minority for that lol. But kudos to you for following the three acts from a feature in a short page count such as setting up the ordinary world, conflict, passing that threshold, etc. I thought you were going for a different angle but the payoff was nice for me.

Hope this helps
Posted by: Cacutshaw, October 23rd, 2017, 12:07am; Reply: 8
I absolutely loved the ending. I was worried while reading it that it was going to be another "tortured in dreams" story, but I loved how it affected her tragically in real life.

I might consider getting rid of the psychiatrist altogether. It usually feels like an exposition fest with an unnecessary character whenever psychiatrists are used as sounding boards in films.

Most of the info said in the office can be portrayed in her now lucid dreams, and it would be more powerful as well (the runaway aspect showing a downward slope as the dreams go from happy to dark). Or even a brief conversation with someone close to her could fill in some gaps.

Great job. This is my favourite script I've read so far.
Posted by: RJ, October 24th, 2017, 8:09am; Reply: 9
but my body won’t let me rest. - wasn't sure about this line as it's her mind, not body, I would have thought.

I liked the horror with Jemma in the kitchen scene - nice touch.

They always loved you more. Mom,
Dad, Cassie the little angel. -- this took me from the read for a sec - suppose I was expecting some other reason, dang it. Same old, same old.

Cassie shrieks as she pounces. She hails down stab after stab. - did I miss something? When did Cassie get the knife. She got it in the dream, but I don't remember her having any where near her when she woke up.

I did like the bulk of this story. It's well written - nothing to quibble about there. I think my main issue with it is that the ending feels tacked on - possibly because of being rushed. That said (I don't want to sound contradictory, but probably will)  I do like the idea you had for the ending with Cassie waking up and attacking Jemma. This just needs a little tweaking, IMO.

The phobia - hmm, not sure - at the end definitely, but at first she says she doesn't dream and there is no solid explanation for that. Maybe stating that she used to have nightmare when she was younger, but now has nothing? I don't know. When she says that maybe she had dream when she was a child, but can't remember - that doesn't really cut it.

All in all - good job. A nice little psycho horror.

Posted by: Dreamscale, October 24th, 2017, 1:23pm; Reply: 10
Opening passage (line) is a complete waste and in reality, not even accurate.  You're describing the room in very little detail, but you omit what's actually taking place in the room until the next passage.

Upon seeing this filmed, if you were to go back and try and write the screenplay, you would never, ever in a million years, start with this line, like you did.

So, Cassie is 30 years old, yet this is the first time she's seeing a Doc about it?  How could she even be alive if she can't sleep?  How could she work, support herself.etc?

I think most will like this one.  I'd like to like it, but I just can't, as it doesn't ring remotely true or real.  It's like a movie where you're watching and continually asking questions out loud, because things just don't make sense.

Writing-wise, it's OK, but there are lots of improvements you can make, including the formatting of the dream scenes.

My recommendation is to make Cassie come off more like a real person - a real 30 year old.  She doesn't seem to work, yet lives alone in a house with multiple rooms.  Her only contact seems to be wit this Doctor every couple weeks or so, and that's not realistic.

The ending, although "interesting" again, isn't remotely believable.

But, based on the poor quality of the rest of the entries this time around, I have to give you a good score, as this is one of the better ones by far.

Grade - ***
Posted by: JEStaats, October 24th, 2017, 5:23pm; Reply: 11
Was the phobia her initial insomnia or the fear of nightmares after taking the sleeping pills? Not sure that qualifies with such a quick on-set but you got the RIP in.

A little more backstory would do wonders earlier as to why her twin ran away instead of just a mention near the end. Too much to digest with everything else happening.

Great use of transition from room to room. It really clarifies the mental image when reading the story.

I can't put my finger on it but it reminds me of a 'movie of the week' from waaaaay back in the '70s. Good work.
Posted by: pale yellow, October 24th, 2017, 7:29pm; Reply: 12
Insomnia! Finally... I am a total insomniac! So I can probably relate to this one! Although I do not have a fear of sleeping... just want MORE. :)

This one has good writing throughout.

I could sort of see this playing out the way it did. I was hoping that with each dream she would find out more and more what happened to her sister and that maybe she had something to do with or knew more about how her sister died maybe. It got a little complicated near the end with the backstory.

