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"Last Day" by Chris Keaton

Rewrite: 5/1/2009 12:00 AM

Logline: Todd has finally had it as a corporate drone and is going to exit this dead end world. - This short is available.

Genre: Crime - Drama - Thriller

Cast Size: 3

Production Status: In Production

Contest: Monologue (Mar. 2009)

Contest Scores
PoorFairGoodVery GoodExcellent
3%32%41%24%0%

Comments Made During the Contest

Amanda Sidorowicz (Level 4)

I didn't see the ending coming, and I really liked it. I think it works well for your character.

The title is perfect. It tells it like it is, yet it doesn't give anything away.

Your writing is good. Your format is pretty much perfect.

I don't really have anything bad to say about this piece. Well done!

Brian Wind (Level 5)

The story was pretty good, but I can't help but feel like 90% of that dialogue should have been done in VO. Was he actually sitting in the meeting speaking his thoughts aloud? If he was, I'm sure that would have evoked some sort of reaction from his co-workers or boss. If he wasn't, and we were hearing his thoughts, then it should have been written as a Voiceover. The story was decent and I didn't see the end coming, but unfortunately, I think the reason I didn't see it coming was because it seemed so out of character for Todd to do that. Todd seems to fancy himself as a smart guy so why would he just one day decide to blow up his office, especially with himself in it? It just didn't seem to fit the character. Overall, this was a pretty cool script, but I think we need to see more of why Todd would go to such extreme measures for this to really work. As it is, he's annoyed with his job and the corporate rat race, but doesn't seem to be insanely disgruntled by it to the point that he'd blow everything up. Nice job, but I think a rewrite could really improve this in to a very powerful script.

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

No need to bold your title.

It's a surprising ending - well done for that.

The trouble I had with it, in general, was that the way you set it up, people WOULD have talked back to him - especially Stacy in the elevator. Perhaps a little more thought to set up circumstances where talking would never have occurred?

Another thing is, that you named and gave ages to characters who were just fleeting visitors. Somehow doing that gave them too much weight.

Good stuff though.

Chris Messineo (Founder)

Good title.

I like that you have Todd breaking the fourth wall and talking to the camera - it's different and intriguing.

However, the tone of his monologue feels almost comedic and it doesn't really gel with the ending which is so dark and depressing. I wish it had gone in another direction. As it is, the ending feels like it exists solely to shock us. It does, but since it feels so disconnected from the rest of the story, I'm not sure it moves us. I hope that makes sense.

Christopher Castle (Level 4)

Good title.

Todd goes to work with the intention to quit and blow up the office.

Good script, the dialogue and the action were punchy and it was easy to understand and follow. It felt well paced too. Maybe a little unbalanced against a corporate life with no opposite view but with only one character speaking this is probably expected.

The twist at the end with the bomb did come as a shock and was very good.

Maybe the script was a little short and the story could have been improved.

David Birch (Level 5)

no one could sympathize with todd's sentiments more than i could...but to "hook" your reader, you are going to have to deliver a little more subtext and back-story in order to take us into his world that would result in a person taking such drastic action...

Dom Kullander (Level 3)

Got a certain sense of Ed Norton's 'Fight Club' musings from Todd's monologue. I felt a particular strength of this script was his ability to break down the fourth cinematic wall and talk directly to his audience, with his workplace interactions appearing even more automatic and irrelevant. Wasn't overly convinced by the inclusion of the 'heaven and hell' concept towards the end but the rest is very solid.

Faith Friese Nelson (Level 5)

Nice story and very well written. There are a few places where writing could be more active. Example: "The other car parked way too close to the line making it hard for the van to fit." Consider instead: "The other car, parked way too close to the line, makes it hard to fit.

