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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Scripts  ›  The Dreamer Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: December 11th, 2009, 12:22am Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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The Dreamer by Landon Harris - Short, Drama - Sometimes dreams can be dangerous things. All the more if you believe in them. 12 pages - pdf, format


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directoboy12
Posted: December 11th, 2009, 11:57am Report to Moderator
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I thought this was a lovely little short. I'm sure people will have some beef with the abundance use of "We" and voice-over but I for one didn't have much of a problem with it. The only criticism I have is that the interrogation scene with Tyra and Dr. Brody was a little bit clunky, I felt he was sort of over explaining everything when it speaks for itself.

I think with the right director this could be a really beautiful short film.

-Tanner



Check out my Script:

Feature:
"Candy: Inspired by the Houston Mass Murders"
Horror, Drama - 15 year old drunkard Wayne Henley gets caught up in procuring his teenage friends for a serial killing psychopath. 117 pages
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screenrider
Posted: December 12th, 2009, 10:57pm Report to Moderator
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I agree whole heartedly this would make a beautiful and "thought-provoking" short film.  I'm surprised more people have commented on it.   It's got some technical difficulties which I don't have time to get into, but I give it an A+ for creativity.

pg.3) INT. HOSPITAL ROOM - ...need to add "DAY"

One last thought, ...SPOLIER...at the end I would've liked to see the glimmering city of Zion "New Jerusalem " in the distant horizon, just to indicate that she acually went to Heaven. Or at least I'm hoping that's where she went.
Nice work.
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Elmer
Posted: December 15th, 2009, 1:01am Report to Moderator
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Thanks for checking this out you guys. I really appreciate it.


Screenrider - I hadn't thought of putting a city in the distance. That's a good idea. If at least only to make it seem like there are actually others in this "other world" (aka heaven) and that it's not just fields and mountains.

Directoboy - I feel the same way. At the time I was writing this I just couldn't really think of any other way of getting the information across, and after I finished it I didn't think about it again. I'll definitely give it an edit though. Thanks for pointing that out.

Thanks again you guys!

-Chris


"A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people." -Thomas Mann

http://www.wordswithlandon.com
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Craiger6
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Hey Chris,

I enjoyed this and thought it was a nice piece of visual storytelling.

In the beginning I kind of got a "Truman Show" vibe which was cool, because I always found that kind of creepy.

Considering this was a short, you were probably concerned about space, but I would love to know more about how they got were they were.  More about the Government and what is really going on.  I think you might be able to include those things and still keep the heart of the story with Tyra.

Anyway, good job and I look forward to reading more.

Craig


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Elmer
Posted: December 19th, 2009, 3:25am Report to Moderator
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Thanks for checking my script out, Craig. I appreciate it and am glad you enjoyed it.

Maybe one day I will expand it. That could be fun. I enjoyed writing this piece.

Again, thanks. And let me know if you have anything of yours you'd like me to read.

-Chris


"A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people." -Thomas Mann

http://www.wordswithlandon.com
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Yosef91
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Really good work.  The decriptions were concise but never confusing, the read was smooth, and the story was intriguing.  As mentioned earlier, the use of "we" and other first-person references were not needed, but no complaints otherwise.  Great job.
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Elmer
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Thanks for the read, Yosef. I used to be really strict with myself about the "we" thing, and to a degree I still try to stray away from it simply unless it's just the best way to explain something. But I really just don't think it's that big of a deal anymore. I've read a lot of purchased spec scripts and the majority of them do not follow this rule.

Anyway, thanks again for the read and like I said before, just PM me if you have anything of yours you want me to check out. I'd be more than happy to give some feedback.

-Chris


"A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people." -Thomas Mann

http://www.wordswithlandon.com
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Colkurtz8
Posted: January 7th, 2010, 10:35am Report to Moderator
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Landon…or Chris

Purely on the basis of very positive reviews skimmed over above, I thought I’d check this out.

I definitely liked this, it has a lot going for it in my opinion. Even though the oppressive dystopian, totalitarian future has been mediated on before numerous times in films and books this is pretty unique in terms of what I’ve read here on SS. Only “Omelian Resolution” from James Redd draws some comparison and that was adapted from a Le Guin short story.

