Category Archives: Writing

“Safe Houses” A zombie movie script I submitted to Amazon Studios

I submitted a movie script to Amazon Studios titled, “Safe Houses.” If it gets enough good reviews, it could get made into a movie. You can read and vote on it, on its Amazon Studios project page.
“Safe Houses” is a psychological horror about eight survivors of the zombie apocalypse, who are trapped in safe houses around the world. On Christmas day, they hold an online video conference to share their hopes, fears, theories, secrets, and stories. They all lie, and some die.

I wrote this story as an experiment to see how low budget of a script I could create. I wanted the story to have a lot of characters, but be filmed in one location, like “Tape, ” by Stephen Belber, starring Ethan Hawke.

Instead of having eight characters in one place, I decided to have them in separate locations, but never leave. Originally, my goal was to make this movie myself with eight friends, but I have too many writing projects to have time to make movies. When I heard about Amazon Studios, I figured, why not float a balloon and see what happens?

To plot the story, I started with eight blank characters and gave them opposing personalities. Then I gave them goals and conflicts based on their personalities. The story follows the Hollywood formula plot progression: Introduce characters, state goals, conditions and plans. Then insert complications, show reactions, state new goal, conditions and stakes. Make a new plan, and then enact it. But instead of having all the characters directly involved in one central conflict, they each have their own, but they have an emotional connection to the other stories, and they can influence events by talking.

Since the whole movie is one, long recorded conversation taking place simultaneously, in eight locations, the logical way to film it, is to set up eight cameras on eight sets. Then record the whole conversation in one take, like a play, while also recording the eight video feeds from the webcams the characters are speaking to. The cameras in the rooms should be able to see the monitors, so whoever is speaking can be seen there.

If someone did this, then you could splice the scenes together thousands of different ways. You could even release a special feature disk with all the footage, so people could watch eight different versions of the same movie.

The story format is artistic, and the big risk in a movie like this is, audiences might get bored from the lack of action. But I believe the risk analysis of developing this movie adds up, given how cheap it would be to produce, and how many different versions you could offer.

 Below is a full synopsis of the script:

In the near future, the zombie apocalypse has decimated the human population. On Christmas day, eight survivors trapped in safe houses around the world, log on to a video chat site they found on the internet that only turns on for a few hours at a time.

The first act introduces all the characters, and shows where they are in life. Sal is a recluse veteran living in a spider hole in Oklahoma. Benton is a suburbanite in a boarded up house. Carly stays at a hippie a commune in California. Detroit is a gang leader who scavenges high rises. Hallux is a red neck from Texas with a drinking problem and a loose mind. Gracy is a an elderly lady who has taken refuge in her church. Esmeralda is a spoiled, rich woman living on a corporate floating island. Alim is alone in a sports stadium somewhere in the Middle East.

After the introductions, Benton tells the story of how he scavenged his Christmas dinner from a retirement home, but mistakes he made a long the way result in him being eaten alive by zombies in front of his webcam.

The survivors react to Benton’s death and give him a eulogy before discussing the scope of the zombie apocalypse and speculating how and why they’re able to communicate on the internet.

Unable to find definite answers, they turn their attention to discussing plans to improve their own safe houses, the risks, and the stakes of failure. They offer their expertise to Gracy, who is in the direst situation. She refuses help, just as Esmeralda’s flaws bring dangerous guests to her room.

Halux then tells the story of how mistakes in his quest to catch zombies in a hog trap, led to his farm being overrun by a horde, forcing him and his family to split up and hide in their basement and barn. Detroit gives Hallux a lesson in clearing zombies from buildings and boasts of his success building an empire in the sky.

Carly opens up about her love life, and reveals her commune has devolved into a fascist cult that tells its members who to procreate with. The group tries to talk her out of leaving the safety of her walls, despite the dangers inside.

Alim tells the group about the haunting loneliness he experiences every day, living in an empty sports stadium with a view of a city with no signs of the living or the dead.

After discussing the cause of Alim’s silent city and the zombie apocalypse at large. Esmeralda reveals she knows more than everyone else. She claims the military is clearing islands and resettling survivors, but she also reveals herself to be an unreliable source of information. Alim argues they shouldn’t hope for rescue anyway, lest their saviors become their masters.

The team discusses how to find meaning in a hopeless life, and Sal inspires them by revealing he’s writing a manifesto on the meaning of life. They discuss their hopes for the future, but the conversation is cut short, when the lights go out in Esmeralda’s room long enough for someone to cut her throat.

When the lights come back on, the room is full of first responders, and Alim has to use his signature skill, logic, to deduce the identity of the murderer. Unfortunately, when the island’s security team arrives, they reveal motives for a cover up and then cut Esmeralda’s camera off.

After giving Esmeralda a eulogy, Detroit confesses he’s not as successful or respectable as he claimed. Gracy’s priest interrupts the confession when he gives Gracy a glass of poison to drink, making her the second to last member of the church to die in a mass suicide.

Carly excuses herself and hangs up in tears. Moments later, a mysterious figure appears behind Alim, and his video feed shuts off. Knowing their time to talk is practically over anyway, the rest of the survivors say their good byes.

When the video feed ends, Sal opens a door and reveals he’s not alone. He’s a military leader who is using video chat feeds to locate survivors and study them. Detroit makes plans with his lover to travel North to Canada. Hallux hears a helicopter approaching his farm house, and the movie ends with a moderately injured Alim, running towards the silent city.
– The End

Click here to download a PDF of the full movie script from Amazon Studios.

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