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"Dealkeepers" by Jay Knisely

Logline: A wife prepares way for a shadowy entity that her husband is way unprepared for. For her, it's the right thing quickly defrayed; for him, he'll never know how wrong it was.

Genre: Action - Drama

Cast Size: 9

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

Contest: Rules? We don't need no stinking rules! (Dec. 2007)

Contest Scores
PoorFairGoodVery GoodExcellent

Comments Made During the Contest

A.M. Wallace (Level 0)

An interesting story. An extreme look at keeping people in line. I think a little more backstory/exposition would help me relate to the characters. As it is right now, I don't have attachment to them. You have some typos that need to be fixed.

Alex Hollister (Level 4)

I have no idea what that was about. I mean I understand the story, but an organisational cult that makes deals with complete strangers over the net and carries out that deal on the promise of charitable donations is frankly an utterly bizaree concept. I just didn't feel invested or really that interested in the story at any time. About the only intrigue was just what happened to Carl in that room and the more I think about it the more I don't want to know. I just can't get over the fact that the story is just too bizarre. Original admittedly, but I think that may be for a reason. I simply can't grade this highly because the whole story is insane to me. Reminds me of a Stephen King short story in the Cats-Eye film where a man employs a violent organisation to help him quit smoking. That left me cold, as does this. A touch too weird for my taste.

Ali Barr (Level 4)

Interesting idea. I would like to have more clarity on these DealKeepers. Could you write in some kind of reveal so we know something more about the Deal she made and how her husband knew that his intruders' torture had something to do with his breaking the deal made with his wife.

I think you can tighten up this story by revealing a little more of what we really want to know. Also, could you show the change in the husband more visually and less by a verbal report from his wife? I was entertained yet not sure I understood all that was happening within the characters.

Barbara Lewis (Level 4)

I think this is really well written, great dialogue, great descriptions. Love that the moderator resembles James Lipton!

I didn't totally get the ending :-I read it a couple of times but it wasn't really clear, I think the marital group will get a payout?

Brad Huffman Parent (Level 4)

"Everything is...except the screaming nightmares lately." But not the stench from him not taking showers anymore? I thought this was a fun little story, I can accept the secret people coming in and torturing him, but I for some reason I have problems with her staying with this dirty bastard who won't clean himself. I'm a little unclear on the ending. Did the moderator have something to do with it? What's up with the charity comment and the little fist pump? That James Lipton description of him is great, gave me the perfect image while I was reading.

Brad LaMar (Level 2)

This is a unique idea. Some elements of the script felt out of place. The writing itself was good, but I didn't feel any connection to the story. I think if this story had had more pages to develop then it really could have been something.

Brian Wind (Level 5)

This was pretty entertaining. The treatment seemed a bit harsh, but that's what makes it comedic. Overall, good work. I liked this one.

Bryan Mora (Level 4)

Its very descriptive, lets me see every detail in what you want your audience to be shown.

Good job with this one man. Hard work is very evident.

Caleb Parazette (Level 3)

Clever. The bit at the end between the moderator and Carolyn was a bit odd. Maybe could have ended before that. Would make a very funny short. Well done

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

We didn't need to know that the moderator was called James Lipton - his name never appeared again.

There was rather too much discussion about the Dealkeepers before they appeared, I felt. The explanation somehow undermined their impact.

Although I read this a number of times I still didn't understand where they'd come from, and why the charitable donation? Were they shadowy entities or just people? What had they got to do with the church? And before the scene with Carl, there was no clue I could find that he was averse to water, so the move to Arizona came out of left field.

I thought there was great potential here but too many questions I was left with at the end to make me feel satisfied.

Charlie Hebert (Mod Emeritus)

This was good. The writing was good. The story was good. The directions were good. Just - the story didn't really excite me and seemed a bit over the top and predictable. You're a good writer, but this is a "safe" story.

Chris Messineo (Founder)

I think this is a very interesting idea.

However, I never quite believed the story. Who are these dealkeepers and why do they do what they do?

The tone moved between drama and comedy(and maybe even a little horror) and I was never quite sure who I was rooting for. In the end, I just felt sorry for Carl.

Overall, your craft is good and this was a fun read.

Chris Thomas (Level 3)

Leaves enough questions to keep us wondering, but not too many that we are upset with the outcome of the story.

David D. DeBord (Level 5)

Oh my gosh, political commentary.

Well, when is “water boarding” torture? Or whatever we want to call torture. On them it’s OK, on us, bad.

I thought the opening scene and last scene at the Meeting Room were used to fill the script before the author really got to what they really wanted to write about. The dialog in the opening scene was overly long. Try removing some of the transitional comments in the dialog. Things like “I’ve tried and tried keeping after him.” in one of Caroline’s bits on the first page. Her next line, “No light.” really is a great response to the moderator’s previous dialog. The I’ve tried … sentence I think takes away from the power of her “No light” comment.

