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"Insomniac" by David M Troop ~ Second Place

Rewrite: 12/14/2011 12:00 AM

Logline: Dave Burrows hosts a late night talk show for the lonely, the sleepless, and even the criminally insane.

Genre: Crime - Thriller

Cast Size: 2

Production Status: In Production

Contest: Six (Oct. 2011)

Contest Scores
PoorFairGoodVery GoodExcellent

Comments Made During the Contest

Ayal Pinkus (Level 5)

Now that was suspense!

One of those scripts I don't know how to comment on. It is really good!

Bill Clar (Level 5)

Spell out the digits in the phone number. It helps the actor in case the character wants to put a spin on the pronunciation.

Don't rely too much on "(beat)". Let the actors determine the pauses.

The muffled screams could indicated a third character. Ideally you would cast a woman for that audio bite.

The caller is creepy but Burrows doesn't react strongly enough to the situation. I was expecting him to hang up only for the caller to call back later. A cat and mouse game if you will.

Bill Sarre (Level 5)

I was gripped by this. I didn't like the ending, it felt flat, but, that was some sound writing. Really pulled me along.

Well done.

The running question is what has the caller done, or is doing? Is it a prank, or is it real? At the end I don't feel we have an answer, but it appears to be a joke

Good effort.

Brian Wind (Level 5)

2 Characters/ 4 Pages

This was formatted, written and paced well. No errors or typos that I noticed.

The story here... I felt like it had a LOT of untapped potential. I felt like a big missed opportunity would have been Burrows recognizing the toering as his wife or daughters. That would have made for a nice twist ending. As it is, I still find it hard to believe there wouldn't be a way for him to trace the call if he actually thought he was a witness to a crime being committed. I don't know... This had a lot of potential, but I felt like it missed the mark.

Nice work and good luck!

Byron Matthews (Level 5)

*APPLAUD* I have to applaud good work when I see it, and this was (to me) darn good writing. Story had suspense, each character stood on their own, it was easy to follow, etc.

I wasn't particularly fond of the opening action line. It's just that the following line: "A fluorescent ceiling light, the computer screens, the big city neon outside the large window," seemed like it could use some work. Also, did the loud KNOCK occur outside the radio studio, or did it occur in the room with the Caller? I wasn't clear on that part.

Excellent story by the way.

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

Great, great job. An excellent from me. Not much to add to that.

I suppose I had a slight twinge of worry that I've heard this story before somewhere...I hope not...

Chris Keaton (Level 5)

Look to make active 'lose the word 'is' from your vocabulary. Look to trim 'most of the opening spiel isn't needed, heck you could start with him taking a call.'

What was this? An intro to something? Try for a complete story. This would make a great start to a short.

Chris Messineo (Founder)

Your craft is excellent.

I love the visuals, the characters, and the dialogue. This started off as fun and then the tension kept building - I was on the edge of my keyboard.

But that ending is abrupt and disappointing. I wanted to so much more from the ending.

This is the beginning to an amazing story; I hope you rewrite it and can find an ending as powerful as these four pages.

Chris Setten (Level 4)

A well written and clear piece that sets up effectively and draws the reader in. There are nice touches of humor throughout which provides a nice contrast and some relief to a somewhat macabre unfolding of the story. The dialogue is really very strong, totally believable. I'm not sure whether there was much of a twist at the end but I liked where it was going although at the end felt it did not get to where it needed to go.

Christopher Pedersen Cook (Level 3)

Masterful! You start out laughing. Tremendous dead-pan, montone comedy, as the the night-shift radio guy does his thing. Then before you know it the story turns chilling. Wait, was I just laughing a second ago? Even when it turned ugly, however, I found myself grinning at the thought of the smooth radio guy getting all riled up. I also like that it ends where it does. It could have easily gone further. But we, like the main character, are left to ponder.

Christopher West (Level 1)

Very nice set up to the story. The ending fell dead flat though in my opinion - no pun intended... Story structure is vitally important in film making. It is the gaping chasm between amateur and true professional, and while you have some of the basics covered in your script here, it is not near enough to make for a compelling or a complete work.

Dave Kunz (Level 4)

I mostly liked this one. I loved the Dave Burrows character and some of his toss of lines, like: "What else are you going to do? Sleep?" and the "No, but I recommend it" bit. A few quibbles: The setting is classic, but the description of the studio and Dave didn't quite bring it all home for me, it was a little casual, I thought the setting description could have been much sharper and evocative. The bit about the big city neon came closest to capturing the Edward Hopper sort of quality that the scene calls for.

Also, on page four: "...a loud KNOCK," I was confused, was the loud knock coming from the college apartment via the phone call? Or from the door to the studio.

