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Genre: Thriller
Premise: (from writer) A mother and daughter held hostage at an isolated farmhouse struggle to survive as one of their captors grows increasingly unstable.
Why You Should Read: (from writer) This script was a Nicholl quarterfinalist in 2011. It’s gotten some attention in the past, but has always managed to get lost in the shuffle. I thought this would be a good opportunity to inject new life into a script I feel has been overlooked. I don’t claim the concept is unique, but I do believe the execution is. I wrote it partly to prove to myself I could write a contained thriller and still be original. It’s difficult to stand out once the budget gets below a certain level, but I think this script shows a good effort. It’s got strong structure, three dimensional characters, and has something to say I’ve wanted to express in a story for a long time. It’s a quick read in both style and page count and I’m confident you’ll enjoy it.
Writer: Breanne Mattson
Details: 100 pages

halleberrypicHalle Berry for Audrey?

I don’t know what it is with you Scriptshadow readers. But you always seem to endorse the darkest shit! Last week it was child murder. This week it’s moms and daughters being tied up and threatened in every way imaginable. There’s even a rape backstory. What ever happened to happy stuff!? Why can’t there be a script about ducklings and puppies? Maybe a ducklet and a puppy named Pupplestor team up to solve a farmland crime? It can be a prequel to Babe. I don’t know. This is probably a reflection of me. Something about my writing brings you dark-minded folk to my site. I must be a sicko.

With that being said, today’s script, while hurting my happiness, is actually quite good. The story flies by. Lots of conflict. Lots of drama. Lots of suspense. You could do a lot worse than Warning Shot, that’s for sure. But why hasn’t it done more for Breanne? Let’s throw on our script-fighting capes and find out!

30 year old Audrey is a former valedictorian who dropped out of college for reasons unknown (reasons we’ll find out later). She’s got an 8 year old daughter, Cheyenne, who’s the only thing that gets her through the day. And those days aren’t pretty. Her diner tips barely get above the 2 dollar variety and she’s THIS close to getting evicted from a trailer park. That’s when you know things are really bad.

Lucky for her, her grandfather dies! Well, not “lucky,” but you know what I mean. He left Audrey his farm, and that means her and her daughter at least have a roof over their heads. Little do they know, across town, this loser named Bobby doesn’t know about the grandfather’s death. And Bobby’s grandfather (who’s on his deathbed) has been trying to get the water rights from that man for 60 years. Bobby thinks if he can get them, his grandfather will finally respect him.

Bobby’s plan is to hire the ultra slimy Rainy and his dope head pot dealer, Juarez. The two have simple instructions. Go get the old man to sign the rights away to the water but don’t kill him. Well, when they get there, they find that Audrey and Cheyenee are there instead. And that Grandpa is dead.

So they tie them up, wondering what to do. And that’s when the loose cannon, Rainy, starts getting other ideas – as in maybe he’ll have a little fun before doing business. The threat of rape quickly turns into the threat of murder, but it’s when an innocent church goer, David, comes by and accidentally sees what’s going on, that Rainy loses his shit. He ties all of them up, with plans to kill the lot.

This is WAY more than Juarez bargained for, and he’s eventually able to restrain Rainy, but in this house, on this day, nobody has control of the situation for long. The guns and the power keep shifting, leaving small windows for the weak to make their move. But nothing will prepare anybody for when Bobby shows up. He wants this deal done and he wants it done now. And he doesn’t care who’s standing at the end of the process.

You know, I don’t think I’ve ever 100% agreed with a writer’s “Why You Should Read” until today. This script is EXACTLY what Breanne says it is. The concept’s a little bland. The structure’s really tight. It moves fast. It feels different from other contained thrillers. Understanding your work well enough to know exactly how it comes off is a talent in itself.

The thing holding it back is that lack of a compelling concept. I mean, if I’m a producer and I’m trying to figure out how to market this movie, I’m confused. What are you selling? A movie about a bad guy who ties up a mom and her daughter? That kind of thing happens in almost EVERY MOVIE at some point. It’s an eventual part of every story. So to make something so ubiquitous the hook of your film? That’s not going to get people excited.

I suppose if you got movie stars to play the parts, it might make some money, but these days, with more and more star vehicles going straight to VOD, it’s just really hard. I mean maybe that’s your answer. You get this made as an independent film for a small price and then go straight to VOD. That could happen. But as someone looking at it from the other side, I need to get excited about the concept. And I’m not. Which sucks. Because it is well written, and like Breanne says, well-executed.

In addition to those things mentioned, it’s got a great villain in Rainy. I mean this guy is scary shit. This is highlighted in the section where Rainy doesn’t have a gun. Juarez has taken charge and put Rainy “in the corner” until Bobby gets there. Despite the fact that Rainy doesn’t have a weapon, he’s the scariest he is all movie. The way he grills Audrey with probing questions, you just know he’s biding his time. You know he’s got something up his sleeve. The dude sends chills up your spine!

The dialogue here was really good too (with the exception of Cheyenne, who spoke too much like an adult at times). There’s a strong emotional anchor with Audrey and her daughter. Over the course of the script, we learn that Cheyenne may have not been in the plans, which forces Audrey to tell Cheyenne the truth about her father. And I mean come on. A mother and daughter in a life or death situation? Even if you don’t add a lick of backstory, we’re automatically rooting for them. So the script pretty much has us right from the start.

