| Voice Over |
Voice Over edited by Henrik Anttonen
Harry ‘The Goose’ Deckard
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| Issue 3/2004 Contents |
INT. VOICE OVER
Interview with Ash Quadir
Holistic Screenwriting Theory
- Journey To Death
- Guardians pilot
- A Day In Life
| INT. VOICE OVER |
Hey, ho! The first Voice Over to come out in time for awhile. Hooray. This is the June issue, coming out on June, even if with just a couple hours marginal. I have to say that I’m pretty proud of this issue. I know that I sound like over-enthusiastic all around positive freak in this issue, but this is simply because I had the fortune of finding incredibly convincing subjects to write about. I’m getting a bit worried that you don’t believe that I’m the cynical pessimist who’s very hard to impress with anything that I am. Ash Quadir certainly has impressed me. I’m so happy that I was able to interview him to this issue. And so is the new scifi virtual series I’m reviewing in this issue. And while it might be suspicious that I go all over the walls saying how great it is since I’m now a writer to it, I convince you that I wrote these things before I was accepted to the team. And besides, would I’ve applied if I didn’t think they were great?
We had some troubles delivering the previous issue. For some reason the mailing service used to deliver Voice Over failed and it didn’t send anything even though I repeatedly tried. I hope we have more luck with this issue. If you haven’t received the previous issue, go get it from the Voice Over site. The link is above.
Now I find myself at lost as to what I should say. Let’s just say that I’m working still on that something BIG that I mentioned would be in the magazine a bit later on. I’m not a whole lot closer to getting to it. It’s out of my hands now, so let’s hope that everything goes well.
Going to this issue: As mentioned above, in this issue we have an interview with the very talented Ash Quadir. I’ve also wrote a review on one of his scripts.
I was going to write an article about developing and working on characters, but our frequent contributor Alan Holman made a monster contribution with his big article about scriptwriting theory that covered bits and pieces of that as well. I thank Alan for the great article and will return with extended character feature in a later issue.
Also Mukta is relieving me from my Walters promise by reviewing Harry ‘The Goose’ Deckard’s Walter winning A Day In My Life. Harry on the other hand wrote about R. E. Freak’s Journey To Death that was released just a while ago. I thank them both.
With four interviews this must be a record in that department. And with a long interview and a very long article, this is probably the longest issue to date. We’ll be back in two months. In the meantime, enjoy this issue and the scripts.
| Interview with Ash Quadir |
conducted by Henrik Anttonen
Ash Quadir is one of the most talented scriptwriters I’ve encountered in Simply Scripts. It really is a shame that talents like this don’t make it today in business. This might be because Quadir writes intelligent and interesting scripts. These must be the two least-selling attributes there is and film makers won’t go near such concepts. Fortunately they are able to exist and flourish in the internet community. Ash Quadir is a writer who’s been really writing for a long time and learned from the experience. This can be sensed from every word of his scripts. I was lucky enough to get to interview him.
Voice Over: You mentioned that you’ve written novels in the past. Are they available online?
Ash Quadir: No, none of my novels are available online. I haven’t explored that avenue yet. My novels are in the vault gathering dust. If I ever ‘make it’ as a screenwriter, I’d like to revisit them again. I personally think they all would have potential with a little bit of updating; and there’s a 1000 page historical novel I wrote with my best friend – which is my greatest source of pride. I would be just thrilled if that was ever published.
Voice Over: You’ve adapted one of your novels into a script. What was it like and how did you approach the task?
Ash Quadir: It was easier to write that screenplay then starting from scratch. I had to streamline the story because every scene could not make it in, including dialogue. I revisited the outline that I had created for the original novel and modified it for the screenplay and went from there…
Voice Over: Did you make any noticeable changes to the plot while doing that?
Ash Quadir: Not a whole lot. Just streamlining and some necessary modifications so it could be adapted to the screen. Since several years had passed between when I had written the novel and screenplay, I also made updates to reflect the changes in politics, as well as technology. However, I did not add or delete any major characters.
Voice Over: What do you think are the biggest differences in writing prose and scripts?
