Archive for Screenwriter

Like the Boomerang That Won’t Quit

Posted in Blog with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 2, 2017 by Rathan Krueger


I’m making a film! This year! May! What does the pic up top of the dearly departed have to do with it? Lots, but not at all in the way you’re thinking.

Early-Summer of last year, I decided that I finally had enough experience behind and around the camera to make my first film (look at that IMDb page). There have been a few false starts over the years, and even a start that came up shorter than I wanted it to because I wasn’t quite ready to wield the camera long-term. I don’t have a problem with waiting ’til I’m ready for something. I could’ve made films ten years ago because I had a strong visual sense and knew I could show a good story. But I couldn’t tell a good story yet. The only reason I wanted to be a director is because I could write scripts for me, and my writing didn’t match quality the pictures I could make. So I chose to focus on making it easier for me to make characters more defined as well as make better dialogue. Somewhere around there, I realized that although I enjoy a good plot-driven tale and could easily write more than a few, my home was with character pieces. It’s much more interesting for me to see people deal with each other instead of giving them something to do. Then I found women more enjoyable to write than men and never looked back.

I knew that I wanted my first film to be a generational snapshot (like Easy Rider or Clerks). There hadn’t been one for my ilk yet, and I knew that it’s bound to happen sooner than later. I’d rather be part of the “sooner” crowd, so it was a matter of finding out what about my generation I wanted to say. As I think about what I wrote, I feel that I’ve said enough but I’ve left out a lot. Maybe next time. Isolation was the thing that caught my attention the most, so I followed that train of thought. The ending is one of the first things I think up no matter what story I tell. It’s something I realized recently, wished I knew a lot sooner, and was grateful for knowing at all. Lucky, lucky me, what ended up being Wake Up Alone had an ending that came to me briskly. I wanted it to start with drama and end with horror, and the ending didn’t disappoint. Why is the end so important to me? It gives me something to work towards and earn. You’re not gonna be able to figure out how it ends, but you’ll also see that it couldn’t have ended any other way.

And now, we get to Ms. Winehouse. In the early planning stage, I quickly latched onto naming the main character after her and titling the film after a song that felt right. So Amy became the star of Wake Up Alone. I changed her name to May because of a subtle(?) joke involving her name and the names of two other characters. But the Winehouse goes deeper because the film, in a way, is a nod to the “Rehab” lyric, “I just, oh, I just need a friend”. There are a few other big and little nods to her, but I’ll let the film show you them.

After lots of thinking and planning and writing, I finally finished Wake Up Alone… and it clocked in at 63 pages, I think. My intent was to get some producers interested, and no one’s gonna read a script that’s around 60 pages. That’s basically a short film, in their eyes, and they don’t make money. I decided to put it away for a little while so I could look at it with fresher eyes and see how I could add more pages. I was worried about doing that because it’s such a tight script. Every line lead to the next, so to add anything new could’ve fucked everything up. While I was distracting myself, I reread Mick Rock’s excellent Metallica biography, Enter Night, and read a Tweet that changed the rest of my year.

While reading the book, the idea of a blind woman starting a Heavy Metal band came to me. As I kept reading, the idea started to congeal. I was gonna resign it to my idea notebook and come back to it later, then I saw her bump into a wall and say “Wall.” just before she did it and knew I had to write her story double-quick. How could I ignore a blind woman Metal guitarist who’s comfortable enough with her handicap to knowingly bump into a wall? I’m not at all someone who’s constantly writing scripts. If I’m writing it, I intend on directing it soon. Or at least doing something with it. Then I read a Tweet from BBC’s Writers Room, a site the channel has that fosters writers (more things should do this). It said that it would be accepting unsolicited, one-hour, dramatic scripts in December. I was glad and worried at the same time. I’d been waiting for that, but didn’t have any ideas. Then I remembered my blind guitarist. Writing her was more instinctual, and I quickly found out that I wasn’t interested in writing a dramatic story about her. It was more interesting to write something lighthearted because anyone could do the “woe is me” tale about a blind woman trying to do something. Not many would not let her handicap get in the way. Fewer would make her a leader. But the BBC thing would want a dramatic script. Then I realized I could give them Wake Up Alone since it was around 60 pages and make Turn the Strange my first film.

