Correction: Soo Hugh is not a man!  Sorry for the screw-up.  

Genre: Sci-fi
Premise: When a group of children in a small town start exhibiting dangerous behavior, a child care specialist must figure out the link between them, a link that may be otherworldly.
About: The Visitors (now renamed “The Whispers”) is an alien invasion series executive produced by the one man you want your alien invasion show produced by, Steven Spielberg. It’s been written by Soo Hugh, who’s still looking for her big break. She’s written for The Killing and Under the Dome. But writing for Spielberg is by far her biggest accomplishment yet.
Writer: Soo Hugh (based on a Ray Bradbury story – “Zero Hour”)
Details: 59 pages – 1/09/2014 3rd Draft


Halloween madness continues. But today, we’re moving from serial killers to alien killers. Or, more specifically, child alien killers!

Uh-huh. Uh-huh.

Can’t think of anything scarier than that now can ya?

Let me say this. I went into this not knowing what it was about. So once I realized what the premise was, I kinda lost some enthusiasm. Because here’s the thing. I’m always asking for irony right? I’m always saying, “Make sure your premise is ironic if you want people to read it!” And The Visitors is ironic. Aliens are using the most unsuspecting resource you could imagine to take over the planet – children!

Little children aren’t supposed to be able to do something as immense as take over a planet. Hence the irony.

But at what point does an ironic concept turn silly? I’m having a hard time buying into this premise of little 7 year olds taking down society. I mean, for argument’s sake, let’s take it to the extreme, make it SUPER ironic. Let’s say that BABIES are taking over the planet. That’s ironic. But a good idea? I don’t think so. Unless it’s a comedy. I guess the first thing I learned from today’s read is that there’s a limit to how far you can push irony.

Anyway, The Visitors focuses on Baltimore FBI agent and child care specialist, Claire Bennigan. Claire’s had a tough couple of years. Her 7 year old son, Henry, lost his hearing due to a virus. And a couple of months ago she lost her husband due to death. Luckily, she’s finally back on the saddle, taking on a case where a young girl has murdered her mother.

Claire checks it out, learning that the daughter claims to have been manipulated by an imaginary friend named “Drill.” This is curious, since Claire recently heard of another elementary schooler who built a bomb at the request of an imaginary friend named, “Drill.”

All the other agents think this is some Slender Man nonsense. Some boogeyman the kids have made up and who a few have taken too far. But Claire isn’t so sure. Kids don’t know how to build bombs, do they?

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, in Algeria, they’ve just found a freaking crashed spaceship! Nobody’s in the ship. But curiously, underneath the ship is the jutting wreckage of a U.S. F-22 military jet. And when they clear the wreckage, they realize there’s no body inside. Hmm, what could THAT be about?

As more and more children claim that “Drill” has asked them to participate in “the game,” Claire must put together what the game is and how it ends. Because if the kids she’s interviewed are any indication, the game ends very very badly.

spooky kid

I’ll get this out of the way first. I’ve said it before. If the reader doesn’t buy into the premise, nothing else you write will matter. They’re already on to the next script, even if they’re still physically reading yours. This actually JUST happened to me last week. I found a really great script, sent it to a producer, and he admitted he loved the writing but he didn’t enjoy the story cause he never bought into the premise.

This can be tough and confusing on writers. They’ll send a script out, get a “no” back with no explanation, and, being writers, immediately assume the worst and think they’re the shittiest writer on the planet, head over to the local wine & spirits, buy the cheapest largest bottle of whiskey they can find, and drown their sorrows in it. All when it MAY just have been that the reader didn’t like the premise.

So where does that leave me and The Visitors? Well, I’m sorry but I just can’t see a 7 year old ordering a bomb strike on France (this didn’t happen but it’s plausible with the way the story’s going).

But how was the rest of the pilot! Well, it was pretty good. I mean, Soo definitely knows what he’s doing. The opening scene is great, as a mom follows around her daughter who we know is leading her into a death trap. There were plenty of other suspenseful moments like this (when the Algerian General greets the Americans, he doesn’t show us the picture of what he’s found in the desert. He shows the characters – we have to WAIT to find out what it looks like).

And Soo keeps things fresh with a lot of mystery boxes as well. There’s a man who wakes up in the middle of New York covered in tattoos. What’s he doing there? And why is he screaming in Arabic? There’s the crashed military jet underneath the spaceship.  How the hell did that get there?  And where is the pilot?

