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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Scripts  ›  Trendsetter Moderators: bert
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  Author    Trendsetter  (currently 3364 views)
Posted: June 28th, 2006, 9:48pm Report to Moderator

So, what are you writing?

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Trendsetter by James McClung - Short, Comedy - It's Al's last day as a paramedic and one emergency call proves to be more than he bargained for. 18 pages - pdf, format

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James McClung
Posted: June 28th, 2006, 10:22pm Report to Moderator
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Washington, D.C.
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This is actually based on a true story. While I was on vacation, I saw a guy on TV not only do exactly what the character in this script does but also say some of the same things. I thought it was so ludicrous that anyone would do something like this to themselves that I had to write something based on it.

This also marks the first non-horror script I've written on my own accord. A dark comedy. I tried not to go overboard with the humor as a few people thought my last short was trying too hard to be funny. I thought the situation here was rediculous enough that I didn't really need to have too many additional jokes.

Anyway, comments of any kind are welcome and appreciated as usual. Hope you guys enjoy this one.

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Posted: June 29th, 2006, 1:56pm Report to Moderator
Been around a while


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Hey James,

First I might as well throw in the few minor mistakes:

Page 6: "Then you must be his friend. Iím know you donít want to see him pass tonight." Should be "I know" not "I'm know".

Okay, just the one for me I guess.


The Format: Nothing wrong with the format. Easy to read and descriptions were short and sweet.

The Story: It was brilliant. I didn't really know what was going on at first but I think that's intentional. One criticism though, I thought maybe Al agreed to help Travis and Willie a little too easily and maybe unrealistically and uncharacteristically. One second he was saying it was utter crazy then the next he just wanted to get it over with. I got past this easily though.

The ending was, well, I thought something else had happened rather than what had actually happened. I thought Bob and the others had played a prank on Al the way he went into the room with all the balloons and cheers. However, the ending was good anyway.

The Verdict: Funny, obviously in a dark way, but very good and written very well. This really happened?? LOL... I enjoyed reading this one James, well done!


I may be an idiot, but I'm no idiot.
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Posted: June 29th, 2006, 2:17pm Report to Moderator

Buenos Aires - Argentina
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I liked the concept behind this short story: Calling the paramedics *before* getting shot. And the reason behind this, while a little crazy, makes enough sense for me.

The only downward with the story structure was the fact that it wasnít till page 10 that this idea was revealed and the story really kicked in. In a 18 page short, thatís a little too late, IMO.

Whether you intended to have this slow build-up or not, I think I can point the reason of why you couldnít or didnít want to bring the main plot point earlier. Youíve got some scenes in which you explore character (i.e. the opening scene and Alís conversation with Bob) and youíve got scenes in which you move the plot forward (i.e. the scene when Travis tells his plan to Al).

You open the script with the ďcharacter scenesĒ and once the character is clearly defined, you bring forth your ďplot scenesĒ and start moving the story forward. This script will benefit big time if you came up with more scenes in which you tried to explore *both* character and story at the same time. Itíll be more difficult, yes, but by doing both things at once you could let your story kick in earlier.

By the time Al finds about Travisí plan, we know nearly everything about him, and I donít think this is strictly necessary. Of course we should know something about Al before the story kicks in, but not everything. If you bring the main conflict earlier, you can let Alís character unfold through his reactions and decisions, which will be quite more dramatic (and interesting) than his friendly and expository chat with Bob in the hallway.

Your format and writing style were quite good; it seems that these get better with each script I read from you. For the sake of nitpicking Iíd point that some details of your descriptions are not necessary for story or character: like knowing that Bobís tie is black, for example.

Alís reaction when his first patient nearly dies was a little bit over the top. Heís a veteran at this so you would expect him to be more used to this kind of situations. Itís ok for him to get emotional, but maybe not so emotional.

In page 5, right after Bob says ďTake careĒ you can cut right away to the ambulance speeding down the street. If you cut the middle scene inside the ambulance, you wonít loose anything important in your story, and youíll increase its pace.

When a hospital gets a call about a shooting, arenít they supposed to call the cops?

GravyBoatMan makes a good point about Al changing his mind all too sudden to go along with Travisí plan. Having read quite some stuff from you, Iím confident youíll be able to work on his motivations a little bit more and come up with a better scene.

The ending was a bit weird. Isnít it strange that everyoneís in party mode and donít seem to care that Al is bringing in a patient with a bullet wound?

Well, thatís quite a list up there, but donít get me wrong: I did liked the main idea for this short. I think itís got potential.

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Posted: June 29th, 2006, 2:27pm Report to Moderator

Frankfurt, Germany
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I really enjoyed this one, probably more so than the other stuff I've read from you, but then I'm not much of a teen horror guy.

It read quickly. Good description, great dialogue, and economical characterization for Al. I  have to say that I like your older characters, as demonstrated here, more than the teens that are prominent in your other work.

