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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Scripts  ›  The Mute Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: April 15th, 2007, 7:27pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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The Mute by T. J. Hundtofte (death monkey) - Short, Post Apocalyptic - People started to disappear. Vanish from the face of the earth. The few who survived find they’ve lost all ability to speak, and that some have lost much more than that. 26 pages - pdf, format


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Don  -  May 13th, 2007, 2:49pm
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bare_nerve
Posted: April 15th, 2007, 8:21pm Report to Moderator
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***POSSIBLE SPOILERS***

This was an interesting read. I really liked how everything was silent except for the music and maybe one or two lines. That made for a very original story, in my opinion. Although it did remind me of 28 Days Later... a bit. Not saying that's a bad thing. It was an excellent movie and I think your script would make an excellent one as well.

Do you plan to make this into a series? I think it would really work as one. I would really like to see Ellie make it to the voice on the answering machine. And find out what is going on.

One thing I noticed. On pg 22 - You wrote "The body goes limb." I think you meant, "The body goes limp."

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Death Monkey
Posted: April 16th, 2007, 1:31am Report to Moderator
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Hi there, Randy

Thank you for reading.

Yeah I really wanted to play with silence and create situations where there would normally be sound, and then keep them mute. As for the 28 Days Later inspiration, it was actually not a conscious thing in my mind, but I can see why you would make the connection.

My inspiration was three-part: The Canadian film "Last Night", The Japanese film "Kaïro (recently made into an American remake called Pulse, I think) and a book I read in school called "The Mad".

I didn't plan making this into a series or a feature for one simple reason. I'm not sure the concept of no dialogue could be sustained through several episodes or even 100 minutes.

This is a script I wrote with a specific concept in mind: No dialogue. While there are small pockets of dialogue in some form or another, this was an exercise for me to work on my descriptions and action.
So, I guess, while it's only 24 pages long, the lack of dialogue to space things out will probably make it read like 35 pages, given the one page = one minute rule.

Thanks a lot for reading and leaving comments.

Oh and you're right about that typo. thanks.


"The Flux capacitor. It's what makes time travel possible."

The Mute (short)
The Pool (short)
Tall Tales (short)

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Death Monkey  -  April 16th, 2007, 2:37am
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bare_nerve
Posted: April 16th, 2007, 3:25am Report to Moderator
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Never seen "Last Night" or read "The Mad." But I have seen "Pulse." Interesting film.

It makes sense why it would seem a series or full-length wouldn't work. Although, it would be interesting, in my opinion.

Anyhow, great job. Looking forward to reading more of your scripts.
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sniper
Posted: April 16th, 2007, 2:46pm Report to Moderator
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Death Monkey,

Wow...I'm at a loss for words here (and I can speak). This was incredible. Your story filled my head with a lot of pictures and my heart with a lot of emotions. I'm still trying to shake this story off as I write this. And it's really difficult.

!!!SPOILERS!!!

The story (the apocalyptic part of it) reminded me a lot of Stephen King's 'The Stand' and '28 Days Later'. Okay, so the story in itself is not overly original, but I think you added a stroke of genius when you made them all mute. That was fantastic. When I first picked it up I thought to myself, 'Christ, there's no dialog - this is gonna take forever to read'. Boy was I wrong! This was an absolute pageturner and that is not an easy thing to do in a script.

I really liked the foreboding way in which you started this script. Immediately I felt that something was off in some way. And I think your beginning and end tied together perfectly.

Okay, I do have a few problems with the story though. I find it a little odd that a teenager would know the Morse code for S.O.S. Actually I have a problem with the fact that she even knows what Morse code is.

The whole idea about 'the crazies' is very cliche, we've seen that in countless apocalyptic movies.

The dog feasting on a human carcass is probably the biggest cliche of all, but I'm gonna let you get away with that one because scenes like those have always scared the crap out of me.

I don't totally understand the cut-scene in the restroom. I'd imagine that it is her father, right? Actually that scene disappointed me a bit, you were on a roll with the no-dialog thing and then this comes up. Personally I would like to see that scene go. I don't think the scene added anything to the story that you hadn't already told - or told later on.

