Thread: Transmission

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    #21
    Member DarrenJSeeley's Avatar
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    I also was going to mention the blocks of text, (4 lines +) but it seems that's all been covered. Everything said echoes what I will say...but I found some areas that folks didn't mention so I'll get to that.

    On p6, It is Wilson who approaches the TV screen. Here's how it's written:

    Wilson checks his anger and turns his attention back to the TV and its hypnotic series of images.

    CAROL
    Diver, fishing boat, cooking
    fish, chinese food, eating....

    He approaches it, close enough for the images to project onto his face. He lifts his hand to touch the screen.


    But it is Carol who speaks. The next line should be 'Wilson approaches the TV. Images project on his face. He reaches to the screen' On p7, it is Brad who speaks, but Carol "stops talking". She has no continued dialog.

    I also noted in the blocks of description, an interior scene where 'the weather is calm'.

    4WD

    Be it slug or narrative, it's best just to say 'car' since it's the only one being used. 4WD is an abbreviation and should not be written in that way.

    Good story though, even if some of the contd's and text chunks cover it up somewhat.


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    #22
    Member Craighoit's Avatar
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    Our daughter's art teacher once told a group of us parents that when we critique our children's work, we should't simply say "I like it." Rather, we should point out details: "I like that brush stroke." A good rule, but one that I think it's important to break when critiquing screenplays. At the end of the day, what's going to get people into a theater is a good story. What's going to get someone writing coverage for a director or producer is the enjoyment they get out of the piece. So subjective things like "I really like this" matter. Sure, it tells you as much or more about me than it does the script, but it's still important. That long caveat out of the way: I liked this and would want to watch it.

    Now for the comments about the brush strokes:

    With all due respect to the other writers, the dialogue is among the best I've read here. It's full of the casual shorthand and non-sequiters that capture the way we really talk. At the same time, it does a nice job of sketching character.

    I liked the premise. Sure, I've seen things about aliens responding to things we've sent to the heavens, but this usually takes the form of radio and TV broadcasts. The bit about Voyager was a really nice touch.

    I got a sense of place. Perhaps it's because I'm a sucker for films set in your country's outback (you're in Oz, right?), but I could see the storm coming in, the GRAVEL road... Grin. I would keep things like the car being 4WD, because it's important to set the scene and its remoteness. I see (I think) the point above, so maybe you simply spell it out or describe it in other ways. Until the End of the World (PLEASE, EVERYONE, GET A HOLD OF THE 4 HOUR DIRECTOR'S CUT OF THIS AND WATCH) has a nice quality of being remote that you captured here. Maybe it was your long blocks of description, but it worked for me. Grin.

    I think there was an earlier comment about ending Wilson's dialogue after "It's them" I know why you did it - to let us know the aliens were energy, but it felt like you were letting us know the aliens were energy. The dialogue, which had been so natural up to this point became "telling" rather than "showing" if that makes sense. I'd just rethink how you convey this info.

    All-in-all a fantastic read. Thanks!

    Craig


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    #23
    Senior Member Egg Born Son's Avatar
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    Get ready for a post reflective of my descriptions...


    Quote Originally Posted by dtroop506 View Post
    I'm glad you are feeling better.
    Thankyou. Down side is back to work tomorrow!

    Quote Originally Posted by dtroop506 View Post
    I realize you realize the acceptable block is no more than four lines long.
    Actually, I didn't. It makes a lot of sense, I'll apply it in future.

    Quote Originally Posted by dtroop506 View Post
    Carol is a real smartass. I love that. The coffee scene rocks.
    I really wanted to make her more than wallpaper. Female characters rarely get any depth in scifi and when they do they're either action vixens or men with boobs. At the same time I wanted a woman who was real rather than making a feminist statement. She is an amalgam of three women I've met.

    Quote Originally Posted by dtroop506 View Post
    Cut out the ambulance business. This will provide more space to separate your blocks of description.
    The purpose of this scene was to return the characters to the ordinary world, plant an extra layer questioning the agency's motives (a bit cliche admittedly but reflective of my own deeprooted cynicism of authority) and to suggest (for extra depth on repeat viewing) that the office scene may have been setting up Wilson as a patsy. On the other hand removing the office scene (used to establish reluctance and low status on the part of Wilson) and the final scene would focus the guts of the story. But then I do like to add layers.

