View Full Version : TAG by Jason Spinos

05-01-2008, 10:57 PM

Written by Jason Spinos

The story of two old friends, trying desperately to kill each other.

Read it here (http://www.dvxfest.com/scriptfest/Tag-jasonthewho.pdf)

05-01-2008, 11:10 PM
Sounds like fun. Looking forward to reading this one.

Russell Moore
05-02-2008, 06:40 AM
I really like this logline, I actually had to laugh, because the second half was completely unexpected. Looking forward to reading this.

05-02-2008, 09:37 AM
Thanks guys! I hope you like it.

05-04-2008, 08:42 PM
Jason, this was really good. I loved the structure. Present day chase mixed with flashbacks going further and further into the boys' past. A great take on the diametrically opposed friends story. I think your decision to tell the story via action rather than an overabundance of dialog was a good one. Felt like an episode of Lost. And I love Lost.

Great job.

05-04-2008, 11:01 PM
Thanks mentatDUKE! I absolutely adore Lost, so that is the greatest compliment you could bestow upon me!

Russell Moore
05-05-2008, 07:05 AM
I enjoyed reading this script and I agree, I really liked the structure with the flashbacks and how they progressed.

One minor thing that stood out for me in the dialogue. The characters (especially Jacob) use their names a lot more than I think can be considered authentic. There are a couple sequences where Jacob says Caleb's name repeatedly.

But thats a minor quibble, overall I really liked it, especially how you wrapped it up at the end.

05-06-2008, 12:26 AM
Hmm. Nice short script. Real easy read. The ending left something to be desired for me. I would of preferred we see or hear whether or not Caleb killed Jacob. That might already of been implied though. I guess I don't understand the motive to kill each other either. Because one is a cop and one a dealer? Arrest him but don't kill him. But people might not question this. Once again still a really solid story. Easy fun read. Thanks for sharing.

05-06-2008, 04:14 AM
Would shorten the action and descriptions (especially at the start) - most of the script it's OK, but a couple of spots are too long and wordy. Also avoid using the same word too close together, especially when referring to characters. Just makes it easier for the reader. Example is first paragraph - he...he pulls back...he. Use Jacob in one or two places and it will read smoother.

I liked the structure. How it moved around in time. Would have liked a different lead up to the ending. The flashback to being kids worked well, but the scene before that didn't work for me. I think I wanted to know if Caleb killed him.

Also I might remove or or two uses of their names as they talk to each other. Important to spell out who they are to the reader, but seemed to do it too much in a couple of scenes.

Overall a good story that is told very well (visually) and the way you change time works well and leaves you thinking at the end. They would always be friends, except life got in the way.

But enjoyed the read and best of luck with it.

05-06-2008, 05:10 AM
Thanks to everyone who's read and commented! Very valid criticisms all around.

05-07-2008, 03:50 PM

I really liked your script. It was easy to read and kept me wondering "who are these guys to each other, and what's gonna happen to them?" It was also neat how you intercut reverse chronology flashbacks to establish their backstory.

Great open ending on the forestory. Good choice to cut before Caleb does or doesn't... Let's us decide what happens and makes the final flashback more resonant.

And I liked the surprise of the teenager getting shot. Good twist/complication.

A couple of small suggestions to take or leave:

Page 3. Jacob's line "What happened to us?" seems a little on the nose. Can it be the subtext for a subtler line?

"If there's anything you need, I can get it for you." Nice line. But it
feels a little sudden (unless these guys have a history of doing drugs together, or Caleb's hopped up.) You might need an additional beat or two before the offer. I guess it depends on how the lines "What happened to us... you know... yeah" get played. I certainly like Jacob's reveal of being a cop.

The strained high school relationship. It works, but the jock and his
buddies vs alternative kid conflict gets done a lot. Anyway to show the friends' separation, as economically, but with something a little fresher?

The funeral scene could be a bit longer to further establish that these guys were best buds. Can you give us a bit more of their private experience of this event? Can you show both their bond, and the potential breaking of it in this scene? You can still show Jacob's sense of justice and foreshadow/backshadow his adult career and his conflict with Caleb... but wondering if you can do it a little less on the nose.

Also wondering if there's a way to make the distraught Mom's line about someone giving her kid "stuff", less on the nose. I could see her saying it at home, but I don't know she'd say it again at the funeral. But maybe she would. This might be a bad idea, but maybe either Jacob or Caleb could reveal this exposition? Of course they'd have to have the need to reveal it, and you wouldn't want to hit the beat too heavily...

Anyway, again, great work. I really enjoyed "Tag", and look forward to reading your next ScriptFest submission.

