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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    One Week Challenge    April, 2009 One Week Challenge  ›  OWC - Still Life
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  Author    OWC - Still Life  (currently 2894 views)
Don
Posted: April 13th, 2009, 11:02am Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Still Life by Paul von Hindenburg - Short, Drama - In 1932, photographer Nevan Douglas' career was destroyed by charges pornography and the murder of one of his models. But did he do it? - pdf, format


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Shelton
Posted: April 13th, 2009, 11:22am Report to Moderator
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Nudists in one, pornography in another.  This is an interesting batch.

Caught a few typos and dropped words here and there, but nothing major.  I think the biggest one was a flip with Nevan and Seton, that left Seton on the floor going for the phone.

Anyway, as far as the story goes, I think this one worked out pretty well.  There was definitely a lot going on here, but it was concise and easy to follow.  I think your usage of two time periods was effective, and there was a decent amount of suspense here with everything being tied up nicely in the end.

Nice work.


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"I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper." - Steve Martin

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Grandma Bear
Posted: April 13th, 2009, 1:35pm Report to Moderator
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This was excellent.

Great story telling. Great writing.

I really enjoyed it.  

I have no suggestions on how to make it better. I like it just the way it is.

On page 6 you call Nevan Seton once. That's one complaint!!!!  And I have to complain about something don't I.  

Actually my only beef with this one was that there was no picnic where a secret was revealed, but who really cares?

Great job whoever you are!  


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Shelton
Posted: April 13th, 2009, 1:57pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Grandma Bear


Actually my only beef with this one was that there was no picnic where a secret was revealed, but who really cares?


It's there, it's just not out in the open.  The picture at the very end with the checkered blanket and badminton rackets.


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seamus19382
Posted: April 13th, 2009, 2:15pm Report to Moderator
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Nice.  Well written.  I like Mina.  I liked the two time periods.  You cut between them smoothly.  
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Dreamscale
Posted: April 13th, 2009, 11:05pm Report to Moderator
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Hmmm...good intentions here for sure.  Big story, back and forth in time..alot going on.  But..it doesn't work the way it is.

Alot is missing.  Your opening slug shows we're in 1932, but when we go modern, there's nothing.  I guess in a filmed version, we'd see that we're in a different time, but you need to lay this out for us, in the written version, because you continually tell us when we're in the past.

Lots of typos and grammatical mistakes here, that seriously make it difficult to follow...and it's difficult enough based on everything that's going on in the past and present.

Grand designs for sure, and I applaud you for that, but it's either too much for 12 pages, or 1 week wasn't enough to make sense of it all.  More time would benefit this very much.  Good effort though.


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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Astrid
Posted: April 13th, 2009, 11:41pm Report to Moderator
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I thought it was a well written, easy to read script. But was there an actual picnic? What ever it was interesting. I was tho a little confused at the end. But if I understand it, Nevan married a woman and Olive pretended to be their daughter, as Simone so she could remain with Nevan.  
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MBCgirl
Posted: April 14th, 2009, 2:53am Report to Moderator
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Some things are better left to the imagination!

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Very good! I could see this one taking place inmy mind's theater   So much happens in there! lol

So old Seton never found her...very cool.   

Here is the part where it should have been Nevan on the floor:
SETON
I’m going to kill her. I’m going to snap
her neck.
He stalks from the room and slams the door after him.
Seton coughs up blood and rolls over on his side.

There were numerous misspelled words, gramatical errors, but I think you did a good job...and I do believ it wasn't so much a picnic as it was a beach photo shoot...on the subject matter, but over all I liked it.

I think the story has merit and it could be lengthened and take on more story.

Morgan


http://www.myspace.com/mbcgirl  

I love words and the fact that when the page is blank...there's nothing there until words are formulated in my brain. Those thoughts...rushing through my viens and out my finger tips, find "life" on the page.  

When people and places come to life...that to me is exciting.


MBCgirl =)
My finger nails should look nice while I type - Red works!
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bobtheballa
Posted: April 14th, 2009, 4:58pm Report to Moderator
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It may be a stretch to say this is a secret being revealed at a picnic but since it's a photo of a picnic I applaud your originality. It seems almost too well-written to have been completed in only one week.

This one went in a completely different direction than all of the other OWC scripts I've read so far and it was very good. Small complaints: the first time you switched to the past you made no mention of it and I didn't catch on until someone mentioned eBay. From then I was able to follow the rest of the time shifts. Also, on page 8 something weird happens where Nevan is in his dark room and then "Douglas' dark room" and then back in his own. I assume this was just a mistake since they're really the same place.

