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  Author    The Ephesian by Mark Lyons - Produced  (currently 11063 views)
Don
Posted: April 16th, 2013, 3:26pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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The Ephesian by Mark Lyons (rc1107) - Short - A mourning father lobbies to visit a gangster on the eve of his execution. 16 pages - pdf, format

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Revision History (3 edits; 1 reasons shown)
Don  -  June 18th, 2018, 2:26pm
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CrusaderVoice
Posted: April 16th, 2013, 10:34pm Report to Moderator
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There is a lot of think about with this on a lot of levels. On the surface, there's quite a bit, but beyond that...there's more and hopefully future audiences grasp the full the impact.

Even the title has meanings at multiple levels considering you start with the verse, the fact that the book Ephesians was written from prison and the book itself is feel-good, up-beat letter.

A few things I picked up on during the read:

Seeing (or for the audience hearing) the acronym NCADP for the first time made me pause. You give us what it stands for shortly thereafter, but I wonder if it's best to loosely name the group ("the anti-death penalty group") would work better. You name them specifically pretty quick so it may not be that big of a deal.

Speaking of that, when you actually say the name of the group, you point out that they are an anti-death penalty group. That seemed redundant when it is stated first that their name is the National Coalition Against the Death Penalty.

On pg 5: The Reporter starts talking but it took me a second to figure out he was voicing his story. You may have written this correctly...I don't know. The action line says the camera is being prepped for the shot, but then The Reporter starts voicing his stand-up. I wondered if you needed to add that The Reporter faces the camera, or receives his cue…then dialogue.

A local reporter would not likely include the state name with the town unless the coverage area crosses state lines. Most likely, it would be voiced “An unexpected turn in Lucasville today…”

A good reporter is also not going to want to sound like they wait for statements from officials. “No one from the press has been told…” is going to get The Reporter yelled at by his news director later that night.

“Authorities aren’t saying why he’s been allowed access to the prison before anyone else…” is better and makes him sound like he’s on top of the situation. Then again, your reporter is young and may be inexperienced to make such mistakes…but that may not be your intention and would get in the way of this story anyway.

Antwan is clearly a changed man but you are ambiguous about his faith. I think it’s implied but there’s a line about he’s not sure about what happens after death and how he’ll be judged...granted, nobody REALLY knows 100%, but I think if he’s a convert, he’s not going to be as uncertain.

At the beginning of the script, you only give part of the verse, which is actually only part of a sentence. For those that don’t know it and won’t look it up, the full context of the verse says that “when we were dead in our transgressions, it is by grace we are saved.” A sentence or two later, the point is made that the grace is granted by God and is not something we earn, not something we can work toward and not something we even deserve. It is a gift.

That provides some impact and punch for the ending…if we’re certain of Antwan.  
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rc1107
Posted: April 17th, 2013, 6:10am Report to Moderator
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Hey Ed.

Thanks for having a read at this.

I agree about the many different levels the story works on.  I was trying very hard not too bash anybody over the head with the message of the story, and which side is right and which side is wrong.

Ultimately, I wanted the message to have a feeling of unity, much like the book of Ephesians itself.  (Although Ephesians has to do with the unity of Church, I wanted to get the feeling across of just unity in general.  How we can all have so different thoughts, but that we should see those thoughts from both sides of the fence, (or all sides of the fence.  I'm a big believer that all issues might have 5 answers, not just right or wrong), and make our decisions from all perspectives, rather than just blind impulsiveness.)


You're right about the mistakes the reporter makes.  I think I unintentionally made him a little wet behind the ears because of my own ignorance in journalism.  Or, maybe it's because our journalism isn't very strong in the area in the first place and I'm just going off how I hear the news.  I like your idea of 'Authorities aren't saying why he's been allowed...' a lot better and I'll definitely go back and work that around somehow.

I see what you mean about Antwan being ambiguous about his faith, (and also my condensed quote of the verses).  I think that stems back again to me not wanting to slam anybody over the head with the message.  I think if Antwan was a born-again Christian or something, that not many people will relate to the message of the story because the characters'll start to sound too preachy.

It was definitely a tough story to write, and I'm thinking the story's coming off more convuluted than I had hoped.  I wanted to get my own thoughts and perspectives in there, but I still wanted to be open to the idea that sometimes, there just might not be any right or wrong answer to some of our most controversial topics.  Or, the possibility that there might be more answers than just right or wrong.

Nevertheless, thank you very much for taking a look at this one, Ed.  And thanks for the great notes, too.  Again, I'm glad you came to the site.

