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Inconceivable Pain by Frank B. Hansen - Thriller - Desperately seeking justice for her long lost friend, a street-smart woman joins forces with a troubled undercover agent, but struggles to trust his erratic course of action in a battle against corrupt police practices. 94 pages - pdf, format
I'm liking it so far, but to this point it's not really reflecting the logline other than the introduction of an "undercover agent". Consider revising for the next draft.
The pace is good and it's building well so I'll definitely finish it.
Great job in character intro's, profiling and background, they're spot on.
My only major gripe is the scene involving Dinah, Kenzie and the two teens (p. 29). I had to read this several times and I still don't fully understand what's happening here.
Firstly, I don't follow the teens involvement at all - are they needed?.
Secondly, as this is the first time that Dinah and Kenzie meet, there is something missing from this initial introduction to Dinah leaving the massive tip and then talking about a spin class. This needs to be fleshed out a little more in the next version.
Will finish and provide final thoughts over the next few days.
Agree with you regarding the logline, that needs a facelift.
(p.29) Dinah likes Kenzie from the very first second they meet (it's a reason for that, hopefully that becomes clear later in the script), so she tips her well and joins her in spin class. I put the teens in the scene to show how protective Dinah is of Kenzie, even if they only met a few minutes ago. The teens are doing up-skirt filming, recording it on a tablet. I wanted the introduction between Dinah/Kenzie to be short and add to it as the script progresses. Certainly keep in mind to flesh that scene out more . Thanks for the input.
I won't comment largely on the style of writing, as each to their own, but I will say I find your style a little stilted which can make it difficult to follow. As per my previous post, I found myself having to read several scenes / sequences a couple of times to properly form the picture in my mind of what was actually happening. Example is scene in cottage starting on page 16 - does Kenzie already know she is Amber's sister or does she need the FBI to tell her that?
The story; overall I think it has potential and is sitting at a 5 out 10. Having now finished it I still think there is work needed in several areas:
1) (further to original post) Developing the link / relationship between Dinah and Kenzie as any former relationship that Dinah had with Amber doesn't really jump out at you. I only made that link because of your response to my earlier question in my previous post.
2) I didn't follow Arthur's story at all and I couldn't see how he fit in.
3) Kenzie is a waitress and also a stripper that just happens to work the joint Rick has is bachelor party in? Not sure if I fully understand that, but this leads me to my next point...
4) And most important point - I was left wondering what the motive was for Amber being killed in the first place (and therefore everything that happens there after) - did she have dirt on Rick, etc. and was going to expose them? I know she was his stripper at his 40th, but this isn't motive enough.
And finally, having now read the entire script the logline absolutely needs a re-write as it doesn't reflect the story well enough - it is also misleading in eluding to the undercover agent (Eric) being the main protagonist, whereas I see Kenzie playing that role.
Well done for writing a full length feature, as I know how much work is involved in just doing that!
I wish you the best of luck with this and future projects.
Thanks a lot for your read. Your feedback is very helpful.
Re logline, yeah, Kenzie is the driving force. Both Eric and Kenzie are protagonists, but she should probably be more of a main protagonist than Eric. Agree, face-lift needed.
A few points: Kenzie didn't know anything about Amber, not even her name. What connected Kenzie to Amber was the photo of the two young girls. I'll revisit this section, see if it needs more clarification. Thanks for your input.
Curious, if you have a little extra time, I would really appreciate your response to the following: 3) How did you form the opinion that Kenzie is a stripper? 4) This is not clear to me, but are you saying that Rick killed Amber?
Again, thanks for taken time to read my scripts. This board is a great way of learning.
3) sequence starting p.44 - Kenzie, Rick and Tony in a private room of the T and A Taproom where Rick has a flashback of Amber have whipped cream on her chest. Is Kenzie just serving drinks? 4) That's not what is clear to me. My assumption is that Rick had something to do with Amber's death given the flashback involving Amber. If he didn't kill her, then I'm very unclear on who did.
