Comments Made During the Contest
Ammar Salmi (Level 5)
You started something suspenseful, thrilling, but you didn't deliver the needed answer. Yeah, dynamic endings can be great, but if they don't answer the main question of the story they should be avoided. I already knew she's gonna die. What I wanted to know is either she was right about the conspiracy or not. You didn't answer that. I was a bit disappointed. But for other things, like dialogue and action, it was clear and top notch. Well done.
Ayal Pinkus (Level 5)
I like the "message in a bottle" idea. Fran finds herself in a world among students who are committing suicide all around her, and she is obviously afraid. Good suspense, I want to know how it will end.There is a great dark gloomy eery atmosphere throughout the entire screenplay, really well done.Her monologue into the camera feels a bit on the nose and matter-of-factly. I think she'd be scared, whispering, HELP! Panicked. Begging some one to come help. Instead she just tells us what is going on.I find it hard to figure out the motives of the characters. For example; a student tells Fran that she needs to move on and forget about the suicides, that the exams are more important. I don't think any child would say that in real life. Also, why exactly does Fran commit suicide? There's teen angst, paranoia.I felt cheated at the end because Fran of course also commits suicide but I didn't understand why she did that.
Bill Sarre (Level 4)
A well written story with the essence of paranoia coming across in the script in the form of the implied question, is there a problem or it is the girl?I think FF is really difficult to pull off and with this script we are left with an answered question of how the footage is put together or indeed why. I think others will have a similar problem. Personally, I prefer to have a complete picture.One thought, i assume the gas mask was to reflect the state of the girl, but as it is in the first scene, I think, it suggests more because we haven't seen the girls downfall. The other girls suicides are useful to create tension but are also unexplained and in the end not related. Is that an issue? Not sure.All the best.
Byron Matthews (Level 4)
That went over my head. The story does an excellent job of capturing Fran's paranoia, but the other characters and the overall direction of the story just seem so cloudy and unclear. The opening scene was a bit confusing then the scenes outside with the group of students didn't make any sense. What was she afraid of happening? Zombie attack? Suicide?
Chris Setten (Level 4)
I had to read this twice to get the gist. Is the second scene the beginning of a flashback? There are a bunch of typos like "hone" for home (a real pet peeve of mine). The gas mask guy in the beginning: I take it that Fran is led to believe she is mentally ill but in fact there is something nefarious occurring. If I'm reading this right then it's a cool concept but needs to be written in a more straightforward fashion.
Chris Westfield (Level 3)
I was intrigued from the beginning. Great setup. No complaints from me as far as the flash forward. The why she got there was a little bit thin of a premise. The whole story sort of focused on Fran spiraling out of control and the mystery behind it. I think it was written as less of a mystery. With the person in the gas mask I felt you gave away the mystery on whether she was crazy or not.
Christina Anderson (Level 4)
Arrrgh. I feel like that whole story got lost on the page. Take care of the camera details first. Then start the scene.Okay, it's Paranoia; so I guess you want us guessing at the truth-- even after the end?The HOODIES. And the OBSCENE GESTURES. What's all this about?-- the initial hoodie scene is too vague; I'm not certain who's being aggressive and what exactly does that mean (like screaming/pointing, or like waving a knife?) And that 'something' object never reveals itself later.-- why do we keep going back to the courtyard? what is important about this location? and why are people so hostile towards her? The Found Footage Perspective.I don't think this format is the best way to tell the story-- it's not like the whole thing plays out on Fran's webcam, nor is it restricted to footage collected by Fran. In fact, I think it extends to CCTV so we can see Fran in action (she's the hoodie following people around -- why I don't understand, perhaps if she'd confide to the webcam more about what she thinks is happening and how she's outsmarting them we'd realize why she thought the answer was an overdose).
