amateur offerings weekend
After yesterday’s spectacular surprise, the buzz is high for this week’s Amateur Offerings.  If you’re too shy to display your script to the world, maybe doing the Scriptshadow 250 dance is a better option.  You know how it works.  Read til you’re bored.  Share your thoughts in the comments!

Title: Guilt
Genre: Dark Comedy (99 pgs)
Logline: A crack-smoking lawyer, witness to a murder, tries to redeem himself by vindicating the teen prostitute wrongly accused of the crime.
Why you should read: Though I’d love to come up with some touching, true-life moment that makes this story personal, I cannot. I simply wasn’t born into the same dire circumstances as those typically faced with the horrors of an unjust justice system. I’m also not a self-absorbed coke fiend like my protagonist. But while this story isn’t a reflection of my life, I know it is for many others, and I hope I was able to capture at least some of that strife, in addition to bringing some moments of ironic hilarity.

I’ve been a long time reader of Scriptshadow, mainly because no matter what the article or review, you seem to provide something fresh every time. You could throw a rock in any direction and hit five blogs on “how to write a screenplay”, or “the 10 mistakes young writers make”, but every one of them seems to just regurgitate the same points. It’s like no one has an original perspective on the business, except you and maybe a handful of others. And to your perspective, I made this script as lean as possible, while creating a fun character that any A-list actor should be dying to play.

My initial goal in writing Guilt was to meld the tragic angst of the Verdict, with the drug-fueled narcissism of The Wolf of Wall Street, along with a healthy GSU, because this young girl doesn’t have long before she’s put away for life.

Here’s what one Blacklist reader had to say: “What makes this script so interesting is how intelligently it tackles the unjust practice of forcing innocents into accepting plea deals. It’s rare to see a comedy that can highlight such a serious social ill while still keeping the laugh factor high, but thankfully, this script does just that. Reginald is a well-developed anti-hero; his heart is usually in the right place, but his actions don’t’ always reflect his good intentions. Though not perfect (see below), his relationship with his daughter Becca is what ultimately grounds Reginald as it gives him the greatest high of all time, one he could never receive from a drug. The dialogue, in particular Reginald’s monologues, is also extremely funny and well-written.”

I hope you find it a fun read!

Who doesn’t believe in second chances!?
Title: The Creation of Adam
Genre: Thriller/Horror
Logline: When Adam, a troubled teenager, learns from his father that they both carry an evil that is passed from father to son, Adam must decide to fight the demon…or become one.
Why you should read: Last year, when my script was featured on AOW, I got a very enthusiastic email from an actor-director who wanted to make the film with his friend, a famous actress, and a couple of other talents from CAA. My screenwriter’s dream was crushed when the actress decided that it wasn’t for her.The director probably went to look for another project to do with her and I was back to writing something new.

Here it is, a thriller/horror script, Shining meets The Omen, a movie I feel so passionate about, I’m willing to cheat the lottery, direct-produce-edit it myself if I need to. So, why should you read it? Because this script has mystery, thrills, horror, very cinematic set pieces you’ve never seen before and a weird father-son relationship gone horribly bad. A reader wrote “This script takes coming of age to a whole new level” Hope you agree.

Title: Drawing Dead
Genre: Crime
Logline: An opportunistic and ambitious sniper-turned-hitman gets the opportunity of a lifetime to fulfil his ambitions when he gets the job of killing the woman he’s falling in love with.
Why you should read: I work in an advertising agency, where I’m a strategist. My best work to date by far has been the strategies I’ve developed for how to appear hard at work in an open-plan office where my screen is on public display. And so, in emails to myself, word documents and in the notes section of powerpoint slides, this script slowly came together. When people were getting too close I’d switch to my native Norwegian, just in case.

Anyways, the script is a blend of three crime sub-genres (all with a twist): the hitman movie (Gen-Y has entered the workforce), the film-noir (the femme fatale and private detective join forces) and the Mafia film (a dysfunctional crime family replaces scare tactics with modern marketing principles).

I can but hope that the whole proves greater than the sum of its parts and that the result is a fresh and interesting read. I hope you enjoy it and I very much look forward to your feedback!

