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"On The Job Training" by Tim Westland ~ Honorable Mention

Logline: The holes we dig for ourselves are often deeper than those we dig for others.

Genre: Crime - Horror - Mystery

Cast Size: 3

Production Status: Available (Please contact the author to negotiate the rights)

Contest: More of Less is More (Jun. 2010)

Contest Scores
PoorFairGoodVery GoodExcellent

Comments Made During the Contest

Adrienne Jorgensen (Level 4)

I think this fits nicely within the 1 page. It doesn't really feel truncated to me, which is something that is so easy to do with such a small amount of space.

The twist of meaning at the end works nicely. I felt appropriately surprised, but not jerked around. I think it would work well filmed.

Aralis Bloise (Level 4)

Hahaha! It's the Serial Killer's Apprentice! I'd watch that movie. Oh please write that feature. That would be so funny.
"Gotta dig the graves at night, see.
Don’t wanna disturb visitors."
That is so much funnier once you have read the end! Great job.

Barry Katz (Level 3)

Clearly, you are well-seasoned in screenwriting. Either that, or you're just a "natural." Perfectly formatted, smooth read, good balance of action, descriptive text and dialogue. The only part I didn't quite understand is when Mick says "I said I was sorry" and Butch says "be more careful next time." Realizing that space is limited, I would have liked to have known why the woman lost her life, perhaps a little back-story? In any event, really great effort and an enjoyable read.

Brian Howell (Level 5)

Not bad. I was expecting some kind of twist like this, but not exactly this, so decent job there.

I'm voting VERY GOOD on this. It kind of lacks that indescribable element that leaves a lasting impression, but this is above average for sure, so very good job.

I'm sort of at a loss for what else to say about it. Oh, one tiny bit of confusion. When the burlap sack is opened you say, "inside, a woman..." This almost read inside a woman. Maybe use a colon here - inside: a woman...

That's all.

Brian Wind (Level 5)

Written and paced well. Dark, twisted story.

Some of the action paragraphs could stand to be trimmed a bit. Butch's closing dialogue was a bit expository. Aside from those two issues, I don't have much to comment on. This was a well written script with a sufficiently dark twist at the end.

Nice work!

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

I liked this a great deal. Excellent, in fact.

The only thing that bugged me was the last speech.

It’s the panic in their eyes
as you shovel the dirt on ‘em what
makes it all worth while. - the use of 'what' jumped out - incongruous compared with the rest of the dialect.

Great little story though!

Charlie Hebert (Mod Emeritus)

Nice, in a bad sort of way.

Like the twist at the end, thought they were just gravediggers doing their job.

Well written and creepy. Good work!

Chris Keaton (Level 5)

OJT baby!
- That first line is a bear. A rewrite would help.

Hah, I loved this little piece. A full story with a twist nice job. You get an Excellent from me.

Chris Messineo (Founder)

I liked this a lot.

There is something oddly charming about these two killers burying their victim. Perhaps it is the "Mutt and Jeff" quality. The inherent conflict between these two men.

Additionally, you manage to have story with an arc, a twist, and subtext. Very well done.

My only suggestion, I think you can come up with a stronger title. But that is a small quibble.

This is a great one page script.

Christopher Castle (Level 4)

On the Job Training.
Not too impressed with the title. In view of the restrictions of one page I felt you needed to tell more with it. Story left me feeling uncomfortable which for a horror story I guess is what you are aiming for. I like the distinction with the characters, one being stocky and the other lean. I wanted to learn more about why they were doing what they were doing, just to clarify. But it read well with a balance of dialogue and description.

Dan Delgado (Level 5)

A dead woman, a sadist and a guy who apparently accidentally killed her so now they can't bury her alive doesn't really qualify as "an entire story in one page", in my opinion. You had a contrast with the two thugs and it the dialogue was well done. Easy to tell them apart by the way they spoke. But why I should I care about either of these two? When there's no characters I can care about the "story" really doesn't keep my attention.

There was no obvious formatting, spelling or grammar errors. You can write. I'm looking forward to a story you might write in the future with characters I can care about.

I gave this a rating of "Fair". Thank you.