And then there’s the metaphor (spoiler) behind the story, which is obviously the fact that Audrey was raped in college (which is why she had Cheyenne) and then the farm’s water rights weren’t even hers. They belonged to the city. Which meant none of this ever had to happen. Just like the guy who raped her in college, all they had to do was ask. So that certainly adds an extra layer to the story that makes it hit harder.

The only weak story element was how Bobby’s plan didn’t make sense. He was going to come here, get this woman to sign the rights away, then kill her? It doesn’t take the Dateline Team to figure out that a woman signing over the rights to her land then getting killed a day later may be connected somehow. So I would’ve liked if Bobby’s plan was a bit more tidy, seeing as he’s supposed to be a smart guy.

Breanne is a really good writer. But this is a hard sell.  If I were her, I’d contact every big actress with a daughter, preferably young daughters.  Protecting your daughter is such a primal instinct I could see one of them making a big connection with this material.  And once you have the actress, you have a chance to make your movie.  I’ll be keeping an eye on Breanne.  This is a solid effort.  I can’t wait to see what she does with a bigger concept.

Script link: Warning Shot

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

What I learned: When you’re doing one of these contained thrillers, it’s all about changing the dynamic to keep the story fresh. Cause you can’t change the setting. So changing who’s in charge, what information is revealed, when new characters are inserted – anything that changes the dynamic in that room – that’s how you keep a low-location story fresh. So here, Rainy starts out in charge. Then David shows up. Then Juarez takes charge. Then Bobby shows up and takes charge. Changing the dynamic keeps the story from becoming stagnant.

  • First

    Congrats Breanne.
    I could def see halle playing that role, shes so protective of nahla, getting riled up by the pappo
    But contacting huge stars to get them to read your script is a trick all its own.. unless you have an agent or manager maybe.

    • carsonreeves1

      Maybe Charlize Theron too. She has a young kid.

      • klmn

        She’s already done the woman with a young daughter in Danger thing, in TRAPPED. That wasn’t a good movie, but still–

        • crazedwriter

          Alyssa Milano, Christina Applegate, Gwyneth Paltrow are all candidates. I think the first two have sons, but still…

          • drifting in space

            Maybe re-write it and make the character a male in his mid-20’s and the child an adorable puppy.

            My schedule is wide open to start shooting.

    • Alex Palmer

      Just as long as it isn’t Will Smith.

      • carsonreeves1

        Will Smith would kill the role of Audrey. He’d probably be better as Cheyenne though. Carlton for the role of Rainy for sure.

    • klmn

      Yes, Breanne must learn the art of celeb stalking, without looking like a stalker.

      She should sign up for Ninjutsu classes. Hmm. Where is Carson’s article on that?

      • Breanne

        Interesting you should say that. I actually took Ninjutsu classes for a while haha.

        • klmn

          Then you’re all set!

          • Breanne

            I didn’t say I was good at it. :D

          • Warren Hately

            A good example of “write what you know” :)

    • wlubake

      Halle would require some serious rewrites. The character is 30 (her daughter is the result of an assault in college, so we have to connect the timeline of her daughter’s age to college). Isla Fisher has 2 daughters. Kristen Bell has one.

  • gazrow

    Congrats Breanne! :)

    • Breanne

      Thanks! :)

  • Alex Palmer

    Well done, Breanne. I’m looking forward to reading the script, especially since I’m working on a contained thriller at the moment myself.

    • Breanne

      Thanks! :)

      • Alex Palmer

        Just finished the script. I agree with Carson’s verdict. It’s one of the best amateur specs ever featured on scriptshadow. You weaved theme into the story particularly well and the bitter-sweet final line rocked me.

        The thriller I’m writing doesn’t bear much resemblance to this, but still: I need to raise my game :)

        • Breanne

          Thank you, Alex. Wow, what a compliment! I really appreciate that. Wish you the best with your thriller. :)

  • Poe_Serling

    Nice to see Warning Shot at the top of the AF pile this week – and garnering a ‘Worth the Read’ to boot. A huge pat on the back for Breanne.

    • Breanne

      Thank you! :)

  • ChadStuart

    The feedback my manager has been getting back from producers is that concept trumps great writing. They’re looking for great concepts that are easy to market, so even a “good” concept isn’t enough.

  • wlubake

    A good high concept twist would be to have the mom and daughter holed up in a protected room, BUT, what the intruders want is in that room! I bet that would sell.

  • Bobby

    Rainy is a good villain. I loved his volatile nature and that he didn’t pretend to be anything more than a self professed menace to society. His backstory was interesting and his hatred of trees was both a nice touch and payoff. It felt in tune with the character. There were times when I really feared for Audrey/Cheyenne. Most of all when he was “forcing” himself on Audrey to get her to “ask” to be raped essentially. I thought that was a good left field choice. Rather than have Rainy physically rape her, he psychologically taunts Audrey first by leveraging her daughter. Best scene in the script for me. I wanted to see that sick fucker get his comeuppance from this point on.

    However, I do think Rainy has the potential to be a great villain. He’s the star of the show here in my opinion. I loved that he was older than Juarez, that the younger guy was running the show and the older guy was the wild card. There’s a chance to create a wonderful contrast/contradiction combo between the two characters. If it were me, I’d have Juarez be the one in perceived control, calm and collected. Contradict that by having him smoking weed and snorting coke (maybe out of sight from Rainy to begin with) to help keep his shit together. Then we have the loaded gun Rainy. Make him a teetotaler. He doesn’t need alcohol or narcotics cuz this bloke is high on his own crazy, with the potential to go off at any moment. The guy is a ticking time tomb and that’s real tension. I liked the conflict between Rainy/Juarez and I think you could ramp that up more.

