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Didn't work for me because I couldn't work out what was real and what wasn't - I suppose that was the intent but it was too much for me. The logline tells us our nutjob is facing his demons over some California Burritos and a few Mojitos but that's not the case, not from the audience perspective. To the audience this is about a psycho fantasising about being wanted by hot women and then killing them. If the story is going to be about a serial killer facing his demons I'd suggest you start with August chatting to Agent Gerry in the diner so the audience think that's what's going on. The twist of course is then even this isn't real but at least you've set the audience down a path rather than them spinning round in circles getting confused.
Apart from that it was well written. There was some detail that wasn't necessary nor did it add any needed artistic flair. For example, when he goes into the hotel room and thinks "Not bad for 30 bucks" which is never going to get across to the audience nor does it help the actor 'act' that scene or the Director choose a location.
All the best
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Thanks for taking your time to check this out. Remembering when I moved to Cali, the first thing recommended to me was to try a California burrito. French fries in a burrito sounds so ridiculous, but it's so ridiculously tasty. And I'd just tried my first Mojito too - what have I been missing?! A California burrito is my take on a serial killer, putting something in somewhere that doesn't belong.
I knew that I was getting into "eye rolling" territory with some of the needless fluff, but that's an easy fix. Thanks for saying it's well-written, I noticed a couple grammar mistakes myself. Also, great suggestion about having August and Gerry at start. I never entertained the idea but it makes so much fucking sense!
I wrote this to get back into the craft, being out for a few months, it was way more challenging than I expected. I'm hoping to build on the idea, and I appreciate you taking a gander bro.
Never tried a California burrito -- more of a fish taco guy. Mojitos on the other hand...
This is one of those I wanted to like more. Feels like you’re trying your hand at something different -- both through writing and execution. Shorts are a good way to experiment, though it’s almost like you’re directing this onto the page (visual quirks an’ all) which muddles the story.
‘Beyond its curled stinger, August trudges near -- through the mountains, past the rattlesnakes -- some may even say out of God's reach --’
This just feels too abstract for screen-writing.
When everyone vanishes at the pool scene I figured we were in August’s head -- though finding Liz bound in the hotel room suggests a time shift -- kind of lost me there. Mark makes a good point about the reality. There’s nothing to anchor the reader and though that might be the idea it’s hard to make sense of the whole -- again, too disjointed. That’s not to say it’s badly written, I enjoy reading your action/description -- you’ve a way with words that pulls me through the story.
The idea of using Hanna’s parents to gain some remorse from August seems a touch off -- not sure psycho/sociopaths have that quality to begin with, kind of what makes them what they are. I think it’s a matter of finding an angle that would force a serial killer to face his actions -- perhaps through a question of control/vanity?
An interesting idea, just not clicking for me as presented.
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Thanks for reading, you're pretty much spot on in areas to improve. I want to try my hand at something different, admit I got carried away in some of the passages for sure. Also, there isn't a theme here, more of a punchline - wouldn't make for an effective short - just another reason to quit fartin around with words and add some context to choice.
I implied that Liz was in August's room the entire time, and August was reliving the fantasy again before we kills her. When he answered the phone, it pulled him into the reality of what he has done, something he wanted to forget. It's misdirection, but unclear. I wanted the reader to connect with rejection, even though he proved to overcome it for a moment.
Loved everything about the opening page, really appreciating the precise, visual prose and clever dialogue…before we find out its all part of Augusts’ wishful fantasy. Nicely done.
- I understand you are portraying August as mild mannered but since he has just arrived in the room thus being indeed wrongly accused I’d be setting that Operator straight!
“she's scared out of her fucking mind.”
- It’s purely a preference thing but I would try to refrain from swearing in the prose. It always seems unnecessary to me and reflects badly on the writer. Just my opinion though.
“Her toenails removed”
- Nice visual touch, relates well to the opening scene.
“August adjusts his glasses, enters the”
- I was wondering why August was so calm about it before realisation dawned. Explains the earlier accusation by the operator too. An unexpected grizzly twist.
AUGUST Who did this to you, Liz? Lizzy. Elizabeth. Liz-a-beth.
- I like his propensity to repeat phrases or words, an effective indicator of his craziness.
“Like her mega-hot dress, her dance regrets nothing. Slender yet curvaceous -- her chassis is magnetic -- and invites the best looking men, and women, to grind all over her."
- Great writing, love the phrasing, although would it work better if “dance” became “dancing”? Just a suggestion.
“Hanna spots August and smiles, summons him with her moves.”
- Bloody hell, for a nerdy looking guy is sure does well for himself around the opposite sex!
“August abandons his Chevy Nova, wanders into the desert.”
- I know he’s nuts but shouldn’t the lack of Hanna in the trunk not worry him? I’m starting to think this is all part of his imagination too.
“some may even say out of God's reach”
- Missing a “t” in “stay”
AGENT GERRY Hanna ain't here, brother.
