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Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

Interpret the Script – How To Better the Script of The Invasion Redux

Who is the Protagonist? JD

What is the theme? “Us vs. Them,” Brotherhood, Commitment to Humanity, and Survival

What did it make you feel?
Characters’ values are challenged by the minute. Makes me wonder how profoundly I would change in such an extreme situation. “Them” includes aliens, human traitor, and human competitors for food and resources.

What do the characters want?
They want to return to the day-to-day life they took for granted.
In the question of “Fight or Flight?” JD is “Fight,” and Nick is “Flight.”

JD prizes where he lives. He seeks control by consistency.
“This is my home, Nick. I am not leaving.”
“You do what you want, Nick. I’m staying here.”

Nick seeks change and chance – What he repeatedly refers to as the amorphous “Something.”
“We can put our heads together – figure something out.”
“I can’t stay here… I have to do something… I have to do something.” (Emphasis added.)

 What are the obstacles?

In addition to “Them’s” – the Aliens and fellow humans, JD and Nick are simultaneously impeded by and aided by each other. They are each other’s obstacles and illuminations and each other’s “Opponent” and “Ally.”

Nick’s survival instincts are not honed as JD’s. As if he were a parent, JD shepherds Nick through the physical aspects of the searchlight and Radio man encounters.
JD lifts Nick off his feet and out of the shot after the search beam incident.
JD hears the sounds of the intruding Radio Man and pulls a pistol, while Nick sleeps.

However, Nick’s humanity informs JD, and the roles are somewhat reversed. Consider the mature progression regarding the death of Radio Man:
Nick initially laments JD’s actions.
“You shot him! You killed him!”
Nick’s assessment swiftly shifts to that of shared responsibility. Something becomes someone.
We killed someone, JD. We killed another man.” (Emphasis added.)

As a director, describe how you would change the story (remove or add) to better it?

Improving Invasion Redux would require a re-imagining of the script to allow for more character and plot development and would also require a serious edit to “show, not tell.”

Suggestion #1: Expand Character Development, Delay “Epiphany Moment” The characters have their own “overriding emotion,” but this is challenged/resolved too quickly. The story inappropriately juggernauts to Act II vs. Act I.

From an Aristotelian point of view, JD’s “epiphany moment” comes too swiftly. By page 12, a single values-shaking incident causes him to throw away his raison d’être and opt for “the Colony.” This is a jarring, inauthentic, unconvincing shift. The protagonist’s change must be allowed to simmer longer.

The story would be benefitted by fully setting up JD (and Nick). This could either be done by starting the screenplay before the invasion (Rick Grimes in Walking Dead), or by presenting the previous life of normalcy through a dream or flashback or other literary mechanism. Or by allowing the character to live within the circumstances longer and transform (Wikus van de Merwe, District 9) or otherwise resolve.

Suggestion #2: Restrain Overwrite and Rewrite Underwrite Invasion Redux is a mix of Underwriting and Overwriting. Underwriting starves character development. Overwriting starves action and bloats the script. The script “tells versus shows,” is dialogue-heavy/action-light, and has too many stage directions/didactic descriptions.

Examples from Script
Illogically Obvious”
or “Inauthentic” dialogue/narration or action
JD VO: “Men, women, children, families…”
JD VO: “Life is no longer for living, but a struggle to simply evade capture and survive”
JD: “Is it safe?
Nick: “And by they you mean them.” He points up.

The Beacon VO:  “The escort will leave at three p.m. sharp…”
Radio Man: “Capice?”

“Repetitive” In the basement… what looks like a radio…
Nick: “What is it? Looks like a radio.”
“Show, Not Tell” From his look, he has discovered something interesting
Signs of some sort of evacuation, or large-scale struggle in the neighborhood are all over…”
Cars parked in odd places…
A swing sways and squeaks eerily
He checks his watch. It’s not working.
A voice in the distance startles JD.
JD and Nick enter the house and look around.
It’s a nice home. A family obviously lived here.
“Here, I’ll grab this – put it in my pack.”
Strange, scary noises come from the scout ship…
… a synthetic human female voice speaks broken English
The noise is deafening
… shakes the building, like an earthquake
A large, open and almost empty space… A kitchen-like area
A noise wakes JD up.
“Stage Direction” We pan down to the neighborhood and find…
He spots a brick pavilion… They spring to a doorway where the bathrooms are and duck into it. (What is “it?”)
JD lifts him off his feet and out of shot
“Trite” Nick: “JD, put the gun down.”
“Unclear” A bloody hand hangs out of the backseat of a car…
He spots a brick pavilion… They spring to a doorway where the bathrooms are and duck into it. (What is “it?”)




How old is JD? Nick? Radio Man?
What do JD and Nick look like? How tall are they? How much does each weigh?
What about Radio Man? Is there a reason for him to use “Capice?”
When JD lifts Nick “off his feet” on page 6 – first clue of relationship/physicality
What is their appearance in terms of hair length, facial hair, cleanliness, clothing style, color, wear-and-tear factor, uniqueness, etc.?
How old is JD? Nick? What is their relationship?
JD seems to know a lot about broadcast equipment? Why is this? Is this authentic to his character?

“What is it?”
“Nothing. Probably a bird.”     (No mention of any sound.)

Incorrect formatting:
Under Nick’s dialogue is a broadcast message from The Beacon.

Best Script Moments
A solitary Alien slave ship hangs in the atmosphere.
Nick: “And by they you mean them.” (Just lose the stage direction to “point up!”)
The Beacon: “Come in person. Warmth. Food. Beverage. Safety is wait you. Surrender your hands in air. We are neighborly.”

Source: Peterson, Aaron. “The Invasion Redux: First Draft.” Salt City Studios. 2010.

Keywords: Screenwriting Techniques, Storytelling Critique, Short-Form Critical Analysis, Script Evaluation, Screenwriting Optimization

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