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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board  /  Short Thriller Scripts  /  Normal Activity - Optioned Again (3x) - Filmed!
Posted by: Don, June 9th, 2017, 11:55pm
Normal Activity by Warren Duncan - Short, Psychological Thriller - Two home intruders cause a man to come to terms with the grim truth about himself. - pdf, format

Writer interested in feedback on this work


Normal Activity from Jemel Richards on Vimeo.

Posted by: Don, June 10th, 2017, 8:59am; Reply: 1
Updated the link.

- Don
Posted by: MarkItZero, June 10th, 2017, 12:48pm; Reply: 2
The Machine is back!!! Solid enough little short.


The twist felt a bit too familiar though. It's been done so many times with The Others, Sixth Sense, etc. I wish it was more of a unique spin on the concept. But, it works for what is and would be easy to make.
Posted by: Warren, June 10th, 2017, 2:57pm; Reply: 3
Thanks, yeah I think I need to blow out some cobwebs.

As mentioned, it's been rattling around in my head awhile and just needed to come out so I could move on.

Thanks for having a read, feedback always appreciated.
Posted by: stevemiles, June 10th, 2017, 3:20pm; Reply: 4

Iím a little torn on this one.  Suspense keeps it interesting and I like how youíre taking this from Adamís perspective.  That said, I wonder how effective the flashback reveal would be in tying all this together?

I found myself wondering why/when Adam ended up dead in the wardrobe in the first place which detracts from the creepiness of the situation.  Maybe a little more context.  Perhaps if there were some hint from the new occupants that this had happened before - something to suggest to us an ongoing haunting?  Is timeframe a factor?  Have these guys just moved in?  Itís short and sweet but feels a little too thin to make the most out of the idea.

Posted by: Warren, June 10th, 2017, 6:19pm; Reply: 5
Thanks for the read, Steve.

I like the suggestion, and I did want this to seem more like an ongoing issue than a one off, I just couldn't think of a way to incorporate it without giving it all away.

I'll keep thinking about it and hopefully something comes to me.

Posted by: Warren, June 10th, 2017, 10:58pm; Reply: 6
Love a few more reads on this from the regs or anyone for that matter before it slides off the recent thread list. Anyone who knows me knows I 'm good for a return read.

Thanks in advance.
Posted by: StevenClark, June 11th, 2017, 10:17am; Reply: 7

Loved the reveal - took me by surprise, didn't see it coming. Nice. Only issue is where did the phone come from? One of the two men pulls out a phone at the end, but I'm guessing it's a cell phone. So there is no mention of a landline with a cord. I think one of the men needs to grab the landline, perhaps as a weapon maybe to bash the intruder with, but they don't do that. Muscular man grabs a knife, and that's not the weapon that kills Adam.

Also, I'd maybe think about losing the flashback at the end. All Adam has to do now is just look back into the closet (wardrobe) and see his own lifeless body there. I think that might work better. But that's me. Overall, well done. I can see this being picked up quick! Good luck.

Posted by: Warren, June 11th, 2017, 4:44pm; Reply: 8
Thanks for the read, Steve.

Glad the surprise held out till the end.

As far as the phone cord and where the phone came from, it's a flashback so it came from Adam's house when he used to live there. It is non existent in the new occupants house.

I did actually originally write this without the flashback and gave it to some people before posting and they didn't quite get it. They felt the flashback cleared it up.

Will see if there is more of a common consensus either way before deciding what to do with it.

And yes I hope it does go quick, I've already had some interest but nothing solid yet.

Thanks again.
Posted by: Kirsten, June 11th, 2017, 9:40pm; Reply: 9
Hi Warren,

!SPOILER!'s done nicely, but as soon as I read he was knocking photos on the wall, I knew he was a ghost. It's well told, and written. Maybe you could add more after the reveal? Another twist?
Posted by: Warren, June 12th, 2017, 12:39am; Reply: 10
Thanks for the read, Kirsten.

