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Psychedelic Western Opening (1 Viewer)


Senior Member
This is a screenplay I have been working on about a Bounty Hunter during the industrial revolution who, while in pursuit of a pack of bandits, finds himself lost in the desert. To fight off dehydration he eats a Peyote Cactus, which gives a psychedelic hallucination. During this drug trip, the protagonists sees the future, sees his past and comes to terms with the fact that he is going to die alone in a desert, and the possibility that he already has.

I know the dialogue is formatted incorrectly, but that is just from pasting from Final Draft, onto the Thread Box.

Any suggestion, on the technical aspect of the script or the creative aspect of the story line?


A sand dune buckles up in the foreground, behind it a blinding blue sky stretches off into infinity.

We follow along the top of a sand dune, as the dead body of a horse fills the frame.

A mechanical noise are heard in the distance. It is rapidly growing in intensity. A train RIPS through the frame at phenomenal speeds, its tracks hidden behind the horses body. It travels as if bounded by nothing. A figure SHOOTS up, from behind the horse, in front of the train and cranks his head to watch the clanking pile of metal behind him. This is FELIX, 30. He is dressed in an earthy duster, worn away by wind and sand. His wide brim hat nearly flies off his head, but he snatches it quickly and holds it in place.

He sprints after the train. As it begins to slip away from him, he desperately grabs at the caboose. He grips metal for an instant, before he looses strength and collapses on the tracks.

The desert isn’t a lonely place at all. Its not baron, or empty. It’s full of opportunities to miss, memories to repress and people to forget. You are never alone.

Blood seeps through Felix’s pant’s as the train shrinks off into the distance.


The desert is the hell you create for yourself. The heat is provided, but the rest of the torture is up to you. Up to the inescapable prison of your mind and thoughts.

CLOSE UP-- Felix’s face

He breaths heavily into the ground as blood trickles down onto his forehead.


Felix staggers aimlessly through the desert.


Things... objects and places and memories and people... They slip away like sand. Through a loose fist; the debris left floating in your boiling skull. And they are replaces with altered versions of themselves. Skewed and distorted by the unimaginable heat.
Felix stops and looks up to the sky, screaming. He collapses on the ground, punching the sand and throwing it in the air.


To sleep. To dream. To dream of what? Life. Life ends in the desert. And life is replaced by one thing and one thing only.
Felix sits up rubs his face and cries.


Life ends here. You don’t decide if you stay or go. That’s not up to you. You can fight it.
He stands, and staggers down a sand dune before losing balance. He tumbles down the rest of the dune, landing face down in the sand.

Or you can give up. Life ends in the desert.

Thank you for reading and responding
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Senior Member
unless you plan to produce and direct this yourself, you need to get rid of all those camera directions... there are also a lot of spelling goofs, such as 'looses' for 'loses' and 'baron' for 'barren'...

content-wise, it's not a good idea to open with VOs... unless you're an established writer with a good track record, such is considered the mark of an amateur...

as for the monologue itself, i'm sorry to have to say it's banal and trite, a muddled mess re tense/time/place...

the guy dying alone in a desert or wherever, while flashing back to this and that, has been done to death [pardon the pun] and you'd have to be a truly brilliant writer to pull it off again, successfully... i think you probably need more life experience and seasoning as a writer, before being able to tackle it with any chance of making it work...

why don't you start with something simpler and more audience-acceptable?

love and consoling hugs, maia


Senior Member
Thank you for your honesty. I am only fifteen and I am glad that I can get such honest criticism to grow as a writer, its appreciated.


Senior Member
Funny you should mention "Blueberry" or the American title "Renegade"
, because I just rented it the night after posting my previous reply.

Another film that sort of plays with the same idea is "Dead Man". If I were to pursue this film, I think it would differ from these. There would be no Shawmens (those were very cool in Blueberry btw) and not so much flashbacks, as much as litterally seeing events of the past. The movie would occur mostly in one night. I also think the movie would work if animated (not anime, not cartoony, but a realistic, artistic look) or partialy Rotoscoped like a Richard Linklater film.

I would also play with the idea of how a man from that time would imagine our present, when the idea of industry was still ripe and exciting. But, with as many neat things I wanted to do with this, I realize it is very flawed and would never work.
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Senior Member
you sound wise beyond your years, kiddo!... i predict you'll go far, with such a self-aware and honest attitude... let me know if you want any one-on-one help, as you're my favorite kind of mentee...

hugs, maia
[email protected]


Senior Member
Thank you for your encouraging words, I would really like to take a stab at the film industry, but I feel very discouraged and I am still not sure if I will pursue that dream. It is an unrealistic goal, and even though I think my own ideas are very good and interesting, I do not think I could find a large audience for them. Anyway, I won't turn this thread into my bitching. Thanks again for the kind words.


Senior Member
I agree with the comments about using voice over, it is overused and really the mark of a beginning writer. I do however think that your dialogue was very hauntingly beatiful and poetic, particularly the first two lines. For a highly stylized film I think it could work. Sure there are parts that sound trite but that's what re-writing is for.

As far as feeling discouraged, that's kind of what screenwriting is all about. You pour your heart and soul into a script only for someone else to tell you how they could write it better. So take advice, but don't take it as an insult. There is always an audience, some of the best films ever made have no broad commercial value.


Tighten, tighten, tighten

Some good advice here already.

Rule one as a writer. You are the writer. The writer writes, the director directs and the actors act. Leave out camera cues and shots, that's not your job.

There are rare instances where you need to include them but only if absolutely intrinsic to telling the story and revealing plot and even then realize that somewhere along the line a director or producer will likely do it their way anyway.

I somewhat disagree with the notion that it isn't a good idea to open with a voice over. Open with whatever serves the story best. If that is a voice over so be it. The problem is too many beginning writers revert to voice over as a bit of a cop out.

Economy of language is important with action cues and description. Your opening description can be shortened by half. This will make it an easier read and will also invest some momentum in the words which helps set the scene.

Also, and perhaps most importantly - show, don't tell. It is a visual medium so whenever possible let the pictures tell the story. Play with the idea of an empty holster, empty canteen, saddlebags but no horse, etc. These images can convey the same narrative information as the voice over. What if the scene opens on the image of a dead horse and a distance later finds the man; what if it finds the train, then you are dealing with old vs. new as a subtext as well.

For 15 years old you are doing well. It is a tough industry but if it makes you happy then you will have a happy life doing it.

Tundra Belle

Senior Member
Sock said:
I would really like to take a stab at the film industry, but I feel very discouraged and I am still not sure if I will pursue that dream. It is an unrealistic goal, and even though I think my own ideas are very good and interesting...

Don't lose the dream! What do you mean, unrealistic? Other people have made it, right? Why not you? Don't shoot yourself down, give yourself a chance! Eyes on the goal, and all that stuff. Work for it, believe in yourself, and you will absolutely make it.

Incidentally, I dropped into this thread because your title brought to mind the Gunslinger series by Steven King, in addition to The Adventures of Briscoe County Jr. So don't disparage your ideas....since it was your idea that lured me in.

Cheers, and never give up hope!


Senior Member
I recently picked this up again, and developed the story a bit more. The original post has been edited if you care to look. I am actually thinking of turning this into a graphic novel (drawing is my second hobby).
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