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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board  /  Short Thriller Scripts  /  Inbox (1)
Posted by: Don, November 29th, 2018, 9:08pm
Inbox (1) by Matthew Taylor - Short, Thriller, Horror - After receiving increasingly disturbing emails, a deaf customer services agent must battle with his mind in order to make sense of his night. 12 pages - pdf format

New writer interested in feedback on this work
Posted by: Matthew Taylor, December 4th, 2018, 9:05am; Reply: 1
Evening

Think this one should be in the shorts section.

Matt



[bert's edit:  fixed!]
Posted by: eldave1, December 5th, 2018, 11:41am; Reply: 2
Matt:

Clever title.


Quoted Text
INT. OFFICE FLOOR - NIGHT


I'd probably go with INT. CUSTOMER SERVICE CENTER - NIGHT

This sequence:


Quoted Text
FREDDY
I've told you before, you can speak
normally, I can read lips.

Christina goes red.

CHRISTINA
Right, sorry. Not spoken to a deaf
person before you, sorry.


Doesn't make sense to me. If he's told her before then she's talked to a deaf person.

SPOILERS

This goes off the rails for me a bit when Freddie hits Eric - in a real office environment he's escorted out the door at that point. But Freddy just returns to work like nothing happened.

And this sequence:


Quoted Text
Freddy looks at the others, they stare back at him.

All of the lights and monitors flicker off. Pitch black.

They flicker back on. Everyone has gone except for Ian, still
slumped in the chair.

The lights flicker off. Back on. Everyone is back where they
were before, working on their computers.

Freddy goes back to his computer, checks his emails.


Lost me - is it a dream state that Freddy's in?? I got confused.

Okay - see it again later - it is some sort of illusion sequence. I think it could be clearer.

Quoted Text


JAMES
(to Danielle and Cristina)
Eric's been gone a while. I'll
check on him, keep your eye on that
freak. He's acting weirder than
usual.

They look at Freddy, he's grinning menacingly.

James leaves.

POV: FREDDY

He watches James leave, gets up and sits at James computer.


So, they are supposed to watch him and no one cares when he goes to Jame's computer. Again I see that they are there and then there not.

Hmmm. Going to stop here. I think you have something here, Matt - I'm just getting confused by the peeps being there and then they're gone. Maybe it's just me. See what others think.

Posted by: Matthew Taylor, December 5th, 2018, 12:02pm; Reply: 3
Hi Eldave

Thank you so much for the read. This one was a real challenge for me to write (which is why i wrote it) as I have not done something like this before.


Quoted Text
CHRISTINA
Right, sorry. Not spoken to a deaf
person before you, sorry.


I included the "you" in her dialogue - meaning she has spoken to him before (not a lot) but no other deaf person - If it's not clear I'll look into rephrasing.


Quoted Text
This goes off the rails for me a bit when Freddie hits Eric - in a real office environment he's escorted out the door at that point. But Freddy just returns to work like nothing happened.


Ian (the manager) is asleep, the others are just young workers and don't have the authority (or guts) to throw him out.

The people being there, and then not, is Freddy losing his sense of reality. It's not a dream state, he's basically bonkers lol.
Not good that it is confusing though - I am open to suggestions from anyone on how to do it, like I say, not done this before so it is a challenge for me.

They do care he has gone to James computer, but they won't do anything about it, they are young, he's already been violent so they don't want to anger him more - plus it's only a work computer, not like he's stealing his personal stuff lol.

You have given a few of my works a read now, I don't think I have read and commented on anything of yours? If you want me to give anything a read just drop me a PM

Many thanks again

Matt


Posted by: eldave1, December 5th, 2018, 12:24pm; Reply: 4
My pleasure, Matt:


Quoted Text
I included the "you" in her dialogue - meaning she has spoken to him before (not a lot) but no other deaf person - If it's not clear I'll look into rephrasing.


Yeah, I saw the "you" - the line just didn't make sense since they both know that. Maybe something akin to:

CHRISTINA
Right, sorry. I keep forgetting that.


Quoted Text
Ian (the manager) is asleep, the others are just young workers and don't have the authority (or guts) to throw him out.


