Author Topic: Meteor Man (drama - 1,282 words)  (Read 4354 times)

Offline JoshOCaoimh

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Meteor Man (drama - 1,282 words)
« on: June 18, 2016, 06:43:43 PM »
This is the first half of a script for a live action/animated short film I'm going to make. This is the first script I've written and I would really like to know if it sucks before I go ahead and make it. Any feedback/critique/suggestions or advice would be much appreciated! Also I should apologize for originally posting this in the wrong section. Thank you for taking the time to help me.

      INT./EXT. – HOUSE - NIGHT

      Sweeping shots of an oddly quiet house, we see dishes in the sink,
      the tap still dripping, long uncut grass outside, a bottle of cleaning
      liquid rests on the windowsill, parts of a shattered telescope are
      scattered across the pavement. The searing light of a meteor
      approaching grows more and more intense and just as it hits the
      ground-

                                                                                    CUT TO:
      INT. LIVING ROOM – EVENING 

      A man’s hands tearing wrapping paper apart. Liam’s family are
      celebrating his 50th Birthday. The in-laws Tom and Claire are over.
      Liam wears a party hat that Tom forced him to put it on. He is
      attempting to unwrap a meticulously wrapped present.

      Tom who holds his fourth beer in hand sits next to Liam. His arm
      rests across the back of the couch so Liam has been leaning forward
      all evening. Liam’s spouse Sophie (also 50 last month) sits with poise
      on the opposite couch next to Claire. They’ve stopped chatting to
      watch Liam unwrap the present. Sophie had gone to a lot of trouble
      to choose the present. She had to after what he had gotten her for
      her birthday.

      Plates, bowls and empty bottles are piled on top of a round glass
      table between the two couches. Liam and Sophie’s two children are
      chasing each other around the room.

                                      TOM
                         “So, what’s in there Liam?”

                                      LIAM
                                     “It’s a… “

      He continues to unwrap it. Liam is keenly aware of all the eyes
      watching and is about to remind himself to act thrilled with
      whatever’s inside when he spots the writing on the box beneath the
      wrapping paper.
                                     
                                  LIAM (CON’T)
                                 “It’s a telescope“

      Liam looks at Sophie in appreciation. Tom looks over at her too.


                                      TOM
                                 (Bewildered)
                               “A telescope???”

                                    SOPHIE
                    “Well I noticed Liam reading all the
                    astronomy books lately and figured…”

      Liam slightly embarrassed leans across the table and kisses Sophie
      on the cheek.

                                      TOM
             See that Claire? Take some notes. A telescope!
               Sophie knows how to pick a good present.

                                                                                    CUT TO:
      INT. KITCHEN/BALCONY – NIGHT

      Sophie and the kids are cleaning up. We see Liam sitting on a camp
      chair outside on the balcony looking through the glossy white
      telescope. Sophie steps outside to join him. Liam doesn’t notice.
      She is visibly cold. Sophie, smiling, watches Liam for a moment
      before walking over and putting her arms around him from behind.

                                      SOPHIE
               “Is it good? I asked the guy in the store and-"

                                      LIAM
                                 (Assuring her)
                 “It’s wonderful! Here have a look at this…”

      Liam sits up excitedly. He gestures for Sophie to sit down. She sits,
      pulls the chair closer to the telescope and looks through the eyepiece.
      Left eye shut; she smiles, squinting at a couple of tiny white specks
      on the left of a white dot.

                                      SOPHIE
                         “What exactly am I looking at?”

                                      LIAM
                         “See those four small dots?”

                                    SOPHIE
                                      “Yes”

                                      LIAM
                      “Those are the moons of Jupiter”

      Now more interested Sophie shifts in her seat trying to get a clearer
      look.

                                      SOPHIE
                            “Oh my…… so that’s Jupiter”

      For a moment she forgets how cold it is. Wide shot from the living
      room; on the left Liam and Sophie on the balcony, to the right the
      children wash dishes in the kitchen.

                             SOPHIE (CONT’D)
                        “That’s incredible……”

      She’s silent for a minute while she takes it in. Then a cold breeze-

                              SOPHIE (CONT’D)
            “Ok its freezing out here I’m going back inside!”

      Sophie sits up abruptly. Accidentally knocking the telescope.

      SLOW MOTION:
      Inside one of the children drops a plate
      The telescope lurches over onto one leg
      A hand grasps at the dish trying to catch it
      The telescope tilts back onto the other two legs
      The dish spins beautifully as it slowly falls
      All three legs of the telescope are back on the ground
      The dish falls gracefully

      Shot of the front of the telescope. The reflection of the starry
      night in the viewfinder as it rotates slowly to a stop. Something
      sparkles in the reflection. Silence. Hold this frame.
      END SLOW MOTION

      We are jarred by the harsh sound of the dish striking as it kitchen
      floor. It smashes apart during the impact, pieces scattering across
      the floor.

