Author Topic: "Drawing Dead" - Adult Language -Opening scenes (1 1/2) Word Count 1,560  (Read 33912 times)

Offline Supermario

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Hi everyone. I'm just about to complete the 1st draft of my script without showing a word to anyone (I know, I have to do something about that). I would love some feedback on the opening scene and a half. Anything, good or bad, would be much appreciated.
I wish you all a happy Easter and I look forward for your honest feedback!

EXT. DOWNTOWN LA - HIGH-RISE - ROOFTOP - SUNSET

FADE IN:

You have a panoramic view of the surrounding cityscape - bathed in the fading light from the setting sun.

This high up the sounds of the city below are reduced to but a whisper. Empty, but for,

Nauseously close to the edge, THE GUNSLINGER (40s) - with long, greasy hair and the weathered face of a seaman. If what those black eyes have witnessed were made into a movie, it'd be illegal in most states.

He wears a cowboy hat and a long black leather coat. In his right hand he holds a cigarette, in his left a sniper rifle.

Belonging to an exclusive group of elite hitmen, the rifle is the tool of his trade, the rooftop today's office.

He looks around. Checks his watch. Flicks away the cigarette.

Still standing, he takes aim.

SCOPE P.O.V: In a boardroom across the street, four levels down, a corporate ritual takes place: a group of business people takes turn signing documents.

When the turn comes to a large man, The Gunslinger takes aim. He looks through the scope. Blinks once...twice...

CU: His finger as it starts squeezing the trigger when,

CU: The almost imperceptible flicker of a light hits the corner of his eye.

This triggers an instant reaction: using the scope sight he scans the surrounding buildings.

At a NEARBY ROOFTOP he discovers:

SCOPE P.O.V: A woman with a sniper rifle - the reflection of the fading sun flickers in its scope. She aims at him. FIRES.

He dives, rolls around. The bullet brushes his shoulder, rips through the thick leather. The sound of it hitting the roof dramatically breaks the silence.

Regrouping, The Gunslinger takes cover behind the edge of the rooftop - barely able to move without exposing himself. He slowly peaks back up at the shooter.

SCOPE P.O.V: The woman's attention has been diverted - she now aims directly to her 9 O'clock...And FIRES.

The Gunslinger quickly fires at her. She falls over and out of sight. Was she hit? By him? It all happens so quickly you can't know for sure.

He frantically scans the direction in which she fired, but sees nothing.

He looks BACK AT HER just as she runs AWAY. Before he can fire, her body JERKS VIOLENTLY sideways and she falls to the ground. DEAD this time.

Again, he scans the cityscape, THIS TIME HE SEES:

SCOPE P.O.V: At a distant rooftop: A THIRD MAN with a third sniper rifle.

The Third Man FIRES at The Gunslinger.

Only this time there's no time to duck and no place to dive.

HIT IN THE THROAT, The Gunslinger rolls over. A puddle of blood quickly forms around him.

His rifle remains leaning over the edge.

SCOPE P.O.V: The Third Man lifts salutes his victim, before he walks OUT OF FRAME.

OVER BLACK

MALE VOICE 1

There's an opening.

MALE VOICE 2

An opening? What kind of opening??

INT. AIRPORT CAFETERIA - DAY

At a table overlooking the tarmac, LOKI D'ARCANGELO, (30s) - rising star in the competitive world of elite hitmen - and STANLEY KORSAKOFF (40s) - whose primary concern is not to lose his cushy gig in Underworld middle-management.

This is their weekly briefing session, and Stanley has just delivered the good news.

STANLEY

Two in fact. Bit of rustling in the ranks. Nothing to worry about.
He places a leather briefcase on the table.

LOKI

What happened?

STANLEY

No. 2 and No. 6 had themselves a little duel at dawn. There were no winner, only losers. Or is it the other way around? Anyways, Pancho's all over it, so everything's under control. Early word is there might've been a third shooter.

LOKI

Someone superior to them both...

STANLEY

Exactly. In which case there won't be a whole lott'a suspects.

LOKI

I was at the movies last night.

STANLEY

Don't worry, nobody suspects you.

Stanley pops open the briefcase. Takes out two envelopes. Taps them with his finger.

STANLEY

Good news is, effective as of the completion of these two jobs, there's a new No. 6 in town. Congratulations Kid, one step closer to that corner office!

Loki is less than impressed.

LOKI

Two questions. Number one, what the hell happened to No. 2?

STANLEY

What can I say Kid, you ain't the only young gunslinger in town.

LOKI

Fuck that. My performance has been flawless.