    Quote Originally Posted by DarrenJSeeley View Post
    On p6, It is Wilson who approaches the TV screen....But it is Carol who speaks. The next line should be 'Wilson approaches the TV. Images project on his face. He reaches to the screen' On p7, it is Brad who speaks, but Carol "stops talking". She has no continued dialog.
    Carol's lines were supposed to be continuous in the background throughout the scene - I wasn't sure how to do this so I just broke it up and inserted a fragment every few lines without much regard to how that impacted the lines above and below. She is describing the images on the screen, partly to Brad who is comparing them to the images he finds in the folder but mainly due to being in shock and entranced by the repetitive sequence of images. Structurally it frees the camera from documenting the images while still providing the reference/clue to the knowledgable viewer as images from the Voyager Gold Record. The full list for anyone interested is on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Content..._Golden_Record The multilingual voices on the radio, the song Johnny B Goode, the images on the tv are all sourced here. Someone making this would be directed to this reference and free to insert any additional components. The mathematical components were embedded in subsequent SETI radio messages. Fibonacci was selected as a familiar scifi convention - it always seems to be the mathematical concept used to demonstrate intelligence.

    Quote Originally Posted by DarrenJSeeley View Post
    I also noted in the blocks of description, an interior scene where 'the weather is calm'.
    The ambient noise of the bad weather was penetrating the indoor space. The shutters remain closed (to help create the 'special world' post storm) so the absence of the storm needed to be noted as an audio cue. The previous scenes would have had loud ambience forcing raised voices, this scene was supposed contrast with eerie silence. I didn't want an external establishing shot because I didn't want to break the 'magic circle' of the special world. Consider the storm a threshold crossed, the characters' behaviors change 'as if possessed' and the normal rules are suspended allowing the alien presence to be real. They return to the ordinary world in the final scene. I like to think this approach makes the scene creepy. I was trying to raise the hairs on the back of your neck.

    Quote Originally Posted by Craighoit View Post
    With all due respect to the other writers, the dialogue is among the best I've read here. It's full of the casual shorthand and non-sequiters that capture the way we really talk. At the same time, it does a nice job of sketching character.
    I've been working hard on characterisation (previously my greatest weakness) so thankyou.

    Quote Originally Posted by Craighoit View Post
    I got a sense of place. Perhaps it's because I'm a sucker for films set in your country's outback (you're in Oz, right?), but I could see the storm coming in, the GRAVEL road...has a nice quality of being remote that you captured here.
    That is very gratifying. I wanted to capture the place I live in. I didn't want it to wear my culture as a costume but rather naturally and without exploitation. All the locations exist. The satellite farm is one of my places of work, the tower a combination of several sites I work at (amongst other things I run maintenance on high level comms and broadcast equipment statewide). The house is my first girlfriend's parents' house minus the stables (her father is also part inspiration for Brad, mixed with some traits from work colleagues I respect). Little touches like having the agency use manila folders to carry documents as opposed to some wizbang electronic alternative are intended to provide subtle localisation (and displace it in time - is it today or yesterday? Everything in the house is old but so are the occupants). The idea of an agent is not respected here. If someone dresses in a black suit, aviators and wears an earpiece they will be subject to ridicule, not respect or fear. Hence the cheap suit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Craighoit View Post
    I think there was an earlier comment about ending Wilson's dialogue after "It's them" I know why you did it - to let us know the aliens were energy, but it felt like you were letting us know the aliens were energy.
    A few have mentioned that. I have a preference towards leaving open questions and implying vast tracts of backstory while leaving them unsaid. Sometimes I take that too far. I originally did end it there but panicked at the last and added the extra line for alienfest, to be sure that everyone understood that it was true first contact, not just communication. It seems I did my audience the disservice of underestimating them. After the good reception of this effort I'll be more confident in future.



