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View Full Version : "End of Summer" - DISCUSSION!


ComicBent
09-15-2005, 01:40 PM
SPOILER - IF YOU HAVE NOT VOTED, DON'T READ.

HURRY UP AND VOTE!!!

Well, I think everyone has probably voted by now. People have had LOTS of time. Derek said he would take votes till midnight (give or take a few time zones). It is mid-afternoon here in Tennessee, so it is several hours later in Britain.

Derek will post results of the voting when his Diebold machine finishes the processing. Derek, whenever you want to, as far as I am concerned.

If you have not voted, then do so quickly. You might not want to read the rest of this if you have not voted yet.

Here is a list of titles and the corresponding authors. Are you surprised?!

1 : A Poetic Summer's Tale (Fortean)
2 : Dryad (AaronB)
3 : Last Temptation (dpaterso)
4 : Even Bad Boys (Voxel)
5 : Summer's End and Friends (Voxel)
6 : Brotherly Rivalry (cmmora)
7 : The Picture Frame (cmmora)
8 : The Enemy (dpaterso)
9 : Happy Trails (JesseNC)
10: Into the Fading Light (AaronB)
11: When the Wood Is Dry (ComicBent)
12: Last Summer in Paris (prescribe22)
13: The Summer of My Discontent (Fortean)
14: The Feigns (J off Course)
15: War With Strippers (Voxel)
16: Lifetime in a Microwave (habronic)
17: The Sting of the Wily Frog (habronic)
18: I Wanted to Ride ... (Dave H)

Discuss!

dpaterso
09-15-2005, 01:51 PM
I'm shocked, shocked I tell you, that some people submitted more than 1 entry! Shocked.

I think we're still missing a couple of sets of votes from contestants, and hopefully non-contestants will continue to contribute, so voting's open until midnight tonight Pacific time, which roughly translates to whenever I sign in tomorrow morning!

-Derek
Derek's Web Page - stories, screenplays, novels, insanity. (http://hometown.aol.co.uk/DPaterson57/scripts.htm)
"What's the strategy, sir?"
"Get out of the bloody place before it blows up."
~Casino Royale

voxel
09-15-2005, 03:22 PM
Discuss!

I enjoyed all of them (I'm discounting all mine) and voted.

Brotherly Rivarly bothered me because of the last few pages felt like the writer tried to explain the complex plot to the audience/reader. From the same writer, I loved "Picture Frame" - mostly for the cool concept. Same with "The Enemy". Still, "The Sting of the Wily Frog" is tops in my book - and setting it in my favourite city helps too. Taste affected my votes - I did not understand "Happy Trails" at all even though I could see it was well-constructed.

Overall 12 page is a little skimpy to tell a complete story, so many of the scripts feel unfinished or that the ending was rushed. So how did everyone decide what to write?

Some of these pieces feel like they've been ripped from working-in-progress scripts and re-jigged to be "summer-like."

ComicBent
09-15-2005, 09:17 PM
Regarding my own script, "The Wood Is Dry," I offer the following comments:

I knew, going into the script, that the time period would be a problem for most of our members, who are too young to have any personal memories of Earl Warren, who was Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1950s and 1960s. He was Chief Justice at a time when he and most of the court were liberal (somebody stand by to resuscitate BillyThrilly and Dave Clary if they happen to read this and maybe choke on a pretzel ;)).

Consequently Earl Warren became the object of much hatred in our perennially benighted country in the early 1960s. It was common to see billboards on highways declaring "Impeach Earl Warren."

I knew that most U.S. members would have some vague idea of when JFK was President. So referencing JFK helped to put the script into some kind of historical context. However, that was not my main reason for using the handbill with a threat to JFK on it. I wanted to convey an air of hostility and a sense of the "calm before the storm" on the national level and in the lives of these high-school seniors who were obviously facing all sorts of personal challenges as the country itself lumbered stupidly (but idealistically) into the Vietnam War and would soon have to deal with the assassination of JFK (a watershed event, related as it was to the subsequent commitment to the debacle of the Vietnam War).

The figure of the town idot, an unfortunate fellow with cerebral palsy and possibly a drinking problem, was meant to serve as a symbol of the imbalance of the time, on the national and personal levels, and to act as a bookend symbol at the start and end of the script. Come to think of it, the town idiot (and probable drunk) probably has even greater symbolic political significance, but I will pass over that. :)

I don't know how much of all that came through. One thing I learned in this experience is how TOUGH it is to pack everything into twelve pages!

The incident of a mother using a dog to beat her son really happened! I did not see it, and in fact I did not know about it till thirty-five years after the fact. A friend of mine from high school told me, a few years ago, that she had gone to pick up a classmate of ours for a party and that his mother did pretty much what I described in the script. She also told me (darn, I never knew about anything!) that during high school she had carried on an affair with a classmate who fifteen years later "came out of the closet," left his wife, moved to New Orleans, and became HIV positive.