Also, like in any good teleplay, the main character should be a mystery box in themselves. They are your “tip of the iceberg” and the next 7 seasons should reveal what’s underneath the water. Claire’s husband just died. But there are hints that she may have been involved somehow.  We want to know more.

There was also something kinda cool I noticed. Again, the key with any story is keeping your audience around. You have to give them reasons, carrots dangling in front of the donkey if you will, to keep reading.

A clever little trick, then, is to go to a commercial on a cliffhanger – such as your characters looking off at something amazing that we don’t see yet – then, when you cut back from commercial break, DON’T show your readers that thing. Go to another set of characters who you need to do some boring exposition scene with. You could even throw in another scene after that. Then, and only then, do you cut back to the “what did the characters see” scene. You use the suspense created from that scene to sandwich in other less exciting scenes. We’ll keep watching because we’re high on the suspense wave.

Nitpicks: Now, I have a few things to nitpick here. Number one, I think we’re done with the mysterious tattooed character thing. When SNL starts making fun of something (they did an amusing trailer mash-up for all the YA novel movies) that usually places it squarely in the cliché category. It’s time to think of something besides tattoos.

Next, I don’t know if this is just me or not, but when I see a deaf kid in a show/movie, I groan. Besides being cliche, there’s something desperate about it, like you want us to love your kid and the parent so much that you stoop to the level of making him deaf.  It’s too manipulative.

Now there is a way to subvert this and other clichés. You research the shit out of the subject matter so it comes off as authentic and honest. If you really know what being deaf is like and you’re able to show that to us specifically, we’ll buy in. But if all you know about being deaf is what you’ve seen in movies, and you include a deaf character, it is almost certain that that character will reek of cliché.

Finally, drop the weird character names. You’re not a Hollywood couple. You don’t have to name your kid after a walrus placenta (“Walcenta?”). Weird names draw attention to themselves and they irk readers. Look no further than the comments section of Scriptshadow to see it in action. “Minx” is not a real name for a kid. At least I’ve never seen it before. So whenever the name came up, I winced.

Despite these criticisms, I see Soo as a good writer. While I didn’t love this, I still stuck around to see how it ended. I’m just not sure this is a good enough (or big enough) idea for a TV show, but I’d love to be proven wrong.

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

What I learned: When you’re approaching a big or dangerous or scary moment, make sure to TAKE YOUR TIME and milk the suspense beforehand. I see too many writers eager to get right to the good stuff. No. Make the audience WAIT for the good stuff. In the meantime, look for fun ways to prolong the anticipation. In the opening scene, Amanda, the mom, is chasing Harper, who runs up into her tree house. Harper is acting strange and we know something bad is coming. So does Soo say, “Amanda climbs the ladder and corners Harper?” No. That would be too fast. As Amanda climbs the rungs, Soo points out that each step struggles with the weight of an adult. Any second, the rungs could collapse and she could fall. Those are the kinds of things you want to focus on your way to the big moment. Draw it out!

  • brenkilco

    Well, since you’ve posted the photo you know that the premise has worked pretty well in the past. That kid who played the leader of the group in original VOTD was pretty creepy as I remember.

    • LV426

      I think I’d prefer a series of Village of the Damned. Something about sinister alien children in a small cosy closed off New England town is just such a great recipe for sci-fi/suspense.

      An interesting twist would be to have part of the show set in the 1960s with the original creepy blond-haired little fuckers first appearing and upsetting the apple cart, then the rest set in the present day with their descendents and someone in the town poking around investigating the strange events from fifty or so years ago.

      • brenkilco

        Thought the original was set in England England not New England.

  • UrbaneGhoul

    Spielberg’s last alien invasion show was Falling Skies or does Extant count? I’m not sure, I never watched it, but just judging by Falling Skies, the Whispers will be very silly on ABC.

    • ripleyy

      Falling Skies shouldn’t be taken seriously (they go to the moon in one episode, so judge the show based off that) but for some reason that I still can’t understand, I like it. A lot.

      One of the main reasons why Falling Skies works isn’t because of Spielberg (his shows aren’t the best) but because of Noah Wyle. The guy gives his best in every single scene, even with bad dialogue.

      As for whether or not “The Whispers” (tee-hee) will be silly or not, I’m not sure. It won’t be horror, it’ll be more thriller and I’m not sure if that’s an insult or a compliment at this point. “Children of the Corn”, while cheesy, sort of works. Will this be able to replicate that success is another discussion.