    Thankyou everyone for commenting, this feedback has been invaluable. I don't know why I've never put my writing out there before. Thanks in particular for the criticism, it has all been well received. I can't trust family and friends to be objective so it is fantastic to finally get some feedback that doesn't spare my feelings. I've been given a lot to take into my next script and I'm seriously considering a final rewrite of this one, utilising the collective suggestions and some other ideas they have triggered.
    Last edited by Egg Born Son; 06-17-2012 at 12:34 AM.


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    #24
    Senior Member Russell Moore's Avatar
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    I ...really....liked ....this...story. Wow! You know how to build tension. I think I was actually sweating after the lightning started striking the ground and it just built from there.

    Not going to say anything about the lengthy descriptive blocks, that seems to have been covered (well I guess I kinda did anyway) It didn't not take me out the story too much, maybe a bit in the beginning, but then the story sucked me in. Very believable characters and great dialogue, it sounds very real. No easy feat.

    I agree that the whole scene with the agent and his boss could be cut out, what needs to be known as far as the Agent is conveyed when Brad comes upon him on the road.

    Really liked the NASA tie in with the message. Very good script, I really enjoyed the read. Thanks.
    the writer formerly known as "Conlan Forever"

    Need a short script?
    Have an idea? Want to collaborate? Contact me.

    screenwriter75@yahoo.com


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    #25
    Senior Member alex whitmer's Avatar
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    Hey, Egg Born. I haven't read the whole thing yet. I like to get the line-by-line feel first. I'll catch up on the story asap. But as for structure and such ...

    Most of page one ...

    This ...

    EXT. TOWER – NIGHT

    The transmission tower of the repeater station, surrounded by a chain link fence towers over a nearby house. The weathered single-storey wooden house sits at the edge of a endless field. A lightning storm is in progress.


    Using ‘THE’ for transmission tower is correct, but the second article needs to be ‘A’. Could even lose the comma.

    The transmission tower of a repeater station surrounded
    by a chain link fence towers over a nearby house.


    I think we can do more here. Second sentence can be connected to the first, so you can lose the period and make it a nice smooth intro to your story. Toss a few superfluous words, and make the lightning storm earn its placement in the intro …

    The transmission tower of a repeater station surrounded by chain link towers over a nearby weathered, single-storey house. A lighting storm illuminates endless fields.

    37 words down to 24. Always strive to keep it concise. Remember, this is not just a story, but a document crew and cast need to access for information. The more superfluous words and rambling text, the greater the chance for mistakes, added time and costs.

    I am assuming this tower plays some important role. Heck, it's even the title of the story.

    This …

    INT. KITCHEN – MORNING

    It is a bright, clear morning. A couple in their 50s, BRAD
    and CAROL are making breakfast. Out the kitchen window a
    golden field stretches to the horizon. The kitchen is open
    plan to the living room and the transmission tower can be
    glimpsed out the opposite window. The TV news broadcast in
    the background is subject to sporadic interference.


    Difficult read here. You slug a kitchen as morning, then repeat morning in the immediate text. Use DAY in the slug.

    Since there are important physical attributes concerning the space your characters will be using, keep all the space info together. Here you intro a kitchen (space), then intro the characters and an action, then back to defining the space. Then more action with the television. I need to move my minds eye in confusing circles to follow this. Maybe something like …

    INT. KITCHEN – DAY

    A bright, clear morning illuminates an open floor plan. From the kitchen window, golden fields stretch to the horizon. From the living room windows, the transmission tower is visible. CAROL, 50, and BRAD, 50, make breakfast as a television delivers a news broadcast with sporadic interference.

    Like that. Space attributes are all together, and what is happening in that space follows back to back.

    Note I ditched the ING verb ‘making’, along with ‘can be glimpsed’, which infers it is difficult to see the tower even when standing at the window, or that it has some ephemeral existence, like an eclipse. You just want to intro the view. Camera placement will explore how much or little of the tower will be seen as Carol and Brad do their thing. Either way, the viewing audience will have a quick reference that this particular space is likely the interior of the house seen when the tower was intro’d.

