Back to work.

I took some time away. I did a little traveling. Went to Pittsburgh for the first time. Great city. I hit Pizza Palace in Knoxville, Tennessee while I passed through there. Pizza Palace is well-known because it was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, one of my favorite shows.

I had the lasagna and Greek pizza. I was expecting more ingredients on the pizza, but there was only feta cheese to go along the mozzarella. But it was delicious. The lasagna wasn’t a typical lasagna. It was meat sauce, cheese and noodles thrown together and baked. It was a little salty, but still good. It was a good cheap meal. I’d eat there all the time if I lived there.

Anyways, back to work.

Over the weekend, Steve Feek of Feek writes, took the time to read my script and gave me some great notes on how to improve my script. I won’t mention them all, but the best one was to change Sam’s occupation to a doctor and have his job somehow be related to his wife’s death. It’s just an excellent fabulous suggestion and alleviates my problem of the audience not sympathizing with Sam. Now, I can have Sam do just about anything and people will still feel sorry for him. Awesome. Thanks so much, Steve.

Steve is one of the reasons I decided to post online. Why limit myself to the few people I know that would read it and offer feedback when I have the World Wide Web at my disposal? I think open-source writing could be big. Imagine the next Star Wars movie being a collection of great ideas from all the fanboys? I think it would be brilliant. It would need a head writer, director and producer to go through the crap and find the gems, but the possibilities would be amazing. Get on that Hollywood.

I’ve changed the deadline to May 1st for a revised draft. I’m not sure how I should post it online since it will be introduced to existing pages. I’ll figure it out.

Stupid platforms.

There’s now so many platforms and browsers and macs and pcs…it’s impossible to know which is and isn’t going to work when doing anything online. Apparently the widget to download my script isn’t available on macs. At least, I’ve been told by one reader, and I know it doesn’t work on the iPad. So if anyone wants to read it, please e-mail me and I’ll be happy to send you the PDF of the script.

Tomorrow, I plan on reading it for the first time. I just printed it off and, yep, there’s the most pages I’ve ever put into one project. I just read the first page and I already want to rewrite it. It’s going to be a long rewrite. It’s funny that I started working on a short film I want to shoot soon and I wrote the first four pages of it yesterday and I think it’s the best four pages I’ve ever written. Now if I can only make it one hundred and twenty pages of the best thing I’ve ever written and I might have a sell on my hands.

I discovered this video today on Go Into the Story:

Great stuff from Ira Glass and a nice job on the video by David Shiyang Liu.

What’s next with my script.

On the right, in my “widgets“, I’ve included a PDF file of the script so viewers don’t have to jump from page to page to read it. Remember, this is just the first draft and the script may change drastically. I also haven’t read it in its entirety yet nor have I spell checked it or checked for grammatical errors. It’s very rough. My goal was just to get it done.

I’m just going to list some of the main things I’d like to work on:

    1. The most important thing to me is that Sam’s character doesn’t feel right. We have no empathy for him. His struggle isn’t great enough. There’s something missing and I have to find it.

    2. Dialog. Too much of it sounds like me and there’s no accents. They’re all Greek, they should have accents. Plus, I want Perry to speak a broken English entirely. This will be a major fix and will be difficult, but I think it will make a major impact.

    3. Character development. Jimmy isn’t well thought out. He’s a cliché of every mob movie I’ve ever seen. I want to give him more depth. In fact, I want to give all of them more depth, but especially Jimmy.

    4. Women. It’s not that important because it’s a mobster movie and intended for a specific audience, but I’d either like to add another female character or make the ones I’m using more integral to the story. I’m actually thinking of adding Claire as a character. Even though she’s dead, it could interesting. It would also help in making Sam more sympathetic.

    5. Action. I’m not sure if the action scenes are intense enough or written well enough. I’m going to break down some of my favorite movie scripts and see how they are written and if mine stacks up. I’m sure it doesn’t.

If anyone else has any suggestions, please share. That was the point of posting the script online. I’m going to take a couple of weeks away from it and let it gestate. Meanwhile, I’m going to devour the contents of a new site I found about the entire screenwriting process, from conception to selling, called Go Into The Story. I’m also going to work on a short script idea I came up with the other day. I came across this site and it gave me the inspiration to make another claymation. It’s been too long.

