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The Killing Lottery: Change (First episode) by Alexander Brauck (PrussianMosby) - Thriller - In a world of nuclear deterrence, which had led to a revolutionary UN-constitution about an official killing exchange, a team of killers has to cross the Chinese Taklamakan desert to fight a man thrown on the market by a powerful bookmaker. - pdf, format
EXT. THERMOSPHERE - BOUNDARY OF SPACE (KÁRMÁN LINE)
Fifty-five miles high above the blue planet -–
an INTERCONTINENTAL MISSILE boosts upwards.
It tilts a bit, enters microgravity where the launch vehicle
drops off, reenters and burns up.
The shrouded, arrow-shaped warhead weightlessly coasts out
of earth's atmosphere.
Jet engines stabilize the warhead and thrust it into a
horizontal trajectory along planet earth.
I haven't got time to read this right now... but if the quality of the writing remains this good throughout, I'll be happy to finish it tomorrow.
Page 1. Jet engines wouldn't work in space. Rockets or even compressed gas is used to steer in zero G, FYI.
Page 5. You're explanation exposition is confusing. I think I know what's happened. Defenses against ICBM have become so advanced that war has become trivial yet constant? Interesting premise but not sure if I buy it. You mention conventional forces are useless now and have been abandoned, but if nuclear weapons have been fully neutralized then conventional forces would be even more important, not less.
The dialogue is not on par with your descriptions so far which are very good as Dustin pointed out above.
How old is everybody?
Page 7. Operation Desert Flame
Page 10. So people are buying Jasper's service to take somebody out? I'm not seeing the connection between this and your intro with the ICBM. Might you be better off starting with a lottery "hit" and explaining back-story later?
I'm getting lost. At this point all you are doing is telling us all about this upcoming hit to be. Contract negations in the first ten pages for a strange lottery system we don't understand is confusing. You're not really showing at this point, just telling.
I doubt the script keeps this level in case of writing. I'll need more time.
I thought jet engines could throw out air or any fuel else. But it seems to be a motor or sth., sure. I wanted to make it understandable and didn'nt want to tell there's a stream of air pressure..... for example: Usually, nuclear weapons have several warheads carried by a re-entry vehicle and all that, for example. I wanted to make it easy. I've read a f.... lot about that whole stuff. It dissapoints me to see it wasn't enough by this jet engine call.
You don't seem to like it. But thanks for looking at it. HEY! Cameron, I've heard you've finished your first script. Man, I can remember when I did this 7-8 years ago. That's a good thing finishing a first script. Congrats. And thanks of course.
It was a little less than 7 or 8 years ago, lol. But thanks! Script two is already in the early stages.
Jet engines need air to operate, and with no air in space...... I also thought of mentioning that you should have shown multiple reentry vehicles to make your opening realistic and more threatening. Something else is some missiles can carry decoy balloons to throw off counter measures by hiding the real warhead within. I also thought given your circumstances what would be the point of just one missile being launched if it would surely be destroyed? Why not send up a barrage and have them all zapped away effortlessly? That might give a better understanding of your world.
Okay, so having just finished this, I'm quite torn on what to think. On the one hand, it is quite interesting and could make a pretty good series, especially with the way it ended. I definitely liked how the seemingly bad guy, Miyamoto, actually wants to work together with Jasper and his team. His reasons for doing so seem quite admirable too, to stop murder, fear and war. And I can see he's willing to make sacrifices to make it happen.
However, on the other hand, I'm not really sure what the whole point is. What are these 'killing lotteries' actually about? Maybe it was somewhere in Jasper's opening dialogue and I've just missed it? But, I certainly feel you need to make it clearer as to what the killing lotteries are and why they take place.
Maybe the killing lotteries are how wars are fought now instead? I'm really not sure, but if you can find a way to make it absolutely clear, you have a pretty good idea here which could hold some weight.
