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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Action/Adventure Scripts  ›  Scarecrow Moderators: bert
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  Author    Scarecrow  (currently 4353 views)
Don
Posted: May 1st, 2006, 8:13pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Scarecrow by Robert McCallum (bate) - Action, Horror, Suspense - The Lombardi getaway is a yearly trip planned by Sara, Colt and Gavin Lombardi. Each year they pick a destination and set off to explore it's surroundings. This year they come across an abandoned town, as they explore the town they are unaware that something is lurking in the shadows watching them... a real live Scarecrow. soon there trip becomes a fight of survival as the scarecrow strikes them down one by one. 56 pages - pdf, format


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You will miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
- Wayne Gretzky

Revision History (2 edits; 1 reasons shown)
Don  -  June 18th, 2006, 8:49am
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Okay.  First I want to say Thank you for reading Pause and thanks for the great review.  I'm glad you like it and glad that you stuck around for the end which is the BIG payoff.

Now on to Scarecrow.  I know this is your first script and I want to commend you for writing it.  The hardest thing to do is to finish a project but doesn't it feel good when you do?

You also told me that this is the wrong document and I could see that from the start.  You had an 8 point font instead of the Courier 12 that is industry standard.  I had to take the time to convert it to 12 so I can read it properly.

Sadly, I have to give you some bad news.  I know this will hurt but take it as part of the process of becoming a good screenwriter.

Format is all wrong.  Don't know if you meant to format it this way or converted it wrong but it's hard to keep up with the dialogue when it's physiaclly all over the place.

I see alot of WE SEE's on here.  You don't need them.  It's understood we see it hence writing a screenplay.  That is the whole point.

Some typos found but you can easily spot them.  Tyres should be tires, so on and so forth.

Do not Bold type anything.  Period.  Big no-no.

SPOILERS>>>>

You have a good intro.  Maybe it needs to be tweaked a little and lengthened.  ABout the first five pages would be good.  Set up the antagonist in a more dramatic way instead of just three scenes.  Really dig into the writing.

You have way too many introductions.  As a reader, I don't want to see characters meeting forever.  Rework this and get them onto the trip as fast as possible and into that town.  Some of them are going to die so I couldn't care less who banged who and who knows what.  If they're going to be killed off, make them as original and interesting as quickly as possible.

The real problem Bates is that you have what everyone doesn't want to hear, ever:  Flat Characters.  They live in dialogue but not in the screenplay.  You need to develop them.  Write biographies.  WHo are these people.  WHy are they here, why are they different.  WHy do I care about them.  Why do I want to see them live or die.  They all look the same to me.  All talk the same, all act the same.  Some survive but at the end, does it matter to me?  Why would I want this guy or that girl to survive.  See what I mean?

What you need is when you do the re-write, create some kind or arc for each one, eliminate those you don't need and are repetitive i.e. combine characters into one and make them special.  Also, simplify the plot and flesh it out.  Give yourself parameters.  They get here by this page and find the isolated town by this page and so forth.  The climax happens more or less on this page and I need to get my characters going towards that and create the suspense and the emotional ride needed to honestly get there.  

When I say, create parameters for yourself, I mean, yes, creating boundaries.  Everyone always says "I'm an artist.  I don't need boundaries."  Unfortunately as a screenwriter, you need to develop the craft of setting boundaries because well, you only have a certain number of pages to write.  You can't write forver just like a painter can't paint forever.  HE has a certain size for a canvas and he needs to plan out what he's going to do and the most efficient way of doing it.  Get me?

I'm sorry Bates if this is harsh but I'm trying to share some insight here which can help you tremendously.  I think you may have something here.  It's a good antagonist but unfortunately, that's about it.  You need to take this back to the drawing board and plan everything out where you don't lose the audience's focus.  Just imagine it as an actual film and honestly ask yourself if you'ld like to see this up there.  Answering this question is probably the hardest thing to do.  Self-critiqueing is the most difficult practice but is essential to any artist.

Keep writing and I'd love to see the second draft.  I'd like to help you out as much as I can to get this as tight and as intrigueing as possible.

A.


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Mr.Z
Posted: May 3rd, 2006, 3:27pm Report to Moderator
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This one is pretty good for a first script. It needs work, yes, but 99.9% of first scripts need work; no biggie. So, regardless some aspects I’m gonna pick you on, I’d say ‘good job’, and I really mean it.

*Spoilers* ahead.