Ay! Life was right there to be presented. There seemed to be some kind of story to tell that would deal with those times and with the personal lives of those kids just starting out in life. I did the best that I could do within the constraint of twelve pages.

voxel
09-16-2005, 01:13 AM
I don't know how much of all that came through. One thing I learned in this experience is how TOUGH it is to pack everything into twelve pages!

Even though I am completely unfamilar with the era, the characters felt believable and the dialogue had plenty of good subtext. Only page 9 bothered me (there's no action for a long period of time there). The script reminded me of Big Chill, but with characters I actually gave a damn about.

Again, everything was great then it ended. It's like you can only raise one or two small questions in 12-page short...

voxel
09-16-2005, 01:19 AM
Notes on my scripts:

Summer's End and Friends

- I wanted to subvert the meaning "End of Summer," so I free-wrote and ended up with bunch of valley girl butts having a hissy fit over an Italian axxhole.
- Plotwise it doesn't go anywhere and I kinda just gave up on it assuming others would free-write too.

Even bad boys can cry their way into heaven

- Started with an image of a mentally-challenged boy on death row and a bit of dialogue "Ma friends call me stupid, but I don't like dat name. Dey say I killed a man, but I am only a boy."
- I free-wrote this one too, trying to forget Slingblade and focused on all the southern bits I've picked up elsewhere.
- Originally I considered writing a novel just with the above, but I realized this isn't the story I'm meant to tell.

War with strippers

- A mockumentary short I wrote a few months ago (one of ten), but only realized I had a character named Summer in it a few days before the deadline.
- Too bad the ending sucks balls.
- Too bad it relies on bad stereotypes to get cheap laughs (if any at all).

dpaterso
09-16-2005, 05:46 AM
For what it's worth, here are my comments on the contest entries. The usual "My humble opinion, use whatever you find useful and throw the rest away without a second thought" disclaimer applies.

1. A Poetic Summer's Tale

I liked the writing and I liked the history mystery aspect lots, 12 pages hardly seemed enough, I could happily have read more. But, the story left me with a couple of uncertain thoughts. The only person I "knew" here was Poe, and he was only a passive asker of questions. Which made me wonder whose story this actually was. The answer, of course, is Mary's. An introduction to Poe and Anderson, then a documentary of Mary's last days with, perhaps, narration from Poe and Anderson, could have been far more effective and certainly more dynamic, reducing the "talking heads" delivery. I often felt that names and facts were being thrown at me, these were obviously related to the girl's murder and therefore important, but because there were no visuals, just faceless names I couldn't relate to, drama levels remained low to medium instead of high. Despite these potential failings I liked it; with some adjustments it could be something, I'm sure, and would have earned a vote.

2. Dryad

Sweetly told, but there's no apparent logic in Edith's returning as a young woman, the story failed (in my opinion) to present her as some kind of nature spirit connected with the tree. Methinks some broader hints are required to make the story work, e.g. specific damage to the tree causing mirror damage to old Edith, it loses a branch, her arm goes numb, a forester goes to work with his chainsaw, Edith faints. The interplay with the ER Nurse turned needlessly sinister, "I'm the only person who cares about her," or similar from Ben could easily have make this scene touching instead of oddly out of synch. I'm just saying. Could easily have got a vote with just a minor tweak or two.

3. Last Temptation

I assume this is a near future where the ozone layer is depleted? Maybe this could be made more clear, there were little hints scattered around but tying them together felt like too much work, spelling it out in plainer English might get you more. The casual execution of the "felons" left me bewildered. Having said this, this entry would have got a vote if others hadn't squeezed in front.

4. Even Bad Boys Can Cry Their Way Into Heaven

Short and sweet, but too simple for its own good, and consisting mostly of static talking heads. You could'a easily written the backstory about how and why Ricky killed the two guys. Why didn't you?

5. Summer's End and Friends

Amusing little once-funny SNL skit, tho' the limitations of talking butts became obvious when the first fart joke made an appearance pretty early.

6. Brotherly Rivalry

A potentially clever double cross thriller, whose resolution was adversely affected by its simplicity, and by the fact I wouldn't have shed a tear if everyone, both the brothers and the nurses, had all died. There's not a likeable character in sight.

7. The Picture Frame

A potentially clever Sci-Fi romp that draws from the Heinlein era classics but ultimately loses itself up its own orifice.

8. The Enemy

It's clear the author has no education in, or concept of, history. This farcical attempt at writing Science Fiction is simply embarrassing on far too many levels. What's the story got to do with the end of summer? Maybe author intended some kind of seasonal link between summer and the nuclear winter? (Now THAT is what I call tenuous!!) Just too bizarre. Despite those negative thoughts, this entry would have got a vote if others hadn't squeezed in front.

9. Happy Trails: A Tribute to Hunter S. Thompson

Funny in a lot of places but not much in the way of a climactic finish, and Cindy didn't take her clothes off which disappointed me lots. Having said this, this entry would have got a vote if others hadn't squeezed in front.

10. Into The Fading Light

A good enough read but a complete downer of an ending, I would have liked for someone I cared about to have come out of this alive and ride off into the sunset feeling melancholy. Still, this entry would have got a vote if others hadn't squeezed in front.