    But this does bring up another question. The house is weathered, which may or may not infer it is also old. Could just be new, but ill-cared for. Older homes did not have open floor plans, unless of course you go waaaay back a few hundred years, and the house is compact, like a cabin. Since it sits on the edge of a field, I think it might be a farm house. A weathered farmhouse would not likely have an open foor plan, as conserving heat in winter would necessitate the division of rooms. This, and there is no intro as to what the house may look like inside. Country charm? Hand-me-down furnishings? What is there than can tell us a little about this couple? Fishing trophies?

    I know this sounds trivial and I am only two blocks into the story, but if I were scouting this location, I would need to really interpret your meaning. It may very well be that this gets cleared up later in the screenplay, but per your opening text as written, I am already unclear what this space looks like. Weathered but modern? A cabin or studio style? Because of cultural familiarity, I think of ‘weathered’ as a wood house with peeling paint, some loose shingles – like in ‘The Road to Perdition’. If I were filming this in Prague or Osaka, perspective would quickly change.

    In as few words as possible, try and convey what this house is all about, and still leave room for some interpretation.

    Like this …

    The transmission tower of a repeater station surrounded by chain link towers over a nearby weathered, single-storey farmhouse. A lighting storm illuminates peeling paint and endless fields.

    Back up to 27 words, but still 10 shy of the original.

    Inside, give us a clue to back story on these two characters.

    Enough about that. Next lines …

    This …

    expected to persist over the next
    day or two ...


    I’d use ‘over the next few days’. It’s closer to news-speak, and has a better cadence.

    This …

    EXT. FIELD – MORNING

    The couple stand together on an unsealed road beside a 4WD
    vehicle. The straight road follows a ridge and frames the
    endless field. The road extends in the direction of the
    distant tower. A wire fence dotted with the occasional
    bush lines the field side of the road. The other side, a
    line of telephone poles stretch out like a string of tall
    crucifixes. Brad stares blankly into the field. Carol puts
    a hand on his shoulder.


    An 8-line block with 77 words. That’s on the high side. You want your readers to feel invited to each and every block. This screams daunting.

    And, here again the action and the space are criss-crossing each other. Let’s break this chunk into two parts, and intro the space first.

    We have all these bits and pieces …

    an unsealed road

    The straight road follows a ridge and frames the
    endless field.

    The road extends in the direction of the
    distant tower.

    A wire fence dotted with the occasional
    bush lines the field side of the road.

    The other side, a line of telephone poles stretch out like a string of tall crucifixes.


    5 separate attributes. My first big question is, if there is an endless field on one side of the road, what’s on the other, besides the telephone poles? The tower is in the distance, so can’t be that. It could be the house, but there must be something more.

    We’ll come back to this. Let’s get what or who is usuing this space sorted out …

    The couple stand together beside a 4WD
    vehicle.

    Brad stares blankly into the field.

    Carol puts a hand on his shoulder.


    Three unique actions, each of which will need direction, lighting, sound and so on.

    Back to the space (my goal is to cut 40-ish words from this! Or roughly half)

    EXT. FIELD – DAY

    Lonely. A dirt road skirted by wire fence and utility poles cuts a straight line toward the distant tower. Carol and Brad stand next to a 4 WD vehicle. Brad stares at the fields, carol rests a hand on his shoulder.


    That’s 36 words cut, and 4 lines. Prepositions cut to a minimum.

    There is just too much information in your text. Do you really need the occasional bush along the fence, or to draw attention to the crucifix-like poles? This stuff will likely happen by default, and if no bush shows up, it won’t break the film – unless tumbleweeds play a role. Then I can see hauling in a few to reinforce the scene/story. You are waxing novel.

    This …

    CAROL
    You’re going to have to call
    someone this time.


    Read this over a few times. It is good in that it infers something has already taken place in the past, and maybe infers Brad is stubborn, so the subtext is good. The word choice is weak.

    In human conversation, especially when it is familiar (as opposed to formal), pronouns often get left off, and urban short forms come into play.

    Like this …

    CAROL
    Gonna have to call someone this time.



    A
    Last edited by alex whitmer; 06-24-2012 at 07:09 PM.


