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hiding place

by ben macia 

Posted: 01 July 2003
Word Count: 5284
Summary: short film

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Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.

Scene one – His Gun

(VO begins (*), runs throughout)

Open on:
Int. Early morning. Fade slowly into ML of a very tidy, organised bedroom. Artist’s canvass’ are all around, some hanging, some leaning against the wall. A small, rickety bed is pushed into the corner, it contains the girl, she is around twenty years of age, slender and beautiful, and she is fast asleep. We close in from across the room to focus on the girl’s alarm clock; the time is 06:23am. We pan across to CU of her sleeping face, she is tranquil, possibly involved in some happy dream. Suddenly, her peace is interrupted by a furious hammering on her bedroom door, her eyes flicker open, confused. There is silence for a moment as she gets her bearings, then the knocking begins again and the girl rises, stumbling towards the door. (*)
She quickly reaches the door and fumbles with the key, no sooner has she opened it a crack, an arm pushes through the gap and forces the door open. Through it bustles the young man, intense looking. He is significantly taller than her, rain drenched and clad in a long black overcoat. The girl is clearly confused and irritated by the young man’s presence at such an early hour and, while we do not hear what they are saying, her body language while they speak suggests this.
Initially, the girl is complaining, gesturing emphatically with her hands. However, very quickly, the young man takes hold of her elbows in an attempt to calm her down; he obviously has something of great importance to tell her. He talks rapidly and seriously for a time and the girl becomes quiet. She is unsure, but responds to his statements in the positive. He releases his grip and reaches into the inside pocket of his overcoat, looking both to the window and the door as he does so. The girl looks quizzical as he produces a small package, slightly larger than his hand, wrapped in white cloth. He speaks again and the girl begins to look even more uncertain. The young man unwraps the package to reveal an imposing looking handgun, the girl reacts accordingly. She has never even seen a gun, let alone been handed one and, due to this, she backs away from the young man. He rapidly covers up the weapon again and places it on a nearby desk. From his body language it is clear he is pleading with the girl. Although still uncertain and becoming frightened, she accepts and the young man retrieves the weapon and searches for a place to hide it. Once it has been hidden, he leaves rapidly and without a word.

Cut to:
CU. The girl’s face is a picture of fearful awe; she raises her fingers to her lips, her hand trembles slightly.

VO: “As long as I’d ever known him, I was sure there was something not quite right. I mean, I never had that much contact with him in the beginning, but even then I had my doubts. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop me getting together with him, not for long you understand, it didn’t seem like his thing. It was more of a drunken thing that just went on a bit too long.
All the time, he seemed to have this other side to him, something dark that no-one could quite figure out. If I’m honest, that was what attracted me to him.
The first thing that set us all off was his money, he always seemed to have so much of it, despite never really doing anything, and it was always cash. Then there was the hours he kept, leaving at god-knows-when and coming back to the house at four or five every morning, if he came back at all. And it was always like he was afraid of something, like he was checking for ways in and out of wherever he was.
I mean, we went through all the usual ideas; drug dealer, pimp, hired killer, but we were never serious. You wouldn’t be if he lived right in the next room, you just wouldn’t want to.
Anyway, so he was always a bit guarded, even while we were sleeping with each-other (big mistake, he pointed out to me). Then suddenly, he opened up, just a little. I hadn’t seen him since we broke up when I got this hammering on my door, really early one morning, it’s him and he needs a favour, a big one. I say “ok” and invite him in, although he already is. He says again that he needs a favour and I say “what?”
“I need you to look after something for me.”
I say “what?”
He says…”

At this point, the dialogue coincides with the young man unwrapping the weapon, as he shows it to her, we hear him speak.

Young Man: “This.”

VO: “I say “no fucking way” but he tells me it’s not how it seems. I can’t see how it could be any other way but he says “trust me” and, God knows why, but I do. Then he leaves and I hear nothing until I see him on the news.”

- Picture fades to black –

Scene two (One month later) – Her gun.

Open on:
A television screen flickers into life, showing a national news programme. We remain for a short time, then cut.

Cut to:
Int. Night-time. The girl sits on her bed, watching the television. From her clothing and general attitude, we can ascertain that she has been out for the evening and is now relaxing before she goes to bed. She sips from a cup of tea, engrossed in the programme, but at the same time, not really paying attention. (*)

VO: “So there it was, always nearby. Simultaneously asking me how it got there in the first place and what the hell was it still doing there. I had kinda got used to it though, in a strange way. It was always there but, as long as I thought he was coming back for it, I could almost forget about it. Even made me feel protected, every so often.”

