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E-mail

FADE INTO BLACK:
# Unorthodox. Try "OVER BLACK" which allows you to cut the
next sentence.

*
*

The screen is dark and we see nothing. We hear the noise of
people shouting and yelling. Quiet at first, but steadily
growing louder.
# There's nothing wrong with "we hear" but a lot of people
hate it, so use it sparingly. "People (specify how many, a
few, dozens, hundreds) shouting and yelling" would also work.

*
*
*

SLAM CUT TO:
# How does a
it's a thing
say slam, it
scene with a

"slam cut" differ from a regular cut? I get that
people say in scripts, but still... Rather than
might be better to imply it by leading the next
shocking image

*
*
*
*

EXT. BEACH- AFTERNOON
Silence. We see the protagonist JASON CARTER (14) standsing
on a quiet beach looking out over the ocean. As the camera
focuses a continuous shot on him, we hear his inner
monologue. As he speaks STRANGE BEINGS approach from ___
start to move INTO FRAME. They resemble people, but they wear
mysterious masks and are supernaturally nimble on their feet.

*

#Do we need the we see? (see above)

*

# standing vs stands. Standing is present progressive, stands
is present tense. Generally I find this more active. Also,
cutting the -ing on all your verbs usually ends up saving you
a few lines.

*
*
*
*

# We don't really need camera direction ever, but especially
not here. Voiceover is assumed to convey inner monologue, so
you don't need to state it.

*
*
*

# Strange beings? Cool. I'd consider moving that after the
v.o. So you have more time to illustrate them. You're already
expositing Jason here, let that breathe and then go to the
next explanation/weird image.

*
*
*
*

*

JASON (V.O.)
I’ve don’t how I keep ending up
here. But I’m happy that I do.
# Consider moving "as he speaks, strange beings..." here.
Rather than supernaturally nimble, paint a more visual
picture. "Scuttle quickly"? "Glide swiftly"? "They run like
jittery, sped up film?" Specify.

*
*
*
*

2.
MONTAGE
# Consider showing Jason's reaction to them appearing. Are
they old friends? Is this new, but he goes with it as if in a
dream? Ground this magic moment via the emotions of our
protagonist.

*
*
*
*

-Jason playing soccer with the beings
-Jason dancing with the beings
-Jason playing a card game with the beings
# I like that you're conveying specific actions here, but
paint them more specifically. How does their magic nature
affect these mundane tasks? Example: we know what washing
dishes looks like, but it's more amusing when a robot does
it, especially if the script highlights the robot's
clumsiness (or adeptness for the task).

*
*
*
*
*
*

JASON (V.O.)
When life gets tough, there’s
nothing like a little escape.
INT. CLASSROOM- AFTERNOON.
# Might want to spend a line here setting up the scene before
the bell. "Bored STUDENTS watch the clock as a MR. SCOTT (44)
barks..."

*
*
*

A schoolbell rings. The students begin to pack up their
things. Except for Jason, who is fast asleep and snoring. As
they file out the door, their teacher MR. SCOTT (44) barks
assignments at them.
MR SCOTT
--Questions eight through twelve
are due NEXT THURSDAY. Do I make
myself clear? Any late assignments
will not be graded!
# I get that he's barking assignments based on the line, so
the previous struck out clause is unnecessary.

*
*

When all the students are gone, Mr. Scott walks up to Jason’s
sleeping form with his arms crossed.

*

# If you want to paint his arms crossed, do it on the bit
where he's introduced, not here.

*
*

MR SCOTT (CONT’D)
Mr. Carter?

3.
# Might want to give Mr. Scott more specific behavior here.
If he's the kind of teacher who barks, is he a dick about
waking up Jason? Or is he surprisingly nicer here, which says
something else about his character.

*
*
*
*

EXT. BEACH- AFTERNOON.
Jason walks hand in hand with a being wearing a raccoon mask.
We can tell she’s female from her long, flowing hair. The
gentle waves ripple over their bare feet. They are both at
peace.

*

# Do they all wear animal masks? If so, make that more
specific than the vague "mysterious masks" which doesn't
exactly paint a picture from the get go.

