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On the Train - A Short Film (1 Viewer)

Hand

Senior Member
My first ever script. Sort of a spooky little snippet. Advice welcome.

ON THE TRAIN

EXT. A TRAIN STATION – NIGHT
The Barwon family is on the platform. Kevin, the father, is on the bench and reading the newspaper. His wife Claire is staring down the railway line, waiting for the train. She looks impatient to be getting out of the foreboding station. The two kids, Danny and Gene, are playing swordfight under one of the lights. They have cheap plastic swords.

DANNY
(talking like a pirate) Arr, I stabbethed thee, foul dog!

GENE
No you didn’t! You missed!

DANNY
You’re just saying that!

GENE
Am not! You missed me!

DANNY
Oh yeah, well we’ll see about that!

They continue fighting. Kevin looks over the edge of the newspaper at them.

KEVIN
Come on guys, this isn’t a playground.

CLAIRE
Is the train going to be much longer, Kev?

KEVIN
About two minutes, I think. I thought I heard it before.

CLAIRE
When?

KEVIN
‘Bout ten seconds ago. Heard its horn.

CLAIRE
Good. I don’t like it here, especially with the kids.

KEVIN
Relax, there’s cameras.

He points at a security camera above its head. The two boys continue fighting.

CLAIRE
Suppose it got stopped down the line?

KEVIN
Claire, you’re panicking yourself.

CLAIRE
Well I can’t help it! This isn’t exactly the safest place to be.

KEVIN
Don’t worry.

His eyes go back to the newspaper. He yawns loudly. The kids are still fighting.

DANNY
Haha, I chopped your head off! Avast ye!

GENE
What?

DANNY
Huh?

GENE
What’s a vast yee?

DANNY
It’s pirate-talk for, uh, take that, you big idiot!

He swings the sword at Gene, but just misses.

GENE
Hey, don’t call me idiot, you pirate’s parrot!

DANNY
(sounding squawky) Ack, Polly wanna cracker! Polly wanna cracker! Ack!

The two kids burst into giggling. Claire peers down the railway line again.

KEVIN
Your mum needs to catch up on how to make a roast, by the way.

CLAIRE
What was wrong with it?

KEVIN
The thing was tasteless. Everything that makes a roast good was boiled out of it.

CLAIRE
Oh stop it, mother’s cooking’s not that bad.

KEVIN
It’s just a good thing they had tomato sauce, or I would have starved I think.

CLAIRE
You’re just fussy.

She looks at her watch.

CLAIRE
Okay, it’s taking too long! I’m calling Ryan to pick us up.

She searches through her handbag for her mobile phone.

KEVIN
Don’t bother. I can see the train lights.

CLAIRE
Where?

KEVIN
Just up there, see?

The train lights are very faint, but visible. Kevin folds up his newspaper.

CLAIRE
Kids, step away from the edge. Danny, away!

DANNY
Okay Mum.

KEVIN
See, nothing to worry about. Come on, I want to get home in time for the late news.

CLAIRE
Danny, I told you to step away from the edge. Do as you’re told!

DANNY
(exasperated) Alright, alright!

The train pulls in. Only the first carriage is lit. Danny and Gene run to the door, both want to open it. Claire follows quickly, Kevin taking his time.

CUT TO:
INT. TRAIN – NIGHT
There are a lot of people in the train for this time of night. They are all dressed in neat business suits. Their faces are plain, almost lifeless. None are smiling.
Only one set of seats is not taken. Danny and Gene fight over who gets the window seat.

DANNY
It’s my turn!

GENE
No it isn’t!

DANNY
Yeah, you had the window when we came here!

GENE
You pushed me out the way!

CLAIRE
If you two don’t cut it out, you can both sit over there.
She points at the floor. The train starts moving off.

GENE
But Mum, he pushed me out the way last time! It’s not fair!

KEVIN
There isn’t much to see anyway, Gene. Too dark.

GENE
What about the lights?

DANNY
We have lights at home!

CLAIRE
Danny, you have the window seat. Gene, come here.

GENE
But Mum—

CLAIRE
Don’t but Mum me, come here.