      • LV426

        Falling Skies is somewhat the kind of thing I’ve wanted the Terminator franchise to do. Give us John Connor fighting the machines and leading humanity in the post apocalyptic wasteland. Terminator Salvation tried it a bit, but ultimately was just a bunch of jumping through hoops to get us in line with the usual formula chase movie set in the future. It repeated most of the plot and action beats of the previous three films.

        John Connor was always a kind of rebel nerd. Bale is too cool. Noah Wylie actually fits into that role much better IMO.

  • Thank you, youtube

    Ray Bradbury’s “Zero Hour”. Very 80s!

  • walker

    “This can be tough and confusing on writers. They’ll send a script out, get a ‘no’ back with no explanation, and, being writers, immediately assume the worst and think they’re the shittiest writer on the planet, head over to the local wine & spirits, buy the cheapest largest bottle of whiskey they can find, and drown their sorrows in it. All when it MAY just have been that the reader didn’t like the premise.”
    This would be funny if it were funny.

  • Poe_Serling

    “Halloween madness continues.”

    It’s great to see Carson getting into the ‘spirit’ of the season.

    Love the pic from Village of the Damned. That film/script would make for a fun review during this time of the year.

    • Levres de Sang

      Not to be confused with the fascinating Joseph Losey film [These are] The Damned made the following year. This time the kids are radioactive geniuses being concealed in a cove — while a sharp-suited Oliver Reed terrorises an English seaside town! It’s a genuine oddity.

      • Poe_Serling

        These Are the Damned… I’ve seen that one too. You’re right – a genuine oddity.

        • walker

          I am a big fan of Joseph Losey. I have actually considered writing a script based on his life story.

          • Poe_Serling

            I’ve enjoyed a handful of his films over the years: The Prowler, The Big Night, X: The Unknown, The Servant, Accident, and the above-mentioned film.

          • walker

            Accident is probably his best, but The Servant, The Go-between, King and Country, and The Criminal are all interesting as well. His bio is fascinating too: Born in Lacrosse, Wisconsin he was in high school with Nicholas Ray. He studied with Bertolt Brecht in Germany, returned to the US and was a successful theatre director in NY. He went to HW in the late 40s and got blacklisted by the early 50s, moved to London and made all his best films there in the 50s and 60s.

          • walker

            Also interesting to note that Losey, Ray, and Orson Welles were all born in Wisconsin.

          • klmn

            So was I.

          • Poe_Serling

            Now it all makes sense. ;-)

          • klmn

            My past catches up with me.

          • walker

            Your Wiscon-sins.

          • Levres de Sang

            That sounds like a really interesting idea. I know nothing about him whatsoever, but like Poe have enjoyed a number of his films over the years: Accident is terrific. The Servant is a classic — and one I must rewatch from a screenwriting perspective. The Go Between, too, has a beautiful texture.

            A clearly great director, but not one who immediately comes to mind for some reason.

          • walker

            The screenplays by Harold Pinter for the three 60s films–Servant, Accident, Go-Between– are all excellent, particularly Accident which is one of my favorite scripts. I often recommend it to other screenwriters.

          • brenkilco

            These are all good and maybe one reason Losey is a director few have a clear fix on. When you hear these titles the first name you think of, at least the first one I think of, is Pinter

          • Levres de Sang

            Thanks! I will definitely seek them out. (I did have a second-hand copy of the novel Accident was based upon, but just couldn’t get into it.)

            Anyway, this whole conversation has made me want to rediscover these films!

          • walker

            Unfortunately you will find that because Pinter is a celebrated literary figure the scripts can only be found collected in books, but they are still worth seeking out. Another seminal screenwriter whose work is only available in collected editions is Preston Sturges, but everyone should try and read some of his scripts.

          • Marija ZombiGirl

            Good to see some love for Joseph Losey around here and thanks for the tip about the scripts in book form, I will definitely check it out :)

          • Levres de Sang

            Preston Sturges: The Palm Beach Story just exudes brilliance. And the first ever spec script, if I’m not mistaken.

        • Levres de Sang

          Ah, I still need to see Burnt Offerings. Maybe one for Halloween…

          • Marija ZombiGirl

            Both the book and the movie are great. The overall atmosphere is creepy as hell (if you like that sort of subtle 70’s atmospheres…) :)

          • Levres de Sang

            I love “subtle 70s atmospheres” more than anything, to be honest! :)

  • Randy Williams

    Don’t tell me.

    Soylent Green is Kermit!

  • ChadStuart

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when you hand a script to a producer you’re handing them a business plan. At that point it’s not how well written it is, or if you solved your second act problem with a cool surprise – it’s how much of a return on investment the script will earn.

