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"Drastic Measures" by Christopher Pedersen Cook

Logline: Taking the tram home, our man's day is utterly ruined.

Genre: Comedy

Cast Size: 3

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

Contest: Fifth Year Open (Dec. 2011)

Contest Scores
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Comments Made During the Contest

Ayal Pinkus (Level 5)

I feel it is not a very realistic scenario. A successful young urban professional sits in a tram (!), and an older woman starts talking to him and he opens up to her?

I've had older women trying to start a conversation with me in a tram and I can tell you it doesn't go like that :-) I suspect it is loneliness; they don't talk to people all day and have a desire to do so, they want to talk about themselves rather.

You are making them do that because it suits your script. And in fact, I think you can cut out that first scene entirely, and just start when the second old lady enters the bus. I think that tightens the story quite a bit.

Middle part is great; the conflict rises. The man wants the second old lady gone.

Then almost at the end you turn protagonists. First it is the man, now it is the second old lady. The man pussies out and moves away like a wimp. Shows how he deals with conflict. And the second lady has won, she pushed the story forward.

It is confusing, because first we see it through the man's point of view, as his voice is used in the voice-over. He narrates to us, confides in us. We become his pal. We sympathize with him as this horrible old woman does offensive things.

Problem is, I don't like the second old lady. She has a disliking for the man because of what he's wearing, and she covers him in mucus because of that. I am not rooting for her... Maybe because she's been introduced late in the story, maybe there is no reason for her to hate the man.

I think you have to have the man do something bad, so we hate him, and feel there is justice when the second old lady chases him away. Maybe let us find out in the end that he did something bad though.

Bill Clar (Level 5)

You can't give the man a name?

The setup with the first old lady can be trimmed by a quarter page to tighten the pace.

"seeming to nurture his optimistic thoughts." This is inside information that only MAN knows.

You should cut back on the number of voice overs. They're distracting and the MAN's frustration is easily conveyed with actions and demeanor.

I like the twist on the old lady's motivation, but I was expecting more from MAN. Marching to a different seat is not very satisfying of a resolution.

Bill Sarre (Level 5)

Not sure that worked for me. I thought it was Interesting how someone can change their mood from happy to annoyed and fail to notice, how he let little things affect him. Also I liked the twist that she was trying to make him move, but the way it went about this was not for me.

The blend of voice over seemed a little excessive for a short and I would suggest naming the main character to give him personality and a reference.

Overall the story did seem a bit light. A man in a good mood, a repressive type, gets angry and moves sear, only for us, not him, to find out she wanted it this way. Not too much.

All the best.

Bob Johnson (Level 4)

Mostly written well, a few grammatical errors here and there but nothing major.

Characters described well, scenes were fine.

Dialogue was a little dull and quickly forgettable.

I wasn't sure where this story was going after the woman got off the bus and the other woman got on, it didn't seem to have much of a story to it all.

Brian Howell (Level 5)

For starters there are some formatting issues. I'm pretty certain others will point these out, but a quick mention of them: (O.S.) goes next to the characters name, not below like a parenthetical. You can get rid of the continues on the top and bottoms of your pages. When you first introduce a character, their name should be in all caps - even if you don't use his name and just call him man, it needs to be in all caps: MAN. The first voice that we hear... yo need to distinguish that it sounds like that of an elderly lady, I had to go back because I first thought it was the Man's. Those are a few things; there were also come typos/misspellings. I hate to bring all of this up, but it was a little distracting from the story.

Speaking of... let's get onto that. I felt like there was a fairly big build-up for nothing. There was a skit-like feel to how this plays out. I never really felt like there was a protagonist that was going after something; this was a little incident that occurs on public transportation, and in the end we find out the Man stinks... was I supposed to laugh? Feel bad for the guy? Feel bad for everyone else on the tram? I'm not sure what you are expecting me to take away from this.

Brian Wind (Level 5)

None of the characters are properly introduced. Eliminate the passive verbs (is & are) from your descriptions in favor of more active verbs. There is no need for 'Continued' at the bottom of a page or the top of the next one. We're reading a script so until we hit FADE OUT. we know the story continues on the next page.

There was 1 typo I noticed and a handful of minor formatting issues which I'm sure other people will point out in detail so I won't dwell on them.

The story here was just okay. I felt like the twist could have been set up better. If we were given some hint, any sort of indication at all, that the man might be stinky, the twist would have worked better. The first old lady really didn't have anything to do with the story so perhaps during his interaction with her would be an opportune time to put in some subtext or hints that the guy stinks. As it is, that twist, which really could be a funny one, just comes out of nowhere and left me scratching my head.

