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"The Homeschooled Boy" by Khamanna Iskandarova

Rewrite: 12/29/2010 12:00 AM

Logline: A homeschooled boy wants to be one of the guys. ...feel normal.

Genre: Family - Mystery - Thriller

Cast Size: 3

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

Contest: Tick Tock (Oct. 2010)

Contest Scores
PoorFairGoodVery GoodExcellent
0%27%39%30%3%

Comments Made During the Contest

Ayal Pinkus (Level 5)

What an awesome story! Hooked me from page one, we're wondering why Parker can not go to school, a horrific truth is revealed in the end.

The story could be produced on a low budget for sure.

I can not think of anything that could be improved. It really is a superb story!

Bill Clar (Level 5)

Why did you choose to open the story in the hallway? Why not in Parker's bedroom with both boys scrutinizing the list under a desk lamp?

Parker wants to be in the fraternity, but he tells Ben he shouldn't have let him in? You're making it difficult to follow Parker's motives.

"Ben hurtles down the patio. Leaps up his own patio". Could you provide more detail? I'm assuming Ben leaps to his second floor balcony and pulls himself up?

When Ben slides his patio door open does he have to exert more effort? What is the point of the door being stuck? All this does is halt the suspense.

It's an interesting story, but the flow is interrupted due to a lack of details, unnecessary interruptions, and a few grammatical errors.

Brian Howell (Level 5)

I'm voting this FAIR. There is heavy reliance on expository dialogue to explain what is happening. It seems like you were afraid of getting reviews that would say they didn't get it or that the action doesn't make sense, so you swung the pendulum the other way and spelled everything out through dialogue and some "unfilmmable" action blocks. For this reason, I'm concluding that this was a bit much to be told in five pages.

Outside of that, there are some spelling/vocabulary problems, but others usually point those out.

As far as the story goes, I'm not sure why I'm supposed to really care. By the stories end, nothing really happened except the boy reveals his special power. I'm not sure of the significance of the tween fraternity or their initiation ritual. Had someone actually been hurt through the ordeal then it would spark my interest more. As you have it, these are practical jokes that have significance to you characters, but not so much for me, the audience.

That all said, I voted this FAIR.

Brian Wind (Level 5)

I didn't spot any typos or formatting errors.

I don't like the title very much. I think you could have come up with something alittle more creative.

Some of the dialogue is a little expository and some of the descriptions aren't really things that could be filmed. For example, how is the viewer supposed to know that Ben's heart is in a frantic race? If we actually hear his heartbeat, that needs to be written in to the script. If he's transparent and we see it beating, that should be noted, but if you are just giving the reader information that the viewer won't have, you shouldn't do that. Write only what the viewer will see and hear, nothing more.

Overall, this was a pretty cool script. Nice work!

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

There's no way they let me - There's no way they'd let me
I thought this was very good indeed. Great job. Great story.

A few linguistic issues, but very well done:

Why again they keep you home? Do you mean 'Why do they still keep you at home?'

Ben sneaks out of the view - Ben sneaks out of view

The red food coloring - red food coloring

you hear?! - immature punctuation

Gosh seems a funny word to use here.

Chris Keaton (Level 5)

I always examine the use of 'the' in titles and only keep them if really needed. In this case 'Homeschooled Boy' may work just as well.

Ok, this was a good piece. I think it was a little cramped and the twist suffered for it. Expanded this could be a classic creepy.

Chris Messineo (Founder)

I get the feeling there's a very good story here. Some of the visuals are amazing.

But honestly, I found it all very confusing - right from the start. What the heck is a “FROSTWOOD ELEMENTARY DEVILS FRATERNITY”?

What are these boys trying to do? What is happening with all the blood? Are they actual devils? I'm not sure and I shouldn't have to read a script multiple times to find out.

Christina Anderson (Level 4)

SLUGLINES

They're your reader’s first impression of you. It can give them confidence that this will be a concise, well visualized script--or scare them and turn them off.

Truth be told, I cringed. This grand image you set-up didn't help me settle into the action, and I lost hope.

BUT,

I kept reading.

The story was interesting. It's elements of suspense were a strong driving factor to your script, and you were delicately accurate with the young boys and their fraternity.

