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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Scripts  ›  What Is Hell? Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: March 29th, 2015, 10:32am Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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What Is Hell? by Richard Russell - Short, Drama - An urban couple kills for a bag of drugs and finds their own kind of hell. - pdf, format


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Dustin
Posted: March 29th, 2015, 3:50pm Report to Moderator
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Interesting story. I liked it.


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Reef Dreamer
Posted: March 29th, 2015, 4:33pm Report to Moderator
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Hi Richard

I don't really don't care about fade in on the left, it doesn't affect  story, but it can stand out which isn't good to a reader.

First para - I think could be three different lines to break it up. Not sure what lolls looks like, but that may be down to phraseology

If you are hiding, a public park doesn't strike me as the best place? Why?

I'm not too hung up about orphans - sentences with only one word - but you have a few and they are worth keeping down, in general.

Is there a gap at the bottom of page 6?

Top page 7 - no need to repeat the descriptions.

Finished.

Ok, I LOVE the fact that she actually knows, at the end, when we have seen this largely from his POV. She bought into this etc a curious situation.

Story wise we have quite a few missing elements. And I'm not sure where it goes, but I think you have an idea here that could develop

All the best



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Lightfoot
Posted: March 29th, 2015, 6:07pm Report to Moderator
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This has a good Prometheus type story to it, other than that I'm not really sure what to think of it, it is well written, flowed pretty smoothly, but the story itself was a bit more to the bland side.

All I know is that these people are in some messed up repetitive game of hide and seek that they seem to always lose, I don't really know how long they have been in there for, when they talk about their past failures I get an idea that it may have been a while, but the characters seem emotionless to their constant failures besides the one scene. I've counted 8 failed attempts so far by them.

I'd be more interested if the story starts with them just entering this hell, maybe the first few times they've died or make it look like this twisted game is taking a toll on them.

Good start nonetheless.
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Tiger
Posted: March 30th, 2015, 7:40am Report to Moderator
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Hello Richard.

This wasn't so much a full story, as a snippet of a longer tale. Nothing wrong with starting in media res, but as you only hint at how it all began in a few sentences, and also have a kind of open ending, the script read like a middle, without a beginning or end. I get that they're in hell, and are forced to live out the same events over and over, but I missed some sort of explanation to why they were doomed in the first place. If their crime is that they killed her aunt, I'm not sure if I believe that's enough to doom them to hell? Maybe there was something more happening between the lines that I didn't catch, but I think you could do well to make their crime more horrendous, or at least paint out whatever happened to the aunt more, so that there's a reason to why they're in hell. And does it have to be an aunt? It would kick harder if it was Paco's kid brother dying or something.

I also think the script is one cycle too short. As it plays out now, it goes around two times, before they give up on the third try. Sure, they mention that they've done it more times before, but it would flow better if you show them trying and failing three times first, before giving up on the fourth. And I would also switch the cycles around, so that the last one is Paco asking what hell is, before killing her. That way his lines become the explanation and ending that your story is missing.

And you don't really need to describe the character over and over again, each time the story starts anew.
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LC
Posted: March 30th, 2015, 8:56am Report to Moderator
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I really enjoyed this, Richard. Not too much to critique.

I do agree with Tiger that another go around would add to the story in that I did want more. Reminded me of Run Lola Run with the re-imagining of the different scenarios.

Great stuff, some nice gory visuals too, something a decent filmmaker could really get their teeth into. Good luck with this one, I look forward to seeing it.


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Heretic
Posted: March 30th, 2015, 9:18am Report to Moderator
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Yeah. Nailed it. Just long enough to get the mind going about how scary this situation is, and just expositional enough to suggest a real world and an understandable series of events. Great work here.

Great title, too.


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RichardR
Posted: March 30th, 2015, 10:35am Report to Moderator
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All,

thanks for the reads and comments.  This one certainly has a bit of RUN LOLA RUN in it, and it was an attempt to portray a hell where no matter what you do, you end up in the same place, a bad place.  If it were a TWILIGHT ZONE tone, the protags might end up in a good place that really is a bad place.  