We break from VO to hear the noise of the television programme; it has now changed to local news.

Newsreader: “… found drowned today. Police are treating the young man’s death as accidental. And, in other news…”

We move in to CU of the girl’s face, stunned. There is a pause before she speaks.

Girl: “Oh fuck.”

Cut to:
Int. Night-time. HH, a rather shabby bathroom. (*) The girl bursts in and hurries to the sink, running cold water and splashing it on her face. She stares deeply at herself, running her fingers through her hair, terrified. As VO continues, she paces from the bathroom to the bedroom. We shift slowly to LAT.

VO: “Now that changed everything. Not only was a guy from my not to distant past dead, from what I seriously doubted was an accident, there was more. All of a sudden, it wasn’t just a package of his that I had to keep safe, I couldn’t pretend anymore. It was a gun, a gun in my room and he wasn’t coming back for it, he wasn’t coming back at all. So it became a gun that I had to do something about, it became my gun.”

The girl stops pacing and runs her fingers through her hair again.

Girl: “Oh fuck.”
- Blend into scene three -

Scene three – Reality/dream sequence.

We remain with the shot that ended scene two, but as she moves we remain fixed to her, jolting around as she heads out of the room. From here, we cut jaggedly between several locations: the room, streets and shops by day, streets by night and a riverside (this is where the young man died). We also remain in the same shot as the girl tries to sleep, tossing and turning but mostly staying awake. Intermittently, we begin cutting to a shot of the gun, the cloth unwrapped, lying in its hiding place. The cuts between locations become ever more rapid and the shot of the gun becomes more frequent and remains longer. We hear the girl begin to scream. The cuts between locations and the gun become frenetic, too fast to take in what we are seeing, all the while, the screaming grows.

Cut to:
XCU. The girl’s face, she is tired and scared. Over, we hear a heartbeat, fast and irregular and increasing in pace. She stares past us, we can see that she is gazing intently at something. The heartbeat remains as we cut.

Cut to:
Int. Daytime. The hiding place is in darkness. Shafts of light become visible and we can see shapes moving. We are viewing events from the gun’s POV. Motion and we are lifted from our hiding place and the white cloth is unwrapped, we can now see the girl’s hands and face. She is holding us and moving us gently from side to side. Once she has retrieved the gun, her heartbeat begins to slow and becomes more regular, it ceases as we cut.

- Cut into scene four -

Scene four – The amnesty.

Cut to:
Int. Daytime. OTS, the girl crouches over the hiding place and we can see that she has the gun in her hands. There is a pause before we hear a knocking at the door. She panics and, flustered, returns the gun to the hiding place and rises to answer the door.

Cut to:
Int. Night-time. The corridor outside the girl’s room. We can see the door open a little and she pokes her head out, clearly concerned. We hear another girl’s voice.

Girl #2: (off) “Hey, listen, a couple of us are gonna shoot down to Mojo’s for a few drinks, you wanna come?”

The girl looks annoyed but still scared, she speaks quickly without making eye contact. We pan around to see the second girl as they talk.

Girl: “No, um… Look, I’m busy and I can’t… I have no money anyway, so… Sorry but, um…”

Girl#2: (concerned) “That’s ok, don’t worry about it. Are you alright?”

Girl: “Yeah, I’m fine, just in the middle of something that’s all. Hey, you didn’t happen to catch the news did you? I missed it.”

Girl#2: “Um, I think so. There was something about that amnesty, er, the new train station, I think. Oh, and they found that little girl that was missing.”

Girl: “Oh great. What did you say about an amnesty?”

Girl#2: “You know, people hand in guns, knives, that kinda thing. No questions asked, supposedly. It’s a little bit dodgy if you ask me, I mean, imagine the things they’ll get.”

Girl: (defensive) “What? How do you mean?”

Girl#2: “Like murder weapons and stuff. And you hear such horror stories about these weird home-made things, it freaks me out.”

The girl affects an appalling air of nonchalance, leaning against the door frame unconvincingly.

Girl: “Oh, ok so there wasn’t anything too important then. (conspicuous pause) so, I’m gonna get back now, I’m sorry I can’t make it out.”