Good pick up, not sure how you would have made it, but nevertheless.

What else could I add twist wise? I'm happy to take suggestions. The entire short is based on simple idea.
Posted by: BSaunders, June 12th, 2017, 4:18am; Reply: 11
Hey mate,

As Steve mentioned, the suspense is spot on. Had my eyes smashing out the lines wanting to get to the end to see what happens.

This is a pretty tight knit little story. Not my kinda thing, but I can appreciate it.

Twist wise -  Perhaps Adam could have known these guys in his life?

- They killed him?

- A picture of Adam and one of the men crunched up in the wardrobe?

- A stab wound in Adam instead of hanging wounds?

I don't know. I can see this getting picked up with or without re-writes.

Anyway, here's a few notes:

- Get rid of Muscular Man saying "Someone's here."  The finger to the mouth says it all, and adds a little creepiness to it.

- Don't you mean 000? ;)

Aaaaaand, you could remove Adam saying "What the fuck?" At the end. 'A moment of realization.' in the description line suffices.
Posted by: Warren, June 12th, 2017, 4:50am; Reply: 12
Hey mate,

Thanks for taking a look.

Yeah I agree those two lines are probably not needed, the subtext would be enough.

Good call on the 000... But no haha. All three of my produced films have been picked up by Americans and all my current options are to Americans. I feel I have to write for what is obviously making up the majority of my audience.

Will get to your feature as soon as I can.
Posted by: eldave1, June 12th, 2017, 7:52pm; Reply: 13
Solid writing.

I for one did not see the twist coming


My only critique is here:

Quoted Text
He must have gotten away, just call the cops.

Oh thank God, that scared me half to death.

They have someone smash a face in their living room subsequently picture frames in the hallway on route to the bedroom. Upon whipping open the closet they find no one.  

Why would they think he got away? They followed something into the room. I think all I need added is an open window that leads outside - they look at it and then conclude he got out.

Overall - a good tale
Posted by: Warren, June 12th, 2017, 8:37pm; Reply: 14
Thanks for the read, Dave.

Glad the twist held till the end.

Good pickup, I will steal that idea, thanks

Appreciated as always.
Posted by: eldave1, June 12th, 2017, 8:48pm; Reply: 15
no prob - glad it helped
Posted by: StevenClark, June 13th, 2017, 8:29pm; Reply: 16
Got it wrong, Warren. I thought that the two guys killed him in the closet but we just didn't see it, hence why I thought one of them should be holding a landline. Still, not too sure why he sees his own body if he was killed a while ago. Is there something else I'm missing?
Posted by: Warren, June 13th, 2017, 8:46pm; Reply: 17
I guess he has no concept of how long ago he was killed and it's irrelevant to the reader in the context of the short.

Seeing his body in the flashback is just a more visual representation of what he understands when he sees the bruising around his neck. I think it adds more punch.

Posted by: Nolan, June 14th, 2017, 3:46pm; Reply: 18
I can really appreciate how your scripts just flow.  I breezed through it like it was nothing, it was such an easy read.  

I didn't see the ending coming.  But, like I've seen in one of the other comments, I was confused that he saw himself in the wardrobe.  I thought that it had just happened and was wondering why the two men couldn't see a clearly dead body.  It took reading through the comments to understand that this had happened a while ago.  

Anyway, I enjoyed the story and was hooked all the way to the end.

Well done.

Posted by: Warren, June 14th, 2017, 4:32pm; Reply: 19
Hi Nolan,

Thanks for the read and positive feedback.

Not sure how I can clear the ending up anymore. Does the flashback not insinuate that it is in the past?

I have a bit of a habit of thinking all the parts are there to piece the story together and then it not really gelling. The intruders/homeowners say that they would like to report a break in, without making this too on the nose, I felt this was clear enough to point out that they were the occupants.

I am interested to know what you thought happened so I can understand where this is falling short. I don't write that the men killed Adam or could even see him. Adam notices the strangulation marks around his neck and realises that 'in the past' hence the flashback he hung himself in the wardrobe.