    When a producer doesn’t like your premise, what he/she is saying is that they don’t think the ROI will be enough if there’s one at all. Yes, there’s a market for most any story, but a producer wants to make the most amount of money possible.

    It’s not always good enough to hand them a script that will cost $5 million to make and has a pretty good guarantee of earning $10 million back after P&A. The producer wants a $25 million return. After all, they have their eyes on this house in the hills…

  • mulesandmud

    Hearing ‘no’ is by far the LEAST confusing response you can get in Hollywood.

    Sure, if your reps send a script out, chances are they’ll get the courtesy of a ‘pass’, but that’s more out of respect to the agency or to the process than to the writer.

    Most of the time, especially if you’re pitching directly, you’ll get a response that’s positive but noncommittal. “Wow, that’s so interesting. Really. Let me talk to my boss.”

    Followed by radio silence.

    Often, you’ll get an emphatic yes – “I love it. I love everything you’re saying.”

    Followed by radio silence.

    Maybe means no, yes means maybe (or no).

    Even once a project is sold you’re deep into development, you’ll often have to fight to draw honest feedback out of people, possibly because they fear bruising your delicate writer ego, possibly because they fear being held accountable for what they say, possibly because they still haven’t read the damn thing. The prickly, nitpicking bluntness of SS feedback is a dream by comparison.

    If an exec says ‘no’ to your face, then you may be having a rare conversation with someone who is willing to speak frankly, and who maybe even respects you enough not to waste your time. Put that person on the good list.

    In general though, seek honesty elsewhere.

  • klmn

    An FBI agent and child care specialist?

    Welcome to the nanny state.

    • filmklassik

      Ha! As a huge swath of people too naive to know that the Social Democracies of Europe are heading for a cliff would say:

      “Thanks. Happy to be here.”

  • klmn

    “We’re gonna need some smaller handcuffs.”

  • Scott Strybos

    “…I don’t know if this is just me or not, but when I see a deaf kid in a show/movie, I groan. Besides being cliche, there’s something desperate about it, like you want us to love your kid and the parent so much that you stoop to the level of making him deaf. It’s too manipulative.”

    When I read that the kid was deaf I assumed it was not to build sympathy but rather related to a future plot point. Like because he is deaf, he is immune to however the aliens invade children’s minds. Which is a plot device I have seen before and therefore also cliché.

  • fragglewriter

    Kids as Aliens, or people as Aliens, is so cliche.
    Great What I Learn Tip, milk out a the scene.

    • LV426

      Invasion of the Body Snatchers though. Classic.

      I’m kind of shocked there hasn’t been an official Body Snatchers TV series by now. Season one could be like the various movie versions. The prep for invasion, except some poor sap stumbles into it and tries to stop it or at least warn the authorities. Of course they don’t believe our hero, which leads to the second season, full scale invasion. Season three and maybe season four is the occupation, with pockets of resistance forming throughout the world. Then another season for the resistance groups to form up and make one last effort to take the planet back and kill the mother brain or some such thing. Basically it’s the Falling Skies season of the show.

      That’s at least four or five seasons there with such a premise. Name brand recognition going all the way back to the Fifties.

      • filmklassik

        “They prep for invasion, except some poor sap stumbles into it and tries to stop it or at least warn the authorities. Of course they don’t believe our hero, which leads to the second season…”

        That’s a pretty good description of the 1960s TV series THE INVADERS, episodes of which can be found on Youtube. Roy Thinnes played the hero. He was good too. And the show had excellent production values.

        • LV426

          I’ll give it a look.

          I was thinking if a Body Snatchers series were made nowadays, it might make sense to take the overall plot of the movies and stretch it out across 9-12 episodes for the first season. Start small and build out and bigger with each season. All of the various film versions seem to be focused on a smaller scale part of the invasion. All except the most recent version with Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig.

          • filmklassik

            Yeah, that may be great. Gotta say, though, the older I get, the more I’m finding the idea of taking a single story and strrrrrrreeeetching it out to 40 or 50 hours to be less and less appealing.

            A movie doing it in 2 hours is no problem. That’s the form I prefer.

            And a limited series a la TRUE DETECTIVE doing it in 8? Also no problem (But even TD feels padded in spots).

            But the seemingly “never-ending story” aspect of serialized storytelling is starting to drive me crazy.

            (And yes, even shows like GAME OF THRONES and THE WALKING DEAD tend to bore me after a while. Sorry. Because yes, these shows definitely tell lots of “mini stories” along the way, and even resolve many of them… but their “A” story… their “main course”, if you will… never gets resolved until the very end.)

