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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    One Week Challenge    September 2011 One Week Challenge  ›  Alone - OWC - Filmed Moderators: Don
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  Author    Alone - OWC - Filmed  (currently 19352 views)
Posted: September 17th, 2011, 12:16am Report to Moderator

So, what are you writing?

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Alone by Sean Elwood (Aleph) - Short - A girl seals herself inside her apartment during a pandemic. 7 pages - pdf, format

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Don  -  February 6th, 2013, 4:53pm
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Posted: September 17th, 2011, 12:53am Report to Moderator
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That was really good, especially the ending. The tape recorder was very clever, in my opinion. It gave a reason for all the V.O.

I made a few notes as I was reading. A few errors, but nothing major, mostly things on page 1:

-No "FADE IN:"

-The scene heading was in bold, which isn't really nessecary. Also, it should be "INT. APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM - DAY" instead of "INT. APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM" Unless you're using mini slugs, and in that case it would just be "BEDROOM."

-Your use of description was odd at the beginning. You spent a lot of time describing what the light looked like on the ceiling, how it looked on the floor, and how it look on The Girl's face. It doesn't have much to do with the story, anyway. It could be described in one or two paragraphs.

-The protagonist didn't have a name. Usually you should name all characters, especially the protagonist. I didn't see any reason in not giving her a name.

-When you say she "lays on the couch" it should really be "lies on the couch." If it's in inanimate object, you say "lays," if it's a person, it's "lies."

-You used "CLOSE UP:" which you usually only use in shooting drafts. There was really no reason for giving camera directions, so I'd change that.

-You technically shouldn't use "Beat" in the middle of dialogue. That's only for when there is a pause in between two or more character's dialogue. When there is a pause in the middle of one character's dialogue, use "..."

So there you go. I hope that helped. Over all, I really liked this. A unique take on a zombie apocalypse. No gore, violence, nothing, but still just as good, if not better than most zombie movies.
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Posted: September 17th, 2011, 1:04am Report to Moderator
Of The Ancients

Yes, that is my real hair...

Cave Creek, AZ
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OK, OWC fans, here we go!

First one out of the shoot.

First off, I'm pretty shocked to see that this was written 1 day after the challenge was announced.  IMO, that's way too fast and not nearly enough time or thought was put into it...nor could it be, with just 1 day.

It is fairly well written and for the most part, free of errors, so I give you know how to write.  Some awkward sentences, but nothing too bad.

The problems I have here are as follows...

First of all, with Contagion just being released, this feels completely cliche.  Even without the new release, it's nothing we haven't seen time and time again.

Secondly, V.O.'s are tough to pull off...and you've got more here than I think I've ever seen...and they don't all, sorry to say.

Thirdly, not naming your one and only character doesn't help in any way.  Without a name, we can't feel much for her.  I'm shocked you chose not to name her...why?

But, the biggest issue I have here is that this doesn't go anywhere.  Nothing happens. Nothing is resolved.  We don't learn a single thing throughout the 6 pages...and just barely making the minimum # of pages, isn't a good sign, either.  You had a week to fix this up, make changes, additions, etc.  Unless you literally knew you had ZERO time throughout the week and had to finish this on Saturday, I see no excuses.

So, I do give you credit for writing a fairly well written script in 1 day, I don't see this as much, because it doesn't go anywhere, doesn't bring anything to the table that we haven't seen countless times, and doesn't leave me with any lasting impression.

Congrats on entering and completing an OWC script, though.  Nothing wrong with that.

To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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Posted: September 17th, 2011, 1:49am Report to Moderator
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I've never been a fan of scripts that rely on VO to tell their entire story.  Unfortunately, that's the case here.  As a reader, we can't engage with the Girl because she doesn't do anything but mope around the house.  The narration gives us a lot of the outbreak/contagion-type news of the virus spreading, but it just goes on and on and gets very repetitive.

You started out with the Girl being the sole survivor of a bird flu virus.  But then you change it to a zombie story when she talks about her family and friends out there waiting for her.  How does she know they're out there?  She didn't mention the news saying anything about zombies.  

Technically, this would be two locations, because you also go outside the apartment on the breezeway.  No real prob there, though.

So a lack of originality, logic issues and an over-reliance on VOs is what sank this for me.
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Posted: September 17th, 2011, 2:43am Report to Moderator
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Oh Hi

San Diego, California
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The problem with this is if it were shot as a movie it wouldn't be very exciting because the girl doesn't do anything.  She's sitting here.  She's walking here.  She puts pennies in a glass of water.  Even for a short that's a few minutes long there's nothing visually going on.  The only significant visual IMO was the tape recorder at the end.  Otherwise there's not a heck of a lot going on.  

That said, however, this wasn't bad.  An overused idea, yes, but effort and thought was put into this and it shows.  I liked the ending with the tape recorder.  That was good.  The dialogue was good at times but it relies far too heavily on it.  Sometimes that wouldn't be an issue but when nothing visually is happening then that creates an issue.