STANLEY

So, No. 6 ain't No 2, but it sure as hell ain't bad either. I just don't see the rush here.

LOKI

Which brings me to question number two. What's my rank?

STANLEY

Why, you're No. 7. No wait...8? 6!

He realizes it can't possibly be 6. Loki holds up five fingers. Woops.

LOKI

Shit Stan. How can you not know?I've been standing still for two years. Everybody's moving up in the world but me. It's getting really fucking embarrassing. Loki casually flicks through the content of the envelopes.

LOKI

A jealous lover and a priest! I should at least be up to local gangsters and politicians by now.

STANLEY

I'm really just the messenger here.

The waitress refills their coffees. Loki thinks.

LOKI

Then I have a message for you. Tell them that until I get my spot, I'm laying down arms.

STANLEY

(horrified)

What? You can't do that. This ain't France, Kid. We've got to work.

LOKI

I'm left with no choice.

STANLEY

Know what I think? I think you've got a problem with authority. Do you have any idea what they'll do to you if you go through with this?

LOKI

I don't buy their propaganda bullshit Stan, and neither should you. It's how they control us.

STANLEY

I have seen what Pancho does to those who brake even the most insignificant of rules. He won't let you off with a written warning.



EXT. THORVALD's VINEYARD - BLACK AND WHITE - DAY

Dark clouds on the horizon. In the equivalent of a crop circle, a Preacher and three armed Henchmen surround a beaten up man, The Accused, who, judging by his body language, desperately pleads his innocence and begs for mercy.

STANLEY (V.O.)

He'll hunt you down like an animal. When he finds you, and he will find you, he will make you suffer. Then he'll prosecute you, judge you and sentence you. Then he'll execute you. And that's if you're lucky...

Unmoved, the Preacher signals to his men, who raise their rifles and take aim, when

An Old Man, whose face we never see, approaches the group. He puts a hand on The Preacher's back, 'I'll take it from here'. His mere presence causes the demeanor of The Accused to change in an instant. He falls to his knees. Begs.

STANLEY

If the big man himself gets involved, he won't just have you killed...

EXT. THORVALD's VINEYARD - BLACK AND WHITE - DAY

STANLEY

He'll make you do it yourself.

Loki needs a moment to contemplate this outrageous statement.

LOKI

How you figure that'll happen? What if I don't feel like it?

EXT. VINEYARD - DAY

The Old Man hands The Accused a large knife. He accepts gratefully, then proceeds to stab himself in the stomach.

STANLEY (V.O.)

Trust me, when you evoke the wrath of the devil himself, you gain some new insights into what you do and do not feel like doing.

The Accused bleeds to death. The Old Man walks off.

INT. AIRPORT CAFETERIA - DAY

LOKI

Hey, when the devil doesn't keep his end of the deal, deal's off.

STANLEY

Just don't say I didn't warn you.

LOKI

Lighten up Stan. How 'bout a little less 'no, but' and a little more 'yes, and?'
(beat)
What do you care anyway? You're just the messenger, right? Nobody kills the messenger.

STANLEY

Not that you'd care, cause you'd be dead, but after they're done with you, they're coming for me.

LOKI

I don't buy it. A man like Mr. Thorvald didn't get to where he is by being irrational.

STANLEY

You don't do your job means I don't do mine. And if that's the case, getting rid of us both is the most rational thing he can do.

LOKI

Even better. That gives you an incentive to deliver the message with conviction. After you're finished, they should be issuing a written apology. Tell them I'll do these two jobs, but that I expect to hear from them the moment the second man hits the ground cold. Apology excepted.

Stanley realizes Loki's made his mind up.

STANLEY

(breaths out heavily)

This is highly irregular.

Loki takes that as confirmation.

LOKI

Makes you feel alive doesn't it? This is a good thing Stan. I'm calling their bullshit, on behalf of all of us.

STANLEY

Right now it's time for you to cool down. So tonight, when you're alone in your room and that idle mind of yours starts running its ugly little mouth, whatever it tells you to do, resist. Don't fuck this up.

LOKI

I won't. I promise.

Stanley packs up, gets ready to leave.

STANLEY

Good. For When I walk away, the chips are in the middle, and you, my friend, will be all in.

LOKI

Why waste time playing silly games?

STANLEY

Yeah, well. There's no prize for second best, so you just better damn well hope you're not...