Thanks for all the thoughts.

Best

Richard
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Dreamscale
Posted: March 30th, 2015, 10:50am Report to Moderator
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Richard, story-wise and concept-wise, this is pretty good.  It's got teeth and claws and it's gritty and even a little mean spirited...which I like.

Writing-wise, it needs some work.  Don't get me wrong, it's not bad at all, but lots of little things that can make this read so much better, and make this come across so much leaner and meaner.

You have alot of awkward sentence structure.  Your opening passage is a great example of numerous mistakes.  Let's check it out...

You open with "WILL, 25,  lolls on a blanket."  Using "lolls" is probably a mistake in itself, but the bigger issue here is that this opening line makes it seem like Will is alone, when he's obviously not.

The next sentence is definitely awkward, contains way too much unnecessary info, and just reads poorly.

Then you have 2 more sentences in this passage that should probably be separate passages.

"He hands her a beer under a glorious sun." - Awkward, first of all, but also, sounds funny how you're now describing the weather all of a sudden.

"A parade of joggers and cyclists pass." - This "thought" has nothing to do with the rest of the passage and definitely should be by itself.

Dialogue is hit and miss for me.  It's often very OTN.  The slang works a little, but could be better, IMO.

I think it's a mistake to begin each new "timeline" with the exact same description of the clothes they're wearing, etc. - or maybe it's just the fact that some of the details aren't necessary even the first time.

Your script is 8 lines over 7 pages, but if you were to clean this up, you could cut out half to a whole page, and not lose a single thought or action.  It would read so much better, if you did.

But, it's a good effort as written and quite enjoyable.  Good work.


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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Heretic
Posted: March 30th, 2015, 1:04pm Report to Moderator
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I want to disagree with Dreamscale above, mostly because I think it makes a good point about subjective understandings.

- He lolls (which is correct) and we do feel like he is alone -- this establishes Will as our particular protagonist and completes the mood of relaxation, a moment of isolated calm before the storm. It directs without directing; this is a single that possibly pulls back, the next shot is a reverse from Will's POV.

- The info in the second sentence tells a story of motivation and social demographic through clothes -- he's a little poorer than her and trying to live up to it, she's lived a consequence-free life and didn't understand exactly what they were getting into.

- The beer under the glorious sun again directs without directing -- it's a low angle of a beer with the sun above glinting off it, suggesting a kinda idyllic 'beer commercial' feeling to these opening moments that fits with the relaxing man/POV of attractive woman shots that precede it.

And I do agree with Jeff about the joggers -- should be separate. Anyway, I guess what I'm getting at is that this way of building a scene worked for me, almost explicitly for the reasons it didn't work for Jeff. So it may be a question of reader proclivity and not writerly choice. But it's crazy how differently me and Jeff read that stuff. Anyway.


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Nomad
Posted: March 30th, 2015, 3:05pm Report to Moderator
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I'm surprised that no one has mentioned All You Need Is Kill/Edge Of Tomorrow  This is the exact same premise as that movie.

Now I'm not knocking your script; I think it's well written for the most part and you paint a clear picture.  

I just wish there was more to it than:  A couple flashback to a point where they're running from some gangsters.

After seeing Edge of Tomorrow, every time they flashed back, all I could picture was Tom Cruise screaming as he woke up.

If there were some sort of lesson that they learn as they progress through their ordeal, I'd like the story more.

Jordan


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Dreamscale
Posted: March 30th, 2015, 6:02pm Report to Moderator
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I don't completely disagree with Chris in what he's saying, but I also think because Chris is a film maker, his like of the opening is based on that fact that he likes the shot selection...which is totally cool and fine.  I just don't think a new writer should open with a heavy handed 4 line passage, and in this case, a 4 line passage that includes multiple ideas/shots.

And maybe he doesn't completely buy into the theory that a passage should only contain a single thought, shot, or description, because there are several required shots in this opening passage.