However, I thought you lost touch with the gem of your story, the boys and their initiation. I’d have liked to seen more drama with it, and let the boys be boys as they play hide and seek and scare the pants off each other--

--I’ve got to stop there or I’ll redirect your whole idea.

Fred Koszewnik (Level 5)

A well written and clever storyline. The one difficulty with the script was the fuzzy, ambiguous relationship between Ben and Parker. One moment, Ben is bending over backwards to get Parker into the "Devils Fraternity". The next moment, Ben calls Parker a "freak." This wide fluctuation in attitude struck me as just a bit off. I wondered why Ben wanted Parker in the club in the first place. Perhaps if he saw some of Parker's abilities earlier on and was intriqued by some of his supernatural abilities?

Otherwise, thanks for an engaging read.

By the way, I just realized that the point of the contest was a 5 minute time line, totally invalidating my last point. Be well.

Heather O'Connell (Level 4)

Let me start by saying the story is really good. The beginning was confusing, though. I don't know if you were trying to do 11-year old "talk" or if I just don't get it, but some of it didn't make sense, so it took me a long time to figure out where they were and what was going on. For example: "We meet at my place, jackpot" and "Why again they keep you home?" just read really awkward for me.
I like the ending. Creepy.
:) Heather

Herman Chow (Level 5)

This script can be very good, but the first two pages made it a little hard to understand what was supposed to be going on.

I didn't get what the Devil Fraternity is. I think Ben should explain a little bit to Parker so we can understand why Parker wanted to join in. Then Ben played a practical joke on Parker, which I understood it's the "test" for Parker before he can join the group, but what did the joke prove? So after the first two pages, I was like, "What's the point?"

Things finally started to clear up when Ben found Irene in the bathroom, which mirrored what happened to Parker earlier. It was a nice reveal that Parker had that special ability and that's why he was homeschooled.

I wish you can played up Parker's ability instead of revealing it at the end. Make the entire story of how he uses this ability, that'd be more interesting.

Writing and format is good.

GOOD.

Jamie Collins (Level 3)

Interesting script...it kept me interested and even surprised me a bit at the end. However there was one typo that I noticed...

The line "Parker, eyes wild open, inches toward Ben" should be "Parker, eyes wide open, inches toward Ben"

This didn't distract me from the story or detract from it in any way...it's still a nice script...

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator)

I don't understand Parker's powers. Why Ben's sister? Why not Ben? Or a random person?

The dialogue would read very strange at times. I was wondering whether or not this was the way your characters spoke, or a screw up. And sometimes I couldn't imagine your characters saying certain things like "you prankster!" and "you beast!" I don't know if that would actually ever come out of a little boys mouth.

"The real one is a replica of the fake" That just sounds odd. "It's no fake" is straight to the point.

I'll give this a good. I liked the ending, but I wish I understood what Parker was doing.

Jem Rowe (Level 4)

Another dead hard one to score :S

On one hand, this script is close to perfect when it comes to the technical side of things like character description, how it's set out, the pace of the story, relevent rather than redundant info, showing not telling, etc. This aspect is great, very impressive.

However, although the technical side is brilliant, I could find much appealing about this story or how you told it, and for this reason I found myself quite underwelmed and dissmissive. What's lacking is a touch of humour, or a confronting and challenging idea or topic, or a more relatable emotional core, something to make it appeal to the reader and either touch them, entertain them or make them think, or even just something clever.

Also, I felt there were a few lines of dialogue that didn't sound natural, "You'll never fit in" I thought was too on the nose, I just couldn't picture a kid saying it, also I can't see a young kid delivering "You Beast!", or kissing his sister on the cheek as you described, maybee a parent would, but not an eleven year old boy.

Technically brilliant, please keep writing. "Good". Well Done :)

John LaBonney (Level 4)

I thought that this was a pretty good concept for this contest, yet it still has the potential to be developed into something much larger. I can imagine Parker and Ben being best friends through the years until in high-school they come up against some challenge using Parker's powers. I found myself surprised at the ending and felt it was appropriately disguised through the story.

