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    #11
    Senior Member taylormade's Avatar
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    The alien's motivations and actions seemed a little too "human" to be totally convincing. I know this is really a small part of a bigger idea, but I liked the angle of the half-human growing up on an alien world best. The other plot elements feel far too compressed and rushed to fit into an 8 page script. Still, an enjoyable read with lots of good writing.
    "If they move, kill'em!"


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    #12
    Member Craighoit's Avatar
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    Thanks Chris and Taylormade. I really appreciate the comments. One of the things - perhaps the main thing, after showers of unadulterated praise - that I had hoped to get out of submitting this is valuable feedback on the weaknesses of the script. Both of you have provided it, and I'm in total agreement with you on what needs to be fixed going forward.

    Ta's motivation was a struggle for me. I have it pretty much figured out for the longer script - a sub-plot involving political and family dynamics for the ruling family of this planet, but there simply wasn't room. The main antagonist was actually to have been Fi's half-brother or cousin. I was sorry to have to kill lines like "Your aunt is with spawn" but it just had to fall by the wayside. After I roughed in the plot, I was surprised just how much the larger story looked like one of my all-time favorite films: DeMille's Ten Commandments. The baby in a basket, the competition for the throne, the understanding of one's provenance, the rejection of the "new" family, the exile, etc.

    An earlier draft of the short had her motivation as being "Love" - thankfully, a reader told me (and I quote) "I just don't buy the love thing" When I explained what my original intention was, he suggested I use that as a basis for her motivation - that of maintaining a legacy. I agree, it's not quite enough, but hopefully it's in a better direction...

    Also on the aliens being too human - I struggled a bit with this too, and will dial up their differences a bit in revisions.

    Again, fantastic comments, I'm glad you guys enjoyed the story and I am very appreciative.


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    #13
    Knight of the Holy Order krestofre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Craighoit View Post
    DeMille's Ten Commandments. The baby in a basket, the competition for the throne, the understanding of one's provenance, the rejection of the "new" family, the exile, etc.
    Oh, now that's really interesting. I totally think you should keep working on the piece with that in mind.
    Chris Johnson


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    #14
    Senior Member Egg Born Son's Avatar
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    I enjoyed this. I really enjoyed it. I was a bit worried on the first page (maybe because I read Planet 52D before this and was worried where you might take it!) but then got taken on an epic journey. I didn't have a problem with your character's motivation for creating the hybrid, you don't explain it but there are hints that it is related to societal pressure vs her individual drive. The only part I hung on (and it's a minor issue of suspension of disbelief) is that he throws his sample into space and we're expected to believe that it will reach an alien, be gestated, grown into an offspring who grows up, has adventures and returns to him all in the space of 3 decades. Even less plausible when you take time dilation into account. Some sort of high velocity launch would have sat better. Still a very small sticking point and quickly forgotten.

    The plot was pretty tight, I felt that everything in the script had a reason to be there and was payed off to some degree. Not necessarily explained in detail but enough hints dropped to come to my own conclusions which I like. The idea itself was interesting and knowing now that it is modelled on the biblical story it is even more so. Writing aliens as protagonist digs a big hole with the potential to suck. I like that you didn't focus too much on what made them alien but instead on what motivated them to do what they did and I think that's why it worked for me. I didn't feel they were humanised so much as you avoided engaging in blatant alien-ification. The actors and the makeup artists have a lot of room to do what they do. Motivation and actions are what matter. The ending was fantastic. I wasn't trying to second guess the ending because I was just enjoying the ride. It wasn't so much a twist as an unexpected consequence, totally satisfying and blew the 'what happens next' right open.

    I wouldn't recommend expanding this into a feature. I think it works really well as a short but I think the ideas will be cheapened in the longer format and no doubt devolve into an action fest when the strength of this story is the solid idea. A feature would require more character development of peripheral characters when Fi is the character that matters here, the physical embodiment of the idea behind this story. The whole chase to Earth is the obvious place to expand but I think the brevity of this element in the script is crucial because this isn't a chase story. Alternatively you might extend the story of what happens next and lose the power of your ending. Also I can't think of any film in which an alien protagonist still seems alien after 90 minutes - and you don't want a star trek alien. It still needs a polish but you're basically there and you could make the short from this script. This is a really hard thing to pull off, so many pulp books and short stories with unpronouncable 'alien' titles have tried and failed. Well done.