11. When The Wood Is Dry

I liked the writing style lots but I found content to be disjointed and bizarre, it failed (for me) as social commentary, coming of age, slice of life, or whatever it's meant to be.

12. Last Summer In Paris

"Maid Marion" says it all: "That is totally insane." This flight of fancy had a couple of smile moments but in general, with all due respect, it's nuts. By page 8 or 9 I'd lost interest and was skimming.

13. The Summer Of My Discontent

I didn't "get" this one. It had the makings of a readable drama but kinda came apart, as if it needed more time to build itself to a climax (that didn't come). Maybe, and I'm not sure, there isn't enough plot? These people sure are f*cked up in the head, I don't envy the kid his adopted parents and grandparents.

14. The Feigns

Builds nicely, tho' often I didn't understand why Meg and Walter said some of these things to each other. The Little House on the Prairie comment for example, WTF? Almost a comedy vibe, when the subject matter is anti-comedy. Using their obscure name as the title lacked pulling power. But the setup I liked, and maybe the feeling of potential.

15. War With Strippers

Clever idea, and threatened to be entertaining, but ultimately turned out to be fluff floating in swirling limbo between obtuse political statement and white collar comedy.

16. Lifetime In A Microwave

Good read, had me from start to finish. I'm guessing Charlie sold his organs or similar to finance their last months together but I'm worried I could be totally wrong; a couple more words just to confirm the situation might not go amiss. Would easily have got a vote if others hadn't squeezed in ahead.

17. The Sting Of Wily Frog

Not bad at all, could be something, at the moment it's just waiting for Guy Ritchie to come along and sprinkle a tad more spice over the dialogue, and supply a triple-cross back-stabbing twist ending. I half-expected Jimmy to find himself holding something extremely valuable and recognizable, and a posse of coppers to swoop on him. This entry would have got a vote if others hadn't squeezed in front. And I dunno if this is worth mentioning, but it's the only entry that felt as if it had enough story and character potential to be expanded to become a full length spec script.

18. I Wanted To Ride The Ferris Wheel, She Wanted To Ride The Rollercoaster

You had me thinking this guy was an aloof intellectual serial killer, or maybe a hungry vampire, or even worse a psychology student playing mental games, but the ending turned out to be a puzzling damp squib that made what had come before seem pretty pointless.

-Derek
Derek's Web Page - stories, screenplays, novels, insanity. (http://hometown.aol.co.uk/DPaterson57/scripts.htm)
"What's the strategy, sir?"
"Get out of the bloody place before it blows up."
~Casino Royale

AaronB
09-16-2005, 07:04 AM
My scripts...

Dryad wasn't properly thought through. Basically the entire point of the story is "Here is a dryad," which is interesting enough for a page or two, but not enough for a whole story. If I had taken a little more time to brainstorm it I could have made it meatier.

Into the Fading Light was re-worked from an old short story of mine, and its point is "Beware of the man who has nothing left to lose." Harry, in the process of losing the only thing in the world that he cares about, isn't capable of fearing anything less than that. Jeff and his buddies simply suffered an acute failure of the victim selection process.

And if you didn't get at least a little surprise when Harry shot Ann in the head, well...then it takes a better writer than me to get your attention, 'cuz that was my best shot.

voxel
09-16-2005, 08:44 AM
And if you didn't get at least a little surprise when Harry shot Ann in the head, well...then it takes a better writer than me to get your attention, 'cuz that was my best shot.

I was actually expecting it. "Speed" (where Keanu shoots his partner to make him a non-viable hostage) was running through my mind because the relationship between Harry and Ann felt disconnected/cold at that point.

AaronB
09-16-2005, 09:12 AM
I was actually expecting it. "Speed" (where Keanu shoots his partner to make him a non-viable hostage) was running through my mind because the relationship between Harry and Ann felt disconnected/cold at that point.

All right. It wasn't meant to be disconnected and cold, but I didn't warm it up because I was trying to execute the scenes with that minimalist writing style that everyone says is the only way to do it.

If you thought Harry and Ann had a disconnected and/or cold relationship, one of us wasn't doing his job...and I'm not assuming it's you, just so you know.

AaronB
09-16-2005, 10:38 AM
I was actually expecting it. "Speed" (where Keanu shoots his partner to make him a non-viable hostage) was running through my mind because the relationship between Harry and Ann felt disconnected/cold at that point.

I really have to ask, v...what was it that made Harry and Ann's relationship seem cold to you?

Yes, Harry is a cold b@st@rd in the story, but not to Ann. He's torn to pieces over the prospect of losing her, and he just doesn't have any give-a-sh!t left over for anybody else. With Ann he's solicitously careful of her feelings and her condition, and he gives her absolutely everything she asks of him in the story.

So what did I fail to do?

voxel
09-16-2005, 11:56 AM
I really have to ask, v...what was it that made Harry and Ann's relationship seem cold to you?
So what did I fail to do?

I did not have a problem with their relationship until Ann gets held hostage (everything was perfectly fine until this point).


