Even though I love watching movies and TV, writing a script was such a foreign concept that it never even occurred to me to try it. Then in 2007, the same group that organizes NaNoWriMo introduced Script Frenzy (SF), where the goal is to write a screenplay in a month. My brother and I decided to give it a try and co-wrote a script together. From that moment on, I was hooked on another form of storytelling.
Secrets of Scape Ore Swamp (2007 SF - horror)
Pitch: Sightings of a lizard-like creature have a small southern town on edge, but high school jokester Zane and his friends don’t let the rumors stop them from enjoying their annual bonding camping trip in the swamp. But as long-buried secrets threaten to tear the group apart from the inside, the reptilian creature attacks and tears them apart – period. Zane must put aside his silly pranks and pull the group back together if any of them hope to survive.
Inspiration: When my brother and I were in middle school, the Lizard Man story broke a few hours down the road in Bishopville, SC. Sightings of the reptilian creature soon became a national news sensation. As wide-eyed young’uns, we were fascinated. Fast forward many years to when we decided to write our first script (which of course had to be a horror flick given our love of the genre), and the Lizard Man from our childhood seemed the obvious candidate to star in our movie.
Status: Secrets of Scape Ore Swamp won an honorable mention in the Thriller/Horror category of the 2008 Screenplay Festival and was a quarter-finalist in the 2008 PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. Not too shabby for our first ever attempt at screenwriting. We hope that by proving ourselves with our short films Saying Goodbye and High Heels and Hoodoo, we’ll be able to secure the funding to produce it.
KIDZ (2008 SF - thriller)
Pitch: Lexie thinks her best friend Maya’s toddler is acting strangely, but Maya scoffs at her worries because Lexie is not a kid person. When Lexie sees abnormal behavior from other kids she meets, she begins to investigate. That’s when the people around her start dying. Now Lexie must dig into her own painful childhood memories in order to save the people she loves.
Inspiration: My brother and I teamed up again to co-write a script, this time inspired by our shared belief that sometimes kids are creepy. We were only kids ourselves when we watched the horror movie The Children where evil kids with black fingernails melted adults when they hugged them, which instilled in us a permanent fear of dead-eyed children.
Status: Still a rough first draft that needs some major TLC.
The Spirits Within (2009 SF - horror)
Pitch: When Jacey was twelve, her best-friend-kinda-sorta-boyfriend Ozzie brutally murdered another friend, although he claimed he was possessed by a spirit when he did it. Jacey now lives a typical college life until Ozzie contacts her after he’s released from a mental institution to warn her she’s in danger. When her friends start dying on campus, she must figure out if Ozzie is out to kill her or if he was telling the truth all those years ago.
Inspiration: This time I struck out on my own to write a script inspired by a news report I’d seen on TV about ghosts.
Status: Still a rough first draft. I’m proud of some of the awesomely gruesome death scenes, but there are currently plot holes big enough to swallow a house.
I skipped SF 2010 and 2011 because we were so busy with our short film Saying Goodbye.
Saying Goodbye (short drama)
Pitch: After her entire family is killed by a drunk driver, Alma moves to a southern nursing home, lonely and without hope. Eunice, her spunky new neighbor, befriends Alma and encourages her to enjoy life again. Soon this dynamic duo are kicking up their heels and entertaining the residents and staff with their antics. Even when Eunice is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, they maintain their determination to live life to the fullest. But this nursing home is special: a cat with the uncanny ability to predict death prowls the halls. When he sets his sights on the two women, their carpe diem spirit is put to the test.
Inspiration: After my short story “Saying Goodbye” won the 2008 SC Fiction Project, my brother had the brilliant idea (if he does say so himself) to turn it into a short script, so we wrote the screenplay together.
Status: The script was a semi-finalist in the 2009 PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. Then we were thrilled to win a generous grant to make the movie from the SC Film Commission. We filmed in late 2009, and Saying Goodbye is now on the film festival circuit and has won several awards.
The Victims of the Postal Posse (short drama)
Pitch: Justine’s first day of work at the post office does not go as planned when the by-the-book wallflower discovers her co-workers breaking the law.
Inspiration: In 2009, my brother and I ran across a contest run by NYC Midnight where the participants are assigned a genre and a subject and have a week to write a short screenplay using those parameters. We thought it sounded like a fun challenge, so we signed up and were assigned the genre 'drama' and the subject 'a postcard.' The whole experience was a rush, and I’ve since become addicted to the various NYC Midnight challenges.
Status: Our resulting screenplay is not something we’d ever consider filming (waaay too expensive for a short), but we had fun writing it.
High Heels and Hoodoo (short suspense)
Pitch: Tiffany seems like your typical blond bimbo, but underneath all that plastic surgery lie nerves of steel. She’s so determined to get what she wants that she pursues her grandmother into the spirit world with the help of a Gullah root doctor.
Inspiration: I thought the story A Spirited Discussion I wrote for a NYC Midnight flash fiction contest would make an entertaining short film, so I adapted it to a script. I changed the setting to a Charleston cemetery and the Native American shaman to a Gullah root doctor.
Status: My brother and I used this script to apply for another grant from the SC Film Commission. We won the grant and will be filming the movie this fall.