    I like the farmhouse setting and again, I think there’s heaps of potential here to be mined. You could make Audrey more active to begin with. Say her and Cheyenne have been separated. Rainy takes Cheyenne out to the barn or where ever. I mean imagine that. Any parent would lose their mind and fight tooth and nail to free themselves and go rescue their child. The audience would be tortured with suspense of whether Cheyenne was alive or dead because Rainy is THAT volatile. You touched on Cheyenne being afraid of heights. Well make her arc by over coming that fear to flee her captor or better again, save her mother in some way.

    Audrey needs some work. She has potential but I think she needs to be stripped down and rebuilt. She was a valedictorian in high school and now she’s a waitress who can’t make rent in a trailer park. I don’t think it was your intention but it felt like this was all as a result of Cheyenne somehow. Her revelation that she was raped didn’t have the impact it should of and I’m not sure it’s even needed. Why can’t she be a strong single mother raising her daughter on her own, who’s inherited a dilapidated farmhouse which she’s determined to transform, giving her and Cheyenne a fresh start. Her life at the moment is in a negative state. This farm symbolizes her chance to turn that negative into a positive. When that’s threatened by Rainy/Juarez, mom and daughter fight for their lives and their new life.

    I would lose Bobby and the whole water rights angle. The make my grandfather proud plot did nothing for the story. And the end felt so tonally off when she’s laughing saying…“All they had to do was ask”. I didn’t care about water rights and cringed at times when it came up. I would also lose David. He was a deus ex machina and nothing more. Not sure what the whole religious thing served other than to allow Rainy rant off unnecessarily. From page 46 to 64 they are all basically sitting there spouting off exposition and shooting the breeze. There needs to be more action. This is a direct result of the we gotta wait until Bobby arrives plot line.

    Cheyenne’s dialogue was unbelievable at times. Too witty and insightful for an eight year old. The two that come to mind are the bumper sticker comment and “All we got is each other” at the end. Come to think of it, that ending needs to be rewritten. Rainy starts quizzing her about high school AGAIN and she answers him like they’re two buddies enjoying a spot of abseiling. This is the moment she’s about to die so it needs to be stronger.

    I would strip it back to Audrey/Cheyenne V Rainy/Juarez. And keep the setting. You just gotta find that perfect angle to approach the story from. I would also go all out with the tone. Like “Prisoners” for instance. Realistic, gritty, edge of your seat. Be very careful with humor here.

    What if Rainy/Juarez are hiding from the law after committing a robbery or something. Maybe keep it that Audrey inherited the place from Grandpa, giving you the opportunity of introducing another character to complicate things. A lawyer for instance. Or a builder coming to help fix the place up (Possible love interest if that’s the route you fancy). Maybe Cheyenne has found a little hiding spot on the farm in which she plays at the beginning. This same spot saves her skin later in the story. Just spitballing here but there’s so much you can do with this.

    I enjoyed your script. It was a defo worth the read and I hope my notes have been helpful. Best of luck with it Breanne.

    • Breanne

      Thanks for reading! Some great suggestions. Can’t say I disagree with much.

      Several people have mentioned Cheyenne sounding older than she is. What’s strange is that she was inspired by a real little girl. I don’t know, maybe I misremember how smart she was. The thing is, I didn’t want a dumb kid. I’ve met some really smart kids (not precocious, just smart) and I wanted to make one a character in a movie. Maybe some of it was born out of storytelling needs. I’m going to have to revisit her character with a rewrite.

      Thanks! :)

  • drifting in space

    It would be key to nab a A-lister with a daughter of their own. I could see this working, even with a thin plot. That can always be buffed up later.

  • Frankie Hollywood

    This idea’s probably gonna get me a lot of flak, but… (All 3 of my scripts have been Action, help explain where I’m coming from)

    What about a neutral, external threat? I see farmhouse I think Midwest — how ’bout throw in an approaching Tornado? They can’t leave b/c the rain (and/or wind) has washed out the bridge. But the Sheriff has already contacted Audrey to say he’s coming to get them to safety — Sheriff’s got himself a crush on the new girl in town.

    Cheyenne’s going batshit, afraid of the Tornado, Rainy’s going batshit b/c of the Sheriff, Juarez is going batshit b/c he hasn’t heard from his little boy.

    I realize this changes the whole dynamic, but maybe that’s what it needs.

    Congrats on the Worth The Read, Breanne.

    • fragglewriter

      The environment plays a significant role in films so your point is valid.

    • Frankie Hollywood

      And if the Water Rights angle isn’t impressing people, change it to the hottest multi-million dollar deal going on in the Midwest = FRACKING.

      Water Rights does seem a bit subtle (read, boring) and somewhat 1950’s ’60’s (Chinatown?). While the right Fracking deal could put a farmer in a Ferrari the next day (for all the general public really knows). That’s LOTS more $$$ at stake.

      • klmn

        That’s true. Right now Las Vegas is trying to steal the water from the counties to its north. And with Harry Reid being the majority leader in the Senate, federal legislation to accomplish this is probable.

