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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Scripts  ›  Patient Zero Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: May 2nd, 2011, 4:34pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Patient Zero by Nathan Crossen (sufferblind86) - Short, Thriller - An amnesiac is told she is responsible for the death of millions of people. 6 pages - pdf, format


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albinopenguin
Posted: May 2nd, 2011, 5:16pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Nathan,

this one was okay for me. at first, it reminded me of a short story entitled Evil Spirits by palahniuk, but later revealed itself to be much different.

i like your writing style. sometimes i have a hard time following scripts, but your action lines were clear and concise. i knew where i was at and what was happening at all times.

the biggest dilemma that i had with this script were the plot holes. there were so many "what if's" that it became a little trite. SPOILERS the combination of a temporary anesthetic AND solitary confinement AND blaming a virus on someone proved too much for me. there are too many conflicting factors for the reader to make sense of it all.

if i were you, id simplify it a bit more. however, i would make the character's motives more obvious and logical. why does the main character do the things she does?

regardless, it was an enjoyable read and i thank you for sharing.


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DarrenJamesSeeley
Posted: May 2nd, 2011, 9:50pm Report to Moderator
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I have to say, despite some problems, I was starting to get into this short script, and I think there's some ice potential...to a point. Let's get the bad stuff out of the way.

*No Title Page, no FADE IN on p1 and no time of day or night. I was willing to forgive the latter, since being locked up in a room with no windows or clock might lead to that excuse, but then there's "The Next Day" in the slugs and I have to ask, how the heck could I tell it is the next day?
So, tell you what. Even if we can't tell visually if it is day or night, feel free to put in DAY since the next scene says it's the NEXT DAY.

In terms of character, call her WENDY throughout. Other characters don't have to say her name while in the room, and she herself may have a memory loss. But that's not an excuse for the reader's sake; consider that in the flashback she is called Wendy yet her slugs say WOMAN. Is there something wrong with ID'ing her as WENDY? COLE is COLE after all.

Orderlies #1 and #2 have generic title names and designations. Gas Mask Guy is a bit iffy but at least he is ID'd by that appearance. The orderlies are interchangble. I want to tell them apart. I don't like generic names by profession and number. It runs a high risk of confusing both a reader and the writer.

"fills our ears"- No. What a charactter (s) sees or hears is what we see and/or hear. You can write "Wendy screams" and trust me, it fills my ears- but I don't want o be told that it does.

Now, the good stuff

Like I said, there's a bit of setting up which grabs attention. Wendy's questions and confusion are well handled, and it drew me in. When we get to the hallway and other patients, it becomes more interesting. I liked this a lot, until you hit me with the ending which pissed me off.

======SPOILERAGE======
So, it was all a dream/delusion?


Hokey dokey.


"I know you want to work for Mo Fuzz. And Mo Fuzz wants you to. But first, I'm going to need to you do something for me... on spec." - Mo Fuzz, Tapeheads, 1988
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sufferblind86
Posted: May 13th, 2011, 11:43am Report to Moderator
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Thanks for the comments guys.

As far as the title page, I'm not sure why it did not appear because the pdf I sent in contained the title page which also included my WGA registration number. Just double checked that, so now I am a bit confused.

This was the script for my thesis film in film school. The reason parts of it aren't addressed or fleshed out more is because our films were supposed to be under ten minutes, and luckily I was one of two students (out of over eighty) who came in under ten minutes.

I left out DAY or NIGHT because I wanted to keep the story very much from Wendy's point of view. Within the room she has no idea where she is or what time-of-day it is.

Orderlies are kept simply as Orderlies because we are never given extra information on them until the end. Giving names to characters who never really speak or are called by names seems rather pointless as we will never hear them.

Leaving Wendy's slug as WOMAN was only to simplify it for a program we used to schedule shoots at the school. Cole is Cole from the beginning only because we see the sign on his door before we even see him, so we know immediately that he is Cole, and so on.

Had the 'scream fill our ears' because at this point we are not seeing Wendy and it was meant to cover the small montage. 'Wendy screams' could imply one scream that does not last long.

Why did the ending piss you off? I am interested to know.

Revision History (1 edits)
sufferblind86  -  May 13th, 2011, 9:57pm
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sufferblind86
Posted: May 13th, 2011, 9:56pm Report to Moderator
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Also, why can you say pissed  and it censored me saying just p-i-s-s??
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rc1107
Posted: May 16th, 2011, 10:42am Report to Moderator
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Hey Nathan,

I think it's funny.  I've been reading a lot of shorts lately that are similar in title to yours, (Subject A, all the Department Zero's, Patient Zero), I was actually wondering if you guys colluded and released them like this on purpose.  :-)  None of them are inter-mingled, though.

I actually did enjoy this one.  I was really interested to exactly what was going on.  I can see what Darren was referring to that the ending pissed him off a little, because it's the oldest trick in the book to have a character at the end of a story wake up and say it was all a dream.  (Which this kind of basically does).  I'm pretty sure that's what he was referring to.

Me, I didn't mind the ending of this one, though, for some reason.  Usually, I don't like stories that end that way either, but this one didn't feel like it was a cheat at all and I thought it melded well with what was going on in earlier scenes.

One thing I can say, though, is that you can refer to Wendy as Wendy throughout the whole story.  It won't ruin any of the story and if anything, it'll make it less confusing for some readers.  Now Gas Mask, on the other hand, though, that's a little more tricky because you really don't want to refer to him by name and give his reveal away.  (Although, when he's unmasked, how would we know if it's the same person in the gas mask or not?)  So it is a little bit of a challenge as what to refer to him by in the script.

Like I said, I thought this was pretty good.  The only thing I'd say to watch out for is at the end, the dialogue between Bradley and Wendy seems off their characters.  They're obviously scientists or scholars of some sort, and it sounded really teenagery to hear them talking about making out and stuff.  They just seemed immature in that flashback scene is what I'm trying to say.

But good job.  I was interested to find out what was going on in the story the whole time, and I did like the way you wrote out the descriptions.  I could see everything that was happening clearly in my head, and I wasn't lost to any of the actions like I usually get in stories with weird situations like this.

Good job.

- Mark


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Electric Dreamer
Posted: May 17th, 2011, 11:25am Report to Moderator
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Hello Nathan,

Mark and Darren gave this a look, so I thought I'd take a peek.
Darren's pretty spot on, your format needs a lot of work.
Concise brief action description is necessary for screenwriting.
It's a decent opener save for the old stolen knife escape trick.
But the ha-ha fooled you conclusion leaves a bitter aftertaste.
If these scientists were in love, he would leave nothing to chance for safety.
Readers must trust writers for stories to work, your ending betrays that trust.
Which is why many may find it unsatisfying.

Read some sceipt by veterans here and contribute peer reviews.
It's a great way to hone your craft, SS is an effective resource. Use it.
And keep writing and rewriting!

Regards,
E.D.


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crookedowl
Posted: May 18th, 2011, 1:22pm Report to Moderator
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Great script, Nathan. It's probably one of my top five favorites. I really can't think of anything you should change besides fixing the PDF so the title page shows up. Good job.
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Dreamscale
Posted: May 18th, 2011, 3:31pm Report to Moderator
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Story-wise, this is OK...maybe even good.  It's entertaining for the most part, but ends very weakly.

Writing-wise, it's a frickin' mess, though.  Every mistake in the book is on display here, and it really drags down what could be a pretty good short.

There are really so many mistakes on every single page, I really don't even know where to start, as I'm not about to spend a bunch of time on this.

Best of luck going forward.


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