Pages ninety, ninety-one and ninety-two.

Well, that it’s. First draft is finished. It has a long way to go to be ready to shoot, but I think I know where the deficiencies are and I should be able to fix them. I’m going to take a break and come back to it in a week or two and see how I still feel about it. I actually wrote it straight through without going back and reading what I’ve already written. It was almost like a stream of conscious thing. It will be weird to print it off and read it in one sitting.

In the next day or so, I’m going to post what the next steps are, what I think can be improved on in the script and what my goals are.

This was actually a big big goal of mine. I’m so excited that I posted a Bucket List on my blog so I could commemorate the joyous event. Now there’s only eleven goals left and then I can die. Looking forward to it.

Oh yeah, I figured out what was going on with Celtx. On the desktop application, you have to go to Save To Celtx under the File tab. The weird thing is, you don’t have to on the iPad app. There, you just hit the cloud button. It should be the same on both apps to avoid confusion, but it isn’t. Beware.

On to the script….

I backtracked a little into the previous scene because I didn’t like how it ended. And now everyone knows what happened to the money. Enjoy (I hope).

(Pages 90, 91 & 92)
Martin passes Perry the paper.

Perry reads it.

PERRY
Is that Dino?

JIMMY
It sure is. The fucker actually did win the lottery.

MARTIN
I didn’t think Sam had the balls to pull something like that.

JIMMY
He must’ve been convinced someone stole from him for someone to go to those lengths. You guys are lucky he didn’t think it was you that stole from him.

MARTIN
Oh, he did.

There’s an uncomfortable silence. Martin realizes what’s about to happen and goes for his gun, but it’s too late.

Jimmy quickly pulls out a gun and fires two shots into Martin and then two shots at Perry. He hits Martin right in the head and Perry in the chest. Martin dies instantly.

Perry starts crawling away on the dirty concrete floor.

Jimmy stands over him.

JIMMY
I’m sorry, Perry, but one of you stole from me and I’ll never know which one. So you both gotta go.

Jimmy fires another shot killing Perry.

Jimmy walks back to his desk and sits down in the chair. He pulls out a handkerchief and wipes his gun clean and holsters it.

Jimmy sits for several seconds in complete silence.

FADE TO BLACK:

INT. BEDROOM – NIGHT

Against a black screen a telephone rings.

Ring.

Ring.

Ring.

There’s the rustling sound of sheets as Sam goes to answer the phone.

Ring.

SAM
Hello?

VOICE (O.S.)
Where the fuck is my money?

SAM
What?

VOICE (O.S.)
You fucking heard me. Where the fuck is my money?

SAM
Okay, okay. I’ll bring it tomorrow.

INT. TEENS BEDROOM – CONTINUOUS

A pimple-faced teenager, DAVID, 15, hangs up the phone.

In the room with him are TERRY, 14, and RYAN, 14.

There’s a phonebook opened up and hundreds of names are blacked out with a felt marker crossing them out. Sam Goldstein was next on the list.

DAVID
Oh my God, he fucking bought it!

RYAN
I can’t believe that shit worked!

The teens erupt in laughter.

MOTHER
(through the walls)
Ryan, your father and I are trying to sleep in here!

RYAN
Sorry, mom!

EXT. DOWNTOWN DETROIT – MORNING

The teenagers are in the park, keeping watch of the location drop off. They are on bicycles and split about fifty yards from each but within each other’s eyesight.

Terry is the one closest to the drop and the only one with a good eyeline to the trash can.

Sam starts walking across the field with the briefcase.

Ryan sees Sam and sees the briefcase. He motions to Terry that it might be the guy. Terry nods in response.

Terry watches as Sam puts the suitcase in the trash.

Sam walks away and the teenagers stay put until they see Sam drive away. Once he does they all peddle to the trash.

Terry gets to the case first and waits until Ryan and David arrive. Once they do, Terry opens it and it’s filled with hundred dollar bills wrapped.

DAVID
Holy shit!

RYAN
Put it in the backpack.

Terry takes off his backpack and they dump all the money in there.

DAVID
Check and make sure no one is watching us, Ryan.

