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"Who Ordered The Pigeon Surprise?" by Alex Hollister

Logline: A self-destructive Aristocrat celebrates his 35th Birthday. An invitation only soiree. Nobody told the Pigeon.

Genre: Comedy - Mystery

Cast Size: 1

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

Contest: One is the Loneliest Number (Sep. 2007)

Contest Scores
PoorFairGoodVery GoodExcellent
4%18%39%25%14%

Comments Made During the Contest

Adrienne Jorgensen (Level 4)

there's something really great about this. it's so quirky and creative. the character feels really well developed and it was really interesting. i definately didn't know what to expect as i read.

the only thing that i wonder about is the tag on the gift that he steps on before falling out the window. it's clever, but maybe too much of a one-liner.

Austin Jones (Level 4)

Great job! What a fun read. I really love the use of the pigeon and thank you for not fulfilling shooting him in the head!

Barbara Lewis (Level 4)

The first page and a half grabbed me and I think THAT's your story. right up to "what a fitting epitaph." I was thinking, eccentric recluse about to off himself, cursing everyone he's ever known. Really well written.

But then the rest of it didn't really work for me - the pigeon wouldn't have survived smacking into the window with such force, and the story didn't really ring true in the sense that it was believable (hard to do in 3.5 pages, you can do it if you expand). The last two paragraphs are prose.

I think a lot of times we want to explain to the readers after the fact of what we were thinking when we wrote our pieces - and I think you have a very clear story in mind - but it just needs to play on the page with a little more clarity! :) Cuz as my acting teacher always said when I felt a character but wasn't really acting it, "we're not all in your brain in your living room."

Nice script - I think you should lose the pigeon - the story is this creepy lonely bitter rich guy and his choice.

Brian Wind (Level 5)

Either write out the swear words or omit them completely because censoring them is quite distracting. We're all adults here and I don't think anyone would be offended to read a couple swear words. I noticed a few typos (Careens/careers, class/glass) and a few lines of description that aren't filmable like "He surely would have been able to do something about the pecking of his nose." That's not something that can be caught on film. All in all, this was okay. Kind of reminded me of Poe's The Raven in a way.

Bryan Mora (Level 4)

I don't really think you needed to censor yourself in your own script lol. Just comeout and say it, fuck fuck fuck fuck fuuuuuck! If your character's gonna say it, might as well have him mean it.

I personally wasn't very interested in the script. So he talks in front of a bunch of high end up tight nasty ass ignorant social lites. Who cares? However your "hwoly hwell, wah the fwuck" was quite hilarious. It was like elmer fud saying a curse word.

AND wow what a coincidence, i imagined elmer and look hwat happens. Your character is chasing an animal across the town like a loonie toon.

And the ending, just sounds to me like a story not a script. te section where it reads "had he still been able to ... etc etc" needs to change. Make it sound less like a novel. Basic rule of thumb: show, don't tell.

But otherwise, i hope all this didn't make it sound like i didn't like the story, cause by the end, i sorta did. I was most certainly entertained. Good luck with everything...

little wabbit.

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

Before I even start reading, I must say - love the title.

Hmmm - is a pigeon a character? Do you have to cast one?

But...I loved this! It was so refreshing and made my heart leap with joy at the changes of pace and mood and the sheer blackness of the humour. I think you could have put in the swear words - the **** stopped the flow of the story.

Many many people have had their character talking to him/herself, but you are one of the very few that has succeeded in making it work.

Excellent. Without doubt my favourite so far - the 30th I've read.

Chris Messineo (Founder)

This was wonderful.

What a great sense of style. This was an extremely fun read. Fantastic visuals and a great sense of humor.

I loved the ending.

One question, why use asterisks with the curse words? Let them fly in all their fury.

Dawn Calvin (Level 5)

Okay, that was interesting.

At first I didn't know if he was actually say * * in stead of just saying the word Shit. It was a little strange, but I thought maybe you were trying to be considerate of the reader. But it brought me out of the story as I haven't seen that before.

I thought you captured the "one" rule very well.

good luck!

Dusty Fincher (Level 4)

I did laugh a bit during the script. I thought the dialogue at the beginning was good and crisp. I don't know that I "felt" the script, if that makes any sense, but it was definately well written, amusing and entertaining.

DW Pollard (Level 4)

The story read and flowed smoothly. I didn't care for the title, though I can't say I have a better one in mind.

Preswick has a revolver: fires one shot through his cheek, one at the gravy boat, one at the chandelier, then a few more shots (that's six); he then chases the pigeon through the corridors "firing like a madman". He should have reloaded first (yes, you state he occassionally reloads, but we should have seen that before he took off after the bird).Also, would someone intending suicide have been carrying extra bullets to begin with, or might he have had to go and get some from the study or wherever first?

