Thread: The First Night

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    #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by taylormade View Post
    Sorry to disagree, but I should be able to get everything I need from the script without having to read a logline or other off the page explanations.

    To be honest with you, I found this to be a bit confusing. We start in Shelby's bedroom during the day. Is Shelby a girl or a boy? With that name it could be either. You never tell us leaving us to figure it out several pages later when she is identified as a "she.". We are told that the family has to pack up and leave, and there seems to be some urgency in the departure. A power failure is the main motivation, but Marge hints at some other danger. Shelby seems to realize this as her defiance "softens." Fine, I'm ready for the move.

    But now it's night and Shelby is in a cavern. Did she just blink and this happened? Has time passed? Not a deal killer, but confusing.

    She can't move her body but she can rise assuredly? Or did her body rise assuredly without her help?

    Since this is all Shelby's POV, how can there be a face jutting from the wall when you clearly state that Shelby doesn't see it? If she can't see it, neither can we.

    Shelby comments that, "This is a dream..." Then YOU tell us in your description that it is not a dream. How is the audience going to know that? Since we see everything from her POV and her thoughts, it could be a dream. We have no way of telling. There is no external confirmation being provided visually.

    I'm not sure what a "symphony of shrills" is.

    You state Shelby proceeds. Then she asks, "where are you taking me?" I'm still not clear if Shelby is moving on her own or "floating" since before she couldn't move her body.

    A glimmer of light would peek not peak.

    Shelby says, "Anybody! Is anybody out there?!" Then you tell us her words never escape her mouth. So is she talking or thinking this stuff? If it's all her thoughts, no need to tell us she never really spoke.

    She sees a body dragging across the woodland floor but doesn't bother to follow it, even with her eyes?

    On page 5 Shelby sees her home from the rear. How is the audience supposed to know this is her home? The only thing we've ever seen is her bedroom. Since it's her POV (as I continually point out), the only thing the audience will see is the back of some house. They can't know it's Shelby's place.

    She shuts the door, blowing the candle lights out. How can we know this since she's in the hall and the door to the room is closed behind her?

    How are we supposed to see a machete in Shelby's head in a POV shot?


    Most of this is so overwritten and literary, it's hard to wade through it. For the last few pages, the entire soundtrack seems to be made up of heavy breathing and Shelby's endless whimpers, cries, shouts, and screams. On screen this would be audio overkill to the extreme.

    Where is the alien encounter? The first alien encounter for the human race, by the way.
    Is the alien the ball with teeth and a tail on the floor?
    Why does Marge attack her daughter?
    Why does Shelby wake up in a cave and then float/walk back to her house to be butchered by her formerly concerned Mom? It's a long, long trip home with no real tension along the way. You could have easily cut three pages from the script by tightening descriptions and dialogue and come in under the 8 page limit. I think you need to retool the alien angle. It's like you had a horror script in mind and tried to force it into this fest's requirements.
    In its current state, this reads like a low-budget slasher movie with no other motivation than to put the typical helpless teen through hell before she ends up skewered on some piece of sharpened steel.

    Still, it had it's moments and the germ of a good script is in there. Thanks for the read.
    I can tell from your comments that you did not read the logline. The purpose of the logline is so the reader is guided in his thinking. So he has to think less and more efficiently. Otherwise, anything short of outright telling you what's happening(bad), or exposition(bad) will fail you.

    Shelby is a girl. I've never heard of a boy named Shelby.
    They were not leaving that night. I should have added "tomorrow morning" to the "we have to be at the hotel".

    Shelby is possessed by this alien force. Hence why she ends up in the strange place. She was abducted. The entire piece was written in this style. There are decided contrasts in the writing to highlight this: Shelby not wanting her body to go there. Her body goes there assuredly. Her body is moving with the assurance that her mind is not providing. I even provide a note early on that says that all of her dialog is POV. I felt as though there was more than enough there for everyone to understand(the people who don't read loglines for whatever reason) that she was not in control of her actions.

