Comments Made During the Contest
Brian Wind (Level 5)
This was written and paced pretty well although the excessive use of VO grew a bit annoying after a while. The pace was pretty good and the characters were pretty well defined. The dialogue was often unbelievable and repetitive. The story itself seemed to go nowhere. The guy is a prisoner, they want something from him, but they don't know what it is and neither does he, but the big issue is that neither do we. Basically, I felt like this read like a David Lynch film. Lots of questions, but no resolution and no real reason for it's existence. I realize that last sentence could come across as a bit jerky, but I don't how better to articulate that point. What is the purpose of this script? Good writing, but the story needs direction and resolution.
Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)
You don't need the CONTINUEDSWhile some of Five's speeches are overlong, it's great the way you put the rhymes in as an indication of incipient insanity. Great characterisation.I think this is very good but the very end leaves me dissatisfied. It somehow just JUST misses out.
Chris Keaton (Level 5)
Five, can't say anything about the title.Love your opening sequence. You have to grab people right up front and this does that.Does the warden have an accent or what? His bj line sounds American.Show don't tell. What does 'almost collapses' look like?Continueds are no longer kosher, lose them.A good twisted tale. I hate VO, but this worked. You get a VG from me. Five alive.
Chris Messineo (Founder)
Good story and great voice over narration.I love the "sing-song" quality of Five's narration. You really feel the insanity of the situation and how it has broken him down and made him crazy just to try and survive.Powerful imagery throughout and a strong ending. Very well done.
Dave Patten (Level 1)
There is way too much exposition in your dialogue, it feels forced-fed with information that the reader can figure out without being told directly. Example, we already know the main character's name is Five in the first sentence. The reader is able to put together the facts that he is one of five men, we don't need obvious explanations to follow up.WARDEN You are One. Two. Three. Four. Example, if we didn't know the President's Son was going to keep him alive, you could create a lot more suspense in the final scene. Rather than just putting it out there.WARDEN Number Five, you are very lucky the President’s Son told me not to kill you.I like the idea but was lost with the ending... there's no payoff, he just doesn't die, and we don't know why the President's Son didnt kill him.But you had some good descriptions and created an appropriate mood
David Birch (Level 5)
most everything was presented well...i have two concerns...one: when crafting a "life and death" scenario, you need to make the reader feel the gravity of the situation...i.e. why do i care whether this guy lives or dies?...i.e. backstory...so give us a hint or two why he is being held...what is the external conflict...two: keep some things off the page to move the read along...most writers (and i include myself in this) tend to want to over-direct every movement because we are afraid of the reader "not getting it"...i.e. if you say that the prisoners are chained to each other, then, (of course) they are going to "shuffle forward together"...the dialog was strong...the visuals did their job...nice read...thanks...
David D. DeBord (Level 5)
You know you’re onto a good script, an intense script, perhaps a harrowing script when you’re almost afraid to read the next line yet compelled to keep going. Kind of like the character Five.Guess I won’t sleep well tonight after reading this.What works so well is the lack of superfulous words, phrases, scenes and activities. Almost to the point of no excess indivdual letters. So easy to read. You could read this script out load without ever having seen it yet you would not stumble over the words. Try doing that with other scripts. Read them out loud and see how you do.Thanks writer. Thanks for giving me a good lesson in script writing.
Elias Farnum (Level 5)
An unconventional interrogation, very unique and creative, I'm not sure how realistic it is, but well written, with a character you can like, and ones you can hate.The writing is top notch, nothing took me out of this story. An easy read all the way. Filled with tension/action in visuals, and dialogue.I liked how the fear, confusion, insanity comes through with five.Very good job, I was entertained.
Faith Friese Nelson (Level 5)
I really like this one, how the writer plays with words. Well written. I gave it an EXCELLENT!When the story starts the slug-line is INT. HALLWAY - DAY. Consider describing the hallway before introducing the character. I envisioned a hallway in a home...The writer is overusing the word THEN. I would suggest that you search on the word THEN, review, and see if they are really needed. Probably not.