- Jeff ("Charlie and Claire")

P.S. Re-reading these notes made me think of "In Bruges". Have you seen it? I thought Martin McDonagh did a great job with the relationships in that movie.

05-07-2008, 10:55 PM
Thank you for the very helpful comments Jeff! Yes, I've seen In Bruges, and read all of Martin McDonagh's plays. :) He's a wonderful writer, and I agree that he is able to suggest things without every being "on the nose." Thanks again!

05-09-2008, 02:09 PM
I think I would have preferred to see it end with Jacob and Caleb in the present instead of in a flashback. Ending in a flashback really makes things feel unreolved to me. Even if you don't want to give away who finally gets who, I think we need to end in present time.

As far as your non-linear structure goes, it's very good. You mix things up, but you always keep your audience connected so we can follow it.

The "I'm gonna stop things like this from happening" line at the funeral is a little melodramatic. If it were me I'd reword that somehow.

As with most of these scripts I'm nitpicking. Overall it was a good story and well executed.

05-09-2008, 02:57 PM
Hey Jason,

I like the structure with the flashbacks. I don't usually like flashbacks, but it's an interesting device and I think it will work well as long as you take Krestofre and Jeff_L's advice. Most of my points were covered by Jeff_L and Krestofre.

I do want to know more about Caleb and Jacob's relationship. I was a little confused by their backstory. And I didn't have a strong sense of what Caleb and Jacob looked like, their age, etc. I just felt those specifics would help anchor me. How long has Jacob been a cop? Why does Caleb deal drugs when he was the funeral with Jacob? These are just some of the questions I had. I just want to know that the relationship between them is clear so that nothing is lost when we go to flashbacks.

Just another thought, this reminds me of Mark Harris's piece, and wonder if it might help to try following Mark's lead in writing this scene between them both in the present and exploring the conflict between them both. And maybe work on the flashback after that. It might be yield some clarity for the story running in the present.

I agree with krestofre about coming back to the present for an ending, ending in flashback also feels unresolved for me.

Nice work.

05-12-2008, 05:47 AM
Thanks for the feedback Krestofre and Isaac! Some very useful advice from both of you.

Question for those who've read the script. Here's my idea for a change to the ending. Have the last flashback and the last present day scene cut back and forth quickly, so the movement of Caleb walking up with the gun matches with him going to tag Jacob. In the second to last shot, he'd tag Jacob, and in the last shot, he'd raise the gun up to Jacob's head.

What do you guys think of that?

alex whitmer
05-13-2008, 03:50 PM
I was really thrown with the flashbacks ... you need to mark them with something like FLASHBACK, and END FLASHBACK. I had to go over the first one a few times to figure it out. After that I knew it was coming, but still, mark them.

Not sure a cop would open fire on a playground, even if he's being fired upon. A good one anyways. Plenty of trigger-happy ones that would, I suppose.

I have to agree this is a good one. Solid structure and a great juxtaposition with the flashbacks. Great ending.

More of what I pointed out in other threads about ING verbs, too many words to say what you want, etc ... A few techie things to clean up.

Great job!


Captain Pierce
05-13-2008, 04:46 PM
It's odd how some of the same things keep coming up in this fest; cops shooting unarmed kids and tag. :)

This is a good read. I agree with Alex about marking the flashbacks as such more clearly.

Also, with regards to Jeff_L's comment, I was wondering if this was supposed to be a "jock and his buddies vs alternative kid conflict" or a racial conflict.

Another question I had was, did Caleb have anything to do with Johnny's death? Given that they're preteens at this point, I can forgive the line that krestofre pointed out and its melodrama.

05-13-2008, 09:27 PM
Thanks for the comments Alex and Captain Pierce! I appreciate all the comments.

I believe at one point I was told not to mark flashbacks, since the audience wouldn't be told they were flashbacks. But if the general consensus is I should, then I definitely will. I was trying to show that they were flashbacks by clues in the action/dialogue of the scenes, but I definitely think I could make those things more clear.

It wasn't written to be a racial conflict, but perhaps that would be more interesting.

Russell Moore
05-15-2008, 04:32 PM
I'm getting ready to vote and I'm going back and reading some of my favorite scripts again. I liked this script even more the second time.

I don't think him shooting in playground is really a problem, it is night time, he is shot at first and he does give a verbal warning. But I agree marking the FLASHBACKS would help.
I like the ending the way it is. This is just a really good script.

05-15-2008, 11:46 PM
Thanks so much for the kind words!

05-22-2008, 05:20 AM
Hey, if anyone is interested in producing TAG, just let me know. I can rewrite it to your needs.