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9 Lives- A sample of my work (1 Viewer)

Short Tooth

Senior Member
A script I began over a year ago then lost interest. There's only 9 pages of Finald Draft format but am thinking about picking up on it again. As I will never post any of my scripts I hope to get made onto this forum (for obvious reasons) I hope I can get some feedback from some of you screenwriting professionals on my style.

Enjoy


P.S. This has been copied and pasted directly from Final Draft where it is formatted correctly.


EXT. MAX’S HOUSE- NIGHT

MAX (V.O.)
(Calmly)
The house you see before you. That’s mine.

A quaint little house stands alone. In the night, the lit windows of what appears to be the living room offer the only light through tightly drawn curtains. There is no sound. No gust of wind nor the sound of cars, birds or any other sign of life.

INT. MAX’S HOUSE/HALLWAY- NIGHT

MAX (V.O.)
My Hallway.

Exquisitely neat. Perfect paintings of lavish landscapes adorn the well decorated cream walls. A small table by the door has books and papers immaculately positioned on top, by the side of this a coat and hat stand. We can almost smell the polish and air freshener obviously used by such a clean freak.

INT. MAX’S HOUSE/KITCHEN- NIGHT

MAX (V.O.)
My Kitchen.

As with the hallway, immaculate. The chine white plates gleam with pride in a glass cabinet. The white theme of the kitchen is without scuffs or fault. Well made but modest ornaments, vases, decorative bowls and the like are positioned with almost inhuman precision in their own specific places. A squeaky clean double window overlooks a charming, well kept garden, flowers, gnomes, a well made shed, the works.

INT. MAX’S HOUSE/LIVING ROOM- NIGHT

MAX (V.O.)
My living room.

In keeping with the rest of the house, perfect. A rather bare room, offering a few framed photos of a tabby cat, a warm looking fireplace, piles of books, and the main focus point of the room, an extravagant wide screen television set with surround sound.

INT. MAX’S HOUSE/BEDROOM- NIGHT

MAX (V.O.)
My bedroom.

A beautifully made cream bed to match an unmarked cream carpet. A few framed movie posters hang on the wall. A grand oak wardrobe steals the show, and another extravagant television is situated on the built in dresser.

INT. MAX’S HOUSE/SPARE ROOM- NIGHT

MAX (V.O.)
My dumping ground.

What a contrast! A large room full of what seems to be junk. Not at all what you would connect with Max’s house. Fishing rods, easels, projection screens, wigs, the works!

INT. MAX’S HOUSE/BATHROOM

MAX (V.O.)
Me!

MAX lies with a hand towel covering his face as he reclines back in a bath full of bubbles.

MAX (V.O.)
My name is Max, and as much as I’d like to learn your name and what it is you do, I can’t.
The small bathroom is filled with steam but even so we can see the clean freak hasn’t left this room untouched.

MAX (V.O.)
I’m thirty years old, but I tell myself I don’t look a day over twenty two--- At least I didn’t.

MAX shifts about in the bath and as he begins to lean forward peels the hand towel from his face.

MAX (V.O.)
It’s not pretty is it?

The entire left side of MAX’s face and his shoulder bear severe burns. His face resembles a shrivelled up prune, his left eye permanently closed, and an unintentional look of sorrow on his face.

MAX (V.O.)
I’d love to smile and greet you but I’m afraid it would just come out as a snarl and I don’t want to give you the wrong impression.

MAX leans forward and yanks the plug out. As the gurgle of water begins we can’t help but feel MAX’s soul is going down the drain with it.

INT. MAX’S HOUSE/KITCHEN-NIGHT

MAX stands in a dressing gown at the work top using a can opener on a tin of cat food. Our first good look at MAX shows him to be slim and tall. A beautiful tabby cat rubs against his legs purring with anticipation. As MAX bends down to scoop the contents into the cats bowl the tabby cat rushes in to scoff it down. Before standing up MAX strokes the cat gently.

MAX (V.O.)
That’s my Rosie. She’s three years old. If there was one heartbeat in this world that I could capture and take with me to the grave, hers would be it.

INT. MAX’S HOUSE/KITCHEN-NIGHT

MAX (V.O.)
She gets dinner first or she’ll sulk all night.