Harry rolls over to see Ann fighting like a netted tiger.
Her clothing is torn, and there's blood under her nails.
Harry sits up slowly.


I can't gauge what they are feeling and that's why I think this scene feels cold/mechanical. I assumed Ann is fighting for her life. But Harry just watches? I need some hint of emotion, maybe a reaction from Harry, since it's supposed to be horrible situation for both main characters. Maybe that's just me...

voxel
09-16-2005, 11:59 AM
I was trying to execute the scenes with that minimalist writing style that everyone says is the only way to do it.

I think the attack is too critical to write it minimalistic(which I'm not 100% fond of). Ann should be screaming and kicking while Harry should be grimacing and swearing to god underneath his breath that these motherfockers dare touch his beloved wife.

AaronB
09-16-2005, 12:03 PM
I can't gauge what they are feeling and that's why I think this scene feels cold/mechanical. I assumed Ann is fighting for her life. But Harry just watches? I need some hint of emotion, maybe a reaction from Harry, since it's supposed to be horrible situation for both main characters. Maybe that's just me...

Harry's moving slow because he's only just recovering consciousness after getting slammed in the head with a tire iron. He's bleeding from a scalp laceration and probably has a concussion. Ann is fighting to avoid being raped, a point which I did in fact neglect to make.

I'm not sure one could fairly characterize Harry as a disinterested bystander in this case...although, as I said before, I may not have properly done my job in telling the story.

Fortean
09-16-2005, 01:14 PM
A POETIC SUMMER’S TALE

Originally, I wrote this as a short one-act play, a few years ago, intended for a New York audience, who might have some inkling about the murder of Mary Cecilia Rogers. Here, I’ve added bookend scenes to get the audience into the time period and locations, (without a play's program, supers or additional exposition), and to show the bleak end of Miss Rogers, with what I consider one of the principal clues that might indicate who murdered her.

This is a ghost story, based upon Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” and the three people who were haunted by apparitions, said to have been Mary Cecilia Rogers, (Poe’s inspiration). An impoverished John Anderson began work as a labourer, established a business as a tobacconist, and died a very wealthy man. He is entombed in a mausoleum at Greenwood Park, Brooklyn. In the New York Times, after his death, (and long after Poe’s death), he was reported to have been haunted by the ghost of Rogers and to have spoken with her on several occasions.

Poe wrote his second detective story, while living in Philadelphia, matching the sensational “true story” crime of the Rogers murder, in New York newspapers, with a coincidental “fictional” murder set in Paris, for Dupin to solve. After the first two installments of the three-part serial were published in the “Ladies Companion,” a confession was made, that conflicted with the conclusion in Poe’s story, (which was not published in the next issue, but another month later). When Poe went to work as the editor of the New York Mirror, he supposedly met with Anderson to get a firsthand account of the mystery. No record exists of this meeting, (which Anderson said happened).

Poe revised his short story, (when published as part of a collection of his stories, in a book); and, most people have only read its second version, (without knowing of its first version). This short screenplay is my adaptation of my own play. As a short, (with a limited budget), I’d keep it dialog-driven, as was done in the stage version of Susan Hill’s “The Woman in Black (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0098672/combined),” and would seek to film it within the confines of Anderson’s office, like a chapter from Hsiao-hsien Hou’s HAI SHANG HUA, (FLOWERS OF SHANGHAI) (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0156587/combined), but with dynamic editing, (not a long, static camera shot). Poe’s sparse dialog, (to be authentic), was adapted from his letters, articles, and stories. Poe isn’t the storyteller, here; Anderson is; and, it’s Poe, who comes rapping, tapping at Anderson’s chamber door. Poe’s “The Raven” was published soon after the time of this fictional encounter, and the poetic stanzas, recited by Poe, are from Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Lady Geraldine’s Courtship (http://www2.bc.edu/%7Eandersjb/geraldine1.html),” (which was a then-recent poem that he praised).

Said he — 'Vision of a lady! stand there silent, stand there steady!
Now I see it plainly, plainly; now I cannot hope or doubt —
There, the brows of mild repression — there, the lips of silent passion,
Curvèd like an archer's bow to send the bitter arrows out.'

Ever, evermore the while in a slow silence she kept smiling,
And approached him slowly, slowly, in a gliding measured pace;
With her two white hands extended, as if praying one offended,
And a look of supplication, gazing earnest in his face.

Said he — 'Wake me by not gesture, — sound of breath, or stir of vesture!
Let the blessèd apparition melt not yet to its divine!
No approaching — hush, no breathing! or my heart must swoon to death in
The too utter life thou bringest — O thou dream of Geraldine!'What better way to indicate an end to a summer’s romance than a dead body floating in the sparkling waters of the Hudson?

Who had to look up “pounce,” when reading this?

THE SUMMER OF MY DISCONTENT

Any reference to the “Barnardo children” might have indicated this short story as being of Canadian origin, so its title is taken from Shakespeare’s “Richard III”:

“Now is the winter of our discontent...,
Deform'd, unfinish'd, sent before my time
Into this breathing world scarce half made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable
That dogs bark at me as I halt by them —
Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
Have no delight to pass away the time....”

