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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Scripts  ›  The Deal Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: March 9th, 2008, 1:14pm Report to Moderator
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The Deal by Kevin J Bergeron (themadhatter) - Thriller - A man is given the opportunity for a million dollars, but there's a catch. 15 pages - pdf, format


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GM
Posted: March 9th, 2008, 2:33pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Mad Hatter,

Not sure if this should be here since it is a short. This thread is more for features. But I'm unsure. Anyway to the tale, interesting tale you have here: I see it as another form of SAW. But I was cracking up through it especially when Alan pratices to kill. A good mix of horrors and comedy I suppose.  

You should really lengthen it a bit more though. I didn't believe that Alan would agree so soon. And the fact you removed the scene where Alan supposed to make the decision kind of lessened the story a bit. Because then why didn't Alan ask for a second chance if he found the Man. And the fact Alan found him, how could the Man disappear again. Alot of questions. In addition, give the MAn a fake name to be identified by Alan. He is a major character and should have a name. The generic names are used for characters with minor roles.

Hope this helps,
Gabe

[bert's edit:  Gabe is correct, and thread moved]

Revision History (1 edits)
bert  -  March 9th, 2008, 2:53pm
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theMADhatter
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Thanks for reading, Ripley.

I'm glad you didn't knock the comedy in the montage, it was intentional. I figured he's the type of guy who would practice this, so he gets it right.

*spoilers*

I got cut the scene short for a reason. He says that he didn't want to do it, so the deal was off, but the offer still intrigued him afterwards and he changed his mind without telling the Man. Maybe I can include a scene of him waiting for the Man and not seeing him...
Anyhue, if I included the fact that Alan said no to him, the twist at the end wouldn't be there.

Alan found him because the Man knew he was looking for him, so he presented himself. He's a manifestation of the Devil. He appears. I didn't think it would be good to give him a name in the script since he never mentions his name and it's a short.


And sorry about putting it in the wrong thread, this was my first upload and forgot about "shorts".



Why is a Raven like a writing desk?
onus - Three men, three guns, no escape. (WIP)
the Deal - What would you do for a million dollars?
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Pants
Posted: April 16th, 2008, 2:04pm Report to Moderator
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I liked this quite a bit. I thought that Allen agreed to the deal. I didn't like the end where you find out he actually never agreed to it. It doesn't make much sense. At the end the Man seems like he would have explained to Allen that the deal was off, but Allen doesn't realize this until he's told. I think a little more dialogue in the earlier scenes dealing with this would clear up the problem.
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theMADhatter
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Read my response above, I mention most points you bring up, giving my reasoning.

I suppose I could change the dialog at the end, so it's obvious that Allan knows he refused the deal, but thought he could change the Man's mind about his decision. Again, I could show Allan waiting for him, but he doesn't come.

The whole point is to examine the nature of Allan, and mankind. Given an extraordinary circumstance, would a normal man kill some random person for money? Most people's first reaction is "no, of course not". Once given the time to think about it, some people might have it in them to follow through. "I really hate this person... and that's a lot of money especially for no bad circumstances."

Allan is one of these people. His reaction doesn't need to make sense to his agreement because he's desperate. He realized that not only is he not getting his money, but he's very likely to get caught.

I'd like to add more dialog at the end to reflect this better.



Why is a Raven like a writing desk?
onus - Three men, three guns, no escape. (WIP)
the Deal - What would you do for a million dollars?
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Pants
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Quoted from theMADhatter
Read my response above, I mention most points you bring up, giving my reasoning.

I suppose I could change the dialog at the end, so it's obvious that Allan knows he refused the deal, but thought he could change the Man's mind about his decision. Again, I could show Allan waiting for him, but he doesn't come.

The whole point is to examine the nature of Allan, and mankind. Given an extraordinary circumstance, would a normal man kill some random person for money? Most people's first reaction is "no, of course not". Once given the time to think about it, some people might have it in them to follow through. "I really hate this person... and that's a lot of money especially for no bad circumstances."