Ash Quadir: With prose you can take your time describing things, gradually setting up the foundation of the story, exploring the plot/characters more thoroughly and be more liberal with dialogue. A screenplay is a streamlined version of the novel. You have to be succinct with description and dialogue – and get right into the story so the audience doesn’t get bored.
Voice Over: Is there something you miss in prose form?
Ash Quadir: Prose allowed me to explore the English language more and also flesh out story/characters more. However, my later novels were written much like in the tradition of Michael Crichton/Dan Brown. There wasn’t a big leap between the novel and a screenplay – as was the case with Capital Games. My goal has always been to provide an interesting story that compels the reader to turn the pages… I didn’t set out to write War and Peace (except for the 1000 page historical novel I co-authored.)
Voice Over: Could you us a bit more about this massive historical novel?
Ash Quadir: My best friend and I started writing a historical novel while still in high school and finished it by the time we completed college. It's called Escape to Exile and is about 1000 pages long. It takes place in France/England during the wars of Reformation in France during the 16th century. The protagonist is a young French nobleman who happens to fall in love with a daughter who belongs to family who is his sworn enemy. He goes through many struggles and adventures to marry the love of his life while becoming embroiled in many of the events that actually happened during that time. The novel is in the tradition of John Jakes' Kent Family Chronicles, and if I could pick any one of my novels that I'd like to see published, it would be this one. It's my favourite pick out of my litter of novels.
Voice Over: Do you write prose at all these days?
Ash Quadir: None. Just concentrating on screenplays right now.
Voice Over: What made you go from prose to scriptwriting?
Ash Quadir: Writing a novel takes a lot more time and research and is more labour intensive. I was beating my head against a wall trying to ‘break in’ with novels – with no success. I’ve always loved movies. I think it’s easier to write a screenplay and it also takes less time. Also, I was aware there are screenplay contests out there; so I thought perhaps it would be easier to break in to that field instead of prose…
Voice Over: What made Capital Games a good enough of a story for you to write it twice for different mediums?
Ash Quadir: I thought that out of my novels it had the greatest potential as a screenplay and also the most marketability. A political thriller with plenty of action and romance… just the ticket for Hollywood!
Voice Over: How do you come up with your characters? How do you make personalities to them?
Ash Quadir: I come up with the plot first. Then I create characters based on the needs of the story. However, usually there is a male protagonist and a female romantic interest… and supporting characters who I try to make interesting.
Voice Over: How did you come up with Moleman?
Ash Quadir: I used to live in NYC and saw plenty of homeless people and, of course, used the subway everyday. I came across a book called The Mole People: Life in the Tunnels Beneath New York City by Jennifer Toth. It was a fascinating and well-researched book, very gripping. There was a hidden world beneath the streets of NYC that most of us weren’t aware of. I thought there could be a story there…
Voice Over: What’s behind the semi-fantasy world you created for the homeless? How did you come up with that?
Ash Quadir: The world was based on what I read in The Mole People by Jennifer Toth. It’s based on what’s really happening underneath the streets of NYC – at least according to Jennifer Toth. And, of course, also based on my observations while living in NYC.
Voice Over: One of Moleman’s central characters is a woman. Did you find it hard to write for female character?
Ash Quadir: Not really. The only thing I keep in mind is that at time females tend to be generally more emotional than males. (Hope this is not going to be considered a chauvinist statement!)
Voice Over: How long did it take for you to write Moleman?
Ash Quadir: I had the story percolating in my mind for a few years. But the actual research/writing took about a year.
Voice Over: Have you written scripts for anything else than big screen?
Ash Quadir: I wrote a parody of Macbeth in high school that was well received! No, my goal has always been to write something and see it up on the big screen someday. (But I would still continue to write if I knew that I’d never make it – it’s a compulsion. My novels/screenplays are like my children. I am their god/father, I created them.)
Voice Over: You’ve written for a diversity of genres. Is there any genre you feel like you’d like to go into in the future?
Ash Quadir: I haven’t explored comedy and pure romance. I think comedy is probably pretty difficult to write. So, I’m going to attempt a to write a romantic comedy next… and eventually a pure drama and a horror/fantasy that takes place in the contemporary world
Voice Over: Is there a genre you absolutely do not want to write?
Ash Quadir: Probably a straight comedy feature. I don’t know if I have the knack for it.