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    #15
    ScriptFEST Mod Chris_Keaton's Avatar
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    Review follows

    - Check the comma's. Yes, I'm guilty of that...a lot.

    Ok, I didn't get much nitpicking done because I got sucked into the story. The names were distracting, but many sci-fi names often are. Not sure how an alien finds his man spunk, create's a kid, raises her, and in all of this there is interstellar travel and the old guy is still alive?

    However, I liked it, especially the ending image.
    Chris Keaton - Writer | Website | Email | imdb |
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    #16
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    Ta and Voo were not given proper introductions. I don't know what either of them look like or if one is male and one is female. I'm assuming Ta is female and Voo is male.

    Some of the descriptions are overly dramatic and don't seem to match the tone. For instance, Ta scratching Voo is described as "Blood spurts from the gash on
    Voo’s face." Such a description for such an inconsequential action. It's something that has no lasting impact(the gash, i mean). "Ta scratches Voo. Draws blood." Seems more in line with the tone. As is, the way it's written seems to call for theatrics.

    Even Ta's screaming after Voo says "it's the slave of a slave" seems a bit too much.

    We never get a description of Fi either.

    Why do the aliens speak english?

    "Wordlessly, Fi pulls money from her robes and hands it to
    Grox."
    Wordlessly is completely unnecessary. It only reminds me that there's a writer behind this.

    Grox has no description.

    How do we know the name of the freighter is IBOM-T? Why does it even matter?

    "Fi kneels. Opens his jumpsuit and leans forward.
    GROX (CONT’D)
    Crew taken by their warriors.
    Hidden away in a warehouse. Filthy
    creatures.
    She pulls back the hood of her cloak, blood smeared around
    her mouth.
    FI
    (softly)
    I know.
    And Grox falls, a knife buried in his side."

    I don't understand this part.

    Warship NRU. How do we know this is what it's called? It must be shown visually or stated by a character.

    "A hundred warriors stand at attention in a cavernous hanger
    as the IBOM-T comes to rest next to a flotilla of small
    saucer-like fighters, each nestled into the floor." Very difficult to read and understand.

    You have the right idea, having Fi appreciate the simple things that are mystery to her like the dog and the dew on the grass(when does that ever happen?). But I think you can serve to make it a bit less(not have the dog run right up to her, eager to be friendly).

    Overall, I'm not sure I understood it all. Here's what I got: Ta impregnated herself with Burke's sperm. Had a half-caste baby named Fi. Who is a she. Fi wants to go to earth to see her father(she never seemed to have any motivation for wanting to do this). She gets on a ship to bribe a captain to take her there? Or she's taken prisoner and put on that ship? Then she breaks free after she kills Grox for a reason I'm unsure of. Then she hijacks a ship and kills a bunch of people to do it. Uses the ship to go to earth and see her father. Then asks him to help her. I suppose she wants him to hide her from the aliens that are after her because she stole the ship from them to go find him. Wait what?

    If I got it right, I'm not quite understanding the purpose of the story. I think the thing that will make or break this story is it's purpose. Which of course, is Fi's motivation, which I think is severely lacking. If you can get that sorted, everything else should fall into place.

    I also had some issues with some flowery wordings but I got over them.

    It was a decent read. I just wish I had more to take from it.


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    #17
    Senior Member Egg Born Son's Avatar
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    I thought the motivation was fairly straight forward. Fi is rejected by her mother's kind and then finds out she has a father on Earth. No different from a troubled teen finding out she is adopted and running away from home to find her blood parent. Like Chris I was so absorbed in the story any technical flaws were invisible to me.


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    #18
    Member Craighoit's Avatar
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    OK, lots of great reviews. I want to let you guys know each and every one is very much appreciated. They help make me a better writer. Also, they (and reading other scripts in the fest) provided a nice distraction from the creative salt mines the have been work over the last several days. Where it makes sense to comment, I'll do so on each individual review.

    Egg Born Son (Do you go by Egg or Son)
    Wow. What a nice review. I'm truly flattered. Being a typical insecure creative, it's nice to hear good things once and awhile. I agree on the high-velocity launch, at least to a point. That's how it was originally scripted, but the guy who I worked on the story with suggested the scene that ended up in the script. I just felt that it was filmily much better, more poetic in a way and - what's the right word - more organic in a way to have Burke himself push the capsule into space. I do think the 3 decades for all this to happen needs to be addressed in some way or another. It's one of the problems with ALL space-based science fiction - because the vastness of space doesn't lend itself to narrative, we invent things like warp drive where the ship can exceed the speed of light. So I'm going to think on this one a bit.