Hey, Frank. Read the first ten, so comments may not be valid depending on what happens later. Anyway - my initial thoughts:
An interesting premise - one that would seem to have the bones to support a feature.
A killer set up with Amber trapped on the bed. This is wicked, imaginative, and compelling.
And, I think you should open the script with this scene (AMBER). Don't even have Marc in the house yet. Have her straining against the restraints. Maybe looking at an ominous clock on the night table (4:55).
Then go to Marc - perhaps driving home with the bouquet of flowers and gift already in the passenger seat - Pulls into the driveway. If you want us to know he's a cop = put a revolver and a badge on his belt. Then have him comes in the house - yells out for her - no answer. Goes to the door and (you know the rest).
The problem I have with it is now is Marc's actions are unnatural. I am assuming that Amber is his friend, girlfriend, wife or something and that the flowers were for her. So, here he is in the house - blasts some music, takes a shower, gets some roses from a delivery girl all before he bothers to check in on Amber. Didn't make sense to me. The actions are also a bit mundane.
So if it were me - I'm spending more time in that room with Amber really pushing the anguish and less time focusing on Marc's daily routines. Long winded way of saying that the scenes with Amber in bed and the subsequent opening of the door are the killer scenes here - pump them a little bit more and make them the focus from the get go.
The framed photo wobbles, hits the floor, face down.
Nice - but I would have liked an anguished scream from Marc here right after the photo hits the floor.
On a desk, a laptop, an office phone and a framed picture of three women.
I think three women should be CAPPED
Also - I would describe them a bit - I want some sense of what/who they are when Dinah is circling her finger around the photo later.
Dinah's dialogue to Marc sounded a little juvenile to me - like she was treating a twelve year old. I think you can make that a little more sophisticated.
He taps his phone, plays a video clip of Amber.
Would prefer a picture here rather than a video. One, it's a more natural action, IMO and two - it's an easier write. If it is a video - you really have to tell us what's g oing on in it.
Loved the tension in the middle of this scene with Dinah. Although I thought some of Marc's dialogue was too on the nose. This for example:
MARC Every day I’m living a nightmare.
We already know this - he wouldn't be in therapy otherwise.
MARC I gotta stay strong for her. She deserves justice.
Didn't like the above at all - too OTN and - it confused me. He just put a revolver to his head. Was he just screwing with Dinah?
Anyway - I do think there is a lot of promise here - it's gritty with interesting characters. Best of luck - hope the above helps
Thanks much for your feedback. Lots of good points.
Agree, I could be milking the beginning more than I have. Actually, I had 1/2 dozen different versions of the first few pages, one being very close to what you're suggesting. The bathroom scene was set up by the killer as a distraction, believing Amber was taking a shower, so Marc wouldn't be that careful swinging the door open to the bedroom, cause he thought Amber was in the shower. I'll definitely revisit the first few pages.
The framed photo on Dinah's desk is explained/exposed in dialogue later in the script. That felt more natural to me, but I'll keep your input in mind for the rewrite.
I used a video-clip instead of a picture, cause I felt that would be more powerful with Amber's voice etc.,., but maybe not ...
Yeah, parts of Dinah and Marc's dialogue, not the best, agree. What I was trying to do was to show how Marc goes through his routine in the morning before he gets coffee. He wants out, reunite with Amber, but realize he needs to stay strong. He wants the killer locked up. I might have to rethink this part.
Hey, Frank: I have now had a chance to read the whole thing. Keep in mind these are my opinions only and that others will certainly have different ones. First some macro level observations:
I think you have to pick you poison. You start off with a horrific murder scene - gut wrenching and vivid. Maniacal even. So, I am set for a murder mystery thriller. And then throughout the script you throw in comedic elements that, for me, derail the tension that you are trying to build. Macabre humor would be fine, but in my view, straight comedic moments undermine the tone of the story. I'll point out an example later - but there are several of them in the script.