If I could go on a tangent, I’d like to talk about how Doctor Who, Wonder Woman, and Supergirl allowed Wake Up Alone and Turn the Strange exist the way that they do. I’m a huge fan of the Sturm und Drang. The bleaker the story, the better. However, those three characters injected something in my storytelling palette that I wouldn’t have put on my own: the dreaded c-word, “compassion”. I didn’t know it was there, but I also didn’t try to get rid of it when I looked back. Wake Up Alone is about three women, and two of them fit quite well in my house of malaise. The third, though, is definitely a by-product of the Gallifreyan, the Amazonian, and the Kryptonian. She might’ve popped up a few years ago, but she would’ve been someone the film made fun of. Instead, she’s an integral part of the tale and as fucked-up and bleak as the ending is, it’s also full of compassion. And I wouldn’t have bothered with Turn the Strange’s blind Emily if I wasn’t such a geek. My storytelling hasn’t changed completely because compassion was added. What’s happened is now I have an opportunity to create richer stories. I also get to see me war against compassion with nihilism. Should be fun.

So. Back to Turn the Strange. I wrote it and had a great time and accepted that Wake Up Alone was gonna be made by someone else. Then I started location-scouting (finding places to make a film) and making a style guide (a portfolio that shows ideas of clothes and things as well as cinematography). Metallica’s new album came out the day I was location-scouting, so that was a particularly fun and karmic time. Then December hit and the BBC started taking scripts. Two funny things happened. I realized that sending Wake Up Alone to them would’ve been like spending time getting to know a woman who was really into me, telling her that she should date a stranger when she’s ready to go on a date, and think “They sure look great together. Wait a minute…” The other thing that happened was, unlike other script things they had, the BBC was only accepting scripts from the UK. Thus, my decision was made on two fronts: Wake Up Alone is mine. But I also had Turn the Strange. After moping for a few minutes, I told myself that I now have a second film script already ready and felt groovy. Well, there was another script idea, but that’s for another blog.

I now had my original problem with May and friends: how the fuck was I gonna pump the page count up without making the script bloated? I hate deleted scenes. If there was more attention paid to the script, those scenes would’ve been taken out and not wasted lots of time and money. So if I was gonna add more scenes, I had to be sure that they HAD to be there. One of the characters is damn verbose, so I wanted to try avoiding her scenes because they’re exhausting to write. Her scenes were the ones that would’ve suffered the most from adding, anyway. Because I walked away from the BBC thing, I got to make things more adult, which was nice. Those lines of thought made me develop scenes that I wanted to kick myself for not think of initially, but I’m glad I found them at all. Then 63 pages became 75, and things were groovy.

Starting today, I get the gears going for Wake Up Alone on the intense road to get behind the camera on May 1st. I’ve got a schedule set up, so it’s just a matter of tenacity and ingenuity. I’ll update when I can, so I’ll see you when I have more to say.



Posted in Blog, Fiction with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2016 by Rathan Krueger

I’ve been pretty busy lately, and I wanted to show you a few pages of a script I finished recently. It’s about Emily, a woman guitarist who’s trying to start a Heavy Metal band with a handicap she won’t allow to get in her way. I had a lot of fun writing it, she’s a lot of fun, and I hope you have a lot of fun reading her.

An old alarm clock goes off, glass absent from its face,
ringing its bells like a caffeinated woodpecker. The woman
it’s trying its best to win the attention of currently has
her head buried under a pillow. A feeble attempt to stop the
day. She eventually gives up and tosses the pillow at the
clamor. Or rather, tries to. She overestimates how far the
clock is by a few feet. She then lets out a defeated sigh
and sits up.
EMILY VERDA’S hair sticks up at all sorts of angles,
compliments of sleep. She sits on the edge of her bed, hands
on thighs, wearing a simple spaghetti-string top and pajama
pants. After slapping her legs rhythmically, she almost
immediately switches from being exhausted to being wide
awake, then turns off the alarm.

