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False Hope (was Kiss of Death) by James Redd - Short - When a down-trodden boy believes that he has taken away his best friend's sickness to save her life, he attempts to pass it on to his abusive father in order to protect his mother. (9 pages) - pdf, format
Hi James, this was a sweet story. Well written too.
I take it Mark's dad beats on his mom or something like that? Only thing I could suggest for improvement is maybe make it a little longer and show exactly why Mark hates his dad so much. I think I picked it up from the hints you laid out but you could maybe expand on it whilst still keeping it in the style you have used.
Reminded me a little of Pay It Back. Good stuff man!
This one definately needs a lot of tightening up, escpecially in the beginning. It was pretty confusing. I had to read it a few times to get the gist of it. For instance:
Quoted from Kiss of Death
She KISSES Doozer and hands him over to the eager boy.
What eager boy? You never mentioned anything earlier in the script that there was someone waiting to hold Doozer. He just appeared out of nowhere.
I also don't understand how Ali and Mark think that they killed Doozer, or why they think they would get the blame for it. If they thought they did it, you never showed either of the two kids kissing Doozer. I'm sure the teacher wouldn't blame them for killing the hamster, since she saw that the mysterious eager boy was the last one with it.
Quoted from J Gomez
some kid who hates his dad a lot for some unspecified reason. There wasn't any *real* kiss of death that I could make out, either.
Julio's right on both accounts. We can assume that the dad beats on the family, but you never show it. You have him drinking a beer, but you can't let your readers assume. My dad drank like hell. Come to think of it, I don't even remember ever seeing him without a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. But he never once hit me, my sister, or my mom.
And there is no 'real' kiss of death, either, so how is it that Mark's biggest problem is solved, like you claim in the logline?
It wouldn't be too bad of a little short if you tightened those few things up. Maybe you can show that there is no real kiss of death and, when Mark's father doesn't die after dinner, he beats the hell out of Mark for something.
Thanks for all of the input. This was my first attempt at writing a script. The comments are great, I have a lot to work on. The logline was thought up quickly because I was so excited to get this up. I should be more dedicated to quality.
I am always inspired by the variety of short films I see late at night on The Short List, which always leave me wondering. I love that feeling of not knowing and being able to interpret as individuals.
Hi, James. Not to discount my fellow reviewers, but I understand exactly where the "kiss of death" is coming from. It is a story of innocence and naivetï¿½ith dark streak running through it.
I will agree, however, with the confusion about the "eager boy" character. I did not know who you were talking about, and had to read it a couple of times. You need a script to flow, and having to back up and clarify is always something you want to avoid. Be sure to introduce every character you intend to use.
For technical nits, there is no need to number the individual scenes. And do not put the V.O. in italics. I can think of no instance where italics are appropriate in a script. And your page numbers are weird. Do not number the first page, and subsequent page numbers should also be in Courier font along the margins, not the far right.
I did understand the role of the abusive father. The comments from Ali, Marksï¿½s sore neck, and the understated, passive behavior from mom. That is plenty, I think. Of course you could make him more menacing with more pages, but I think you succeeded in letting us know enough about him for eight pages.
What is sad here is that Mark actually believes he is making a difference, and that his kiss of death will have real consequences. It is sad that he feels he must do it, and even sadder that he is so unaware his actions will make no difference. Not the happiest story I have read, but effective in its own way.
I think this is a fine first effort; one that tells a complete story in a very subtle fashion. Subtle enough that readers you can trust to be paying attention (Mark and Gomez) have still missed some points. I actually have very few complaints with this one.
What is sad here is that Mark actually believes he is making a difference, and that his kiss of death will have real consequences. It is sad that he feels he must do it, and even sadder that he is so unaware his actions will make no difference. Not the happiest story I have read, but effective in its own fashion.
Actually, that is exactly what I meant when I said there was no "real" kiss of death. I am aware of the fact that it was meant to evoke pity or sadness because this child is wishing death upon his parent with such conviction, but nothing will ever happen.
The real problem here is in the logline. It says the kid will find a way to solve his biggest problem, but he does not. He doesn't even come close and not once do we, the audience, even *think* that he might reach his goal.
It is emotional, but to me, advertising the script under the title "Kiss of Death" is kind of misleading. I expected it to have a bigger part in the story than just the mere illusions of a young boy. That being said, I still enjoyed the script and James here obviously has talent.
I can think of no instance where italics are appropriate in a script.
Italics are appropriate if the character is singing.
Anyway, I took this script in the literal sense, in that there really is a kiss of death, and this script had an overall dark tone. Perhaps it wasn't the most appropriate route to go, but I didn't feel let down by anything in doing so.
There are scripts and stories out there along them same lines, so why couldn't this work on that level.
The scene numbering has been pointed out, so no need to go any deeper into that, but I think the dialogue between Mark and Ali could be made more child-like on their walk home. It's a tough age bracket to write, but I think it can be done in this case.
And lastly, I think you can shorten the parent's names to just Mom and Dad.
Looking forward to more work from you.
JACKASS EDIT: I skimmed back through the script based on the previous feedback to see why my interpretation was so different, and it turns out that it has to do with something others mentioned. The Eager Boy. Missing that on the first go round completely messed up my interpretation of things, and I guess made my review pretty much useless. I suggest going back and doing a full rewrite so my review ends up being not useless.
YES!!! I am now counting this message board as one of the most exciting things to ever happen to me. This is going to be a lot of fun.
I have to admit, I wasn't in love with the title myself, but as previously stated, I was too excited to get this up to see if it would go on the site that I sort of rushed the title and the logline.
The eager boy issue needs to be addressed also. I will get to it ASAP.
Bert- I am so glad that the dark tone was felt by others. Your praise is greatly appreciated. I know I have a ways to go, but getting compliments from a writer of your experience means the world to me. Also, thanks for the formatting tips. I definitely need to stop putting in camera instructions too. I'm not a director.
Thanks to all (Stephen, Julio, Mark, Bert and Shelton) for your input. I look forward to more discussion like this one.
I prefer wisdom, but I suppose guidance will do in this case.
I've seen italics used before, as well as bolding and underlining for word emphasis, but my gut feeling from what I've seen on the subject is that it's generally frowned upon. Leave the acting to the actor, so to speak.
Hello james. I enjoyed the story and agree that it was well written.
I think that you could elaborate more on Mark's Farther, and give us somemore backround as to why Mark doesn't love his dad. I didn't think it was bad, it just left me with more questions then answers.
I too had to go back and find the "eager boy". He really did just appear out of no where. I think this a given and a easy fix.
Also why did Mark kiss the fork and not his dad? Maybe it's just me, but i was expecting him to jump up and plant one on his dad. IMO the kiss to the fork doesn't really signify a kiss.
Thanks for the advice, Mike. I need to keep in mind that this script would eventually be going to actors.
Thanks for the read, Timotio. I have been working with a few ideas about how to make Mark's father more of a villain. And the eager boy issue has been resolved (I think). I may or may not send in the rewrite. I tried to think of a way to have Mark kiss his dad, but it just didn't seem right for the character. I'll work on it.
Hey, thanks for getting the rewrite up, Don. This is the rewrite I did using comments from those who discussed this script and gave me such good feedback. It has since been rewritten a few more times and is currently in preproduction and will likely be filmed in the next few months. Discussion is still helpful, so please let me know what you think of the new draft, specifically the new ending.