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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Scripts  ›  Food For Thought Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: July 30th, 2013, 5:28pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Food For Thought by Mark Renshaw - Short, Sci Fi, Fantasy - Mankind has fallen, sick and weak they rely on machines to survive. The story of their downfall is told via a unique perspective; a Pale Man watching TV on a holographic array. The programs he scans are chosen by his mind and linked subconsciously to the crisis.   19 pages - pdf, format


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-------------
You will miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
- Wayne Gretzky

Revision History (2 edits; 1 reasons shown)
Don  -  September 10th, 2013, 8:11am
revised draft
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Dreamscale
Posted: August 1st, 2013, 11:33am Report to Moderator
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Hey Mark, I noticed you had no feedback, so I opened this up and gave it a shot.

Sorry to say, but a quick shot is all I'm going to be able to comment on, as there are numerous mistakes on display and after skimming page 2, I'm out of here.

Hopefully, the following will help and clue you in as to why I quit so quickly and most likely, no one else has chimed in.

First of all, your spacing seems off right out of the gate and you FADE IN on the right side of the page - put your FADE IN left aligned to start, as we read from left to right - FADE IN - left, FADE OUT - right.

Then you have a SUPER, but what is on screen?  Don't use a SUPER until you have an image onscreen.

This is followed by a lengthy and meaningless (O.S.) dialogue, that in reality is a (V.O.).  But, understand, you still have no image onscreen, so it's senseless.

Your opening passage ends in an orphan.  Then you go to another unseen and unknown person's (O.S.) dialogue.  We never see these 2 people, they're not (O.S.), and their entire conversation means nothing, goes nowhere, and is completely the wrong way to start a 19 page short.

Your 2nd passage is all passively written.

You've got completely unnecessary wrylies in your next 2 dialogues.

Your next passage states, "Jenny laughs." - incorrect.  We haven't even seen Jenny yet, so this can't be an action line.

Your last passage has camera direction (CLOSE ON), which isn't necessary.

And finally, you use yet another wrylie on dialogue that appears to be a joke, that isn't remotely funny.

On Page 2, we're intro'd to an unnamed character hooked up to some kind of holographic thing, watching some kind of show with newly intro'd characters, but not the ones we spent the entire first page listening to.

Doesn't work at all for me as written, bro.  Sorry.  Hope this helps.


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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MarkRenshaw
Posted: August 2nd, 2013, 2:36am Report to Moderator
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Thanks for trying man. The opening dialogue is supposed to be a news report that the Pale Man is listening to. Is there any way in script terms you can make this apparent?

Also the SUPER at the beginning is supposed to be against a black screen, again is there any way this can be more obvious? I've been looking through other scripts and script formatting websites but I've not found anything which helps.


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Dreamscale
Posted: August 2nd, 2013, 9:12am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from MarkRenshaw
Thanks for trying man. The opening dialogue is supposed to be a news report that the Pale Man is listening to. Is there any way in script terms you can make this apparent?


I figured that was the case...but you never showed the news report going on, so how would anyone really know?  But, more importantly, does anyone want to listen to this  for a whole page?  Does it do anything for your story?

If you want such a thing, the dialogue is (V.O.), as it's not like these characters are just offscreen.  Then, you need to get to a scene in which you can show this dialogue actually taking place, which is on the holograph thing.  This will tie it together, and your audience will understand exactly what's going on.


Quoted from MarkRenshaw
Also the SUPER at the beginning is supposed to be against a black screen, again is there any way this can be more obvious? I've been looking through other scripts and script formatting websites but I've not found anything which helps.


Is there any reason why the SUPER has to be over black?  Not a big deal either way, but I don't see why you'd care.

If you want the SUPER over black, just start off like this...

"OVER BLACK:

SUPER:  SOMETIME IN THE NOT SO DISTANT FUTURE

FADE IN:

EXT. HIGH STREET - NIGHT"

Note, that you want your first Slug before the SUPER.  Also, don't start your (V.O.) dialogue until after you've set your first (initial) scene.

Mkae sense?







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StevenClark
Posted: August 2nd, 2013, 1:57pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Mark,

Got up to about pg 7. My phones gonna die so I thought I'd leave a note or two for ya.

You've already seen how to set up your supers and your slugs. Your story is not too hard to follow so far, but you have waaay too much unnecessary action lines describing the images on TV. The documentary so far is ok. I'm guessing the stuff about the birds and the trees are things we need to know. However, we do not need to know what Joey is saying to Chandler at all. A mere Episode of Friends plays on the screen will suffice. But we have to sit through their dialogue as well. Not good. And later on you have almost a full page of Laurel and Hardy and the three stooges. Do we really need all that info?