Garrett Box (Level 4)

This reminded me of the beginning of “Wanted”, a man living a depressing life at work who wants to break out. I am going to have to wave my red card at you for the content. I know that as a writer there should be nothing to stand in your way of writing whatever story you want to write, but this borders on being tasteless, and let me tell you why. The scenario you’ve described isn’t some kind of strange fantasy, it’s really happened before. The story is told through the eyes of killer, which whether you want it or not, somewhat glorifies him and damns the others because they’re just sheep. You might as well write a story about a man who walks into a hospital and shoots all the newborn babies with a machinegun. Just because you can write whatever you want, doesn’t mean you should. Plus this would be off the wall offensive if I knew anyone who died in a work massacre, and they do happen. Hell, “Flight Club” blew up buildings, but they made sure that no one was in them when it happened.

Geoff Peel (Level 1)

Snappy, cheerfully depressing.

Not quite convinced he is capable of the final act.
It's one thing to hate your job and even your life but why do what he does.

He says he "wants to see what's out there" and I gather by this he means heaven or hell, but why not see what's out there in the real world first. The other will come soon enough.

Hey I know it's your story and you can do as you want, but I just didn't get enough motivation from him to believe he would take such drastic action. I suppose it's always possible though.

Hafsah Mijinyawa (Level 2)

I thought this was a comedy at first. I was just imagining John Lithgow doing a deadpan delivery when I came to the last page! Wow! Didn't actually expect that. And on second though, John Lithgow probably could still do it. It could be funny in a dark The Office sort of way.

Technically though, in this economy, the guy should be glad he HAS a job. It may suck but at least he'll be paying his mortgage. :P

Jeannie Sconzo (Level 5)

Very good - clear beginning middle and end. Dialogue flows nicely. Good descriptions. Surprise ending. Todd is a likable character despite his cynicism.

Jeff Ferry (Level 5)

First off, no script with the term "sheeple" can be bad. I really enjoyed the build up of the script. The first few pages while he arrives and enters his building is very enjoyable. I thought it kind of fell apart after he was called into the CFO's office. The obvious ending was the one you chose and I was hoping for something more clever. The explosvies angle has been done before and I thought you were going to go somewhere more irreverant.

Joel Davis (Level 5)

That was unexpected but without seeing what motivated Todd to do this it feels just random and senseless. Todd explains (or rationalizes) his actions in his monologue, but we don't see any hints of what would drive Todd to be the kind of person that would resort to this. Was it his childhood? Or financial distress? Or hazing by his coworkers? Here's, it's simply ennui, and that doesn't seem strong enough.

John Brooke (Level 5)

Baaa! Your starkly told monalogue by a dehumanized human is a wonderfully encapsulated lesson in inhumanity. Ah, yes the system!

You have creatively spun a tale of hopelessness and anquish in this effective screenplay monologue. The end came as a complete surprise. Hell I figured he was smart enough to head for freedom in some rural backward third world country. Man that poor bastard was totally conditioned.

The bleat of sheep echoes in millions of heartless cubicles within scholastic, governmental, and commercial marble halls across this land of liberty.

Thanks for repeating the lesson.

John Ward (Level 3)

This was a strong title. I liked it and it fits well into the script. However the script is a little short, and I felt we didn't learn anything about the main character Todd at all. This is more like a diatribe against current corporate recklessness (which is not necessarily a bad thing) but you have to tackle it with a bit more subtlety, or a cool twist like in 'He was a quiet man' - where the guy is beaten to the punch by one of the other drones. I like the straight to camera stuff, but as I said it feels more of a diatribe than giving us insight into his thoughts. If we can see more of the drones, and his work environment and his despair at working there, then this will help us to latch onto the character a little more so that we understand his reasoning and why he has been driven to this point. As it stands, we have no idea.

Jon Hill (Level 4)

Your screenplay is fresh and original and on the whole I enjoyed reading it. I really liked the way Todd spoke his thoughts to the camera before speaking to the next corporate drone. I also liked how it was revealed that Todd had parked in the Boss’ space, thus linking in with the opening scene.