Subtle forms of violence and neglect can be perpetrated upon small children with the best of intentions. As a short, (with a limited budget), a child, doomed to a summer of chores on a farm, (indentured servitude, rather than camp adventures, thru no fault of his doing), liberates his dog, (in a small triumph of compassion over material hardships).

Who had to look up “cribbage,” when reading this?

dpaterso
09-16-2005, 01:31 PM
Whew! Go Fortean! Alas most of that flew over my head and gave me a new parting! The story sources are interesting, I'm not saying they're not. Me, I just shot people, and I dare say I had just as much fun. <wink>

-Derek
Derek's Web Page - stories, screenplays, novels, insanity. (http://hometown.aol.co.uk/DPaterson57/scripts.htm)
"What's the strategy, sir?"
"Get out of the bloody place before it blows up."
~Casino Royale

Yabigdumi
09-16-2005, 02:12 PM
18. I Wanted To Ride The Ferris Wheel, She Wanted To Ride The Rollercoaster

You had me thinking this guy was an aloof intellectual serial killer, or maybe a hungry vampire, or even worse a psychology student playing mental games, but the ending turned out to be a puzzling damp squib that made what had come before seem pretty pointless.


Author here. By reading this criticism as well as your others, I think you have a predilection to demanding 3-act structure and a nice, neat "resolution" even in a 12-page-or-less script.

When it comes to short subjects, I take the results of most of these (but not all) scripts as proof that this kind of shoehorning is more often than not, doomed to failure.

My favorite short subjects are more about mood, tone, and observing behavior. So what I interpret you seeing as a weakness is something I happen to really like. The ideas you espouse are exactly the kind of thing I was trying to avoid.

But to be "fair," I think Fortean pulled this kind of thing off in his Summer Of My Discontent better than I did. Nevertheless, I voted for myself, because as a wise man once said "If I am not for me, then who?"

But it was a great exercise that I enjoyed. Good to do something fast and relatively inconsequential.

J off course
09-16-2005, 04:05 PM
Congrats Habronic!

I enjoyed all the reads. Besides voting for myself, I voted for
a favorite, Summer's end and friends. After spending this summer
on the streets observing and helping out student filmmakers shooting
their own shorts, my criteria for voting was..is it potentially fun for
camera operator and actors? Shallow huh? Well, you gotta be
motivated.

Since everyone is commenting on their entries..

Thanks Derek for the notes. My entry The Feigns was the shortest
thing I've ever written and why a brief observation of two older vice
cops who are married came to my mind as the deadline approached,
well..I have no idea. It just came.

I want to thank whomever voted for me. I have your back yo.

habronic
09-16-2005, 09:00 PM
thanks for the grats, guys! :)

the sting of the wily frog

i had the idea i wanted to write about a pickpocket in london. i lived there for two years, and i knew most of the places pretty well, so it was easy to picture in my head. i based the character on an idiot i sat next to on the tube one time. he blathered on his mobile for ages and his voice got stuck in my head. i figured he was a very good amateur, but he needed to make the leap to professional, so i gave him preston in order to train him (the typical mentor character). preston needed a reason to help him (and do it damn fast, it's only 12 pages!), so i figured he sees jimmy's necklace and immeadiately thinks of sophia.

i kept to the 3 act structure and this was my original outline:

- intro to jimmy
- jimmy asks preston for training (necklace and the pen)

- rich girl
- suit
- booty (argument over credit cards)
- know your mark
- honeypot (preston lifts the necklace, jimmy steals the pen)
- the wager

- exchange and the consequences
- jimmy finds someone else now lives in preston's flat
- jeweller and sophia (preston's real name and sophia gets the necklace)

this helped a lot because i could assign page counts to each scene and know what was important and what was just fluff.

the diamonds weren't in the pen till just before i submitted. i liked the idea of jimmy carrying it around and not realising what he had. the russians and mister saxby were just throw away lines for depth. i figured preston received the diamonds from alex, then was told the russians, who they were stolen from, had gotten to alex and preston had to hide them and go on the lam. jimmy was a last resort to put them somewhere the russians would never look. he gambled that jimmy wouldn't realise what he had and would return the pen if he believed he would still be trained.

he took the necklace as a little fvck you to jimmy to teach him a lesson. i wanted it so the necklace had sentimental value, but i didn't want to make it too obvious, so i just gave it a throw away "it was me mum's".

i thought the final showdown scene was a bit of an anti-climax. visually it would just be these two guys brushing past each other. not really "gunfight at the ok coral" caliber stuff.

the first page is heavy black with only one line of dialogue, so i broke it up as much as possible and tried to make it read fast. a lot of crap got deleted as i tried to make the 12 pages. normally i try to write as lean as possible, but it really became the bare minimum to get the point across. preston's flat had a 3 line description about everything that was in there, but i changed it to the one line "affluent and ordered, everything in its place". i figured the odds of it ever getting made are slim to none and if the set designer really wanted to know he could ask me. =)

i liked most of the scenes, but i didn't like the sidewalk cafe scene. it sorta does what it needs to, but i lost their voices and just couldn't get it right before the submission date. it was orginally about twice the size and i had to trim it down. it still sucked before i trimmed it, but at least now there's less suckage.