I'm with CameronD that perhaps you should start off with one of these killings taking place. Then you can show the effects it has on the respective parties in order to really make it clear what is going on. I really feel it's something you need to make absolutely clear if you want the reader to be totally invested in your story.
As for the writing itself, while still not perfect, I found it a lot easier to read compared with your first ten pages in the challenge. There are still things that could be worked on, for example you keep using 'sees' instead of 'looks', and other little bits like that. I think I'm right in saying you're German, so little mistakes are understandable, and with more practice I'm sure you will get it all down. It's still impressive to write in a second language, especially as English is actually pretty complicated to get a grip with, even for me and it's my first language.
A couple of extra little notes, on page 8 when the people on screen are speaking, you have (o. loudspeaker), or a variation of it. I'm pretty sure it should be (VO) instead as I'm very sure (o. loudspeaker) isn't even a thing. But at the same time, we can see the people on the screen so either would be totally unecessary, certainly in my opinion anyway.
I did really like the line 'money talks, bullsh!t walks'.
And what does 'Tor' mean? When I used google it says it means 'gate', and it doesn't seem like that fits. I'm just curious more than anything.
Overall though, a decent effort that could be an interesting series if you manage to clear a few things up.
Very well written so far, I'm reminded of Command and Conquer. Good visuals.
JASPER KIDD (V.O.)
Thousands of nuclear missiles,
thousands of interceptor missiles,
space based laser systems ... For a
long time it seemed as if we're one
step away to solve earth's problems
for all times. Sanity prevailed.
After the ellipsis the dialogue trails off into bad English.
JASPER KIDD (V.O.)
The big question was: What to do
when you couldn't invade a country
anymore without fearing to step on
someone's toes? Sure, the armies
went on vacation for a long time.
But still, there's always somebody
who has to die -- Who crashed the
wrong hedge fund -- Mines in the
wrong place at the wrong time.
The above is not handled too well.
JASPER KIDD (V.O.)
So, they designed a system where
all the cards are on the table, in
the truest sense of the word. From
this time on, an official chess
game has begun. War has never been
as fair as in the Killing Lottery.
All of the VO needs going over with a fine tooth comb. I've read it all but I'm still not sure exactly what I've supposed to have learned.
The kicked up dust follows at a significant distance,
because CHRISTINA LAFLEUR, a blonde, reinvents to ride a
bike as an art.
reinvents to ride bike as an art... doesn't make sense. I'm deciphering it as she's got skills on a bike, so I suppose it does make sense, it just doesn't read very well.
I suppose you can go back and correct all of this, must be hard when English is a second language, but if you can reach the same quality of writing as in the start then you're there. The only let down then is the dialogue... but if you only say what is necessary rather than adding little extras then this will go some way to helping out.
You have original story ideas and you understand stories well. It's just a shame you have the language barrier preventing you from relating them the way they should be.
There is a lot of exposition. In my opinion you should seek to keep as much in the action as you can.
I'm lost at page 10. I don't have any idea why Jasper crosses the guns and shoots holographic(?) traders in the head. I don't really know what's going on at all. I'll try reading the rest tomorrow. Sorry I can't be more positive right now.
Like others have noted, the writing starts strong, but diminishes. The fact that you can get it there in the opening should be encouraging, though.
P. 3 Don’t forget Christina’s age
Pg. 4 What’s a foil kite with a load?
Pg. 8 “A JAPANESE interrupts” Japanese Man? Woman?
“marshes” should be marches
Pg. 10 “Cold as ice Jasper wanders with his flip flops off.” The flip flop part kinda undercuts the intimidation angle.
Pg. 13 “VOICE: Yesterday there was a tender of the US American bookmaker for...” If I don’t understand how the lottery works after all that, I fear I never will. This is where it helps to have a character who’s never heard of any of this before. That way the other characters can explain to them plainly what’s going on without getting lost in minutia. Is this basically just placing bets on the success of a hit? If so, what does this matter to Jasper. How does he benefit from the gambling angle?
