Logline: A work obsessed radio DJ is forced by a desperate woman to conduct a life-or-death interview on the air.
I wrote this in one weekend for round 2 of the NYC Midnight Screenwriter’s Challenge (2012). The writers in my heat had three days to write a dramatic short about a birthday, featuring a radio DJ as one of the characters.
I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it here again: all writing should be dramatic. I’m a genre writer, and when my eyes see the word ‘drama’, my mind sees the words ‘open genre’. Well, almost. More specifically, ‘drama’ roughly translates as ‘open genre without supernatural monsters’.
Then again, who needs monsters when you have people?
When I sit down to write a horror script, I start by brainstorming all of the horrible things that people do to one another. Real people. Truth be told, that list of ‘ideas’ comes together much more quickly than it should. All I need to do is imagine real people in unfortunate, desperate situations, and then let them be who they need to be.
That’s how Sign Off came together.
As a husband and father of three, I’m all too familiar with the impact that working too much can have on one’s home life. Still, I thought it would be interesting if one of my key characters, Sam, was a charmer who relied on his charisma to sustain the love and adoration of his family, despite his workaholic tendencies.
Playing counterpoint to Sam is Trista. For every ounce of good fortune that Sam has in life, poor Trista has a pound of suffering. Trista’s fall and her breaking point are all backstory. Given the 8-page limitation to this short, I thought it best to start in media res. (Then again, isn’t that always the best place to start?)
After I had Sam and Trista, the rest was simple: put them in a room and see what happens.
It threw Cori for a loop, reading a dramatic script instead of (how did she put it?) “something with blood and guts and monsters and such.” Me? I’m actually okay with writing a non-genre script every now and then.
Like I said: who needs monsters when you have people?
Download screenplay: Sign Off