Allan is one of these people. His reaction doesn't need to make sense to his agreement because he's desperate. He realized that not only is he not getting his money, but he's very likely to get caught.

I'd like to add more dialog at the end to reflect this better.


I understand what you were trying to do, it just didn't work. First of all you stated killing a "random" person. Your boss is not random. Random is walking down the street, picking out a total stranger for no ryhme or reason and killing them. That's random. Random is what Mr. Brooks does in the movie Mr. Brooks. Just had a thought, you may feel free to use it. At the end when Allen is waiting for the man, Allen is sitting and staring at the ground. A pair of men's shoes comes  view and as Allen into excitedly looks up because he thinks it's payday, he realizes that he's face to face with a police man. That way it doesn't matter if he told the man no to the deal in the beginning. If the man is a representation of the devil, this makes sense because the devil doesn't play fair. The man in the beginning could also be an internal voice convincing Allen to do something terrible. The beginnings of a serial killer maybe? Just throwing some ideas at you.
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theMADhatter
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The "random person" was a suggestion the Man gave him, it's not necessarily in the rules. He says:

MAN
Most people pick a homeless person, a drifter. Someone who they know won't be missed. It doesn't matter either way. It just makes them feel better.

Also, If we simply end it abruptly with the police officer, we don't get any answers or closure. If he's the maker of a serial killer, he would've killed a random person, like Mr. Brooks.

I almost like the idea of the voices in his head being the Man, but it's almost too cliche. Like, it becomes Fight Club or Identity or Hide and Seek.

If anything, you can speculate that the devil made him say no but let him do it anyway. I mean, afterall, the devil doesn't really walk up to people and tell them to kill them, he makes them (if he exists). So he could have appeared and given the illusion of a choice but really, he didn't have one.

I'll add something to the end (or something similar):
Allan
Is this a joke?
Man
I don't like jokes. I prefer tricks.



Why is a Raven like a writing desk?
onus - Three men, three guns, no escape. (WIP)
the Deal - What would you do for a million dollars?
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Pants
Posted: April 16th, 2008, 4:49pm Report to Moderator
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It's your script, so do what you want. I think a line like that at the end is cheesey, but once again this is all just one opinion. It's obvious that you like your script the way it is. Good luck with your future endeavors.
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dkw208
Posted: April 17th, 2008, 1:18am Report to Moderator
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please read my script: http://www.simplyscripts.ne

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hi, just read it, here's my notes.  this was an entertaining read, but the end left something to be desired.  you were very good with your action, i like the scenes with no dialogue where we just see him alone in a room.  they were interesting to read and moved the story quickly.  one quick thing, someone maybe said this, not sure.  I think you need to change either Bill or Bob's name.  It gets confusing.  a general rule i've been told is try to have each character's name begin with a different letter of the alphabet.  but it's up to you.  i also think you should write the action in the present tense (ex. "Alan is walking down the street..." "Alan walks down the street").  it helps shorten things up.  anyway, back to the end, i agree with what pants said above.  i dont have a solution to offer, but the end is what makes a story, so for me right now it's a bit of a letdown  


please read:
canyon lake-21 pages - american gem quarterfinalist (contest ongoing):
http://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?m-1200534890/



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theMADhatter
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Pants, sorry for sounding defensive. Unfortunately it is one of my faults and I really like this script.

dkw, thanks for the read. I mentioned above that I want to make changes to the ending, dialog-wise. Otherwise, I really like what I came up with.



Why is a Raven like a writing desk?
onus - Three men, three guns, no escape. (WIP)
the Deal - What would you do for a million dollars?
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mikep
Posted: April 19th, 2008, 8:26am Report to Moderator
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Nice twisted little short.  Having the Man not be named is fine. My feeling is in a short subject everything doesn't need the detail or grounding that a feature would need. This person is mysterious and dangerous. Giving him a name de-mystifies him to a degree. Look at Cigarette Smoking Man from the X Files. He was a viable threatening character for years and never had a name.