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    #26
    Senior Member Egg Born Son's Avatar
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    Thanks Alex, based off the high regard everyone has for you and your in depth analysis of the other scripts I've been seriously looking forward to this. I'll refrain from responding until you're done.


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    #27
    Senior Member alex whitmer's Avatar
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    This is a dang good story, and it is visually pleasing – when I figure out what you intended to convey! I can also easily imagine this continuing in a number of directions, so I think the way you wrapped it up is effective in giving the reader/audience something to take with them. About all I feel is missing is a little glimpse into Carol and Brad’s life beyond the station.

    All in all, this is a solid story with a clear direction.

    There are some inconsistencies, however.

    You have this …

    CAROL
    You’re going to have to call
    someone this time.


    … which to me means Brad, I believe, has never called anyone about the circles. Then you have this …

    BRAD
    Agent? They actually sent someone?


    The way I read this is that Brad had no hope somebody would be sent. Why? Has he tried before, or is it because he thought he would be dismissed as a lunatic for reporting crop circles? I think this needs to 1000% definite to reinforce why Brad hasn’t called before – or has but to no avail.

    Then there is this …

    AGENT
    Really? Crop circles? Surely it’s
    someone else’s turn.


    This conveys these circles have been seen before, and more than just once or twice. If this is a farming community, then everyone would know everything, and who has had circles in their fields -or parties, or gotten pregnant, etc. And the fact that city agents have been here before would be on everyone’s lips, even over a span of a few years.

    Brad is certain students (teens?) are behind at least some of the circles. If so, then other teens would know all about the events, and this would end up in social networking in a heartbeat.

    And the science community would be all over this, along with crop dusters getting aerial footage. What I am not buying is Brad somehow kept the circles secret, or that nobody has discovered them. Now, if you were to play up Wilson’s attitude as this likely being pranks or something, then this can all come together. I would change the dialogue concerning ‘…call someone this time’ to something more like ‘…think they’ll come this time?’, or along those lines. Even Boss is wary.

    The dialogue ‘call someone this time’ is a nice segway into meeting Wilson and setting up the next events. Well done. I just think it needs to be different information.

    I won’t harp on your big text blocks – well maybe a little.

    Each and every one can be cut in half , or nearly, by dumping the unnecessary information, and there is a lot of it.

    This brick of 13 lines and 132 words, for example …

    It is overcast. Brad drives along a country highway, the
    back of the 4WD full of supplies. He is listening to AM
    radio. He drums his finger on the wheel, hums and sings
    along to the country song. Once, twice the signal is
    subject to static distortion. With each burst he reaches
    out of the open window and wiggles the coat-hanger that
    replaces the aerial. He turns off the highway onto an
    unsealed road. A weathered sign at the turnoff reads:
    ’REPEATING STATION’. Further static bursts prompt him to
    turn the radio off in disgust. When he looks up he notices
    Wilson’s car on the side of the road with the passenger
    door open. Brad pulls over. He grabs his grubby wide brim
    bush hat from the passenger seat and gets out.


    This is about a step and half from being a novel paragraph. If I were the sound engineer, I’d want to rip your face off. So much of this particular scene has some very rich sound design opportunities (as does much of this script).

    These, for example …

    The changing from a paved road to an unpaved one. The radio and static, the drumming of his fingers, humming and singing, the stopping and exiting the 4WD. You don’t need to draw attention to any of them per se (unless you think it is important or embellishes the story), just make them easy to access.

    Like this, kinda …

    INT./EXT. 4WD/COUNTRY HIGHWAY – DAY

    Overcast. The 4WD stuffed with supplies. Country music on the radio interrupted by bursts of static. Brad tries to hum along, reaches out the window to adjust a coat-hanger antenna. Up ahead, a sign reads REPEATING STATION.

    Brad turns onto a dirt road, tires kicking up gravel. As he makes a few more adjustments to the antenna, he sees a parked car with the passenger door open. In the distance, Wilson takes photos of the fields.

    Brad parks, grabs a grubby bush hat, exits.


