CARRION – Short Screenplay Reading by Karen Palmer

Watch the May 2016 Winning Short Screenplay.

CARRION Short Screenplay:


Genre: Drama, Family

CARRION is a dramatic short film about two 11-year-old girls who scour the crumbling streets of Detroit looking for items needed to perform black magic against their abusive foster father.


NARRATOR – Sean Ballantyne
LUCIA/MAMA JO – Lavinia Latham
WREN – Isabella Bontorin
OTIS – Mark Sparks

Get to know writer Karen Palmer:

What is your screenplay about?

“Carrion” is about two 11 year-old-girls who scavenge the streets of Detroit looking for items to perform witchcraft against their abusive foster father.

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

It’s a hopeful story, told in a place and through a premise that initially seem pretty bleak. We could use more stories like that!

How would you describe this script in two words?

Emotionally powerful.

What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

It’s a toss-up between Baraka and Pride & Prejudice. I love the visual storytelling in both.

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I started with an idea in January 2015, finished the first draft in April 2015 and have been shaping and reshaping it ever since.

How many stories have you written?

Many! I was a journalist for years, then moved to corporate storytelling, which meant telling a certain kind of story in a certain kind of way. I’m happy to have returned to writing stories, albeit now through fiction and film.

What motivated you to write this screenplay?

While researching a short story about “mining” for copper in Detroit, I read a beautiful New York Times article about how much this type of scavenging had hurt the city, to the point that dozens of houses were razed because they had been stripped to the studs and were simply dangerous. I happened across some photos by a pair of French photographers that showed the disintegration of the city in an almost romantic light. All of that, plus a couple years living in Ghana and writing extensively about witchcraft, was roiling around in my brain when this story came to me.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

I was fortunate to have a great group of readers encouraging me to finish – they helped me see what was needed and what could land on the cutting room floor. At one point I had a dog in the script and couldn’t see the story without it. But some gentle questions and some encouragement to try it without the dog showed me that it wasn’t adding much but a trope. So there were some deep cuts and a few characters who were lost along the way.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Traveling. I’ve been fortunate to live in Africa, where I traveled from Ghana to Senegal along the western coast of the continent over three years, then from Kenya south to Malawi over another year. I also lived in the Philippines, which made a great base for exploring an incredibly vibrant region. It’s where I fell madly for scuba diving. I had a life where my weekends were free – and I spent three of every four under water.

What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

An actor friend encouraged me to enter. It sounded like a great way to get a sense for your work – actually hearing it! Then a producer who’d been reading the script suggested it as well. The feedback I received was excellent – I wasn’t sure what else I could do to tighten the script, or deepen it, and the reader made some fantastic suggestions that opened up the POV and made Otis a much more complete and believable part of the script.

Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

When you’re stuck, reach out to a trusted reader. They can help you decide whether your script is “ready” or whether you need to keep going. Keep challenging your scenes: is this clear, is it concise, can I convey this in more than just words? The thing I love about screenwriting is that it gets deeper and deeper into the subject matter with every draft. So just keep going!

Director/Produceer: Matthew Toffolo
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson

By WILDsound Festival

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