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"The Black Rose Garden" by Matias Caruso ~ First Place

Rewrite: 5/3/2008 12:00 AM

Logline: A suicidal girl learns that death isn’t the end of her problems, but the beginning of new ones.

Genre: Drama - Fantasy

Cast Size: 3

Production Status: In Production

Contest: Teenagers (Mar. 2008)

Contest Scores
PoorFairGoodVery GoodExcellent

Comments Made During the Contest

A.M. Wallace (Level 0)

I liked this story but it didn't surprise me and I wanted to be surprised. Instead, it was verging on predicatable. I knew from the tone of Lance's dialog that he was coming from the Black Rose Garden even though he protested that he'd been saved. And, to me, the ending was what I was expecting and I wanted to be surprised instead of getting what I was expecting. There's nothing wrong with this story, the dialog is good, the descriptions are good I would just prefer a different ending.

Adam Grage (Level 4)

the beginning flowery description at the beginning made me cringe alittle. But then it really took off. Loved the crisp smooth dialogue of Nyah and Lance. I also liked how he references the Black Rose garden and then we get to see it. Really cool. This could even expanded on to be the pilot for a TV series. Good job.

Ali Barr (Level 4)

Good powerful story clearly written. You gave me the theme and direction right on the first page. I knew where this was headed without knowing too much. I really like the way you used the metaphor of locked doors and repeated the line. "You've locked a lot of doors." Because we saw it in the beginning it had more POW at the end. Very good.

Quick Nit pick: I recommend "untied shoes with pink laces" so I know that there are more than laces on the ledge. There are shoes with feet in them. It was a little unclear and stopped the flow of my reading. Also dark female figure instead of a female dark figure. It helps me know it is a human . Just to be picky though. I really liked it. I like the metaphor of the Gardener also. Deep story with many levels in so few pages!

Audrey Webb (Level 5)

Very imaginative and very well done. Great characters and dialogue.

Austin Bennett (Level 4)

I've got goose pimples! No, really, after I finished, I had goosebumps. This was excellent. Fantastic writing. Fantastic characters. Everything was fantastic.

I'd love to see this filmed. Everything was so vivid and real and beautiful.

Excellent job.

This better win.

This was my absolute favorite.

Brad Huffman Parent (Level 4)

Very cool little story. Sort of reminded me of What Dreams May Come. Dialogue felt very natural, flowed nice and smooth between Nyah and Lance. You didn't get too detailed in describing the garden, but I still got a very clear picture of it. I really like that "you locked a lot of doors" line, I have a thing for recurring/mirrored images, I like how they can tie a story together.

Brian Wind (Level 5)

This was very creative. Cool, dark vision of the afterlife. Nice work!

Bryan Mora (Level 4)

Like your title, so elegant.

And as im reading, i find myself liking this piece. Dialogue, the two characters, your descriptions...

However, i cant help but be reminded of the movie 'Wristcutters' when i read this. It just immediately came in my head.

Other than that i thought this was very good. On the point, every piece of this story was needed to further it. And you didn't waste space.

Great job.

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

'mourning light' - did you mean that?!

'Doctors didn’t bring you back, didn’t they?' Did they?

This was clever and visually great. Didn't QUITE understand the symbolism of the black rose garden

Good job though.

Charlie Hebert (Mod Emeritus)

This was very interesting. Enjoyed the story, but found it very predictable.

Liked the imagary, but think you went a bit overboard in the beginning: "a full moon that spills bright magnesium light onto the concrete jungle."

Think your dialogue could use a little work in a few places, but for the most part was good. You "film" is beautiful, you have loads of talent, but think the story could still use a little work.

Good job, really enjoyed it.

Chris Messineo (Founder)

Phenomenal craft.

The descriptions, your characters, the dialogue, were all wonderful. The story sucked me right in.

My only suggestion, I would have Nyah alone in the last scene trying to save the girl.

I hope I get to see this as a film some day.

Dan Lennox (Level 5)

Good story! The visuals, dialogue, and descriptions were well done. Excellent job!

