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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Scripts  ›  Tricks, Lies and Backhanders Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: December 29th, 2011, 3:29pm Report to Moderator
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Tricks, Lies and Backhanders by Howard Jensen (colkurtz - Short, Drama, Comedy - In the bar: A wily hustler has a trick shot up his sleeve he wants to show a few punters…at a price. In the lounge: An adulterous husband is waiting to meet his wife. What's the connection? (14 pages) - pdf, format


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TheSecond
Posted: December 29th, 2011, 4:23pm Report to Moderator
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Nice piece of work here Howard.  Its not easy to keep track of all the people and their relationships to each other within the story though.  I think you can trim off at least 4-6 pages and still have the same effect.

Also, I don't think think the 'reveal' between Bob, Kathy, and Richie is necessary, as it kind of dilutes the poor choices that Derek makes to begin with.  

Overall, you have a great 8-10 page script hidden within the 14 pages you've written out.  Whittle it down and you'll get a whole lot more bang for your twenty quid...  

Good job, high five.
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Andrew
Posted: December 29th, 2011, 4:28pm Report to Moderator
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Long time, Col. Hope you're well.

You've perfectly captured the essence of a working class battle (Americans will need to consult rhyming slang here). Absolutely nailed it. I like how you bring these two parallel stories together. My only real complaint is that the link that glued the stories together seemed a little out of place. It felt almost a rushed addition in my eyes, which may of course not actually be the case. Up until Derek is punched by Kathy and comes to the pool table side, Bob has no stake in that story which is probably why his own deceit feels a little tagged on. Maybe if you have the girls allude to a 'helper' or a 'man on the inside' it'll more depth to that final reveal. That would just be a bit of sanding off though - I think you would be best to restructure that sequence more fundamentally.

The girls reacting so badly to being 'cheated on' is amusing and reminds me of the recent shenanigans with Ryan Giggs and his own triumvirate of lady friends. It's nicely written. I feel you could lose some pages though with the script to make it more attractive to be shot. This is very filmmable and could be very interesting in the right hands.

Nice work overall.


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CoopBazinga
Posted: December 30th, 2011, 12:56am Report to Moderator
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Hey Howard,

This is some good writing IMO, I think some of your descriptions are fantastic. Only a couple of things I came across

Page 6 - "Derek looks around him warily"  should this be "her"?

Page 13" What happened you!?" should be "What happened to you!?"

There was a lot of characters and changing of scenes which did get confusing at times for me but overall this was a fantastic read. It reminded me a lot of Shameless and that made it all the better.

I think this could even be turned into a series about the two brothers, they have a lot of potential.

Good work!

Happy New Year.

Steve
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Forgive
Posted: December 30th, 2011, 5:45am Report to Moderator
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Hi Howard - good work overall - got the feeling of a bit of a soap to it - Eastenders meets Shameless. I can see what people mean with the amount of characters - could probably easily drop Malcolm, Fred, and Jill - they were really only there as plot devices & superfluous. I get Andrew's point, but then there is the reference to Bob seeing Kathy and he a strange reaction - I guess this is the clue? But then if you're going to do that, I guess for the sake of consistency you need a link-in for Richie and Kathy?
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Electric Dreamer
Posted: December 31st, 2011, 12:10pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Col!

Great to see a new submission from you.
Nice to have a chance to return the gesture on your work.
You were among the first reviewers I read here that really impressed me.
The depth and overall respect for the craft in your posts was evident.

LOL! The old "Three Go Down" trick!
http://billiards.about.com/od/easypropositionshots/ss/07_01threedown.htm

Reminds of of a story Mark Lyons wrote, called the Glim Dropper.
I wonder how familiar you are with grift tricks like these.

And I *deeply appreciate* the symbolism you're playing out here.
A "cheat" with black, red and blue balls on a pool table.
An infidelity triangle dons the same colors. Symbolism! I like it!

And then you bring the distraction on the table into play, the cue ball.
Right on cue, Kathy appears in all white! Cheeky!
I really dig futzing around with symbolism like this in stories.

