Marcela, you have no contact details (email) on your title page, no copyright, no 'may not be reproduced etc. Rectify that.
Add your email contact details and insert: (
C) 2019 This screenplaymay not be used or reproduced for any purpose including educational purposes without the expressed written permission of the author.
Also, get rid of (short film). It's not needed.
No FADE IN?
EXT. APARTMENTS. CONTINUOUS.
Remove the 'periods'.
EXT. APARTMENT BLOCK – DAY
It’s a good idea you write to accepted Industry Standard, at least before you’re famous.
Watch your adding of ‘Continuous’ at the end of sluglines. My understanding is that this is only if your scene is contained to the same location and following on with no gap in timeframe.
'Continuous' doesn’t apply to what you’re writing.
EXT. APARTMENT. CONTINUOUS.
The TAXI DRIVER takes a massive suitcase out of the boot.
Jayne helps her daughter DAISY, 2 y.o. out of the car.
That'd be: MINUTES LATER or SECONDS LATERhttps://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?m-1530315360/s-17/highlight-Continuous/#num17
Also, Mini slugs are often beneficial when your action (in this case the apartment) is taking place in a contained space.
Apartment mini slugs example would be something like:
Tina heads to the
Stirs a bowl of pasta on the stove...
Exits the kitchen to -
She sets the table with the special chinaware.
A knock alerts her to the
A MASKED MAN stands in the doorway welding an axe.
He strikes Tina hard across the head, draws blood.
Tina slumps to her knees, crawls slowly to the--
A long trail of blood behind her...
INT. TINA'S APARTMENT, LIING ROOM, EVENING.
This time you use commas.
INT. TINA'S APARTMENT – LIVING ROOM – NIGHT
(btw typo – liing/living room)
Save exclamation points for high tension moments. Reserve them, if for example someone has a gun pointed at their head:Don’t shoot! I'll tell you everything you want to know.
Otherwise they lose their efficacy.
You’re overusing wrylies/parentheticals to direct emotions and and not formatting them correctly in general.
Etc. Are not needed.
Let your words dictate the tone and emotion, less directing.
This discussion is pointless... (turns
to Daisy) What shall we build, Daisy?
A house? A tower? A tower will be
That Wrylie above is actually fine because you use it to specify which character is being spoken to. It just needs reformatting.
This discussion is pointless.
What shall we build, Daisy...? Jayne trying to compose herself
. Not needed imh. Perhaps choose an action instead:
Jayne takes a gulp of wine, composes herself.
Don't be silly. It's good to have
company, (looks at Daisy) isn't it,
Again, not formatted correctly. Perhaps instead of the Wrylie in this situation Tina hugs Daisy, winks or smiles at her.Daisy takes one of the wooden blocks and throws it at Tina.
Nice line above. And nice change up for the scene. It alleviates too much cuteness, and it forecasts that Daisy is a chip off the old block – her father.
EXT. ALLOTMENTS. DAY
EXT. ALLOTMENT – DAYTina opens a little wooden gate. She's dressed smart and is a
complete misfit in her chaotic allotment - piles of branches,
an old bath, a couple of freaky-looking scarecrows...
She unlocks the padlock on her shed, takes out an old ratan
chair and sits down under a tree. She exhales with relief.
You don’t need (adjective) 'little' gate.
Ratan (typo) rattan
And, try to condense this.Tina and Jayne watching Dinner Date on TV.
Tina and Jayne watch Dinner Date on TV.
Perhaps ramp it up with your verb choice i.e., 'engrossed in...'
Who is it?
Phil. Is Jayne there?
Suggestion: It’s Phil, Jayne’s husband.
Is she there?
He'll sound more in control, even threatening. The other way makes him sound tentative, nervous.Birds sing (like crazy. )
Daisy (is playing with soil,) her clothes dirty.
(Jayne sitting nearby), looking lost.
Tina digs out some carrots.
A clear blue sky, sun shines, birdssong.
Daisy plays in the dirt with a bucket and spade, clothes dirty.