David Birch (Level 5)

i think i would have preferred a little more back-and-forth between mick and butch...raise the stakes a little...why not have him throw the shovel down...or recognize the woman and have a realization of what it is he's doing...some moment of conscience...

Dawn Calvin (Level 5)

I can buy Butch but not so much Mick. Mick is just not as convincing for a character. Butch seems to jump out of the page and push the story forward.
I think changing up the dialogue or something to make it seem like Mick wants to be there, instead of not, would help make this more convincing!

Faith Friese Nelson (Level 5)

Very good job. I really liked the surprise ending.

Here are some notes. Since the slug-line tells us it is night, the word NIGHT is not needed to describe the air.

He glares up at Mick. Consider deleting the word UP.

Fred Koszewnik (Level 5)

The set up and development of the story was interesting enough. At first, I imagined that the two characters were grave robbers. Then it became apparent that they were burying a body and not digging it up and this surprised me a bit. The twist on the end of the story didn't strike me as particularly strong. On a whole, well written and the dialogue seemed appropriate.

Herman Chow (Level 5)

This is quite a haunting piece. The characters feel real to me even for a one pager, especially Mick. You think he's a pussy but he actually likes to see people being buried alive. Sick.

One thing I would make it more clear is to note the WOMAN is lifeless in the bag. Not that we didn't know the woman was dead already (as she was in a body bag), but putting emphasis on the lifeless part will make Mick's next dialogue more understandable.

As of now, I was wondering why Mick said he was sorry. The woman was in the body bag, wasn't that how it supposed to be? Yeah, I had to read that part twice to fully understand what you were trying to do.

Overall, I loved the atmosphere, the subtext, and writing and the characters.


James Hughes (Level 5)

Good twist at the end. What are they, then. Serial Killers? This is the only point of the story that is missing is that it is revealed that they aren't working for the graveyard but not quite revealed who they actually are.

Jose Batista (Level 5)

Wow!!! That one certainly caught me out there by surprise. The title was deceivingly clever and the final words were cold. The scene told a story all on its own and had a good descriptive flair and great dialogue. Excellent work.

Kelley Donnelly (Level 2)

I think it is an amazing feat to tell a story in one page, and you pulled it off perfectly! Your writing was very good as was the plot. The last line gave me chills which was awesome. I really hope that you consider expanding it, I think it would make an awesome script. Good Luck!

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5)

This is creepy good. Very interesting. Very easy to understand and a breeze to read. comes with a twist, a funny twist too (yes funny for me). I liked it a lot.
Don't have any suggestions, very interesting read. Thank you. And good luck.
Nice dialog, very subtle, no exposition at all. Great job.

KP Mackie (Level 5)

A creepy story with a terrific title. Expected some sort of interference from a ghost-resident in the graveyard. Particularly effective dialogue. Knew immediately there was some kind of subtext when Mick, wringing his hands, says, "I said I was sorry." Obviously the apology is meant for Butch, but it could also be the last words he spoke before he killed the poor Woman. Either way, it's well done.
Bit curious about the big age difference between the characters. Would think that Butch at 58 is getting older and would, perhaps, be slowing down from this sort of activity. Maybe that's the point -- training the new guy to take over. Yuck.

Kyle Patrick Johnson (Level 5)

Details make or break a one-page story. You've got most of them, but there are a couple that make me scratch my head.

For example, why is Mick described as "skeletal"? What does that have to do with anything? I might associate a starving person with cannabalism in an avant-garde script, but no one's getting eaten here.

And the comment about Butch's desire to bury them alive was weird, because didn't he just mention that he doesn't "wanna disturb visitors"? A person yelling that they're buried alive would do just that.

Lee Carlisle (Level 4)

Good descriptions and nice flow. Enjoyed your writing style and you did a good job of putting us in a scene without too much setup and still having it feel right.

I was kinda waiting for the reversal in this one (not that that was a problem), but I think the moment the woman is revealed isn't playing enough. If you want the ending beat (that its no fun if theyre already dead to sell) you need to draw more attention to the reveal of the woman, Butch's reaction and Mick's apology - right now it doesn't seem like Mick is apologizing for her being dead and the surprise reveal at the end isn't working as well as I feel like it could.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5)

Good title.

