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"Mean Green" by JeanPierre Chapoteau

Logline: A man struggles between delusion and reality when he believes he's being stalked by a suspicious plant.

Genre: Comedy - Thriller

Cast Size: 4

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

Contest: It's Alive (Mar. 2010)

Contest Scores
PoorFairGoodVery GoodExcellent

Comments Made During the Contest

Aaron Scott (Level 4)

I like where you were going with the idea.

I would have liked more action with the plant. I also would have liked the character's to have more of a distinct voice.

Bill Clar (Level 5)

Your character descriptions are a little too insightful. Instead of saying "excitement never finds him", try something visual like "lethargic", "bored", or "weary eyed".

Jumping from scene two to three is very confusing. Lee is talking to Marge, then immediately the Hazmat team is there? Give us an introduction to the Hazmat situation.

White collared workers, not blue collared.

Why would the perpetrators consume toxins? I could understand an accident befalling them and the toxins entered the body, but willingly consuming toxins?

You're assuming the audience is in on some of the plot details. Tell us the tree is larger than in previous scenes. Tell us what the technician appears to be doing. We don't know if it's an X-Ray tool or not.

This story is difficult to visualize due to your action lines. They are either too brief, or offer insights that only you know. Tell us, the audience, what we see and hear. Be descriptive when describing your plants. Are they big or small? Trees or flowers?

The title could be better. It rhymes, but it makes no sense. "Green" can refer to any number of things. If you're looking for rhyming titles, try "Plant Rant" or "Tree Spree".

Brian Howell (Level 5)

I was really into this one. It was moving along at a very good pace. Good action, fun. I love Marge's description and the interaction she had with Lee.

The actual catastrophe area kind of got past me. You mention 'blue collared workers' but I'm confused at the reference. They are in an office setting. Blue collar refers to factory/manufacturing types. White collar refers to office/business types. The Hazmat people would be just that, hazmat people. So that was confusing. I also didn't understand what Demetrius was getting at when he mentioned the perps had 'probably consumed some of the toxins and found their way here." Is this the explanation for the trashing of this particular office?

I also got hung up at the end when Demetrius is talking about cell regeneration. We are watching the plant and getting closer, as if it will twitch or come back alive - but nothing. I wasn't sure if I was missing something there or not.

The ending itself sort of fell flat for me. So he was just having a dellusion?

I'm voting VERY GOOD - your style was great. I loved the action!

Brian Wind (Level 5)

This was well written and formatted. The pace is nice and tight.

There were two minor things that caught my attention. One is that the Hazmat workers weren't introduced with caps. Two is that I don't think plants have skulls so when he stabs it with the broomstick in the skull, it made me kinda stop and ponder for a moment.

Those are both very minor details though. Overall, I thought this was an entertaining, well written script. Nice work.

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

Best to get rid of front page template.

An amusing tale - but isn't a plant already alive??!!

I felt that some of the dialogue was very stilted and 'on the nose' - informing us what's happened. No subtext. A lot of it didn't move the plot forward, especially the interactions with Marge. Every word must count in a short.

Firmly plunges it into his enemy's skull? Does a plant have a skull?

Chris Messineo (Founder)

Perfect title.

I think the idea of a plant coming to life and attacking is interesting (I love "Little Shop of Horrors"). But overall, I found this story very confusing. I was never quite sure what the "hazmat" people were doing there - the explanation sounded dodgy at best.

This has potential but it needs to read a lot more smoothly.

Dave Kunz (Level 4)

I really liked Lee and Marge as characters. Very quirky and nicely oddball but their dialogue felt stilted at several points. I was hoping Lee and Marge's relationship would lead somewhere, but it never felt like it evolved into anything.

Referring to tech equipment as a "thingy" sounds lazy, do a little research and come up with some terminology that at least sounds authentic.

If the toxic water causes the plants to morph into something monstrous why isn't Lee similarly effected? I never was clear if all the business with the plants was a drug induced hallucination or not.

Pg. 4, when Lee "explodes through the closest door" and runs down the hall - that needs to be a new scene.

Also on Pg. 4: "Lee's hard bottoms clatter..." that entire paragraph didn't really track. "Hard bottoms"? Do you mean his shoes? Or - ?

Here's the parts I loved about your script: The in-office forest effect created by the plants-gone-wild was great. I loved the image of Lee having to hack his way through the jungle to get to the water cooler. I loved the fight sequence between Lee and the plant, and the fact that plants were "following" him. And I thought there was a lot of potential of something interesting happening between Lee and Marge.

