View Full Version : Strangers

05-02-2008, 10:38 AM
I thought I'd make a thread now that feedback is quickly approaching.


Logline: Last nights mean new faces

I hate loglines but I hope you guys enjoy the script. I wrote it pretty early on and have been spending a lot of time revising, and reworking.

Please, send all the feedback you can once the scripts are up.

Good luck everyone.

05-04-2008, 09:00 PM
Smashed. This was a REALLY strong script. Great dialog, characterization, ideas, and structure. The only thing that bothered me was how easily Mary allowed the guy into her home. It's hinted by way of Jacob's psychoanalysis that she intended it to be a one night stand, but it seemed really forward of him to call her out like that. I'm not sure if the characters would really behave like that. She didn't seem to get mad at him for saying these things to her.

Minor character quibbles though.

Having Jacob glimpse his future was great.

Explaning Jacob's motivation for starting the fight was really well done.

I like how topical and timely this was. You made me consider something new: How soldiers getting ready to ship out put themselves in that frame of mind. A 25th hour state of mind.

Great script. I'd love to see this made. You'd need some really talented actors to handle the nuanced dialog and character work I think, but it'd make a great short film.

Great job.

05-04-2008, 09:12 PM
Thanks Mentaduke. I spent a ton of time revising and trying to work out the characters motivations. Ultimately with Mary letting Jacob up to her apartment we decided that her reading the envelop before he came to was enough. We figured the envelope and the report time was enough to sway her heart towards letting him up. I still think it is a bit of a stretch but at least it is plausable. But yeah, I struggled with that a LOT and there was a ton of different rewrites on it.

Thanks for all the great feedback. I hadn't thought of 25th Hour but now I can really see it.

Thanks again for reading and posting. I really appreciate it.

05-06-2008, 02:31 PM
Hey Patrick,

Just got through this one, there were some strengths and points of confusion in this.

Like Mentatduke I questioned Maryís letting Jacob into her home so easy. Itís a hard piece of logic to justify, and I think some people will accept it while others will question it. I would ask the women you know whether they would invite someone into their apartment after theyíd been attacked. How would they help? Would they not?

I think it might help to initially have Mary keep him outside bleeding, and maybe he collapses outside her door, and then she brings him in. You could use a collapse to get into a flashback/forward. And if he passes out, it might be easier to bypass the logic issue of how she would let him in. I would rework that initial dialogue with Mary and Jacob just to make her more streetwise.

I didnít realize he was military until later on, and I think it would help to clarify that when Jacob and Dietrich are first introduced. At the moment I know heís 22, and average. If you add that Dietrichís got a military buzzcut that will give the reader a little more info.

You give yourself a challenge by having your main character attack someone he doesnít know. Without a legitimate reason I wonder if the audience will relate or even sympathize with Jacob because of the attack. It brings up an issue, what kind of soldier will he be once heís in a warzone and in a position to attack with impunity? Or maybe thatís the point? Your flashforward seems to suggest that his attacking a stranger will come back when he shoots a fellow soldier. Am I reading that correctly?

Iím not sure how your flashforward will be visually clear to the audience. And thereís also the danger that whenever you use a flashback it puts your story on hold. Jacob and Mary are frozen in time.

I question whether Mary or any woman would wash off their makeup with bloody water in a sink. Itís a visually rich image, but donít think the action would come from her character. Being a nurse she must know to keep blood away from her eyes and not rub it on her face. A nurse would be much more sanitary than that. The dialogue between Mary and Jacob in the bathroom confused me a little bit.

During the push-up scene, does Mary watch the blood congeal into a puddle and not do anything? Again, as a nurse I canít picture her not interrupting to clean that up. Again, itís a striking visual but doesnít seem rooted in the reality of the characters or the moment.

Mary mentions nursing twice, itís redundant for her to mention the nursing degree later on as justification for helping.

I wonder do you want the audience to like Jacob? Are we to sympathize with his going to basic training? I think the unwarranted attack will stand in the way of that, unless you can change the dynamic so that Jacob was attacked first or defended himself. This piece has potential, I wonder what youíll change in the next draft. Good work.

05-06-2008, 08:08 PM
Thanks for the feedback Isaac. Much appreciated.

Captain Pierce
05-07-2008, 12:00 PM
This piece reminds me of what I was thinking as we ramped up to the first Gulf War, and you were hearing about all these National Guard units being called up and shipped out to the desert. This was only a couple of years after the meme of National Guard service being a way to dodge the draft during Vietnam had been planted in the national psyche during the '88 presidential campaign (via Dan Quayle), and so it got me to wondering about what all these guys were thinking as they packed their bags to go to war, all those guys who'd joined the Guard to get money for college, or because they weren't going to college and their hometowns didn't have any jobs for them, or just as a way to make some extra money "one weekend a month and two weeks a year." Remembering that, I can sympathize with Jason even when he's being a a complete idiot. :) I can't say I would ever encourage anybody to do it, but I can understand why they might.