David D. DeBord (Level 5)

This is the sort of script I like. Ignoring the story for a moment, the writers presents image after image in the words. It make the film within the script easy to see without ever having to use the crutch of “we see” or spending countless words describing the minutia of the unimportant.

The story, though, is key to any good script and a story is what we have here. While we follow along almost camera cut by camera cut, the story unfolds before us. Characters have real lives (even dead characters) and have emotions described to us by their actions.

Simple, straightforward, metaphor and reality. Good work.

Dawn Calvin (Level 5)

A good, interesting read. Your dialogue is solid. You have a very good imagination for story telling.

Derek Green (Level 1)

I enjoyed this, thank you! my only opinion is that i wish it could have been longer, so we could have went a little deeper with the characters! All in all I liked it very much!


Jane Beckwith (Level 4)

Actual tears (at least two). I just wanted to bow down before the author, but felt I should try to give something that might help "improve the script". So - I read it again. Here goes. I think you can trim the dialogue. Anytime I see two sentences, I try to trim to one. If I see three, I try to trim to two... Often the paired sentences in dialogue do the same work. I usually read the scene leaving out first one and then the other line to see which one has the real essence. This helps eliminate lines that do "double-duty", helps cut down on unnecessary exposition, and gives the script more subtext (usually).

The lines:
Doctors didn’t bring you back,
didn’t they? Why did you lie to me?

Could be just "Why did you lie to me?"

The lines:
You weren’t ready. It’s hard to
believe in ghosts until you become

Could be - "It's hard to believe in ghosts until you become one".

And so forth. Possibly. IMHO. Kudos for a great script.

John LaBonney (Level 4)

Deep stuff. I really like the way that the story develops; it strikes me as very professionally laid-out. You have to wonder if the two of them will be successful in saving the next suicide victim. I think I would like to see a penalty for failure, such as you get one shot at saving someone, and if you fail, you remain imprisoned forever. As it is Lance (and the others) can keep on trying until they succeed. As it is, they don't have a really pressing motivation to try too hard.

The huge problem I have with this script is the maturity of the characters. It seems as if they're minds are developed way beyond their age, and they speak and think as if they're experienced, world-weary adults instead of confused and fledgling teens. I think to hear this very polished dialog come out of the mouths of grown-ups would be enchanting, but from teens on the edge I would expect more disjointed and immature ramblings.

Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5)

Wow. That was really good! Great concept and writing and I love the ending. On a less important note, you had a few type-o's and grammar issues.

Michael Cornetto (Level 5)

That was quite good. I enjoyed it. EXCELLENT from me.

Michael Thede (Level 4)

I don't typically go for versions of what the after-life might be like, but I really liked this idea. I could feel the atmosphere of the black rose garden and it was a very unique world. There's perhaps only one line I have a problem with, it's when Lance says "First day is the worst." It sounds too comforting. I would've thought that it starts out bad for Nyah and it's only going to get worse if she can't get out of there. I really did like the fact that they're given a way out and it brings the whole thing full circle because we can see why Lance was on the rooftop trying to stop Nyah in the first place. Well done!

Pia Cook (Level 5)

I could be totally wrong here, but I think Mr. Z wrote this one!

If you are not him. Be happy I mistook you for him.

This was GREAT. Gave it my 3rd Excellent ever!

I think you're gonna win again!

Pia ;D

Ross Morrison (Level 2)

Ha, very nice. At first I was like "Ugh, teenager suicide theme so cliche." But then all expectations were turned back on me. Cool story, very tight and wraps around well. Alwo, well written. The action and dialog work together well. I loved the visual description of "his eyes follow her path" (not an exact quote.) It's been done, but it's a good effect. Also the tear freezing. There were several good descriptions. Nice work.

Sally Meyer (Moderator)

My favorite this time. Well done. The writing is so fast paced, the characters well drawn, and the story finishes with a sense of satisfaction.

Actually quite brilliant!! I can't even think of any more to say.

excellento is my vote

Spencer McDonald (Level 4)

I must say... good story. In days gone by I wrote something similar that finished in the top 25% in a major short competition. My story much like yours was quirky in a weird way and I don't think others understood it. This may be the case with this story. I, however, enjoyed the message.