- Mark


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CrusaderVoice
Posted: April 17th, 2013, 3:52pm Report to Moderator
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I don't think this is convuluted at all. I think people will view this at a lot of different levels, especially if filmed. People will see the story on the surface, and that's fine. It's compelling enough. Others will pick up on the full context of the Ephesians quote and have the Book itself in perspective and provides additional impact.

In terms of the issue itself, I think it was interesting that you painted a little bit of an idealistic picture of people coming together...but it quickly had a contrast with what I thought was a realistic conclusion. I think your take on this is right...and I think you portrayed your sentiments the right way.

Out of curiosity, I had to look up to see if Ohio was one of those states where the death penalty is a "fake" law...it's on the books but never used even if someone receives the sentence. I was surprised to find that it is very not-fake there..and was in use very recently.

I have learned a lot and it's been fun to interact on this site. I still don't know much about anything regarding this craft (however, there was a brief time in my life when a news director would yell at me).
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rc1107
Posted: April 18th, 2013, 7:41am Report to Moderator
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Oh yes.  It's employed quite regularly, actually, although I've noticed Governor Kasich is a lot more prone to clemency than the former two governors were.  They were strappin' 'em in 10 people a year there for a while.

While I was writing this, all the controversy was going on if Ronald Post was too heavy to be executed or not.  (That's why I felt the urge to put in prisoners not getting to choose their last meals anymore, even though that's Texas law now and not Ohio.)  Ronald Post was commuted to life without parole, but more because he had poor legal counsel rather than his weight.


Quoted from Ed
I still don't know much about anything regarding this craft


Sure you do.  It's all about finding your own personal way to tell the strongest story possible.  (And you don't always have to be politically correct and your director won't yell at you for making your personal opinions known.  :-)


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spesh2k
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Hey Mark,

I gave this one a look and really admired it. I was surprised actually by how thought provoking your story was and especially by how complex the characters are, which is hard to do when writing a short script (at least for me it is).

The writing was good. You did well transitioning from scene to scene and everything kept the story in motion. It does kind of border Frank Capra territory with the ending a bit, but it felt honest and genuine. Though the story ends on a tragic note, there is a sense of togetherness doesn't make it to much of a downer.

Nothing felt forced. And the script relies a lot on dialogue, but none of it seemed over expository. You do a good job balancing dialogue and imagery.

The opening was quite powerful, though the image of a dead baby is a bit disturbing to picture.

The thing I most admire about this story is that nothing is in black and white. It does sway more towards anti-death penalty, but you don't smash the audience over the face with the moral of the story. And the characters were all complex, even the governor. Though Latessa wants to depict Antwan as a straight up villain to the public, there is a brief moment where he's sitting behind his desk, right before the lethal injection, and I believe he's looking at the phone, perhaps suggesting he gave the idea of calling it off some thought (BTW I kept thinking Latessa was a female, but realized that was his last name. No big deal really). You do a fantastic job of humanizing everybody, especially Antwan, but without making him a martyr or too much of a tragic figure. Everything he's done since being sentenced, he's done the right way. And not for the purpose of having the death penalty appealed. But to cleanse his soul in a way.

I didn't really have any issues with the story at all other than not understanding the title. I'm sure it means something, hell, I'll probably look it up on google. Which says a lot because I cared enough about the story to want to go on google and figure out the title. Nicely done overall.


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
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Colkurtz8
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Mark

I always look forward to reading something of yours.

Fairly random title you got there, I had to look it up. Not a criticism by any means, just an observation.

Was the slow motion intro inspired by Lars Von Trier’s “Antichrist” by any chance?

Did you watch Werner Herzog’s “Into the Abyss”? Or perhaps Michael watched it…

BAYER
This second visit will
be heavily supervised in the room
we had just walked from.

- Shouldn’t it be “have” instead of “had”?

I like how you are using the media crew as a device to tell us about the process of an execution. A brief insight into the various details/measures/preparations that many of us may not be privy to. It creates a subtle build up of tension as you go through each room, simultaneously putting us in Antwan’s and Michael shoes and their perspective of the event from either side of the glass, resulting in a more immersive and anticipatory connection to the piece, documentary-like.

Did you do much research for this?

I never knew capital punishment was legal in Ohio, just checked it out now.

Sh?t!, I definitely didn’t know it was legal in the majority of American states, and by a considerable margin too.

REPORTER
There have been some hints, Mr.
Bayer, that the execution may be
stayed for one reason or another.
Exactly how much of that is truth
and how much of that is the NCADP's
spin?

- Not sure what you mean here. I’m specifically thrown by the “may be stayed for one reason” part. A typo perhaps?

