View Full Version : Breakfast at Epiphany's

alex whitmer
04-27-2008, 09:24 AM
Welcome to Epiphany's Bar and Grill ...

It's a funky 'ol place on a dead-end road. Everyone is welcome, with just one catch. You don't leave until you have your epiphany.



04-27-2008, 11:22 AM
Nice title and concept.

04-27-2008, 11:34 AM
I like it. I'd be interested in reading it when it's done!

Russell Moore
04-27-2008, 12:02 PM
Clever. I look forward to seeing how it develops.

alex whitmer
04-29-2008, 08:04 AM

Working fast and furious on the final draft.


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Mark Harris
04-29-2008, 09:22 AM
Yeah, I am trimming, tweaking, etc. on mine. Kind of bummed I was not able to get some actors together to read it before...

alex whitmer
05-02-2008, 11:39 AM
Not quite getting the '242 Vince is back'. Should be run for cover or offer up some fresh-brewed repartee?




Captain Pierce
05-02-2008, 02:24 PM
My vote is "run for cover." :D

And I find my epiphanies usually don't come until at least the seventh round of drinks. :)

05-02-2008, 06:38 PM
Your script sucks!


Jazz kidding.

Gonna start reading tomorrow.

Ciao for now ;).

Mark Harris
05-03-2008, 12:51 PM

I am not thrilled with the premise. But I thought the characters brought life to it, and drew me in. I thought they, their dialog and actions were well written.

I understand what's going on, but not 100% sure the actions in the script add up to it.

I have a couple of questions the answers to which, might help:

When you say: "Bogart Woman," what does that mean? A woman who looks like Humphrey Bogart? Anne Bogart? A woman who takes your doobage? I might have taken it as a woman like those in a Bogart movie, like Bacall, but then you also had "30's woman," and a woman from a Bogart movie WOULD be a 30's woman. So I was confused by that.

Also, NASA SCOUT. Maybe I cannot let go of the realities to get it, but "NASA SCOUTS" or the people who seek candidates for the astronaut program, seek them almost exclusively from military pilots, usually highly decorated. Not random 20-yr old guys.

I guess maybe I would have bought it more if the "Bogart woman" was not a "NASA SCOUT," but just another person there to nudge him toward his own epiphany. OR, I might have bought it if he was some kind of pilot who was bored with his gig and could not muster the omph to dream about why he became a pilot in the first place. But a fuzzy bum in his 20's...I dunno, just don't buy it.

Or am I just not getting what's going on?

On a technical note, I think I would have had him try the door the first time, BEFORE the umbrella guy tells him he can't leave.

Park Edwards
05-03-2008, 09:28 PM
Best so far I've read. Had proper format, good dialogue, although Chang sounded like a southerner at times. A bit pretentious but otherwise excellent.

05-04-2008, 10:59 AM
Did I miss it? What was the main characters epiphany?

Interesting script, really surreal.

alex whitmer
05-04-2008, 11:12 AM
He thought he was supposed to be a rambling man, but it turns out he was supposed to be an astronaut - in theory.


05-04-2008, 12:14 PM
I may have to reread it. I thought he was an astronaut who lost oxygen momentarily and got sucked into this weird dream sequence at a cafe then had an epiphany.

Michael Anthony Horrigan
05-04-2008, 12:42 PM
It was a little bizarre but not in a bad way.
I did find that the ending was a bit odd though.

Still, I could visualize the story quite well thanks to your descriptions.
Nice work.

Russell Moore
05-04-2008, 02:02 PM
I like quirky and this had plenty of it. I liked the character descriptions, short but to the point. I got a real feel for them. I love this "a sod-buster smile" and this one...

CHANG THE BARTENDER, Asian, 50s, a haggard bare-knuckle
fighter who’s obviously never won

Your description of the setting paints a vivid picture as well. The dialogue sounded very authentic and I specifically like the conversation between John and Abner.
The only downside for me, I didn't get the ending at first. I went back and read the last two pages again before I got it, maybe I'm just slow.
Overall, I really enjoyed it.

alex whitmer
05-05-2008, 06:07 AM
I may have to reread it. I thought he was an astronaut who lost oxygen momentarily and got sucked into this weird dream sequence at a cafe then had an epiphany.

I really struggled with the ending. I guess I was set on the whole astronaut thing, and more or less tried to force it.

I think the ending needs an overhaul.


