Thread: Surgeon's Game

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    #11
    Senior Member Sunk99's Avatar
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    Chris,
    Last fest read. Man people are fast readers in this fest.
    Like your website and prodco name. Love the idea of a second civil war. Lifeline was also a good premise.
    In Lifeline you did a lot of AE. The computer in the desk with him controlling it - Did you roto his hand then add the computer buttons where needed?

    Okay, now back to the Surgeons. Comments as read-

    I know the rules allow it, but 19-20 pages is too long for a short. That's a 3-4 day shoot.
    Pg 1 Ouch hospital. That is nearly an impossible location for a short. Surgery room, cafeteria, office.
    Pg 4 So all the nurses are into it as well as they would note the extra clipping. Wrote too early. So everybody winks non-stop?
    Pg 5 The doctors threw up? Naw - they cut out the wrong stuff all the time.
    Pg 6 Ok - the only short horror script with a sex scene - you win!
    I'm wondering what they are doing with these bits? Building Frankie?
    Pg 8 You canít push it that far, Daniel! ***Would a nurse talk that way to a doctor in the operating room? Later she calls him Danny.
    Pg 15 Withholding comment on killing the nurse until later.
    Pg 19 Hard to buy the nurse stabbing him with a needle like that. If I were him she wouldn't have gotten close without getting beat up.

    Overall - The game needs better explanation and rewards to be believable.
    The nurse part also needs a better reason.
    The murder scene should be cut as it is a prelude that gives away the ending.
    This is a well written script with good dialogue, etc. But it way too long. Needs strong editing to be a good short.
    The hospital location is not realistic for a short.
    Interesting idea.


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    #12
    Knight of the Holy Order krestofre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sunk99 View Post
    .
    The hospital location is not realistic for a short.
    Would you have said the same thing about a futuristic office building where a guy gets blown through the wall? Or a post apocalyptic John Ford-style western landscape after a second civil war? Or an indie low-budget feature which has around 20 minutes of footage on a crashing commercial airplane? Because I did those.

    I worry that this film-ability thing is a slippery slope. Chris Keaton said it best.

    I've ran into the moving car being a limitation, but I've also had a guy say he couldn't do a script because it required a prop. So you have all types of excuses. Then you have the guy who says, 'A monster coming out of a toilet? Totally doable!'
    Heck, we've had past DVX films that have had hospital scenes, and if they couldn't actually get a hospital then they set dressed well enough that I couldn't tell. I firmly believe that anything can be done on film at any budget level. It just takes determination and creativity.

    But I sincerely thank you for your review of the script and for checking out my website. To answer your question about LifeLine it was rotoscoped and it was the first film I ever made. If I made it today I would handle it differently and there would be no roto
    Chris Johnson


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    #13
    Senior Member Sunk99's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by krestofre View Post
    Would you have said the same thing about a futuristic office building where a guy gets blown through the wall? Or a post apocalyptic John Ford-style western landscape after a second civil war? Or an indie low-budget feature which has around 20 minutes of footage on a crashing commercial airplane? Because I did those.
    That's true. I saw your AE work and it's pretty good. Is it as believable as a real location would be? No. But it is good for a short. It's also a massive amount of work. I wish I had your talent. I have the software, but not the skills or time.
    I still feel a hospital is big budget location, but I agree, if one wishes to key most of the location it "can be" done. Also agree camera angles can be compressed so locations can be faked some what.

    Quote Originally Posted by krestofre View Post
    "...anything can be done on film at any budget level. It just takes determination and creativity.
    ... killer AE skills, and time.


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    #14
    Senior Member KhamIsk's Avatar
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    Hi Chris,
    I really liked the idea of it and the way it was executed.

    The idea is overly original - I think you'd better save it for a feature.
    It's a very nice slow build from Daniel deciding to participate in the game, to him being sucked in into the game, to his realization that small stuff leads to big stuff and his failure.

    It was smart of you to intro that nurse, the one who denied to be a part of it and died - I liked the turn it took when she appeared, Daniel seeks Rebecca's love and he isn't getting it anymore.

    The only thing - I'm wondering if it all could start with Rebecca. Daniel seeks her approval, love from the very beginning etc - otherwise the reason he agreed to be a part of it is a touch vague. I understand he was talked into it though.
    19 pages - didn't feel like 19 pages. reads really fast - you kept me glued to the screen.


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    #15
    Senior Member Egg Born Son's Avatar
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    Wicked idea. Of all the possibilities I thought of while waiting I didn't think of this one.

    I agree with Khamanna, Rebecca seems placed more importantly than a prize/incentive/whip. She seems to drive it more than the authoritarian Jeremiah. There seems to be a connection between those two that wasn't explored.

    I got the sense your namings had an underlying significance. Or am I imagining things? Morus is a fantastic surname. Meaning? Or just a name?

    Over 20 pages some more tantalising hints as to etiquette of the game (if not more on the rules) would have escalated the intrigue.