        • brenkilco

          Thinnes was a pretty good actor. Was fired from Hitchcock’s Family Plot and replaced by william Devane. And that was about the last anybody heard of him. Watched an episode of this show on Youtube not long ago. Had only the dimmest childhood memory of it. I knew that the aliens looked just like stressed out sixties businessmen. What was funny was that when they had their meetings they acted just like stressed out sixties businessmen.

          • filmklassik

            Ha! I’ve only seen two or three episodes but my memory is that they were very well-produced (Quinn Martin was known for the high production values of many of his series) but variable.

            Thinnes apparently took his own role, and the show itself, far more seriously than the directors did, which drove him crazy. Most sci-fi, fantasy, and superhero fare — particularly on TV — was still considered “kid stuff” in those days, and it wasn’t uncommon for Thinnes to look up and see the crusty old veteran in the director’s chair snickering between takes. He lost his temper more than once, and it’s hard to blame him.

            There’s been a bit of an over-correction in the last few years, with the current generation treating “spandex and spaceship” stories like Dostoevsky.

          • LV426

            That sounds cool. Stressed out sixties businessmen alien imposters. Sounds like Mad Men meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

      • fragglewriter

        It’s funny how you break this down because for the show Falling Skies, I just cannot get into it. It seems more like a long-drawn out movie. Maybe it’s just me. The same thing goes for the Body Snatchers.

  • LV426

    Wow. They made an entire series out of Bradbury’s ZERO HOUR. I would think maybe one feature length movie at the most could be done with that. I read the story about a decade ago. I thought maybe M. Night Shyamalan might be able to do something similar to SIGNS with it. A mother suspecting her kid of being up to something bad, set in one location for the entirety of the story.

    t’ll be interesting to see how far they can take this. How many seasons can be squeezed out of like a five page short story?

    • filmklassik

      It was also turned into a pretty good 30 minute radio play in the 1950s. It’s available online.

      • LV426


        I’ll check it out. I give the classic Orson Welles Mercury Theater WAR OF THE WORLDS broadcast a listen every Halloween. I might have to add this radio play of ZERO HOUR to the party.

  • Midnight Luck

    I have to say I disagree with some of this.

    I am not a big fan of having some mystery box before each commercial break. Constantly setting up some BIG thing to happen, and then diverting away from it to keep “interest”. I personally don’t think it works very well. It makes me feel like I am hungrily watching a big souffle baking and then finding out it is made of pure cheese.

    Then again, I am not a fan of LOST or WALKING DEAD or most any of these other shows that work exactly that way.

    I need more MEAT, more intrigue. I need to think and understand. All these crutches you are speaking of end up just making every show feel and seem like every other show of this type made before it.

    Basically it is taking the idea of a low rent Horror flick and slapping those “GOTCHA” scares onto every other Genre.

    And we all know how old and tiring it can be when a movie is full of “what’s that noise in the attic?”, the CAT jumps out of a dark space (Jump! Scare!), the creepy old woman with the foggy eyes starts speaking in tongues. It is all so boring and lame.

    Well, the idea that at each and every turn, maybe even each scene, some cliff hanger has to happen before the next scene, without being answered, is just boring to me. It doesn’t keep me watching, it makes me turn it off, or change the channel.

    I also don’t agree with “in any good teleplay, the main character should be a mystery box in themselves.”

    If you look at Breaking Bad, we quickly learn who Walter White is, and then quickly learn of his cancer and what he feels he needs to do to take care of his family. I think the fact that he isn’t a complex character in the beginning, and is just a regular guy trying to do right, is what makes him endearing to us.
    Yes you could argue there is a continual mystery box of who he is, or what he is about, as time keeps progressing since we are constantly trying to gauge just HOW FAR he will go. If he will keep trying to become this KINGPIN of METH, or if he will change his ways. Yet I don’t think this is a mystery box about him. This is just watching the irony of his situation, and his inner struggle play out. There is no, “Oh my god, he’s actually an alien from Planet Tantoo and he’s had Pinkman under his mind control all along.

    The same could be said of DEXTER. What if we didn’t know until the end of season 8 that Dexter was the Serial Killer? There wouldn’t be a show. So, we aren’t dealing with him being a “mystery box”, by half way through season 1 we know who he is, how he functions and quite a bit about his background. From there, we are watching to see how his life unfolds, and wondering if he will change his ways, if he feels or cares about someone, and if he will survive. Not, what is this unknown mystery?