Title: Cielo Drive
Genre: Action
Logline: Taken set against the Manson Family murders. Sharon Tate’s father, an Army Intelligence vet, takes matters into his own hands when he infiltrates the L.A. underground scene in order to find her killer. — Tate’s father do go undercover but it’s never been revealed what he actually found. He was close enough to finding something that the LAPD were nervous about his presence.
Why you should read: My name is Erik Stiller, and I’ve just been promoted to Staff Writer for the upcoming season of CBS’ CRIMINAL MINDS. If you like LA history and revenge-action with a good man doing brutal shit then check out this feature.

Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Logline : A troubled man tries to find solace by searching a desert canyon for dinosaur fossils. But everything changes when a young girl is found murdered in the same remote region.
Why you should read: There’s nothing like a good story. And this one begins one hundred sixty five million years ago.

  • JakeBarnes12

    Loglines are the blood tests of scripts.

    • mulesandmud

      They won’t catch every problem, but they’ll tell you a lot.

      They’re relatively painless, despite what some people say.

      Give yourself one without knowing how to do it, and you may hurt yourself.

  • Paul Clarke

    After Carson’s article on his selection process it seems odd that CIELO DRIVE was selected. Clearly being a staff writer for a big show counts for extra points, because Erik doesn’t seem to know what a logline is. Nor did he proof read it “Tate’s father do go undercover…”

    Still, nice to see the site attracting scripts from all over (not sure it counts as Amateur offerings though.)

    • Randy Williams

      I think it also should be “The LAPD was nervous…”. But, boy, does that logline entice.
      Still, I think, I’m gonna start with dinosaurs.

    • S_P_1

      I’m also slightly hung up by the grammatical errors of an alleged paid writer.

      I haven’t seen every documentary concerning the Manson Family murders, but this is the first time I’ve heard of a secret undercover investigation.

      The title of the script gives it that sophisticated classic feel of a 1990’s film. (e.g Mulholland Falls, Devil in a Blue Dress, L.A Confidential, Se7en, Heat, Eyes Wide Shut)

      I’m interested in this script just on the expectations of a paid writer, classic title, and the unknown aspect to a notorious murder trial.

      • klmn

        The first result in a google search brings this:

      • peisley

        It’s only two lines, for crying out loud. All this talk about proofreading and he can’t even get two essential lines right? I’m not even a typo troll, either. Also, the father didn’t find anything of significance. The latter may not mean much, though, if it’s about the journey and his personal revelations. I

    • ripleyy

      The logline was like reading War and Peace on steroids. Strange how he got into the Criminal Minds writer’s room when he doesn’t know how to construct a logline properly. Still, I haven’t read it yet but from what others are saying, it seems good.

      • Matthew Garry

        A proper logline is a malleable term which seems to differ from venue to venue and can range from “what’s it about in 300 words or less” to something held to a particular format.

        That said, the way it is taught here at Scriptshadow is pretty much compatible with any definition I’ve come across. So if you can come up with one that generally pleases the sensibilities here, you can pretty much use that one across the board and expect it to be well received.

        • ripleyy

          Absolutely. My only beef is simply loglines are just as critical to a screenplay than any other (in my opinion, anyway) and more love should be put into them. A logline that isn’t condensed sets up red flags to me, though I have read loglines that are rather big and have been good reads.

      • carsonreeves1

        It’s a pretty sloppy logline, I agree. But it has the best subject matter. And the writer writing for television told me that even though the logline wasn’t structured correctly (usually, the sign of an amateur), he could obviously write, which, I guess, negated the issue.

        Had the competition been tougher, he may not have made it in. But I read a good dozen loglines this week where I wasn’t even sure what the writer was trying to say. i.e. “Three weeks into his birthday, a man found out he had cancer. A young woman falls in love with him and marriage is on the table.”

        • ripleyy

          I definitely see where your coming from. Also, getting into a writers room is an awesome achievement.

        • Levres de Sang

          What I learned over the last few days:

          Miss Universe — terrific logline
          Cielo Drive — fascinating subject matter

          QED: A terrific logline + fascinating subject matter = A certain read!

          [N.B. I haven’t actually read either script yet.]

    • klmn

      Presumably he’s got an agent…

    • carsonreeves1

      Now I feel dumb. I totally missed that error. I guess if the reader doesn’t spot it, it’s not an error. :)

      • Erik Stiller

        I feel dumb about the typo, and I’m the one who wrote it…

  • brenkilco

    Some intriguing loglines from some apparently experienced writers. A couple of comments on the lines before I dig in.

