Thread: High Roller

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    #21
    Senior Member Sunk99's Avatar
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    James,
    Comments as read-

    ***I know it is allowed for this fest, but 13 pages is still a long short.
    Pg 1 ***The first action paragraph might explain why this script is so long. It is overly descriptive. Actually the paragraphs thereafter as well. How do you show "a single precise action." Wasn't "grinds it underfoot" enough? Another example is "His recent education." No further comments on novelistic descriptions. Get out those editor scissors.

    Pg 2 Walks passed him ***grammar past.
    Pg 3 Reception. ***Lost me a bit. This is the same door Joe was thrown out? Ok so some magic has occurred right?
    Okay reading back I see you mentioned a second unseen door. I missed it somehow - maybe because it was unseen.
    Boy this script is taking on a Twilight Zone feeling big time. Love it.
    The location seems a period piece which is expensive for a short.
    Pg 13 Reveal the Man's face, Joe's doppelganger. ***This might have needed more caution in the script so we the reader is constantly reminded his face was never seen.
    In actual film the audience would know.

    Overall - interesting, very Twilight zone. Way too much dialouge for my taste. Would make a better 5-6 pager. Great job.


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    #22
    Senior Member Egg Born Son's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sunk99 View Post
    ***I know it is allowed for this fest, but 13 pages is still a long short.
    C'mon, horrorfest? 13 pages? How could I resist. It took a lot of work to make it 13 pages and not 11 or 14.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunk99 View Post
    Pg 1 ***The first action paragraph might explain why this script is so long. It is overly descriptive. Actually the paragraphs thereafter as well. How do you show "a single precise action." Wasn't "grinds it underfoot" enough? Another example is "His recent education." No further comments on novelistic descriptions. Get out those editor scissors.
    It's something I've been working on but still a-ways to go. You should have read my last one! Hopefully further progress will be evident in the next one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunk99 View Post
    Pg 2 Walks passed him ***grammar past.
    passed is relational movement, past is relative time. common mistake unless the american 'simplification' of grammar rules has applied this. past does admittedly look better on the page and I had to keep going back and changing it because i subconsciously used past half the time. Strangely in the English I was taught 'walked past him on the way to the door' would be correct because the event of walking passed him is in the past in relation to reaching the door but then I wouldn't be speaking in present tense. Head hurting yet? Passed or past is one of the most convoluted questions in the game!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunk99 View Post
    Pg 3 Reception. ***Lost me a bit. This is the same door Joe was thrown out? Ok so some magic has occurred right?
    Okay reading back I see you mentioned a second unseen door. I missed it somehow - maybe because it was unseen.
    Boy this script is taking on a Twilight Zone feeling big time. Love it.
    It's always a balancing act whether to just mention and important point or beat the reader over the head with it. On the one hand subtlety is better, as long as it's noticed. On the other it's important that the reader (director/actor/crew) knows. Same goes for mentioning the hidden face over and over that you mentioned before. I decided in that instance that I've specifically mentioned it three times or so and don't describe his visage until the end so the reader can re-read if they missed it. I wasn't particularly happy with the balance but I didn't want to stop the script to make a sidebar note. I had tremendous difficulty arriving at the line where he lights up without revealing his face without resorting to camera directions. Hopefully my future ideas won't present me with this conundrum!

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunk99 View Post
    The location seems a period piece which is expensive for a short.
    Agree, it was a worry when I wrote it. It's not a period piece (well it could be) but the location is one that time forgot. It wasn't intended to be so when I started it but the room started to become part of the character. It would work just as well in a 'Cheers' style of set. If you could find an old fashioned bar it would be one location but you certainly couldn't build this set on a budget. This could be made on a budget but unless the filmmaker was lucky the location would need to be downgraded. I think the script would still work in this circumstance. A phony, cheesy 80s style bar, all neon and vistalite was the other direction I was thinking but went classic in the end. The dreams of petty men aren't visionary but rooted in the past, the (now) classic car they couldn't afford, the baseball card they never found.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sunk99 View Post
    Pg 13 Reveal the Man's face, Joe's doppelganger. ***This might have needed more caution in the script so we the reader is constantly reminded his face was never seen.
    In actual film the audience would know.
    I wrote the voices differently, the builds would need to be the same. Is the doppelganger Joe or just wearing his face? Doo-do-doo-doo Doo-do-doo-doo (that was supposed to be twilight zone music )

    I am truly flattered by the twilight zone comparison.
    Last edited by Egg Born Son; 09-11-2012 at 06:54 PM.