I liked the setting: the abandoned town, the scarecrow’s field. It could look pretty scary on screen. Nice place for an horror/slasher flick.

I liked the opening. You’ve got a twisted grabber there, this is the kind of scene your target audience expect right from the bat.

The pace slowed down after the opening. The previous reader mentioned that the meetings took too long. I second that and I’ll add a specific suggestion about it: When Leanne is introduced, right after she says ‘Hi’, cut to the next scene. By then the audience already figured that she’s Gavin’s girl, and will assume that the proper introductions will take place; no need to show them.

Vinnie acted in a foolish manner when opening the back door of the jeep, letting his prisioner stick her head out. He didn’t need to tell Anna he was going to take a piss. He did because you needed the other characters to see her to move the story forward, and the scene betrays your intentions; that should never happen.

I didn’t buy Colt playing the hero. Normal people freak out and call the police when witnessing a kidnap, instead of risking their lives for a stranger. And these characters have cell phones. The rescue scene didn’t work for me.

And after Anna is kidnapped and nearly raped by strangers, she agrees to go camping with other strangers and she even makes the first move to bang one of them, without worrying that the previous maniac might be still looking for her. Many pages later we learn she’s a maniac herself, alright, but her actions have to make some sense earlier, or the story looses plausibility.

Bottom line: The Vinnie and Co. subplot only brings problems to this story, so I would suggest to loose it and have Colt and Co. find Anna near the abandoned town. Maybe she’s also camping. Maybe she’s the one who knows about this cool abandoned town and suggests to explore it. So when she betrays Colt at the end (I really liked that bit), it all makes much more sense. They found her near the town not by chance, she must live near it with her psycho brothers. And it was this slut who betrayed them from the beginning and led them to Scarecrow Town.
And by removing the Vinnie thingy, you get faster to the abandoned town, which –I agree with the reader above- you should do.

Colt and Anna’s pre-sex scene felt a bit weird; she had to talk too much to achieve the easiest thing on earth: convince a guy to have sex. And you have some on-the-nose dialogue here you don’t need, like: ‘There is a physical attraction between us’ Have them kiss right away, instead having Anna stating the obvious.

After Leanne disappears leaving a trail of blood, the audience will expect only one thing from your characters: using those cell phones to call the police. Work on why they can’t do it. Limit the amount of cell phones if necessary, have the scarecrow shatter one of them along with his owner, etc.

After they escape the farm, Anna is the one who needs to rest for a moment. This seems a little bit forced, since she was being carried by Colt. Think of another reason for them to stop. If Colt needed a breather, it would make more sense for example.


Quoted Text
SARA
Is he dead?

COLT
We better make sure.

Colt takes two hand guns from the bag, he keeps one and tosses the other to Gavin. They walk forward and stand over the bloody and motionless Henry. They then fire every bullet in each of the guns into him. Sara walks forward through the middle of them holding a small flame thrower.

SARA
I’m finishing this!

Sara uses the flame thrower to set the already dead Henry on fire. They step back and watch as he burns.


Well done here. You avoided one of the most annoying clichés in horror movies: bringing the killer back from the dead to attack one more time. I think you overdid it though (A flame thrower? Haha!) but this is a good idea.

The previous reader mentioned you must work on the format of this script; I second that. A good story is always a good story whether it’s written in courier or times new roman, but there is an industry standard you must follow if you expect your work to be read by agents, prodcos, etc.

You have to respect certain font and margins. The best way to forget about this annoying stuff, is to use screenwriting software (Final Draft, Movie Magic, etc). You can even download it for free (google this) if you don’t want to buy it.

Professional readers can tell you if a script is properly formatted just by glancing at the first page and if it’s not, the script won’t go past them.

I caught some other problems in formatting which you have to fix by yourself.

EXT. FARM - CORN FIELD – MORNING – SCREEN OVERVIEW – “1980”

This slug it’s too long. Try: EXT. CORN FIELD – DAY

Morning, Mid-Afternoon, is usually frowned upon. You can exceptionally use SUNRISE or SUNSET, but stick to DAY and NIGHT.

I’m not sure what you meant with ‘Screen Overview’. If you want the year 1980 to appear on screen do it like this:

EXT. CORN FIELD – DAY

SUPER: 1980


When introducing your characters, tell us their ages.

A small boy, HENRY  should be HENRY (10) or whatever age.

Don’t ever use ‘we see’ or ‘we hear’ as the previous reader already mentioned. It pulls the reader away from the story. There’s always a better way around it. And always write in present tense.