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05-05-2008, 11:47 PM
In the style of a very good critique I've recently read:

"A Bogart-looking WOMAN"
Is this Bogart, Humphrey, or the shape-shifting closet creatures in Harry Potter? I don't fully understand the reference, and it conflicts with:
"A 30'S WOMAN"
who is from the same time period as Humphrey. Were these adjectives chosen to describe two different women and keep them similar, yet distinct? That's what I'm leaning towards now...
"Prices subject to Chang"
I laughed.

"Chang melts from shadow, approaches Abner"
along with this from page 1
"CHANG THE BARTENDER... steps out of the shadow" and "He steps back into shadow"
Nothing to do with anything really, but does Chang have a "false start" epiphany when he serves drinks, or is it because following Chang around with a shadow would be too difficult to do on film, or something else?

No need for comments, really. Clear, concise language that fully describes what is going on. Realistic, well-written dialog. Excellent.

"like a dog chasin' its own tail. He eventually gets hold." and "Not all dogs have tails"
Does the ugly dog have a tail?
More well-written action, another solid page.

Was there a reason for John to try the door after he was told it wouldn't open? I completely understand the lack of trust John has for Abner, but I wonder if it would be a stronger action for John to try the door first.

"the dancers head for the door"
Were they dancing in the background since page 4? Or did they disappear back into shadow after their leotards turned white? You don't explain that.

"JOHN: Makin' a mistake don't make you a dumb ass
ABNER: Depends on the outcome."
Love it.
"... or build skyscrapers, or -- fly to the moon..."
Nice foreshadowing. Didn't catch that on the first read through.

PAGE 9 (as page 8 has the same comments as page 3)
"Day turns to night"
I thought the room was poorly lit, excluding the epiphonians. How can we tell?
Didn't really understand the purpose of Abner chasing Enigma, but it was a cute way to let her escape the bar and added another scene of pursuit.

"Let's show them suits how a ramblin' man and his dog do outer space"
Cheesy, but good explanation of both their epiphanies
The last 2 lines of dialogue I don't care for, but they create a strong sense of closure. I really don't know what to do there.
"Bogart Woman's coat has NASA SCOUT embroidered on the back"
Wouldn't we have seen this already, or does she never have her back to the camera? Might be good to have her put on her coat at this point, so that dilemma won't exist.

Overall, it felt like a stageplay to me. One location, really snappy dialogue, good characters. If filmed well, I think it would be a great screenplay too. Sorry if my comments seem kinda nitpicky, there wasn't much that needed help. Based on sheer writing, it's spectacular. It gets cheesy at the end, but for what it's worth I didn't have a problem with that. It starts going into that cheese slide after Abner slams the pickle crock on John's head, so if you wanted to revamp then end, I'd start with that action.

Great work! I'm curious to know how much time went into this script, and how you got this idea. Best of luck to you!

Justin Muschong
05-06-2008, 06:16 PM
Terrific script! Well written descriptions, memorable dialogue, oddball characters, and an ending I didn't see coming (in a good way). I think the only danger it runs is coming off as too quirky, quirky-for-quirk's-sake. Some of the background action almost fits into this category, but it does have a payoff in John's "Delusion of Picasso and meaningless Beat poetry" line. It also helps build this bar as its own little world where not everything has to make sense. Sure, there are no scouts for NASA, but that's an easy suspension-of-disbelief to make after witnessing ballet dancers and a future volleyball star.

The length is also just right. I like these kinds of stories a lot better when they're short.

alex whitmer
05-06-2008, 08:19 PM
I'm curious to know how much time went into this script, and how you got this idea.

I really appreciate the read and comments. All great points.

I guess I put a good three weeks into it, with a few long days tweaking and retweaking (is that a word?).

The idea? Well, I wanted something that showed a multi-layered approach to pursuit, from the physical chase to other, more obscure edeavors such as the pursuit of happiness, truth, cash payments, and a cold beer.

The bar sorta represents that goals can be found in the most unexpected of places, and among the most unexpected people.

In a nutshell.


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alex whitmer
05-06-2008, 08:22 PM
I like these kinds of stories

I thank you for the time and feedback. I had a lot of fun writing this, and with the generous feedback, hope to polish it up and find an interested DP.


John LaBonney
05-08-2008, 01:49 PM
A pretty ambitious undertaking. Lots of characters and lots of interactions. I don't know that I buy the NASA scout bit, but it's okay, especially if this bar was in an ethereal, dreamlike world.

05-09-2008, 07:25 AM
Wow. Lots of atmosphere here. You create a milieu that is very visual.

On my first read I felt a little lost, like I was struggling for a frame of
reference. I was wondering if I could be brought into the world more slowly, through the eyes of John who might little by little notice the strange things going on. I guess there was a lot of visual information to process which made for slow reading at first.