Pg. 14 Wasn’t Miyamoto just getting the hell whipped out of him? He seems in good spirits now. [okay, this was explained]
“Jasper chills with a can of beer on the jetty.” Doesn’t he have stuff he should be doing? Like a hit?
So the world just draws names out of hat and then hitmen go and kill some poor schmoe? Maybe I missed something, what does this have to do with nuclear deterrence?
Pg. 15 “I was born dumb. Specialists fixed that when I was nineteen.” Weren’t we all? What does this mean?
P 16 “Now I know you're stuff.” Your?
“VOICE (O.S.) The timeframe of operation desert flame has been reduced to four days.” Why? The hitman’s just drinking beer on a jetty.
Pg. 19 “We're living dead.” So they’ll be killed if they fail? Was that made clear earlier?
Pg. 20 “Beats a hail of blows down that their faces burst asunder.” How about, “beats their faces to a bloody pulp”? The former is just too awkwardly worded.
Pg. 21 “So, you're wife died at 9/11?!” I’d cut the exclamation point. I don’t see what she’d be getting all worked up about.
“JASPER: I don't mind you think to know what, bitch…” Everything in this passage is bizarre.
“I think she's going to be angry about you.” I’d replace ‘about’ with ‘at’ or ‘with’.
Pg. 23 “She strikes him hard with the flat of the hand.” She slaps him.
I like that there’s finally some danger and excitement involved. There needs to be more of that I think. We’ve gone too long with the slow burn for me to still be unclear how these character’s mission fits into the larger world and your concept.
Pg. 25 “Christina who smokes and watches into the blood-red sunset.” ‘gazes into’, ‘stares into’. Not ‘watches into’. I don’t know the particulars to be able to explain why that doesn’t work, but it doesn’t.
Pg. 26 “Is good.” “It is good” or the contraction “It’s good”
Pg. 27 Who is Miyamoto talking to?
Pg. 35 “HIS HEAD VANISHES FROM NOTICE” There’s gotta be a more impactful way to put this. It’s some dude’s head getting blown off. At first I thought he ducked below a railing or something.
“his comrade's head rests as a horrible mural painting.” That I kinda dig
Pg. 41 “I'll get you, Mr. cuntface.” If that’s not intended as humor I’d change it. That’s one of the funniest derogatory names I’ve ever seen.
Pg. 42 This is twisting like a pretzel; it’s too much at once. First, I thought the Lottery was just killing random people. I never noticed that there was filtering system. And if this Miyamoto guy is guilty of something, why isn’t he in jail? And now the people Jasper thought he killed weren’t killed.
If Miyamoto’s whole plan rests on them breaking in and “killing” him. Why did he have so many guards? How did he know he’d be drawn? I’m assuming he manipulated that somehow. But couldn’t he just play dumb? Pretend like he didn’t know he was drawn and not hire half a dozen guards to killed guarding him?
Pg. 44 The stuff between Jasper, Miyamoto and the guys is too on the nose. It’s like a getting a stern talking to in grade school. Do we really need the guys? Do they really need cowboy hats?
There’s some interesting ideas here and it looks like a decent setup to something bigger, but the concept is still unclear. It almost looks to me like murder is sport that Wall Street traders bet on. But what does that have to do with ending war? And how is it decided who’s eligible to be drawn?
The world’s definitely big enough to carry a show, it just needs some focus. Especially for the first episodes. A lot of what’s great about TV is you don’t have to pack everything in at once. You should be happy to leave some revelations for later.
I can only commend you for writing a script as ambitious as this in a second language.
That can't be easy.
If you can get the overall standard of writing up to the wonderfully visual opening, you stand a chance.
The story has potential, that is apparent, even though like others I'm not totally sure how exactly it works.
Is it a strategic game like chess, or is it a lottery?
Just needs to be spelt out in a more clear fashion. Either's fine, just make sure you pick one and make sure the logic around it works.