    I think many of the best shows DON’T do what you are saying. They find a more interesting and more clever way to keep us bolted to our chairs and tuning in next week.

    I think the kind of system you are talking about works for more low level TV, BURN NOTICE, CSI (of every kind), STAR TREK’s, BATTLE STAR GALACTICA, or a slew of other shows that, while successful, aren’t very interesting comparatively.

    • Paul Clarke

      Totally agree Midnight –

      I hate it when TV shows leave you hanging. It all started with shows like Fear Factor. There was about 20 minutes of content stretched across a one hour show. Before the break they’d show you what was going to happen after the break. Then after the break they recap what happened before the break. I refer to it as parasitic story telling. Hooking you in like an addict, rather than giving you a rewarding positive experience that makes you want to come back for more. That’s why shows like Lost and Walking Dead always end with a sneak teaser of next weeks episode (to hook you) while shows like Breaking Bad don’t. They’re confident enough that you enjoyed watching this episode and will therefore want to watch the next.

      And I also agree with the main character stuff. There can be mysteries, but to get on board with your main character you absolutely need to know their goal and motivation. You can make everyone else a mystery, but how are we supposed to get on board with someone we don’t understand.

      • Midnight Luck

        Yeah, I don’t have the patience, or stomach, for that kind of thing. I refuse to watch garbage, or stuff that isn’t done well. It is a problem for me.
        I get invited to movies, or to sit and watch some show at friends’ house, and I refuse. Then they take it personally, and everything goes to hell.
        I wish I had more ability to just sit back and not be bothered if a show is terrible or if a movie is just banal action, and just feel good that I don’t have to think. I can’t do it. It makes me mad that the people making it didn’t work harder, didn’t try to dig deeper and come up with better storylines, or write better dialogue, etc…

        Yes, being able to get on board with your main character is a must. I don’t think you really can, if part of who they are is kept from you. I am sure it has been done, and it has worked before, but the writer and filmmaker must tread very carefully in how they let it all unspool.

    • BSBurton

      Every time Dexter is mentioned, I cringe. Sooo bad after Season 4. I consider season 5 the last season. Otherwise, I cry and fill up my bathtub.

      • Midnight Luck

        Me too!
        it was like they killed a family member of mine.
        What the hell is wrong with them?
        So awesome, and then it just crashes and burns in the most gruesome, tangled, skin burned and filleted tragedy I have ever seen. I didn’t know a TV show could be so gutted and destroyed so completely.
        It was a hit show, did they just fire everyone and bring on their non-writer brothers or sisters to write the last 3 seasons?
        Maybe this happened during the writer’s strike, and that is exactly what they did. Just hired whomever would write for them. But it was so pathetic, and so, so bad.
        Made me physically ill as the seasons proceeded to get just worse and worse as time went on.

        • BSBurton

          They stumbled upon a good villian when they got “Gay Isaak” (the great Ray Stevenson). He should’ve been in the finale. Dex gets outed, he flies off to South American with his strange but trusted mob Friend.

          Instead, he dies in a dumb way. When they killed Laguerta I was out. Well, I was out when he put Hannah on the table, exposed his whole world to her, then didn’t kill her!!!! So dumb.

          Yeah, the best producer/showrunner left after season 4.

          • Midnight Luck

            It was so frustrating. It was like they made one of the best seasons of any show EVER with the Trinity Killer storyline, and then the whole bottom dropped out. Like they just went, “oh, we don’t have to work anymore”.

            I actually did like the next season with Lumen and the Barrel Girls, it wasn’t quite up to Trinity, but then, after that season, it really just went blazing like a fireball off a cliff.

            Why would the show runner pack it in after such an epic run?

          • BSBurton

            I don’t know why the show runner left, I think his name was Scott. The season five premiere and the subsequent episode were probably the low point of the show up to that point. However, once the Jordan chase and barrel girl storyline picked up I thought it was very good. How did Dexter hide that knife in the season five finale though? Lol. I just pretend that when Dexter blows out the birthday candles at the end of season five that is the end

  • writerjoel

    FYI, Soo Hugh is female.

  • ThomasBrownen

    Great What I learned! That’s something I’ve been playing around with lately — drawing out the suspense in a scene. But I’ve found the longer you draw out the suspense, the better the payoff must be. Because if you make the reader wait around for pages after pages, and then reveal something really stupid, I think it just makes a reader annoyed.

    Of course… you can always make the payoff be another mystery box and keep on roping the reader along… It sounds cruel, but hey, it works.