Christina Kishpaugh (Level 3)
This is definitely part of something bigger. I would love to know more about it and see it in a bigger format. It would be interesting to see Fran descend gradually. Some of the dialogue is very formulaic and not natural- which is important when you are using found footage format- the audience sees it as more reality than regular format which makes it easier for them to pick out bad dialogue.
Darren Seeley (Level 3)
This one is alright, but I thought it could have beeen far better. I suppose some Found Footage/ VidCam moments are fine, but there seems to be a contradiction. Is Fran insane? Taking too many drugs? Both? Is there a alien or supernatural takeover of the school? All the above? If so, why does she bring up relatives who consider her an attention getting drama queen - and the web camera just happens to freeze frame on her?Good thing that you mention it is a laptop though- otherwise half the things we are supposed to see later on with the laptop cam are things we shouldn't see due to the established position of the computer from the first shot.When the hidden camera focuses in close on Sal, how does the ground come into the frame? If anything, it would be pushed out, don't you think? If the cell cam is now aimed low to the ground, it is the ground we now see and not the obscene gestures. We don't see people running, but then we do.On p2 there's a mysterious hooded figure who the writer refers to as 'it'. It?On p4...I'm wondering where the recording came from. Is it in Fran's head? I think what should have been done is a video-taped session of Fran and the shrink.Not bad for this challenge though.-DjS
David M Troop (Level 4)
I'm not sure if the body in the first scene is supposed to be Fran. If it is, I don't think it would be possible in a FF film to do the rest of the film in flashback.And why would people need hazmat suits and gasmasks to investigate teen suicides?Fran is paranoid about something. Is it real or imagined? Perhaps the college is experimenting with some sort of gas that causes students to go bonkers? That may explain the gas mask. And the other suicides. But for what reason?You have some typos and a missing period. And I know Wednesday is not the most popular day of the week, but it still needs to be capitalized.At the end, I felt a little cheated. I would have liked a definate answer. Was there something going on, or was Fran just being paranoid. Or both?
David Serra (Level 4)
Interesting look into paranoia and how a loss affects all of us differently.Although you have one gramical error which is in the headings. For instance "INT. or EXT. SOMEPLACE - TIME OF DAY - WEBCAM or FOOTAGE or CELL PHONE" should be written.Overall, Excellent job.Good luck!
Derek Anderson (Level 4)
You need to establish that we're looking through a webcam right after the slug."something like the bodysnatchers or a virus" -- too on-the-nose dialog"the room is a tip" -- not sure what that is suppose to mean"This is on a live weblink, I’ve sent you the link." -- on-the-nose again. This was already implied.The story was pretty good, but I was confused a lot. I had a hard time establishing the scene. Right after the slug, you need to describe what we're looking through and what we're looking at.As I pointed out, some of the dialog served as exposition for stuff that we already knew. Work on your storytelling. SHOW us, don't tell us. Keep on writing!
Derek Collins (Level 4)
I liked it, it took a couple of reads but I really liked it. The biggest thing that kind of bugged me was I feel like it could use start and end flashback cues, and I'm even a little bit torn on that because I get why you didn't do it that way. I will say that the bookending of the dangling arm was bloody brilliant but it was also the little detail that I missed the first couple times I read it that prevented me from putting everything together smoothly. Even with that mystery solved you still leave a lot open for interpretation and I think that is a good thing. The scene with the reflections of the "other hoodies" in the glass... I'm not quite sure what to make of it, I mean I can see it going three ways, there is something there she should be paranoid about, she is hallucinating or I am just reading it wrong and you are making a literal reference to the reflection of her hoodie. Whatever the case may be, once again, I enjoyed the script a great deal. Keep up the great writing.
Ethan Lane (Level 2)
Ok here are some of the things I noticed:I liked the intro. It set up a good air of mystery. I think you could have brought it back into the story, however. Because, as it is, you under-utilize it.I do like that we have some questions that aren't answered, but I think that the only place any tension is actually seen is the intro. Other than that, either the mysterious parts occur off screen or people get angry at Fran. That's kinda it. Too much of the questions and drama are supposed to come from Fran's dialogue; rather than the audience getting to see some of the things that happened, we are told about them.I think if you reworked this to show more of the weirdness that's going on, and incorporated the intro back into the story, this would be really good. It's an intriguing premise.
