View Full Version : Jam - by Pete Barry

Pete Barry
01-20-2012, 05:57 AM
Ray's stuck in traffic, not going anywhere - until the voices start coming out of his radio.

Pete Barry
01-20-2012, 05:58 AM
I'm new to this, so tell me if I'm doing anything wrong.

01-20-2012, 01:30 PM
I'll be honest, I was hoping for a story about jam, until I saw your poster. And then remember that for some reason best kept to themselves, Americans call jam 'jelly'

01-20-2012, 01:30 PM
Also, good luck! Don't worry about being new, everybody is new at some point.

01-20-2012, 03:37 PM
Looks good, welcome to the club.

alex whitmer
01-20-2012, 09:27 PM
I'll be honest, I was hoping for a story about jam, until I saw your poster. And then remember that for some reason best kept to themselves, Americans call jam 'jelly'

Only the Americans who don't know the difference (don't have the actual number on me right now!). They can buy jam, jelly, preserves, or marmalade in their friendly, local grocery (actually I think the friendly grocers have all been run out of town, and replaced by mega markets). I'm partial to grape jam, if anyone cares.

Yeah, a story about jam. I once knew a fly who was trapped in a jar of jam for several hours.

01-22-2012, 05:23 AM
See if you can get hold of apple and blackberry jam. It'll change your life.

01-22-2012, 10:29 AM
This sounds pretty cool. Looking forward to it.

02-09-2012, 04:06 AM
Hi Pete,

Thanks for the read.

Good idea.
I liked the idea of the old radio tuning into the mobile phones.
I loved the anti-hollywood ending and the detonation.
I liked the lady yellow underwear bit...

Not so Good:
The idea of the old radio tuning into phone conversations was good, butg then it got complicated with the military and people trying to shoot him, and some how knowing he was able to hear them...
You don't need the pffft sound. Tell us the gun is silenced.
This seems a bigger idea squashed into 5 pages.

Overall, a good story. I think it needs a little more care to really iron out this idea. I honestly think this is two good ideas squashed into one; a story about an old radio able to hear the new cell phones, and a story about a bomb and the swat's attempts to keep the waiting people quiet and unaware as their doom approaches. Well done though.

Rustom Irani
02-09-2012, 01:17 PM
BRILLIANT use of the dialog slugs to quickly rattle of character-types, serving both description and economy of script page. Voice-actors would go gaga for this.

The fact that ou never let your foot off the plot gas-pedal works quite well for the escalating tension.

My only concern is that Ray himself never felt trapped to begin with and the gradual realisation that being trapped within what is likely to be an atmoic explosion comes with it's own mini-setup of him stumbling on to the army wave-length chatter.

I personally think that it'd be awesome cool to begin with a single cop telling these guys not to leave their vehicles or something along those lines.

That and humanise him a bit more, have him search for bottled water or something on the back-seat and reveal a baby-seat. OR just a photo on his dash with wife and kid. It'd make his death much more hard-hitting.

Other than this, I think it's is a great "Twilight Zone" short, the sci-fi/doomsday/conspiracy elements don't need too much exposition as we'd just like to be with him.

Good job, Pete!

02-09-2012, 01:37 PM
Jam by Pete Barry

Overall: 7
Plot: 6
Characters: 8
Dialogue: 9
Structure: 7
Originality: 8
Style/Quality of Writing: 7
Entertainment Value: 7
Cinematic Quality: 8

Synopsis: A man stuck in a traffic jam due to a truck rollover picks up cell & military radio over his analog car radio.
He listens and finally hears the military has found a bomb on the truck so he runs. For some reason the military
shoots him and the bomb, possible nuclear, kills everyone.

Pg 1
***Using a name like this just confuses the reader. Give them a name.
***Love the opening visuals
Pg 2
***Whoa. I can get that spew of different conversations on paper - film?
***There needs to be breaks between - static, or overlaps. Else we think it is a garbled single conversation.
All of their calls are pouring simultaneously out of his radio.
***No need to tell - it's evident.
Pg 3
I LOVE this sniper twist.
Pg 5
***You had me intrigued, but then you shot the main character and left us hanging.
***A nuke went off, killing the sniper as well? I really enjoyed the story but the huge
plot holes at the end leave me demanding to know more. No explanation as to why they were shooting at him?
Did I miss something? Re-reading.
***How would they know his analog radio is on 610?
***Yes I did miss the Swat guy looking over a bomb on the truck. Should have been a military tanker.
Else why are they looking for a bomb on a wrecked truck? Also this was all VO. There was no visual to
lock in the bomb. I suggest giving us that visual. That would explain the bomb. Now why are they shooting
at Ray? Why did they single him out? Might twist in there that they are looking for a button pusher and
see how Ray is reacting/acting. Excellent story potential if plot holes are plugged.
***By the way - I never got trapped so I lowered the overall a point.

02-09-2012, 02:18 PM
Didn't quite understand this. Like others have said, the randomness of the bomb and the sniper mostly.

I wasn't really a fan of the whole phone sex thing either. Way too extreme. I have a hard time imagining people doing that in a traffic jam.

All in all, I'm not quite sure what happened but the writing was pretty good(minus the military jargon; i hate military jargon) and easy to read.

Interesting idea. I just don't know it's intention.

02-09-2012, 02:45 PM
Right - this is a peculiar one really! First of all it demands a level of production value that makes the script almost impossible to produce (that will automatically negate it) in the eyes of some, - now I was thinking while i read it - all the work arounds. Well it could be shot like this or done like that to hide this but finally i gave up - this is like a kind of Michael Bay inspired blockbuster short - BUT....

