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"Rats, Steak and Lobster" by Brian Wind

Rewrite: 3/29/2008 12:00 AM

Logline: The first kill wasn't the worst one for contract killer, Casper.

Genre: Crime

Cast Size: 1

Production Status: In Production

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

Contest Scores
PoorFairGoodVery GoodExcellent
8%19%38%27%8%

Comments Made During the Contest

Alex Hollister (Level 4)

Right, here's my problem. The contest states no bodies and only one character. Most interpretted this as literally one character, whilst some thought they could get around it by describing the action shots in a way that would avoid an on screen secondary character who was nevertheless in the scene. I'm not happy with that. At one point in this script, in that bedroom, both rules are broken. There's a secondary character and he's shot dead. Whether we see him or not is a moot point. He exists as did the body in the sedan. Is this harsh? Not really since it's only fair that everyone stick to the rules for those who struggled, but met the criteria of the contest. That combined with large chunks of action decription and V.O. that had a tendancy to meander, meant I couldn't grade this highly.

Austin Jones (Level 4)

Wow, I am really torn on this one. On one hand I love your narrative. This guys is such a great character and you hear it in every word that he mutters out. There is also colorful descriptions that give me a really great visual of this guy on death row. But on the other hand I don't quite feel like this guy is alone in this world. Your language sorta manipulates our eye away from the bodies or other actors present for this story to take place. Casper mentions he is right there snoring in his bed. The same with the guy in the front seat or the interrogation room...who slides over the tape recorder? A PA right? And the footsteps coming down the hall? I feel like there are ghosts in this story only because the rules said you couldn't have more than one actor. I think it is a very creative story and I love the direct address and seeing all that I wonder why there wasn't more imagination used to truly isolate him?

Barbara Lewis (Level 4)

Really solid - you have a natural ear for dialogue, especially for the mafia genre. I thought this was great. You were able to tell a story with one character and make it feel like there were more. My only criticism is that some of the description paragraphs ran long and you could break them up with white space (maybe it would have run over 5 though).

Bryan Mora (Level 4)

I enjoyed this one.

ahaha in one of your scenes i thought you were doing an audience participation sort of thing. making us the near whacked ..but turned out i was wrong. Maybe you should consider doing that. Just a suggestion.

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

Again I'm hallucinating! I just read another script with a hitman talking to himself - kind of deja vu here!

Speech is credible, very good, in fact, but your descriptive passages are way too long - need breaking up or severely trimming.

Very good story though and the ending hit me. I felt empathy and sorrow at the phlegmatic way he treated his imminent demise. Great characterisation. I always love to learn about the so-called bad guy because things are never as black and white as they are sometimes painted.

Chris Messineo (Founder)

I loved the opening to this story, a man in the back of a car telling his story to an unseen man in the front. However, the ending didn't quite work for me.

Your story has a great sense of style and I think if you can find a way to wrap it all up inside the car (with a twist) it will not only be very compelling, but it would also make a great little film.

Dawn Calvin (Level 5)

Now that was quite a story. There wasn't a thing I would change. I loved the pace, the suspense and the way it unfolded and ended with Casper in prison.

This particular script followed the rules of the big guns. It has a plot, some backstory and a few twists and turns for such a short script. Most Excellent and an awesome read.

This was well written and obviously by a pro!

Good luck with this, I think it's a winner!!!!

DW Pollard (Level 4)

Casper's dialogue made it sound like he was an old gangster from the black and white era. I didn't understand, though, why he was talking in the back of the sedan.

Paragraphs much too long. Break them up with more INT's and EXT's such as when Casper breaks into the house:

EXT. JOEY'S HOUSE - NIGHT
Casper removing screen from open window.

INT. JOEY'S HOUSE - LIVING ROOM - NIGHT
He produces a pistol and screws on a silence as he moves toward the stairs.

INT. JOEY'S HOUSE - BEDROOM - NIGHT
The door slowly opens and Casper enters.

Jacob Schantz (Level 3)

Interesting read, but ultimately, none of added up for me. I felt Casper’s character was really labored, and his dialogue felt pretty forced. I thought it was a good twist to have his moment of sincerity be his undoing, but he didn’t seem like the type to ever let that happen. It just didn’t seem likely that he’d ever share any of what he did to anyone, other than himself. This is the second script I’ve read about a hitman who dies at the end, and both suffer from the same problem. With the one character challenge, violence is difficult to portray and make interesting, because no other life is at stake. No shocking outcome is possible. I think expanding this outside the contest and including other characters could strengthen this piece a lot.