    Chris
    Commas? Who, me...? Would like to have a bit of a conversation - perhaps off-line - about a few of the more egregious ones, so I can, you know, be, better about them. I thought a bit about Burke being so old at the end of the story. Here's how I saw it (but didn't have room to really work it in), This story takes place somewhat close to our own time - maybe 50 years or so in the future - people who study these things say by that time, an age of 130 or 140 wouldn't be that out of the ordinary because of advances in medicine. 90 is going to be the new 50! Nice, huh? Anyway, Burke being a rich, billionaire type would be able to afford the latest and best medical technology. So he's good. The longer script can obliquely reference this longevity I think. The compression of the space travel (mentioned by EBS above) is still an issue. But thank you for the high praise (getting caught up in the story).

    ZellJr
    Good point on the sexes of the characters Ta and Voo. They were both female, and I think the script would be better off with me calling this out. I deliberately left them somewhat undefined in terms of their physical appearances. In some ways it wasn't entirely relevant, and I wanted to use actions (such as hair rising like a dog's hackles) to define physicality. I do think in a longer script they'll be slightly better defined. I really wanted to convey their "alienness" through action - primarily their violent reaction to things. At the same time, the story requires them to be very human like. It's like they're maybe 20 or so percent different than we are.

    On overly-dramatic descriptions. Perhaps. I can only address the one you mention. One of the things I love about writing in English is that it's a verb-based language. We've got GREAT verbs. Ta "slashes" Blood "spurts", there is a "gash" on Voo's face (yeah, I know this last one is a noun). This is very different than merely scratching and drawing blood. I wanted to convey through the language that this was more than an inconsequential (to use your words) scratch. It was a pretty serious wound.

    Regarding Ta's screaming after Voo's insult. Sure, this might be a bit too much if the two were a couple of the women you work with, or the lady at the local grocery store. The two aren't and I'm using this action (and a few others, notably some of Fi's) to suggest the character of this alien race. They have VERY short fuses and are prone to outbursts of emotion and violence.

    This is actually one of the things I find most interesting about the character of Fi. Do you know about wolf-dog hybrids? If so, forgive me for going on, but one very important thing to know about them is that they are very dangerous because one moment they are the domestic dog and the next they are the wolf. Something triggers the wolf and they snap. I wanted to create this duality and uncertainty for Fi - she is by the definition of both the aliens and the humans, probably insane. She fits the norms of neither. I LOVE this about her. There is really a Lizbeth Slander (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) sort of quality to her.

    On a description of Fi. Yes, you're right. We never get a full description, but we do get bits that are relevant to the story. For example, her limp blond hair. There was a reason such a seemingly inconsequential detail was mentioned more than once. It's why I break a pretty important line (that she believes she is an abomination) by running her hand through her very different hair. Subtle, I know - so I'm putting this out there - did anyone notice it or draw the conclusion I was hoping for with it?

    The aliens speak English. Yes. They learned it the same place Darth Vader learned it. ESL for interstellar travelers. It's the same reason the warriors in 300 don't speak ancient Greek. I'm being a bit facetious here, and there was a lot of thinking that went into this very issue. I had thought about subtitling everything and giving them alien gibberish. It DOES work better thematically. A lot better, actually. It's a very cool concept. However, one of the things I've learned is that concept is different than execution - things that seem like a good idea are often not great in practice. In fact, most times, when I have this debate between "wow, that's a cool idea" and "but it might not work out the way I thought" it doesn't work out. I think subtitles would have gotten in the way with the amount of dialog I gave the aliens. It would have been draining on the audience. I don't think it would have played well on film. Also I hate the "we learned English from the TV you've been broadcasting for the last 50 years" and most other "explanations." To be honest, I didn't have time to think of a reason better than these clichés, and I didn't have space in the 8 pages to do so. That being said, it is something I will probably work out in a longer work. One of the best films that handled this in a very elegant way was the Tom Cruise picture Valkerie.

    Agree on "wordlessly" I wanted to convey she was trying to do this on the down-low. Should have tossed in some actions along the lines of casting suspicious glances here and there... Was being lazy.

