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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Screenwriting Discussion    The 2019 Writers' Tournament  ›  Whistling in the Dark - WT2 Moderators: Mr. Blonde
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  Author    Whistling in the Dark - WT2  (currently 1114 views)
Posted: June 10th, 2019, 10:18pm Report to Moderator

So, what are you writing?

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Whistling in the Dark by George Mallory - A mechanic must descend into the bowels of the city to find the talisman of life. - Short, Comedy

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Scar Tissue Films
Posted: June 11th, 2019, 5:43am Report to Moderator
Of The Ancients

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I found the story here unnecessarily convoluted. You weave in comic book stuff, flashbacks, tales of trips to prison, giant rats etc when it feels the story  should be a simple one: They've got to retrieve a precious whistle or face deadly consequences.

Spending time and energy on deciphering stories is OK for mystery stories and hard sci fi but comedy really needs to keep it simple, imo. Simple story with genius level comedy.

It's a good attempt that I feel is less than the sum of its parts.
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Matthew Taylor
Posted: June 11th, 2019, 7:56am Report to Moderator
January Project Group

Shakespeare's county
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Hello writer

Quoted Text
sending flaming limbs

Why would they be flaming limbs? do rats combust when you shoot them?

Why are these manholes exploding? I don't get it, anyway-

I liked this, I thought it was cute - I felt the budding romance between the two and genuinely rooted for them to become a thing.

The last page let it down, I feel like you cut this back heavily to fit the page count, and crammed that last page with as much as you could. There was no resolution to their relationship either which disappointed me.

The distorted flashback was clever, I liked it - I think it could be formatted better but I'm pretty sure I see it the way you wanted me to, so well done - The comic book mention threw me, what did that have to do with anything?

Overall, good job



Two steps to writing a good screenplay:
1) Write a bad one
2) Fix it
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Posted: June 11th, 2019, 9:46am Report to Moderator
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Wow...WTF?  The opening here is just terrible and oh so wrong.  You know why?

First of all, how can you begin with a Flashback?  What are you flashing back from?

Secondly, don't put "FLASHBACK" in your Slug.  It needs it's own line to "BEGIN" and "END".  That way, you can have multiple scenes (Slugs) in your Flashback.

Now, we have a character we haven't met yet, doing a VO?  Oh man...not good.

And, now a 5 line passage.  In literally any reading situation other than this, where scoring is by categories, meaning, I cannot quit, I would have baled by now. we have "FLASHBACK CONT'D" in the Slug.  Unreal.  Just read above how to format a Flashback and make it easy on yourself.  Please.

And, now we get, "THE PRESENT" in a Slug?  Do you like this way this looks?  Seriously, do you?  I sure don't.

Love the "we see" passage ending in a lovely orphan to close out the humorless 1st page.

2 full pages and I think there's been 1 attempt at humor.  This is not comedy, as there's really no attempt to make it a comedy.

Oh fuck...another Flashback?  I'm so tempted to stop reading.

I'm sorry, but this is just simply not good.  It's awkwardly written and formatted, there's no story, and the few attempts at humor are complete misses.

Wow...Page 4 is almost completely dialogue, and it ain't good dialogue.

Who is "Alex"?

WTF is going on now?  Complete tonal shift.  Giant rats?  Rats that explode when shot?  This is really bad, sorry to say

Ending makes ZERO SENSE.

Story - Very, very weak, and completely unbelievable.

Characters - Not good.

Dialogue - Not good.

Prose - Not at all good.

Criteria - You get 5 points.  You should feel very lucky.
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Posted: June 11th, 2019, 9:58am Report to Moderator
Guest User

I figured that I'd read this and try and inject some positivity... but I just can't. Unlike everybody else, I'm not under any obligation to finish. I do think you're a decent writer, I just feel this isn't your genre at all.

There are also some technical issues that Dreamscale pointed out that show you as fairly new. The persona you write with in this story isn't a good one. It's not a good voice.
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Posted: June 11th, 2019, 4:44pm Report to Moderator
Of The Ancients

Down Under
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Starting reviews now    Have read about 10 already.  Not much comedy sadly although some of the pisstakes have some good lines. Scream and Shaun Of The Dead are pisstakes so when comedy is the set genre anything goes

This one had some good ideas but the overall concept was too much given the page limit. I do like the whistle as a kind of talisman but there was too much crammed in. There was no real humour either but again I’m a hard marker with my comedy.

I’ve noticed a few scripts have a sort of Disney vibe more than comedy. Interesting.

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Posted: June 11th, 2019, 7:42pm Report to Moderator
Of The Ancients

A man who has taught his mind to misbehave

Sydney, Australia
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Hi writer,

Quoted Text
(There is an unreal quality to the scene, things brighter and
more colorful.)

It's hard to know exactly how you want us to see this, but I'll give it a go.

Quoted Text
Stop vandal!

Stop, vandal!      ...I'm pretty sure at least.

Quoted Text

I used this in an OWC not too long ago. I like it, but I know from the comments on my script that other really wont.

Quoted Text
Beyond them, we can see that Elgar’s

I'm not saying it’s a rule, but I am saying there is always a better way to get the exact same visual without using "we can see".

Quoted Text

It will be hard for this to have any real impact on the story, SAL would be fine.

Quoted Text

This would be a good spot to use (PER-LAP) as opposed to (V.O.).

Quoted Text
Elgar is about to launch another devastating verbal missile.

Make this more visual, is his mouth open ready to give him a serve, is the pointing at him intently?

Some of the dialogue is quite on the nose.

