View Full Version : The Traitor by Mark Harris

Mark Harris
04-28-2008, 08:39 PM
7 pages.

"They were going to send you to some third-world shi*-hole where it's just you and a guy with a pair of wires. But I went to bat for you, because I'm your friend..."


Mark Harris
04-29-2008, 12:46 PM
Making one more pass at it tonight, and then uploading. This has been a good exercise. I used it to work on something in one location. Which I have been meaning to do for a fest for some time, it's just never happened.

Michael Anthony Horrigan
05-02-2008, 06:23 AM
Love the logline!
Sounds like a good one. Looking forward to it...


05-02-2008, 06:36 AM
Nice.. Looking forward....

Michael Anthony Horrigan
05-02-2008, 03:31 PM

Loved it! There was a small moment that bothered me slightly but the payoff more than made up for it.

I won't give too much away at this point. I'll definitely post an in-depth review after some time has passed.

Mark Harris
05-02-2008, 04:07 PM
thanks man. I am in this for the feedback. Kind of a free beta-test of a script.

At the moment I have to log off to do something Apple will not like. But I will start reading later.


Captain Pierce
05-03-2008, 08:41 PM
Liked it. :) Nice use of the current situation in regards to the distinction between "our prisons" and "theirs."

05-03-2008, 10:05 PM
I hate to say this, but I saw the ending coming a mile away. It's a nice twist, but between the title of the script and the repetition of "I need to know I'm not alone." it kind of tells us where you're going with it.

But, it's a good script. Kas's dialog is terrific and would absolutely sing with the right actor. It will be amazingly powerful when it's performed.

Very nice job. I'm always impressed with your work.

Mark Harris
05-03-2008, 10:21 PM
That's good to know. I agree that KAS stuff about "not alone" is a little clunky. I just haven't fully worked out a more elegant way to get there yet.

Thanks! I've read a bunch more and will get back to commenting tomorrow. Today I got caught up editing my frickin' Timefest entry. :)

05-04-2008, 02:01 AM
Initial suggestions are just with formatting.

Would split up the two character intros.

Some of the descriptions/actions are just combined into large paragraphs - divide, shorten and tighten for easier reads.

Not sure if it's by choice or a formatting/conversion issue. But scattered use of Italics draws the reader away from the piece. Avoid the usage (if intended).

Way too much talking on page three (with title in numbers). Stan needs some trimming back.

The story starts strong and visual and then turns into a conversation. I would have liked more show and less tell.

Kind of guessed the ending. But to be fair it works.

Only adding comments to help you make it better (I hope). As mentioned in other reviews. To me the most important thing is "does the story work" and it does.

When doing my own work - short or feature. On first pass you know if a story is working. Other stuff can be polished and tightened to make it better.

Another draft and this would be better.

Best of luck with it and hope I've helped.

Mark Harris
05-04-2008, 07:08 AM
Thanks for the comments! Making it better is why I entered. I always use these fests to test out my short films, so same with scripts.

alex whitmer
05-04-2008, 09:54 AM
Really starts off with a bang, no pun intended.

In all honesty, there is not much to poo-poo. It's pretty damn solid as written. If I felt like being picky (and I usually do) I'd say you could have avoided most of your ING verbs.

I suppose this feels like it belongs to a larger piece, or could at least be easily developed into one.

Simple characters, simple dialogue ... maybe could have lost one round of 'give me a &*#@ name' and not suffered one iota.

Nice job. Clean formatting.


www.alexwhitmer.wordpress.com (http://www.alexwhitmer.wordpress.com)

05-04-2008, 10:04 AM
Mark, solid work here. Just a couple things that stood out for me:

On Page 1: I want Stan to withhold the info about designs and details. It’s expositional and you lose some of the mystery. You start with a bang, and as soon as you reveal too much exposition the mystery deflates. I would drag it out some and cut down on the explanation. For example:

“You gave them designs. We know Kas. We know everything except the name”
“New York City. You want all that blood on your hands?”

This amount of withholding creates questions for the reader, and it keeps the cards closely to your vest. There’s no need to explain entirely what Stan wants, a little mystery will keep us engaged.

I like being put in the middle of this psychological drama. I like the history between them. It feels authentic. I like that this is one scene contained. I think it could be a little longer, I like the sequence in the middle when Kas starts to turn the tables, I want more time there because the change feels a little quick.

The parts that ring false for me are the cobalt technical details, I like the ending, and the reversal at the end. I would probably rework the arrest a little bit, just play with the dialogue. I’m not sure if it will play natural or melodramatic. Simplify.