*
*
*

INT. CLASSROOM-AFTERNOON
MR SCOTT
MR. CARTER!
Jason wakes with a start.
MR SCOTT (CONT’D)
What have I told you about sleeping
in my class?
Jason says not a word. He simply bows his head in shame. Mr.
Scott walks back to his desk and returns with a huge pile of
assignment papers which he tosses onto Jason’s desk.
MR SCOTT (CONT’D)
Questions EIGHT through TWENTY. Due
tomorrow.
# Do we actually need this dialogue?

*

INT. SCHOOL HALLWAY- MOMENTS LATER.
Jason walks through the hallway alone, books clutched to his
chest. The stares he attracts are either too long or too
short.

*

# Be more specific here. Who's staring? Other students
probably. Frame how they feel. "Other students look at him
like he's a freak/scary/funny/etc..." Specify.

*
*
*

JASON (V.O.)
I find I don’t want to spend time
in the real world. It’s just not
something I can be satisfied with.

4.
# Be careful about overusing voice over. I get it, he's
escaping into a dream world to escape unhappy reality. A
single well chosen voiceover line is worth multiple vague
ones, which tend to yield diminishing returns.

*
*
*
*

Jason’s cell-phone rings. He answers it.
Hello?

JASON

SUSANNE (O.S.)
Jason? It’s mom.
JASON
How’d you get my number?
# I like this dialogue because it's intriguing. Normally a
mom would have a son's number, but he's behaving like it's
weird. You've done a good job telling me a ton about this
relationship in a very short space.

*

INT. MOM'S HOUSE- AFTERNOON

*

# Consider describing the space in a sentence. Paint the
picture of her as a Martha Stewart Stepford zombie, a drug
addict, a hoarder, a loser, a winner, whatever.

*

We get our first glimpse of SUSANNE (40), Jason’s mother. Her
face is tired and aged, yet still quite attractive. She wears
jeans and a t-shirt.
# Resist the urge to over describe the mundane - wardrobe
details, the furniture in the room. These tend to read like
shoppng lists. Unless she's wearing something weird, like a
torn evening gown, you don't need to specify.

*

# Not wild about "tired and aged, but still quite
attractive." Is there a more artful way to say this?

*

SUSANNE
Not important. How are you?
INT. HALLWAY- AFTERNOON
JASON
No. Dad hasn’t hit me.
# From context, I imagine that Susanne made allegations in a
nasty custody fight, but I had to do way too much work to
figure that out. Consider being a shade more specific about
why he's saying this, without being on the nose.

*
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*

5.
Readers tend to be lazy, especially in the first act. They
don't want to imagine, you gotta make them see.

*
*

SUSANNE (O.S.)
Honey don’t be like that…
JASON
I wouldn’t have to if you would
just accept that he got the
custody.
INT. MOM'S HOUSE- AFTERNOON

*

SUSANNE
Custody wasn’t give to either of us
Jason. The choice was put into your
hands and you chose to stay with
him! Why?
# I like that she's guilt tripping him. The "why" might be
overwrought. Presumably they've talked about this before,
unless they haven't and this is the first time they've talked
since the incident, in which case make that clearer.

*

INT. SCHOOL HALLWAY- AFTERNOON
JASON
Because he needs me that’s why!
SUSANNE (O.S.)
I used to share your mindset Jason.
I wasted over a decade of my life
trying to fix your father. Don’t
let him control you like he
controlled me.
# I like this line, minus the first sentence.
JASON
Goodbye, Mom.

*
*

He hangs up.
# I like how this scene establishes the backstory quickly,
but it's still weird that he switched his number to not talk
to his mom. You might want to delve into that a little more,
there's a fine line between "intriguing mystery" and
"confusion that takes a reader out of the story."

*

6.
INT. JASON’S HOUSE / DOWNSTAIRS- AFTERNOON

*

# If there's a main location, like a house, consider dividing
locations within that space with a slash for clarity and
consistency.

*

# Describe this location too, the juxtaposition between mom's
world and dad's world will tell a lot of the back story.

*

Jason walks inside, hangs up his coat and takes off his
shoes. The sound of a Hockey game playsing on TV in the next
room is heard.

*

# Omit unnecessary detail, unless there's a real good reason
to show this specific behavior.

*

Dad?

