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"The Mighty Desert" by Kisha King

Logline: During the biggest high of his life, Shannon thinks he will find peace and happiness, but peace come in many ways.

Genre: Fantasy

Cast Size: 1

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

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

Contest Scores
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Comments Made During the Contest

Audrey Webb (Level 5)

Nice images in the beginning. I like that there's no dialogue. Change "medal" to "metal". (Dang.) I'm not sure how you show someone is "cold as winter"...

I think this would make a great flash fiction piece. Consider writing it in prose.

Ayal Pinkus (Level 5)

Ah, a script without dialogue. Mine was the same, but I have to say, first impression is you are confronted with a wall of text. I hesitated to start reading for a second.

The first slugline reads "DESERT HALLUCINATION", but how is the director going to show that it is a hallucination?

The same for the last action paragraph, how is the director going to show Shannon is dead, and "as cold as winter", and not just sleeping?

A typo in the first slugline, it is hallucination, with two l's.

There are many questions raised. Is it a final dream? What was the BOOM BOOM BOOM? Heartbeat-like perhaps? I first thought it might be some one knocking on a door somewhere, so I didn't understand what it was doing in the story. You intend to say he's still alive at that moment.

Almost at the end, what is "the medal"?

At first I thought the needle was there to keep him alive, to administer drugs (of the healthy kind). But perhaps he took an overdose? Perhaps add some more drug-related paraphernalia around him so we know he just overdosed...

Basil Sunshine (Level 4)


I'm not sure that hallucination should be used in a slug line.

"shirt and pants [are] damp" or "clothing is damp"

"pants and shirt moves" should be "move"... or "clothing moves"

Well that was really, really dark. He thinks he's in the desert but actually he overdosed.

Way too dark for my taste, but some good visuals.

Bob Johnson (Level 4)

Neatly written, no formatting issues, spelling and grammar was good.

Nice story, told well with some well written action sequences.

A good story, I liked it, was it supposed to say 'medal' at the end?


Brian Howell (Level 5)

The poor grammar gets in the way here. I suggest asking someone to proofread before you submit in the future.

I'm not sure how the first part (the set-up), the second part (the reveal) and the title all blend together. The reveal shows that he is dead, apparently an overdose on heroin, but I'm not sure how that ties to a desert, let a lone how a dead guy can hallucinate.

Despite some logic flaws, I really like some of the imagery here. The vast and harsh desert juxtaposed to a drug addicts apartment... you've done a great job visually.

Brian Wind (Level 5)

There's some passive writing in here that could be easily remedied. Formatting and pace are pretty good.

I'm nt sure about using hallucination in a slugline. I guess I knew what you meant, but that is not a location. See what others say about that, but I think you could just eliminate the word and be fine.

The story was pretty basic, yet very visceral. I think it'd make for a good little short film.

A few things about the end... Do corpses sweat? I don't think so. And I felt like something should have occured at his mouth. Either he's covered in vomit or foaming at the mouth, nosebleed, something to let us know he's not just sleeping, then when we see the needle, we know he ODed. Anyway, nice work and good luck!

Briant Weylin (Level 3)

The mighty desert is a lonely place right? Writing can be like that too lol

I like the story and the idea of a hallucination that cuts to an addict's death, its potent. Unfortunately I feel, other than it being hot, there was very little to connect the two scenes (which of course may be true in real life, but as an audience we need more than two seemingly unconnected scenes). For instance, what's the "boom boom boom"? How is the snow angel related? I'm left feeling there could be something here, but its just not clear.

I'm sure you'll receive lots of reviews regarding the script's style and grammar, just bear in mind that each paragraph should represent a different camera shot. Use those breaks to your advantage to give your script a meaningful flow.

And if you have questions or want some advice, hit me up.
Good luck and keep writing

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

Red veins crosses over - Red veins cross over

He lay flat - He lies flat

His shirt and pants is damp - are damp.

his pants and shirt moves - his pants and shirt move

the sweat collides with medal - do you mean 'a medal' or perhaps 'metal'?

I think you have created beautiful imagery here. It would be a good idea to get your work checked so that the language errors which make the story difficult to follow could be ironed out.

The title isn't the best...

Very good!

Chris Keaton (Level 5)

Hahaha, you got a junky in your script too. I kinda liked it. Good job.

Chris Messineo (Founder)

I love the symbolism here. This is a very dark and dramatic death scene.

I especially love the way the dream and reality all blend together. Awesome visuals. Great script.

One small suggestion, remove "hallucination" from the first scene heading - let the audience figure it out when the transition to reality happens.

Lastly, not a big deal, but you have couple of grammatical and spelling errors.