We now see a dog running after him should be A dog runs after him.

Don’t include camera directions, this is the director’s job. This technical stuff pulls the reader away from the story, and will be ignored by the director anyways who will decide this stuff by himself.

Don’t include transitions (CUT TO) they once belonged to spec scripts but it has become old fashioned. And besides that, they're not necessary; each slugline implies the beginning of a new scene by itself.

For phone conversations use V.O. not O.S. and such extensions don’t go under the chacarter’s name, place them like this:

COLT (V.O.)
Blah blah blah

Here are some articles which will help you as well:

http://www.creativescreenwriting.com/csdaily/craft/05_06_05.html
http://www.creativescreenwriting.com/csdaily/craft/09_17_04.html
http://www.screenwritersutopia.com/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=2756
http://www.screenwritersutopia.com/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=2698

I hope some of these comments may be of help.






Revision History (1 edits)
Mr.Z  -  May 3rd, 2006, 4:56pm
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leanordjenkis
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Bates.  Read these, study them and practice them.  Remember them.

FROM HOLLYWOODSCRIPT.COM

THE 21 COMMANDMENTS FOR EFFECTIVE SCREENWRITING


1. If the story doesn't work, then the script won't work. If at any given time, your reader is not wondering, "What's going to happen next?"--you've got a problem.

2. Author Julia Cameron says, "The singular image is what haunts us and becomes art." Think about that! At last "a place" to put all of your little insights, moments of truth, fascinations and unique experiences that previously lacked a "file." If you access that "file" while preparing your script and use these hot little tidbits as springboards for scenes, your script is going to be buzzing with honesty and life. This is what audiences crave.

3. There is no such thing as a throwaway or a transitional scene. Scenes should not only add value to the overall story but should also have intrinsic entertainment value as well.

4. Writing a script is relatively easy. The real work is in preparing, building and "arc-ing" out the story and defining the characters. Once the "blueprint" is in place, the writing itself is usually a welcome enterprise. Many writers have trouble being patient enough with this process and it can cost them dearly in the long run.

5. There are many "techniques" for creating and developing characters some of which are effective. However, the single most important thing you can do is to have a strong emotional connection with your character. Intellectual platitudes and techniques are OK, but audiences want characters who are alive. Find your most visceral emotional connections. Don't settle on a character until you do.

6. Remember those POW movies where the prisoners tried to escape by digging a secret tunnel? Then they'd get rid of the dirt by putting it into the cuffs of their pants and spread it around the camp? That's how exposition (ie: info that the audience needs to be told) should be handled. Hide it. Spread it around. Keep it as invisible as you can and always try to convert it into ammunition (ie: action).

7. Subtext is the name of the game. Potential lovers nervously conversing about train schedules (when you know their real underlying "conversation" is about their aching desire for each other), is usually more compelling and effective than the same twosome spilling every thought in their head. In Casablanca the entire relationship between Rick and Renault was completely subtextual. (Rent the classic and see what I mean).

8. When it comes to dialogue, less is better. Pick up the most successful screenplays and you'll notice great economies when it comes to words.

9. "Who is your hero? What is his/her goal? Who or what is preventing her/him from reaching that goal?" (Intense pressure on your hero in an atmosphere of conflict will help keep your story mobile and entertaining).

10. If you have to stretch reality, do it judiciously and surround it with a bedrock of credibility and truth in other issues.

11. "Layer" your scenes. One of the most effective strategies writers use (like, for example, Quentin Tarantino) is to add extra juicy tidbits and mini-subplots within scenes, while the main story continues to unravel.

12. Make room for surprises. Audiences love them.

13. Surrender to this fact: writing is rewriting.

14. The moment you throw something in that doesn't belong in your story, solely for the sake of appealing to some imagined reader who you think wants a bit more sex or sentimentality--at that moment, your story dies a little and becomes a little more of a lie.

15. Don't start with a mystery and end with the hero finding great love. End by solving the mystery.

16. EXPERIMENT: take a couple of pages out of your script. Are your characters distinctive enough that, if you REMOVED THEIR NAMES from the pages, you could tell who they are JUST FROM the dialogue? If not, you need to do more work.

17. Don't mix forms to "cover" all bases. If you're going to do a movie where people throw pies, then let them throw pies. Save your Oscar winning love scene for another script.

18. Rule of thumb: get into scenes as late as you can and get out early. Forget about the "glad to meet you's" and the "what would you like for dinner's." "How can I start a scene as close to the end as possible?"