Voice Over: Do you read a lot of scripts yourself? Any unproduced ones?
Ash Quadir: Early on I read man screenplays that have won academy awards or are of well-known films just to get an idea how a good screenplay should be written. I remember watching Ed Burns' The Brother’s McCullen and thought to myself – hey, I can do that. So I read several of his screenplays to get some ideas. This lead to writing my first screenplay called TRIANGLE (a drama about a love triangle between a guy and two girls). Now, in preparation for writing my screenplays, I read screenplays that are in the same genre just to get in the right ‘mind set’.
I’ve also read a number of unproduced scripts. One was a Star Wars III: Twilight of the Gods on SimplyScripts by Sydney Cuthbert that was simply AMAZING (I doubt Lucas would top this for his version for Episode III). I’ve also had to read many unproduced scripts on triggerstreet.com that were part of assignments. (The best was the Maitland Exhibit – like the Matrix – only better) There are many talented screenwriters out there – and just as many that still need a lot of work.
I think the one of the best ways to become a good screenwriter is to read a lot of great scripts (and watch movies). In the same vein, read a lot of books, in order to get a good idea how to write...
Voice Over: Are you currently working with a script?
Ash Quadir: I have an idea for a romantic screenplay which I plan to start in the fall or winter. I usually try to take spring and summer off and write during the cooler months.
Voice Over: Do you have ambitions or goals in the field of scriptwriting?
Ash Quadir: Of course. I would like to be a successful screenwriter and make lots of money! I would love to give up my day job and do this for a living.
Voice Over: Do you ever feel like going back to an old script and work on a new draft?
Ash Quadir: I only did this once with my first screenplay Triangle. I modified it so I could enter it in a contest that stipulated it had to take place in a certain city (Philadelphia – changed the setting from Brooklyn.) While updating the script, I polished it up a little. However, once I finish the final draft of screenplay, I don’t usually don’t have a great desire to go back and revise it – unless, of course, somebody pays me to or there is a compelling reason to do so.
Voice Over: When you have an idea for a script to develop, is there any usual process between the idea and the finished script?
Ash Quadir: I jot down notes, ideas for dialogue, start a step outline and then flesh it out. I usually have a completed step outline with many details before I start writing.
Voice Over: Many writers have special love-hate relationship with writing. How do you feel about the physical work?
Ash Quadir: When I start a screenplay, I have a lot of energy, but sometimes depending on how it’s going, I do feel a little bit of impatience about finishing it. I look forward to relaxing, watching movies, reading, etc. But when I’m between scripts and just taking it easy, I feel the itch to start writing again.
Voice Over: When you write, do you require special conditions? Do you have any certain rituals you do when you write or can you write anytime, anywhere?
Ash Quadir: I have no specific rituals. Dialogue goes through my head constantly, so if I come up with ideas or hear something interesting, I instantly write it down. Sometimes, if I get a chance, I may try to complete a few scenes at work. However, I usually like to write in my study. (I’m still fighting the habit of turning off the TV when I’m writing – I think I’ve done my best work when I solely focused on just the writing – but some habits are hard to break.)
Voice Over: What software do you use to write your scripts and why?
Ash Quadir: I’m a huge fan of Sophocles screenwriting software.
Voice Over: And finally the big question: Why?
Ash Quadir: It gives you great bang for the buck. It’s fairly easy to use and has most of the features that I need to write. It allows me to create a step outline with notes. It also gives me stats about dialogue, characters, scenes, keeps a tally of the hours elapsed in the screenplay, etc. I think it’s a great alternative to e.g. Final Draft, which is more expensive.
| Holistic Screenwriting Theory: |
| The Only Advice You'll Ever Need! |
by Alan "Ranma Saotome" Holman
"The beginning is metal. The ending is a magnet.
The writer created magnetism."
The opening of a script is the hook -- it should snag the reader's interest. No hook means the reader probably won't finish the first page. Grabbing someone's attention takes practice. It can be done by using a single word such as shit!, or maybe Kaboom!, or perhaps Ouch!
Always know WHY you're writing your script.