the title is a reference to the old folktale where a scorpion asks the frog to help him cross the river, then halfway over the scorpion stings the frog and they both drown. so, i wanted to reverse that and have preston be a scorpion in frog's clothing. dunno if that makes as much sense i thought it would...

i probably needed to tie the story more to the theme of the end of summer. in the end it's just a throw away line at the end of the second act.

lifetime in a microwave

i had the idea that a guy had sold himself for a million dollars and a year of his life. then i needed a reason for him to do it, so i gave his girlfriend a terminal illness and 9 months to live. i wanted them to have that kind of tragic love where they can't see themselves existing without the other. and charlie chose to live in the now and not care about the consequences of his choice.

the title refers to them trying to maximise their time together and living an entire lifetime in an entire year.

i used the summer theme as a metaphor for their time together. they had one big summer together and now it was coming to an end. the party was meant to be a reality check for them because they'd run away and not told anyone what they were gonna do.

i really liked the idea, but i don't think i told it as well as i could've. i was trying to leave it ambiguous as to where charlie had gotten the money, but it just ended up confusing people. i thought people would pickup on who the two guys with lab coats were, but i didn't explain it well enough that people could jump to that conclusion.

the couple of people i gave it to were like "where'd he get the money? did she have cancer? you didn't say she had cancer. who were the two guys in lab coats? were they there to take her to hospital to try and save her? was he crazy and that's why the two men in white coats were there? no, wait, i get it, they're both crazy and they imagined the whole thing." unfortunately i let them read it after i submitted it. =)

i thought the scene with derek and charlie arguing was okay. it needed more space for a slower buildup. it starts okay, then it kinda jumps into diatribe-city and then ends too quickly.

i didn't like the first part of the end scene where charlie brings jane the blanket on the beach. i wrapped it up too quickly and in the end there's not that much conflict. once they dance and charlie gets the phone call i think it picks up. i was worried the last couple of lines came off as cheesy or overly sentimental.

i trimmed it a lot to get under the 12 pages and i think i ended up cutting out the part that had it all make sense. in the end it was a good lesson in stepping back and seeing what reader sees as opposed to what i can see.
after leaving it for two weeks and then re-reading i can see a lot of the problems i missed.

thanks guys, and if anyone's got any criticisms, or notes on what didn't make sense, i'd appreciate them.

16. Lifetime In A Microwave
I'm guessing Charlie sold his organs or similar to finance their last months together but I'm worried I could be totally wrong; a couple more words just to confirm the situation might not go amiss.

no, you got it exactly right. that was the criticism that a couple of other people had as well. i was trying to say it without saying it, which in retrospect makes no sense what so ever.

ComicBent
09-16-2005, 11:45 PM
This was really a lot of fun.

And it is interesting to see what others think, how they reacted. I have to wonder what the reactions would be if these were actually filmed and then watched.

I know that in my script the greatest challenge was to inject some movement once the teenagers went to that party at someone's house. I handled this by using the house as a master scene and then having some minislugs for different parts of the living room and kitchen, and switching back and forth. Once or twice I was able to handle the transitions with a good deal of contextual logic and not just switch for the sake of switching.

Another conclusion that I think we can legitimately draw is that all of us tend to like scripts that are of the type that we are naturally drawn to. In other words, we respond positively to what we already like, or (in its simplest form) we like what we like.

For example, I am really not a sci-fi fan (sorry, Derek, my best pal in Scotland!), so any kind of sci-fi is probably at a disadvantage with me, even if it is very good. On the other hand, something psychological within a traditional structure, or something that puts the individual into conflict with his environment, is something that I will be friendly to. That is one reason that I liked Fortean's almost gothic tale of the little boy sentenced by his parents to a "summer of fun" on the farm.

Exciting! Let's do it again for Halloween. Who handled that last year? Was it Geevie?

Hey, it's already the middle of September. We ought to think about that Halloween contest, shouldn't we? :D

dpaterso
09-17-2005, 04:45 AM
Author here. By reading this criticism as well as your others, I think you have a predilection to demanding 3-act structure and a nice, neat "resolution" even in a 12-page-or-less script.
...
When it comes to short subjects, I take the results of most of these (but not all) scripts as proof that this kind of shoehorning is more often than not, doomed to failure.
...
My favorite short subjects are more about mood, tone, and observing behavior. So what I interpret you seeing as a weakness is something I happen to really like. The ideas you espouse are exactly the kind of thing I was trying to avoid.Nice theory, and one which I wouldn't want to argue with. If "demanding 3-act structure" translates into "I prefer to read a rounded-off story rather than be left wondering what the heck that was all about" then yes, you've assessed me pretty well.

Alas you've only got my comments to refute. How did other readers feel about your entry? I know how they voted, but how did they feel about it? Anyone? Am I the only one who scribbled notes as I read the scripts?