With regards to dialog - hehe. Seriously though, I liked how you easily overcame that with the use of hand signals and the occasional notepad. Excellent.

I felt very sorry for Nicholas in the end and my heart went out to Ellie (especially during that awful rape sequence - that was very well written).

Like with 'The Pool' I think you created a really spooky setting and believable characters. Again I must say that I look forward to reading more of your work.

Cheers
Rob


Down in the hole / Jesus tries to crack a smile / Beneath another shovel load
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Death Monkey
Posted: April 16th, 2007, 3:44pm Report to Moderator
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Wow, that's really some praise, Rob. What's the word for "benovet"

Anyway, thanks a lot.


Quoted Text
Okay, I do have a few problems with the story though. I find it a little odd that a teenager would know the Morse code for S.O.S. Actually I have a problem with the fact that she even knows what Morse code is.


About that, I made a very quick reference to Ellie being a scout, when she transcribes the message (she has a badge on her jacket). And scouts, as far as I know, still learn morse code. At least the Canadian girl scout troup I checked did.


Quoted Text
The whole idea about 'the crazies' is very cliche, we've seen that in countless apocalyptic movies.


Yeah, I realize that wasn't the most original idea, but I didn't realize it was that over-used. I didn't want frantic running 'zombie'-like crazies. I wanted people who had basically just lost their soul. Their humanity. Catatonics more than anything.


Quoted Text
The dog feasting on a human carcass is probably the biggest cliche of all, but I'm gonna let you get away with that one because scenes like those have always scared the crap out of me.


Again, I was blissfully oblivious to this being a cliché, but I will definitely take notice of it, since I hate clichés more than anything. I wrote it in after reading about dogs feeding on corpses in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. I'll see if I can make that scene work without the mutt.


Quoted Text
I don't totally understand the cut-scene in the restroom. I'd imagine that it is her father, right? Actually that scene disappointed me a bit, you were on a roll with the no-dialog thing and then this comes up. Personally I would like to see that scene go. I don't think the scene added anything to the story that you hadn't already told - or told later on.


Yeah, I was really torn about that one. It was very close to getting cut, but I chose to keep it because I didn't think I had given Ellie any tangible backstory until then. What was she running from, why did she have trust-issues?

Well, what I meant to imply is that her father turned crazy and she was forced to kill him.

But I really felt like Judas to the concept when I wrote that scene, because I was going against everything the story was. It sort of defeated the purpose. I'll see if I can do the scene without dialogue.


Quoted Text
With regards to dialog - hehe. Seriously though, I liked how you easily overcame that with the use of hand signals and the occasional notepad. Excellent.

I felt very sorry for Nicholas in the end and my heart went out to Ellie (especially during that awful rape sequence - that was very well written).

Like with 'The Pool' I think you created a really spooky setting and believable characters. Again I must say that I look forward to reading more of your work.


Thanks. I was extremely unsure whether the concept of no dialogue would be boring to read, as I had stared myself blind at my story, so it's a relief to know that it didn't bother you and kept your interest.

I'm very grateful for the feedback and a re-write is definitely in the works, because I wasn't 100% satisfied with it when I submitted it, for reasons you've already touched upon in your review.

Thanks again.











"The Flux capacitor. It's what makes time travel possible."

The Mute (short)
The Pool (short)
Tall Tales (short)
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sniper
Posted: April 16th, 2007, 4:04pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Death Monkey
I made a very quick reference to Ellie being a scout, when she transcribes the message (she has a badge on her jacket). And scouts, as far as I know, still learn morse code. At least the Canadian girl scout troup I checked did.


Oh, my bad. I didn't connect the dots with the pathfinder patch. It just because when you first introduce her you say that her jacket is a couple of sizes to big for her so I thought she had either stolen it or taken it off a corpse. I simply didn't think the jacket was hers.

Cheers
Rob


Down in the hole / Jesus tries to crack a smile / Beneath another shovel load
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Death Monkey
Posted: April 16th, 2007, 4:18pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from sniper


Oh, my bad. I didn't connect the dots with the pathfinder patch. It just because when you first introduce her you say that her jacket is a couple of sizes to big for her so I thought she had either stolen it or taken it off a corpse. I simply didn't think the jacket was hers.