A SUPER appears to finish Stan's sentence: "DRAWING DEAD"
« Last Edit: September 07, 2015, 07:24:59 PM by Alice, a Country Gal »

Offline Magdiel

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Re: "Drawing Dead" - Opening scenes (1 1/2)
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2015, 09:54:56 PM »
Hi everyone. I'm just about to complete the 1st draft of my script without showing a word to anyone (I know, I have to do something about that). I would love some feedback on the opening scene and a half. Anything, good or bad, would be much appreciated.
I wish you all a happy Easter and I look forward for your honest feedback!

EXT. DOWNTOWN LA - HIGH-RISE - ROOFTOP - SUNSET

FADE IN:

You have a panoramic view of the surrounding cityscape - bathed in the fading light from the setting sun.
Unless you plan on directing this, it's generally a bad idea to describe shots like these. It makes cinematographers think you're trying to do their job for them. (But relax, I'm guilty of this too.)

This high up the sounds of the city below are reduced to but a whisper. Empty, but for,

Nauseously close to the edge, THE GUNSLINGER (40s) - with long, greasy hair and the weathered face of a seaman. If what those black eyes have witnessed were made into a movie, it'd be illegal in most states.
I like the way you present this tidbit about him, but there's not much to go on as to what is it those eyes have seen. Much violence? Great injustice? The extent of how evil human beings can be? If you're going to describe your character's personality, you need to be clear about it.

He wears a cowboy hat and a long black leather coat. In his right hand he holds a cigarette, in his left a sniper rifle.

Belonging to an exclusive group of elite hitmen, the rifle is the tool of his trade, the rooftop today's office.
There's no viable way to show this on screen. Off it.

He looks around. Checks his watch. Flicks away the cigarette.

Still standing, he takes aim.

SCOPE P.O.V: In a boardroom across the street, four levels down, a corporate ritual takes place: a group of business people takes turn signing documents.
Again, you're literally calling the shots. Is this a spec, or your personal shooting script?

When the turn comes to a large man, The Gunslinger takes aim. He looks through the scope. Blinks once...twice...

CU: His finger as it starts squeezing the trigger when,

CU: The almost imperceptible flicker of a light hits the corner of his eye.
More directing on paper, but this is the last time I'll mention it, for convenience.

This triggers an instant reaction: using the scope sight he scans the surrounding buildings.

At a NEARBY ROOFTOP he discovers:

SCOPE P.O.V: A woman with a sniper rifle - the reflection of the fading sun flickers in its scope. She aims at him. FIRES.

He dives, rolls around. The bullet brushes his shoulder, rips through the thick leather. The sound of it hitting the roof dramatically breaks the silence.

Regrouping with whom?, The Gunslinger takes cover behind the edge of the rooftop - barely able to move without exposing himself. He slowly peaks back up at the shooter.

SCOPE P.O.V: The woman's attention has been diverted - she now aims directly to her 9 O'clock...And FIRES.

The Gunslinger quickly fires at her. She falls over and out of sight. Was she hit? By him? It all happens so quickly you can't know for sure. Likin' your style.

He frantically scans the direction in which she fired, but sees nothing.

He looks BACK AT HER just as she runs AWAY. Before he can fire, her body JERKS VIOLENTLY sideways and she falls to the ground. DEAD this time.

Again, he scans the cityscape, THIS TIME HE SEES:

SCOPE P.O.V: At a distant rooftop: A THIRD MAN with a third sniper rifle.

The Third Man FIRES at The Gunslinger.

Only this time there's no time to duck and no place to dive.

HIT IN THE THROAT, The Gunslinger rolls over. A puddle of blood quickly forms around him.

His rifle remains leaning over the edge.

SCOPE P.O.V: The Third Man lifts salutes his victim, before he walks OUT OF FRAME.

OVER BLACK

MALE VOICE 1

There's an opening.

MALE VOICE 2

An opening? What kind of opening??

INT. AIRPORT CAFETERIA - DAY

At a table overlooking the tarmac, LOKI D'ARCANGELO, (30s) - rising star in the competitive world of elite hitmen - and STANLEY KORSAKOFF (40s) - whose primary concern is not to lose his cushy gig in Underworld middle-management.

This is their weekly briefing session, and Stanley has just delivered the good news.
Again, there's no way of showing this.

STANLEY

Two in fact. Bit of rustling in the ranks. Nothing to worry about.
He places a leather briefcase on the table. Wait, does he say this?

LOKI

What happened?

STANLEY

No. 2 and No. 6 had themselves a little duel at dawn. There were was no winner, only losers. Or is it the other way around? What? Anyways, Pancho's all over it, so everything's under control. Early word is there might've been a third shooter.

LOKI

Someone superior to them both...

STANLEY

Exactly. In which case there won't be a whole lott'a suspects.

