Comments Made During the Contest
Anthony Celli (Level 1)
Held my interst enough to want to continue reading it.Dialogue could have been more realistic, but overall very entertaining.One thing that was disappointing was the escape from the boxcar. Could have been more dramatic and believable. No one, no matter how strong could pull apart a padlocked door. Even with the limited space allowed, the getaway shouldn't have been glossed over.
Ayal Pinkus (Level 5)
A very powerful start. We see prisoners being taken away by German Nazis. We know these prisoners will likely end up dead. Mimi and Pieter are naive in thinking they can survive, and that Lars can protect them. Then you increase the stakes with Mimi being pregnant.Somehow the title works well with the start as I want to know how a little bird gets involved.On page one and two it wasn't quite clear to me that the prisoners had already been packed into the train. I read right over the slugline. I think you need to copy the info from the slugline into your action.A typo on page two, you write "collapes" instead of "collapses".Very powerful how Pieter makes the decision to save Mimi by giving her to Lars.I found the dialogue of Mimi a tad unrealistic on the first two pages. She must know that Pieter cannot protect her against the Nazis. She cannot feel safe like that.Page two, flashing forward 25 years, is great! I am really wondering how Pieter survived, and how Mimi and his child did, what became of them.You do a great job of making us care for Pieter and Eline. You show them being kind people doing everything they can to help others.The red shawl that is mentioned on page three is also mentioned on page one, but it is casually hidden in other exposition. You have to show it more prominently, as it is an important element in the story. I had to go back to page one to find out what the red shawl was about.I could see the ending coming from miles away, the minute you introduced Eline I knew she was his daughter. I would end it actually when Pieter wants the red scarf, Eline doesn't want to sell it, and they discover that Eline is Pieter's daughter. They go away to visit Mimi. I'd stop there. The rest can be guessed. Enter the story late (which you did), but also leave it early. It has the full story in it then, setup, inciting event (they are to be sent off as prisoners), the protagonist takes a brave decision that probably saved his family, and in the end we see that he succeeded, the climax, and a short emotional unraveling after it as Pieter and Eline go away to visit Mimi. You should leave that last part where they visit Mimi out because it becomes melodramatic. You had me crying on page four, and then the melodramatic ending undid that. You want to make your audience cry, and having your characters cry doesn't do that. You have to show, don't tell. You're almost there, you made us care deeply for the characters, now show them reuniting after so many years. But don't show them crying because then we won't.Also, I'd have Pieter discover the red shawl before he discovers Eline. Keep the mystery for a bit longer.Why non-Jewish names? Pieter? And Lars, was that a common name back then?Very powerful story! Very well written. Get rid of the melodramatic ending and you have a superb screenplay to base a movie on.
Bill Clar (Level 5)
I like your title. Mimi is a little bird in the big world. "dance an unwilling dance to the rhythm of the trains' movement". Amazing description!This is a very moving story. It's hard not read or see anything about the Holocaust without emotions stirring. Despite the hardship you portrayed I'm glad you gave it a happy ending.Eline was no surprise but that doesn't make her any less potent. My only suggestion is to omit the line "Take me to her. Please." End the scene with Eline nodding and the look of hope on Pieter's face. Leave us wondering for a few seconds if she'll reunite Pieter and Mimi.Great job!
Brian Wind (Level 5)
This is written and formatted perfectly. Nice and tight, good pace.The story was touching but instantly predictable the moment we see the shawl resurface. There isn't a whole lot I'd change here except to possibly figure out some way that the shawl tips Pieter off without tipping the reader/viewer off. As soon as I saw it, I knew how this would end and there were no surprises left.Aside from that gripe, I got nothing. Very nice job on this script. I won't be surprised at all if this one finds its way to the winner's circle this month.
Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)
trains' - train's - there's only one train, I think.This was a touching story but I felt there was too much to cram into 5 pages to do the whole thing justice. Sometimes leaving things to the imagination is great but I felt that there were too many holes to make it ultimately satisfying - what happened to Lars, for example?Because the script was so short, the jump from the train (I mean the time shift!) to 25 years later was so compressed that it made the coincidence of the red shawl seem VERY contrived. With more space. you would have been better able to develop the characters/story so it didn't seem so bolted on.I'm sure this will do well though because stories like this always please the MoviePoet public!