    A more elegant means of getting to the murder of Vicky might have been to have him risk playing the game under her nose, imagine the tension in that scene! It would reinforce him losing grip on his risk aversion mechanisms and prompt the need to deal with her now when discovered, in the middle of someone else's operation no less. Also foreshadow Rebecca's ability with the needle vs struggling victim. I don't buy Jeremiah approving the idea of inviting her into the game (threatening them all) rather than moving her shift. And for her part, as a nurse, what is her incentive to say yes? The role she is offered in the game is that of accomplice and trophy/reward. Whereas the doctors are offered the challenge, freedom and accolades, encouraged with sexual favour. Alternatively make her seem like exactly the kind of nurse that would want to play but turn out not to be once invited.

    My interpretation is that the core of the game (as stated in there somewhere) is primarily about control, more specifically (and misunderstood by Daniel) self-control. They put themselves in a risky position to extend the baseline of what is possible. An almost noble cause of improving their skills but devoid of morals. Those that play the game won't even break a sweat in a mundane operation no matter how risky because the threshold of challenge is set much higher. Daniel doesn't understand this and plays to win but he is challenging his fellow surgeons not the higher challenge of himself. The first rule is the patient must live. Close?

    Final question: did you come up with what they do with the leftover parts?

    The seeds of distinct characters/archetypes are there, with minimal effort the could be fleshed out with more overtly defined motivations. Daniel is defined almost entirely by his drive so there is opportunity to make Rebecca the most interesting character. And should be because she interests him. Jeremiah has a few possibilities too. If you find more to put in there maybe even take it a few minutes further and target 24 minutes, expand it a little to tv episode length? Or trim it down to the nuts and bolts and bring it in at 12-16 minutes. Either way you've got something here worth taking further.

    There's some room to tighten up there but it kept me interested for the whole story and the 20 pages didn't drag at all. I can't imagine you got through many rewrites in the time given with 20 pages. I only managed a draft and two rewrites and I started writing the day it was announced. I wish I'd thought of medical horror. At least you know the horror theme is annual, maybe next year!


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    #16
    Knight of the Holy Order krestofre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sunk99
    ... killer AE skills, and time.
    I don't want to beat a dead horse, but I want to say one more thing on this subject. It's not about skilled post production. It's about skilled pre production. The best example I have is the airplane scenes I mentioned above. We did a very modestly budgeted feature that had to have an airplane. Writing the plane out of the script would have been writing a new script. So we set out to see if we could possibly shoot on an airplane. The major airlines hung up on us. Expected. We went to private owners. They were willing to rent us a plane, but the budget wouldn't support that. So we brainstormed and got the contact information of plane repair facilities. We called one up and explained what we were doing, proved that we were legit, and said "Do you have any airplanes that we could shoot in for two days?" They let us pick from three, didn't charge us a dime, and said we could do whatever we wanted to the plane short of flying it or blowing it up. We removed seats so that camera and crew had room to move about, and we rigged it with tons of lights on kill switches so that when the stuff hits the fan bedlam occurs on screen. We even got to drop the oxygen masks. Something that costs $20,000 to reset, but since this plane was in for an overhaul, they were going to do it anyway and we benefited from it.

    I don't say that to pat myself on the back. In all the work I've done over more than a decade, I think filmmakers are their own worst enemy. How easy is it to say "we could never get a plane" or "no hospital would allow us to shoot there." If you never ask the question the answer is always no.


    Quote Originally Posted by Reef dreamer
    p2 Nurse Kali - intentional on the name?
    Quote Originally Posted by Egg Born Son
    I got the sense your namings had an underlying significance. Or am I imagining things? Morus is a fantastic surname. Meaning? Or just a name?
    I picked the names very carefully.

    Daniel Morus = "God is my judge" / Doom
    Rebecca Kali = "Captivating" (I liked the wordplay. Captivating ... Captive). / Kali is the Hindu goddess of creation, preservation, and destruction.
    Jeremiah Tolbert = "Appointed by God" he thinks so anyway. / Tolbert means "Messenger of Destruction."
    Vicky Tate = I stretched on this one a little. Tate means "cheerful." Vicky is wordplay from Victim. So she's a Cheerful Victim.

    Onomatology is not usually my thing, but it seemed appropriate for this.

    My interpretation is that the core of the game (as stated in there somewhere) is primarily about control, more specifically (and misunderstood by Daniel) self-control. They put themselves in a risky position to extend the baseline of what is possible. An almost noble cause of improving their skills but devoid of morals. Those that play the game won't even break a sweat in a mundane operation no matter how risky because the threshold of challenge is set much higher. Daniel doesn't understand this and plays to win but he is challenging his fellow surgeons not the higher challenge of himself. The first rule is the patient must live. Close?
    Nice analysis. I like it when people think about my work.