My main complaint is the ending with the bomb – it seemed a little too farfetched for my liking and at odds with social satire that preceded it. Also, TODD needs to be capitalized when introduced.

Overall, very good.

Jose Batista (Level 5)

I think if Todd's point of view is taken into a more grave and serious tone, then his actions will be carried out with more conviction and the script will achieve its intended purpose. One would need to justify the act in a greater degree than what you did in this script. Todds's reasons were nothing more than a generic rant which dealt with his general feelings about everything. For this type of script to work you need to make the reader feel that the person truly has gone over the deep end. His own personal feelings should be painting a scene of anger and brutal revenge.
Keep Writing.

Kenneth Hurd (Level 4)

It was written well, but I was never pulled into the story. I found Todd to be an unlikable character from the get go, and that made it difficult for me to find out why his actions should be justified.

Kevin Carty (Level 4)

Ok, in order to make a clear,concise and fair review I am going to do this as I read. My first problem is a formatting issue, the first character is not capitalized when he is first introduced.

V.O. I don't understand about this piece of dialogue is he speaking to himself out loud.
we don't do anything of consequence.
The descriptions while brief do not read well or come across as being visual just drab at times.

The ending, I can't believe I'm saying this being that I am the king of predictable stories,was predictable. I think I've heard the term sheeple before also I don't understand why he would blow up the building or parking lot or whatever.

There was really nothing that really caught me or pulled me in except for a few dialogue or voice over or whatever they really are. all in all they could be fixed. It could be more imaginative like if he did it for love of his co worker out of madness not just because he hates his job.

Nice try but the motivation of the main character seems to be lacking.

KP Mackie (Level 5)

Good start. Like the frame: van in parking garage at beginning, and van in parking garage at end. Appropriate title.
Seems Todd's a predictable drone, albeit suicidal. Considering he blew up his place of employment -- assuming that's what the solid red light indicates -- some insight into his personality might be helpful. He's friendly to Stacy and Andrew, actually chatty.
The "only one character can talk" prompt feels forced. The exchange with Stacy...and certainly Andrew would have said something to accompany pointing at his watch.
With some background about Todd, or more specific info about the type of sales company, this work-place bombing story could be more compelling. Perhaps use remaining two pages to add more substance.

Kyle Patrick Johnson (Level 5)

To call an elevator "the utilitarian box" is an interesting image, but it's slightly too editorial. It gets Todd's inner emotions across, but seems purposeless in its information to the reader (not the viewer, of course).

A very interesting stylized view into the corporate life. Todd's commentary was interesting, and I loved the camera's invisible "fourth wall breaking" straight into his mind. But...

The terrorist climax was shocking (as it was supposed to be): a hopeless, loveless, searingly bitter moral. However, it seemed disconnected with Todd's attitude on the world. He didn't strike me as revengeful, just as someone who wanted something better. Perhaps my perceptions and generalizations about terrorists are wrong, but Todd just didn't fit my mental profile. I know that's the twist you were going for, but I think you had a golden opportunity here to express more than just hatred at the corporate system.

Laureen Muller (Level 4)

I like the title it works well with the story. However, the story just didn't seem plausible. You have your character, Todd, talking out loud, having conversations with himself (which we all have at times) that would, in the normal course of the day, have others responding in some way (verbally) (i.e. saying Hi to Stacey, the meeting reminder and such). If this is an inner voice, a voice over, or other off camera vocals you do not let us, the reader, know this, so we are assuming that he is just talking out loud. If it was an inner voice or such, this would give the credence to the fact that no one else is speaking and why the other voices appear to be silent (i.e. the meeting). Too many references to drones (leaving the reader to lose focus by questioning are they drones (as in machines) or just figuratively drones). We do realize you mean the later, eventually. The idea was good, the format well done; the ending was a good twist. A little reworking and this could be a good short.

Martin Jensen (Level 5)

The scene direction was really good. I liked how much personality came across in it, definitely more helpful for realizing it on film than emotionless scene direction.