Chris Messineo (Founder)
Your craft is wonderful and this story is beautiful and touching.But, I found a lot of it either a little predictable or a little unbelievable. I believe it's the five page limit that really hurts it most. Everything has to happen so quickly that it all ends up feeling a bit too coincidental.I think if you expanded this a bit and took a little more time with it, it would have a more natural flow and it would be amazing.
Dan Delgado (Level 5)
A nice drama with likable people with tragic lives. Well told, good descriptions. Unfortunately, for me, the story was very predictable. When I first started reading it I thought I knew where it was going. On page two, just after; "SUPER - TWENTY FIVE YEARS LATER.", I knew exactly where it was going. I found myself hoping for a twist.Thank you for entering. I gave this one a "Good".
Dave Kunz (Level 4)
The line-by-line writing is very good. My only issue with the story is with the Eline character. As soon as she appeared I knew exactly where the story was going. That said, it was still well executed. But I would have liked a bit more insight into exactly what Pieter's choice meant to their lives. On the plus side the writer did an excellent job of putting me in the scene. Good job.
Denise Jewell (Level 4)
This is good, but could be so much better. First, a couple of distracting points -- things that don't fit: the girl is blonde - first thought is that a blonde wouldn't be on the train to be taken to a camp. It's possible, but makes me wonder. Then why are they sure it's a boy? In 1940 they would have no way to know except for some old wives tale like "you're craving sardines" or something. It would help to add some corny thing like that which would tell us why they are sure it's a boy. Then the scene in the future - you have them in their 50's and they seem very feeble. I don't know how old you are, but people in their 50's aren't feeble. At all. And the red scarf is way too non-descript - it should have something that makes it stand out like a monogram or maybe a little bird stitched into it. I knew as soon as he met Aline that it was his daughter, so that wasn't the pleasant surprize that it could have been. I think this idea is a good one, but it really needs a lot of work to get it to a point where it is doing all the things it could.
Elias Farnum (Level 5)
This is a strong entry, I'm sure it's going to do well. A wonderful story that spans a lot of time, yet, I don't feel that anything is missing, it isn't. There's that burning question, why?How can anyone not like this story, and the end was clever, it actually caught me by surprise. Of course it would be a girl. I was entertained and at the same time, touched.Congratulations, I believe this one shall be in the top three.
Faith Friese Nelson (Level 5)
When MIMI was introduced at the beginning the writer hid the fact that she was pregnant. I think it would have been better to reveal this fact.CONT’D s are not needed for dialogue in a “spec” script.On page four, Pieter says, “Take me to her. Please.” But then in the next scene, it seems like Pieter is leading the way, that Eline is running after Pieter to keep up.I would have thought that Lars would have explained to Mimi why they were split up. This was not believable to me.Despite these comments, I always like stories about the holocaust and I enjoyed this one, too.Also, why did Pieter assume that Mimi was pregnant with a boy? This too was not believable to me.
Fred Koszewnik (Level 5)
A very thoughtfully written and enjoyable read. The only thing that didn't quite make sense to me was having "Pieter strides so fast that Eline has trouble keeping up" simply because Pieter doesn't know where he is going. Congratulations on an impressive script.
Gavin Bale (Level 3)
Brilliant. I loved it. It was only five pages, but seemed much longer. I was completely absorbed from the beginning. One question I asked myself was when exactly did Eline realize that Pieter was her father. I wonder. You paint wonderful pictures with your words. Fantastic.
Heather O'Connell (Level 4)
That was a wonderful script. The emotion at the end was intense. The only question I have is why it took so long for them to find each other. It makes me think that Mimi did not look for him after the war. I think there should be some mention of searching. Loved the writing and the story. Great title.:) Heather
Herman Chow (Level 5)
I enjoyed it quite a bit. A complete and very satisfying story.The most enduring is the relationship between Pieter and Mimi. That was very well illustrated through their sub-textual dialogue and action.The next scene inside the church could be a little more original. It feels like I've seen it before where a man finds something significant about his wife, and he goes emotional over it. I also prefer more struggle and conflict in finding Mimi. That seems a little too easy for me. But again, that might due to the page limit.The ending twist was a surprise to me. Never expected Eline is Pieter's daughter.Writing is crisp and economical.VERY GOOD.
James Hughes (Level 5)
The flashback is a setup sequence and then once we see we are in Holland 25 years later, I know what will happen. The script was a little flat for me because I knew where we were going. I am not sure if Eline being his daughter was supposed to be a surprise but I thought that when she first came into the script.I also wonder how people seemingly in the same small town can not find each other up to that point. I'd like to know more about how they got to 25 years later without finding each other.The script was formatted well. The writing was good, especially in the flashback sequence. I'd be interested in a story like this but maybe a feature length that was more fleshed out so I could know what took place from that point on. And so that final reunion, although obviously coming the whole way, would carry more emotion.