Debra Johnson (Level 3)

Cool story. Only needs a little tweaking like change the V.O. to O.S., remove the CONT'D's. Maybe put a little more description. Did you mean for the guy to have sex or kill someone? If sex, then should be "screams of ecstacy".

Good story

Denise Jewell (Level 5)

The dog woke me up at 2 am to let her outside so I thought "I'll read a movie poet entry" and the next one up in my queue is "Insomniac." How appropriate. Now I'm sitting here alone in the dark - very creeped out. This is good.

I hope you don't get dq'd for "muffled screams" because that could count as a third character. This script still works even if you drop those two words. It's sort of predictable, and so hard to get impact from a literally action-less script. But you did. You set the mood, gave just enough info to make me wonder what was happening, and held back so I don't really know, just like your DJ.

Creepy good. Excellent.

Faith Friese Nelson (Level 5)

I really wanted to love this story because I love the title but, I'm sorry, I didn't. The ending just left me with a "flat" feeling. The story was, however, well-written though I do have a few suggestions about the writing, too.

Avoid redundancy. The first blurb is RADIO STATION STUDIO. The first sentence in the action paragraph is "The studio is dimly lit." Since we already know the location is in a studio there is no reason to repeat it.

The CONT'Ds are not needed in dialogue. If you use Final Draft, this feature can be turned off.

"He adjusts his headset and leans into the microphone. Burrows speaks in a deep, soothing tone." I think the sentence about deep and soothing should be more a parenthetic. BURROWS (deep and smoothing) It's midnight...

Less is usually more. Example: "Burrows sits back and sips some coffee from his mug." Is it important that he is sipping coffee. Probably the following is sufficient: "Burrows sits back and sips from his mug."

Gary Rademan (Level 5)

A late-night radio host receives disturbing phone call on the air.

Two characters, four pages, until six

A familiar story well told. With a little tension even. We never see what happens on the other side of the phone? That means radio host carries the show for emotional content. A rewrite will sharpen that.


Greg Tonnon (Level 5)

Title - the title fits the story and hints at the genre. Good choice.
Craft - your craft is great, I did not find any mistakes.
Dialogue - the dialogue is very good. It fits these characters well.
Action lines - your action lines are fine; clear and concise.
Story - I like the story a lot but want to know what happens next. I'm sure that is what you were going for with the cliffhanger ending so good job! I think this would make a great first four pages of a larger script.

JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator)

Nicely written, but unique? Eh... not really. Someone gets a phone call from a killer and doesn't know if it's real or not. I've seen it done, but not from a radio station and I really liked that. The element of it being live was pretty cool. Someone else would have been there with him and would have suggested to cut it though. Well, maybe not that late. I'm not sure whether or not radio hosts are ever truly by themselves in the station.

I didn't know whether or not that KNOCK was coming from inside the radio station or the caller's room.

Very solid story overall. I really liked the fact that you didn't tell us whether or not it was real. I have a feeling I know who the writer is. We'll see...

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5)

I liked the way it went, you got me glued to the monitor, but I think this is just a set up to something bigger. It needs the ending, I think. Is it a prank call or is it not? It's probably not but then what's going to happen to the girl? How Dave will help - you left me with questions. I guess I wanted more.

KP Mackie (Level 5)

A spooky premise, and a scary thought if the caller isn't bluffing. Particularly fond of the open-ended finish. Rather taunts the reader, hence the audience, "What would you do?"
Maybe tighten the dialogue here and there. Initially, Dave and the Caller spend some time discussing the Caller's trouble sleeping. The subject isn't revisited again, and the Caller reveals "I took a walk at the college tonight." This saunter might surface earlier and be the reason for his call. Also would differentiate Burrows and the Caller more if the Caller spoke with fewer lines. Perhaps the Caller delivers one-liners, somewhat like zingers. Burrows the verbose talk-show host could use more lines reacting to the shock value of what the Caller is saying.
Terrific title.

Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5)

This was very well written and completely had my interest and then just stopped. There was no resolution so for me it felt more like a scene from something bigger rather than a stand alone piece. It's your story so it's your choice but I thought to end it abruptly like that was odd. And there were several ways you could have tied it all up. You could have shown Dave driving home, he passes the college and sees police cars. Searching for a missing college student. Or he could be all worked up and leave the booth for a minute and see a couple of his co-workers laughing with a phone in their hand. Something.

Nice writing and interesting subject but for me it just ended too abruptly. Best of luck.

Martin Jensen (Level 5)

This was very creepy. I like how the isolation of the radio studio and how we saw everything from this one point of view contributed to the atmosphere and ambiguity.

The dialogue is great, sounding exactly like talk radio. I like the frustrating ending, it's almost an anti-climax, but it feels very authentic.


Michael Cornetto (Level 5)

Number of Characters: 2
Number of Pages: 4
Six in Dialogue: Yes.

