Comments Made During the Contest
Aaron Scott (Level 4)
I liked the characters, and I really like your style of flashing back with VO. It flowed really well.I didn't understand why Spike was so interested in Kevin. I would have almost liked it more if Spike was like 50, and he was an old pilot that got shot down. That would have made more sense for me. New vs. Old. Technology vs. Nature. But that's just me.
Bill Clar (Level 5)
The flashbacks need to be separate scenes. It's too hard for a director and producer to create a shot list if they can't identify all the scenes and locations. What is a "thousand-mile look in his eye?"There's no way Spike can produce a gun in a Vegas bar without security, staff, or attendees noticing. It makes the script nonsensical at this point. To further add to the disbelief is Kevin pointing the gun at Spike then himself. Remove the gun from the script. It serves no purpose.I like the base concept of killing up close versus killing from a distance. I assumed Spike was in infantry, but you mention that he's a mechanic. Why? It would work much better if he was an infantryman that was injured in battle. Being paralyzed and stuck in a wheelchair could give reason for his cynicism. We don't know why and how Spike knows Kevin. Perhaps he could be looking over Kevin's dossier? Such a move would indicate that Spike is there with a purpose and his meeting of Kevin is not accidental.
Brian Howell (Level 5)
It's got good style to it. I'm not sure about the proper formatting for your cut-in shots of the predator, etc. It may be right, maybe not; I only mention it because I've never seen it before.The actual margins aren't quite right. It's been so long since I've used Word to type on so I can't tell you how many spaces etc (Thank God for Final Draft!), but just beware it's a little too far left.The actual story is good. I'll even go on a limb and say very good. I just got this feeling that it's missing something. I think your ending is a little dissappointing. I like the twitch of his fingers, but something about Spike doesn't quite ring true at the end. After such a scare, I think Spike needs to snatch the gun up or something.I'm voting EXCELLENT. Your style is great. You combine that with a very good story - you get an excellent!
Brian Wind (Level 5)
This script was almost all dialogue, which can be okay, but these two guys sounded the same so it was confusing. Give one of them some sort of accent or something to make them stand out from each other.The script could tightened up and a lot of the dialogue seemed unnaturally rigid.It struck me as odd that 2 complete strangers would meet up in a bar and instantly start betting hundreds of dollars on a video game. It just didn't seem like a very realistic situation.Those blocks of all capitalized text were a distraction and not properly formatted.Nice effort. Write on.
Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)
I like to see people acknowledging the existence of wheelchair users!I liked this, thought it was very good, very well written, engaging characters.Two things though...One, the language was very militarily technical and I really didn't know what you were talking about a lot of the time. Maybe Americans would have more idea? Two, I wasn't sure about the capitalising of the flashbacks, though I realise it sets them apart and saves space.
Chris Messineo (Founder)
Good title.I love these two characters and their conflict is excellent - you can always feel the tension between them. At times the argument felt a tad repetitive and I'm not sure I fully understand the ending.Still, I love the environment you create and the flashbacks to Afghanistan are very powerful.Well done.
David Birch (Level 5)
i liked some of the "edgy" dialog...but you have to be careful not to let it get in the way of the reader and the story...too much can camouflage what it is you're trying to do...if i had a suggestion, it would be to drop most of the "incidentals" between lines of dialog...it stops the flow of the story..."leave some white on the page" is a true-ism when it comes to screenwriting...trust your reader to know what it is that you're trying to convey...otherwise it comes off as you trying to be a "puppet master"...let the actors act...anyway, thanks for the read, and good luck in the vote...
Elisabeth Dubois (Level 4)
A well written script.You are missing your title page and your fade in.You've used the words wisely.Not my type of story but as I said well written.Well Done.
Faith Friese Nelson (Level 5)
I have to admit when I read the title, I did not think I would like the story. But, I loved the story and how it was presented. I give this entry an Excellent.
Herman Chow (Level 5)
This starts off pretty good with Spike taunting Kevin to play a game with him, and then the story turns into a completely different direction that caught me off guard.For the next three pages, we are droning on quick flashes of aerial images and voice overs about the experience of war and flying a plane. I'm not too sure if Kevin would spill his beans so easily to Spike, especially this is probably his first time seeing Spike. The tone of the conversation is so different from the first page that I was wondering where this would lead.Maybe I am too dense, I didn't get the ending about the Baretta. What was Kevin trying to do with the gun? I didn't really understand his motivation here.I was going to give you a good, but the abundance of quick flashes and lack of character goals made this a hard read for me. Sorry. FAIR.
