Author Topic: “Robbing Them Blind” - College Assignment  (Read 27519 times)

Offline Arun Sahadeo

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“Robbing Them Blind” - College Assignment
« on: December 08, 2014, 05:31:39 AM »
Hello all,

I am currently writing a ten-page screenplay for an ongoing college assignment. I can write the screenplay in any genre I want, and on any subject. I have to plan accordingly, and my planning must include clear market and genre research.

I have extracted 3 pages from my proposed screenplay. I was wondering if you could have a look at the selected pages, and critique my script accordingly.

Thank you for whoever takes the time to have a look.

“Robbing Them Blind”

FADE IN:

EXT. HOUSE - AFTERNOON

A HOODED FIGURE heads briskly across the front drive, wheeling a dustbin around to a wooden gate at the side of the house. He climbs onto the dustbin, and heads over the wooden gate.

INT. BEDROOM - HOUSE - AFTERNOON

DANIEL, a black man in his late teens, is sprawled on his bed, earphones buried into his ears. There are ring-binders strewn across both his bed and the carpet.

EXT. GARDEN – HOUSE – AFTERNOON

The hooded figure peers inside the living room from behind a set of French doors. He withdraws a screwdriver, and jimmies with the lock on the French doors for a while.

INT. BEDROOM - HOUSE - AFTERNOON

Daniel stares intently at his laptop screen, music blaring from his earphones.

INT. LIVING ROOM - HOUSE - AFTERNOON

The hooded figure skulks around the living room, the French doors wide open behind him.

INT. BEDROOM - HOUSE - AFTERNOON

Daniel clutches a large textbook from his bed and rifles through the pages.

INT. LIVING ROOM - HOUSE - AFTERNOON

The hooded figure glances at the television set in front of the couch. The sharp trill of the HOUSE PHONE emanates.

INT. BEDROOM - HOUSE - AFTERNOON

As Daniel lies on the bed, the sun starts to set over time. The sharp trill of the HOUSE PHONE can be faintly heard.

EXT. HOUSE – AFTERNOON

A CAR pulls into the front drive. MARY, Daniel’s mum, clambers out and heads towards the front door.

INT. HALLWAY - HOUSE - AFTERNOON

Mary gently slams the door shut. She hangs up her coat and heads on through, looking for Daniel.

MARY
Daniel, are you home?

INT. BEDROOM – HOUSE – AFTERNOON

Daniel reclines against the bed, oblivious to his mother’s arrival.

INT. LIVING ROOM - HOUSE - AFTERNOON 

Mary stops dead in her tracks, eyes widened at the sight of the forced-open French doors and her almost-bare surroundings. She starts to pant heavily. Mary tries to speak, but her voice fails her.

INT. BEDROOM - HOUSE – AFTERNOON

Daniel pulls his earphones off, sets his laptop to one side of the bed, and trudges towards the landing.

INT. SECOND FLOOR LANDING - HOUSE – AFTERNOON

Daniel stifles a yawn. Arms hanging loosely by his sides, he traipses down the stairs.

INT. LIVING ROOM – HOUSE – AFTERNOON

Mary is huddled on the couch, tears streaking her cheeks. She buries her face into her lap.

INT. HALLWAY - HOUSE - AFTERNOON

Daniel heads through the hallway. Faint sobbing can be heard from within.

INT. LIVING ROOM – HOUSE – AFTERNOON

Daniel blinks repeatedly at the sight of the ransacked living room. He turns his head, and notices his mother huddled on the couch. Without hesitation, Daniel runs over to her side.

DANIEL
Oh my God, mum, what’s happened?

MARY                               
(coarsely)
They’ve turned the place over, Daniel. My head goes round and round just looking at it.


There is a slight pause.

MARY (CONT’D)
Are you alright?

DANIEL
I’m doing OK. Mum, I’m so sorry…

MARY
Don’t worry about it. At least they didn’t turn on you. But look at this place – it’s in a right state. I need to get it all sorted.

DANIEL
So what do we do now, mum?

MARY
What do you think? I’ve got to go through all the rooms, see what’s been taken. If I’d been here a couple of minutes earlier…Look, why don’t you go to next door’s for a bit?