For me, the story kinda ends on top of page twelve.
The wrap up didn't add anything for me, only muted the vibe.

This kind of precision storytelling gets me creatively, "aroused".

Very nice work.
A fitting final short to read for the year 2011!

Regards,
E.D.


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bert
Posted: December 31st, 2011, 1:12pm Report to Moderator
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In the first scene, it should be clear if it is Richie or Bob arranging the balls.  It is not.

Down-tempo should be hyphenated.

When I see someone using (MORE) for short stretches of dialogue, I always advise that you should just punch it down a few lines and keep everything together at the top of the next page.  It is smoother that way, and nobody is going to complain about, or even notice, a few blank lines at the bottom of the page.

I found the final twist a bit confusing.  I had to read through it twice, and once I understood it, I found it unnecessary and truthfully a bit strained.

I do like the hint of a relationship between Kathy and Richie, however, and think you should keep that as your final shot -- jettisoning that shoe-horn of a final twist and the long, expository dialogue from Kathy that reveals it.

For me, Kathy should move from the punch to Richie and then out the door as Derek watches it all. Maybe even grab a bit of cash for herself on the way out, from Richie, to firmly establish their familiarity. Perhaps even a peck on the cheek.
  
The symbolic clothing adds a nice level, and the "trick" has a payoff that is satisfactory enough -- overall a nice piece of work.  Trimming a page or so from the end is really all I would think it needs.


Hey, it's my tiny, little IMDb!
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colkurtz8
Posted: January 4th, 2012, 12:32am Report to Moderator
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First off, a special thank you to Don for putting this up.


TheSecond


I’ve gotten this note before regarding the four punters at the beginning and I see where you’re coming from. In my defence, I wanted more people in there to make the build up to the trick more unpredictable and dramatic. If it were Bob on his own or with one other person it would just have been a simple back and forth which didn’t interest me. I know that reading it the exchange seems unnecessarily cluttered with characters particularly for a 14 page script but on screen this would be a lot easier to digest and take in visually. Also from Richie’s perspective, the more suckers he gets on board the more he can sweeten the deal.

I get what you’re saying about the connection between Bob, Kathy and Richie but I wanted more of a link between both sides apart from the trick symbolising the girls scheme to teach Derek a lesson. An earlier draft concluded once the trick shot is pulled off and Kathy punches Derek but it felt unfinished, I felt it needed more twists to beef up the narrative.

You’re right that it sort of undermines Derek’s mistakes and Kathy seems just as devious but that was what I was trying to create here. This is a bar full of people backstabbing, doublecrossing, lying and cheating. Everyone does what they want to get ahead (or get off), the trick is to not get caught.

Thanks for the read.


Andrew


Hey man, what’s up, always good to get a read from you.

As I mentioned above to TheSecond, the initial draft ended after the shot so yeah, you’re right, Bob’s deceit was added later. I just wanted something to bring the two together, the only foreshadow I give is when he and Kathy make eye contact and he looks away worriedly. This was the hint for the reader that Bob has some influence on events unfolding out in the lounge. I liked the suggestion of the helper but I think a look is enough, especially on screen where it would be more noticeable but not obvious. Plus its Kathy who decides to spill the beans on Bob not Meg or Shelley so they wouldn’t have squealed on him presuming they are under instruction from Kathy.
This was the best way I could think of bringing them together, one brother selling out the other for a small fee, kind of summed up the inhabitants of this place. The final reveal that Kathy is carrying on herself with Richie was to further perpetuate the idea that nobody in this place was entirely innocent, each had their own secrets and committed wrongdoings.

The piece itself is basically a farce told through a bunch of amoral, unscrupulous, council estate dwelling proletariats during an average night down at the local boozer. Maybe that should have been the logline.

Thanks for the read.


Steve (CoopBazinga)


“Page 6 - "Derek looks around him warily" should this be "her"?”

-- Perhaps I could change this to make it clearer. What I mean is that Derek is looking around himself, as in over his shoulders, not around  Megan or Shelley.

