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"Field Day" by T. James DeStein ~ First Place

Logline: Just another day on a battlefield.

Genre: War

Cast Size: 10+

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

Contest: Tournament of Champions (Feb. 2012)

Contest Scores
PoorFairGoodVery GoodExcellent
0%5%32%26%37%

Comments Made During the Contest

Alex Hollister (Level 4)

Great opening image juxtaposed with death. Truly masterful. The imagery is great, but you're afflicted a little with what I used to be (hence why I recognize it now)--

--You write in clear prose style. It's beautifully written, but it's not quite cinematic. Nevertheless, it is well written. And the story is well crafted. I would have preferred more dialogue to break up the black ink, but the imagery of two men battling in a pit of corpses is undeniably powerful. And the description, undeniably harsh and visceral.

As to the integration of the words, a little basic in that they're simply action description. I would have preferred more thought there. Maybe a little more craft and invention. This could just as easily been any story that was fit to measure (I'm not saying it was. Just that it could be).

But I can't deny that visually it was arresting. So for that reason- GOOD.

Byron Matthews (Level 5)

Excellent opening sequence...I love the contrast. And I really like the irony of war which reminded me of the final scene from "Das Boat". I thought this was one of the best scripts that I've read thus far. Excellent work sir/madam.

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

Bloody and sickening but well-written. I find it hard to review, really. It certainly wouldn't be easy to make!

It was difficult to engage with the protag because I didn't see anything about him but his quest for survival. Even the photo of his girl didn't very much endear him to me but I guess that was the environment you created so effectively. Perhaps a little more humanity might make this less one-dimensional in tone?

Couple of typos.


A child lies face down, not lay

Stranglehold not strangehold

Charlie Hebert (Mod Emeritus)

Wow. Mighty gorey but I really liked this one.

Lots of action sequences, and you handle them well.

The futility of Smith's struggle for life is deep. You would think he might have thought about it and waited until nighttime - but I guess not.

This one will stay with me. Really good job.

Chris Messineo (Founder)

Great war story about the futility of war.

I really loved this. Your attention to detail is excellent, especially details that matter and really inform the story.

I would lose the bulldozer though. One, it place it in a time (which you don't need) and two, the other body can just be found alive in the trench when Smith steps on him trying to get out.

Lastly, your ending is perfect. Very well done.

Christina Anderson (Level 4)

Jeeze. And I thought a Field Day was the kiddie Olympics in gym class.

Ok, so to be helpful... the scenes flowed well, the action played out visually, and the plot was crisp and simple.

My only complaint... essentially Smith commits suicide, laughing like that--which seems pretty dopey with what he just went through...maybe if their struggle was what brought the guards over, and they were waiting for him?

Dave Kunz (Level 4)

In terms of the line-by-line writing and the use of language this is very well written, but it also comes off as heavy handed. And, at five pages, is too long by half. Also, the "...who won?" line felt unnecessary. I liked the juxtaposition of the pastoral setting and the battle field and the mass grave but other than that there was very little here that felt compelling in any meaningful way.

David M Troop (Level 5)

Field Day

This is very powerful writing.
So many images flashed before me as I read your gripping action lines.
I wasn't reading. I was there. Observing. Watching your story come alive.

The only thing I can compare it to is the D-Day scene in Saving Private Ryan.
Probably the most gut-wrenching twenty or so minutes ever filmed.

Your craft is superior.

EXCELLENT work!!

Elias Farnum (Level 5)

That was pretty intense, I don't get the theme, so it's pretty much lost on me. It was however crafted superbly, champion skills evident. Good work, good job.

Faith Friese Nelson (Level 5)

This was a most enjoyable read and it earned an EXCELLENT from me. The writer has mastered his writing skills and the screenplay reads like a novel with fantastic visuals. I love the ending and the way the writer has provided for a book-ended beginning and end using the dandelion seeds. I have no suggestions. A really wonderful job.

Fred Koszewnik (Level 5)

Your script is most certainly a FIELD DAY - and not one of the celebratory type.

At some point, you had to make a decision for a happy or unhappy ending. You opted for your main character to be shot dead - just another body amongst all the other grotesque images of carnage, and I'm left wondering what really was the point of his struggles?
Man's inhumanity? War's senselessness?

I genuinely admire your obvious ability to craft a script almost entirely with visual images and a minimum of dialogue - but I also question the point of your storyline.