19. Before writing anything, you should be able to tell someone the story (and have it worked out so smoothly) that it's practically ready to write itself.

20. If, in the course of a screenplay Tom Dick and Harry need to be provided with the same info, tell Tom and when we get to Dick and Harry, let's assume that they've been told off camera.

21. Have another (nice) way of making a living while you're trying to make it as a writer. This will give you space to grow and create without going nuts. Waiting by the telephone is a prescription for despair.




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Bates
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Thank's guys for the reads and comments. They will help tremendously.


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Zombie Sean
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Hehe, sorry if anyone has said this before, but this reminds me of the Goosebumps show "Scarecrows Walk At Midnight."

*sighs* I love Goosebumps. I wish they'd play it again.

Sean


MY WEBSITE

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Shepard
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All in all a good script. Not quite sure why a girl who was about to be attacked would go on  a camping trip with other strangers but i understand how it fits in with the story. Great twist at the end. Didnt see that coming. Good script for the first try. Well done.


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guyjackson
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Alright Robert, as I promised I read this for you.  First off, I just want to say I love reading British and Scottish screenplays becuase of your Euro jargon.  It's so cool.  Like "wigging me out" and "tyres".  But that's besides the point.  On to the story.

For as short as this was, it flowed very well.  It didn't drag and every scene seemed to have a purpose, even the beginning build up scenes.  The beginning was well written and gave the Scarecrow a backstory.  I like when the killer is given a backstory and character, it makes the movie more interesting.

The characters were fun and I enjoyed all of them.  They were a little two dimensional but aren't all horror films guilty of that?  The gang of three gave the screenplay a good reason to intercut between the main characters and them and gave the body count a boost.  Very good, in my book.

As for things that I think need work, it may seem like a lot, but it's not.  First off you really need to learn how to build up the death scenes.  Too many times, the Scarecrow would jump out and kill someone out of nowhere.  For example when Leanne died, that should have been more suspenseful.  Maybe a few noises, or you see the scarecrow behind her in the window for a few moments and then he stabs her.  The death scenes just seemed really rushed and hurried.  I also think you should have given the Scarecrow a couple more weapons to use on the group.  I was guilty of using the same weapon over and over again in my horror script as well.  At a farm, there's a plethora of things he could use to kill.  Sickles, reapers, pitchforks, rakes, use your imagination.

I liked the twist at the end.  It caught me off guard.  The romance between Colt and Anna had me fooled, I must admit..  It seemed very genuine and real.  Looks like I would be a scarecrow by now because I would have let her take advantage of me, haha.

Like I always say, format is the least of my problems.  You can always rework that.  The story is the most important thing.  They only formatting thing I will suggest is to stop using the phrase "begins to".  It makes the story seem to rigid..  Instead of "Leanne begins to walk down to the farmhouse"  Just say "Leanne strides/walks/jogs/sprints down to the farmhouse"  It looks better and makes the writing seem more professional.  Another thing is if you fixed your margins, this would probably be a 60 or 70 page screenplay and make it look longer.  It should be 1" all around except the left margin.  That should be 1.5".

Very interesting, Robert.  I am a sucker for slashers and this one kept me reading.  Not just because I had to give you a review, but because I was very intrigued on how it would play out and who would survive.  I think you have a great basis for a feature length screenplay that people would watch.  I think to make it longer, maybe add some flashbacks on how the father was an evil man with his children or maybe Anna playing her games on some others unfortunate tourists.

Oh and one other thing.  What ever happened to Zane?  He seemed to just run away and was never heard from again.  I'm guessing he just hauled ass out of town?

I hope this helps you.  If you need some more in depth comments just let me know.  

  
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Bates
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Thanks for the read Guy. You're review has given me some things i need to rethink for the rewrite.


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Kevan
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REVIEW - PART ONE

Hey, Bates

Good story you got here I can see the potential right away, cool!!!

Once I'd read the screenplay I visited the thread and read what previous posters had to say in their reviews and I've got to say Mr. Z, leanordjenkis and Guy Jackson gave some fantastic criticisms and suggestions of how to improve this script of yours. Mr.Z particularly, I agree with a lot he said..

*** SPOILERS ***

First off, you do have a good idea for the opening of your story but was wondering if this could be improved..

What if you had the father actually chase a guy around a corn field, shoot him and make him into a scarecrow and he gets three little children to watch him perform the gruesome transformation on this poor victim..