On second read I was fine with it.

I particularly liked Enigma's delightfully rude dweeb line. I wasn't
expecting that from her... she's a fun character.

The voices of the characters are well delineated, you've done a great job with the dialogue. Abner's musings are a nice contrast to his physical farmeresque characterisation.

Abner is an interesting guy. Certainly not boring.

Some of the feedback that follows is going to be of the what if?/plot suggestion variety. If you hate that kind of feedback (gets in the way of your own imagination), then you might want to ignore the next couple of paragraphs.

Do you have to be the author of your own epiphany? Or can somebody else affect it for you, as long as you recognize it? John gets a pickle crock slammed on his head. He sees himself in the mirror and recognizes what he and the little dog must do, so with the help of Abner he has found his true calling and can stumble out of the bar.

Which made me wonder about Abner's true calling. What if Abner similarily finds it through John? Maybe Abner really thinks his calling is building swizel stick houses, but learns through John that what he's really good at is helping people find themselves? (Maybe Enigma had knocked Abner's swivel sticks into the shadows, hinting that something was not quite right for him.) Maybe Abner has a revelation that finally gets him out of the bar? (He gets an arc too.)

Which made me think about Chang. Maybe Chang is the one person there who really knows what he's doing. He owns the place and provides the environment for people to have their epiphanies.

Another possibility is that if John doesn't have an epiphany, if he already has his shit together, maybe he is an employee of Chang's (paid in Que Sera's or whatever). It's these two guys' jobs to set people straight and send them on their way.

I found the Bogart woman's NASA SCOUT thing to be new information too late in the script, even if she kept looking at Abner throughout. I'd be more likely to buy Chang being involved with Abner's goal of setting John straight.

Okay those could be ridiculous ideas that are out of sync with your
intentions, but that's where my mind wandered to, if it's of any help.

Good job on the script. I look forward to hearing what you do with it. It's definitely filmable, so I expect you're going to get it done.

Have a good one,

- Jeff ("Charlie and Claire")

05-09-2008, 09:57 AM
This is so weird, I wrote and shot a 48 hour film fest piece that is very similar to this. Called the "Twilight Bar and Grill."

I think this works really well. It's a tone piece, and relies heavily on execution. The dialogue is well written, it's distinct and each character has flavor.

The ending feels a little too neat. I think that business card while explaining to the audience might be too grounded. I just mean that most of this piece exists in a surreal framework, and then your ending departs from that and brings it to a watered down version of what feels like our reality. I would stay in that original surreal tone. Maybe Abner's epiphany is that he can never leave that bar.

I dunno, I'm feeling this piece but think you can tweak that ending, try a different direction and keep playing with it.

05-09-2008, 10:42 PM
Yeah, I wondered too about Abner not being able to leave the bar. Would be kinda ironic.

alex whitmer
05-10-2008, 06:45 PM
There seems to be a consensus that the Nasa Scout thing really doesn't work. I hate to admit to a cop-out, but I just couldn't come up with something better at the time.

I love the twist at the end of Abner not being able to leave. I'm going to play with that.

Should Bogart Woman go completely, or is she somehow salvageable? I like a lot of her juke-box tap and smoke rings. Adds atmosphere.

Hey Isaac, I'd love to see that if it's around anywhere!!


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05-10-2008, 09:30 PM
Completely different piece to the other scripts out there and I think for the better actually. I have a similar concept to this, similar to Twin Peaks and all that freakiness. I think you developed a very strong atmosphere within the bar with the shadows and light. That would make for some fantastic visuals especially in Black and White with interspersed color. The visual look would add to the tone and conversations.

The one thing I think that might hurt this is that in some sense this too existential for most people. This is like an art film or student short. While that is not an issue in itself those type of films don't play all that well. But that is a commercial/marketing critique as opposed to an artistic critique.

Regarding Bogart Woman, I think she adds to the mood though I would agree that the Nasa thing seems odd. I think just having her as a character would be great. You would just have to redesign her role.

Overall, good script with great characters.

05-10-2008, 11:34 PM
To echo the sentiments of others, I think the dialog is excellent. The characters have distinct voices and verbage and the banter is clever while delivering necessary exposition and moving the plot forward.

I like the characters. They're distinctive without being caricatures, and their dominant traits compliment one another's. For example, John's terse dismissiveness is a nice foil to Abner's verbose philosophizing.

