Short Fuse by L. Chambers | Script Revolution

Short Fuse

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6pp

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A young man believing himself to be on the brink of greatness has his dreams crushed when Covid-19 strikes.
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Tied first place Writer's Choice Simply Scripts - The Journal of the Plague Year - stories real or imagined /inspired by the current pandemic.

This Script Has Been Reviewed By Shootin' The Shorts

Short Fuse
A young man believing himself to be on the brink of greatness
has his dreams crushed when Covid-19 strikes.

All right, after almost five months of the “COVID Blues”, I’m calling it, I’m sure we can all use a little bit of a pick-me-up. Now, you wouldn’t think you’d find that in a COVID-themed script. And I’m sure a lot of people are just sick (no pun intended) of being reminded of everything that’s going on in the world, specifically the goddamned corona virus.

But then, when things seem bleakest, along comes a beacon of light in the form of writer L. Chambers’ Short Fuse.

We open our story in a 5th floor walk-up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan – I live on the 5th floor of a 6th floor walk-up, so right away, not only can I relate to her main character, but I can feel his pain. We meet a twenty-something named Toby who, like many of us during lockdown, is struggling with his mental health due to the mandated solitary confinement. Disheveled and probably in need of a shower, he sadly scours the internet for a solution…

Twitchy fingers, nails bitten to the quick guide a mouse over internet search results –

Top Ten Tips for looking after your mental health during Isolation.
Quarantine the easy way.
Beat loneliness during ISO.
Virtual Dating and Sex.

The mouse stops on –

Online Pandemic Counseling – No Waiting!

Desperate for a pick-me-up himself, and in need of someone to talk to, he gives this online pandemic counseling a shot.

This is when we meet the sassy, cigarette-smoking, Long Island-accented psychotherapist, Judy Goldberg. Think Theresa Caputo from The Long Island Medium, but a therapist instead of a ghost-whisperer.

Judy cuts right to the chase.

JUDY
I’ll talk, you listen.

TOBY
Um, okay.

JUDY
So, you’re depressed, am I right?

TOBY
Bit down in the dumps, yeah.

We soon find out that, because of the lockdown, Toby has lost a “job” of sorts and no longer feels like he has purpose because of it. He was “number one in his field” as he states later during their conversation.

Though Judy’s assumptions are pretty innocent, through a series of cutaways, we find out that Toby’s failed aspirations were much, much darker than Judy is aware of when we see shots of him tinkering with electronic wires, a battery pack, various chemicals and flammable paraphernalia.

TOBY
I failed to complete an assignment.
(beat)
It was… really important. My principle courier was grounded
and my men were stranded at the airport. It was going to
be my life’s work, with great reward.

We soon discover exactly what he’s talking about as more visual details emerge, discovering just how dark his aspirations were.

But, Michael, I thought you said this was uplifting?

It actually really is. I won’t give away too much of the ending, but throughout Toby’s depression due to self-quarantining, he grows and becomes a better person once the quarantine is lifted because of it. This also due in large part to Judy’s positive reinforcement, delivered through funny, witty dialogue. Her quirky and fun personality keeps the script from going too dark. She’d be an excellent character for an actor to take on. And the Toby character’s arc is pretty amazing as well, considering this was only a six-page script. This is a testament to some great writing.

Easy to film with great characters, I highly recommend this to any filmmakers looking for a new project during social distancing.

Review by Michael Kospiah
Submitted: May 31, 2020
Last Updated: June 26, 2020

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The Writer: L. Chambers

L.Chambers has been writing all her life – especially in her head, and on scraps of paper. It’s only in the last few years she began to get serious about screen-writing. Prior to this she worked in the Features Department for ABC TV as a Program Assistant, and trained as a FAD. She currently works as a freelance web-content editor and lives with her husband (also a screenwriter) in Sydney, Australia. Go to bio

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