    That’s 132 words cut to 84, and separated into three eye-friendly blocks. Not the half I had hoped for, but still a 48 word and two-line cut (I include spaces as a line). I kept a few extra words in there just for the sake of cadence, which is always a valid excuse.

    Like this …

    he makes a few more adjustments to the antenna

    or

    he makes a few more antenna adjustments

    For some reason the first just rolls off the tongue better, but adds two words. Go with the cadence when you can afford the space. More words can read faster.

    ‘A’ words often sound choppy back to back - and antenna also ends in a, necessitating a pause to pronounce the lead-in a in adjustment. Sounds ridiculously trivial, but a script with a mighty share of those gets tiresome to read. At least for English snobs.

    I didn’t intro the car as Wilson’s because at first glance, we – nor Brad – know who the car belongs to.


    Also note changes in the slug. Slugs are all too often overlooked as a true working piece of the whole. They are not there merely to tell the crew where to lug all the equipment and set up.

    Like …

    INT. CAFÉ – DAY

    Or

    INT. ARTSY CAFÉ – DAY

    That one word saves me from having to dedicate extra words in the text. Sometimes it is difficult to add some expressive word or words (like overcast) and the text space just works better. Gotta feel it out.

    INT. CAFÉ – DAY

    Artsy and crowded. Patrons savor their morning fix.


    Or

    INT. ARTSY CAFÉ – DAY

    Crowded. Patrons savor their morning fix.


    See the dif?

    If you find an opportunity to embellish the slug without making it a line of text, then by all means, make the slug work for you. The second example can also create more white space, which is also an essential consideration when ‘designing’ your pages. Russel Moore’s ‘Buddy Bear’ has a pretty good white space feel to it. Short blocks and white space always make the screenplay approachable. And yes, it matters.

    Then there is this …

    EXT. HOUSE – DAY

    Carol is outside closing the shutters.


    If your slug says EXT. then there is no reason to tell me Carol is outside. And lose the ‘is’ and ING.

    Should be …

    EXT. HOUSE – DAY

    Carol closes the shutters.


    7 user-friendly syllables. Yours has 10. If it’s a needed 10, or improves the cadence, then go for it. I’m not suggesting you count all your syllables. Not at all. Just sound them out as you write. In truth, both examples have a nice beat to them. In the first however, ‘outside’ is redundant so it needs to go regardless. That and ‘is’ and ‘ING’ are present tense. Scripts stick to the infinitive as much as possible. Save ‘is’ for your adjectives, nouns, and for verbs only when it works better. Save your ING for words that require an ING verb to follow (continue, stop, etc.) or when it just works better, along with is, am, are.

    No rules, just make it pleasant to read. Mixing tenses can and does confuse, so go with infinitive unless it just ain't workin'.

    Like these two ING an iS samples (we will assume this space and these characters have already been introduced) …

    INT. DATED OFFICE – DAY

    Mable types. Jack enters, sneezes loud. Mable ignores the interruption, continues typing.

    INT. DATED OFFICE – DAY

    Jack enters. He sees LARGE WOMAN waiting by his desk. There is a small package on the floor.


    I could write it like this …

    Jack enters. LARGE WOMAN waits by his desk. A small package on the floor.

    The second one comes across as too severe. Remember, your text still needs to have a pulse beyond pure information. By adding ‘he sees’ the writer suggests a shot with Jack’s POV. Also, the ING form here suggest the woman may have been waiting a while. The past participle form uses the ING (regular verbs.) In this case, waiting is not a participle, but the ING can kick it in that direction, and infer the passage of time. In theory, anyways.

    Above, I wrote …

    Brad turns onto a dirt road, tires kicking up gravel.

    Here there is no purpose for the ING in ‘kicking’ other than cadence. Compare …

    Brad turns onto a dirt road, tires kick up gravel.

    Enough rambling. Nice story that could easily move to film.

    a
    Last edited by alex whitmer; 06-25-2012 at 12:52 PM.


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    #28
    Senior Member Egg Born Son's Avatar
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    In regards to the whitespace, I know, I know. Before editing for space I had plenty. The 12 line blocks were initially at least broken up into 2-3 paragraphs. That said by applying the advice of you and others this script would easily fit into the 8-page limit without sacrificing any scenes (in fact I would have enough room to add detail!)