So that is all very clear to me because I wrote it but if someone could specifically point out what they think is missing that would be a massive help.

Thanks again.
Posted by: Nolan, June 14th, 2017, 5:03pm; Reply: 20
As I think about it more, it makes sense that he ran to the wardrobe where he ending up dying.  And if I think about it that way, then it's pretty clear to me.  

When I read it the first two times, it came down to the fact that the wardrobe he was killed in was still there with new owners.  Perhaps I'm thinking into it too much, but would they have all of the same furniture?  Unless they rent the place and it's fully furnished.  Again though, that's me thinking WAAAYYY too much.  

So that's what threw me off.  I couldn't picture the fact that it had happened in the past due to the furniture, and I couldn't figure out why they couldn't see a dead body in the wardrobe.  I'm not sure if I'm making any sense with that reasoning.  

Posted by: Warren, June 14th, 2017, 5:12pm; Reply: 21
Oh okay, I did toss up between wardrobe and closet. I think a closet is built into the wall and a wardrobe is free standing. Maybe that could add some clarification.

In my mind it is built in, but potentially the word choice was incorrect.

I think that may help, thanks.
Posted by: Nolan, June 14th, 2017, 5:20pm; Reply: 22
No problem.  A closet would definitely make more sense to me.  
Posted by: Nomad, June 14th, 2017, 9:35pm; Reply: 23

The link is bad.

Or you removed the script.

Either way...I can't read it.  

::Sad face::

Posted by: Warren, June 14th, 2017, 9:54pm; Reply: 24
Hi Jordan,

I've pointed this out to Don, just waiting for the fixed link to go up. It can be accessed through my website using the link in my signature block it you would like to access it that way.

Posted by: LC, June 15th, 2017, 1:50am; Reply: 25
Warren, I downloaded this the other day. I've deliberately not read the other comments so bear with me if I repeat anything already said.

I enjoyed this a lot. Didn't pick the twist at all. The thin man and the muscular man at the top - amazing what a clever set up does - I pictured them as burglars, home invaders, though none of that was in the description. Well done with that.

The ending is suitably creepy. Just something is missing...

The only added thing I could suggest is that you make more use of the photographs when Adam rushes upstairs. Show it as he sees it, as his home, to add to the suspense/misdirection. Perhaps show a visual photo of Adam as he passes one of those pics of him and his wife (the previous house occupants). Maybe wifey killed him - mind you, that'd have to be him looking down at a knife plunged in his belly - hmm, that wouldn't be bad.

Do a wipe where at the end we see perhaps a wedding photo of thin and muscular man where the photo of Adam once was.

While I was writing that I thought of another alternative: Adam is a kid, old enough to be home alone without a babysitter - an even scarier set up for a home alone burglary - which it is not, as it turns out, but you get what I mean..

Maybe I'm getting carried away with myself but you do well with the kids and gory unhappy endings, so just my thoughts.

It's good either way, and enjoyable and very effective.
Posted by: Warren, June 15th, 2017, 3:39am; Reply: 26
Hi LC,

Thanks for the read and positive feedback.

I did initially write this with a flash on the frame, funny you should mention that. I decided to cut it out because I felt it was essentially the same twist twice and potentially spoon feeding it to the reader.

As for as making it a younger person, that would work well, but I'll probably leave it as is. If a producer decided to change the age though I'd definitely have no issues with it. I also think I need to lay off the kids and gory unhappy endings for a bit, don't want to get put on a watch list :)

Although my next script does involve a kid, it's kind of a happy ending.

As far as murder vs. suicide, I'm more inclined to go with suicide, it's a recurring theme in my script as I am fascinated by it.

So I really do like your suggestions and even had one of them in the original script, but for the moment I think I will leave it unchanged.

Thanks again for reading, much appreciated.

Posted by: Don, June 17th, 2017, 10:57am; Reply: 27
Linked fixed.

