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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board  /  Short Sci Fi and Fantasy Scripts  /  The Survivor - A Tale from the Nearscape - Filmed!
Posted by: Don, March 8th, 2017, 5:18pm
The Survivor - A Tale from the Nearscape by Mark Renshaw - Short, Sci Fi - A teenager embarks on a perilous trek for supplies in a dangerous world where society has collapsed and the air is toxic. With only his toy robot as a companion, he faces lost souls, crazed zealots, and corrupt law enforcement officers. But the real danger is waiting for him at home.  - pdf, format

Writer interested in feedback on this work

Mark writes,

I've been at it again, producing one of my own scripts. This one is my first attempt at a sci-fi and the script did originally begin life on Simply Scripts where I got some great feedback to help me refine the script before the shoot.

It's officially online today at and I'm pleased to announce that it has already won Best Sci-Fi at the Top Shorts and Festigious Film Festivals.

The Survivor from Saga Flight on Vimeo.

Posted by: MarkItZero, March 11th, 2017, 5:24pm; Reply: 1
Where's the love, people? This is Mark Renshaw. The Mark Renshaw.

It's a really cool world you've built here and you've set up a lot of potentially intriguing/exciting elements.

But the big issue for me is the relationship between Billy and the robot. They don't really interact. I'm okay with the boy doing an exasperated sigh at the robot's antics on pg 1-2. They've been together for awhile so it'd be natural for them to have a sort of quiet camaraderie.

But they should occasionally speak to one another. Even robots that can't form words like R2D2 still interacted with Luke. Same with that rollie pollie guy in The Force Awakens. She'd say something and he'd do a sarcastic bleep-bloop or whatever. There'd be some exasperation, some arguing, then some lighter moments. It gives them a bond and the viewer bonds right along with them.

Pg. 3-5 is crucial for that. Right now, it's just Billy walking in silence and the robot making sarcastic asides. I think you gotta find some way to let their personalities play off each other. Maybe Billy is more hopeful and keeps telling the robot to look on the bright side. Little things like that will build up overtime into a real bond.

The stuff that happens between them early on makes all the difference when page 10 hits and Billy's forced to make a choice. You have to show they care about each other, so we care about them, so that moment is gut-wrenching for the audience.

Posted by: MarkRenshaw, March 13th, 2017, 1:12pm; Reply: 2
Ha-ha! Thanks man. This is me, THE Mark Renshaw replying.

Just to point out (I did mention this when submitting) this film is in production. I'm producing it myself and it was shot in Milwaukee over three days recently. In fact, shooting finished yesterday (Sunday)!

I submitted the script to SS a couple of weeks ago in the hopes of getting some final feedback before shooting but this section has been disabled for a bit due to the horror feature challenge.

Here's a sneak peek from the shoot, this is the main actor Billy in his gas mask:

As to your point about the interaction, or lack of, between Billy and the Robot - that's a valid observation. I hope it is one that doesn't affect the end result too much, The idea is that Billy is silent until he's overcome his abuse. Once his abuser is 'dealt with' he then speaks for the first time. This is quite a symbolic and (hopefully) powerful statement about abuse in general but I hope we haven't sacrificed character development in doing so. Time will tell!

Cheers for the notes.

Posted by: RichardR, March 28th, 2017, 4:06pm; Reply: 3
Nice pic of Billy.  

Since you already shot this, there's not a lot to say about the script.  It works, and it's topical.  Looks like the start of some bigger piece, so good luck.

Posted by: khamanna, March 29th, 2017, 4:38am; Reply: 4
Hey, Mark.

I liked it, it's an interesting piece.

I really liked how Billy had to give away the robot. Him meeting with the police and Casey saving the day - I don't know, Casey kind of comes out of nowhere and saves him... It was interesting and satisfying to see but I was thinking Billy could do something to win her over at first.

I had a feeling like it's easy for Billy to kill his stepdad. He just put rat poison in his water. The other question would be why he did not do it earlier. Your call but what if you show that it's hard for him - his mother is religious and stuff. He's religious... There are bible quotes lying about - I don't know, just a stupid suggestion) (I'm saying - the harder the choice for Billy the better)

But overall it's a nice piece and you could expand on it perhaps. Turn it into a feature or something as there's obviously more to it. And it seems low budget, no?