  • Midnight Luck


    Did anyone enter the INDUSTRY INSIDER contest this time? And of the three possible Loglines which did people choose?

    A while back an SS’r posted their entry (i believe it was BBurton and he chose Longline #3, and also was so gracious as to provide us his early 15 pages).

    Interested in anyone’s thoughts about this version of the contest and if they decided to enter and why or why not, along with anything else they may want to share about it.

    I think the contest is one of the more interesting ones out there.

    • S_P_1

      I entered 2 out of the 3 major screenwriting contest plus the new Blood List 2014. I came up empty in Nicholls, and Final Draft Big Break. Currently I’m focused on completing the projects I already have going. Industry Insider I believe is closer to the Hollywood process of an in-house production. You’re being supplied a logline so you’re essentially confined and will generally fall inline with what is expected. I know Linkthis83 wrote Tommy Tucker Mother****** for one of those logline contests. He deliberately set out to not be conventional and that can work against you in a mainstream contest. I wrote a post on Stage32 concerning pretty much the same topic. What contests come down to is some type of third party validation. I thought I had a better than average chance on Final Draft and Blood List 2014. Honestly being selected for AOW and winning AF is probably more useful and gratifying than trying to win any major contest. Early in the year I attempted to enter AOW but I shot myself in the foot when I posted the synopsis of my script. After the negative feedback I retracted my submission because I already lost my audience (forum members). Anything else I submit will be completely new with no heads up.

      • Casper Chris

        . Honestly being selected for AOW and winning AF is probably more useful and gratifying than trying to win any major contest.

        Say what.

        EDIT: Oh, ‘trying to win’. I’d take winning Nicholl over winning AOW any day of the week.

        • walker

          I can say from experience that there is an equal amount of prestige in losing either.

      • Linkthis83

        I deliberately set out to writer something I wanted to write. If it interested them, then that was just a bonus for me. I wanted no part of that logline and realized that was my test. To see what I could do with it. I enjoyed the hell out of developing/writing TT. And when I get some time, I will see if I can get a full feature out of it.

        It ultimately comes down to what you believe to be of value when entering. For me, there was a lot of value to come from this experience.

        • Midnight Luck

          That Logline was a seriously difficult one. The most difficult of any I have seen since the contest began. But then again, it made you WORK for it to come up with something unique. I so enjoyed that part of it. I hope to see you out there on the field again one of these times. Maybe at the next contest?

          I enjoyed using it as a learning experiment, pushing myself as far as I could on every level. It was a great experience. Next time I think I will bring it again.

      • Midnight Luck

        Hey I agree, getting a slot on AoW, and especially AmFri are some of the best “wins” anyone could hope for.
        This contest though, gives the writer so many great things as well. If you haven’t checked it out, I think you should. It is a unique and interesting setup. If nothing else, I just look at it as incredibly cool and fun exercise. I don’t approach it as if I must win, or to get recognition, I just look at it as a way to take a Logline, and a few parameters and see if I can stretch my mind as far as possible and come up with really great storylines. Stories that are unique and surprising and not typical.

    • Linkthis83

      I’m pretty sure it wasn’t BSBurton, I do think you’re correct about someone sharing their entry in the comments section a while back. I kicked around an idea for a moment but I want to finish the project I’m currently on. Besides, none of these loglines inspired anything for me this time around. I do love this type of contest though. I like the challenge of creating something with some basic guidelines/elements. I also think there is a ton of value in going through the process of writing a script from start to finish with a mentor along the way.

      • BSBurton

        Me sharing? Have you lost your mind! Also, movie soon? St. Vincent?

      • Midnight Luck

        I love this contest. The idea is great, the setup of 15 pages, the “win” you receive is awesome. I really think this is one of the better Real World screenwriting contests out there.
        I also agree, the value of working with someone to write from beginning to end would be so interesting. I am not saying it is necessary, or that you would come away with something better than what could be done on your own, but if nothing else, it would be a tremendous learning exercise.

    • pmlove

      I thought the second logline (re: plane that lands a year later), essentially revolving around a ‘twist’, was a strange choice for a competition where you only get the first 15 pages.

      • Midnight Luck

        Yeah, I had come up with a couple good storylines, but ultimately that one seemed to be a little too closed off of a Logline. It was a bit of an odd one, and seemed too similar to LOST mixed with that true disappearing airplane.

    • gazrow

      I entered the competition for the first time and took a stab at logline #3. What about you – did you have a go?