INT. FARM – BARN - DAY

Father turns around and three little kids, two boys and a little girl peer around the legs of their mother in the barn's open doorway frightened to death..

Father

Look here kids, this is how you make
a scarecrow! Now watch closely, I
ain't gonna’ repeat myself!

Father turns around and faces the victim.

The Victim, in his early 20s, hands tied behind his back, is dressed in an old torn long black coat, straw for hair' and his face painted white. His mouth has been sewn shut with steel cotton thread, blood oozes down from the needle wounds above his lips. An expression of absolute fear on the Victim's face. Tears from his wide open-eyes which trickle slowly down his cheeks. Muffled sounds come from his mouth but it is difficult to make out what he is saying.

VICTIM
Mmmmmmm!! Uo, uckin’ astard!

I realize this suggestion would give away the two boys and the little girl but just thought this would be a good idea..

You make the opening scenes real snappy and hit the audience, Wham! Wham! Wham!

Once you move to the next scene you simply write:

SUPER: 16 YEARS LATER

You really want to ramp this opening few scenes up make a chase out of it then the Victim is captured, transformed into the Scarecrow and the poor kids are made to watch in the barn.. You could write a few scenes to make a really good opening sequence here..

And then come in with your idea of the group of friends and their camping trip..

Just an idea I had that if the three kids were conditioned into this by their Father and you shown this early on then it doesn't have to give the story away.. The unknown scarecrow the audience meets later on could indeed still be the Father only it of course turns out to be one of the brothers and the rest would follow as you plotted this..

I think you need to find better devices to introduce these friends to your audience. Something which provides conflict but which also drives the story forward. Sure you already have this but I reckon you could do better here..

Rather than COLT being arrested for drinking and driving, suggest in his back story he has broke up with his girlfriend, and you need a specific reason for this which  relates to his character and which also relates to his flaw.. He will bring this flaw into the story with him. Initially, any Hero in a screenplay is reluctant to go on any journey and he needs a kick up the ass to get him moving so you need to find a better solution than you one you’ve got..

How about COLT has broke-up with his girlfriend, he got drunk and was abusive and aggressive outside her house in a quiet neighborhood and next thing you know the cops arrive and arrest him. Colt isn’t normally like this but he drank too much and well, you know alcohol does this to younger people, right? Colt is thrown in prison.. At first Colt doesn’t want to go on this camping trip because he was previously going with his girlfriend but now they’re no longer going out together, he’s lost interest and he’s got a fine to pay for being arrested and he ain’t got any money.. Now you have a good reason for him being in prison.. Now you can have two of the girls bail him out.. At first Colt still doesn’t want to go but the girls will only pay his fine if he agrees to come with the rest of the group on this camping vacation.

You need to give Colt a flaw in his character. If Colt is the hero then he must have a flaw which prevents him achieving. This will be a distinctive aspect to his character which usually contributes to him failing. A hero only discovers he is a hero when he recognizes that he has a flaw and he overcomes it to take on the antagonist..

I would suggest making Colt an intellectual, the guy in class who wears specs, he knows everything, a real clever guy, you know? He knows all the answers in class at school, reads a lot and stuff like that. But, he’s not accepted as one of the guys because he’s smart and maybe he’s bullied by the other guys and they resent him. This results in Colt being withdrawn, maybe shy, particularly around girls. Sure he’s good with books, and math, but with sports and girls, well, he just ain’t that good.. Maybe his girlfriend was the same, a reader who shared his passion for learning but outgrew him as she started to look at other boys, the sporty muscular types. So this also ties in with Colt loosing her and to his flaw of being a shy and withdrawn kind of kid. The other girls actually like him but he doesn’t know this because they have never told him. So he is under this impression he is worthless, useless.. He maybe no good at practical stuff, can’t light fires, can’t use tools, never did shop, but he can sure think and this is his strong point. Because he lacks confidence though this is his flaw and prevents him being one of the gang with the guys..

Giving your hero character a major flaw like this will make it more believable for your audience when he rescues the others and takes on the antagonist..

So you going to have to plot your screenplay where Colt is the unlikely hero so he needs a name change to reflect this because Colt gives the impression he is strong and confident which is the opposite of this new idea for a character..

What you’ll end up with is a series of character arcs where this hero will grow each time he succeeds in your story.. He needs and ally though, one of the girls who is attracted to him, she is smart and helps him overcome his shyness and at the same time teaches him how the other guys do stuff – mainly they bluff – right?