Dan Delgado (Level 5)

There was some interesting imagery but it all seemed a little confused. I get that the guy is dying, probably from a drug overdose. I don't get how a dead man can can be lying there:

"Sweat runs down his forehead,..."

and then a few lines later about the same person at the same time:

"Shannon lays there dead, as cold as winter."

I'm not a stickler for spelling and grammar but the following line took me out of the story. (And believe me, I've done enough of this kind of thing myself):

"The final destination is when the sweat collides with medal."

I tried to figure that out for a few moments before moving on figuring out you meant "metal".

You can paint pictures with words I just don't think these didn't completely work together.

Good luck. Thank you for entering.

David D. DeBord (Level 5)

The story is interesting though the grammar issues pull me right out of the script. I storp visualizing the character and setting, and think about indiviual words and nouns and verbs. There is a good thing going here but please have someone else read and edit your script before you send it in.

You put a lot of work into the story and much of it works well. Don’t let easily correctable “typos” detract from your effort.

Dawn Calvin (Level 5)

You certainly have an ARC!

I do think that it could have been tightened up a bit.

We talk about his clothes and mention his shirt and pants a couple of times. I think that is a lot on one page.. every word counts. Try to use them sparingly.

Good luck!

Denise Jewell (Level 5)

I was confused by the scene heading saying "Hallucination." I don't think you need that part. If it were being filmed, we wouldn't know it was a hallucination.

This is interesting, but a little confusing. I'm picturing some kind of addict, but he could just be someone trying to escape the heat. Needs a bit more info.

Derek Anderson (Level 4)

It's hard to feel any empathy for a protagonist who OD's on drugs. I don't mean to be unfair because the setup is good, even if it's not all that original. It's best to avoid unisex names because I saw the name "SHANNON" and automatically pictured a female.

I also feel that you needed some dialogue!

Donnetta Williams (Level 3)

The picture in my mind was that of a man who was being overtaken by his last fix. I believe I got the point of what you were trying to convey,usually this could take on great imagination when trying to imagine what an addict goes through during his fixes. Great detail to the setting, and character's emotions. Through each word and sentence I can see the scenes playing out.

Doug Wintemute (Level 3)

First one I've read with only description and action. I think this is very well done. You made me see everything and I kind of new what was happening (at least the drug part). I would like to know if it was intentional or not, but either way I really enjoyed this.

Thank you for posting, I gave this a Very Good.

Elias Farnum (Level 5)

I've seen a few shortcuts this month. Slugline. You don't need "hallucination" in it, desert is fine. This was nice, cool visuals, and death in the sand.

Good job. Nice anti-drug spot I imagine. Needle should probably be replaced with syringe.

Erich VonHeeder (Level 4)

I have a hunch that you're getting a ton of "nothing happens" and "too much explanation and no story" comments...and low scores to go with them. Unfortunately, because you entered this in a WRITING competition, a competition that is won or lost on dialogue and action, those comments are pretty accurate. Know what I mean?

But here's the deal: I can see this being a truly amazing short film. I can see it being visually STUNNING and absolutely MOVING.

What you've written here is the blueprint for a short film that can win contests based on the VISUAL elements of film...a visceral experience that receives awards for direction and cinematography.

I guess what I'm saying is this: don't get down that people said a bunch of mean crap to you about your script "not going anywhere." This script wasn't meant for this competition, that's all. You entered a peacock in a dog show. Big deal.

Shoot this film. Make it beautiful. Capture everything that's in your head and put it on a screen in all it's psycho-head-trip glory. Then enter it in a film contest. Then you'll be in business. Good luck!

Fred Koszewnik (Level 5)

Some of the things I liked about your screenplay:
No dialogue, all visuals - a gutsy thing to do.
Contrasts - day/night, desert/hall, hallucination/reality.
Incongruous images - snow angels in the desert. All very clever and effective.

Things that didn't quite resonate so well:
You've given yourself the gift of exploring an hallucination - and yet you
may not have made the most use of it towards producing high drama. Snow angels
while creative just isn't angst producing. Kick up the action and consequences of
Shanon's drug induced delirium somehow.

One small question - Did you intend for the BOOM, BOOM, BOOM to indicate Shannon's
dying heartbeat?

Hope this criticism helps.

Gary Rademan (Level 5)

A drug addict has a hallucination.

No dialog - kudos! Strange visuals which made more sense when I read the ending.

Suggestions: Drop the word hallucination from the first slug. Let us think it's a mirage. The ending is melodramatic. "cold as winter" not needed or at least should tie in to the desert motif. "The final destination is WHERE..." The name Shannon made me think of a women first.

Greg Tonnon (Level 5)

The title is okay but does not clue us in to what the story will be about. Your craft is fine, but I'm not sure that "Desert Halucination" is a location. I believe the scene heading should be where Shannon is physically located and the halucination should be described in the action lines. There is no dialogue to critique. Your action lines are fine. They are clear and concise. The story is, well, depressing. I thought it was going to be a guy stuck in the desert has hallinations not a drug overdose death story.