Also, why not give your characters names? I don't think you could get more generic than Man, Old Woman and Old Lady. Why not give 'em names? As it is, they are completely forgettable and the lack of names almost indicates that it's by design.

This needs some polish and a couple subtle tweaks, but in my opinion, it's only 1 rewrite away from being a Very Good script. Nice work & good luck!

Byron Matthews (Level 5)

First impression, the script is nicely formatted, and the writer seems to have a good grasp of script format. As for the story, this one left me scratching my head. It felt like these were two different stories meshed into one.

Some of the action lines read a bit funny. The line "New passengers come on" for whatever forced me to read it twice. It would've been easier to say, "new passengers board the tram." Also, the first dialogue should end with a question mark.

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

Notes as I read...

It's best to use simple present tense. A woman sits...not...has sat

It's not popular to use BEAT to denote a pause. Also, avoid using parentheses to tell us the mood of the character - (awkward) for example. Demonstrate it in the action/dialogue.

You don't need the CONTINUEDS

The word is peek not peak (unless you mean the top of a mountain!)

Conclusion - I'm afraid this didn't really do it for me. I couldn't see the relationship between the first half and the second half. The dialogue was quite natural but rambled on not furthering the story.

You have an inventive mind but it needs taming to bring more focus to your work.

Air pieces? Do you mean ear pieces?

Chris Messineo (Founder)

I'm afraid there isn't enough story for me here.

A man's mood changes based on his interactions with two old women. But so much of this is VO and not in the visuals.

It's kind of an interesting character study, but there is no real story with a beginning, middle, and end.

Chris Setten (Level 4)

You had a great hook on page 1 when the old lady says she doesn't believe him. It made me turn the page but I was disappointed thereafter frankly. I think the title suggests that we are in for some wild ride and it turns out to be nothing of the sort. That may have been your intention but, if so, you leave your audience unsatisfied. A couple of suggestions. On p 2 ""nurture his optimistic thoughts" can't be filmed so why write it?. There is some on the nose writing like " Old ladies love me". You use some camera directions which I think is a no-no. Overall, I seemed to have missed the point here.

Dan Delgado (Level 5)

It started, looked like it was going somewhere fun and then just kind of gave up. I enjoyed the introductions of the characters, and the V.O. thoughts. Three action lines reminded me I was reading a screenplay instead of a story.

"ANGLE ON: MP3-display. The battery sign flashes. Empty."

How about just: "The MP3 battery sign flashes. Empty." Gets the same point across (it will have to be shot as a close of the MP3 player), and it avoids the "ANGLE ON:" jargon. (My opinion.)

The same goes for these two.

"THE MAN’S POV: The old lady, seated at the end of the tram."

"ANGLE ON: The old lady. A puzzled look on her face."

I want to read a story and see it happening, and when you do this, what I see happening is people making a movie. Personally it takes me out of the story.

I'm just grouchy about this, I guess. And I'm sure plenty of people will say the exact opposite.

Good luck. Thank you for entering.

Dave Kunz (Level 4)

I struggled to make sense of this story. The interlude with the first Old Woman and the second Old Lady didn't seem like they worked together in any meaningful way. Was it all just to point out that sometimes strangers on a bus are nice and other times they're mean? The first conversation about being in love and the Man's promotion showed some promise but didn't lead anywhere. I found myself hoping for more insight or a reason to care about either character. It was intermittently interesting but, for me, there was no real payoff. And then with the second encounter the tone shifted from lighthearted and whimsical to sort of mean spirited and I couldn't help but wonder - why? Some very good, promising moments but, as a whole, it didn't quite come together for me.

David M Troop (Level 5)

Drastic Measures

A businessman rides the train home and encounters two old ladies, one good, one evil.
This script had a chance at being a nice comedy, but fell a little short.
There was no real plot or story to speak of.
Maybe if all three characters were siting together on the train you could have used
the VO for better comedy effect if you had the two ladies thinking opposing thoughts about the man.
The formatting needed work.
There were too many ing verbs in your descriptions. Some typos and grammar errors.
When you use (VO) it is placed behind the character's name on the same line.

This can all be fixed. Just read some scripts on this site to help you with formatting problems and structure.

Thanks for entering. Good luck.

Debra Johnson (Level 3)

The (O.S) should be beside the character who is speaking - VOICE (O.S.)

You are giving camera directions. Just write what we see. Description reads like a novel at times too. Too many (V.O.). Perhaps if the character mumbled his words would be more affective.