    Me telling the audience that it isn't a dream is a technique. You are allowed to do that. Not everything has to be shown. Some liberties can be taken when structured.

    A symphony of shrills is a harmonious arrangement of shrills or screams. They indicate pain. That's a hint that I beat on several times.

    Shelby can't move her eyes. She can't do anything. Her words and screams are merely her thoughts. Again, her "not bothering to look" is indicative of the contrast between mind and body.

    I should have cut the bit about mentioning it was her home. I think her yelling lyle would be enough.

    "The door shuts behind Shelby, blowing the candle lights out." Is the actual quote. She is in the bedroom, not the hall.

    "How are we supposed to see a machete in Shelby's head in a POV shot?" I never wrote a scene where we see a machete stuck in her head. I did write "Marge takes the machete to Shelby’s head. It sticks." Which can be seen, since Marge is holding the machete, as it's stuck on the side of the camera.

    The alien encounter is the possession of these people.

    Here's the breakdown:
    Marge warns of bad things coming. Implications that other people have already left. They are to leave tomorrow(I didn't specify, though I should have). Shelby is possessed at night and taken to a cave, where it can be implied that the other bodies are kept. We see the faces of other people on walls, and we do hear screams. But the screams don't sound human. So what are they?

    So Shelby's body keeps taking her through the cave. Then it stops when it hears a loud, pleading scream. Then it heads in that direction. Why? Since her body is being manipulated, we can assume that her body's motivations are the alien's motivations.

    She heads through the forest and sees from the corner of her eye, someone dragging another person in the opposite direction(towards the cave). Foreshadowing.

    She arrives at her house and here's Lyle's cries of "help". Her body goes inside and moves "purposefully" through. There were heavy hints that the body knew exactly what it was doing and what it needed to do. There was a task. What is it?

    She heads upstairs, and follows the sounds of the help. She sees Lyle's head screaming it. She takes the head. It can now be assumed that her task, the alien's task was to take this head. She goes in the room and sees Lyle's body and the alien on the floor. She moves towards it. Why? If we recall the "pleading cries" and the "help" from Lyle(who was clearly also possessed) as well as the body being dragged from the city to the cave(through the forest), one can assume that it's her task to retrieve this body and the alien and bring them back. These are the bodies and aliens that didn't make it out of their homes alive.

    So I reversed the horror story paradigm. Normally it starts in the home, with mystery and scares building and eventually peaking once we reach the strange place. Here I started in the strange place with the mystery and scares increasing and peaking as we reach the home. This way we get the duality of the fear. We get Shelby's side, being exposed to all of this, and we have the alien's side, begging to be rescued from Marge's home(and other homes possibly).

    Marge was the evil to the aliens. She killed her son before he could leave the home(he was possessed). It's implied because his head is chopped off and she has a machete(I should have described it as bloody). And they needed help.

    Marge attacks her daughter because she is possessed. And kills her in much the same way as she did her son.

    Shelby's screams of help(now audibly) should call back memories to Lyle's screaming. You put two and two together, you can assume that there's a cycle here. Another possessed body will be sent to that house to retrieve these two dead aliens and the dead bodies. And Marge will likely kill them too. You can even assume a step further, that she uses the dead bodies as bait(Lyle standing at the window). But if you got that far, I'd be overly impressed.



    A lot of this you missed because you didn't read the logline(which takes a second to read). At the end of the day, it all depends on how much the reader cares. If they want to know what happened, they will find out. If they didn't really care, they won't and they'll take it all at face value.

    I doubt I could have "easily cut three pages from the script by tightening descriptions and dialogue" to come in under 8 pages. Please direct me at any sentences and descriptions that could be cut. I'm not really sure how you can suggest what needs to be cut when you didn't understand the story. It's just about as lean as I can get it, minus a line or two here and there.

    Thanks for reading. I can't make you re-read it, but when you don't get something, why not give the logline a read to try to understand it? Or try to put clues together?
    Last edited by ZellJr; 06-16-2012 at 12:43 PM.