I believe you have a very interesting premise here, from the world you described to the notion of the key and what seems to be a perceived afterlife of paradise, which can only be achieved through death. You’ll see as you read on that I’ve dropped references left, right and centre so I‘ll just say one more - “Brazil” which I actually only watched again recently, a great film, the parallels with this being too obvious to mention. I can assume it provided some backdrop to you writing this…or maybe not

So while I do like the story I also feel that 12 pages simply can’t tell it. We know nothing of the world, how it came to be like this, no back story, no motivation in terms of the ruling class bar a vague call for ostensible “peace” which is more like a euphemism for control and power but we need to know more than that before we can fully immerse ourselves into this world you have given shape to rather then fully fleshed out or created. This, in my opinion, is feature material, much too expansive to be compressed into a short script. I reckon if you gave this some though, you could certainly develop it into something ranging from 90 to 120 pages.

Your writing is a tad clunky at times which I’ve highlighted to a certain degree below. Not so much bad writing, more so writing that’s simply not suited to spec script format and what it demands. In short, it needs to be tighter, sharper, more economical. My advice would be to go back over the script and scrutinize every line of narrative and see how you can say the same thing in fewer words.

Like I always say in situations like this, being able to formulate an interesting and engaging story is the most vital asset, which is what you have here or at least potentially if you decide to expand on it. Thankfully, the technical stuff such as correct tenses, correct grammar, over-exposition, showing not telling can all be learned (and avoided) with practice.

Overall, good job with this, solid dialogue too which I forgot to mention, found very little wrong in that department. Again further proof that you know your way around a building a good story with believable, relatable and above likeable characters. I would love to see you develop it further. Keep me posted if you do anything with it.

Best of luck

Col.


Below is some page by page reactions/suggestions/opinions I took while reading –

I loved the alternative, perimeter’d world you describe in the opening pages, original and imaginative, although it sort of reminds me of Von Trier’s “Dogville” or “Manderlay” with its definitive limits and marking out within the restrictive surroundings.

“Instead of regular stores, there are on signs above large
archways that have signs above them”.

-- Maybe it’s just me but this line confused me. I found it difficult to get what you were trying to describe. Can you enlighten me?

"a YOUNGER TYRA" -- Although we can get an idea  since she is sitting on her grandfather's lap, I think you should specify her age because we are never told how old she is in the first place. Saying that she is a Younger Tara is redundant because we have no prior age indication to compare it to.

“Her eyes grow larger and turn completely white, and we
dive into them.” – I‘m sure you’ve heard a thousand times before about the much maligned use of “we” in the narrative. I’m not one for painstakingly sticking to the rules but its best to adhere to that particular one as to prevent getting anymore annoying comments like this 

TYRA (V.O.)
That mark never left my hand. Those
images that I saw when I touched
the key, for some reason, I longed
to be there.

-- I don’t get why she says “for some reason”. According to her vision which you described, that seemed like a pretty sweet place (especially in comparison to her reality) so I’m wondering why it would surprise her that those images seared themselves into her sub-conscious? Particularly given the circumstances in which those visions came to her, after what her grandfather said and the burning of the key’s outline into her palm, one doesn’t forget that kind of freaky sh?t to easily, you know. Maybe if she had forgotten them that might seem like a more natural thing to say. I know, a small thing, it just struck me as odd.

Very cool dream sequence, I think they can be a really great cinematic departure from a film when done properly e.g The Big Lebowski, Eight & A Half. I can imagine a lot of people might have problems with you over directing the scenes, as it’s not the done thing in spec scripts. In this case though, it doesn’t bother me as this is how you’ve chosen to convey what you want us to see on screen in the most detailed way, covering nearly every shot. So regardless of correct format and all that I can see it very clearly. To me, that’s what’s always the most important thing.

DR. BRODY
Dreams like this are the breeding
ground of rebellion. The complete
antithesis of maintaining peace.

TYRA
I don’t understand.

-- Although I like the interrogation scene, very Nineteen Eighty Four-ish, Tyra almost seems too stupid, too oblivious to the machinations of Dr. Brody. I mean, she is 24 after all, surely there are some factions or resistances present in this totalitarian society. I know this is only a short so you can’t explain and background everything but it just feels that Tyra is possibly too naïve at this point in her life in that she doesn’t realise the meaning of her claims and the possible dangers it could put her in.  

“Because there isn’t a door, love.” – This made me laugh, I was imagining this stone faced, expressionless officer of the “system”, harsh, cold, cruel and indifferent so this seemed really out of character. Shows he has a heart after all though, displays some humanity and tenderness. I wouldn’t change it, caught me way off guard, in a good way.