JASON

HENRY
Is that you Jason? Bring your dad a
beer!
# I like to use a new slugline when the location changes. If
the camera crew would have to move, your script should
reflect that.

*

# INT. JASON'S HOUSE / LIVING ROOM - CONTINUOUS

*

Jason walks into the family living room. The carpet is
littered with empty chip bags and beer cans. Jason’s dad
HENRY (50) sits in the center of it all in a faded gray tshirt and boxer shorts. You can tell by looking at him that
everyone of those beers and chip bags was consumed by him,
and him alone. He turns his head to look at his son.
# Good scene painting here, but if the house is in shit
shape, indicate that in the hallway as well. Cut the
unfilmable at the end, consider something like, "HENRY sits
in a sea of empty beer cans. He finishes one, tosses it to
the floor, looks around for another..."
HENRY (CONT’D)
Don’t just stand there! I said get
me a beer!
JASON
Dad, how many have you had today?
HENRY
How many I’ve had is none of your
business. But do you know what is?

*

7.
Jason shakes his head. Henry slams his fist down on the
table.
HENRY (CONT’D)
Getting your father a goddamn brew!
# Optional pitch for this. JASON: (weary familiarity) Getting
you a beer? DAD: You're goddamn right. From context, I assume
Jason's seen this scene play out a million times, dialogue
shold reflect that.

*

INT. JASON’S HOUSE / JASON'S ROOM- NIGHT

*

Jason lies on his bed, hands folded over his chest. His face
is sad and forlorn. We here his inner monologue once again.
As it progresses, the beings we saw before rise up from the
sides of his bed.
# Rather than describe the process of voice over, just get
into it.
JASON (V.O.)
I didn’t always have beef with the
real world. But times have been
brutal;. With every day that goes
by, life just gets harder.I’m
becoming less a part of the this
world, and more a part of-

*

*

# Actually, do we need this at all? All the V.O. So far has
said the same thing.

*

# Whether you keep or not, have the beings appear at the
exact moment you want them to appear.

*

# Also, describe what they're doing. Comforting him? Dancing?
Offering him a chess set?

*

# Given that you've described Jason's sad face, you might
want to show his face turning happy as his imaginary pals
show up.

*

EXT. BEACH- DAY
Jason is suddenly back on the beach. The masked figures are
standing and moving around behind him.
-My own.

*

JASON (V.O.)

Jason (brightens/smiles/blushes?) as sees a figure coming
down the beach towards him.

*

8.
It’s his the girl in the Raccoon-masked companion arrives.
They embrace each other before walking down the beach hand in
hand. Neither of them know it, but they are being watched.

*

# Is girl in the raccoon mask in the first scene? Just
wondering.

*

Two figures, one in a bear mask, and the other in an eagle
mask, stand stoically upon the sand., watching them. Bear is
taller than Eagle, indicating his superiority. They walk
slowly over the sand as they debate.

*

# Convey rank and status with dialogue choices, not
unfilmable scene description.

*

BEAR
He’s here far too often.
EAGLE
Can you blame him? His own world
isn’t doing him any favors.
BEAR
The boy has troubles. But he has to
face them. If he keeps relying on
us for refuge, his spirit will
never grow.
EAGLE
Is there no one who can teach him
how to accomplish such a task?
BEAR
There is. And that person is
himself.

*

# This is a little on the nose at the end. Also do we really
need a scene with two side characters talking? Consider
conveying this info in a scene where Bear talks to Jason.
CUT TO:

*

*

JASON AND RACCOON MASK ARE LYING UPON THE SAND IN A WARM
EMBRACE.

*

# Odd use of a slugline-free transition. Consider cutting
previous scene and go from -- Jason and Raccoon walk down the
beach. CUT TO: EXT. BEACH -- LATER, they lie in the sand...

*

Eagle mask and Bear mask suddenly appear above them.

9.
EAGLE MASK
If you don’t mind Mr. Jason, a
moment of your time.
CUT TO:
JASON WALKING DOWN THE BEACH WITH EAGLE MASK AND BEAR MASK ON
EITHER SIDE OF HIM.
EAGLE
It has been an absolute joy having
you in our world Mr. Jason, but we
must politely ask thatBEAR
We need you to leave
What?