Therefore, in your story, regarding Anna, then she will have to target one of the other guys in the group, one who can’t keep his dick in his pants, make him a jock.. This would also introduce conflict within the group dynamic where Anna steals one of the other girls guy. It will introduce suspicion and mistrust, particularly regarding loyalty and friendship and relationships in the group and boyfriend/girlfriend dynamic..

This would give more emphasis on your reversal, she would come across not only as a slut but the audience would say to themselves - “Ah ha, the bitch!”! The audience would initially dislike her for taking a boyfriend from another girl and the ending, especially when she gets topped then this would be welcomed by your audience/readers.. The reveal/reversal would also tie in very nicely with your opening sequence where we saw the little girl with her two brothers watching their Father create a scarecrow, teaching them their trade kinda’ thing.. All comes full circle..

I reckon the subplot you have with Vinnie is not that bad an idea but at the moment it just doesn’t seem right and this needs some work..  Maybe like Mr. Z said, I’d cut this subplot and work on how Anna meets up with this group of friends who are going on a camping trip..

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Kevan  -  May 28th, 2006, 7:12pm
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REVIEW PART TWO

*** SPOILERS ***

For me, I would have the group of friends already in the gas station when Anna ambles into the courtyard; she looks as if she has been walking all day, ragged, dirty, dusty, thirsty, hungry and tired. The group see her, notice Anna needs help and go to her.. Maybe one of the girls notices and makes the other members of thegroup help this girl. The group, take her to the attendant, get her a drink, they ask the attendant is he knows who she is but he replies no he doesn’t. When she composes herself after a drink and something to eat the group ask he if she needs any help. They offer to drive her to the hospital and or the police station in the next town but she insists her boyfriend will eventually come looking for her and they’ll make up and he’ll then take her home..

The group now tanked-up with gas are about to leave, they wave to Anna and then she suddenly decides to go with them. She asks if it would be okay, they may run into her boyfriend, it’d be quicker than waiting around the gas station for him to turn up. Now the other thing we didn’t mention is the gas attendant is one of Ann’s scarecrow brothers who was in on a little plot to lure this group of friends into a false sense of security but in reality they have let the antagonist in their world.

Now you have Anna get her claws into one of the guys in the group.. Maybe one of the guys is having an argument with his girlfriend and Anna notices this and works on him. Obviously she takes advantage of this later at the camp when she enters his tent and jumps on him.. As he has fallen out with his girlfriend he willingly bonks her! Now Anna has successfully infiltrated the group. This causes further conflict within the group so you have a good dynamic here to develop additional conflict.

Now you’ve got the group camped, slept the night and ready to explore the ghost town, you can pick your story up from before and follow on in the same fashion..

I’d follow some of the ideas Mr. Z and Guy Jackson suggested by structuring the deaths of the victims.. Draw a death chart and pick particular deaths which relate to the character.. Therefore, you need to construct you character a particular way which relates to his or her death so when their death comes this has a subtext to it.. For example, one of the guys in the group, say Gavin, he may play with a flick knife and the girls particularly may say to him he’s a dork for playing around with knives.. He’s always chopping pieces of wood with it. Picks his teeth with it. Slices the apples he eats with the knife.. Maybe points the knife when he’s in arguments – so, when Gavin gets killed, he is stabbed rather nastily with a big kitchen knife or even worse a machete from out of the tool shed at the farm;. Likewise, one of the girls may have a fetish for filing her nails, she rather vain you see… Every opportunity she files her finger nails, at meals, around the camp fire, in the car, can be quite annoying this behavior but when she dies - she dies with a large rasp bastard file thrust into her back – so her character traits are transposed into her gruesome death.. I’m only using these as examples because you may wish to structure your own characters deaths using their own traits and behaviors but if you do this then the audience will have a field day.. It works on the subconscious. As the writer you’ll already have planted the seed of how they behave, their repeated habits and such so when their time comes to die and you use this method for each death and this will be powerful believe me.. Maybe one couple have sex a lot and they die together? Just some ideas to stimulate your imagination..

I can’t really say much more apart from you need to try and improve your formatting some.. I’m not sure what template or plug-in you’re using for Microsoft Word but it doesn’t look right at all and I’d suggest you acquire a script formatting program is you can this will help you tremendously.

Some of the other posters mentioned your use of CUT TO, you don’t need mention transitions just let each scene flow into each other and this acts as a cut anyway..

Don’t mention the time of day in a slugline, just use DAY or NIGHT. If you need to mention its Dusk or Dawn or Afternoon then write this under the slugline..