In several places I found the descriptions too cryptic. It took me several reads to piece together what you wanted me to see (I'll site a couple of example later). I think you are being too brief and, at least in my mind, it caused confusion on several of the action sequences.
There are instance where the dialogue is not consistent with the actions we are observing. Something horrific happens and then the tone of the dialogue is normal - as if someone spilled something rather than what happened.
You have room for more back story. You are only at 95 pages. I wanted a little more on Marc up front. Maybe one or two more counseling sessions as an example.
Some characters are not needed in my view because they do nothing to move the plot further (Arthur is entirely not needed). The two teens in the restaurant on page 29 aren't needed. Getting rid of them allows even more room for back story.
There are some logic issues throughout - I will cite them later.
She snaps her head sideways, stares at a photo of her and ...
INT. TRUCK - MOVING – DAY
... MARC POWELL (32), sports black shades, taps the steering wheel. He cranks up a radio and howls the lyrics.
The photos described earlier were of two girls. It was not clear to me that one or either of them were Amber and the way this is written it makes it sound like a photo or her and Mark – again, that was not in the scene. After reading the script, I think you just need to write she stares at the photo of the two girls.
To me the first BEDROOM/TRUCK unnecessarily interrupts what is a very dramatic and tense scene with Amber. I would not to this. I would pick up Mark and the truck when he first appears outside her window.
And... this is a good place for back story. Having Marc getting flowers really tells us little other than he is bringing these two Amber. I would rather have him at work so we know what he does. Maybe talking to a co-worker about his future plans, etc.
CAPTAIN GOLDMAN Schedule him for a few sessions. We’ll recap over breakfast.
The line didn’t make sense to me. He’s going to have a couple of sessions but Dinah’s going to give a recap over breakfast. Is there enough time for several sessions between now and breakfast?
EXT. FOUR-WAY INTERSECTION - DAY The police car pulls out into oncoming traffic, screeches to a halt in the middle of the junction.....
IMO, this scene was (a) not needed and (b) a tension breaker. You’r ramping up the tension nicely with the Amber killing, Marc in therapy etc – I don’t see the need for a comedic break here with the Grandma.
INT. HEALTHCARE CENTER - HALLWAY – DAY Scratches around the door lock to “Suite 400.” Wood splinters on the floor.
Do we ever get back to this. Someone obviously broke in. What does Dinah do? Nothing from what I can tell. Why wouldn't she - her office is broken into. The reaction is not normal nor is the break in ever really followed up on.
Kenzie spins with coffee in hand, no lid.
Eric grimaces, covers his groin with one hand.
KENZIE Oh my God.
Kenzie dumps the coffee cup, empties a napkin holder.
She drops to her knees, fans the napkins, blows on his groin.
One those unneeded comedic moments, IMO. We're just out of a gruesome murder. IT derails the tone.
ERIC You lost some money. Eric hands Kenzie the money, rubs his crotch. Still on her knees, Kenzie gawks at Eric.
What money? It was not clear to me. Did Kenzie drop some?
The Fitness Club downtown?
Don’t need a ?
KENZIE How about your credentials?
CAPTAIN WILKINS Special Agent Wolfe carries no credentials. Please, take a seat
What agent doesn't carry credentials? Besides, it's not needed anyway. Really doesn’t add anything. What this does to readers is give them a WTF moment. He doesn't carry credentials and Kenzie is okay with that?
KENZIE Yeah, I recognized the photo on her lap. It was taken days before we got separated at the orphanage. Never saw her again.
Kenzie touches the photo.
KENZIE Didn’t even know her name.
If this is true (never saw her again – didn’t know her name) , how did Kenzie know that it was Amber that got killed ?? – i.e., assuming that is why she called the police.
CAPTAIN WILKINS Identical twin.
They were not labeled as such in the original photo and would have not Kenzie noticed that?. I mean they are identical – there is a picture of them – but the Captain is not bothered by the fact that they are identical and Kenzie did not figure out it was her sister from the photo? Didn't make sense to me.
Captain Wilkins hands Eric the envelope and a set of keys.