Very funny ending though. I did not see that coming at all. Made me chuckle. Try not using V.O. so much. Tighten up the descriptions to read only what the audience sees and it could be a very good story. Nice. VG

Gary Rademan (Level 5)

-- A happy man on a tram meet two elderly woman - one sweet the other sour --

Good script. Might be better without VO.

The opening sequence tried too hard to be snappy. Spotted elsewhere but not as noticeable. What's a stiff haircut?

Please name your characters! They aren't real until they have a name even if they never use it.

Clever way to tell us the sweet old lady was a talker - talking was all we had - but we already knew that from her chatty dialog.

Turn off page CONTINUED feature of your software.

The transition from happy to angry was convincing in the time frame.

The title is an odd choice since the term has more to with military or final last stands. Okay I guess it does fit. Kinda.

The VOs are the best lines and would have some decent energy if spoken and acted on out loud. The actors will love you!

Favorite line: "I need a fucking cigarette." The timing and tone was perfect!

Greg Tonnon (Level 5)

Title - the the okay but it doesn't hint at the genre.
Craft - there are some craft issues. (O.S.) should be on the same line as the character's name. The "continued" at the top and bottom of every page is not necessary. Why have a fade out (which should have a period) and no fade in?
Dialogue - the dialogue is fine but if "voice" is the old woman you should say so.
Story - the story is interesting.

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator)

Instead of putting VOICE put OLD WOMAN. We need to know what kind of voice. I pictured a Darth Vadar voice before you mentioned the old lady.

"has sat" - sits

Why doesn't this guy have name? He's your main character. Give him a name.

The VO came out of nowhere. Establish the story with a VO in the beginning.

Why.... doesn't he just get up?

Okay, he did. But you didn't write it as if he was going to do something else, which you should have. Where was the suspense in getting up and walking to the other side. You should have written it differently so we thought he was going to do something to her.

Jem Rowe (Level 4)

I really liked this, a funny situation and a great switch of perspective at the end.

The only problem is that I don't see how the first one and a half pages add to the story. I would advise you just cut them out and focus more on the man trying to avoid the sneeze, maybe you could milk that situation more, have him offer her some tissues or something.

Anyway, other than that irrelevant beginning, this is great. "Very Good". Well Done :)

Jennifer Davis (Level 0)

I think the OS is supposed to be next to the person’s name and not beneath it.

You can’t really tell if a woman is grandmotherly if she’s not a grandmother, can you?

What’s the man’s promotion? Does he have a real job? How come the woman doesn’t believe he have a promotion?

The dialogue is silted, and it’s long too.

First he went from talking to a sweet lady to a mean bitch. Then what’s the payoff to the story? Is it a best friend can become a worse enemy?

I don’t know. I don’t get it. I’m sure everyone else might get it.

Jo Gates (Level 4)

The tension didn't feel very real, particularly after the "reveal" of the coughing woman's distaste for the young man. Why did she sit close to him, then? He was, after all, already there when she sat down.

The hyperbole of "Drastic Measures" seems a good core idea. The plot items (the promotion, the first old woman) didn't tie together well for me. It seemed you were highlighting the difference between the "no big deal" that made a huge difference to the man and the "drastic measure" of moving on the tram, which is really no big deal. It didn't resolve, though.

It may need to be clearer that the VOICE (O.S.) at the beginning is the old woman's voice. It didn't take long to figure out, but confusing the reader at all right away isn't good.

Page 3 "air-pieces" should be "earpieces" or "earbuds."

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5)

I liked the man and the second old lady, but I don't know why you would have the first old lady in. I don't understand what she's there for, I think you could take that out completely - just start from the second old lady.

So, he doesn't smell good and here's the surprise - we can learn about smells only if someone says so. The way they look - that we know but not smells - that's a very smart thing to do, I think.

Second part in in dissonance with the first part (the part about the first old lady) - the first part is all dialog and the second is looks and thoughts. That's one more reason to leave that first part. And it doesn't bring much to the table. It's all about him and the second lady. Good twist in the end - caught me off guard.

Kirk White (Level 5)

I'm afraid I don't understand this one. it's well structured and written but I can't really crack the story here I don't get the reason for the shift to VO or what the opening confab has to do with the new lady. you certainly have captured what it is like to ride public transportation but I don't see the story here.

giving a fair

Kisha King (Level 4)

Interesting turn of event in the story. The one thing that really bothers me is that there are no names given to the characters. There are three people in the story and two of them you named old lady and old woman.