    Quote Originally Posted by alex whitmer View Post
    But this does bring up another question. The house is weathered, which may or may not infer it is also old. Could just be new, but ill-cared for. Older homes did not have open floor plans, unless of course you go waaaay back a few hundred years, and the house is compact, like a cabin. Since it sits on the edge of a field, I think it might be a farm house. A weathered farmhouse would not likely have an open foor plan, as conserving heat in winter would necessitate the division of rooms. This, and there is no intro as to what the house may look like inside. Country charm? Hand-me-down furnishings? What is there than can tell us a little about this couple? Fishing trophies?
    I took the adage write what you know to heart for this one. The house is the home of ex-girlfriend's parents. Built in the fifties I believe. Tin roof (corrugated) and weatherboard cladding. Small open living space and separate bedrooms. I guess it is cottage-/cabin-like. In rural Australia, heat is the bigger problem not cold. I avoided too detailed description to give location scout options. Interiors can be built. I chose this house for inspiration solely because I needed to be able to see the field and the tower from the same room for the scene where Wilson staggers back to see the final strike.

    I am new to scriptwriting and as with a lot of your comments you have clarified my misinterpretations trying to do the right thing. I deliberately avoided describing the contents in too much detail in the belief I should only mention important objects as they are used. But you're right, it would describe their character. Should definitely at least have described the tv as an important object in more detail. In fact I did but was half a page over and it was sacrificed in the edit for length.

    Quote Originally Posted by alex whitmer View Post
    My first big question is, if there is an endless field on one side of the road, what’s on the other, besides the telephone poles? The tower is in the distance, so can’t be that.
    It was a ridge framing the field. Huh, I must've deleted that by accident or thought it but not written it...was supposed to be a boundary to the space to close the world.

    Quote Originally Posted by alex whitmer View Post
    There is just too much information in your text. Do you really need the occasional bush along the fence, or to draw attention to the crucifix-like poles? ...You are waxing novel.
    Hehe, allow a prose writer an indulgence! Actually I stole this piece of imagery from a film called 'Gremlins of the Sky, Spirits of the air ' to set up expectations in the audience. The obviousness of the image is intended to put mortality on the table (later subverted but hopefully subconsciously tickling primal senses). I've noticed good horror and suspense sets up the primal senses with sounds, images and performance long before the supernatural element is directly introduced. Other than for this purpose it is entirely gratuitous.

    Quote Originally Posted by alex whitmer View Post
    CAROL
    You’re going to have to call
    someone this time.


    Read this over a few times. It is good in that it infers something has already taken place in the past, and maybe infers Brad is stubborn, so the subtext is good. The word choice is weak.
    The words here were very specifically chosen. She speaks more formally than her husband. They are originally from the city but have been living in the country for a good twenty years. She has retained her graces more than he. This is true of my experience of many older country women, they have a sense of being proper (yet somewhat tolerant of male crassness), I think it is a throwback to British colonial spirit and is ensconced in the Country Women's Association. The younger generation does not possess this quality.

    I tried to convey these qualities through lines such as this rather than spelling it out, 'show don't tell'. Maybe I needed to be less subtle but it wasn't core to the story merely fleshing out my own understanding of the characters. I was also applying a 'rule' I read about leaving space for the actor to fill. Like most of the rules I'm not sure I'm applying it correctly. I could write a 4-5 page treatment on each character in this script. They exist for me and are amalgamated from people I have met.

    Quote Originally Posted by alex whitmer View Post
    This is a dang good story, and it is visually pleasing – when I figure out what you intended to convey! I can also easily imagine this continuing in a number of directions, so I think the way you wrapped it up is effective in giving the reader/audience something to take with them. About all I feel is missing is a little glimpse into Carol and Brad’s life beyond the station.

    All in all, this is a solid story with a clear direction.
    High praise indeed. Thankyou very much. I wanted to write something that would leave room for discussion after the film. I know what really happened. I hope the audience can tell the author knows what happened (rather than something like lost where they just write away making it up as they go along). But maybe not completely know themselves hence want to watch it again to see what they missed.

