Thread: Signal

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    #11
    Senior Member Egg Born Son's Avatar
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    As overused as it is I never get sick of the name Agamemnon for a space ship. It's just a plain cool name, one of those ones that ring with history even before you know the reference. And fun to say.

    Overall I liked the story but I found it hard to draw it out of the text on the first reading. It started off well then felt increasingly cluttered towards the end. I can't put my finger on it as precisely as Chris Keaton did with my submission, you don't have large swathes of description so it's not that. Maybe it's the extra slugs bordering on camera direction but I don't know how you could get around those and still be clear as to who is where. There's a bit of fat that could be trimmed, a few extraneous lines that don't drive the script. Maybe it's a case of a few little elements adding up because looking at it in small bites the writing is mostly quite clear. Maybe it's a question of pace and flow. Or maybe I was just tired when I read it.

    I found the procedural dialogue to be a little off. It is extremely important to nail it when you use this kind of radio chatter. It doesn't read true, rather like you are duplicating from second hand sources like other tv shows/film rather than writing from first hand experience. When using trade lingo it is always worth trying to run it past someone who uses it in their career - in this case someone in the military, police/fire service, ranger or even a trucker/cb radio enthusiast. Whenever I write military dialogue I always run it past someone who's been in the army or at least the reserves and they always have something useful to offer. It's often down to the nuances. A note on that: don't get them to write it for you, get them to edit yours. They'll fall for the trap of trying to make it sound like radio chatter and overuse phrases and slang rather than the natural way they'd actually do it.

    I'm also bothered by the signal. It is the title but serves only to draw them to the alien. It has no other function. A genuine attempt to interpret it might have helped. Using an ion trail, radiation leak or other form of passive 'pollution' to track the alien might have worked better. A signal has the property of containing information and to brush over that ignores the core of what a signal fundamentally is. To have a communications technology beyond the humans ability to comprehend it doesn't ring true when the alien can't seem to even detect and evade them. Not to mention the question of how an alien ship at that scale could physically generate enough power to send it.

    My final gripe is the star trek reference. As if there will be no other groundbreaking scifi between now and the capability for deep space exploration. Star trek has been an inspiration for today's engineers and physicists but something else will inspire tomorrow's generation. It always screams fan fiction to use contemporary references. Secondly cloaking technology currently is under development. We already have radar invisibility technologies and I saw last week on Ridley Scott's Prophets of Science Fiction that working prototypes can already successfully bend light around micro objects.

    Otherwise a nice take on the 'miscalculation of scale/invasion fleet being swallowed by a dog' concept. I particularly liked that the alien ship was engaged in a motivated activity (some kind of exploratory mining) rather than just hanging out on an asteroid waiting to be discovered. Other than seemingly maintaining a permanent comms link to their home the alien concept was well realised. Nice effort.


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    #12
    ScriptFEST Mod Chris_Keaton's Avatar
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    Review thing

    - What kind of crazy program do you have that randomly puts double-dashes in the header, but makes the header too tight to the text prior to it.
    - Since it's iron soil couldn't movement just loosen it and then he would float away, but don't worry a viewer would never think about that.
    - Who refers to themselves as a 'species' in that way. I think he would use 'us' in that frame of mind.

    I was really wondering where this was going. Nice twist. You can really make the alien odd, because things on that small a scale can follow some unusual rules, like sending a signal faster than the speed of light.
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    #13
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    I think the dialog hurts the read. It doesn't push me to read more. It pushes me to skim. As is, it's a bunch of technical dialog. Dialog that just tells me what's happening. It serves ONLY to inform. This is happening. I see this. There isn't anything laced in it. There isn't any point in reading it other than to find out what's going on. But even then, I'm not really given any reason to care because there is no suspense. No techniques used to build tension, suspense, conflict, disorder, intrigue. So right now, I'm reading through just to see if it picks up. But just from reading this, I figure the story will not be multilayered. I think you'd prefer to prepare your reader for a multilayered movie rather than a flat one.

    I like the slight disorder displayed afterwards with the whole "this isn't star trek, zip it sailor, etc." That's better. Feel more like humans than earlier. But the star trek part doesnt make much sense. There would definitely be more recent sci-fis to reference by that year.