Parentheticals, I try not to use them, cut these out.. You can write a line of action or reaction above a character’s dialogue and this will read much better. Actors and directors only cross these out anyways..

If you’re going to have a telephone conversation between characters then use the script convention INTERCUT: and END INTERCUT like so:

INTERCUT:

CHARACTER #1
James, is that you?

CHARACTER #2
Yep. What’s up?

CHARACTER #1
You left a message earlier, why?

CHARACTER #1
No reason, just wanted a chat.

CHARACTER #2
Oh.. Okay. I’ll see you tonight
anyways, so I’ll speak then. Okay?
Sure.. Bye..

END INTERCUT:

That’s how you write a telephone conversation in a script when you want the two characters intercut between two scenes. You also need to establish those two scenes earlier before the conversation begins so the inter-cutting is obvious otherwise it just happens in mid air and the reader will be drawn out of your story.. If you locate the two characters in their respective scenes then the INTERCUT will do the rest for you..

Don’t write OUTSIDE or INSIDE in your sluglines

For example you have:

EXT. OUTSIDE POLICE STATION – LATE AFTERNOON

It should read:

EXT. POLICE STATION – DAY

Your dialogue could be much improved if you improve on your punctuation as this lets your script down.. Learn where the three periods go for pauses. Learn how to punctuate the end of sentences with an exclamation mark to emphasize a point or when a character shouts. Be more direct with your commas and single inverted commas.. You could also learn how to write your dialogue so it read more like speech rather than the written word.. There are a lot of examples in your dialogue which use words like “We will” and or “They are” – this stuff reads much more like dialogue if you write it like this “We’ll” and or “They’re”.. There are more examples but I won’t make a big issue out of it.. The only way to learn this is read some more screenplays and make it a point to look for this in the dialogue written by more experienced writers and you’ll see exactly what I mean..

Overall you have a great little story here with a good set of characters. Sure it needs re-working some but you’ve been given some good suggestions by posters and I reckon this will stand you in good stead when you next sit down to have a go at re-writing this. Stick at this and work on it and eventually after a couple more drafts you’ll have a pretty good screenplay here.. You have the basis of this story just some of your plot points need working on some. I can’t remember who said it but this script could be extended to 90 pages no problem, I agree with that statement, and you’d have a pretty darn good full-length screenplay on your hands then..

Let me know if and when you perform a re-write on this I’d very much like to see what changes you make to this fine idea..

Well done…


Kev  

Revision History (2 edits; 1 reasons shown)
Kevan  -  May 28th, 2006, 7:27pm
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Bates
Posted: May 29th, 2006, 4:26am Report to Moderator
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Kev, many thanks for the read and the review.

I'm going to be taking everything that has been said into account as i work my way through the re-write.

Again thanks.


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George Willson
Posted: June 4th, 2006, 4:25pm Report to Moderator
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I gave this a read yesterday out of my inbox and have some thoughts for you. I'm not into nitpicking format when the story needs work, and it looks like you got enough nitpickers already.

OBLIGATORY SPOILER WARNING JUST IN CASE

I'm going to assume that "you's" is a regional vernacular since all the characters spoke this way and when I said some of the lines out loud, my voice slipped into a down home hick kind of accent, so I let every last one of those go.

On the surface, this feels like a variation of the 2005 version of House of Wax where a group of teenagers setup camp and eventual stumble upon a town with a dark secret of every getting killed and transformed (but not necessarily in that order) into something else for the benefit of the maker of such things. Yours has that same frightening and disturbing aspect to it, which is a good thing. I admit to being rather perturbed considering the visuals involved in making a live scarecrow, so good job there.

The version I read measured out to 55 pages. This means you're 40 pages short of a feature, but not to worry, you have much you can augment into this story. First off will be further developing your characters to the point of them being sympathetic, believable, likeable, and connectable. Each of your character, including the bad guys, needs a past, a present, and a (hopeful) future. A lot of scripts tend to focus on the present plot and what is happening to the characters RIGHT NOW, but they tend to forget that equally important to the plot is the past and hopes for the future. Give the characters a life outside the plot. Give them characteristics that have nothing to do with the plot or that can even link into the plot somehow.

You have your siblings together in a yearly outing, which is a very good start to their characters, and I found my self rooting for them to get out, but didn't much care about the significant others. These boyfriends and girlfriends they have must also have backstories and hopeful futures they want to get back to once the plot runs its course and the credits roll. We want to know where they will end up. It gives the audience something to talk about once the movie is over, such as" Do you think he'll still go into the FFA after that experience?" (Future Farmers of America for those who don't know.) If someone off hand mentions an interest or affiliation in that, it gives that character a deeper connection because we end up on a twisted farm.