You’re gonna get them today.


EMILY brushes her teeth while humming the same four notes
over and over. Faster, slower, higher, lower. The fingers on
her free hand, black nail polish chipped, rap upon the
mirror at the same tempo changes. Her eyes in the mirror are
unfocused, yet there’s still thought behind them.
She locks onto a particular tempo, repeating it twice, then
smirks before she spits into the sink.


A proper view of the BEDROOM shows amazing organization
skills. Apart from the pillow slumped in the corner and the
messy bed, everything is exceptionally neat and tidy. Three
other stand-out features are the lack of closet doors, of an
entrance door, and of any mirror. Just outside the doorway
is an astroturf rug.

At the closet and in a terrycloth robe, EMILY chooses
something to wear for the day. Her hair is now combed flat,
and her lips are painted black. She quickly flicks through
hung shirts, pants, t-shirts, skirts, and dresses, giving
some a stroke or two before passing them up.

She goes to a window and opens it. She then licks a palm and
sticks into the world…

Pants and a button-up.

…then gets what she needs while wiping her hand on her


EMILY sits on the counter, twixt the sink and toaster, as
she tosses the last bit of one waffle in her mouth. A laptop
sits on the table. She then snatches another waffle from the
toaster. She tears off pieces and eats them, avoiding her
lipstick. While this is going on, she hums the melody she
came up with in the BATHROOM while tapping her bootheels on
the cabinet.

Until she almost chokes on a waffle bit.

She tosses what’s left of the breakfast pastry in the
garbage, in a fit of betrayal, then briskly washes her hands
in the sink. Her boots make the plastic mat on the floor
click and pop.


Sliding on her armor, a well-loved frock coat, EMILY
prepares to leave her apartment. Next, she tucks a pocket
recorder and a flipphone inside the coat. By the door is a
beaten-up guitar case ready to be slung over her shoulder
like a sword. On a short bookcase is her helmet by way of a
top hat and sunglasses. Both are vertically-striped black
and white, with the hat having a bit more business. The
black stripes are felt, the white are like silk, and a ring
dangles from the brim. A finger can easily fit through it,
which she does as she positions the hat so that the ring
hangs over her left ear.

Ready to face the day, she grabs one last thing: her folding


EMILY walks with a little pep in her step as her cane goes
TAK-TAK-TAK-TAK, making sure that she doesn’t bump into
anyone (while not really caring if she does).

She points a twirling finger in the camera’s general
direction as she taks and trots along.

‘Ello, dear viewer. Emily’s my name
and I was put on this planet for
two reasons: shredding guitars and
bumping into furniture. If the cane
didn’t give the game away, I’m a
bit blind. Don’t feel sorry for me,
though. You’re the ones who have to
see the state the world’s in.

She takes her finger away and continues walking to…


The bell over the door DINGS as EMILY enters. After folding
her cane, she approaches the register while getting her credit card.
At the counter, a clerk waits with a mug full
of the hot stuff.

Ms. Verda! We ran out of white
chocolate last night, but we have a

EMILY stops in her tracks, flicks straight her cane, and
doffs her hat.

I bid thee good day.

Just kidding, just kidding!

Don’t toy with my heart today.

EMILY folds her cane and continues her morning routine
towards her white chocolate mocha topped with whipped cream
and coconut sprinkles.

I’m a wage slave, I have to get as
much harmless fun as I can to pass
the 9-5.

And normally, I’d understand. Nay,
I’d encourage. But I need all my
strength for later.

EMILY swipes her card and enters her PIN as the CLERK
extends the mug.

Oh? Why? Oh yeah, you’re still
doing those auditions. How long
have you been holding them?

Doesn’t matter.

EMILY takes the mug and her receipt.

I’m gonna get them today.

How many are you meeting?

Two, but two’s all I need. Thanks
for letting me post my ad here.
That’s how they found me.

Ah, no problem.

Kayley and Leslie. Gonna have a
chick band.

You just be sure to play your
second gig here.