Herman Chow (Level 5)
Another excellent entry for me. It's a truly haunting story.Shooting prisoners for fun is already sick. And it's the President's Son? The horror.Your story is straightforward and filled with conflicts. But there is a greater depth that seems to lie underneath the surface. And that feeling lingers with me.The characters and dialogue are top-notch. Especially when the President's Son told FIVE that he'll be number ONE tomorrow. The V.O. works well here. No complaints.Writing is good as well. Nothing that I can add. Oh...you missed the FADE IN:Excellent!
Jacob Guerra (Level 4)
I thought this one was good, and had a visual element to it that enhanced the story very well. However, some of the dialogue didn't work for me (for some reason, and I do not mean this to be insulting, but I expected Five to burst out into something like "Johnny five alive" or something like that) and it might have been the voice-overs. I understand we need to somehow learn of Five's mental capacity slipping, but there might have been a way to do this visually without stating it in voice over.
Jeannie Sconzo (Level 5)
This sent me through a wide range of emotions. The dialogue is quite engaging and layered.Very good!
JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator)
I don't understand the line "when I say jump, you say..." That didn't really make any sense to me. I mean I'm glad you didn't go the stereotypical route, but that didn't connect with it either.Ha! Five is so crazy, in the funniest way!I didn't get the script at all... But I loved it for some odd reason???I just liked the way 5 would ramble on about things. I didn't get the question part, though. And is he always number five, and does this always happen to him? This script really went over my head, and it didn't seem to make much sense, but I loved the visual world you put together and the dialogue was clean. I hope you can explain it to me later.
Jem Rowe (Level 4)
An odd yet intriguing script. I liked the fact that you never specified a particular war or time for this to take place in, it gave the whole piece a mysterious Kafkaesque/Orwellian feel, however you'll notice that usually in such works, violence is administered behind doors, I think a little more subtlety would have helped your script be more engrossing."Crazy, hazy, lazy, daisy?", there must be a less obvious way to show that he's losing it. This just didn't seem to fit. The idea of the presidents son doing the interrogating didn't work for me. If it had been explained somehow I wouldn't have minded, but I would have thought such a big responsibility would have been left with someone from in the military or government. All in all a very enjoyable script, keep it up.
John Brooke (Level 5)
A chilling narrative screenplay, shot by numbers. When you’re a five — still alive!When you’re a four — soon no-more.When you’re a three — die free. When you’re a two — soon adieu. When you’re a one — first one done.Death by numbers, a tale of man’s inhumanity to his fellow man. The brutality of corrupted power of man over man. Very raw and very graphic visual show of force and sadism.Simple, clear and cooly told within the confines of five pages. I think you could drop those: CONTINUED notations at the top and bottom of pages. Consider using a FADE IN at the beginning of your script and ending with FADE OUT, at the end of your script on the right side of the page.Good, maybe more.
Jonah Yarden (Level 4)
An interesting take on torture and a surprising ending. I say surprising because the beginning was unconvincing but then you pulled it back by page 4-5 with some descriptive text that was really engaging. I think the rhyming dialogue was unneeded and is a very unrealistic way of illustrating the maddening effects of five's torture. The convoluted monologues did that perfectly well, as i really heard this mumbling soliloquy of psychotic desperation. Also, naming the president's son was not needed, we didnt need to know who it was- it being the son of the president just seemed way too cliched and again broke the intensity and grit of the peice, along with homoerotic dialogue. Also, you had the guard push five against a wall twice- the repeatition made neither instance effectual so maybe you'd want to choose...I think you may have a really psychological and socio-politically illuminating short here but it needs to be approached with a little more realism and with less cinematic shock tactics- really put yourself in the shoes of a real five- a real victim of extradition or forced disappearance.Good Job!