- Ok, we’re definitely entering the hallucinatory realm now
AGENT GERRY Ya found me, August. This is where all stool-pigeoned bastard serial killers, such as yourself, come to be forgiven.
- A bit arbitrary I know but shouldn’t a federal agent like stool pigeon-ing killers…as opposed to the ones who don’t tell?
BILL Ah, shit. I don't know. Oh, wait -- it's like a month or something.
- Maybe this is meant to be funny but if Bill remembered enough to know it was a month he would surely recall which one. Just name out the months to yourself and the correct one should jump out.
AGENT GERRY And your makin' Bill here look like a bag of douche.
- I agree but more for the reason I stated above. I know it’s tough, he’s a grieving father and all that but just list out the months, man, instead of some song you learned as a kid.
AUGUST I can't stop killing them.
“Agent Gerry rests his hands on August's shoulders.”
- I’d like to see more from August’s side here in terms of expression and body language. Is he troubled by been shown this, conflicted or apathetic, delighted even? We are given no clue as to the effect this is having on him.
AGENT GERRY That's because your a beast. Lions and tigers and bears wrapped up in a California burrito with a side of cheddar beans and rice. I'm not askin' you to be the enchilada. And ya ain't gotta be no chile relleno. I'm tellin' ya to hold the sauce, man. The spicy goodness will take your very soul. Forever.
- Again, I’m not sure if you are playing for laughs here but it feels as if the script is genuine as it has gotten pretty dark but either way this Mexican-food-as-metaphor really isn’t doing it for me.
“He gets up and opens a cleaning locker.”
- I know his fantasy has crumbled again with everything vanishing but we’re led to believe he’s still in the restaurant, still in the booth, alone, eating his burrito, right? So where does the “cleaning locker” come from? And why is the waitress inside? I can only presume you meant to change the scene to inside his hotel room or something.
Overall, I can’t remember a script that started so promising, that I was digging so much (as you’ll see from my notes) before it veered off the deep end (somewhere around page 4) and lost me completely by the end. I enjoyed the dichotomy between Augusts’ imagination and reality in the opening scene, although given his success with Hanna, maybe he did swoon Liz in that manner too. I dunno, the script is intentionally vague and ambiguous about what has really gone down and what we see through Augusts’ eyes, he’s your classic unreliable narrator and that’s fine. That stuff worked well.
However, It’s when he (seems) to lose Hanna and go looking for her in the desert and meets the A Christmas Carol-like ghost in the form of an FBI agent (I was also reminded of the shamanistic fox that Homer meets when he eats the peppers) who tries to show him the pain he’s causing that I became detached from the piece. Things became so ridiculous that I figured it was tongue in cheek and after finishing the script I’m still not sure. I know the last line is meant to be a little funny but it’s so unclear as to what happens in that last scene (as I already mentioned) that it never landed for me.
I kept wondering why an FBI agent? Why in a an abandoned desert church other than some vague line from Agent Gerry saying its a place killers come to be forgiven? Why the Mexican food analogy? Then after August is shown Hanna's family (which suggests he has in fact killed her which begs the question where has she gone, how did she escape the trunk?) he just goes back to killing his next victim and that's it...I dunno, what are we supposed to take away from this? Where is the story here? It's only an 8 page short so I'm not expecting a fully fleshed out back story or clear motivations for Augusts' bloodlust but I need more than this, particularly in terms of the direction you took it in as it basically led to nowhere.
Also, to repeat, I found it hard to believe that August, given how he’s portrayed, would be able to lure these beautiful woman back to his hotel room. Then again, it could be all in his head, it’s impossible to tell. However, if it is the latter it kind of renders the whole thing pointless which we’ve seen suggested before in something like American Psycho although that is working on a number of other levels too.
Technically the writing is pretty good, but as the story slipped so did the cracks appear in some of the dialogue and prose, especially from Agent Gerry. Pity, because I started off really liking this.
Of course I may have missed the point entirely, please enlighten me if I have.
Glad to see what you thought was cool were also my favorite parts too. There's no deep meaning or any thematic revelation here, just a warmup piece, so you didn't miss anything. I do want to expand the idea, but not in the California burrito sense.
And yes, the ambient electro-pop was inspired by American Psycho. All though I haven't seen much swearing in script's passages, I thought the opening sequence of JJ Abrams' Fringe pilot was awesome and the swearing made it better.
I did lose touch with August's character toward the end, I was having fun with Gerry's dialogue (which was way too clever for its own good), and got carried away. It was a Scrooge moment that didn't work out lol.
*** The entire sequence beginning in the desert was shot from the hip. It was a subconscious hallucination of facing God, the law, the aftermath of his victims, etc. It was executed poorly, should've given it more thought. Confusing right? August could've been fleshed out better to explain his charm with these attractive women, or at least shown that even though he is who he is, he can be unnaturally persuasive. ***
Please point me in the direction of your work so I can return it. Thanks!