Gene shuffles next to Claire, but isn’t very happy about it. Danny hops back to the window scene and watches the lights flash past. Kevin unfolds his newspaper and starts reading again. He hums intermittently as he flicks the pages. The people in the seats behind them are watching the family, but they don’t notice.

KEVIN
(to Claire) I’m not fussy.

CLAIRE
What?

KEVIN
I’m not fussy. I just like good food, that’s all.

CLAIRE
Kevin, don’t start on that again.

KEVIN
Look, I’m not insulting your parents, okay. They’re great people. Perhaps the best in-laws the world has ever seen. It’s just that, well, Betty’s cooking has a habit of losing all flavour it originally once had.

CLAIRE
I’ve never had a problem with her cooking.

KEVIN
Of course you haven’t. You’ve eaten her cooking since you were two.

CLAIRE
So?

KEVIN
It’s rose-tinted glasses, honey.

Behind them, more passengers are watching.

CLAIRE
I don’t understand. What glasses?

KEVIN
What, you’ve never heard the expression “rose-tinted glasses” before?

CLAIRE
Should I have?

KEVIN
It’s just strange, that’s all.

DANNY
(still staring out the window) Wow, that’s a neat light!

GENE
Where?

Gene tries to look over Danny’s shoulder.

DANNY
Too late, we passed it.

KEVIN
(ignoring the kids) Well, someone with rose-tinted glasses basically means they turn a blind eye towards something they’re fond of.

CLAIRE
Can I have an example?

KEVIN
Sure.

Some of the passengers are slowly making their way up the carriage, though they are still in the background. The camera remains focused on the family.

GENE
Dad?

KEVIN
Yes.

GENE
Can I have the window seat now?

DANNY
It’s only been a minute!

KEVIN
Gene, next time we take the train, you can have the window seat okay?

He turns back to Claire

KEVIN
I’m really going to have to get the car serviced soon. These late nights with the kids are really getting to me. (He stretches in his seat, making himself more comfortable.) Okay, the rose-tinted glasses. Say I committed a crime, okay?

CLAIRE
What kind of crime? Stealing, fraud, what?

The passengers continue moving towards them silently.

KEVIN
It doesn’t matter what the crime is; just suppose, hypothetically, that I’ve committed one. Now, you’re going to say I couldn’t have done that sort of thing because you know me so well. However, I have committed this crime.

CLAIRE
So what’s the point?

KEVIN
The point is, despite all the evidence saying I’ve committed a crime, you are going to be dead sure I haven’t, and nothing is going to persuade you otherwise.

GENE
Hey Dad?

KEVIN
Yes Gene?

GENE
Are you a crook?

KEVIN
No, I’m just telling your mum stories, okay?

GENE
I wish you were a pirate. That would be great. Hey Danny!

DANNY
(not really listening) Yeah?

GENE
Wouldn’t it be cool if Dad was a pirate too! Danny?

He pokes Danny in the shoulder.

DANNY
Huh?

GENE
Dad being a pirate would be could, wouldn't it?

DANNY
Hey yeah, maybe he could be like that Long John Silver pirate with the one leg!

GENE
Yeah, and we could have swordfights and all kinds of things!

KEVIN
(in a mock-wise tone) I don’t know about that. I think I’d be a bit too old to be a pirate.

The passengers are still advancing. The family is still oblivious.

CLAIRE
(to Kevin) What is all this pirate business they’re going on about?

KEVIN
Showed the kids Peter Pan today. We passed by Blockbuster on the way to the bus, and I thought they deserved a treat for their good behaviour, isn't that right kids?

GENE & DANNY
Yeah!

CLAIRE
Yeah?

KEVIN
Yeah. Also rented Muppet Treasure Island.

CLAIRE
They would have loved that.

KEVIN
They did. They loved the crocodile in Peter Pan.

CLAIRE
God, I haven’t seen that film in years. That used to be my favourite cartoon, that one.

KEVIN
Yeah, it was a lot of fun.

He starts humming “Following the Leader”. Gene joins in a bit, but trails out in the parts he can’t remember.

CLAIRE
We’re off to fight the Injuns, the Injuns, the Injuns—

KEVIN
You know, I didn’t get that part.

CLAIRE
What part?