    “An opportunistic and ambitious sniper-turned-hitman gets the opportunity of a lifetime to fulfil his ambitions when he gets the job of killing the woman he’s falling in love with.” The only clunker in the bunch. Being ordered to kill the woman you love is an opportunity? Not a nightmare? Not an impossible situation? Either the writer has left out an essential element of his story in which case it’s a terrible logline or he’s used a completely inappropriate word in which case it’s a terrible logline.

    Action sounds intriguing esp if the writer is good with character and has done his homework. My problem? Again, it’s one word. “Do”. Should be did. An ungrammatical logline from a pro writer is just odd.

    The Fuse is Burning. This one sounds really interesting. Probably the first one I’ll read. But it occurs to me that a logline isn’t just a description. It’s also a promise. If you don’t deliver what you promise in the logline, even if what you do deliver is good, you’re going to have a disgruntled reader on your hands. In this case the log plus the WYSR is promising that dinosaurs and murder are going to be combined in this story. Or perhaps that the paleontological skills of the protag are somehow going to be integral to solving the mystery. Now if, that’s not the case. If looking for bones just happens to be what our hero is doing when he stumbles upon a body, and that from there on it’s just conventional thriller/mystery; if the hero could just as well be a butterfly collector or a bird watcher, than I for one am going to be plenty pissed. Guess we’ll see.

    • Randy Williams

      I think you’re going to be “pissed” in that regard. I’m on page 69 and there’s still no body found and more about trains than there is about dinosaurs. Still, it’s a good read. My comments coming….

      • brenkilco

        Damn. Was sort of looking forward to this one.

    • cjob3

      The shame about the sniper logline is that he uses ‘ambition’ twice (essentially.) He should have cut that unnecessary first one.

      • brenkilco

        And opportunistic and opportunity are also unnecessarily repetitive. But these are second tier problems and this line has first tier problems.

  • Matthew Garry

    I just finished “Guilt”. Character wise it’s pretty good, and it didn’t take long to start imagining Nicholas Cage doing his Nicholas Cage thing as Reginald.

    It remains strong with the characters for the rest of the story, but I feel somewhere around the middle the plot gets dropped. Where before there was Reginald being propelled into situations that made sense, he is now wandering around without much of a drive, leading to slow scenes and filler scenes. A lot of these scenes still have great character work, but they fail in comparison because the scenes in the first half had great character work going along with an unfolding plot.

    I guess what I’m really looking for was a central conflict to latch on to. At first I thought it was the upcoming trial. Then it became Reginald’s internal demon’s. Then it became Reginald’s external demons. Then there was the father/daughter connection. And all these different lines of conflict had their own pace and requirements, which resulted, for me, in an uneven and unbalanced story.

    As an example, I loved the twenty questions scene with Lorelei. It was a great scene by itself. But as part of the overarching story, it didn’t feel grounded anywhere. It was not feeding off or feeding into a central conflict.

    What could help the story a lot I think would be to try and normalize the conflicts. Pick one main central conflict, and express the additional conflicts in terms of that main one. That way you end up with a uniform pacing and requirements that make sense. Like, for example, how can you make Reginald’s bought love for Lorelei relevant to the upcoming trial? That way, when they play twenty questions, it doesn’t feel like you’ve simply forgotten about the previous plot and jumped onto something completely different, but it feels like a continuation of the ongoing story.

    In the end though, there were a lot of scenes in Guilt that made me think “You’re leaving too early!” Which the writer actually didn’t. He left it just at the right time with me simply not wanting the scene to end because I was enjoying it so much. When that happens it means you’ve written a compelling scene, and “Guilt,” even in its current form, has a lot of those.

    • jonsanhueza

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and for all your thoughts on it! I love getting feedback like this where you’re concerned about making the story better! It’s much appreciated :)

      • Somersby

        Congratulations. It’s an excellent script, one of the better ones I’ve read on AOW.

        If anything, I’m not sure you can’t come up with a better title, something with a little more zing, or colour, or whatever… but that’s a very small niggly on my part.

        I encourage others to have a look at “Guilt”. You’ll be surprised and impressed, I’m certain.

        • jonsanhueza

          Thanks :) I’m thrilled that people have been enjoying it!

  • Randy Williams


    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    This logline intrigued me the most. I guess it’s thinking how dinosaur fossils might tie in with the murder. So I started with this one.

