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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Horror Scripts  ›  The House in the Clearing Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: September 15th, 2010, 4:52pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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The House in the Clearing by Steve Brown - Horror - A woman is haunted by the ghosts of children, who warn her about the upcoming Centennial of the mysterious One-Eyed Man. 114 pages - pdf, format


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Eoin
Posted: September 30th, 2010, 9:24am Report to Moderator
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I really wanted to read this, but i just found your use of camera directions way over the top. Is this a production script? if so can you post the reading script.
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Lon
Posted: September 30th, 2010, 9:52pm Report to Moderator
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Okay, so, I just read through the first thirty pages.  I won't comment on the story at this point, because the story isn't the biggest problem at this point.

As badbaz mentioned above, your use of camera directions and CUs and SLOW PANS and ZOOM INs seriously distract from the reading experience.  Your objective, as a spec script writer, is to tell your story.  Camera directions are on the director.

Also, your descriptive paragraphs -- while definitely descriptive -- are very, very wordy.  I'm going to use the following excerpt from your script as an example:

____________________________________________________________________________
INT. CLEARING - DAY
CLOSE ON: EMPTY FIRE PIT
SLOWLY PAN BACK as -
- CREDITS ROLL
- slowly reveal -
- an OLD CLEARING.
Trees are growing in a PERFECT CIRCLE around a WELL-KEPT
GRASSY FIELD. The fire pit sits in the middle of the field.
TOYS litter the ground.
SLOW MONTAGE:
CLOSE ON: SPINNING TOP
It is made of wood and has peeling red and blue paint. A
small BLACK FLY lands on it. It sits for a few seconds
before flying off.
CLOSE ON: WOODEN BALL
There are chunks missing from the ball. Termites are
currently devouring it.
CLOSE ON: PORCELAIN DOLL
A large crack has formed down the center of the dolls faded
face.
CLOSE ON: TREE
Carved into the tree are the words: "Papaya Lane Children’s
Club".
CLOSE ON: JUMP ROPE
A string jump rope lays untouched in the grass close to the
fire.
CLOSE ON: PLAYING CARDS
An old deck of playing cards, water logged and torn, sitting
in the grass.
CLOSE ON: DICE
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 2.
A set of dice are also in the long grass. They look
newer. Beside them is a playing board, it also looking new.
CLOSE ON: TEDDY BEAR
______________________________________________________________________

Sorry the excerpt didn't copy in proper format, but the above sequence is at least half a page describing a single location, which you inaccurately label INT.  Everything you have written here can be reworded -- tightened drastically -- by removing your camera directions, using active present-tense verbs, and painting the picture with just enough detail to get the point across without pinpointing every single little thing.

Look at how easily the above can be condensed:

EXT. CLEARING (be sure to mention if it's DAY or NIGHT) - CREDIT SEQUENCE

An empty fire pit.  Various CHILDREN's TOYS littered about.  A porcelain doll, its faded face cracked.   A termite-damaged croquet ball.  An abandoned jump rope.  Weathered playing cards.  A ragged teddy bear.  A pair of dice.  A playing board.  Etched into the trunk of a nearby tree: "PAPAYA LANE CHILDREN's CLUB."

That's an entire half page of description condensed to one four line paragraph.

I understand what you're going for; you're looking to set up a pace, a mood, an atmosphere by drawing attention to the individual details of the scene.  But by listing them as I have above, in the space of a paragraph, you're signalling the reader to stop and visualize each detail.  You don't need to say CU or any of that, because by pointing them at individually, it is naturally implied these individual details will be seen in close up.

Based on just the firty thirty pages I read, you could probably whittle out roughly half of those pages by condensing your descriptives and doing away with unnecessary camera directions.

If you can do that, I would be happy (and it would be much easier) to give the entire script a read.

Good luck.  Don't stop writing.

Badbaz -- I don't think this is a shooting script, as there are no scene numbers.
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czamboni
Posted: November 16th, 2010, 9:35pm Report to Moderator
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Couldn't get past the overuse of camera directions. Dude I've done the same thing in the past. I couldn't make it past page 5 just becuase of the refernce to camera angles was so annoying. When I wrote mine (the old version is still up) look how bad it was. The camera directions take away from a potentialy good (great) story. We are writing spec scripts not production scripts. The director will make the decisons onto what the camera does. Our job as writers is to tell a story. When a producer reads a script they want to get a feel for the story not what the cameral is doing. Take out the excess camera stuff and I would be glad to continue reading it. Good luck.
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