Breather by Barry Staff | Script Revolution


Wanting up before oxygen expires, a woman in a tiny, malfunctioned submersible needs to overcome others obstructing all her attempts to resurface the vessel.



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(Contained, doable in a small studio mock up with NO water involved: like 'Buried' but cheaper)

Geographer ANNA (30s) has cadged a dive in a one-compartment, tiny sub that's now suffered catastrophic systems failure. Technician POWERS (male) and pilot SPICER (female) put the problem down to the outdated vessel. As oxygen depletes, in confinement lit by a Zippo, a torch, LEDs and a monitor, conflicting values boil. A patch to the mothership, via the umbilical cable, has WALTERS (male) revealing that all the topside crew is ashore due to food poisoning. Suspicions mount when the emergency oxygen is found to be non-existent. Anna identifies a 'red tide' (man-made dilapidation of the seabed). She couldn't live with herself if she didn't get the issue exposed. But there's no mobile signal at this depth.

Walters turns out to be Anna's exe. He's rigged the failures and absenteeism to facilitate revenge on Anna for ending their relationship and enforced by her wanting to publicise the marine damage she's discovered, which would adversely affect his company. He raises the sub away, then lets it plummet. Coming to from concussion, Anna finds Powers has murdered Spicer, thinking it's situation hopeless and wanting to die having sex with Anna. He swallows a tiny capacitor from the circuitry.

Pandering to Powers's S/M proclivities, Anna strangles him with her phone cable. Capacitor retrieved; she susses a rewire that allows her crank up the sub manually. Pressure causes a viewport seal to leak. Rising, Anna demands $10 billion of the company's profits syphoned off for others to put into green energy projects, or she'll blow the gaff. Walters gets the green light on the deal. Anna must thwart a reanimated Spicer. Surfacing under stars, Anna cries - as if rebirthed. Walters fires a harpoon through the viewport, piercing her heart. A helicopter heard returning, Walters retreats. With a phone signal achievable now, Anna sends her news viral. Her smiles freezes.

All Accolades & Coverage: 

Coverfly Top 35%
'You've really got something here.'
David Hughes, script analyst, groovyfokker
'Awesomely claustrophobic... tense and well paced.'
Andrew Hannon, 13Horror screenplay competition

LA Sun Film Fest
Chicago Indie Film Awards
Toronto Film and TV Awards
Filmmatic Horror Screenplay Awards
Pitch Now Screenplay Competition
Coverfly: 'Discoverable' Rated

Submitted: April 14, 2022
Last Updated: December 2, 2022

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Barry Staff's picture

The Writer: Barry Staff

Born and raised in the UK, Barry has had an oddball career - periods of education (to a postgraduate Diploma in Film Studies) intercut with ‘McJobs’ (roof-rack assembler, computer helpdesk, beer bottler, reject furniture salesman, draughtsman, goods inward operative, a bouncer. . .), all the while writing on the side. Now he has a portfolio of feature scripts (mostly indie-feel horrors, thrillers and comedies) and associated shorts - four of the latter filmed. He's - SO FAR - had a purchase offer on one feature screenplay, an option on another and a shopping agreement on a third. Latest news: 'Breather' winner in horror category, Chicago Script Awards Go to bio

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