“Escape” Script Feedback

I posted draft 3 of my script yesterday and had some great feed back from Rich.

He asked some good questions and I answered him in the comments of that post, but I have included them here for other people in case they read the script and get confused to.

Here is the script in question:
Escape – DRAFT 3 (33Kb)

If you feel like it give the script a read before reading on, then you can see if you felt the same as Rich and whether my answers make sense etc.

1. isaac shoots the courier because he saw benji tied up. wasn’t that sloppy of isaac to leave benji there? thus having to kill someone and have another body around?

Isaac shooting Benji was originally written in to set the tone of the movie, and shock the audience which is why it happens in the first five minutes. The package was originally a central part to the story but I changed it so the package and courier no longer matter so much other than to set the tone.

At this point Isaac isn’t bothered by the body count, and even uses the body to try to make Benji talk; “We could set this up to look like you…” he says something along those lines.
2. was the purpose of the courier only to get us to where benji was held? was there any other purpose? the reason i ask is because of the delivery. who was the parcel for? that bring another question.

I answered this above really but yeah that was the couriers only purpose. In the actual script I won’t be including the scene with the package going from the warehouse. I was advised to use those few scene’s as page filler to help the page count by my tutor so it matches the brief which requires a minimum of 25 pages. The actual story would start with the courier first at Ms. Dawson’s house and then going to Benji’s.
3. they were in benji’s flat. if so, then that package was for benji, in which case isaac would have opened it to see if sarah was sending him something. but the way isaac recieved the package makes it seem like he knew what it was. so i was confused about that.

I like the idea of him checking it, originally he disregards it because it was broken, but I guess that isn’t necessary now. I may write in that Isaac checks it, but it isn’t anything important.
4. sarah is smart obviously. she would have done more to check on that van outside of benji’s place. when she picked up the phone and called her father, i thought she was going to call the number on the van to see if it checked out. perhaps she could do that, and then inside the van is a worker from the company, dead or tied up, and isaac answers the phone, making it seem like it checks out. if you’re worried about that giving away the idea that it’s isaac and jason, that’s not a worry. it’s obvious that someone is watching in the van. that won’t fool anyone.

I wrote the van in this last draft and guess I hadn’t set it up very well. Thanks for pointing it out, and I think ringing the number on the van would be good, as you say Sarah is smart and would be a good way of showing that she is resourceful. When they check the van at the end and they find weapons (a scene I wrote in for filler but I actually like now) then yeah, they could find the body of an employee. By this point in the film though Sarah has her goal in sight, ie, Benji so I’m unsure whether she WOULD check the van out? It’s day time, it’s a builders van, she just wants to make sure Benji is okay. I’ll have a think about this.

5. i was confused at the end. was there a time shift? we have jason helping benji escape from isaac, and we don’t know if they succeed. but then benji is home watching tv and sarah comes in, then isaac and jason burst in. i don’t follow that.

There seems to be a bit of confusion about this. Yeah, there is a time jump. As the audience watches I want them to think that Sarah is rushing to Benji’s flat and that she will get captured, but her scenes are actually in the past. I have written in the scene headers that this is in the past; “EXT. SERVICE STATION – CAR PARK. DAY. PAST.” I’m not sure how else to write this in, unless I include a bit of a set up in the scene directions.

I think it would work better if you saw it how it was instead of reading it. I imagine her entering Benji’s flat upon hearing fighting (which is coming from the TV) and seeing Benji sat there fine and uninjured. We then see her go into the study and into the secret room, the panel closing just as Isaac opens the study door, in the PAST. Then, in the PRESENT, Isaac actually opens the door and Jason and Benji are in the study, Sarah comes out of the panel and helps Benji survive Isaac’s attack.

I like the idea of disjointed narrative and this is my first script where there is disjointed narrative so it is still new to me, but I will speak to my tutor about this and see if he can recommend a professional way of laying it out.

Thanks for your feedback and I hope my answers aren’t TOO confusing. This has helped me out quite a lot.

