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Genre: Sci-Fi Action Thriller
Premise (from writers): Set in a post-apocalyptic NYC ravaged by a rapid-aging virus, THE MAYFLY follows a soldier who lives his entire life in one day, as he goes against his training to transport an uninfected woman to safety.
Why You Should Read (from writer): We’ve been pitching THE MAYFLY as, “Children of Men meets Escape From New York,” but the premise is best explained by a single question: What if you lived your entire life, from infancy to old age, in 24 hours? There is a chapter in Alan Lightman’s “Einstein’s Dreams” that explores a similar concept, except his story doesn’t include a certified bad-ass who attempts to reverse the state of the world before his time is up. In other words, Alan shit the bed, so we changed the sheets. Every screenplay is hard work. Every screenplay is a labor of love. Not every screenplay is good. Although it took us a while to get here, we believe we’ve reached the point in our journey as screenwriters where we know the difference. We humbly submit our egos to the counsel and would love some help in continuing to develop this script.
Writers: Ryan Curtin & Todd Kirby
Details: 107 pages

tom-cruiseThe prototypical actor who can play young and old.

So yesterday I got a little rant-y and overly negative. I actually don’t think screenwriting is dead or anything ridiculous like that. And while the spec system is rigged to resist more thoughtful work, that doesn’t mean you can’t trick it. It doesn’t mean you can’t slip a lobster inside the Big Mac you’re serving them. You just have to be sly about it.

One of the things I complained about yesterday was this notion of “effort.” Or “lack of it.” Because a good script is so hard to write, anything less than everything you’ve got isn’t going to be good enough. So when I see shoddy scripts with only the barest grasp of storytelling, I wilt like an aged dandelion. Whether your script is the best script in the world or the worst piece of shit in 9 counties, I want to be able to tell that you gave it your all.

I believe today’s writers gave it their all, or a pretty close approximation to it. The amount of world-building alone indicates they thought a lot about it. My question would be, did they put TOO MUCH into it? Let’s look at The Mayfly’s plot and then I’ll explain what I mean.

It’s the far-off future just outside Manhattan. To bring you up to speed, some war-hungry dimwit created a fast-aging virus that nearly wiped out all of mankind. Earth’s most recent generation still has to deal with this moron’s creation, as some people have the fast-aging virus and some don’t. Some people live till they’re 60. Some live till they’re 1 day old. It’s a crap shoot. Oh, and if you live for one day, you grow up and live your whole life in that day, baby to old man.

This is where it gets a little confusing. The people of Alistair Kingdom have a King who’s looking for a “breeder” to help continue the Royal bloodline. Breeders don’t have “die early” blood.  Breeders have a normal life expectancy.  Which makes them rare.  Problem is, this breeder chick they need is in Manhattan. How the King knows this, I’m not sure.  But he does.

The king nominates half-day old soldier, Morrow, to retrieve the breeder. Yes, Morrow is half a day old. But he looks like he’s 30. And he somehow has the intelligence of a 30 year-old, which I didn’t quite understand. But Morrow, being so young and therefore easy to manipulate, believes everything the King tells him, and goes off to secure the Breeder.

Once he finds her (Margo) he pulls a “Midnight Run” and handcuffs her, then starts back home, Shrek-style. You gotta remember, this guy’s got to move. It’s not like he can head home tomorrow. He’ll be dead. On their way back, Margo tells Morrow that he’s been fed lies. That the King of Alistair is purposefully letting people die for his own gain. Instead of offering her up as a sex slave, he should take her to something called “The Program” – where scientists still try to save humanity.

Morrow is torn, but eventually decides against it. His allegiance is to the King. However, after he takes her home and sees how she’s treated, he realizes how wrong he was, and that he must save poor Margo, all before he dies at the end of the day.

So in last night’s newsletter, I brought up something called “The Burden of Investment.” And what it amounts to is, how much information is the writer forcing you to take in before you can enjoy their story? How many characters, worlds, rules – essentially, how much exposition do we have to sit through before we can be entertained?

The Mayfly had a very high burden of investment. There was a Kingdom. There was a past virus. This virus acts differently/randomly for each person. There are p-counts. There are breeders. There are uninfected breeders. There are “IDs.” There are CONS. There are CONS pretending to be IDs.

My brain was so fried after 20 pages, I was pointing right while saying left. The problem when you have such a high burden of investment, is you risk losing your reader. Because there’s so much coming at the reader, it’s hard for them to pick out the essential story beats that convey the central plot.

