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I really liked the angle here, a good story about choices (thinking with your head instead of your heart - how ever much dissatisfying it may be). The ex-wife scence got a little too mushy for me though, in fact, I would lose that scene altogether and focus on Ben's emotions about his duaghter and her killer.
A couple of things rubbed me the wrong way:
1) The scene with the Warden seems unbelievable. If he really is a by-the-book kinda guy it seems out of place that he would offer that chance to Ben. Also, why would the Warden, personally, feel sorry for Ben's wrongful conviction. I mean, he just did his job - he was sent a convicted felon and acted accordingly. I can understand if the DA would feel sorry though.
2) If you're wrongfully convicted - and kills a fellow inmate while incarcerated (in self-defense) - I think a DA would have a very tough time keeping him locked up another second. I mean once Ben's story reached 60 Minutes he would have been out of there - and let's not forget the massive lawsuit he would file against the state.
To who ever wrote this, if you haven't already, I suggest you watch "True Believer" with James Woods and Robert Downey Jr. While it's not a prison film per se, it involves a similar situation.
Down in the hole / Jesus tries to crack a smile / Beneath another shovel load
As good as your writing is, I find it so hard to believe anything that happens in this for a second...and there's little changes you could of easily made to make it believable. I think you're just trying to make things more dramatic and it completely kills the story for me.
1) Why do they have to talk in the cell? It could of just as easily been set in the visitation room.
2) Why does the warden have to tell him where the guy is and say he'll turn his head? I think it would be easier to believe with a guard.
So to finish this really short review off: your writing is good, but this story doesn't do it for me.
I'm with Hoody on this one. None of this really seemed very realistic to me, at least in terms of the logistics.
As so many others have brought up, the idea of meeting with his lawyer and wife inside of a prison cell sounds less like a nice stage-setting, and more as if you were simply trying to stick with the OWC's preferences. Also, despite the fact that Melissa's dialogue tells us that she was a witness against him so many years ago, I felt her role in the "crux" of this really wasn't necessary.
Also, as Sniper mentioned earlier, this warden is said to be by-the-book. Even if he had sympathy for Ben's situation, I doubt he would allow to let happen what did. Instead, consider this possibility:
Perhaps the warden briefs Ben with his condolences and his situation, and then asks the guard to transfer Ben to his new minimum-security cell. However, taking the situation into his own hands, Moretti takes Ben to Arnold's cell and explains the real situation to Ben. Something like:
BENJAMIN (re: Arnold) Who is - ?
MORETTI You want vengeance, here's your chance. They brought him in this morning.
Wow. Okay. So, maybe the dialogue could be better, but I hope you see what direction I'm headed in. Instead of Haywood granting Ben this ten-minute privelege, Moretti could fill that slot in the plot, and I feel it would make it a tad bit more fluent and believable. Just a thought.
I did, however, like the chronology of the storyline, in which everyone asks for Ben's forgiveness and mercy, and then him showing his daughter's killer that very thing in the conclusion. He realizes that beating this man won't bring her back, and instead trades vengeance for mourning. That's very bold of him... honestly, I don't know of anyone who wouldn't choose the former.
Nice descriptions though. Consider this: many screenwriters I have read (and spoken with) say that commas are a nice replacement for conjunctions. For example, with your description "Bragg stands and helps Benjamin to his feet," they would probably say "Bragg stands, helps Benjamin to his feet." Not much of a difference on first glance, but according to them, the second technique is a tad more aesthetically pleasing. At least, that's what they tell me.
The title doesn't exactly intrigue me personally, much in the style of You Can Count on Me. Even knowing that its a synonym for "heart" or "core," I still find "crux" to be an awkward word to use in a title. Maybe I'm alone, and that's perfectly fine.
In conclusion, though I think this script (as is) breaks a few walls of reality, it stands within the boundaries of the OWC. Good luck.
PLEASE review my first SimplyScripts submission....
OK, i think many of us will be guilty of pushing logic to the edge or beyond in this OWC. Yes, much of what have been said about this story is true. I especially agree that the Warden seems highly unlikely to be a part of this revenge tale.
Would a pedophile even be imprisoned in the same facility as the father a victim? Hmmm...
I also agree that the dialogue between Melissa and Benjamin ran long and had too many"I'm sorrys." There should be more of an edge to the conversation and it could be way briefer. But I do like the course of action Benjamin takes. I just wish I could have seen the revelation or point in which he realized that he couldn't kill Watts. I think you cut away from that action to preserve the twist ending. If you rewrite this from another angle (shorten the wife scene and dispense with the Warden part), you'll have more time to explore Benjamin's story. Maybe he and the guard Moretti have an understanding. It should be Moretti who gives Watts the opportunity for revenge.
I just finished another OWC with a similar revenge theme, but that story was set in a more obscure, futuristic, Matrix-type setting with the powers that be very unconventional. Your story is set in today's society, so you can't get away with things like having a "middle-aged warden" being chummy with a convict and bending/breaking the law. That is too hard to swallow. So, while the story line needs tweaking, I know where you're going and that isn't a bad thing. Nice effort!
Good. I liked that Benjamin decided to take the high road and value freedom more than vengeance for a change...Thought that Adam's Apple was gonna get smashed, but the fact it didn't provided a better twist. The dialogue was ok, though a little soap opera...Might suggest showing some of the action instead of just talking about it. At least the part where he was fighting to help another inmate-that's a good, visual side of his character.