Once I was about to follow it I enjoyed the read and everything else looked good. Nice script!
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rc1107
Posted: April 14th, 2009, 6:02pm Report to Moderator
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First of all.  I do have to believe that the family secret at a picnic theme is very much stretching it's most extreme borders here.

However, I can't bash this as bad as another script I reviewed that didn't even follow the slightest bit the theme for this April's One Week Challenge.

My main reason being that there's absolutely nothing to bash.  It's a wonderful story.

All right, maybe I can bash one thing.  The typo's.  There are way too many for an eleven page script and, believe it or not, it does make a lot of the action as to what is going on unclear.  For instance, when you did transpose Nevan's name for Seton's.  I had to read that over a couple times to realize who was who.  I thought I knew, but I had to be sure.  Then when you mentioned Douglas' Photo Studio, when it's already been referred to as Nevan's photo studio.  That got confusing.  You've been referring to him as Nevan the whole story, now, all of a sudden, towards the end, you want to call him Douglas?  That confused me and I had to go back and read it over a few times, just to make sure his last name was Douglas.

The other misspellings and word transposes just get in the way and interrupt the flow of an otherwise very engaging story.

In fact, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that it's one of the best that I've read in a long time.

You were spot on with the atmosphere of the 1930's and it felt like I was there, so you did a wonderful job with the descriptions.  I could tell there was a time change and I'm wondering if you might not be able to rework this and tell the whole story while strictly keeping it in the 30's and not losing any of the effect.  That's just me, though.  It works beautifully as is.


Quoted from 'Still Life'
"If spirit to spirit call then I know you
will not turn your face from me. I commit
my fate and my fortune to you.”


I really like how you brought that line back from when Mrs.Hodgins had read it.  A very excellent use of foreshadowing that almost really gave me chills as I read and recognized it.

A very excellent story.

I'm really wondering if I might know whose this is.  I have a guess, but can the author PM me as soon as you can?  I'm not too sure if I'll be able to check the boards again for a while after this week and I'm not sure when the real names will be posted.

And I'd really like to know.

Excellent job, again.

- Mark


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mythos
Posted: April 16th, 2009, 10:01am Report to Moderator
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There’s a lot I like about your script, including the concept and the storytelling. Your logline sets the scene, immediately evoking the 30s (you gotta love the fedora!) and implying a “based on a true story” tale.

I think you conveyed effectively the feel of a past era – I easily imagined the 30s scenes designed in a film noir style and/or shot in B&W. The present day scenes had appropriately snappier dialogue. Maybe you could consider alternating B&W and color for the time shifts.

Also, I think you did a good job in conveying different voices for each of your characters. Their respective traits surfaced through their dialogue.

Your descriptions were, generally, economical and effective. A little bit of trimming is possible, but no big deal.

So loads going for your script!

A few aspects that you might want to reconsider:

Story logic
I know we need to suspend disbelief, but I think you’ve set the bar higher with the “based on a true story/true events” premise. These, for me, were deficiencies in story logic that jumped out and distracted me from your engaging storytelling:

-- Nevan gets beaten in his darkroom; his blood everywhere; Seton (presumably) sends uniforms to pick him up; they see blood; they say: call the lab boys. We’ve got a lot of blood. Even before I read this dialogue, I was thinking: Wouldn’t forensics, even in the 30s, prove that it was Nevan’s blood?
  
-- Olive is at the café; Nevan calls to warn her; she takes Susan’s car; Seton takes off after her; Seton interrogates Nevan: What did you do with her body? Doesn’t Nevan have an iron clad alibi – he was with cops shortly after Olive takes off from the cafe in Susan's car in front of several witnesses? I just couldn’t see the story basis for proposing a murder and a hidden body. I don't think there is a good enough case for the reader/audience to accept this pivotal story component.

-- Why does Nevan lie about what was the last time he saw Olive? Maybe I just missed the point.

-- I get that it’s the 30s, but pitching artistic nude photographs of an adult as part of a pornography ring (where does this come from? The cops never mentioned it) is, I think, stretching it. Maybe – maybe not.  

Dialogue
I think your dialogue is generally very good. Just keep an eye on expository dialogue. You’ve done pretty well disguising most of Mina’s and Carolyn’s exposition by creating interesting diversions of action, but there are several instances where it is still comes across as heavily expository.  

Sluglines have already been mentioned – maybe you intended for the reader to imply “Present”, but probably safer to be more specific.
A small detail: I think Carolyn’s first O.S. should be a V.O.

I can see your story playing out very well on the screen. Solid concept well supported by your storytelling abilities, packaged in a very competent script. My main suggestion: heighten the story logic, and give a good proofread. Good job!


