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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board  /  February, 2008 One Week Challenge  /  Blood Sells - OWC
Posted by: Don, February 25th, 2008, 9:12pm
Blood Sells by Gary Kohatsu (Abe from LA) - Short, Drama - A dying prisoner assumes the identity of a serial killer with frightening consequences. - pdf, format 8)

Posted by: cybercelt, February 26th, 2008, 10:37pm; Reply: 1
  OK this one didn't go where I expected it to.
  This is a good thing.
  One nit.

  Spoilers and small snails ahead..

You know why I killed my wife
in a fit of rage? Allegedly?
Donít know, donít care.
Because she was destroying my
notes. She forced me to

  This part makes the release of Willoughby harder to follow. It's jarring and creates a "what the?" moment.

  Otherwise a solid read.
Posted by: Dr. McPhearson, February 26th, 2008, 11:20pm; Reply: 2
I have to just say, I wasn't a fan of this one. You jump out on several limbs, and expect to believe every single one of them.

You want us to come to understanding that Ray agreed to this preposterous idea because he has a terminal illness. If that were the case, why do we never see him ill? Why does he act as if he were in great health? We never view any sort of hints as to what this "illness" is. In fact, it's my belief that you only stuck it in to make Ray's acceptance of Willoughby's plan that much more realistic.

But to be honest, none of the scenes really clicked for me. One moment, Willoughby is beat up in the shower, and the next, he is asking Ray to take part in his little game. The pieces of the puzzle don't fit together. Many of the scenes I found pointless in terms of the grand scheme of things. Why do we spend so much time watching Willoughby muttering to himself if that fact will play no part in the whole picture?

And the idea of the letters paralleling Ray and Justine's separate lives is interesting, but feels more like exposition. I wish I had seen a tad less attempts at characterization, and a few more moments of development in terms of the postcard parallel.

And the ending... I get it, but I don't. So, okay, Willoughby is dead, the cops think it was Justine's work, and Steincooler appears out of nowhere and kills Ray's family? Is that right? I simply couldn't tell.

Cut off the excess fat. Don't tell us something unless it will add to the pay-off, especially since this is a short screenplay, one thats page limit equals you keeping your eye on the ball.

If you rewrite this, develop the characters a tad more, but not with corny little details that have no part to play in the end result.
Posted by: chism, February 27th, 2008, 2:41am; Reply: 3
This was a pretty good story. I really liked the idea of ?blood selling? ? people?s fascination with violence and serial killers and what not, very interesting. In a way, I wish you had focused on that a little bit more, rather than having it just be window-dressing to the story.

A couple of problems I had: A) I would?ve liked to have seen Ray becoming sick. You said he has a terminal illness, it would add a nice element to actually see the state of his health decline. B) I think you have too many letters going back and forth between Ray and Justine. It got a little repetitive, especially when some of them were totally unnecessary. Cut them back to only two or three voice overs and I think it?ll be a better script.

My other big gripe is, of course, the ending. I?m all for ambiguity and open-endedness (I loved the ending of The Sopranos) but I still think you need to make a few clarifications. What really happened to Willoughby? Who was the voice on the end of the phone? A revenge-crazy relative of one of Steincooler?s victims? Was it Steincooler himself? Add a few little clues somewhere in the script to clarify the ending a little bit.

The formatting was good,  the story was good, but the execution was a little weak. It fit the genre/theme well enough, but I think it would?ve been interesting if you explored society?s attraction to this macabre story Ray and Willoughby are trying to sell. A decent effort.

Posted by: greg, February 27th, 2008, 4:08pm; Reply: 4
I think you got a good story here but there were times where it really stretched the truth.  First off, the idea of Ray agreeing to be this killer dude was good, I bought that.  But adding in the terminal illness for half a second as a reason to do it didn't.  And then out of the blue, Willoughby is released?  What?  Did I miss something?

I also enjoyed the ending.  Chilling.  Overall I liked what I read, but felt the truth was exaggerated at times.  The story on its own was outstanding.
Posted by: Zombie Sean, February 28th, 2008, 10:25pm; Reply: 5
This was a good short. The characters were good and so was the dialogue and the descriptions. Like the others, I'd like to see Ray's declining health due to his terminal illness. I kept on forgetting he had it because he didn't really mention it most of the time.