        • Jim

          That’s because LV is going to be in deep dung in 20-30 years, especially with the aforementioned Colorado River. But… a large portion of the land to the north is federal land anyway. Harry’s been good at seeing certain developments took place on land he…cough cough…ONCE owned, though, so I wouldn’t doubt it at all for him to turn a profit somewhere.

          • klmn

            If they want to keep building, they’ll need more water.

          • Jim

            They don’t know any better – and don’t care. They were still building new houses when I left three years ago, despite there being countless foreclosures and entire, new subdivisions practically empty.

            It’s all about sustainability: they built too much, too soon and became reliant on construction for jobs. And all that did was tap into the dwindling water resources sooner – and they’re seriously at crisis mode already. Take into account that 25% of Southern California’s metropolitan water district gets its power from Hoover Dam and one can see the potential ramifications.

            http://www.nhregister.com/20130815/colorado-river-water-levels-spark-water-worries-for-the-west

      • Citizen M

        “Whiskey’s for drinkin’. Water’s for fightin’.” Old Texas saying, even truer today. Do you know how much water they need for fracking? A helluva lot. The oil companies are buying up all the water rights in the Colorado River area because if they ever start mining the Green River formation oil shale, they are going to need a shit-ton of water to turn it into oil.

        • drifting in space

          While murdering thousands of animals and contaminating the land for our future generations.

          Oops, got preachy.

        • Frankie Hollywood

          I don’t think you’ll ever convince the public Water Rights are more important than Oil Rights. It’s pennies a gallon vs. dollars a gallon.

          John Q. can simply turn on the tap and get gallons and gallons of water. Anyone who can simply turn on a tap and get gallons and gallons of oil is a Millionaire (or Billionaire).

          How many old men push a leaf down their driveway using a hose (and a hundred gallons of water)? If that was oil coming out of the hose, Grandpa would pick up the leaf.

          And “murdering thousands of animals and contaminating the land for our future generations” is another reason Fracking is a better choice. This (Fracking) is what the Villain is after, so the Villain will be seen as not caring about animals or future generations. Thus, reinforcing he’s an asshole and someone to hate.

          • klmn

            Water is cheap when it’s plentiful. The Ogalala aquifer is mostly pumped out. At the southern (shallower) end, in Texas farmers have already had to curtail pumping.

          • Malibo Jackk

            Hey Frank
            you’re getting pretty good with those crayons.

      • Wes Mantooth

        Promised Land was all about fracking and it failed miserably.

        • Frankie Hollywood

          This script (“Warning Shot”) isn’t about Water Rights (or Fracking), that’s just a vehicle to get the characters together for the Contained Thriller aspect.

          Some have suggested Water Rights aren’t very interesting, I’m simply offering an alternative. I’ve never suggested turning a Contained Thriller into a boring Drama.

        • Malibo Jackk

          If they had put Damen in the cellar of a farmhouse with a gun to his head — it might have made money.

      • Breanne

        Interesting ideas. A tornado would drive the budget up considerably, but, hey, if the production company can afford a tornado, if they want a tornado, I’ll put a tornado in there. :D

        Water rights are still an issue today, they’re just not something anyone thinks about anymore. But fracking is an interesting choice. Thanks for commenting.!:)

  • klmn

    “I don’t know what it is with you Scriptshadow readers. But you always seem to endorse the darkest shit! Last week it was child murder. This week it’s moms and daughters being tied up and threatened in every way imaginable. There’s even a rape backstory. What ever happened to happy stuff!?”

    If you want happy stuff, you should have a contest for family scripts. That’s where the big profit is- movies rated PG13 and PG. Think about it, instead of getting viewers one and two at a time, you’re going after the whole family.

    • Citizen M

      Here’s a happy true story. The birdshit scene reminded me of it.

      I used to stay in an apartment where a hawker came around once a week selling fresh veggies off his cart. So there’s me and a couple of other residents, including an old lady, buying our cabbages and whatever. Suddenly, splat, a bit of bird poop lands on her bare forearm. We all freeze. We don’t know what to say to her. She’s a quiet old lady in her seventies, keeps herself to herself, no one knows her well enough to make an appropriate comment. She looks up in the sky, then down at her arm, and announces to no one in particular, “At times like this, I thank the Lord that cows don’t fly.” and gives a little chuckle. Cracked us up royally, she did.

      • Breanne

        Funny story. Thanks for sharing. :)

  • Breanne

    Hi. Just wanted to say thanks to Carson and everyone! I loved reading the article and I’m flattered by the rating. Wow! I’m grateful for all the great comments and suggestions. It’s a little overwhelming actually. Lots to consider. Thank you so much, everyone! :)

    • kenglo

      What’s next? As in ‘whatcha gonna do now?’ next, not next spec. I have always been curious as to what one does after this type of movement. Do we rest on our laurels, do we push and say to agents/producers/ etc, hey check it out? Seriously. Whatcha gonna go now?

      • Kay Bryen

        I know my next move would be to send a link of Carson’s praise to that 6th grade English teacher who told me I had the diction of a Mongol opium dealer and I’d never amount to nothing.

        You could also “accidentally” send it to your ex… but hey, I don’t want to tell you how to live your life.

      • Breanne

        I guess I’ll keep doing what I’m always doing: working hard, networking, and trying to get a cool movie made. :D This is good publicity, so I’m trying to use it to get people’s attention.

