All screenplays on the simplyscripts.com and simplyscripts.net domain are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved. This screenplaymay not be used or reproduced for any purpose including educational purposes without the expressed written permission of the author.
Company Stress Test by Bill S. Guier - Short, Science Fiction, Satire Comedy, Surreal - There's something wrong with the stairs, so four employees take the new elevator. There's something wrong with that, too. 12 pages - pdf, format
On the positive side - I loved the premise of using an elevator for a company stress test. That being said, I had a very hard time visualizing the elevator moving as it is were a stairwell and I think there could have been a more inventive stress test.
The dialogue got a bit mundane for my tastes and I thought several of the action blocks could have been written crisper.
A long winded way of saying I started out with a positive feeling about this but it went downhill for me.
Security cameras loom above the company logo on a wall with the slogan ďWe are always on the watch!Ē. Some EMPLOYEES, dressed professional, attempt to either hide from the camera or move past it as quickly as possible. FELIX (30s) stand out from his colleagues for three reasons. One, his clothes are a size too big. Two, his tie is loosened a bit more. Third, he whistles as
So many problems here. I get what you are TELLING ME, but I'm not really SEEING IT happen. I'm out.
Bill S. Preston Esquire -- is this you? Or just some random coincidence...
Like the concept -- well suited to the surreal. A decent enough payoff. On the flip-side the dialogue began to drag around the halfway mark. Thereís some amusement that builds in the repetition (whose fault/what did you do! etc.) but a good trim would ease this along no end.
Not sure if it fits the challenge -- is it an elevator cause you say it is? Perhaps -- a contained environment I suppose. Also not sure what I was Ďseeingí -- tricky to visualise this Ďstairlevatorí -- no doubt even trickier to budget for...
Challenge aside, as surreal satire I think it hits the mark -- take care of the length and I think youíd have a decent little swipe at corporate culture.
Pretty sure Bill Sarre's not behind this. Sense of humour does feel familiar though...
My short scripts can be found here on my new & improved budget website:
I can tell early on there are going to be loads and loads of problems. The big, incorrectly broken up blocks of text, the completely unnecessary dialogue that I'm not sure is supposed to be funny or just poorly written, and the fact that by page 3, nothing remotely entertaining has taken place.
I glanced ahead and it looks like they never even are on an elevator, and it's just pages and pages of dialogue.
I'm way out...sorry.
To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
I think that you have a good feel of dialog in general and I think it would be a good short if you considerably shortened this, gave your characters something to talk about and made your characters somewhat memorable.
My problem is - they talk about broken stairs for several pages, then broken elevator for pages and pages. The twist is very good though and I think you should rewrite this.
I'd try get rid of "what's wrong with the stairs" talk and "that's weird" talk, look for the ways to skip it. Maybe add a bit to their relationship, explore it more, so that the reader could stick with the characters and emphathise with them.
A kind of surreal Charlie and the Chocolate factory meets Alice in Officeland story. Itís an unusual concept for sure and a bold effort but unfortunately it didnít work for me. You tease the audience too much without giving them anything to keep them interested and fail to deliver satisfactory answers.
I found this odd from the start but not because an elevator is a set of stairs, as this is actually the coolest part of your script. No I questioned why employees would choose the take the stairs over an elevator. I questioned why the audience is not allowed to see the memo. I questioned everything and hoped to get something which would keep me going to the end and the explanations I sought. Unfortunately the characters and dialogue are annoying and repetitive, they failed to carry me through the story. So I scanned through the last few pages and caught that it was some stress test but I was totally lost by then.
You complied by the rules of the OWC though and you entered so well done for taking part and kudos for such a bold and somewhat different approach to the challenge.
For more of my scripts, stories, produced movies and the ocassional blog, check out my new website. CLICK
Not for me. Lots of chat but no real talk. An odd surreal place but nothing worse than some time lost. If this were a stress test, then there needs to be more stress. Heat, perhaps a fake heart attack, fire, something besides whining and going around and around in circles.