Jonathan Palk (Level 1)

I had a hard time following exactly what was happening. I don't really know what the powers are supposed to be. Maybe that's part of the mystery of it all. But I did like the suspense towards the end. I did like the interaction between the two main characters. And I liked the part with the fake blood and vomit.

KP Mackie (Level 5)

Good emotional setup in the story of these eleven-year-olds. Characters of Parker and Ben are contrasted well. There's a tug as Parker reveals his desire to belong to the "Frostwood Elementary Devils Fraternity" and his embarrassment at being home-schooled. Ben's clever initiation scheme for Parker fits behavior for children that age.
Ben's sudden turn on Parker seems inconsistent for his character. He volunteers to talk to Parker's Mom, then glares at his friend saying, "I'm not staying with a freak."
The supernatural angle may not be the best choice. Parker's involvement in Irene's episode doesn't have the impact that, perhaps, Parker suffering from an ailment might have for the "scrawny...home-schooled" boy. Ending with Parker's dialogue about wanting to, "be one of the guys...feel normal" may be stronger than Ben nodding.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5)

I like the title.

The formatting and spelling are good. Some of the phrasing is a little awkward. Examples:

"...he’s concentrated on his thoughts." and "Parker remains frowned, his brain hectic at work..."

Write complete scene headings.

The story is good. The biggest problem I have with this is phrasing, and that's an easy fix. Sort it out and you have a very decent script here.

Good work.

Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5)

This was interesting but it left too many questions, especially with Parker's powers. He sees Ben with blood coming out of him and he's scared...what kind of powers would make him hurt Ben's sister? I don't know, just seemed like it didn't fit.

I felt that some of the dialog wasw a bit awkward too. Like when Ben says "Why again they keep you home". Just sounds weird.

Overall it was a good idea but I think it would have been better if there was more tension built up to what Parker was capable of. That fell flat for me.

Martin Jensen (Level 5)

Children are scary, especially the socially withdrawn ones. There are many well-adjusted home-schooled people though, so you might get some complaints.

Some language mistakes, for example, "Why again they keep you home?".

Great ending! Really sinister. Very good.

Matias Caruso (Level 5)

Creepy. I liked the dark turn that the story took.

The kid's powers felt a bit complicated and confusing. Seems even hard to sum up in words. He involuntarily turns pranks played against him into real situations? What about the blood messages? He made those happen as well?

A homescholled boy with creepy powers is a solid idea. I would suggest simplifying his powers though.

MJ Hermanny (Level 5)

I like this very much. I thought PArker was going to be a vampire and was groaning inwardly so the psychic powers came as a good surprise.

The boys talk like young lads. The tension as Ben gets home is strong. The whole script is very well paced and the menace and uncertainty at the end are great.

Very well done.

Paul De Vrijer (Level 5)

A 'goosebumpy' story with kids experiencing some kind of odd horror.

Concept:
The premise is great. The kid sees things an he has some kind of reality altering power which makes things happen in synchronicity. Least, thats what I gathered from the script. I think that's a cool idea to tackle, but the way you choose to do it: Through two kids and a game, makes it a bit rushed and jumbled.

Title:
Ominous, I like that about it. It has a certain creepy quality to it. It absolutely covers the material, BUT I do feel that 'homeschooled' plays a really small part in your script. Another adjective would have been better.

Execution:
As mentioned earlier, I think the 'game-setting' isn't the right way to approach the premise. Specially the way this is supposed to go: He's supposed to climb some stairs, there's some weird writing, and fake vomit and blood. And then he's supposed to freak out? i mean, that's the initiation right? I actually find it pretty uncreative for these kids. I also feel you totally forced it into this direction so you could copy it over to the other house. What happens when there is no Twin House? Does it still get copied over? How would that work?

You haven't really defined his powers here, which makes the horror less tangible and less scary. Even for a simple kid-horror-story like this. We just need to know what the rules are, here it just seems so circumstantial. If the guy didn't have a sister, what would happen then...etc? It's good to raise questions of curiosity, but not questions which doubt the mechanics.

And then sudden telepathy. Yeah okay. You exploring things here that just don't fit in 5 pages, least not in the way you are trying now. I know that you wanted another conversation at the end, and this felt like the right way, but let them just meet on the patio's.