Faith Friese Nelson (Level 5)
Interesting story and well-told but a little on the dark side for me.The second slug-line INT. STUDENT BEDROOM - DAY does not have to be repeated. Suggestion: Instead, have a SUPER: # DAYS EARLIER to show the time change.The CONT'Ds in dialogue are not needed. If you use Final Draft, this feature can be turned off.
Fred Koszewnik (Level 5)
I think your screenplay succeeds at depicting a character's paranoia. Even so, I didn't feel a sense of compassion for Fran and this greatly weakened my interest in your storyline. Maybe your best bet is to stress the parent's worry and concern for their daughter's mental deterioration in some way. Give us a personal, humanistic reason to care.Also, I'm not entirely sure what point you were trying to make at the beginning with the white suited men in gas masks. The stink? An ironic proof of a real threat to Fran?Continued good success.
Gary Rademan (Level 5)
I wish Fran had taken an active role rather than a passive role. Esp, her decision to give in to win. Your style of limiting actions lines to a line looks good on the page but highlights blocks of dialog. Can you cut the blocks down?
Jordan Littleton (Level 4)
Title: 4Story: 4Originality: 4Action: 4Dialogue: 4Readability: 4This was confusing. I'm not really sure what was going on the whole time. Something about some people in white suits, normal kids, zombie kids, some suicides. I'm sure I'm missing something.
Kelley Allen (Level 3)
First off, kudos for being gutsy enough to enter this month's MP contest. Not a lot of folks did enter (including myself out of sheer laziness) and I was intrigued to see how this topic would be handled. Initial Gut Reaction: Very interesting. We never find out if Fran truly was experiencing something odd on campus or if she truly was suffering from paranoia. Her descent into madness is fascinating. Story: Good structure. Starting with out with the ending and then filling the middle of the scripts with flashbacks. Obviously, there was something nefarious going on at the campus since her room is being scoped out by people in gasmasks. However, the script might benefit further if you attempt to confuse us, the audience, with even more details of the "secrets" and events. Formatting: Overall, very good. Not a lot of errors. Dialogue: Good and realistic. Characters: You do a good job in writing about Fran's desperation. Nit-picking: *I do believe* that you can drop most of the (CONT'D)s. From my understanding, you should only use (CONT'D) on a page break. There's a lot of different opinions about this though. Capitalize "wednesday". My own personal reaction: I like it. You create empathy and ambiguity in regards to Fran. At first, I was really concerned about her. But as the script progresses, I began to doubt her sanity. (Reminds me of that Jodie Foster film, Flightplan.) However, the script would benefit with more "punch". Perhaps some more details about what is terrifying Fran so much. Rating: Good. Good luck and keep writing!
Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5)
I think it's a good short. You kept me engaged till the last page. I don't know if some of it is needed - the shots of hooded figures for example - not clear to me what it's there for.I liked her dialog, but didn't like all the profanity as much. Don't think it all fits in here - not that I'm against profanity, it just doesn't fit, and it's too much of it. You could add some texture to their talk, otherwise they talk about nothing.Somewhere there you misspelled the word display.Poor girl, I felt for her. Wish I knew what happened to that other one. You need more pages, I think to fully explore the idea perhaps.