The story’s clear to the writer because he’s gone over it 300 times. We’ve gone over it one time.  That’s what happened to me. I understood that Morrow was going after this girl in Manhattan, but I wasn’t exactly sure why (till later). That’s not to say the answer wasn’t there. It’s that it may have gotten lost inside all those other things the writer was trying to tell us.

I understand this is sci-fi and there’s going to be some world-building involved, but one of the first things I tell sci-fi writers is, “Don’t let things get too complicated. Don’t lose the reader by setting up and explaining ten thousand things right away.”

This may sound contradictory to what I wrote yesterday – when I said I wanted more depth in screenplays – but depth doesn’t mean over-complicating and over-populating and confusing your reader. That’s a different thing entirely, and the overwhelming amount of information being conveyed in the opening act of The Mayfly was too much for my little fried brain to handle.

It feels a little like Ryan and Todd came up with this idea and despite realizing it was always going to be a battle, they were going to do it anyway. Through hell or high water. And there’s a part of me that admires that stubbornness. I think it’s important to challenge yourselves as writers. But there’s another part of me that says, “Why torture yourself?”

I mean, there are still very basic things I’m miffed about that seem directly related to the concept. How do these people learn to be human in one day? How are they speaking fluent English by 9am? How do they learn how to fight or be a warrior? By noon, no less? Even in the most optimistic scenario, wouldn’t it take an adult a couple of days to learn how to walk? That was a huge problem for me, was that I never fully embraced the premise. That’s not to say it wasn’t interesting. It’s just one of those premises where you’re always aware of it, where you’re always wondering how they’re going to pull it off as opposed to just enjoying the story.

Did Ryan and Todd try to do too much? Did having a kingdom in the future along with all these complicated factions/rules take precedence over exploiting the theme at the very core of the concept – aging?  That’s something I kept asking myself.  This seemed to be more about continuing bloodlines than realizing how short life was. I mean aging’s brought up a few times (for example, Morrow’s never going to see a sunrise) but it’s through dialogue and it feels inconsequential.  The theme of aging and time passing should have been explored a lot more thoroughly here.

The writers bring up comparisons to Children of Men, and one of the reasons that movie worked so well was that it was so simple. There wasn’t any complex mythology with Kings and Princes. That’s why I tell sci-fi writers that if they can keep their futuristic societies relatively close to current society, they should do it. Because then you don’t have to spend half your script explaining shit, like a whole new political system.

I’m really torn on this. Does The Mayfly really get better if you ditch all the Kingdom stuff? It seems like the story wouldn’t be burdened with so many limitations that way. Then again, some of the better character moments happen inside the Royal Family (I liked the complex family dynamics of creating an heir).

But yeah, the more I think about it, the more I believe there were too many ideas crammed into here. And it hurt the story. Morrow and Margo rarely got a chance to talk about anything real (life, love, happiness, loneliness, fear) because they were always focusing on p-counts and breeders and bloodlines and Cons. Once exposition takes precedence over character, you’re in trouble. But it’s often the price you pay when you try and over-mythologize a script.

Moving forward, I’d try to streamline the opening act. Strip out as much information as you can and make the world of Mayfly as easy to understand as possible. You do that – this script is going to be so much better.

Script link: The Mayfly

[ ] what the hell did I just read?
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Reader Reminders – When you’re writing one of these scripts with SO much information, you might want to repeat the protagonist goal for the audience a second time. I didn’t know why they were going after Margo here. The answer was in there somewhere, but it got lost inside all the information dumps. So it was nice when, later, Morrow reminds us that they’re getting Margo in order to continue the Royal bloodline. If your plot is simple, you won’t have to do this. It’s only required when your setup is packed with information and exposition.

  • Ange Neale

    Lauren, quick before anyone notices!

    Top of the page: ‘The Mayfly’, not ‘The Mayflower’!

    • fragglewriter

      That’s so funny cause I was confused as how the Mayflower is sci-fi.

      • klmn

        If it brings alien pilgrims–

    • Casper Chris

      I guess Wednesday’s script reviewee “Flower” made a cameo today…

  • shewrites

    I had the same problem with the concept of a one day life. It begs too many questions and not the right kind, mostly the ones that make it very hard to suspend disbelief.
    I understand that the writers are attached to that hook so why not have the following: in that world, people grow normally until they are say thirty. On their thirtieth birthday, they find out if they belong in the group of the one day left to live or in the one with the normal life expectancy.
    This way, you still get you ticking clock (one day to save Margo) but you avoid all the questions about how does one evolve to a mature, knowledgeable human being in the span of a few hours etc,,,?