Still hard for me to buy - he's punching the dude in the nose  like I said - maybe it's just me.


Quoted Text
The people being there, and then not, is Freddy losing his sense of reality. It's not a dream state, he's basically bonkers lol.

Not good that it is confusing though - I am open to suggestions from anyone on how to do it, like I say, not done this before so it is a challenge for me.


Maybe something like:

Freddy looks at the others, they stare back at him.

IN FREDDY'S MIND

All of the lights and monitors flicker off. Pitch black.

They flicker back on. Everyone has gone except for Ian, still
slumped in the chair.

The lights flicker off.

BACK TO SCENE

Lights back on. Everyone is back where they
were before, working on their computers.

Freddy goes back to his computer, checks his emails.

Just food for thought


T
Posted by: Matthew Taylor, December 5th, 2018, 1:35pm; Reply: 5


Quoted Text
CHRISTINA
Right, sorry. I keep forgetting that.


You are correct sir, that reads much better. Will change in the rewrite.


Quoted Text
Still hard for me to buy - he's punching the dude in the nose  like I said - maybe it's just me.


I could change this, add more conflict of the others trying to get him to go home - he agrees, but instead of shutting down his computer, gets drawn back into these mysterious emails - I'll look into that in the rewrite.


Quoted Text
IN FREDDY'S MIND


I could try this, see if it reads better. As I can see it in my mind, it's hard to tell if others can see it as well the way I've written it.

Thanks for the help

Matt
Posted by: eldave1, December 5th, 2018, 1:48pm; Reply: 6

Quoted from Matthew Taylor



You are correct sir, that reads much better. Will change in the rewrite.



I could change this, add more conflict of the others trying to get him to go home - he agrees, but instead of shutting down his computer, gets drawn back into these mysterious emails - I'll look into that in the rewrite.

I could try this, see if it reads better. As I can see it in my mind, it's hard to tell if others can see it as well the way I've written it.

Thanks for the help

Matt


Cool  - hopefully a few others will weigh in
Posted by: Matthew Taylor, December 7th, 2018, 4:40am; Reply: 7
Revised draft is up (Thanks Don)

I have not gone with the IN FREDDY''S MIND idea just yet - I started it to do it, but it felt like it was pulling me out of the scene -  Hard to explain but, I wanted to get the sense that we are viewing Freddy's reality and his distorted view of it.

Anyway - In those instances, my original version made it look like that Freddy disappeared as well. so I have cleared that up.

Posted by: Dreamscale, December 7th, 2018, 10:24am; Reply: 8
Hey Matt, I saw the back and forth between you and Dave and decided to take a look.

I'm sorry, but for me, basically nothing works here as written.  Writing is awkward throughout, and downright wrong quite often.  Descriptions aren't handled well.  The setup isn't handled well.  The whole thing just doesn't make sense.

I know, that's not what you were hoping to hear, and I apologize, but I have to be honest here.  Let's see if I can shed some light on what I'm talking about.

OK, so other than the "bathroom", we have a 1 setting script, which is "Customer Service Centre".  From the spelling here, I know you are not American , so maybe this service center is nothing like I'm used to seeing here in the States, but based on your very sparse description of it, it looks like no service center I've ever seen.

I always recommend "setting your scenes" properly, which means visually.  In written form, we know this takes place at night, but if we're watching it, would we have a clue?  Does this service center have windows?  Are there clocks on the walls?  You may think this is all meaningless BS, but in reality, it's actually rather important, and would clue us in that this is some sort of midnight shift.

You say, " Typical office decor.  Fifty computers sit atop five rows of desks.", but to me, this doesn't make much sense in a bunch of different ways.  First of all, you're saying there are 5 rows of 10 desks with a computer on top of each desk?  I would have to imagine there's alot more than just a computer on each desk, and I would also imagine these aren't really "desks", but cubicles.  There's no mention of phones, which is odd to me, and really, thinking about this, why would peeps have to work a late shift in a service center, when all their responses wouldn't be read until the next day...or why wait until a late shift to address E-Mails that have been coming in.