Heidtmann Oppong (Level 4)

Kinda confused in my first read. Still trying to get it.

I don't mean I don't see the sense in the script, i do but trying to liaise it with the subject "More of Less is More"

Sorry to say i didn't see it. Nonetheless it was a simple, creative script. Congrats.

James Hughes (Level 5)

I like that you are doing everything with images. You have a lot of adverbs which I get feedback on in my scripts that I shouldn't have them. Metal? The entire script has him hot in a desert but the last line has him dead, cold as winter. Did you mean to have this be a twist on the heat you have throughout the script?

Jeannie Sconzo (Level 5)

I like the ending but the description could be improved upon

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator)

this would probably be amazing visually, but just by itself as a screenplay it doesn't really come across too clear. Was he in hell? I didn't get the desert metaphor. Does doing drugs make you feel as though you're in a desert?

Your descriptions are like reading a novel sometimes. Read more screenplays to get the action down. It's not the same.

Jeff Ferry (Level 5)

Well its not the most uplifting story but I thought it was well crafted. I think it had a very powerful ending but the beginning was pretty standard.

Josh Gonzalez (Level 3)

How does a smirk hide on the side of your face? Why does Shannon make an angel in the sand? what happens when the sweat collides with the metal? What kills Shannon? What does the dessert have to do with anything? Does Shannon commit suicide? What is making the booming sound? Why is he giggling?

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5)

It's a great piece of writing. Would make a very nice prose. I wasn't sure what to think - he died dreaming of desert, he died of overdose dreaming of the desert but in the end I think it doesn't matter.
I'm not sure if we'll get that he's dead when watching a movie. And when he died and how. But like I said it doesn't matter. the only thing that matter, I think, is how much value a tale of death brings to the table.
Some may find it fascinating. Some not I think.

KP Mackie (Level 5)

Gripping description of the desert. The nonexistent dialogue choice forces attention on the visual elements.
Really wondered what was happening to poor Shannon. Not sure that the needle in his arm explanation works though. Assume he dies in a drug overdose since the location is his apartment. The last line reads, "Shannon lays there dead," but the hallucination details giggling, inhaling, exhaling, licking his lips, etc.

Kristen Alario (Level 2)

The beginning of the story was good, but the ending fell flat. A guy does drugs and dies. I think the story should have stayed in the desert as your description of him laying in the sand and dehydrated was very good.

Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5)

I think you have a couple of contradictions here. If he's dead, how is he having this fantasy (Ithink thats what it is)? And if he's as dead as the cold of winter, why is sweat dripping off his head and down his arm?

I don't know, for me some of your descriptions just didn't add up.

Martin Jensen (Level 5)

An interesting metaphor for drug use.

"Red veins crosses" should be "Red veins cross".

I thought the impact of the ending was marred slightly by some awkward description. "The final destination is when the sweat collides with medal" stuck out particularly. "Sweat hits metal" is more succinct (I assume it should be metal, as a medal isn't mentioned again). Same with "as cold as winter" - I don't think it adds anything to the sentence.

Michael Alberstadt (Level 4)

Okay, the first paragraph says: "a smirk is hiding on the side of his face." If the smirk is hiding, how can we see it? Remember, a movie is a visual media. Show us, don't tell us. And show us what we can see, or what can be inferred by the situation.

A good proofreader would have found all of the incorrect verb tenses and typos. I suggest you find one.

Any time a reader gets bogged down in syntax (the errors above), your story will be doomed to failure

That said, it's an intriguing story. I understand what you're trying to say, but you need to visualize it better for me. Give some more thought to Shannon's experience in the desert, what he's feeling. Why a desert? Why is he giggling, licking his lips, etc.? Are these supposed to be clues for the viewer? Could he start in a rainforest that becomes a desert? Sort of a good to bad scenario?

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4)

Sorry, this one went right over my head.

I couldn't figure out the significance of the desert, the inhale, the exhale, giggles, sand angel, wind, sand, BOOM.

I didn't get the sweat colliding with medal (metal?), or the small drop of blood, or how a needle can hang on for dear life.

Is this just a junkie's hallucination before overdose?

I did like the "cold as winter" image after all the desert heat.

Paul De Vrijer (Level 5)

Shannon, odd name for a dude. Threw me for a loop there for a second. Then, we have the halucination. Why would one still act weird in a halucination? Wouldn't it make sense in the dream, yet look weird in reality? Now it's weird in both worlds.

I don't get how 'the needle is holding on for dear life'. Isn't it the other way around? It was killing him right? Odd phrasing.

