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"$500.00" by JeanPierre Chapoteau

Rewrite: 5/17/2010 12:00 AM

Logline: A man spends the last of his savings on a self indulging adventure before making a life or death decision.

Genre: Comedy - Drama

Cast Size: 8

Production Status: Available (Please contact the author to negotiate the rights)

Contest: Numbers (Oct. 2009)

Contest Scores
PoorFairGoodVery GoodExcellent

Comments Made During the Contest

Brian Wind (Level 5)

The first problem I notice, even before I read a single word is this.... 18 scenes is WAY too many for a 5 page script. And now that I've read it, a lot of those scenes could be combined or omitted. The dialogue could use some tightening. Overall, I thought this story was very solid, but the overuse of VO became annoying. I don't think he needed to narrate as much as he did. We get the picture without him telling us. Instead of him telling us in VO about his disdain for hooker banging, you could show it in his actions. Maybe he snarls at her when she finishes. Maybe he kicks her right out of the room. I don't know... I felt like there was a lot of telling going on with the narration when it would have been more effective to show us the things he's talking about. Loved the ending. All in all, this was a pretty enjoyable script. Nice work. For future reference, "isle" = an island and "aisle" = a walkway.

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

Why does this sound dull as a title? I don't know!

Veteran teller should be capitalised.

Sitting on the back of his bare feet, Daniel hovers over the money.- Uh? This paints a strange picture and I'm not sure what you mean. 'Five water stains simmer in the
white coated wood.' - same here - simmer means to boil gently.

isle - aisle

I'm finding the dialogue rather lengthy and hard to plough my way through.

I can't understand why the dollar bills are still dripping after all that time.

bares - bears

Was all of the last scene in the picture?

I'm afraid I didn't 'get' a lot of this. Why the long conversation about it being exactly $500 in the bank?Why the insistence on the comforter being exactly $100? What relevance to the plot?

I think this needs tightening up for it to be a gripping story.

Chris Keaton (Level 5)

FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS!!! This is surprisingly the first dollar figure title I've seen.

Triple space before your scene heading.
Ok, that droned on, but it was twisty enough to make an impression good job. The writing was fine, but with so much VO you usually have to grow attached to stick with it, but I think your punch comes soon enough to work.

Chris Messineo (Founder)

I thought this started great. I loved the visuals and I especially liked the way you intercut those wet bills being picked up.

In the middle, the voice-over narration was beginning to feel a bit much (I like it, but you simply don't need all of it).

Then the ending/twist, felt rushed and that last paragraph is very awkward (I had to read it a few times to get it).

I think if you rewrite this a bit, it could be very good.

David Birch (Level 5)

very dark...very well written...nice question is the last line delivered or a V.O. ??? reads as if he says it out loud...other than that congrats on a job well done...thanks...

David D. DeBord (Level 5)

There were parts of this screenplay I really liked. I was particularly pleased with the multiple examples of leaving a few things out and letting me fill in the gaps. Not great gaps and not hard things to fill in but there was a good efficiency of words in much of this.

The back to the putting the wet bills in his hand bit was perhaps done at least once or maybe twice too often for me. Particularly since the repetition in action was too similarly described.

I had to read the last few lines a couple times to figure out what was going on and I think the wording of this important climax is somewhat convoluted. I like the ending but had to struggle to figure it out. All the hard work that lead up to it was hurt by the unclear wording.

This also is a script where I think the voice over works, so I have no problem with that often criticized part of the screenplay. I think it’s quite appropriate here and appropriately used.

Elias Farnum (Level 5)

So, is there a woman and nude man in the room? Or in the picture?

This was really written well. I like your visuals quite a bit. Sheets of rain terrorize. Unfortunately, I was quite confused by the story, I'm pretty dense, so I may be off the mark. If so I apologize.

I don't care for all the voice over, but it could be trimmed and still work. You did utilize it well to flesh out Daniel's character. I wish I understood the whole story.

Faith Friese Nelson (Level 5)

Weird tale that held my interest through to the end. Very good. Here are a few comments.

"With swift hands, the veteran teller deals five..." The word TELLER should be capitalized since this is the first time the character shows up in the script.

If you can say the same thing with less words, then do it. Remember, less is more. Example #1: "They never leave his hand as he shuffles his way out the building." Consider instead: "They never leave his hand as he shuffles out the building." Example #2: "In a dingy overcoat with no hood, Daniel makes his way up the building steps." Consider instead: "In a dingy overcoat with no hood, Daniel climbs the building steps."