    • Ange Neale

      Getting to 30 then getting terminated — classic ‘Logan’s Run.’
      I’ve gotta admit, first thing I looked at in that AOW was ‘Mayfly’ and, well, Dracula in a blood bank. I feasted. So I’m gonna sit this one out and go to bed (it’s almost midnight here).
      Have fun taking it apart, everyone! Hopefully Ryan and Todd will get such good feedback they end up with a terrific script. Congrats, boys!

    • OddScience

      Or, since it’s Sci Fi, how about as soon a child’s born their brain’s hooked up to some type of machine/computer that would program all of life’s basic info into them — kinda like The Matrix (Neo, “I know Kung Fu.”).

      And learning the non-basic stuff along the way could work as a “fish out of water” set up.

      I think the concept’s a cool one, but if people don’t buy into it, it’s a lost cause.

      • Casper Chris

        Or, since it’s Sci Fi, how about as soon a child’s born their brain’s hooked up to some type of machine/computer that would program all of life’s basic info into them — kinda like The Matrix (Neo, “I know Kung Fu.”).

        I think this is already in the script. As I recall, they use “neck ports” to feed information to the Mayflys’ brains. I think that’s how the script explains the quick learning.

        • OddScience

          Oh, my bad. That’s what I get for commenting w/o reading the script first.

          But in my defense I was just going off the review,“I mean there’s still very basic things I’m miffed about that seem directly related to the concept. How do these people learn to be human in one day? How are they speaking fluent English by 9am? How do they learn how to fight or be a warrior? By noon no less? Even in the most optimistic scenario, wouldn’t it take an adult a couple of days to learn how to walk? That was a huge problem for me, was that I never fully embraced the premise.”

          Did Carson miss it, or does it need to be explained better?

          • Casper Chris

            Carson probably missed it.

            As I recall, the script only has one brief visual of a Mayfly being “hooked up” so it’s easy to miss on a read-through. I guess it’s one of those things that’ll be clearer once you actually see it on screen.

        • OddScience

          In the script, the day of the week should be Monday. Then the girl’s name could be Tuesday. DOUBLE-WHAMMY!

        • Ange Neale

          Yeah, I read it and immediately got the hows and whys.

          The only really big suspension of disbelief that I had to get past at the time is how to stuff enough nutrients into an infant to build an adult male skeleton, organs, musculature and skin in a few hours.

          Shewrites makes a good point about letting the infant grow a little first, and although she picks 30, then kick in the progeria virus (the ageing disease). I’d go much sooner than that — say late puberty, when most of the physical growing is already done. So it erupts like wisdom teeth.

    • Nicholas J

      This is a good idea, as the current concept just doesn’t work.

      Or maybe once you get the virus, it speeds up the rest of your life for that one day. Like you could live until 45, get the virus, and die 24 hours later at the age of 90 or whatever. And yes, you could get the virus as soon as you’re born, and 24 hours later die at the age of 90, but you’d be this horrible, monstrosity of a person. Think of all the ways aging 90 years in 24 hours would destroy your body and mind. By noon you’d have the body of a 30 year old, but you couldn’t walk, couldn’t talk, function, laugh, etc. Or maybe you could miraculously figure out how to walk, and you escape the hospital, running down the street, out in the open, this 30 year old person that has literally no concept of anything in existence, think how scary that would be to you.

      So yeah, cool concept, but it’s just laughable to think that these people would be navigating the world saving lives.

      • Kirk Diggler

        Hey Nicholas, I’m curious if you have any interest in taking a look at the first act (25 pages) of a script I’m co-writing with a SS regular? Gotten some feedback already but looking for a few more takes in it.

  • brenkilco

    I’m not a sci fi person and I’ve always felt it was a genre that can hamstring a screenwriter. Set your script in today’s world and you can assume vast amounts of common knowledge with your audience. You don’t have to spend time explaining why traffic lights are red and green. In sci fi you might have to explain everything, and even if the details of this other world are fascinating it wastes time that should be devoted to story and character. Screenplays are short.

    The basic premise here is preposterous. An infant becoming a trained, functioning adult in a few hours. And it doesn’t sound like the authors have done much to make it seem plausible. And there’s a larger problem. If your protagonist is a person who lives only a single day, then your theme is the transience of human life and the reality of death, whether you want it to be or not. And if your narrative devolves into a conventional chase story the whole thing runs the risk of looking awfully shallow. Some cool ideas just don’t stand up to the light of day.

  • PoohBear

    They do sell Lobster Rolls at McD’s in New England.

    Sorry to thread jack does anyone have ‘The Bridge’ script from an old SS review on repped Friday?

    email to mobie540 (at)


    • PoohBear

      That was quick, thanks!