-Derek
Derek's Web Page - stories, screenplays, novels, insanity. (http://hometown.aol.co.uk/DPaterson57/scripts.htm)
"What's the strategy, sir?"
"Get out of the bloody place before it blows up."
~Casino Royale

ComicBent
09-17-2005, 11:00 AM
I made notes on the scripts, too, in most instances. I probably printed out half the scripts (especially the longer ones).

Answering a question by Fortean that I forgot earlier ... No, I did not have to look up 'cribbage'. My father, of the WWII generation, knew how to play it, and I remember we had a cribbage board around the house for years when I was growing up. I never learned to play it, though.

For those who do not know, it is a card game that uses a board with little stick-in pegs for scoring.

voxel
09-17-2005, 12:11 PM
First off, I forgot to congratulate Habronic! I decided not to egotistically vote for myself and chose the best scripts (in my opinion).

Nice theory, and one which I wouldn't want to argue with. If "demanding 3-act structure" translates into "I prefer to read a rounded-off story rather than be left wondering what the heck that was all about" then yes, you've assessed me pretty well.

I agree with this too. Short forms should follow the standard story form: Inciting-incident + problems + resolution. I like character pieces (aka slice-of-life or quiet stories) also, but throughout history stories with characters in conflict with a believable resolution become timeless.

Am I the only one who scribbled notes as I read the scripts?

No, I did, but I can't be bothered typing up all the comments that I wrote on the scripts themselves.

I'll offer some quick notes on #13 and #3 (neither made my top 8)

Last Temptation:

Love the concept. It's visual (crucial in a screenplay) and action-packed, but much of the story is cliche: melodramatic futuristic cops based on stereotypes. While the dialogue is good for it's genre, I found it predictable. I would have loved the Bennett + Redhead scenes to have more subtext (sexually innuendo) instead of an information exchange.

What is great about this script is that there is closure (an ending), whereas most scripts in this contest kinda just stopped.

The Summer of my discontent:

The concept of a horrible summer with grandpa and grandpa initated by uncaring parents is great (childhood injustice is a common theme), but I can't take this script seriously. It must be a black comedy / an exaggerated farce, yet it didn't provoke an emotional reaction from me.

I'm well versed in children's literature and see how the writer could have upped the sadistic side of the parents AND how the writer should have increased the volume on the Steven's reactions which are currently very muted and understated - for a 6 year old this is just wrong. None of the characters felt believable(except for John and maybe Patrick) and more like melodramatic puppets. Katherine telling Steven he's adopted on page 5-6 is just farcical - why then? forced exposition? However I do love the line, "I said, MAYBE you could ride..."

I think for this story to work, Steven or another character has to WANT something bad and have uncaring/cruel characters get in the way - intentional or unintentionally.

Fortean
09-17-2005, 01:41 PM
I noted, in my description of Poe in "A Poetic Summer's Tale," that he did not have a mustache.

Most people are familiar with Poe's appearance from two daguerreotypes: the "Ultima Thule (http://www.eapoe.org/geninfo/poepicud.htm)" (1848) and "Stella (http://www.eapoe.org/geninfo/poepicsd.htm)" (1849). Both were taken after his wife's death, and, after suffering considerable exhaustion and psychological strain. John Sartain's engraving (http://www.eapoe.org/geninfo/poepicse.htm) (1850), is based upon Samuel S. Osgood's painting and shows him, sans mustache with long side whiskers, (about 1845).

I think POETIC would make a great two person showcase for actors.Precisely, tho I dread to think that, when it begins, most of the audience would be asking: "Why isn't Poe wearing a mustache?"

Comicbent: Cribbage was undoubtedly the best choice: pegs fitted into holes, to keep track of the scores. Crokinole might have made this an action film, (bewildering to the post-Pong generation), and too Canadian, in its origins. And, I'm saving checkers for another short film screenplay.

prescribe22
09-17-2005, 01:42 PM
The three act structure is nothing more than a beginning, middle, and an end. That's it. It's not just some mystical Hollywood concoction. It *can* apply to all story telling in all formats. Length is not a factor.

Over all of human history, stories have been told, and in many different formats--whether it be communicated orally, physically, or in written form. The stories that have resonated the strongest with audience have all had a beginning, middle, and end that provided a strong emotional catharsis.

When I was a kid, I got to see Bill Cosby perform. He stood up for a couple hours telling story after story after story. None of them lasted more than a couple minutes, but each one had beginning, middle, and cathartic ending (usually very funny). That is story telling just as much as an 800 page novel.

If you get together with a group of friends and announce that something crazy happened to you, and you begin to explain what happened, you're telling a story. And it better have a punchy ending or your friends will all look at you like an idiot.

Telling stories is really nothing more than posing and interesting question. You get people interested, and they want to find out the answer to that question. The questions that are answered with the most cathartic answers are the ones that succeed at *entertaining* the audience. Those with flat, let down answers are forgotten.

Yabigdumi
09-17-2005, 05:58 PM
Nice theory, and one which I wouldn't want to argue with. If "demanding 3-act structure" translates into "I prefer to read a rounded-off story rather than be left wondering what the heck that was all about" then yes, you've assessed me pretty well.


