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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Drama Scripts  ›  While The Gentlemen Go By
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  Author    While The Gentlemen Go By  (currently 680 views)
Don
Posted: March 5th, 2019, 11:40am Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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While The Gentlemen Go By by Matthew Taylor - Short, Drama, Historic - In the 18th Century, during the height of English smuggling, a young girl's curiosity could lead her, and her family, into danger. 7 pages

production: Based on the poem 'A Smugglers Song' by Rudyard Kipling - pdf format

Writer interested in feedback on this work



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eldave1
Posted: March 7th, 2019, 12:14pm Report to Moderator
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In terms of the story - you are kind of handicapped by the poem - i.e., it is what it is. For me, you have this really compelling image of the corpse hanging in the breeze on the cliff top - and then never mentioned again. I wanted that corpse to mean something to somebody (maybe John's Uncle or brother) and have the tension between John and Pixley in that regard.

You do a nice job in setting time and place and the dialogue sounds authentic.

What follows - other than the typos - is just my opinion. Use or discard at your pleasure.


Quoted Text
EXT. DEVON COASTLINE - NIGHT

High cliffs wind down the coast, creating peaks and alcoves.

A well trodden path winds atop the cliffs. Next to the path, a dead man wrapped in chains hangs from a gibbet, his body sways in the wind.

SUPER: Devon, 1747


Devon is too obscure of a place for most of us to get. I had to Google it. I would go with something like:

EXT. ROCKY COASTLINE - NIGHT

High cliffs wind down the coast, creating peaks and alcoves.

A well trodden path winds atop the cliffs. Next to the path, a dead man wrapped in chains hangs from a gibbet, his body sways in the wind.

SUPER: England – the Devon Coastline -  1747

Or something like that.

Also – well trodden should be well-trodden.


Quoted Text
A basic double bed dominates the small space. A single bed lies in a corner, somebody under the sheets. Many hooves trot on the stone road outside.


I would establish that it is quiet at first. E.g.,

A basic double bed dominates the small space. A single bed lies in a corner, somebody under the sheets. Many hooves trot on the stone road outside. All’s quiet. Then --

The CLAP of  horse hooves trotting on the stone road outside.


Quoted Text
URSULA (10) skinny, rag pyjamas, wakes up from the bed. She tentatively approaches the window.


Just my thing – but not a fan when writers put emotion with action (e.g., tentatively – approaches). Gives us something physical. E.g., she tip toes towards the window – or – inches her way towards the window. i.e., whatever it is you would tell the actress to do to display tentative – use that instead.


Quoted Text
Small, poor. 25 EXMOOR PONIES trot down a stone central road, tiny houses one either side.


Should be twenty-five (i.e. not 25).


Quoted Text
Mr Pixley grabs hold of his horses reigns. Gallops away down the road


Two things here: should be horse’s.  Also, if you are going with MR PIXLEY as a character name, I think it needs to be either MISTER or MR. – a period at the end. Not sure you are not better off just going with Pixley.


Quoted Text
MR PIXLEY
Come and see, what? Pretty maid.


Should be:

MR PIXLEY
Come and see what,  pretty maid?


Quoted Text
She frantically shakes her head.


Used twice in the space of 1/3rd page – come up with something different.

Quoted Text

John power walks towards them.


Should be power-walks. I would go with marches.


Quoted Text
JOHN
Then go, patrol. Sir.


Should be:

JOHN
Then go patrol, Sir.

Quoted Text

Ursula runs up to and around he church


“the” church


Quoted Text
JOHN
Run home, go!


Think it should be:

JOHN
Run home. Go!


Quoted Text
She falls asleep to the sound of 25 ponies hooves outside.


Twenty-five


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Philostrate
Posted: March 7th, 2019, 1:56pm Report to Moderator
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Hi Matthew,

Gave this a read.

I'm not going to repeat what Dave already said, but I want to point out that I agree with most of his comments. Here are some nitpicks of mine and other suggestions:


Quoted Text
Many hooves trot on the stone road outside.

I'd change "Many" for "Loud".


Quoted Text
URSULA (10) skinny, rag pyjamas, wakes up from the bed. She tentatively approaches the window.