- Don
Posted by: Warren, February 1st, 2018, 6:35am; Reply: 28
This has just been optioned to two extremely talented film students. After seeing their previous projects I'm really excited about how this might turn out.
Posted by: eldave1, February 1st, 2018, 11:23am; Reply: 29
Very cool, Warren.

Posted by: Warren, February 1st, 2018, 3:18pm; Reply: 30
Thanks, Dave.
Posted by: AnthonyCawood, February 1st, 2018, 4:43pm; Reply: 31
Posted by: Warren, February 1st, 2018, 6:01pm; Reply: 32
Thanks, Anthony. Appreciate it.
Posted by: Warren, February 5th, 2018, 3:31pm; Reply: 33
So this is a first, but Normal Activity has just been optioned again.

Twice in five days and both to filmmakers in the UK (one to film students and one to a working producer/director/cinematographer). Be great to have my first UK produced film.

Hereís hoping at least one of them gets made.
Posted by: AnthonyCawood, February 5th, 2018, 4:46pm; Reply: 34
Fingers crossed for you on both versions Warren.
Posted by: Don, February 5th, 2018, 6:10pm; Reply: 35

Both optioners (sp?) are aware that this is non-exclusive?

Posted by: Warren, February 5th, 2018, 6:25pm; Reply: 36

Quoted from Don

Both optioners (sp?) are aware that this is non-exclusive?


Hi Don,

Yes they are aware it is non-exclusive.
Posted by: Colkurtz8, March 7th, 2018, 4:04pm; Reply: 37

Good title

ďHe peers around the corner, sees the knife, and races up the

- So the film Scream wasnít completely right. It isnít just big tit?ted blondes that illogically scamper UP the stairs when being chased. Men do it too! ;)

This took a peculiar though intriguing twist at the end with the closet being empty. I thought we were entering some Lynchian type territory. Instead, Adam seems to re-materialize in the room and experiences some out of body, post-suicide episode/vision. Kinda unclear as itís written, which may well be the intention, or itís likely Iím missing something.

Is this influenced by A Ghost Story by any chance? Is Adam haunting the house he once lived in but doesnít realise it yet?  

Posted by: Warren, March 7th, 2018, 4:26pm; Reply: 38

Quoted from Colkurtz8

Is this influenced by A Ghost Story by any chance? Is Adam haunting the house he once lived in but doesnít realise it yet?  

Thanks for the read Col,

You are spot on with the statement I quoted.

It came from an idea I had about doing Paranormal Activity in reverse, hence the name Normal Activity.

Itís from the ghostís perspective, to him nothing is paranormal, and itís just a 'normal' home invasion.

Because this is already under two options I will more than likely not be making any more changes.

Posted by: Warren, March 24th, 2018, 3:25pm; Reply: 39
Normal Activity was filmed on the 12th and 13th of March. It should be done sometime in May.
Posted by: eldave1, March 24th, 2018, 6:17pm; Reply: 40

Quoted from Warren
Normal Activity was filmed on the 12th and 13th of March. It should be done sometime in May.

Cool - look forward to it
Posted by: Warren, March 24th, 2018, 6:21pm; Reply: 41

Quoted from eldave1

Cool - look forward to it

Thanks, Dave.

Posted by: Warren, July 5th, 2018, 6:42am; Reply: 42
Poster for Normal Activity.

 photo Normal Activity1_zpsmaykktj1.jpg
Posted by: eldave1, July 5th, 2018, 10:02am; Reply: 43
Awesome - they did a great job.
Posted by: Don, July 8th, 2018, 2:48pm; Reply: 44
Posted by: Zack, July 8th, 2018, 3:08pm; Reply: 45
Hey Warren,

Just finished watching your short. Not bad at all! The story wasn't mind-blowing or even all that original, but it was entertaining. The short was pretty well shot and I like the way it was edited.


Posted by: Warren, July 8th, 2018, 5:01pm; Reply: 46
Thanks for getting this up, Don. Much appreciated.