Jeannie Sconzo (Level 5)
Pg 2 is missing a word - as HE puts.I like this story, but the frequent camera direction kept pulling me out. I had to do a few rereads and just skip over those parts. These guys have several layers of emotions.
JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator)
Dissolve to? I just picture acid dissolving the picture away as the other one comes up. That's not a good thing. I don't think anyone uses that anymore. Just put a scene heading. Or if you're feeling crafty, CUT TO: I don't get it. It took me a while to even realize what a predator was. The tone of your story seemed way off. I thought they were joking with each other, but then the guy put the gun to his chin and I was like, huh? Maybe Spike thought they were playing and it surprised him too. If Kevin was so crazy, why didn't he just punch Spike? I thought a few of his comments were disrespectful, but again, I thought they were just joking around. And the entire story was just talking about their experiences... it got kind of boring. I didn't really understand the action either. And why was it in bold?
Joel Davis (Level 5)
This was a really good premise. A very unusual look into the world of drone pilots -- not sure how much of this is real world vs. sci-fi but you managed to make it believable. Great setting for it, too, I would have liked to see even more of that, to have the characters interact more with the environment rather than just using it as a stage.I like the tension between the two characters that you created. The dialogue was very strong and clear, and seemed natural and realistic, but I think the piece would have more impact if the argument was a bit more buried in subtext. The formatting of the all-caps bits was distracting to me, but didn't derail it or anything. It felt as if you were trying to edit in the script -- probably better to just add an "INTERCUT WITH --" slug and present the scenes simultaniously. At this stage you don't need to worry about which cuts are in Afghanistan vs. the arcade.The biggest weakness, in my opinion, was that not much actually happened between them. There was plenty of action in flashbacks, and lots of threats and tension, and this may work as a stage play, but film needs things to happen, movement, stunts. As Checkov said, if there is a gun on the mantel in act I, someone had better fire it in act 3. or something like that.Anyways, really enjoyed this one. Original and well done.ps. reminded me (in a good way) of Gibson's story "Dogfight".. http://www.voidspace.org.uk/cyberpunk/burning_chrome.shtml#dogfight
Jose Batista (Level 5)
The setting and the two characters belie the depth of the conversation that ensues between them. The way they both described their ways of war and the scene in afghanistan portraying their ordinance in actual use was genial. Dialogue and actions made each character a completely seperate person, yet they each retained their military foundations. The trauma of war that scars them both are also evident and the end part with the beretta stopped my breath for a moment, wondering what was goig to happen next. Writing and dialogue are top notch and the script moves at a very even pace all the way through. Excellent work. Cheers on a very poignant entry.
Kevin Carty (Level 4)
This is some good dialogue in 4 pages. However, the voice over and the constant jumping in and out. The wager for the gun, just doesn't seem to make sense. I get the point of the new taking over the old. I like it alot but alot is missing, This is very good but the Caps of the flashbacks is distracting. I think I got a bit confused in all the hullabaloo and flashbacks. Some are definitely going to be confused as I was. But I'll give this an excellent because it was the best read for me.
Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5)
Very interesting way to tell the story - over a video game.I had hard time understanding what you meant by capped lines - are we supposed to see Kevin in Afganistan or we it's kind of a game simulation and that's what we see.What the VO's mean (when they play the game)? - I never played so I don't know.I couldn't understand "I want my baby back" - I know they talk about the gun but I still could not understand - the gun used to belong to Kevin?It's still a very interesting way to tell a story. Great writing, I think.
Kirk White (Level 5)
I understand the basic premise of this...but end up with more questions than answers. the characters almost seem to switch places at one point...First it's Spike who's the real soldier and Kevin who's flying the drones then suddenly Kevin's really a vet and depressed that they don't need pilots any more. It's a bit unclear as to exactly what journey I'm supposed to take.
KP Mackie (Level 5)
Fascinating subject matter. Riveting and dense structure works. Love the interplay between these two distinctive warriors.The aerial views are well-written, interesting, and provide a lot of visual fodder. Dialogue is concise in most instances. Would trim in a couple spots.Maybe Spike says, "I know you. Major Kevin O'Donnell. Drone pilot," and Kevin responds simply, "I'm a real pilot."Spike could volunteer, "I'm a real Blackhawk mechanic."Later Spike says, "I bet you never killed anyone at close range."Perhaps, give Spike an edge to everything he says.The sudden appearance of the Beretta infers that Kevin knew about it. Spike offers "Five hundred for it" and Kevin "examines it." But these guys just met. Might tweak a bit to clarify.Overall, an intriguing story.
