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The Last Piano Man by Michael Joseph Kospiah - Short, Suspense, Drama - A down on his luck piano player thinks he's played his final performance. Until one night, an avid fan kidnaps him and forces him to play the performance of a lifetime. 17 pages
Note: this is a shooting script submitted by the writer/director - pdf, format
Ah, a familiar name. It's one of the reasons why I'm reading your short. It's been nearly five years since I read something of yours (I do loiter around Zoe still from time to time) and if you remember me, then you know I take "writer-director" claims with a grain of salt when it comes to peer review sites focused on spec writing. That's only because the writer wants to b treated as "exempt". Fair enough. Make the film, more power to you.
But what about stuff that doesn't make a lick of sense in the story presented? Other "errors" aside from going nuts with a steadicam?
It's really hard to ignore ALL of those angles. Some of them don't make sense visually (we follow his hand, for example) one good thing is not once FAN get confused for PAN. But, that said:
See p. 5. where FAN and FRANKIE get mixed up. This is a case of the occasional danger where two characters have names that start with the same letter or sound alike ("Fan" and "Fran") and in haste, the writer forgets who's talking.
See p 11:
How could you do this to me? As if Frank escaping never even crossed his mind.
You, as the director, can't film that on screen. It is an inner thought.
We, including FAN, somehow get to know Frank’s life story through this song. The pain. The struggle. The solitude. But the never ending hope. The only thing keeping him standing.
I wish you well on directing this short; but the above passage isn't needed. You can show me. But you can't tell me. There's a difference.
There is a small section of this story which makes no sense at all. You know where. It's like, I'm waiting for the punchline of how FAN is playing a joke, and these people are...? Who are they? I can get as Outer Limits as all get out, but I just didn't get it.
I don't doubt that you have every intention of filming this. But why take all the time to write in what we see and hear (let alone feel) when there's still unanswered questions and errors that should have been caught? Fix the errors first, then, if you want to write the angles in when you want to shoot it that's another ballgame.
But be prepared! Shooting script or no, you will have to protect those knuckles before they get swatted with a cyber ruler 'round here!
Hey Darren, I remember you. Thanks for checking it out. Your criticism is always valued. I remember you always had cool graphics to go along with your scripts.
The short is actually a go. The producer / co-director is a New York Film Academy graduate (though it was many years ago) named Jay Andrew Check who is just wrapping up final shooting for his feature length horror film Regen 6 (check out the teaser on youtube if compelled).
All the main characters are casted. The reason I've written all that aside stuff in the description was mainly for the actors trying out for the parts when I held auditions. For the lead role of the piano player, I required that the actor know how to play the piano and have an original piece prepared. I wrote all that unfilmable stuff so that the actor would choose a piece that sort of fit the tone of the description as well as the story up to that point. See, in that end scene, we only see the character playing the piano. His facial expressions. I wanted to give the actors a sense of what kind of piece I was going for.
And thanks for finding that FAN and FRANK mix up. This new version of FINAL DRAFT kind of predetermines which character dialogue is next, I guess assuming the order of character dialogue. Been trying to tinker with the settings a bit. But I should have caught that.
I'm quite aware of the rules of "show" me and not "tell" me of screenwriting. I have optioned quite a few scripts since the last piece you've read of mine (a long time ago I believe) and I have a feature that shoots in Australia in March. I have improved greatly as a writer I feel, though I still need to get better. But I know the rules and I know them well. But, for this piece, I had to show this to my producer/ co director (I also had storyboards to match which helped).
As for the not making sense part, yeah this was more of an arthouse piece. I was in a David Lynch kind of mood I guess, haha. Not that it didn't make sense to me when I wrote it, I just felt like the message of don't give up on your dreams (particularly artists) was just too easy of a message to convey through traditional story telling. So I went this route. The dinner room filled with performers was sort of like the Land of Lost Toys in Rudolph the Red nosed reindeer I guess. A bunch of failed artists finding solace in a place where they're actually wanted.
When FRANK escapes, he sees nothing but a road that leads nowhere. So he returns and finishes his piece. I kind of figured all those odd ball characters felt the same way (without going to the extent that Frank went by jabbing a pen into FAN'S neck.
Thanks for checking this out. Shooting will not commence untl January due to other film related obligations. Also because shooting hasn't wrapped on that horror film my co-director is filming. We were scheduled to film this three weeks ago originally.