It is a very confused Michael Bay inspired (or should i say looking short) as it feels much more complimentary like a twilight zone episode (at least it does when its working.) I loved the radio hops, and i thought the sexiness was fine too - it helped to evoke plainly the voyeuristic quality of what the character was finding.

The sniper was intriguing - the bomb was intriguing but... BUT - it made NO GODDAMN SENSE! I mean I went over it in my head and thought - what would an audience sitting in front of this lavishly produced short film make of all these things. Well... it would feel a bit like a promo to 'insert' any of JJ Abrams next tv series perhaps but says nothing as a short film for what the story is actually about.

Its actually almost too well written for it to be that clumsy (or sorry, feel that clumsy, it is just imo) for the story to meander like that. So i'd just suggest, finding a way to tie it up - because while some stories succeed in leaving us with a pontificative linger - they do require the expression of an intellectual or metaphorical point etc. This script has no pretention of doing that - so it really needs that more common and obvious plot resolution...

An example, (and by no means a good example) would be the dude in the car being the one who planted the bomb ie. linking him to the incident (in a way the audience doesnt realise) but which we come to realise as the security forces try to prevent it exploding. If this is supposed to be there (as an idea or theme) then bro, this script ain't tarkosvsky its action/mystery genre, it needs to be more clear (imo!)

In anycase i like the set up and impending momentum just hope you work on it a bit more - and try to consider who the heck can actually produce and shoot it (if its a short - then nobody with money hehe)

02-09-2012, 05:25 PM
- I just got sucked it. What a great concept and very Twilight Zonish, so a fave for me. :)
- That would be hard to see , the dial that is, so they must have some high-powered equipment.

WHAT!!! I was just getting really into yhis and then you went and rushed through the ending! I'd like to see this move on. This could be the next trapped blockbuster. And unlike Lawrie I think this could get filmed, You just need to find a backwoods interchange and park a bunch of cars. Sure it kind of looks like you set up a fake traffic jam, but if the big guys can do it so can....ok no one is going to do this for a short, but write this out as feature and no one will through a fit over the traffic jam. Great concept!

02-09-2012, 05:31 PM
Yep ill agree to disagree on the production value Chris-babes (i think it needs a big road/lotta cars) to make it feel like a real 'jam' - almost um (freeway? is that right? the US equivelant of a UK motorway hehe) and all of that for a short? I can't see it BUT!!!!

I agree with you about it getting further developed for something more like a feature, and would like to add my suggestion that in such a scenario (that kinda production value) becomes more realistic (its just for a short it makes no sense to me.) As a feature that and the story could be expanded (so that the rushed ending) is sorted too. Like yourself Chris i really got into this too - the first 2 thirds rock imo.

02-09-2012, 06:35 PM
Unlike the rest of the darn world we do have highway sized roads that don't have crap for traffic that you could get blocked for shooting. But you are right no one would go through the hassle for a short. A feature no problem.

Bill Clar
02-20-2012, 01:50 PM
"All of their calls are pouring simultaneously out of his radio." I would omit this line. Let the reader and viewer surmise this for themselves.

I love the tension when Ray realizes he's been made.

Great story. Very interesting and original.

02-26-2012, 09:58 PM
An interesting concept. I'm a bit skeptical of the Trapped theme (although an unseen sniper -good or bad- shooting at random drivers could have been milked) but, the bomb going off in your short feels anti-climactic to me, and it also rings false. Imagine this: what if your protag was the only one who could hear the "government" attempting to clean up the accident and there was the bomb somewhere up ahead on the road? Given the timing of when it goes off, the question of why would the sniper even bother to kill the protagonist comes to mind very quickly after the read. What difference does it make? Discovery is all but a moot point. What possible threat can he pose?

The concept doesn't fall apart but the story does. But what I will suggest will come close to what I think you had in mind, and, in addition, would take out a good chunk of those possible production problems those above mentioned. One rewrite is all it would take, and you would need to alter only a few minor things. The biggest drop would be the ending..

Remember Speed? There was a bomb on the bus and nobody knew about it in the first half of the film? But the filmmakers let the audience in on that knowledge, and had a lot of crazy gags, close calls and suspense around it even before Keanu got aboard.

What if :

1 - there was the bomb hidden in the car without your protag's knowledge,

2- the radio interference is affected by it at a certian time, and that it could go off if he opened the door again.

3- If the government called the drivers around him and asked them to leave their cars....

4- If he used his own cell phone it could set off the bomb.

5- The government agents think he's a bad guy at first - you can keep the sniper - but the sniper doesn't fire.

6- He convinces the feds he's not a bad guy. They walk him through how to dismantle and/or find the bomb.

If you would do something like that, you would:

- save the money on extras
- save the money on gunfire effects
- save money on showing a huge explosion

- increase tension
- increase anticipation
- not lose the trapped theme but make it stronger
- not lose the story focus, as it lessens confusion because the biggest confusion now isn't the 'Twilight Zone' aspect of the story, but the confusion of it (again, if a bomb goes off in a few minutes and you don't want people to panic, but you're going to shoot an innconent person who could warn people, even if it is at the last minute, or give him a chance, if nothing else, to save himself? It's not heroic, but it is one less casualty)

It's a very good effort that fails the challenge in the current form. He's not trapped, nobody is. They are just all doomed.

Eric Boellner
02-27-2012, 08:33 PM
Very well-written, but the story fell apart after the commando and his friend were introduced. I would have liked to have seen the story about the man listening in on this girl's conversation... or maybe I'm just a perv and wanted to hear the rest of that conversation. <grin> Nah, but it felt like the guy she was talking to (who was asking what she was wearing) was some kind of creep and he was going to start getting weird and creeping her out and then the MC would do something. I dunno, I just lost a little interest when it turned to commandos and swat teams and bombs. Like I said, though, the writing was excellent and flowed smoothly.