The reason that the ending falls flat for me is, it doesn't go far enough. It's fine if you want Alan to flub the rules and not get the money on a technicality.

But why not take it the extra step...he kills the Man next. OR - he goes home, finds he liked the feeling...and goes out in search of his next victim.  


13 feature scripts, 2 short subjects. One sale, 4 options. Nothing filmed. Damn.

Currently rewriting another writer's SciFi script for an indie producer in L.A.
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theMADhatter
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I like that idea of taking it a step further. Thanks for the input. Making him look for his next victim is a good idea. Not sure how to transition that ... Maybe he goes back to Bob to confess and says he can't stop. Thanks.



Why is a Raven like a writing desk?
onus - Three men, three guns, no escape. (WIP)
the Deal - What would you do for a million dollars?
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Busy Little Bee
Posted: April 19th, 2008, 5:36pm Report to Moderator
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  It was a smooth read, which is always good in a short or otherwise. Particularly, for a short, a good thing is generating a pivotal moment in someone’s life. And you’ve done that, what you’ve done is posed a question “murder for money,” and one of the arguments for Alan or anyone conceding to the act is lack there of. So, we have a goal and motive, but what are the stakes.

For it to be the biggest motive, reasonable so, it is only touched on once when the Man brings it up. But what is it that Alan or someone like him thinks he’s losing by not having the wealth they think they should have: a nicer lifestyle, Alan could admire a nice car; desirability, Alan could lust after the girl in the bar; or a better job, Alan sees no growth in his job.

The trick I think is not to feel as though you have to extend the story with repetition of the point you’re trying to make, but propose one or two definitive examples of what you’re trying to say. What is at stake?


I, too, got that hint of comedy and liked it. Keep that in there. The ending threw me off because I don’t ever remember him saying he wouldn’t do it. Did he say that? Even without the aspect of what’s at stake, I enjoyed it. I just think that aspect would complete it.



Thanks, B.




Commodus: But the Emperor Claudius knew that they were up to something. He knew they were busy little bees. And one night he sat down with one of them and he looked at her and he said, "Tell me what you have been doing, busy little bee..."
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mikep
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Quoted from theMADhatter
I like that idea of taking it a step further. Thanks for the input. Making him look for his next victim is a good idea. Not sure how to transition that ... Maybe he goes back to Bob to confess and says he can't stop. Thanks.


I wouldn't have him confess per se - but after the mystery man leaves him....Alan goes back to his life but then we see Alan sitting in parks, or at a mall, watching people...and  the Man's words echo in his head " someone random, kill someone , you'd never get caught' and Alan smiles.....zeroes in on someone and starts to follow them - and fade out to the end.



13 feature scripts, 2 short subjects. One sale, 4 options. Nothing filmed. Damn.

Currently rewriting another writer's SciFi script for an indie producer in L.A.
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Dr. McPhearson
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Hey Kevin,

Alan's line "What is this, a joke? Am I on Hidden Camera?" is something of a nice touch, his thinking he's being pranked, I find it unnatural as is. Number one, it comes a little too early, I think. He tries to catch on way too fast. Number two, I think Alan should laugh it off more, especially if he actually believes he's on Hidden Camera.... okay. Now I'm rambling. The short of it: make the dialogue sound more natural.

I also don't believe that Alan would accept the job as quickly and easily as you make it seem. Again, the naturalism just don't click for me. True, I'm not asking you to necessarily mimic real life, but try to make emotions, reactions, and their styles of speaking more organic than they are right now.

There are several moments in which characters are interrupted. For example:


ALAN
I don't know who I would.

The man interrupts him.

MAN
Most people pick a homeless person, a
drifter.


Instead of a punctuation mark after "would," try a dash ("-") or double dash ("--"). That way, it signifies interruption, and you can cut out that entire phrase. Observe:

ALAN
I don't know who I would --

MAN
Most people pick a homeless person, a
drifter.