I would suggest you make Lee, at the start of the story, either someone who really, really loves plants, or really hates them.

David Birch (Level 5)

off the charts on the "bizzarro meter"...i liked the dialog and wish you had chosen to put more me pg. 4 had the tendency to drag a little because of the endless direction/action...nice take on the bio-engineering...would be much better as a longer piece to set up the office dynamics...but a good try...thanks

Elias Farnum (Level 5)

Murder victim? What murder?

Way too much set up, get to the hook quicker. And then it turns out that Lee is delusional?

Maybe I'm tired and just not getting it, but this had no real tension, and Marge was a confusing character. Demetrius? Not much of an impact, just an information guy.

Seventeen sluglines? You don't need many of those.

I hope others can offer more help.

Faith Friese Nelson (Level 5)

It’s probably me but, for the most part, I was confused during the story. Here are some notes:

“Excitement never finds him…” What is meant by this? Remember “show don’t tell”.

"Water fills a cup.” I think you mean Lee fills a cup with water but that’s not what is written.

“Probably has a lot of cats at home.” Huh? How is the director going to film this?

The first slug line is INT. OFFICE – DAY. The second slug line is INT. OFFICE – DAY. Is it the same office? Is it the same day? Not clear as written.

“Thingamabob.” Huh? What is this?

“…x-ray thingy”. Again. Huh? Don’t know what thingy is.

"Lee waits for footsteps.” How do we know he is waiting for footsteps. Remember… paint us a word picture!

“…his enemy’s skull.” Who? Not really sure what or who is meant here. At this point, I am very confused.

Herman Chow (Level 5)

Hmmm....I have a hard time following what's going on for three quarter of the script, and the ending is kinda bland.

I cannot relate to Lee's character, I cannot understand his motive. He seems quite anti-social, getting annoyed by his colleague. One more thing, he's quite passive here. It's things happening to him, instead of him initiating the events.

Now to the story. I don't get why Marge is in the story. Well, I actually know why she's here in order for Lee to have someone to talk to. But if you make her appear at the end of the script, her character may seem less disposable.

You could have trimmed some of the scenes to get a better pacing. You don't need the second scene where Marge asking Lee if he's still drinking the water. You also don't need Marge telling Lee that he's staying overtime, just cut to him working late at night.

By the end, I'm a bit confused as to what actually happened. The doctor says it's his hallucination, but we actually see a tree coming alive. Why does the tree want to kill Lee? What's the significance of the non-moving root at the end?

I hope the story can be more clear next time. FAIR.

James Hughes (Level 5)

"excitement never finds him," - i liked this line.

This was nicely written, especially the sections of all action. Even though it was a long stretch of action, you kept it tight, easy to follow, interesting to read. This isn't easy to do.

I liked the back and forth with Lee and Marge throughout. I liked the part where the worker looks up and the light reflects off the goggles.

Jeannie Sconzo (Level 5)

Pg 3 slamS not slam.

Did not hold my interest throughout.
Story was too predictable. I was hoping for a surprise ending
but was let down in that it ended flatly.

Jose Batista (Level 5)

Good title. Plants coming to life and menacing the workforce was quite funny. Lee and Marge were funny and the whole entire scenario can be made as a comedic episode. The only complaint is the ending. I do not feel I came away with anything from it. Demetrius's explanation was too dumbed-down to allude to anything concretely. The reason why the hasmat team didn't catch the plant thing in the first place doesn't make sense. The script basically started off with a good premise and comedic intent, but fizzled out at the end. A Good effort nonetheless and an entertaining script.

Kevin Carty (Level 4)

I think your subtext doesn't describe your characters. If excitement never finds him then give us a physical attribute then capitalize on it. CHARACTERS NEED TO BE IN CAPS. HAZMAT ETC. On the other hand I guess this can work. I want to see this filmed. The dialogue is so exciting.

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5)

I was interested to know who the perpetrator was - it was fun to see that it's the leaves. The thing is when you have a perpetrator you want the motivation - I see the motivation here (the reason behind the bad deed in this case) - "advanced stage of reanimating cells" - but it's vague for me, hard to understand and a little scientific. I liked the fact that it's not people, this is a fresh thought.

The scenes with Marge don't pay off very well I think. I was interested, at the beginning I even thought it was a romantic comedy.