Let's keep going here, and we're still just on the 3rd passage.  In this passage, we learn that Freddy is already working on 1 of these computers, at 1 of these desks, which we would see immediately.  Am I to assume each (or some) desk has a worker, also?   Then Christina appears, has a quick chat with Freddy, and sits "a couple of rows ahead".  Phrasing is awkward here, first of all, but let's look deeper - you've already told us there are 5 rows of desks, so which row is Freddy actually in?  Must be either the 5th or 4th row, because I think if Christina had sat in the front row, you'd just say that, but bottom line is again, this is not setting the scene properly, and with 5 rows, it should be very simple to lay this out.

So, now, we get 3 more intro's and we find out that these 3 sit behind Freddy, so using simply math, we now know that Freddy is in the 4th row, Eric, James, and Danielle, are in the 5th row, and Christina is in the 2nd row.  Is there anyone else here?  Are the other desks all empty?

OK, stay with me here...so now, we have Ian standing in front of all these 50 desks.  Has he been standing there the whole time?

Quick NOTE - and again, something I ALWAYS recommend - when introing your characters, give them each an actual age.  We have 3 characters in their "20's", 2, who are 18, and then Ian, who's in his "40's".  There is a HUGE difference between someone who is 20 years old and 29 years old...especially since we have two 18 year olds, who appear to be friends with 1 of the 20 something Eric.

OK, back to it, and we're now on the top of Page 2.  Ian delivers a quick speech to whoever is in the room, from the front of the room, where his desk is (and again, I can't picture this layout for the life of me, as it sounds more like a school room, with a teacher up front).  Immediately after this speech, "Ian heads straight for Freddy. Freddy doesn't look at him.".  First of all, you have 2 complete different thoughts here, which would need to be 2 separate passages.  More importantly (depending on how you think about it), I'm having alot of trouble picturing this again.  Ian is "heading straight for Freddy", but Freddy is in the 2nd row from the back and he's somewhere near the middle (because we know that Eric is behind Freddy and James and Danielle are on Eric's flanks).  In other words, this walk by Ian will take more than a few seconds to get to Freddy, and then Ian starts bitching him out, right in front of everyone else - just not remotely realistic.

But wait, it's stranger - immediately following the quick bitch out back in row 4, "Ian sits behind a desk, pulls out a small flask and takes a swig. He leans back, gets comfy, pulls out a newspaper."  Now, obviously, this is back in front of all the desks, but you worded it so vaguely, almost as if Ian just sat down in some random desk.  The whole thing is weird, though - it's like a teacher at a study hall, monitoring the students, making sure they don't act up.  Is this really what Ian does?  Sits in the front of the room, drinking, reading, and sleeping, while everyone else responds to incoming E-Mail queries?

OK, I can't go on at this deep a level.  I did read the entire script.  Let's just throw a few more things out that may help.

Using POV 's - I'd stay away from using POV's as much as humanly possible, as they're tough to write correctly, as only what is seen in the POV can be written.  When you use the subject's name in their POV, it's actually a mistake, as you don't see the actual thing or person - only arms, hands, legs, etc.  And, really POV's only should be labeled as such, when the POV is something you wouldn't expect - like...holding onto a ledge, looking down...or up, from behind something, like bushes, a hold in a wall, or, the classic POV - distorted vision, through a mask, monster vision (different colors, etc).  You have a POV on Page 2 and 3 that runs almost a whole page and somehow you go from E-mail 523 all the way to 1, while only showing us 523, 411, 201, 55, and 1.  Obviously alot has been skipped here and you could have shown passing time in many ways, but you didn't show us any time passing at all.

I'm going to stop there, but I hope at least some of this hits home for you.

Take care, bro.
Posted by: Matthew Taylor, December 7th, 2018, 11:36am; Reply: 9
Evening to you. Thank you very much for giving it a read.

I did rush the description of the place, I'll admit. There are no cubicles - as you say, 5 rows of 10 desks with computers on top, all facing the same way - Sort of like a classroom - will make this more clear.