KP Mackie (Level 5)

An everyday experience that many might relate to. Executing payback on one of life's irritants -- in this case, the sickly Old Lady spreading germs into the Man's space -- is an intriguing story idea.
Perhaps tighten the dialogue. Might have more impact if the Man's voiceover is shortened to one or two lines max. Each word counts and should have a purpose in the story. Several times the Man's spewing comes across as venting as opposed to his exasperation building to a climax.
As his frustration reaches a peak, simply moving seats seems a bit of a let down. The set up is well done, but maybe the Man needs to do something even stronger.

Kyle Patrick Johnson (Level 5)

"A strange but genuine smile" I can't picture this. How is it strange? What does it look like? Gleeful? Manic? Simpering? Vengeful? "Strange" is not a useful adjective.

Page 1: Why is "you don't say" in italics? Is that a parenthetical phrase, which ought to be in parentheses? Or is it an emphasis on his speech pattern, which ought to be underlined?

There are two stories here, and it's interesting that they're told in two very different ways. Old Woman and Man converse for quite a while in long sentences, and part ways without having said very much at all. But then Old Lady and Man don't talk at all, and part ways having said volumes. I think the script feels disjointed because of the dichotomy of stories here. I liked the second story much better than the first.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5)

Good title.

If you turn off the MOREs and CONTINUED feature of your writing program, you'll gain several lines for story. If you don't need the room, you still gain white space. Both are desirable.

"A man, late 20s..."

First, use ALL CAPS when you introduce a character. That's standard formatting.
Second, a specific age takes less space on the line than written words.
Third, my personal preference is that the main characters have names.

"The tram has just stopped, and people are coming on."

Write images and actions. Keep things in the present tense, positive. "The tram stops." "An OLD LADY, 77, gets on. She sits behind BOB, 28."

I'm having trouble understanding how you mean to relate the first part of the story (nice old lady) with the second half (not-so-nice old lady). They don't fit together. It's like you started one story and ended with another.

Martin Jensen (Level 5)

I like short scripts about random encounters between two strangers, it can be really interesting.

Name your characters, even if they're generic names. That way we have something to identify with and we know these are the main characters.

"You don’t say. Well... It’s not a big deal, but uh, I got a promotion today, no big deal."
I'm not sure why he brings this up when they were just talking about love.

Should this be earphones?

I'm not entirely sure what to make of this, but it was funny.

Michael Hughes (Level 4)

You had me at the beginning. I really thought the opening interaction between the sweet old lady and the Man was well done. Not much going on, but it still seemed genuine and had me wondering where you were going to go with the story. Then you kind of lost me. From a comedic point of view, I liked the annoyance of the woman and how it builds, but I think it escalated one or two times too many, which made it lose its impact. I think if you decided to use voice over for the second interaction, you should have introduced it during the first encounter with the sweet old woman. When it started half way through, I was pulled out of the story. I think you could have conveyed the Man's thoughts just through his actions and reactions, opportunity for comedy in his up mood being slowly crushed. The sneezing woman would need to mutter her thoughts at the end instead of Voice over. From an overall story point of view, I am not sure I understood what happened. Was the Man really smelly or was the old Hag imagining it or just being unsocial? Something would need to happen to help relate whether she has motivation or is just a pain in the neck.

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4)

I enjoyed the dialog with the first old lady, but the coughing and sneezing went on too long with the second lady for my tastes.

I think it's funny that the drastic measure was just him moving to the front of the tram, but not quite funny enough to hinge the whole script upon.

But humor is very subjective, so maybe it's just me.

MJ Hermanny (Level 5)

Your characters come to life vivdly, I could really picture them and the scenario.

This is more like a sketch for a comedy show and I was mislead by the whole promotion thing, I thought that was the plot and that it would lead somewhere and then a whole new story started with the second old lady.

The title refers to the second old lady not the guy right? The drastic measures are her moves to get a seat?

The two story strands and title make it a little disjointed but your writing is great, easy to read and very descriptive and the second half makes a good sketch.

Paul De Vrijer (Level 5)

Sounds action-y or thiller-y.

Pg 1:
Perhaps introduce your characters in CAPS with more descriptions. a VOICE is just hard to picture. Couldn't you just have called her Elderly Woman? Loads of dialogue, but it flows well.

Pg 2:
Alright, so where are we going with this. The first conversation was interesting, but where are we going now?

Pg 3:
Loads of talk in his mind. The annoyance is getting interesting. I do like the sudden shift in emotions. As easy as a few lines. Nice.

