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"Zero Boundary" by Masoud Soheili ~ Honorable Mention

Logline: During the Iran-Iraq conflict while battle raged in the south, a lone sentry stationed at the peaceful Kurdistan border overcomes his prejudice and befriends the solitary enemy soldier guarding the trench across the border.

Genre: Drama - War

Cast Size: 2

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

Contest: Two Strangers (Mar. 2012)

Contest Scores
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Comments Made During the Contest

Bill Clar (Level 5)

Interesting title.

How will the viewing audience know that Yahya is an Iranian sentry for the border?

Why would Yahya be in a trench? How can you dig a trench in the mountains? Is the trench an outpost? A physical building that he's stationed in?

You have a good setting and instant conflict between the sentries.

I just don't know enough about Iran and Iraq to relate to these characters.

Byron Matthews (Level 5)

Sad story but this is the reality of war. As for your story, it was pretty good. Entertaining. The ending was predictable, because that's the irony of war. The only thing I was wondering was which one will be "forced" to kill the other one first? You created lots of conflict in such a short amount of time, so that's good. I did notice a few grammar mistakes. Overall, I thought it a good story.

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

This is a good story. I was engaged with your two characters and found their relationship moving. The end was sad.

A few technical notes:

You use the word suddenly a lot! it's not really necessary. When a quick action happens it is usually sudden!

Be careful with punctuation. some of your sentences make no sense. e.g. Quiet and dimly lit Yahya sits...

Don't TELL us stuff we can't see - like 'his nightly routine'

But, good job!

Chris Setten (Level 4)

I think the premise of the story has legs. You did a good job with undulating tension. Not sure whether this would translate well to film but that's for others to decide. There was some expository writing and on the nose dialogue that could be refined.

Christina Anderson (Level 4)

I've seen/read this before...

EARLY CONFUSION: Y- is chasing a lizard in the trench, but he meets up with E- above ground, outside of his trench without ever passing through barbwire????

Darren Seeley (Level 3)

While I wasn't a huge fan of the several INT/EXT TRENCH headers - it sounded more like bunkers to me, as I rarely would think of a trench being "an interior"...but it's only thing that keeps this from getting a very good to exellent for me. It's a good job overall, with the two strangers breaking language barriers -- but it seemed odd that after gaining one another's trust that one would still bge paranoid. Were the Iranians and the Pakistanis at conflict with another? How is it that they are the only two out here? If they are...and while they may not have met personally...you would think one of them would be less trigger happy. It's not bad though.

Dave Kunz (Level 4)

I found myself getting thoroughly caught up in this bittersweet tale of attempted friendship along the no-man's-land between Iraq and Iran. It's a well executed bit of storytelling. I had some quibbles here and there with the writing but, in the end, this story was quite touching so why quibble? What I liked most was the fact that both Yahya and Emad were not true soldiers, but rather ordinary guys pressed into service and forced to be de facto enemies when they just as easily could have been friends. I liked this story a lot. Well done.

David Serra (Level 4)

Intense, dark, thought-provoking, and well-written. This was an amazing piece that I think would work as a short film.

This shows the corruption and hostilities of war.

Well-done.

Eric Boshart (Level 2)

I enjoyed this script because it is quite human, and despite the setting being physically distant, it still had great universal emotion. Also, the descriptions were concise and very imaginative. The phone calls really set the whole ending up, which was wonderful to read. This was an overall delight, I hope it gains some recognition! Really pleased with the message.

Faith Friese Nelson (Level 5)

Well written. No suggestions to make it better. This entry earned an excellent from me.

Gary Rademan (Level 5)

Sentries on the Iraq/Iran border try to be friends.

ENDING: The serious ending didn't mesh well with the comedic back and forth on this border bromance.

Kenneth Hurd (Level 4)

I liked your story. I thought you created two well developed characters and I liked the twist you had at the end. It was a sad ending that really works. Good job.

My only recommendation with this script is that you revisit some of the action. Your very heavy on your word usage, and a lot of it could be trimmed. Your use of adverbs aren't needed in the script. All it does is show that you're directing from the page. The script is written in a present tense so we don't need to see "immediately" or "suddenly." Those will happen regardless when it's filmed. We also don't need to read "cautiously" or "occasionally." Those words just eat into your description make it overlong.

For example, your action reads "Suddenly a call comes to Emad's telephone. He runs over, quickly picks it up. He listens with a grave expression." You could shorten this by saying "Emad's phone rings, he picks it up and listens." It's shorter and says pretty much the same thing. Remember, write just what we're going to see.