There's a certain child-charm to this. The final nod and the way they talk to each other. You really do create that world, you just filled it a tad too much with all the supernatural stuff.

Requirement:
Yeah, this fits the five minutes of real time. I wish there was a bit more to it though, this 'gift/curse' could be used to play around with time-perception. Missed a real unique use of the requirement here.

Writing:
I like the way you let the characters talk, feels natural, constant emotional shifts. You certainly bring out their personalities. I find the descriptions clear and fitting. The way you introduce your characters however, is a bit standard. Like you don't want to spent time on it. It just doesn't give me a proper feeling, you just type some characteristics, but you don't let us in on how they feel. Personally I feel you didn't really describe them well enough, the dialog makes their personalities stand out much better.

Potential:
I think this is a fairly easy project to get off the ground. The kid actors might be hard, but the entire thing can be filmed in a day, so production possibilities are surely there. However, i do think you should consider a rewrite, there's even some ground for a potential feature. I'd clarify the gift/curse somewhat more and take a better location to show it.

Overall:
I like the concept of this kid-horror short, I certainly like the genre itself, but I do feel that at the end, it's just a missed chance. It just doesn't feel completely right. The whole thing with the sister was just too random, the sudden telepathy annoying and the whole initiation a bit uncreative. Could all be solved by a firm rewrite of course.

Biggest flaw: The gift/curse remains undefined.
Best aspect: The children's touch you gave the characters. The final nod is great.

Paul Williams (Level 5)

I really like what you're attempting to do here, and I think with a rewrite of certain parts, this could be excellent.

The tone seems off. Is this horror? Fantasy like Harry Potter? Comedy? Sad drama? The script takes on all those feelings at different times.

The dialogue was hard to make out. Sometimes I had to re-read it because I had no idea what Parker or Ben were talking about.

Your screenwriting is good, but some clarity could be added to parts of it, also. Format overall appears in order. Didn't detect any major typos.

Pete Barry (Level 5)

You do a good job of making the reader identify with Parker, and want to see Ben get his comeuppance. The illicit game turned bad in the house brings us into the children's world, makes us get into their head and their territory, and makes the shadows of the houses creepy.

I feel like you've got a good handle on the initial scare, but there's not enough setup and not enough payoff (plus a weak denouement). It's a very interesting idea, this elementary school fraternity, and then the weird kid want to join. But it's too many things not explained: how did this homeschooled kid find this fraternity? Why does he really want to join when he seems so skittish? Why should the fraternity even bother with him? These little details would really flesh out the scenario, and more importantly, give me stakes for the characters. At the outset, Ben seems like he should just blow Parker off, and Parker's interest isn't warranted.

I understand that if Irene is more seriously injured, then you don't get to the point where Ben accepts Parker (under duress) and let the consequences follow. But it just doesn't scare me. There's no emotional connection to Irene (either through Parker, or as a reader), and Ben's reaction seems underwhelmed. Ben's language doesn't help, as it's a little corny ("You prankster! You beast!") What happened seems pretty obvious, so having Parker explain himself isn't merited.

It's a good core, but it just needs a little more fleshing out.

Rick Hansberry (Moderator)

Powerful and engaging. This one really kept up an intense pace and managed to walk the fine line of creating empathy for the main character while giving plenty of action. I really thought the dialogue was well done and I enjoyed the quick, accelerated pace. This is vert shootable and I think it would make a great short given the visuals within. I wanted something more from the title, something a bit darker to shroud the mystery but overall, even though I'm early in reviewing, I see this performing well this month. I hope you pursue making it, I'd love to see this as a film.

Sally Meyer (Moderator)

I may come back and change this to excellent, but for now, I voted it very good. I think it's really well written. I get a sense of both boys. I feel Parker's pain, wanting to belong. I also feel like this would be a good opener to a bigger story. As it is, it's good, but I think with a longer story, not even a feature, but maybe a longer short, you'd have something really great.

I thought it was cool and spooky how Parker was able to replicate Ben's own test for him to be a Devil, with his sister Irene.