Jamie Collins (Level 3)
Excellent story well told.I was a bit confused by the action line TIME STOPS on page 3. Does time literally stop?
Jeannie Sconzo (Level 5)
Beautiful. You did an excellent job of showing and not telling. The pieces came together so nicely. The characters were well fleshed out and although there weren't surprises along the way, it was a sweet journey.
JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator)
"A man makes a run etc..." that was strangely paced. It should have been on it's own line. It came out of nowhere but not really in a good way. I liked the whole dance to the trains movements line. That was nicely put. If Eline is supposed to be taking Pieter to his wife, why is Eline behind him, running to catch up, when they push through the crowded streets?Why is Eline crying? Did he tell her he was Mimi's husband? You forgot to mention that. "Here he is" She wouldn't say that. Mimi didn't know Pieter was standing outside. Hm... I knew that was his girl from the time you introduced her. I actually forgot that he was so confident that it was a boy. I liked your writing, and I see how this could be touching on screen, but I just wasn't as touched while reading it. I'll give this a good.
Jem Rowe (Level 4)
Although this is well written and will win hearts over, I don't think you bring anything new to the genre or subject whatsoever, I've read/seen plentry of holocaust stories in which people are torn from each other only to re-connect in years to come, that said, it is without question a beautiful thing, but not an original angle on the topic. In short, it felt like a retread of already trampled territory. Also, from the moment Pieter sees Eline, it is very obvious as to where the story is going next, no curiosity or surprises."Good", well done. Keep writing :)
Jessica Burde (Level 3)
Beautiful and moving story. My one suggestion is to try and add detail to the descriptions - the man who tries to escape is 'cut down' why not 'shot' or 'clubbed'. Since I assume the Nazi's aren't using swords, that phrase becomes very vague.Tell us something about the red shawl that makes it stand out. Some that would allow Pieter to recognize it 20 years later. Is it knit? Fringed in black? Patched or darned? Something to make the shawl stand out.Otherwise, amazing.
Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5)
Very interesting script. Well crafted. The last sentence reads funny. Saying "papa" to a stranger (actually he's a stranger to her at the moment) is kind of out of tone for the script. --might be just me but I'd be surprised if it was just me. Very neat script, very easy to understand. The budget is not justified, I think as it's not overly original for me. So many nazi scripts just like this one. The end - him learning he has a daughter instead of the son is somehow not important I think - I guess the end didn't work for me as much. But I liked it a lot overall. Good luck.
Kirk White (Level 5)
it's a gorgeous story....but damned near impossible to film; the amount of money it would cost to make this period would never be spent on a 5 minute short. However that is just my producer brain talking so I'm giving it a very good. I predict this one will place....but I still say shame on you for writing something so beautiful that will realistically never see the (celluloid) light of day.
KP Mackie (Level 5)
Sentimental, well written, and easy to read. The story is predictable. Could see the direction it was taking, but that's not altogether a bad thing. Not every movie has to shock with the unexpected. The simple plot works, and the time period is unusual and interesting.Did struggle a bit with the coincidence of Pieter and Eline's meeting at the church. Pieter shoves his pregnant wife off a Nazi train 25 years earlier, obviously survives the war (although there's no explanation how), and bumps into his daughter in what seems the same location. At one point, Eline seems afraid of this man and exclaims, "You're hurting me!" when he grabs her "by the shoulders." Yet, she takes him to the apartment where her mother lives.Overall it's a heartwarming narrative.
Margaret Ricke (Level 5)
This is really well-written and very moving. I can't find fault with it other than to say I knew the ending as soon as you brought in Eline. I don't know how you could write this differently, though.Very good work!
Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5)
Loved this. Written well and what a beautiful story with a great ending. I think some of it may have been a little rushed toward the end but a little work on the pacing would make an even stronger impact at the end. Very Good job!
Martin Jensen (Level 5)
The final twist was an interesting surprise. I was predicting that they'd be reunited, but hadn't thought that Eline would be their child. "Eline smiles through her tears." Why is Eline crying already? She doesn't know who Pieter is yet. The dialogue feels awkward, as if English wasn't their first language. I think unless you're going to write in the original language of the story, you should write the dialogue like a native speaker of the language. Otherwise it's confusing. Good.