The ending was a bit confusing. I'd like to know who that was on the other end of the line.

But, personally, I felt as though the back and forth letters were good, and that each one was necessary to make it seem a bit more real.

Oh, and one more thing, they have pinboards in prison? Wouldn't it be dangerous due to the fact that people can really hurt people with pins? Maybe he can tape the stuff up to the wall or something, or have them under his bunk.

Posted by: stebrown, February 29th, 2008, 11:17am; Reply: 6
Hi, this was really well written. I think the action is the best writing of any of the scripts I've read for the OWC.
You have a very, very good build-up. I was expecting a totally different ending though.

I think it would have worked better if Willoughby was really the serial killer. Steincooler was really the writer and Willoughby murdered him. By getting Ray to agree to the deal about the book, Willoughby has cleared his name and his release would make sense.
Then the phone call at the end is Willoughby, and he is going to kill Ray's wife.

*********END SPOILER*******
I just think this would have been such a creepy ending.
I really like it as it is, but the ending is a bit unclear. I think maybe Ray should be getting close to death by the end of it aswell.

Good job though!
Posted by: pwhitcroft, March 1st, 2008, 4:14pm; Reply: 7
This is really good. At the beginning it takes a little bit too long before the main story gets going. In here is the makings of a great story but it needs reworking to get it to hang together.

I agree with the earlier comment about Willoughby being the killer and the boarder, but you don't need a writer. He gets out of jail because Ray has confessed to his crime and then Ray realizes he has been tricked. I think I'd have Ray going to be executed and seeing his wife sitting with and seeking comfort from Willoughby.

Some minor notes:
- When you mention Ray hangs out with some white guys it seems odd because you didnít say what ethnicity Ray is so itís not clear what we are supposed to take from that.
- ďTakes Ray into his confidenceĒ is borderline unfilmable.
- Youíre missing continued brackets on some dialog.

Posted by: The boy who could fly, March 1st, 2008, 7:49pm; Reply: 8
i really liked this one.  I think the set up and pay off worked quite well.  I liked the relationship with the wife even though it is only done through post cards, but it really worked, in fact I liked that more than the serial killer stuff, but the killer stuff was interesting as well, even though it is a bit far fetched.  I thin you put a good ending here, it's a downer, but effective.  This fit the genre and theme very well so good job on that.  All in all I think this one of the stronger entries.
Posted by: Zack, March 2nd, 2008, 9:23pm; Reply: 9
This was a good, well written short. I thought it was pretty believable (although sometimes it stretched things, but 'suspend disbelief', I know...) and that it fit the genre and theme very well. I do have one question though, who was on the phone?

I agree with Jordan about the ending. It's kinda depressing, but I don't think you could have ended it better.

Overall, I liked it. Not the best, but far from the worst.

I'll give it a B-

Posted by: James R, March 3rd, 2008, 6:07pm; Reply: 10
I have nothing really new to say about the illness, the quick acceptance of Willoughby's suggestion, the "white guys" part and the ending (who was on the phone- Steincooler?) which I thought worked but was a little too vague. If these things were tied up a little this one would be very good.

Posted by: theMADhatter, March 3rd, 2008, 9:22pm; Reply: 11
I agree with stebrown and pwhitcoft. I expected Willoughby to be the real serial killer and Ray admitted to killing a victim he was in jail for (let's say, one he was actually caught killing) and therefore, setting him free. Also, I was confused at first that the filtered voice at the end. I still, at the last line of it, expected it to be Willoughby. I thought "Willoughby" that was found dead, was the REAL Willoughby. but couldn't wrap my head around how he got into jail using a fake name. I was confused you didn't say his name. But, after a re-read of the last page, understood it's Steincooler. I think one way to make that understood is to show in on the other end of the phone and have him and Willoughby talking, through a flashback.

A couple things I want to say:
-Why would Steincooler tell this to someone, a guy who seems to be a total stranger? Another reason why I thought Willoughby was really Steincooler.
-I think it would be interesting to nix the whole terminal illness part. It seems thrown in like the others said. Maybe he would take the blame out of love for his wife, maybe he's in jail because of something he did to her and feels bad. On that note:
-I'd like to know why Ray was in jail. He seemed to have a positive rapport with the guards, so it probably wasn't bad and he's probably not a bad person. I'd like to feel sorry for Ray at the end, but I don't because I don't know much about him except he loves his wife and he's dying of some unknown illness with no symptoms. Plus, he hated Willoughby as much as everyone else in the beginning. If he showed compassion, I'd have more emotion toward the ending.