So good job.


Be excellent to each other
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Posted: September 17th, 2011, 2:52am Report to Moderator
Of The Ancients

Yes, that is my real hair...

Cave Creek, AZ
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Greg, there's no "dialogue".  It's all V.O.  That in itself is the biggest problem, here, other than the fact that nothing takes place visually.

To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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Posted: September 17th, 2011, 4:25am Report to Moderator

Victoria, Australia
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I have to agree with others' comments here. But to be honest, the biggest issue I had with this (even despite the fact that nothing really happens) is the first half page. So much description for a short just set me up to expect problems.

I think you could do more with this. There's the whole ethical dilemma on suicide that you could explore a lot more effectively. I mean, yes she's confined to her apartment, but I think there's still more she could do that shows us something, rather than all the telling.

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Hugh Hoyland
Posted: September 17th, 2011, 8:09am Report to Moderator

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Okay read this.

Not bad. VO doesnt bother me. Its one way of expo that can be usefull of course.

Visually I would agree that there isnt a lot that happens as far as action, but sometimes thats okay IMO.

I guess she could have done some jumping jacks or shadow boxed a little. :]

Good job on getting this done!

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Posted: September 17th, 2011, 9:33am Report to Moderator

Procrastinator in residence.

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I kind of like the static nature of this. It didn't put me off at all, quite the contrary, I thought it created a nice bit of tension. And I do think it qualifies as a single location, since the location is the apartment. I understood the spirit of the rule to be that it could be shot in a single location. And if you can shoot in the apartment, you shouldn't have any problems shooting the immediate surrounding of it.

The writing itself was pretty solid, although the voice over lines had pretty massive sentences in it. If I were delivering them, I'd chop them into smaller pieces. I can't say that if I were writing them, I'd do any better since I have the tendency to write similarly. But I do try to get them in editing.

Which brings us to the much discussed abundance of voice over. I thought some of it was pretty darn nice and the ending with the tape recorder, as have been said, was indeed very effective. However, I thought there was way too much explanation. It would've been more organic if less was said. And some of it could've easily come from television or radio, which would've made the entire thing more dynamic. That's because practically all broadcasting stations are automatic, they'd most likely just loop the same things over and over if there was no human supervision. Therefore there could've been exposition trough media even if everybody was dead. Radio would've been particularly suitable option.

What bothered me the most was the inconsistency of the root cause of the apocalypse. Sometimes it was an airborne viral infection, sometimes it was zombies. The thinking probably is that the infection is what made people zombies, but if that was the case, the protagonist didn't need to get attacked by the zombies and the ending doesn't hold water too well. The other thing that left me scratching my head a bit was the time frame. If she really was there long enough to read books more than two or three times, where did she get the food? And more importantly, if the only way that she could've avoided the infection was to seal all sources of air from the apartment, how did she not die of carbon dioxide? And yes, camera directions - please refrain from them.

However, I feel that I am a bit unfair by nitpicking on the details like that. The fact is, that's the easy part of any review. But it gives the impression that I really didn't like it, when in fact I rather did. I like minimalistic and static things and I think this achieved it quite nicely. Especially the bit about dropping pennies to a glass was really vivid in my head for a reason or another. Some reviewers have expressed desire to have the character named because there's no reason not to, but I'm of the exact opposite opinion. I think it works beautifully that she does not have a name, because there is no reason for her to have one. I thought it just amplified the overall atmosphere of barrenness and alienation that was the best part of this thing.

The act of writing is a quest to put a hundred thousand words to a cunning order.
- Douglas Adams
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Posted: September 17th, 2011, 10:02am Report to Moderator
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My big problem with this is that it went on a little too long.  You could probably take a page off it, maybe even two.  There was too much talking about loneliness.

The opening of the monologue was too on-the-nose for me.  You told us everything that we needed to know about the pandemic right away.  IMHO, you could've started with the loneliness first, as that is what this story is about.

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Posted: September 17th, 2011, 10:03am Report to Moderator
January Project Group


New York
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Congrats on finishing the OWC.

My thoughts. The negative:

Need to give the girl a name so we can connect with her.

Too much V.O. Some of it can be changed into description such as smelling the garbage.

I think you could have probably made a story about the struggle for her of leaving the room.


I like the tape recorder idea. Like the contagion idea.

Hope this helps,

Just Murdered by Sean Elwood (Zombie Sean) and Gabriel Moronta (Mr. Ripley) - (Dark Comedy, Horror) All is fair in love and war. A hopeless romantic gay man resorts to bloodshed to win the coveted position of Bridesmaid. 99 pages.
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Posted: September 17th, 2011, 10:44am Report to Moderator
Been Around

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I was neutral on this. The setup was for the reader to feel the loneliness of the character. Voiceover by itself will not do that. So it's the narrative/action that does the heavy lifting. This was more about showing someone bored. Perhaps if she was looking through old picture albums, that might help.

