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Day Two by Luke Prince (LoftStudios) - Short - Four survivors of a violent epidemic hide out in a apartment building, while two others try to reach them - despite the terror that lurks in the empty streets. The closer they get, the more the tension builds inside the safe location. Is the biggest danger really outside the flat? or within? 43 pages - pdf, format
Hi Luke, whipped through this very quickly. I obviously liked it because I carried on reading, but I do have a few points to make.
The actual title you've given this is Day Two, but it might as well be 24 Hours Later. Because that's really what this is, right down to the Infected having red pupils, the UK setting, the Rage virus (which you don't actually name, but might as well). Luckily I love 28 Days Later, so the possible 'copying' doesn't bother me at all.
One thing about the story being set only in Day Two of the crisis is that would the streets really be that empty? 28 days is enough time for the epidemic to really wipe out the population, but I just can't quite see everywhere being that deserted on the second day. Also, the government seem a bit limp to just roll over and give up so quickly. But then again, I suppose it depends on how quickly and hard the outbreak hits. Also, and I'm sure this is just a mistake, Lee says at one point: "you're the first normal people I've seen in three days." Err...really? On day two? Maybe Lee just didn't get out much before the outbreak.
The characters were all distinct enough (apart from one confusing moment on the last page where you say ANDY but surely mean MICHAEL), just a little thinly-drawn. You showed this most obviously when Claire asks Tom why he's so mean to everyone and all he can come up with is: "It's just the way I am I guess." Everyone's really lacking in some 3-dness; besides their names and the people they're connected to, we really don't get to know them at all, which makes getting emotionally invested in them harder.
There are also a few occasions where the believability of the relationships and characters' actions seem stretched. For instance, why the hell would James refer to Tom as a good friend when ALL HE EVER DOES is insult and argue? They never have a moment where you could believe they have a friendship. Claire and Michael's renunion seems just a shade tame for a couple that was so desperate to find each other. Perhaps a kiss as well as the embrace would give it that tiny little bit of realism it's lacking. The biggie for me, though, was Andy's heroic tackling of the Infected to save Claire and Michael's lives. You say Michael is shocked at his sacrifice; so was I, because it doesn't seem like something Andy would do. I know earlier on in the script Michael explicitly says that he might need Andy to save him again (which I suppose is a nice piece of foreshadowing), and by doing that Andy in a way redeems himself for Rachel's death, but Andy's sudden transition from coward to heroic-action-type is a little unbelievable for me. Also, how could he POSSIBLY have survived hurling himself into a crowd of infected? The moment where he appears again only to be left behind is a nice touch, but it's just not credible for me, I'm afraid.
Possibly the most interesting character in the story is Lee (for some reason I liked the trilby, made me visualise Richard E. Grant as a gun-totin' Withnail), but he only lasts about two minutes! Which I thought was a pity. I think killing him off so quickly was a slight missed opportunity. His reference to 'my line of work', and his general manner intrigued me. I was looking forward to seeing what you'd do with him (I thought maybe he'd be the one to kill Emma), and then you just dropped him. Which was perhaps supposed to be a surprise, but to me was just a shame and, like I said, felt like passing up an opportunity. There were another couple of those, too. The main one is the bit where Andy refers to having to kill his family. WHAT?! Andy goes through the emotional trauma of killing his own loved ones and we don't even get to see it?! The fact that Rachel's death is absent besides a brief repeated flashback is no problem for me, but the scene with Andy's family could have been so good if done right (my favourite part of Shaun of the Dead is when Shaun's mother is about to succumb to her injuries...it's just so darn tense!). The ending was appropriately down-beat, but also just vague enough to grate on me. But that's just a personal thing, no doubt others will like its ambiguity.
Finally, a quick comment about the actual writing. You set it in the UK and yet your characters speak in quite an Americanized way; there's a lot of 'aint's, and lines that I when I spoke them aloud in my middle-class English accent, just sounded slightly silly, like Andy's "but I ain't gonna lay down and let it happen! And I sure ain't gonna sit here and let you risk our lives...etc." Probably my favourite line in the whole script is Michael's desperate "just FUCK OFF!" at the Infected. It's just so wonderfully inadequate and redundant, and is definitely what I'd say. Grammar and punctuation-wise, there are mistakes throughout, as well as some spelling mistakes - 'your' and 'you're' are often confused, there are lots of 'were's when you mean 'we're'. Words like 'may be' sometimes become 'maybe'. I was going to go through and pick them all out, but there are quite a few, and they're easily correctable so I'm sure you can do that. The style of the recorded evacuation message just seems off to me. I'm not sure if it's the wrong register or what, but lines like 'the danger is undeniable' just seem wrong. Oh, and the short exchange:
MICHAEL It seems quiet.
ANDY Too quiet.
I might sound like I'm being overly critical when I don't really mean to be. 42 pages is a long short and yet I whipped through the thing without much difficulty, which must be a good sign! I notice on the top-right hand corner of the pages it says Fourth Draft, which obviously means you modify and improve things in order to try and make scripts better. I liked this, and I'm sure others will give you more insightful points, but hopefully some of my comments might help you in Draft Number Five.
Can I first just express my appreciation at reading through my script so quickly, and giving me such useful insight. I'm sure that reading through and coming up with such valid points takes up a fair bit of time, and I am extremely grateful you could lend it my way.
I have to say that this is the first script I have forced myself to get done and finished. Being someone very interested in film and writing, obviously like yourself, I wanted to start a project to write and direct a low budget film - as you guessed, a film not far away from 28 Days later, but dealing away from the bigger London city and with a younger group of people.
This maybe the fourth draft, but these changes are all after brief chats with friends, and my own brainstorming. I'm now at the stage where I need that constructive criticism to carry on. I'm aware that there are mistakes in there, but when I write things really do flow out.
I'll just briefly go over your points, and hopefully you can reply and give me some feedback on that - again if you're not too busy with whatever porjects you are on.
Firstly, Day Two was the draft title, and as you can see...the timeframe has moved on drastically. The script is referring to Day Two more metaphorically; as in - what happened next. I will look to change this title
As you can see by the number of pages, the 'shortness' of the script is lesser, but I didnt want to go too much into the characters to save screen - and filming time - any suggestions on how to make these characters seem slightly more 3D would be appreciated. Reading back, Andy and Michael obviously go through everything together, and James suffers denial and heartbreak, but the others don't seem to realistically come accross as friends. I hope to improve this in the next draft.
As far as Andy goes, the intention was to see him struggle with the trauma and everything that has happened. To become a coward...and then to slowly become almost sef destructive. Piece by piece become angrier and angrier, and perhaps becoming the human link between man and the infect, much like Jim in the end of 28 days later. His struggle to get over the damage he has caused (Rachel) and seen, causes him to become increasingly regardless of his safety before redeeming himself with his sacrifice at the end. Reading the script again, obviously this needs to be fleshed out and made more apparent
The final point about Lee, was that he was originally a demonstrative character. A sort of serious-satire (if at all possible) of the all action heroes that appear in Zombie films and save the day; except here the joke is on the audience to expect this. Also, he demonstrates that being bitten immediately infects you...thus adding more mystery (and hopefully credit to the 'immune' theory) about Emma's bite. Adding surprise to her turn. He is a good character, and I was considering writing a prequel when done with this with him the main character...but I may yet add him into this script more.
And a word on that line from Michael; I actually very much enjoyed imagining and writing that whole kitchen scene...as I think it could be very epic! I would also shout the exact same thing
Thanks again for all the feedback, and I hope to hear from you again. I'll leave the script open for a bit more reading and comments, before writing a fifth draft based on everything I hear.