Good luck to you with it!
Posted by: MarkRenshaw, April 8th, 2017, 1:23pm; Reply: 5
Thanks for the comments guys. Filming is done and we are deep in the bowels of post production. I'm in the process of expanding the script out into a full TV episode length and writing a TV Bible, so all these notes are good as I am re-visiting everything.
Posted by: Don, August 16th, 2017, 10:21am; Reply: 6
Posted by: Grandma Bear, August 16th, 2017, 10:28am; Reply: 7
Totally awesome job!!!

Very happy to see another writer taking things by the horn and making your own films! This one looked AWESOME! Can't believe you pulled it off on such a small budget.

Congratulations!  8)
Posted by: eldave1, August 16th, 2017, 10:39am; Reply: 8
Well done, Squire. Looked solid!
Posted by: Dustin, August 16th, 2017, 12:57pm; Reply: 9
Nice work, very professional job. If you weren't such a great writer yourself, I'd be spamming you with my stuff. Good luck with it.
Posted by: MarkRenshaw, August 16th, 2017, 2:32pm; Reply: 10
Thanks Don for posting this so fast and thanks guys for the compliments.

:-) :-) :-)

Posted by: StevenClark, August 16th, 2017, 3:35pm; Reply: 11
That was great, Mark! Very nicely done, well acted. A good notch in the belt.

Posted by: LC, August 17th, 2018, 8:24am; Reply: 12
Must have missed this the first time around.
Wow, just three days to film this?!

Lots of nifty sfx must have gone in post as well.

Really admirable. Good luck with the bigger picture, Mark.    ;)
Posted by: MatthewLincoln, September 13th, 2018, 10:07pm; Reply: 13

I'm giving your script a read. I'm liking it so far. I think the world building is great, and the dialogue is very well-written. Congrats on getting it filmed.

Matthew Lincoln

P.S. I wrote a sci-fi short, Inescapable, and I'd appreciate some feedback. It takes place in the near-future and is influenced by The Terminator. Thanks.
Posted by: khamanna, September 13th, 2018, 10:46pm; Reply: 14
Woah, this is absolutely fantastic! So intense. And I remember the script very well too, although read it long time ago. Congrats!
Posted by: Colkurtz8, October 12th, 2018, 10:37am; Reply: 15

I was directed to this from the PAGE finalists discussion boards. First off, congrats on your success there.

I enjoyed this even if some of the dystopian, post apocalyptic genre is severely over saturation at this point. It feels like its gone the way of zombies and vampires films of a few years ago. It got me thinking why this particular milieu has become fashionable in recent times, is it because we edge ever closer to it being a reality with each passing year? That there are actually places on earth that look like the 1984 version of Blade Runner.

Anyway, even though a lot of familiar tropes were on display here, the action and characters in between that were compelling enough to keep me reading and kind of one me over in the end. The silent protagonist, the black market profiteer, the ever intrusive totalitarian government all feels like well trodden territory but injected with some genuine suspense and pothos. The Robot also provides welcome levity, a nice touch that stops the piece from tipping into brutish, misery porn the opening scenes suggested.

The real test comes in where you take it from here. By the sounds of it you are already far down the road of exploring that so I'm definitely curious to see what you do.

Also, I'm very happy Roy got dispatched in this episode because he felt very heavy handed. One of those one note, horrible characters that is just too easy to hate and provides no nuance or shade. If I would make any suggestion, I would be to give him more dimension. This would feel more authentic, less cartoon-y villainous but also make Billy's decision to kill him all the more impactful and complex. Yes, you could keep him a bastard in the main to justify Billy taking the measure he does, just not so completely 100% hateful.

Anyway, I liked this, you've breathed some life into a genre that's becoming as stale as those rations in Zena's Trading Post ;)

I've yet to watch the film, will do when I get a chance

Posted by: Matthew Taylor, October 17th, 2018, 5:56am; Reply: 16
Just read this, really enjoyed it.

The robot scene almost bought a tear to my eye. It was easy to read, my flow wasn't interrupted at all. I got a very clear image in my head of what was going on and how it was playing out

Thoroughly enjoyed

Thanks for posting it
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