This is really good. The visuals are great. The atmosphere is a well-developed creepy. Characterization is strong, with each being distinct. The formatting, spelling and punctuation are all good.

Ahhh! You make my day a bit easier!

Excellent work.

Marla Brecheen (Level 4)

Wow. The title fits perfectly with what the script is completely about. At first I wasn't sure where the script was going and started to get a bit lost until the very end. With that being said, I also felt this script had a bit more to talk about. I can see this as a five or more page script. How can we see "chill night air"? Show the audience the night air is chilled.

Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5)

Not sure I understand the beginning after I read the end. If they were committing a crime how could they ever dig graves in the day? I don't know...I think that was kind of misleading.

Martin Jensen (Level 5)

Cemeteries are already really creepy, but I liked how you kept reversing our expectations. The final line was really chilling.

It's also great how you don't give any tedious backstory as to why they have this body to bury.


Matias Caruso (Level 5)

So, it's basically two guys that are burying a woman they just killed and one of them regrets the fact that they can't bury her alive?

Obviously the audience can't connect emotionally to what these guys are doing. Perhaps, to compensate for that, you could add some sort of twist or reveal to wow them intellectually?

Millar Prescott (Level 3)

Cool. A coupe of despicable misfits written very nicely. Great concept. Well executed. Interesting and a real 'page scroller'. I enjoyed it very much. Nice little screenplay.

Nicholas Ziolkowski (Level 4)

Nice title. Nice ending. You've got very descriptive writing, and your dialogue sounds very believable. I wonder where this scene would be placed if it were a feature length script. You might want to think about revisiting this idea and expanding upon it.

Great work.

Patrick Rochel (Level 2)

Grave Diggers? Mafia? Oh I get it now. That was how this one pager went for me. So many of these one page scripts are set up, punchline and I don't know if that isn't the best way to go. However in this instance it just felt a bit cheap, more of a head shaker and groan fest than wow moment. That wasn't really due to the writing per-se as there was a fair ammount of visual representation I just think the story (if that is what these one pagers are) hinged too much on the reactions of the lesser character. I don't think there were any real structural issues and I do so love these when they go dark, I just didn't really get much from the 'twist'.

Paul De Vrijer (Level 5)

Nice with the twists, and athmosphere, but wouldn't it be more interesting visually if it was the other way around? That they are burying them alive and Butch says to check them next time to see if they are really dead? There's more emotion in that.

also, I feel like this is part of a bigger story. I want to see more of this, but it also means that it doesn't feel like it's really stand-alone.

Still Good though.

Paul Williams (Level 5)

I'm not sure I get what's going on here. Is Butch "training" Mick to become a killer via burying people alive? Why does Mick apologize?

A lot of the dialogue is on-the-nose. Both characters say exactly how they feel or relay plot.

Your screenwriting is a little bulky. Format appears in order. Didn't detect any major typos.

Rich Keel (Level 4)

Creepy and overall I liked it. Would be better as a longer story but as well know this is a one pager contest. :)

Good luck to you this month.

Rob Centros (Level 3)

Another "victim" story -- but this one had some humor and a strong ending. The writing flowed, the images were strong and the dialog was believable. Butch and Mick were 3D characters.

Sally Meyer (Moderator)

wow.. this was dark and scary. I thought you wrote it very well. There's a lot going on here and even though I didn't really care for the subject matter, being a woman and all.. lol.. I think you did a really great job of creating a visually interesting story.

It would easily be a fun quick and low budget project to shoot, that would be a great little short to enter in festivals.

Well done, I gave this a very good.

Sean Chipman (Level 4)

I really liked this one, however we don't know who the characters are. Butch says, "Gotta toughen up if you wanna succeed in this line of work, boy." But, it's never made clear. I mean, obviously, they're criminals. I'd say that they're in the mafia, but that doesn't ring true for me. It's just not made clear enough in the dialogue, but it's ok. As is normal, small grammatical things and no spelling errors I recall seeing.

A modest Very Good for the idea itself.

Stephen Brown (Level 5)

This doesn't feel like a complete story to me. It needs another beat.

You have the set-up with Butch in charge and Mick trying to learn - then the twist that they're murderers but prefer to bury people alive... I think it needs something else afterwards, I'm not sure what.