Not sure I love the ending of this. But it was well written. Think the characters need more depth and voice. Could improve on them so that we care more for them. Show the bonds between the siblings better than just playing tag something heart felt so that when we see the opposite near the end.. it's bigger contrast and more irony.

I think with some work this could be REALLY good. I like the use of insomnia in this challenge.

Good job.
Posted by: Spqr, October 25th, 2017, 1:16pm; Reply: 13
The transition from the final dream to consciousness isn't noted, so did the murder really happen or is she still in a dream. I suspect it's the former, so I would make it clear by having Cassie wake up in the kitchen, clean knife in hand; then Jemma appears at the door and Cassie stabs her in a mindless panic.
Posted by: MarkItZero, October 26th, 2017, 4:59pm; Reply: 14
It was an enjoyable enough read. Nice job for a week. I think you can do more with the therapy visits though.

The visit on pg. 3-4: I feel like you could easily introduce the abuse element here rather than having all that information thrown in at the very end. At least hint at something dark to do with the father. Maybe it ends with Cassie being evasive and refusing to discuss it with Dr. Foster, creating more tension in the scene.

The visit on pg. 6-7: She's basically recounting what we've just watched happen. Again, perhaps she could be evasive or outright lie as to the nature of the dreams. She's still trying to avoid confronting the real issues.

Anyways, good job.
Posted by: stevemiles, October 27th, 2017, 1:53pm; Reply: 15
Writing’s assured, makes for a smooth read.  On the surface I like the idea - blurred lines between dream and reality.  Story hit a couple of bumps for me, work these out and this could be a much stronger script - really make the most of the irony at the end.  

The phobia seems weakly addressed - she’s afraid of falling asleep for good reason.  And why now, what’s the trigger?

The Doctor’s office dialogue is too leading in places.  Is there a more natural way to get the missing sister backstory across?

The tougher sell is Jemma turning up out of the blue after all these years.  I’d consider a more plausible way to work her appearance into this.  If nothing else, foreshadow the possibility.

Was it the intention that the nightmares were a manifestation of Cassie’s guilt?  She doesn’t seem to blame herself, but I guess on a subconscious level she does?  That’s the only cause I could guess at as far as the nightmares were concerned.  

Well written, just wish I could have taken more from the story.
Posted by: ReneC, October 27th, 2017, 6:00pm; Reply: 16
The writing is pretty strong. I found the doctor scenes to be a little wooden, nothing really happens in them except for the medication change. The ending is good but felt rushed.

For me, it doesn't have a phobia. Her condition is acute, not a chronic condition. It's a reaction to a series of bad dreams. If she started off with years of self-inflicted insomnia because she was already afraid of her dreams but now at the breaking point needs to sleep, maybe hoping the dreams won't start up again, that would work better.

Great job otherwise.
Posted by: Lightfoot, October 27th, 2017, 6:27pm; Reply: 17
Writing was great, story was good, a bit predictable at the end there but it was good.

Not too sure about the phobia, seems like she isn't afraid of dreams ... well actually she isn't seeing as how she had dreams during the first night on the meds, and liked them. A good moment to introduce this phobia would be when the doctor asks her about dreams and then she responds with fear or uncertainty not that she hasn't dreamed in a while.

Why did Jemma all of a sudden show up at Cassie's? Seems to be no explanation as to why she would suddenly show up at her sister's place after umpteen years of being off the radar ... especially at night too.

Good effort.
Posted by: DarrenJamesSeeley, October 29th, 2017, 1:51pm; Reply: 18
Overall, the writing is alright, although I am a little bit iffy on the overused trend of characters going from room to the
and grabs an object and runs back into the
and does something, head over to the
all in succession.
Just one minor nitpick. To each his own. But you have to remember the layout of the house or this doesn't work.

Quoted Text
Cassie makes her way down the stairs and turns into the
where JEMMA, 16, sits with her back to Cassie.

Okay, it's a dream. Dreams are usually (bad) ways for writers to make sense out of continuity errors. I wondered if Jenna was on the floor or in a chair. In any case, the action clearly states that the kitchen connects directly with the stairs. From the kitchen, I can see the stairs. Is the transition needed? But...remember what I said about location?