Hey there. Nice to see something new from you, bud.
First page descriptive as hell! I'd definitely say that seems to be a strong point for you. I remember it in Rojo Grande with the shimmering ass of that holographic girl.
Good re-direction with the phone call. Didn't make sense at first but now it does.
Pg 3. I think you can give us a more striking visual of Liz. I think "scared out of her fucking mind" just ain't cutting it for me. Show, show, show. When August enters the bathroom, you're back to a good visual with the eyeliner and glitter.
I like Agent Gerry a lot. Love his dialogue. His monologue about lions, tigers and bears is golden, and ties in nicely to your ending.
There's not much traditional storytelling here. It's more like a stylish slice of pie with lots of flash and many sharp turns. I think August's last line was great, and I think it makes sense to end it there. You need a kick ass line there because it kinda gives this story a reason to be. Am I making sense? Basically, I'm saying that while there is a beginning, middle and end, they are hinged together by a thin string that's always on the verge of snapping. Nothing cohesive.
Personally, I dig it. Your work dances to a different beat and that's a very good thing. In its imagery it reminded me a bit of Natural Born Killers and U-Turn, both very stylish films.
Good to be back, I starting this as soon as my feet touched solid ground haha! Seems like I missed a lot, got a ton of reading to do. Email me what ever you got brewin.
Didn't I show you? Chick's scared out of her fucking mind, bro. Glad I redeemed myself shortly after. I'm stoked you dug it though. And Agent Gerry. I sort of pictured McConaughey spitting out those lines.
For some reason, I want to change "sauce" to "salsa". I think that's the least of my worries, but super stoked for the read man. Good to hear from you.
That's exactly what I'm talking about. Chicks scared out of her fucking mind. That's not showing, that's telling. I think you could've skipped right to the part with the mascara and glitter, and the whimpering as August drew closer and gotten a much better effect without the aside. It's little things like that that can interrupt the flow. However, I know what you were going for, but as good as your visuals were I think you could've dropped it.
The entire sequence beginning in the desert was shot from the hip. It was a subconscious hallucination of facing God, the law, the aftermath of his victims, etc. It was executed poorly, should've given it more thought. Confusing right?
- Yeah, it did feel very random and off the cuff, which can sometimes work but you seemed to have cornered yourself. Again, I appreciate that its only an eight page script but that second half opened a whole can of worms which could never be resolved in such a short page span.
August could've been fleshed out better to explain his charm with these attractive women, or at least shown that even though he is who he is, he can be unnaturally persuasive.
- Yeah, it could even be a short scene where he charms someone or gets out of a tight spot due to his gift of the gab. It makes it more interesting that he's outwardly nerdy and awkward looking but as soon as he starts talking he's suave, gregarious, in control.
It was probably your intention but its made all the more ambiguous since in the opening scene he swoons Liz only to snap out of it and be alone with the crickets. Thus, at this point your're presuming the guy is lonely, socially inept, etc...only for Liz to appear gagged and bloodied in his bathroom later on.
Still, we don't know how she got there, he could've done it through brute force, physically dragged her back there, held her at gun point, whatever. Yet, in a subsequent scene we actually see him lock eyes with Hanna and grab her attention so that makes us wonder how proficient is this guy with women, perhaps he actually did get Liz back to his room on charm alone. That ambiguity is intriguing but like I say, its very difficult to do it justice in 8 pages so its no surprise the piece feels underdeveloped.
Overall, I can’t remember a script that started so promising, that I was digging so much (as you’ll see from my notes) before it veered off the deep end (somewhere around page 4) and lost me completely by the end.
Just curious, is this going to be the basis for something bigger?.
Coupled with your review above, I'd say it's worth a shot. It made me chuckle in a non-offended way. I think the idea of connecting with the seeds of a monster is interesting, it's challenging territory for the confines of a short. As much as it feels like a wasted opportunity now, writing is rewriting, just got to think about an appropriate approach.
Thanks for all of your time, I know it takes a lot.
I thought this was an interesting read, John. Probably the best short I've read in a while.
My biggest problem with this is that it was too short. You need to build some suspense with a piece like this. Add another page with August and Liz. Stretch out what he does for us so we can feel for her. It's not necessary to do it with the scenes with Hanna.
The same should be done with Agent Gerry (whom I'm guessing is modelled after Tommy Lee Jone; it seems pretty obvious).
In my opnion, adding another five pages to this script would do it wonders.
Thanks for checking out my script, Phil! Do you need anything returned? Haven't been around lately, but excited to get back to reading.
I'm thrilled by your comments, five more pages to develop the characters and story. I'm fiddling with the idea of taking out most of the second half hee-haw and focusng on August's obsessions with his victims, his persuasion, maybe how he chooses them.
I thought more McConaughry with Gerry, but a TLJ type is a good call too. Shit, I'd probably think Tommy Wiseau could knock it out if I could get something brewin lol!