                                                                                    CUT TO:
      EXT. BALCONY – CONTINUOUS

      From the balcony we watch the family (out of focus) sweeping
      up the pieces in the kitchen. They finish up and Liam begins
      walking back towards the balcony. The telescope (in focus) waits
      for him in the foreground of the shot. Liam steps out onto the
      balcony (now into focus). Before readjusting the telescope he looks
      through the eyepiece.

                                                                                    CUT TO:
      INT. TELESCOPE EYEPIECE - CONTINUOUS

      An eye looks through the eyepiece. His eye widens. A single white
      dot sparkles in the reflection of his iris.

                                                                                    CUT TO:
      LIAM’S POV – ASTEROID - CONTINUOUS

      A small solitary asteroid slowly spins. Music similar to
      “American Beauty” by Thomas Newman chimes in. Liam looks at
       it for some time, hypnotized.

                                                                                    CUT TO:
      INT. LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS
      Hand frantically grabbing at pen knocking over jar, fumbling with
      paper. Liam dashes back out onto the balcony and sits down at
      telescope careful not to knock it this time.

                                                                                    CUT TO:
      We watch Liam out on the balcony from inside. Jump cutting as
      he takes measurements throughout the night. He notes the intensity
      of the light bouncing off the asteroid and its distance to the stars around it.

      Each time we cut the angle of his telescope changes as it follows the
      asteroid through the night sky. The moon arcs across above in the opposite
      direction - He takes off the party hat - Now he has a blanket – He’s reading
      an astronomy book. The sky gets brighter as he continues to take these
      readings into the early morning to work out which direction the asteroid is
      heading. The jump cuts end as the asteroid finally dips below the horizon and
      Liam goes to bed.

                                                                                    CUT TO:
      INT. BEDROOM - EVENING

      Alarm clock rings for a brief moment before a hand almost instantly slams
      down turning it off.

                                                                                    CUT TO:
      INT. TELESCOPE EYEPIECE - CONTINUOUS

      An eye peers through the eyepiece of the telescope. Liam doesn’t need to
      measure it. The asteroid is no longer a small dot.

                                                                                    CUT TO:
      LIAM’S POV – ASTEROID - CONTINUOUS

      Light dances across its surface as it slowly spins.

                                                                                    CUT TO:
      EXT. BALCONY - CONTINUOUS

      Liam stands out on the balcony in his dressing gown. His face is pale. The sun
      sets behind him.

                                                                                    CUT TO:
      INT. LIVING ROOM – NIGHT/MORNING

      Music similar to “Structure and Discipline” by Thomas Newman
      kicks off.
      Liam sits in front of the computer, hunched forward. We see the
      mouse dart across the screen. Tabs open one after the other in rapid
      succession. We whip across headlines and news articles about meteors
      that weren’t spotted and only narrowly missed Earth. He scrolls
      frantically. Fingers type viciously.

      We learn about different types of asteroids. We learn that large
      asteroids are spherical due to their own gravity and how surface
      regolith and rotation speed indicate size. We learn about the rules for
      naming asteroids and Liam scrolls through some of the asteroids beginning
      with ‘S’ in the directory.

      Liam begins opening the contact section of all the Near Earth Object
      websites. A time-lapse shows the sky getting brighter outside the window
      beside him while Liam’s screen flashes rapidly. The sun has risen.
      Liam’s family are now awake and people dart around behind him.
      Finally the music subsides and his screen ceases flashing. He grabs a
      pen and writes down a single telephone number. Liam sits up and exits
      the frame. Left on the screen is the contact details on the NASA Near
      Earth Object programs website.

Thats the end of the first half. Thank you for taking the time to read my script. I would really appreciate any advice or criqitue you have. If anyone would like to read the rest because I would love feedback on the overall plot here is a Google Drive link - https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B7LMCqmiuSscakgyZWEzUTZwSGs

hillwalker3000

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Re: Meteor Man (drama - 1,282 words)
« Reply #1 on: June 19, 2016, 06:55:17 AM »
On a quick read it's noticeable how much incidental description you have included for each individual scene. The director (whether it's you or someone else) will be unable (or indeed unwilling) to use most of what you have written since it's impossible to portray using the medium of film.

'an oddly quiet house' - how can you possibly portray 'oddly quiet' on-screen? You can't so there's no point mentioning it in the script. By all means have the dripping tap, etc. if you're shooting the movie since these are visuals you have chosen to create a mood. Other directors might well have their own ideas on how to convey an abandoned home but that's a completely different issue.

'the searing light of a meteor' has the same problem. All the guy shooting the movie needs to know is that there's an incoming meteor.

Now to the family get-together - that's where the real problems begin. You're no longer writing a script. You're dumping background on the page. Ask yourself how you are going to reveal all this information on-screen. Will there be a voice-over? Or will there be text scrolling down the screen? If it can't be shown then I'm not sure why you have included it in the script.