Quoted Text
The Rat WHISTLES angrily. Elgar SHOOTS again and the Rat
EXPLODES, sending flaming limbs

Holy crap, what kind of bullets are they using?

This needs a fair bit of work. I can see the attempts at comedy but none of it landed for me.

Sorry but I can’t say I really liked it.

All the best.

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Posted: June 11th, 2019, 7:48pm Report to Moderator
Guest User

Quoted from Warren
Stop, vandal!      ...I'm pretty sure at least.

Yes, exactly, or as I would write it,

"Stop, Vandal!"  Anything used in the context of a name should be Capped, because in that line of dialogue, it is the proper subject, and being used as apposed to the person's or thing's name.

e-mail Reply: 7 - 20
Posted: June 11th, 2019, 11:42pm Report to Moderator
January Project Group

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I agree: "Stop, Vandal!"

I also agree that this fell short for me. I wasn't as bothered by the flashbacks as some. I could see what you were trying to do. Though, you should learn how to format them.

Also didn't mind the "freeze" moments. Painted a picture.

The story simply didn't make sense for me. I have no idea what the exploding manhole covers was about. And, if things are exploding, they sure are casual about it.

The action blocks need some cleaning up. Challenge yourself to shorten every one of them. Just to see how tight you can get them - specifically on page one.

60 Feet Under - Low budget, contained thriller/Feature
The Hand of God - Low budget, semi-contained thriller/Feature
Wait Till Next Year - Disney-style family sports comedy/Feature

Many shorts available for production: comedy, thriller, drama, light horror
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Posted: June 12th, 2019, 5:59pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

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Okay, Alexa seems to be there to listen :-)

P4 "Why, Alex???" Oh, I have a cameo appearance too now…
^^ not sure what went wrong there honestly
perhaps just a slip

oh, surprising nice moment with the gun hitting his head- I think it would be even funnier if the gun would fire "itself" at the rat – firing only from the impact it had when colliding with Elgar's head I mean. Sure, unrealistic, but would made the slapstick even better imo.

All right, you fought here, a very brave fight imo.

I could say a lot about the script. But it isn't necessary. I think you got a good self-reflection about what you do.

You did well.

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Posted: June 12th, 2019, 9:32pm Report to Moderator
Old Timer

No sh*t, there I was....

Tucson, AZ
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Word of the day: Jodhpur.

This one has effort written all over it. There was a story, good attempts at comedy, and the characters had a little bit of development. Good try, writer...but the parts just didn't seem to fit. A lot of one-sided banter and the flashbacks (valiant effort) didn't work.
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Posted: June 13th, 2019, 12:17am Report to Moderator

The Great Southern Land
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Too much story crammed into five pages methinks, a few too many detours happening at the top which tended to diffuse any comedy. There were some nice touches with character and I liked the freeze-frame, but I was at a bit of a loss as to your central story.

Another rat pack?  Ooh, those dirty rodents.
Nice final line tie-in.

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Gary in Houston
Posted: June 13th, 2019, 10:22am Report to Moderator
January Project Group

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I actually didn’t think it was all that bad. I liked the interaction between Alexa and Elgar and they were characters you could root for.

My biggest problem with this is that you tried to cram too much action into the story. Not enough white space on the pages. Made it a little difficult to consume. Also the ending was a bit mental.  Other than that, criteria met and decent writing on display.

Some of my scripts:

Bounty (TV Pilot) -- Top 1% of discoverable screenplays on Coverfly
I'll Be Seeing You (short) - OWC winner
The Gambler (short) - OWC winner
Skip (short) - filmed
Country Road 12 (short) - filmed
The Family Man (short) - filmed
The Journeyers (feature) - optioned

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Posted: June 13th, 2019, 1:16pm Report to Moderator
Of The Ancients

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I'm intrigued by this use of the unreliable flashback...where he imagines himself muscular but is not. This is not a criticism, as I said, I'm intrigued. The question is what will the audience perceive? Will they understand that his flashback is distorted memory?

Exercises like this are a great place to experiment with a new, outside the box idea. The false memory certainly counts.

Ok, I've completed the read.

I feel the urge to be very kind to this script in my comments, though I can't fully explain why. The prose and dialog were pretty good, and I suspect the writer creates much better prose and dialog in fully fleshed out scripts.

The characters were a little goofy, but it also managed to somehow make me feel a real chemistry between them.

It didn't really make me laugh, but obviously it was comedy, no problem on that end.

I didn't fully get the over-the-top stuff that happened. A giant rat has swallowed the sought-after whistle and is attacking them like a monster. They kill it with a gun found under water. And for some reason everything explodes. Weird, wild stuff!

I have not quite read half the stories yet. So far I'll score this higher than the others. For all its flaws, it did achieve something(the impression of chemistry), and with these types of story parameters it's very hard to achieve anything.

And again, I admire the experimental flashback stuff. Oh, and that also gives more points for character. The fact that he imagines himself in a very heroic but dishonest way gives him depth that few if any other characters will have in this challenge. Good work!
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Scar Tissue Films
Posted: June 14th, 2019, 2:33pm Report to Moderator
Of The Ancients

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I think that when you start a film/script with a flashback, that you don't actually label it as such...that's what happened in Batman, and Usual Suspects that you experience it as reality, until later. Some may disagree.

It is quite novel to combine a Flashback and a Dream Sequence, which I suppose is what we have here...although a new term 'Fantasy Sequence' might be more appropriate...maybe you can patent it and smile every time you see it in a script.

Like most scripts, it's better the second time round. It's not so much that you miss things, as you don't take the time to get into the reality of the world that's being created, you don't enjoy the atmosphere in the mad rush to get through the reads.
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