The second girl begins to respond but the door is shut on her before she can really speak. We switch back to the gun’s POV once more as, from the hiding place; it observes the girl as she passes around her room, as if a weight has been lifted from her. She moves to a CD player in the corner of the room and puts on some music, humming along briefly before moving to the edge of the frame to change. As she does, she dips in and out of shot.
Fully changed and ready for bed, she moves to the light switch and we are left in darkness.

- Cut to black –

Scene five – The gun takes hold.

Open on:
Ext. Dusk. The girl walks along a moderately busy street, she is walking with purpose but it is clear that her nerves are heightened and she is actively avoiding close proximity with passers by. She is carrying a large shoulder bag, which she keeps pressed to her.
We begin on LS and remain as she draws closer to us, eventually transforming the shot to ML (*). Throughout VO, we follow as she passes, then cut again to ML.

VO: “So, there it was, easy. One trip to a police station, anywhere and my problem was solved. It was gone, and by some illogical extension, so was he. The weird power that he and his dirty little secret had over me would disappear. The only thing left was to actually take the thing out of my room and carry it to the station. Naturally, I didn’t take it to my local one. Just walking down the street, I would have felt a thousand x-ray eyes watching me, judging the girl who felt the need to go around armed.
No problem though, all I’d do would be to take the train to the next town over and hand it in there.”

VO ceases briefly as we see the girl, in ML, obviously having taken a wrong turn. She glances around her in confusion. (*) She starts to try and retrace her steps but is finding herself more and more lost. She looks up to the sky and we notice that the light is beginning to fade.

VO: “Except, there was a problem. I didn’t actually know where the fuck I was. I’d only been there a few times, usually only for a few hours and always with the express purpose of getting drunk. How the hell did I know where the police station was? I got lost. Of course I did, sober and scared, I didn’t know my way around. And that’s when it happened.”

VO ceases as the girl has turned down a blind alley, she swears to herself and turns to head back. In front of her, looming over is a hooded man, a second lurks in the shadows silently.

Hooded Man: “Cold tonight, innit darlin’?”

The man moves closer in to her, totally blocking her escape. As he moves, he fills the frame and, when he smiles a sinister smile, we freeze.

VO: “This was not good. He didn’t want to talk about the weather.”

Cut to:
The girl backs away down the alley, but quickly finds herself against a wall. Off, we hear the hooded man’s laughter. We remain with the girl as he approaches, making a transition into his OTS (*). The second man approaches also, eventually forming a double OTS. Throughout, the girl cowers against the wall, looking small and vulnerable.

VO: “Well, what would you have done, just let them fucking go through with it? No, no, no, I don’t think so. Nobody can blame me for what I did. That part of it, I would do again in a flash.”

We see a change in the girl’s manner as she realises the potential of the gun to help her out of trouble. She rises up to face the men, her hand darting into her bag. As she draws out the gun, the white cloth billows out and falls away, we swiftly and jerkily move into CU of her hand, the barrel dominating the frame.

Girl: “I don’t give a fuck about the cold, now back the fuck away.”

Cut to:
ML. The two men raise their hands in the air to indicate a mistake, not submission. The second man retreats back to the shadows without a sound while the hooded man remains motionless.

Hooded man: “Whoa, ok, ok, there’s no problem here. We, uh, we just thought you were someone else, that’s all darlin’.”

Second Man: “Yeah, that’s right Joe, wrong girl. We’re sorry.”

Cut to:
ML, the girl, arm outstretched, grips the gun. We hear rapid footsteps as the two men retreat. The girl slowly retracts her hand, almost as if she is reluctant to do so. She brings the gun in close to her and tilts it side to side, looking over its surface, a smile flashes briefly across her face. Moments pass and she replaces the gun in her bag, neglecting to retrieve the white cloth. (*) The girl boldly begins to walk back the way she came.

Cut to:
Int. Night-time. The girl sits on a train, alone in the carriage. She holds her shoulder bag to her, but more tenderly now, as if its contents are protecting her, rather than vice versa. We close in on her hand, gently touching the exterior of the bag.

VO: “I hadn’t felt anything like it before. The power to do anything I wanted and, more importantly, to prevent anything I didn’t. Suddenly, I began to think of him fondly, the bizarre legacy he had left me filled me with something I had never felt before. I had seen the darkness in the world and, thanks to him, I had beaten it. At that moment, I loved him.”