Page 13" What happened you!?" should be "What happened to you!?"

-- This is more a vernacular thing. If I was to say this sentence in real life I would, through force of habit (and laziness) drop the “to”. It’s correct English to include it but within that context but in I would rarely say it. The “happened” sort of flows straight into “you” if you know what I mean.

I touched upon the amount of characters above and why I chose to keep them all in there. The bottom line is that I think it would work fine on screen, it’s only on the page they may seem too abundant.

Thanks for the read.


SiColl007


Yeah, if anyone can go its Malcolm and Jill and perhaps one the guys who goes in with Bob but that would take away from the exchanges between Richie and his punters. I thought it added more flavour to the scene if there were multiple forces acting on Richie. You had some that were flat out not interested, others needed to be persuaded. When they back out he threatens to not show them the shot so in order to satisfy their curiosity and not damage their wallets too much they join forces. It was this dynamic that I wanted to create which would have been difficult without having the extra people to spice things up.

Glad you spotted the clue with the look Bob gives Kathy. I wondered was it too slight of a sign that Bob has some involvement in the parallel story.


E.D.


Great to hear from you too, Brett. I’m only getting back into writing the past couple of months since I’ve been travelling since January 2010. I hope to post more work in the coming year as I have a backlog of material that require a second opinion.

My biggest concern with the script was the trick itself. My Uncle showed me the shot years ago but I had never heard it from anyone else before or since. I’ve wasted many an hour inside the doors of public houses playing pool so I presumed it a relatively obscure trick. However, when I started showing this to people a few of them commented on their prior knowledge of the shot in question so I got a bit worried. Thankfully since those initial reads, I haven’t heard the complaint mentioned again…until now (insert emoticon) I wrote the trick shot scene years ago for a feature without the parallel story. When it got axed from said feature I always wanted to incorporate it into something else which was when the idea came to me. Because the shot mirrors the girl’s scheme so well I could never change it and left it as it is. The piece is more about that correlation anyway then the shot itself being well known.

I do remember reading The Glim Dropper a couple of years back. I also remember they’re being another short around the same time telling a very similar story. I wrote this over three years ago so it predates its posting on the site. I do like grafter stories when done properly, obviously “The Sting” being a prime example. “Confidence” is another decent film and ”The Grifters” with John Cusack.

I’ve addressed the tying up issue with the other reviewers so that tells me it may need some changing. I just couldn’t think of a better way to do it and ending it right after the shot and Kathy’s punch felt incomplete.

Glad you liked the symbolic element, its where the piece originally came from, that central parallel.

Thanks for the read.

Bert


It’s always an honour to get a read from a venerable moderator.

I guess I could clarify exactly whose setting up the shot. I thought introducing Richie first and saying Bob “stands at the other side of the table.” was enough for the reader to know whose where and what they’re doing.

Good call with the “down-tempo” hyphen.

From reading the opinions so far the general consensus is that the plot is needlessly convoluted in terms of too many characters during the betting scenes and the links between both stories at the end. Having Kathy walk out after conversing with Richie thus establishing their connection and leaving it at that could work, I just felt it wasn’t enough. I wanted to layer upon layer the doublecrosses and backstabbing to an almost ridiculous level as I was trying in essence to write a farcical type comedy, perhaps I got carried away and ended up overreaching, thereby straining/forcing the narrative.

Thanks for the read.




If anybody wants a return read, PM me and I’ll get back to you asap.

Thanks again.

Col.



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colkurtz8  -  January 4th, 2012, 3:11am
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Electric Dreamer
Posted: January 4th, 2012, 10:34am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from colkurtz8

E.D.

Great to hear from you too, Brett. I’m only getting back into writing the past couple of months since I’ve been travelling since January 2010. I hope to post more work in the coming year as I have a backlog of material that require a second opinion.

Hey Col!

One year walkabout, I love it!
Most I've done is three months, but I've got time to beat that.
I volunteer myself to offer that second opinion. Anytime, pal.