      INT. LIVING ROOM – EVENING 

      A man’s hands tearing wrapping paper apart. Liam’s family are
      celebrating his 50th Birthday. You could show this by having 'Happy 50th' banners on the wall maybe The in-laws Tom and Claire are over.
      Liam wears a party hat that Tom forced him to put it on. He is
      attempting to unwrap a meticulously wrapped present.

      Tom who holds his fourth  beer in hand sits next to Liam. His arm
      rests across the back of the couch so Liam has been leaning forward
      all evening
. Liam’s spouse Sophie (also 50 last month) sits with poise
      on the opposite couch next to Claire. They’ve stopped chatting to
      watch Liam unwrap the present. Sophie had gone to a lot of trouble
      to choose the present. She had to after what he had gotten her for
      her birthday.


Most of the above is impossible to display on-screen - so therefore it's irrelevant. By all means construct the scene inside your head and have potted histories for every character - but this is nearer to how a shooting script should look.

LIAM's hands are seen tearing wrapping paper apart. He wears a party hat and is surrounded by family. There are birthday cards on display celebrating his 50th.

Since most of the other characters do nothing at this stage - they don't even have a line to speak - we don't need to know quite so much about who they are or why they're there.

Again this bit is impossible to convey through the medium of film:

Liam is keenly aware of all the eyes
      watching and is about to remind himself to act thrilled with
      whatever’s inside when he spots the writing on the box beneath the
      wrapping paper.


Scripts rely on visuals and sound. We can't see inside the guy's head any more than a cameraman can record his thoughts and feelings. That's where the actor's expression and tone of voice come in - and again it's not the script writer's job to tell the actor how to speak his lines. It's his job to write the lines. It's quite noticeable that they don't talk a great deal.

I assume you can identify for yourself all the other parts that fall into the same trap. As it stands this reads more like an outline of the story. That's fine if you intend shooting the film yourself, but 90% of the time here you're describing action or individual shots as the plot unfolds. Maybe you need to ask yourself 'How can I film this scene?' If you can't then it doesn't belong in the script.                               

The story is a little flimsy at the moment - echoes of Close Encounters. A guy gets a telescope for his birthday and discovers (?) an incoming asteroid. You do a great job of describing the frenzied activity as he realises what he's seeing - maybe it's a little too rushed but for an animation that might be OK. I'm just amazed that no one else has spotted this object.

H3K

Offline JoshOCaoimh

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Re: Meteor Man (drama - 1,282 words)
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2016, 07:24:21 AM »
H3K, thank you so much for taking the time to give me feedback. I see what you mean about a lot of it being impossible to convey visually. I will go through the script and edit everywhere that I did that. Again thanks for taking the time to help me I really appreciate it!

Offline heidi52

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Re: Meteor Man (drama - 1,282 words)
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2016, 12:13:47 PM »
I see what you mean about a lot of it being impossible to convey visually. I will go through the script and edit everywhere that I did that.

Which brings me to the question, why is this a script?

I thought script was mainly just the dialog. Here we have very little dialog and a lot of scene building and directing.

Why not just write this as a story?

Offline JoshOCaoimh

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Re: Meteor Man (drama - 1,282 words)
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2016, 01:06:53 PM »
I hadn't thought of a script as mainly dialogue, I think its more about a visual story, there are scripts for silent films too. I see what you mean though. I want to make the film, it's going to be an opportunity for me to practice my animation. I completely agree that there are some things in there that are impossible to convey visually and I hadn't noticed that, other things like "an oddly quiet house" I think can be filmed. Thanks for raising the point though! Makes me question it.

hillwalker3000

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Re: Meteor Man (drama - 1,282 words)
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2016, 01:23:33 PM »
Since this is a Writers forum we can only comment on your writing. You do a fairly good job of describing how each scene will appear and how your characters are going to react - but what you're presumably looking for is feedback on how the film will look once it's finished rather than on the quality of the script-writing. All you have here is a series of visualisations so it's virtually impossible to offer a more meaningful response. Good luck.

H3K

Offline JoshOCaoimh

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Re: Meteor Man (drama - 1,282 words)
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2016, 03:07:05 PM »
You're right, I apologize. I didn't mean to offend. I was just trying to explain the reason that it was a script and not a story. I do want to improve my screenwriting and everyones feedback has been extremely helpful.

hillwalker3000

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Re: Meteor Man (drama - 1,282 words)
« Reply #7 on: June 19, 2016, 03:12:14 PM »
No offence taken.  ;D

I realise you have come up with this as a shooting script of sorts for your own use when producing the animated film so it's not easy to offer any meaningful advice until the movie's completed.

Imagine someone intending painting a picture and telling us in detail what colours they are going to use and what each element of the picture will consist of - then asking for our opinion on how well the picture has been painted. It's difficult, isn't it?

H3K