“He opens his hand up, showing Tyra his palm. On it is a much more faded mark just like hers.”

Nice twist here, he didn’t seem like someone who had ever entertained the notion, shows how much he’s changed...With furthering reading I see why. Nicely constructed nonetheless.

“Tyra is strapped to a chair in the middle of a
brightly lit room with a cloth wrapped around her head that
covers her mouth.”

-- Reads a bit long winded, maybe break up the sentences. Something like:

“Tyra is strapped to a chair in the middle of a
brightly lit room. A cloth is wrapped around her head, covering her mouth.”

“He sticks it to her neck, and it electrocutes her.”

-- To clean it up, it could be rewritten as:

“He sticks it to her neck, electrocuting her.”

“Sequences of her being tortured in other ways flash across
the screen.”

–- This comes off sounding lazy, either leave it out or detail the different modes of torture, I’m sure you could come up with a few. Most people would relish this part of the story and go balls out by articulating countless ways in which to fu?k someone up, its interesting how this doesn’t seem to, well…interest you.

I’d consider putting a bit more thought into the torture scenes in general, the electrocuting and merciless beatings aren’t very original which lets down the otherwise great concept you have here. Read the Room 101 parts of Nineteen Eighty Four for some, ahem…“inspiration”

You could do with dropping some of the “and” usage. A lot of the time a comma well speed the read whilst getting the point across, for example:

It’s small, and the only feature is the outline of a
door.

Flows better as: “It’s small, the only feature is the outline of a door.”

and

“Tyra lies in the floor, eyes wide open. Her face is bruised
and cut up, and she looks half-starved.”

Could be written as: ”Tyra lies in the floor, eyes wide open. Her face is bruised and cut up, she looks half-starved.”

“Her fist unclenches and the key falls out of it onto the
ground.”

-- I know this works well on a dramatic level, symbolising the last remnants of that once strong dream departing her. But on a realistic level, would Brody and his minions not have taken that off her by now? Since she has been in their custody for a number of days at least, surely the would have confiscated such an (as they would deem “dangerous”) item.

I like the ending, perhaps a bit on the corny side but since a bleak, albeit eloquent story preceded matters I guess it would leave a bitter taste in the mouth to compound the misery and keep her alive, prolonging this terrible existence. But like I said, with the majority of the script, although I admired the endeavour, it all feels so rushed and unexplained. Big ideas don’t work in tight confined page lengths and I reckon this has got plenty of ambition if it were given the opportunity to flourish.



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Colkurtz8  -  January 8th, 2010, 4:44pm
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ricketybridge
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I'm new, so if I break some sort of rule in this post, just let me know.  For instance, I didn't read anyone else's reviews, as on Triggerstreet, so as not to affect my take on it and also because I think there's something of value if many people say the same thing (i.e. then you really know it's a problem).

::SPOILERS::

There are some phenomenal visuals in this, notably the walled, entirely fake city (like the Truman Show, but without even bothering to make it look real) and then when the key drops from her hand at the end.

Story-wise, however, I think you sent up a fantastic mystery--what's beyond those walls??--that you never fulfill, so the end was a let-down.  I know you're trying to say that death is the way out, but it still begs the question: what's beyond the walls???  Is there really nothing beyond those walls, i.e. they represent our unbreachable physical world?  If so, I can only guess that, as no one, for instance, tries to blow up the walls and settle the matter one way or the other.  I wouldn't leave your audience's curiosity appeased like that.

Also, I found that the society trying to oppress any quests to find the door a bit too familiar.  We've seen a lot of things like this: The Matrix, 1984, Brazil, etc etc.  Personally, I found Tyra's desire to find the door a lot more interesting than the familiar plot with Dr. Brody.  And that's a quest that we never really see her act on, in spite of her attested desire.


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Elmer
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Colkurtz - Wow! Thanks for taking the time to read my script and write all that awesome feedback! I appreciate it.

I've been toying with ways to expand this into a feature, and so eventually I'll probably getting around to rewriting it as one. It just seems like it could easily go one of two ways: it actually works as a feature or just looks like I stretched out a short script into a really long script. So I'm gonna take my time with it.

I've never heard of "Brazil" haha so it definitely didn't provide any backdrop. In fact, I'm not really sure what inspired this script. I always feared I was going to end up making a rip off of George Lucas's "THX" film or whatever it's called, but I'd only seen the first ten minutes of that film so I decided not to worry about it.