We remain with the carriage for a moment, pulling back to see the girl sitting, poised, looking strong and confident. All we hear is the noise of the train.

- Freeze –

Scene six – The gun tightens its grip.

Cut to:
Int. Morning. We pan around the same bedroom as in scene one, but it has become quite untidy. We pass, in the same manner as before, over to the clock; the time is 09:23am. The girl sleeps, one hand under her pillow. (*) We see her slowly wake, gently rising in-amongst the duvet and reaching for the television remote control. She turns it on and sits up further in her bed.

VO: “For whatever reason, probably that what nearly happened could happen again at any time, I kept it. At first it was just near me, protecting me wherever I went. But then something changed, I started going out at strange times, to places I’d never have gone before, purely because I knew that as long as I had it with me, I was safe.”

Cut to:
ML, the television flickers into life and we see a typical western shoot-out scene. The girl changes the channel and we catch the tail end of a local news program. VO ceases.

Newsreader: “Over three hundred handguns and approximately one thousand miscellaneous firearms during the five weeks over which the amnesty ran. A police spokesman, speaking yesterday, said…”

Here, the girl switches the television back to the film and we linger for a moment before we cut.

Cut to:
The Gun’s POV. The girl removes us from the new hiding place under her pillow. We are carried gently to her shoulder bag and placed inside. As the bag is closed, we cut.

Cut to:
Ext. Twilight. The girl walks through streets that seem run down and dangerous, passers by eye her suspiciously but she remains bold. (*) She heads towards a subway.

VO: “It had a hold of me and it soon got so that I was terrified of leaving my room without it. The world took on a different tone, like everyone was looking to hurt me. I needed it, I desperately needed it to stop them.”

The girl has passed into the subway now and, as VO ceases, we can see a tramp sitting against the wall. As she draws near, he speaks.

Tramp: “Spare any change for a cup of tea love?”

Girl: (angrily) “No.”

Tramp: “Oh go on, just twenty pence, I’d love a brew.”

Girl: “No, leave me alone.”

The tramp laughs quietly and shifts around, it is clear that he would have difficulty standing in the state he is in.

Tramp: (joking) “Hey, don’t make me get up there. I’m just kidding love, you have a…”

The girl has frozen, her back to the camera. She dips into her shoulder bag and, before the tramp can finish his sentence, she pulls out the gun and forces it violently into his face.

Girl: “See this? It says that I don’t give you any fucking money and you shut the fuck up and leave me alone.”

The tramp is visibly terrified, too scared to speak, he merely slumps away, trembling slightly. The girl pushes him once more with the barrel of the gun, muttering. (*) We see her, in shadow, leaving the subway, the gun still in her hand. We remain with the same shot until the girl leaves to the left, then we cut.

VO: “After that, I lost track. Things had been out of hand for a while but they very quickly got a lot worse, I had stopped going out pretty much completely. My paranoia had taken over and even the noises outside my room terrified me. I couldn’t cope without it near me, without it, I was afraid of everything.”

Cut to:
Int. Evening. We are back in the Girl’s room, seeing things from the gun’s POV as it lies in full view on her bed. She is moving around, making a vague effort to tidy. VO ceases and we hear a knocking at the door, the girl freezes in horror.

VO: “I can’t even remember how long it had been when they came round. It could have been a few days, or it might have been a month, I just don’t know. If I could have stepped back from everything that had happened before then and given it up, I certainly couldn’t afterwards.”

Meanwhile, the knocking has come a second time and, following a short pause, we hear a key turning in the lock. The girl dashes over to the bed and grabs the gun. We remain with its POV and all we can see is the room moving wildly around. We level out and it becomes clear that the girl is pointing the gun at whoever is about to come through the door. We are trembling slightly but despite that, we see a middle aged woman enter, followed by a middle aged man, the girl’s mother and father. The mother begins to speak to the girl before she looks up and sees what is occurring, after looking up, she freezes.

Mother: “Darling…”

The father immediately positions himself between his wife and daughter, his hands raised with palms facing us.

Father: “Sweetheart, what’s going on? We…”

Cut to:
ML, the girl holds out the gun threateningly. She is clearly shocked and has no idea how to diffuse the situation.

Girl: (quietly) “Get out, you don’t come through my door without my permission.”