I, too, wondered at Mary inviting a guy she'd just seen make an unprovoked attack on a stranger into her apartment, even giving her desire to help him; but then I read Jacob's line: "Then again I didn’t look too dangerous did I? You could probably lay me out just as easy." For me, that line defused the situation.

I would also agree with Isaac that the puddle of blood seems a little odd, especially after she made such a big deal about him not playing with the bandages earlier. The quick repeat of the "flash-forward" here definitely works (in fact I'd almost say it's necessary), but I'm not sure the puddle of blood is the way to do it.

And that's really all I can say about it, except that I really enjoyed it and it definitely resonated with me.

05-07-2008, 02:17 PM
Thanks for the critique. I'm really happy you were able to resonate with the piece and the feelings of getting ready to ship off to war. Being a young man myself, I really struggle with the war and my duty as an American citizen and what it would be like to actually be called to ship out.

I'm glad Mary's motivation for bringing him upstairs was enough for you. I added the idea that she read the envelop and sympathized with him to bring it out a little more.

As for the puddle of blood, it is something you guys got me thinking about. I guess I feel like in the world I created and in the surrealist tone of his flashbacks, that the blood is conceivable. Some of it may even be in his head, but yeah that would be a lot of blood. I am glad you found the flashforwards helpful though, I really found an importance to them.

Thanks again for the critique. I really appreciate everyone reading it and taking the time to comment.

John LaBonney
05-07-2008, 06:01 PM

I read through some of the other comments in this thread, and I'm not opposed to Mary taking Jacob back to her apartment so quickly. I do think that she should have a little dark side to her that allows her ease in doing so, such as she's some type of minor criminal or occasional drug user or con artist that would kind of take sympathy on a guy that might be picked up by the cops if he doesn't get a helping hand. Or maybe she's got some kind of desire to explore the darker side of life a little, I don't know, that's just my idea on this.

Towards the end I was expecting Mary and Jacob to sleep together, a kind of one night stand in which both would never have to see each other again or ever have to face the issues of a relationship. Of course, the fact that they don't sleep together is an important element of the story, and thinking it over I'm glad they didn't, it would have been pretty hackneyed. But I do think that they could say absolutely anything to each other, their deepest secrets and fears, because they are, after all, strangers.

05-07-2008, 06:33 PM
Thanks John,
I toyed with the idea of explicitly having Mary being a drug user or a con artist but it started to toe the line of "hooker with a heart of gold." Instead I wanted to imply that she kind of has a thing for the shadier guys. She enjoys helping them get back on their feet so she can show them off. She likes "fixing" men in a way that really isn't the best for her personal safety.

And as for sleeping together, the idea was considered but like you I thought it would be too hackneyed. I wanted him to be so vulnerable and scared that by not hitting on him she was actually in a way saving him. By keeping the experience in some way "pure" it gives him the strength and courage to get up and leave the next morning. Just connecting with her on that deep level was what he needed.

Thanks for the comments. Much appreciated.

Russell Moore
05-11-2008, 11:29 AM
I enjoyed reading this script. I appreciated your writing style and the dialogue sounded authentic.
I, like some others struggled a bit with her letting him into her home so easily. Though she is a nurse and the nurturing type and she mentions a her father is an ex-cop.
Still I think anyone would find it a more than a little disturbing, if somebody attacks someone just to see how it feels(even if they are on about to get sent to war) and then they don't really have a problem with it. Thats borderline sociopath. Which I'm fine with as a character, just that she would accept it as easily as she did.
Maybe if there was just a small clue to a darker side of her or maybe she's a nurse in the State Prison or something that would make her seem a little more hardened.
I liked the visuals you created with the flash forward scenes and the puddling of blood. Overall I really enjoyed reading your script.

05-11-2008, 11:39 AM
Thanks for the critique Conlan.

What I really wanted to show here was how we as humans tend to forget about things in our lives so quickly. I don't know how many times I have been affected by a great tragedy, told myself I will never forget it, then promptly forgotten it. I wanted to show how Jacob wanted to test himself as an aggressor so he picked a random fight, then within an hour or so had forgotten all about any guilt or nervousness he had. I wanted to raise questions with what makes us as humans capable of forgetting traumatic events or even sometimes finding something enjoyable in them.