Honestly, I thought it was funny/bizarre you had them going into a stairwell disguised as an elevator, weird. The dialog and banter between the initial character set was funny as well; all chaotic and such. It really did put me in mind of a Seinfeld episode.
Unfortunately, you lost me somewhere around 8 pages of WTFís between everyone, then more characters adding to the mix, with more WTFís from them. IMO this could easily be trimmed. Just seems like a whole lot of needless banter for the payoff.
I glanced over the comments and see that I donít have much to add. I also had trouble visualizing the stairs and the characters drove me bonkers. Iím not sure this was set up properly because the characters seem to overreact to everything. They donít seem to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what they are in or why. Itís just a string of assumptions with nothing to back it up and then freaking out even though I still didnít feel like Iíd heard anything concrete about what was going on. There were just a slew of questions.
Why did they not just do Felixís plan? Why didnít Felix think of that quicker? Why did anyone believe that some girlís paperwork would have the answers? Did it? What kind of company owns something like this? Why do they assume itís a test? I know thereís a camera watching people, but that doesnít really set me up for this insanity. What even happens if they fail the test? Are they fired? Are they murdered? Have there been other tests? This is need to know. Without knowing the answers to these questions I donít know whether to fear for your characters or think theyíre morons. In the end it tilted toward the latter.
I do like the idea of a two level elevator and characters stuck on it because only one door opens at a time. Figure out a better puzzle from that and you can make this interesting.
I think the premise has plenty of potential... but for me, I felt the dialogue dragged on too long - you could chop off a few pages, and ratchet up the tension several notches by doing so. The characters felt interchangeable, and nothing was adequately explained. IE: what exactly IS this strange company, and how did they pull off an elevator with stairs?
Visually, I think that could be amazing. But too much in this script felt... incomplete. Which isn't really surprising, given that this is an OWC. Which tends to cause a writer to rush their work. )
The Elevator Most Belonging To Alice - Semi Final Bluecat, Runner Up Nashville Inner Journey - Page Awards Finalist - Bluecat semi final Grieving Spell - winner - London Film Awards.††Third - Honolulu Ultimate Weapon - Fresh Voices - second place IMDb link... http://www.imdb.com/name/nm7062725/?ref_=tt_ov_wr
This is an exciting story and could be very interesting on film, especially with camera angles giving the audience confusing views of staircases, railings and elevator doors -- this could be an extremely entertaining film.
GRETCHEN Copies of copies have nothing to do with the laws of physics! BART You donít know that for sure!
Love those lines!
Wonderful ideas in this script, especially that when offered a possible solution to the problem, the workers refuse to even consider it since it might not be sanctioned by management. Yay!
I think the OWC has reached the stage where there really isn't a lot more to add to all of the comments. I find myself pretty damn confused after reading this and I'm somewhat interested whether that was supposed to be the point. Maybe to an extent.
The main thing that confused me was if these people were aware of the stress test or not. It's revealed straight from the title, which would otherwise be giving away the point, unless the characters already knew about it. Did they? Where were they going? What was that memo even about? Some clarity about it would be incredibly useful.
On the upside, I did like the surreal satire of working a corporate desk job, which no one really likes doing -- hence the really aggressive and annoying characters, who REALLY were annoying. Some good lines in here too. I'm confident that I didn't get quite a few "inside jokes", but it looks to be one of the more interesting takes this OWC. Despite, I believe the short needs an overhaul to make what the hell is happening more clear. Decently played, I guess, writer.
Not a bad entry. You have a pretty decent handle on dialogue, and an interesting premise. It's just that I wasn't enamoured with your ending. You have 11 pages of buildup, then your reveal. I think you could have another person in charge of the "stress test" enter at the end and give the reveal. It might have made for a more interesting ending with these characters, who I genuinely liked.
The dialogue did go on for too long, it seems. You should check your page count and try to bring it down some, cut out some unnecessaries, trim the dialogue and amp up the tension these people are feeling. You had a solid build up. And what was written on Gretchen's copies made for good tension, but it sucks that we never got to find out what.