T. James DeStein (Level 5)

Feels like this story exists just to have the twist ending. I don't know what kind of message or meaning you were really going for here. Why are these two dudes burying people alive? Just for shits and giggles? That's kinda how this script's story in general felt to me: just for shits and giggles.

Taylor Roberts (Level 2)

"Gotta dig the graves at night. Don't want to disturb visitors" seemed to be a better line on first reading of your piece but on the second reading I don't think it's as strong. I think the same idea could have been conveyed in a slightly different manner where the reader still thinks they're gravediggers or even robbers and still hold up to the idea of them being killers burying their last victim. I really enjoyed the title though. That with the tone of your piece led to one nice little change-up in Butch's last bit of dialogue.

Teo Gonzalez (Level 4)

Good concept.

Simple structure, as it is to expect in a one pager.

But the writing seems to me to be unnecessarily complicated in the descriptions. It almost feels to me as if you were decided to use a number of adjectives, and you do it even if it means having to compound sentences which, otherwise, would be simple.

Anyway, I give it a very good grade because I realice that you've tried to squeeze as much as you have been able in regard to character and story.

Good luck.

Tim Ratcliffe (Level 4)

Nice twist, and it was well written enough. Creepy little story, pretty good job overall.

Wes Worthing (Level 5)

"Mick’s grey eyes dart left and right as he walks around the
huge pile of moist, dark soil. He bends over, grapples with a
large burlap sack, drags it the last few feet to the empty,
silent hole in the ground. He pants from the effort."

I bet you could trim a sentence off of the above paragraph. Go for more brevity. Otherwise a disturbingly great reveal. Great title.

Comments Made After the Contest

Kyle Patrick Johnson (Level 5) ~ 8/1/2010 12:24 AM

Tim! Congrats on the HM! Never guessed that you had such a dark streak in you... :)

Chris Keaton (Level 5) ~ 8/1/2010 1:07 AM

Congrats! On getting an excellent from me. :P

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 8/1/2010 1:59 AM

This was one of my few Excellents. I loved it!

Sally Meyer (Moderator) ~ 8/1/2010 2:37 AM

Congratulations on the HM. Very well done.

Tim Westland (Moderator) ~ 8/1/2010 3:04 AM

Thanks guys and gals. I really appreciate all the reviews (good and bad) and the kind comments.

For those who commented on the line where Mick says he's sorry to Butch - to clarify, he's apologizing for hitting the woman too hard and killing her - thus spoiling Butch's fun.

I know - sick.

Matthew Fettig (Level 5) ~ 8/1/2010 2:11 PM

Tim - I really enjoyed it. Sorry I didn't get to this in the voting this month. I think I probably would have give it a Very Good at worst, possibly Excellent. The only negative for me was the mis-lead about having to dig the graves at night not to disturb visitors. Obviously killers aren't going to bury people alive in broad daylight. Now that I think about it, that could make this story more twisted! If these are in fact grave diggers for the cemetery and this live burial thing is their "side job". Maybe there's a good movie there! Maybe a collaboration too?

Dan Delgado (Level 5) ~ 8/2/2010 11:44 AM

I apologize. I did a some knee-jerking on this one. I was on a crusade against a "certain" kind of script and completely missed the black humor in this. Normally I'm with the majority of voters and when I'm completely in a different place, like with this one, it's almost always something I didn't get. Congratulations.

Tim Westland (Moderator) ~ 8/2/2010 3:10 PM

No worries and no need to apologize, Dan.

A story hits you how it hits you and your comments are a reflection of that. So they are completely valid.

I do appreciate your concern on my behalf, but I do want your honest comments now and in the future. Bring 'em on! :-)

William D. Prystauk (Level 5) ~ 8/2/2010 6:49 PM

Congratulations on the Honorable Mention. Great pace for a one-pager - and an even better payoff. Poe would definitely be proud!

Tim Westland (Moderator) ~ 8/2/2010 8:17 PM

Thanks, Bill. I had four one pagers ready to go. I chose what I felt to be the strongest, even though it was dark and that might hurt its chances.

As for Poe... uh, can I thank you with money or simply provide long term unpaid service as a man-servant?


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