KP Mackie (Level 5)

An interesting story idea. "Stem cell research" of a plant. Catchy title.
A couple good character profiles of Lee and Marge. Lee is rather dull and so is Marge, if she has cats. Demetrius, "A man in a lab coat," serves his purpose.
Few inconsistencies. At the beginning, Demetrius informs Lee of a lab's break-in. His dialogue, "...perpetrators...likely consumed some...toxins and found their way here" is confusing. There's no establishment of what kind of "Office" Lee works in and any connection to a lab; the natural assumption doesn't fit. Also that these perps would "consume" some unknown substance seems odd.
Lee is holding a "paper cup with water." He is apparently interrupted from drinking it by Marge, "crunches the cup and tosses it in...a plant" where "The water soaks in the soil." Seems likely that water would splat upwards from a crushed cup all over Lee's hand, leaving little in the cup.
In the "Hospital," Demetrius addresses Lee as "Mr. Georges" and Lee calls Demetrius "Doctor." Minor adjustments easily fixed.
The action in the "Staircase" is clear; perhaps a bit of tightening would contribute even more tension.

Kyle Patrick Johnson (Level 5)

"probably has a lot of cats at home" I actually really enjoyed this description. I can picture her now. You might get differing opinions on this.

In the third scene where Lee's getting scanned: where is he? At his cubicle? Somehow outside the messed up zone? Was he allowed in? I'm a little confused as to the spatial characteristics.

"left my number with your foreman" A foreman is the head honcho at a construction site. In an office, I've never heard the term used: usually it's just "your boss". Or, perhaps (from other context clues), perhaps you're British?

It's a bit like "The Happening". The plants are the bad guys, but the action is tough to match with such stolid opponents. Or, perhaps it was just hallucinations all the way.

I'm not sure what Marge's purpose in the script was: she disappears completely at the top of page 3.

Martin Jensen (Level 5)

I really liked the slow build up of Lee's monotonous office job, then the creepiness of the growing plant, and finally the tense chase/fight. It was very well paced.

A lot of the dialogue and action (particularly the character introductions) were stilted or formal. Some choices of phrases - "excitement never finds him" - just didn't sit comfortably or easily with me. A line of dialogue such as "It's not as grotesque as everyone perceives it to be" would sound much more natural as "It's not as bad as everyone thinks". It's exactly the same meaning, but is more convincing and would be easier for an actor to say in character.

I also felt the explanation for the plant coming to life was hard to believe, Demetrius saying that Lee was hallucinating, but then also talking about cell reanimation? Cell reanimation wouldn't make the plant move and try to kill though?

Matias Caruso (Level 5)

Interesting concept. The descriptions about the plant like if it was a corpse were particularly amusing.

I think that some bits could be trimmed in order to better the pace.

Lee’s relationship with Marge, for example… it was a bit repetitive. She approaches him, he’s not interested. This beat is played out a few times. There’s no dynamic in the relationship. And then, by the end, she just disappears, which makes me wonder about the point of making her interact with your protagonist at all. Story-wise, this relationship doesn’t seem to serve a purpose.

Also, the story, hints very clearly that something creepy is going on with that plant. By the time Lee figures it out, the audience had figured it out a few pages ago. Sometimes having to wait for the protagonist to catch up with what you already know, can have a negative impact on the pace and make the story seem slow-moving.

Also, make sure every scene counts. For example, in your first scene, you have your protagonist staring at a water cooler. And that’s it. Nothing “wrong” with the scene but, story-wise, what’s the point of it?

It seems to be there just to tell the reader your protagonist’s name. Well, that’s important, but scenes must be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Why not introduce your protagonist when he’s doing something interesting? This way, you get to introduce him *and* move the story forward.

Lastly, maybe it’s me, but the backstory behind the drug was a bit confusing.

Good luck.

Matthew Fettig (Level 5)

The title had me curious.

I have to say I struggled to get through this. I suppose somewhere in there you could have a good horror/comedy.

I thought the opening scene was interesting. Lee came across as some sort of odd square with an attitude. He seemed like a loner and Marge was a loner but the two couldn't connect and that seemed to be a conscious decision on Lee's part.

I got lost at the second scene. You had a HAZMAT crew and something called "blue collared workers" (I don't know what those are) in the same room. It didn't make sense, and if was supposed to be funny, it didn't come across that way for me.