MAX sits at the dinner table slowly eating an appetizing looking plate of spaghetti carbonara.

INT. MAX’S HOUSE/KITCHEN-NIGHT

MAX (V.O.)
Have you gotten around the scars yet?

MAX scrapes the few remainders off his plate into the bin.

MAX (V.O.)
It wasn’t easy for me but when there’s nothing you can do, what are you gonna do?

MAX turns on the hot water a squirts a blob of fairy liquid onto the plate, proceeding to scrub it clean.

MAX (V.O.)
Did I deserve it? No. Would I do it again? If I could, but how can you escape something you can’t make go away? A reflection that mocks you when all you want is a chance.

INT. MAX’S HOUSE/KITCHEN- NIGHT

MAX’s fridge swings open to reveal contents organised with unique precision. A fridge full of nothing but health food save for a small pack of maltesers. MAX reaches for a small yogurt pot and closes the door.

INT. MAX’S HOUSE/LIVING ROOM

MAX (V.O.)
But I’m not wallowing in grief. I’m not trying to make you feel bad for me. I make do.

MAX sits back in his dressing gown on his cosy couch. The glare of the television makes distorted visions dance about on MAX’s gnarled face.

MAX (V.O.)
I can’t help but feel my life now has become somewhat enriched from all this. All the fights, the torment of feelings, my face, the most amazing experience of emotions, all began in a south London pet shop.

MAX picks up a framed portrait of himself holding his ROSIE from the table beside him. The MAX we see is an untainted one. A firm chin, slim face and rugged look are a stark contrast to the misfortune befallen him now. We close in on his vacant eyes.

MAX (V.O.)
Well, I guess you know what this means. Allow me to take you back.

FADE OUT.

FADE IN:

INT. PET PARADISE-DAY

MAX stands at the back of a small pet shop in a cove,
organizing bird food into bags. He has the look of a quiet and thoughtful man. Dressed in a plain white t shirt and denim jeans he looks an average guy.

LEON
Defence? They got defence they’ve got Cole. What they need is wingers.

OTHER GUY
Wingers? They got Bridge!

Behind the counter of the shop stands LEON (33, MIXED RACE, CHUBBY). He is sitting on a stool talking to a man holding a bird cage.

LEON
Hey, what can I tell you, the papers build them up before every competition.

OTHER GUY
Straight to their heads and not to their feet. Anyway I’ll see you soon Leon.

LEON
Yeah take care buddy.

OTHER GUY
Seeya Maxie!

MAX lifts his hand up in recognition as the ‘bird man’ pulls open the door and the little bell rings. LEON flips open a binder and pops on a pair of reading glasses.

LEON
Boy I’ll tell ya, I wouldn’t mind being that guy for a day.

MAX picks up a pile of bags and begins carrying them to the front of the shop.

LEON
You know he’s making more in a week than I make in 2 months with his systems admin gig.

MAX dumps them on the shelf and begins arranging them.

MAX
So why do you wanna be him for a day, the job sounds average?

LEON
Well anything’s gotta be better than working this hole.

MAX
Forget about it. He’s a slave to a computer. So monotomous. And he’s following a regime. At least it’s laid back here.

LEON rolls his eyes

LEON
Hey maybe for you packing boy, I got to be behind here running the business side. You wanna come back here and flick through the books, be my guest.

MAX
No I don’t think I’m the man for that particular job.

MAX catches the corner of one bag on the shelf and dry food spills to the floor.

MAX
Sorry Leon.

LEON
Hey don’t sweat, we’re laid back here remember.

MAX goes to the back of the shop and fetches a dustpan and brush. LEON punches digits on a calculator.

LEON
Any plans for the weekend Maxie?

MAX looks uncomfortable as he bends down to sweep up.

MAX
Maybe go see a film.

LEON
Well, tomorrow night me and the boys are going out. It’s Steve’s birthday. You wanna come?

MAX
I dunno, he’s not exactly my favourite person.

LEON
So what are you gonna do, sit around watching movies?