Jose Batista (Level 5)
Very well written suspense. The chain gang and the warden said it all, but the delivery was a ride through hell. I felt for the men who were being whacked off by the president's son. The whole set up constantly teetered with the men's lives as they walked to their doom. The execution was brutal and merciless, shocking and at the same time refreshingly new. I do suggest tinkering with the part when the bullet goes through prisoners 1 - 4. I had to read that part thrice to understand exactly what was happening. Also, the ending was fitting, but it is a weak and easy ending. I would have liked for this to end in a stronger fashion considering the route it took to get to this point. Overall, crisp writing and great dialogue made this a Very Good. Cheers.
Kevin Carty (Level 4)
Ok as I started reading your script. I felt like the tone is totally off. Is this comedy is this drama or action or is it all of them combined. What a uniquely odd voice. However even if the voice is odd it should not be repeating what's already on the screen more than once. I want to like this script but I can't bring myself to. Your character speaks sort of cryptic and is very long winded which does add to originality but if it's an attempt at comedy in my book it doesn't connect. The voiceovers just don't bowl me over and it really doesn't do much in terms of the other characters. My advice you don't have to have a long winded monologue to have a great film. Monologues can be short and to the point or be talking about something else that relates to the action or something we can't see that relates to the action/description. My main problem here is tone because I can't tell what kind of story this is or what I'm in for here. Pick a direction that you want to go in: You only have 5 pages it doesn't have to be comedy plus, action plus scifi plus... Focus your genre. Even if your character is quirky we still need to hear or see his story play out.
Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5)
It's very well written and there are many funny moments in it. I liked Five. What a great idea name your character after a number and I also thought you chose a good one - the one that rhymes.I'm not a VO guru but I'll comment - for the most part I liked them in your script. But not Five's VO monologue on page 2 - felt a bit thick for such a short time. It also doesn't seem very clear to me. You promised a secret - Five wanted to tell us his secret. Did he? How could I miss it?Overall I liked your story.
KP Mackie (Level 5)
Intriguing idea. Wanted to know sometimes where this prison is, and other times did not. The character names of One, Two, Three, Four, and Five are original. No accents or foreign languages indicated so assume the antagonists are generic ruthless barbarians. No description about the Warden or Guards, and only an age for the President's Son. Wondered why the President's Son is prominent, but not the President. Also, 19 is young -- still a teenager. Would have liked some backstory to this kid to provide an inkling of motivation for such brutality.Not a big fan of VO, but in Five's case it works. Think his character would have had more impact if he was silent though. Maybe, use the VO so the reader/viewer is in his head, but no dialogue. Hard to believe that his smart-alleck retorts didn't get him shot.Found the circuitous argument about, "Or think they know that I know they know I don't know" etc. etc is interesting and clever. Five makes some valid points in his musings, which is why any dialogue from him may distract. It's probable and understandable that he is on the brink considering his circumstances.
Kyle Patrick Johnson (Level 5)
"If not, I hurt you very bad." This was a strange line from Warden, who's normally so punctual with his helping verbs. Maybe it's just a typo. It sounds suddenly childish, certainly not menacing.The writing of the action of the four guys killed with one bullet was confusing. Only when I read the President's Son's dialogue later did I figure out how the men were standing, how fast the action happened. That one bullet shot was spread over three action paragraphs, which made it look like three separate actions to me.The line about "your God" was odd, as if you're making a point about religions. I didn't quite figure it out. In fact, I'm not quite sure I figured out the purpose to the script. It didn't feel either anti-terrorism or anti-torture. There wasn't any torture, just general prison brutality and a gleeful execution. It might be a commentary on religious wars, or at least on cultural differences. The end of each VO was interesting to read, but it seemed kind of purposeless, unless to show that this guy really is losing his marbles simply by being in military prison. If I got close, you'll have to let me know. If I'm way off, you'll need a rewrite. :)
Margaret Ricke (Level 5)
I love the title. I didn't think I'd be able to say that one single time this month, but there it is. The starkness of that little number on the title page is great for setting the atmosphere. It was really striking. Excellent choice. This story will make a great little film. It's simple. It's visceral. It's intense.I love the dialogue and - don't let anyone tell you different - the VO is perfect in this story. You can turn off "CONTINUED" at the beginning and end of each page. They aren't against the law or anything, but they're no longer standard. It gives you four more lines per page, too. I wish I had the capabilities to film this. I can see it very clearly in my mind. Really good stuff here.Very good work.
Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5)
There was something cool about this but I think there was too much info missing for it to make actual sense...to me anyway. Where were they? In another country? You call them POW's but no one has an accent. Are they in America? And nothing Five said made any sense to me. He was saying a bunch of stuff and rhyming which I found interesting but figured at some point we'd find out something...which we never did. Just that he may or may not have some kind of secret. I just think this is a bit vague and at some point there needs to be a glimpse of a plot or story so what we're watching makes some sense.
Martin Jensen (Level 5)
Very effective. You did a really good job of conveying 5's descent into madness. The voiceover spoilt it slightly for me. I would have preferred it to be more enigmatic. To me it's even scarier if we have no idea why this is happening, removing even the pretence of questioning. Excellent.
Micah Ricke (Level 4)
Pretty good.There are some punctuation errors (missing commas) and such, but overall it is very well written.I think that THE WARDEN and THE PRESIDENT'S SON need names... Bad-ass, evil sounding names. "The warden" and "the president's son" are neither inspiring nor scary. Overall, I enjoyed it. Keep up the good work.Best regards.
Paul De Vrijer (Level 5)
His rhyming stuttering worked up until the 'secret secret'. Felt kind of forced there. Other than that, interesting, very visual and you gripped me with the possibilities. Strong dialogue and an interesting mysterious premise. Loved the bullet bouncing off his face. The title fits excellently, although it isn't really provoking. There's plenty going on and I like the entire setting. Do feel it's a shame he's turning into number one, perhaps shedding some light on the fact that one was a five too could make this more dynamic.BEST MOMENT: The bullet bouncing, would be so striking visually.
Paul Williams (Level 5)
This was well written and tense. I enjoyed it overall. I'm left with many questions, but I think some of that was done intentionally to keep things ambiguous and universal.I thought the voice-over was effective and I like how it showed Five's mental deterioration from being held captive.As I was reading I was hoping for a twist or revelation in the end, but one never came, and the ending itself left me feeling a little unfulfilled.Your screenwriting is very good; format overall appears in order, although there is no "FADE IN:" Didn't detect any noticeable typos.
Philip Whitcroft (Level 5)
Overall this is going for a very difficult concept. I like the idea but it is very hard to balance the various elements here and get them to work well. As it is, for me it doesn't get me to buy in and so I had trouble following the flow of it. As a specific point it relies on some heavy voice over to get across the themes and I wonder if the story might work better leaving all the voice over unsaid."Five is alive!" - This is an amusing reference to another film, however within the context of this film I think the tone of the reference feels out of place.
Rick Hansberry (Moderator)
Wierdly poetic that I read this on the 5th. I was thrown a bit off kilter with the Warden and the President's Son. This seemed to be America, so I didn't know if these were American troops caught by terrorists or vice versa. The line of prisoners awaiting execution could be a tremendous visual for a short film and I think you did a nice job of escalating the tension toward Five as the President's son fired. I would caution against the dialogue bit of 'I'll tell you what I know or what they think I know." If you say it aloud, it seems kind of confusing. Try not to overuse the word 'know.' The ending wa a little confusing as well. Was Five led away to the dark hallway or just go on his own? The voice-over worked for the most part for me and I think this one has potential -- I would like to know more about the roles though. Who was this guy that he just had prisoners he could shoot for fun. I needed more than The President's Son.
Rob Dianora (Level 4)
I was trying to think who five reminded me of and I thought of Rorshach. Don't know if that's what you were going for... Some of his lines were tough to read, probablly will work on screen a lot better. I guess for me what hurt the script, was a little lack of a plot. It kind of just went along. I do think it would be a solid action movie though.