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    #23
    Senior Member Sunk99's Avatar
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    13 pages is easy. Six is easier. Pair of scissors, and somewhere about in the middle. To me this is the real beauty of screenwriting. A delicate balance between overly concise facts and a novel. I love for brief scene descriptions - lets me the reader imagine the rest. I won't touch your explanation regarding the past. That's all in the passed. On the unseen face. See - you mentioned it three times you say and I blew past/passed them. Couldn't help myself. On screen these are non-issues. Location - this is a big one to me since I produce as well as write. Our writers are always giving me shorts with mega-dollar budgets. They get angry as these aren't made. Funny, a few DVX fests back ago I estimated one short at $20m. Shorts should be realistic near zero budget to me. You may right/write (now you got me all confused!) like Rod Sterling, but that doo-do music, don't quit your day job.


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    13 pages was just a spooky number I aimed for It didn't have to be this long but it was fun to stretch out. I fully agree with your comments on brief scene descriptions, it is my goal. But as a prose writer switching formats it's a hard habit to break. I have nothing but admiration for those who can keep their descriptions down to one or two lines. I read mine and think good story but would it inspire someone else to make it? Have I left enough room for the other creatives to contribute? I suspect that it's a better read than a functional document. To hear the same from a working producer confirms it. I need to be less of a control freak on 'vision'. It's supposed to be a blueprint. Sure, I'm the one most likely to make my own films but I still have to put my directors hat on and I'd like a script that is as malleable as making someone else's script. A writer's vision and a director's vision are different, even in the same person. My style is a work in progress, I've written 7 or 8 scripts now. I would appreciate your take on where I'm at with this on the next fest as it is the primary area of focus in my development at the moment. Thanks for taking the time to respond to my responses.


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    #25
    Senior Member Sunk99's Avatar
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    Hope I didn't lead you on. I am not a "working" producer. I am simply a producer for a small non-profit film production company. We average about a hundred members and shoot a film a month. Two this month for Halloween. To me, most Prodcos are more like clubs than actual companies. We are fun from "working" - we chase festivals for fun.
    "...would it inspire someone else to make it?" Man you hit the nail on the head. If you want it produced you either shoot it yourself or create it in a manner that draws interest from others.
    The problem with shooting them yourself - few people actual have the equipment or the talent to really shoot a film beyond camcorder quality. It is a LOT to learn. You will benefit though.
    I don't feel the writer gives up story control. You set the stage. When I judge shorts, I break them down into story, acting, and cinematography. Each makes or breaks the film equally.
    "A writer's vision and a director's vision are different," After you write a screenplay, go back and try to create you own hand drawn storyboard and shot list. You often will find many errors in the script. It's a good learning experience. You'll also see why all that excess description doesn't do much good in production.

    I can offer you an opinion on your scripts, but to be honest my own don't fare well with other writers, so it's just an opinion. I don't live in LA and gave up the notion of being a Hollywood screenwriter twenty years ago.
    A family will do that. I branched off into photography and am now within a year of retiring. Yes! Films still haunted me, and I needed something to do in retirement so I decided to go back to writing. I'm smarter now. I wanted my stories to live so I took many classes and educated myself on production. The photography side gives me a huge leg up on lighting, composition, and such. Them I spent a gazillion dollars buying equipment. I thought photo stuff had jacked up prices. Video is so much worse. I wander. Look forward to reading more from you.



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    #26
    Senior Member KhamIsk's Avatar
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    Hello James,

    I like it a lot - it's sort of different.
    You sort of painted your short, explained every little detail. It's very atmospheric.
    Is it a horror - it's very horrific for Joe's wife --that's for sure. But I won't go into "horror or not" - this talk is very subjective. The Man disappeared in the end - must be a horror then.

    I got a question about the short though. I want to know what they see in that Man's hat when they decide to comply with what the Man says.
    "Staring into the darkness beneath the hat, his eyes begin to widen."

    I know I'm supposed just to buy into it but I had this question ever since I reached that sentence and the question stayed with me throughout.


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    #27
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    Thanks Khamanna, I'm glad someone noted the poor wife. The whole thing is an allegory for gambling under the skin of it and yes, it is the wife that suffers the most. That said, if anyone is the winner here, she is. Because she doesn't have to live with this nasty, pathetic man anymore! I normally make a concerted effort to give female characters much more depth, not just for equality but I think it is essential to be a complete writer. In this case the two Escorts were meant to be objectified. It made me cringe to do so but it was important. They were symbols, their presence was to give the Man power. The way others respond to him reveal his strength, he only exercises it openly the once. They are also ultimately revealed to be demons, the dice-bearers keepers. That is why they are in contact with him so much. To constantly remind him that he belongs to them. So in the end the apparent power was flipped! That's what I was going for anyway.