I thought you did a nice job with your four pages of story. I liked the interplay between the radio host and the caller. My only issue with this is that it seems like the start of something bigger.

I realize you left the end so open because you wanted to generate a feeling of something unresolved that would keep you awake. However, I think this leaves the reader wanting it to be completed and therefore expecting more pages and more story. It really feels like there should be more story here.

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4)

This was really good.

Easy to visualize. Good pacing. Dialog was great. Characters seemed real.

I like the ambigous ending. This gives us something to think about. And if we're 'glass is half full' kinda folks, it was just a prank. If not...

Nit pick alert: I think heavey metal is a bit cliche. IMO classical would have been creepier, polka - just plain twisted.

Nice job making this creepy without being graphic.

Moldovan Alexandru (Level 3)

A very interesting script,the dialogue is quite good,well written.The title fits the story and the idea of a show that listens the people who can't sleep is original from my point of view,never heard of something like before.

It's interesting how we can imagine the caller being just a kid with acne or a murderer maybe.

Nick Miranda (Level 4)

This was a very cliche story with very cliche plot elements. I think part of the problem is that what happens in your story is kind of expected on crazy, late night radio. There have been several TV shows (Tales from the Dark Side, The Twilight Zone, Tales from the Crypt) that deal with this very story. I didn't see anything here to set it apart, and I actually found myself wishing for something brutal to happen...anything. I was also put off by the DJs lack of actioin after hearing such a horrible incident. I understand that he is kind of powerless, but to just have him sit there is a weak ending. Perhaps having the caller attacking one of the DJ's friends or family would be more powerful.

There was a lot of information in the direction that didn't need to be there; that if removed it would allow for more story to be told.

Paul De Vrijer (Level 5)

Tense, really well written but ultimately without an ending.
The story's not done here.

Too bad you ran out pages, interesting read, good dialogue.

Reginald McGhee (Level 0)

The writer sure knows how to let us know when a character is about to speak rather than using a wryly. Minimizing wryly is a good way to keep readers from being distracted.

The writer should remove the beat. Instead, the beat can translate into a line of description. That will keep the readers reading dialogue, even big blocks of dialogue.

As the writer may be aware that the continues does not have to be included in a break in dialogue, the writer can click the “Document” tab, click “Mores and Continues,” and then remove the checkboxes underneath the “Scene Breaks” section in Final Draft 8.

The writer has a good sense of humor. I would suggest the readers’ smoke some weed while they are reading this script. The story is hilarious!

The surprise ending is a bit cheesy. I understand your intend. It would be nice if you could introduce the girl and have her get revenge against the caller after revealing the secrets about her breast, etc, since the studio’s radio is on live. I was thinking that the writer could add that character and tighten it up into three pages instead of four. Alternatively, this would eliminate some heavy dialogue. But then again, I’m not sure if you can pull this off successfully or not.

On the other hand, the sound effects behind the radio may be the anger coming from the other end from the girl. It is tough to rate this one. It receives points for originality.

Overall, the story is good the way it is.

Robert Chipman (Level 4)

A good, solid script with no formatting errors I could see. The only small issue I saw was when Dave sits back and sips his coffee, you have him speak into the microphone. I am pretty sure you would have him lean into the microphone. Like I said, very small. Also, the way the story plays out, I didn't know what the caller actually did... if anything, and Dave got freaked out way too fast. One moment he is listening, than he starts talking about a toe ring and Dave is now cautious about the caller. I know we have limitations with length in our scripts, but it was like a light switch how Dave went from average radio jock to paranoid, worrisome wreck. Overall, though, this was good and solid.

Sally Meyer (Moderator)

This was an interesting script. I was enjoying it right up to the ending where it left me wondering what was the point of the story.

The caller had kidnapped someone? But nothing is resolved in the end. Dave just sits back in his chair. I might need to read this again to see if I missed something, because I'm left wanting more.

Sean Chipman (Level 4)

This story feels like a missed opportunity to me. It had a good vibe and definitely an interesting premise. Trouble is, you didn't run with it like I feel you could have. Granted, you were limited by the page count probably but I would extend it and do more with the caller and the girl. That helpless, paranoid feeling could really work. Anyway, I enjoyed this but not as much as I could have if you had more time to tell the story.

Spencer McDonald (Level 4)

Very nicely done!!

I was in suspense the entire time as I read. I could literally put myself in Dave’s shoes. Using one visual character only in this script really worked, and the off screen whacko rounded out this tale.

If I were offering advice, and clearly not much is needed, I would rethink the ending. It might be eventful if the caller was actually knocking on Dave’s door. That could have left us on fire and needing more.

Excellent in my book.