The journey is the reward.
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Blakkwolfe
Posted: April 17th, 2009, 6:13pm Report to Moderator
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I really, really liked this... The set up, the grainy noir feel to the opening scene with Olive on the beach...Very visual and got instantly engaged...A little confusing jumping back and forth from the past to the present, but not a big whoop...Really would have liked to seen more, having Mina have to dig deeper into the past to find out more about the secrets, peeling back the layers to this mystery...Has a very Chinatown feel to it...I'd suggest sinking your teeth deeper into this story and give these characters a little more breathing room.( I loved Olives candid statement about her panty hose)...My New Favorite One.


Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently - Dove Chocolate Wrapper
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grademan
Posted: April 17th, 2009, 10:43pm Report to Moderator
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More like this please! This one should be a writer's choice.

Gary
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Brian M
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A few typos here and there but an excellent story. I've read this twice now and loved it. I didn't have any problems following the two timelines, I think you handled that very well.

The dialogue felt natural for that time period and the writing was top notch. This is in my top three for sure.
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cloroxmartini
Posted: April 18th, 2009, 2:08pm Report to Moderator
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The opening scene was pretty cool. The dialogue, the setting. Took me there. The rest didn't work as well (but still good). So much emotion to build on for so few pages, but I got it (the story), and liked it.
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Lakewood
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So, here's the confession.  Shelton and I were discussing when the challenge was issued that I would write a piece that systematically broke every "rule" listed on the site.  Basically to raise a ruckus because he was bored.

Then the week passed.  I planned on writing the script on Friday afternoon and then I got a phone call from a friend.  "Hey, let's go to that Greek restaurant near you." I went.  There was some ouzo and some grape leaves and some lamb. And did I mention the ouzo?

I get home and decide what the heck I'll write it.  I started typing at 7:16 PM PST.  I'm chatting with Shelton and writing the script.  The first pass is done at 8:05 and then I have to get it more on the rails as far as tone and character voice.  It's as finished as it's going to be at 8:50 PM.

I didn't have time to do a final read through.  Thanks for the reads and I apologize for the typos and dropped words and whatnot.  I mentioned the ouzo, right?
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Cam17
Posted: April 19th, 2009, 3:21am Report to Moderator
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This one had good atmosphere, and some witty dialogue.  Didn't follow the contest guidelines, as your post already mentioned.  

I have some questions about the story.  As I understand it, Olive got away, moved to New York and changed her name to Nicole Randolph?  I'm curious to know how she got away from Seton, seeing how he went peeling out after her from the diner parking lot.

And if she did get away, why would two cops break down Nevan's door to arrest him for murder?  What proof of murder could Seton possibly have given them?  

I think you borrowed your ending from Ace Ventura, when Ace is looking at the photograph and realizes Einhorn is Finkel.  Finkel-Einhorn.

I'd say this was one of the more atmospheric entries, however, it just didn't follow the rules of the challenge.  And I did have a problem with some of the turns the story took.  

Not bad, though.



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Lakewood
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Hi, Cam.  The "rules" that I mentioned in my previous entry were not the rules of the contest but those completely fictional hard and fast rules about how you should write and structure a piece here on the boards.  Blame Shelton.

I used the picnic as a recurring motif and there are two picnics separated by a fair amount of time.  We have the nude picnic  shoot in which Nevan gives her the letter and in a way the contents of that letter are the biggest secret of the piece. Nevan loves Olive and pretty much says he would do anything for her.  It is the character motivation and the throughline.

That photo plays again with Seton finding it in the darkroom.  If he would have thought that a nude photo shoot was happening he would have probably killed them both on the beach.  It's a bit of a reveal for him to see the photos.

In the present the picnic photo is the key to proving that Nevan that lied to the police about the last time he saw Olive.  But why?  

In the 1920s and 30s the LAPD was pretty much run by the Jewish mafia.  If you check out The Changeling which came out last year you get the idea.  Lots of police officers were on the take and they closed ranks pretty quickly.  You want to get rid of someone just call your friends on the force.  In Nevan's case you've got a room full of blood and a police officer saying a girl he was seen with is missing.  People were imprisoned or executed for less.

But the bigger "what happened to Olive" is answered in the color photo that Mina finds in the cigar box.  It's the family picnic image. I like the idea that Olive took the photo.  That the subject gained some control later in life.

Olive went to NY and disappeared.  Nevan never told anyone.  He had seen what the police could do with zero evidence.  If he would have told the truth about where Olive had gone he had to know that she would be brought back to Los Angeles.  She might just disappear for good while in custody.  It's not like the public would have questioned if something bad happened to a woman who posed nude for photos.  She would have gotten what she deserved.

As far as Olive physically getting away there would have been a series of scenes at the airport if I had started at 7PM instead of fifteen minutes later.

Hope I answered your question and thanks for the read.
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