    It was originally bog standard 'game/deal with the devil' but as the themes began to emerge it morphed in the writing. Still centred around a deal with hell but subverted. I liked the way you subverted yours by having a variation on the old 'don't look back' mythic template. If Aiden had just followed the rules he could have had his house and kept his soul if I read it right. But of course the hero always breaks the rule.

    As for your question about 'staring into the darkness beneath the hat' I won't be coy. The intent as you noted was for the reaction shot to tell the story but to satisfy your curiosity he is staring into the abyss. Not so much a cop out as it sounds, like Luke Skywalker looking into the helmet and seeing his own face, what he sees exactly is dependent on his own fears.

    To give more clarity (deliberately absent in the script), the Man was originally going to be the Devil. He might still be, I like to keep it open. He's primarily a symbol. Functionally he might as well be because he makes 'the offer'. Originally he was supposed to have had himself skinned alive (the original reason for the hat) in preparation for hell but it became apparent early on I had too many ideas (and can you smoke without lips?) and the location budget was already a concern. There was a whole mafia subplot that got reduced to one line in his speech. I ultimately gave him Joe's face at the end because I needed a powerful image to climax on. I thought it brought the story full turn neatly, given the many questions were left unanswered there needed to be a strong sense of closure to bring it home and release the tension. It also played back into the gambling theme: that Joe (or his desires personified) is the one that tempts Joe. That being the case he was always doomed.

    I like to work out all the details, most don't make the script but I know. The dice were originally the game element but it ended up being the hoops Joe is unknowingly jumping through. Every interaction is a test. I like to be ambiguous and enlist the audience's imagination in telling my story but you must respect the audience. All but the most unsophisticated audiences (reality tv fans) can tell when they're being strung along. Hopefully it all comes through and provides a sense of faith that there is a solid logic at play, even if it's elusive. There is a reason and meaning for every word and action, sometimes two or three levels of meaning in relation to the themes. The interpretation of the audience, other characters and the actual motivation of an action can differ too. But once those structures are in place I try to forget them and just write a good story. These things are bones, not the meat. To labour that metaphor a moment longer, it occurs to me that this might be why the lean, mean writing style I seek still eludes me! As you can see I can't write a short post in a forum to save my life either... I only set out to tell you what was under his hat! Haha


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    #28
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    Lets have a look...

    Now you mentioned elsewhere that you over write. IMO the first five paras are a bit heavy and could be slimmed down, making it more dynamic. Now id don't normally suggest alternative writing but as an example, and feel free to ignore. one para could be;

    "He drops the cigarette, grinds it under foot."

    A few details have gone, but anything we really needed? Anyway, enough of that, back to story

    p1 you repeat hands and knees - maybe not required
    MAN - when others are introduced later the title Man gets a bit confusing, so maybe called him SLICK MAN, or give him something to be remembered by Moustache Man etc
    p10 not sure we need Joe dialogue, seeing the money is enough

    A tale of temptation, the trials and tribulations and the subsequent downfall.

    As a script i felt that it took too long. The man's finish wasn't wholly clear for me, if he is a part of Joe, same face etc, then what he has given up and why? He speaks of achieving everything over seven years, because - i think - of the dice, which Joe now has. So the script depends on the power of the dice? Maybe one to strengthen, show in action, we can then relate to the dilemma or giving up the past for a loaded future.

    On reflection, one options would be to take out the revenge on the bouncer and show the dice winning and the luxuries that follow, a little more.

    I liked the finishing shot.

    all the best


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    #29
    Senior Member KhamIsk's Avatar
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    Hey, thanks for your reply - you write lengthy ones I've yet to read it (skimmed).
    Want to point out one more thing - your writing.
    I was going to mention that it's a bit heavy for me at first and then scratched that. I saw pros write like that and I think you create more of a visual, mood and atmosphere this way. So I won't try to divert you towards economy because there's a benefit to the way you do it perhaps.
    And one last thing - you wrote off the character. I really liked your Man and the stuff he says here and there sounds clever (like "Are you a victim or do you rule your fate. Do you fall or do you jump?")

    Forgot one thing - The Man called Joe's wife "bitch" at first (the very first time he spoke to Joe) and I don't think he would. I think he'll need a slow start here to affect Joe psychologically. --just a thought.
    Last edited by KhamIsk; 09-12-2012 at 05:19 AM.


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    #30
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    He drops the cigarette and grinds it underfoot.

    Yeah I was a little enamoured with my imagery there but a few have mentioned and I realise that is directing, even if disguised in the description. It's gone. I actually had it twice, I changed the second time to 'flourish'.

    I clarify the Man in post #27 if you're interested. You are right about calling him SLICK MAN, if only for the logistical nightmare it was to remember to capitalise each and every instance and refrain from describing anyone else as man, small m, to avoid confusion. Shoulda just called him SLICK!

    Thanks for comments.


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