If you find it hard to begin your script, remember that movies are bullshit, so write bullshit; thusly, no one knows anything about screenwriting until their script has been produced; therefore, this "every-self"-indulgant, holistic article about screenwriting, only covers "theory", because the "reality" of writing can not be taught...by me, because everything that I tell you is meaningless until I make money for doing those things about which I am writing; therefore, I ain't got no cred, so take this article with a metaphorical "grain of salt."
The first scene you write doesn't have to be the first scene of the movie; hell, it might not even be in the movie! (Especially since most scripts never see the light of day!)
Your brain is always recieving and processing new information -- calculating it -- considering everything that it recieves. Most of the data is processed while you sleep -- some of the rest of it is processed when you write! Things that can't be made sense of in your waking life are represented in dreams and writings, by visualizations that create those subconscious equations for which the action of puzzling over is your motivation to wake up and have a full day of sane consciousness. (What a tangent!)
AS A RULE: Never insult anyone's intelligence; however, rules are made to be broken. You're in danger of writing formulaic, unoriginal garbage if you follow established "rules." You can learn from established structures and formulas, but ultimately you must decide for yourself, upon your own personal, original structure.
Full-length movies usually contain subplots with conflicts that mirror, or otherwise give a new, interesting perspective to, the conflict of the main plot.
Usually, a good story can be summarised, or "pitched" in one, or two, complete sentences.
At the start of a screenplay, there is some sort of "stasis." The initiating incident interrupts that "stasis", and the screenplay ends when some form of "stasis" is regained. The status of stasis can change many times throughout the screenplay; therefore, when a "shit disturber" causes bullshit, dramatic action begins, and continues until either shit happens, or stops. Dramatic action -- in the form of a thought, or a decision -- is not action at all. The main character is the person whose presence creates, or is affected the most by, most of the dramatic action in the script.
Screenwriters are puppeteers. Your puppets are the actors who appear in the films which are made because of your scripts. Actors train so that
their bodies are their instruments, thus the scripts you write are their "sheet music."
Good scripts are good leaders. Good scripts lead willing actors through different types of adversity; likewise, good leaders have earned the trust and respect of their followers, because their own actions set good examples for their followers, because their ethical shit is in order, they care about their followers, they delegate authority, and they have "people skills." They encourage people to take their own initiatives and trust their own instincts; they let people learn from their own mistakes, they challenge the individual skills of each follower, and when giving assignments, they will answer all questions, explain all tasks, and they will set logical limits...just like a good script.
Arguably (When you argue, you should never attack or otherwise instigate, stick to the facts, always be ready to state a conclusion, make simple points and/or corrections, ask interrupters if they interrupted because they can see the conclusion to which your logic was leading -- or otherwise explain your conclusion to you; never reference a text or study that would take more than a minute to find, agree with the definite, proven points, respect requests to postpone the argument; if the opponent grants you the truth of some of your premises, ask him or her to agree with your conclusion; keep it relevant, ask ONLY relevant questions, never distract, answer every question, don't walk away until both parties understand that there is a clear winner and loser, avoid generalizations, find absolutes, always refer to your opponent by their preferred name, agree to disagree with religious topics, never get angry, never say "shut up"; think, respect, try to understand the perspective of your opponent, never lie, never assume, don't drag un-necessarily anyone un-necessary into it; make sure it's a good, intelligent debate, over a rational, genuine topic; consider all points, back up challenges with proof, congratulate your opponents for their previous victories; don't criticise your opponents spellng or grmaar; never condescend; compliment; use meaningful words and phrases, in natural, conversational vocabulary that everyone understands; stay honest, apologise, wait for replies, never resort to violence; and when your loss is imminent, save face and give up.), holistic theory suggests that every scene, in every balanced, unified, and organized, therefore good script, has a fundamental interconnection with every other scene; therefore, holistic theory, by name and nature, encapsulates everything, is interpreted individually, encourages that you evaluate it according to your chosen value system, and is therefore, at all times, both right and wrong.
Most writers -- when we're confident that our story is a flawless diamond, and we've already annoyed the hell out of many of our potential readers -- are arrogant, conceited, terrible, unlikeable, thick-headed people, who don't realise that our writing has flaws, and therefore, we get bitter (snappish, grumbly, and outright rude) when we can no longer find people who want to read our screenplays.