Cut to:
The mother begins to cry and the father slowly, tentatively approaches the girl.

VO: “I couldn’t put it down.”

Girl: (off, terrified) “Out, now.”

The girl’s parents, bemused and afraid, back slowly out of the room. The mother is sobbing and the father appears angry. One step at a time, he exits. We close in on the door and as it shuts, we cut.

- Cut into scene seven -

Scene seven – His return.

Open on:
Int. night-time. We see the girl’s alarm clock; the time is 00:23. (*)
The room is in shadow save for a light that clicks on and off periodically.

Cut to:
ML, the girl sits on the floor, her back to the door. In one hand she holds the gun, in the other is the light cable with the switch she is clicking on and off. She looks on edge, totally strung out, it seems as if she has not slept for days.

VO: “That evening, after I made sure they had gone, I went out for food. I was so scared that my hand was touching it the whole time. Everyone and everything was bearing down on me and it was all I could do not to pull it on the cashier when he short changed me. That was the last time I left my room, after that I just ordered in, even then I was scared.”

We hear a slight knock on the door and she immediately flicks the light off and sits in silence, her eyes darting upwards, as if she can see who is there. The knocking comes again.

Girl: (quietly) “Who’s there?”

Young Man: (off) “It’s me, open up.”

There is an awful silence while the girl takes this in, she cannot really comprehend it yet.

Young Man: (off) “Listen, I’ve come back, I’m sorry. Please let me in and we can talk.”

The girl is unsure of how she feels but slowly rises to open the door. Before she does, we see her tuck the gun into the back of her jeans. She unlocks the door and backs away rapidly. We can see now that her room is a hideous mess, with half eaten meals littering the floor. Painfully slowly, the door opens and through it emerges the young man, clad in the same clothes as in scene one. He appears clean and calm. We cut between them as they talk, the girl always maintaining the distance between the two of them.

Girl: “What happened, they said you were… It was on the news.”

Young man: “It wasn’t real, if you’ll let me, I’ll explain it all.”

The girl laughs a humourless laugh and, as the young man approaches, she backs away.

Young man: “Look, I just needed to get away for a while and keep my head down. But it’s all over now, it’s ok. (pause) I missed you.”

Girl: “You’ve what? How can you say that?”

Her voice is defensive but, at his last statement, her body language softens and it becomes clear that she is pleased. She allows him to approach, as he does so, he produces several crumpled pieces of paper.

Young man: “I wrote everything down, so if you don’t want me to talk then you can just read it.”

He nervously gestures with the papers and then places them down on the desk.
Young man: “I missed you.”

Girl: (pauses) “I’ve missed you too.”

They close in on one another, but the young man has one last thing to sort out before they embrace.

Young man: “Do you still have what I gave you? (laughs) I can’t believe I gave it to you, that was stupid and I’m sorry. Anyway, I know where I can get rid of it now, so…”

He looks past the girl to where he originally hid the gun. From this shot we can see the girl reach behind her and take hold of it.

Girl: (defensive) “What do you mean, it was stupid? You didn’t come back for me at all, did you? You came back to take my gun.”

Here, she draws the gun for one last time, pointing it at the young man. He reacts with shock, unsure of why it is happening.

Girl: (loudly) “Well you can’t have it. You gave it to me and it’s not fair for you to come and just demand it back. You gave it to me and It’s mine now.”

Young man: “What the fuck happened? You said you never even wanted it near you, and now you’re waving it in my face.”

Girl: “Back away. You said you’d come to explain it all to me, so talk. Come on, talk.”

Young man: “Oh god, I can’t believe this. Not until you give me the gun. I don’t know what you think I’ve done to you, but I think you’d better put it down, you don’t need it, you don’t need to point it at me. Please, think back, you know me, you know me, put it down.”

The girl begins to lower the gun slightly, then her expression hardens and she raises it again. The sequence repeats several times before we hear the young man’s voice.

Young man: (off) “Think about it, you don’t need it.”

We flash back to the girl’s memory of the two of them together.

Cut to:
Int. Night-time. XCU, the girl and the young man. All we see are the sides of their faces, they are very close and he is kissing her tenderly.

Cut to:
The girl keeps the gun raised, she is struggling with herself.

Cut to:
The young man stands motionless, pleading her with his eyes. He is terrified but trying not to let it show.

Cut to:
Flashback sequence.