This is a strong piece Mark. I think it comes down to pacing and the emotional shifts between these two men. The piece feels theatrical, but not in a bad way. The reason it feels theatrical is because it’s one scene, one location. But the situation feels like it has authenticity. I think you just need to comb over every line of dialogue closely, and cut out the beats, words, and moments that feel false. This piece is about maintaining a mood and psychological space for these two men, and putting the reader into it and not letting them go until you fade out. It's obvious you read your scripts out loud and rework the dialogue, it shows.

Mark Harris
05-04-2008, 10:32 AM
thanks guys. I'm loving the suggestions.

Funny you mention about the cobalt details because those are all real :) But I like what you're saying about withholding details. Good suggestion.

And I agree about the arrest. It's like Krestf said, and I agree. That whole transition needs some more work. It's a little clunky and forced right now.

And the one location, I've wanted to write a one location short for a long time now. Work on the beats within rather than multiple scenes.

Thanks everyone. I am reading more as we speak!

Mark Harris
05-04-2008, 10:35 AM
Really starts off with a bang, no pun intended.

In all honesty, there is not much to poo-poo. It's pretty damn solid as written. If I felt like being picky (and I usually do) I'd say you could have avoided most of your ING verbs.

I suppose this feels like it belongs to a larger piece, or could at least be easily developed into one.

Simple characters, simple dialogue ... maybe could have lost one round of 'give me a &*#@ name' and not suffered one iota.

Nice job. Clean formatting.


www.alexwhitmer.wordpress.com (http://www.alexwhitmer.wordpress.com)

Thanks so much for checking it out and the feedback.

05-06-2008, 10:57 AM
Really good story overall and I though the dialog was spot on most of the time. The one part that was hard to read was Stan's long dialogue part. I think you could have broken that up a little or shortned it. Also, I echo the comments about the table turning section.

Good story overall and would be great as a feature though the ending was somewhat predictable.

Russell Moore
05-06-2008, 01:22 PM
I had a blast reading this script. I really liked the characters Stan and Kas.

I don't really have any new critique, I'd agree as far as withholding some exposition to create a bit more mystery. Also the longer dialogue spot for Stan could be tightened up a bit, even though I like a lot of it.

I like the relationship between the two. I love the dialogue, it sounds authentic. Turning the tables, the end. I pretty much liked everything about this script.
It was a great read.

05-06-2008, 09:19 PM
Really good! You def. captured the "chase" element. A nice twist too at the end, I didn't expect that at all.

Your writing style is crips and clean, lots of white space and that's a good thing!

Good job and good luck!

John LaBonney
05-07-2008, 01:26 PM
Good script, I enjoyed it. Not much really to say about it, my only issue is I wonder if Stan, such a hardened agent, would be so easily tricked by Kas, even if they were comrades in arms.

Mark Harris
05-07-2008, 04:52 PM
thanks for checking it out, guys. I am trying to make some time to get back on the rounds myself tonight. Right now, I am putting some final touches on the motion tracking for my time fest short, before sending it out for CC. Dang, I will be happy to get that thing out the door.

Jon, the thing about the hardened agent, I think what I need to set up better is the importance of this from the get go. meaning, Kas was just as hardened of an agent and they have known each other for like 20 years. So Stan finding this out has totally screwed him up. I think I need to find a better way of communicating that from the beginning.

Thanks for the comments, guys!

05-09-2008, 07:53 PM
Mark, I really enjoyed this. The stakes were raised immediately and your vivid discription of Kas's frightened actions and appearance really helped establish the cat and mouse apsects.

I agree that I saw the ending coming once Kas started getting Stan to confess his own treachery. This could probably be allieviated by way of some structural changes though. Maybe if the tables were turned later and the consequences somehow happened quickly after that, the audience wouldn't have time to get ahead of the story.

Loved the history between the two, the psychological warfare, the turn of phrase. All good stuff. I'd love to see this made. Especially since the location seems so dangerous. A chase on a frozen lake? Intense.

Good job!

05-12-2008, 06:12 AM
I really enjoyed the script! I had comments, but they've all been said by Isaac and others. As Isaac said, it is very theatrical, so it is a little dialogue heavy. It made me think though, that if you changed the location to anywhere other than a frozen pond, you could turn this into a kick-ass one-act play. Great work!

05-12-2008, 08:36 PM
Wow, now this is a fuckin good script. Solid writing, good storytelling, pretty natural dialogue and a good twist. I enjoyed every second of this one. Can't really complain.