Sally Meyer (Moderator)
Glad I made it in time to read your script. Wow it blew me away (no pun intended) It's excellently done. I could just see it all unfold in front of me as I read. I hated the bad guys and rooted for the good guys.Well done. I don't have much time to finish the reviews, but I'm so glad I got to this one.Good luck with it. I think it will make an excellent short.
Scott Merrow (Level 5)
This is REALLY good, but the end is a little disappointing. The very end. The scene right before the end, where the bullet goes through four heads and then bounces off Five's face -- now THAT is one of the coolest scenes ever! Great stuff.In addition to painting a great picture of this weird prison camp, you've introduced a compelling mystery -- what is Five's secret? I know he kinda tells us when he says his secret is that he doesn't know anything regardless of what they think he knows. But, then, why are "they" so interested in him? Are they truly just mistaken? Five is just another nobody of no significance? If that's really it, it's a disappointing end to the story. And, if that's NOT really it, and there's more to the mystery of Five, but we never find out -- that's disappointing, too. Hence, I found the end a little disappointing.Other than that -- great!My score: VERY GOOD.
Stephen Brown (Level 5)
This was an interesting read. I enjoyed it.Title: Very clever use of a number and it fit really well. Didn't feel forced at all. 5/5Characters: '5' was an interesting character, seemed to have a goal of just getting through his days. There was a hint of madness about him through his strange, almost rhyming V.O. dialogue. The President's Son and the Warden were a little less developed and didn't interest me as much. 4/5Dialogue: Strange rhyming going on, it almost had a musical feel to it. V.O. was a well thought out option - I thought it gave something extra to the script. As with characters, I didn't like the dialogue as much from the supporting cast. 4/5Story: I liked the story but would have liked to understand a bit more about what was going on. The threat of becoming 'Number One' tomorrow was a good way to end it but I'm not sure why The President's Son is shooting these prisoners. A few more clues would help the story in my opinion. 4/5Overall, an interesting read that could use maybe more room to shine. 4/5
Thomas W. Brown (Level 4)
This is very well written and crazy. You paint an excellent picture of the mind of a torture victim. The repetitive rhyming dialogue may bother some, but I feel it really adds to the piece, giving it a sense of continuity. Great job!VERY GOOD
Wes Worthing (Level 5)
Strong concept. I like the crazy talking to himself, that probably keeps Five sane. That same crazy talk does get a bit repetitive towards the end with the "I know, they know" lines. I like the raw setting and dialogue, they fit well together and nothing seems forced. I see you have the "Son" in President's Son capitalized throughout the story until the end when you drop the "S" to lower case. No biggie there, but thought you may want to know to keep it consistent. Altogether strong writing. If I couldn't produce this piece, I would certainly ask to read everything else you have.
Comments Made After the Contest
Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 12/1/2009 12:13 AM
Great script - haunting. Congratulations on the HM.
Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 12/1/2009 12:17 AM
I loved this, Bill. Congratulations on your HM!
Thomas W. Brown (Level 4) ~ 12/1/2009 12:33 AM
Bill, this is a great script. Congrats on the recognition!
Sally Meyer (Moderator) ~ 12/1/2009 12:44 AM
Loved this script Bill!!! Very well done!
William Dunbar (Level 5) ~ 12/1/2009 1:00 AM
Wow! An HM! I think it's my first one since my very first MP script. Thanks for all the great comments, good and bad, as usual. I'll keep them in mind and think about whether to do a rewrite. But I might leave this one as is for now. Thanks again, everybody!
Chris Keaton (Level 5) ~ 12/1/2009 7:26 AM
Congrats! I'm sure it was my VG vote that put you over the top of just nearly missing the top 3.
Paul Williams (Level 5) ~ 12/1/2009 2:22 PM
I'm not a psychiatrist, but I'd bet this is close to the mental breakdown that can happen to P.O.W's. This is how voice-over is effective, great job. It's not the enemy everybody makes it out to be when it's handled correctly.Good job!