- Did you mean hand to Eric or to Kenzie. - I forgot all about the envelope and had to go to the top of the scene to see where it came from (the purse). Why not just have her pull it out of her purse right here – would be clearer.
I’m on page 23 where Dinah is having breakfast with Wilkins. So, she had one session (not several as indicated earlier) and is lasted a few minutes (as opposed to a profile). Does not make sense to me that she could have developed anything meaningful in that one session. And there is the matter of her office which appeared to have been broken into on page 2 – this has not been followed up on nor raised as a concern by Dinah.
INT. COTTAGE - KITCHEN - DAY Eric hands the envelope to Captain Wilkins, turns to Kenzie
. This is really confusing me. In the prior scene – Wilkins hands the envelope to Eric. Eric is now handing it back to Wilkins. What am I missing?
KENZIE My butterfly tat looks like shit.
Dinah clears her throat.
Unless it is important plot wise – Kenzie does not need a butterfly tat too – you already are working a lot of coincidences. This is also the 4th time in the script that Dinah clears her throat – look for something else.
Kenzie puts the driver’s license in her purse, glances at the framed picture on the desk.
Been awhile since we’ve seen this – I would refresh our memories on what the picture is.
KENZIE Officer? So, you’re the lucky one?
I really got lost here. Kenzie is works at a T&A club on Vegas? And back to the identical twin thing. Kenzie is Ambers identical twin. Rick had a very erotic encounter with Amber previously. But he does not see the resemblance in Kenzie?
Rick stumbles, grabs the edge of a counter, drops his gun.
He whips the flashlight at two assault rifles mounted on swivel stands, bolted to the counter. Wires run from the triggers to two handles on a wheel.
A motor whirs. The assault rifles swing from side to side. The wheel pulls the wires, yanks on the triggers.
As he circles the counter, the beam catches one end of a leash hooked to a collar around the Silhouette’s neck. The other end of the leash nailed to a wall. Body strapped to the counter.
An ear shattering scream. His knees buckle. The flashlight clatters on the floor, comes to a stop, illuminates a scared leg. Weights tied around the ankles
I read this passage several times – I got lost. It is confusing. Not sure I eneded up seeing what you wanted me to see. Also – scared leg or scarred leg?
On a desk, a pink bag sits next to a laptop.
As Kenzie grabs the bag, she steps on a sheet of paper.
She picks it up, flips it. Her eyes go wide, hand trembles.
She looks over her shoulder, taps the keyboard.
The laptop hums to life, displays “password.”
Kenzie puts the sheet of paper on the desk, leaves.
The sheet of paper shows a cropped photo of a body from the waist down with an assault rifle between tied up legs.
A hand grabs the photo. Kenzie puts the photo on the floor, face down
Again, this was a confusing sequence for me. Kenzie picks up a photo from the floor – boots up a computer – it shows password – But nothing is entered after that – and then Kenzie outs the photo on the desk – leaves (not sure why she left the computer at password) – then a mysterious hand grabs the photo – then Kenzie puts the photo on the ground (if the mysterious hand is Kenzie – then lose the hand, just have Kenzie come back and put the photo in its original place and be clear on what the computer thing is – from the action – it is left at a screen ready for a password.
Captain Goldman paces towards Dinah, unbuckles the ball gag. DINAH Thank you.
The dialogue is a little pedestrian/polite given her predicament
Dinah’s head pierces through the glass.
Kenzie screams, buries her face against his chest.
Dinah’s bloody face twitches. Lifeless eyes stare at Kenzie and Eric.
I didn’t get this at first – later through the subsequent action figured out she jumped from the building. I would make it clearer here.
So - There is a lot in the script to like and a lot of solid writing. The scenes that are supposed to be horrific really are. Makes your skin crawl. However, there are too many interruptions of that tension. Need a little more description so we can see the links easier on some of the action sequences. Some logic issues need addressing. A little more back story on the main characters. Lose some of the unneeded ones (e.g., Arthur).