Everyone has seen movies; whereas, only writers, film buffs, and other specialized nerds have seen screenplays. As screenwriters, we are the ultra literate fools whose job it is to write interesting, entertaining, never-boring, stories.
Audiences enjoy when the biggest dreams of a character come true, because it creates those pleasant delusions which fuel their petty aspirations.
To sustain an interesting and/or entertaining story that contains no conflict at all -- such as tension (emotional or sexual), aggression, anger, passion (love or hate) -- is so tough that it's stupid to even attempt, especially because people, who don't download their movies, pay ten bucks, and the over-inflated price of popcorn, to see a good conflict motivate an interesting protagonist; therefore, you must be a unique, interesting person, who milks his/her muse, by writing autonomous, reflective expressions of your unique experiences with, and perceptions of, culture, the world, the arts, et cetera, until money grows on trees.
Edit until the wording is correct, the rhythm is decent, and the gaps are bridged; therefore, write interesting works for this confusing, high-paced world -- and then dumb it down to "middle-school English", because fourteen year olds are the largest movie-going demographic, so as screenwriters, we've got to try to appeal to fourteen year olds, because they're the ones who buy the movie tickets which make your script a hit; with that said, do whatever works for you, because writing is personal, but don't be nervous about attempting new things by taking risks, because risk-taking will self-teach you new ways to say those things that you are compelled to say.
There are many ways for a character to relay a message: Verbal (example: dialogue) sub textual (example: underlying stuff.), and ... err... body language...telephone...notes...e-mails...et cetera. Hmm... meditate individually, about each individual character.
Is the plot the fault of the character, or is the character the fault of the plot? If you are an interesting person, than any character that you "put your soul into" will also, by default, be an interesting person!
A character needs interesting characteristics and interesting situations. Choices make the character, and hair-color.
Re-draft, and re-think your scripts, until every character is a living, breathing person, who can tell lies just as often as real humans can, and do; they are players in a game for which you timed the weather, and drew the map. Unless a mannerism is important to who the character is, don't write about it -- trained actors will interpret dialogue to find, and/or create, suitable mannerisms. Be general with physical descriptions of your characters. Anything more than hair color, body type, and gender, will limit the Casting Director's ability to find the best talent for the character.
Do whatever feels right. Erase scenes that don't feel right. If you are uncertain about a scene, delete it. Don't keep any scene unless you are completely certain that it fits. Likewise, when you're true to your characters, their dialogue will ring true within the critical ears of your audience.
Most scripts are about how a major character undergoes a change.
Dialogue reflects the purpose of the character who speaks it; it does not always reflect the purpose of the story, but it should always be part of the foreward-movement of the story. It should always have a logical connection to an event that's an important part of that reason for which your story is being written.
The actions and dialogue that a character says and does, in response to his/her situation, reveals the character of your character.
If you already know your character, go ahead and begin writing. If you rely heavily on the use of a character sketch, you are in danger of stereotyping.
Everyone can enjoy a well written, lively show, with dialogue that's delivered with whip-crack energy. Everyone can enjoy sly one-liners that are knowing and extremely funny. Everyone can enjoy a well-exploited situation.
Plot results from, or caused, action. Obstacles can cause action.
The bigger the consequences, the more interesting the story will be.
Read your script out loud, whenever you can, to make sure things can be spoken naturally.
Think of drafting a story as exploring different probable time-lines. Each time-line (draft) you explore, adds more quality to that perfect time-line (draft) for which you'll eventually settle.
The world in which the story takes place must provide context for all explanations, however contrived, to make sense.
Fake forward-motion, by writing forward-moving sentences.
Your audience will be more impressed by information they figure out for themselves than from information you tell them directly.
When what the audience figured out for themselves builds-up to reveal something major, it has a lot of impact.
After leaving the theatre, your audience will have the strongest memories of the beginning, and ending of your film. The middle of the film will create vague memories in your audience, compared to their recollections of the beginning and ending; therefore, make damn sure to add explosive details to the beginning, and ending, of your film.
A scene is like a wave -- hands create both.
Every scene accomplishes something. Feel free to write alternative scenes for each accomplishment; that way, you can always choose different ways of meeting your specific needs!