Cheers
Rob


Oh good one.

That's a genuine inconsistency.

I made the jacket bigger for her, implying it wasn't hers AFTER I gave her the patch. But you're absolutely right. That doesn't make sense. I'ma fix that.


"The Flux capacitor. It's what makes time travel possible."

The Mute (short)
The Pool (short)
Tall Tales (short)
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Martin
Posted: April 17th, 2007, 12:19pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Death Monkey,

I enjoyed The Pool so I thought I'd give this one a read, too.

I liked the story and I think you're a talented writer. You created a rich atmosphere and had me hooked from page one. Writing without dialogue is a great exercise in visual storytelling and I think you exploited the silent medium very well. We actually had a "no dialogue" challenge here on SS a while ago and that produced some pretty creative stories.

As for yours, the subject matter is a tad unoriginal as others have pointed out, but the mute angle is refreshing and it elevated the story for me. I also think you developed the characters well considering the limitations you chose to work with.

I really like your writing style, it's a little wordy in places but you paint a great picture with your prose. You have a strong voice, something that's difficult to define and even harder to learn, but you definitely have it. With that said, I think you can trim the fat from your descriptions without losing any of the tone. For example, cutting out many of your adverbs and redundant adjectives would make for a quicker read. Also, additional clauses to clarify the action are often redundant and can be cut eg. "He freezes up, in shock."

Nitpicking aside, the story is very good. I felt a connection to the characters, a lot of which you conveyed through their body language alone. Like sniper, the scene in the restroom pulled me out of the story. You were doing fine without dialogue, no need to break your rule for this interlude, creepy as it is.

I like how the story built towards the climax, the suspense was palpable and the action towards the end moved at a great pace. However, I was left wanting to know more about this post-apocalyptic world, how it came to be the way it is, why the crazies are the way they are. Is all this brought about by a lack of verbal communication, or is the loss of speech a symptom of something bigger? How does one become a Crazy? Obviouslynot a virus or zombie thing otherwise Ellie would be infected after the rape. Maybe I missed something, or maybe you wanted to leave it open to interpretation. Either way, I wasn't completely satisfied by the ending.

Overall, though, another strong script. I'll definitely read more of your work.


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Death Monkey
Posted: April 17th, 2007, 1:04pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks for reading, Martin!

Yeah I think I heard the no-dialogue challenge mentioned while I was writing this one, but I assume it was before I joined?


Quoted Text
As for yours, the subject matter is a tad unoriginal as others have pointed out, but the mute angle is refreshing and it elevated the story for me. I also think you developed the characters well considering the limitations you chose to work with.


I have a thing for post-apocalyptic stories, and I always wanted to write one, but I couldn't figure out how I would set mine apart from everybody else's. So I came up with the mute angle one day when I was watching the movie "Speak" with Kristin Stewart. It has pretty much nothing to do with my story though...


Quoted Text
I really like your writing style, it's a little wordy in places but you paint a great picture with your prose. You have a strong voice, something that's difficult to define and even harder to learn, but you definitely have it. With that said, I think you can trim the fat from your descriptions without losing any of the tone. For example, cutting out many of your adverbs and redundant adjectives would make for a quicker read. Also, additional clauses to clarify the action are often redundant and can be cut eg. "He freezes up, in shock."


I think you're absolutely right. I'm not satisfied with my writing style yet, and it still doesn't just 'come to me' effortlessly. But I wanna get better, and I think I learn something with every script I write. So long as people point out where I'm lacking.


Quoted Text
Nitpicking aside, the story is very good. I felt a connection to the characters, a lot of which you conveyed through their body language alone. Like sniper, the scene in the restroom pulled me out of the story. You were doing fine without dialogue, no need to break your rule for this interlude, creepy as it is.


Note to self: Restroom-scene gets major overhaul. You're right. It will be taken care of.