Wow. Even after reading a short script with a similar twist I still didn't see that coming. Very effective.

Matt Johnson (Level 3)

-Breaking the fourth wall eh? People on this site tend not to like that, but I'll cut some slack due to the challenge limitations.

-The parenthetical saying "to Stacy" is rather pointless, wouldn't ya say. I don't think that is needed when you refer to her name in the actual dialog. Also the one with Andrew is also not needed for the same reason.

-I like the indication of the fake smiling and the painful waving. Some might not like it, but I do.

-The bird flying is an amazingly symbolic. Whether meant or not. I liked that.

-Hmm. Very surprising ending. I can't believe I wasn't expecting that. Very cool ending. I think the Fade to White might cause somewhat of an uproar because it's not really a writer's job to pick the transition. The fade to black transition is traditionally only used to indicate the end. So basically it replaces the words "THE END".

Michael Cornetto (Level 5)

I think you did a good job at maintaining the tone throughout. I'm not certain about the ending though, I think that went in the opposite direction from the rest of the piece. You might come up with a different ending or change the tone of the rest so that it more serious. Also, using the conceit of having other characters that don't talk is kind of wearing thin in these script. Having a character that isn't mute and doesn't communicate when spoken to (unless there is a good reason) does not work for me.

Michael Hoffman (Level 4)

I liked the idea here. Almost everyone can certainly relate to the dissatisfaction of a job and the search for something better.

However, I think this script fell a little short of adding anything unique to that topic. The approach seemed a little too familiar and there just didn't seem like any special elements to make this truly memorable.

I thought Todd's character could have used a little more personality. Maybe he was meant to sound like a man totally defeated by this point but I never felt any special connection to him as opposed to any number of 'drones', slugging their way through the daily grind.

Maybe introduce his plot to blow up the building at the very beginning but throw in that he's not completely sure if his bomb making skills are correct. This would have added tension to the script and you could have played off his emotional struggle of 'achieving heaven by blowing up this hell'. Then, at the very end, maybe he pulls the trigger and... I don't know? Writers choice. Does it go off or not go off or do you leave it open ended? Just a fun alternate direction you could take.

Maybe this doesn't jibe with what you were trying to do but I just wanted to offer a different approach. With a few pages to spare, I think you could add some other element or drive to make the story more engaging. Right now, it's okay but I would love to see you take it to a new level.

MJ Hermanny (Level 5)

Someone doesn't like their day job!

The story is ok, not particularly visual but has a blandness to it which fits the corporate boredom well and I liked the description of the office workers as drones. I felt let down at the end with the explosives, I was hoping for a Lester Burnham denouement where Todd told the CFO where he could stick his parking spot.

Todd's character was very one dimensional, there was no hint as to why he felt like this or that he was so frustrated he was actually going to commit mass murder. This also didn't gel with his line about wanting to 'see what's out there'.

Dialogue was good although Todd repeated himself a lot, he goes on about lemmings, worms, insects, soul sucking, death and not much else.

Did not feel hugely original but you caught the stifling boredom well.

Format is good although some odd turns of phrase: 'a drone spots Todd and glances at their watch.'

Paul Williams (Level 5)

I think some of Todd's dialog is supposed to be voice-over, otherwise it doesn't make sense. Either Todd is talking to us in voice-over or he's speaking out loud in the middle of the meeting while his boss is talking.

Todd kills himself and everyone else because he's unhappy at work? Are there any other, possibly more serious reasons? It's identifiable, but a little extreme. Give us a little more why he hates Robert Larue and the company.

A lot of Todd's dialogue lacks subtlety and subtext. Keep it a little more vague and mysterious.

It's no big deal, but this is the second script I've read that states a character looks at the camera. It can be confusing at first and I think it needs to be formatted a little differently.

The bomb in the old white van is a good revelation, it conjured up images of "Fight Club."

