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Checking out, or my thoughts on By Taylor Phan

I just recently dropped By Taylor Phan, a Patreon exclusive (for now anyway), that I had written for the Killer Shorts Horror Short Screenplay Competition. It didn’t win, otherwise this would be a completely different post, but after a reread of the script, I felt like a short analysis/afterword could serve as a bit of insight.

The contest called for horror scripts that could be made into short films, BTP not making it through the first round of selections would seem to me that the main flaw of the script was that it simply wasn’t scary enough. Which… yeah I can see that, I was drawing more from something like Taxi Driver than anything actually spooky, but after working with actual producers and editors on other scripts and coming back to this, other things start becoming more clear to me. Scripts really are not the place to flex your literary and prose chops, you’re not trying to impress the audience, you’re trying to make things clear to the people who are actually going to adapt the script to screen. And while they appreciate it, that’s not the place for it.

But overall I still am quite fond of the script. Among my work as a whole (for now anyway) it’s probably the most solid, more honed in it’s execution than say Lolli & Pop and definitely more stylistically realized. Outside of selecting one of my more recent short stories (which you should read by the way) I wouldn’t be against sharing this as a sort of writing sample.

Taylor herself I find to be an interesting contrast to previous protagonists. Whereas Alexis/Wendy and Soo-young are more driven by external factors and they give themselves up to the symbolic (becoming the masks they wear in order to enact their desire for vengeance), Taylor recognizes the lack within herself. Her desire is to connect, on some level, with another person, and through that recognition has to work for it (she chooses to get a job that forces her to talk to other people). However, recognizing the lack does not mean being able to overcome it, and having been formed or deformed by her lack, she becomes her biggest obstacle.

The tragedy (and the horror in this case) would be that Taylor eventually does find someone to connect to, of course it has to be to the wrong person. And in her pursuit of that connection, she ends up missing the fundamental thing about her, the underlying poetry-through-violence that bubbles within. Her desire blinds her to herself. And at the script’s conclusion, which actual events I won’t spoil here, Taylor’s transformation/growth is made without any need for to be a mask, Taylor simply is, after (successfully?) having pursued her desire in one instance, yet remains unaware of the fundamental thing, her misrecognition of it causes her to subsumed by it, and yet, as such, is able to be fully as herself, without any reservations. Her desire to connect to another person leads to the complete and total alienation toward others, and more importantly, herself, and so the story ends.

So… that sounds like a whole lotta fun doesn’t it?

3 replies on “Checking out, or my thoughts on By Taylor Phan”

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