RYAN
K.

Ryan peddles out from under the bridge to make sure no one is there. It’s clear.

RYAN
It looks clear.

Terry finishes dumping all the money into the backpack and throws the suitcase back into the trash.

TERRY
Let’s go!

The teenagers race away from the drop off point towards the sunrise..

FADE TO BLACK:

Pages eighty-six, eighty-seven, eighty-eight and eighty-nine.

My pages are all screwed up. After spotting the error today, I’m now worried I’ve got two different scripts going on Celtx. My iPad script says I’ve got eighty-nine pages and my desktop says I’ve got eighty-two. Argh! I’m sure my iPad is right though, because I’ve used it almost exclusively.

I’ve mentioned it several times, but I love writing with the iPad. I’ve purchased a Logitech keyboard and stand so it’s more like a laptop than an iPad. It sounds crazy, like why don’t I just buy a laptop? But there were logistical reasons for my purchase. Number one, some jobs I work, I’m not allowed to bring in a camera and almost every laptop (besides an expensive business laptop) now comes with a webcam. Another reason was because I travel a lot. The iPad is nice because it’s so portable, always on and saves a lot of movies and books on it. I’ve tried netbooks and the keyboards are too small on them.

Finally, on to the script…

I’ve decided to change the jewelry box to a crazy treasure chest of jewelry. Just something absurd. Kind of an homage to Tarantino’s red-glow-suitcase. I think it will add a little humor. Again, everything is subject to change. The question already is, “why didn’t Sam just give them the jewelry in the first place?” I don’t know. Maybe they’re family heirlooms. Anyways, the script doesn’t reflect the change yet, but it will.

INT. JIMMY’S OFFICE

Jimmy is sitting in his office reading a newspaper when Perry and Martin walk in. Perry is carrying the box of jewelry.

MARTIN
Hey boss.

JIMMY
Did you get my money?

MARTIN
We think so.

JIMMY
You think so?

Perry puts the box on the desk and opens it. Jimmy grabs a necklace and pulls it close to his face examining it.

JIMMY
Is it real?

MARTIN
The diamontologist here thinks so.

PERRY
I’m certain it’s real.

JIMMY
Look at this! Where the fuck did he get this? It’s like you’ve discovered a treasure chest. Nice work guys. Nice work.

MARTIN
Thank you.

PERRY
Thanks.

JIMMY
We’ll get someone in here and appraise it. Once I get my cut, we’ll split it three ways. How’s that sound?

MARTIN
It sounds like we need a bottle of champagne to celebrate.

JIMMY
Oh yeah, look at this.

Jimmy throws the newspaper at Martin.

JIMMY
Front page.

Martin examines the front page.

The article’s headline is “LOTTERY WINNER FOUND MURDERED”

MARTIN
Holy shit!

JIMMY
Yeah.

PERRY
What?

MARTIN
Look.

Martin passes Perry the paper.

Perry reads it.

PERRY
Is that Dino?

JIMMY
It sure is. The fucker actually did win the lottery.

PERRY
That’s why Sam’s shirt was covered in blood. He killed Dino.

MARTIN
Wow.

Jimmy quickly pulls out a gun and fires two shots into Martin and Perry each. He hit Martin right in the head and Perry in the chest. Martin dies instantly.

Perry starts crawling away on the dirty concrete floor.

Jimmy stands over him.

JIMMY
I’m sorry, Perry, but one of you stole from me and I’ll never know which one. So you both gotta go.

Jimmy fires another shot.

CUT TO:

Celtx problems.

Celtx recently updated their software and added a new “cloud” feature that was supposed to make it easier to use in projects with other people and personally across multiple platforms. I like the old software because I didn’t have a problem remembering to import and export the file from the server. Now, with the new “cloud” system, it’s supposed to be easier, without the need to export or import, just hit the cloud button. Well, twice I’ve tried it and lost work. I thought the first time, it was user error. Now I’m convinced the software doesn’t save properly. And while I almost always save it as a text or pdf file, sometimes I don’t when I don’t have wireless network access on my iPad. I’m lucky to have posted my pages on this blog so it’s an easy, but inconvenient, fix.

This is just to warn others using Celtx across multiple platforms. Be careful.