Zack, thanks for taking a look. I'm very happy with how this turned out. Student filmmakers can be a gamble, but I think they did well. Itís also very true to the script which is always a plus. Definitely not my most ground-breaking work, but it was an idea that I couldnít shake and just needed to get down on paper. Itís been kind to me; two options and one complete film.
Posted by: Angry Bear, July 8th, 2018, 5:05pm; Reply: 47
8) :)
Posted by: Warren, July 8th, 2018, 5:12pm; Reply: 48
Thanks, Pia :)
Posted by: Warren, July 8th, 2018, 8:04pm; Reply: 49

Quoted from eldave1

Why would they think he got away? They followed something into the room. I think all I need added is an open window that leads outside - they look at it and then conclude he got out.

Just wanted to point out that it may be minor but this is literally SS in action. This was rewritten in the script and filmed. Dave also has a line of dialogue in another of my filmed shorts.

All comments are always appreciated and do effect the outcome of the final projects.

Thought it was worth mentioning.
Posted by: Philostrate, July 10th, 2018, 4:51pm; Reply: 50
Hey Warren,

Watched your short too. Cool.

One more notch in the belt ;)

Posted by: Warren, July 10th, 2018, 5:16pm; Reply: 51

Quoted from Philostrate
Hey Warren,

Watched your short too. Cool.

One more notch in the belt ;)


Hi David,

Thanks for checking it out, glad you enjoyed it.

SS has been very good to me.
Posted by: Kirsten, August 5th, 2018, 10:34am; Reply: 52
This is really good. Nice work :)
Posted by: Warren, January 8th, 2019, 4:40pm; Reply: 53
Normal Activity has been optioned again. It's the script that keeps on giving.

It's one of two scripts that were optioned together by independent filmmaker Vincent Tang.
Posted by: eldave1, January 8th, 2019, 5:00pm; Reply: 54

Quoted from Warren
Normal Activity has been optioned again. It's the script that keeps on giving.

It's one of two scripts that were optioned together by independent filmmaker Vincent Tang.

Very cool - congrats!
Posted by: Warren, January 8th, 2019, 5:11pm; Reply: 55
Thanks Dave.
Posted by: Philostrate, January 8th, 2019, 5:25pm; Reply: 56
Great news, Warren. Congrats!
Posted by: Warren, January 8th, 2019, 8:06pm; Reply: 57
Thanks David, appreciate it:)
Posted by: denamckinnon (Guest), January 9th, 2019, 9:49am; Reply: 58
Wow super duper congrats! This is great!
Posted by: Warren, January 9th, 2019, 5:19pm; Reply: 59
Thanks, Dena:)
Posted by: GM, January 9th, 2019, 5:45pm; Reply: 60
Congrats, Warren.

The film quality on this one is great. Itís like another character in the film. Lol

Good luck with the other two options. Canít wait to see how they turn out.

Posted by: Warren, January 9th, 2019, 5:52pm; Reply: 61
Thanks for taking a look, Gabe.

The second option has gone very quiet, but I think if the third one makes it, it should turn out well. His work is pretty good.
Posted by: Matthew Taylor, January 10th, 2019, 4:12am; Reply: 62
Well done Warren.

Here's me hoping for a single option from any of my scripts, and you have 3 on 1. Much congrats
Posted by: Warren, January 10th, 2019, 4:23am; Reply: 63
Thanks Matthew. I write a lot low budget horror shorts, so I think that's why I get a few takers . Not really sure what it is about this script though, I don't feel it's near my best writing, but filmmakers seem to like it.
Posted by: LiamX, September 19th, 2019, 3:43pm; Reply: 64
I enjoyed this, nice and simple with a nice twist.
Posted by: Warren, September 24th, 2019, 8:34pm; Reply: 65

Quoted from LiamX
I enjoyed this, nice and simple with a nice twist.

Thanks for checking it out, Liam.
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