    This was a lean, fast read. Immediately very atmospheric which I loved. Sometimes a story is complete just by giving us a sense of place. This does that very well. It’s a slow burn, more a psychological study of a man dealing with loss than a mystery thriller in my view. I pictured James Stewart as the protagonist and there are obvious nods at Hitchcock throughout including the protagonist attending a concert of Bernard Herrman music.

    p.2 some will be distracted by the directing on the page. I don’t find it so except for “panning”.

    p.3 Hell, maybe I was distracted…”to the right of the screen” I thought for an instant that we had bled into a modern day movie theatre and what we were watching was a movie unfold on a screen. Maybe that’s too much directing.

    p.7 “Brain washed” is one word.

    P.20 It’s a slow burn here. No signs of where this is going, but there’s a nice sense of dread, that Frank is a time bomb. Suggestion would be, however, to show us more of what makes his wife tick. Make us love her, so we also feel bad that she’s going to be impacted by whatever Frank is up to.

    p.28 Should be Lansing, Michigan with an “s”.

    p.36 “Dirt BURSTS into the air…”

    p.37 Moving into the train and seeing the passengers was distracting, and also budget bursting for a script that could be made with a small cast and locales. The tone really shifts here in this chase. What was a slow burning dread inducing story becomes an action adventure. North By Northwest becomes Raiders of the Lost Ark. This is especially felt for me with the line about “passengers pour into the observation deck hoping for a look”.

    -maybe Frank buys the pipes and stuff and DOES’NT say they are for a shower so we think maybe he’s got the girl underground somewhere and needs an air system?

    p.63 The dog at the concert business. Didn’t understand that. Is that a Hitchcock reference? Somehow tie in with the reappearing coyote? I see a lot of metaphorical cues in this which I like, especially the mother and child dinosaur, but this I don’t get.

    p.67 Another train episode. I immediately thought he is going to get on the roof of the train and yeah, page 69, he does. I’m also thinking at this time that dinosaurs have long gone from the scene in more ways than one.

    Again…all these extras and the demands of shooting this doesn’t equal the small story.

    p.76 Finally the body is found and its anti-climatic with the explanations rushed and it didn’t really have any bearing on Frank at all anyway.

    Lots of splintered scenes after that and grave robbing. Liked the horror of it, and Frank’s intentions but it wasn’t really an ending to a mystery.

    Overall, again, that sense of place, the crawl of impending doom, those things done really well, I thought and kept me reading.

    • Jason Swan

      Writer of THE FUSE IS BURNING… here. Thanks for the notes.
      “p.76 Finally the body is found and its anti-climatic with the
      explanations rushed and it didn’t really have any bearing on Frank at
      all anyway.”

      If I may try to address this, I would say that finding the body was not meant to be climatic. It’s the low point in the script. The all is lost. And it falsely pins the murder on someone who was not responsible.

      And Frank is profoundly affected by her death. But more importantly, it sets off a chain of events which lead to a series of shocking reveals.

      As for the mystery, my biggest fear would be “I knew it all along.” And the clues are recapped at the end by reviewing a series of flashbacks of scenes that we saw previously throughout the script.

      There is the old excuse that if you saw the movie… And there may be some truth in that. Ultimately, however, the fault is with the writer. I greatly appreciate your notes

      Scripts are a tough business.

      • Randy Williams

        I see your point about finding the body. I think ultimately your log line may have prejudiced me and others. First the promise of dinosaurs will spur any geek to thirst for them on every page. And, the second sentence in the logline, “then everything changes when…”, to me that implies something that happens sooner than page 76.

        Again, I liked your script. I urge others to read the whole thing. It’s a fast read.

        I’m still curious about the dog at the Herrman concert, though.

        • Jason Swan

          BARK! BARK!

          Hitchcock appeared with a dog in one of his movies. A rather fat man with a tiny dog on a leash, as I remember.

  • Eddie Panta

    The Creation of Adam…. Returns.

    Just a quick note on the end of the second scene where Adam in looking at the painting.
    From the Script, pg 2

    We follow Adam as he exits, then we get back on the painting.
    We’re no longer watching the MEDUSA, but Van Gogh’s still life painting, SUNFLOWERS. The Medusa was never there.

    Essentially, the writer is PANNING back to the spot where Adam stood and now placing us in his pov to see that Adam’s vision of the painting is completely different than what’s actually there.