She reaches out her hand, grabs the blinds.

A hand snatches Ursula by the shoulder. IRIS (30's) peasant clothes hang off her skinny frame. She pushes Ursula to face the wall.

The writing is good, but I'd rephrase it a little so it reads cleaner. Something like:

URSULA (10), skinny, rag pyjamas, wakes up from bed. She tentatively approaches the window.

As Ursula reaches out her hand to grab the blinds, another hand snatches her by the shoulder. IRIS (30's), peasant clothes that hang off her skinny frame, pushes her to face the wall.

Here:

Quoted Text
Ursula stops outside it's open doors. Inside, tired ponies lie asleep.
Ursula eyes them with curiosity. Continues on her way until she gets to

I'd change the perspective:

Ursula stops outside it's open doors. Inside, tired ponies lie asleep.

She eyes them with curiosity. Continues on her way until she gets to


Quoted Text
MR PIXLEY
Just patrolling my stretch of coast is all.


"Just patrolling my stretch of coast. That's all." sounds better to me.


Quoted Text
Ursula looks up from her bed, Iris stands in the doorway.

I'd replace the comma by a dot: "Ursula looks up from her bed. Iris stands in the doorway."


Quoted Text
mends a whole in the lining of a coat.

Hole?


Quoted Text
Ursula runs up to and around he church.

Another typo: "the" church.

Like you, I'm not a pro, so take what you like and ignore the rest.

Overall, the story is what it is, but you do a good job setting the tone and building the world and the characters. I liked the subtility of the final scene and the dialogue and reactions feel authentic.

I don't know the original source, but adapting a poem should be pretty difficult, so good job.

First a homeless person, then a terrorist and now a smuggler. You have a knack for colorful characters


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Matthew Taylor
Posted: March 8th, 2019, 4:37am Report to Moderator
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Thanks so much to both of you for taking the time to read and review. Very helpful.

Once again my grasp (or lack of it) of written English is letting me down. Looks like my teachers and parents were right all along when they told me to "Pay attention".

I do apologize for silly mistakes making it into the script. The only one mentioned that I disagree with is the period after Mr - Here in Blighty we don't use the period after Mr. All the others I need to get out with a rewrite so thank you for pointing them out.

Dave - you're a genius. It didn't even cross my mind to link the dead smuggler in the beginning to the story, but it makes so much sense. Mr Pixley is actually named after a real 18th-century smuggler, who - to avoid execution - turned customs officer and targeted smugglers he used to work with. So the hanging man and John could have been ex-coworkers that Pixley is targeting. Definitely going to incorporate that - thanks

I guess I wrote it only with British filmmakers in mind - hence the Devon Coastline slug -  But your suggestion makes sense.


Quoted Text
A basic double bed dominates the small space. A single bed lies in a corner, somebody under the sheets. Many hooves trot on the stone road outside. All’s quiet. Then --

The CLAP of  horse hooves trotting on the stone road outside.


That makes the read much crisper - thanks for the suggestion. Think I need to write important sound effects more like this in the future.

The numbers - I knew the rule that numbers should be spelled out in dialogue, didn't know the same rule applied to action. Thanks

Quoted Text

The writing is good, but I'd rephrase it a little so it reads cleaner. Something like:

URSULA (10), skinny, rag pyjamas, wakes up from bed. She tentatively approaches the window.

As Ursula reaches out her hand to grab the blinds, another hand snatches her by the shoulder. IRIS (30's), peasant clothes that hang off her skinny frame, pushes her to face the wall.


I'd change the perspective:

Ursula stops outside it's open doors. Inside, tired ponies lie asleep.

She eyes them with curiosity. Continues on her way until she gets to


Great suggestions there, Philostrate - Thank you for your input.

Can't beleive I put whole instead of hole lol I looked at this script so much I couldn't see it anymore. If that makes sense.

From both of your replies, I get the impression that the story is alright, but isn't lighting any fires - I think it needs a little something to ramp it up - I don't know what that something is.

I guess I don't have to constrain myself completely to the poem. The elements of the poem are in there, but that doesn't mean I can't add a little extra to make it a better on-screen story.