Keep a net open for capturing new ideas, and keep a garbage bag open for throwing away old ideas.
Keep your old drafts, because you never know when it'll be useful to revise a previously deleted scene for inclusion in a newer draft.
Don't write directions, such as FADE TO and CUT TO and FOCUS ON and CLOSE UP TO, et cetera, unless and/or until a director tells you to do so.
A good way to work information into the story is through dialogue but remember: people are wrong as often as they are right. Having a protagonist reach a flawed conclusion will cause tension for a reader who knows that the character has made an incorrect choice. If you can get a reader to care for and to fear for a character then half the battle is won. All this must be tempered by pace. Allow the pace to speed up a little for action scenes so that you can convey the urgency of them moment. Too slow a pace and interest might be lost.
Importance isn't always reliant on plot. If a scene provides a comfortable emotion in the middle of chaos, it's important.
The script should contain only what needs to be in the script, and nothing more; in other words: redundancies, extraneous, and non-important, information -- except when you have an interesting method of, new context, or sub textual reasons, for presenting it, make readers lose interest, by slowing down the story, so delete it, because shorter is better! As a general rule, you should stimulate your brain through either research, meditation, dreaming, making observations, thinking, creating lists, charts, webs, notebooks, journals, interviews, or other ways of making things fit, with other forms of planning, and ARRANGE DETAILS IN LOGICAL ORDER, even if that means connecting dreams with events in your screenplays, or choosing a selection from your own writing, and asking yourself probing questions, but only beat dead horses that shit money when you beat them; also, cut good scenes that don't fit into the story of your screenplay, but remember that super-cool, majestic awesomene
ss, justifies pointlessness.
Every story should be a journey. It should have a beginning, middle and an end.
Carry on writing.
| Reviews |
Review by T. Henrik Anttonen
WRITTEN BY: Ash Quadir
DRAFT: Final Draft
FILE FORMAT: .txt
It’s been quite awhile since I read Moleman, but I remember that I was so impressed of the script that I immediately searched Simply Scripts for other scripts written by the author and read all of them.
Ash Quadir definitely has one quality that nearly all other unproduced writers in the community lacks: experience. He has truly learned the craft of writing and that gives certain credibility to everything he’s put out for us to read. That truly is something very refreshing, and educational.
Moleman has a very basic growth story where an arrogant lawyer woman learns that there is more to life than success and money and a homeless man learns that his past is not what he has thought it to be. These two fall in love despite their apparent social and personal differences.
Not very original, you might think. But it is. What makes it original is the setting of homeless being a central theme in the script. Whereas Hollywood simply ignores the whole culture of homeless people, Quadir introduces it to us. The homeless man is not just someone who happens to be homeless, but the aspect of homelessness is important throughout the script. The homeless people have their own world in which they have their customs and rules. We also see how they manage to survive in the ruthless bourgeois New York. According the interview above, these pictures from that world is based on research and is therefore even more interesting. Not at any time Quadir show them as inferior people, but even on the contrary. Even though being homeless is a terrible prospect, maybe we are too wrapped up in our materialistic world and loose something.
The writing is really superb and I read the entire script at one go without even noticing it. The characters really left a feeling of true personalities even though they’re not thrown at your face. You really got to know them and the development and growth of the characters was natural, not forced at any moment. All in all, the characters were excellently created and the writer used the potential of these characters to full extent.
Only thing that I’d have to criticise is that the past of the male character was revealed bit by bit via flashbacks, the flashback weren’t marked in the script. The first time I really was left confused at why at one scene he is homeless in the street and why at the next he is on an expensive sailing ship without showing any sign that this would be out of the ordinary. It required several takes for me before I realised what was happening. Also, when the flashbacks came near to the current events and to the same locations it was often confusing. At times you didn’t know was this happening now or in a flashback. So I’d recommend marking flashbacks clearly.
But other than that, the script was technically perfect. The pace of the script was excellent and the events took their natural course. It was a very nice, harmless script. Except for the ‘suspense’ ending and the building to it, the script had nothing threatening in it and you could just relax and follow where the characters were leading you.