Herman Chow (Level 5)

Hmmm....not sure if I understand the writer's intention. It's quite a mixed bag for me. Seems like the writer is trying to convey a message through the script, but it fails to enlighten me. Sorry.

I liked the visual about Daniel peeling each one hundred dollar bill at a time. There seems to be some power to it. But then he just used them randomly. Well, maybe not randomly but I just didn't get Daniel's motivation.

Oh yeah, what's with the bat with dry blood at the end?

I'm sure there is some interesting idea within the script, but I feel the execution is lacking a bit. Nice try.

Jacob Guerra (Level 4)

I thought your descriptions were really good, and outshined the dialogue, which felt a bit wooden to me. I also liked the twist at the end, especially since I didn't see it coming at all.

Jeannie Sconzo (Level 5)

Pg 1 pick not picks.
Walmart is 1 word.
Who says saleslady? That's quite odd.

I truly don't get it. There wasn't anything happening that made me care to finish reading. I mean, of course I did, but I wasn't invested.

Jem Rowe (Level 4)

Wow, I'm right at the end of my reviews for this month but you've absolutely made it worth getting here. Your script was gripping and complete whilst embracing the short film format rather that trying to be a feature as so many short scripts do. I'll definitely give you an "Excellent" but this doesn't mean your script was perfect, after all, creative criticism is the most important part of a review. So here goes:

I think you could cut back on the Voice Over a little. It's easy to over indulge when you have a knack for dialogue (like you do) but quite so much isn't necessary.

Your last non-dialogue paragraph needs to be reworded, I found it very very confusing and after reading over it many times I'm still not certain I fully understand what you're trying to say.

I'm not a huge fan of happy endings but I feel a little more joy or optimism would improve your script, at the moment I think that although it's excellent, it would be hard to enjoy.

This has been my second favourite of the numbers competition, I really hope there's a top three place waiting for you. Good luck pal.

John Brooke (Level 5)

What a sneaky compelling tale you have slipped into this Movie Poet contest. Deceptively clever!

Step by imaginative step you walk the viewer through the visually twisting labyrinth of the poor Daniel’s five part terminal strategy.

The title is right on the money.

Jonah Yarden (Level 4)

Dude! You took us on a real journey- I really appreciate that . There were so many moments where you led us to a very generic place but kept the pace while jolting us back into your line of thinking. Though the descriptive text lacked some imagery for me the little nods in dialogue kept me engaged and the end was so unexpectedly gothic that it was chilling. I would say that his narrative voice changed drastically at one point which felt like an unsubtle move to pull the wool but all was quickly forgiven as it's the best entry I've read yet!

Great job!

Jose Batista (Level 5)

Great script. The whole psychoticness of it. The wet bills, the different things he did with the money, the louisville slugger with dried blood next to the bodies of his dead wife and the man she cheated with; your script was filled with well presented and very poignant images. Enthralling from beginning to end, you just want to find out what the hell is this dude planning to do?

The ending was not out of this world, but it did go well with the set up. His mentality and decisions were abrupt and matched the terminal mindset he portrayed. Your title reflected well in the script and the connection was solid to the story, something that's been lacking in many of the entries this month.

Very Good Work.

Kevin Carty (Level 4)

Nice opening but I feel like this idea was too big for it's briches. For some reason I kept thinking we would end up in the wild wild west eventually. It was a well written script but all this double talk and repetitive dialogue killed it for me. This is just good to me. The story isn't all that great either being that you choose to tell us so much and show us so little.

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5)

What is "thunk" (thought?) and why he says it this way?

I did not understand your punch line - the woman lies over a nude man - on the picture or in the room? I'm guessing in the room because you already said that it was a picture of him with that woman.

Other than that it was a very well written Very Good entry. I think that you have a very good build up to the culmination. I like this kind of stories, driven by character, driven by unusual character stories... I liked all the VO's.

Some of it read funny and I appreciate that too. I think it should. Anyway, it's Very Good in my opinion.

KP Mackie (Level 5)

Compelling story. Engaged throughout, waiting for the reason why Daniel is blowing this $500.00. The surprise ending was subtle and well done.
Needs some trimming and tightening. The preoccupation with numbers, adding and subtracting, is distracting to the read.
Good variety of scenes and good description. Probably could cut most of the dialogue -- Daniel's actions speak loud enough to convey the story.
Don't think the VO is needed. The story unfolds nice and slow, clear from beginning to end.. Would still work if Daniel's plan to blow his brains out isn't known until the end. Maybe, he starts to write a suicide/confession note, changes his mind, wads up the paper, and utters, "Not today." The description of the Woman, the Nude Man, and the Louisville Slugger makes a pointed and visual ending.