The passengers are very close now. Gene has noticed them, and is smiling at them. They are not smiling back. They are just staring. Their eyes are blank, like they aren’t really seeing.

KEVIN
The Indians.

DANNY
They’re called Injuns, Dad.

KEVIN
I guess so, Danny. Anyway, I couldn’t work out what they were doing there.

CLAIRE
In Neverland?

KEVIN
Well, yeah. It’s a tropical island; what are Native Americans doing on a tropical island that is probably hundreds of kilometres from the nearest Native American settlement. I mean, it doesn't really make a lot of sense when you think about it.

CLAIRE
Kevin, it’s made for kids. Kids don’t know who lives where; they see things for entertainment value.

GENE
I liked Captain Hook best. He had a hook for a hand.

KEVIN
He did too, didn’t he?

Danny turns from the window and notices the passengers. They are all behind them now, watching them silently. Until now, we haven’t focused on them at all.

DANNY
Dad?

KEVIN
Yeah?

Gene, seeing his chance, scrambles to get the window seat. He accidentally knocks Danny over, pushing him to the floor.

CLAIRE
Gene!

Danny is obviously hurt. He starts whining softly on the floor.

KEVIN
Gene, you’d better have a good reason for that.

GENE
I, uh...

Gene realizes he’s done something bad. He stares at his toes, feeling guilty. Claire picks up Danny, rocking him gently.

CLAIRE
Hey sweetie, are you okay?

Danny nods, sniffling a little. The passengers lean towards them ever so slightly.

KEVIN
(In a stern tone) Look Gene, you can’t just do stuff like that to your brother, okay? (to Claire) How is he?

CLAIRE
He’ll be fine. Just a bit of a knock, nothing to worry about.

The passengers reach towards them.

KEVIN
That's good.

One of the passengers’ hands clamps down on Kevin’s shoulder. The family spins around. We see their horrified faces for an instant, and the screen suddenly:
CUT TO BLACK
 

zaoshang

Senior Member
Your dialogue lines sound real. The whole text is clear, clean, and coherent. The characters are well defined (we can't really expect more from such a short piece). There is a conflict growing steadily along the way (especially in the second part), which is good.

Yet, I think the conflict makes also the weak point of this script. The tension appears early (when Claire shows her discomfort: "I don’t like it here"), but isn't well managed: we don't feel anything wrong until the family step into the carriage. Their chat is only supposed to let the minutes pass, and doesn't help the plot in any way. I understand they must remain oblivious to the danger... but the dialogue was boring (that's how I felt it).

In its present form, this script looks like a good exercise, but needs some work on the plot. Anyway, as your first script ever, it's definitely an excellent start.
Good luck!
 

kerpoe

Senior Member
Well for a first screenplay this is top-notch.

However I agree completely with zao...the conflict seems to dangle heavily like a burden the course of the story cannot handle.

You have a gift though, a gift for making it sound pure and real and not epic...just true

KERpoe
 

Hand

Senior Member
So basically, what you're saying is that the discussion they're having in the train should have more tension in it to keep the viewer interested, right? I'll try to rewrite it, and maybe do another one.

Thanks for the positive comments. I was worried it was going to be a bit of a fizzler, being the first one I've done.
 

Robinson

Member
My first reaction was "get on with it" when the commuters were creeping up on the family. The dialogue during that time didn't reveal anything about the charcater's, either.

Depending on where it features in the entire screenplay, the scene needs to have more than one purpose.
 

zaoshang

Senior Member
So basically, what you're saying is that the discussion they're having in the train should have more tension in it to keep the viewer interested, right?

Yeah, that's what I'd suggest. Maybe a central theme of discussion that would lead somewhere... Maybe an argument that would escalate slowly.

Best of luck!
 

cas5875

Senior Member
I don't think the dialoge was bad at all, it was suspensful, you knew something was going to happen, but its hard to drag things out these days because people are to impatient. Unfortunately, that does detract from the suspense, the longer you can draw it out the more shocking it is when it happens, but most people today don't want to wait that long to find out what is going to happen. My suggestion would be shorten a little but not to much, you dont want it to be to short because then there in no suspense, but it it drags on to long people will lose interest and not care what happens when it does they will just be saying "thank god its over"
 
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