I'm glad you connected with the characters because that was one of the challenges of writing without dialogue for me. You can't really put a soliloquy in there, cause when you have to write everything down on a notepad you're gonna be concise and to the point.


Quoted Text
I like how the story built towards the climax, the suspense was palpable and the action towards the end moved at a great pace. However, I was left wanting to know more about this post-apocalyptic world, how it came to be the way it is, why the crazies are the way they are. Is all this brought about by a lack of verbal communication, or is the loss of speech a symptom of something bigger? How does one become a Crazy? Obviouslynot a virus or zombie thing otherwise Ellie would be infected after the rape. Maybe I missed something, or maybe you wanted to leave it open to interpretation. Either way, I wasn't completely satisfied by the ending.


The crazies and how much information to give out about them was a major issue for me. I knew I didn't want any tangible explanation like a virus or anything. In the film "Last Night" which I mentioned as an inspiration, the world is ending. You never get an explanation why, it just is. Everybody knows today is their last day to live and they make the necessary arrangements. It came out the same year as Armageddon and Deep Impact by the way, which I think is quite amusing.

But that's how I wanted to treat the entire vanishing. The way it went down in my head was; first people started to disappear and then when there were almost no people left, the survivors slowly developed into crazies and normals. It's not transferred or anything.

I wanted the crazies to be a symptom of lack of communication. I realize this element isn't developed enough, but I make a few allusions to TV's and one-way communication in the story. After Ellie asks Nicholas why they survived and he can't answer her, she goes and sits in front of the empty TV screen as if returning to a pacifier.

In the re-write I think I want to focus on how the lack of communication and how human beings isolated themselves brought about everything. People started to disappear because they were alone and meant nothing to each other. So in a desperate move people scribbled down their birthdays on the walls to prove they existed at some point in time, before they eventually disappeared too.

What I meant to imply with the ending, when Nicholas gets to speak Ellie's name and birthday and she subsequently writes down his name, is that the only hope for us if we remember each other. If everyone tries to prove they themselves existed, no one will remember them but themselves. Ellie and Nicholas don't disappear because they 'mean' something to each other. Ellie's proof that Nicholas existed and she that he existed.

It all sounds very far fetched and artsy, but I really did have an idea behind it.

But in this draft I did leave it open to interpretation for the most part.

There are still two things that bother me about the story that one one has mentioned so far. But I'll wait and see if someone won't bring it up eventually.


Thanks again for the review; ample feedback and some kind words. It's much, much appreciated.





"The Flux capacitor. It's what makes time travel possible."

The Mute (short)
The Pool (short)
Tall Tales (short)
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dogglebe
Posted: April 17th, 2007, 6:39pm Report to Moderator
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I enjoyed this script much more than I thought I would, going into it.  I found myself caught up in the story right away and am glad that you didn't turn it into some zombie story.

SPOILERSPOILERSPOILER

I agree with Sniper about the bathroom scene.  When you have a script with no dialogue, and suddenly there's dialogue, it takes away.  I reccommend that you delete this scene.  I was surprised that Ellie wouldn't even check the stalls when she first entered.

I'd also remove Nicholas' short dialogue at the end.  It took away.

This story could be expanded in a real big way.  You could drop hints regarding what happened.  Why are people mute?  Where'd everyone go?  Etc.  Whatever happened, happened recently as there is still power everywhere.

You can also expand by adding writing on every wall.  If people can't talk, I imagine there'd be notes all over the place:  dialogue between people; notes people left friends; questions and answers about what happened.


Phil
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SwapJack
Posted: April 17th, 2007, 9:41pm Report to Moderator
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This was really cool and very unique. i enjoyed the friendship that developed between Nicholas and Ellie. however it made want to know what exactly happened to those who disappeared. why are ellie and nicholas spared, and why people are mute. i would hope there is some sort of follow up cause the story is very intriguing and leaves us with a lot of unanswered questions


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Dethan
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This was a good script.  I liked the descriptions, they were very visually stimulating.

