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Seven Backed Up By A Two, A by Howard Jenson (ColKurtz8 ) - Short - Helen is the last person John wants to meet, Elaine can't begin to face Mark. However, in the public domain neither has a choice but each can leave with something restored. (15 pages) - pdf, format
This was an interesting read, looking at a relationship and then a reverse of the relationship. It was good how you developed it slowly and didn't just lay it out on the first page.
I think the script can be tightened up a little. At fifteen pages, it ran a little long. Look back and see where you can tighten things up. Get rid of the orphans and you should be able to trim a few pages off the script without really changing anything.
Yeah I'm conscience of the length but at 15 pages it isn't totally unworkable. However I see your point as it is a factor when it comes to getting it pushed thru to any kind of production stage.
I like taking time to set up a story, its a comprimise I have yet to balance. As you highlight that as a strong point you also say the story itself a little too long so its something for me to work on.
I'm putting up another short in a few weeks called "Engaged" if you come across it & have the time, check it out.
I really liked the gentle tone and pace of this short. An almost quiet, mellow story.
while reading I was expecting a twist at the end where the plot reveals that the two men where in a relationship as where the two women.
Towards the end I found it melodramatic and over the top as you revealed the crisis that broke up each old relationship. I feel a more simplistic situation would suit the tone and feel of the story, Like with old realationship the couple just drifted apart got bored with each other or one got to involved in work and ignored the relationship, something like that.
Also I felt the short was just a little to long winded and could be shorten.
I consciously chose not to have a big twist at the end. The idea of another relationship going on didn't appeal to me.
I feel these people crossing paths randomly as it is was enough. I was trying to build a situation to a head & then have it diffused just as it was goin to erupt. I mean would you cause a scene like that in front of everyone or bite your tongue, hard to know I suppose unless you were faced with that situation.
I understand your point on the melodrama.
My aim was to pace the increasing intensity steadily to the climax, it becoming more & more heated till the reached their respective destinations. I'd like to believe if it were done in capable hands this could be conveyed with a bit of punch whilst maintaining some degree of subtly & realism, non Blanche DuBois-ish.
I'm aware that attempting this invites that dreaded overblown, cheesy, characterization you mentioned (even though I like that film, it takes a special type of writer to pull it off). It is something I'm trying my upmost to avoid so thanks for that comment it will help keep me in line & not get too carried away.
I needed the history of both relationships to be dramatic as to heighten the anticipation of both possibly getting found by their current lovers. I think the piece wouldn't hold interest & fall flat if it were the common reasons you mentioned, it needed to be something juicy (forgive the tabloid-esque phrase).
I realise the length is an issue, ill try to trim it down. Thanks again for your insightful coments I'll read yours again & get back to you.
Col....Thanks for reading Hab harry. To me scripts are like cars. Something to love about all of them. The high point of this one was the dialogue for sure. Very spot on interactions and emotions seemed very real, I guess you've been on the business end of an angry woman before? Just kidding. About 2/3 the way through I found myself totally immersed, which is good because I rarely find that happening to me with screenplays.
Something negative? Hmmm...some implausibilities maybe. Like how the ex spouses were totally unknown. I think we all know about our ex spouses. So is there some reason why they both kept them a secret?
Also, running into an old friend at the airport is not too uncommon, but an ex spouse? And for it to happen twice like that at the same time? A bit implausible.
Also, a few grammatical things like 'women' instead of 'woman'.
However...great dialogue and the back stories were good too.
Despite the implausibilities, it had a great overall feel and the parentheticals were purposeful.
If this one were to be summed up in a sentence it might read "Two sets of lovers meet their ex's who are also ex lovers and they get baggage dumped on them and then everyone goes home."
So I think the main spine of this one was the coincidence.
Also, it stressed the vulnerability of waiting in a public place. I am sure John has dodged Helen's calls for years, but he is helpless in an airport. Yes, this had a lot of cool undertones and hidden things. Very truthful.
Interesting read, not too over the top. I thought the ending fizzled out abit.
