If you are looking for excellent examples of tension on the page, look no further than the screenplays for Locke, courtesy of A24 Films, and Kill the Messenger, courtesy of Focus Features. Both scripts are now available for free, legal download. First, here's a look at the trailers for both films.
Steven Knight (Eastern Promises, Dirty Pretty Things) is a master of writing dramatically rich, tense stories. Locke pulls off quite a feat -- unfolding an entire story via phone calls during a single car ride. The tight script of 72 pages technically has 20 scenes, but in reality, the screenplay is one sequence of events interrupted visually on the page with only a few transitional shots of Locke's car seen going under bridges or speeding down the road. To keep the sense of continuity, Knight shot the film in real-time, using three digital cameras and the car's actual phone line. The crew only stopped to change the camera's memory cards and batteries, so they could essentially shoot the entire movie twice every night.
Kill the Messenger, on the other hand, builds its tension by following a journalist as he unravels a national conspiracy involving the crack epidemic, cocaine shipments and the CIA. True stories always heighten the impact of a screenplay and its resulting film, and the true story of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb is no exception.
Here are the links to the screenplays, thanks to A24 Films and Focus Features, respectively:
- Locke, written by Steven Knight
- Kill the Messenger, screenplay by Peter Landesman, based on the books Dark Alliance by Gary Webb and Kill the Messenger by Nick Schou
If you missed our earlier posts about screenplays available for free, legal download this awards season, check them out here. Titles include:
- Gone Girl
- The Fault in Our Stars
- St. Vincent
- Get on Up
- The Theory of Everything
- The Boxtrolls
- The Grand Budapest Hotel
As always, please use these screenplays for educational purposes only, and don't wait to download the scripts as we never know when the distributors will take them off the Internet. We'll post more screenplays here as more distributors make them available online for free, legal downloads.