Review by Harry ‘The Goose’ Deckard
NAME: Journey To Death
WRITTEN BY: R. E. Freak
DRAFT: Publication Draft
FILE FORMAT: .html
“A pandemic, unlike anything seen before. Millions dead within the first hours of the outbreak. As the world governments join together to try and stop the spread, they are faced with a new threat: the dead aren't staying dead. Now, in a small town in the middle of the American Midwest, a group of survivors must try and remain alive despite the odds. Facing off against a seemingly endless army of undead, they come to realize that they are being watched. And their enemies are learning.”
“Pulse racing”, “Shocking” and “Action-Packed” just three phrases which could be used to describe “Journey to Death”, but I say could as if you are looking for an un-original and rather straight-forward zombie or horror film (script) you probably would be in two minds with this. But as I love all types of zombie movies and R.E Freak is both a friend and favourite writer I went into this with an open (but not biased) mind, in fact I wanted to actual find something of his that I could criticize, at least then I would know he is human and not an intelligent zombie after all, unfortunately I wouldn’t find it here.
Journey to Death is very well thought out and written, although I was slightly hesitant because of the length (164 pages), but it actually didn’t seem that long. But then again as they say, time flies when you’re enjoying yourself.
So now, the story: A few weeks into a massive infection that turns people into zombies. Jack is a young man hiding in the basement of a general store. One day a few people Fenton, Kevin and Jesse drive into town, their car runs out of gas and they are attacked (one is killed) by the zombies.
Just at the last minute they are saved by Jack, but they don’t have time to get into the store so they make a dash for the school. All three manage to make it inside and are relatively safe from the zombie onslaught. The next day and two hikers, Filla and West come into town. Again Jack saves them and all five are stuck in the school, battling for survival as the zombies outside become more and more intelligent... Sounds like a Hollywood masterpiece doesn’t it? Sort of thing you’d read in a film magazine and want to see?
As for the writing, well, Final Draft has done its usual magic as has the writer, R.E Freak himself. Freak certainly isn’t afraid of using extreme gore but then again a zombie movie without gore? Surely it would be strange.
And the flaws: Yes there are some, with creditism (not a real word) there comes criticism and Journey To Death does have a few flaws. The start (with all the controllers) is slightly too long and after awhile you do get rather bored of it, especially the pure selfishness of them as they lock themselves away in (momentary) safety while outside their friends are being killed and infected. Then again we are only human. Another thing on virtually the same note, how come none of the characters became agitated with each other?
I know that I personally couldn’t live (even with my family or best friends) inside a school (yuch! Schools) of all places (with flesh eating zombies crawling around outside) without my temper being slightly frayed, but there is nothing. Apart from a scene when Jesse is talking to a girl zombie when all of a sudden it gets shot.
My overall verdict of this would probably be 9 and a half out of 10, it’s little short of a masterpiece. Maybe we are looking at the next George A. Romero, then again we still can’t count him out of the Ed Wood school of filmmaking quite yet.
You won’t be disappointed.
Review by T. Henrik Anttonen
NAME: Guardian pilot (The Summit)
WRITTEN BY: JJ Estes
DRAFT: Final Draft
FILE FORMAT: .html
It was just a stroke of luck that I stumbled on this script in the first place since I haven’t had time to read scripts in the past weeks. Guardians is a new virtual series with a very interesting premise and a talented writing team and I enjoyed the first episode so much that I can’t wait to get my hands on the others.
Humans are finally contacted by alien race that are the leaders of galactic alliance. The leaders are called Guardians. Guardians have been leading this alliance for ages, but made a mistake while exploring human race. A simple flu bacteria is about to kill the entire civilization of the Guardians. This is an old theme used by many writers, but still a believable and even a probable scenario. Therefore humans are the ones that have defeated this powerful race and according to the laws of the alliance, humans must now take their position as the leaders of the alliance. That of course causes a lot of work in the humankind and the series follows this development.
The script was properly formatted and it was easy and clear to read. Only technical imperfection was that every act is on a separate file so that it requires a bit of copying and pasting to get a complete script in one file, but that isn’t too much trouble.