I was also put off by thingamabob and x-ray thingy. I got the sense you didn't care to use a correct word and it made me wonder why I should keep reading.

Lastly, if it was all delusional, nothing in the earlier pages set that up. We don't know that Marge was seeing something different than Lee. It was a cheap exit without any support in the script.

Paul De Vrijer (Level 5)

I didn't get this at all. Your actions are VERY confusing. For example, when fighting in the corridor, wht was he fighting? I assumed it was a plantthing, then you suddenly say that he's impaling his skull. There was no mention of a head before.

Also, the scene in the alley with the close up of the plant, why signify that there is no movement is none is going to come? Wouldn't just saying: "It lies still" be enough? Why the build-up to nothing? I didn't get this one bit and I felt the dialogue between Lee and Marge was odd as well and paced incorrectly. I didnt get why Marge meddled so much, at first I assumed it was just being nosy, but then it got kinda heated.

I reread it and it still doesn't make sense, the same problems persist.'
I'm too dumb for this script.

Paul Williams (Level 5)

I was with you along the way here and thought Lee getting stalked on pages three and four was very well written and suspenseful, but I become lost on page five, I'm afraid.

You say, "enemy's skull," "corpse," and "murder victim," are you referring to the plant? It seems like you are describing a human.

I don't quite get Demetrius' explanation at the end, or if it's good or bad for Lee or humanity.

You might be able to curtail the numbers of scenes here, I think there's seventeen total.

Your screenwriting is very good. Format overall appears in order. Didn't detect any typos.

Philip Whitcroft (Level 5)

This story has some good action in it and I like the stem cell concept because it gives the thing some ethical issues.

For me I think the story takes a little long to get going and when it does I would have liked to see the monster and Lee have clearer motivations. As it is the monster just chooses to attack Lee without a purpose. Another question mark for me is the apparent eases with which Lee defeats the monster.

Pia Cook (Level 5)

Bring something dead alive. It didn't really bother me, but maybe it will bother some of the other readers that you turned a plant into something "live" since they aren't dead to begin with. Other than that I sort of enjoyed that you made an evil plant.

I didn't really connect with Lee to be honest. Maybe build on his character just a little...

I wish I could think of more to offer you, but I can't think of anything at the moment.

Rick Hansberry (Moderator)

Great title and a clever concept. I think the weakness of the script lies in its execution. There's not enough description of the leafs overtaking things -- they just appear as if it happens every day. I saw this playing out much better as a movie than reading as a script. Some genuinely funny moments here and you have a light, breezy writing style that make for a fun read, I just had a hard time with some of the descriptions until a second or third read. I think this script would benefit from not having the five page limit. Best of luck with it.

Robert Kent (Level 3)

A few minor points:

I liked the character descriptions of Lee and Marge, especially Lee ("excitement never finds him"). I felt like Demetrius could have used a better description, especially since I didn't know that he was a doctor until the end of the story.

Would a plant have a "skull"?

What kind of thoughts would Lee be left with in the final sentence? Is he shocked? Horrified? Relieved?

Ron Hooker (Level 4)

This was a very entertaining read. You use some of the best descriptions in your ACTION that I've ever read. It's so simple, but paints very clear imagery that makes the story more enjoyable ("excitement never finds him", "probably has a lot of cats at home"...I love it).

One of my favorites this month. Excellent job!

Sally Meyer (Moderator)

Good title. Makes me wonder what the story is going to be about.

A few notes as I read.

How do we know Margie lives with cats? Does she smell like cats? If we can't see it, don't write it.

Lee and Marge's conversations really don't push the story forward. We need each scene to flow into the other. Each scene should have a beginning, middle and end, and have some purpose.

Does the plant have human form? That was not described, I was thinking a plant was chasing Lee, but then he bashed in it's skull and left a corpse.

The ending leaves me scratching my head, just like Lee is basically doing.

You've got a few spelling and grammar errors, that trip up the read a little. My advice is to clean those up.

I hope I'm not being too harsh. I think the idea of a plant going wild is a great idea, and could be quite suspensful. You just need to go through and punch up the scenes a little. Make Margie a stronger character, not just a way for Lee to advance the story.