Matthew Fettig (Level 5)
Good title.This is a nicely done story. The opening gives a clear picture of the setting, the mood, the fear. The pace moved along well, and you wrapped things up neatly.What kept this from being an excellent for me was a few things. First, the story was a bit too predictable. As soon as Lars jumped from the train with Mimi, I thought this would be a story of finding that lost love. It's not bad, just nothing that really stood out. Also, I think you could have used the additional space in the 5 pages to create more depth in the character of Pieter. Who had he become? Somehow he had established a relationship with a Nazi guard during the war, but we get nothing of his life other than the physical at the end. Perhaps we could see him leaving a menial job at the end of the day, or leaving a sparse apartment with some relic that reminds him of his wife...In any case, it was an easy read and I gave it a VG.
Matthew King (Level 2)
Wow, really enjoyed this one. Very good dramatic story, and well written. I cannot think of any constructive criticism because it was all very and the story always gripped me. My only problem with shorts that are this good is that I wish they were longer :) great work.
Michael Berg (Level 3)
Nice story, can't suggest much for improvement. The scene where they split left me a little confused on how they were split, but after a read it a few more times, it made sense. Might make a little more sense if it was clearer than Mimi left the train car.a lot of story could be told in the 25 yrs between the 2 sections.
Michael Cornetto (Level 5)
That was excellently written. I loved it. The only thing I think is that it needed to be a little bit longer in order to make the ending really work. The ending was touching but could have been even more so if we had seen more of Pieter's life in between. He must have been searching for her and I think we need to actually see that. Also, I did guess the very end as soon as the shawl came out.
MJ Hermanny (Level 5)
This is beautifully written and a very sweet story but for me has one gaping plot hole - why, in 1965, is he not able to find his family in a more conventional manner or they him? I'm sure there were many tools put in place for separated families to find each other after the war and I just found this a little contrite for the sake of the story.But very well written. I'm sure this will do well.
Paul De Vrijer (Level 5)
Alright, pretty good story but loads of things dont add up. Theres no reason to stay in hiding after the war, so its kind of bizarre that they found each other after twenty years.The dialogue also feels very stiff
Paul Williams (Level 5)
This is a bittersweet story with a mostly happy ending. I like the title, as well.I must admit, I knew almost immediately that Eline was Pieter's child. You tried the misdirection earlier when Pieter's talks of the baby being a boy, which is fine, but it's hard to fool writers.Pieter's reconnecting with his family felt a little too easy and convenient. I know it's twenty-five years later, so a lot of time has passed, but maybe add in an ironic or serendipitous event that leads to him re-uniting with Mimi.Some of the dialogue felt on-the-nose and expositional. Try adding in subtext and don't have characters say exactly what they are thinking or feeling.For a short-film, this would be near impossible to produce due to the first scenes. Perhaps set the story entire in the present and find other ways to expose the past. It'll make for a more producable screenplay.Your screenwriting is good. Format overall appears in order. Didn't detect any major typos.Good.
Philip Whitcroft (Level 5)
This is an effective dramatic tale that does a nice job of completing its premise.In a few places I was finding things to be perhaps a little too convenient and maybe a little predictable. Some of the dialogue felt a little on the nose, for me.“the train#’#s movement”“I think he kicked.” – I was surprised to learn she was pregnant at this point, since it seems like something we’d be able to see before this.
Rick Hansberry (Moderator)
Excellent. I enjoyed every aspect of this script. The style, pacing, dialogue, structure. It had it all. Combined with the originality and twist reveal at the end completing a nice character arc, this was the most complete script I've read thus far. I'd be hard pressed to come up with constructive criticism but I'll try to offer a few notes: Possibly have Lars reappear at the end somewhere along the street -- as if he's been around protecting her all this time from a far? Eline's warning before they go in to see her is a bit forced -- as if a deliberate set up to get the title and key line out. In the movie I think it will play fine but in a short script, it jumps out as intentional. Really, that's about it. The rest was truly top notch material. Loved it.