Pages eighty-two, eighty-three, eighty-four & eighty-five.

Only a few scenes left! I think I should have it finished by the end of the week, which would make it three weeks ahead of schedule.

(Pages 82, 83, 84 & 85)
EXT. GRAVEYARD – MORNING

Light starts peaking over the horizon and through the trees as the sun rises.

Sam, in the same bloody dirty clothes from the night before, is asleep on the ground. The tombstone is that of his wife, Claire Goldstein.

Sam wakes up. He starts violently coughing. He stands up. He tries to straighten himself out. He uses his hands as a comb. He pulls his jacket over his blood-stained shirt and buttons it.

Sam stares at Claire’s tombstone for a minute. Then he looks at his clothes.

SAM
Ugh.

Sam slumbers away.

INT. SAM’S HOUSE – MORNING

Sam enters his home through the kitchen entrance. He lays his keys on the kitchen table. He removes his dirty shoes and leaves them on the rug.

Sam walks out of the kitchen and into the hallway.

MARTIN
Hello, Sam.

Sam jumps, startled.

Martin is in the living room sitting on a chair with his left leg over his right.

SAM
Jesus. You scared the shit out of me.

PERRY
Hey, Sam.

Sam jumps again.

Perry walks from the bedroom coming from behind Sam.

SAM
You guys practise this shit?

MARTIN
That’s an awful lot of blood on your shirt. Were you in an accident?

SAM
Yeah.

MARTIN
Really? I saw your car pull up. I didn’t see any damage.

SAM
What the fuck do you want?

MARTIN
You know.

There’s several seconds of silence.

SAM
Yeah, I know. You want money. Money to replace the money you stole from me.

Sam moves into the living room and has a seat on the couch across from Martin.

Perry moves in a little closer, but stays standing.

MARTIN
No one stole any money from you. I’m starting to think you made the whole shit up thinking we’d be dumb enough to fall for it. It’s the dumbest fucking story I’ve ever heard of.

SAM
You know, I’ve been thinking about it. That voice on the other end of the line. The only thing that makes sense is that it was you.

MARTIN
Excuse me?

SAM
Who else could it be? You and this big palooka are the only two that know Jimmy’s business. And this guy can’t get a single word out that sounds like the English language. And I know you…

MARTIN
Oh yeah? You know what about me? What do…

SAM
(interrupting)
I know you’ve got a bad poker habit. I’ve heard about you dropping tens of thousands at a time. Apparently, you’re a shitty player.

MARTIN
You’re right. I lose a lot of money. I make a lot of money too and I’m not stupid enough to steal from Jimmy.

SAM
But you stole from me. You probably figured the Jew is rich, he’ll pay again. Well your wrong. I won’t fucking give you another dime. So go fuck yourself.

Martin pulls out his gun with a silencer on it and shoots Sam in the head. Blood splatters everywhere.

PERRY
Hey! What are you doing? The money!

MARTIN
That fucker wasn’t going to pay. Toss the house. See if we can’t find something valuable around here.

Perry heads into the bedroom and starts rummaging through the drawers. He looks through clothes and tosses the empty drawers on the ground.

Martin walks into the bedroom and tosses the mattress off of the box spring.

PERRY
You didn’t take the money did you? I won’t say a word.

MARTIN
I don’t appreciate you asking me that question. Of course I didn’t take any money. I’m not stupid.

PERRY
It just doesn’t make sense. Sam was telling the truth. I could see it in his eyes, but there’s no way Dino could’ve known.

MARTIN
I don’t know what to tell you. It’s all a mystery.

PERRY
Hey, look.

Perry has placed a large wooden box on the dresser and opened it. It’s loaded with expensive jewelry. A lot of it looks antique.

Martin walks over and starts examining it with Perry.

Perry pulls out an antique looking broach littered with diamonds and examines it closely.

MARTIN
Is it real?

Perry puts the broach in his mouth and exhales. He quickly pulls it out and looks.

PERRY
Yeah, I think so.

MARTIN
What did you do? How could you tell.

PERRY
You can’t fog up a diamond.

MARTIN
(in disbelief)
What? Get out of here. Really?

PERRY
Yeah.