The line that you didn't understand about the signs being above big archways was just a typo. I repeated myself twice by accident and missed it when I was going back over it to check for errors.

Rickety Bridge - I guess the only explanation for the question of why hadn't someone just busted through the wall to settle it is #1 I would assume that the government, given that they don't want anyone to even think like that, would have an intelligence agency just for the purpose of discovering plots to blast through the wall. Plus, by now, everyone is so conformed to the governments way of thinking, they aren't even worried about it. It's not even something that crosses their minds.

And the mystery was never "what's literally on the other side of the wall". The wall was supposed to represent the same "wall" we face which is that we really don't know what comes after life. Everyone claims to know what happens and some even claim to know what you have to do to have a good after life, but in the end, all but one view is gonna be wrong.

Thanks again to both of you for checking this out! Let me know if I can return the favor.

-Chris


"A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people." -Thomas Mann

http://www.wordswithlandon.com
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Colkurtz8
Posted: January 21st, 2010, 7:34pm Report to Moderator
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I've never heard of "Brazil"

-- Definitely check it out, Chris, if you get the chance. Although quiet different from your vision, it’s an excellent exploration of a dehumanising, dystopian future/dream(e)scaping with a liberal sprinkle of Pythonesque humour thrown in for good measure, it is Gilliam after all


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Andrew
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Quoted from Col
I believe you have a very interesting premise here, from the world you described to the notion of the key and what seems to be a perceived afterlife of paradise, which can only be achieved through death. You’ll see as you read on that I’ve dropped references left, right and centre so I‘ll just say one more - “Brazil” which I actually only watched again recently, a great film, the parallels with this being too obvious to mention. I can assume it provided some backdrop to you writing this…or maybe not

So while I do like the story I also feel that 12 pages simply can’t tell it. We know nothing of the world, how it came to be like this, no back story, no motivation in terms of the ruling class bar a vague call for ostensible “peace” which is more like a euphemism for control and power but we need to know more than that before we can fully immerse ourselves into this world you have given shape to rather then fully fleshed out or created. This, in my opinion, is feature material, much too expansive to be compressed into a short script. I reckon if you gave this some though, you could certainly develop it into something ranging from 90 to 120 pages.


Yep, the Colonel pretty much summed up my thoughts on this one here, so will just touch on what I took from it, and try to suss out your intentions. So, did you have a definitive idea with the key and door, or is it left to interpretation? To me, it was a clear metaphor for faith, and the confines represented our limited perspectives on earth. Even if I arrived at that conclusion myself, and it was not intended, I do think you've imbued your work with a sense of depth and openness, which is a real skill.

In terms of the oppressive regime controlling the masses, yes, it may have been done before, but I do think the antagonist role is best filled by 'the government', or some type of agency; for example, 'Robo Cop' turned the screw on that one a little with OCP, so maybe in a rewrite, you could merely shift those who control to satisfy the originality complaint. Definitely agree this has the legs for a feature, however.

Just to reiterate, the visuals are good, the story intriguing and the script well-written, so nice job.

Andrew


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Dreamscale
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Hey Chris, just gave this a read.  I took page by page notes as well, which will hopefully help.

As others have said, the Colonel has given you some awesome insight and feedback, but then again, he usually does, so this is no surprise to me.  Hopefully, I can expand on it a bit as well.

I like this for what it is.  I really do.  For me, it has a very “Dark City” vibe to it.  That isn’t a bad thing at all.  It’s just been done to death, as noted by Col.  If you’re not familiar with Dark City, you should check it out.

Biggest issues for me are your constant use of “we” and the like.  These things have no place in a script…whether or not pros use them inside and out.  It’s so simple to avoid them completely.  Get in the habit of doing this, and get out of the habit of using them.

You also write in a very passive voice very often.  This again, has no place in screenwriting.  Get out of that habit immediately.  It’s so easy to avoid this, once you realize you’re doing it, and how to write in an active voice.

Way too many transitions being employed also.  You don’t need them.  They inflate your script length, and I don’t see what they’re doing here for you.  Get rid of them, and learn to stay away unless they play into the actual script/story.

Again, story-wise, I liked this and think it’s quite good in terms of what it is.  I feel a bit letdown by the end, though…or maybe just by the fact that you never let us in on what this key thing is all about.  I love ambiguity, but there has to be some clue for us to make our own mind up about.  I think by going into the detail you did with the actual key and its brand that you had to let us in on what it was all about.  You didn’t, and based on that, I have no explanation that makes any sense as to what it was all about.  If you didn’t go into this level of detail, you’d be fine with your ending, but since you did (and I like the visual and possibilities, actually), you need to give us something, so we can draw our own conclusions.  Know what I mean?