MICHAEL
Antwan's been sending me letters
for a very long time, since just
after his sentencing.

MICHAEL
He said he wanted to send them
during the trial, but he didn't
want me to think he was just saying

- This can be written as one block of dialogue with ellipses or (beat) if you want to signify a pause.

“Jeremy's mother on the Justice for All side.”

- I thought “Jeremy’s mother” would at least warrant a name.

GUARD
We don't do that anymore. It's a
liability. You choose something
that slows your blood down, it'll
slow the drugs down. We don't want
to burn your insides.

- Wow, is this true?

ANTWAN
Either this wallpaper goes... Or I
do.

- Yes! It needed to be good final utterance and it delivered! A great way to alleviate the otherwise heavy, weighing tension.

Overall, well told story, Mark.

You tell it in a very straightforward manner, working off the logline there are no real twists or unexpected turns, and that’s cool, I don’t see that as a bad thing at all, given the subject of the piece.

It’s apparent you have convictions, certain beliefs and opinions which manifest themselves in your work. No one can accuse you of not taking sides or ambiguity here, I suspect that this is how you feel towards such a situation and this is merely you documenting it in a dramatic form.

Michael feels like your conduit, this is how you would react, this is how you would view the bigger picture. Forgive me, for working off the presumption that it’s not based on personal experience although it feels like that, therein lies the real merit of the script for me, its unashamed point of view, explicitly and compassionately conveyed.

The theme of redemption, guilt and above all hope for humanity no matter how defiled one has becomes permeates your work in a number of scripts and this is no exception. Despite the bleak, dehumanising context of the story it’s in fact a deceptively upbeat and life affirming read, the message is there and that message is love and compassion.

More importantly, in regards your skill as a writer it pulls this off without being overly sentimental or manipulative, again, it feels personalised and exceptionally genuine.

If one (e.g. me) was to look at the bare bone of the story; father of victim visits perpetrator on death row the day of his execution, my alarm bells would be firing off big time, approaching with the same level of caution Jeremy Renner did many times in “The Hurt Locker”, except in my case, wary of the all too numerous pitfalls of mawkishness, melodrama and most sinfully, disingenuous characterisation in order to punch up the tension. Thankfully with you, as I anticipated, we got real, thoughtful characters talking in a real and thoughtful way.

Some might say it lacks said tension or or a twist or whatever, I don’t think that’s what the script is attempting to achieve, it’s more a cautionary tale or sorts, telling us to not be consumed by grief and vengeance, to not let it swallow you up and become all you are.

Of course this is easy for me to say, to sympathise with Michael’s (i.e. your) mindset when I have thanfully never encountered such a situation, we can't possibly know how we would react or what sort of person we’d become but most of us would like to believe we could exhibit Michael’s strength.

Anyway, enough waffling, I appreciate what you attempted here, apologies if I’m way off the mark with my interpretations.

Col.


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rc1107
Posted: April 19th, 2013, 9:13am Report to Moderator
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Hey spesh.  (I believe your name is Michael.)

Kind of a coincidence.  I came across your short 'Two Wrongs' yesterday on the portal and the logline grabbed me, so I had it queued up later on today for me to read.

First of all, thanks for taking a read and thanks also for all the compliments.


Quoted from spesh
It does kind of border Frank Capra territory with the ending a bit, but it felt honest and genuine.


I'm actually a huge Frank Capra fan.  ('Meet John Doe' is my favorite.)  I'm actually surprised to hear that, because he was the last thing I had on my mind while writing this.

But I think I get what you're saying here.  It's kind of an obliged ending.  There's no other way this story could have ended.  Any twists or surprises or gimmicks would have cheapened what was supposed to be a real-life story.

I'm glad you were able to see it for what it was and I'm happy it turned out genuine.


Quoted from spesh
(BTW I kept thinking Latessa was a female, but realized that was his last name. No big deal really)


Ahh.  The -tessa ending does sound feminine, doesn't it?  I came up with the name the same way I come up with most character names.  (Take a walk through the oldest part of the cemetery and jot down old names on headstones that stick out at me.)  This one is kind of a tribute, also, though.  After seeing the name on the gravemarker, I remembered going to school with somebody whose last name was Latessa and I remember him being very Republican.  It just kind of seemed to fit perfectly.


Quoted from smesh
The thing I most admire about this story is that nothing is in black and white. It does sway more towards anti-death penalty, but you don't smash the audience over the face with the moral of the story.


Thank you very much Michael.  This is exactly how I wanted the story to come across.