I'm guessing most of your script goes on like this, and I figure if that's the case you could probably trim 3 or 4 pages off this.

I'll give it a full read later, but just wanted to share some feedback. You need to hook us in right away, especially with a short, or most will give up on it.

Steve


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MarkRenshaw
Posted: August 2nd, 2013, 2:48pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks for the feedback so far guys. It is appreciated. Everything in the script is there for a reason and I hope someone does read it through to figure out why but it's apparent it does need a lot of work.


For more of my scripts, stories, produced movies and the ocassional blog, check out my new website. CLICK
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DanBall
Posted: August 2nd, 2013, 3:05pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Mark,

I got to the end of this, but not without a lot of skimming. By the third or fourth 'program', I could see that you were just flipping through channels without really building or developing anything. You can cut out a majority of that. In fact, you could just say

Several programs display on the screen.

MONTAGE - DISPLAY SCREEN CHANNELS

- News coverage.

-A generic rip-off of FRIENDS.

-A nature show.

-Commercials, commercials, and more commercials.


But the ending you've written doesn't really communicate a point to any of it. None of it made any sense. You explained the actions (probably a bit too well--couldn't see the forest for the trees, many times), but I couldn't perceive how they related to anything that had come before. What was the significance of the leg and tongue in jars? Why were they partially digested? What was the white fluid? What was the food for thought? Who was the Mysterious Man to the story and what--if anything--was he supposed to represent?

Given the title, I thought you'd be making some sort of statement about the media, but I'm not sure you were making a statement at all. If you were, then you left it in your head because it's not really showing up on the page.

I didn't hate this, because you apparently had something to say since you went 19 pages with it. I just think it needs a LOT of work before you have a serviceable story. As it is now, it's not much of a story. It's just a montage of events that don't relate to each other. The big reveal was more like a big question mark. I'd have to know your intentions before I could suggest ways to fix it.


"I remember a time of chaos. Ruined dreams. This wasted land. But most of all, I remember The Road Warrior. The man we called 'Max'."

THE PINBALL WARRIOR (scifi, WIP, ~30 pg.)
A STAND AGAINST EVIL (short, 9 pg.)
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MarkRenshaw
Posted: August 3rd, 2013, 1:54am Report to Moderator
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I admit when I had the idea for this short is scared me and I think I may have bitten off more than I could chew (if you pardon the pun) but I wanted to give it a go.

The idea is something has happened to mankind in the future. He relies on machines to survive and is fed intravenously via this mysterious white fluid. Rather than just have a 5 minute short where the plot was revealed very quickly via the normal methods, I challenged myself to try to tell it in an unusual manner, via the TV programs the man was watching.

What has happened is nature has adapted to us, the world's greatest predator to a point where we are allergic to every natural food in the world and most of the environment. Humans either have fatal allergic reactions or develop cancer and other fatal diseases if they eat 'natural' foods or stay outside without artificial protection for too long. It's based on a theory I have that this is actually occurring!

In the end humans have developed a completely synthetic food source and technology to survive but it cannot sustain them fully so they are weak, sickly like the Pale Man but also some survivors have gone insane and are supplementing the white liquid with the only meat we can digest, ourselves. This is the fate we see at the end with the poor actor who played Joey.

Joey A.K.A The Pale Man is watching TV to pass the time and keep his mind off the fact that he's being forced to eat himself and the other actor is torturing and eating him as well. As his mind is being used to select the channels it is subconsciously picking stuff which reflect the crisis which has engulfed the human race.

I'll break down the scenes and why they are there.

The 'Good Morning' style news program with Dan and Jenny is supposed to be an anchor which helps explain the story as we go. The tell us straight about allergies, the rise in cancer rates etc. in their way. They tell crap jokes like they do on these types of programs,trying to be funny and entertaining and failing usually. Towards the end we see them suffering the effects of the crisis first hand.

The Friends scene – This highlights man's gluttony but is really there to set-up the reveal twist at the end.

The Documentary – This explains the battle in nature between predator and prey and the role evolution has in this battle. It ends with a chilling note about what nature may decide to do with mankind if she every got fed up with us.

The Silent movie scene – This was to be like the first, very rare, extreme allergic reaction caught on camera. It was also something I though may attract a budding film maker who wanted to pay a homage to the silent movie era and I'm a sucker for the classics!