DANIEL
Sure, mum.

Daniel rises from the couch and heads out.


hillwalker3000

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Re: “Robbing Them Blind” - College Assignment
« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2014, 12:04:48 PM »
A 10-page screenplay?
If this sample is anything to go by there are only going to be about 20 lines of dialogue.
And the dialogue in your extract adds nothing significant to the 'plot'.
There's been a break-in, a hooded figure has somehow managed to carry away the entire contents of a room, and the house owners are busy asking each other how they feel.

I'm sorry but the plot seems so inconsequential, based on this sample, that I'm unsure what advice to offer other than try coming up with a better storyline where your characters can contribute something. So far they behave like cardboard cut-outs. Banal chit-chat like this isn't going to make anyone sit up and take notice.

The fact that you have filled out most of the screenplay with stage directions suggests you'd be better writing a short story than a script since dialogue isn't your strong point.

H3K

Offline Magdiel

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Re: “Robbing Them Blind” - College Assignment
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2014, 05:58:23 AM »
I'm not sure what to say. You've dedicated three pages (that's three minutes of screen time, but you knew that) into a rather unremarkable robbery. There's not much of a plot to this. Also, once you've established the master setting, you don't need to repeat it in subsequent scenes happening within it. What I mean is, if the whole sequence was going to take place at the house, your headings could have been INT. BEDROOM, INT. LIVING ROOM, etc.
Pentatonix will rule the music industry one day... I hope.

Offline Arun Sahadeo

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Re: “Robbing Them Blind” - College Assignment
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2015, 08:52:39 AM »
Hey, guys. Late reply, but I wanted to say thanks for the critiques. Structuring the narrative was a challenge in itself, because the robbery itself came across as being quite dull in each idea, so now I think I finally have a few good pages to start the screenplay with.

The burglary-cum-struggle is roughly about 2 minutes long, and then we quickly cut to the young man's relationship with his mother.

That said, here are the first few pages of my revised script:

FADE IN:

EXT. HOUSE - AFTERNOON

A MAN dressed in a British Gas uniform, complete with utility belt, heads towards the front door. He presses the doorbell and waits on the front step.

INT. DANIEL’S BEDROOM - AFTERNOON

DANIEL, a black man in his late teens, is sprawled on his bed, headphones tucked into his ears. There are ring-binders strewn across both his bed and the carpet.

EXT. HOUSE – AFTERNOON

The man jabs at the doorbell, and tries to peer inside through the letterbox flap.

INT. DANIEL’S BEDROOM – AFTERNOON

Daniel yanks off his earphones and walks out the room.

EXT. HOUSE – AFTERNOON

The man turns to leave when the door opens from behind. He turns back and smiles at Daniel.

DANIEL
Hello, can I help you?

MAN
Oh, you’re lucky, I was just about to head off. I need to check your meter. A gas leak’s been reported in the area. I’m checking all the houses on this street.

DANIEL
A gas leak? I haven’t heard anything about that.

MAN
Well, I was in the area, so I took the call. Unless this isn’t a convenient time…?

Daniel shakes his head.

DANIEL
No, fine, let’s get it out of the way.

The man smiles and walks inside. The door is slammed shut.

INT. HALLWAY – AFTERNOON

DANIEL
Meter’s just under the staircase.

The man walks to the staircase, unlocking the door underneath. He takes out what appears to be a FLASH TORCH.

MAN
I might have to turn off the gas soon. Why don’t you wait in the living room while I look into this?

INT. LIVING ROOM – AFTERNOON
Daniel sits down on the couch and takes out his MOBILE PHONE. He dials a number.

DANIEL
Hey, mum, it’s me. Yeah, listen, someone from British Gas is here. He said there’s a gas leak on our road, so he has to check the meter.

Daniel pauses and holds the mobile phone closer to his ear.

DANIEL (CONT’D)
Mhmm…yes…alright. Thanks, mum. I’ll see you later. Don’t worry, everything’s fine. Honest.

Daniel pockets his MOBILE PHONE and rises from the couch. He edges towards the door.

INT. HALLWAY – AFTERNOON

Daniel walks around, looking for the man.