    The bit you didn't understand. It's my job as a writer to paint a picture you can see in your mind, so in this area, I failed you. The scene was designed to do a couple of things:

    It needed to set up why Earth was forbidden. The fact a ship had crash landed there and the crew was taken to a warehouse and hidden away (Did anyone get a Roswell/ Hanger 18 hit here? That was the intent).
    It was designed so show that Fi would trade sexual favors to get him to take her to earth (hopefully set up by bits like Grox leering, looking her up and down, commenting that "she doesn't have that much on her")
    It should give an indiction that Fi also saw herself (and perhaps humans) as "filthy creatures." That she is filled with a self-loating, which was a result of her being ostracized (the birth scene to set up how these aliens felt about her, the montage growing up), and was set up by her earlier abomination line.
    It showed her as "a filthy creature"
    It put her further on the path that she was taking.
    It revealed her to Grox (with the removing of her hood). This last bit needs a bit more. Some reaction from him before he dies that she is the half-breed.
    The basic action is that she was performing a sexual favor, bit down really hard and stabbed him. On a psychological level, it was motivated by the stuff I've mentioned above. On a practical level, she needed to get the ship to active her objective.

    The names of the ships. Ships have names. Makes it easy for the reader to keep track of them even if a character doesn't say "Millennium Falcon" The characters have names too that aren't mentioned in the script. Doesn't make them any less relevant. I also wanted to use the alien-sounding names of the ships to set a tone for the reader. This would hopefully be understood by a production designer given that the good ones are F'ing amazing at picking up clues in scripts.

    On the hard to read and understand description. I'm probably trying to do too much in one sentence. Might help to break it up some. if I had of had more time (yeah, waited till the last minute to finish), it might have been a good idea to pass this along to a few of my proofreaders for their thoughts on stuff like this. I'll do that next time.

    Regarding the dog, dew on the grass, etc. Hitchcock's "slice of cake" thing. Real life, but better. It's the movies.

    I think Egg Born Son got the motivation pretty much right, so I won't repeat it. I will say that I think this story, especially in its longer form, gives me the opportunity to look at and think about some pretty big issues about self-identity and what it means to be human. Not sure as a writer I have the talent for that type of task, but would like to give it a shot.

    I really do appreciate your comments and by the length of this don't want to come off as defensive - I merely want to show the reasons for some of the creative choices I made.

    Thanks again everyone and I look forward to more thoughts and comments (ESPECIALLY SINCE NOW YOU SEE SOME OF THE INTENTIONS, WHETHER THESE CAME THROUGH) Apologies for the all caps...

    Craig


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    #19
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    There's nothing defensive about explaining your reasoning. Readers should always want to know what the writer wasthinking. That's how we learn and grow in our reading and writing.

    The while idea of "my review is final" is just a terrible one. Betrays the work and the writer.

    I understand about not describing ta and voo. It does force the reader to focus on what they ARE given.

    As for the scratching scene, I called it inconsequential since it doesn't impact the story. whether its a gash or a scratch, voo is still never seen again. In other words, voo doesn't care.



    yeah i'm familiar with wolf dogs. I understand that angle.
    I did notice the description if the blond hair and I did understand she didn't like the way she looked. But the issue I had was that she never seemed to be put in a position to want to hate herself. She got intooffer fight at school and I just assumed that was Howe it worked there. The children sparred for training.

    So this is where her motivation went odd for me. Her drive to want to find her father has to be fostered in the audience. We are her. And I never felt any strong desire to want to meet this father.

    In these tipped of stories the usual thingis to want to justify your existence. In the film unbreakable, the mutation isn't half caste, but it does require the need for justification. What set it apart was how both sides (Bruce Willis and Samuel l kackson), needed one another to justify themselves.

    because I never saw her appearance juxtaposed within her society, I was never convinced that it was a big issue. I only knew it was an issue because she told me.

    Three language thing is fine. I just personally prefer the realism subs provide. I have no problem reading subs and I hate that a lot of people do.

    For the names of the ships, why not just write them on the side of the ship?

    As for the grox scene, I didn't get any of that.

    What about the ending? Her goal was to see him but now she wants him to help her because she made a bunch of people mad on her quest to find him?

    Hmm

    I like the elaborations. Let's me better visualize what you were going for.


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    #20
    Member dtroop506's Avatar
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    Craig,

    I believe you guys just about covered it.

    Good work.


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