A few weeks ago, I entered into the BlueCat Pictures Screenplay competition. I actually submitted a story I wrote for a “Horror Writing” class in the Short Script Category. It’s not really the typical horror story, i.e. teens running through the woods to get away from the obvious predator. However, I did want to make it a bit spooky…or at least, leave the audience on edge. Still, the concept itself is unorthodox, so I needed to know if a complete stranger would follow and enjoy the story. Yesterday, I got my honest answer from whomever read my story at BlueCat. I’d like to share it with you guys:
What did you like about this script?
Reveal is an original, well-written script with a very intriguing premise. The broken Washington Monument, the severed Abraham Lincoln Memorial, the top secret writings under the rug — the interesting imagery doesn’t just operate on the metaphorical level, but also gives the story a real eerie tone. Given the zombie-like cameos of Martin Luther King Jr., Jefferson, and Lincoln in the story’s climax, the script interestingly becomes almost an allegory and horror mash up in a sense. I really enjoyed the mystery element to the story when Obama returns in the evening. With both the first lady and his daughters each thinking their father had been home for a while and their strange behavior, it really keeps you tense and anticipating a strange twist throughout. The script also exhibits some real clear action and description making everything very easily comprehensible and read at a nice pace.
What do you think needs work?
The biggest issue for me with Reveal is the effectiveness of using of the Obama family as its protagonists. Given the dark, emotional, and serious tone of the script, picturing the current president and first lady engaging the visions while armed with guns and bulletproof vests kind of detracts a little from the story. It almost feels a little too gimmicky. I think it might be more effective to model the protagonists after the Obamas which would be just as effective and wouldn’t be read as a distraction from the conflict and deeper metaphors at hand. Given the bizarre and supernatural plot, using the actual first family kind of feels like an attempt to ground it too into reality.
After a night to sleep over it and talking to my best friend about the (thankfully, constructive) criticism, I feel it would be best to change the identity of the protagonists into fictional characters. I really did like using real people in these roles because of the type of message I want to get across. Yet, many, like the reader here, may be taken out of the story realizing: “I’m watching a movie.” That’s a bad thing.
The best writers are invisible, no matter how much they want a certain message to come across. When a reader or viewer begins to notice the writer during a book or film, that’s a mark against the writer. And plenty of times, I’ve been in the theater frowning: ‘Who came up with that idea?’ I don’t want to do that to someone else.
Now, who shall they be? Oh…the pressure of a name. 🙂 ‘Names’ in this case. I don’t know. I hate coming up with names or trying to visualize what a person (who does not exist) looks like. No matter. The show must go on.
You, too, can still enter the competition. I entered before the Early Deadline to ensure I would receive my analysis by July 1st. Patience. Not the strongest virtue of mine.
Eric Christopher Jackson