  • jlugozjr

    Have a question about Bobby’s original plan.

    He wants to force Audrey’s grandfather to sign away the rights to the water?

    I don’t get it. As soon as he does, he could just go to the police and tell them what happened. He could even describe what the two men look like. His signature would mean nothing at that point.

    And why doesn’t Bobby know that the grandfather died? Seems like a piece of information that he might of looked into before initiating this master plan.

    Haven’t read the script. Are these issues explained?

  • fragglewriter

    Congrats to the writer. Hope you will take the criticism and rework your script. Have you entered The NIcholl Fellowship since this script placed?

    I think a writer’s work going strictly the VOD is not that bad as you will have a produced credit and maybe get some contacts until you get that script that sells to a major.

    • Breanne

      Thanks! I will definitely consider all the comments and suggestions. No, I haven’t entered the Nicholl since the script initially made the quarterfinals.

  • Citizen M

    I’m stopping on page 47 to have a rant.

    Guys (and girls), please, if you are going to have firearms in your screenplay, LEARN THE BASICS! The information is out there. It’s just a Google away. “The Writer’s Guide to Firearms & Ammunition” is free. There are many other sources.

    I understand not everyone has the benefit of army training like I’ve had. I’ve shot handguns, rifles, Uzis, machine guns, mortars, bazookas, and tossed hand grenades. Wisely, they wouldn’t let me touch the flame thrower. But there are ranges you can go and do a basic handgun course and fire a few shots. Every second person in America is a gun nut. Speak to some of them.

    I’m not a gun nut. I haven’t held a weapon in my hands for decades. But it still pisses me off no end when people get simple things about firearms wrong. And I don’t think I’m alone in this. There several commenters on the internet saying the same thing. Every writer should know something about guns.

    p. 31 – Picks up the pistol and opens the revolver. No! The gun is a revolver. The part that rotates is the cylinder.

    p. 42 – …on the head with the handle of his gun He would use the butt, which is the bottom part of the grip.

    p. 43 – Juarez sets his pistol back Nope. It’s still a revolver.

    p. 46 – “A gun has a smooth bore” “Gun” is a generic term meaning firearm. It has nothing to do with rifling or absence thereof. Most guns are rifled. Shotguns aren’t. (Maybe this was a deliberate error to show Juarez is an idiot, but I don’t think so.)

    p. 47 – “…would have noticed his clip was missing.” Again, may be a deliberate error since the writer correctly referred to it as a magazine in the previous paragraph, but I would expect hoodlums to know the correct terminology for weapons from an early age.

    • Citizen M

      And while I’m in rant mode, Bible stuff too. It’s so easy to check. Biblegateway.com is a wonderful resource. Any passage, any translation, searchable, it’s all there.

      p. 63 – David: “Jesus said it to one of his disciples after he cut off the ear of a Roman soldier. He put the ear back on and said those words.”

      Actually, “one of them which were with Jesus” (i.e. not necessarily a disciple) cut an ear off the servant of the High Priest, not off a Roman soldier, and there is no mention that Jesus put the ear back on. (Matthew 26:51)

      • Zadora

        That looks like my Charter Arms, except mine is pink. :)

        As far as getting annoyed by incorrect stuff in films goes, there aren’t that many films that doesn’t have any issues at all. It all depends what knowledge the reader/audience have. It doesn’t matter what it is, horses, history, flying…whatever. To the person who knows the subject, they will always find faults. :)

        • klmn

          Oops. Responding to wrong post. MMy bad.

      • ximan

        Actually, you’re half right, half wrong yourself. In the Gospel of John (John 18:10) it is explained that Peter cut off the servant’s ear:

        “Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus.”

        But the point you make is a good one. In the Google age, don’t take shortcuts in screenwriting.

        • Malibo Jackk

          Depends on which guy you want to believe — Matthew or John.
          John was written and rewritten many times.
          (Hard to believe they had a studio system back in the 2nd century.)

          • ximan

            Written and rewritten several times? Where the hell did you hear that lie? Lol. Did you mean translated into several versions??

            The bible is so accurate that for hundreds of years people claimed that it had obviously been written after the events it purported to foretell. And they went on to claim that the bible had been rewritten and changed over time.

            That was until the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered and proved that the bible had not changed even ONE WORD over thousands of years.

          • Malibo Jackk

            The Dead Sea Scrolls actually proved that there were different versions, different biblical texts.

            Why would people spend 30+ years studying them, piecing together the text and writing books about them — if they said the exact same thing?

        • Citizen M

          I stand corrected. I’m not a bible scholar. But many people are, and they go to movies, and they get upset at inaccuracies.

          The thing is, whose job is it to get the picky little details right? The answer is, it’s the writer’s job. He or she has all the time necessary to do the research. You can’t count on the development process to get all the bugs out, particularly on a low budget production. People are more concerned with budget issues, casting, crew, locations, schedules etc.

      • Kirk Diggler

        You guys lost me at Jesus.

      • klmn

        What kind of gun did Jesus carry?

        • Citizen M

          Given he was Jewish, probably an Uzi.

          • klmn

            I know a couple guys named Jesus. I’ll tell ‘em what you said, but I think they’re Catholic.

        • Citizen M

          The main question is, who would Jesus shoot?

          • klmn

            Probably me. And the two guys I know who use his name.