      • OddScience


    • Citizen M


  • Brainiac138

    The What I Learned segment reminds me of all the many ways the studios tried to over-explain Blade Runner. Even though that sci-fi film brings up all these existential matters, it is mostly about a guy who is hired to kill these escaped convicts. Keep the story simple in the complex world.

  • Abdul Fataki

    When I first joined Scriptshadow my aim was getting at least an
    [X] impressive

    but it seems a [ ] worth the read will do just fine xD

    • Rick McGovern

      Except that worth the read isn’t checked!

      • Abdul Fataki

        I’m being realistic :(

        • Rick McGovern

          Have some confidence in yourself! lol

  • Randy Williams

    We all want to get that coveted [ ] genius from Scriptshadow.

    Scriptshadow, himself, or was it Charles Bukowski who once said, “Genius might be the ability to say a profound thing in a simple way”?

    Lots of good stuff in this script, I voted for it, but agree with this review, entirely. Where, most scripts have characters trying to outdo another character with a line of dialogue, the characters here repeatedly tried to outdo their own thoughts. (look at the subway scenes) It was exhausting.

    Thought the erotic parts were very nicely done. Which of the collaborators did those or was it a conjoined effort?

    • Casper Chris

      Thought the erotic parts were very nicely done. Which of the collaborators did those or was it a conjoined effort?


  • Casper Chris

    Yea, kinda sums up my thoughts as well…

    You can tell the writers put a lot of work into this and I applaud them for their effort. I did read the entire script and it had its moments. Just felt a little too concept-y for my tastes.The human element seemed to drown in all these “cool ideas” and I didn’t really connect with any of the characters (our protag Morrow was very bland). And I love sci-fi.

    Here’s what I wrote on Amateur Offerings Weekend:

    It has some interesting ideas, but it feels… I dont know… a bit messy.

    On one hand we have

    Kingdom of Alistair, King Alistair, a princess with a tiara, amphitheaters, ornate canopy beds, cobblestone streets, talk about heirs and bloodlines — coupled with this really posh and old-fashioned dialogue.

    And then we have

    Post-apocalyptic New York, seedy bars, SUVs, humvees, viruses, “zombies” (Ids), neck ports, Mayfly soldiers, machine guns, injected P-count testers — coupled with this really modern and slick dialogue.

    It feels very incongruous. I have a hard time merging these visuals in my head and it’s affecting my enjoyment of the read. It’s like one half of the story world has this dark, gritty feel which makes the other half (the kingdom stuff) feel extremely hokey and out of place.

    • OddScience

      Rio de Janeiro. Not quite as dramatic, but give it a 100 years.

      • Casper Chris

        Yea, it’s a crazy picture, but my point still stands.

        And we’ve talked about this before in relation to suspension of disbelief. There’s actually certain concepts that are in fact plausible in real life, but which, nevertheless, are going to seem implausible and far-fetched within the context of a movie (“truth is stranger than fiction”).

        And while that Rio picture conveys mostly a rich-poor dialectic, the elements in Mayfly conveyed, in my mind’s eye, two different and clashing movie aesthetics. As always, it might work better on screen (seeing is believing), but on top of all the other things the writers were asking me to buy into, it was off-putting.

      • MaliboJackk

        Looks like the US/Mexico border.

        (Could be the US/Canadian border in 25 years.)

        • Linkthis83

          I would like to see all the shacks have those plastic kiddie pools on top of their roofs.

      • Randy Williams

        Ewwww–I guess “moving on up” in Rio doesn’t mean you have to keep your balcony jacuzzi clean.

        • Ange Neale

          That’s what poor housekeepers are for.

  • ElectricDreamer

    Congrats to the authors of THE MAYFLY for snagging the review.
    While I felt LOST IN THE SUPERMARKET was a better read…
    There’s no denying these writers tried to craft an appealing sci-fi premise.

    But for me, there’s a fundamental breakdown with the concept.
    I’m thinking about Tom Cruise’s new movie…
    EDGE OF TOMORROW, already explores a version of this idea.
    In that story, a noob soldier uses time travel to become a hero.
    Why? Because he wants to BETTER HIMSELF to save the human race from extinction.
    I can relate to that guy without knowing a single thing more about him.

    In THE MAYFLY, we have a noob soldier that can only live for one day.
    He has no personal agenda that we can get on board with.
    Nor does he have any personal attachments or personality traits we can relate to.
    In the end, I feel the concept unintentionally PUNISHES the reader.