If characters are to die, they've got to have something to lose (more than just their life, which most moviegoers don't care about). Maybe one of the significant others has a sibling at home they're supposed to get a souvenir for, and they die after they buy and then regret never seeing that sibling again. Little things like that.

Your villains need to be the same way (which applies to both the scarecrow makers and the kidnappers). We don't get much of a sense of your kidnappers except that they're buttheads. Maybe they have a good reason for kidnapping Anna. Maybe they're not evil after all. Maybe they are federal bounty hunters charged to bring this girl in in connection with...you-know-what. This means the kids inadvertently interfered with a federal operation. Oops. Maybe these three are also siblings drawing a parallel between the two trios. Tons and tons of little stuff, and you have 40 pages to do it in, since your actual plot isn't bad.

What was my only issue? Sorry, dude, it was the twist of Anna being involved. This raised so many unanswered questions for me, it ruined a lot of what you were doing. Now I really want to know how the trio caught her and where. Wy didn't she go with the first wave of explorers? Three miles out, surely she could not count on them finding the town. She could not have possibly planned to be kidnapped or rescued and she sure couldn't have counted on the sheer coincidence of the rescuers parking and wanting to explore to find her little town. It changes it from interesting to far-fetched instantly. Anna must be more involved in finding the town. She has to be the one to get them there. Maybe when they are driving looking for a spot, she suggests a campground near there. Maybe she mentions growing up "around here". Maybe she goes with the exploration group and is instrumental in guiding them to the town. That would make sense. Sure, it would look accidental, but in the end, the pieces would fall into place more neatly.

I think this is the makings of a decent script, and with a little work, it'll be good. Keep writing.


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Bates
Posted: June 5th, 2006, 1:58pm Report to Moderator
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George, I want to thank you for your read and review.

You have given me some good suggestions to go with as have other posters.

Regarding Anna being involved, I can see where you're coming from and i agree Anna must be involved in finding the town otherwise as you have said it goes to being far fetched, so that needs work along with a number of other things. With all the suggestions i've received i've no doubt the second draft will come in at the approriate length for a feature.

Again thanks for your read, it is much appreciated.

Robert


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The boy who could fly
Posted: June 6th, 2006, 9:31pm Report to Moderator
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hey Robert, I just finished this.  On the format you need to take out the camera directions and the we see's., plus after a lot of the headings you say, "it is morning" or "it is afternoon", you already state that in your heading so you don't need to repeat yourself.


SPOILERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


What you wrote here is an interesting story but it does need a lot of work.  The opening is great though.  I think this was a fantastic way to start off your script, this was very disturbung.

The story you have here interested me, I like these kinda movies, the deserted town out in the middle of nowhere that is only occupied by this twisted fucked up family, kinda like the hills have eyes.

What you need to do though is develop these characters a little more, well actually a lot more, they seemed paper thin, it was hard to tell them apart.  I think you need to build them up more and give them their own personalities.

I also think the way the characters behave was a little off.  After they save Anna they should have gone right to the police.  You need to have a good reason why they don't go, like imaybe if they broke Colt out of the station or something because they didn';t have any bail money, because if you did fine a girl tied and gaged in the back of a car that is what you would do.  That needs to be fixed.  Also Anna doesn't seem too traumatized by what has happened.  Attempted rape is an awful thing and would traumatize almost anyone.  Also when character's are killed off they don't seemd to bothered, especially in the end.  by the end the survivors have gone to hell and back, you should show this, they seemed a little too okay with what just happened.

what needs the most work IMO is the dialog, if felt flat and artificitial.  The character's only said what they needed to say or if they needed to explain things.  You can help make your characters more unique if you give tham more to say other than what needs to be said.  You do this and you will give us charaters we will invest in and the story will become more suspensful.

Now on to the stuff I liked.

I liked the town, you gave it a nice creepy feel.  You had some good gross out moments and good kills.  I liked the scarecrow field, and I liked the torture scene.  there was some pretty cool stuff there, like the sawing off of the toe and the yanking of the teeth.  I also liked how they turned people into scarecrow's.

so in the end the story was good, you had a nice and creepy feel to it, but you need to work on character and dialog.

Hope this helps and good luck with the re-write.


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