"careers towards the window"?

The last two paragraphs tell the reader what's going on with Preswick and through his head, but how is this going to be shown on the screen?

When it was all said and done, I had to wonder why or how it was that Preswick was all alone and wanting to kill himself. I found it a little strange that he didn't know guests would be coming, that he figured everyone just ditched his party.

Jacob Schantz (Level 3)

I think the manic energy of this needs to be contained.
There were moments where your pulpy narration outshined the very odd and problematic plot, but overall, it was very hard to get into.
The guy who wanted to give up on it all, suddenly tries really hard to get that damn pigeon.
Another thing that confused me was the suicide attempt and the audience watching.
I know the mechanics of the contest can be trying, but everyone files out and leaves after watching a man shoot himself in the face?
A guy who appears to have a good relationship with his family, as the notes on the presents read. Why did these assholes affect him, if he’s so cool and disconnected?
It didn’t come off as dark humor, just really conflicted.

Jay Knisely (Level 4)

Super-duper stuff. Excellent pulled down near very good because it's a Looney Tunes (a metro-Yosemite Sam) cartoon that caught me off-guard, and the line about occasionally stopping to reload, jams the flow (like hitting pause) and could go without saying (or give him a Glock).

Title's good and does befit a cartoon.

John Foley (Level 4)

If you do not like to use swear words then leave them out of the script. There was though a decent desription of the action. However, if this was such a miserable person I found to believe there would be wall to wall presents for him.

Kirk White (Level 5)

This was well written and clever. I got slightly confused as to what actually was going on...I didn't understand the presents...why were they there? Was the beginning a dress rehearsal for when the limo's arrived? I wasn't sure. I was a funny little romp none-the-less.

Margaret Avnet (Level 4)

I have to say interesting title.

There were a few typos and I don't know if you would capitalize pigeon.

Is the birthday boy drunk or insane? I think you should have made that more clear. You start off with him ranting and raving to no one, which of course you would have to do to keep in the parimeters of the rules. But once he starts to chase after the pigeon, he ends up in a room full of presents and you make mention of the limos pulling up to the house. Yes, the cards are not lovingly written but he did get presents. Are you hinting at the fact that those in his life feel the same way he does?

As for using ** when you write explictives, I don't think it looks very professional. If you are uncomfortable using them, then don't. A good writer can come up with other ways to express him or herself.

And at the end I don't think you should have gone on about how he would have done this or that if he could.

Matias Caruso (Level 5)

I liked how you established a creepy atmosphere right away and I loved your cynic character from the start. The dark humor in his bitter monologue was very entertaining. His complex vocabulary and the expletives he threw here and there were a strange yet likable combination. Your set up is excellent.

The resolution wasn’t bad but didn’t live up to the quality of the introduction of the conflict. My expectations were high and I was hoping for more. Even for a guy who is boiling with rage, having an “accident” that leads to fly ejected through a window it’s a hard pill to swallow. At least for me.

Anyways, this was very good. Thanks for the read.

Michael Cornetto (Level 5)

That was pretty good. After first I thought it was going to be yet another suicide story, but you managed to keep it original. The only issue I had with it were typos, there were quite a few. If no one else details them ask me after the contest and I will be happy to detail them for you.

Pia Cook (Level 5)

This was pretty good.

I don't think I've ever read a story with a pigeon like this before so a little bit of originality there. The rest of the story isn't exactly that original though. A man thinks no one cares about him on his birthday and is angry and upset about it, but it turns out that "everyone" is coming for a surprise party instead.

All in all, well written and + for the pigeon, but could be sharpened some with the rest of the story.

Randy Bigger (Level 4)

Either write "shit," or don't. An actor can not say s**t. Is it Soot? Silt? Sort? Putting in asterisks only serves to distract. Oops, did it again with f**ckwads. I have to ask why you would do that. You do it so much that I can't tell you how distracting that is to what might have been an otherwise good story.

Overall it didn't grab me. Creative to be sure. I thought something else had busted through the window. That pigeon sure had to be flying fast to bust through that window.

The most entertaining part was the swinging about with the club as the pigeon evaded him.

Careers? Careens?

Rich Keel (Level 4)

I enjoyed the main character very much...his obsession to kill the bird made me laugh. There was a few spots where you said "Clint Eastwood would've been proud" and some other things where you couldnt show that on the screen...and im pointing this out because it has been pointed out to me numorous times.

good luck to you.

Rick Hansberry (Moderator)

Entertaining and original. I didn't know where this was going and I didn't really care. I just enjoyed spending a few minutes as a fly on the wall in the mansion you so deftly described. Tons of visual opportunities and aside from a few typos, a smartly written and keenly dark humorous script. Really enjoyed the ending and the way you depicted the closing scene on the page. Nice response to the challenge.