Since there's a lot of time till then, I figured I'd give it another couple rewrites in between projects... get some feedback from people outside of cast and crew. Hopefully improve it and make it the best product we can for the festival circuit.
Thanks again... will use your criticism to the benefit of the story as well as the script. Perhaps avoid that problem of having the main characters names being so similar as well.
Oh, yeah forgot to comment on something you've mentioned regarding:
Pg 11 - How could you do this to me? As if Frank escaping never even crossed his mind.
I believe you mentioned that this cannot be filmed. After writing on spec quite a few times, I've learned that certain rules change based on who you're writing for. Sure, this is an inner thought, but it can be conveyed on screen by the character. I learned to write SPECIFICALLY what is seen on screen. But then I was told that it was kind of dull. I caught crap for it and was told to use more prose in my description to capture a feeling.
Check out the script for MICHAEL CLAYTON for instance. The whole first 3 pages are just full of unfilmables, but it sets a tone, puts a thought into a reader's head. Gives them a good idea of setting. Expression, etc. This is done in A LOT of scripts. Had me confused because these were things that were frowned upon in all those screenwriting books I've read. I guess I'm still trying to find a balance between those books and actual screenplays that are made into actual films.
Personally, I don’t see the need for all the angles. I don’t bother cluttering my scripts with them.
As for directing, I generally only use the script when I need to know what an actor is supposed to say or the scene number (and you don’t even have scene numbers in your shooting script ). I use the storyboards when I need to make sure I get all my shots. Maybe this is unusual, but I also reference the shooting schedule a lot. I find the props list and the equipment list useful for setting up a scene. Of course, I usually know what I want inside and out by this point.
I don’t know, maybe I just do things differently but I’ll be darned if I’ve found a use for a bunch of camera angles in a script, other than to clutter it up. A few maybe, when the circumstances call for it, but not all of them.
As for the “unfilmmables,” I don’t even argue with people anymore. All I do now is either say, “I can film them,” or quote the following:
“If it can be written, or thought, it can be filmed.” -- Stanley Kubrick
Hey, Thanks Breanne. Yeah, perhaps I did go a little overboard with the camera angles, I can see how they're distracting to the reader. I probably should've written it the way I normally would construct a script especially with storyboards drawn out (those damn things take forever by the way, haha). This is my first crack at directing, so I still have a long ways to go on that front. You know, becoming familiar with all the different camera shots, lingo, etc. Which is part of the reason why I have a co-director to guide me through this. He also happens to be my DP too, which is awesome.
BUT... the director credits himself as the writer, which gets me fire-engine red with anger. Hoping he responds back to my email. I know it's only a short, but what's right is right. Even if he did give the script a massive overhaul, I should still AT THE LEAST be credited as a writer and "story by". Hopefully, this is just a harmless mistake on his part. But, as someone who went through a whole saga a few years back after someone outright stole a feature script from me (after it had been optioned already for three years before he stole it), I like getting credit for my work, whether the script is good OR bad.
Anyway, hopefully he emails me back. BUT... if he doesn't, what action should I take next?
How do you come to know about the IMDB listing? Did the director posted it somewhere or it was just a pure luck from your side?
If he has posted it, it may be a case of "harmless error" as you mentioned. Still, he should have contacted you.
If the director is based in the same country as yours, you can certainly go for a legal way. If he is based in India (as his name suggests) or any other country, sorry to say that but you can't do much. Though, a legal advisor would be the best person to comment on this scenario.
The script crossed my mind for some reason and I just Googled it. Saw an IMDB listing, thinking someone else had a project with the same title, but I saw that it was the dude I sold it to.
Hopefully, I won't have to take legal action -- he is in the United States. But even if he doesn't credit me, I probably still won't take any legal action anyway, not for a short film. But I will make a stink on social media -- word gets around quick and I'm sure the last thing a young filmmaker trying to break into the film biz and everyone else involved wouldn't want something like this floating around.
UPDATE: I did receive an email. Apparently, he never even listed it, someone else listed it without his knowledge and listed him as the writer. The director seemed genuinely embarrassed. But there's a bit of a bummer, here -- he said he doesn't intend to ever direct the film or any short film for that matter now that he graduated. So, it looks like someone from his crew listed it to pad their credits even though the film's never getting made. Which is a little disappointing. This makes this the fifth short film I've sold that never got made. A bit of a waste of money on their part. Oh, well!