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5)

I think it would make a very good movie. Very believable, nicely paced. I think you could work a bit on the writing to make it even smoother. For example on p2 you wrote "Quiet and dimly lit Yahya" Maybe a period after "quiet and dimly lit"
Then you have the word "occasionally" which means several times. I think you have to show each time - "he goes to the entrance of his trench". "He goes to the entrance again" - it's what we see, right.
I liked it a lot - very sad ending.

KP Mackie (Level 5)

Terrific story idea. The mental image of these two young soldiers, alone in their respective mountain trenches and afraid, is riveting. There's emotion, and was caught off guard when a panicked Emad shoots his new friend Yahya.
All the material is relevant, but might tighten the description a bit here and there. Perhaps the first scene should indicate "DAY" instead of "NIGHT" since there's sunlight.
The title is a perfect fit.

Martin Jensen (Level 5)

This was interesting. I don't know if it's all that realistic, but that doesn't matter.

Very good.

Mike Senkpiel (Level 4)

This was pretty cool, well written and good craft.

It was a bit predictable for me. The thing where the guy reaches in a pocket for something and gets shot has been done so much. And in this case, it would be hard to mistake a can of pears for a weapon, even in low light.

This had some nice moments though, and I enjoyed reading it. Thanks.

MJ Hermanny (Level 5)

This is a familiar story in a different setting and you tell it well.

I like the characters and the visuals of the food and the weapons.

very good.

Olga Tremaine (Level 5)

It's well written. Somewhat a sweet war story.
The idea of friendship between the enemies is universal. My Grandmother, who survived World War 2, told me when I was little a very similar story about a Soviet and a Nazi soldier.
Good writing. Well done.

Raymond Kwok (Level 3)

Nicely written but a bit too sappy for me. It is also implausible that there is no one else there with two trenches facing each other. Also can't believe that the positions will be that close together. A few typos and grammatical errors : eg "photo of HE and his family" should be "him".

Reginald McGhee (Level 0)

I have not notice any formatting or grammar mistakes. Your writing looks economic and professional. The pacing is great. In addition, the screenplay looks well structured. It has a beginning, a middle, and an ending.

The language barrier is the central conflict, a strng one. This is a touching story, as they fail to communicate. The foreshadowing where two people share meals together and send food to each people adds tone to the story. The language problem keeps them from becoming friends. I really enjoyed this script.

Your action lines are all good. The character’s dialogue is real and fun to read. It meets the two strangers requirement.

I don’t have anything else to critique. All of your scenes run smoothly.
I’m not really sure what is the purpose of Yahya trying to kill the lizard thugh. Was he looking for food? I understand that they are poor, came from a war, and live in a trench. I also don’t see how Yahya could read his mail when Emad speaks in another language. Does he have a translator? I think you could show us a translator in the script, then the translator breaks or something to keep the language barrier throughout the rest of the script.

Rick Hansberry (Moderator)

I thought this was excellent. Enjoyed the premise very much. It's hard to know how the language would work in a film. Subtitles? Still, the message is universal and it felt like this was a real life experience.

One writing tidbit I've learned is to 'search' every script for the word 'very' and eliminate it. There hasn't been one instance where I felt it was absolutely necessary.

The title didn't connect with me. What am I missing?

Sally Meyer (Moderator)

I'm conflicted on this one. I think the writing is good. It's the story that I had a harder time believing.

If these two characters were young boys, it might work better. But this is war and I'm not sure that they would have such a friendship. It happened so fast too. Not over time.

The ending was a little bit contrived, I sort of expected something like this to happen.

Would he really offer him a can when there was all sorts of action going on around them?

I'm conflicted as I said, because it would be a great thing if people woulc put away their hatred and be friends, but is it reality?

Scott Merrow (Level 5)

This is really a great script, full of hope and humanity, but with a sad, tragic ending.

There was one thing about the end that bothered me a little. A very important change occurred in Emad, which we realize when "Emad sits in a dark corner, panic on his face and weapon aimed at the door." There's been a big change in him which results in a crucial change in the dynamic between these two friendly enemies. But what caused that change? Obviously, the phone call had something to do with it, but we'd like to think that the friendship forged by these two men in such difficult circumstances could withstand even more pressure. But it didn't, and it would be gratifying to know why not. (Was it the "distant gunfire" that got to Emad? Was he wounded?)