Kirk White (Level 5)
Not sure about this one. It’s got a good premise but ultimately it just doesn’t come together with any sort of resolution. You have interesting components: “what’s happening to the students” and “what are they doing to the students” but right now they don’t exactly connect in a way to feel like a cohesive story or even a cohesive universe. This feels like a mash up of a longer piece and as it reads now I don’t ever really connect to the characters or the story. I’d suggest expanding… giving a fair
KP Mackie (Level 5)
Intriguing story idea. Seems clear that Fran is not paranoid. The first scene with people who "seem to be in white suits," one of which is wearing a gas mask, begs the question, "What are they doing?" These people are, at the least, very suspicious.While Fran's appearances on the webcam are compelling, uncertain whether there's enough evidence that pills or people are responsible for her apparent suicide. May need an explanation stronger than "it's something like the body-snatchers or a virus"; perhaps choosing one or the other would be more specific. Some of her dialogue is lengthy, comes across as rambling, but maybe that's a symptom of her descent.Like the title. At the end, whether Fran is paranoid is the big question. Did wonder whether the title should include a question mark.
Margaret Ricke (Level 5)
"We" are not characters in this script and shouldn't be included on the written page. Write what the camera sees. Don't direct the camera, either. Write the visuals.Turn off the DIALOGUE CONTINUED part of your writing program. It isn't necessary, and it's distracting. And, even though it doesn't take up any lines, it does take up WHITE SPACE.I don't think the opening scene is necessary. It's confusing in that it's followed by a flashback that I didn't understand was happening at first. If you started with her sitting down in from of her laptop and talking into it, you could drop all of the lines about that particular camera.Does a laptop see static when you turn it off? That visual doesn't seem right to me. See what other people say. I'm having trouble with the image freezing and then going to a FADE TO BLACK, too. It took me out of the story and it wasted a line. There's too much dialogue and it needs to be tighter, less rambling. Every line should build on something - suspense, intrigue, horror or anxiety. She's coming off more as a paranoid whiner than a victim of some conspiracy.What's with the hooded figure and the students? That scene makes no sense to me at all. I've seen hundreds of hooded figures on campus, and they've pretty much always been students. Some were professors, though. If you want to keep this scene in the script, you might want to have Fran hear a commotion, pick up her laptop and go to the window to film what's going on outside.Make the conflict more sinister and be specific about what the hooded figure is holding in their faces.The group "moves" off.The scene with Sal is a little forced and I don't think it adds a lot to the story.You might want to stick to using her laptop and camera phones. I think the scene with the CCTV camera takes the story out of Fran's hands, and this is supposed to be her record of what's happening. Maybe have her surreptitiously filming the doctor instead of listening to a recording. You need to bring more visual action into the story.This story has potential, but it needs something more than dialogue to carry it. It's also a fairly vague and unsatisfactory plot. Amp up the sinister side a bit, too.
Martin Jensen (Level 5)
I like how you break up what could be the monotony of someone video-blogging with other footage, without losing the found footage device. I also like how we're hearing about most of these events through a possibly unreliable narrator. "They seem to be in white suits." Whether or not we can see it clearly in the film, you'll need to know what they're wearing when you shoot it, so why not just say "They are in white suits"? A few moments I didn't find so believable: the female Student ("don't be so emo man" doesn't sound real) and the doctor just telling Fran that he thinks she's schizophrenic.
Masoud Soheili (Level 4)
First "Found Footage" of computer webcam,then "Found Footage" of CCTV!I like this changing footage.Maybe just this script in this contest,At least till now,this is the first as I read,The idea is just OK...I like it
Mike Senkpiel (Level 4)
I couldn't tell quite what was going on here. Sorry. I didn't get the obscene jestures and some phrases were foreign to me like, "The room is a tip." and why did she record a visit to her doctor? It wasn't clear to me why she committed suicide, either.I had to lookup CCTV, I think you should spell it out just for the convenience of the reader.Sorry, maybe others will get something that Ihave missed.
