Monday, May 11, 2015

TODAY'S NUGGET: Buried (2010) - Hope & Fear in a Low Budget, No Budget Thriller

[Quick Summary: American truck driver in Iraq is buried alive for ransom.]

Writer Chris Sparling said here:
I planned on directing [this script] myself. I was going to make it for like five thousand dollars. It was conceived as a low-budget, or no-budget, indie movie.
Unexpectedly, the script went out to producers and then into production all within SIX months!

It has the attractive elements for an indie project:

- Contained thriller story (guy in a coffin)
- One actor
- Clear urgency (he needs to get out)
- Excellent voice (I liked how the writer told the story with confidence)

But how do you keep it interesting for 90 pages without a big budget?

It's not obvious at first, but I think it's the writer's deft use of hope and fear.

Note how clear either hope or fear is in each line:

ex. "Paul is switched to an AUTOMATED MESSAGE.

AUTOMATED MESSAGE: The number you requested, 269-948-1998 can automatically be dialed for a charge of twenty-five cents by pressing the number one. [Another number to call = Fear]

Paul writes Donna's number and name on the top of the coffin and then pressed the number one. He is connected. [Connected = Hope!]

Her phone rings and rings. Paul's frustration is evident. [Fear]

PAUL: Come on! Where the hell is everyone? [Fear]

The phone rings some more. Paul checks the battery life still at one and a half bars. [Ticking clock = Fear]

DONNA eventually answers. [Hope]

DONNA: Hello? [Relief someone answered = Hope]"

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: This script stood out to me because:
1) The story is told well. Voice. Point of view. Clarity.
2) It delivered the thrills that it promised, i.e., hope or fear at every step.

Buried (2010)
by Chris Sparling

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