JASON

EAGLE
We have simply reached a mutual
decision that it would be wise for
you to take a leave of absence from
here. From what we both understand,
there are issues in your own world
that require your immediate
attention.
# This is basically a less interesting repetition of the
information from the Bear/Eagle scene earlier. Consider
combining that scene with this one.

*

BEAR
Regardless of your struggles, you
can’t neglect your world for ours.
JASON
But that’s not where I belong! I
belong here!
BEAR
Regardless of whether or not you
choose to face your problems, you
will be sent back to your world.
And until you do what’s right, you
will never be able to return. And
if that’s the case…
# Too many regardlesses. Keep dialogue short and immediate.

*

10.
Jason looks back towards Raccoon who is waiting for him in
the distance. He gulps.
CUT TO:
JASON STANDING HAND IN HAND BEFORE HIS RACCOON COMPANION.
EAGLE AND BEAR STAND BEHIND HIM WAITING PATIENTLY.
JASON
I need to go away for awhile… I
hope you understand…
Raccoon nods.

*
*
*

*

JASON (CONT’D)
I’m going to come back… I promise
They share an emotional embrace. We watch as Jason walks back
towards Bear and Eagle.
# Consider not giving him time to say goodbye, because this
slows the momentum down. Consider something like: Bear says
to leave, Jason doesn't want to, but he begins fading away...
he looks to Raccoon in desperation, vows to return.

*

INT. JASON'S HOUSE / BEDROOM - MORNING

*

# Make sure your sluglines are consistent. You called this
place "Jason's Room" before.

*

Jason awakes. But not with a start. Rays of sunshine stream
through the blind-less window. He rubs his eyes and gets out
of bed. He know’s what has to be done. He picks up a duffle
bag off the floor and begins frantically stuffing it with
clothing and other various objects lying on the floor.
Packing.

*

# If the naked window is an important part of the art
direction of the sad house, set that up the first time the
room is introduced so you don't have to do it here.

*

INT. JASON'S HOUSE / DOWNSTAIRS - MINUTES LATER DAY

*

Jason walks past the living room. where his father still sits
and towards the door. He stops in his tracks when he hears
his dad’s. His father looks up from his chair (maybe wakes
up), notes the bag/suitcase/whatever other visual shorthand
you have for "leaving."

*

11.
HENRY
Where do you think your going with
that bag.?

*

JASON
I’m going to live with mom.
You can’t.
Why?

HENRY
JASON

HENRY
You signed a legal document giving
me your custody. If you spend a
single day away from here, social
services will be on your ass like
you wouldn’t believe.
# This info would probably be better in the earlier scene.
Jason hints that maybe he'd like to visit mom... Dad says
this, setting up the stakes of why he doesn't just leave.

*

# Also, according to the phone conversation, Jason isn't
there because of some legal bullshit that I don't really buy
anyway, he's there because of a feelng of filial obligation.
Consider having Henry make a personal appeal to Jason's
guilt, not a dickish recitation of questionably applied legal
mumbo jumbo.

*

JASON
If I have the power to give you
custody, then I have the power to
take it away. Mom was right, you
can’t be changed.
HENRY
And what the hell does your mother
know! Those words came from the
mouth of a woman who neglected both
of us to sleep with her boss!
JASON
(picks up beer can)
At least she owned up to her issue.
# This is a little on the nose. Again, consider putting this
in the first dad scene to set up the stakes of why Jason
doesn't leave. We see that he wants to, but he can't. It
takes being cut off from the dream world for him to step up
and take action, creating a basic character arc.
Jason picks up an empty beer can off the floor.

*
*
*

12.
JASON (CONT’D)
Unlike someone that I know.
Jason turns and keeps walking towards the door.
# This seems like an abrupt topic shift, and assuming Henry's
in standard denial, he'd probably get butthurt and try to
deflect. Consider having him addressing the accusation, even
briefly. "I don't have a problem" or whatever.

*

HENRY
If you walk out that door don’t
think about crawling on back!
# Again, dickish behavior. Assuming Henry wants to stay,
consider having him make a desperate plea to Jason's better
nature, which would make Jason's decision to leave more
fraught and painful. Currently, Henry's dickishness makes me
think Jason was a moron for staying, which undercuts some of
the emotion you're trying to create.