Kyle Patrick Johnson (Level 5)
"rock star drone pilot" Way too on-the-nose. There must be a better way to subtly deliver that information to the viewer.The characters seemed to be inconsistent in their attitudes and intentions, serving as the backdrop to the real story in Afghanistan. Such as Kevin's sudden desire to commit suicide. I had a real "where did that come from?" moment, not because it's unthinkable for a warrior to want to commit suicide, but because it seemed out of character for Kevin. Also, I never really got a sense of what Spike wanted or why he was so antagonistic/bullying towards Kevin, or why Kevin accepted all Spike's angst.The Afghanistan scenes were really good, but it was hard work reading through all those ALL-CAPS paragraphs. They fatigue the eyes.
Lee Carlisle (Level 4)
I really like this script - a nice and simple premise but mountains of conflict and possibilities. The writing was good and I thought you made a good use of your setting to enhance the atmosphere. You also made good use of the contest parameters - nothing felt shoehorned into the script.My one major suggestion would be to have Kevin stand up for himself (and his profession) a little more. We get a lot of why Spike thinks he's a pussy, but I think that Kevin, even if he was realizing that he's being made irrelevant, would make a stronger argument for the work he does - the protection he provides. Other than that, I only have a few tiny notes. I'm not sure if there's a better way to word the beginning, but when you mentioned 'adult-oriented video game arcade' it made me think of those naked lady 'spot the difference' games they have in bars. I know now that you meant an arcade that serves alcohol and caters to an older crowd, but I think you might be able to make that slightly more clear.Also, I didn't get why Kevin changed his mind to play Spike. If he wouldn't agree to his choice of games, why would he agree to Spike's choice for only 50 bucks more? Maybe take the choices thing out of it - just up the stakes and I think I'd buy that Kevin is in.Really liked the script - nice job.
Leonard Walker (Level 3)
Energetic story. Impressively written. The premise well thought out and developed.Your narrative seemed to have an authentic militaristic feel to it and maintained an efficient use of suspense throughout the story. Skillful imagery. Dramatic. That goes for the dialogue as well.I liked the tension established between your two main characters, moved the story in a solid direction, right up to the conclusion. However, though the ending lacked a good follow-up punch to conclude the script, it didn’t detract from the enjoyment of the read.
Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5)
This was very well written. The characters were awesome. The story was more like a scene but powerful. Adding the war scenes was done very well. You are an amazing writer.
Martin Jensen (Level 5)
I really liked the competitive dynamic between the two men, especially how it played out over arcade games, something seemingly so trivial when compared to actual combat. I'm not sure how the aerial views will be pulled off. It seems a little jarring to jump into the action like that, even if we are remembering with one of the characters. Very good.
Matias Caruso (Level 5)
The chat seemed quite realistic, and I liked that you intercut with some cool battle visuals.My only beef would be that these characters’ exchange got a bit repetitive. I feel like you need something more to keep the story moving.Both characters have different arguments to support their position. And on the surface the conversation seems to be always changing. But the dramatic core is always the same: Spike believes Kevin hasn’t seen any real battle, and Kevin disagrees.A new angle emerges at the very end when Kevin starts threatening Spike and himself with that gun. Perhaps you could bring this earlier and expand on it?
Matthew Fettig (Level 5)
I think this was nicely done. The elements didn't feel forced.The characters were unique and interesting. I felt the dialog was a bit unnatural and forced, but that could just be my reading. Maybe seeing it on screen would be better.I liked that you didn't take the easy way out with the suicide. I don't think it would have fit. It was some good tension at the end though.
Paul De Vrijer (Level 5)
Nice tense story loses some points because of it’s incorrect use of format. It’s a nice dialogue and certainly relevant to the current situation. I feel you dumb down the gaming aspect a bit, while those similarities would be interesting. Don’t feel much for his sudden need for suicidal threats, but I guess that’s a personal taste.You have a nice story to tell, but read up on the official scriptwriting rules so you can properly relay this story too. If this was written in true format, you would have been over 5 pages so it’s not completely fair use either.I do like what you did with the story, so well done with that, just learn to tell it better.