Are you from Eire? As I grew up in N.Ireland I noticed you wrote realized instead of realised. I was wondering if people from the south wrote the American way or the British way. People maybe a little surprised to hear that I was given the choice to write either way.
Anyway, I noticed a few spelling errors and grammatical errors. If you are from Eire, I'd like it if you threw in a little Irish lingo.
As abit of advice I could give you. Leave out the camera directions as this is more for the director to do, e.g. 'We pan horizontally across them waiting'. You could add a little more description and tighten the dialogue here & there. And I think the John & Helen story is left a little unresolved.
The title doesn't seem to fit the bill. Sounds like a western to me. I'd messaged Don to see if he could kindly add a logline for you.
Thank you wery much for your comments glad you enjoyed it.
"Something negative? Hmmm...some implausibilities maybe. Like how the ex spouses were totally unknown. I think we all know about our ex spouses. So is there some reason why they both kept them a secret? "
"Also, running into an old friend at the airport is not too uncommon, but an ex spouse? And for it to happen twice like that at the same time? A bit implausible."
Good point. I was aiming for both of the former relationships to be something John & Elaine want to forget about. Having them as tumultuous as they were was to warrant this, like a chapter in their lives they want to pretend never happened. I don't think its a given that married couples know absolutely everything about one another.
If John was cowardly enough to bail on Helen that its well within his personality to keep something like that from his wife.
Elaine sees herself as a different person since her relationship with Mark & again wants to start afresh. Even Mark tries to rise her she tries her best to maintain herself to diffuse the situation until it becomes to much. Like John she wants to act like it never happened & both see their marraige to one another as a fresh start, let sleeping dogs like & all that.
Saying chance meetings like this is implausible is a fair comment but that was the theme of the piece. The probability of a random coincidence like this is obviously very small but thats part of writing fiction you stretch the realm of possibilities in order to create a dramatic situation.
Just look at most of the movies you watch where seemingly arbituary stories link, intertwine & cross paths to make the overall plot more intriguing, cinematic etc & e.g Pulp Fiction, Most of Iñárritu's films Amores Perros, Babel & 21 Grams. All implausible coincidences but that is the beauty of fictional storytelling.
Putting in the plural of Women instead of the singular was an elementary mistake ill correct it.
Once again I'm glad you liked the piece, you seemed to understand what I was touching on which is satifying for me to hear.
If you have some of your own stuff I'd love to read it & hit you back with a comment.
No I'm from the U.K. but have been to Ireland many times visiting friends & relations. I didn't even notice the difference in spelling to be honest. I have often spelt it the other way too, thanks for pointing it out.
Can you give me a couple of examples of they mistakes I made in terms of grammer and that.
I said it in my other the discussion board for "Engaged" that their are some scenes when you write them you have it visualised frame by frame inyour head. I know its not supposed to be included in spec scripts & it is a director's job, I just can't resist it at times but will be phasing it out from now on, you're correct there is no place for it & that space could be used more functionally for description & dialogue.
I'm glad you mentioned that John & Helen's story was unresoved, that was my intention. Both of them had more to say to each other but when Elaine & Mark approach they are cut short & their confrontation is disrupted. They hesitant nature at which they part ways is supposed to reflect this. That there is a lot more to be said but now isn't the time or the place now that the other two have arrived on the scene.
This is why some have said the ending laked something of fizzled out, I have said it before that I wanted to bring a situation to a head, have the two victims of the previous relationship all worked up & then diffuse it just as it was going to explode. I have asked before what would you do in that situation? Get it off your chest & cause a scene of bite your tongue & just get as far away from the other as soon as possible.
Plus we don't know how Mark treats Helen, he doesn't look like he's changed all that much. Each person has secrets of their own & in the end decide to leave things be, its an awkward place to find yourself in so I think their silence is justified. Although morally Elaine should tell John the truth when they get to the car, to warn Helen.
The title comes from the fact that in poker A Seven Backed Up By A Two is statistically the worst hand you can get. John symbolises the seven, Mark is the two basically saying that both are not the best men to be "dealt" in terms of a relationship & comparitively Mark is definitely the worse of the two cards.