Thanks for taking the time to respond though, I really appreciate it.

Russell Moore
05-11-2008, 12:06 PM
I can definitely relate to that sentiment, it seems that we as people certainly tend to have short memories even for the most tragic of events.

05-13-2008, 12:37 PM
OK, few nitpicks. I think the army gets at least 2 years out of ya. I was a marine, marines get at least 4. 1 year doesn't seem realistic.

The flash forward scene in the mirror doesn't seem to fit with this piece.
100 hundred push ups in that conversation seems like too many.
I also find it hard to believe Mary is picking up crazy beaten men off the street to sleep with them.

OK, great little story, good dialog, really good characters. Really enjoyed this.

05-13-2008, 02:43 PM
I think the critiques in this thread are some of the strongest and most pointed of the entire festival. I agree with them and echo them.

But, as I was reading it I never considered a single one of them. While I was reading the script, you had all of my attention and that says a lot.

The other stuff only came up after the emotional impact had settled.

05-13-2008, 03:25 PM
Hey thanks so much for taking the time to give me your thoughts guys, I really appreciate it.

OK, few nitpicks. I think the army gets at least 2 years out of ya. I was a marine, marines get at least 4. 1 year doesn't seem realistic.I should have done my research. I am still playing with whether it is reserves, or army, or what not. I know my roommates brother is serving a year in the reserves but then my hair line wouldn't work...hmmm, I'll do some research. Thanks for pointing it out though.

I think the critiques in this thread are some of the strongest and most pointed of the entire festival. I agree with them and echo them.
I know, people have been really awesome helping me with this script. All the fine tuning helps a ton.

While I was reading the script, you had all of my attention and that says a lot.Thanks again.

Overall, thank you guys so much for taking the time to read and comment on my script. I've just finished reading and taking notes on all the scripts so I will slowly make my way around with comments.


Captain Pierce
05-13-2008, 04:01 PM
You do a two-year, four-year, or even six-year enlistment for active duty, but typically a tour in Iraq or Afghanistan is one year, so I guess I just assumed that's what he was referring to. Particularly since he's a reservist--a friend of mine's wife got called up in the Guard, and that's the way it worked for her, a year in (well, technically 15 months, since she got called up when they were extending the tours) and then back to the usual Guard/Reserve thing.

05-13-2008, 04:11 PM
yeah but this guy gas got to go to basic first. Thats 2 month right there. Although its not mentioned he would have to go to other training as well. MOS training. Another couple months . Just something to consider if/when this is made.

Captain Pierce
05-13-2008, 04:26 PM
Not if he's already in the reserve--he would have had that done already, right? I think that may be the biggest problem with the terminology in the script--it wouldn't be the "bus for basic" leaving the next morning, it would be the bus for wherever the reserve unit was being assembled.

05-13-2008, 04:52 PM
Wow, thanks for the tips guys. I figure if/when this gets made I would emphasize the fact that he is going on tour in a different way then "bus for basic." Maybe something to do with the envelope or maybe even be more specific about what program he is in. Thanks for the info though guys, it's really helpful.

05-19-2008, 10:37 PM
Great job. Wonderful.

You've had some good feedback here.

There's not a script here that wouldn't benefit from a rewrite before shooting. That said, your script really intrigued me every step of the way because it raised questions. I found the characters complex and believable. I'm a woman and the way you wrote this, I totally bought that she took him in. She's a nurse, she knows how to fix him up, he's hurt, the letter's been opened so she knows what's up. But she can't figure out why he did what he did but she senses that he's not just some thug.

She's actually an interesting character because she's brave enough to take what could be a risk.

The hardest thing to do in a short script is make people feel something. The way you've chosen to structure this, the elements like the desperation in his pushups, you've handled this in a remarkably sophisticated way for someone with the handle of "smashedburrito." This little short script felt both believable and yet also a timeless comment on war and the effect it has on people -- even before they hit the battlefield.

Well done.

05-20-2008, 03:33 PM
I'm a woman and the way you wrote this, I totally bought that she took him in. She's a nurse, she knows how to fix him up, he's hurt, the letter's been opened so she knows what's up. But she can't figure out why he did what he did but she senses that he's not just some thug.

She's actually an interesting character because she's brave enough to take what could be a risk.

Thanks so much cbln. That is probably the best compliment you could have given me. I tried really hard to make sure she was a believable character, especially to women readers, so your feedback just gave me a huge boost of self esteem.

Thanks again for taking the time to read and comment, it really means a lot.

05-24-2008, 04:29 PM
If anyone is interested in making "Strangers" just send me over a PM. I'd love to see someone take a stab at it.