The night time thing, is this not a bit pedantic? What office doesn't have windows? I have told a potential producer that it is night time in the slug line, surely this tells them enough to make sure that out the window, it is in fact dark - I could put in a description block that the windows show the darkness outside but seems a bit redundant to me.

The other three don't sit behind Freddy - Reading it back, I don't make that clear - Freddy is on back row, the others in front of him. Will make this more clear as well.

There are 24 hour customer services - at least there are in the UK. So don't think that is much of a stretch.

Do I really have to say there are phones on the table? they don't come into the story at all, if it's an office location wouldn't one assume there are phones? Not saying this to be rude, just curious - In the bathroom scene I don't indicate there are toilets, but you would assume they are there.

No one else is there other than characters I've mentioned - I'll clear this up as well

In my head, Ian strolls in and stands at the front of the desks - But I didn't write that for some reason, will revise his intro.

Hey you just compared it to a classroom - that's pretty much what it looks like lol


Quoted Text
In other words, this walk by Ian will take more than a few seconds to get to Freddy, and then Ian starts bitching him out, right in front of everyone else - just not remotely realistic.


Sorry, I don't understand your above point. What is wrong with a few seconds walk? What isn't realistic? being told off at work? I see people getting told off plenty in my office lol And i wouldn't say he's bitching him out, he just told him to be nice.

Yea I haven't really described Ians desk location well and where he sits. He's a manager, so his job is to manage, but he is shit at his job and has no superiors there to watch him, so he slacks off and drinks - Think I need to characterise him better.


Quoted Text
while only showing us 523, 411, 201, 55, and 1.  Obviously alot has been skipped here and you could have shown passing time in many ways, but you didn't show us any time passing at all.


Is his inbox going down quickly not showing a passage of time? You knew that time had passed, you even use the word obviously - so looks like it worked to me lol

Thanks for the read and review - Got a little bit of redrafting to do

Matt

EDIT: rewriting this now. I see now that the first POV is pointless, doesn't add anything. This is going
Posted by: GM, December 7th, 2018, 11:08pm; Reply: 10
Hey Matt

Spoilers!

Been noticing that your active so decided to give one your shorts a read.

Besides some formatting issues such as when Freddy is typing, you can put that as a montage. I kind of pictured it. It takes a lot of writing to get it right lol.

I got the sense he was just losing his mind lol.

I think you added too many people. I think 4 should suffice.

Let me know when the rewrite is up and Iíll give it a read.

Hope this helps,
Gabe
Posted by: RBW_14, December 8th, 2018, 10:12pm; Reply: 11
I think this story could be a a lot more if you kept your focus one specific event. It was working at first. A deaf corporate customer service rep who deals strictly with emails, good stuff. The intro to the phantom emails was very smooth and detailed, I was following until more characters got involved who didn't really add to the story except for being corpses. I was confused as to why the co-workers kept around after the first short circuit of power and how come they would disappear and come back like nothing happened. The concept works and I dig the world you've created it just seems like to much is happening in the few pages in order for me to get me grasp whats going on at this haunted office.

Loving it though. I look forward to reading more.
Posted by: jayrex, December 9th, 2018, 8:04am; Reply: 12
Hi Matt,

I've just read this revised version and haven't read everyone's comments in full.

I must say it was a little hard to follow.

A lot of back & forth.

It's odd how Ian died with no one seeing it.

I don't understand what this 'voice' is all about.

The dynamics between Cristina & Freddy was odd.  I was wondering if she was the real killer or if Freddy was the ultimate killer.  Or if Cristina somehow learnt what was going on from Danielle and wanted to seek revenge or defend herself from Freddy.  But the knife thing.  How did she obtain it?

Also, why everyone was okay with Freddy staying after punching Eric was strange.  That's not cool.  And I can't imagine everyone returning back to business as usual whilst Freddy is still there.

Page 2

Freddy discreetly sticks his middle finger up to Ian.

Overall,

I feel this script could do with a rework.  The core of the story idea is good.  The mystery of the staff disappearing is good.  Using the emails is not bad.  I just think the execution could be better.