Which is not to say I am "right" and you are "wrong."

Actually, I am at this very moment working on--get this--a SCI-FI feature with a very, VERY (I hope) strong 3-act structure. :)

However, I think that demanding this of a short subject, while not a "mistake," will not work most of the time. Time is the ultimate factor--and without a lot of it, it takes something brilliantly simple to get an audience caught up and caring in what's going on with characters.

Better in my view to provoke, to try and introduce strong images, to use sound in creative ways, to "cheat" as often as possible (without too much time-shifting, flashbacks, etc. which I find awkward in most short scripts) in order to make an audience/reader hopefully FEEL something while telling a story fragment that seems to be real enough to escape the frame, while being self-contained enough also. Loose ends can be good if they give a sense of life.

Anyway, that was and is my view. The only clear-cut, obviously 3-act piece that seemed to work without seeming either rushed or cliched, in my opinion, was Wily Frog.

Here is another interesting question--do any of you actually know of any short films you remember and like? That question may be educational too.

Both of my top two are surreal and non-linear (big surprise ;)) to various degrees: Maya Deren's Meshes Of The Afternoon and Chris Marker's La Jetée, which was the basis for 12 Monkeys.

voxel
09-17-2005, 11:31 PM
Here is another interesting question--do any of you actually know of any short films you remember and like? That question may be educational too.

Both of my top two are surreal and non-linear (big surprise ;)) to various degrees: Maya Deren's Meshes Of The Afternoon and Chris Marker's La Jetée, which was the basis for 12 Monkeys.

It's all a matter of taste. Once upon a time I loved Norman Maclaren's scratching on film and Brothers Quay surrealism, but now I always prefer Nick Park's Wallace and Gromit shorts (follow 3-acts) and his Creature Comforts short (doesn't follow 3-acts) - all film about character.

dpaterso
09-18-2005, 01:59 AM
Here is another interesting question--do any of you actually know of any short films you remember and like? That question may be educational too.I don't quite know what to say. Yes I've watched shorts, thanks. Yes, I understand that the medium invites variations in storytelling technique and sometimes doesn't conform to three act structure or complete stories. Just like short story writing. It doesn't have to be "complete." It can be slice of life, or fragment, or tomato surprise, or anything.

But hit me with a dozen shorts that DO conform and one wildcard that doesn't seem to fire on all cylinders, and it's likely the wildcard might not score as highly. Unless it's clever. But not so clever or obscure in what it's trying to convey that I don't get it. Rightly or wrongly, I pegged your entry as a wildcard that did its own thing but that's no crime, I didn't not vote it for this reason, because it didn't fulfil my expectations of a three act story -- expectations which I didn't have. That wasn't the criteria. I just didn't get it. I hope that isn't a crime either.

voxel, thanks for your thoughts on Last Temptation. Adapted in part from a short story written years ago and forgotten about until I was scratching my head wondering what to write. The short stopped with Bennett holding the keys in his shaking hand, unable to resist the urge. I think the script is better.

For what it's worth, The Enemy is another short story adaptation. The Elizabeth scenes were a new addition which I had plenty of room for, and which pushed the script up to the page limit. Will Major Rawlins succeed? Who knows. Wait, does that mean the story is incomplete, not rounded off? ;-)

-Derek
Derek's Web Page - stories, screenplays, novels, insanity. (http://hometown.aol.co.uk/DPaterson57/scripts.htm)
"What's the strategy, sir?"
"Get out of the bloody place before it blows up."
~Casino Royale

EJ Pennypacker
09-18-2005, 06:00 AM
Although I didn't read enough shorts to warrant voting, I liked the dialogue of "Last Summer in Paris" very much. Congrats to the winner and runners up.

EJ

dpaterso
09-20-2005, 09:53 AM
The discussion was nice while it lasted! ;-)

-Derek
Derek's Web Page - stories, screenplays, novels, insanity. (http://hometown.aol.co.uk/DPaterson57/scripts.htm)
"I'll bet any quantum mechanic in the service would give the rest of his life to fool around with this gadget." ~Chief Engineer Quinn, Forbidden Planet

AaronB
09-20-2005, 09:55 AM
We could have been rude. =]

cmmora
09-20-2005, 10:08 AM
The writer of ?Brotherly Rivalry? and ?The Picture Frame? here. I would like to thank everyone who took the time in reading my stories. I really had a good time doing them. I?ll try and ramp up for Halloween.

ComicBent
09-21-2005, 02:59 PM
Just to let you know ... I will be removing the PDF files of the contest entries from my homepage, probably Friday (day after tomorrow).

So if anybody wants a copy of something, get it now.

I am also going to remove the "sticky" status from all contest materials here on the board. Naturally, everything on the board itself will remain here until it eventually falls off into oblivion.

AaronB
10-02-2007, 09:58 AM
Comic, I see this thread is still here! What, does it last forever?

ComicBent
10-09-2007, 11:44 AM
Well, I guess it will stay until other things push it off page 1 and eventually into oblivion. :)