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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Drama Scripts  ›  Moth
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Don
Posted: May 10th, 2019, 5:01pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Moth by Ben Clifford - Short, Drama - A young single mother will do anything to stop her baby's incessant crying. 10 pages - pdf format

Writer interested in feedback on this work



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LC
Posted: May 11th, 2019, 12:51am Report to Moderator
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Do you like to eat pie after a good movie?

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Ben, I haven't dissected each and every line (like I can often do)  
But... Right out of the gate you have a typo with it's - should be its.

Studio Apartment in the header, so get rid of the redundant 'appears to be a studio' in the following line.
he's a little grimy but not too bad I baulked at that, even though I know what you're going for.

The Doctor comes across as an idiot - has he never heard of Post Natal Depression - is it plausible he'd be so abrupt and offhand? Maybe.

Suddenly very quiet, almost gone entirely - Okay, Ben, which one is it?

Further on: the crying is gone? Gone? Not the greatest of words to use. Stopped would do.
I suggest you let us into Jen's head more via description we can see: eg. Perhaps:
The crying has stopped.
Jen takes her hands away from her ears.
Takes in the -
Silence.
Finally.
A huge sigh of relief. (or, )
She can breathe again.

The lowering of the sun in the sky should go with when she's in the park imho, to indicate time passing, the ambience of her quiet surroundings etc. Traffic and construction don't equate to ambience just more noise that would probably drive her even more balmy, so I think you need to switch that around or delete altogether and just Cut to the Park.

Perhaps the cast of a shadow, or a darkening cloud blocking out the sun would be more effective to startle her from her 'fugue' state. ? The park now deserted.

'bends the bottomless Jen...over her bathroom counter Nice alliteration but that really needs rephrasing imho, 'thrusting in (should be into btw) her gracelessly' is a very good latter description.

The fact Jen takes off for some desperate respite and leaves her baby for that length of time suggests she's not just having a hard time but that you are exploring the topic of post natal depression, a serious topic with sometimes potentially fatal consequences.

I don't know about 'fugue' that's a real dissociative psychiatric state. You could use it if she really does walk out of the apartment appearing like she's on automatic-zombie pilot but it didn't appear that way to me as written.

I would have liked to see some dire consequences for her.
The Locksmith seems affronted, perhaps a twist could have been him calling the police and you ending with that scene as denouement. Instead you've elected for: she's okay now and I'm not buying it.

Speaking of police, surely she'd call them as it's a prospect life and death, even if risking a negligence charge. However, she could easily say she's accidentally locked herself out and her baby's unattended inside. Simple mistake.

You built up the suspense nicely, but it could be built up more. I did feel the dread when she returned home and couldn't get in, baby inside etc. At that point though I'd have no sound (especially at first) coming from within.

Your time elements need some attention. She appears to be away from the apartment and in the park for quite some time and the the Locksmith takes ninety minutes to get there. He conveniently tells us this info.

Finally, your ending: I have no idea why Jen approaches with trepidation the window where the moth is.
Using the moth has symbolism, freeing it, I think you'd do well to top-n-tail that moth. The moth is trapped just like she is, it should feature at the start - Babies need feeding around the clock as I'm sure you're aware, maybe she watches it in the early dawn light as it flutters around lamp-light.

Summing up:
I think your subject matter is good.
Your  time elements need clarification.
Avoid repeating info in Slugs in the next line.
I wonder if you had other story choices (her actions) with this, purely from a logical standpoint.

Great topic to capitalise on, suspense and dread and consequences of same, and a topic that resonates with a lot of people suffering PND.




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AlsoBen
Posted: May 11th, 2019, 2:40am Report to Moderator
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Thanks so much LC.

To clarify, I'm not implying that Jen has PND in a diagnostic sense. I would imagine anyone would have a bad days after missing a night's sleep, and being a teen mum with no support just adds to it.

Re: fugue state line. I agree, I literally just meant like you said - she's just been tired and 'out of it', not literally in a fugue state.

Re: time, I think the implication is that she is only very briefly away from the apartment at first before realising she's locked out. The sun is setting as soon as she is outside. The real time-suck is waiting for the Locksmith.


Quoted Text
I have no idea why Jen approaches with trepidation the window where the moth is.


Because bugs are gross? Lol Idk

The doctor is inspired by my sister's experience with a (very shitty) doctor when her oldest son cried for a day straight without sleeping. He basically just asked if he had a fever and then told he to "get some sleep [because she] sounds hysterical", despite the fact she wouldn't be able to...because the baby is crying. Admittedly, it's a second hand experience but I'm pretty sure doctors are very capable of being uncaring, especially about MH.