Quoted from spesh
I didn't really have any issues with the story at all other than not understanding the title. I'm sure it means something


Yeah, I kind of wanted to be a little subtle with the title and didn't reference anything in the story.  (I didn't want to come off like a Bible-thumper.)  I was raised Catholic, but I took Bible studies more from a literary viewpoint rather than something to base my faith on.  I've viewed the books and stories in the Bible more as a positive life-lesson more than anything.

The Book of Ephesians are letters written by Paul, from prison, to the Ephesians.  While the letters are more about bringing unity within the church, I always viewed it as unity of people in general.  To bring different opinions together and respect them all from a non-critical point of view.

While anti-death penalty seems the right answer how I see it, I still see where pro-death penalty people are coming from.  The secret, I think, is how the offender learns from his horrible mistake, and if he spends the rest of his time trying to make better the quality of life, then maybe we'll be losing something if we take his life away.  (Otherwise, what's the point on keeping him alive for 15-20 years if the states just going to kill him anyway?)

I don't think murderers should get a second chance at freedom.  But I think they deserve another chance to better the quality of life, whether it be through writing or even 'scared straight' programs.


Nonetheless, I appreciate the read, Michael, and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

I'll be checking out 'Two Wrongs' a little bit later on today.

- Mark


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M.Alexander
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Quoted from Colkurtz8
The theme of redemption, guilt and above all hope for humanity no matter how defiled one has becomes permeates your work in a number of scripts and this is no exception. Despite the bleak, dehumanising context of the story it’s in fact a deceptively upbeat and life affirming read, the message is there and that message is love and compassion.

More importantly, in regards your skill as a writer it pulls this off without being overly sentimental or manipulative, again, it feels personalised and exceptionally genuine.


Exactly.

But, with that said, this story didn't do much for me.  Too chatty and not enough payoff, IMO.   If I wrote it I would've had Michael help Antwan escape from the prison.    But then it'd be a whole nother story.   In any event this was a noble effort.  Good job.
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rc1107
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Hey Col.

As always, I appreciate the read a ton.


Quoted from Col
Fairly random title you got there, I had to look it up. Not a criticism by any means, just an observation.


The Book of Ephesians are letters (supposedly) written by Paul, from prison, to the Ephesians.  (I say supposedly because there are substantial claims that they may have been written by a later author heavily influenced by Paul.)  While the letters are more about bringing unity within the church, I always viewed it as unity of people in general.  To bring different opinions together and respect them all from a non-critical point of view.

I tried to keep the title subtle, or ambiguous, throughout the story, so it didn't come off as too preachy.


I've been looking for 'Anti-Christ' for over a year now, and I just can't find it.  I'm a big Lars von Trier fan, based off 'Dogville', and his documentary, but I can't wait until I see 'Anti-Christ'.

I've never seen 'Into the Abyss' either.  I got me some internet searching to do later on tonight!



Quoted from Col
I like how you are using the media crew as a device to tell us about the process of an execution. A brief insight into the various details/measures/preparations that many of us may not be privy to. It creates a subtle build up of tension as you go through each room, simultaneously putting us in Antwan’s and Michael shoes and their perspective of the event from either side of the glass, resulting in a more immersive and anticipatory connection to the piece, documentary-like.

Did you do much research for this?


A ton.  A lot of it was mainly just me being interested in the subject, spurred on by the movie 'The Life of David Gale' with Kevin Spacey.

I did take some literary license here and there, though.  In Ohio, executions are performed at ten in the morning, but I liked the late-night vigil better, so I changed it to the more normal 12:01 am time.  Also, death row inmates are housed at the Chillicothe prison site.  But that was kind of a mouthful and 'State Pen' seemed to work a little better.

The warden's tour of the facility was based on an actual video tour of the facility I found online years ago.  I had to do a lot of it from memory when I was writing, though, because now when I go back to the site, the plug-in on my computer doesn't play the video.


Quoted from Col
- Not sure what you mean here. I’m specifically thrown by the “may be stayed for one reason” part. A typo perhaps?


It's legal jargon.  A stay of execution is an order that the sentence may need to be put on hold until further review.  While writing this, it was ruled that a current death row inmate days away from execution had a faulty legal team representing him, so they stayed his execution, and his sentence was commuted to life in prison instead.


Regarding last meals:

:-)  More literary license.  Ohio still does give last meal requests.  (Last I checked.)  That same prisoner I just said got his execution stayed, also filed that he was too fat to be executed and they wouldn't be able to properly inject him.  Thought I'd try to work that in somehow.

Texas does not take requests for last meals anymore, however.