MAX
(Defensively)
If I feel like it yeah.
 

mammamaia

Senior Member
there are some problems that need addressing here, st... first of all, add a space before and after the hyphen in the slug line...

more important is the VO being put before the setting description, which should go right under the slug line...

do NOT use any camera directions, unless you're producing/directing the film yourself... and 'fade in' goes only at opening of script and 'fade out' goes only at end...

wrylies don't get capitalized and you should use them very sparingly...

don't repeat 'max's house' for every slug line... in fact, you should not write that in any slug line, unless the exterior of the house is being shown...

yet another major goof is putting character names in all-caps, after they've been intro'd when first seen... all further mentions go in u/l case...

i can give you more detailed assessment if you send this to me... it's a lot of work to add notes here and i can do it much more easily if you send me the excerpt as fd attachment...

love and hugs, maia
[email protected]
 
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Short Tooth

Senior Member
Mama, many thanks for your swift reply. Yes as I said this was written over a year ago and since then I have learned not to use camera directions, not to use fade ins etc. and not to capitalise after the first introduction.

What is it you mean by wrylies? I'm not aware of those.

Also, as I feel you are a trusted source I would love to send you the screenplay I am actually trying to get produced at the moment thru e-mail if I may for your consideration. Thing is it's about 3 British early twenty somethings so a lot may get lost in translation?
 

mammamaia

Senior Member
- wrylies are the parentheticals you add beneath the character name in the dialog element, to give the actor a clue to how the lines should be read...

- i'd be happy to take a look at it... send away!....

- what is it you are doing to 'get it produced'?... do you have a producer interested in reading it?... have you secured an agent?...

- not to worry, i'm familiar with things/folks british, since i've visited across the pond often and spent significant time amongst you... plus, i have had lots of you lot as mentees...

- the age factor may be the only stumbling block, since i'm old enough to be your granny... but i see enough films about the younger crowd to be able to tell if something works, or not, so i don't see it as a fatal factor... ;-)

m
 

Short Tooth

Senior Member
Great, thanks alot. Will bear in mind about the wrylies.

Well this script I hope to send through to you I spent a few months last year sending it out to 40 or 50 agents. 99.9% of which had no interest in reading it for one reason or another (full client list, not accepting new submissions) but one or two did accept it but rejected it. Citing reasons that it was 'too American'. I certainly didn't think it was but if they did, OK, so I made a few revisions.

I am just about to finish my studies at university and leapfrog into the world of film, being a runner and what not, and hope to get it to someone whether it is direct contact with a producer or thru an associate who knows someone.

My uncle is a screenwriter over ehre but I don't think he will hold much clout.

In any case I'd just like your expert opinion. Though the age gap is large, I don't feel I am writing immaturely, simply about such an age group.
 

wmd

Senior Member
I like the script so far. It hooks me in and makes me want to find out what happened and what is going to happen to Max.

The opening sequence when you are taking us through his house... I see it in my head clear as day. Great job.

So what is the story line of this script.. .I really want to know more.
 

movieman

Senior Member
wmd said:
The opening sequence when you are taking us through his house... I see it in my head clear as day. Great job.

On the other hand, it's not far from that grand cliche of unproduced scripts, where we pan around the character's bedroom as he wakes up in the morning. Not to say it won't work, but to me it's a risky way to open a script.
 

wmd

Senior Member
movieman said:
On the other hand, it's not far from that grand cliche of unproduced scripts, where we pan around the character's bedroom as he wakes up in the morning. Not to say it won't work, but to me it's a risky way to open a script.

I have to disagree. It does a lot to establish the character. It also gives us one of multiple hooks, why is his "stomping ground" such a contrast to the rest of his life?

I paricularly like the v.o. being just one or two words. "my house" "my hallway"... so on.
 

Short Tooth

Senior Member
Well, the story is about this guy. He lives a very sheltered life, working in a pet store, but customers come to him when they are going on holiday because they trust him to go round to their houses and feed their cats. While at their houses, he adopts those people's lives, hence he junk filled room. A police officer, his mental state causes him to believe he is one, a gay man, a woman, an artist, whatever...

The house is decribed and shown in such a way to show what a blank canvas he is, existing for the cats and that alone.

The reason for his burnt face becomes apparent at the final crescendo of the script, which ahs a biter sweet feel to it I wont reveal here.