Pete Barry (Level 5)
There were some things that - while I had to think for a moment to really understand what was happening - I liked in concept. I like that it starts at the end, and we wrap around to see it's Fran dead at the end. I like the very strange confrontation scene, and then later, it's revealed that it Fran - although, again, I had to read it twice before that clicked.The dialogue is slightly strange, though I believe the writer might be British or non-English speaking ("piss off" is a giveaway) so I won't comment except to say the dialogue didn't ring true for me. Sometime the webcam seemed very fortuitous - like when Fran talks to the psychiatrist (where is he? why is she recording while he talks?) The most blatant use of video-for-video's sake is, unfortunately, also the best scene - while I love the angry mob of student and the strangeness and mystery of the confrontation, there's no reason why A) the CCTV would be shooting that, B) without sound, and C) in grainy black-and-white.In the end, it seems like Fran is just paranoid, but there also seem to be a lot of hoodies going around. Are there zombies? IS there an experiment? Maybe you mean to leave it ambiguous, but then too much seems to be explained - finding Fran's body for instance.It's a good attempt, but it needs a bit of revision.
Philip Whitcroft (Level 5)
I really like this. It's a strong portrayal of a person in decline.I'm a little confused, especially by the first scene. I'm taking it to mean that she's right about there being a conspiracy, unless she imagined that. Or more likely it's not in sequence. I wonder if the first scene was at the end in the first draft?The found footage aspect of this works well when it's her phone camera and her webcam because I could see how she'd have those files on her computer for someone to find. Indeed I wonder if you could add a statement to the effect of "Hi Mom, here are my video clips", which sets a clear context for the footage. The CCTV footage is beyond what she could have obtained so perhaps the context could be "Gathered Footage: Case 555".
Reginald Beltran (Level 4)
It's good overall. The only thing that felt weird was the CCTV footage. It felt like that scene was forced. Most of the narrative is from Fran's webcam and cell phone so that CCTV footage stands out as not being consistent. But this is a minor thing and easily cuttable. Overall, this is a good attempt.
Reginald McGhee (Level 0)
The story of a paranoid person with schizophrenia profiles herself over the camera stating her feelings about her friends’ depression, the friend’s recent death, and herself as being depressed. She takes action by going to the doctor and then refuses to accept her diagnoses of schizophrenia. She instead invades privacy, and then she contemplates suicide by overdosing herself. I get the theme of this and this looks like a compelling story. However, I feel that the treatment scene can be omitted because you already gave us enough information that she could possible be delusional. I don’ t know. When you revealed that she is paranoid in her dialogue, you probably didn’t need the treatment scene. The surprise ending, where she revealed that people are suicidal, and she was a victim of suicide is a letdown because it was predictable. But the twist did worked though. The descriptions, on the other hand, are all visual. I just wish that you could focus more on the description lines and show what happened about Jane instead of telling it in dialogue, and then the other dialogue could tell the rest from there. The dialogue lines are pretty much exposition. However, it reads naturally though. I just feel the dialogue is on the nose, not because it’s “silted.” It just tell us what happened. It’s no big deal though. I think this is your intension, is to tell through dialogue.I spent enough time with the characters and the Fran. Fran, however, is on the passive side. Her actions did not make things happen. Instead, the other characters and her medical problem did. And to be honest, I don’t think I like Fran, who up and killed herself after the fact that she had schizophrenia. Overall, this is a gripping and somewhat depressing story.
Rik Battaglia (Level 3)
I like this. Written well. Sad about fran. She needed to lay off the pills and booze. Some time away from the net would have helped, yikes! I got a tad confused on the mirrors part, but it seems this whole thing was fran's fragile state of mind.
Rustom Irani (Moderator)
I love the disjointed nature of this piece and how you've played with the structure to drive home the unease felt by Fran.The booken is brilliant and what makes this great is you do not stick to chronology, yet deliver a sequence.The VO and some of the dialogs felt too much on the nose at times and those aspects are keeping me from scoring this an excellent.Still, great use of the challenge. Nicely done!