LOKI

I was at the movies last night.

STANLEY

Don't worry, nobody suspects you.

Stanley pops open the briefcase. Takes out two envelopes. Taps them with his finger.

STANLEY

Good news is, effective as of the completion of these two jobs, there's a new No. 6 in town. Congratulations Kid, one step closer to that corner office!

Wait, good Lord, this is a long opening! No disrespect, but there's a reason posts aren't allowed to be longer than 1,000 words: reviews take time. I'd like to take a look at the whole thing, but I simply don't have that huge a chunk of time to sit down and look at this all in one sitting, which is what it takes to write a well-thought-out review.

Out of what I've read so far, that first scene is right on the money, setting the tone from the start and segwaying straight into the plot. The following dialogue, however, is a bore. I mean, you start off describing what we had just seen, and yes, it makes sense that Stanley would be relaying this to Loki, but do we, the audience, really need to hear it?
« Last Edit: April 03, 2015, 12:18:16 AM by Magdiel »
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hillwalker3000

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Re: "Drawing Dead" - Opening scenes (1 1/2)
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2015, 05:53:52 PM »
You write well enough - and know how to set a scene and describe your characters. But unfortunately most of this is immaterial when you're writing a screenplay or script.
It's more about your use of dialogue. How you reveal your characters and their interaction through what they say. The director will more often than not have final say on the setting, on how the cast will appear etc.

There's a lot here that doesn't even translate onto the screen so it doesn't belong.
How do you propose the director show this? :
If what those black eyes have witnessed were made into a movie, it'd be illegal in most states.
It's a physical impossibility.

No one opens their mouth to speak for the first third of this extract. I'm sorry, but as it stands it wouldn't even be considered as a potential movie script.

One way around your problem would be to have all the fancy description included in a voice-over - but voice-overs are considered the kiss of death in some studios, especially when they overrun.
Another option is to write a novel rather than a screenplay.
The third option is to cut to the chase. Might I suggest you look at sample screenplays of other established movies to see how much set-up you can get away with.

Here's one with quite a lot of preliminary description - but all of it translatable to the screen: http://www.screenplaydb.com/film/scripts/sixthsensethe/

Good luck.

H3K

Offline Laura H

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Re: "Drawing Dead" - Adult Language -Opening scenes (1 1/2)
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2015, 05:59:26 PM »
Hi supermario,

I added an adult language warning to your subject line to conform to forum rules.

Please stop by the welcome board and introduce yourself so we can greet you properly.

http://mywriterscircle.com/index.php?board=1.0

Thanks and welcome
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou

“Don't be like the rest of them, darling.” ― Eudora Welty

Offline Supermario

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Re: "Drawing Dead" - Adult Language -Opening scenes (1 1/2)
« Reply #4 on: April 03, 2015, 10:46:43 PM »
Dear Magdiel and Hillwalker3000

First of all apologies for the length. I thought I read 2000 words was the limit somewhere.

I really appreciate your feedback and have started incorporating it throughout my script.

I will definitely get rid of direction, I seem to have confused shooting script with spec and fallen for the temptation to describe the film I see in my head. It's also a good idea to cut back on description in the set-up. The rest of the script is much lighter on it, so no reason why the first scene wouldn't be.

I suppose it's always a balance when it comes to description of character. With regards to 'if what those black eyes had seen...', isn't it more about what this implies about the character? True, it's not specific and can't be translated to screen directly, but isn't this more inspirational for a director than just describing what he wears etc? I'm thorn between being extremely sparse and adding a bit of flavour to my writing.

How does one go about would to have a full script reviewed? I'd be very interested in some sort of swap if anyone's interested.

Thanks again,
Marius

Offline Magdiel

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Re: "Drawing Dead" - Adult Language -Opening scenes (1 1/2)
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2015, 11:11:10 PM »
Well, there is such a buddy system here, but I'm afraid mine's an unfair bargain: I'd be giving you a 26-page adaptation with no hopes of ever getting produced until the year 2027, to receive a possibly full-length screenplay that I know will take me a while to go through.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2015, 09:56:40 AM by Magdiel »
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Offline Supermario

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Re: "Drawing Dead" - Adult Language -Opening scenes (1 1/2)
« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2015, 12:03:51 AM »
Fair enough Magdiel. I'll look into the buddy system though!

Offline Magdiel

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Re: "Drawing Dead" - Adult Language -Opening scenes (1 1/2)
« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2015, 09:56:14 AM »
With all due respect, I think you meant "unfair enough".
Pentatonix will rule the music industry one day... I hope.