Thanks again for the detailed response. I would have missed all of this.





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LC
Posted: May 11th, 2019, 3:25am Report to Moderator
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Aussie gals ain't afraid of moths.
C'mon, with everything else that can be lying in wait?!  

I agree with you about some docs.


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AlsoBen
Posted: May 14th, 2019, 6:22pm Report to Moderator
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Just an update - a director has taken this on board to possibly produce (I posted it elsewhere earlierand I believe they saw it there).


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LC
Posted: May 14th, 2019, 7:29pm Report to Moderator
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Well done, Ben!

Not to be a Negative Nancy but due to the word 'possibly' I hope you gave said Producer a limited time Option and no Exclusive.


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AlsoBen
Posted: May 14th, 2019, 7:58pm Report to Moderator
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“Producer” is a strong word, I think this is an amateur with one or two shorts in the past (they were quite good though). I’m not too concerned about my liability if he ghosts and I move on, haha


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LC
Posted: May 14th, 2019, 8:10pm Report to Moderator
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Right. Gotcha! Everyone's gotta start somewhere, and you never know...
Crossing my fingers for you.


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eldave1
Posted: May 14th, 2019, 8:13pm Report to Moderator
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Ben - you're a solid writer - so take these with a grain of salt.



Quoted Text
INT. JEN'S STUDIO APARTMENT

JEN (19), frazzled, young, thin, nervously cradles a very
young infant - BART - in her arms, shushing him as he
SCREAMS.

Her tiny apartment appears to be a studio - her bed, the
crib, and kitchenette in the same space.


You missing the NIGHT or DAY at the end of the header.

You have studio in the header - no need to repeat. Also - I think it is always better to set the scene (describe it) before the character. I'd go with:

INT. JEN'S STUDIO APARTMENT - DAY

Tiny. The bed, crib and kitchenette in the same space.

JEN (19), frazzled, young, thin, nervously cradles a very
young infant - BART - in her arms, shushing him as he
SCREAMS.


Quoted Text
JEN
Baby, baby, baby...


Didn't seem natural. Seems like it should have been Ssssh, ssssh. sssh.


Quoted Text
INT. BATHROOM


On the mini slug - you don't need the INT. The same is true for your other mini-slugs.

On the Doctor Matthews exchange - it was just alright - didn't seem like Doc talk to me. He's either the worst Doctor on the planet or just a dick. Rather than this?


Quoted Text
DR. MATTHEWS (V.O)
I have other patients. I have to
go. I'm sorry.


End it with a bit more empathy - like i'm going to give you back to the receptionist - get an appointment scheduled.


Quoted Text
SUPERINTENDENT
You think I have a set of keys for
eighty-five apartments? No. The
only person that should have a key,
besides you, is your landlord.


The above seems forced - movie logic. Supers to have master keys for all of the apts.

The Locksmith arriving can be shortened. Just have her waiting - he shows up - thank God!

The Locksmith's - you had a baby in here? - went on too long.

Sorry - not sure I got the ending.

The good part - I really felt Jen's anguish - you did a great job painting that picture. I felt bad for her from the start.

Best of luck with this.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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AlsoBen
Posted: May 18th, 2019, 1:50am Report to Moderator
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Hey Dave! Thanks for reading. Super appreciated.

Little confused about your time of day suggestion for slugs - I have always thought interior slugs shouldn't have day/night. I've also used mini slugs in previous scripts (they are so much more efficient!) and been told it's not standard, so I stopped. So I'm not sure what to do.

As I said to LC, I've dealt with some shitty GPs and I don't think it's out of the realm of possibility for a bulk billing doctor in a shitty town be rude to a young woman. It's also based on an experience of my sister's when she was a new Mum. Your perspective on the super interaction -- in Australia, building managers/supers don't actually have keys to each apartment. It really is the case that the only people who have keys would be your landlord/real estate. Not sure how it goes in the U.S though. Thank you for the perspective -- I hadn't really considered where this would be set so it might be an issue (the tentative director is in the UK)

The ending isn't super important - it is a bit of a "punchline"but I'd hope it works without it. I like LC's idea of just having the moth in the apartment throughout and Jen freeing it at the end, more metaphorical.

thanks again


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eldave1
Posted: May 18th, 2019, 10:20am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from AlsoBen
Hey Dave! Thanks for reading. Super appreciated.