The Pulp Fiction scene – This was to show we eat everything, even insects. Also to highlight the western world's population growth is occurring exponentially and we simply won't be able to grow enough cattle to support demand within a few years (this is according to studies, I did my research!) so we will have to start supplementing our food soon.

The Commercial – It's not just food we are reacting to but things like pollen, the very air we breath. The medicine we are taking to counteract the effects is getting stronger and more dangerous to take.

The Cops scene – This takes place after the crisis has started properly and people are having adverse reactions to food previously deemed safe. Restaurants and bars are using more 'alternative' food sources like cats and dogs. This is causing tension between animal rights activists and survivalists.

The stand-up comedy scene – This is also set during the crisis when sides are being drawn up and the vegetarians/vegans think they are safe because they don't eat meat. They are not but they don't know it yet. The comedian ends with a warning about what's left when we can't eat animals or vegetables or fruit; all that is left is us! It ends with the statement “Soylent Green is people” which is a line from a Charlton Heston movie about humans being used as the final food source to feed humans. It sets up the last scene; then the reveal at the end.

I realise it's difficult when skimming through a lot of scripts to pick up on a complex story that is attempting to tell something in a unique and original way, I myself do skim through scripts and if I don't get it in a few pages I am guilty of giving up on it.

But taking the above explanation into consideration and trying to visualise what I'm trying to do, if I tided the script up and tried to trim it does anyone thing there is potential here or am I trying to be too clever for my own good? Should I simply have the Pale Man and the Mysterious Man in a room talking for a few minutes with a few flash backs and reveal it all in a straightforward manner over a few minutes?

Thanks to all who have given their time looking at this. I think I really should stick to simpler stories and scripts but my crazy mind comes up with all these ideas and I can't contain myself lol!


For more of my scripts, stories, produced movies and the ocassional blog, check out my new website. CLICK
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DanBall
Posted: August 3rd, 2013, 10:31am Report to Moderator
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Your whole explanation is basically just exposition. If you had the two characters in a room talking about it, that would be just as bad.

You don't really have a clear-cut protagonist who's doing anything. Sure, you could say the Pale Man is the protagonist, but he just sits there for the whole story. He doesn't have any goals, objectives, desires. And that's what makes it hard to follow. He's too passive for this to work. I think what you should do is try to distill your exposition down to something simple and manageable, then figure out a way for the character to escape that chair or something like that.


"I remember a time of chaos. Ruined dreams. This wasted land. But most of all, I remember The Road Warrior. The man we called 'Max'."

THE PINBALL WARRIOR (scifi, WIP, ~30 pg.)
A STAND AGAINST EVIL (short, 9 pg.)
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RegularJohn
Posted: August 3rd, 2013, 12:14pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Mark.

I read this entire script and the biggest problem I have with this story is that when everything is stripped down, it's just about a sick man watching TV.  I can see from your explanation what you're after but it's just not working for me.  I've seen this problem in a few scripts where the writer writes about a man telling a story or, in your case, watches a series of shows which lays out what's happened and it doesn't work.  If humanity's decline is what you're after, stick with it but I advice against telling it through a middle man (the pale man watching TV) and go straight for the source.

As is, it's an interesting idea but the execution isn't there.  The only "show" that peaked my interest was the nature show and after that I found myself skimming through the rest, wondering if the pale man was going to do something.  Do you have any story or ideas behind him and his condition?  I know you touched up on it at the end but I was hoping for more.  Perhaps shed some light on the gruesome transformation both physically and psychologically?

If it were me going at this, I'd stick with Joey doing the sitcom in present day and gradually through his deteriorating health until he's sucking his liquefied limbs through a straw in this dystopia.  That way the story is in present tense instead of jumping from show to show but that's just me.

On the plus side, your writing is pretty good.  Easy enough to follow and in spite of hiccups early on, it read rather smoothly.  Good luck with it all and hope to read some more from you.

Johnny


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MarkRenshaw
Posted: August 4th, 2013, 12:42pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks for the input all. This was a risky idea but I wanted to try it. The Protagonist is humans and the Antagonist is nature, or vice-versa depending on your point of view. I think I'll tidy this up a bit and then put it in the backlog for now under 'experimental' and move back to more traditional formulated scripts.

It was nice of you to read and provide feedback though, it is most appreciated as it's very hard to work out what works on paper.  


For more of my scripts, stories, produced movies and the ocassional blog, check out my new website. CLICK
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