This “please reduce the amount of dialog” comment from someone (me) who filled his story this month with almost all long blocks of dialog.

I got confused in the last scene about what they were really talking about with the charities. I must have missed something.

Dawn Calvin (Level 5)

Quite clever in the concept, interesting. On the believability scale, not sure I was quite there, but it was entertaining.

Maybe I didn't hear enough about the group and previous "issues" accept long hair that would suggest waterboarding to be viable action to take. That was waterboarding right???

The writing was clean! Good luck

DW Pollard (Level 4)

There's something here, a very interesting story, but it didn't come off so great in this short. I'm trying to think of what exactly didn't hit the mark, but I'm not exactly sure.

Maybe it was just too vague: if we knew more about the Deelkeepers or what their motivation is, then there might have been more to grasp onto in the story.

Also, I think it would add much more to see what all Carl had gone through and what might have been said to him. Why wouldn't he just call the police? Or blame Carolyn? Or just leave his simple wife, simple life.

The writing is decent and everything flowed pretty smoothly, I just think we need more for a complete story.

Gary Murphy (Level 3)

A fairly well written script but not sure I really got much out of it. I am trying to think of why. I liked the premise to start with, the idea of having a knock at these groups of puritans that sit around telling other people how they should be living their lives better, I thought that is where we were heading at first and I liked that. But as soon as she mentioned the deal breakers at the bottom of page 1 I could have stopped reading and guessed the rest and I would have been right.

Don't get me wrong, the writing was good and the formatting was spot on and I can see that you can certainly tell a story, Maybe though you need a better story to tell. It did not do anything really that I did not expect, and furthermore it turned out not to be a knock at the puritans but our hero actually ended up conforming to them in a way. So all in all there was not a lot that actually got my interest.

If I were to suggest a change that would make this a different and in my mind a much more interesting script would not to mention the deal breakers so early in the script. Still have intercuts to the guy at home and all the action, but leave us saying "wtf is going on?" and then slowly reveal what is happening through the dialogue in the church group. That to me would give this script much more interest to the reader.

Other than that have the deal breakers come in and cut the Moderators head off for being a nosey old bampot - that would work for me too ;-)


Graham Trelfer (Level 4)

Right, I am going t cut straight to the chase on this then a go back and talk about some other bits. Carl is a jerk, he clearly doesn't want to change so why does she go to such lengths to make him change. through your whole script Carl has not shown a single quality a woman could want from a partner. We have not even heard about a past where he was more romantic, caring etc. this is a big flaw and makes me not care about him, be cause he is detestable and her because she is stupid staying with him.

Structurally it is fine, beginning middle and end, but you overplay her coyness at the end. After the set it is obvious the Dealkeepers are ones behind the attack and by this point you just want to get to the end.

Jason Sikorski (Level 2)

I think you have the start of a promising story here, but there were a few major problems that really stuck out in my head.

For starters, why wouldn't Carl call the police? I see two possible scenarios happening:

1. Carl doesn't understand why they came and did what they did, in which case he would probably call the police.

2. He does understand why they did what they did, possibly because they told him before they left. If that was the case, do you really think he would stick around with his wife? I'd be gone before she got home!

The way it played out just didn't seem right.

Additionally, the whole blog thing seemed weird - there are hundreds of millions of blogs on the Internet, so I'm not sure how the Dealkeepers could monitor for "local" blogs. Plus, wouldn't that be too "public" for something like that?

John LaBonney (Level 4)

A unique idea for a no-rules challenge. My major issue is that I don't find characters' behavior entirely believable. I think that the premise is interesting; you make a deal and don't keep it, you might face the Dealkeepers. I just think perhaps that the setting and characters demonstrate such a concept to its highest potential. I would have liked to see a business deal or a really serious promise at the center of the script.

Jon Watts (Level 3)

Cute plot. The dialog seemed confusing at times (like when Carolyn says "If not now, when? But how? And who?"

Kirk White (Level 5)

I'm giving this a fair. The technique is there. but I couldn't really ever catch on to the tone of this piece. It kinda lands smack in the middle between comedy and high drama. I was never sure of your point of view. and that made it a little flat to read. The idea of these deal keepers is solid and intriguing but when you ad the haircut element, it's hard to take them seriously..but the black ski masks and violence makes it seem like we're supposed to. I would suggest really thinking about your tone and doing a rewrite to really nail the purpose of this.

Margaret Avnet (Level 4)

The story seems a bit drastic. At one point I felt as if poor Carl was being interrograted by the military. I don't see how someone would put someone they love through something like that just it get a haircut.

Matias Caruso (Level 5)

The Dealkeepers thingy had me immediately intrigued. It’s always good to have a hook in the opening.

The idea behind the resolution is quite good but the execution of it felt a bit short. For example, Carolyn didn’t like that her husband had long hair and now he doesn’t. But he doesn’t shower anymore, yet she’s OK with that?

