Be As Rough As You Want, It’s My First Time

So, in the interest of putting my money (which I really have none) where my mouth is (which I possibly have too much of), following is the first page of a spec screenplay I’m getting ready to market.

By “getting ready” I mean the spec is complete and polished and I’m currently researching and targeting buyers (managers, talent, prodcos, agents, in that order).
Once I finish the spec I’m currently in the middle of writing, I’ll start approaching those buyers, entering contests, etc with both.

Sorry @ the terrible formatting, I haven’t been able to figure out how to properly format screenplay excerpts for this blog yet. If anyone knows how, please enlighten.

Any feedback – even the snarky kind – will be received with great appreciation. But I’d really like to know if you think the following accomplishes what a first page should: set tone, time and place, establish character, hook you into wanting – HAVING – to turn the page, read as its own “mini-story”, etc. So without further adieu…

Dark Rum Chronicles: The Adventures of Nick Drama
by
Alain Dominic

FADE IN:

INT. PRIVATE AIRPLANE HANGER – DAY

A FIST connects with NICK DRAMA’S jaw, sending him reeling the opposite direction into — another fist.

Late 30’s. Scruffy. Hawaiian shirt. Cargo shorts. Nick resembles a ranch hand turned surfer, like he should be on vacation sipping a drink with a pink umbrella. Yet —

ANOTHER FIST. Looks like that drink’ll have to wait.

See, Nick’s a little preoccupied with the FOUR BLACK-CLAD MERCENARIES gleefully tenderizing him.

Another vicious blow and Nick’s legs give out.

NICK in mid-fall, semiconscious.

NICK (V.O.)
Drama. I don’t like it. Unfortunately, its my last name.

NICK’S HEAD smacks the concrete floor with a dull thud, bouncing slightly.

NICK (V.O.)
That’s me. Nick Drama. The handsome feller getting his eggs scrambled right there.

A swiftly moving combat boot swallows Nick’s vision. Another kick flips him on his back.

NICK (V.O.)
And if you’re wondering how an average Joe like me gets himself into a jam like this, well brother you ain’t flying solo,‘cause right about now old Nick finds himself pondering that very same question.

A HAND roots a dusty beer bottle from the floor. Smashes the end off. Angles the jagged edge toward Nick.
A TATTOO OF A WATER SNAKE winding its way across the knuckles distinguishes this hand from the other Mercenaries. This bastard’s clearly their LEADER.

End pg. 1.
Ok, let me have it!

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4 Responses to “Be As Rough As You Want, It’s My First Time”

  1. (Dude from GITS) 1st page reads good and smooth. Self narration is making me think its a comedy… As long as there isn't too much self narration then I'm fine. 1st minute "Possible Consider!". keep it up.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    From title and style, seems like an old-school PI story. V.O. in particular gives that impression. I like a good PI story so not a criticism just my impression of page 1. Be careful of cliches though, such as breaking the bottle. A story like this needs to avoid cliches even more than most b/c something with an old school feel needs to find ways to be fresh and cliches by definition are stale. Good work and good luck!

  3. Vanilla Chunk Says:

    I like it. It moves right along and gives you a lot of options. However, I am really bothered by the phrase 'a boot swallows his vision'. Boots do not swallow. Is that a full page? In any case, keep going!

  4. alain dominic Says:

    Thanks for taking the time to respond, if I can do anyone else in kind, let me know!

    As the title hopefully implies, it's a high-concept action/comedy. Since the whole thing plays out in the Bahamas, I chose to use a detective/noir-ish style as counterpoint. The character of Nick Drama is a lazy, selfish beach bum but goes through the classic hard-boiled detective journey: starting out with a simple need and everything snowballing into larger machinations Nick never sign up for; bad bad guys and questionable morals for good guys; constant physical punishment; etc.
    The broken bottle is certainly one of those pulp-ish cliches, but hopefully in the context of the story it's understood as an appropriate tongue-in-cheek image.
    Aside from V.O., another big risk I took was using flashbacks. This first scene is actually a flashback and doesn't climax/resolve until the end of Act 2. Hopefully in that climax/resolution the cliched broken bottle's use is unexpected.

    Conventional wisdom is because V.O. & flashbacks are by nature methods of telling rather than showing, they are generally considered a crutch for bad storytelling and the mark of an amateur. So why would a new writer who's trying to break in utilize such dangerous storytelling tactics? A couple reasons:
    I felt that style was simply the best, most interesting way to tell the story, i.e., that's what the material called for. The feel, tone and humor of the film wouldn't be the same without them. In fact the main character wouldn't be the same or go through the same journey without them. Basically, that was the only way to tell the story I wanted to tell.
    Second, knowing those are dangerous conventions to rely on, I had to make SURE I knew how to use them correctly. That meant doing lots of research on the proper use of V.O.s and flashbacks, common mistakes, etc. (how awful V.O. was used in Juno vs how brilliantly is was used in Fight Club, for example).

    On rewriting I literally tried to cut both down to the point where if I cut any more things would start not making sense. In other words, I made sure every use was necessary to the telling of the story, that all of it contributed to the understanding of the plot as directly related to character.

    Yadayadayada, now I'm starting to bore even myself. Thanks again for reading this comment, which is now longer than my first f'ing page.

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