John is a spineless yellow belly but Mark is a total demon in comparison.
Ya I mite get on to Don about a logline couldn't think of a suitable one at the time.
Hey bud, thans for checking out my script. I wanted to return the favor, so here goes. I think you are really on to something here. I was genuinely tensing up in my chair as the two "couples" approached one another. Your dialouge was great and made for a very easy and enjoyable read. I do have a few suggestions in the plot that you can either take or leave,
Have you ever considered maybe opening up the possibility with John and Helen? I know John is married, but maybe he could suceed in convincing Helen to go to dinner with him? That way it would leave the possibility of help for her - and a safety net when the abuse eventually comes her way??? Also, as an audience we would feel a small sense of closure at the end knowing there is a chance for her? I don't know, just a thought.
Also, when Helen starts cursing to John about the wedding, it seems a little bit out of character for her. I kind of got the sense that she changed a little, maybe due to the fact that you were writing Elaine in a heated moment just a page before??? I don't know, I think it would really differentiate Elaine from Helen more as two seperate characters if Helen didn't curse. Again, just a suggestion.
Overall, as I said before I really liked the read. It took a few pages to get going, but once I got to the meat it was really good. Maybe you could find a way to draw your readers in on page one somehow? I don't know just an odd random incident (this would also reinforce your theme of randomness and chance) For example, you could have a pigeon flying into a window and falling unconscious or maybe have lightning strike somewhere... just something to grab us, draw us in, and reinforce the random world we live in.
Alright, aside from those points I also found some edits:
Page 2 - "He opens and already read message,"
How do we know the message was read already? Maybe you could just say, "We read the message with him"
Page 2 - "John struggles to hide his surprised," - Wording/Grammer
Page 2 on, I would maybe cut back on my use of elipses as they really indicate a character trailing off in lost thought, I'd use commas or just end the sentences in periods to indicate pauses. Also you can do this in the description by just saying, "A brief awkward pause"
Page 3 - "The two look at each over a brief uncomfortable silence" -Wording/Grammer
Page 3 - "Yea... my am... wife," - Wording/Grammer
Page 5 - "I've got full sight in both my eyes regularly now."
I don't know, I really like this line and I completely understand it, but for some reason it just hits me wrong with the way its worded. Maybe it could be phrased differently?
Page 6 - "smiles at john's wit" - Capitalize John's name
Page 15 – “will we make a move pet.” – needs a question mark?
Thanks again for reading my script. I hope this helps out. I have another 5 page script coming out next week hopefully. Let me know what you think. Thanks,
Fair point on the grammar. Just laziness & lack of concentration on my part for most of em,
A point about the "already read message".
On most Mobile Phones (Cell Phones) the symbol changes beside the msg to signify that it has been read already usually from a closed envelope to an open one. This is the case for Nokia & Sony phones anyway. And since I have indicated a C.U shot it should be possible for the viewer to see.
Saying she seems to have changed drastically in the space of one page is a good observation but my aim was to increase the intensity up a few notches as both sets of people got closer. Maybe i vamped it up too much, point taken.
Interesting suggestion about John & Helen trying to patch things up as a way for him to warn her about Mark but I think what has happened between them is unforgivable as far as Helen is concerned especially since the haven't seen each other in the flesh since.
Not so sure about the pigeon or lightening suggestion def not my style but I'll take it on board too.
I read this a long time ago... I have no idea why I didn't feed this. I prefered this a lot more than your "Engaged" script, which I will feed later as well if I get a spare moment.
Okay, some camera directions... only use them if you have to, as directors (generally) don't like being told what to do, unless it is crucial to the story. In your script, we understand that there is a close-up of the phone without you having to tell us... Because we wouldn't be able to read the text message unless it was a close-up. Yeah, I really suck at trying to describe things... hope you understand what I mean!!
