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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Horror Scripts  ›  Flotsam Moderators: bert
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  Author    Flotsam  (currently 726 views)
Don
Posted: May 3rd, 2020, 4:21pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Flotsam by Ben Clifford - Horror - An academic researcher studying a mysterious, historic slave-ship wreck in an isolated town in Australia is drawn into a monstrous "tradition" which threatens both herself and her unborn child.  80 pages - pdf format

Writer interested in feedback on this work



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Revision History (2 edits; 1 reasons shown)
LC  -  May 6th, 2020, 12:38am
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AlsoBen
Posted: May 5th, 2020, 11:28pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks so much Don!!

I would love any feedback on this one. I was going for a Sharp Objects/Babadook vibe if that helps.

Im mostly worried about - the ending/resolution, with which I struggled, and the sensitivity of the racial themes.

P.S I must have misspelled it when I submitted the script but the title is actually Flotsam with an A.


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LC
Posted: May 6th, 2020, 12:40am Report to Moderator
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Fixed.


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Colkurtz8
Posted: May 6th, 2020, 7:15am Report to Moderator
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Interesting read with a unique, historical fiction slant meshed with psychological horror.

Has it undergone much change since I read it, Ben?


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Arundel
Posted: May 6th, 2020, 9:58am Report to Moderator
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Title doesn't really match up with the story here. I was expecting some underwater shipwreck action, at least maybe something like "Leviathan" hehe.

Characters were good. Writing was good.

Not a fan of flashbacks. When I start seeing them is when I usually tune-out of a script, but I went ahead with this one.

Started to get jumbled for me towards the end and also not a blood/gore fan (anymore) so a lot of skimming took place at this juncture.
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AlsoBen
Posted: May 7th, 2020, 5:21am Report to Moderator
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@col - it's a little different. I didn't do a total overhaul yet, I'm still sieving through all my feedback. Mostly changed some of the less clear passages (thanks for your feedback - it helped a lot).

@Arundel - thanks so much for reading this! I like the title because it works (at least somewhat) on both definitions but I take your point.

I agree about the ending being jumbled. Appreciate you making it all the way thru regardless.


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spesh2k
Posted: May 7th, 2020, 9:19am Report to Moderator
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Hey man, I'll try getting to this over the weekend at some point.

-- Michael


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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eldave1
Posted: May 7th, 2020, 8:35pm Report to Moderator
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Gave this a read.

The PODCAST scene with Helen dragged for me a little bit. I know a lot of writers hate this but I seemed to be an ideal place to flashback to some scenes aboard that ship especially during the wreck. Anyway    it drags just a bit here.

NOTE: as I went on I saw that there were tons of flashbacks already - so maybe not another one. Maybe just find a way to make the above crisper.

The Madison Jaime sexual romp seemed way too early to me. It seemed inorganic.

P26 - Those paragraphs that are theoretically to be read by the viewer of the film are a bit long have a hard time seeing how that is going to work visually. Maybe a VO instead?

P31 The Doctor warns her not to stay didnt seem realistic that it would be left at that. i.e., after this:


Quoted Text
DR. SINGH
I think Id worry about you if you stuck around, Madison.


There would definitely be a follow-up from Madison.

P38. Falling into a dream sequence while Jaime is doing the deed. Seemed really unlikely - unbelievable.

Okay, Im on page 47 and starting to feel a bit disjointed. Like weird shit is just happening for the sake of weird shit happening.  Its all very well written but I wanted to let you know at this point I am starting to lose the thread of the story and caring less because I feel Im getting some shock scenes for the sake of shock.  It's becoming rinse and repeat rather than a progression and it is getting more chaotic story-wise.

Madison sure is a train wreck of a human being at the scene now where John flops his peter on the desk asking her to call him Doctor. No scream or protest from her. This scene is a derailment for me. You may get a laugh here with the Doctor line and I know you don't want that.

Okay just going to read till the end.

Okay - done.

Man.  So, first - I dig your writing style. You are very visual and anyone scene was a nice scene. But I really felt like I was being tossed around as I progressed through the story  - and not in a good way - like I'm getting thrown stuff out of the blue and in several cases I lost the thread of the story.

It is almost as if you took two stories - the slave ship one and the Korey one and masked them together and tossed in a lot of disturbing sexual and torture rituals to put it on steroids  - any one part worked - but did not work as a whole. Personally, the slave shipwreck premise of the story is what had the most interest for me. I wanted that to be front and center throughout. Instead, the story turns into something less interesting.

Again - the writing is really solid. This is just not a movie I would want to see. Hope that makes sense and hope these notes help in someway.



My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Colkurtz8
Posted: May 7th, 2020, 10:39pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from AlsoBen
@col - it's a little different. I didn't do a total overhaul yet, I'm still sieving through all my feedback. Mostly changed some of the less clear passages


Cool, best of luck with it


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AlsoBen
Posted: May 9th, 2020, 3:01am Report to Moderator
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@spesh - Thanks! I look froward to it - I'm currently finishing up a read for another user here but after that I'm planning on starting Honey Mustard

@eldave - First, thanks so much for reading this, I really appreciate it. I'm not sure I agree about Jamie and Madison sleeping together being inorganic. Madison is established to be black-out-drunk throughout most of the script and is, as you said, a trainwreck and an alcoholic. Maybe it's a cultural difference but it's very common for young people to sleep together soon after meeting, especially drunk people.

Yeah I'm not sure how to finish the doctor scene without having her leave town altogether.