What do you guys think of the idea?

It's meant to raise issues of identity and the fluidity to assimilate in society when feeling so alienated.
 

wmd

Senior Member
Short Tooth said:
Well, the story is about this guy. He lives a very sheltered life, working in a pet store, but customers come to him when they are going on holiday because they trust him to go round to their houses and feed their cats. While at their houses, he adopts those people's lives, hence he junk filled room. A police officer, his mental state causes him to believe he is one, a gay man, a woman, an artist, whatever...

The house is decribed and shown in such a way to show what a blank canvas he is, existing for the cats and that alone.

The reason for his burnt face becomes apparent at the final crescendo of the script, which ahs a biter sweet feel to it I wont reveal here.

What do you guys think of the idea?

It's meant to raise issues of identity and the fluidity to assimilate in society when feeling so alienated.

It sounds pretty interesting. There could be a lot going on when he assimilates to each person. I would be interested in seeing more, are you going to post more?
 

mammamaia

Senior Member
it has potential... fyi, i'd been an international house/pet-sitter for nearly a decade, only 'retired' to a 'home of my own' recently, so if you want any inside info, let me know...

as for that opening, it's way too long and too boring... no one in the industry will read past the first page... plus, newbies using a VO to open is a source of jokes among readers/agents/producers... you can show his 'normal' state much more quickly and interestingly in a variety of ways... all without resorting to the cliched VO...
 

movieman

Senior Member
Indeed. I went to a talk by an agent a couple of years ago where the 'pan around the room while the actor wakes up' opening was one of his top three recommendations for writers to avoid because it's such a cliche in unproduced scripts and a sign that they probably don't need to read past the first couple of pages. While this isn't quite the same, it's pretty close.

Now, it might still get picked up and made if the rest is good and someone reads past the opening, but it's still creating problems for no reason.

Wish I could remember what his other two recommendations were :).
 

Short Tooth

Senior Member
Interesting, thanks to you all. But the reasons for doing what I have done is to really present him as a blank canvas, he is emchanical in his words, seemes robotic. The images later get projected onto him by the houses he visits. It sets up a contrast.
 

mammamaia

Senior Member
sorry, but that could be done much more simply and effectively than with VO and all that novelish description... fact is, what you have there is guaranteed to turn off 99.999% of pro readers before they get to page 2...
 

Short Tooth

Senior Member
As an example, how would you depict his menial existence getting across the message that he is a blank canvas, living for his cat, alone.
 

mammamaia

Senior Member
one example of a possible many:

FADE IN:

INT. MAX'S BED-SITTER - DAY

Unusually neat and clean, bare of all but essentials. No personal touches of its human occupant anywhere, but matched set of food and water dishes sit on the floor next to a telly covered with a tablecloth. Painted on nearly empty dishes is, 'KITTIKINS'.

JOE (20s) comes in. As nondescript and neat as the room, he goes straight to the dishes, empties contents down the disposal, washes and refills them. Dishes back in place, he searches the place.

JOE
Kittikins, where are you?
I'm sorry I was late. See
your nice din-din? Come
out...please?

...as you can see, having his habitat reflect his character is essential... you had him living in a cutesy, over-decorated little house, yet wanted us to see him as characterless, living only for his cat... didn't gibe... and the VO is not only not needed, but intrudes on the visual impact and, in the case of what you wrote as its description, contradicts it...

i didn't deal with the scar bit and other aspects of your excerpt, because i wanted to show you here how to establish the character's character before we even see him... and the room does that...

if you want, he could be in the tub in the adjoining bathroom, instead of coming in from outside, if you need to hide his injury from us, for the time being... we could hear him calling the cat, see it go into the bathroom and hear him talk to it... all the while the camera is still showing his 'blank canvas' life, as exhibited by the environment he lives in... that can be a bed-sit as i've used, or a house... but it should match him, if he's supposed to be that 'blank'...

see what i mean?... the VO stuff you have there just doesn't 'hook' us from the get-go, as an opening scene must... hope this helps...

hugs, m
 

Short Tooth

Senior Member
Thanks mama, that's truly appreciated. You're right, it can be done quicker, and I really get what you're saying about the habitat reflecting character.
 
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