      • Midnight Luck

        I didn’t this time. I did on the last go. I was going to do #3. At first I came up with a couple good stories for #2 (airplane) but in the end #3 seemed to have the best Logline to work with. After spending a lot of time and working away with a few different storylines, I just decided I wasn’t into this one enough. And I wasn’t feeling any of my storylines like I have before. So, I bowed out. I wanted to do it, but I have other stories I am working on right now, and my head and heart are vested more in them than any of the 3 Loglines they presented.

        Glad you took a stab at it. I wish you the best of luck.

    • BSBurton

      Midnight, I entered. This I.I. Competition seems better in that all 10 finalists get to have their scripts sent out to managers and so forth. I would like to see a famous writer pitch the loglines again though. That made it fresh and exciting.

      I entered this time with feedback and chose logline #1. It was the most exciting and open in my opinion.

      • Midnight Luck

        I was excited because they announced that all 10 winners would get put in front of managers, and I believe get a meeting. That was great.

        Then I just couldn’t get into any of the 3 Loglines. I tried over and over and they just didn’t work for me. Had some good story ideas, and did some good work, but didn’t feel it. By the time I was going to enter it cost $75, which is insanely expensive for a 15 page screenplay contest.
        I entered the last one, with a 20% discount (thanks Link), but couldn’t get myself to pay it or enter when I wasn’t completely vested in it this time.

        I am happy to hear you entered again. I hope this time you win one of the 10 slots. You were so close last time. I would have loved a runner up, but it would be so much fun to work with them on completing the script.

        • BSBurton

          Yeah, I hope so too! The feedback was good so I’ll hope and pray that I come out in the finals. Last time was a blast, still plan on doing that script in the near future.

          • Midnight Luck

            I had a blast too. It was fun to push myself so hard to come up with a completely unique spin on the story and to find ways of approaching it that wouldn’t be typical. The whole process was a gas.
            I payed for feedback last time, and it was so great. It was really worth it in every way.
            I plan on entering it next time. This one just didn’t work out for me. Definitely next time.

  • charliesb

    I saw this trailer earlier in the year, and it doesn’t look good. The elements seem to be there, but somehow, it feels like something we’ve already seen before. I feel like these type of stories need to go back to having a smaller scale (ala, E.T, Poltergeist, Cocoon or even Close Encounters for the most part), pulling the President, half a dozen government agencies and the fate of the world into just isn’t engaging anymore.

    Give me one family dealing with one child who may be disturbed or may be subject to the manipulations of an alien presence and how they deal with it, within their home, and town and you’ve got my attention. Sometimes smaller is better.

  • Montana Gillis

    Milk the suspense. Yeah, yeah, yeah BUT—have “something” happening every page to keep the interest. And it’s gotta be more than… Wait for it… Wait for it…. It’s really gonna be cool/scary/fantabulous!!!!… wait for it… here it comes…. Sure, milk some suspense but don’t milk it dry or the audience will get bored waiting for “it” to happen. There’s a balance – find it – use it.

  • Poe_Serling

    What place did Werewolves on Wheels come in?

    Just kidding, of course.

    For me, An American Werewolf in London and The Howling have always been a coin toss for the top werewolf spot in cinema.

    ’81 was a banner year for this movie monster.

    • davejc

      Werewolfs from 1981… Wolfen:

    • klmn

      I’ve got to mention Jack Nicholson in Wolf.

  • astranger2

    “But at what point does an ironic concept turn silly? I’m having a hard time buying into this premise of little 7 year olds taking down society.”

    What if one of the 7-year olds taking down society is Billy Mumy?

  • Midnight Luck

    I do know those things happened, but even the Grey Matter part of the story isn’t exactly a Mystery Box. It is info that we learn about as the story moves forward, but only for a brief bit. And yes his background with them does influence everything about his future choices, but still, it isn’t really a mystery box. We know what happened and we watch as it distorts his choices and his soul.

  • Erica

    I’m gonna go with Teen Wolf (1985). It’s just fun. –

  • Poe_Serling

    Yeah, I remember the dog’s performance as being one of the highlights of that particular film.

    And speaking of Michael Pare…

    Just saw where he has joined the cast of Bone Tomahawk, which now includes Sid Haig (like you mentioned the other day), Sean Young, and David Arquette.

    Even with Patrick Wilson and Kurt Russell in the lead roles, I’m getting the feeling that BT is slowly moving in the direction of a quick VOD and Redbox release.

    • astranger2

      Good to hear Eddie’s still cruisin’…

      • Poe_Serling

        On the Streets of Fire I hear. ;-)

        • astranger2

          yeah, right… lol