INT. LIVING ROOM – AFTERNOON

Daniel stands at the foot of the door, watching in horror as the man is scavenging the room for valuables. He tries to make a run for it, just as the man turns round and spots him.

MAN
Stop!

INT. HALLWAY – AFTERNOON

Daniel dashes towards the front door, pushing the handle down. The man tackles into him, knocking Daniel over, and drags the young man back into the living room.

DANIEL
Get off me, you cunt!

INT. LIVING ROOM – AFTERNOON

The man backhands Daniel across the face.

MAN
Don’t try that again, you bloody cretin. You don’t want to get me excited.

The man, who is still dragging Daniel, frantically looks around for something to restrain him with.

MAN (CONT’D)
This’ll keep you quiet.

The man swings at Daniel with a paperweight, hitting him over the head. Daniel slumps headfirst onto the floor, bleeding from a gash on his temple. He struggles to keep his eyes open, and in the chaos, the man hurriedly bags the rest of his loot and legs it out of there.

OVER BLACK

FEMALE VOICE (O.S.)
Daniel, please, please wake up. I’m begging you.

DANIEL (V.O.)
What’s…going on? I feel a splitting pain in my forehead.

FEMALE VOICE (O.S.)
I’m with you now, Daniel. Please tell me you’re OK.

INT. DANIEL’S BEDROOM – EVENING

Daniel opens his eyes. He is slumped against his bed, his mother, MARY, seated beside him. There is a bandage wrapped around the forehead.

MARY
You took quite a nasty hit to the head, darling.

DANIEL
What happened? Everything’s blurred at the moment.

MARY
Oh, Daniel.

She tries to compose herself.

MARY (CONT’D)
The police are coming here soon, sweetheart. They want to take your statement. Try and get some rest before then, OK?

Daniel smiles.

DANIEL
Alright, mum.

Mary smiles in exchange, and walks out of the bedroom.

hillwalker3000

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Re: “Robbing Them Blind” - College Assignment
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2015, 10:49:16 AM »
 
Quote
. . . the robbery itself came across as being quite dull in each idea, so now I think I finally have a few good pages to start the screenplay with.

Sorry to disappoint you but this is hardly an improvement because it's still dull - extremely dull.
120 words describing a man ringing a doorbell and gaining entry into a house doesn't constitute an engaging screenplay. And the logistics of the robbery are ludicrous. If he's a burglar he'd disappear as soon as he realised there was someone home.

The dialogue - when you get round to producing it - is also extremely uninteresting. Why does Daniel bother ringing his mother to tell her what we already know? Their entire conversation does nothing except fill space. You tell us he's a black man in his late teens but this makes him look hopelessly immature.
Dialogue in a screenplay is generally used to drive the plot forwards and/or develop your characters. Here it does neither. This extract has almost 500 words of stage direction but less than 250 words of dialogue -  all of it banal, I'm afraid.

Quote
The burglary-cum-struggle is roughly about 2 minutes long,
But it's lacking drama so as a scene it adds nothing of worth. Most of it is pedestrian choreography - and the dialogue rather poor.

Quote
. . .then we quickly cut to the young man's relationship with his mother.
where she basically nurses him. There is no relationship worth mentioning.

Simple question - what's the point of the exercise? I can't imagine anyone taking the trouble to develop this into a movie.

H3K

Offline Spietzack

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Re: “Robbing Them Blind” - College Assignment
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2015, 08:57:57 PM »
Quote
The man turns to leave

If this guy had the intention to rob the house, Why would he leave?  I feel if he was there with bad intention, he would start looking around the EXT. of the home.

Quote
Unless this isn’t a convenient time

I don't feel like this would be a real thing a thief/murder would say. He would want to force himself in anyway he could.

Quote
Don’t worry, everything’s fine. Honest

I'm confused on why he has to reassure her everything is fine. Is he a bad kid? I don't get that feeling from reading "ring-binders strewn across both his bed and the carpet" I get the feeling he is doing homework. It's the afternoon and most kids his age would be out with friends. This makes me think he would be a good and honest kid.

Nothing really grabbed my attention.