It seems like you had to push the logic behind some plot points in order to establish the effectiveness of this dealkeeping squad.

It’s hard to make a marriage work by using intimidation; perhaps if the Dealkeepers used non violent methods you could come up with a much believable resolution.

Micah Ricke (Level 4)

The writing was fairly tight throughtout, but the last page seemed hurried and the story tipped a bit to the vague at that point. The men entering and torturing Carl was done very well. You did an excellent job of describing the water-boarding.

Michael Cornetto (Level 5)

GOOD. I thought the concept was interesting and different. You did well on the dialogue and some of the visuals. I thought it came across a bit sketchy in parts and I'm not sure I understand exactly how the dealmakers got him to make the deal - even after reading it. I think this needs at least one more page of what the deal makers do, maybe a foreshadowing of her contact with them. And I would be a bit worried from a production standpoint about the cellophane used in conjunction with the sock.

Michael Thede (Level 4)

Before I even read this, I'll say I like your title.
For creativity and originality I'm scoring you a VERY GOOD. A few suggestions, however: 1) You lost me at your description of the Moderator as a "James Lipton-type". I don't know who James Lipton is. When I think of Lipton I think of soup. A small thing and, yes, maybe I'm dense, but it still threw me a bit. 2) Along the lines of structure, I didn't feel as if your second act really started until Carl was left alone in the house. This is on page 3 and, as such, seemed to come a little late in the story. I would've liked to have seen more of a struggle between Carl and the Dealkeepers as well as some kind of dialogue exchange. Nevertheless, Carl's character clearly arcs at the end of the story, so you get points for that as well. Good work!

Paul Jaworsky (Level 4)

EXCELLENT! This was a great story. A bit twisted , but then again so am I. I couldn't really see anything that needs to be changed. I loved the parenthetical (to a held beer). Great job!

Rob Gross (Level 4)

Good layout of the setting.

The description of Carl in the living room was good, and then even better was when the Dealmakers arrived. Good, subtle details of description made me picture it so well.

Good original story.

Sally Meyer (Moderator)

Great script. I liked the story. It had that stepford wives feel to it, only reversed, LOL.

I thought the writing was tight. The dialogue a little stilted, but on the whole a very good story.

Nice set up and solid ending. What more can you ask for?

thanks for the read.

What I liked ....

I like your way of writing tight action scenes, that are also quite vivid in the descriptions. You show more than tell and your writing is solid.

Spencer McDonald (Level 4)

This was a wonderful story about bad husbands. Quite an arc for Carl. Forced and funny.

I don't have much to say about you writing. It was very good. Only a few things to point out.

1. Sorry, who is James Lipton. I understand you were trying to give us a visual of your character. Remember some may not know who someone else, like James Lipton is.

2. Got confused at the point when 4 men come in and 2 behind hold a board and a coil of rope. The we jump to the bathroom scene. Carl is tied to a kitchen chair. I gotta say, huh!"

Very good job.

Sylvia Dahlby (Level 5)

Interesting premise but I'm not buying it. The character relationships are weak, so I didn't identify with Carolyn or Carl, but I did feel that Carl certainly didn't deserve such torture just for not cutting his hair & being a beer-swilling slug. It's not like he was abusive, in fact Carolyn was the villian as far as I'm concerned (is that what you intended?). The super in the beginning and explanation of what the "dealkeepers" are were also not necessary (show don't tell), I'd prefer to have SEEN more of this (like on the PC screen) along with more conflict between Carolyn & Carl to justify such drastic action. The other way to go would have been to take it over the top with more dark humor and physical comedy; play up the idea of extreme punishment for petty crimes and have Carl put up more of a fight & interact with his tormentors. In fact, you could consider losing the "church group" and turning the Moderator into a Priest or Marriage Counselor.

BTW, the "Man's Voice" is actually Carl's character and should say so = CARL (O.S.)

Terence Ang (Level 3)

Interesting concept that goes for the dark humor style. Didn't really understand the last portion when the moderator asked Carolyn about it and I'd wished there's something more visual or connected to Carolyn's role in changing her husband's ways.

William Bienes (Mod Emeritus)

I liked the mystery of the Dealkeppers, but nothing really stood out for me. It went along as you thought it would.

I would have preferred a defiant Carl who could not be broken, maybe leading to the Dealkeepers keeping the deal to transform someone, grabbing Carolyn instead and having her transform to Carl's way of thinking.

I like the element of surprise in a script like this rather than a predictable end. I did feel that the writing was tight, clean and well done even with my preferential differences (if that makes any sense... I like the way it sounded in my head).

William Coleman (Level 5)

This piece is oddly surreal. It's preposterous in its complication, but it fits what you're doing. The structure is simple and moves along nicely. I think the piece would have been much improved with an opening scene between the husband and wife, then the meeting and go on from there. The set-up would have enhanced the need for enforement much better than it is now.

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