On p7,-9 Cassies dream starts in the LIVING ROOM. She will go into the KITCHEN then back into the LIVING ROOM. Back to KITCHEN back to LIVING ROOM.
Where's the stairs?
It's dream, the stairs are magically gone.
Right? Otherwise it is Stairs>>>Kitchen>>>Living Room.

Oh, and to give things more urgency, forget the "walk into the" business in these latter pages.

Quoted Text
She sprints into the
and grabs the largest knife she can find.
She goes back into the
Jemma is gone.

Try this instead:

Cassie grabs the largest knife she can find.

Jemma is gone.

Posted by: Angry Bear, October 31st, 2017, 6:04am; Reply: 19
Read this one this morning.

I think this one needs to either be shorter or longer. Could be made shorter to be a creepy five minute or less short or longer with more information. Right now you drop a few one line info here and there that need more explanation, IMO. Where Jemma mentions they always loved you more for example needs some explanation. Why would they love her more? Then there's the dad thing, which felt old hat to me btw, that's a big thing that also needs more than just a line. Where are the parents now? Where's the dad? Are they dead? Is he in prison? So, I think you can either skip those heavy lines or work with them more. Either would work better than where it is right now.

I also felt that it was becoming a little repetitive with the dreams. Perhaps put Cassie somewhere else besides her bedroom or living room when dreaming? Maybe instead of making coffee and spending the night in the living room when she wants to stay awake she decides to spend awake time out in public where she knows she has little chance to sleep, like riding the bus or train. That way, it would be extra scary having bad dreams there. I just feel we need a different scenario then being back in her apartment again. Unless you of course decide to make this shorter.

All in all, a scary story that with some tweaking could make a great short.  

Good luck with it.  8)
Posted by: PrussianMosby, November 2nd, 2017, 10:30pm; Reply: 20
Solid title
Another vague logline. There's no true plot movement explained.  

Yeah, Twin Peaks. A coherent story, well-crafted. I especially enjoyed how you presented the whole back-story through an active plot. Well done. For what it is, the horror-action parts could be a bit more to the point, it does not have to be so frequent/repetitive - rather a few precise actions would be more shocking since the psychological aspect and tone of the script IMO are anyway much stronger. Don't water that impact too much through gore and fight.

Then, I see where you wanted to go with the ending. Honestly, I think you even can improve that last part, because despite the fact that it is partly serious there, it also has a bit irony within (<-not needed imo)… I personally guess that I'd prefer the more very damn serious ending. Don't know how you could possibly accomplish that, but at the ending, yet I felt like: what happened before was moving me more and made a more honest impression. Then it was more like the "clever way" of typical short film ending. As said, I think the deeper approach of an ending would do much more justice to this great script…

Good job.
Posted by: Warren, January 10th, 2018, 10:14pm; Reply: 21
This was just optioned to a student from Bournemouth University. A day after Lullaby was optioned again.

Very excited to see what he does with this one. It's one of my personal favourites.
Posted by: Warren, March 3rd, 2018, 6:36pm; Reply: 22
Living Nightmare has been filmed and is in the last few weeks of editing. Here are some screen grabs from the film.

 photo Screen20Shot202018-03-0320at2020_35_18_zpswymhjybc.png

 photo Screen20Shot202018-03-0320at2020_34_47_zpsyxzhapmr.png

 photo Screen20Shot202018-03-0320at2020_33_25_zps1aysrr5a.png

 photo Screen20Shot202018-03-0320at2020_35_58_zpsfoesgvkh.png
Posted by: Angry Bear, March 3rd, 2018, 7:15pm; Reply: 23

Who's the guy in the chair?
Posted by: Warren, March 3rd, 2018, 7:18pm; Reply: 24
Thanks Pia.

I'm not sure, I haven't seen a cast list yet. I thought he looked vaguely familiar, but probably just looks like someone else.

Come to think of it, he does look a lot like the guy out of A mime is a terrible thing to waste.
Posted by: Angry Bear, March 3rd, 2018, 7:23pm; Reply: 25
I think he was in my mime film! Is he British?
Posted by: pale yellow, March 3rd, 2018, 7:26pm; Reply: 26
Posted by: Warren, March 3rd, 2018, 7:27pm; Reply: 27
Yes it was filmed in the UK.