    How did you feel about the bookends with the Boss? It has been criticised and I can understand why. The satellite farm/office at the front end was to give Wilson's background (not the top dog) and to set up the callback at the end but otherwise perfectly expendable. I used the 'ambulance' epilogue conceptually as a return from the special world of the post-storm house as much as the 'government conspiracy subversion' convention (somewhat cliche but hopefully satisfying in this instance). I'd be really interested to know your take on that.

    Quote Originally Posted by alex whitmer View Post
    CAROL
    You’re going to have to call
    someone this time.


    … which to me means Brad, I believe, has never called anyone about the circles. Then you have this …

    BRAD
    Agent? They actually sent someone?


    The way I read this is that Brad had no hope somebody would be sent. Why? Has he tried before, or is it because he thought he would be dismissed as a lunatic for reporting crop circles? I think this needs to 1000% definite to reinforce why Brad hasn’t called before – or has but to no avail.

    Then there is this …

    AGENT
    Really? Crop circles? Surely it’s
    someone else’s turn.
    No, Brad has never called before. Because he puts it down to kids and he is both tolerant and doesn't want to waste the authority's time. Oops, I forgot to mention or deleted the fact the circles were burnt into the field, not trampled. This is why they have to call. HUGE ommission! I think I wrote it into the first scene then decided I didn't want the reveal until Brad met Wilson.

    They did not expect an agent to come. That Wilson has been sent to crop circles before (regarded as a waste of time by all) was not ment to imply he had been to this location. It was to demonstrate his low status within the department.

    Quote Originally Posted by alex whitmer View Post
    Brad is certain students (teens?) are behind at least some of the circles. If so, then other teens would know all about the events, and this would end up in social networking in a heartbeat.
    I didn't consider this. Partly because I don't use social networking, partly because the date is non-specific (could be as early as the 80s or as late as the present day) and partly because my influences for this one pre-date social networking. And it wasn't students.

    Quote Originally Posted by alex whitmer View Post
    I won’t harp on your big text blocks – well maybe a little.
    If I fix the big text blocks I would have had plenty of room to include your other suggestions like using production design to flesh out character.

    Quote Originally Posted by alex whitmer View Post
    If I were the sound engineer, I’d want to rip your face off.


    Quote Originally Posted by alex whitmer View Post
    INT./EXT. 4WD/COUNTRY HIGHWAY – DAY
    Cool, I wasn't sure how to do that.

    Quote Originally Posted by alex whitmer View Post
    Overcast. The 4WD stuffed with supplies. Country music on the radio interrupted by bursts of static. Brad tries to hum along, reaches out the window to adjust a coat-hanger antenna. Up ahead, a sign reads REPEATING STATION.

    Brad turns onto a dirt road, tires kicking up gravel. As he makes a few more adjustments to the antenna, he sees a parked car with the passenger door open. In the distance, Wilson takes photos of the fields.


    Brad parks, grabs a grubby bush hat, exits.
    Damn you're good!


    Thankyou so much for your in depth analysis, of both the story and the style. I have learnt so much from this. I've printed all these comments for reference next time I write. All the partially understood 'rules' are now a lot more clear in my head. You've saved me at least six more months flailing about in the dark.

    Your writing style is fantastic from what you've done with my text. I look forward to reading one of yours in future. Your style of critique also excellent, both in formatting and content. I can definitely see why you are held in such regard.


    Thanks Alex, and to everyone else who has left comments.


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    #29
    Senior Member Russell Moore's Avatar
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    Congratulations James! I thought this was the most suspenseful script in the fest, you really had me on the edge of my seat. Excellent work and a well deserved top 2 finish!
    the writer formerly known as "Conlan Forever"

    Need a short script?
    Have an idea? Want to collaborate? Contact me.

    screenwriter75@yahoo.com


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    #30
    Senior Member alex whitmer's Avatar
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    Nice!

    And glad the feedback helped. I haven't forgotten your question about the boss and will read back through this.


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