I think you can start at the point (as others have said) where the team is making a killing. Or at least just before as they are prepped by their superiors. Get right into the action and let the exposition come through gradually.
Despite the flaws the world you have created is an excellent one. It's definitely strong enough to hold a top notch story. You just need to get the level of the writing up to the level of the ambition.
Fantastic work getting so much done in the short time.
Things are a little confused at the moment for me. There's a killing lottery, where people are chosen to be killed due to whatever crimes they have committed, or apparently committed. There is also a stock market based on the lottery where people can buy shares in deaths? I don't understand how the stock market bit works.
However, Myamoto, hijacks the process to ensure his own name is read as the next victim, then bets a shitload of money on his own demise. How would he collect the bet? Maybe his trusty aide could do it, but even that would draw a lot of suspicion, wouldn't it? If Myamoto wants the world to believe he is dead, then collecting a load of money on that kill would raise suspicions to everyone involved.
It is all a trap to capture Jasper so that he can get him to bring down the Killing Lottery. Myamoto also feels it is fine to grass up his informant, Christine, for no good reason. Wouldn't it have been wiser to keep her for a while longer? Just grassing her up seems a little much.
If Myamoto is so powerful and smart why doesn't he just bring down the lottery himself?
Anyway, just some things to think about. Good luck with it.
Thanks for your feedback. I'm going to answer all of you later. For now, I have to reflect for a while first, read, and do other stuff. Had a lot of problems with the whole concept, it was quite a tightrope walking up to the last day for me. So, a bit distance and rereading your notes is needed now.
Great challenge so far. It's fun to communicate for such a long time rather than sitting day by day in front of the type face. Varied and relaxing. Now I know why so many have spoken up for this specific kind of challenge.
Your foreign appellation call: "Tor" means gate or "goal" in English. I think you would scream "score" in USA, which is more logical than screaming the name of the object the ball has been kicked in, as the way we do. I thought it's international known we shout that when scoring in soccer...
To me, TOR is a fairly secure browser. It is not generally known what the Germans shout when a goal is scored... but thank you for sharing.
I was thinking the other day, that I bet you could write some excellent German stuff. The story I enjoyed most of yours, in fact the only story I liked, was when you used German people in your script. You were really comfortable there and it showed in your writing. I think something of a german/english hybrid story may be your best shot. Also, that way, you stand a chance of attracting investors from both countries.
To me, TOR is a fairly secure browser. It is not generally known what the Germans shout when a goal is scored... but thank you for sharing.
Thought so because out of the French, they shout "but", it's the only chant which differs; most other big soccer nations, Romance language speaking countries, shout gol, goal or English "scores" for celebration.
Out of that I think it works without subtitle here someway.
The story I enjoyed most of yours, in fact the only story I liked, was when you used German people in your script.
Must be "Christmas Truce". I haven't known you liked it though. "The Established Depression", another short, is based on a German too (there's no dialogue by the way). Usually, I throw one in. Here, I brought in Bremer, that crazy fucker. But honestly Bremer is not a typical German-Russian; partly he is, but more he's one of this guys who lives in Bremer Town, settled in the Bremer universe, you know which kind of guy I mean?
I think most stories work internationally, except for certain scenarios: I wouldn't write a solely character driven script of English-speaking persons. That would be silly, since I haven't lived there for quite a long time yet. Also, there are stories about certain conflicts and microcosms, circumstances which I think only work if the writer has a profound knowledge about and personal experience with. A good example, I read a script of two guys from Uganda titled: The Child Soldier. It lies in the drama section. Mainly broken English for your standards. But shit- Immediately after I had begun to read it I knew these guys know what they are telling. Every wannabe African story from the movie markets can't compare with such stuffs in my eyes.