Descriptions were OK, although usually lawyers don't meet in the cells; however most of the other prison culture seemed accurate enough., although I'm not sure that the prison officials would have given him the opportunity to face Watts.
Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently - Dove Chocolate Wrapper
I really liked this one. Great characters and powerful emotion. I can't say much about technical issues surrounding prisons and visitations. And though the warden allowing someone to exact revenge by turning his head for a few moments has been done to death in this OWC, this one is the best of the lot.
There has been mention of the Melissa character and her dialogue. I think this character served a purpose (getting us to root for Ben) but could have been cut out entirely and the story would not have changed.
And I didn't get the line that Braggs said about the sheets?
A little wordy, but a very good script. A front-runner for me. Nice work.
I know I'm coming late to the party on this one but I wanted to return feedback, so here goes,
I think you have a real knack for painting a picture in your readers minds. Your descriptions are spot on and in my opinion move the story forward. I don't feel that the descriptions are too wordy for me at all - if anything I would cut back some of the dialouge that TELLS your readers whats going on and try to describe that same information instead.
I think people over-analyzed this one a bit. For instance, back to what I was getting at before with not telling so much in your dialouge and describing more - Whose to say it's unbelievable for the Warden to allow a murder to occur under his watch. In fact just this last year in PG County a cop killer was mysteriously found murdered in his Jail Cell no more than 24 hours after running over a police officer in a stolen vehicle. This stuff happens!
Maybe the Warden HAS a six year old daughter of his own and can relate. I don't think you neccessarilly had to have the Warden explain his personal motivations. You could have just as easily shown a quick shot of him touching a family photo on his desk or something just as an example and later on have him give the go ahead by shutting off the camera system to the jail or something along those lines.
Anyways, goodluck. Hope to see some more work soon!
Wow. It's been awhile since I've been back on Simply Scripts and I'm sorry it's taken so long to respond to this thread.
Thank you, D.E., for the compliments on the descriptions. I don't know if you know how good that statement actually made me feel, but it feels real good.
While the scene about the lawyer visiting Benjamin may have been a little embellished, the rest of it is based on a true story that actually happened.
A father was accused of raping and murdering his daughter and was serving his sentence. Years later, the true perpetrator did confess to the crime and the warden let the father go, in spite of a crime he did commit while incarcerated.
I find it funny that the result my story took, that the father had to finish serving his time for the crime incarcerated was too far-fetched for most people to believe, when in real life, the warden let him go Scott-free. It makes me wonder what I can actually get away with.
However, this was an OWC and I'm very glad for people's true responses to this story. The lawyer visiting him in the cell was very far-fetched, so I do know I have to change that. (I lose one of my favorite lines about cum-stained sheets, though). Oh well... Like I heard Bert say once... "Sometimes you have to kill your babies."*
Thanks again for the read on "Flashes". I figured I would return the favor and this title jumped out at me from your signature line.
I've not read all of the comments in depth, but I see that this was a OWC, and taking that into consideration, I think you did a terrific job. In fact, even if it wasn't a OWC, I still would have really enjoyed this.
I see that a number of reviewers touched on the believability factor. I can see where they are coming from, but at the same time, I didn't get to bogged down in this. Before the reveal, I was thinking to myself, "they would never allow a woman on a cell block unescorted", but after the reveal, I was fine with that.
My "believability" gripe had more to do with the extra 5 years he would have to do as a result of the fight he got into. I know you touched on it briefly when the Warden said that the DA was being a prick, but I'm not sure any DA in America, including Texas, could be that much of a prick.
Still, I think you used that to your advantage, and by the end I really found myself feeling for this guy.
As far as the dialouge betweeen Archer and Melissa, I think I might tend to agree with some of the other reviwers in that I found it a bit stilted. Then again, I guess it probably would be after all that they had gone through. Still, I think I would have liked to see you take this another direction. Have Archer tell her to "fuck off". I mean, she never believed him and married again, wouldn't he be in the right to be pissed. Plus, this would add more suspense to the scene with the "torture" scene.
I liked the Warden and Guard's sense of vigilante justice. Maybe not in real life, but its fine for a script.
Anyway, I enjoyed this Mark, and thought it was a very nice effort. I look forward to reading more.
Yeah, it was written as a One Week Challenge, and I wish I would've had a lot more time to clean it up and get rid of all that doesn't make sense, but thanks for saying that you would've enjoyed it even if it wasn't an OWC.
It's been awhile since I've been on these boards, (and, while I was gone, unfortunately I had to spend a little bit of time in the prison system. Not too long, though.) During that time away, I've worked a lot on some short stories, and turned this one into a short story, brushing up a little bit that was farfetched and what not. But after being in the system for awhile, I was surprised to find out that this wasn't very far off. The warden probably wouldn't show up himself under that position, but you'd be surprised at how much people turn their heads in prisons and jails. (There's probably more drugs in prison then there are on the street.)
I'm thinking about going back to the script and basing it more on the short story I wrote, but that won't be for awhile as I've got so many other projects going right now.
Thank you very much for taking a look at this and telling me what you honestly think about it. I'm definately interested in taking a look at some of your other stuff, too. Just give me a little bit of time on that, though. I've been using my library's internet so I can only get on during their hours, but I should have my own in the next week or two.