Pg 4:
And we are done? He just moves seats. Drastic Measures. Oh it was meant to be an overstatement. Don't really like how you wrap this up. Was expecting a bit more, especially since you had that title. So yeah, guess the jokes on me.

I really liked the dialogue in the beginning, but nothing much happens, does there?

Reginald McGhee (Level 0)

Right now, your writing is lean and clean. I haven’t notice any grammar errors at all. The (O.s.) should be next to the voice’s name, not below it. In addition, you should use chuckles and blushing in description instead. I guess that is optional.

Please don’t use camera shots (Angle on) in a spec screenplay. Let the directors decide on that. You can say, “On MP3 payer’s display, battery bar flashes. Empty.”
Why is the Man so annoyed about the second woman’s illness?

The story is about an arrogant man having confrontations with an arrogant, old women. Then the woman responds back in voice over. I think the story will work better without the voice over. I don’t quite understand why the woman was sick either. I find the storyline a bit confusing at first. I was also confused about the MP3 player.

Maybe a rewrite will help clear this up. Good luck.

I wish you good luck on this.

Rick Hansberry (Moderator)

I thought this one lacked a consistent perspective. The opening went a bit long but at least it established the man and his present state of bliss. The consistent annoyance of the Man with the Old Lady made him less likable as it went along. Why not move earlier if she bothered him so much? The last line, switching to her perspective was a complete flip and now, we're left with an Old Lady to root for and we don't know anything about her or why she's bothered by this cough. I would stick with one perspective or the other and be sure we like the character enough to root for them to get what they want.

Robert Newcomer (Level 4)

Some of the VO is humorous, but it is mostly over-utilized, and your clue to that should be when it becomes repetitive -- giving voice to the same thoughts he has already expressed to us.

The ultimate payoff for this scene is kind of amusing, particularly her final line.

My problem with this one is that this second old woman is the story, so the first old woman does not really contribute anything. There is nothing wrong with the dialogue, but her two pages of discussion are rendered nothing more than filler.

For a low-stakes, slice-of-life, comedic short, this should be shorter.


Sally Meyer (Moderator)

I applaud you for finishing a script. But I also urge you to check your spelling and formatting before you present a script for judging.
Your Voice Over are in the wrong place. And the way to spell peek is peek, not peak.

The story could use some work. I felt like the story didn't go anywhere. You need a story to entertain and lure people in. I want to care about characters. Your protag, what was his goal? What did he want?

I need to know, then I will be able to root for him, and care about his 'world.

Shannon Toliver (Level 1)

For the story. I don't really get it... Sorry.

Here some points on some screen writing rules...

When you introduce a character it is in CAPS.
JOHN LORENZE, 29, has to gone...

Style -

The tram has just stopped.
The tram stops.

An elderly woman has sat down in the seat facing him.
An elderly woman sits. Faces him.

He peaks over his shoulder at her... Be more specific with characters names... That reminds me. Name your characters. Gives them a voice and it's easier to keep track of who does what...

Shaun Bragg (Level 4)

To start off I may not be alone on this one by saying getting rid of the V.O. wouldn't hurt your story as much as keeping it.

The story was short and simple enough to understand and follow however there was much going on to keep this readers attention.

Shawn Cottrill (Level 4)

When started reading this I was very ingaged. I liked the descriptions of the man and both of the women. I liked the dialogue between the first two. It was believable. But then the dialogue stopped and the rest was all voice over. Further more the beginning of the story and the end have nothing to do with eachother. It seems as though one person wrote up until the first sneeze and then someone else tools over. I didn't get it and I didn't care for it.

Tim Westland (Moderator)

I really don't understand the point of this story. The interaction between the old woman and the man (why no names here?) seemed pointless... it served no purpose. Then the next woman comes on, sneezes all over the guy and he moves to another part of the tram. And that's it.

Maybe I missed it.

Trent Carroll (Level 4)

I liked the passive aggressive conflict. I was getting worried that there wouldn't be any conflict but this is a good alternative to the definitive conflict for a screenplay. I enjoyed the characters and the story very much.

That being said, I have a few major bones to pick with the structure of the script.
First, there is no FADE IN.
Second, "The tram has just stopped" should be "The tram stops". Don't use past tense in your action lines.
Third, you introduce all three characters without capitalizing their names at first mention. Even though they don't have official names, they are still characters. Capitalize MAN, OLD WOMAN, and SECOND OLD WOMAN.

Those are some major flaws that might make others not take the time to get through your script. You have a sense of story, just fix your structure.

Comments Made After the Contest

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