Kyle Patrick Johnson (Level 5)

"Sitting on the back of his bare feet" I can't visualize this posture. Is it a crouch of some sort?

Spelling errors (like "isle" instead of "aisle") and punctuation errors.

Expect another VO discussion. You'll hear both sides. Personally, I thought the huge blocks of VO dialogue dragged on too long. They were fairly entertaining, just too long.

There's a couch in his bedroom? Wait, I just realized he walked into a new room. You need a new slugline if he's in a new room.

The final reveal makes sense, since we've realized that he's going to kill himself. But it's not really the explanation for everything he does: his suicide is the explanation. Why spend all your money? Because you can't take it with you. Why do all these things? Because you'll never do them again. All right, so, the shocking reveal at the end only serves to give the reason for his suicide. I think the story would be stronger if the theme of unfaithfulness was somehow worked into your script, because the reveal made me say "Oh, okay", but this kind of sudden shocker should make me slap my head and say "Wow".

Margaret Ricke (Level 5)

Page 1 - Take the 's' off 'picks.' I'm not sure about the wording in the descriptive of the rain... 'terrorizes' is pretty strong unless it's a hurricane.

This was pretty cool. I definitely wasn't expecting the end. The formatting, spelling and punctuation were pretty good. I even liked the V.O.'s.

Good work.

Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5)

Not sure what to say about this one. There were things I liked...I liked the basic idea of what Daniel was doing with that $500. But some of his dialog I just didn't get. Like it was supposed to mean something but I had no clue what he was talking about. For his example his first VO about the $500 and the shoe shining kit. Just didn't get it.

And the fact that these two people were dead sorta threw me off. He decided not kill himself but now he has to cover up the fact that he murdered these two people? Seems like he'd be better off dead. I mean, if he decides not to kill himself we feel relieved but then he walks out of the room to a double murder. How is that any kind of ending? For me it wasn't...but maybe others will feel different. Not saying you need a happy ending, but I feel like there was no resolution.

You had some type-o's - WALMART - and when the saleswoman says "is that what you're trying to say (?) requires a question mark.

Martin Jensen (Level 5)

I like the countdown aspect to each little scene that unified them, and built to the reveal of the mystery of why he was doing this.

I didn't really understand what the portrait meant at the end.

There's not enough time given to him making the decision not to commit suicide. I assume it's been in his mind all the time, but of course this isn't revealed in voice over, instead showing us other, more mundane thoughts. It would be more effective just not showing his internal thought process. That way the contrasting images of him doing all these things, culminating in him renting the gun, will build up a stronger sense of fear and anxiety in the audience.

A good script, but I never doubted the end of the final scene.

Melissa Mitchell (Level 4)

Good job. Your set up offered a lot of suspense. I thought he would buy the lottery ticket and win, so congrats on surprising me. There are a few minor typos, but unclear writing at your big reveal confused me. I think we need a separate paragraph after the description of the picture and maybe even a scene change. Is the couch in the bedroom? Of all times, that couch sentence is when direct language will serve you best: "That woman lies slumped on the couch over a naked man." (I also wasn't sure it was the same woman the first time through.) The "water stains" didn't work for me. The story apparently occurs over several days, so the money would dry. You can feel confident ditching the stains because the bills all laid out the first time we see them and subsequently fewer bills each time we get the same shot will communicate that he's spending the money, and it's all he has left. Keep writing; I'm looking forward to reading others.

Micah Ricke (Level 4)

There were a few errors in grammar and punctuation and such, but nothing that was overtly distracting.

My issue with the script overall is contains several phrases and terms that are quite vague and confusing.
"Five water stains simmer in the white coated wood." --What does that mean? I cannot visualize it as described.

Also the description of the portrait in the last paragraph of action is very confusing. "Slumped on a couch, over a man in the NUDE, the woman lies." --Is the Man Daniel? Is the woman dead? You describe the bat as bloodied but not the woman, she's just slumped over, which in itself does not lead me to believe she's dead.

So, in conclusion, review and tweak the errors and clarify anything that comes across as confusing.

Best regards.

Michael Cornetto (Level 5)

It was a powerful little story but I think the execution really suffered from the number of VOs. I would definitely cut down on them. I actually think it would work much better without most of the internal dialogue.

