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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Horror  ›  The Minister
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Don
Posted: March 17th, 2019, 4:36pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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The Minister by Jaime Villarreal - Short, Horror - Pastor John keeps a dark secret locked in his barn. His wife is about to discover the thin line between love and madness. 8 pages - pdf format

Writer interested in feedback on this work



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Matthew Taylor
Posted: March 19th, 2019, 5:35am Report to Moderator
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Hello Jaime

I have a few minutes so gave this a read. Below are my notes/feelings, do with them whatever you please  

Your fade in is in the wrong place as immediately afterward you have BLACK SCREEN. Think about it logically - you cannot fade into a black screen. So you should have it in this order:
BLACK SCREEN:
SUPER
FADE IN:
SCENE

BLACK SCREEN should also be located on the right-hand side of the page I beleive.

Not entirely sure what the non-diegetic hum is for - It doesn't happen again, doesn't seem relevant to the story at all. More of a thrown in audio cue. If you want to keep the hum, I would leave out the non-diegetic description - just tell us about the sound.

Why no ages of the characters? "A young girl" "Elderly but drawn" - These are open to interpretation - my idea of elderly may not be yours. Carol (7), JOHN (80) is short, to the point, and unambiguous.


Quoted Text
JOHN
Something that I should�ve done...
a long time ago.


I'm not gonna lie, I cringed at that line. It's a dialogue cliche like "I'm too old for this shit!"

The creature is your centerpiece here - Yet you skimp on the description - All I know is that it has long arms, claws, and growls - I need more, this is a creature feature so I wanna know about him.

I'm not entirely enamored by the dialogue between John and Kathryn. Don't get me wrong it's not bad - There's something not quite natural about it. This is a heated exchange, people get flustered, stumble on their words, say the wrong thing - have you ever been in a heated exchange and afterward thought "Damn, I wish I had said that instead" - this feels like the characters were able to go back afterward and say exactly what they meant.

John is cold, pure evil with no conscience - He seems to enjoy sacrificing people and carries no burden on his shoulders. If that is the characterization you were going for, you nailed it. But that makes him extremely unrelatable. yea, he is the bad guy in this story - but not all bad guys need to be stereotypical soulless monsters. Take your character for example, he's a pastor, a family man - he has a horrible creature for a kid and now he is a cold-blooded killer? I don't buy it.
Now - He has a son he would do anything for, even kill - That I can relate to, he will sacrificing anything for him/her/it. But that doesn't mean it can't weigh him down, tear his soul in two, a battle in his conscience between what is right, wrong and necessary.

We bring it full circle at the end with Carol - That's good.

I like the flashback montage of the items in the barn, then seeing them on the Church members. Also ties it back into the previous info of low attendance. Good work.

I also like the mother singing to the creature, a flashback to when the kid was normal and she loved it, this time she is being insincere and using it to save her life - So I liked that the creature didn't fall for it.

Overall it was alright. In short, I guess I would like to see/know more about the creature and more characterisation in John.

Good luck with it.

Matt


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RobbieD
Posted: March 20th, 2019, 6:45pm Report to Moderator
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Some good constructive criticism for you from Matthew above.

But what I wanted to add was that I thought the story was very good - dark - but compelling.

Good work!



MADAME DORA, CLAIRVOYANT (Horror, Short)
MALLORY GOODE  (Horror, Short)
DIRTY GRANDAD DOT COM (Comedy, Short)
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Andrew
Posted: March 20th, 2019, 7:57pm Report to Moderator
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This is interesting.

My biggest problem with it, however, is I'm not sure what the tone is supposed to be. Straight up horror? Comedy horror?

Some of the character actions and dialogue are incongruous with either of the above, and so it becomes difficult to know where to place it.

I think, for example, you don't need to make John good or bad, but internally consistent; is he at peace with himself? Within the story, there seems to be something of an arc with 'I should've done this a long time ago', but he derives pleasure (or so it seems) when he drops the dog off; there's seemingly no internal conflict for him in doing this. So when he then decides to off the wife, it doesn't have the impact it could have if his route to that was slower, and a consequence of the straw that breaks the camel's back.

The dialogue between John and Carol would be better focusing on one issue (you have the birthday) rather than a generic debate on the son. That way, you give your dialogue more focus and can use time as a means of crafting tension.

As I say, this is interesting, but I feel it's lacking in character development a little for both John and Carol, and requires a more focused story. A couple of rewrites would sharpen up tone and character, and why shouldn't this be worth a production.

Final note... making the son a creature (as opposed to some mystery on exactly what he is) makes the story harder to film, and I don't think seeing what's in the barn adds anything. Discussing what it is teases the reader to wonder what is the son, and the differing perspectives from John and Carol add to that sense of drama, aided by the never fully revealed son.


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Zack
Posted: March 22nd, 2019, 9:47am Report to Moderator
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Don't get it right. Get it written.

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Pretty solid work here. Solid writing, I especially like the way you utilize the montages.

I do think this could be expanded a bit, give us some more character. Maybe a scene of them at church?

I'm not a fan of the title. Maybe something like: Sins of the Father. IDK, just spit-balling.

Not much else for me to say other than that I enjoyed it. Good job.


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