Scott Merrow (Level 5)

I found this a little confusing. Let me see if I've got it. Lee is a dull guy in an office full of dull people. On Day 1, we meet Marge and get a glimpse of just how dull Lee's office life is. Then, the second INT OFFICE - DAY is the next day, and someone has broken into the office. They suspect the vandals were contaminated, so a HAZMAT team is there checking things out. Unbeknownst to Lee (or anyone), there's something wrong with the water, and when Lee throws his cup into a potted plant, the plant becomes animated...and evil. Lee battles the evil plant and wins, barely. And, in the end, we find out that the toxin which caused this whole thing was used for the reanimation of cells. Okay, I think I get it.

It's not a bad idea, but it was a difficult read. For several reasons. First of all, I'm not sure why you use INT OFFICE - DAY five times and INT OFFICE - MOMENTS LATER once on the first two pages. You really only need two of those sluglines -- the first one, and one when the day changes. Simplify!

There are a lot of other ways you could simplify, too. Go through the script and find sentences like, "He eyes every employee through his specs," and ask yourself if it adds anything to your plot or your character development. (In this case it doesn't.) And if it doesn't, eliminate it. Simplify! The character of Marge adds almost nothing to the story...and she's kind of annoying. I'd eliminate her. Get right to the story!

That would be my main recommendation -- simplify your storytelling. Don't stray from your plot.

The idea for the story is pretty good, but (for me, anyway) it was a difficult read.

My score: FAIR.

Stan Tjaden (Level 3)

I wonder about the title and what it has to give viewer/reader an insight to the story, but I still liked the title. So overall, I gave the story concept a reasonable credit, even though I'm not totally sure exactly "what" came alive.
Structure was good, but I'm concerned about what ever happened to Marge. I questioned if she was blind, because she must have seen the overgrowth of green.
But I thought there was a lot of visuals and action, though whether they pertained to the story was... another story.
Airhead Marge was an enjoyable character and Lee had his moments, but Demetrius brought the whole gang down.
There was something about this script that I liked. Dialogue was funny. Ending did not add up, though stem cell technology was an interesting concept.

Stephen Brown (Level 5)

Bit of an issue with your character introductions. Personally, I'd stick with stuff you can actually show on screen. Your descriptions in general were a little awkward in places - the simpler option is the best in my opinion when it comes to writing descriptions in a script.

Lee and Marge are your main characters, but honestly, I didn't really have any feelings for them one way or another. You made them both pretty unlikable... for me anyway.

The premise is a little difficult to grasp but I see potential in it. Think it could maybe just use a different setting.

Teo Gonzalez (Level 4)

In my opinion, this could be a good story; but the way it stands, I think it needs more.

The concept is good, but I would say that the way you have structured the story does not help it to move forward. As I see it, you need some of the parts to be placed in a different spot or even replaced by others.

The scene with all the V.O.'s doesn't work for me. I appreciated how you have interlocked the dialogue with a scene that keeps the reader's attention, but the truth is that nothing really intersting -- at least in my opinion -- happens in the alley.

I'm a little bit of a loss here. I don't know quite well what to suggest. To some point, I think you may not even need the explanation of what the tests were about. I was reading the story, and it never occured to ne to wonder about that. I already knew where the trouble was coming from thanks to Demetrius first dialogue -- which, by the way, feels too much on the nose.

I would say that you could eliminate the hospital scene and use those lines to go deeper into the actual stity, the office, and the characters. You started well on Lee and Marge -- I would retake that.

I hope you make a killer rewrite. Good luck.

Thomas W. Brown (Level 4)

This is a pretty good script, though I find it a bit frantic a times. I like the way that you describe the living plant, and the way which you brought it to life. I was laughing at the way the plant was growing huge, with Lee completely oblivious to the obvious change. The chase itself was also pretty good, but got a little confused when the actual fight came along, simply because of the wording you used. I found the very beginning a little redundant. You could have easily started with the Techies decontaminating his office and not lost anything. Same with Marge, she struck me as a bit of a throw away character. She only serves a person for Lee to bounce dialogue off.
Overall, I like what you've done with this story, but I think a re-write would tighten everything up. Cheers, and best of luck!

William Bienes (Mod Emeritus)

This story at its base, stem cell research, is very interesting. I do wish that there was a tie-in somehow with Marge and the plant. The plant on its own did not interest me and as far as the delusions, I think it would be far better had he done away with Marge, the plant reanimating Marge is some way, sort of a passing, if you will.

Comments Made After the Contest

Teo Gonzalez (Level 4) ~ 5/1/2010 9:26 AM

Jean Pierre, just to let you know that the bottom right corner of your title page gives away the author. Be well.

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