Scott Merrow (Level 5)
I'm not sure what's going on here. I think there's an outbreak of something, an epidemic of some kind, at this college that turns people into (I'm guessing) anti-social hoodie-wearers. (Am I close?) And Fran sees this happening to her, so she kills herself.It's a pretty decent, eerie story, but (for me, anyway) there were quite a few head-scratchers, starting on Page 1, when Fran types into her blog, "There’s something going on. I haven’t worked it out yet but I think it’s something like the bodysnatchers or a virus." Then on the next page, "I hope the right person finds this. Uploading now. Bye." Why doesn't she just leave? Or call her parents? Or the cops? Why does she type something into her blog and hope someone finds it?In the end, we really have no clue what's going on. (At least, I couldn't figure it out.) Is this some kind of weird zombie thing? Is it an experiment and the doctor and the men in HAZMAT suits are in on it? I can't tell. Is it sinister or supernatural? I don't know.It's an eerie story, and I enjoyed reading it, but it left me a little puzzled.My score: Good.
Shane Harkin (Level 3)
For a found footage script, a title like "Paranoia" is incredibly promising. The fact that you're limited to just a camera's perspective should allow for some really potent explorations of that theme. And while this script manages to maintain a fairly creepy, unsettling atmosphere, I don't think it reached its full potential.The mobile phone footage seemed a bit contrived, and I think inexplicably jumping from webcam footage to mobile phone footage occasionally would be a bit jarring on screen.The dialogue between the students doesn't seem that natural to me, and again it's all done through the cell phone footage, which I had a problem with in general. Why not have her talk to other students using the webcam?I thought the opening scene was unnecessary. Or at least too revealing, it leaves little doubt as to whether or not Fran has reason to be paranoid. I would have loved if the reason for her paranoia was left a bit more ambiguous, I think the story would be more effective that way.
Steven Gulotta (Level 3)
Nice way to play with the camera angle. At first, seeming like another zombie cliche, but then becoming a story of psychological disease. Very interesting, in my own opinion. Not too much of a shocker to see that she committed suicide. Kind of hard to follow sometimes, but I got through it. GOOD.
Sylvia Dahlby (Level 5)
I thought the dialog and story were good and might have liked it more except I'm really not feeling the paranoia. What Fran is going thru is difficult to convey in the eyes of the web cam, especially when she's talking TO IT. I think more interaction between the characters captured on cam instead of Fran explaining everything may have worked better.
Comments Made After the Contest
Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 7/1/2012 4:57 AM
You better get to shooting this, MJ! Loved it!
MJ Hermanny (Level 5) ~ 7/1/2012 4:59 AM
Oh Rusty, bless you. I was thinking I'd totally misjudged it and that it's utter cack and that I should probably not make it.
Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 7/1/2012 5:27 AM
It is SO well thought out visually and editing-wise that it deserves to be filmed to see how well you can convey it from paper to screen.Indy 4 was utter cack, you better be story-boarding this NOW!
MJ Hermanny (Level 5) ~ 7/1/2012 5:30 AM
Interesting you say that because it's the first script I've shown that I've known I'm going to direct - maybe that's made a difference in my writing style.Auditions for it on Wednesday - well excited!
Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 7/1/2012 5:32 AM
Also, this was the first found footage script I read and it totally raised my hopes to see some calculated risks taken with the genre.
Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 7/2/2012 1:51 AM
I'll read it again - gave it a good, maybe missed something:)
MJ Hermanny (Level 5) ~ 7/2/2012 7:50 AM
Kham, don't worry. I just wanted those who had given a fair score to tell me why as I don;t think the reviews made it clear.
MJ Hermanny (Level 5) ~ 7/25/2012 8:01 AM
All the interiors have been shot and stills from the shoot can be seen here:redcatwriter.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/stills-from-my-first-shoot-paranoia/Exteriors being shot on Tues 31st July. Amazing cast. but I've been really struggling trying to crew it all myself!
Scott Merrow (Level 5) ~ 7/25/2012 9:51 AM
The stills look great. A lot like I pictured the movie as I read the script.
Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 7/28/2012 7:45 PM
I see you start to make it,,,Congratulation MJ!Wish to see it soon