MARTIN
How do you know that?

PERRY
I keep my ears open.

MARTIN
What about the scratch test?

PERRY
A lot of things can scratch glass. Not always fool proof.

MARTIN
That’s some smart shit. I’m very impressed.

Perry pulls out a necklace with a very large diamond on it.

PERRY
Wow, this is old. This is worth some money.

MARTIN
There might be enough for the debt.

PERRY
I think there’s more.

MARTIN
Fantastic.

CUT TO:

Page eighty-one.

I’ve written most of this on my iPad using the Celtx app. The weird thing is that the pages don’t match when I exported it to my desktop Celtx. I’m not sure why, but my desktop Celtx says I’m only at 76 pages. It’s a bit bothersome; they should match.

Anyways, I can see the finish line and I’m very excited. I know it’s not the most interesting script, but I’ve really enjoyed writing it and will love doing the re-writes. I’m a little surprised that the thought of looking like a failure on a blog that no one reads would motivate me to finish. I know that the reason I don’t do a lot of things is because my greatest fear is failure. I think this blog is helping me get over that fear. Recently, I found this great quote by Michael Jordan (at least I think it’s from him. Who knows with all the fabrications online anymore?):

    “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

I want to be like Mike…..which is very hard to say as a Piston fan.

Editors note: I had to backtrack a little with this scene. I should’ve finished it before I posted it. I forgot where Perry had left off when it came to Sam and Dino. (I’ll be posting the whole script in its entirety when it’s finished)

(Page 81)
The Waitress leaves.

PERRY
So we have a job tonight?

MARTIN
Yeah. Sam. He must’ve pissed of Jimmy. Jimmy wants him out.

PERRY
Really? What happened?

MARTIN
I don’t know.

PERRY
What happened with Dino? Did Dino steal Sam’s money?

MARTIN
I don’t think so. I grilled him pretty hard.

PERRY
Oh yeah? So the briefcase?

MARTIN
He says he found it in a dumpster.

Perry starts laughing.

PERRY
That’s a big fucking coincidence. That Dino is always up to some shit.

MARTIN
Hey, if he could go through what I put him through and still be not tell the truth, then he earned that money.

PERRY
Tell that to Sam.

MARTIN
Fuck Sam. If he’s dumb enough to listen to a fucking call in the middle of the night and then dumb that much money in a dumpster, then he deserves to lose it. And he deserves what’s coming to him.

PERRY
Well, I’ve got a body in my car right now, so we can make it a two-for-one night.

MARTIN
Who?

PERRY
No one you know. It was personal.

MARTIN
Oh, personal. I love personal. They’re the only kills that get my blood pressure up anymore.

PERRY
You’re a sick fuck. Killing isn’t enjoyable. We’re going to have to answer to God someday.

MARTIN
Perry, why do you do what you do if you’re religious? It doesn’t make sense.

PERRY
The money.

MARTIN
So money is more important to you than eternal damnation?

PERRY
It is when you’re starving. Then once you’re in, you figure, what the hell? The damage is done. I’m either going to hell now anyways or ten hail Marys will save my ass and I’ll be okay.

MARTIN
You have no idea how crazy that sounds to me, do you?

PERRY
Don’t worry. I pray for you every night.

CUT TO:

Pages seventy-nine and eighty.

For several months now, I’ve been following a website called Screenwriting Tips….You Hack. The posts are more like tweets, but they’re generally very insightful and useful. I’m only sharing because I thought the latest tip (tip #919) was so àpropos.

(Pages 79 & 80)
INT. DINER – NIGHT

A typical greasy spoon, open twenty-four hours, Detroit coney island.

Martin is eating a bloody rare Ribeye steak when Perry enters the diner.

Perry sees Martin and strolls over to his booth.

Perry sits down.

PERRY
What is that, a steak?

MARTIN
Ribeye.

PERRY
From here?

MARTIN
Don’t let the dirty tiled floors fool you, they have the best steak in town. Here try it.

PERRY
No, that’s okay.

MARTIN
I insist.

Martin cuts a piece and holds it up for Perry on his fork.

Perry hesitates.

MARTIN
Eat it!

Perry eats it off Martin’s fork. He chews it for a while.