All the best,


Javier

Posted by: Matthew Taylor, December 10th, 2018, 4:11am; Reply: 13
Thank you all so much for reading and reviewing

Looks like this one needs a thorough reworking - But thanks to you lot, I have a lot of good info to go on.

Hopefully you will enjoy the rewrite - I am enjoying writing this one as it is well and truly out of my comfort zone.

Many thanks

Matt
Posted by: Matthew Taylor, December 17th, 2018, 4:23am; Reply: 14
Ok - 3rd times the charm lol - Thanks for putting up the revised version Don.

I stripped this one right back and went at it again. Hopefully it reads better, makes more sense.

I used as much of the feedback as I could - So thanks for the input guys.
Hopefully someone will like this version lol

I did get en email query about the previous version, but I'm not convinced anything will come of it.

If this one doesn't work, I might shelve it for a while

Regards

Matt
Posted by: Max Ruddock, March 11th, 2019, 6:17pm; Reply: 15
Hey Matt,

Just had a reread and wanted to share my thoughts on it. First off, I liked it. It's an easy read, well structured and nicely paced. I found the shift from the non-horror scenes to the horror scenes a bit jarring; but I'm guessing that was your intention, right?

There's quite few funny lines in there too, and the part with Eric covering his mouth was laugh out loud funny even on the second read. He might be a wanker, but he's a funny wanker.


I noticed a few little things that might help in a polish. Nothing story based, so not super valuable, more nit-picking if anything. But I just wanted to try and add something that might be of use... so here goes:

No need for uppers caps in the parentheticals.
Don't forget to use commas before character names when they're being addressed directly in dialogue.
Speaking of commas, it might be worth switching some of the commas to full stops in dialogue, just to break up the sentences a bit more cleanly. Plus it can help emphasise certain thoughts the character is having.
I think it's meant to be a double hyphen thingy (--) if dialogue is broken or interrupted.
Perhaps on page 7, Freddy should shake his head rather than nod.
On page 8, "pitch black" should have started in upper caps.
And lastly, there's a couple of times when you wrote "it's" rather than "its".

Hope that's helpful in some way.

Cheers

Max

Sorry if I mentioned anything someone has already pointed out, but I generally prefer not to read other comments until I've made my own.
Posted by: Max Ruddock, March 11th, 2019, 6:30pm; Reply: 16
Just read through the other comments... I'm guessing it's changed a fair bit through rewrites, right?

Did anything come from the inquiry you had before?
Posted by: Andrew, March 11th, 2019, 9:09pm; Reply: 17
I don't know what version I've stumbled upon, but it does have a feel about it that is first draft. That said, there's enough here to warrant more work, in my opinion.

The below is all opinion-based on plot, so feel free to ignore, but thought I'd put it out there.

To remove the issues of back and forth, I would cut down on the characters, and have Freddy in the room by himself, working the nightshift (responding to enquiries from the West Coast, or Australia, or somewhere it logistically makes sense to have him in emailing for).

By doing this, I think you externalise his internal isolation, with visuals to support that, which would allow you to use the location as a character (which is what Jeff was touching on, I feel). Being in an office, late at night (especially one you've set up as potentially horrifying, which is multiplied by his vulnerability, being deaf) will always raise tension a little. Think how Kubrick used the hotel in "The Shining", or how the location becomes its own character in "Hush".

You can retain Eric and Christina, with maybe him coming in as they log off for the night; that way, as an audience, you are aware they *could* be still there, and they *could* be involved.

I would also adjust the volume of emails (500 is a lot to get through, as you'd inevitably have replies to replies), and think on how you sharpen up the interaction with the inner demon of Freddy (if he is the killer), or how the entity is his own personal paranoia (if the killer is someone else).

Personally, I'd recommend keeping going with this, as you definitely have the potential for something good.
Posted by: Matthew Taylor, March 12th, 2019, 4:25am; Reply: 18
Hi Max & Andrew - Thanks for giving this a read. Appreciated

Max - Yes, this is the third draft (I think) you are the first to comment on this latest draft anyway so the previous comments wouldn't have made sense lol

Thanks for pointing out the errors - This is one of those I need to retrospectively go back and clean up based on what I have learned from my other shorts.

I have had a couple of people inquire about it, but then communication goes silent - one day maybe.

Andrew - I went into this one without a game plan, kind of ended up writing it off the cuff which I think shows.

I think what I was trying to achieve is, he suffers from a dissociative personality disorder. His disorder is triggered and exasperated by not taking his pills - The alternate (killer) personality breaks through sending emails to himself. He then dips in and out of both personalities (So when the lights go down, I was trying to get across that this is Freddy's now suppressed personality watching the killer personality). I tried to do it at times when the victims would have been killed - so the nice personality isn't aware of the murders.
Then, in the end, the killer personality becomes dominant and takes over - suppressing Freddy.

Now, I realize that having to explain it means I failed to get it across in the writing - But I agree with you that there is something here that I need to keep chiseling away at.

Thank you for your input, very interesting. Might have to have a look at going at this from a different angle.

All the best

Matt
Posted by: MikeK, July 12th, 2019, 4:04pm; Reply: 19
This was amazing. Really well done.

Just one thing, the spelling for Christina's name changes at the end to 'Cristina' just so you're aware.

Great stuff.
Posted by: Dustin, July 12th, 2019, 4:30pm; Reply: 20
Yeah... great title. It's eyecatching.

Unfortunately, Matthew, I'm a little disappointed in your first line of action. I expect more from you. I'm aware that makes me sound like a school teacher. But, anyway, here it is:

Code

Dark, shadowy. Fluorescent light bulbs flicker on, bursting
the whole room in light.



From the top.

Code

Dark, shadowy.



Dark, shadowy?

What does that actually mean? You don't need these words at all... because it is a given the room is dark before lights come on.

Code

Fluorescent light bulbs...



'Fluorescent lights' is enough.

Code

...bursting the whole room in light.



This is the worst part. For one thing, you've just had the lights flicker on hinting at a more gradual process. The second thing is... what do we expect to happen when the lights come on? It goes without saying that if the lights flicker on then there will be light.

It's a very overwritten line as it stands. Compare the amount of words used to actual information conveyed. That's what overwriting is. So long as you are adding to the visual then more words are fine. Of course we can go over. I'm not suggesting we write like we would a novel. It's impossible to write visually using too much description. There has to be a faster flow.

The worst crime is overwriting as you have displayed here. 13 words and two lines to describe the lights coming on.

No... I'm not feeling the writing in this one at all, mate. I see this is an old script. You need to work some of your 2019 magic on it else I'll be here all day pointing out what's wrong with it.
Posted by: Matthew Taylor, July 12th, 2019, 5:16pm; Reply: 21
Mike - thanks for the read, glad you liked it. It's one of my first shorts so is in need of a rewrite but I'm pretty pleased with the story (or at least, the idea of it)

Dustin - please don't read past the first line lol this draft was written 2 months after I started writing properly - I've learnt a shit tonne since then and desperately need to rewrite this - but yeah, I agree the writing is terrible
Posted by: Arundel, July 13th, 2019, 2:23am; Reply: 22
After reading, first question that comes to mind is "Why make Freddy deaf?" After making it all the way through it felt as though the same story could have been told if he could hear just like the others, so what was so special about that?

The logline description was intriguing however. So what can't he do that the others can, or what sense of his is higher than the others based on his handicap. Did enjoy some of the politically incorrect fearlessness of some of the writing though.

Parts of it were arty, but for the most part this was laid out well. A bit heavy on the back and forth from Freddy's perception and "reality" and it was cluttered and predictable at times, i.e. the co-workers get killed, Freddy's the real psycho, so just missed the mark a tad based on the attention-getting logline.
Posted by: Dustin, July 13th, 2019, 8:39am; Reply: 23

Quoted from Matthew Taylor

Dustin - please don't read past the first line lol this draft was written 2 months after I started writing properly - I've learnt a shit tonne since then and desperately need to rewrite this - but yeah, I agree the writing is terrible


No worries... I know you're way better than this. From reading the reviews, the story sounds like it has something, so a rewrite might be in order. The clever title is sure to be a draw.
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