Tina weeds the vegetable patch, unearths some carrots.
Jayne sits idly nearby, lost in her own world.Daisy's frightened SQUEALING comes out of
Suggestion: Daisy’s frightened squeals come from the shed.
Suggestion: She lifts Daisy into her arms, walks off in a huff.But I'll turn the lamp off...
You don't need the 'but' or the 'bossily'just because he
has empty house!
Has an empty house (delete the !)kitchen draws
Kitchen drawers.You haven't
seen them somewhere before you left,
did you? (A beat). Okay, don't worry,
they will turn up
You haven’t seen them have you?
Did you see them before you left?
You’re mixing your tenses with ‘you haven’t’ and 'did you' combined.
They'll turn up (using the contraction of 'they will’) is more natural sounding dialogue.
Your (beats) are formatted incorrectly for the phone call. Perhaps use ellipses instead.
Bottom page 8 if that's meant to be Jayne (phone call) you might consider an Intercut.
I’m thinking you meant Tina sighs. ?
Handy links below:https://johnaugust.com/2005/intercuttinghttps://screenwriting.io/how-do-you-format-a-telephone-conversation-in-a-screenplay/
Unless Tina's psychic I don’t think you need:Said in a cold, apprehensive way.Daisy Brown. We believe her mother and
you are very good friends.
Dialogue is a little odd and less than professional for a Cop. I think the cop would start by introducing/identifying himself and then state the relationship between the two women, then bring up the missing child.
'her mother and you' is not ideal, even for dialogue for a character.
Detective Bryant, Fifth Precinct, my partner, Bill Smith
We’re making inquires into the disappearance of a child...
We believe you and the child's mother are good friends.
* Tina criticises Jayne's drinking but the description reads:Tina on the sofa... a bottle of wine and
empty wine glass on the coffee table.Oh fuck of.
Oh, fuck off.
Likewise:Oh for God's sake.
(Offset with a comma) Oh, for God’s sake.
TINA Since when has Daisy been missing?
Suggestion: How long has Daisy been missing?(this would do away with the repeated 'since' on the next line.
Two-year old.laugh in the phone.
Laugh over, or down the phone line.
(cross) You have to stop drinking and...'
No need for the (cross) parenthetical – let the dialogue speak for itself.
* Are you going for irony and hypocrisy cause Tina's fond of the plonk herself?trying to make the sense of things.
trying to make sense of thingsOpen the door! We are the police! We
have a warrant!
Police! Open the door! We have a warrant.Terror in Tina's face.
Terror on Tina's face.She pulls a curtain open,
She pulls the curtain openYou are barking at the wrong three
You are barking up the wrong tree. Go an arrest Daisy's father!
Go and arrest Daisy’s father.
TINA I need a legal advice.
I demand to speak to my lawyer.
I have a right to contact my lawyer. Or:
I want to speak to a lawyer.Tina sits on the bed in her single holding cell.
No need to repeat 'holding cell’ you have that in the scene header.Tina pushing Daisy on a baby swing...
Tina pushes Daisy...
I'm not entirely averse to 'ing words as long as the description is active. Example: Tina pushes Daisy on the swing, pushing her higher and higher. The little girl squeals with delight as she soars into the air. Give us vivid visuals.
I'll stop with the specific stuff now, you get the gist.
I feel this is a big story, perhaps too big, for a Short.
You’re examining big themes but you’re also keeping too much under wraps imho and 'telling' us plot points instead of showing them played out.
You cover issues of domestic violence, a character believing she can’t do it on her own without a man to look after her, loneliness, (Tina's), alcohol abuse, the choice to settle for a partner even if not a wise choice, and the implication that Daisy may be cut from the same cloth as her father – a bad seed.
The women are adversaries – too much I felt. I think you need to temper some of their exchanges, try to inject a little humour, show us the bond between them cause at the moment I'm not feeling much except that they really dislike each other. The problem is both Tina and Jayne are not coming off in a sympathetic light. Even if Tina's goal is ultimately to gain custody of Daisy, showing a genuine relationship between the two women would have a greater impact on your denouement and shock your audience, especially if Tina was faking concern for her friend all the way along.