*

Jason opens the door, but pauses momentarily. He turns his
head to look at his father one last time.
JASON
I just need to go away for awhile…
Try and understand.
# I'd love a cooler line here.
He walks out and closes the door.
INT. CLASSROOM- MORNING.
The school bell rings as Jason strides confidently into the
classroom and takes a seat.
MR SCOTT
As most of you are aware. The
questions you’ve been assigned are
not due until next week. But Jason,
being the hard-working student that
he is volunteered to take on a
special assignment that is due
today. Do you have it for me Mr.
Carter?
Jason flashes a confident smirk and walks to the desk to hand
him the paper. Afterwards he immediately walks out.
Mr Scott looks at the paper to see that Jason has drawn the
words SCREW YOU over top of the assigned questions in ballpoint pen.

*

13.
# Consider cutting this. The story seems to be about a kid
who mans up, cuts off his parasite of a dad, and reconciles
with a long-suffering mother. That's more emotional than him
turning into millennial Ferris Bueller.

*

EXT. FRONT OF SCHOOL- MOMENTS LATER
Jason exits the front doors of the school to see his mother.
They walk slowly, almost pensively, up to one another.

*

# This might be more active if he runs to his mother's house.

*

JASON
You never told me how you got my
number.
# Of all the things to call back to, why this? It's only
reminding me how implausibly I initially found the
development that he cut off all contact with his mother.

*

# Also, that was never explained. Consider explaining it,
even in a line of dialogue.

*

SUSANNE
Like I said, not important.
They both embrace.
INT. MOM'S HOUSE / JASON’S ROOM - NIGHT

*

# Consistency in sluglines. Jason might have a room in two
houses, but for continuity's sake we shouldn't have two
"Jason's Rooms" in two locations.

*

Susanne stands in the doorway as she watches her son unpack
his things.
SUSANNE
Does breakfast at 9:30 sound
alright?
JASON
Only if its not cereal.
Susanne laughs quietly under her breath.
# Do we need this stuff? If the point is Jason returns to his
old room, you might want to illustrate how his mom has kept
it like a time capsule, aching for her return.

*

# Also, Jason seems like he's been a real dick to his mom,
and he doesn't apologize.

*
*

14.
This makes him seem less like a hero who's grown and realized
the consequences of his actions, and more like a dude who's
taking the path of least resistance because he wants to get
laid (by an imaginary girl, no less). That's probably not
what you were going for.

*
*
*
*
*

# To avoid this, make the reconcilation more of a real,
painful moment. Again, consider having him apologize.

*

SUSANNE
Sweet dreams honey.
Susanne leaves Jason to his own affairs. He unpacks the last
of his things before crawling into bed and falling fast
asleep.
# Sweet dreams would work better if he were already in bed.
Consider starting the scene there. Enter scenes late, leave
early.

*

EXT. BEACH - DAY.

*

Once again, Jason stands upon the beach. His face is painted
with a satisfied smile. Directly in front of him stands three
groups of people. Standing to the left are the two chief
masks, bear and eagle, standing to the right are all the
various masks, and in the middle stands raccoon. Her and
Jason both rush into each other's arms.

*

# A lot of choreography to show Jason and Raccoon reuniting.
I get it.

*

# Also, what happened to the voiceover. It occurred three
redudant times in the first half, then vanished in the
second. Given that it never pays off, consider cutting it
completely.

*

# Not wild about the ending, as the transactional payoff
undercuts Jason's remorse about his former actions. He seems
like a kid who's willing to throw both parents under the bus
for an imaginary girl friend.

*

# Given that you've set this place up as an escape from an
unhappy life, Jason going back to it implies that he's still
unhappy, which throws some shade at mom, which was perhaps
unintended.

*

# The standard twist on a story like this is for Jason to
hope to come back to the happy place, only to find that by
making the adult choice he's forever barred from it. He's
sad, but in time learns that goodness is it's own reward and
apologizes to his mom for real.

*
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*

15.
It seems like a sucky ending, but then as a result of seeking
out his mother, he meets a real-life version of Raccoon Girl,
so the universe karmically rewards him in a way that doesn't
seem so transactional. Just a pitch.

*
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*

CUT TO BLACK:
THE END

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