Paul De Vrijer (Level 5)

Another one with the money title. It doesn't get an originality prize, but it was a nice story. I like the little counting back to the twist ending, which was a little creepy. Overall a good nice cohesive story, but some more conflict would have bmade it a bit more interesting. There was a sweet silent moment at the end and you built up compassion through the script. I felt sorry for the guy and was wondering what his afliction was, so you succeeded in that. Perhaps in a rewrite he can get a run-in with some more peculiar moments? I don't think you really scraped the barrel here, make him more daring, it's his last day!

BEST MOMENT: Finding the dead lovers and the baseball bat. Somehow you made it all feel so sweet ánd sour.

Paul Williams (Level 5)

I always like a good character study and Daniel's a strange guy, to say the least.

I can't say he's the most likable or relate-able guy, but sometimes those type of people make the best case studies.

I wish this piece was all a little more subtle and not so on-the-nose. There's no subtext to Daniel's dialogue, he says exactly what he's thinking or relays back-story.

I don't mind voice-over narration in general, but I feel it goes on too long here, for fifteen, sixteen, seventeen lines at a time. A lot of this could have been visualized anyway.

The ending feels forced and unclear. Are the final lines described on the painting or really in the room? What's with the Louisville slugger bat?

It's mentioned in Daniel's dialogue, but they don't serve beer in the mall food-court out here in Jersey, and if they do in other malls, I don't think the mall personnel would let Daniel drink almost thirty beers.

What is the overall theme or moral to this? Straight-up insanity?

Your screenwriting is good, maybe just a little bulky and over-descriptive in spots. Format overall appears in order. There are numerous typos throughout.

Philip Whitcroft (Level 5)

Overall this is an intriguing set up that I was definitely curious about. The character then weaves his way through various activities showing some interesting character style and choices. Ultimately though I'm not sure if those set up elements pay off as the story plays out.

I'm often guilty of over describing things myself. Your script begins with a example of over description. To show what I mean it could read "With swift hands, a veteran TELLER counts out hundred dollar bills for DANIEL BROWN, late 40's, balding." and nothing much is lost.

The voice-over on the front page here seems like an example of an unnecessary voice-over. I think that visually we are getting the message and he needs only say something like "Exactly five hundred dollars?" and that would cover it without needing a narrative style voice-over.

"You want the tax to be included in your price range, is what you're trying to say. That can be managed, sir." - This dialogue is very formal for someone working in WalMart.

"The next one is carefully picked up and placed over the first drenched bill" - I thought he'd spent the first one?

At 3.5 pages in he has spent some money and we have some idea that it is unusual money. For me I like some additional idea of the significance of the money so that his actions have extra meaning.

Peeling the fourth one-hundred dollar bill off the table, Daniel gently places it in his hand." - Is this scene out of sequence? He just spent the fourth hundred dollar bill.

I don't know if I quite understood the ending. I couldn't picture what the portrait is trying to tell me. I was a little disappointed that we never found out any special significance for the money because I felt like that was the question set up at the beginning.

Rob Dianora (Level 4)

I sort of liked this script. Daniel is an interesting character, I was sort of getting a mentally ill vibe from him, which was interesting. The reveal at the end was a little confusing. I would look at that, just clarify it a little. One last thing 25 beers... wow... I'd like to see that.

Rod Thompson (Level 4)

While I totally dug the execution of the last day on earth scenario, I have to ask what the picture at the end meant? Did he kill his wife because she was cheating on him or something? I was lost on this ending.

Otherwise, KUDOS on the cool idea.

Sally Meyer (Moderator)

I'm sorry, but your script completely confused me and I've read it three times. I don't know what's going on in it. I get that he got money out of the bank, and spent the money, one hundred dollar bill at a time. But what is the point.

The ending where we see a baseball bat and dead people, just came out of nowhere.
I have honestly no idea what is going on in this story.

Scott Merrow (Level 5)

I didn't really understand this the first time I read it. So I read it again, and I think I get it now. Daniel is going to kill himself, so he decides to blow his last $500 and have a good time on his last day. Then he changes his mind. And at the very end we find out he's blugeoned his wife and her lover to death.

What was the thing about the comforter? That took up almost a whole page, and I'm not sure what it was about. Why a 3x3 square on his pillow?