The thing that trips me up, is the exposition, where Parker asks if his sister is home, if he did this, he knows she's home. It spoils the surprise. I would eliminate those lines, because you want the element of surprise here.

Just have Ben say the test is over and go home and discover Irene himself. Much bigger impact if you do that. The audience will feel the shock the same time that Ben does.

Good work, I really liked this one. It seemed like these scenes might take a little longer than five minutes, but I don't know how picky Chris is going to be on that part of the challenge.

Tim Aucoin (Level 4)

This left with more questions then anything else. I was confused from the get go about what exactly was going on. There was no explanation about Parker and the odd powers he seems to possess and why he did what he did to Bens sister. And it was a little anti-climactic when Ben found her in a puddle of blood only for her to be ok.
While you didn't break any formatting rules that I can see I don't understand why sometimes you'd use a slugline to indicate a new area/scene and sometimes not. If it's a new area the same location you'd use a slugline just as you would if it's a new locale. What you did is acceptable but it is inconsistent.
How do we know Bens heart is racing? This would be an example of telling not showing. On screen we wouldn't know that his heart is racing. Maybe indicating it more with his face or inserting the sound of his heart beating loudly.
This was an interesting idea it just wasn't executed well.

Travis DeStein (Level 5)

The dialogue was very unrealistic for a couple of kids. I don't get the major relevance with the kid being homeschooled... why such emphasis on that one point? I'm sure there's other things he has to do since he's telekinetic or whatever.

Will Nixon (Level 1)

I really like the idea of Parker's character as well as the build-up. Also the name of the fraternity was an interesting note. If one thing could be explained more, I would have liked more definition of Parker's power. I did like the story a lot, though.

There was an error in Ben's dialouge: "Why again they keep you home?" But besides that it made sense. I was confused at first by some of the dialouge, but reading like a child I got it. Also, didn't seem like it took place in just five minutes.

William D. Prystauk (Level 5)

Great short sentences for action, but it ultimately didn't pay off in the end. Pay attention to punctuation. At times you'll capitalize words like "SHRIEK" but fail to capitalize words for the sound crew like "squeak."

Though you added a twist to it with the blossoming friendship, we've seen this story before.

Most importantly, you need to explore the story and characters. I sense a great feature in the future.

Write on!

William Dunbar (Level 5)

This one needs a bit more work. For one thing, the incorrect and unnatural-sounding English takes the reader away from the story at a few points. Things like "Parker remains frowned" are not good English. On a deeper level, I'm not convinced by the story. Ben's reactions seem unbelievable, and the "fraternity" initiation is unconvincing. It's very easy to guess what's going on, so not much surprise. The idea of the boy being homeschooled because of his powers has potential, although it's not so original. It needs some kind of new twist to make it interesting. Anyway, this is a good start, so keep it up.

Zach Jansen (Level 4)

Well-written and well-paced. I figured there was a supernatural element involved, but the revelation wasn't as predictable as I thought it would be. Good job.

I don't understand really what the test/initiation to get into the fraternity was -- just seeing blood on the wall and a friend who might be dead? -- so I was confused there.


Comments Made After the Contest

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 12/1/2010 10:16 AM

Thanks to all for the reviews. Some got confused - I didn't mean to confuse you:)) Sorry!

My husband didn't like it when he read it and advised against submitting. And it did well, I'm surprised, I thought it would be all fairs. But scores don't matter - I trained myself not to care:) --the comments are very helpful.

Paul, thanks, your long analysis was a pleasant surprise and I noticed you analyzed this tediously every script this month - that's just great.

MJ Hermanny (Level 5) ~ 12/1/2010 2:14 PM

I thought this was really good Khamanna, gave me chills and kept me glued to the screen.

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 12/1/2010 2:45 PM

Thanks MJ, that's really good to know.

Paul De Vrijer (Level 5) ~ 12/1/2010 3:49 PM

No problem Khamanna. I noticed many people weren't really into POST discussion, so I thought I'd just write my thoughts into the reviews.

Sally Meyer (Moderator) ~ 12/3/2010 10:02 AM

I really enjoyed this story Khammana! It was one of my favorites this month. Very well done!

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 12/3/2010 6:29 PM

Thanks Sally, that makes me really glad.


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