Despite what I've said, I did like the script generally. It was written well but had some holes. Fill them up, you've got a solid script.
Posted by: mcornetto (Guest), March 5th, 2008, 4:35am; Reply: 12
I thought you did a good job with this considering the time frame and the page constraint. You could have fleshed the story out a bit more.  I think the biggest missing elements were showing us Ray's illness and showing us more of the developing relationship between the two men.   Things happened a bit to quickly in this script and it would benefit from being slowed down.  

I understood the ending perfectly.

Nice work, it definitely needs a rewrite but I'll give it a CONSIDER.
Posted by: Mr.Z, March 9th, 2008, 12:30pm; Reply: 13
Hey Abe, just took a look at this one. Read like a breeze as your stuff usually does, and I liked it pretty much.

Lemme see if I got the ending right. Rayís cell mate was not actually Willoughby. He was the killer and he was pretending to be Willoughby, right? After Ray assumes the killerís identity, the killer kills the real Willoughby and reveals Ray his real identity. Is that correct?

My only suggestion would be to expand a bit on how Willoughby/The killer got out of prison. Right now it seems to come out of the blue. Did he cut a deal in exchange for the information he had?

Very impressive work for just one week.

I enjoyed the read. Thanks.  8)
Posted by: Abe from LA, March 13th, 2008, 7:14pm; Reply: 14
Thanks to all who gave comment during the OWC period.
I took my hits and for those who were a bit kind, your payoff money is in the mail.

Thanks Z for the recent read.  Actually the story goes this way, regardless of whether it worked or not.  Willoughby is a writer who kills his wife and is convicted. But he sees a loophole, has his conviction overturned and is freed.  He uses the conviction/freedom scenario to exploit him own reputation as a writer.

Meanwhile, Ray confesses to the multiple-murders and the news brings out the real serial killer, Steincooler. He immediately tracks down and kills Willoughby, whom he spilled his life story.  Now Steincooler begins a new killing spree.

Not well thought out, I admit, but there it is.  Thanks for the review and I'll be keeping up with your recent contributions.

Posted by: Abe from LA, March 13th, 2008, 7:45pm; Reply: 15
Oops.  Forgot to give credit to Danielle Alexander, who wrote "G.I. Jane."
The closing line of this short reads: "You took my life and now I take yours." That is Alexander's line from a Hannibal Lechter pitch. In her story, a writer finds a diary of an insane man and uses the confessional to write a best seller. While doing a talk show, the writer gets an on-air phone call from a diary's author. He says: "You stole my life. Now I steal yours."
The caller is a young Lechter.  And so begins the tale of the Cannibal doctor.
Anyway, I want to give Alexander her due.
Posted by: bert, April 18th, 2008, 8:59pm; Reply: 16
Hey, Abe.  Finally got around to this one, and found it to be a very solid entry that I wished I had found sooner.  Eh.  Sometimes the anonymity is good -- sometimes not so good.

Anyways, had I perused this one by chance at the time, I would have spotted you in the crisp descriptive work.  You build the relationship between Ray and Willoughby very well.  Slow and tentative, as it should be.  Ray's V.O. conversations with Justine are appropriately poignant as well.

Excellent storyline, ripe with possibilities. I was sure Willoughby WAS Steincooler.  How else could such a story turn out?  And Ray's diagnosis would obviously turn out to be an error, right?  So many twists were possible that your rather straightforward conclusion actually comes as a genuine surprise.  Odd how that works, but it does.

For a few nits, Willoughby tells us that Steincooler was frail and sickly, on the verge of death. I think I would lose that detail, given what comes later. Have a better reason for his disappearance, I think.  And I would give the detectives some photos of the mutilated Willoughby to show Ray.  And as another small point, would they let prisoners have thumbtacks or pins?  I don't know, but I would bet not.  Tape, maybe.

Your conclusion caps this one off perfectly.  Maybe carry it one step further, with screams over the phone and then screams from Ray?  Just a thought, and it works fine without it, really.

One of the better ones from this go-round for sure, Abe.  A top fiver for me, even if it is a little after the fact.
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