    By the nature of its design, the reader is kept at arm’s length from PERSONAL DRAMA.

    You can fix Morrow by showing how he relates to other Mayflies in Act One.
    Maybe Morrow is compassionate to another young one that’s freaking out.
    Anything like that would go a long way to endearing your protag to the reader.

    But as written, too many obstacles keep me from getting excited by your story.
    I’d like to read more by this duo. Good luck with your projects, guys!

  • wlubake

    Just throwing this out there, but this seems like a cool concept for a graphic novel, where there is more space to go into the minutiae of the world building process. Sounds like a very visual concept (with the rapid aging and complex worlds) which would also lend itself to that medium. Then you have IP to adapt into a script.

    • Chris Mulligan

      That’s a great idea. Stories like this are built for that medium.

    • Ken

      Good suggestion.

  • Eddie Panta


    Three of the scripts in last weeks AOW hit the ground running. Mayfly was one of them, it starts with a chase scene already in progress. When the characters collide, we don’t know right from wrong or good from evil. I guess not knowing makes it more suspenseful, more engaging. But there’s enough mystery in the story.

    I thought the script would of been better served with a opening where the CHILD is growing, aging over a day and becoming a CON. In other words a more expositional opening. Which is pretty much par for the course in Sci-FI or Zombie films.
    The audience is more accepting of straight up facts in the first stage of the film.

    In World War Z we learn about the virus at the same rate the lead does. The Virus, the problem is explained to the lead. The same is true for the Matrix, the leads discoveries, his doubts and questions are shared with the audience.

    IF in the opening sequence there was an expositional montage of a baby turning into an adult, a CON, at the rate of 3.1 years and hour I think the concept would have a better chance of acceptance.. The audience learns about the virus concept through a propaganda video to train the CONS. I believe this should be conveyed sooner and visually, without propaganda voice over.

    In WORLD WAR Z, the lead and the audience is given everything they need to know to understand the virus by the scientist who goes along on the adventure with the lead. But as soon as he’s done with the exposition. He’s shot dead. He’s no longer needed. The exposition character has served his purpose. The lead’s problem has gotten worse and he doesn’t share the limelight with someone who knows more than him or more than the audience. He’s left to figure the rest out on his own.

    A lot of scripts need to have a crazy action cold open to grab your attention. But the audience isn’t invested enough here to really care about these characters.
    I thought MAYFLY had an interesting enough concept it should of started with it.

    • Rick McGovern

      Hated World War Z… but that’s an interesting point you pointed out about the scientist. I didn’t notice that. It does show that the writer’s really thought it through.

    • Ken

      WORLD WAR Z really handled the gradual discovery of the zombie disease well: Pitt’s character observes little details here and there (how long it takes to transform into a zombie, how the disease is spread, etc), and then starts adding all the information together. In pretty much every other zombie movie the leads never do this (beyond discovering that you need to shoot ‘em in the head.)

  • fragglewriter

    I gave it a bad rating from the logline alone.

    I haven’t read the script, but I’ll give my reasons why I do not like sci-fi:

    -too much going on in a short period of time: I think this story might work best if you give the audience a tiny appetizer (think over-priced restaurant). If you give us just a little bit of everything, our sensors open and we’ll be ready for the entree.

    -complex: this requires more than one movie/book. Usually the beginning gives a glimpse of the world. You don’t feel like you have to throw everything at us at once in a sci-fi movie.

    -too science(y): there are people who failed science but love sci-fi. Too much will give me flashbacks of the class I failed no matter how hard I study and tried to get it through my thick skull.

  • ripleyy

    What frustrates me most of all is that this is a premise ripe for the picking. It is one of those premises that could breed a five/seven-film franchise and *still* have so much to tell – I’m serious, I could see ten films, eleven maybe, and this franchise could have plenty more to tell.

    It all comes down to the premise itself, which is pretty unique. What can you do in a day? Most of us can answer that truthfully: Not a lot. But the story needs to be simplified, like Carson mentioned, in order for this to work.

    Maybe – just maybe – Morrow has a day to leave the walls of the City, to adventure among the ruined, Post-Apocalyptic Earth no one has been out into, to find a woman who has the cure. This is a very simple premise, but it still packs the punch and delivers an imagination that plenty of people can imagine.

    One of the gems about “Mayfly” that Carson failed to mention is the insanity that’s the G.S.U: The goal may be complex, and the stakes may be high – but the Urgency is stratospheric. People will be at the edge of their seats just thinking about it.

    In the end, I think “Mayfly” has so much potential – and look, if it doesn’t work in screenplay form, write it as a damn novel! At least in Novel form, you get to keep all of the story points and not worry about restrictions.