Steven Gulotta (Level 3)

Enjoyed this one. The character of the radio host was spot on. The way he uses the caller's story to try and garner some sort of exciting story was pretty wicked.

The caller himself is reminiscent of serial killers such as the BTK Strangler. Made a pretty good impact.

As usual, with these short films, I was hoping for more. But, then again, it's hard to do so with only four pages. I would hope to see more of this in the future, though.

Anyway, as final judgment, I give this script a four out of five.

T. James DeStein (Level 5)

This was interesting but as a stand alone script it doesn't really work. What's the point here? You build up all this suspense and mystery and at the end it just... well, ends. No fun at all. Very good writing though!

Comments Made After the Contest

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus) ~ 12/1/2011 12:11 AM

Excellent! I loved this.

Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 12/1/2011 12:23 AM

Congratulations! I just read this for the first time and you rocked it. Excellent work.

Paul De Vrijer (Level 5) ~ 12/1/2011 1:09 AM

Congrats. Second script and already second place. You got something with Shows don't you?

Brian Wind (Level 5) ~ 12/1/2011 1:14 AM

Congrats David!

KP Mackie (Level 5) ~ 12/1/2011 2:40 AM

Congratulations! You're on a roll...

Denise Jewell (Level 5) ~ 12/1/2011 9:37 AM

Congrats! This was an excellent for me.

Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 12/1/2011 10:52 AM

Congratulations on Second Place! I really liked this a lot.

David M Troop (Level 5) ~ 12/1/2011 10:42 PM

Thank you everyone for your extremely kind reviews and overall warm reception.
It is an honor to be included in the top three with such talented and accomplished writers. After reading all the wonderful entries, I was hoping to come away with an HM at most. Again, thanks to everyone!

Okay, the ending.
It was pretty well divided. Half of you needed to know what the Caller had done or not done. The other half enjoyed not knowing, and letting their own imagination write the end of the story.
What happened was - because of the four page limit, I reached the end of the story and the bottom of page four at the same time. I didn't want to take more away from the beginning, because I wanted to slowly pull you in and build suspense rather than just drop you into the middle. I really wanted to keep going and write a definate conclusion, but that would have taken another page to do correctly. And even if I did have a concrete ending, most people might have "seen it coming." So, ultimately, I opted with the open-ended ending, and after some tweaking, was more than happy with the result.

Again, thank you for all your comments and I appreciate all your support.

Denise Jewell (Level 5) ~ 12/2/2011 9:50 AM

I think the ending is perfect. The DJ doesn't know what happened - I don't know what happened - was it even real? Yeah, I'd say this ended exactly as it was meant to.

MJ Hermanny (Level 5) ~ 12/3/2011 2:52 PM

hey, congrats David! I haven't read this yet... I will. And thanks for your really positive support and reviews, appreciate it.

Rich Keel (Level 4) ~ 12/7/2011 4:32 PM

I liked this but I did not really care for the ending. You had me in suspense the whole way but I wanted more! I picture cuts to what is actually happening to give the reader the idea if it is really happening or not...but maybe that is what you wanted. That's just what I would do if this "event" really happened. I like the setting in a radio both...This one has peaked my directing senses since it is one room with two characters...acheieveable for me :)

We might need to chat about this for next years contest.

David M Troop (Level 5) ~ 12/11/2011 9:33 AM

I am excited to announce the Green Light has been given to "Insomniac."
I'm currently tweaking the shooting script, which I'm sure will please everyone.
The film's director will be Richard Keel.
Richard previously directed the MP shorts "Tanked" and "Friends for Life."
I felt honored and stunned when Rich contacted me and expressed his interest.
I am very fortunate to have Rich aboard, and I expect the finished film to kick ass.
Shooting will start in January 2012.
Thanks to Chris and ALL MP members for making this possible.

David Serra (Level 4) ~ 12/17/2011 3:18 PM

Cool, this should be interesting to see.

Bill Sarre (Level 5) ~ 12/18/2011 3:43 PM


Great news. I really liked your script and hope to see it produced.

All the best

Debra Johnson (Level 3) ~ 12/23/2011 12:04 PM

Congrats! Can't wait to see it.

Raphael Howard (Level 4) ~ 11/30/2013 2:50 PM

The descriptions are simple, but do their job. I like the build-up of suspense. The caller seems normal at first, but as he goes on, he becomes increasingly creepy. The mysterious, incomplete depictions of the actions fit the insomnia theme very well, as does the characters behaviour- The confused host and the monotone caller. The low energy makes it creepier. This is an idea with potential.

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The following members have selected this script as one of their favorites:

Caroline Coxon ~ Denise Jewell ~ Martin Jensen ~ Christopher Pedersen Cook ~ Rich Keel ~ Debra Johnson ~ Byron Matthews ~ John Padgett