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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    One Week Challenge    April, 2009 One Week Challenge  ›  OWC - Picnic0410
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  Author    OWC - Picnic0410  (currently 1570 views)
Posted: April 13th, 2009, 11:01am Report to Moderator

So, what are you writing?

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Picnic0410 by John J. Pershing - Short, Drama - Young man can't decide what to bring to a family picnic. - pdf, format

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Posted: April 13th, 2009, 11:24am Report to Moderator

London, England
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I always get wary when I see a voiceover. Don't know why, I just do. People seem to think that they can write things in voiceovers they think would just look silly in normal dialogue. I myself have been guilty of massively over-using voiceovers in a script. It's just so easy to do.

Anyway, now for the scores.

Meeting the competition criteria: I suppose I would classify this as drama, since I can't see what else it would be. There is a family picnic, but I don't really think there's anything I could comfortably call a secret. That Jason owes his father money and that the juice is poisoned don't count as secrets, for me. Still, you ticked most of the boxes - 7/10
Characters: Jason had a bit of depth, but he was alone in that regard. The majority of the family members aren't even named before they die - 3/10
Dialogue: as I suspected, you're guilty of putting vaguely deep sounding stuff in the voiceovers that I doubt you'd put in normal dialogue. I wasn't a fan of it, generally. It was all mystery and no substance, in my eyes - 4/10
Story: too short and fragmented to make any sort of an impression on me. Also, Jason's insane if he thinks he's going to get away with poisoning his entire family. But maybe that's the point. The ending made NO sense to me, but see the next point - 4/10
Writing/format: I think, and I may be wrong, that you may have one typo that completely ruins your conclusion. Do you mean 'Jason sits at his place normally', rather than Peter? If you do, that makes sense, it's just a spectularly unfortunate typo. Generally, the writing and format are pretty good. Phrases like 'harsh sun' are close to being too much - 5/10

TOTAL: 23/50

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Posted: April 13th, 2009, 1:20pm Report to Moderator
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Most of the writing was good, but one thing stood out, "Everyone drinks the juice. Smiles all around. Including Jason. But he only pretends to drink. Within minutes..."
What happens within those minutes? Soon every one is sweating and grabbing at their thoats, but thats  a long time for a 3 page script. It'd be a long time for 90 page script.

Maybe just not my cup of tea, but I felt pretty indifferent to it all at the end.  The characters weren't developed at all, and if people are going to die, I'd like to either hate them n celebrate their death, or like them n mourn their death. Here i just felt nothing.
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Grandma Bear
Posted: April 13th, 2009, 4:00pm Report to Moderator
God of the SimplyScriptsVerse

The Swamp...
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I thought this one was okay.

It was short, but it did what you set out to do I think.

I agree with the minutes waiting until they all start to die, but that's an easy fix I think. Just write LATER: and show them eating and whatever when it hits them.

I thought "I'm tired of Kool-Aid was funny.

The writing was nice and I thought it was pretty good for 3 pages.  

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Brian M
Posted: April 13th, 2009, 4:12pm Report to Moderator
Been around a while

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I'm not really a fan of this to be honest. We didn't learn enough about Jason to understand why he wanted/had to kill all his family. Three pages is too short, it would have done a whole world of good to beef this up a bit, learn more about Jason and his problems in life.

The voice over was hard hitting at first, but isn't really needed in my opinion. In the TV show Dexter, the voiceover is used to perfection, getting into the head of a troubled person. The problem here is Jason doesn't seem as troubled as Dexter. He owes a bit of money, well, a lot of money, but kill his whole family? We're talking about 20 adults and children here. He has got to have more than dept on his head.
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Posted: April 13th, 2009, 4:59pm Report to Moderator
Been around a while

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Yeah, this is the beginning of a good idea.  But you should have used some of the pages you didn't.  And I agree with Brian.  Killing the whole family seems a little extreme.

I do like what you have.  I just would like a little more.
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Posted: April 13th, 2009, 9:49pm Report to Moderator
Been around a while

Toronto Ont.
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So let me ask, who poisoned the family, Jason or Peter? Jason pretended to drink but Peter is the one who smiles, gets up and walks away.

I didn't like the dialogue. It felt... unnatural. Dennis' monologue could've been broken up with wrylies or shortened. It was too much of a read. Tony, the perpetually smiling neighbor's, dark dialogue didn't gel.

Also, I knew none of the characters. Spend time to develope your characters.

So you're a kind of Kaufman-esque writer, eh? These existential issues...

Family Picnic 10 pages.

After the Trade 3 pages

by T. Jasmine Hylton
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Posted: April 13th, 2009, 10:31pm Report to Moderator
Of The Ancients

Yes, that is my real hair...