    • Randy Williams

      Agree, potential so much more than the usual fare on AOW, I thought. perhaps….a TV pilot. Each week a different celebrity has a day to live. Kind of like that old show, “The Love Boat”. Throw it up on The Black List and see how it “flies”

      • OddScience

        TV Pilot is what I was thinking too. Make that 107 pages the story/arc for the entire season. Downshift it to 60 pages so you can simplify (you’re not trying to explain everything at once), b/c you’ve got multiple shows to reveal all the finer facets.

        [Plus, Sy Fy has recently stated they’re tired of the B movies and want to get back into better, more respectable series — Battlestar Galactica]

        And you can (you would actually have to) add more storylines/subplots to keep each episode new and exciting. Seems Ryan and Todd would definitely not have a problem with that.

        After writing 3 feature scripts, I’m almost done with my first pilot. I loved writing this pilot SO MUCH MORE than the features. No more cramming EVERYTHING into 100-110 pages. Create an exciting Pilot that sets up a few mysteries/storylines and you’re given (hopefully) 10-22 episodes to tell your tale.

    • Ange Neale

      Futuristic ‘Game of Thrones’ perhaps.
      A power struggle within Alistair’s Royal family between a brother and sister who can’t wait for Daddy to exit stage left.
      IDs like White Walkers.
      CONs trying to put things right.

  • Rick McGovern

    I don’t like this premise of only one day. What’s the point of even doing anything? You get one sunset and it’s over. You can’t fall in love. You don’t even have time to learn to drive or ride a bike.

    Why even have kids? And wouldn’t this world have already died out by now? You need more people giving birth than dying to sustain life. Especially if most people die after one day. Are these One Dayers having sex and giving birth? And why would they want to? Give birth that is.

    If you only have one day, might as well die having sex on a beach during sunset lol

    So the premise is flawed from the get go. I’d change it to at least a year. But even then, it doesn’t feel like it can work, but at least there’s more time. At least they can learn to ride that bike. They have more time to fall in love. Or something!

    This is without me reading it, but for the reasons mentioned above, it leaves me not wanting to even crack it open.

    But the question you ask does make a good poster saying or whatever it’s called.

    • Casper Chris

      Tagline :)

      • Rick McGovern

        Got it!!

  • Midnight Luck

    just a nitpicky point:

    the title on this blog page says THE MAYFLOWER instead of THE MAYFLY.

  • carsonreeves1

    Sorry, fixed the title! Autocorrect kept battling me all night on it and wouldn’t you know it, the title slipped through. I apologize to the writers!

    • klmn

      Now go back and face the rabbit.

      • Citizen M

        Miss SS needs it for her new crockpot. Slow-cooked rabbit. Yummy.

  • Howie428

    I’d agree with others here that the premise is potentially great and that it would be better if kept simple. My instinct would be to have the protag live for a week, since with the right training technology that would be enough time to prepare for something and set out to get it done.
    I’ve scanned the comments and not seen a mention of the obvious comparable movie, “In Time”. That movie had the same kind of dynamics, but by including the option for people to vary their status it has another dimension to it.

  • Casper Chris

    Hi Ryan.

    I already brought attention to this in my post above… in case you missed it (I understand if you wanted to elaborate).

  • Kirk Diggler

    I think any script that includes ‘world building’ is always going to be tough, because you’re asking the reader to keep in mind all the details and minutiae that the writer has incorporated in addition to the regular stuff we need to care about. It requires a deft touch .

    It’s hard to relate certain details without doing an exposition dump. This script did it via the 4-5 page V.O. in the opening ten. I thought the V.O. was well done, but it still took 4 or 5 pages to do it. That’s a whole lot of tell going on where we are need to be connecting to the main character. I like the script’s ambition. I think they need to come up with a better way to showcase their “live a life in a day” scenario. Some have made suggestions about it so I won’t give my version of how they could do it. But I think some simple tweaks could make this better from a storytelling perspective.

  • Midnight Luck

    wasn’t able to read any of last weeks offerings. Sorry, was too busy, didn’t have time. So here are some thoughts after reading only the coverage.

    From Carson’s coverage, and the points everyone is making, I have to agree with the one problematic logic issue: 24 hours to live.

    A Mayfly belongs to the order Ephemeroptera which literally means “lasting a day” or “daily”. And that idea as a concept, should it happen to humans, is very cool for a movie. But very problematic, if we keep the idea of how a human lives and functions as they are now.