Some of your spelling was off. Here is an example:mourning. I believe you meant morning, and I could be wrong. One thing that seems to get me marked down on my scores are those glaring errors that others pick on.

If I were to offer any suggestions it would be to go back through this and weed out the spelling errors and tighten your story just a bit.

Sylvia Dahlby (Level 5)

Interesting, great premise. Dante's rose garden or the anti-Eden. I liked it. Grabby beginning. Some of the dialog was weak & OTN but the characters came thru loud and clear.

Tony Oldham (Level 4)

The writing seems very good, however, it's a bit too poetical in the action description in places.

The opening dialogue sequence can seem a bit too far fetched because it's almost bordering in realism when I know the script sits much better in the fantasy setting you've created. So why not push this in the opening sequence e'g. have her stood on the ledge, she closes her eyes, and when she opens them the sky is almost mystical and he appears alongside her. For me this would help to set up the almost fantasy like scenario.

William Bienes (Mod Emeritus)

Interesting. Solid writing. Good pace with dialogue between Lance and Nyah... but --

Why was it temporary? Why is he allowed to leave and why help another on the other side of the ledge? Are they paying the Gardener back by trying to stop another from killing another black rose? And if they succeed, who gets to leave?

Solid writing and imaginative.

William Dunbar (Level 5)

Nice tight little story that fits into the space available. The dialogue is pretty good overall but could use a little polishing and proofreading. If anything, it shares the problem that most SF has, which is that it's a fantasy, so it's hard for it to say anything real about the real human condition. But as far as fantasy goes, it's good. Good job.

Comments Made After the Contest

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 5/1/2008 12:05 AM

You never disappoint. Your craft is truly inspiring. Congratulations.

Sally Meyer (Moderator) ~ 5/1/2008 12:17 AM

Mattias, I lay down my pen!

congrats again.

Sally Meyer (Moderator) ~ 5/1/2008 12:20 AM

And dang if I spelled your name wrong. I need an edit button. Wonderful work.

Austin Bennett (Level 4) ~ 5/1/2008 12:21 AM

Sadly, it seems that some of us knew it was Matias. While it's great that he's found his unique voice, it's not very good for an anonymous contest.

It'd be nice for Mr Z to surprise us with something unpredictable. I'm not saying this script was predictable, because it was fantastic, but, I think he needs to switch it up some. It's obvious this is a Mr Z script.

Anyway, I'm still not sure on the ending. Why isn't someone with Lance at the beginning, if he's with the girl at the end? I think, to keep it consistent, the girl needs to be by herself. Did you try it that way?

I still can't figure out if Lance is there to make the girls commit suicide or if he's there to save them. If Lance's job is to find a replacement, he does that. Following the Gardener's Rules, he should be allowed to leave, but he doesn't. Why not? Maybe I'm completely misunderstanding, but it feels like you've got a plot hole. Either Lance wants to save people, and once he does, he's free to go, or he's there to kill people, and then he's free to go, but he never leaves.

Please explain. :D

Ali Barr (Level 4) ~ 5/1/2008 12:29 AM

Great job. I really liked this one. I was with my son on set this month so I couldn't read all of them. This was definitely a favorite of mine so I am very pleased that you won.

Pia Cook (Level 5) ~ 5/1/2008 4:38 AM

Did I call this one or what!!!!!!! :D

Well, at least I didn't have to eat my laptop.

Awesome dude!

Aaron Williams (Level 4) ~ 5/1/2008 6:23 AM

nice job, man. a juggernaut.

Bryan Mora (Level 4) ~ 5/1/2008 7:36 AM

I knew it you wrote this, but i just too afraid to say it in my review. I think it's good to have a script i can tell thats yours. Shows you have a definitive style. And i loved it.

Stephen Brown (Level 5) ~ 5/1/2008 8:06 AM

Congrats Mr Z. Only just read this one but it would have got an excellent from me. Visuals were outstanding and the story was pretty bitter sweet too.

Seems like you're the top dog on this site.

Matias Caruso (Level 5) ~ 5/1/2008 9:43 AM

Dang, I was aching to see Pia eat her laptop. :-D

Thanks everyone for the comments and for the wonderful suggestions to improve this story.