      • Breanne

        There’s a difference between what a writer may know and what a character may believe. We’re talking about David’s beliefs. A lot of Christians subscribe to this belief.

        I’m one person writing characters with varying degrees of intelligence, backgrounds, ideas, philosophies, etc. Sometimes they lie or withhold information, and sometimes they’re just wrong. While, ideally, a movie would contain the most accurate information possible, I don’t feel compelled to have characters always believe true things or only say accurate things. I’m a firm believer that no one should expect completely accurate information in a movie.

        I do appreciate you pointing it out to me, though. It may very well have been a mistake on my part. Thanks for reading and commenting. :)

        • Citizen M

          Agreed that a fictional character can get his or her facts wrong as part of their persona. How then do we establish whether the character got it wrong or the writer got it wrong?

          I think you need corroborating evidence. If David e.g. deliberately misrepresents what is in the Bible once, he should do it again, then we know it is part of David’s character, not due to insufficient research on the part of the writer.

          (Not having a go at you personally, Deanne. Just making a general point.)

          • Breanne

            In this case, David’s belief is fairly common. A lot of people would agree with him. Then there are those who wouldn’t know or care one way or the other. I think the number of people who would take issue with it would probably be relatively small. Not that their opinions aren’t important, but I can’t please everyone. :) To a certain degree, I think having people confuse the writer’s personal view with a character’s is just something a writer has to endure.

            As far as ensuring no one thinks the writer has made a mistake, there are ways to do that; for example, having another character correct the information or serve as devil’s advocate. Or, as you mentioned, making a character’s errors an ongoing thing.

            Personally, I’m not sure I buy into the idea that I need to. I mean, sure, I don’t want readers to think I’m lazy. At the same, I don’t want characters to become mere instruments. After all, real people say inaccurate things all the time without getting corrected. In that regard, I’m just reflecting the way people really are. I’m not making excuses, I’m just saying.

    • Breanne

      Thanks for the input! I promise I do research, but I’m one person and I can make mistakes. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of people to point them out. :D No, seriously, I really appreciate it. I’ll fix it.

  • Kosta K

    I made it to page 40…

    Now, this is only my opinion (so far), but the bad guys weren’t really working for me. “Water rights” did nothing for me as a motive for any of this, either.

    I would suggest keeping Rainy quiet for the first 30. Maybe they rob a bank or a gas station in the beginning. Establish their characters through the way they treat confined situations, crowd control, cops, etc. I think that would give you a chance to show what a lunatic Rainy is, so when he ends up at the farmhouse, we really know that Audrey’s in deep shit. Rainy and Juarez could just be needing a place to hide out until the heat dies down and then stumble on Audrey and her kid. Make David a cop. Maybe even a love
    interest. Maybe Audrey can have some obscure background talent, like she used to go hunting with her grandpa and he let her shoot his rifle. She can find that rifle later and so on…

    Another way to go is make Cheyenne a fucking werewolf! Mention there’s a full moon coming and reveal that Audrey takes her to the secluded farmhouse every time to “wait it out”. Then you not only anticipate her transformation, but hope they survive until the full moon! Now that’s a movie! :)

    In any case, congrats Breanne. I promise to read the rest of it!

    • Kosta K

      Sorry Breanne. Made it to page 52, but can’t go any further. I can’t get through the dialogue :( You have some nice moments, like when Cheyenne is going for the gun, but Rainy just doesn’t shut up!

      • Breanne

        Nothing for you to be sorry about. Thanks for trying. I’m sorry it didn’t work for you. :(

        Too bad you stopped reading on page 52, though. Earth is hit with a meteor on page 53. It causes the planet to slow down and people start floating off into space. It’s awesome!

        • Montana Gillis

          And the way the earthlings were saved by the sex starved naked Amazon women in sweaty chains kept me reading right to the end!!! Kosta, ya gotta keep reading man!

          • Breanne

            Yeah, and then the planet’s core explodes and everything gets sucked into another dimension where, get this, Audrey is holding Rainy and his son hostage! It’s crazy!

          • Montana Gillis

            YES! And after Rainy’s son kills Darth Vader with that ultra cool light saber made from kriptonite and locks Superman in the fridge! Well, quite frankly, I was breathless! I have to lay down now…

          • Kosta K

            It’s sounding better already!

          • Kosta K

            Made it to 60 and I don’t think I’m going back :( Nothing is happening while Rainy and Juarez bicker like an old married couple. I keep picturing Audry and the others just looking at them rant about weed and guns. Now Rainy is giving them his life story? They can totally make a run for it. I like the reveal of Audry’s past, but it needs a better setup. Also, these guys knocked each other out with their guns earlier and now their sitting around chit-chatting? That meteor ain’t coming fast enough :

  • Tom

    This is a great Amateur Friday script because it’s a perfect anti-illustration of “the same, only different.” In this case, the script is “the same… only the same.” Every writer who thinks that execution can trump concept needs to read this script. Its solid execution just can’t rise above its strong sense of familiarity.

    It’s important for writers to jot down the most bare-bones version of their concept. Call it their “hook” or their “premise” or whatnot, but just write it down in its simplest form. Then see how intriguing the idea is at its core.

    Unfortunately, Warning Shot, although a smooth and capable script, doesn’t do anything different. It lacks that intrigue. There are three ways to make a script unique – 1. Characters, 2. Setting, 3. Situation. You don’t need to go to the fringes on all three, but you need to give us that slight, intriguing twist to at least one of them. Just a little something that makes us say, “Oh… interesting.”