I chuckled a few times during this story. It's both bizarre and believable. It actually reminded me of a couple of Mike Shelton's shorts, especially the dialogue between Al, Travis, and Willie. Good stuff.

Like Gravy, I think Al went along with it a bit too quickly. I think you could work it a bit differently here. Al's a paramedic, and if he knows they're gonna go ahead with the shooting whether he helps or not, he'd insist on being there in case something goes wrong. Also, when the actual shooting happens, I expected Al to be more concerned for the guy getting shot. For example, he'd be making sure that he was shot in the right place and that Willie didn't accidentally kill him. I think your story might work better and possibly garner a few more laughs if Al ultimately takes charge, telling Willie exactly how to do it.

One minor note: when Travis is shot you go from "One" to a line of action beginning "Blood splatters"

If you want the reader to experience the same surprise as a viewer would, I suggest you stick a


in there. Or something to that effect.

Anyway, I liked this one a lot. Love the concept, and the dialogue.

Nice job.

Btw, if you wanna return the favour, my gothic horror short 'Old Shuck' could use another pair of eyes since I'm planning on a feature expansion. You'll find it buried deep in the bowells of the shorts section. Edit: Here it is

EDIT AGAIN: I forgot to add a comment about the ending. Mr. Z's right (as usual), but I think there is an easy fix. Maybe show a passage of time between bringing in Travis and his buddies springing the party. You could have Travis and Al walk out with Travis admiring his stitches or something. As it is, something isn't quite right about the way they're throwing a party in the emergency room as a gunshot victim is wheeled in

Revision History (1 edits)
Martin  -  June 29th, 2006, 2:38pm
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James McClung
Posted: June 29th, 2006, 3:20pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

Washington, D.C.
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Thanks for the reads, guys.


I'll keep my eye out for minor mistakes in the rewrite. I agree that Al agrees to help too soon. I'll be sure to fix that. Thanks.

And yes, this actually happened. I guy got his friend to shoot him in the chest for exactly the same reasons as in my script. Even the modelling line near the end was taken from what I saw on TV, only slightly altered for the sake of making it more comedic.

Mr. Z...

I'll see what I can do about the pacing. People have mentioned it before. I think what my problem is I actually enjoy writing exposition and don't mind reading it either. I also like a build, which I've mentioned many a time before. In fact, I wouldn't even call this a problem. It suits my tastes as a writer and I don't think it hurts my scripts, just makes them a little slow getting off the ground. For a short, however, perhaps it doesn't work.

Perhaps Al's reaction to the first patient is a little over-the-top but it's not supposed to be a reaction to what appears to be a death so much as it being Al's last memory as a paramedic. He wants to go out strong.

In regards to calling the police and everyone's party mode at the end, my idea was that the paramedics organized the whole thing. They sent him out to the docks to prepare for his party, knowing full well what Travis and Wille were planning to do, accomidating to their needs in the process. I did want it to be somewhat ambiguous at the end whether or not this was really true. Perhaps that idea didn't come out as much as I'd hoped. I'll see what I can do.

Dr. Mabuse...

Glad you liked my characters. I don't write older characters as protagonists too often as I'm a sophmore in college myself and like to write about the people I relate to the most more often. I try to give both equal attention though. For the record, however, I'd just like to say I try not to write my younger characters the way they're written in the movies. I try to make them smart, interesting, and ultimately, different young people rather than your typical party animal. I don't think cartoonists, fine arts majors, or metalheads are often portrayed in movies marketted to my age group.

Perhaps you're right about Al taking a more cautionary role in Travis' plan rather than standing off to the side, waiting for the two to make fools of themselves. I definitely agree about the BOOM! after Willie's line. I usually don't use exclamations of that kind but as is, I think that part of the scene is rather static.

Thanks again and I'll definitely return the favor. I've read three other entries of that particular One Week Challenge so I'll be able to review it in the proper context.

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Posted: June 30th, 2006, 1:11am Report to Moderator
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James, that's the first script I read from you and I must tell you that's nicely written.
I found it vivid and funny, with an unexpected ending. As Mr.Z said the main idea of the script is revealed too late.

This could be an ER subplot. Well done.


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Posted: July 5th, 2006, 6:20pm Report to Moderator
Been around a while

Write NOW! Perfect LATER!

Seattle, WA
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Hi there. Hey, I had the same exact reaction as GBM to the ending. I thought his compadres were going to play a twisted trick on him. Kinda left me untied in my mind. But then, according to my wife, what isn't untied up there. The dialog was absolutely smashing... fabulous job!

Looking forward to reading more of James.


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Posted: July 6th, 2006, 8:47pm Report to Moderator

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Just a few quick comments since I just finished this up.