Cut to:
The girl slowly begins to lower the gun.

Cut to:
The young man reaches out to her, keeping his eyes fixed to her face.

Young man: (softly) “That’s it, please (pause) let me take the gun.”

Cut to:
ML, the girl has the gun almost fully lowered. The young man’s shoulders appear in the frame, he moves swiftly towards the gun. Immediately, the girl raises it once more.

Cut to:
Flashback sequence. Immediately as we cut, we hear a colossal, shattering gunshot. Within the flashback, the young man grimaces and groans in pain. He falls out of shot, leaving the girl alone.

VO: “Like I said, I needed it, I couldn’t give it up, not even for him. It was like it controlled me, not the other way round.”

Remaining within the flashback, we see the girl, solemn, shut her eyes tightly. A tear falls as she begins to see the power that the gun has exerted over her.

Cut to:
The girl’s room. We can see the girl standing, tearful, over the body of the young man. We see little of him although we are aware of his presence. Slowly, the girl moves over to the desk and retrieves the crumpled papers. Pushing the gun into the back of her jeans, she leaves the room.

Cut to:
Ext. Night-time. ML, the girl stands alone under the glow of a streetlight, she is reading the papers given to her by the young man (*). Momentarily, she moves on, heading towards us. She passes into shadow and we see little of her until she is lit by the next streetlight, shifting into CU. She remains as she reads a little more, then passes out of shot.

VO: “I would never have done that, I mean, not if it had been me thinking and acting clearly. He had given it to me, this thing that was simultaneously protecting me and destroying me. When he wrote to me, he told me that he’d got it to protect himself from the life he was living, but he soon realised that the best way to do that was to disappear, to remove himself from it. That’s why he went away and that’s why he gave the gun to me, to keep it away from himself until he could come back. He said he was trying to save himself before it and the life that came with it ruined him.
He never knew it but, in giving it to me, he had saved me and ruined me at the same time.
In my hands, there was no protection, no safety, not now. Now there was only ruin.
There was only one thing left for me to do, my only conscious act of protection since the time in the subway. I had to remove myself from it.”
Cut to:
The girl walks alone by the river bank, it is very early in the morning and the light is growing. She continues to walk throughout VO then, as it ceases, we cut.

Cut to:
The local news programme is partway through; the same newsreader as in previous scenes is reading an article.

Newsreader: “…the second incident of death by drowning in the area within six months. The police are treating the death as suicide and a spokesman, speaking today said…”
- Cut to black –


- Credits roll –

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Comments by other Members

stephanieE at 10:00 on 02 July 2003  Report this post
A strong story - I like the idea of filming from the gun's pov, and the idea that the gun has a personality of its own.

One minor criticism - the scene where she finds out about the amnesty didn't ring entirely true. If these are students living in a shared house, I can't believe that they would pay that much attention to the news (a story about finding the missing girl would surely be more of a lead than a gun amnesty anyway, wouldn't it?). I felt it would be more realistic that she might catch the edge of some story (on someone else's radio perhaps?) and then rush to find out more. In this way, you can do away with Girl No 2 altogether - reducing your cast and making the focus tighter. But that's just my opinion - others may well have contrary opinions!

I understood at the end that she had succeeded in faking her own death, in the same way that the boy had done - was that the intention, or did you see it as a more tragic ending?

I hope you have the opportunity to turn this script into a short - good luck with it.

ben macia at 12:21 on 02 July 2003  Report this post
thankyou for your comments, it's pleasing to know that some of the ideas i had have come through and are clear to the reader. although the students in the piece are based on students i have known from my time at uni, you're probably right in suggesting they're not exactly average, perhaps a little more subtle plot exposition is needed. as far as the ending goes, i had hoped to leave it open to personal interpretation, my girlfriend decided that the girl had killed herself and you came to the conclusion that the death was fake. this is good news, thankyou again for your opinion, every bit of feedback i can get is welcome.

ben macia at 14:11 on 08 July 2003  Report this post
feedback, please!

to all members of this group, i'm trying to get 'hiding place' up to scratch for submission to a competition in early september. any feedback from you guys, good or bad will be gratefully recieved. a slightly tweaked version from the one you see here exists but it's all basically the same. if any of you out there think you can point me in the right direction or whatever then please let me know. group hosts? experts? anyone?...

tweed at 14:20 on 08 July 2003  Report this post
First things first ben. Get it into the proper format.

