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"Rain Dogs" by Jem Rowe

Logline: Two men at a bookmaker converse on why they've lost it all.

Genre: Drama

Cast Size: 2

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

Contest: Even More of Less is More (Jun. 2011)

Contest Scores
PoorFairGoodVery GoodExcellent

Comments Made During the Contest

Andre Kruithof (Level 1)

Rain Dogs: This story apparently is tealing us how bad live is for a lot of use.
whats the use of this ? we already know the title haze something to do with the story so this is good further the life of the two caracters decribed is terrible however you dont feel any symapthy for them this makes the story not something i would want to see.

Ayal Pinkus (Level 5)

I think the story would be stronger if you left out all the dialogue. They don't really seem to serve a purpose of showing character, progressing story of delivering relevant information. They seem to deliver irrelevant back-story.

A man with a tracheotomy. A drunk. They have lottery tickets, bets on a greyhound race. They both lose. The drunk had finished his bottle and goes out for another one, the other suffocates in a cigarette. No dialogue needed to understand that story.

Great sketch though, people who don't proactively try to improve their lives end up badly. Clear story.

The title doesn't really reflect what the story is about.

Basil Sunshine (Level 4)

This didn't really feel like a whole story.

The two guys don't take any responsibility for how crappy their lives are, then they take actions that are clearly contributing to this situation. The End.

That's just not satisfying as an ending.

Also both of those activities (smoking/drinking) are highly addictive to some people, so I guess I don't really like the punchline seeming to be (at least how I read it) that they created their own little hell pits. Addiction would be partly to blame at least.

I think these characters are interesting. I think you should expand this and give it however long it needs to be a story. One page just doesn't cut it.

Bob Johnson (Level 4)

Neatly written piece, no formatting issues to note

Quite a neat story, probably played out in a hundred betting shops every single day.

Characters and dialogue was paced out well and really sharp.

Very good.

Brian Howell (Level 5)

It's weird saying this for one page, but it felt like a big build-up for nothing. The ending came and went with a fizzle. I think I'm seeing your point by juxtaposing their complaints about fate and being dealt a 'hard hand', so to speak, with their own choices and actions actually causing the 'bad luck' they're passing off onto the world. I like it, but this could really be a little more blatant, I think. I almost felt like you backed-off of your point just a little in the end.

This isn't bad, but I think there is more potential here that you missed.

Side note, and you'll probably hear about this from others too, but to say that a character is in their 40s but looks older doesn't really work in a script. Stuff like that works in a written story, but you're supposed to give us stuff we see, and if the person looks older, that's what we see, not what age they actually are. Just say something like, "looks to be 50".

Anyways... not bad, keep writing!

Brian Wind (Level 5)

This was written and paced well enough, but the story was so ordinary that it didn't really do it for me. I could probably walk into any track in the country and find the real life version of those 2 guys. Heavy smoker has a tracheotomy, boozehound is broke and looking for more liquor and both fail to realize they are the cause of their own bad luck. And...? That's just not enough to make for a compelling story to me. As I said, it's too ordinary. Like a script about someone buying a gallon of milk or getting their mail. Losers being losers.

I'd like to see something more extraordinary. Nice effort and good luck!

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

He’s in his 40s, but looks older - it amuses me when people use this sort of description. How would you cast this? How can we possibly KNOW from what we see on screen? Is it important anyway?

The set-up was great - I was engaged in the two characters - wanting to know what happened - but then it finished and nothing HAD happened.

SOMETHING needs to happen.

Perhaps in a longer piece?

Chris Keaton (Level 5)

A peek into the life of people who make bad decisions and then blame it on their luck. It really was just a peek. No real story and the punch wasn't enough for me to give it a VG, but good isn't bad.

Chris Messineo (Founder)

Awesome title. I don't know if you are a Tom Waits fan, but his music would be perfect for this.

This is a wonderful character study. Two men lamenting their lot in life, and the subtext of the scene and their actions tells us much about how they fell to this place.

There isn't much of a story arc here, but the character work is excellent.

Very well done.

Dan Delgado (Level 5)

Not that's depressing. You do depressing well. But that's all there seems to be to this. Nothing ironic, no twist that I can see. Nothing that would suggest a new direction. We'll come back and these two down-on-there-luck people will still be feeling sorry for themselves.

Which, I guess is a story. You did a good job of painting pictures with words in your description. The dialogue, at first seems to be bordering on, on-the-nose, but I've been around people like this and they do tell each other stuff they both already know, just about every day.

Good luck. Thank you for entering.

David D. DeBord (Level 5)

A little slice of life story. My first reaction is that the dialog perhaps tells too much of the story. Maybe there wasn’t confidence that the visuals would carry the script. Still, I can probably tell someone else quickly what this script was about so that means it was a story. Certainly a positive skill in writing.