For example, Kakfa managed to write of grave, surrealistic, human dilemas with subtlety, tack and artful craftiness. On the other hand, the "style" of your script strikes me as over the top, "in your face", harshnesss without a larger moral purpose and I'm honestly not sure what your audience can be expected to come away with.

I hope this criticism is helpful. I've rated your script a GOOD.
Continued good success.

Gary Rademan (Level 5)

like an oldtime movie frame. poetry in motion.

Booyah! Field Day is lyrical and moving. And it only has several lines of dialogue. My favorite scene is when Smith looks outside the trench and sees that the enemy has won.

Nitpick: "An image of serenity" is redundant.

VERY GOOD

Greg Tonnon (Level 5)

The title, in my opinion, doesn't really capture the mood and tone of the story well enough. Field day makes me think of a school trip with children so this title misses the mark for me.
Craft - your craft is very good. one question though; why have a fade out but no fade in?
Dialogue - the dialogue is good and seems realistic and completely natural for these characters.
Action lines - your action lines are good - clear and concise.
Story - the story is good, a bit violent and graphic, but still good. I feel like this could be expanded into a full length script similar to "Saving Private Ryan" or "The Hurt Locker".

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator)

Who whispered to him? Where was the Enemy at?

I loved this. I was engaged the entire time. I couldn't wait until the ending, but I didn't understand it.

So did the Enemy toss one of their own in for the fun of it? If not, it seemed as though they were aware that the guy was in there and I wonder why they didn't come to his rescue.

This was really good though.

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5)

It's very well written - stands out even in this tournament of the champions for me.
I don't know the genre of it - I'm wondering if you were thinking a parody of some sort when wrote this. But it's very serious at places. Don't know what to think. And maybe I'm totally off.
Didn't understand it very well.

Kirk White (Level 5)

for some reason reminds me of Heavy Metal. I could see this either live action or animation. Very disturbing and bleak. a haunting piece. good job.

KP Mackie (Level 5)

Intense and emotional situation. Perhaps the saddest part is that Smith isn't able to escape from the mass grave. Hoping for a happy ending, but not to be in this scenario.
The description of his surroundings is amazing. Leaves no doubt that Smith is in serious trouble.
Wonder whether the story should be dialogue-free. There is such a sparse amount anyway that it might have even more impact (if that's possible) to rely strictly on the action. Just an idea...
The title is perfect irony. The frame of this beautiful field setting with all the death and destruction. Very moving. Excellent.

Kyle Patrick Johnson (Level 5)

Smith says "the battle's over." But this mass grave is made up of women and children, too, right? Were they in the battle? The opening of the script makes it appear that this is a mass grave for civilians because of all the women in it (pregnant woman, eyeball woman, child), not a post-battle maelstrom of assorted bodyparts. I think you used the women and children in order to heighten the gross factor, but maybe this grave should be confined to soldiers only for story purposes.

The twist at the end is interesting, but surely some of those soldiers would have heard the fighting going on in the grave? If the insane shriek of the Enemy was really that loud?

This script is a dispiriting study of war and inhumanity, but a lot of the grotesqueness at the beginning was, I felt, gratuitous to Smith's story.

Lee Carlisle (Level 4)

Some good imagery and well paced action but there were a few noticeable typos that pulled me out of the read. Also, you need to slug the scene at some point, even though we never get a good idea of our surroundings.

Fictional conflicts are always hard to tackle but you did reasonably well here. There were some logical leaps I had to make - why the winning side would bury their own soldiers in a mass grave with the enemy for one - but for the most part it didn't pull me out of the story.

Smith doesn't seem to have a reaction to his wounds and never actually acknowledges that he's injured. He's jumping, diving and fighting around the trench even though he's supposedly been shot twice. Given the otherwise gritty tone of the piece, I would've expected this to be handled more realistically.

The story itself was too black and white for me. The fight between Smith and the Enemy carried on a bit long (though it was easy to follow). By the point the second Enemy rips the photo in half, it was just too much for me. You have some good imagery and nice commentary on the fruitlessness of war, but this was hampered by the heavy handed depiction of good vs. bad in my opinion.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5)

Very powerful story. Very powerful visuals.

I really appreciate how you isolate the soldiers in the pit with the people they're supposed to be fighting for. And that the only difference between Smith and the enemy is the color of their uniforms. Great use of subtext.

Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5)

Very well written although a bit overwritten for a screenplay but it only slowed me down a little. Extremely visual and graphic. Sort of gross at times but I liked that.

Very good job.