Reading ahead, I see this trend continuing in pretty much every passage.  And this is exactly why I brought it up in the opening.

My biggest issue (other than the last sentence definitey not belonging) is the following line...

"Oily, dirty jeans, faded tee, he smiles at CLARE, Hispanic, 20, long hair, pierced eyebrow, tattoo, urban hippy."

To me, this is definitely an awkwardly worded and structured sentence.

"oily" and "dirty", IMO, are saying the exact same thing, first of all.  Secondly, the opening description - "Oily, dirty jeans, faded jeans" just doesn't sit well in front of "he", which is the subject here.  Finally, for Claire, we get 6 descriptors of what she looks like - I just can't see how this is necessary, and in reality, for me, it's way too many.

You know what I always say...different strokes, different folks...it's all cool.


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eldave1
Posted: March 30th, 2015, 7:01pm Report to Moderator
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Richard - I thought this was really well written. However, I'm not sure the story is complete (assuming I get it). So, it's a Ground Hog's Day from hell. But there's no resolution. I would love a twist at the end (e.g., Clare figures out that the only way to get out of the cycle is to kill Will before they go off - she does, walks away from the park - no storm). Anyway - something.

I'll have to give it another read to see if I just missed something.

There were a few lines of dialogue I found to be a bit of a throw away and could be spiced up a bit or just deleted.


Quoted Text
CLARE
Why does it always rain?
WILL
Itís summer. It rains.


This passage is done a few times and it lacks oomph. I would delete it or add something less conversational. Just as an example of something different you might try.

CLARE
A storm's coming.

WILL
But we already knew that, didn't we?

Here is another example:


Quoted Text
CLARE
It looks clear.
WILL
Yeah, it does.


IMO - Wills response is not needed. They could just take off. If you want Will to have a line here, punch it up. e.g.,

CLARE
It looks clear.

WILL
It would look that way whether it was or it wasn't.



Quoted Text
PACO
Amigo, she let you in, she let you
in. And you say she did nothing?
She let you in to steal my money
and kill mi tia, and you say she
did NOTHING?


Three - "she let you in" here. I would delete the 2nd one.


Quoted Text
WILL (CONTíD)
Leave it.
CLARE
But.

WILL
We wonít need it.


Again, not sure if you need this - and it's a bit mundane. By the end of the story we already know that Clare knows what the deal is. Why in event two did she all of a sudden think the blanket needed to be taken with her - but not in event # one? It just seemed like dialogue for the sake of dialogue.

This was a quick read.. I like your style.


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Penoyer79
Posted: March 30th, 2015, 10:14pm Report to Moderator
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i'm very much an amateur...so i'll leave the technical aspects to the pros.... and focus on story...

this was a cool "edge of tomorrow" / "run lola run"  concept and i zipped right through it with great interest until the end when i found myself reacting out loud "what the hell?"

The ending kind of fell flat for me a bit... maybe I was expecting something a little more?

my advice would be to go into the tank and see if you can think of a kick in the throat ending
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MarkRenshaw
Posted: March 31st, 2015, 5:15am Report to Moderator
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Hi Richard,

As I  read this I thought it was a decent urban version of Edge of Tomorrow but it was so much like Edge of Tomorrow it distracted me. If you are going to take an element from a well known source you should flip it substantially and give it your own twist so no-one notices or cares about the similarities.  The title of this is 'What is Hell?' and making this about someone actually being in hell is your opportunity to make this different from Edge of Tomorrow but it's not apparent at all that they are in hell or how they got there. As it's never explained or shown these two could be playing some sort of virtual reality game for all we know.


The writing was OK and I understood what was going on but it seemed clumsy in parts as has already been pointed out and just needs a bit of a polish. An example:

"Will and Clare jump up and run away from the blanket and the path." - This reads to me that the duo are running away from a blanket and a path! All you need to say is they flee into the woods.

I also agree with the comments that they ending feels flat. Although they insinuate that they have tried this many times they just seem to give up and that's it. Have a think, I'm sure you can come up with something better.

-Mark


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