It looks slightly tidier, and saves you a little space on the page.

I also find it unbelievable that Alan would approach his co-worker Bob about this. Now, I do give you credit for giving Bob a sense of humor about it, but still, I think Bob would turn out a bit more suspicious than you have him being.

The bottom of page 10, Bob calls Bill a "douche." Now, when I first read the script, I imagined Alan as mid-30s, early 40s. And if that's the case, I think "asshole" would be a more fitting word for an adult to use. "Douche" sounds so... college-ish.

And again, page 15... as nervous about it as Alan is, I don't find it believable that he would tell Bob about his plan to kill Bill.

And if Bill's married, why isn't his wife sleeping beside him? There is no mention of her, and even if there was, she would have woke up during Bill's struggling. Where is his kid when all of this happened?

Also, why would the Man continue to meet with Alan after Alan already refused the deal? That makes no sense.

Finally, the ending leaves much to be desired. Why would someone pay you to kill a random person? If it's an "experiment," what does The Man get out of it? A realization that men kill for money? Yeah, that's not exactly news.

This entire plot is implausible. And unless you develop this further, I just don't think it will work that well. But then again, that's just my opinion.


PLEASE review my first SimplyScripts submission....

Re-Right (short comedy)
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theMADhatter
Posted: April 21st, 2008, 5:11pm Report to Moderator
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Bee - I guess I assumed that vast amounts of cash is motivation for most people to do nasty things - even rich folk. But you make a good point, I'll throw in "past due" bills towards the beginning and other temptations, like a discussion between him and Bob about how their jobs suck, and Alan would pose the question, like in Office Space, what would you do with a million dollars?

mikep - I like that input a lot, thanks.

McPhearson - Thanks for the input. I will work on the dialog to make it flow easier. Alan didn't accept the job as easily - he denied it. He eventually changes his mind to see if he could actually do it. The double dash instead of punctuation I assumed was bad writing style, so I kept away from it. I imagined him and Bob going back and being friends for a while, so he's more comfortable telling Bob. Unfortunately, I seemed to have failed to convey that. I'll work on it. Bill's wife and kid are in the house, Bill's wife is right next to him. I may change the entire murder scene - Alan's plan seems lazily put together. I've already mentioned I need to work on the ending. I'll post an update once I have it.

Thanks everyone for input.



Why is a Raven like a writing desk?
onus - Three men, three guns, no escape. (WIP)
the Deal - What would you do for a million dollars?
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Dr. McPhearson
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Quoted from theMADhatter

The double dash instead of punctuation I assumed was bad writing style, so I kept away from it. I imagined him and Bob going back and being friends for a while, so he's more comfortable telling Bob. Unfortunately, I seemed to have failed to convey that. I'll work on it. Bill's wife and kid are in the house, Bill's wife is right next to him. I may change the entire murder scene - Alan's plan seems lazily put together. I've already mentioned I need to work on the ending. I'll post an update once I have it.

Thanks everyone for input.


Actually, from everything I've read, the double dash (or even a single dash) is preferred when showing an interruption. Strongly consider it, or at least "...". A single period just doesn't seem to cut it.

And yes, I think you should rework the murder scene. Bill's wife would have woken up. If her husband is stabbed in the throat and struggling, I doubt she'll sleep through it.

But yeah, keep up the good work. I can't wait to see the rewrite.


PLEASE review my first SimplyScripts submission....

Re-Right (short comedy)
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Colkurtz8
Posted: March 30th, 2009, 5:48am Report to Moderator
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Kevin

I thought "Onus" showed some good potential so I said I'd give this a read & since you have taken the effort to look at mine.

I liked the opening exchange between Alan and the stranger, these type of clandestine scenarios are thrown up one in every three scripts but yours had a nice fluency to it, it read and flowed well.

Despite some grammatical errors here and there (phrasing mostly, that we're all susceptible to) the conversation didn't drag, which is a great sign for four pages of interaction between just two people.