Martin Jensen (Level 5)

This was disturbing.

I think it would be better if it was a specific conflict, or we were given more details as opposed to just an "Enemy".

Good.

Michael Cornetto (Level 5)

Kind of a microcosm of the horror of war. Well done, I liked it and it fit well into five pages.

MJ Hermanny (Level 5)

Wowzer, that's one hell of a read. Talk about grabbing you by the throat. Pretty gross out in some places too!

Some odd grammar in places 'his face sinks to a pale' - a pale what?

'The only sounds to emerge are Smith’s pained sobbing.' - should be the sound (singular) but for an even cleaner read - ' the only sound is Smith sobbing'

I think you also need to clarify that the MASS GRAVE is outdoors and wether it's day or night.

Very visual and pacy writing.

Paul De Vrijer (Level 5)

Strong entry. I really like the stark visuals in the beginning. You paint a really clear picture of the atrocities. You linger a little too long on his quest to escape and the fight with the enemy seems a bit too simple and cliched, the ending itself is a bit too fast (wish you took your time with this)

But this is nitpicking really. All the working elements are there.
Joy to read.

Paul Williams (Level 5)

Congratulations on your eligibility to enter this contest.

This is an expertly written screenplay. It's no wonder how you made it into this competition. I was instantly hooked and my interest was held into the final word.

I would've liked a better ending resolution; not one where Smith lives necessarily, but maybe just something that makes sense of this all- or maybe that's the theme: the hopelessness and senselessness of war.

I'm not a big fan of the title.

Your screenwriting is very good; format appears in order; no typos detected.

Excellent.

Philip Whitcroft (Level 5)

Being honest I'm not sure what I think of this script. It's very well done and begins with a powerful series of revelations. After that it becomes a horror/action sequence and perhaps strays into wallowing in its unpleasant aspects.

I know that there is an arena for this kind of thing, but I guess I struggle to go along with it if I'm not given a sense that some wider point is being made.

Raymond Kwok (Level 3)

Generally well written and I liked the way the action is described. However, having to wade through all this morbidity and get to the end, it is not much of a pay off in terms of the story line. Also, the girl in the photo is a bit too much sentimentality: if this is going to be war, then I would keep it gritty.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0)

The transition between the blue skies and the grave is smooth, and the actions between the two scenes are vivid.

I have not notice any grammar nor formatting errors. The writing style is lean and clean. It’s a quick read.

I’m guessing this is a “Buried” type movie. Smith struggles to escape a graveyard, I think. Then you added zombies and other corpse to make this story more interesting.

The tension where the man’s main goal is to escape the graveyard by fighting attackers is interesting. I also like the foreshadow of the photo Smith carries with him.

Your dialogue is good too, even though you few lines of dialogue and one character.
I’m not sure who Rapid is though.

The ending is sad. I feel that his character was good, until he gets killed. I’m not sure why the girl was so important to the story since Smith dies. You haven't given any reference of what the photo is (though we know it's his relative), but she was never introduced. I think you need to either add more empathies on the girl or remove her from the story.

Overall, I thought this story was good. The genre must be Horror and Action.

I just don't think that the title matches the story. It reminds me of comedy, when it's horror.

Rick Hansberry (Moderator)

Rich, powerful and engaging. This had it all. Such a vivid picture painted with words. The sparse dialogue was enough to break up the horrible, yet wonderfully drawn images. If you haven't directed yet, you will - your mind sees the story unfolding.

I thought the pace of this was fantastic. There weren't gaps and lulls and while escaping the trench became a goal for Smith, the tragic ending brought closure to a story that didn't need to be any longer. This would make a dynamite short and I hope that you make it.

I struggled to come up with some way to offer constructive notes and the best I can come up with is to find a way to name the enemy. The different colors suffice in pictures but with Smith named, it might read better if at least Enemy #1 is named. If that's the best I can come up with, you know that most of this works very well. I expect this to be near or at the top when the results are announced.

Rustom Irani (Moderator)

Superlative premise and execution.

The only caveat would be to see if the content is palatable to a majority and whether this can be produced as a short.

The latter is more possible than the former I'm afraid.

Excellent!

Sally Meyer (Moderator)

This was so very sad. I wanted him to get away. So the ending just made me feel bad that he didn't. So cruel and vicious are enemies of war. I was hoping for some tenderness, some compassion, something.

This was very well written, visual and strong characters throughout, but it was just too sad for me, and I would not want to watch it.
I want to feel hope when I watch something like this, otherwise it's too much of a downer.