And this really puzzled me -- what was the timing of all this? Is the script written in linear time? Or are there flashbacks? Here's why I'm stumped. He takes the first $100 bill. Goes and buys the comforter. Comes home. Peels the second bill from the table and places it on top of the first bill on the palm of his hand. Huh? Didn't he just spend the first bill on the comforter? Or is there some non-linear timing going on here -- he picks up all the bills at once and then goes out and buys the comforter, drinks the beers, goes with the hooker, etc. -- but for some reason, we're only seeing him pick up one bill at a time, in between each activity? I found it kinda confusing.

And a lot of time was spent on the wet bills and the watermarks. Was that somehow central to the story and I just missed something?

Anyway, a shadow of an interesting story here, but mostly I was just confused.

My score: FAIR.

Stan Tjaden (Level 3)

Interesting concept, but it doesn't endure the endless voiceovers. Needs to get to the central conflict sooner. Okay for a writing style. Intriguing main character kept me reading to the end. Twist not totally resolved.

Thomas W. Brown (Level 4)

This is well written, but I'm not sure I fully understood the ending. So the guy is a killer. Who are the people he killed? Are they the people from high school? This came out of left field and hurt the conclusion, at least to me. The writing is very good and visual. The peeling of the bills, great job. For the majority this script reminded me of another in this contest. Ending really changed that. Overall, the VO and the end twist really took me out of this piece. Best of luck!


Wes Worthing (Level 5)

I just deleted about five hundred characters in this review addressing the confusion I had with how much money he was taking on each trip out, yada, yada, yada; and then I GOT it. The drenched bills Daniel was picking up was all from the same scene scattered over the story--now that I got that--it makes more sense. I'm wondering however if there would be a simple word or two that would clarify earlier so I'm not scratching my head and being pulled away from the story to do math. I like the dark quirkiness of this story. The character is fun to watch and to listen to his thoughts. I'm very happy this didn't end with his suicide and instead the ending came out of nowhere, but still stayed true to the story's quirky darkness. I thought I was witnessing a typical day in the life of a compulsive-obsessive, but then come to realize that he's doing these odd things because he wants to go out with a bang. Very satisying ending. Great job!

Comments Made After the Contest

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 12/1/2009 12:36 AM

I thought this was a great first entry. I love your attitude and I'm looking forward to reading more of your stories.

Wes Worthing (Level 5) ~ 12/1/2009 5:38 AM

JeanPierre--one of my excellents for the month--this would be very exciting to watch!

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator) ~ 12/1/2009 1:46 PM

I was going to write back to everyone's comment but uh... Don't really feel like it any more so I'll address some of the complication which most were my fault but some, I thought were rather obvious.

The ending definitely needed some work. I really wish I cleared that up. Well, here it is:
Daniel walks into the LIVING ROOM and past a picture of him and his wife. He then leaves out the house. A bloody louisville slugger is in the corner, and his wife is laying there, DEAD with a person she cheated on him with. He killed them with the bat.

Some people thought this was in the picture, and I completely understand that because I worded it wrong. But some people knew it wasn't in the picture but still couldn't put together that this was his wife, or even that she was dead? I thought that was kind of weird...

The money.... I don't get why some people didn't understand that this was all one scene but I scattered it out throughout the script. He picks up all the bills at the end, but maybe some skipped over this because I tend to over explain things (another flaw many people pointed out that I'll have to work on)

The voice overs, People love it people hate it. Majority of Movie Poet hates it, so I'll try not to use it again. :)

I loved Daniel's Character. He was a guy that tried to enjoy life on his last day, and I brought you into his thought process. Some people wondered why I explained certain things, like when he was talking about the hooker or the whole comforter thing. Because that's what he was thinking. I used the voice over as a style, not because I couldn't explain what he was doing in action, that's easy (because I over explain everything)

But I loved the criticism. I've never entered a contest before, so it was a delightful experience. I'll see what playing it safe gets me when January comes around.

Oh yeah, They do sell beer in malls in new Jersey. Go to a Sbarro. They'll be sitting right in the display case... :)

Basil Sunshine (Level 4) ~ 6/8/2011 1:56 PM

I really like this story. The only thing I didn't get was that it seemed he kept having the money pile up in his hand even though he spent it. At first I thought that was because he actually wasn't making those purchases, but was imagining it. But then, he had the gun and everything at the end. I would revise that, maybe just show him taking the bill in his palm each time. Also, I would like to see the picture of him and his wife on the wall a lot sooner. Maybe right after he withdraws the money. And the bodies would be in the closet, I think! Overall, great job and great story!

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