There are inconsistencies too. Tina drinks just as much as Jayne does. I gather this may be a deliberate choice to show irony, hypocrisy, but let us into the real character that is Tina so we can be on her side, at least in the beginning, and have her true motives revealed as a shock. The audience in this case must at least like Tina. Inject drama again by perhaps showing Tina drinking on the sly and covering it up when Jayne is staying with her and yet still being critical of her friend drinking.
When Phil shows up you could create more suspense too. Create some dread so we feel it. As is, Phil just walks away with a couple of words from Tina. Too easy imho. In doing that you diffuse the drama from the get-go. Set up the suspense. Tina tells Phil that Jayne isn’t there. Both women breathe a sigh of relief when it appears he's gone, then minutes later there’s a bang on the door. And another bang. Nothing to see in the door's peephole. How has he got into the building? Is he still out there? Tina and Jayne scramble in fear, try to keep Daisy quiet, hand over the child's mouth etc.
Follow from one inciting incident to another too. It’s plausible that Jayne would now give the reason she's moving to Gavin's because of this scene above – Phil turning up, scaring her, being a threat not just to herself and her child but also to Tina. Least she can rationalise it this way to Tina.
We want to see drama and feel it. We feel the heat from the Cops when Tina is being interrogated but then she is quickly released. You need to add layers, create suspicion with her character and motivations, then pull the rug out. You need us the audience to question what we're seeing and hearing and who we believe, but we need to like Tina, or at least sympathise with her. The food selfie is a good window into her lonely character but it’s not quite enough.
You keep Gavin completely under wraps. We are 'told' about him, we never see him and yet by the end his role has been pivotal - he's murdered.
We are also told
the rest of the plot.
Daisy was locked up.
I'm not entirely sure what Jayne did. Is she the one who locked Daisy in the shed? Why?
Phil killed Gavin.
All are 'tells'. That might still work as reveals if you refine the structure of the set-up.
Daisy locked in the shed has potential to really shock. If Tina discovers the little girl there and the cops arrive at just that same moment (Tina looks absolutely guilty of kidnapping her) then that’s real drama, not drama told after the fact.
Daisy should be older imho to be considered a 'bad seed', four or five at least. At two years old I don’t think she’s old enough to be showing many traits inherent from her father or for her mother to be noticing them.
Finally at the end I think your audience should see the ‘bad seed’ that is in fact Daisy, either with a final look or action - perhaps she does something to Tina – trips her, then feigns innocence, has a tantrum throws Tina's car keys in the bushes at the park, destroys her phone etc. Something to suggest malice, evil, inherited from her father. Evil kids are great characters. So then in the final scene with Tina, the joke's on her. Careful what you wish for...
There’s potential here story wise, it just needs developing and I do feel there’s too much story packed into a 'short'.
I’m guilty of that, don't worry.
There’s a real art to scripting a 'Short' but practice makes perfect.
Some great advice from this thread: https://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-screenwrite/m-1553250388/s-0/
courtesy of Dave (eldave).
Parentheticals (wrylies) are another far too criticized tool. Apparently some folk decades ago taught people never to use them. That's horrible advice.
They can create clarity when their are multiple characters in a scene. e.g.,
DAVE is in TOM's face.
You don't know anything about writing
You agree, right?
Or save a line or two.
DAVE in the car. An unopened beer can is nestled between his legs.
A COP approaches, peers through the open window.
(re: the beer can)
You been drinking?
Without the wrylie one would have to write:
The Cop looks at the beer can.
You been drinking?
Results in an extra line of action and two blank lines. The parenthetical allows you to convey in 7 lines (including blanks) what would take seven without it.
** Just be careful not to use them constantly to convey emotion when it's already clear from the dialogue.
They are good for example if you want to denote (sarcasm).
Anyway Marcela, I notice you actively comment on other's scripts and I wanted to give a bit back.
No need to return the favour with mine btw.
Hope some of my notes help.