Yeah, once again more camera directions. I take film studies at college, and do try my hand at directing some (although not a lot of) stuff, the camera directions do give me a vivid image in my head of the shot you want, however, this may be because I am looking at the script from a predominantly director's POV. In general, try not to include them.
Okay, I love your description/ action. It is very concise, but you manage to get your point across, and it flows perfectly. The descriptions for characters are excellent... You put a very vivid image of the characters in my head, with very few words. Congrats brother.
Top of Page 3- "The two look at each over a brief uncomfortable silence." As this is a new scene, you need to tell us who "the two" are.
Middle of Page 4- "He looks around him." That sounds a bit weird... At first, I thought you meant "She looks around at him." Maybe "He peers around at the environment around him" would sound better.
I agree with what D.E. Jett said about this line-
ELAINE No thanks. I’ve got full sight in both my eyes regularly now. I can make my own way.
It sounds very odd... I didn't understand it. I've never heard it used before, either around London or on my travels to Ireland.
The whole Dave dialogue by John and Helen seemed irrelevant... dialogue is meant to move the story forward, or reveal character. This scene seems to do neither.
Page 8- (becoming emotional) could be on one line.
Page 10- "... and me too chicken shit to leave you." would sound better as ""... and me too scared to leave you." Something like that... chicken shit doesn't sound good in this speech.
Page 10- "Mam was very ill." - Mam? Mama, or Ma'... But Mam sounds odd.
Bottom of Page 10- Helen's wedding speech- okay, she's angry... but two "f*cks" in one speech seems OTT... Cut out the second f-bomb.
Yeah, I loved this script. This was frigging awesome... really well written, congrats man. It felt like real life- both couples had more to say to each other, but couldn't. Usually in films, everything gets wrapped up, but it doesn't usually happen like that.
I really can't see much to improve here mate... cut out the camera directions, maybe cut out the scene between Helen and John talking about Dave, and sort out the typos, then you will have a pretty solid script.
Only other complaint is that at 16 pages, it is running a bit long for a short... Try slimming it down slightly, but I mean without the camera directions, or the Dave scene, it should stand at about 13-14 pages which is better.
But yeah, congrats with this.. really excellent writing.
I LOVE the fact that you take your time when developing your story. To many cases I read scripts that are just too fast and read extremely forged.
You crafted this with discipline, restraint and put real thought into it. The story was handled it in a realistic way. Slow but not tedious.
PS. It might do you a great deal and maybe you’d get more reads if there was a logline. I, personally, tend to pass on scripts that don’t have a logline. It makes me think either writers are too lazy and don’t care OR…well that one was it.
Your logline sort of persuades readers to click that link and read.
Shorts: Good Golly Miss Molly No Place Like Home New Moon Rising Yuno - BRAND-*SPANKIN*-NEW! The Ballad of Uncle Sam: An Anarchists Melody Toy Soldier This Modern Love A Virgin State of Mind
Cheers for the comments, man. They were all relevant points you made on the grammar and I will be making some alterations.
On some of the remarks you made:
"The whole Dave dialogue by John and Helen seemed irrelevant... dialogue is meant to move the story forward, or reveal character. This scene seems to do neither"
That's a common thing said & it is true the majority of the time but what makes Tarantino's or K.Smiths scripts so great? It's part because of the arbitrary conversations between characters that have no relevence to plot or lacking in character development but the convey a human, buddy touch to the person, a deeper understanding of their "everyday" loves, peeves whatever. Plus its a chance for the writer to have fun, air opinions, basically talk some shit.
Some of the best scenes in the above filmmaker's movies are these passages, too numorous to mention here. (Before I go any further I must stress that I'm not for one second comparing myself to these people,"not being fit to hold a candle & lacing boots" come to mind)
But the reason why I have the conversation about Dave in there is for some background on both people. A brief glimpse of a trouble free, even humorous part of their past that they can joke about. A calm before the storm, if you know what I mean?
My aim was to give a more rounded view of Helen & John but maybe I over stepped the line. I'll read through it again.
Thanks for taking the time to check this out, man. I'll be reading yours asap & hit you back.