Could be.
Posted by: Warren, March 3rd, 2018, 7:28pm; Reply: 28
Thanks Dena.
Posted by: Angry Bear, March 3rd, 2018, 7:37pm; Reply: 29
If it is him, he's name is Bhasker Patel. I think he's well known in the UK. Small world.  :)
Posted by: Warren, March 3rd, 2018, 7:40pm; Reply: 30
Well shouldn't be too much more of a wait to see the film.

And yes it's very small!

Posted by: eldave1, March 3rd, 2018, 8:31pm; Reply: 31
looking forward to it
Posted by: StevenClark, March 3rd, 2018, 8:43pm; Reply: 32
Good job, Warren. Lotta people getting stuff optioned and made. Nice to see.
Posted by: Warren, March 3rd, 2018, 9:28pm; Reply: 33
Thanks Dave and Steve.

Yes SS is the place to be!
Posted by: Warren, March 25th, 2018, 3:27pm; Reply: 34

Quoted from Angry Bear
If it is him, he's name is Bhasker Patel. I think he's well known in the UK. Small world.  :)

Hi Pia,

I asked the filmmaker, and it is Bhasker Patel that plays the psychiatrist, that’s pretty cool!
Posted by: Angry Bear, March 25th, 2018, 4:23pm; Reply: 35
Cool! I'm sure he did a great job. He was great in my mime short.  8)
Posted by: MarkRenshaw, March 26th, 2018, 3:38am; Reply: 36
Yeah! It's always good to see SS writers getting options and stuff produced. Congratulations!
Posted by: Warren, March 26th, 2018, 3:52am; Reply: 37
Thanks Mark.

SS has been too good to me.
Posted by: Warren, May 14th, 2018, 8:42pm; Reply: 38
Living Nightmare, filmed as Insomnia, has officially been completed, I saw the final cut today and I love it. Unfortunately I can’t share it just yet as it has been entered in a few festivals.

It's very true to the script with a few minor and understandable changes for ease of production.

I look forward to hopefully putting it up soon.
Posted by: eldave1, May 14th, 2018, 8:55pm; Reply: 39
Very cool dude
Posted by: Angry Bear, May 14th, 2018, 9:01pm; Reply: 40
You're on a roll!  8)
Posted by: Warren, May 14th, 2018, 9:21pm; Reply: 41
Thank, Dave and Pia.

Bhasker Patel is fantastic in his small role as the psychiatrist.

Considering this is a student film, I couldn’t be happier with the outcome.
Posted by: khamanna, May 15th, 2018, 4:53am; Reply: 42
Liked the script a lot - can't wait.
Posted by: Warren, May 15th, 2018, 5:46am; Reply: 43
Thanks, Kham.
Posted by: AnthonyCawood, May 15th, 2018, 6:59am; Reply: 44
Posted by: Warren, May 15th, 2018, 4:18pm; Reply: 45
Thanks, Anthony.
Posted by: Warren, August 19th, 2018, 11:09pm; Reply: 46
Hopefully not too much longer now.

 photo Insomnia Poster 2_zpsav2ctmpf.jpg
Posted by: LC, August 20th, 2018, 1:47am; Reply: 47
Looking good, Warren.

Just checking out Bhasker Patel's IMDB. Wow, he's a busy boy, everything from Indiana Jones in 1984 to BBC 4 Radio, Video Games, soapies - comedy, drama, mini series. He never sits still and seems to do a lot of Shorts which is really giving back imh, cause you can bet he probably doesn't need to.

Warren, I notice on the thread you optioned this to a student filmmaker. Is he the one doing this version with Patel?
Posted by: Warren, August 20th, 2018, 2:09am; Reply: 48

Quoted from LC
Looking good, Warren.

Just checking out Bhasker Patel's IMDB. Wow, he's a busy boy, everything from Indiana Jones in 1984 to BBC 4 Radio, Video Games, soapies - comedy, drama, mini series. He never sits still and seems to do a lot of Shorts which is really giving back imh, cause you can bet he probably doesn't need to.

Warren, I notice on the thread you optioned this to a student filmmaker. Is he the one doing this version with Patel?

