View Full Version : 500 days of ARGH!

08-11-2009, 05:46 AM
update: august 31
project finished.
new log line: Creepy hobo crashes a party in the woods.

09-14-2009, 10:58 PM
I don't think the title works with the story.

At first I was worried it was just gonna be a crazy hobo but at the end it becomes some weird creature that, for some awesome reason, sucks the eyeballs out of people's skulls! That was cool.

Not sure I understand the moment where [spoiler] he's back at Nasa and told he won't be on the mission and it was all an act to test his personality. It's weird or just unclear because you have more come after it where the old man is inside the cave and then on the hill. Did he inject some weird hallucinatory drug into Mike where he visualized he was back?

Besides that it was some good work and you have some great visual nuances:

He turns his trembling head to reveal EMPTY EYE SOCKETS, clotted blood on his cheeks.It was easy to see and reading the script was smooth and clear up until the twist(s).

09-15-2009, 09:23 AM
thx for the review.
Your interpretation is correct.
The last scenes were intended to feel weird and ambiguous. I wanted to recreate the feeling of movies like Jacob's Ladder or Session 9. The protagonist feels the strangeness but can't decide what is real and what is not. When he finally wakes up I want the audience to connect the clues and realize that this NASA experience was just his own subconscious remorse and wishful thinking during a dream in the cave.
I definitely ran out of space on the last page, adding unwanted confusion. But I tried to make it as clear as possible. After dozens of revisions I know the text of this last page by heart.

The title is just an artefact of the old story idea I had. Couldn't change the thread title so I sticked with it. I'll write a bit more about the story after the voting is over. Until then everybody should explore the story himself.

09-15-2009, 09:31 AM
Hi Moonkid, thanks for the entertaining read.

Now, overall I really liked it, but there are areas that could do with a bit more work, just to make them clearer... Obviously, you know what is happening, but you just need to make it clear and sit down and map out everything and everyone. Obviously, 6 pages has made your script jump, especially when he is making out with someone and then awakes to mayhem.
I got the hallucination, dream vibe. I thought you had gone for the 'this was just a test' ending, but was happy when you pulled us back into the story. Mainly, your structure was very good and it made it easy to read.

Overall, a good fun horror short. Just could do with a bit more work and it will be very good.

09-15-2009, 03:59 PM
Yes, I can see the title was playing off the '500 Days of Summer' name, but I really can't see how it fits.


Can add much, but I really love the trippy twist ending. I love movies where the monster wins.

Tim Joy
09-16-2009, 11:44 AM
It kinda makes you think- What if Mike hadn't hit the old man over the head....? Would they still all be dead? I liked that aspect to it.

So was the majority of it a hallucination? I didn't quite get when exactly the hallucinations started.

When you transition with an unfinished sentence to a new scene heading, I would put a dash or ... to let the reader know you didn't forget to write something. :) The first one threw me for a second.

The ending was cool.
Descriptions could be tighter, specifically with the cell camera picture part. Maybe if you called the old man, Wrinkled old man, when he came back you could simple refer to him as that, rather than saying, "the man from before..." Minor thing, but it will save you space and speed up the read.

One line stood out as wrong to me. When the old man runs off with the phone, I think it needs a reaction in there like.. WTF??!! That's kind of a random and surprising thing to happen, so it seems to jump my thought process to go right to, "let's kick his a..."

Overall, it had some clarity/ brevity issues in the descriptions that slowed me down at times, but the story is pretty good, especially the end. Good job.

Captain Pierce
09-21-2009, 06:47 PM
When you transition with an unfinished sentence to a new scene heading, I would put a dash or ... to let the reader know you didn't forget to write something. :)

Actually, not that I've read a lot of scripts, but I've seen this done before, in pretty much the same way mookid does it. Joe Straczynski did it all the time on B5 (and he wrote a scriptwriting book, so it must be right! :) ).

One odd thing I did notice, though, is that you seem to have an extra blank line between the end of a scene and the next scene heading.

I love the line:

At present we donít send assholes to Mars.

Always a good idea to keep their options open for the future. :D

Maybe this was your intent, but it kind of seems like Mike gets screwed over here for no good reason. Dude steals his cell, he's originally against kicking his ass, and only changes his mind when the hobo turns into a monster and tried to bite him. I think bashing the hobo with a rock is a fairly justified response at that point. :) (For that matter, technically, Mike's going to Mars, his Blackberry isn't going to do him a hell of a lot of good there, I hear the coverage in the Valles Marineres is really awful. :D )

The other thing about Mike is that he doesn't really come across as astronaut material. Not because he's an asshole, but because he just seems to meekly follow Danny along and make out with his girlfriend when Danny inexplicably decides to ignore her in favor of a "pudgy girl." This Mike and the one who charges into the woods after his cell phone (or the one who can hotwire a car later--but why hotwire? didn't they drive there?) don't really seem to be the same guy.