Paul Williams (Level 5)
I like the themes here: technology in warfare, the tensions that arise between certain members of the military that perform different assignments, some hands-on, some not, and the affects war can have on both.It seems you've either done your research or have some personal experience with these topics. A lot of this felt authentic.The scenes with Spike and Kevin are, obviously, low/no budget and very producable, but it might be tricky to produce the Afghanistan scenes.I'm not one-hundred percent sold on the title.Your screenwriting is good; format overall appears acceptable; there are a few typos throughout: Baretta should be Beretta.
Pete Barry (Level 5)
A striking pair of characters, contrasted by the grim reality of fighting on the ground and the nervous, haunted burn-out in the war via virtual reality. The video game parlor serves as a damning backdrop for Kevin's inner conflict.These two really have something to go at it about, and I really wanted to see them struggle over a very complex moral and psychological issue. Unfortunately, they spend most of the script swapping verbal jabs, or flashing back to scenes of war. This is more of an angry conversation than a story, though things do come to a head when Kevin threatens suicide. I was more emotionally invested in the argument than the characters, and I think that is because the action of the conflict is skimped on - the "contests" they engage in amount to one short game and one that never happens in the script. You've built up stakes - if Kevin gets the gun he dies - but then we don't get to see the game to see how it plays out. Maybe Spike has convinced him to live with his trash talk, but it's hard to see how.It's powerful stuff, it just needs a little more definition to really pull the story out.
Pia Cook (Level 5)
I thought this was pretty good. At first I thought Spike would end up killing Kevin. I'm glad you went where you did with the ending. I think it worked well. No hatred. No revenge, but instead Spike ends up saving Kevin.My only issue with this story was that I didn't believe for a second that Spike would bring a loaded pistol into a bar. Not even in Vegas. And certainly not put it on top of the table.Very Good work though and that will also be my vote for this script. :-)
Ray Bogdanovich (Level 2)
Really enjoyed this! Good sci-fi is few and far between, but I think this tale incorporates such elements quite well. Then again, maybe I love my Ps3 too much! *joke*Your writing is nice and crisp, which is always good. Hate reading saggy prose/action.You've also created a strong and quirky character we can sympathize with.Nice work.
Ron Hooker (Level 4)
I absolutely loved this script. The imagery is intense and truly brings the story to life visually. The gung-ho interaction between Spike and Kevin is perfect. You paint a beautifully powerful, albeit arduous vision of two battle-worn men who compare balls as they reflect on their experiences. Excellent!I was also impressed that you were able to convey this story within the 5-page requirement without having to "cram" all of your ideas into a sardine can. This EASILY could have been stretched into a 10-15 page script.This is review #21 of 35, and it's definitely one of my favorites!
Sally Meyer (Moderator)
Wow, this was really an amazing story and short script. One of the best I've EVER read on this site. Well done. You've created something wonderful here and I hope it wins. I don't know how easy it will be to shoot the war scenes, but you probably could get stock footage.The image that is still in my mind, 'The truck driver looks like a ten year old boy'. What a strong line that was.. wow.Wonderful job. I didn't check to see if you had fulfilled all the requirments, but I am pretty sure you did.I loved this, now go out and shoot it!
Scott Merrow (Level 5)
Interesting. But it kinda strikes me as a lot of attitude injected into a fairly thin storyline.As I see it, the story is that Kevin is burnt out from "flying" Predators thirteen hours a day, six days a week, for three years. "No end in sight." He's also a little chagrined at being an F-16 pilot reduced to flying UAVs.Mixed in with that, there's some kinda conflict between Kevin the flyboy and Spike the ground pounder.Then, out of the blue, a gun appears into the mix.Lotsa story elements, but...what's the story?Lotsa questions, too. How did Spike know Major Kevin O'Donnell, rock star drone pilot? Obviously, there's some history there, but what is it? What's the business with the gun? And the biggest question of them all, what happens at the end? What gets resolved? Is Kevin suicidal? Because he may have killed a ten-year-old? If so, that emotional trigger was pretty well hidden in your script.Overall, the script is interesting. And certainly timely. But, in my opinion, you need a little more focus on the story.My score: GOOD.