– Daniel

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12 thoughts on ““Escape” Script Feedback

  1. Hi Dan, I read your revised script and am still as confused about it as ever…my comments would be very much in line with Rich’s observations. Also, the script is currently littered with mistakes that require proofreading rather than MS spell checker…page 1…it’s sofas (pural) not sofa’s…page 21…she comes through the door and stops still when she sees (not see’s). Just a small point, I know, but you are supposed to hand in 100% perfect stuff to film/TV producers to make you look professional…trustworthy and ready to hire at a moment’s notice:)

    BTW: Why is a parcel being delivered to Benjiman Riviera when Benji’s surname is Cooper?

    A shot in the middle of the day in an apartment block would alarm the neighbours and get the police in – why not knock out the delivery guy with a baseball bat or some heavy object if you must?

    Like Rich I’m not too overly fond of the van caper either; it needs some more thought. Given that Sarah was perfectly sensible up to now, why walk into Benji’s flat at all? She could do something to lure out any villain lurking inside the flat instead, if she wanted to save Benji’s life. Tempt them with the item they’re after – then pick them off one by one with a gun or whatever weapon she might have with her. Her actions go against character for me.

    On film I guess the time shift could be displayed by using sepia colours or B & W film, but it’s still not very convincing as a time-shift story. Having Marcus as the villain of the piece is also too obvious for me. Now that you’ve introduced delivery characters at the beginning, perhaps the boss of the delivery company could be the evil mastermind instead?

    I liked how you’ve worked a bit more on the motivations and characterisation and the dialogue is more natural now. However, we learn far too little about why the statue is so important to root for one side or the other; for all we know Benji and Sarah could be really the villains. That makes it difficult for an audience to identify with someone in the script/film. If we learned that the statue makes time shift for example and how that could be abused by some evil person/s, then we’d tune our minds into timeshifting mode and things would become clearer…

    1. Regarding the proofreading, yeah things slip the net like that aha. I don’t use Word to write my scripts and the software I use doesn’t have a grammar checker aha. I’ll make sure to go through it all during the next rewrite.

      I changed his name from Rivera to Cooper, I must have missed that aha, oops. I’ll make sure to change that too.

      The pistol is silenced, so a shot shouldn’t be too much of an issue, although I know in real life a silenced shot is still quite loud. I had a bit with a neighbour but I decided maybe they weren’t in.

      I want Sarah to enter the flat, maybe I will write that she enters a bit more stealthily, like someone who is trained would. Plus it is much safer for the public for her to go in to the flat than calling them out into the street, especially as it is day time.

      The time shift isn’t a magical thing, her parts are just set in the past, it is a narrative device called disjointed narrative. The purpose is for the audience to believe she is going into danger and then there is relief/confusion when she walks in and he is actually okay. It then becomes apparent from the merging of scenes when Isaac comes into the study to take Benji hostage in the past, he also comes into the study in the present, to a scene we have already seen before which we know because Jason is in the room too.

      I have just realised something with the van, they turn up after Sarah has entered the building so she wouldn’t actually see the van at all, so that should be that sorted.

      With regards to Marcus being the bad guy, what gives it away? Maybe it was because you had read a previous draft? I’m not sure though. Like I said in the answers I have Rich, the delivery guys won’t be there if I take this script any further, they aren’t integral to the story they are just extra pages of filler that my tutor told me to put in to reach the page count, because the script as it was was around 3/4 pages too short and as he is marking it I did as he told me aha.

      With regards to what the statue was, I do have an idea what it is but it won’t work in this short of a script but I have plans for if I take the script further and expand it. But for now, making the statue be super important may create more question than it answers and the script for the purposes of my University deadline has to be a self contained story.

      I wanted to leave what the statue does up to the audience for this thirty minute piece. My University tutor seems to like the idea, so I may leave this, although I will ask him what he thinks of it too.

      If I take the script further I do plan on the statue being magical but not quite sure what powers it has, but it wouldn’t be timeshifting because as I said, it’s a narrative shift as indicated by “PAST” in the scene headings.

      Thanks for your comments and I will write Draft 4 as soon as possible, I am doing the first draft of a ten minute short comedy piece at the moment, but once that is done I will revisit this for sure, the deadline is the end of this month so I still have enough time to fit all the feedback in.

      1. After a bit of consideration, I might change it so her parts aren’t in the past, it would work just as well if she was heading to rescue Benji, considering she shoots them when she comes out of the secret room anyway, it will make just as much sense if she goes into the building, gun drawn and shoots Jason in the leg and kills Isaac that way, thus showing she is tactical and would get rid of the confusion about the time-disjointment.

