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Monday, March 16, 2009

Top Three St. Patty's Short Scenes

All right, Wavers. Here we go, the top three. To put everything in perspective, I received 59 short scenes. When I judged the scenes, I looked, initially, for format and density (too much black). I didn't disqualify a short scene for having too much black or being in MS word, but nine out of ten times if there WAS too much black, the story was also not very compelling. Interesting pattern. The next step of sorting through the scripts was that I looked for originality: writers who surprised me. It's sobering how many scripts were actually quite alike this time, I mean, really sobering. Come on you guys. You gotta be more unique! Lastly, I looked for writers who managed to really, seriously, honestly tell a complete story.

I received a lot of odd, sort of "momenty" scenes. Sort of film student pastiches or moments that went nowhere. Ungood.

Beginning, middle, end. Compelling and unique conflict. This time, I've noted why I chose a particular scene. Look and learn, Wavers, look and learn. Unique, compelling, cinematic and - well - fun. That's what each of these short scenes has in common. If your script was not chosen, it may have been momenty or unoriginal - or it might have been great but just couldn't quite compete with the finalists I chose. I wish I could give each individual notes and feedback but unfortunately that is untenable so you'll have to do it the old-fashioned way - you'll have to compare and surmise by reading these finalists and then review your own entry.

For now, here at the top three:

by Emily Backus

Why I chose this short scene: Emily went totally, 100% outside of the box on this one. She used the keywords in the single most creative way, more than anybody else did in this competition. The scene is funny, it works and it made me laugh.


A rickety car idles at a stoplight, puttering quietly in the
early dawn light. The light clicks from crimson to emerald
and the car peels through the damp intersection.

How you doin’ back there honey?

He glances to the back seat where his massively pregnant wife
is braced against the rear seat, contorted in pain.

Oh, just grand.

She cracks an eye open and looks out the window.

Turn here. Turn here!

Bud is barely able to veer right, to the tune of complaining

Yes honey, I believe I know where
the highway is!

They merge into a stately parade of rush hour traffic.

We’re carpoolin’! Use the freaking
diamond lane!

Bud flicks on the blinker and waves genially at honking

I am doing that just as fast as
humanly possible, dear. You just
concentrate on your breathing and,
well, Lucky of course.

(breathing heavily)
Listen here, I do not care if this
baby was made over a bowl of
cereal. We are not naming him
after a fuckin’ leprechaun!

Well Christ, excuse me. Dwayne Leon
Nickels Jr.! Got no ring to it. Not
like Lucky Silver Nickels!

by Audrey McKenzie

Why I chose this short scene: It starts off as a very typical short scene in this competition: the waif, the parade, the leprechauns exactly as you would imagine - then goes in a totally different, PAPER MOON direction. The ending image made me laugh; this entry is cinematic and satisfying.


A MARCHING BAND leads a parade of St. Patrick's Day floats. LEPRECHAUNS of all sizes walk alongside a float and wave to the CROWD lining the sidewalk.

Behind the throng of people, KATIE (8), a waif in grubby Keds, leans against a wall beneath a window display of emerald jewelry, and stares with longing at the families enjoying the parade.

She turns as a WOMAN enters the jewelry store.

Sadness clouds Katie's face. She bursts into tears.


A CLERK hands the woman a chunky emerald bracelet.

Katie runs into the store crying.


Crashes into the woman, stumbles.

Concerned, the woman leans over to help Katie up.

Katie jerks the bracelet out of the woman's hand, races for the door. The clerk lunges for her, misses.

Stop, you little thief!

The woman gawks.


Katie weaves between the parade-goers, breaks through and darts for an alley.


HONK! HONK! The parade-goers turn toward the sound. A child's pedal car speeds out of the alley. Behind the wheel is Katie, disguised as a leprechaun in a floppy green hat, rust-colored beard, and green shirt.

To the delight of the crowd, Katie pedals away, knobby knees pumping like pistons, headed for a group of SHRINERS in clown-cars.


by Iain Urquhart

Why I chose this short scene: Because the truncated, noir/detective writing was perfect. The patter between Dougan and Hannegan, as Dougan explains, in his jaded way, the dirty underbelly of "Lep" crime - I laughed aloud. Iain really nailed this scene.


DOUGAN, feet on desk. Big cop. Cheroot, pork pie hat. Unlit.
HANNEGAN, fresh-faced kid, throws an OLD SHOE onto the desk.

It's him. Forensics confirms it.

Dougan lifts up the shoe, with a pencil and a cop-bred sneer.

You grow up in the Emerald Isle,
kid, you don't need no lab to
confirm it. You got a shoe in the
case, you got a leprechaun perp.

He drops the shoe, takes in Hannegan's puzzled admiration.

Shoe's standard MO for a lep.
They got interests in cobbling.
Cobbling's legit. It ain't their
shoe. They was only mending it.
Lepped-up lawyer, they're back on
the street. Making mischief.

Hannegan fishes a note out of the shoe, reads it.

Mischief it is, Chief. He's gonna
hit the St. Patrick's parade. He
don't get a crock of gold at the
end of the rainbow, he's gonna
curdle the Guinness.

It .. it'll be DRY out there!

If it ain't wet. He's gonna plant
laxative Baileys and heist all
the two-ply. Think of the women.

Dougan does, and the color drains from his face.

Leprechaun on our back, Mayor up
our ass. We need a plan, Chief.

Irish shit storm, there's only
one plan. A rubber suit, with
another guy in it. Bring me the

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Luzid said...

All three are great, but I had to vote for #3. The idea of a leprechaun mafia is genius.

That's actually a great concept to build a movie around. Iain better jump on that before someone else does!

Désirée said...

I agree with Luzid that all three are very good, but I liked #1 best.

I actually had to read #3 a couple of times to get it. Traffic jam in my head, maybe?

Although I think that #1 didn't used the keywords, I recognized myself as the pregnant woman spot on (although we drove at two o'clock in the night on deserted roads). It was fun.

It is interesting with so different consepts and opinions. Very inspiring.

Joe Public said...

Liked #3 the best. Just a great world to play inside of...and something that could be stretched into three acts.