My main problem is with how the story is now is probably with them writing things down, even if it is only a few times. If you've ever passed notes you'll know it takes a bit of time, and onscreen time feels like a lifetime.  Ever see a show where they interrogate someone that doesn't have the ability to speak?  It is boring. You'd have to have them start writing something, cut to some approaching threat, then back to them to really keep up the tension.  Also, you'd have to have the audience read the notes to understand their communcation... and we know how movie goers love reading. Best to keep that to a minimum, no? Especially since you already have them reading other things to keep the story moving forward.

Anyway, look forward to reading your other scripts.  

Dethan


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James McClung
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I always seem to have trouble reviewing scripts like these. If I don't have any advice on how it can be improved, I sorta feel like I'm not being helpful. I honestly didn't find many problems with this one although I didn't understand why Nicholas and Ellie were calling this Kayleigh guy. I didn't even know who he was. Maybe I missed something. I also agree that you should do away with the little dialogue there actually is here, with the exception of the answering machine. I gather that was recorded before this "apocalypse." Anyway, the logline for this one caught my attention right away. It just took me a while to actually get around to reading it. Overall, I really enjoyed this. The story wasn't what interested me (it's sorta been done before, you know?) but how you decided to tell it. It was really cool to watch these characters interact and relate to each other without actually speaking. You were actually able to develop them pretty well given the boundaries of the concept. The ending kind of threw me off a little. Everything seemed really fresh until you threw in these "crazies." Again, I think we've all seen this kind of stuff before. Nevertheless, you really mastered the silent bit. I really don't know what else to say. I thought the concept was great and I think you executed it very well, as you did with The Pool, which is why I initially decided to check this out in the first place. I'll keep an eye out for anything else you decide to post here. Good job, T.J.!


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Death Monkey
Posted: April 18th, 2007, 1:49am Report to Moderator
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Phil,

Thanks for reading.

Your suggestion about expanding the writings on the walls is a good one and one I will definitely try to implement in a re-write, given I probably will have to cut or seriously alter the restroom scene.

As for Nicholas' dialogue at the end...that one I'm more wary about. Maybe I'm just a sap, but I really thought the story needed some uplifting at that point. Some sort of hope for humankind. But you could be right. I'll have to reread.

Thanks for the feedback, and I'm glad you (sorta) liked it!

SwapJack,

Yeah, I might expand on what happened to people in the re-write. I have a few ideas I'm throwing around, so yeah. As for why Nicholas and Ellie were 'spared', that's because they meant something to each other, because they're not apathetic. They were both driven by an urge to be with other people.

Thanks for reading!

Dethan,

You bring up a valid point about how the writing prolongs the drama, but at the same time I tried to keep they're writings very succinct and to the point, meaning they left out subjects and sometimes verbs just for the essential meaning. Which is what I would do after a little while with writing everything down. The only time I feel we start to see long sentences is at night in the train.

But thanks for the suggestion. And thanks for reading.

James,

Thanks a lot for reading, and I'm glad you liked it.

First off, I better need to clear something up. Kayleigh is girl. I didn't even realize it was an androgynous name? I meant to imply she's someone very close to Nicholas, her girlfriend or his sister, and calling her answering machine has become a bit of a ritual for him. It's what drives him; the search for some kind of family. When he dies, Ellie takes over that search because she realizes it's the only way to keep going, and at the same time it replaces the loss of her own family.

As for the Crazies...well at that point I think I really needed a sense of dread in the script. An explanation for why Nicholas was so jumpy. Why he was packing, and why his clothes were bloody. I wanted, all throughout the story, to hint at some unspoken (pun intended) threat that would materialize in the Crazies. Also I always knew I wanted a silent rape-scene. Okay, that kinda sounds sick when you say it out loud...

But maybe I shouldn't make them crazy, or refer to them as crazies? Maybe I should just make them other mute survivors who dealt with the inability to speak differently? Instead of trying to search for survivors or their loved ones, they lose all sense of self and any 'moral' code? I'm just thinking out loud here, but I may give that angle a gander.

Anyway, thanks a lot for the review and pointers. Much appreciated.


Thanks again to all of you for reading The Mute!


"The Flux capacitor. It's what makes time travel possible."

The Mute (short)
The Pool (short)
Tall Tales (short)
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