Austin – I’m afraid that the depth and detail I put into this story is not on par with the depth and detail of your questions, which are valid, but I’ll try to shed some light:

Lance’s mission is to save other suicide teens. He (and everyone in the garden) is allowed to leave only to try to talk others out of committing suicide. That’s the only way to pay their debt to the gardener and be allowed to leave the garden for good. During the time span of the story, he wasn’t successful, so when the story ends, he’s still trying.

I preferred to have Lance and Nyah together at the end just to give them each other’s company. But she could have been all by herself in the last scene. That could have happened as well.

Lance could also have had a companion in the first scene but I didn’t want to have two characters playing the same role, when one was enough. Story wise, I can’t tell you the exact reason for him being alone in the opening, because it isn’t on the page. But if I were to expand on what happened before fade in, I’d say that Lance’s “mentor” was successful in talking someone out of suicide and escaped the garden.

Thanks again everyone for the comments and the kind words.

Michael Cornetto (Level 5) ~ 5/2/2008 4:55 AM

Good job Z. I enjoyed this script and could easily see it produced.

Matias Caruso (Level 5) ~ 5/2/2008 8:47 AM

Thanks Michael, glad you liked it.

Micah Ricke (Level 4) ~ 5/6/2008 8:07 AM

I didn't get through all of last month's entries so I didn't read THE BLACK ROSE GARDEN until the results were posted. It would have scored an EXCELLENT from me (despite minor typos). The story is always the most important thing in my mind. As they say, it's easy to make a bad film from a well written script, but it's impossible to make a great film from a poor story.

Great work.

I agree with Chris, I'd have Nyah alone at the end.

Matias Caruso (Level 5) ~ 5/6/2008 8:55 AM

Thanks for the read and the review, Micah.

Your entry was my favourite of the batch last month so I’m flattered that you liked this one so much.

I also agree with Chris’ suggestion. In fact, it’s already incorporated in the rewrite I uploaded. I’m guessing you read the old version, but no biggie, there aren’t any major changes; the story is essentially the same.

Thanks again for taking the time to let me know your opinion. Much appreciated.

Matias Caruso (Level 5) ~ 8/22/2008 12:28 PM

A quick update on this one...

Finally, it's official: this script was sold to a producer in the UK, and (I hope) will be entering production soon.

Thanks all for your wonderful feedback. And thanks to Chris and MP, of course. :)

Dawn Calvin (Level 5) ~ 8/22/2008 5:19 PM

Awesome - how exciting!

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 8/24/2008 8:48 AM

Fantastic. Please let us know how production goes.

Patrick Sweeney (Level 4) ~ 8/24/2008 3:22 PM

Congratulations, Matias! :)

Sally Meyer (Moderator) ~ 8/26/2008 12:29 AM

How exciting Matias!!! Keep us posted on the production.

Amanda Sidorowicz (Level 4) ~ 12/26/2008 9:41 PM

Wow... this was awesome. I was just randomly clicking on screenplays and ran across this one. Wow... it was simply amazing. That's about all I can say.

I see that it's in production?!? I hope so. This script is perfect for on screen.

Matias Caruso (Level 5) ~ 12/27/2008 9:55 AM

Thanks for the kind words Amanda, it means a lot.

Yes it went into production. It was picked up by a producer in the UK and some time later another producer in Ireland jumped on board.

Financing is really a bitch these days but... fingers crossed.

Mohammad Nawaz (Level 4) ~ 2/19/2012 1:35 AM

Amazing short :) Glad somebody picked this up. Sorry about being 3 years late though, :/.

Bryony Quigly (Level 3) ~ 2/22/2012 11:19 AM

I'm really glad I read this, it was amazing! Such a great title too.

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The following members have selected this script as one of their favorites:

Austin Bennett ~ Audrey Webb ~ Chris Messineo ~ Margaret Ricke ~ Amanda Sidorowicz ~ CarrieAnn Lee ~ Michael Cornetto ~ Kyle Patrick Johnson ~ Herman Chow ~ Careen Skog ~ Bryony Quigly