David Serra (Level 4)

This wasn't exactly a script as much as it was just a scene of a couple of down-on-thier luck men complaining about thier lives. I could give you hints on how I would steer this but That would be my opinions, not yours.

So overall, Fair.

Dawn Calvin (Level 5)

Love the title. Love how this reads.
I think that your writng is strong enough and some of it might be too on the nose and unecc. For instance:

Yeh! Yeh, you’re right. I’m a smart
guy, I’m capable. We’ve been
crushed by the dice of fate, my
friend. There’s just no justice

I would leave out the fist couple of sentences and just start with:

We’ve been
crushed by the dice of fate, my
friend. There’s just no justice.

It says plenty. There are other instances where you can do this. Your writing is strong and you really have the ability to show much with less.

Very good, and good luck.
PS, this is the longest comment I have ever made on MP~! ;-)

Denise Jewell (Level 5)

LOL! Great title and great job of setting up these characters. Hate to admit that I know people like this and you really portray them well. The punchline of the paycheck was perfect; I saw the cigarette coming, and believe it or not I was looking for it, but it still worked.

My critique would be that the dialouge could be trimmed a bit to be more believeable, but I think this is well done.

Derek Anderson (Level 4)

Haha, how's that for irony! I really enjoyed this, you did a nice job of conveying a message without coming out and saying it -- in only one page! Very well done

I hope others get this, and I hope it places. It's an EXCELLENT from me... good luck!

Doug Wintemute (Level 3)

These one pagers are tough to judge. I just think there could have been more. I needed to see some more to make an impact. Overall I see that you make the bed you lie in and good riddance, however I needed someone to attach to. Both unlikeable, unenviable and uninteresting characters. Well written though and that deserves some praise.

Upon another read this does have more of an impact than I initially thought but still not enough to make my mind change. Great visuals of the characters though.

Erich VonHeeder (Level 4)

I really like your concept here, these two men playing the victim against the backdrop of their poor decisions. LOVE the idea.

A couple things held me back though:

The dialogue is really "on the nose." You really spoon feed us your theme, instead of providing us a scene that points us to your message. It's a tough thing...I see that, believe TRUST your audience to get the point. But I think you need to be a little more subtle in your dialogue. Which leads me to...

I think your dialogue could be more authentic. I have a hard time believing that the characters you've provided here would talk like that. I heard YOUR voice coming out of these guys...I didn't hear them. It wasn't just the level of introspective self-awareness they had, it was their speech. "We’ve been crushed by the dice of fate..." simply doesn't sound like something that would come out of this character's mouth.

These two notes are basically the same note, I guess. Here's the bottom line: one of the big challenges in writing dialogue is to take the message you want to impart and run it through the filter of your characters. Don't let bums talk like Rhodes Scholars.

It's tough...I'm not making light of the challenge, BELIEVE that. But if you spend a little time on that challenge with this script, I think it can be great. Good luck!

Fred Koszewnik (Level 5)

Your screenplay has a great set up with interesting, entertaining characters. What may be lacking is a strong storyline with a gripping resolution. You have a clear poetic gift for words and setting the stage. I just wish your characters had more to do and less to say. Continued good success.

Gary Rademan (Level 5)

Two guys commiserate about their luck.

These two guys don't learn anything from their story but we do. I liked that approach it kept this one interesting.

Greg Tonnon (Level 5)

The title is interesting but doesn't clue us in as to what the story will be about. Your craft is very good - I didn't see any mistakes. The dialogue is good as it seems realistic and natural for these characters. Your action lines are good - they paint a clear picture (although sometimes unpleasant picture - "lungs sputter"!) of the action. However, the story seems a bit thin. I know there is only so much you can do in a one pager, but this is just two guys that have no one to blame but themselves, blaming everyone else.

Heidtmann Oppong (Level 4)

Enjoyed reading it. My only problem is that the script is wow but i don't see the subject of the competition in it. or may be I'm blind lol! or may be it needs more emphasis cos i still can't see what is "LESS" here that makes a big deal at the end as "MORE."

That irrespective, the script was wow! Cleverly written, beautiful diction, suspenseful premise and everything of a good script. Congrats.

James Hughes (Level 5)

I like that you have a script with these as the main characters, two beaten down souls. But I think the script is too on the nose where the men say exactly what they are thinking. I'd rather see that the world doesn't care about these guys through the action on screen then have them just tell me that the world doesn't care. I'm thinking of your script if there was no dialogue at all. The one guy comes in from the rain, finds his last dollar, loses the bet, stumbles out, the other guy lighting a cigarette through his hole. Your images are pretty good when I think about this way. I think your dialogue is taking away from your images. I suggest reworking this script to not have any dialogue and get your point across only with images and actions.

