Sinister Characters

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  • Sinister Characters

    I am currently writing a short film screenplay centered on a teenager and a mysterious house across the street. (Innovative, I know.) After learning that I have to trim the script down to 15 or so pages due to time constraints, I've altered the concept quite a bit, but now I am at a mental crossroads as a result. I'm used to telling longer, more ambitious stories, so short films are not my forte.

    Here's what I've got: the film is a (slight) parable for social anxiety and is centered on a teenager who hears loud yells and metallic bangs come from the house across the street while working on a research project one night. As far as our protagonist knows, the house is uninhabited, and has been for some time.

    Without going into specifics, after a lot of build-up, our hero eventually sees a mysterious white van enter the garage of the house and then exit a short time later. When he decides to do some investing on his own, he is stopped on the street by a roaming college kid (driving) who is attending one of the neighboring parties and is searching for a friend that wandered off. Our hero suspects that his friend's disappearance may be related to what is occurring within the house.

    The gist of my original idea was that a cult had set up camp in the derelict house and was using it as a base to construct some sort of time-traveling device, and the friend of the partygoer was picked up off the street as a test subject. However, because of the amount of time allotted, I've had to ditch that idea and focus on one that requires less character establishment, which has had me mentally frozen. In other words: what can be going in within the house that can be established and wrapped up quickly?

    If anyone has any ideas or starting points that could lead me in a workable direction, I would greatly appreciate. We're set for the first table read next weekend and I am calmly freaking out about it.

  • #2
    Re: Sinister Characters

    The house itself could be the sinister character causing dread and fear for no reason other than its superficial appearance. Following that theme, the wimpy looking person would be the bravest and the tough character the most reluctant and scared.

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    • #3
      Re: Sinister Characters

      If it is a parable on social anxiety then nothing sinister is going on.

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      • #4
        Re: Sinister Characters

        Originally posted by StefanoEarnest View Post
        I am currently writing a short film screenplay centered on a teenager and a mysterious house across the street. (Innovative, I know.) After learning that I have to trim the script down to 15 or so pages due to time constraints, I've altered the concept quite a bit, but now I am at a mental crossroads as a result. I'm used to telling longer, more ambitious stories, so short films are not my forte.

        Here's what I've got: the film is a (slight) parable for social anxiety and is centered on a teenager who hears loud yells and metallic bangs come from the house across the street while working on a research project one night. As far as our protagonist knows, the house is uninhabited, and has been for some time.

        Without going into specifics, after a lot of build-up, our hero eventually sees a mysterious white van enter the garage of the house and then exit a short time later. When he decides to do some investing on his own, he is stopped on the street by a roaming college kid (driving) who is attending one of the neighboring parties and is searching for a friend that wandered off. Our hero suspects that his friend's disappearance may be related to what is occurring within the house.

        The gist of my original idea was that a cult had set up camp in the derelict house and was using it as a base to construct some sort of time-traveling device, and the friend of the partygoer was picked up off the street as a test subject. However, because of the amount of time allotted, I've had to ditch that idea and focus on one that requires less character establishment, which has had me mentally frozen. In other words: what can be going in within the house that can be established and wrapped up quickly?

        If anyone has any ideas or starting points that could lead me in a workable direction, I would greatly appreciate. We're set for the first table read next weekend and I am calmly freaking out about it.

        The classic twist in all of these time travel things is that the events that the protagonist are observing, apparently from the outside, he will end up, at some point, being the the participant.

        So he looks across the way and sees the mysterious characters grabbing someone, putting a bag over his head, etc, carrying him into another room...

        So he calls the police, they show up -- interview the guys -- and he sees them drive away. What's going on?

        So later that night, he sneaks across the way, manages to get inside, finds that strange what-ever-it-is -- steps inside.

        Wouldn't you know it -- he steps right out into the middle of these mysterious guys' time travel experiment.

        So they grab him, put a bag over his head -- and just as they drag him out of sight, he looks across the way and catches a glimpse of HIM staring at himself.

        Then one of them looks up from some sort of scanner -- the other one is calling the police. What do we do?

        Put him back in the machine. But where do we send him?

        All the way back.

        So they stick him in, turn the dial back ten billion years -- hit the button.

        Next thing you know, the cops are knocking on the door. They open it -- smile. They've got nothing to hide.

        NMS

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        • #5
          Re: Sinister Characters

          Hey StefanoEarnest.

          If you have such a short time frame and length, you should go simple. Always go simple. Go back to your core concept and start from there. Is it social anxiety? If it is, maybe you are right and time travel is a bit too much. Can you find something simpler that still respects your premise?

          What is social anxiety for you? I think this is an important issue for many teenagers that cannot find their place in the world. Your main character could be someone like that, someone who thinks nobody understands him/her. Now you have a mysterious house in front. Maybe someone inside that house does understand him/her... whatever that is. Who is that? Maybe someone who has also social anxiety but for different reasons, maybe that's why he/she/it (maybe it doesn't exist! imagination creature) never leaves the house and it looks abandoned...

          Just firing in the dark.
          Check out my website with my productions: http://www.picturesplusproductions.com

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          • #6
            Re: Sinister Characters

            Marijuana grow house? Some gangs will rent large homes in relatively quiet neighborhoods to grow large quantities of MJ and rig the electricity for the grow lights. Poorly rigged electrical systems cause fires. Fire department gets called out and they discover the grow, call the police, etc.
            www.twitter.com/tedzarro

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            • #7
              Re: Sinister Characters

              Shorts are usually some form of set up and punchline (twist).

              I like Neals' idea, used well in TIMECRIMES.

              But Cyfress also has a nice idea: build up the house and then twist: it's normal.

              Bill (my opening for the HOUSE remake had 2 kids daring each other to touch the front door of that creepy house in their neighborhood where they think an old witch lives... kids go in but never come out.)
              wcmartell
              Member
              Last edited by wcmartell; 05-01-2015, 01:39 AM.
              Free Script Tips:
              http://www.scriptsecrets.net

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