Good effort. Writing and format okay. Close-ups were nice/stylish. Give the character a name please – it's the first up establishing rapport with the character. Telling us someone is bored to the max isn't needed. Criteria met.
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Posted: September 17th, 2011, 10:53am Report to Moderator
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This opened a bit odd for me. While I thought that there was too much description with the sunlight coming in through the blinds and "bounces" light off them - if I'm going to let you have it, then I can't allow this

Quoted Text
The living room the Girl is in is dark except for the sunlight

It's a line that isn't needed. First of all, the sunlight, from all description given, pretty much fills up the living room. For we see it through the blinds, we see it on some reflections. Some of it lights the floor. It shines on the Girl's face. Where is the "darkness"? How dark is dark? Either the blinds are closed or they aren't. Looks like they are open.

Just a first reaction nitpick.

Some others commented on the bold header movement. It would be nice if done right (as pointed out, INT. APARTMENT - LIVING ROOM -DAY) but a brief word about it, the bold headers. It doesn't bug me personally. The reason why this cult practice has caught on is because of the argument that "you can read it better" and "see" the locations, blah blah blah. Since the OWC states one general location, and it is a short script--is the bold header really needed? No. Does it crawl under my skin? No.

Does bolding CLOSE UP help? You have to justify it for being there and not bold it, because, yes, it does draw attention to itself. It's also not needed. You could have easily have written "Her eyes flutter" or "Her pupils dilate" There's also a few other BOLDED CLOSES UPS which you can avoid simply by giving the subject of the shot.

and yes, give the GIRL a name.
Bolding bits of dialog is a no-no.

This is interesting. This is the third short script I read in a week (three different sites) which had no dialog except a VO.  If it's a trend, it's already getting old. I know as a feature, Zombieland had a few VO bits, but VOs should never tell us what we are seeing. (Zombieland's VO were humorous commentary on past events and breaking the fourth wall to do it) I'm not a huge fan of VOs. I'm no McKee enforcer, but there can be times when a VO is overkill.

Not too bad an effort for a OWC


My peeps have put you in the pillory for it. And in a unfair way. Let's say you fix this up and someone films it. They have one location: the apartment. BUT it's not out of the way to film a quick shot in front of the apartment door.

"I know you want to work for Mo Fuzz. And Mo Fuzz wants you to. But first, I'm going to need to you do something for me... on spec." - Mo Fuzz, Tapeheads, 1988
my scripts on ss :
The Art!
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Posted: September 17th, 2011, 11:33am Report to Moderator
Of The Ancients

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This was effective at grabbing my attention at the beginning, with the premise. A girl is closing herself off to the world because of a virus that is killing everyone. It's been done in many forms, but the idea of one person locking themselves inside seemed a little unique. It shows how a powerful premise can capture one's interest and bring them right into the story.

Things didn't build as well as I'd hoped, but it wasn't bad, and could be improved after a few more passes. The VO dialogue was very long a times and definitely too on the nose. Talking about the bird flu and how it spreads is not necessary. We all know. I have no interest in the movie out now called Contagion because it's been done too much. Better to leave a sense of mystery about what killed everyone.

And then the zombie turn. Didn't expect it. There was no foreshadowing of that at all. It seemed thrown in at the end. And this is probably the crux of the problem.

The problem is the premise intrigues, but in reality also limits where the story can go. It's cool to think of someone being in that situation. So the premise intrigues. But then, this being a film, stuff has to happen. With everyone dead, and her locked in, what can happen? You painted yourself into a corner.

What you needed was something like perhaps a strange visitor shows up. Maybe he comes and she does not let him in. How does he know she's there? Hmm. Then he comes back the next day. This can't be right, she thinks, how does he know? What does he want? But she is alone. She takes a chance. She opens the door.
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Posted: September 17th, 2011, 12:52pm Report to Moderator

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Quoted from Ryan1

You started out with the Girl being the sole survivor of a bird flu virus.  But then you change it to a zombie story when she talks about her family and friends out there waiting for her.  How does she know they're out there?  She didn't mention the news saying anything about zombies.  

Zombies? I thought she meant all her friends and relatives were dead, and she was going to die too, to rejoin them in the afterlife.

Well, let's go, I'm gonna do this with a grid this time, cause there are so many entries...

OWC rules respected:

Absolutely. There's only the apartment as the setting and no expensive stunts. Only one actress and very short, so this could be done even as a no-budget film over the course of one afternoon.


Hmm... I liked the tape recorder explaining the VO. But everything else seemed like elements you'd see in every other "human-race-is-wiped-out-by-mysterious-illness" films.


Well done. FADE IN was missing.

Overall impression:

Okay script. Not too original, but would be nice as a student's project I guess.
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