James McConnell (Level 4)

This didn't feel like a story to me. More like a scene within a larger story. There was no sense of beginning, middle and end. What was the moral of the story? You get out of life what you deserve? There is also a big time cheat here. We have the dogs starting their race at the beginning of the page and then finish at the bottom with no cuts. The race took less than a minute? It was also a story of talking heads with no real action.

Jeannie Sconzo (Level 5)

It gave me a real feeling of hopelessness in the end. Reminds me of when I saw the film "Babel". It was so depressing. Of course it was beautifully cinematic and acting was superb, as your script is well written, but truly I want to be uplifted.

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator)

I don't know what a 'Bookmaker' is, and I don't understand your first line of action.

I really like that. These guys complaining about how the world treated them, but they are really the reason why, haha. Great.

I thought the actions could have been written smoother though. The story didn't really flow like it should have.

Still, this gets a VG from me. Great story. Just needs to be written tighter.

Jeff Ferry (Level 5)

I really liked the title. I really enjoyed both of the main characters. They definitely conveyed the addict attitude of no accountability.

Jo Gates (Level 4)

That's dark. The scene is well set up and the story reaches a conclusion; you certainly characterize Phil and Donny well (if negatively). This is a sad story, and its bleakness is clearly shown.

"They shake their heads" should be "Phil shakes his head"? And I wondered at the end, when someone with a tracheotomy smokes, don't they put the cigarette in their mouth and cover the hole like when talking? I have no idea. Good job on the script.

Josh Gonzalez (Level 3)

Nothing really gets this story moving. There is no singular event that causes Phil or Donny to change their lives? Donny gets kicked out of the caravan park, but he does nothing about it. Phil gambles his paycheck on a dog and loses. Does he ever win? If he did win, would it cause him to change his behavior?

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5)

I liked the theme and how you painted their characters. I really think it could make nice little movie. I think if filmed it will come off as funny although the read wasn't. It depends on the actors perhaps. I think we watch a lot of skits just like that and often think they are very clever.

Kisha King (Level 4)

The story is spaced out really good and the description of the characters in nicely describe. I like how you kept th tone of the story at one level from beginning to the end. Excellent

KP Mackie (Level 5)

A depressing scenario. Love the visual quality; the rain certainly adds to the ambiance. Characters are unique. Can't remember ever seeing a guy with a tracheotomy hole, other than in the popular commercial. Learned a new term: "caravan park." An RV park, in Britain. Cool.
This story could work as a single scene in a longer story. Curious about the backstories of Phil and Donny. There's so many terrific visual elements that it's easy to see Phil and Donny in their misery and misfortune. Love that the first slug is "Shabby Bookmaker." Interesting choice of words that sets up the story. Pulled through this short by the details and descriptions. It would look great onscreen. Well done.

Martin Jensen (Level 5)

This is depressing. I like how they are totally oblivious to the fact that they've made their own misery for themselves, and are instead blaming it on the world.

Very good.

Michael Alberstadt (Level 4)

This is an odd one. I don't really feel that this screenplay gave me anything to learn, anything to hang my hat on. It's so matter-of-fact; it needs some nuance, some spark. Two people complaining in a room isn't something I want to see.

I think the writing is good. It could use some editing...both the dialogue and action bits are too long.

Give this some thought and do a rewrite. The idea is sound; it just needs to be presented better.

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4)

I thought this was good at conveying a complete story in one page.

I was confused by SHABBY BOOKMAKER as a location. It sounds like a person to me, but that may just be my ignorance of the topic.

I thought the detail in the action sections was excellent. Something about the dialog that I didn't care for, but I'm not exactly sure what.

I like the point being made here, but I think it could've been maybe more subtle. Perhaps that's what I was feeling with the dialog as well.

But then, there's not much room for subtlety in one page.

Olga Tremaine (Level 5)

The dialogue is too on the nose. Phil says "How ya doing?" Donny answers "Real bad..." Drop the first sentence.

They're just feeding us information. Instead of " I’ve led a sensible life and what have I got to show for it, a filthy hole in my neck like a gutter!" maybe be more "show not tell". Just make him point at his neck and say "See this?! This what I've got for being good!", or something along those lines, I hope you get my point.
Good luck.

Paul De Vrijer (Level 5)

Title is a bit misleading. And why are they watching through a television, and not on the actual site? Because seriously, this is a little unvisual for the location.
Starts strong visually, dogs in pens, ready to race, heavy rain. Hole in throat.

But then, just dialogue and the ending. Just that. Bit of a better set-up than pay-off.

Paul Williams (Level 5)

I suppose the purpose of the story is to show the irony of how Donny and Phil complain about life, while at the same time they waster their time, effort, and money on gambling, alcohol, and cigarettes.

That's a good theme, but I just wish there was a little more in the end. The ending here feels a slightly anticlimactic.

Pete Barry (Level 5)

This is a terrific setup that doesn't seem to get anywhere. It's a slice-of-life, and the characters are fascinating, but I don't come away with any meaning, message, or enlightenment.