I think classifying this as a dark comedy is the best way to go, but the comedy isn't really there until the very, very end.  It's a good payoff, definitely, but the entire script builds toward it. Hope that makes sense.

The dialogue and pacing I thought moved well, and overall this was an entertaining read.

I do have one question though, but don't pay too much attention to it since making a change like this would completely alter your story and cause it to lose the payoff.

Does Al work as an ambulance driver for the hospital?  Here in Chicago, we have private ambulance companies as well as paramedics that work for the fire department.  Obviously, they take patients to hospitals, but the report back to their respective offices or stations, which is where their real bosses/contacts are.

Seems like a retirement party would take place in a location like that instead of the hospital, but like I said, that change would cause the story to lose everything.

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Posted: July 14th, 2006, 10:02pm Report to Moderator

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Some where upstate New York
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Hey just got done reading this one.

Not bad. A twisted story. Who would have thought that Travis wanted to get shot. Questions:

1. When Jeff ran away why didn't he call the cops?
2. Are you working on a feature?


2. After AL pushes the wheelchair into the lobby why didn't he rush Travis to a room? It would seem that would be the right thing to do.

Any way good story overall.


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Zombie Sean
Posted: July 14th, 2006, 10:52pm Report to Moderator
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Anywhere there's a zombie...
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James, I read this and I didn't really know what I was suspecting.

Now first of all, it's kind of cool how you got this from a true story. That is how I work. If I have a bizarre dream, I somehow am able to fit it into my scripts. Or something else that I think would be a good script.

When I reached the end, I thought that the planned gun shoot out thing was just a distraction for Al while everyone else got the party ready. And then the ending surprised me (probably not as much as it did Al). But it was also funny.

Wait a minute, was it planned for the celebration?

I liked it and you seem to be good at comedy (way much better than I am...).



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James McClung
Posted: July 14th, 2006, 11:10pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

Washington, D.C.
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Thanks for reading, everyone. Sorry I haven't been able to respond to everyone's comments. There's been a lot of shakeups at work as of late, which have required me to work overtime for a while.


You make a good point about private ambulance companies. I wasn't really sure how that worked. I think I could use this to my advantage though. Al could drop off Travis at the hospital before going back to HQ where the party is. Thanks for the info.


Jeff doesn't call the cops because he's in on the party. And yeah, I'm working on a feature. Not of this script's plot though. I don't think that would work. Unfortunately, work has put a damper on that as well. I'm still writing it but it's progressing rather slowly.

Thanks again everyone.

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Posted: July 16th, 2006, 4:04pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

The bleak North East, England
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Hey James just read this, thought I might as well as i've read almost everything you've posted. lol.

I must say that your dialogue seemed to flow better in this one.  I have to agree with some of the comments made by others, e.g. why didn't Jeff call the cops and surely they would be there anyway, but hey this are just minor issues.

One thing that did bother me was that Bob and Al had a nice moment before he set off in the ambulance, surely if this was an emergency Al would just speed off.

People have commented on the slow build up but I've noticed this is a trait of yours that I like.

The end did confuse me at first I have to confess. lol.

Anyway I thought this was a good and I enjoyed it.  Good Work James.

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The boy who could fly
Posted: July 24th, 2006, 1:56pm Report to Moderator
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British Columbia, Canada
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hey James, this was pretty cool.


This kinda reminded me of "The Game" in a way, how everyone was in on it.

I had no idea where this story was going, I thought it was gonna be like the movie Bringing out the dead, but it was nothing like that.

I liked the relationship between Al and Jeff, I think you handled that well, Al as kind of a mentor.

The scene where they get the call for the shooting I think dragged on, Al and Bon seem to have a long conversation considering someone was shot, I figured he would be in a hurry.

This was a nice easy read with some good dialog.  Keep up the good work

It did seem odd that they pulled a stunt like this on Al, what if Al d

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Posted: September 14th, 2006, 5:54pm Report to Moderator
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Hey, i liked this.  It started out a little slow, perhaps you could have Jeff tell a joke or something, so that there is at least a little humor in the beginning.  That way people will be ready for willie and his freind and their crazy shenanigans.

I think it would be even funnier if you made one of them just, like, completely drunk.  The one that is going to do the shooting.  Drunk people always ad more humor, and the fact that the pone that does want to get shot isn't drunk, but rather sober, could also draw a contrast that makes him look extremely idiotic, which is also hilarious.  Or have them both drunk, that could work to.


Your ending.  It was great, asumming it is what I though it was.  SO when Jeff brings him in, everyones all like, surprise!  I was then mad, because I thought you were just gonna throw out the two guys as a crazy prank, the bullet was a blank, and they were just in it for laughs, but the last line: "woah, a party" or something to that nature, just pulled the whole thing together for one last hilarious laugh.

I really do recommend making something humorous in the beginning, otherwise your audienc will either not be ready for the humor, or expecting a drama piece.


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