    With Jones exploring this asteroid, you missed a huge opportunity to build suspense. If you didn't intend to build suspense and intrigue, what was the purpose of this scene? This was a grand opportunity to solidify your atmosphere and edge us to read further. The opportunity must be taken. Must. Must. Must.

    "Damn inhospitable of them." Nice line. I agree with him.

    CAMERA DIRECTIONS. CAMERA DIRECTIONS EVERYWHERE.

    Nice ending! So the alien ship was miniature after all? Jones's crushing of the ship on accident was the reason the signal cut off. Hmm. I like that. Tiny aliens.

    Well done. Ending made up for everything. But in the future I'd suggest work on using techniques to elevate the story.


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    #14
    Senior Member taylormade's Avatar
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    Chris,
    Thanks for the review. In answer to your technical questions, I use Movie Magic Screenwriter by Write Brothers. i guess everyone has a different opinion on correct format, but I have two scripts optioned in L.A. with this format and no one said anything about it when they sent me the check. Maybe the writing was so good they ignored the format. The double dash was my fault, as was the one P.O.V. slug - not enough proofreading!

    ZellJr
    And thank you for your review. I guess I'm a bit dense, but I don't think I have camera directions anywhere. Could you point out where for me? Not complaining, just really want to know what bothered you. Thanks.
    "If they move, kill'em!"


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    #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by taylormade View Post
    Chris,
    Thanks for the review. In answer to your technical questions, I use Movie Magic Screenwriter by Write Brothers. i guess everyone has a different opinion on correct format, but I have two scripts optioned in L.A. with this format and no one said anything about it when they sent me the check. Maybe the writing was so good they ignored the format. The double dash was my fault, as was the one P.O.V. slug - not enough proofreading!

    ZellJr
    And thank you for your review. I guess I'm a bit dense, but I don't think I have camera directions anywhere. Could you point out where for me? Not complaining, just really want to know what bothered you. Thanks.
    Tilt down to see footprints. Zoom in on such and such. Go towards the end of your script. The final few paragraphs. The camera directions are in all caps so they are easy to spot.


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    #16
    Senior Member taylormade's Avatar
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    Ah, okay. I had two camera directions in 8 pages, both directions very important in the way the final shot must be revealed to get the effect needed for the end reveal. I shoot most of my scripts myself, so I guess I'm used to doing this for certain "effects" shots that must be done a certain way. My production crew has to know what we will be attempting to do in these cases. Sorry if it bothered you.
    "If they move, kill'em!"


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    #17
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    Got it.

    But they could have both between explained without the camera directions.

    But you're filming it so it doesn't matter.


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    #18
    Member dtroop506's Avatar
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    Richard,

    Thanks for the read.

    This was pretty good. It did remind me of Alien in a way. The radio chatter. But, especially the scene where Tom Skerritt cannot see it despite everyone telling him it's right infront of him. Of course, you added the twist which does save the script IMO.

    Minor typo. There's an it's instead of its.

    Overall, good script. Thanks for the ending.


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    #19
    Senior Member STYLZ's Avatar
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    Haven't read any other reviews yet. I'm sure "your directing" has been mentioned so that is that. 10,00 times the speed of light? Overdoing it a bit? How can they even detect that? That's neither here nor there though. "Extends" it's landing pads? Magnetized boots? I like that. Good one.
    OK, so not sure I got the ending. How can he make out the ship while he was in his, but not on the ground on foot? Really like the buildup and tension in this. Best I've read yet, and I only have one more script to read. I'm going to guess the ship was beaming back raw materials to a home planet or the likes. I like that you got me trying to figure that out too. Really good job. I would rethink the connection between the ending and the perfect visuals of the space craft when he is approaching. Thanks for sharing.


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    #20
    Senior Member Russell Moore's Avatar
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    Okay...I really liked this. I found it easy to read, very descriptive in a concise manner. Early in the script , it seems that some of the dialogue could be trimmed down a bit, it slowed me down a little.

    But overall, I thought it was paced well, especially at the end. You really built the tension well.
    Created good visuals throughout, the ships, the alien.

    Loved the ending, I didn't see that coming at all, nice twist. I wasn't bothered by the fact, that something so small could make such a powerful signal. That's what electronics is always trying to do, make stuff smaller, but more powerful. Great read! Thanks.
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