The original title I had was The Stroke But I went for a phonetic alias of Bill S Guire (Billy Squier) I wasn't thinking of Bill & Ted at all. The "company" (which is the same name as the one in another script of mine- The Rite Of The Rat and "Bart" is also mentioned) was notorious for playing mind games with some of the employees to make them more productive and Not To Question Management. Those are the only similarities/connections.
In early drafts there were more F bombs and visually the elevator was "given a new look" where the bosses hired a graphic designer and painted the walls, ceiling and floor to look like 3D street art, chutes, ladders and stairs etc. The lights would be a poor man's UV. It took way too long to explain. But then I remembered a film, one I haven't seen in many years, Being John Malkovich and then my thoughts turned to Terry Gilliam's Brazil as well. But anyway, I recall office spaces that were cramped, or deliberately proportioned wrong to annoy workers in those buildings. So I concocted a blend of the surreal and cane up with...this.
Quoted from DS
What was that memo even about?
I struggled with this one. It was in and out so many times, I finally left it out. I was too far ahead of myself- but I felt that if I included it it would have been on the nose.
But here it is:
They come to a memo haphazardly taped on a door. Felix reads it, moves along. Bart and Gretchen peek at what it -
GRETCHEN No time! Move it! Move it! Move it!
They rush up to Felix.
BART What did it say?
FELIX It said the stairs were out.
Later in the 'vater--
GRETCHEN Well you read the memo. Maybe you read it, read it wrong or you read the wrong memo or maybe you just flat out lied!
BART Thatís right! Maybe the memo said Ďdonít take the elevator, take the stairsí We should have taken the stairs.
FELIX I read it right.
So at this point it should be clear. The memo said 'Don't take the stairs'. Felix didn't lie. His co-workers are over stressed and they are stressing him out. Gretchen didn't really stop to read the memo on the door. Why?
FELIX Gretchen, what are they copies of?
GRETCHEN I donít know! Copies of copies! I just do as Iím told!
Gretchen swears that even she doesn't know what the copies say, that she didn't pay attention. Felix really grills her on this, not believing her. Gretchen believes that
a) What her copies of copies say isn't that important but at the same time:
b) She has a fear of losing her job if her job were compromised in any way (in her unrealistic POV)
So when Felix reads the copy and what it says, he gets angry, throws it away.
BART Well? What did it say?
The question pisses Felix off. Stares Bart down.
FELIX I donít think I should repeat it....what do you think it said?
I decided to leave it that way. Go, on folks. You know what it said in essence, don't you? The stairs are out.
Like the concept and how it's written. I visualized the elevator/stairwell taunting the characters, and it was fun to read their reactions as they become more disoriented from being toyed with.
The sad bizarre truth is that as difficult it is to comprehend, yes the flights of stairs is the elevator.
I'm not sure I fully understand that line, not its content but its purpose. Is it to add clarity to the story or amplify the reaction of Bart, Nancy, and Gretchen? Both?
I see you mentioned Being John Malkovich as an inspiration. I could see that mostly in the dialogue of page 8 & 9 because it isn't focused on the elevator, but more aimed at a solution from the real problem - the company they work for. I felt as the story progressed, it would be less about the elevator and more about the intrusiveness in their professional lives - like the part when Shemp declares, "I hate working here..."
I also felt if the characters accepted the surreal nature of the scenario a bit more, the reader would relate better too. Instead they all seemed ready to rock n roll from the start, and even though you set it up in the first paragraph to do that, Felix's demeanor provides a nice umbrella for the rest to give it a chance and see how it goes.
The ending was good, I enjoyed the emphasis on Felix asking, "What do you think it said?" Overall, it was hard to visualize but I like the architecture of the elevator/stairwell and how it plays tricks on the characters. It's clever.
I liked your dialogue. Some of the characters sounded the same to me. The 12 pages length was a bit of stretch for such a concept. I wish you had kept it short and sweet. I love how the answer lies in the title. I was lucky enough to only read the title when I'm done reading the script. It had a better effect that way. But like I said. A shorter piece would have forced you to write stronger and wittier dialogue and more unique characters. Also introducing all of them in such hurry in the beginning was a bit confusing. You wanna take your time introducing characters to the reader. Well done and good luck.