I agree with Isaac about the ending: it detracts from the surreal tone and mood of the whole piece. I enjoyed the strange, abstract nature of the characters and their actions. The problem with the twist is that it grounds the supernatural world of the bar in a familiar reality. It's interesting because it's kind of a the opposite of deus ex machina: here, you're introducing plain, logical motivations into a story ruled by strange, supernatural rules. And it doesn't work for me because it prompts questions about those supernatural rules, such as where does the white light come from, who locks the door and decides when someone has an epiphany, how do shadows follow people around, where did the man get blue paint from, etc. The ending seems to mock the audience's suspended disbelief by trivializing the situation.

Although I do like the premise, I was somewhat let down by the definition of epiphany as the discovery of one's true calling. Such a narrow definition detracts from the mysterious and abstract nature of my initial impression about what epiphany means in the story (based on the great line about silence eating its children). As important and elusive finding out one's true calling is, it is also a fairly mundane decision, when compared to insights about god or human nature or even quantum physics. I feel like Dick's lines about fast food trash are somewhat of a red herring, making the reader expect something much more magical and mysterious than "I should be an astronaut instead of a rambler."

Lastly, I think you could find a better use for Abner's drink umbrellas and stir sticks. For example, maybe he needs the umbrellas to make tiny beach resorts for tiny humans. Or something. I think it needs to be something more bizarre or spectacular to warrant the shock and wonderment John has when he learns what Abner does with the umbrellas and sticks.

All in all, this script is really daring and original and I think if you rework the ending it would be even better. Great job.

alex whitmer
05-12-2008, 08:22 AM
Thanks bt,

All great thoughts. I am definately going to shred this and rework a number of points, especially the ending. Seems two little words - Nasa Scout - really killed this thing.


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05-13-2008, 06:33 AM
Really liked that you were unafraid to write something so abstract. Lots of interesting background characters, in addition to solid central characters. I found some of the action around the Abner/Enigma sequence at the end of the script to be so terse as to be difficult to understand. I think everything else has already been said. I'd love to see this made, pulling off the visuals effectively would be very challenging and impressive.

05-13-2008, 06:50 AM
OK. David Lynch called and he wants his screenplay back!!!

This is by no means an insult. On the contrary. Very well structured and written. I found myself asking "where did the idea come from?".

Also (like other readers here), not sure if the NASA element works well enough. Also didn't like the last two lines. Didn't gel for me (but I have have missed the point/gag as the piece is very different).

Structure and formatting are both above the best of the selection here (I have using above average in reviews!!!). Dialogue and characters and well drawn. Love the line "I canít recall the last time I saw a dog checking out another dogís face."

Anything else I have to add, have already been added (and well reviewed) by others here.

I will end by saying this could be a very interesting short. With the right director I think it could really help get your exposure/notices.

Best of luck with it.

alex whitmer
05-13-2008, 02:13 PM
All kind words, thank you Sean.

The Nasa deal is for sure out. Need to come up with a worthy ending. Love the Idea of Abner stuck inside, be it by epiphany or otherwise.

This contest has been really interesting so far. Some really good endings on so-so stories, and and some decent stories with so-so endings. Only a handful have really nailed the whole thing (mine NOT included).

I think it's going to be a tough call on which to vote for. I'm still undecided.


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05-14-2008, 06:21 AM
I know what you mean. From what I read so far, it will be hard to select one as the overall best.

But considering the prize, I guess we have to select the script that may make the best short film (in terms of story and visuals) - but I guess budget will also be a deciding factor.

Would make for a headache for the squad if an expensive short was selected.

Captain Pierce
05-14-2008, 03:07 PM
This has been mentioned before, but... the vast majority of the time, you've got these great descriptions, but then you're just sort of dropping "Bogart Woman" and "30's Woman" in there without much of anything. Given the obvious care that went into describing the other characters, this really stands out. (This probably doesn't mean a lot coming from a guy who had practically zero character description in his whole script, but at least I'm consistent. :D )

You know, I may be the only person reading this who didn't have a big problem with the "NASA Scout." :) I mean, if the whole point of the place is that you can't leave until you have an epiphany about what you're supposed to be doing with your life, then what good is it if the person who can make that career actulaly happen for you isn't there? Given the surreal nature of the whole piece, I think it would be a let-down to have John have to leave the bar and go apply to NASA himself. Maybe "Scout" is not the right terminology to use, but I definitely think somebody at the bar needs to represent NASA.

alex whitmer
05-15-2008, 11:37 AM
Thanks for the read CP. Good points on the Bogart Woman and 30s woman. I think some took 30s woman to mean 1930s, not her age. I gues the Bogart thing tripped that up a bit.

I like your thoughts on the NAsa issue as well.