    If you look at most flies (regular, fruit, whatever) they have simple lives. The are born, eat, breed, lay eggs (i believe) and die. If they live a day, everything they need to know and do needs to be something capable of being completed in that day. These basic living functions are possible for how these flies live and grow. But how we understand humans as they are now, well, we are not capable of putting those two things together in our head and making sense of it being at all possible. Either the human would have to change, or how we are presented in this script would have to change.

    It is much like comparing us to dogs. They are created similarly, through similar sex acts, then brought up in the belly, and are born similarly, though quicker, then weaned and then they go off and live. Yet they only live about 10-15 years. Also their birth to functioning youth is such a short span of time. Within weeks they are very functional, within a couple months they can be very self capable. Within Six months they are totally capable. Humans are one of the only species of any kind that require such a ridiculous time to become capable, self sustainable living creatures. Think of a human at 6 months, they can’t do anything. At 2 years they are barely capable. A dog? doesn’t need any help by then. So a fly that is born, matures and dies in a day would have a much different looking growth than a human put into the same scenario.

    BUT…. if you read about the Mayfly (just takes a minute, on Wiki) they actually live on water as an egg, or tadpole egg like Nymph thing, for about a year, first!

    So, there you go, if you modify this story and humans have more of that kind of upbringing, then you can Jack them IN, ala Matrix and they can learn all they need to know as Pod People. Then the Mayfly becomes adolescent for a short time after molting once, but can’t reproduce yet, then molt a second time and then can have sex, but they are officially adults now for that 24 hours, where upon most become fish food. As most fly fish lures take after what an Adult Mayfly looks like.

    So anyhow, a long winded explanation, of what could be done to make the Story for the script Mayfly work in a way everyone might get behind easier. And it is how they actually live.

    I think it could work to explain how the virus ridden, new human could live as an egg pod person or Nymph for a year, before emerging for their One Adult Day on Earth.

    Just some of my thoughts on how I think it could work for this story.

    • Ange Neale

      Rear ‘em in artificial uteri to the cusp of adulthood, with the brain dumps done on the way…

      Like ‘The Island’? I seem to recall that grew adult clones.

      While that could work, it dispenses with the nice dramatic irony plot point of ‘The Mayfly’ in that Cliff recognises Morrow as the rapidly-ageing son taken from him at birth in the last few pages. We knew it all along, but Cliff didn’t.

    • S_P_1

      The 24 hour time frame isn’t new. This script made me think of Universal Soldier. I know two completely different concepts. Mayfly is Birth to Death servitude. Universal Soldier is Death back to Life servitude. If they make it plausible the originality factor is there. As long as the reader doesn’t infer basic essentials as a human being onto the script.

      I should post this separate, but what if there is a slave class bred specifically for 24 hour missions. They have no desire other than completion of the mission. We as the viewer / reader would empathize with a person bred for instant short-term servitude.

  • S_P_1

    I recently went to a local writers meeting. Several writers were interested in collaborating. Nothing wrong with that. My point is since this script was a joint effort you have two minds working at a solution. Between the two of you the suspension of disbelief probably occurred early on: birth, extreme rapid growth, death – within 24 hours. That made me think how many people have knowledge of exactly when they’re going to die. Death row prisoners. I’m not trying to suggest a page one rewrite and I’ve done that several times personally. But to bring more people on board with your premise, factor in plausibility more strongly. Or another solution is to say this is a different world than Earth. Now because you aren’t basing the story premise on what we currently know to be true you have leeway to tell the story as you see fit.

  • klmn

    It could be a tv show, but with such short-lived characters it would require frequent recasting.

  • Casper Chris

    Ah, I see.

    Anyway, congrats on being featured.

    The scene with the obstetric table/machine gun made me smile :)

  • David Sarnecki

    I just feel like this concept is too much. Too much to buy for not enough cool story results.

  • Citizen M

    I read the whole script. For a sci-fi action thriller, it had plenty of action and thrills, but I’m not so sure about the sci-fi.

    Usually, if the pace is fast enough, one can enjoy the ride and forget about plot holes and inconsistencies. But I had too many nagging thoughts to fully buy into the world.

    Assuming one could shovel food into people fast enough for them to grow to maturity in a few hours, who is growing the food? How can a farmer who lives for a day look after crops for a year? Who is manning the power stations? Who is pumping and refining the crude oil into gas for the royal SUVs? How do they all get born at the same time? What happens to female mayflies?

    The technology doesn’t seem to have changed much, so I assume we are talking about the near future. Margot says Alistair’s company made the virus, so presumably the mass infection happened during Alistair’s lifetime. I think we need to know more about how Alistair became King. Presumably he is basically a New York gang leader with royal pretensions.

    According to the WYSR, the central question is “what if you lived your entire life in 24 hours?” I think most people’s answer to that is “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you die.” I.e. become an Id. In any case, the question is never addressed. Morrow never really contemplates his brief life, he just takes orders. Take away the 24 hours thing, and he’s just another loyal palace guard who gets turned by the opposition.

    My understanding is that people can be infected to various degrees, so people could live anywhere from one day to a hundred years. This should create an interesting world where social class is largely determined by expected lifespan, but we saw nothing of that, except maybe in the brief bar scene.

    In the bar Morrow asks Loverboy for his permit. Presumably to have sexual relations. Who polices these things? Later Morrow says to Margo, “Intimacy is punishable by death.” I’m not sure if that is for the populace as a whole, or just applicable to sex with Margo because she’s a breeder. Are only the royals and Ids allowed indiscriminate sex? I’d like more clarity on this point.

    Also, my understanding is Margo is wanted by the King as a mother to his grandchild because she is virus-free and her children will live a long time. Yet she says to Morrow, “He’s infecting people like me so he can stay in power.” and says she will become a sex slave and be repeatedly raped. Apparently this is was the fate of Cliff’s wife from the first scene. There seems to be conflicting motivation here. Please clarify the King’s intentions re Margo.

    Jesse was a mystery. We first meet him in gas mask and waders. Presumably for clomping around in tunnels, although it would be nice if someone explained his bizarre dress to Morrow. He calls himself a “tour guide”. Is this an ironic description for a people-smuggler, or is he really a tour guide? If he’s doing something illegal, why would he have a business card? And I can’t understand why he had a certain surgical procedure nor why he left his family. We need more background on why he does what he does.

    Just generally, I never got a feel for what it was like to live in this world, so I couldn’t understand the implications of what was happening, or why people were doing what they did. I think we need to know more about ordinary life in this world. Have some normal people, not just soldiers and royals and rebels.

  • ripleyy

    And that is how you solve the problem. A man with the aging virus gets the biggest reward: life itself. I think that’s the option the writers need to look at.

  • mulesandmud

    Great note about the society. The best part is it doesn’t exclude the option of having a sci-fi universe, it just demands that said universe be recognizable wherever possible, and indicative of the premise rather than distracting from it.

    If Theo in ‘Children of Men’ had gone off to visit the Emperor/CEO of Londonland, our minds would be scrambling to understand why the political landscape had shifted so strangely and what that had to do with not being able to make more babies. Instead, Theo just goes to see his rich cousin, a relation we can easily understand, and anything sci-fi about that character is a direct and logical result of the sci-fi premise: he’s hoarding art because the baby thing has thrown the world into chaos and he’s saving what he can (he’s also living in a power station, not just an apocalyptic choice but meaningful class metaphor).

    Make a decision about where the audience’s attention needs to be, and use your world to point them there in every way possible.

    • Casper Chris

      Exactly. Which also ties into my point about the incongruous feel of some of the Kingdom stuff.

  • mulesandmud

    Other people have said versions of this already, but I suspect your problem isn’t clarity so much as clutter. You’re injecting a lot of exposition into a handful of pages, and even if you were painfully blunt, things would get lost in that shuffle.

    It’s also a question of timing. The data port beat on page 7 is quite clear, but remember that the audience only barely knows the premise at that point. They hardly know what the pertinent questions are, so they don’t register the answers you’re giving them as important. You need to guide people from one point to the next. If you find the optimum pace, they’ll be thinking: “Wait, but if they only live one day, then how do they…oh, I get it. Cool.”

    In a perfect world, the story takes you on an organic tour of your world, illustrating the ideas behind your premise in a clear progression and finding natural moments of explanation. I haven’t read your whole script, so take this all with a huge grain, but if you’re hoping to simply establish all the rules at the beginning to allow the bulk of the film to be unencumbered action, then you’re probably doing yourself a disservice, because the best way for people to learn your rules is to see them dramatized.

    The page 48 moment is good as a simple, casual nod to how this world works, but to someone who barely understood it the first time (forty pages ago) it reads like gibberish. I know we’re all terrified of being too blunt, but there’s no shame in reprising important information. Go read a James Cameron script to see how ham-fisted he gets just to make sure nobody gets confused. He practically draws us a diagram in crayon (not surprisingly, a lot of that bluntness doesn’t make it to the final film).

    Any way, good luck with it, and kudos to you for your gracious and inquisitive approach to feedback. Always a good sign.