Stephen Brown (Level 5)
Interesting characters. I like the conflict between them but I don't quite understand why Kevin pulls the gun, first on Spike, then on himself. Nothing seemed to lead up to that apart from the twitchy fingers.I don't like having the flashbacks in all caps. I don't really understand why you did it like that really.I'm going to keep this 1 off top marks. Really well written and very good characters but I just don't feel I know enough about them. Maybe an extension where the two of them go on a drinking spree and at the end of the night Kevin pulls the gun and Spike talks him down, would help... or maybe it's fine as it is and I just didn't get the subtelty. Either way, I did enjoy it (would enjoy it more without the CAPS)
Sue Ploeger (Level 3)
An interesting and excellently executed take on the “you’re not a real soldier if you’re not in the trenches” conflict. Besides the interpersonal conflict with Spike, at the end we see Kevin's inner personal battle with the same issue. This is excellent writing. I could see the movie in my head. Your description prose and dialogue are great. You've placed the story in a perfect setting that exemplifies the conflict and theme. Characterizations are honest and real. You had me sweatin’ when Kevin had the gun up to his chin.Just one little thing: you forgot a “he”. “Kevin’s fingers twitch as HE puts the game controller…”Awesome work.
Teo Gonzalez (Level 4)
I think you need to be more carefull with your formatting. I do not know with certainty what is the standard for the passges you have written in capitals, but the fact that they take the reader way off the reading tells me it has to be different from the way you have resolved them. Also, I believe you should avoid DISSOLVE TO: and other transitions of the same nature when you write a spec. Lastly, I think you are missing a thrid person pronoun in the middle of the second page.All that said, your story is good. But my opinion is that it could be better. I think that what keeps me from liking it better is the ending -- or, more to the point, the lack of ending. I don't mean to say that something drastic has to happen. I am actually relived that none of your characeters dies. I find that that would have been easy and predictable. Instead, you opted for keeping them alive, which I find more interesting, but it seems to me that you didn't bring any conclusion to the story. To say it in another way, it has no end, no resolution. That is good, though. It is another way to go about things. All I am saying is that I would have liked your story better if you had rounded that end.
Thomas W. Brown (Level 4)
I really like this, you've done an excellent job of portraying the malaise and dangers inherent to modern military tactics. The difficulties in being the man behind the machine, the detachment. I hope this does very well, best of luck!
Tim Aucoin (Level 4)
Pretty solid up until the ending. It was a little tense up until the last few lines. I was hoping Spike and Kevin were connected somehow, like Kevin was responsible for Spike being in a wheelchair or something and Spike was out for revenge. Still an interesting story, quick read. I liked the line "a thousand mile look in his eye" ,speaks volumes with a few simple words. Very nice. Consider rewriting it with a better ending.
Tim Ratcliffe (Level 4)
I have to be honest I could only manage to skim over this one. It just didn't capture my interest and there were so many scene changes it was jarring. A lot of different acronyms and lingo that made no sense to me and ultimately I just couldn't get invested in this one.
William Bienes (Mod Emeritus)
Interesting take on the challenge. I'm not one for these stories, but I think you did a very good job on conveying the mood and message.
Comments Made After the Contest
Kevin Carty (Level 4) ~ 4/1/2010 12:10 AM
I read it twice and it really shined. This is the best short script that I've read in a long time.
Thomas W. Brown (Level 4) ~ 4/1/2010 12:11 AM
Sylvia, this is an awesome script! I really enjoyed both the subject matter and the way it was presented. Excellent.
Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5) ~ 4/1/2010 12:23 AM
Really loved this one Sylvia...nice work!
Sylvia Dahlby (Level 5) ~ 4/1/2010 3:18 AM
Thank you everyone. I really appreciate Marnie, Thomas and Kevin picking this script as a favorite -- because it's also my favorite submission to MP, and I consider it one of the best stories I've written.It is an accurate & well researched composite of real changes going on in the way America wages war, and a study of post-tramatic stress syndrome. Much of the material was gleaned from an article in Wired magazine and magazine interviews with Air Force and Army vets. I have a nephew in the Army that's served two tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq so the subject matter has personal meaning for me as well.As for the gun in the bar, there have been shooting incidents in Nevada casinos in spite of all the security. There are no metal detectors at the door so it's not like you're getting on a plane. Many reviewers may not know Nellis Air Force base is actually in Las Vegas and there's plenty of downtown bars that cater to military personnel on the other side of the tracks downtown. And at Honey's bar, the game controllers look like guns so Spike's weapon would not draw that much attention.I regret the all caps in the SHOTS turned some reviewers off; hey Final Draft formats a shot that way, guess I should have changed it?