I really appreciate the feedback - this is kind of two premises I've had in one so I can see how you'd feel that.

Thanks again


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eldave1
Posted: May 9th, 2020, 11:20am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from AlsoBen
@spesh - Thanks! I look froward to it - I'm currently finishing up a read for another user here but after that I'm planning on starting Honey Mustard

@eldave - First, thanks so much for reading this, I really appreciate it. I'm not sure I agree about Jamie and Madison sleeping together being inorganic. Madison is established to be black-out-drunk throughout most of the script and is, as you said, a trainwreck and an alcoholic. Maybe it's a cultural difference but it's very common for young people to sleep together soon after meeting, especially drunk people.

Yeah I'm not sure how to finish the doctor scene without having her leave town altogether.

I really appreciate the feedback - this is kind of two premises I've had in one so I can see how you'd feel that.

Thanks again


My pleasure.

Regarding Madison and James - I have flipped my position now once I got through the whole thing. It makes sense now. (wrote notes as I read)


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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spesh2k
Posted: May 12th, 2020, 12:42pm Report to Moderator
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I swear, I'm getting to this one within the next few days, Ben! Been a busy weekend!

-- Michael


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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AlsoBen
Posted: May 16th, 2020, 6:38am Report to Moderator
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Thanks Dave, and no problem Spesh - no rush


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spesh2k
Posted: May 28th, 2020, 2:48pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Ben,

So, this was an interesting read. I got a lot of "Wicker Man" and "Midsommar" vibes. That being said, I wasn't always sure what was going on, which I'm sure was by design. It felt like an acid-trip with the chaos of a fevered dream.

The writing was very solid -- there are a lot of great visuals here, many of them jarring and memorable. Even at the beginning when Madison is waiting for her ride and sees the two people randomly having sex under a tree -- this set the surreal tone. The visual felt very menacing. And the tone was consistent throughout. Other off-beat visuals and scenes, like the John kid feeling her stomach in the middle of the street, really captured the surreal tone of this.

There's a lot here, however, that didn't seem to have any payoff. It just felt like some things were thrown in there. I didn't understand John's whole part in this story -- did he set this whole thing up? He seems surprised to find out that Madison's pregnant, so I'm guessing no. What I didn't understand was his relation really to the whole overall theme of the story. I get that it's part of Madison's arc -- she's pregnant with his child. And she was with him before the tragic car accident with her son. But his involvement seemed very obscure, as did many other aspects of the story.

I still don't understand the relation between the wrecked ship, the slaves and the overall story. I understand that the original ritual involved these slaves, particular the woman, in particular. But a lot of things seemed very unclear to me. I didn't see the parallels between what happened with that wrecked ship and the voodoo that was taking place. And I wasn't sure how it was related to the tragic car accident -- did the vision of the slave woman really cause the accident? Or was that just a dream?

Sorry if my comments aren't entirely articulate, I was just very confused by the story. It's definitely intriguing with some really intriguing visuals and scenes, it just feels very chaotic. Even the ritual itself, I wasn't sure what the goal was exactly of this ritual and why all the town's people seemed to be behind it.

Once I have a little more coffee, I'll think about this a little more and hopefully have more helpful comments.

-- Michael


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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AlsoBen
Posted: May 29th, 2020, 4:37am Report to Moderator
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Thanks for the read Michael! I look forward to your full thoughts.


Quoted Text
I didn't understand John's whole part in this story -- did he set this whole thing up? He seems surprised to find out that Madison's pregnant, so I'm guessing no. What I didn't understand was his relation really to the whole overall theme of the story. I get that it's part of Madison's arc -- she's pregnant with his child. And she was with him before the tragic car accident with her son. But his involvement seemed very obscure, as did many other aspects of the story.


John shows how Madison is a person who will let anyone do anything to her - part of her characteristic compliance and lack of assertiveness. I think Zellah comments on this in part of the script. The character growth for Madison is that she actually fights off the forced abortion in the final scenes when it would have been easier for her to sleep through it.


Quoted Text
I still don't understand the relation between the wrecked ship, the slaves and the overall story. I understand that the original ritual involved these slaves, particular the woman, in particular. But a lot of things seemed very unclear to me. I didn't see the parallels between what happened with that wrecked ship and the voodoo that was taking place. And I wasn't sure how it was related to the tragic car accident -- did the vision of the slave woman really cause the accident? Or was that just a dream?


OK so the theme/moral/whatever of Flotsam is about how Western people magicalise (is that a word?) and bastardise traditional cultures of coloured people (I.E yoga, traditional medicines, "spiritual readings"). There is nothing in Merrick or the script that definitively indicates magic/ghosts/curses are afoot. Dr. Richards, and the townspeople, are desperate to change what is basically just economic poverty and choose to believe that the Igbo people cursed them. They've misinterpreted ancient texts and legends and concocted the "cure" to the curse (disemboweling pregnant woman and burning their fetuses). The ending scene - poorly written by me - is supposed to imply that the baby Madison steals is NOT her dead son resurrected and just a random baby, but Madison is drunk and very mentally unwell throughout the movie and does not realize this.

Madisons "visions" of a ghostly Adaeze are a combination of black-out drunk dreams, mixing alcohol with benzos, and trauma-induced stress. She gets so wrapped up in the town's theatrical ritual that she believes they are cursed too.

I do  completely appreciate how this is not explicitly clear in the script, though; I wanted to focus more on atmosphere and horror and cut out a bunch of shitty exposition.

Thanks again dude



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