The writer is really talented and especially the dialogue had several points of perfection. It was really enjoyable reading experience. It was like reading a good book in a script format. It’s really hard to find anything to say about the quality of the writing because it was so good. It wasn’t perfect, but I’ve never read anything perfect anywhere. This is as good as it can go. Only thing that I wondered was that ‘CUT TO:’ had been written to the end of every scene. I stopped paying attention to them, but it was kind of strange since it’s not necessary.
Of course I can find something to criticize. It seems that some of the characters were a bit one-dimensional. Some were a bit black and white in terms of who’s good and who’s bad. Some remained as empty shells. However, fortunately, the principal characters show signs of possible development and study and the writers will hopefully use in future episodes. Another thing to criticize was that the writer could have used something else than a flu virus as the tool for the extinction of the original Guardians. That’s been used already! But that’s just a minor inconvenience that doesn’t affect the story. Another thing is the ‘evil’ species and a fight with one of them in the end. Can’t we have even one scifi series dealing purely with exploration? Fortunately, future prospects show that the series will be heavily centred on exploration.
But enough of the flaws. This script was definitely the best stuff that I’ve read for awhile and I look forward to new episodes. It was really refreshing to read a great unproduced scifi script that wasn’t fan fiction. The rare occasion that unproduced writer creates an original and interesting storyline and premise has finally occurred. Of course there are a lot of things borrowed from known writers and existing series and the writer even doesn’t try to hide it. Quite the opposite since the script has several Star Trek references.
It’s clear that Star Trek is a major inspiration and what I understand, this will have a certain ‘boldly go where no-one has gone before’ feel while staying within the limits of the original universe created for the series. I truly hope that that will be the case. We’ve had enough of shoot-‘em-up’s in space. There is an ‘evil’ species in the series, but so had the best Star Treks in the past without loosing the exploration feel to all of it. I hope this series achieves the same.
If anyone is looking for a well written scifi series or a scifi story, I warmly recommend this one. Of course this is only the impression after reading the pilot, but the pilot suggests that this has the potential to be something great. Read it so they won’t quit the series! Long live Guardians!
Review by Mukta Raut
NAME: A Day In My Life
WRITTEN BY: The Goose
DRAFT: Publication Draft
FILE FORMAT: .html
You know how it is when you cook gravy – sometimes, it stops short of being lip-smackingly delish and hovers around being ‘ho-hum’ yum.
‘A day in my life’ is one such screenplay. It misses being a very endearing and heart-wrenching story to….well, just remaining a story that could have been great.
In this story, Goose is a twenty-something cocky kid. He has a regular downtown life in the seedy London suburbs where he shares an apartment with his mother-fearing, girlfriend-fondling roommate. When Goose is not trying to make ends meet, he tries for a little stardust in his life by pitching his script to shady script producers.
One seemingly ordinary day, in the course of regular leeching and insults, Goose is saved from a mugger by a hefty but gentle giant. Goose peddles the giant to an innocuous wrestler hunter and unknowingly gets involved in a drug controversy.
What follows is a bizarre series of crash-bam-slam-boom, and some more mainstream crash-bam-slam-boom!
While the goose is getting cooked pretty much throughout the story, the message in the end is quite optimistic – if you manage to live life on your own terms, you become a legend and the stuff that grandpa’s tales are made of.
The script works where it gives a fly-on-the-wall P.O.V. of a young man’s life, seemingly going through a rite-of-passage. Goose’s first discussion with the script-director is quite charming. His innocent outburst at realizing that he has been without a woman for so long is what heart-tugging moments are made of.
Now here’s why ‘A day in my life’ could not be the bitter-sweet recount of a young guy’s hide-and-seek with innocence. The script is stilted in several places. It needs to be richer with little details of the world it is set in. Does the alley stink of cat-pee? Does the waitress sashay in a crimson leather skirt? What does blood taste like when the guy is punched in the mouth? We need a few postcards from Goose’s place to get a peep into his world.
Moving on, there seems to be a bit of a rush in moving from point A to point B. The intervening sub-plots such as the fight between the skinheads and Goose, or the skinheads and Goose’s protector, or the skinheads and yet another person, sort of leave you wondering, ‘So what was the point?’
All in all, with a little more attention to detail, with the dialogues being a bit smoother, the script would have been the really funny, sensitive script it set out to be.
| End of Voice Over issue 3/2004 |
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