Quoted from colkurtz8

My biggest concern with the script was the trick itself. My Uncle showed me the shot years ago but I had never heard it from anyone else before or since. I’ve wasted many an hour inside the doors of public houses playing pool so I presumed it a relatively obscure trick. However, when I started showing this to people a few of them commented on their prior knowledge of the shot in question so I got a bit worried.

I recall the trick as more of an urban legend than anything else.
Drunken stories passed down as first person tales in dark rooms.
That triggers a vibrant riff for me to ride throughout your tale.
So, that familiarity was a strong positive note for this reader.

Quoted from colkurtz8

I do remember reading The Glim Dropper a couple of years back. I also remember they’re being another short around the same time telling a very similar story. I wrote this over three years ago so it predates its posting on the site. I do like grafter stories when done properly, obviously “The Sting” being a prime example. “Confidence” is another decent film and ”The Grifters” with John Cusack.

Add David Mamet's, "House of Games" to that list and you've got my fave trifecta.




Quoted from colkurtz8

I’ve addressed the tying up issue with the other reviewers so that tells me it may need some changing. I just couldn’t think of a better way to do it and ending it right after the shot and Kathy’s punch felt incomplete.

I think I would prefer the incomplete sting of the trick.
It ties me, as the reader, to the cheater's fate.
When you're set up for a fall, it's how you're supposed to feel, IMO.
There's a graceful exit to this story and I'm sure you'll discover it.

Quoted from colkurtz8

Glad you liked the symbolic element, its where the piece originally came from, that central parallel.

Thanks for the read.

That synergy really drew me into your story.
As you can probably surmise after reading West Side Markets, that appeals to me.
That story is near and dear to my overly romanticized notions of young love and rage.
Much like you here, that story started out 25 years ago with a simple image.
In my neighborhood, two such shops existed.
Late one night, I rode my BMX bike through their territory.
My mind's eye saw the parking lot filled with warring baggers and butchers.
A secret world only those two families knew about.
Sharing a secret world is the best way to entice me to read.
So, I book ended that with the WSS dynamic and intermingled the beats.

Regards,
E.D.


LATEST NEWS

CineVita Films
is producing a short based on my new feature!

A list of my scripts can be found here.
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Reef Dreamer
Posted: January 10th, 2012, 5:13pm Report to Moderator
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Hello Col,

I'm a bit new around here so we haven't really crossed paths, but it didn't take me long to realise this is someone who can write. Good stuff.

A few notes.

I liked your use of descriptions, not over done, but crisp. We got the message.
Yeah, lots of folk, probably too many. Maybe the old, "a crowd gathers", trick maybe useful in part to raise tension without remembering who the hell they are.
The pool trick. You know what, i don't know many but i did know that one BUT it didn't make any difference because i was wondering [1] am i right [2] will it be clear and how this plays out- so still works.
I liked the balance, the running combination of scenes - good tempo. Then the tempo rises, again a good feel.
The story being played out in two rooms at the same venue - good choice. i can imagine that makes more appealing.
Ok the double, triple climax, whatever the number is.  I think this is a bit much, as someone above says, its like Eastenders, and  Eastenders is not my thing. The brother thing seems worth ditching, it needed a long explanation and ended in an off scene fight. You already have so much good work here it is a shame to divert the attention.

To me the best final visual would be the realisation that the wife has been at it all the time. The trickster on the table and the trickster wife, both playing a game. But for this to strike home, to me, it has to be the discret final shot that nails this. I think it is close its just the fog thats before which may reduce the impact.

Just thoughts.

Sound work.



My scripts  HERE

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jwent6688
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Howard,

Good to see you on the boards. Fine short here. Nicely written. The characters were thrown at us pretty quick, gotta stay on your feet to keep track of them. I have no problems with this. I know it works much easier on film.

I like the usage of daul story lines here. The cheat at the table, the cheat at the bar. I almost would've liked a way you could show them both lose.