But you were right with your comment concerning dialogue above. That'll be an undeniable problem for first-hand English distribution - or better said, making a script attractive in that direction. I would have to pay someone here, a student coming from the States or something, interested in literature, who knows the German language very well for translating my imaginations and work them out. Still it would have a lack, but I guess, if the lack is noticeable, producers could fix it in the end. I'm sitting on a Sci-Fi script since December last year, work on it from time to time. Will be obe of the most expensive Sci-Fi ever written (dirty teaser coming with budget, rigth?). For fun of course. Perhaps I'm going that way with that specific script.
Still there's no need to worry my brain about unrealistic goals. My stuffs for our markets over here are most important.
But I'm going to invest time to serve better stories here too.
You were really comfortable there and it showed in your writing. I think something of a german/english hybrid story may be your best shot. Also, that way, you stand a chance of attracting investors from both countries.
Interesting point. There's enough cultural exchange happening to work something out.
Page 2: Not a huge fan of the V.O. I think your images get across the vast majority of what is being said, and if they don't, they could. For example, "…once sold to us as peacemaking…" could easily become a visual irony if the equipment all had text on them, you know, "ENSURING PEACE" or whatever written across the side.
Page 4: The joke with Bremer soaking Jasper really takes a lot of power away from Jasper right away, especially because he's not amused (if he took it in stride, this could potentially make him cooler). If he's our hero, I would avoid undercutting him like this in his introductory scene, I think. See, to my mind, the fact that he loses the scene in the end would be even bigger if it were a switch. As it is, he loses the entire scene; there might be more drama (and it might be easier to identify with him) if he got to spend the first half of the scene with some dignity.
Page 10: Wait, Miyamoto is Chinese? That's a Japanese surname. Not that this is impossible, but it's unnecessarily confusing.
Page 11: I'm not sure that Jasper bringing up his dark past (killing an innocent person) really makes sense. It's weird that he would bring up past trauma with no apparent prompt. I feel like someone else should say this. Actually, I think Bremer should say it. Specifically, I find it odd that Bremer has had so many scenes but that we still don't really have any sense of his relationship to Jasper (except that it's close and mildly antagonistic). It'd be good if this scene fleshed out that relationship a bit…is he Jasper's right hand man?
Page 13: If, as of the stock market scene, we're supposed to understand how the lottery works, I just want to note that I do not understand. I get that there's a Most Dangerous Game thing going on -- they're betting on people hunting human prey -- but I don't know how any of the economics work, if I'm supposed to.
Page 14: The Miyamoto scene could use an image of Jasper. Miyamoto staring down an image as he talks or something?
Page 15: Well, you've given me the Bremer background I asked for! It kinda emerges as a big chunk of exposition here, though. This could definitely be smoother.
Page 16: The timeframe change appears to happen for no reason. I think it's a pointless scene unless it happens as a direct result of the actions of Jasper's team.
Page 18: The flashback is (maybe) oddly placed, here. It's a bit jarring to go from Miyamoto's present to Jasper's past, rather than the more traditional cut - Jasper present to Jasper flashback. I guess this works fine as long as something very clearly signals the switch. I think I would find it a bit disorienting on film, but maybe that's a personal thing. May as well give Linda a little more character in the flashback. If not a line, maybe some sort of action that gives her a little personality?
Page 19: The four days thing is presented as a story beat here, but it has no impact because our protagonist hasn't done anything yet. This feels like the middle of the second act, already.
Page 20: I don't know how likeable you want Jasper to be, but if he's gonna get drunk and kill two people, you might want to give him a really good immediate reason. We understand that it's because his wife died, but that doesn't really excuse killing some random conspiracy morons. We might want to visually see/hear these guys being assholes, if we're supposed to retain sympathy for Jasper. And they should be REALLY bad.
Page 22: Hahah. I LOVE "Okay. I guess you've killed her." So perfectly indifferent.
Page 25: Now a SUPER with the time? I'd choose one or the other -- either do closeups of watches/clocks/whatever, or do it all through supers, but don't do both.