Scott Merrow (Level 5)

Well written, good job with that, but this is not really my type of movie. It was basically a long gory fight scene between two wounded soldiers who had been left for dead in a pit full of festering corpses. Yuck. But, war is hell, right? And I guess that's the point of it all -- war IS hell, and even when you're left for dead...it can get worse.

It started out full of promise -- a wounded soldier wakes up in a pit full of dead bodies, and he can't get out. Whoa! Terrifying! But then (in my opinion) you sacrificed story in favor of gruesome description. The fight scene alone lasts nearly two pages (40% of the script), then he gets shot. Poor guy. But we don't really care much about him, anyway, because all we've seen is a fight and a glimpse of him looking at a picture of his girlfriend. Not enough to make us give a hoot about him.

So, I think it could use more story (or character development) and less emphasis on the fight scene.

It's pretty well written, though. Nice job with that.

My Score: Good.

Shaun Bragg (Level 4)

Bloody mess. It's a pile of bloody bodies and mayhem that occurs during this visual display. The writer gets it right by trying to get the auidence into the world quickly and leaving us there. Focused on what's going to happen next. That is a real challenge with writing for me at times and this writer gets it.

Very Good

Tim Ratcliffe (Level 4)

The writing and imagery here was excellent. I wasn't sure where this was taking place though, as it had an odd feel to it. I guess it doesn't really matter, as it seems to be more a commentary on war than a specific story. Overall I thought this was very good.

William Bienes (Mod Emeritus)

LOVE the fact that "Field Day" and the early descriptions are in complete contrast with what comes next - excellent.

SMITH - Damn seems almost comical and does not convey or coincide with what you've built to this point. I'd rather him say nothing there - your descriptions are superb and his actions portray that desperation better than "damn".

The twists in here are organic and well done. Excellent work.

William D. Prystauk (Level 5)

This is really good because I love the concept. Although you use short and sharp sentences, you can still cut this down more to avoid repetition and superfluousness.

Although I like the ending, it may be stronger if Smith never sees the enemy outside of the hole. It would be great for the audience to think he's making it out only to be shot in the last second, followed by the return of the serenity.

Just a few things I noticed:

This is unnecessary: "An image of serenity:"

Did you mean "seizes" with "He seizures with sudden consciousness"?

"Smith balls his fists - prepares for combat. He secures his photo in a pocket." What does he do first? Have him put the picture before the enemy emerges.

Thanks for sharing this!

William Dunbar (Level 5)

This was very evocative. Well and clearly written, so it was easy to follow what was happening, even though it was almost all action. If it were me, I'd actually take out all the dialogue except the "who won" part at the end. The "I'm going to fucking kill you" line seemed particularly unnecessary, and all the action comes across fine silently. But I think the "won won" line is where the message that nobody wins a war really comes across. But that's just me. Overall, very good job. On a very picky note, the soldier puts away the picture after he already put it away (continuity). Oh, and I'm not crazy about the title. I get that it's supposed to be ironic, but it somehow doesn't work for me. If others like it, then ignore my comment. Good job.


Comments Made After the Contest

Reginald McGhee (Level 0) ~ 4/1/2012 12:01 AM

Contrats!!!

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 4/1/2012 12:24 AM

Congratulations! I loved this script.

Charlie Hebert (Mod Emeritus) ~ 4/1/2012 12:48 AM

Great work Travis. Congrats!

Michael Cornetto (Level 5) ~ 4/1/2012 1:17 AM

Well done Travis, Congrats.

MJ Hermanny (Level 5) ~ 4/1/2012 4:48 AM

Fantastic Travis!! Congratulations, brilliant writing.

David M Troop (Level 5) ~ 4/1/2012 8:31 AM

Congrats to you, my friend! Another brilliant script for the DeStein Library!
Another First Place Award for the cyber mantel!

Pia Cook (Level 5) ~ 4/1/2012 9:41 AM

Big congratulations on the win!! :)

Sally Meyer (Moderator) ~ 4/1/2012 10:16 AM

Congrats Travis!

Paul Williams (Level 5) ~ 4/1/2012 3:06 PM

Congratulations, Travis. I knew this was a winner after reading it.

Lee Carlisle (Level 4) ~ 4/1/2012 3:24 PM

Congrats Travis!

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 4/1/2012 8:52 PM

Congratulations, Travis. Brilliant as ever!

Incredible imagery.


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