Little confused about your time of day suggestion for slugs - I have always thought interior slugs shouldn't have day/night.  


Full scene headings regardless of whether they are INT or EXT should have DAY, NIGHT or some other time indication. Mini-slugs do not AND mini-slugs don't need the INT or EXT since you really only use them when you are in the same general location and in the same time).

Here's a good reference on that:

https://www.keepwriting.com/tsc/slugsandbeats.htm

Using your opening as an example:


Quoted Text
INT. JEN'S STUDIO APARTMENT

JEN (19), frazzled, young, thin, nervously cradles a very
young infant - BART - in her arms, shushing him as he
SCREAMS.

Her tiny apartment appears to be a studio - her bed, the
crib, and kitchenette in the same space.

JEN
Baby, baby, baby...
Jen clutches Bart close to her chest and sits on the bed,
unbuttoning her shirt. She attempts to breastfeed, but Bart
just keeps crying.

Jen, sleep-deprived, wipes a tear from her eye.

JEN (CONT’D)
Come on...

INT. BATHROOM

Bart is still audible wailing as Jen shuts the sliding door,
which only slightly muffles the sound.


Should be:

INT. JEN'S STUDIO APARTMENT - DAY

JEN (19), frazzled, young, thin, nervously cradles a very
young infant - BART - in her arms, shushing him as he
SCREAMS.

Her tiny apartment appears to be a studio - her bed, the
crib, and kitchenette in the same space.

JEN
Baby, baby, baby...
Jen clutches Bart close to her chest and sits on the bed,
unbuttoning her shirt. She attempts to breastfeed, but Bart
just keeps crying.

Jen, sleep-deprived, wipes a tear from her eye.

JEN (CONT’D)
Come on...

BATHROOM

Bart is still audible wailing as Jen shuts the sliding door,
which only slightly muffles the sound.

As an alternative, if you don't think it is clear that the action into the bathroom is continuous, you could so something like:

BATHROOM - MOMENTS LATER





My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Dustin
Posted: May 18th, 2019, 1:56pm Report to Moderator
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Action speaks louder...

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Code

A BABY WAILING at the top of it's lungs.



Its... a simple rule to remember is you only use it's when you can write 'it is'. If the sentence doesn't make sense with 'it is' then you use its.

Also, another thing, the action line is more passive than it needs to be.

A BABY wails at the top of its lungs.

Also, why not just write:

A needy BABY screams.

Surely wailing at the top of its lungs is tantamount to screaming?

Code

JEN (19), frazzled, young, thin, nervously cradles a very
young infant - BART - in her arms, shushing him as he
SCREAMS.



Confsuing because you introduce the Baby but we now have a very young infant also thrown in. If it's a baby, why not just write 'baby'? In fact, why not introduce the baby properly right from the outset?

A six-month-old baby, BART, screams for attention as JEN (19),
frazzled, young, thin, cradles and sushes him.


Code

Her tiny apartment appears to be a studio -



It doesn't appear to be... it definitely is. It even says so in the slug. This is overwriting.

Code

...her bed, the crib, and kitchenette in the same space.



You don't need to describe what a studio flat/apartment looks like. More overwriting.

Code

Jen clutches Bart close to her chest and sits on the bed,
unbuttoning her shirt.



Is this physically possible? Seems more prudent to put the baby down first and then unbutton the shirt.


Code

Bart is still audible wailing...



audible wailing?


The passive wriitng continues throughout. It could do with a tighten.

I'm not sure that I understand the end of the story but I do sympathise with the protag's plight, so perhaps that is what you were going for?

Good luck with the production.



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AlsoBen
Posted: May 18th, 2019, 8:27pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks for the feedback Dustin. I re-read my script and I can see what you mean in each instance how the descriptions could be more concise and less passive.

As I said regarding the ending, I meant for there to be a "punchline" wherein Jen could have accessed the apartment via the fire escape stairs. But again, I really liked LC's suggestion of the moth being present throughout and the final shot just being setting the moth free - no punchline.


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Dustin
Posted: May 19th, 2019, 1:37am Report to Moderator
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Action speaks louder...

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Quoted from AlsoBen
Thanks for the feedback Dustin. I re-read my script and I can see what you mean in each instance how the descriptions could be more concise and less passive.

As I said regarding the ending, I meant for there to be a "punchline" wherein Jen could have accessed the apartment via the fire escape stairs. But again, I really liked LC's suggestion of the moth being present throughout and the final shot just being setting the moth free - no punchline.


Ah, I see that now. Yes, I prefer LC's suggestion.


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