Page 27: I'm willing to buy the romance -- I guess Jasper and Christina just saw each other and that was that -- but I think this is hurt by the fact that Christina doesn't really get introduced as a newcomer to Jasper's world. If there's this instant, strong passion between them -- and I did really like the yelling match and throwing her out of the plane, by the way -- we need to see an introduction to Christina, a moment right at Jasper's first interaction with her where we understand that there's a strong pull between them.
Page 28: So many twists and so much exposition and they still haven't done anything active yet (except for throw Christina out of a plane)! I think some major restructuring needs to happen in terms of the spine. Why not open with them on their way to the desert, Predator style, or something along those lines? This story's good so far in that it has lots of interesting elements, but it needs to get going with a bang.
Page 29: Christina should be the one to tell Bremer he won't get them -- well, I guess she can't either, but I don't like Jasper saying it. As I understand them, Jasper and Bremer are old warriors -- they rely on each other enough not to second guess each other. But maybe I'm reading wrong!
Page 31: I buy that they sense something is wrong, but they're just gonna give up for the whole day now? Why would anything change tomorrow? I'm not sure this beat makes sense to me. Bremer doesn't seem like the kind of guy to randomly start a personal campfire conversation.
Page 33: The fight with the ninja is well written. Just to add on to my worries about structure, all of these flashbacks, and most of the exposition, just feel really artificially placed. Christina just started telling this story for no reason. We need beats that really show why these characters start talking about these things; ideally action beats, I would think, in a thriller like this. You'll notice that in most thrillers/action movies, the scenes of character background/exposition tend to come immediately after the big set pieces. This is probably because Hollywood has generally trained us to imagine that dramatic sequences naturally bring characters closer together emotionally (not necessarily an unreasonable idea). When these characters -- all of whom probably benefit from staying as mysterious as possible to each other -- openly start to talk about their pasts without someone forcing it out of them, it seems a little odd. To me, anyway.
I gotta pause here and get back to my reading for now. In case I mainly sound critical in the comments above, I'll just add that I'm enjoying this quite a bit overall. Definitely up my alley and an extremely engaging world so far.
Whoa! Didn't realize this was so short or I would have finished yesterday.
Page 35: Yesterday Bremer said this was kindergarten stuff, and today he misses the second shot (well, arm instead of head) and the guard is able to open fire, alerting the other guards. Makes Bremer look a bit silly.
Page 37: Or maybe Bremer was supposed to alert the guards to draw them out? Can't tell.
Page 41: Why did there need to be guards at all, given this twist? Were there drones watching them outside?
I like the plot here a lot, although as I've noted above the workings of the lottery are not exactly clear. I gather that nuclear deterrence has brought about some sort of balance, though I don't understand why this has made ground war obsolete. I also understand that the Killing Lottery somehow stands in for other forms of war, and I like that it's completely economically based, but I don't understand how exactly it stands in for war.
But the basic plot -- they hunt down this guy, they're betrayed by a teammate, they learn that the system has always been against them, they turn around and fight the system -- is great.
For the romantic elements and because she's going to betray them, I think Christina needs to have a major introductory scene.
I think you can start the script off with them meeting/leaving on their mission, and throw a setpiece or two more into the first fourty pages so that the exposition can emerge through action rather than arbitrarily through dialogue.
Bremer's a great character with some nice surprises to him -- I loved the moment with the fire extinguisher -- but I'm not sure that he's totally consistent. Sometimes I think he's gruff and withdrawn, sometimes goofy. Can't quite get a handle on him, as written.
You'd definitely need a translator to do a pass on this if you were sending it out in English. I know I missed a lot of nuances in dialogue, and that made it hard to understand who the characters were and what was going on in their minds clearly.
I think the tone of this is great, and it could be a fun, fast-paced flick. The main thing for me, going forward, would be finding the right balance between character interplay/exposition and plot. If these two can be interwoven a little bit more, this story will be way more satisfying.
I guess I need to see the end of this story before I talk too much more about it, so I'll leave it at that. Fun read!