Who’s ever great their first time

Har har har. I was gonna leave a
tip, but now…

You can’t tip plastic. Besides, you
already swiped your card.

Maybe I was gonna get a few

Were you?

EMILY starts to step away as she sips her coffee, then turns
back to the CLERK.

Do you know Kayley and Leslie? All
I have are texts that my phone
reads aloud.

I only know you because you’re a
creature of habit and this place is
lucky enough to be within sniffing
distance of your apartment.

Heh, too true, too true.

EMILY continues to an empty booth, but not before…

Good luck today, Emily. Really.

She gestures a salute with her mug, then sits. She then
takes a big gulp, points a circling finger towards the
camera, and sets her mug down with a big whipped cream
moustache on her face.

I know what you’re thinking, but
chick bands rock. No, you’re
thinking that other thing and, yes,
I know it’s there. No, no, you’re
thinking that OTHER other thing,
and we’ll never know if Neo
would’ve knocked over that vase.
It’s best to just let it go, I’ve
lost far too much hair over that.
Roy Orbison and José Feliciano.
Drawing blanks? I’m drawing
circles. They’re two of the best
guitarists to have ever lived. They
also found that blindness didn’t
take away frets and chords. Herman
Li is a beast with a guitar THAT HE
like Hendrix! So my heritage has
that covered because we all come
from the same womb. Joan Jett,
Bonnie Raitt, Joni Mitchell, Nancy

She brushes the dairy facial hair off with her finger, then
eats it with a grin.


Script Peek: Mother Nature

Posted in Dialogue, Fiction with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 22, 2015 by Rathan Krueger

Last week, I was reminded of a horror screenplay contest that had 12 days left. I thought it’d be an interesting challenge to write a script with no preparation in 12 days. Chan-wook Park’s Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance was written in two weeks and that turned out fine. The rules I gave myself were that I couldn’t know the ending until I got there, I couldn’t think too far ahead, I have to make a turn anytime I feel that I know what’ll happen next while making the turns fit the story, and to not restrict myself in darkness, sex, or violence. If I don’t make the deadline, that’s fine because it’s still a nice experiment. But I’ll definitely try to meet it. I have more pages written, but here are the first five. Everyone gets to see the effect of all those Daily Dialogues.


The building, scattered with couples, is like a large, white
canopy, with glass walls and string lights along the
ceiling. The restaurant is lit only by the tiny lights,
which makes the conversations all the more intimate. One
such dialogue of intimacy happens twixt two women.
The woman with the bleach-white hair, beads threaded all
over, wears a polka-dotted dress. Her name is GLORIA
WHITTAKER. She rests her chin on her folded hands, like a
cradle, and looks lovingly into the other woman’s eyes.

You have a very interesting last
name, Ms. Barker-Bathory.

BIANCA BARKER-BATHORY slowly spins a spoon lengthwise twixt
her thumbs and forefingers. Her crimson hair is parted to
the left, and she wears a black, sleeveless dress that zips
up front.

My parents married, but didn’t take
each other’s last names. When I
entered their lives, they chose to
give me both.

Makes you sound…



That’s a little better than

BIANCA’S bare foot trails up and down GLORIA’S fishnetted right calf.

Especially now.

GLORIA smiles.

You tend not to hear wedding bells
on the first date.

She then opens her legs.

I’m more interested in choirs.
She puts down the spoon and picks up her glass of red wine.
GLORIA glances around and scoots her chair closer to the
table, until her chest presses against it.

The entire choir?

BIANCA gently shakes her head as she sips her wine.

Just an alto singer.
Her foot raises high and between GLORIA’S thighs.

GLORIA slowly drops her hands to the sides of the table and
grips them as she closes her eyes.

Oh yeah?

BIANCA smirks.


She continues sipping her wine as GLORIA’S breathing begins
to slow and grow heavy, as her thighs tighten around the
tantalizing foot, as her hips begin to slowly rock.

My voice can get pretty high.

I bet.

And, suddenly, BIANCA stops. She then sits back and crosses
her legs. GLORIA’S eyes shoot open and look around for
someone who could’ve spotted them.