Watch out for the action paragraphs, 3 to 4 lines max. Scene numbers are not required for spec scripts.

Always capitilize a charcacters name when we first encounter them, giving the age is recommended too, helps the reader visualize them.

I think it was a bit stupid on Alan's part to ask such an ominous question as "If you had the chance to kill someone, without consequences, would you do it?" to a colleague, I'd be keeping my mouth shut.

ALAN
Yea, I guess so. I've got no plans or
any. -- should be "anything"

Although I liked it so far regardless of the plot being a tad ridiculous I felt by page 11 it went seriously down hill once Alan made designs on killing his boss. It just seems like a total brain dead plan. Also since he has just given his co-worker the heads up on it.

Why not a complete stranger like the MAN had suggested? That makes a lot more sense.

Because of this unfortunate shift in plot, the subsequent montage comes off as a little corny with him trying different methods of exacting his kill. I see what you were trying to do but in the context of the story, it only accentuates the absurdity of the events unfolding. Surfing the web for hunting knives in particular was plain dumb, surely there are better ways to procure something like that, for example a non traceable way, you know. Buying stuff like that off the net is only gonna come back to haunt you.

And after finishing the story I see thats exactly whats happened. I'm sorry, dude, your writing is good but they story simply doesn't work. There are holes and implausibilities all over the place. I mean, Alan really shot himself in BOTH feet, not to mention his hands, heart, head and every other limb/organ you can think of.

It's similar to "Onus" in that you have potential as a writer, in particular a conversationalist, the dialogue is feels natural and real, is just a pity your characters always seem to go the complete wrong way about things.

Plan out your stories more carefully and thoughtfully and you'll be on to something good.

Best of luck

Col.


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theMADhatter
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Col,

Thanks for the read. Appreciated - I'll be reading another on of yours soon

Grammatical errors, action paragraphs, scene numbers, all noobish mistakes. Reading through scripts on here has given me pointers.

This story was a particularly difficult one for me, because I had a beginning and end, but really no way of getting from A to B. I'm really no good at creating an outline beforehand. Not for nothing. Any tips?

I've always had a problem with the montage, and never really knew how to change it or what to replace it with. I understand he made LOTS of mistakes, and when he's convinced there's some sorcery behind everything and figured he'll be OK doing whatever he pleases, including looking online, telling whomever.

I'm not sure if I'd resurrect this script, but I'll look into it.



Why is a Raven like a writing desk?
onus - Three men, three guns, no escape. (WIP)
the Deal - What would you do for a million dollars?
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James R
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Hey, Kevin. Another "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" story. My first suspicion in such a story is always that he will have to kill someone to get the cash. No surprises there.

The first line is poorly written.

"ALAN is walking down the street" is not as good as

"ALAN walks down the street" which is not as good as

"ALAN hurries/scuffles/saunters down the street" (you can leave off the "towards his office" part because you can't really show this on screen, it's implied through the briefcase in his hand that he's going to the office). I am guilty of the same shortcoming (it has been pointed out) and am in the process of trying to make my scripts more appealing to the reader. To open a script like this is a bad first impression (especially with no title page).

When a character is cut off you should end their dialogue with ellipses to show on the page that they are being cut off.

I find it a little hard to believe that a man who is running late for work would stop to talk with a stranger just because he offered him a million smackeroos. Wouldn't most people just keep walking to avoid losing their job? Once they get to talking the dialogue really picks up and gets interesting, it just feels like there needs to be more of a reason for Alan to listen to the MIB.

I think you need to show Alan's wide-eyed expression when he looks in his briefcase the first time. It is the moment he starts to believe the MIB, it's big.

Avoid "-ing" verbs. I even caught some past tense "-ed" verbs, big no-no. Everything happens in the present tense in a screenplay.

I loved Bob, great character. Great dialogue between Alan and him.

Very good ending, you got me with the twist and then finished it up right. Well done.

James


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