Hi Libby,

And Pia's A Mime Is A Terrible Thing To Waste:) I'm very excited that Bhasker Patel is in one of my shorts.

Yeah, Joe Eastley is the film student. I'm not entirely sure how it all came about, and I must say that for a student film I think it's fantastic. It's a personal favourite out of my produced films. I'm very keen to get it up.

Hopefully in the next week or so.

I actually got an email from another filmmaker about wanting to produce this script this morning. I've sent him my terms and let him know it's already been made (something he should know because he told me he found it on SS), I'm just waiting to hear back if he want to proceed.
Posted by: eldave1, August 20th, 2018, 9:57am; Reply: 49

Quoted from Warren

Hi Libby,

And Pia's A Mime Is A Terrible Thing To Waste:) I'm very excited that Bhasker Patel is in one of my shorts.

Yeah, Joe Eastley is the film student. I'm not entirely sure how it all came about, and I must say that for a student film I think it's fantastic. It's a personal favourite out of my produced films. I'm very keen to get it up.

Hopefully in the next week or so.

I actually got an email from another filmmaker about wanting to produce this script this morning. I've sent him my terms and let him know it's already been made (something he should know because he told me he found it on SS), I'm just waiting to hear back if he want to proceed.

Your are smashing it dude.
Posted by: Dustin, August 20th, 2018, 10:21am; Reply: 50
Good luck with it. I'd be interested in watching. Bhasker's pretty talented.
Posted by: Warren, August 20th, 2018, 4:22pm; Reply: 51
Thanks, Dave and Dustin.

Appreciate it.
Posted by: Don, September 10th, 2018, 7:52pm; Reply: 52

Posted by: Warren, September 10th, 2018, 8:24pm; Reply: 53
Thanks, Don. Got this up super fast!
Posted by: Angry Bear, September 10th, 2018, 9:19pm; Reply: 54
Great work Warren! You should be proud of this one.

Mr. Patel!  :)

My only gripe with this one would be the strangled sister. Her emotions and looks during that was just too "nothing". It's much more traumatic than that in real life.
Posted by: khamanna, September 10th, 2018, 9:36pm; Reply: 55
Nice movie, congrats Warren on another one!

I did like the script somewhat better though it's the movie is a top quality work and I was glued to screen throughout the whole duration of it. I guess the reason is the strangling moment. It did look like it wasn't a dream. When I read the script I wasn't sure until the very end.

But great stuff nonetheless, think it'll do great at festivals.
Posted by: Warren, September 10th, 2018, 9:47pm; Reply: 56
Thanks for taking a look Pia and Kham.

I'm super proud of this one.

Always a few things that I think could be done differently, but for a student film, I'm very happy with how it turned out.
Posted by: MarkItZero, September 11th, 2018, 2:46am; Reply: 57
Insomnia? I can relate right about now...

That was great stuff, man. IMO, the best film you've had by far. I was legit freaked out by that first scare. And he's a film student! Big congrats.  
Posted by: Warren, September 11th, 2018, 2:59am; Reply: 58
Thanks, mate.

Definitely my pick of the bunch. He did a great job.
Posted by: ReneC, September 11th, 2018, 12:30pm; Reply: 59
Well done! Nice set up, good tension building. A solid short, aside from the sister's final performance. She was much stronger in the rest of it.
Posted by: Philostrate, September 11th, 2018, 1:09pm; Reply: 60
Good job, Warren!

This one is well-filmed, with good tension and legit scares.

No doubt why you are proud.
Posted by: Breanne Mattson, September 11th, 2018, 2:58pm; Reply: 61
Congrats Warren! Great job all the way around.
Posted by: Warren, September 11th, 2018, 4:21pm; Reply: 62
Thanks, all.

I appreciate the kind words.
Posted by: LC, September 11th, 2018, 7:35pm; Reply: 63
Good stuff, Warren.

Congrats. :)
Posted by: Warren, September 11th, 2018, 7:49pm; Reply: 64
Thanks, Libby.
Posted by: Dustin, September 12th, 2018, 1:31am; Reply: 65
I will try to get around to watching this today. I'll probably do it tonight. Congrats on a successful production in any case.
Posted by: Warren, September 12th, 2018, 3:20am; Reply: 66
Cheers, I look forward to your thoughts.
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