Thank you so much, guys. A lot to work with in the re-write.

If you need my eyes to look anything over just give me a shout.

Regards

Matt


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eldave1
Posted: March 8th, 2019, 6:36pm Report to Moderator
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You're more than welcome. You read a lot of peeps stuff so it is a pleasure weighing in.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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MarkItZero
Posted: March 10th, 2019, 3:06pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Matthew,

Some solid stuff here. My overall takeaway is don't be afraid to make this your own story.

If there's something in particular about the poem that moved you or caught your interest, that's something you don't want to lose obviously. But as Dave alluded to, there's potential beyond the confines of the poem that can add context and ultimately drama.

For example, the father-daughter relationship could be more prominent. A lost innocence scenario. Where the daughter's view of her father as a heroic man is challenged.

Maybe you want to focus on something else entirely. The question is how do you take the essence of that poem and create the most character, conflict, tension possible. Just a thought if you wanted to expand this.




The description writing is pretty good. One area where I think you could get more immediacy to the action is bottom of pg.2. I don't know if you need the full scene headings. Maybe something like...

Parson drags John towards the cover of

THE CHURCH

Where they flatten themselves beneath a window as the imposing MR. PIXLEY bursts into view. His horse comes to a halt within the churchyard. Mr. Pixley's blue coat and matching hat bobs just outside the window. A sword tucked to one side of his red waistcoat.

John and Parson hold their breath. The horse steps towards the entrance-way.

Then a snap of the reigns sends them thundering past down the road.


That rug really tied the room together.
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Matthew Taylor
Posted: March 11th, 2019, 9:47am Report to Moderator
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Good Afternoon

Thank you very much for the read and review. Appreciated

Yea this has been really opened up to me now, so I can really explore this story. I have read up a lot on 17th/18th-century smuggling in Britain, I find it fascinating.

I have to now spend some time to figure out what story I can tell, without going too far away from the poem, and still keeping it a short. The poem itself is about the father warning his daughter to not get too nosy, and don't say anything to the authorities. I think that comes across in the short, so now I can explore the father's story, which isn't in the poem.

Excellent advice there about that scene. Your description really heightens the drama and tension - Thanks for the suggestion. Will go through again and see if I can't heighten it like that elsewhere.

Many thanks

Matt


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Max Ruddock
Posted: March 11th, 2019, 7:43pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Matt,

Just had a read. I'd echo what the other guys have said, especially what Dave said about switching power walking to marching, but still want to point out that I think the writing is solid. You've done a great job of keeping the tone consistent throughout which is a lot harder than it sounds.

One other thing that stood out was John punching Mr Pixley in the face once he'd been mounted. I know it'd only be a movie fight, but it'd be damn hard to punch up off his back with enough force to get Mr Pixley off him like that. Maybe he could just struggle free?
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Matthew Taylor
Posted: March 12th, 2019, 4:29am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Max Ruddock

One other thing that stood out was John punching Mr Pixley in the face once he'd been mounted. I know it'd only be a movie fight, but it'd be damn hard to punch up off his back with enough force to get Mr Pixley off him like that. Maybe he could just struggle free?


Can you tell I've never been in a fight lol

That fight scene will be re-done as I am going to explore the relationship between John and Mr Pixley.

Thanks for the input.

Matt


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MikeK
Posted: July 26th, 2019, 7:46am Report to Moderator
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Matthew the descriptions of the coastline got me, felt like I could see it and smell the salt air.

Truly enjoy your work, and your voice. Keep it up!


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Matthew Taylor
Posted: July 27th, 2019, 4:14am Report to Moderator
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Thank you Mike, very kind of you. Glad you enjoyed it.

If/when you have another script up on here drop me a message. I owe you a few reads

Matt


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PabloM
Posted: August 13th, 2019, 2:57pm Report to Moderator
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Your script its fine and absorbing complexity to imply a review from its ambivalent end shot. Bests and expecting to read something else from Taylor.
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Matthew Taylor
Posted: August 15th, 2019, 5:48pm Report to Moderator
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I think that was a compliment, so thank you  


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