    1. Characters – Mother/daughter
    Mother is a waitress who should be doing more with her life, but fell into a financial trap; daughter is wise and spunky beyond her years. There’s nothing new about either of these two (“struggling waitress” being one of the most familiar female character occupations). As for the villains, Rainy is the only one who stands out, but he’s a run-of-the-mill sociopath. A well-executed, but still unremarkable sociopath.

    2. Setting – A farm.
    If it took place at a modern farm, it would stand out (why have I not seen a script set on a big industrial farm yet? It’s always these farms that time forgot). But this particular farm has been in literature since Nathaniel Hawthorne. We’ve seen this farm a thousand times. We all could write scenes for this farm. Nothing can happen at this farm that we haven’t seen.

    3. Situation – Family held captive over water rights.
    The water rights is intriguing, but only because it’s so odd. The whole plot sounds like the villain needs a cape, monocle, and mustache to twist as he cackles, “If you don’t give me the deed to your ranch, I’ll throw you on the railroad tracks!” This is a case where the MacGuffin is different… it’s just not that interesting. It’s almost goofy, but the script doesn’t seem aware of how goofy it is. No doubt, water flow is important, but this isn’t set up like Rango, where water is gold. It’s just… water. Old man water at that. And the end, although a cool little twist, undermines its own importance.

    All in all, this script holds up well to Panic Room. Except that Panic Room had… well… a panic room. We hadn’t seen panic rooms in movies. Panic rooms are fun, interesting, and tap in to the fact that at some point we’ve all wished we had a panic room. Characters/villains/situation are nearly identical between the two scripts, but a panic room makes the concept pop in ways that a farm just isn’t able to accomplish. You don’t need aliens and time travel, but you do need that little something that we haven’t seen. You need that panic room. You need the same… only different.

    Luckily, characters and structure are the hard part, and Breanne has proven more than capable in those aspect. Any drunken d-bag at a party can come up with a concept or twist that makes you say, “Hmmm… if executed perfectly, that could be interesting.”

    Well, Breanne can definitely execute. So she’s already ahead of most writers.

    • Poe_Serling

      Some great comments regarding the ‘sense of familiarity’ in a script/film and how it can lessen the impact of the overall punch of your story.

      And you’re so right about the ‘isolated farmhouse’ setting, it’s definitely the go-to rural location for a good deal of horror/thriller pics. The one that always comes to mind for me: Night of the Living Dead.

    • JakeBarnes12

      Great post, Tom, and the reason I have no interest in reading this script.

      Only part I disagree with is that any fool can come up with an interesting concept.

      This fool is trying very hard to do that and finding it not so easy.

      • Breanne

        This fool thanks you for taking the time to let me know what a fool I am. In my defense, I haven’t heard many concepts I really thought were all that clever or unique. I focus on characters. That’s where I think most stories are weak. If that makes me a fool, so be it.

        • Matthew Garry

          I’m fairly sure with “this fool” JakeBarnes12 was practicing a bit of self deprecating humour, as in “if you (Tom)say any fool can come up with a concept, then I must be a fool, because I don’t find it easy.”

        • JakeBarnes12

          Sorry, Breanne, I was talking about myself.

          I was saying that I was having difficulties coming up with a fresh concept.

          • Breanne

            Oh, sorry. After you said you had no interest in reading, it seemed like you were talking about me. My mistake. In that case, I agree with you haha. Yes, it’s easier said than done. And the difficulty increases exponentially as the budget lowers. Thanks again, and sorry for the misunderstanding.

    • Breanne

      Thanks for reading. I don’t agree with everything you said, but I appreciate your thoughts. Points taken.

  • Citizen M

    Now I’ve got the rant out of my system and had a good night’s sleep, my comments on the script.

    Firstly, purely as a writing exercise, it was very good. It read easily and I could picture every scene and who was where, except maybe sometimes in the house when all six characters were present.

    The story and characters were good, but not quite there. They needed a little extra to lift them out of “seen it all before” territory. Tom said most of what I wanted to say. A couple of extra points.

    I thought the two villains were excellent. Good enough to be characters, and bad enough to be scary. The running gag between the two of Juarez’s mustache was good. I would extend and amplify it. Start small and build to really gross insults and anti-Mexican racism as the two fall out. Juarez should start answering back. The obvious point of attack being the shit-licking incident. “At least I’m not a shit-licker.” “Do you see shit on my mustache?” Lots of possibilities. BTW you should describe his mustache when you introduce the character, since it is so important later. I gather it’s one of those skimpy little efforts, but maybe it’s a big bushy Zapata. Whatever. Give us something to imagine.

    Rainey’s hatred of trees didn’t compute. If he sheltered from the law in the forest, he should love trees. They saved him. You hate things that annoy you. For instance, my stepfather had an obsessive hatred of flies. Let one come into the house and he would stop whatever he was doing and chase that fly until he had killed it. It goes back to WWII when he was a navigator in the air force in North Africa. They crash landed and had to walk three days through the desert back to base. He said the worst part was the flies.They were terrible, buzzing around the whole time, and nearly drove him crazy. Who knew the desert is full of flies? I suppose they breed in the camel poop. Anyway, he had a lifelong hatred of flies after that.