Quoted from Col
Michael feels like your conduit, this is how you would react, this is how you would view the bigger picture. Forgive me, for working off the presumption that it’s not based on personal experience although it feels like that, therein lies the real merit of the script for me, its unashamed point of view, explicitly and compassionately conveyed.


You presumed right for the most part.  I think right now my convictions are much like Michael's.

However, I can't say that for certain, because like you said, we have to ACTUALLY be put in that position to know EXACTLY how we'll react.

If I really put myself into that position, I probably would have pulled the trigger on Antwan just out of pure hatred.  In fact, I probably would have resorted to one of my past torture porn exploitation stories and figure out which killing I can pull off on him.  :-)

I don't know.  That's why it's so hard and that's why, though I believe any killing should not be performed by anybody, I can't hold anything against people who say that the death penalty is just.

Like abortion, I think it'll be a controversy that will forever be split down the middle.  There'll never be a right or wrong side.


I appreciate your remarks about the themes of guilt, redemption, and hope, and I'm so glad to hear that you can see them in my stories.  That means a lot.  :-)  I think I might be on the right track with this whole 'writing' thing.

I also agree that the ending does lack a punch, because it is very straight forward, but I didn't want to lose any of the sentimental value built up by resorting to parlor tricks.


Thanks again for the read, Col.  You know I'm always on the lookout for your stuff.

- Mark


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rc1107
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Hey Michael.  (Alexander.)  (A lot of Michael's talked about on this thread so far.  :-)

Thanks for reading.


Quoted from Michael
But, with that said, this story didn't do much for me.  Too chatty and not enough payoff, IMO.   If I wrote it I would've had Michael help Antwan escape from the prison.    But then it'd be a whole nother story.   In any event this was a noble effort.  Good job.


I know exactly where you're coming from, and that's why it took me so long to post this one up on the boards.

I thought and though and thought on it, and there was nothing I could come up with that wouldn't take away from the real-life atmosphere I feel this had working for it.  I didn't want to destroy that at all.

Finally, I decided to just put it out there and, hopefully, at least somebody'll get something out of the story.  I know I did writing it.

I do have some ideas that will work throughout the beginning and the middle of the story for a feature, but I just don't see this one ending any differently than it does now.  Or nothing to add that won't ruin it and become just another prison film.

Thanks again for the time, Michael.

- Mark


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spesh2k
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No problem Mark, it was a good read, sort of reminded me of that Clint Eastwood movie with Isaiah Washington at the end, except with a complete opposite of an ending (I forget what the movie is called off the top of my head).

And I like Frank Capra too (in moderation), I didn't mean it as a negative, but you get what I'm saying.

Like I said, I had no issues. I'd figure some readers may think its too chatty, and if I wanted to nitpick, I suppose I could suggest possibly cutting out the tour part and saving that for a feature length version because it does take up about three pages (I believe it does), but I liked the tour. It's done in such a matter-of-fact way, it really gives the reader that feeling of a cold, impersonal setting, the impending fate of a man, whether evil or not.


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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jwent6688
Posted: April 20th, 2013, 12:52pm Report to Moderator
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Mark,

Good clean writing as always. This isn't a fave for me of your work. I guess it was just a tad too over dramatic? I loved the use of real places and your in depth of scope into something like this. I haven't read through all of the comments, so forgive.

I'm guessing you read a story somewhere that maybe inspired this? I understand you're trying to bring about debate to capital punishment. I will state, I'm all for it. Just as a chicken produces bad eggs, so does the human race. I don't think some people can be fixed nor do they deserve to be.But, it is a polarizing topic and I think we're close to split down the middle.

Antwan, on the other hand, seemed to truly be sorry for his crime. I would think this would be a manslaughter charge as he hit the baby on accident, no? Is that punishable by death? I thought only murder in the first got the death penalty.

It is an interesting piece. I found myself looking for something at the end that I would not see. In my devious mind, I would've still had Antwan die, but maybe he got to eat whatever he wanted the night before and purposely requested something that would make him Burn Inside.

Then he has a violent fit on the gurney in front of the spectators. Much like watching a guy in the Green Mile get executed without a wet sponge.

You just need a twist like that, IMO. It's a good piece, no doubt, just lacking that driving nail for me.

James


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Forgive
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Carefully written, well conceived. I'll take a closer look.
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jwent6688
Posted: April 20th, 2013, 9:52pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer


Wherever I go, there Jwent.

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Quoted from Forgive
Carefully written, well conceived. I'll take a closer look.


It's only 16 pages, take a closer look now or shut up. Sorry Mark, this guy pissed me off tonight and thinks his opinion is gold.

James



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