Robert Newcomer (Level 4)
Touching and well-crafted, this is a fine script. There is so much right here that it is almost a shame to point out (what I feel) is wrong.And that is the choice of subject matter for a five-pager.As so often happens when a large story (which this is) gets smushed into five pages, this story suffers from predictability. There are so few characters to work with, and the minute we meet Eline, I knew exactly who she was and where we were going. Even the well-placed misdirection -- referring to the child as his son -- was not enough to fix it.Perhaps it will not be so obvious to every reader, but I suspect it will be to most.There is also a small but important typo in Eline’s last line on page 4. I think the line should be, "here SHE is." I usually overlook typos, but that one is easy for an author to miss and should be fixed.There is a firm grasp of the craft on display here, but for an open five-page challenge, it is important to choose a topic that does not suffer when constrained by those limitations.Very, very good.
Sylvia Dahlby (Level 5)
LOVED THIS and it deserves to win. A beautiful, touching story. Well drawn characters, great dialog, and I'm glad it had a happy ending.One minor nitpick: At first I didn't understand why "Eline smiles through her tears" at that stage of the story, then I realized it's because she suspects Pieter is her father. This is an important moment of foreshadowing and needs more emphasis.Overall EXCELLENT. Great job.
Travis DeStein (Level 5)
"She, also, hurries past Pieter."You don't need those commas. "Eline pulls a red shawl out of her box. TIME STOPS.Pieter grabs it. Examines it. He brings it to his face. Inhales the scent. Eline reaches for it."I don't see how TIME STOPS when it just keeps on going as if nothing happened.I thought this was an extremely stylish script but it kinda went overboard at times. How exactly does a normal man superhumanly open a train door? You need to describe the shawl more. I at first imagined just some red rag, but it's supposed to be so distinctive that Pieter recognizes it after 25 years? Add something special to it, like a design or pattern.
Wayne Morrical (Level 4)
Clear and easy to understand. Good description of the cattle car. The looks and nods tell the story visually. Not sure how Lars opened the door (seemed like it would have been locked) and got away so easy (probably need more than 5 pages to describe the escape). Good reference back to the red shawl and the 'little bird' nickname. Overall, well done.
William Bienes (Mod Emeritus)
While I don't think this concept is original in anyway and has been done quite a bit, I still think it's a great storyline and one that will always have an audience. However, I don't think it's a five page story, or at least this one isn't.The way the story goes along, I can't help feel that Pieter and Mimi have never tried to find each other. Now, I doubt that is true, but that is how it reads to and probably because it jumps so quickly from 1940 to 1965 or so... nothing in between. And for a story of this type to work, I do believe that you need the middle. Due to page limitations, I understand that is not possible unless you condense the first part of the story.I need to see some of those years -- some of the emotion that takes place from that separation. I would consider keeping this a short, but making it longer than it is and allowing for the story to unfold at a consistent pace, layered.
William Wilson (Level 3)
I must say i wanted to hate this so bad just because i'm tired of anything Nazi related being the back drop of love stories and drama... But when you lost me in the first page you pulled me back in with the last four pages and i must say i really enjoyed this script...It was beautiful and the ending was the perfect ending to all the set up that came before it if this entry doesnt win first place this month I will truly be shocked.I give "Little Bird" a 10 out of 10
Zach Jansen (Level 4)
It's wasn't too clear for me that Lars jumps off the train with Mimi....and who didn't see that coming? Very predictable, and lacking the emotion to work with this type of predictability. A longer version might have a better pay-off, but 5 pages doesn't do this story justice. The sentiment is there, yes -- when doesn't the Holocaust stir the deepest emotions? -- but the characters need more depth.
Comments Made After the Contest
Elias Farnum (Level 5) ~ 2/1/2011 12:36 AM
This was my only other excellent. I can't believe this didn't place. Congrats on the Honorable Mention anyway.
Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 2/1/2011 1:05 AM
Congratulations on the Honorable Mention.
KP Mackie (Level 5) ~ 2/1/2011 1:43 AM
Congratulations. Gave you a VG. Another terrific story. Thanks too for your kind comments about my submission. I'm a work-in-progress and your helpful words mean a lot.
Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5) ~ 2/1/2011 1:56 AM
Nice work Sally. Loved it. :D
Rick Hansberry (Moderator) ~ 2/1/2011 6:06 AM
Sally, you are a model of consistency and I love your scripts. Congrats on the Honorable Mention and I look forward to seeing what you have coming up next.
Heather O'Connell (Level 4) ~ 2/1/2011 5:32 PM
Sally Meyer (Moderator) ~ 2/2/2011 10:37 AM
Thank you all for your kind comments!! This was a great month for sure!!The challenge this month is going to be fun!
MJ Hermanny (Level 5) ~ 2/6/2011 3:05 PM
Congrats Sally, always a fan of your work, well done.