    Bobby’s motivation, his grandfather, the water rights. I don’t know about these. Out in the country everyone knows everyone else. It is improbable that Bobby wouldn’t know Audrey’s grandfather had died. Also, country lawyers would know all about important things like water rights and who owns them. Frankly, Bobby looks weak, and that’s not what you want in a villain. What you want is Bobby to be even worse than Rainey and Juarez, so when Bobby arrives at the farmhouse you think uh-oh, now the shit’s REALLY going to hit the fan.

    I’m trying to think what else Bobby could want, apart from water rights. Maybe the oil companies want to lay a pipeline but Audrey’s grandfather wouldn’t allow it across his land. If they reroute it Bobby stands to lose a lot of money. Just an idea, but I think Bobby need a more personal stake in the outcome. Maybe he’s already offered to buy the farm but she’s refused. He’s desperate for money. He can’t raise his offer. He arranges to come out and negotiate the price with her, then hires Rainey and Juarez to frighten her so she’ll take any offer then leave in a hurry. Only, he doesn’t realize her stake in the farm, not does he know about Cheyenne.

    Similarly, I think Audrey needs stronger motivation to keep the farm. Was she planning to live on the farm and keep on waitressing? Just how far out of town is this farm, anyway? 80 acres is about 570 metres square, so the farm house might be 200 metres from the road. We know there’s a church nearby, also woods and a creek. I’m finding it a little different to picture the scene. What if she’d always wanted to farm but was waiting for the old man to die? And here’s a thought: what if Bobby is the guy who raped her? She recognizes him, but he doesn’t recognize her, nor does he realize Cheyenne is his own child? Maybe too soap opera-fied, but plenty dramatic.

    Daniel being a proselytizer who just happens to visit seemed a bit forced. If he was a neighboring farmer and potential love interest it would be better. He could bring a pie or piece of jerky to welcome someone new to the county. Have him much the same character, religious but weak, who finds strength in the end. If Audrey could save his life somehow that would be good.

    The psychological tension leading up to the “Take me” cry was very good. But I feel there needs to be something else going on in the farmhouse before Bobby arrives apart from just sitting around taunting each other. For one thing, characters just get lost. David disappears between pages 53 and 62. Cheyenne also seemed to be out of the picture for long spells.

    You are asking actors to play long and highly emotional scenes while seated with their hands tied behind their backs. This is very difficult for an actor, particularly a child. If Rainey and Juarez make them do something, I don’t know what, it would give them more avenues of expression.

    Just spitballing here. Ideas are cheap. Execution is hard. I think you have the makings of an excellent screenplay. Just needs a bit of fine-tuning.

    • klmn

      “Who knew the desert is full of flies? I suppose they breed in the camel poop.”

      Man, you’re a philosopher.

    • Citizen M

      Another thought. What if Bobby was the one who killed Audrey’s grandfather? Rainey asks him why he doesn’t do his own dirty work and he explains he went to the farm to scare him into signing but grandfather had a heart attack from the stress. “Ended up calling 911 instead. Now the town thinks I’m a hero who tried to save the old man. I better not try the same stunt again. They might get suspicious.”

  • Montana Gillis

    Great story, Breanne. It was a fast read that pulled me in and kept me turning the pages. Great job! And maybe Bobby’s plan didn’t make sense to normal people but that’s the nature of criminals. Most of them are not very smart and the forces that drive them (that you set up very well for Bobby – approval-) can be the same things that drive everyone, just not to the same extreme. One suggestion: When Audrey kills Rainey, she might want to shoot first and then say “that’s your warning shot MF”. As it’s written, she’s got a rather long line to say (while Cheyenne pushes Rainey’s rifle up) before she shoots him.

    • Breanne

      Thank you, that’s very kind of you to say. And great suggestion, too. :)

  • Warren Hately

    I thought if there was something a bit more compelling or unique about what the bad guys were after this might lift the “concept” a little. At the moment I almost go catatonic the moment I hear “water rights” (maybe its a non-US thing, I dunno). Make it more personal and tie it into the title.

  • Paul DeWolf

    Congrats Breanne-I enjoyed the read. I’m curious about one thing though-and this is a question for you and the general readership of this blog. A lot of emphasis has been put on the first ten pages of a script in this blog, Carson has talked about it, readership has hemmed and hawed about it, heck it was even part of a SS competition. Your first ten pages does a great job setting up our characters and is very well written, but in my opinion doesn’t really start with a bang. I haven’t seen many comments on it, and I wondered if you have heard that feedback before or maybe the fact that no one’s mentioned it means you succeeded in gripping your reader with the first 10. Nice job with this story and I look forward to hearing anyone’s opinion on this.

    • Breanne

      Thank you. I can’t speak for others, but, personally, I don’t believe a movie has to start off with a bang. I do think it has to keep moving and things have to keep happening. I think if people like characters they’ll want to see what happens to them. I think it also depends heavily on the tone that’s set. If you can get the right mixture of feel and flow, you can sort of lull a person into going along for the ride.

  • Breanne

    I’ll work on it. I only vaguely remember researching that specific part. I don’t recall the exact reason I chose to write it that way, but I’ll reexamine it. Thank you. :)

  • Breanne

    Oh, well, in that case, forget everything I said. I’m with you! :D

  • Citizen M

    Thanks for clearing that up, Joseph. And Breanne, sorry for doubting you.