I don’t agree with Col that this needs or should be a much longer script.  I like how it is and what you give us.  It works as it is.  Just a little more in the end with the key and why certain people have it, etc.

Clean it up and you’ve got a solid short on your hands.  Great creative visuals here.  Nice work overall.  Hope this helps.  Later!

Page by page notes…

Page 1 – I’d do away with the transitions whenever possible.  Unless they’re different, or really add to the script, they just take up room, and aren’t needed in a spec script, IMO.

When you first intro characters, you need to use all CAPS (little girl and her mom).

I personally don’t like the use of “us” and “we”, etc.

“Instead of regular stores, there are on signs above large archways that have signs above them.” – Something is wrong with this sentence.

Page 2 – “Pulling back through a window, on the other side of which is a wall with the projected image of rolling hills in the distance and clouds in the sky, a YOUNGER TYRA is revealed
sitting in her GRANDFATHER’S lap on a rocking chair in the middle of a fairly normal looking living room.” – OK…hmm…a 5 line sentence (and passage).  I don’t think you should ever go over 4 lines, but a single sentence running this long is crazy.  Also, You intro a “younger Tyra), but we’ve never met any Tyra’s yet, so it doesn’t quite make sense…know what I mean?

“showing” – “shows” – keep it active whenever possible.

Again, absolutely no need to use “younger” in front of Tyra…it’s Tyra, plain and simple. Also, again, get away from the habit of using “we” and using such “flowery” prose.  It doesn’t work in a script, and it stands out, and will piss some readers off.

General note – I personally don’t like the frequent use of “BLACK SCREEN”.  I don’t see that it adds anything at all, and maybe even comes off a bit odd, in a visual sense.

“mothers” – “mother’s”

“hanging”, “lying” – Again, keep it active when you can, and you easily can modify these sentences so that they are both active, as opposed to passive.

Page 4 – “lying”, “lying” – again, get out of this passive phrasing.

“he” – the”

Page 5 – “DREAM SEQUENCE” – I’d say you need a new Slug here, as it’s a completely new scene.

“A field stretches into the distance, where it meets rolling green hills, behind which is a gorgeous setting sun.” – This is awkwardly phrased…based on the last part of it, beginning with “behind”.

What’s with the “<” and “>” in the “END DREAM SEQUENCE”?

Page 6 – “sitting” – again, so passive for no good reason.  Get out of this habit!

Page 7 – “wall” – “walls”

Page 9 – “” – Again, why the use of the “<” and “>” stuff?  I am confused…

Same thing with using “SCENE”.  This isn’t formatted correctly, but it’s an awful easy fix.

“are beating” – you know the routine by now, right?  Get out of this passive habit.

“in the floor” – “on the floor”

Page 10 – Stay away from phrases such as “begins to”.  They have no place in a script.

CAP all new characters as they’re intro’d…even “two other men”.

“lying” – Lies”

“gasping” – “gasps”

“are staring” – “stare”

“and causes his mark to become less faded.” – Awkwardly phrased.


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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ajr
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Chris,

I took a look at this based on all the positive reviews.

I liked this very much.  I've seen numerous comparisons mentioned, two of them being 1984 and The Truman Show, which I saw in this right away. I'd like to add another - I got a bit of "The Butterfly Effect" as well.

Excellent take on a familiar theme - dream worlds vs. reality, and what lies on the other side.

Minor quibbles for me (besides the "we" which I know has been covered):

A couple of times you leave it up to the reader to fill in the blanks - one, where you say something like "we see a lot of signs of this nature", and then later on during Tyra's torture sequence you say something like "various other torture".  You need to specify everything that happens up on the screen. If I read "various other torture", my mind simply goes to the next line without creating an image.

Also you need to write more in the present tense - i.e., "she lies" instead of "she is lying".

I see where you may expand this into a feature. I'm not sure you could do so without being derivative of one of the afore-mentioned movies, however I whole-heartedly believe you have a very filmable 20-30 page short here, should you decide to expand it.

As Col and others have said, I think you have room to go into the machinations of this repressive society.

In the end, this is my kind of script. Anything that incorporates mind-play and distorted reality? Count me in!

Great job - AJR


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