Your screenwriting is very good, overall format is in order. There are a few minor typos throughout.

Philip Whitcroft (Level 5)

You have done an effective job of describing working life. I was going along with this all the way to the terrorist thing at the end. I'd suggest dropping that and devising an alternative ending because you will have a sympathetic audience, but I doubt they will buy into that concept.

"old white van" - If this is in America then this is a "truck" and it's probably not white.

For this contest I'm not sure that it is natural in this story for no one else to say anything.

Robbie Comeau (Level 3)

Woah, that was interesting haha. Nice twist at the end, I was moved by it.

I liked the dialog, and it was a different kind of story (talking towards the camera) which I don't really like in films, but this one kept me going!

Good job,

Robbie

Rustom Irani (Moderator)

The style of narrative and premise reminded me a lot of "Fight Club"

The pacing is driven entirely by dialog and I wish there were actions to motivate the same.

I also think while you stuck to the challenge quite well, especially by incorporating him talking to the camera and to the characters, I don't find it entirely plausible that the people he interacts with don't respond back verbally.

And you do prove that with the sign flashing on his computer screen. This is a major plot device but is relegated to being read by the audience something that I'm averse to.

That's one of the slights I have with this story.

The other being Todd's even monotone. He has made up his mind to go ahead with the plan from the start. Show me some event or purpose that might cause an hindrance? Something that might not work? Even a simple short in his remote or no signal to the detonator.

This script needs a dose of tension, which a simple reveal at the start might help with.

Technically you were fine and with a re-write this will be a great short to make.

Keep on writing!

Sally Meyer (Moderator)

This started off well, but I feel the ending just didn't go anywhere. It was a story about someone who hates his job, and takes matters into his own hands at the end. I didn't feel sorry for the main protag, because he was just a whiny guy who had no motivation to change things for the better in his life.

Sylvia Dahlby (Level 5)

Fade to white - yikes, like how it literally blew up in the end. Rather timely commentary too, with so many people going over the edge nowadays. I was slow to appreciate the breach of the third wall w/Todd talking to the camera and everyone else MOS, but this turned out to be an interesting treatment of the monologue theme. And I love a good explosion.


Comments Made After the Contest

Chris Keaton (Level 5) ~ 5/1/2009 12:25 AM

Thanks everyone! What I learned from these reviews.

1. A lot of people don't know what breaking the 4th wall means. Don't feel bad I just learned it a few months ago and this will be the last time I do it.
2. Some people see things as obvious while others are totally surprised? Hmm?
3. A couple folks were actually offended by the ending? I imagine they were the people (or maybe just person) who delivered me my first 'poor' rating. Come on really? It wasn't to your liking, but poor? Sure it didn't garner any 'excellents', but you win some you blow some up.
4. And Phillip it is set in America and we do have vans, hell I even owned a white van.
5. I was trying to make Todd unlikeable to regular people and likable to those people that may find themselves in this situation. You are suppose to cheer for this guy until he does something despicable and then you are supposed to look at yourself and say, 'could I do that?' And when your job gets on your last nerve you just quit instead of blowing anything up.
The point of black comedy is to make you uncomfortable, to make you look at your self beyond your facade. This isn't supposed to glorify a killer, but keep you from becoming one.
Ahh, but hell it's also suppose to be entertaining.

Chris Keaton (Level 5) ~ 5/1/2009 12:26 AM

The rewrite gives a little backstory, but still not enough to satisfy everyone, cheers!