  2. for those who write and read and both – THIS is a great example of what writers need. we do not need friends to say, “hey, great job.” we need people to read and examine and slice and dice, pull things apart and see if they go back together again. no matter how critical someone is being when giving feedback, do it. be as critical as possible – but be polite. don’t say something is boring. say that this part might be better if you can add blah blah blah. and daniel is very wisely recognizing and accepting these comments and even asking for more. he’s a smart guy.

    btw: so is that guy “rich” whom he refers to a couple of times.

    1. Aha thanks for the comment (: Both you and Maria have helped me see some big flaws in my script, something that would have been hard for me to spot if it was just me. When you stare at a script for too long you become blind to it.

      Your mind knows what it is meant to say, so you read it how it should be not how it actually is sometimes.

      1. yup. but i wouldn’t call them “big flaws.” not so big. you’ve got the skeleton and most of the vital organs. now you just need to tighten up the skin.

  3. I got the whole disjointed narrative from the start, I wasn’t confused at all by the time difference and I like that kind of thing. But that’s just me =)
    What didn’t make sense was Benji having the necklace as a reason to why they couldn’t have Sarah: he already knows she’s safe, after all. I don’t think it makes sense, at least. That he would come up with that story just for Jason or even if it was true why bother? Why not let them think he thought they had her?
    Am I making sense in this? xD

    1. Hi thanks for getting back to me (: I’m glad you understand where I was coming from (: I planned the necklace thing so Benji tells Jason about it because he has sort of figured out that Jason is in way over his head and he tries opening up to Jason and tells him this.

      Obviously this back fires for Jason when he gives the game away to Isaac and Isaac hits him.

      I don’t think it matters too much that Jason and Isaac find out that Benji knows they don’t have Sarah because in the end they won’t harm Benji too much because they want to get the information out of him in the first place.

      1. I see =) I guess it’s just that I’d be more pissed at Jason if I was in that situation and wouldn’t feel the need to calm him down xD

  4. Hi Dan, sorry for not getting back to your comments earlier (way too much work on at present). I understood about the device disjointed narrative…but then I’m a writer not a film/TV audience who needs clearer pointers…GRIN. I’m glad you ditched the “past” idea, it wasn’t really working, because no real reason was given for a time-shift occurring. Had you hinted at the statue being an alien time-shift device for example, the past/present shift would have made proper sense.

    As to why did I know it was Marcus?…Have a look at Agatha Christie’s books and you’ll remember instantly that any “who-dunnit” needs several red herrings or the reader knows straight away who bashed whom over the head. Since no other person appears on screen in your script and we only know of one other person being mentioned (“boss”), it’s a very simple process of elimination that it’s got to be Marcus behind the whole thing. That’s why I suggested to make use of the introduction and the delivery company…the boss of that company could be either the villain or a red herring…or you could cut down a little on the dialogue between Benji and his captors and use the “space” for introducing somebody else (somebody actually sitting in a car outside the flat and possibly being the “boss” on the phone to Benji’s captors). Again this person could be a false trail or could be the villain in the audience’s mind – as long as you use the character to throw doubt into the mix, the final reveal can remain the same.

    Finally, if you are planning to become a professional scriptwriter/film maker…never NEVER never write anything just to please your tutor…there are only two critics whom you should aim to please: the producer who might commission your work and the audience who will pay to see it. With that in mind you’ll be striving for the very best you can deliver…and become a professional – with the other you’re just aiming to pass your finals. You are a talented writer – it would be a shame to waste it.

    Keep on writing!

    1. No worries, I know what it’s like to have lots of work (see the lack of posts on this blog aha)

      The stuff about Marcus I am going to take into consideration for if I extend this into anything longer, but for a short 30 minute stand alone film, I think it would be a little confusing and unnecessary to have other red herrings in etc. As I mentioned the delivery company won’t be part of the script if I change into a bigger piece of work, they’re just page filler atm.

      Regarding pleasing my tutor, this script in this format at this length is specifically for my course and to get good marks, so I have to listen to the tutor to get those marks, I would never hand this script in in this form to a producer or any executives it just wouldn’t work aha.

      Thank you for the compliment on my writing by the way, it means a lot (:

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