Jay Knisely (Level 4)

Good story, though the one onscreen person with unseen others makes it feel odd, like there's a reason for it (challenge excluded). And the "you's" used early on made it seem like the camera was a char (which would have been equally good) getting whacked.

Don't think the title does the story justice - it's in the back of the mind and when it does tie in - it's not a biggy.

Good rough dialogue.

John Foley (Level 4)

I really was grabbed by the title. I was a bit confused about the dialogue Casper seems disgusted and sympathetic towards the same unknown dead person. I did like how you established each scene within the script. The tape recorder coming out of no where was a nice touch.

Kirk White (Level 5)

This started out really strong. The ending however was a bit of a letdown. It really felt like you were having a scene with two people and just very cleverly hid the other person...felt a bit like a cheat. AND I don't think you need it. The script is strongest without the voice over. Maybe just cut from his leaving the car to his hearing his voice on the tape.

it was a solid script with a not so solid resolution

Lee Carlisle (Level 4)

I thought this piece was pretty average throughout, but the end seemed to redeem it some. The whole hitman bit was pretty tried and true, nothing ive never seen before, but having him on death row added a dynamic that pulled it up a little bit for me. It was written quite well - nice and tough, only a few pieces of dialogue that stuck out to me, but overall well done.

Margaret Avnet (Level 4)

Interesting title. I wouldn't use dissolve to, though. That should be up to the director. Also you should indicate when you are going to use a flashback. It seemed a bit choppy the going back and forth. You did however seem to have gotten the character of a hit man down pat.

Matthew Phillips (Level 4)

I liked the voice-over. It was a good way to make the one character thing interesting. I did have a bit of a problem with the huge action blocks. I thought they could have been broken up to read a bit smoother. The story itself is formed well, I enjoyed it. If those big blocks were broken up the script would improve.

Michael Cornetto (Level 5)

It was pretty good. Spot on Noir. I found his talking out loud to be a bit on the unbelievable side. I know you need it for the story but it was quite incompetent for a hit man to hang around and tell his story to a corpse. It probably would have been better as a VO with him talking to someone else. But then you wouldn't have had an ending.

Pia Cook (Level 5)

Not bad, but not great either.

I feel you came dangerously close to using more than one person. Not just once, but several times.

Story wasn't bad, but it was mostly told to us through (V.O).

You need to break up some of your action paragraphs. Try not to go over four lines at the time.

Ralph Shorter (Level 3)

Liked the premise of this one.
The only problem was the title predicted too easily what was about to happen. Once the protagonist started talking about rats, I knew there was going to be a last meal in there somewhere. I like a surprise.
The dialogue was excellent, though, easy and natural.
I would like to see this writer get away from “is” and use more active writing, e.g. – “Casper slips into the house without a sound. He waits in the darkness lets his eyes adjust.”
Well done. Didn’t break the rules of engagement.

Randy Bigger (Level 4)

Bad bad scene change missing. Naughty writer. Story is just stock, written fine enough, but there is nothing there to draw me in and be real interested.

Rick Hansberry (Moderator)

Hands down, best title of the month. Casper had his moments. Monologue's could be trimmed at times. Page one, you really took a major shortcut/format liberty. The whole scene under the slug EXT. SUBURBAN NEIGHBORHOOD but the the last five lines all take place inside the house. Given the amount of back story you put in Voice Over, I don't think you need the interogation scene. It shows what the character tells. Show something else while giving us the visual. Maybe a run of successful hits, building Casper's confidence that he'll never get caught. Still, decent response to the challenge and an original character. Nice work.

Rob Gross (Level 4)

Good title.

Good story. I liked how you moved it forward, revealing a little at a time.

When we see him in prison, there's little impact. I think that the interrogation scene would work very well if it was before the prison scene. It would definitely shock me more to find out he was busted along with the character.

very good

Rustom Irani (Moderator)

If the cops put a wire on someone, won't they be close by and move in if there is imminent cause for mortal harm to the witness? Okay, maybe he was an expendable rat who was just sent in to snoop on the mob people.

And one more technical nitpick on the first page when you don't change shots, or scenes as he goes from outdoors to indoors. It's a very easy fix and I only mention it is because I am so used to change in any setting that it is distracting when one doesn't happen.

You have an excellent character, with great dialog. I also love how you juggle with him in various costumes and settings and the idea for a last meal confession was excellent.

Casper is too tough a character for his face to go white and his eyes to widen when he hears the confession tape. Find a better response for the re-write.

Also the bits where he talks to his final victim, it isn't quite clear whether he is speaking to camera or to the victim and some distinction would help.

Technically you were fine.

Sally Meyer (Moderator)

You have a lot going on in just five pages. I think because you kept the action lines so long, that it was a harder read. The story was depressing. But it was well written and for that I gave you good marks.
For me, I prefer a protag who is likeable. Someone I can root for. In this script that didn't happen. Maybe that was the point?

Stephenie Ruffin (Level 4)

I thought this was a great story. Descriptions and dialog were written well and the story's pace was right on. Nice job.

Sylvia Dahlby (Level 5)

Could have been much better if more focus where on the character's emotions in his final hours. I gave this a bonus point for the title, and I liked the concept of the last thoughts of a man on death row. But the script lost points for too much explaining in the dialog, too many "beats" did not make it any snappier, and the exposition got bogged down.

T. Joseph Fraser (Level 3)

Good job, tricky dancing around the theme...liked the tension, the gangster dialogue, and the story gets all tied up in the end with a nice little Sicilian Necktie (if ya knows what I means, an' I knows ya do).


Comments Made After the Contest

Brian Wind (Level 5) ~ 11/1/2007 12:19 AM

Thanks once again everyone for the greatly constructive feedback. This month there was a wide variety of things mentioned, but a lot of focus on action sequences being too long (Easily remedied.) and the fact that multiple characters were present off-screen.

I can see how some people could look at it as 'cheating' the challenge if they took the challenge as 1 character in the story. I took it as 1 actor to shoot the film.

I'm quite glad to hear that a lot of people liked the title, however I did have reservations that it could give away too much and a few mentioned that it did.

DW Pollard (Level 4) ~ 11/1/2007 2:08 AM

You obviously kept the story within the guidelines or it wouldn't have even made it to the screen; I liked that it implied others but only needed one actor.

Isn't it ironic how one person loves your dialouge and another thinks it smells like day old bodies? That's the hardest lesson to grasp from MoviePoet, to realize not everyone is right about your script (it's just their opinion), so take what you can and don't worry about the rest.

Good job, Brian.

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 11/1/2007 9:15 AM

I think this definitely fit the challenge and it is my favorite story of yours so far.

Adam Grage (Level 4) ~ 11/1/2007 11:44 AM

Missed this one prior to the end of the contest but glad I got a chance to finally read it.

Yeah you do stretch the boundaries but not enough to be breaking any rules. Frankly everything works and I loved the dialogue. You nailed it and I have to agree with Chris--This is your best so far. I woulda given high marks unfortunately couldn't do it all last month.

Kudos Brian

Rick Hansberry (Moderator) ~ 11/1/2007 6:51 PM

Brian, I enjoyed this very much. Casper was a memorable character. Best of luck with it.

Brian Wind (Level 5) ~ 11/1/2007 7:58 PM

Thanks again everyone!

:)



P.S. Congrats DW! Nice script!

Graham Trelfer (Level 4) ~ 12/6/2007 7:47 AM

I think you got the challenge right here as "one actor" you make the world bigger and imply more actors without having to show them. I know Chris has mentioned he develops the ideas so they can be made cheaply and certainly cutting down on actors helps. For there is just too much telling, too much explaining about what is going on. For me voice over has to be really tight or really well used. This seems more like a radio play at times. Big chunks of text are also hard to read because writers are lazy and like their pages more white than text covered.

Sally Meyer (Moderator) ~ 12/9/2007 7:33 PM

Okay I looked back and I already reviewed this one.. so on to the next.. this one I liked quite a bit.

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 3/29/2008 3:39 PM

I think there are more beats in dialog, this time around than the original and to me it affects the pacing.

A good actor will pause naturally, so don't worry too much about it. And the dialog was the strongest element in the original.

I like the trimming you've done with the description and I feel more empathy towards Casper. He is very well rounded as far as showing his actions and motivation is concerned.

Nicely done.


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