Rob Gross (Level 4)

This started off serious, and then turned into a comedy?

The guy just put a bullet through his cheek, but he chases a pigeon?

There were presents lined up in the house, but limos were pulling up. Why were the presents there ahead of the guests?

I have a comment on the dialog. At first, Preswick sounds somewhat sophisiticated..."silver spoon vacuous lives" then he uses a term like "fuckwad"

It seems like the dialog was a little inconsistent to me.

Good story.

Robin Williams (Level 3)

Your writing is decent, although wordy in some places. Preswick’s description is excessive. Can tighten this.

Messages on the presents made me chuckle.

I applaud the effort that went into this. But the story did not work for me. What he was so unhappy about was not clear.

I just didn’t buy him doing all that talking to himself or his inability to catch the damn pigeon until he falls out the window. And a man who just got shot in the cheek might not take the time to look at presents.

Keep writing!

Sally Meyer (Moderator)

Hallelujah! I loved the story, loved the humor, loved the script. Well done. I don't have any really nitpicky things to say. But it was refreshing to read some humor after a bunch of sadder depressing scripts.
nice work

Stephenie Ruffin (Level 4)

First i'd like to say, it's okay to completely spell "fuck..." and "shit." Second, the story didn't make sense to me, I didn't understand the core of the story. Thirdly, the descriptions and dialog was written well.

Sylvia Dahlby (Level 5)

Hilarious! First rate physical comedy. I especially loved the title drew me right in.

William Bienes (Mod Emeritus)

I see David Hyde Pierce as Preswick, the intolerable f**ckwad that he is (Preswick, of course). Strange, but interesting tale. Well written and with some charm.

A little less of the sour and prickish Preswick may work better at the begining, not that he got on my nerves nor did I think it was too much.

I did enjoy this script. Well done.

William Coleman (Level 5)

I really lied your action scenes. CGI will have a ball with these.

Preswick's bitterness - enough to drive him to suicide - needs a little more back-story - and you have three fourths of a page for that. His profanity is a little forced - and don't be shy, write it out! After all you're asking an actor to say it.

The irony of his death by falling doesn't quite come off. Perhaps you need a set-up by having hiom decide that he will revenge himself on all those who made his life miserable by deciding to live on - then, by accident he dies.

Just an idea.


Comments Made After the Contest

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 11/1/2007 9:47 AM

This was another one of my favorites this month.

This was a great read and I hope we get to read more of your stories in the future.

Alex Hollister (Level 4) ~ 11/1/2007 9:57 AM

I'd like to thank you all for commenting. Some very accurate and insightful stuff.

Not sure if this is correct protocol because I'm new to this site, but just wanted to clear a few things up.

Firstly more than one person mentioned the use of 'Career' citing it as a typo, but it's not. It's an archaic term to mean 'charge towards'. Maybe it's a word that isn't in common use over the pond (I'm a Brit).

Secondly a few people mentioned the prose. Note it only happens at the very end. It's a way of punctuating the closing paragraphs. Whilst I entirely agree with avoiding all instances of prose throughout, I see nothing wrong in using it to close out a script. Kind of like the screenwriting version of going out with a bang. The only other moment was the Eastwood comment, but comedy scripts, even specs, tend to be different. They rely on creating a comedic tone not just through dialogue, but also action description. I felt that I perhaps needed to emphasize the comedic tone at certain points.

Thirdly, and this came up the most, censorship of dialogue. Being new to this site, as I mentioned above, I wasn't entirely sure of the rules and regulations. I've been on websites that ask a writer to censor due to underage users (IMDB for one). I thought it better to be safe than sorry. Believe me my future characters will swear like a nun's day off....well if it suits the nature of the character of course.

On a side note, The Elmer Fudd comment made me chuckle. I was desperately trying to avoid the comparison at first (I got very close to typing 'Pesky varmit', but in the end I gave up and kind of reveled in it. Oh and I too noticed influence of the Poe not long after I typed Fade Out.

Anyway, again thank you for reading and all your comments. To those that didn't like it, this was just a testing-the-water entry to see what the site was like. I promise the next one will blow you away.

......damn, nothing like added pressure :)

Alex Hollister (Level 4) ~ 11/1/2007 10:00 AM

Thanks Chris. Pretty happy with how it went. I cursed myself a few times as I reread and noticed all the typos. Especially missing out the word 'You' in part of Preswick's dialogue which took away all the punch of his Socialite F**kwad line. That said it was an enjoyable exercise and a great distraction from my feature length writing which is frankly doing my raving nut in (that's Brit for 'driving me crazy').

Alex Hollister (Level 4) ~ 11/1/2007 12:11 PM

I've just realized 'Pesky Varmit' is Yosemite Sam not Elmer Fudd.

...as you were :)


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