Paul Williams (Level 5)

I like what you're trying to do here, it's tragic and sad, but the ending comes a little too close to "it was all a dream."

I know males are named "Shannon," but I'd either choose a different name or clarify more at first that the character is a man.

"Desert Hallucination" is not a location and hallucination is spelled wrong.

Pete Barry (Level 5)

It's a powerful evocation of drug abuse, with disturbing imagery in both the desert hallucination and the apartment.

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the writer's English may not be native. There are several grammatical errors which suggest idiomatic problems, not carelessness. If English is your language, you've gotta spell-check. But I'm letting it go.

One thing I'd suggest is to remove "HALLUCINATION" from the first slugline. It intrigued me, and I was impressed by your confidence that revealing the fact that the desert was a hallucination wouldn't spoil the ending (it didn't). But it's not necessary, and why chance the fact that a reader might guess where you're going?

Overall, excellent work.

Pia Cook (Level 5)

I'm not really a fan of those "it was all just a dream" type endings, but at least you had something different going on with it. If it was just a guy waking up after being hot in his bed I would have been really disappointed. I don't know what it's like to be on drugs, but I thought you painted a pretty vivid picture so good job on that.

Voting Good on this one. Good luck with it. :)

Robert Newcomer (Level 4)

This one opens with an odd slugline, and for a single page, it is kind of weird how repetitive the descriptions felt. That is a lot of words to describe a guy lying in the sand.

There were quite a few typographical errors, which usually do not annoy me too much -- but they do for single-pagers.

The BOOMS occur with no explanation, and unexplained noises for the sake of dramatic effect are a peeve of mine in scripts.

And it was pretty clear where this one was going, you know?

You had some nice imagery -- the needle and the swirling sand, for example -- but unfortunately, this type of cautionary tale is a bit stale.


Sally Meyer (Moderator)

I am guessing that the Desert scenes are really a drug induced hallucination? The script really lacks a story to me. I don't see much happening except Shannon dies of a drug overdose, and that is the story. I don't know anything at all about his back story, or who he is, what he does, if he has family etc.

There's not enough information here, to make this a complete story.

Sean Chipman (Level 4)

I can honestly say that I didn't quite understand this one. I thought for a minute that he was military or something and was in a gunfight in the desert, but then he's at home. I understand you wrote "DESERT HALLUCINATION" but that only made me more confused.

Other than that, there were grammar errors, useless commas and the like and I just wasn't feeling this one too much.


T. James DeStein (Level 5)

I thought this was pretty cool. On paper it felt right but if it were a movie it might seem a bit off. Maybe I'm wrong. I liked the contrast at the end of ice/desert.

Tim Westland (Moderator)

The title really doesn't fit with the theme. With the first 3/4 of the script, yes, but it should be more thematic.

There are quite a few grammar, punctuation and word choice/tense errors... but I do like the analogy between the hallucination of dying alone in the desert while he actually dies alone in a hot apartment.

English isn't your first language, so I would recommend (in the future) that you run your scripts past a friend or two first to uncover the types of errors mentioned above before entering contests in the future. That will help to improve your chances and discover how to improve.

I really enjoyed this!

Best of luck.

William Bienes (Mod Emeritus)

I thought this one-pager was very well done and filled with clear and interesting imagery. A few grammatical issues and a passive word or two, but a very solid entry. Good luck.

William D. Prystauk (Level 5)

Good tale with an unexpected payoff.

The only thing you need to do is proofread and clean up some of the English usage.

This could make a great short film and I hope you do so after the revision.

Great work and thanks for sharing!

William Flink (Level 3)

This is perfect.

I really don't have any critiscm.. This script is right up my alley :)
Yes the ending is not a surprise but it justifies the script, and any other end would probably be bad.


Zach Jansen (Level 4)

One thing I've found to be a good rule of thumb is to avoid using gender-neutral names -- it can really throw a reader off.

I don't understand the slug EXT. DESERT HALLUCINATION -- where is this exactly? Just go with EXT. DESERT, since that won't ruin the twist ending (which the current slug does).

What does the booming signify?

Should be metal, not medal.

Some strong and vivid descriptions, but maybe a bit too prosey.

Comments Made After the Contest

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 8/1/2011 5:31 PM

Great first entry. I really like this a lot. Your descriptions are beautiful.

Kisha King (Level 4) ~ 8/2/2011 8:33 PM

Thanks Chris

I really enjoyed writing this story. I will try to make the necessary improvements. First, I DON'T DO DRUGS!
I know a lot of people don't like the name Shannon, but it is a real story with the real name. The story is about the few minutes of happiness one might have during a high, before an overdose. I picked the desert because this one of the places he talked about going to during his high. So really this is a recreation of what he might have went through during his last minutes on earth.

I would like to THANK everybody that critic and voted on this script.
I really appreciate it.

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