Inquiring minds want to know.

I still really enjoyed the story, though.

My score: Excellent.


Comments Made After the Contest

Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5) ~ 5/1/2012 12:35 AM

Well how about that? We make a great team. Congrats! :)

KP Mackie (Level 5) ~ 5/1/2012 12:37 AM

A VG from me. Found myself thinking about this story several days later.
Congratulations on your HM. Great story idea.

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 5/1/2012 1:30 AM

First of all...Special thanks for "Marnie Mitchell Lister"
She rescue my script

Thanks Marnie...

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5) ~ 5/1/2012 1:51 AM

Congrats Masoud, I'm really glad this one got an HM.

Rick Hansberry (Moderator) ~ 5/1/2012 6:25 AM

Congrats M & M!

MJ Hermanny (Level 5) ~ 5/1/2012 6:39 AM

Thought this was very strong Masoud, congrats on your honourable mention.

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus) ~ 5/1/2012 11:41 AM

Great job, guys.

Olga Tremaine (Level 5) ~ 5/1/2012 6:30 PM

I really liked this one.

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 5/2/2012 12:52 AM

@ Bill:
We understand he is Iranian from his Iranian face,uniforms,his language and...
In that time war happened in south part of Iran ,but in that place always possible to attack.so,both parts of war out some sentry to protect this.
It doesn't need to dig the mountain,Outpost is possible.

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 5/2/2012 12:56 AM

@Byron

Thanks ,
I hope could rewrite in a way that be unpredictable.
Sorry for my grammar mistakes,
English is not my first language.

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 5/2/2012 12:57 AM

@Caroline

Thanks for your useful advices,

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 5/2/2012 1:01 AM

@ Chris


Thanks Chris,
If this script wants to produce ,Dialogues will be in Persian (for Yahya) and Arabic(for Emad)
and of course English subtitle :)

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 5/2/2012 1:04 AM

@ Christina
Its war!
In war ,barbwire just could be a joke!No border,No rule!
And ofcourse at the beginning both of them didn't know that there is some enemies trench around there

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 5/2/2012 1:33 AM

@ Darren
I don't like several INT/EXT too,But for this script ,I thought trench and around it are related together,
When I said trench ,everyone thought some kinds of trench that saw in other films,
Trench could be many kinds,
There is one in my head that made with simple Sand pouches.

I wrote Iran-Iraq,not Iran-Pakistan.
Iran was in war with Iraq for around 8 years.

Another thing,In that time war happened in south part of Iran ,but in that place always possible to attack.so,both parts of war out some sentry to protect this.

Look at this picture:
http://www.worldology.com/Iraq/images/iran_iraq_stalemate.jpg

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 5/2/2012 1:51 AM

@ Dave

Thanks Dave.
You really got everything that I want to tell throw this story :)

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 5/2/2012 2:06 AM

@David

Thanks ,Man!
Im so glad that many of MPers are enjoy my first script in MP

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 5/2/2012 2:10 AM

@Eric

Thanks Eric for your kind message!
You really encourage me !

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 5/2/2012 2:13 AM

@Faith
Really thanks

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 5/2/2012 2:26 AM

@Gary
I like myself,to move from comedy to Romance.
I respect you view but I do what I like :)

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 5/2/2012 3:19 AM

@Kenneth

Really thanks for your recommendation,
Sorry for my English,
I really trying to improve it

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 5/2/2012 3:22 AM

@Khamanna
Thanks for your advices,
I really need to work on my English,
Sorry for that

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 5/2/2012 5:08 AM

KP Mackie (Level 5)

Good idea about change "DAY" instead of "NIGHT" for first scene.
Thanks KP!

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 5/2/2012 5:10 AM

@ Martin
Its not real story,but if someone say me its happen ,I will believe it ;)

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 5/2/2012 5:13 AM

@Mike
Sometimes using things that used before and had a good results is good.

Being stereotype is not bad always,
Thanks anyway

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 5/2/2012 5:16 AM

@MJ Hermanny

Thanks MJ,

Congratulation for your script,
Unfortunately I was in military service and couldnt read any other scripts,
I hope could read yours soon.

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 5/2/2012 5:20 AM

@Olga :

Thanks Olga,
It could change to any other wars,
I think we have more analogous,
Where are you from ,BTW?
I have a friend named Olga,
She is originally from Turkey.