    Thanks everyone for the comments so far. I appreciate your time to read and post.
    Chris Johnson


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    #17
    Senior Member Russell Moore's Avatar
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    Man...I almost put this off to be the last script I read because of the length. Glad I didn't, it reads quickly and kept my interest throughout.

    Jeremiah has some huge chunks of dialogue in the first few pages and a couple later on, that would benefit from an edit/being condensed. I think it might come across as too much if it were to be filmed. Daniel's explanation on page 7 is a bit lengthy and would benefit from the same. That said....Your dialogue sounds realistic throughout.

    Someone mentioned above that a Doctor wouldn't throw up after removal of a body part and I agree with that. But in this case, it seems Daniel threw up more as a reaction to the reason why he had done what he had done, a inter-personal conflict. Illustrated by the following scene where he is drinking. Nice, shows that he has a little humanity.

    As far as Vicky is concerned, I'll take the easy way out and just say I agree with everything that Egg Born Son has to say on the subject Especially, how intense it would've been for Daniel to pull off the game right under her nose.

    The part at the end where Rebecca gets him with the syringe was the only part that brought me out of the story. I know you explain that she is used to injecting the unwilling, but she walks in with the syringe on display and we know and Daniel knows he's dealing with some shady characters. I imagine he'd be on his feet as soon as he saw the syringe and there would be a lot more than an attempted struggle, but a downright battle. It could be done in the same scene, but more subtle, which for me at least would also fit the tone of the script better as well.

    Just as an example, the same scene and dialogue.

    JEREMIAH
    Nurse Kali to my office, please.
    (to Daniel)
    It’s unfortunate that I lost
    control of you.


    Rebecca enters.


    DANIEL
    What is this?

    Rebecca leans in close to Daniel. Her lips just inches from his ear.



    REBECCA
    Can I poo poo him one last time?


    JEREMIAH
    Just do what you’re told.

    Rebecca sticks a syringe in Daniel's neck


    Ok...Maybe not that, but something more along those lines. Daniel could struggle a bit after he's stuck and before he loses consciousness.

    I liked the premise and the story kept me moving...I wanted to find out what was going to happen next and how it would be resolved. Overall I really liked your script.
    Nice work Chris.
    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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    #18
    Knight of the Holy Order krestofre's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Russell Moore View Post
    The part at the end where Rebecca gets him with the syringe was the only part that brought me out of the story.
    Have you seen hospital nurses wield needles? They're like ninjas with those things! No matter how much you struggle or how much bigger you are than a nurse, you're going down if she has a needle. There must be special classes in Nursing School that covers this skill. I'm pretty sure Chuck Norris teaches them.

    I jest, because several people have pointed out that scene. That surprised me because nurses really can do that. They deal with resisting patients all the time. No one here has ever taken a child for an immunization?

    Thanks for the kind words and suggestions Russell. I assure you they are seriously considered and analyzed.
    Chris Johnson


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    #19
    Senior Member Bill Clar's Avatar
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    I like the mystery behind Jeremiah's offer to Daniel. But why would the head surgeon consult with a nurse about a doctor? My first thought was this game applies only to doctors, not nurses.

    The second scene stays a little late. You could end it early after Daniel's acceptance: "Alright. I'm in.". You can also cut the quick shot of him leaving the office.

    I'm on page five and so far I'm not seeing a lot at stake for Daniel. He's snipping internal organs within the presence of other players. That doesn't create any tension. If one of the nurses was on the up-and-up then you have a scenario where Daniel must keep him/her busy or looking away.

    The word "game" is bandied about in the dialogue quite a bit. The dialogue doesn't have to be on the nose. Let the characters interpret the game in their own words.

    "Daniel begins to struggle, but Rebecca is a nurse and used to people not wanting injections." This makes Daniel look really weak. This action is a pivotal and powerful piece in your story. Don't gloss over it with one sentence. Devote a half of a page to the fight. Get Jeremiah involved and up the intensity.

    You know your way around a hospital and you're fluent with medical terms and procedures. You have a good premise but I'm not invested in Daniel or the game. I see no reason for doctor's to risk their careers by cutting up patients. Now if they were selling organs on the black market, that I could get behind.
    So, you hate your job? There's a support group for that. It's called EVERYONE. We meet at the bar at 5:00.


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    #20
    Senior Member Egg Born Son's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by krestofre View Post
    IVicky Tate = I stretched on this one a little. Tate means "cheerful." Vicky is wordplay from Victim. So she's a Cheerful Victim.
    All good names but this one is genius. Vicky for victim, ha!

    Quote Originally Posted by krestofre View Post
    I jest, because several people have pointed out that scene. That surprised me because nurses really can do that. They deal with resisting patients all the time. No one here has ever taken a child for an immunization?
    I agree, nurses can do that but it can be put in the realm of specialised knowledge and so you should spell it out. It could solved simply by having her deal with a violent patient early in the piece so that it is no surprise when she does it to Daniel; alternately reveal her concealing the syringe behind her back on approach so the audience knows but Daniel doesn't.


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