ben macia at 14:27 on 08 July 2003  Report this post
proper format? this is exactly what i need, i have altered the format according to the guidelines given by the bbc for my hard copies, but somehow the layout didn't transfer to ww. are there problems with the body of the text? i don't pretend to be anywhere near an expert, so i need all the help i can get...

tweed at 14:42 on 08 July 2003  Report this post
Did you download smart script from the writers room at the Beeb? Doesn't look like it. Smart script is free and with a bit of fiddling around is excellent, I've been using it for ages. Either that or pay a few hundred for Final Draft etc. Look around on the net. Search for screenwriting sites, see what you can pick up knowledge wise.
Also, what do you mean by a short film? Shorts are usually ten mins or so, yours looks longer?

tweed at 14:44 on 08 July 2003  Report this post
...also Ben, have a look at one of my shorts for format (if nothing else). I think 'the last line' is still in the film section

tweed at 14:45 on 08 July 2003  Report this post
Ben...remember 1 page equals 1 minute (ish).
I'm gone.

ben macia at 14:59 on 08 July 2003  Report this post
thanks tweed, this is just what i needed. at the end of it all i'm only 21 and (although full of myself as far as my raw talent goes) i don't really know how to make the next step. the last thing i need is more 'oh, that's really nice' as i get from family and friends. anybody got anything on the actual text before i start to alter the format?

tweed at 15:57 on 08 July 2003  Report this post
me again. remember ben that film is a story told in pictures. Much as I love dialogue you have to learn to be sparse and disciplined with it...get the old red pen out mate...
Oooh 'ark at me...as though I know what I'm talking about...

stephanieE at 15:58 on 08 July 2003  Report this post
Tweed has some good points Ben, it's important to get the format right. A tip there too, don't go overboard with the descriptive stuff - economy is the watchword here. Give enough information to understand what's happening in terms of action, but directors (maybe you?) and actors need to have a little leeway to interpret the script. Another tip, in film scripts, they often use (beat) to indicate a pause in diaogue. You can download sample scripts from the internet too, or buy them on-line (Raindance.co.uk is a good source of advice too).

In terms of the dialogue, there are one or two words that I thought didn't necessarily sit naturally within her speech. ('illogical' was one). Try reading it out loud to see if it flows.

One other point - is it a cashier at a food store or a checkout girl? Cashier implied bank to me...

Hope this is useful

Peter D at 15:37 on 27 August 2003  Report this post

I hesitated to review this because the main thing wrong with the script is the formatting: there are numerous places on line that can provide help with this - and without it you're really doing your script a disservice.

A few tips:

CAP scene headers
Don't number
There are strict page formats - adhere to them
Scene headers = INT/ EXT. PLACE - DAY/NIGHT
Start with FADE IN: End with FADE OUT:

There are also a few more general things I'd advise:

Don't over-use parentheticals
Don't use Cut-to/ directing terms
Don't direct - show us without using technical terms
Name the characters
Use the 'rule of 4': unless there's a v good reason, restrict action line paragraphs and dialogue to 4 lines:
I'd also paragraph off the action lines according to shots to make it an easy read - at the moment it's extremely dense and difficult to read.

A few other comments: who's saying the VO? Why are thee so many characters?

Rewrite it then I'll take another look: it looks interesting, but you need to get the formatting right before I can get to the heart of the story.

Best of luck with it


Anna Reynolds at 13:34 on 10 October 2003  Report this post
Ben, there's a really unusual idea in here struggling to get out. I won't repeat what others have rightly said about needing to edit quite a lot, be economical, get formatted and think about the length- it feels to me like it's more than a short film at the moment, and maybe you'll need to decide if it is a 10-minute film, or a longer piece. I also think there are questions about the VO- first of all, whether it's absolutely necessary, at the length it is at present, she's often telling us far more than we need to know, and about when you use it. For me, what makes this work is the very original obsession/need/relationship she develops with the gun, and the way that transforms the world around her and her basic character even. I think the beginning could be much condensed so we can get to this lovely stuff sooner. Just some thoughts there.. and when you're at a stage to start sending it out, do check out your local Arts Council organisation- they'll probably have a short film scheme or workshops or something where you can script polish, get together with directors/producers etc. You're always going to be in a stronger position if you're in a team like that. Good luck- this has some really exciting ideas and images.

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