City Of Caves
Pilot: The White Tiger
Feedback received from Blue Cat Screenplay Competition 2017:
The first thing that will strike the audience about your script is that it is very, very cool. The sexy, sultry aesthetic pulls you in even before you understand the intrigue between the vampires and the tigers, or Billi’s role in the war.
For example, your first scene is phenomenal. It immediately shows the audience that Billi is not going to be some fragile damsel in distress in the following episode. Instead, she immediately knows how to take charge of the situation and she does so with more than a touch of style. Billi is inherently cool, and the audience will immediately want to know more about her life.
In addition to the first scene, the episode is bookended by great moments. The climax, where Billi transforms and kills Jack, is completely surprising in the best way possible. Audience members have been conditioned by genre shows to think that Jack will be the roguish love interest going forward. Instead, Billi quickly proves that she doesn’t need a man and that she is very wise to Jack.
Then, there’s another emotional scene of Billi crying. It’s a perfect glimpse into the life of a fully-realized woman. Billi may be all bombast and bravado when dealing with the vampires, but her vulnerable side is what will make the audience fall in love with her as a character.
City Of Caves
Pilot: The White Tiger
Feedback received from Blue Cat Screenplay Competition 2019:
First, the script has a fantastic cold open that pulled me in and made me want to learn more about the world, the plot, the characters, etc. It introduces a fantasy element and the characters that will fill that setting and genre. We also get a sense of the main character and who that character might be for the rest of the episode and series.
Second, the world building feels fresh and new. Never have we seen a fantasy of this type with skin-changers that turn to tigers and cats in a world that's mixed with vampires and werewolves. It feels as though the writer has done their research and developed a world that could sustain several seasons of the show with the right amount of story-driven elements.
Third, the fight sequences between the tigers and the fights with Billi and the vampires are very interesting and fun. The entertainment value of this show is very high and has the opportunity to be gripping. The fact that Billi hunts vampires as well as an interesting detail.
Official Oaxaca FilmFest Endorsement
Billi is minding her own business and having her morning swim when she’s attacked by a stranger. However, the attacker is more than it seems as it turns out he is a vampire and Billi has a secret of her own.
POOLSIDE is a smart subversion of roles as it presents us with a scenario we have seen played out before but with a twist. The trope of the monster preying on an innocent and defenceless victim, in this case, a woman who is having her morning swim (in a revealing swimsuit) is attacked by a ruthless vampire. In other films we have seen this scene, it is the opening sequence of a horror film where the first victim goes down. The character of Billi comes off as your average attractive girl who will serve as cannon fodder and as an example of how evil the vampire is. The situation would have played out as follows: Billi finds herself alone, semi-nude and as vulnerable as it gets, the vampire grabs her by the neck, lifting her in the air showing his immense strength and would have feasted on the girl’s blood, ripping her apart and leaving her remains in a stained pool. This is what crosses our minds (and perhaps it crosses the vampire’s mind too) as to how things will play out. But Billi is not a victim and is not defenceless. As it turns out she’s a supernatural creature that can rival the vampire in strength and savagery. The events play out as a reversal of roles and tropes of the genre, where the hunter becomes the prey and the prey becomes the hunter. The vampire is overconfident, he has done this time and time again and he relishes his power and the security it brings him, knowing that he can’t be matched in strength and especially that women can’t put up a fight, he is not some dark and terrifying creature of the night but rather a coward with too much power. His true self is revealed when his chosen victim proves to be something else that he has never encountered before, he is so confident in how the events will play that he can’t quite understand why this girl is not begging or pleading like all the others before her. Once it is evident that Billi is not an average girl, the vampire loses his power, not his supernatural strength provided by the forces of darkness, but rather his power as a victimizer, his confidence and his pose. Billi turns into something more frightening and suddenly the creature of the night becomes the opening sacrifice of the film before the credits roll. Billi is not a damsel in distress, she’s a surprise, bait, the embodiment of a twist, reading the description of the scene brings to our minds “you should have seen your face” when the vampire gets the surprise of his undead life. In this regard, it makes for an immensely satisfying moment of reveal, for not only is this pompous predator going to get a lesson in humility (although it will be a one-time lesson) but Billi is her own saviour. There’s another trope being subverted here, the vampire wouldn’t have necessarily killed Billi, she would have been rescued at the last second by some dashing male hero, some vampire hunter of sorts or perhaps even another vampire, although one with heroic inclinations, dispatching of the villainous fiend and being rewarded with Billi’s affections. However, this is not that story either, as Billi becomes the hero of her own story, she rescues herself and does so in a way that makes her even more formidable than any vampire, and she’s an altogether completely different thing that makes her more interesting.
The script is three pages long. The key is not in its length but rather its structure, it is built like a cold open, something that will introduce us to a larger world of vampires and were-cats. What it does reads as simple, but it has the complex task of introducing us to whole mythology in a couple of pages, it also has to introduce us to our main heroine; Billi. Billi is written as a beautiful young woman, with a clever sense of humour and wit. She’s a heroine out of the mould of Buffy Summers if Buffy was a shapeshifter. The vampire she confronts (or mauls) is not the main antagonist, but rather one more of a legion of the undead who play by the same book. They dress the way vampires used to dress in movies like Blade or as if Marilyn Manson was still worth getting shocked by, they are overconfident and predatorial the way real-life douchebags are. With all his power he still has to pick on girls at their most vulnerable moments, the reason why his comeuppance is so cathartic is that we have recently been flooded with an array of reveals of sexual predators in the industry who are getting what is coming to them. In a way, POOLSIDE (perhaps unintentionally) taps on these same themes, of predators underestimating the strength of their victims and not expecting the retaliation that is coming in the form of a public mauling, overconfident in their power to silence and overpower women, but not anymore. There’s a lot going on in three pages: social commentary, role reversals and the deconstruction of genre tropes.
POOLSIDE also makes us wonder what else is beyond the swimming pool, what other characters roam this dark fantasy world and what is the conflict about, were-cats versus vampires or is there something more? It’s definitely three strong pages that are enough incentive to continue building up this strange new world.