I think DarkElastic said it pretty well: it seems clear that you're seeing this all pretty clearly in your head, but not all of that is making it to the page. (Just one example: at the very end, you mention blood running upward over Mike's forehead, and then in the next scene he's hanging upside down, but are his eyes gone as well now? Are the "APATHETIC PEOPLE" the others from the party? For that matter, is it just the four of them there at the party or is there a larger group?) On a more positive not, I also agree with DarkElastic that it was a nice bit of misdirection to hint at the "it was all just a test" twist before re-twisting back away from it.

09-21-2009, 07:19 PM
thx for the reviews.
Yeah I tried to cram too much into six pages so that there are some incongruencies and an overall jumpiness. I will have to keep it simple in future shorts. Jaffa's review was kinda devastating because I didn't expect my story to be misinterpreted so easily.

The Idea for Mike's character was that he had studied hard, knew his theory but that he would make wrong decisions under pressure and therefore "fail". He is too awkward around girls and is happy to finally gain some prestige at NASA. The hobo incident would be a bad detail in his resume so he just leaves the injured hobo behind, hoping that it would have no consequences for his future.

He didn't hotwire his own car. They were walking towards Mike's or Danny's car but the monster changed their plan. So Mike broke into another car that they could reach without alerting the monster. there was no time to search the tents for keys.

The farther the story goes on, the more ambiguous I tried to make it so that it isn't clear in retrospect when exactly the hallucinations began.

The hallucination is caused by the poison of the monster. This poison keeps his victims alive for about 500 days, so their bodies stay fresh for consumption. This idea had to be thrown away together with the other monster-mythology in the final draft because there was not enough space to explain every detail.

The fluid transition between action and the heading of the next scene was an idea that I saw in some unproduced specs and produced scripts for full length movies (for example "bourne identity" and "killing on carnival row") and it's probably just a question of taste.

I used the default settings in the final draft program, didn't check if they were different from the usual layout rules. Thx for the observations about the spacing.

Captain Pierce
09-21-2009, 07:34 PM
I personally like the fluid transitions, even though I somehow seem never to use them. :)

It's interesting that you mention the poison keeping the victims alive for 500 days; one thing I'd considered saying in my last post was that (in a longer script) it would be interesting to say that the trip to Mars would take about 500 days, and Mike would spend it having a nightmare about what happened that day and night each night of the trip, and then when he got to Mars all kinds of crazy stuff could happen. :D

09-22-2009, 02:20 AM
Not a big fan of the title, but like the story. One of my favorites of this fest.

Not much to complain or suggestion, outside of the action on the last page - jumped from mostly "vertical" style writing into long paragraphs. But to be honest only worry about this sort of crap if entering into contests or pitching to people - so what the hell and well done.

09-23-2009, 11:14 PM

I'm a fan of the capped first line. I'm starting to see it more and more in professional scripts.

Crouching next to her is MIKE, 23, an intelligent version of Forrest

That is probably the most divide by zero-like character description I have ever read. It almost causes me physical pain trying to imagine this.

It is his goodbye party.

How does the audience know this?

Really? Letís see.
(playfully pompous)
What is the distance between Mars
and the Sun?

(completely serious)
Itís 249,209,300 km or 1.664 861
Astronomical Units. If you meant
the aphelion, of course.

Nice exchange.

Mike and Danny walk up to him. He is smiling, looks maybe 60,
70. But he smells maybe 90, 100. Danny grimaces.


The hobo doesnít answer but he starts to whistle. An
unusual melody with medieval tonality. The young men
exchange baffled looks. Mike is about to take a photo of
the peculiar stranger when the old man GRABS the phone and,
with remarkable speed, disappears into the forest. Danny
laughs out loud.

very creepy...then lol

No, no. Itís okay. Heís harmless.
Heís probably deranged or
something. Do you have your
(Danny looks quizzical)
Listen, go back and keep calling
my number so I will hear him.

Great gag! very creative.

They are locked together in a fight to the death. Mike can
get hold of a ROCK and SLAMS it against the hoboís temple.
The man lands face down like a brick. The phone is still
ringing. Mike picks it up slowly, his mind racing.

Man...I was really hoping this was a really strange, really elaborate Verizon Wireless ad and we would just cut to the chipmunk looking "can you hear me now?" guy. Oh well.

Mike hesitates. From the shadows of a bush the hobo is
staring him in the eyes. SHATTERING BOTTLES.

I'm confused at the shattering bottle line. I'm assuming one of his friends broke a bottle off screen and woke him from the hallucination but I think this could be made more clear.

Mike looks around. Some of the tents are torn up, the fabric
waving in the breeze. They are alone. Mike helps his blind
friend up and together they sneak towards...

Where is Sophie? I assumed she would have been with him in the tent. Maybe a short line with Mike waking up and realizing she isn't laying next to him anymore?

BLARING CAR ALARM. The monster looks up from its meal and
turns its agile head 180 degrees.

Mike turns the alarm off and tries desperately to hot-wire
the car.

Nice little pace-quickener there. If filmed right, this would get a big jump out of the audience.