And, man, did this get off to a great start. The TV with the dog race, and Phil with his tracheotomy, and in staggers Donny: bang, you've got me. I'm ready for something huge. But all I get is the banter of two guys who don't get that they've ruined their own lives, and neither one walks away with any epiphany, or even in any different situation than when the film started. Well, Donny's lost a day of pay. But in the grand scheme of his life, that's the least of his problems.

You could make this work without artificially introducing "plot", but the dialogue is too on-the-nose right now - the characters are basically explaining to us how they got to this point, without realizing it themselves.

It's an amazing start, but it needs a second impetus to really fire us up, and engage us in the story.

Pia Cook (Level 5)

Pretty good and pretty funny too. A pair of loser blaiming everything on someone else. We've all known one or two of those I think. Well written and pretty good characterization for just one page.

Good work sir/m'am. :)

Rich Keel (Level 4)

Good read and moved along nicely. The charcters are very easily seen based on your words and dialog.

I like the title.

Good luck to you this month.

Sally Meyer (Moderator)

wow, this was sad. The characters in your story just seem so hopeless. I didn't understand what their goal was, they just seemed like they went through life just complaining about their circumstances, and yet doing nothing to help themselves. While there are a lot of people like this in life, I would have liked some sort of hopeful message in this story.

Sean Chipman (Level 4)

This story was extremely weak, overall. First of all, the dialogue has horrendous. It was all cringe-inducing to read and I really didn't even like the story to begin with.

I get the sense reading this that it was written either by a first-timer or someone who isn't quite seasoned in writing yet.

If that's true, all you've got to do is listen to how people talk. That'll start you out on better dialogue and you'll be on your way to a better story. Hopefully better than this one is.


Sylvia Dahlby (Level 5)

I liked the characters in this, and the narrative gave a strong sense of place even though it was a little wordy, as was the dialog. The problem I had was the story just didn't go anywhere. It read like a scene from a larger work and seemed to ramble on about points that were already made (ie the trach hole). The end just seemed to leave me hanging. Fix this by giving it an actual plot, make me at least feel the loss of the bet. Overall, good job, but could have been much better.

T. James DeStein (Level 5)

What was the point here? Two guys whine and complain about life and then... where was the ending to this story?

Tim Westland (Moderator)

I like your descriptions. You've got a knack there.

Your dialogue, however, is extremely on the nose and far too expository. You could easily cut 75% of your dialogue and not lose anything... and actually gain two things:

1. More space to write
2. A tighter, less on the nose story.

Keep at it.

Tom Peterson (Level 4)

Very nicely done. Very clear portrait of both characters and the multiple addictions they both face in life and how those addictions got them to where they are. Technically correct (of course ? ). Use of a few gerunds, but they weren’t distracting and I’m not really sure the gerund rule should be so strict. Over all, excellent.

William D. Prystauk (Level 5)

This is good, but there's no payoff. Both guys are bitching about the world because they're not taking responsibility for their own actions. We get that. But we need a story here instead of a scene.

I hope you expand on this.

William Flink (Level 3)

This was written well, the dialogue was good and you managed to create two characters. But the script as a whole didn't click with me. The ending felt somewhat flat and it didn't seem to build up to anything.
I dont mind a script feeling like a single scene or without an ending or twists. but there wasn't anything in this script that interested me sadly.

Comments Made After the Contest

KP Mackie (Level 5) ~ 8/1/2011 1:07 AM

Gave this short a VG. Visually impressive.

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator) ~ 8/1/2011 4:41 PM

Gave this a VG as well, Jem. Great job. Keep up the great work.

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 8/1/2011 5:24 PM

I really dug this. Your characters are awesome - authentic and original. I loved it.

Jem Rowe (Level 4) ~ 8/5/2011 7:47 AM

Thanks so much for voicing your encouragement guys :) Since the day the results came out I've found it hard to see past one scathing and slightly condesending review, I try to be as careful and sensitive as possible when expressing what I think could be improved about someone elses script, so I suppose I expect the same from others. I feel a lot better now that three writers I admire have given me a pat on the back, thankyou all so much :) I can now see that for better or for worse this is probably the script I'm most proud of.

Oh, and Chris, I am a HUGE Tom Waits fan and got the idea for this from his explaination of the album title "Rain Dogs". He said it refers to how some people are like dogs after a storm, all of their scent trails have been washed away so they can't find their way home. I felt the characters are a bit like this, hence they are the "Rain Dags" of the title.

Basil Sunshine (Level 4) ~ 8/6/2011 12:13 AM

Hi Jem, Don't be bothered by one scathing review. Anyone who's ever written anything interesting has gotten a few of those ;D Anyway, you got more excellents than poors. I quite liked your characters and hope you expand this.

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