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 5/2/2012 5:23 AM

@Raymond
Im sorry for my grammer faults
I will try solve it later,

Its possible.
I explained for others who asked,
The war is in south and they are just sentry in that area.
I heard some more amazing real story than mine ;)

Christina Anderson (Level 4) ~ 5/2/2012 7:46 AM

About my barbwire comment--

I just meant there was never any indication that he'd crossed a boundary...

The audience realizes he's going to get into trouble on this lizard hunt, so why not show us what kind of trouble. (if he were surprised by a mobile-patrol he'd walk right past footprints and tire tracks without noticing them, but since this is an outpost maybe he has to step over a wall/crawl under barbwire chasing the lizard).

Just my suggestion-- cheers.

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 5/2/2012 8:14 AM

Thanks Christina,,,

I will surely rewrite it soon,
I wanna change end of it.
I will think on your suggestion.

Cheers

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 5/2/2012 11:44 PM

@Reginald
Thanks for your kind post.
For a lizard,I just want to show how they have a boring life that he do this just for fun,but I think I need to change it to something better,
surely he dont want to eat it :)

For Translator:
I need to explain something,
Iran language is farsi but alphabet is same with arabic and ofcourse many similar words.
Also in Iran ,we learned arabic at school.so ,all Iranians know to speak a bit arabic.
Iraq's language is Arabic,
I didnt show that Emad talk alot farsi because there is no way for him to learn farsi :)

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 5/3/2012 12:06 AM

@Rick

It will be in Farsi and arabic with subtitle ofcourse .

Thanks for advice about "very"

I like title and some others too...;)

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 5/3/2012 12:13 AM

@Sally

My father was in Iran-Iraq war, and I loose my uncle in that war.
I heard a lot of story about it ,more amazing than the one I wrote.
Just could say "everything could happen in war"
They are not soldiers ,they are just ordinary people,
They could be Friend easily as Iranians are famous in hospitality.

About ending,I will change it.It will be better soon,

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 5/3/2012 12:26 AM

@Scott



Thanks Scott,
I dont answer you now about ending,
I out this ending because I couldnt put new character.
Read my rewrite soon and Im sure you will enjoy it ;)

MJ Hermanny (Level 5) ~ 5/3/2012 5:26 AM

Masoud, you're so sweet replying to everyone individually. I hope military service is going OK for you.

Travis DeStein (Level 5) ~ 5/3/2012 9:15 PM

Marine needs to help you out with your logline, too. Just sayin'.

Rustom Irani (Moderator) ~ 5/4/2012 11:01 AM

Well, I gave the logline a shot. Hope it works!

I LOVE the typo in Travis's post by the way. Marnie IS a Marine. :)

Olga Tremaine (Level 5) ~ 5/9/2012 4:53 PM

@Masoud :)

I didn't see you responded to my comment.

I was born and raised in Russia. Now I live in the US.
I think the name Olga is common in Latin America too.

This entry was my favorite this month.

Anita Lindawaty (Level 0) ~ 6/29/2012 4:37 AM

Zero Bundary, first time i read it, i feel like de javu. remind me about Kilometre Zero (2005) a film i ever seen long time ago, Hiner Saleem (writer & director. The story set during the Iraq-Iran war in the 80s, the film tells of a tragicomic road trip set in Iraq's Kurdistan.

Doesn't mean i say this is similar story, not at all, both totally different.

I think the strength of Zero Bundary is the tragic ending, just keep it that way!
the story has simple plot which flow freely, but it's better if the writer makes yahya & emed character become more concrete with explore their background past. for example: yahya happy family, not enough represented by a one picture only, perhaps need one flashback scene. the same way with emed.

Masoud Soheili (Level 4) ~ 6/30/2012 1:25 AM

Thanks Anita for your comments,
I'll think on your ideas for re-writing .
And I should find "Kilometre Zero (2005)"
coz I didn't see it

Elias Farnum (Level 5) ~ 8/1/2012 9:00 PM

A very compelling short. I would have scored it an excellent for sure. You set up and build tension and friendship at the same time, and lead to a sad logical conclusion from the horror of war. Very, very powerful work here.

Elias Farnum (Level 5) ~ 8/1/2012 9:02 PM

Oh, and happy congratulations on your Honorable Mention!


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

Marnie Mitchell Lister ~ Olga Tremaine ~ Rustom Irani ~ Faith Friese Nelson ~ Reginald McGhee ~ Anita Lindawaty ~ Shaheryar Ahmed ~ Seth Kozak