On a more technical note, very few alarm systems have accessible under-dash wires to cut. They're almost always accessed in the engine bay...not that it matters for a horror movie, just FYI

The hobo appears in the rearview mirror and starts whistling
his melody. A panicked Mike SLAMS ON THE GAS and we hear
Sophieís HARROWING SCREAM as the wheels roll over her body.


Okay, it took your eyes. You are
in a pretty shi*ty condition. But
seriously, shut the poo poo up.

Great line.

You introduce someone called "Little guy" and then proceed to call him "actor".

Blood runs upwards over Mikeís
forehead. He SCREAMS, everything spirals. He is trapped
upside down in a WHITE COCOON hanging from the top of

Awesome detail.

I loved the ending. Way to end big. Great twist reminiscent of "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge".

I also loved the monster. My favorite so far. The fact that he's actually scary is a little bit refreshing. Most of the other monsters have been comedic.

What I didn't like is the whole NASA thing as the protagonist's defining character trait. That didn't seem to relate to anything and was completely out of step with everything else in the story. In stories, especially short form stories, especially especially in short form screenplays which are by their very nature already something of a short form...everything should be interrelated. there should be invisible strings attaching all the characters and situations together into what eventually becomes a cohesive whole. Your protagonist's inner conflict at leaving his friends to go possibly be an astronaut has exactly nothing to do with the central conflict of the hobo demon eye sucker. It feels like you've sandwiched two separate stories together. This is a problem (IMO...) that a lot of the other entries had, their characters and the central conflict seemed to have been randomly assembled.

I love your monster, I love the tone and a lot of the gags, and the ending. The only thing that needs work in my opinion is the protagonist.

09-25-2009, 09:19 PM
Technical - get rid of summer on the masterslugline and show us in the description that it's summer.

If you are going to start with a CLOSE UP, then remember you also have to 'pull back' so that we can see the man. There has to be a smoother transition, also, place the close up on a line by itself.

What does a Tibetan Monk sit like compared to Hindu or Buddist?

Next masterslugline take out "the" unnecessary.

Keep your action paragraphs to 4 lines.

... with a CRACK... just state they broke the tent.

What is 'facepalms?"

You've introduced Pudgy Girl so you have to keep her name in Caps like this since that's her character's name.

How does a person 'smell' a certain age?

Your setting is camp, but you failed to describe the place setting - it could be at a city park, national forest, downtown greenbelt - don't take your settings for granted because you minisluged to a FOREST but you never stated where your camp was located.

Ring tone - what type of ring tone? Just state the cellphone rings.

...Mike can get hold of a rock... just state - Mike grabs a rock, use strong verbs.

After having possibly just 'killed' someone, especially something that looks nonhuman, why doesn't Mike freak out on the phone. Every single one of us would.

The camp feels like a bunch of drunken hippies, hopefully that was your goal.

When you use passage of time, no matter how much, simply state


and that's all you need. After that you insert the same masterslug "CAMP" we're still there, so no need to use it again until you change locations.

Narrow Road minislug would work better if I knew where the camp was so that I could see it's not far away. If it's a far distance, you need to use EXT. transition.

You described the man in the beginning as a Hobo not a Hobo Monster, so keep it consistent, the Hobo.

Again, your action paragraphs are clunky. When you want to emphasis a sound that's important, give it a line unto itself. It draws the reader in.

...the scene freezes and we zoom.... - this is camera direction. You take out the story when you do this, instead, say something like:

Time stands still as we see


stunned by the face of death.

This will give you the punch you need.

Get rid of "A" "The" in your minisluglines.

How did you get from the location 'empty hallway' to 'dark cave?' Unless the cave is in the building, it has to be INT. transition.

Instead of telling me it's autum show me by the leaves turning color.

I found the story 'clunky' and generic in so many parts. I see where you are going with this, but it wasn't enough to have that uniqueness of a monster story. Things didn't make sense. If you are in trouble, you tell people.

You race to camp and hysteria ensues. That part just wasn't believable.

Good effort.

09-25-2009, 10:05 PM
...the scene freezes and we zoom.... - this is camera direction. You take out the story when you do this...

Not that I'm disagreeing with you but A LOT of people say the exact same thing about the phrase "we see" and your entry had more instances of this phrase than every other script in this contest...combined.

09-26-2009, 02:58 AM
What is 'facepalms'

09-26-2009, 06:41 AM
I wrote "almost inhuman", not "inhuman".

btw: I just rewrote the script to make it more realistic.

A pale Mike steps out of the forest.

Hey listen up, the hobo who stole my phone -- I think I killed him. Too bad there were no other witnesses so my 'self-defense' plea will be kinda weak. But I called the police anyway, they will be here any minute... Danny put your shorts back on.

Alright, you heard him, party is over guys.

I want everybody to look serious now, remember if we f*ck this up I can forget my career at NASA.

You can count on us, man.
I will expand this short into a court drama.

09-26-2009, 10:00 AM
Arrow - the interesting point is that I 'never' use the phrase "we see" in a short but found it necessary in this one, quite ironic isn't it?