I liked the girls getting together to destroy Derek and how they caught him. I would've liked a bit more of an unlikeable character for Rob throughout the story. As it is, we don't find out what a douche bag he is until the very end.

I think the very last twist with Richie and Derek's wife cheating might be a bit too reaching. As derek said, he never brought his "other" gals to this pub because they hang out there. I wouldn't think she would bring her "Other" man there either. It was still humorous though.

Overall, solid short. I liked it and could see it filmed with a pretty low budget..

James


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colkurtz8
Posted: January 12th, 2012, 7:19am Report to Moderator
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Bill

Thanks for the comment and notes, much appreciated. Even though I get what you're saying about Eastenders, it saddens me, I have an aversion to soaps, they’re most definitely not my thing either. The script undoubtedly has that flavour to it though but I think it's primarily due to the prevailing demographic of the characters...that's what I'd like to believe anyway.

The “crowd gathers” is a good idea to simplify the trick shot scene. I wanted to create a bit of banter between the cluster of people though, have a few more voices/opinions/influences thrown into the mix besides Richie and Bob.

Great to hear that prior knowledge of the shot doesn’t detract from the overall effect.

I’ve taken on board what you’ve said about the over complicated ending as others have alluded to it as well. All will be considered in the rewrite.

Thanks again for the read.


James

Nice to hear from you too, man…even better to hear someone who understands that the group of characters mulling over the bet would not be a problem on screen, if anything, it would make things more interesting.

There is so much criss-crossing and cheating going on here that it would be impossible for everyone to lose although no one is innocent, they all have secrets, they all have sinned to varying degrees. Out of the rabble, I think Richie is the least unlikable, he’s hustling a few quid with the cheeky trick shot while banging a woman a couple of decades younger than him, congrats to the guy! It nice to see the experienced out manoeuvre the youth from time to time.

I felt Kathy has suffered the most prior to the script’s events so this is her time to strike back.

Finding out at the end that Bob was as scheming as the rest of them was intended as part of the finale. He comes across as stupid but harmless, a victim of Richie’s cunning…until we find out his part in the proceedings going on in the lounge.

It’s funny that you had a problem with Kathy and Richie’s affair as most of the others have suggested keeping it as the final shot and throwing out Bob’s conniving. To answer your question about Kathy bringing Richie to the bar; I tried to convey that Richie was a local there just like the brothers Derek and Bob and the trick shot crowd so he would always be around anyway, a “part of the furniture” type customer. I thought the familiar rapport in the trick shots scenes would reflect this, also goes some way to justifying his amiable arrangement with the barmaid. The only non locals are Shelley and Meg.

Thanks again for the read, James. Let me know if you’ve got anything you want me to look at, I’ll gladly return the favour.

Col.


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Rkwok
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Howard,

Nice work. Great dual structure and the climax with the intercutting is very effective. I really didnt think you needed to continue after the trick was finished. I felt the last part was a bit labored. You didn't need a reveal to tie it together.


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colkurtz8
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Rkwok

Thanks for the read. Ya, you've echoed what others have said. I just wanted something more then the visual parallel between Kathy's scheme and Richie's trick shot so I developed Bob's brotherly link with Derek, his blackmailing of Kathy and Richie's affair with Kathy. It seems I've overcooked it according to most readers.

Thanks again

Col.


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Quoted from colkurtz8
Bill

. Even though I get what you're saying about Eastenders, it saddens me, I have an aversion to soaps, they’re most definitely not my thing either. The script undoubtedly has that flavour to it though but I think it's primarily due to the prevailing demographic of the characters...that's what I'd like to believe anyway. .


Col

just spotted this. Like yourself i have a personal aversion to this type of product. The reference i made was partially because of the demographic, but mainly it was due to the constant conflict and prolific lies that are exposed. The angry confrontation being a classic scene.

Whenever i happen to watch an Eastenders  episode it seems to be that the place is in constant conflict, everybody has a secret and you KNOW that it will get out. Your script is more subtle than that but if the end could reinforce the subtle twist it would help it differentiate itself.


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