PERRY
You’re right, not bad.

MARTIN
See? I told you.

The WAITRESS comes over holding a coffee pot.

WAITRESS
Would you like some coffee, honey?

PERRY
Yes.

Perry flips over the empty coffee cup sitting on the table for the waitress to fill up. She does.

PERRY
Thanks.

WAITRESS
Cream? Sugar?

PERRY
No thanks.

WAITRESS
Menu?

PERRY
I’m good.

The Waitress leaves.

PERRY
So we have a job tonight?

MARTIN
Yeah. Sam. He must’ve pissed off Jimmy. Jimmy wants him out.

PERRY
Really? What about the money?

MARTIN
Jimmy says do what we can, but he never wants to see Sam again.

PERRY
I wonder what he did.

MARTIN
Me too.

Pages seventy-five, seventy-six, seventy-seven and seventy-eight.

(pages 75,76,77 & 78)
INT. APARTMENT COMPLEX – NIGHT

Sam is standing in front of Sherry’s apartment door. He just stands there for several seconds. He places his balled up right-hand fist on the door to knock but hesitates. Instead he starts rummaging through his pockets and pulls out his knife. He opens it and gets it ready. With his knife in his right hand, he balls up his left hand and goes to knock. Again, he doesn’t. He starts taking in a series of rapid breaths much like a deep-sea diver does before they dive. He goes to knock.

Dino opens the door.

DINO
Who are you? What are you doing here?

SAM
Are you Dino?

DINO
Who wants to know.

Sam punches Dino square in the jaw. Dino sprawls backwards knocking frames off the walls as he clutches for something to grab on to.

Dino lands on his back.

DINO
What the fuck?

In trying to make himself seem intimidating, Sam extends his small three-inch blade out as far as he can.

SAM
How did you know I owed the money to Jimmy?

DINO
What? What money?

Sherry comes running out of the bedroom.

She sees Dino on the ground and kneels down to help him.

SHERRY
Now what’s going on? How many people do you know that want to kill you, Dino?

DINO
I don’t even know who the fuck this guy is. Go call the cops, babe.

SAM
Don’t go anywhere.

DINO
Fuck you. Go call them.

Sherry gets up and goes for the phone. Sam tries to hop over Dino, but Dino grabs his leg. As Sam falls down, he grabs Sherry’s hair and pulls her down.

DINO
You motherfucker!

Dino climbs on Sam’s back and starts punching him in the kidneys, back and the back of the head.

DINO
I’m going to kill you, you motherfucker.

Dino is relentless with his punching.

Sherry extracts herself from Sam’s clutches and stands up. She doesn’t know what to do. Dino is a wild man flailing with everything he’s got.

DINO
Motherfucker! Motherfucker!

Sam takes a firm grip of his knife and reaches back in a desperation move, swipes the blade at Dino’s face. He misses the face, but slices the jugular instead. Blood starts squirting like a faucet.

SHERRY
Aaaaaaah!

Dino sees the blood pouring on his hands.

DINO
What the?

Dino holds his throat.

DINO
Oh my God?

Dino keeps checking the blood on his hands like he can’t believe it.

DINO
Call the hospital, babe.

Sherry runs to the phone.

Sam can see the phone line from where he’s laying. He cuts it.

Sherry picks up the phone, but there is no dial-tone.

SHERRY
It’s dead.

Sherry looks and sees that Sam has cut the line.

SHERRY
What the fuck did you do? You bastard!

Sherry starts beating Sam over the head with the phone. Sam covers up for a second and then plunges the knife into Sherry’s ankle.

SHERRY
Aaaaaah!

Sherry falls over clutching her ankle.

Sam pushes Dino off of himself and climbs on top of Sherry. He starts jabbing the knife into her chest repeatedly until she stops moving. He’s killed her.

Sam stares at Sherry for several seconds. He then closes her eyes. He climbs off of her and stands up. As soon as he stands up, he keels over puking.

Sam wipes the puke off of his face with his bloodied shirt, smearing blood all over his face. He takes his hands and tries to wipe the blood off of them with the other. It doesn’t work.

Sam looks at the mess he’s created. There’s blood everywhere.

Sam exits.

CUT TO: