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"Agnes" by Austin Bennett

Rewrite: 4/11/2012 12:00 AM

Logline: A lonely old lady and a neighborhood teen forge a strange relationship.

Genre: Drama

Cast Size: 2

Production Status: Produced

Contest: Fifth Year Open (Dec. 2011)

Contest Scores
PoorFairGoodVery GoodExcellent

Comments Made During the Contest

Ayal Pinkus (Level 5)

Great idea for a story! Loved it. Great conflict to play out; an older woman enjoys the company of a young guy. She knows he steals from him but lets him, figuring he needs it more than she does.

Another thing I liked is you downplayed her fear of him not coming back. She's doing it to help Danny.

And he confesses, making him a good guy, and we root for him too. She still gives him money, out of her good heart.

The thing is, the confession is to confrontational. I think if it ever got played out like that in real life, Danny would run away in fear and embarassment, Agnes yelling behind him "It is okay."

What if you let Danny put the money back (thus making him the nice person again), and show us visually that Agnes knows? That way there isn't that confrontational moment and there is dramatic irony as we know Agnes knows but Danny doesn't know. But Danny still did a the right thing, he put the money back.

At any length, great short!

Bill Clar (Level 5)

Intriguing title. Makes me want to learn about Agnes.

How can Danny be in the bathroom, open the door, and be in Agnes' bedroom? It would make more sense to let Danny use the hallway bathroom. He could still sneak into her bedroom from this location.

I don't buy the ending. Danny is too quick to confess and Agnes is too lenient. I was hoping for a few more pages to build the suspense.

I was actually hoping that Agnes would poison Danny with the soup.

Bill Sarre (Level 5)

An interesting moral tale but soemthing didn't quite work for me. First, there is nothing to suggest she does know, then I didn't feel this boy would suddenly admit to the theft and then the giving him extra money without any great fuss, when he has just stolen, also jarred.

I like the idea of someone facing up to what they have done, admitting this, and I like the fact she doesn't hold it against him, but not so easily.

The first scene slug also threw me as we had a bathroom going into a bedroom with sounds from the kitchen. Perhaps could be clarified.

All the best.

Brian Howell (Level 5)

Sometimes in these contests you don't need all five pages to tell your story, but in this instance, I think the two extra pages would help a lot. The story feels very much on the surface right now. You hinted at Danny's struggle with taking the money, but I really want to see him feel the pain of that. It seemed too quick for him to reveal that he had already stolen money from her, especially because he's 16. His actions felt more like a 10 year-old's. I do like the subject you tackle here - the kindness of one person instigating change in another.

There are some spelling and grammar errors. And the page number formatting isn't quite right... did you write this in Word or some other word processing program? There have been a couple instances when I've had a deadline and have had to write away from my computer and I've had to use Word. Formatting the page numbers takes a lot of care in Word, and it shouldn't matter, but it was the first thing that I noticed, and I know a lot of readers can be finicky. Anyway, nice job; I just think the characters can be expanded a little more.

Brian Wind (Level 5)

This was written and paced pretty well with only one typo that I noticed.

The story itself didn't do anything for me though. A kid steals from an old lady and then she realizes it and rewards him with more money, the end. I don't know... There's no moral, or twist or climax to this at all. I didn't find her reaction to having her money stolen to be even remotely believable.

The writing is pretty good. The story needs some work. Nice effort & good luck!

Byron Matthews (Level 5)

First impression, it was a good short, nothing complicated just simple and to the point. I did notice one grammar mistake, and there's a few sentences which could use some rework. Your script structure is pretty solid.

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

This was a nice story but I felt that there wasn't enough drama in it. You didn't make anything either of Agnes' feelings on discovering the theft or of Danny 's guilt so the resolution became flat. You even had spare pages to do this!

If you ramped it up it could develop into a great little screenplay.

Chris Messineo (Founder)

I really liked this a lot. It's a great character study. That moment when she realizes some money is missing, but still gives him the rest is really powerful.

But, it does feel a bit like a moment in time and not quite a full story. You craft is good and I hope you take the time to expand this.

Chris Setten (Level 4)

A solid story with a twist ending that was well done although somewhat predictable (I liked it anyway). Not sure why this starts in the bathroom.I thought both the dialogue and the character's actions could have been used more skillfully to draw out the building tension between the two: show Agnes as being more vulnerable, show Danny as desperate and downtrodden. The hook at the beginning with Danny stealing was well conceived and the building of tension through the prayer and Agnes paying Danny the balance of her wallet were well done.

Christina Kishpaugh (Level 3)

It's very sweet but I think Agnes could be more interesting in her reactions to Danny's thievery. She is sweet but that only goes to far on the screen, give her a small attitude to put Danny in his place in a more creative and witty way, that doesn't mean she has to be not be sweet anymore- there are layers to people and we just don't see it here.

Christopher Pedersen Cook (Level 3)

I was puzzled by the ending. It could have gone so many ways, but takes what seems the easisest route. I feel like there's something there that I can't quite pinpoint. It certainly seems a deliberate choice. Agnes is a clever character and I guess she manages to teach Danny a lesson without being mad or mean in any sense. I'll have to re-read it :)

Dan Delgado (Level 5)

Short, sweet, to the point, with characters you care about. This is my favorite so far this month and I gave it an "Excellent".

Thank you for entering. Good luck.

David E Harding (Level 2)

This is a sweet little story that shows the good in all of us. It's a very clean, efficient script. I do think that with just a few tweaks, you can make a richer, deeper story.

Agnes' dialog is a bit too young for her age. I little old lady would say things like: Are you okay up there, dear? -- Would you like a drink with your soup? -- Oh no, Danny I'll have no such thing, you sit and let's put something warm in you. -- Will you say Grace? -- That's alright, dear.

I would also have Agnes pray and ask for Danny to have integrity, honesty, generousity or something that twists the knife of guilt in Danny's gut. Also, let's have Agnes' home a modest one with signs that she is living on a sparce, fixed income. This makes her all the more generous when she gives Danny the money.

Other suggestions:
- Show Danny's guilt when Agnes leaves the room.
- Tell us how she knows she's missing money.
- Agnes shouldn't question, "Why not?" It takes away from her generousity. Instead have her insist that he take it. This also makes Danny's 'fessing up all the more powerful.

Good start. Keep writing!

David M Troop (Level 5)

Where's the beef?

Wait a minute? Did someone just write a script without a twist or surprise ending?

Oh, I know. Agnes poisoned the soup, right? No?
Okay, Agnes is a counterfeiter and she passed some funny twenties. Nice. No?
Agnes is a sweet old lady and wants to help someone who is less fortunate? Really?

Okay. If that's the case, you're formatting is excellent. Your craft is very good.
And I enjoyed your script right up until nothing happened.
Overall, I thought Agnes was too GOOD.

Debra Johnson (Level 3)

I wish you went deeper into Danny and why he needed money and why he needed to steal the money. How does the audience know he just worked for her. This seems like the middle of the story. I suggest expanding the story and it could be very good. Nice job!

Felipe D. Machado (Level 4)

What a nice old lady! He definitely didn't deserve it, but she probably taught him a very good lesson.

I was slightly confused by some of the wording in the bedroom, but nothing tha hindered the story. In general it was very well written.
I do wish there had been more of a panic moment when Agnes went up to get money. You could have taken some time to show his fear and regret, but it still came through.

I also had a funny moment where I thought that whatever Danny was doing was part of Agnes' plan, but that was really just my mind wandering.

Thanks for the story. Keep up the good work! =)

Gary Rademan (Level 5)

-- A grandson steals from his grandmother --

Good script! Sly.

Reminds me of the aunts who send cards to their teenaged nephews and nieces with a note "I've enclosed $10" and then leave it out so the teengers have to call them.

Opening scene: Identify Agnes's house in the scene heading. Pans don't rustle, they clang. Don't tell us why he checks the hall. Easy to fix.

Story: Pretty sly of grandma to use the prayer as a lesson. Agnes and the boy are too nice to each other. How much fun would this be to watch? Why didn't the grandson steal the $100s? Up the ante.

Character: Grandma felt like a real person.

Greg Tonnon (Level 5)

Title - the title is appropriate to the story but "name" titles don't tell us anything about the story or even the genre.
Craft - your craft is perfect.
Dialogue - the dialogue is good. the characters have distinct voices and they seem natural.
Action lines - your action lines are fine.
Story - the story is nice and heartwarming.

James Hughes (Level 5)

This has the beginnings of an interesting story of these two people. Within 5 pages, i think you could have developed them some more to give more motivation for both of them. As is, we are left wondering who they are and why they each behave the way they do. I think you could have rounded that out.

You have this named after the woman? but she doesn't seem to have a bigger part or focus in the story than the boy does. If your intent is that this is a story about the woman vs. him, then your script would need to convey that to a greater extent.

I like them and the situation you have developed. If you can flesh this out some more, I think it can be a really good and easy to shoot short.

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator)

Aw... It was sweet.

I wish Agnes didn't know he stole the money. I think that would have made her cuter 'cause she's so naive.

I didn't really think there was much of a story here though. I wish there was more. I'm glad she didn't kill him with the soup (Which I originally thought was going to happen) but the story lacked a middle. Just a setup and an ending.

Just add more. Like reveal to us why Danny feels the need to steal from Agnes.

Jem Rowe (Level 4)

Hmmm, I have mixed feelings over this script.

Firstly, and most importantly, it's written very clearly. I don't think you need any changes to your writing style.

At the end of the script, I'm not quite sure how to feel about Danny, whilst he seems remorseful, he doesn't seem all that thankful either.

I can't see how the prayer is all that relevent to the story, unless you're implying that it's her Christianity that allows her to be so forgiving and that Danny'll come back again to learn about God, if this is the case then I find myself in a demographic unable to be fully engaged by the script. Just know that, this being the case, your script may be less accesable and meaningful to certain audiences.

"Good". Well Done :)

Keith Yount (Level 2)

I enjoyed the descriptions of Agnes and Danny. I got lost just a bit from the bathroom to the bedroom sene and when Danny was taking the money from Agnes purse. I think the action description needs to be more percise. Also in the kitchen with soup and the coke taking. The action seemed confussing but fixable.

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5)

It's well written, I think. Easy to follow and understand. The thing is - I don't know what Danny needs the money for. Thus, Agnes giving him the money is not justified for me. Danny - the way I perceive him - he's just a thief, I don't think he needs that money for anything important. I know you want to show his remorse but just by seeing his remorse we don't know if he's going to repeat what he's done.
The question - what he needs the money for - should be answered, I think. I'm curious what the others think, I'll be sure to check on it - I think this question will be on everyone's (almost) mind.
Still a good short I think. I really felt his remorse.

Kirk White (Level 5)

solid story...well written...a bit on the nose near the end and a little contrived. I wanted something different in the resolution: a lesson, a change, something. I can see this easily being filmed and with the proper cast and music, it will be quite touching...but something is missing from the ending for my personal tastes; not really sure what, but I was looking for an unexpected resolution.

giving a good.

Kisha King (Level 4)

I really like this story. It has a nice pace and a beginning, middle and end. To me the best part of this story is that it is an emotional rollercoaster. KUDOS

KP Mackie (Level 5)

An unexpected ending, with a moral of sorts.
Agnes discovering her missing money, yet deciding to give the teenager another 40 dollars, is an unusual idea. Seems like her comment, though, for Danny to take the money and "come back soon for some more soup" doesn't address the obvious. Especially since Danny keeps the hundred dollars and takes off, leaving Agnes "with a satisfied smile on her face." But perhaps the unexpected is the point...
The opening description is a little confusing. Danny's in the bathroom, but he opens a door into the bedroom? Took a second read to decipher so might want to tweak a little.

Kyle Patrick Johnson (Level 5)

This is a nice little story about a moment of grace.

The first paragraph was a bit more confusing than it had to be. Although set in a bathroom, the second sentence has Danny already opening a door into a bedroom. My first reaction was: "Why start the movie in a bathroom if the character is only there in order to be in the bedroom. Why not start in the bedroom?" It's the old get-in-late mantra. The description of the bathroom even hints at its unnecessariness: "Small and tidy." It seems to be a throwaway description for a throwaway set. And then you're stuck describing Agnes' bedroom during a scene that is set in the bathroom. For clarity's sake, I suggest starting in the bedroom. You can always hint at Danny's being in the bathroom later, or, have him dash into the bathroom to flush the toilet, making it sound as if he's "almost done!"

I liked the give-and-take regarding the theft, but I thought Agnes lacked motivation for her actions. She's clearly taking the Christian route to forgiveness, but her character of the giving victim was already exceptionally portrayed in Les Miserables by the priest. I think I needed some additional information about Agnes' character that would make her extra special, set apart from Hugo's classic cleric. Agnes feels satisfaction (why, I'm not sure), but Danny's side of the story goes unfulfilled. Does he continue to feel regret? Does he change? Does he give the money away to someone else? Does he steel his heart and refuse repentence?

With a rewrite, this story could be excellent!

Margaret Ricke (Level 5)

The title's okay, but doesn't give me much information.

The title page is not page one of your script. The first page of the script is page one, not page two.

I'm thinking you should pluralize "body" the same as "souls."

I would have liked it if he gave her an attempt at a hug at the end - one that said he wasn't used to being thankful for people like her. This was good, though.

Nice work.

Martin Jensen (Level 5)

This was a nice scene. It felt like it could easily be part of something longer.

I like how you let us judge Danny at the beginning, but then Agnes reveals that he needs money.

Very good.

Michael Hughes (Level 4)

I thought this was well written. Alot of story told through the visuals with simple dialog. I would have liked to have understood the relationship between the two characters. "I can't take it Grandma" or "I can't take it Mrs. Johnson" would have explained the relationship and would have an impact on Agnes's actions. (Was she helping a neighbor or family?) A couple of minor things that bothered me... you wrote "all one hundred dollars, or so." but you were quite specific about how much he stole and how much more she gave, so no need to be vague. Also you wrote that Agnes had a "satisfied smile" and I wasn't sure whether to interpret that as "happy she helped" or "happy she made Danny feel guilty." I assumed the former, but it I could have misread.
Very good, thanks.

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4)

This is a nice story.

There were a few typos and I find it odd when folks don't use the full five pages to develop characters. I think this space could have been used to make me like Danny more (and Agnes for that matter).

But with that said, I thought this script conveyed your intent.

MJ Hermanny (Level 5)

This is nicely written and Agnes really comes to life.

The relationship between them is unclear so I was unsure why Agnes was so pleased at the end or what the moral is.

This was an extremely familiar script to me for some reason and I knew the ending so there was no surprise for me.

What are yard clippings?

Nathan Goldman (Level 4)

It was interesting. I liked the way we had to read to get the pieces of the evidence to try to construct what was going on in the story, in Danny's head, and in Agnes's head. I'm not sure I "got" it. I am left with the pieces of a puzzle that the writer thought I was smart enough to unravel without being spoon-fed. I really liked it. It was generally well written and "cinematic" in the best scene of the word. I hope "Agnes" goes far in the competition.

Paul De Vrijer (Level 5)

Bit too simple. Maybe it has more of a connection than just a name.

Pg 1:
Very good opening. Atmospheric. Instantly set. Characters clear.

Pg 2:
Cool focus on the character actions. Very smooth here. Page reads like a whisper.

Pg 3:
He reveals it a bit too quickly. I would like it to linger a bit here. Being trapped and all. Sap the drama from that.

Short. Nice going. Really personal and well written. Did feel like your action lines could use some better visuals. Sometimes too descriptive, like its a chore. Specially at the end there. And why not drain the drama a bit longer. You got more time. It's okay if it is shorter than 5 pages, but I think you could have gotten more from this.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0)

The opening scene is good; the action lines are lean and clean. Your sentences can be tighten up a bit. No formatting errors I encountered. The sentence, “He forces a smile, grabs a Coke and then and sits down at the already set table” has a minor spelling error and it can be tightened up a bit. “He forces a smile, grabs a Coke, sits at the set table,” is better.

I like the suspense Danny was doing, trying to steal money from a woman’s house.

So the story is about a thief who is invited to dinner, and the Christian offers him more money, but he tries to reject the offer, since he stole money from the woman, but then he stuffs the money in his pockets in satisfaction and leaves. There’s not enough story here. I like the conflict where the man was guilty for stealing cash, but the ending felt flat to me. I think the story can be stronger if she reacted differently than just handing money to the thief.

I understand the title, “Agnes,” but she is a bit passive. Danny is the one who drives the story forward by stealing and trying to reject cash.

I wish you good luck with this story.

Rick Hansberry (Moderator)

Interesting piece. I thought there be some indication of how long this has been going on but, as it was, there was plenty to like here. I would have preferred a bit more description of Agnes in those silent moments across from Danny when she knew the money was gone. There was an opportunity for some real drama without dialogue. Curious that you chose the title of "Agnes" since I left the script wanting to know more about Danny. Clearly she's lonely and affectionate towards the boy but why? How does she know he needs the money? This could be amplified outside of the contest and make a very compelling short film. I hope you pursue it. Nice work.

Robert Newcomer (Level 4)

This was a simple, satisfying tale that would almost film itself in a snap. I liked your descriptive passages. Nice work.

If I were to suggest anything, I would clarify what is the relationship between Agnes and Danny. Just a line or two of dialogue, so we know. Grandchild, hired help, the kid next door?

This is not mandatory, and I even suspect you might have left it vague on purpose, but I think it would help to put a more definitive spin on her charity. Otherwise, we bring our own assumptions into the story, and they might not align with what you are trying to say with this piece.

I would also give Danny a line of dialogue when he pulls out the cash he has stolen. You description is adequate, but complete silence does not feel like a natural reaction there. It plays oddly.

Very good.

Sally Meyer (Moderator)

Awww this was so sweet. I love Agnes. She's so adorable. The story is really sweet and I liked the message.

Shaun Bragg (Level 4)

Kids like this one makes mistakes like this on a daily basis and something just as simple as what Agnes did is somewhat of a eye-opening to this kids life. That's why I can relate to this story because I have made some of those bad decisions just like this kid. The structure and dialouge here was spot on.

Keep up the good work.

Shedric Bragg (Level 3)

Some of the descriptions here are pretty good here. There wasn't much going here as much as a story goes however what took place was a good act. Agnes was a really good and kind hearted person and Danny is a teen who had access to money.

There were a few grammar errors.

Tim Westland (Moderator)

THe moment when Danny pulls the money out is well done. I do wish there was more to this story, though. It ends with a bit of a whimper.

Trent Carroll (Level 4)

I've got to be honest with this review.

I'm offended by how forced this script felt to me. It's as if you want to fake an emotional moment in order to get the script to be well liked. I'm not falling into the trap. I didn't like the script and I am not heartless because I didn't like it.

Let's start with the basics. When introducing a character, only the age should be in the parenthesis. Also, there's an apostrophe before fridge. That doesn't even make sense. You also use commas you shouldn't and used an extra "and" for no reason.

Your writing is also wordy when it shouldn't be. Just an example, "She gives Danny's hand a squeeze" should be "She squeezes Danny's hand". Writing like that makes you seem insecure with your words.

There's also things you say that don't make sense. "She sits down and puts the pot off to the side." You never said she brought the pot with her when she sat down. Is the seat directly in front of the stove? Why would it be there? Also, why would she carry the pot with her as she sat down instead of putting the pot down first?

Danny also says, "I just remembered I have a big test" when we all already know he is trying to rush out before this moment. Agnes knows this, Danny knows she knows this, so why would he say "I just remembered"?

Not to mention the writing was dry and the conflict is just a forced emotional moment that has absolutely no impact because it goes down like this: A boy helps out an old lady but steals money from her, she offers him money afterwards, he admits to taking the money, and she says to take the extra money as well. Isn't that swell? gag

You've got a poor from me. Work on making more interesting characters. The conflict will follow.

Comments Made After the Contest

Austin Bennett (Level 4) ~ 2/1/2012 1:49 AM

Thanks for the reviews, even if they were so diverse. I usually don't call people out but since Trent was the only one who hated it so much I wanted to say that everyone else liked it. I'm going to go with my more positive reviews. Okay?

Its hard to write here on my phone so I will say that I wanted to show Danny's second thinking himself. He starts in the bathroom, sees the purse. I showed him crossing the threshold into doing a bad deed... him going into the bedroom is his inciting incident.

It made sense to me.

Dan Delgado (Level 5) ~ 2/1/2012 2:34 AM

Really nice story. Told with a lot of heart and believable characters.

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator) ~ 2/1/2012 11:20 AM

Austin you have to remember that new people are always what they like to call "honest". Meaning their not good with their words and say the cruelest things in their reviews.

If he sticks around, he'll get better. They all do. I know I was just as "honest" as he was when I first started out here, but then I realized my harsh reviews could be said in a completely different manner and still get my point across.

Don't be bummed out. You're still a good writer. Keep writing.

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 4/12/2012 9:19 AM

I think the rewrite is a definite improvement. I really like the relationship between these two. There is a lot of subtext and good actors will have fun with that. I think it will make a great film and I wish you the best of luck with it.

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