No one saw us.

GLORIA sighs.

Then why’d you stop?

I’d rather be your only audience.
She holds up her glass.

And I still have more wine.

GLORIA snatches the glass with a grin, drinking as much as
she can before coughing.

BIANCA leans in with her napkin and dabs the wine around
GLORIA’S ebony lipstick.

I guess we better go to your
theatre, Ms. Barker-Bathory.

BIANCA licks the wine-stained napkin.

I guess so.


The freight elevator gets to the floor as the two make out
as if they taste like candy, the sweetest white chocolate.
GLORIA can’t keep her hands off of BIANCA. BIANCA is more
still, but is still enjoying herself.

BIANCA pushes herself away, her red lipstick smeared with
her kissing partner’s black lipstick.

I have to open the door.

GLORIA pulls her back, lips smeared in a similar way.

Mmm, no, you don’t.

I will when I tell you where I
found a junkie once.

GLORIA pushes her away.

Yeah, open the door.

BIANCA lifts the door and lets GLORIA walk into her
APARTMENT. She follows, after pressing a button, and lowers
the door slowly.

The elevator whines its way up.

Being a loft, it’s essentially one giant room. One wall as a
series of windows with a second-story view of the
neighborhood. BIANCA keeps the loft sparse. Different rugs
are scattered on the wooden floor like patches. All the
lighting on the inside comes from white cubes on the floor.
A canopied bed occupies one corner, and a kitchen area
occupies another. A wine rack as high and wide as the grave
stands next to the refrigerator. The BATHROOM is tucked away
by the kitchen.

Gloria, I know it’s not much…


But take a look around. I’m gonna
get more comfortable.

GLORIA smiles.

Then your lips can finish what your
toes started.

She makes a disappointed noise.

That sounded better in my–

BIANCA shuts her up with a kiss, then goes to the bathroom.

GLORIA looks around the APARTMENT, then goes to the antique,
mirrorless dresser near the bed. Above it, on the brick
wall, are two framed painting reproductions: Caravaggio’s
Judith Beheading Holofernes and Jacques Resch’s Retour. She
squints at the Neo-Surreal Retour, and leans in close to the
Baroque Judith.

Wow, a Caravaggio.

She walks to the window wall, then stands at it while
looking down. The bar across the street is loud and has the
only people around for at least two blocks in either

Her fingers trail her neck as she remembers the magic at the

You kn–

A butcher’s knife is STABBED through the base of her skull.
The blade goes through her mouth, chipping a tooth.
GLORIA’S head SLAMS into the window as the blade PIERCES
through the glass by inches.

The elevator groans downward, bringing tendrils of fog with

She SQUIRMS as she CHOKES on her blood, the same blood
that’s staining her bleach-white hair and polka-dotted
dress. The same blood that SPLATTERS onto the window,
spiderwebbing cracks from the blade.

Her screams are gurgled groans… then coughs… then

BIANCA waits until the victim is utterly dead before YANKING
the knife out and watching the corpse DROP onto a rug.
The elevator door is raised and the fog belches outward.

Make sure her right leg is ok,
Wendy. I don’t want the same
mistake that happened to Camille.

From the elevator, a woman steps out. A woman in only the
loosest term. Her grotesque figure is hunched over and
wrapped in bandages, and her back is covered with long nixie
tubes. Four on either side. The glass tubes flicker various
numbers with a red-orange, pulsing glow. The bandages are
tattered, dangling, and molding. Each step is helped by her
spike-like crutches that are stitched to her wrists. Her
blood-red eyes twitch as they examine parts of the room
before seeing the late GLORIA. The steps grow quicker as she
makes her way to the corpse. The hem of the dress is flung
up, and the grotesque woman gazes at the right leg as a fly
would its meal. WENDY looks at BIANCA.

The leg is good, my queen.

Her voice is beautiful.

Good. Begin your preparations, and
tell your sister, Lisa, to clean
the blood.
I shall have a bath.

BIANCA walks away, first to the wine rack and then to the
BATHROOM, as she takes a bottle and takes off her dress.

Yes, my queen.