Cave Creek, AZ
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I'm going to be careful and not be insensitive here.

I didn't like this at all.  It made little sense, and was way too short, but the majority of the prose is completely uneccessary VO, that goes nowhere and really comes off as meaning nothing for me.

As others have said, I left feeling flatline, not even sure what it was you were after.  I don't understand why writers choose to write so few pages in a challenge that is 12 pages.  So much more could have been done with this.

Doesn't work for me at all.  Sorry.

To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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Posted: April 13th, 2009, 11:24pm Report to Moderator

You're never alone...

Barberton, OH
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Whoa.  Jimmy Jones family picnic.  I'm confused as well.  Who did the poisoning?  Jason, or Peter.
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Posted: April 15th, 2009, 4:54pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

Cut to three weeks earlier

London, UK
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I'm not a fan of this script.  

I can only guess that the writer has tried to write a script in a different and unusual way.  I don't get the overall objective of this script.  

The characters feel like they're trying to tell a story, but the story is really non-existent.

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Posted: April 15th, 2009, 6:03pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

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I'd have to say the best way to describe this story is 'pretentious'.

I think you were trying to go for something deep here and ultimately explain, or give a reason, why anybody would do a horrific act.  To free themselves and go on without any judgment and not look back.  And I think you tried to show that it's okay.

Whatever the reason, I have to say this failed.  His voiceover's were ambiguous at best, not really saying anything much and never answering anything.  And he was never rescued.  He just killed a bunch of people and kids that were close to him.  Only thing he could've been rescued from was his father's debt, but he said it was never about the money, Jason said.  Everything's way too cloudy.

You tried to be too deep in the voiceover's to explain his depression or whatever it is, and then, when it was time to do dialoge at the picnic, it sounded unreal and totally different from the rest of the script.  The dialoge at the picnic was very unreal and corny.

Sorry, but this story never really got me interested at any point whatsoever.

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Posted: April 17th, 2009, 6:43am Report to Moderator

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Hmmm… not sure about this one. I got the impression that either (a) you wanted to explore some big themes but ran out of time and sketched out working notes in the form of this script, or (b) you wanted to convey a sense of confusion to echo what was happening in Jason’s head.
Either way, some points to consider if you were to rewrite:

Although some big issues are implied, the theme is not clear.
Your logline seems to bear no connection, nor offer any insight, to the story.
I imagine that your story would be significantly longer than three pages to allow you to adequately explore your chosen theme.

Regardless of the extent of the script, we need to know enough about the characters to care about them.

It’s difficult to get a handle on Jason. Is he psychopathic or maybe psychotic - does he imagine TV Dennis is talking to him? What motivates him? What redeeming qualities does he have?  

Consider providing us with a reason to connect with some, as typical representatives, of the family at the picnic. About 20 people die, and yet they are just an abstraction – Peter, Rose, and Christopher do not provide sufficient traction.

My view is that you tried to convey the essence – what your story is really about – via dialogue. I can see glimpses of big ideas, but it needs clarity. Even if it’s chaos and madness - we still need to understand what it's all about. We're counting on you to provide insights.

I think you have a concept that could be developed, with sufficient work, into a very engaging script.  

A quote that I believe has value:

An artist is never at the mercy of the whims of impulse; he wilfully exercises his craft to create harmonies of instinct and idea. – Robert McKee

The journey is the reward.
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Posted: April 17th, 2009, 11:44am Report to Moderator

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I liked the slacker gone wild part of this story. Over the top definitely. But it felt incomplete due to monloguing, voice overs, and confusing Peter and Jason in my mind as to who did the poisoning. In summary, a good idea with distractions.
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Zombie Sean
Posted: April 17th, 2009, 4:13pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

A boozer, a user, and a two-time loser

Anywhere there's a zombie...
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The voiceovers were more like poetry that didn't seem to fit in with what was going on. Most of the time, I had no idea what he was talking about. You have his neighbor, who I don't understand why he's there in the first place. Peter's getting on Jason's ass about money, but how did Jason go into debt in the first place? And please, fix the typo about Peter smiling. It just makes everything even more confusing.

I can see this, though, as the type of movie with characters who are really chill and relaxed (like Dead Like Me or Wristcutters: A Love Story), which are my favourtie movies, really. They're chill, relaxed, almost monotonous, as if they don't really care for anything else, really.



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Posted: April 18th, 2009, 2:36pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

--> Over There
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This was a strange little one, but I enjoyed it for the most part. A bit heavy on the philosophical side but at 4 pages it was just the right length for something carrying this kind of tone.

I too am not a huge fan of VO but it was used effectively here. A little preachy in parts but entertaining overall. Da?n that father was a hard on to Jason. A lot of unanswered questions here too.

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