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    #12
    Member Craighoit's Avatar
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    OK. This is helpful. I can now re-read this with the CliffsNotes :-)

    And just so I've got it right, the "elevator pitch" (damn, I sort of hate that phrase, but it works here):

    Aliens have landed. They possess and behead people. A family is trying to get out, before it's too late (nice scene, BTW - loved the interplay between the three, but more on that in a more formal review). Daughter is possessed - her body ends up in cave. Because she is possessed, she has lost control of her physical actions, but her mind is still her own, so we experience her uncertainty, her terror and other emotions. The alien in possession of her body takes her to her home, because the aliens goal is to possess humans and take them to the cave. Upon arriving, we discover (through her POV) that the brother has been decapitated by the mother because he's been possessed. Now, unlike Shelby, the brother can talk (his cries for help), but she arrives too late to save him from the mother's machete. Shelby comes upon the scene, sees her brother, and alien and her mother with the machete. The mother then kills Shelby.

    I think I've got it more or less right - reading this over, and looking at the script, is it the alien who is crying for help or is it Lyle, the brother?


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    #13
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    Lyle is crying for help through the possession of the alien. Lyle is dead(beheaded; poor Lyle). But the alien still screams through him. For help. So the aliens need saving(from Marge) just as much as the possessed people need saving. It goes both ways.

    You're pretty close. The aliens don't behead people. But Marge beheads the possessed people(to protect herself).

    But yup. That's the gist. More possessed people will respond to Shelby's cries for help now and return to save Shelby. Marge will likely kill them. etc. etc


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    #14
    Senior Member Egg Born Son's Avatar
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    I don't get why some have found it so hard to follow. I always read once with my punter brain before I turn my critic brain on. Maybe people are tripping on details. That said it shouldn't need an explanation almost as long as the script and I preferred the open interpretation. The writer's intent is only half a story, the audience's interpretation the other half. You shouldn't mind if the audience interprets your story wrong, only whether it entertained them. An open interpretation will leave an audience with questions and prompt discussion. The trick is that is has to raise good questions and answer enough to be satisfying. You had a strong internal logic so even though I read it a little different to your intent it still felt right.


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    #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Egg Born Son View Post
    I don't get why some have found it so hard to follow. I always read once with my punter brain before I turn my critic brain on. Maybe people are tripping on details. That said it shouldn't need an explanation almost as long as the script and I preferred the open interpretation. The writer's intent is only half a story, the audience's interpretation the other half. You shouldn't mind if the audience interprets your story wrong, only whether it entertained them. An open interpretation will leave an audience with questions and prompt discussion. The trick is that is has to raise good questions and answer enough to be satisfying. You had a strong internal logic so even though I read it a little different to your intent it still felt right.
    Agreed. Interpret it as you wish.

    But I find it's most fun when you get to compare your interpretations with the author's.

    As a reader, I always want to know what the writer intended. Curiosity's sake of course. But also to sharpen up my own reading skills. My own analytical skills and attention to details. It helps me to pick up on things.

    But that's just me.


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    OK, cool. I'll re-read it with that and your notes in mind. I think there's a lot of good stuff going on here...

    Love that phrase "punter brain"

    C


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    #17
    ScriptFEST Mod Chris_Keaton's Avatar
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    I disagree. Everything that I need to understand the story should be in the story (I'm not saying you don't need mystery). Audiences get a tagline at most. If you get a bug budget feature then they may have seen a trailer. With a few tweaks it would've made perfect sense on first reading. And don't get too burned up over reviews. Take what you can use and toss the rest.
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    #18
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    No one's getting burned up.

    I've yet to meet anyone who has paid to watch a movie without knowing what it's about or asking. Every query service out there asks for a logline. Every script service asks for a logline. You will almost never see a script without a logline.


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    It's okay everybody. I can clear this whole thing up with two words.

    Bad reefer.


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    #20
    Senior Member Egg Born Son's Avatar
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    (incidently I for one try my best to see movies devoid of prior knowledge...I have to go into lockdown when I hear about a movie that's up my alley!)
    Last edited by Egg Born Son; 06-17-2012 at 07:39 PM.


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