Kevin Carty (Level 4) ~ 5/1/2009 5:48 AM

Ok, I can only speak for myself here but I've got to say that this isn't exactly that original. I just read your rewrite. I'm still not sure about his motivations because it seems like he's delusional rather than unlikeable. There is a scene that in a recent blockbuster movie that this short script shares alot of similarities to Wanted. Where Wesley is being pushed to the edge by his bosses to the point that you identify with his hatred for his colleagues especially his boss.
The Saved By the Bell, fourth wall scenario is cool I like it but to me its still missing something in the monologue and for me that's poignancy and every script should have that depth. There are other ways of showing anger other than cursing.
Ok now let me address the issue of the unlikeable protagonist, I like unlikeable characters if that makes any sense. I think its a brave approach to tell a story from the POV of the Killer, Criminal or Villain. It's something that I applaud instead of the mother trying to protect her helpless kid situation. Now, that being said I want you to think about something that could have ramped up the scene a device of some sort that could have made us feel the tension.
Now I know that the characters cannot speak but maybe they could have been jeering him along because it seems kind of weak for him to just say one day I'm going to blow up my place of business. Everyone is a product of their environment and to take that journey with a main character you have to see that little bit of good in them that makes you understand why they are the way they are.
You used the computers to tell us some stuff that didn't move the story along at least not very well in my opinion. In 'Wanted' we get the idea of him being a failure at least in his mind and you see him being lazy and starting not to care about anything. You could have also taken us to his homelife maybe living with his parents or something like that but again this is meant to be a short script but only a suggestion.
While wanted is not the best give it a read and you may understand what I'm saying about putting your character on the brink. But if you want to be subtle you could make his appearance seem more clear to the audience. People gunning for his job, let his dark side really change him like DEXTER, a normal guy on the surface but his true personality is the total opposite only when breaking the fourth wall. Everyone hates their job but if we feel his vengeance it would be awesome.
Here's an idea that I think would trick the audience into thinking that he wouldn't kill everyone at the end.
He could have mentioned how he wished he could come back and blow all their brains out Rambo Style." then when he's about to kill everyone he could have said that's not his style Explosions are much more memorable or something along those lines. For irony you could have indicated that he was getting a promotion on some memo. To me that would have been chilling and if he said something after the explosion that was funny like FUCK... that would be a dark comedy to me. He just sounds like he's complaining alot to me and that makes him a little boring at times. I know you are a witty guy because SHEEPLE was snappy. I get what you are trying to say he's confident bordering on Cocky but all villains are a little crazy.
I took everyone's advice and I have started to read movie scripts now. I'm seeing alot of things I was not aware of while writing my other scripts but now that I'm studying the screenwriters bible and the fog around my stories is starting to clear up.
So that's what I think, this could be awesome funny while frigtening watch some Dexter on sidereel or showtime and you might get a little about what I'm saying when you see the villains he faces. Most are dark and funny at times to me.

Chris Keaton (Level 5) ~ 5/1/2009 8:32 AM

Thanks Kevin. Maybe, I'll post the version where the device doesn't work and he comes to his senses and then it goes of accidentally.

Although there will be no curving bullets. :)

Basil Sunshine (Level 4) ~ 5/21/2011 9:59 PM

I love this! I wouldn't change much of anything. It's pretty damn dark at the end, but I found it hilarious up until that point (definitely not saying you should change it). Anyone who is not a sheeple and who has worked in an office setting can painfully identify with this character... at least up until he pulls out the bomb (well, even that, maybe a little...)

Basil Sunshine (Level 4) ~ 5/21/2011 10:06 PM

Oops, my previous comment was on the original. I didn't see there was a re-write. And please don't hate me for this, but I LOVE the original and am "meh" on the rewrite. The original just comes at you and punches you in the guts. The rewrite explains too much. Some people won't be happy if everything is not explained, but sometimes art is unexplainable. But you know, take every criticism with a grain of salt (even mine, though I have wonderful taste ;D). Definitely looking forward to more of your work.

Chris Keaton (Level 5) ~ 5/21/2011 10:18 PM

I see what you mean. Stepping away can give you a new perspective. This is currently in pre-production and I know the director is adding to it, so I'll see how it works out.

Basil Sunshine (Level 4) ~ 5/22/2011 2:26 AM

Oh that's awesome. Congrats, man!


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