    Fine, okay, I like that device, but “we get back on the painting” kinda sounds like we’re sitting on top of it. But the main issue is that this camera move, on screen, would be very melodramatic. It gives the scene a spying feel that is not in the other scenes.

    “watching” the Medusa, to me, implies that she’s moving. As if it where a TV screen not a painting.

    I think you can keep Adam here, blocking the painting, shift to his pov for the vision of Medusa, then he simply walks off to reveal, it’s actually the sunflowers painting. Also you might what to make it clear that this is not the real Van Gogh.

  • Zadora


    Being a horror fan, I decided to take a look at this one. I read the first five pages. IMHO, you have to set the right tone for a horror from the start. You have the hand in the darkness, but after that, nothing happens for the first five. We have two guys, Adam and Mike in an apartment. Mike drinks beer, Adam doesn’t. Mike wants to watch a horror or porn. Adam doesn’t. Adam goes back to his apartment. A phone rings. A man asks to speak to Adam’s mom, but she’s at work. That’s it. There’s no mystery or character intrigue or anything to peek our curiosity and these first pages are crucial when it comes to grabbing a readers attention.

    Other things I had problems with is that apparently Adam and Mike live in the same apartment building. Mike’s apartment is big and furnished lavishly and with expensive art work. Adam’s apartment is small and messy. That seems weird to me that those two apartments are in the same building. Unless Adam’s dad is the janitor or something. Also, Mike’s parents are obviously rich, but somehow, poor Mike hasn’t learned about good hygiene. He’s full of acne too, which I think most teenagers will do anything to get rid of if they can and if you have money, that’s an easy fix.

    Little things like that, made me stop. This script could be totally awesome later on, but these were my thoughts after the first five.

    Hope any of it can be of help.


    Off Topic:

    Hey guys, I just finished a new script and was looking for feedback before I submit it to contests or AOW or SS250. If you would like to read it, please respond with your email address. I would also be up for doing a review-for-review exchange.

    Title: Canary
    Genre: Thriller / Drama
    Logline: When a self-destructive woman becomes a spy and gains the kind of power and freedom she never had before, she must use all her resources to stop a war from breaking out. In the process, she risks losing her humanity and everything she holds dear.


    • ChadStuart

      Regarding your logline, lose that last sentence. It’s unnecessary.

      • martin_basrawy

        Without the last line, doesn’t it just seem like a one way, action movie trip? Get power, stop war. There’s heavy emotional content as well that I was trying to hint at. But of course I will take it into consideration, especially if more than one reader feels the same way. :)

        • ChadStuart

          No, it sounds pretentious with it in there. “Losing…humanity” is one of those things that sounds smart and cool, but is usually not something that actually happens very often in the scripts that advertise it. Hannibal Lecter lost his humanity. Does your character come even close to that?

          On top of that, if her main goal is to stop war, then how does doing that risk her humanity? You stop a war to save lives, and caring about other people is central to our humanity. We care if others live or die, which is what separates us from other animal species (again, which is why Hannibal doesn’t have his). So, if she’s stopping a war, her very humanity is what’s driving that goal.

          Additionally, it’s worded as if she doesn’t hold her humanity very dear. She risks losing it and everything she holds dear. The “and” excludes her humanity from the list of things she holds dear. It would be, “everything else she holds dear.”

          If there’s “heavy emotional” content, be more specific about it. What exactly is happening? What’s preventing her from doing it? Is there another character complicating her goal? Does she have history with that character? If she’s “self-destructive”, is that character the reason she was driven to self-destruction? Did that person formerly make her feel powerless which is why she now relishes power?

          • martin_basrawy

            I see your points. I’ll take another pass at the logline.

          • carsonreeves1

            I agree. The last line is superfluous and just too general. You have everything you need in the logline before that anyway.

          • martin_basrawy

            whoa, a comment from the man himself. Thanks Carson. I suppose the last line is superfluous, and melding both lines together into one, as Citizen M suggested above, could work better.

    • Supermario

      Hi Martin,

      I’m the writer of Drawing Dead. I tried to email you, but my emails fail to send for some reason. I’d be interested in doing a script swop, so let me know if you’re still interested:


    • Citizen M

      I’d lose ‘self-destructive’. It’s a real turn-off.

      “A female spy realises she could stop a war breaking out, but she would need to sacrifice her principles and humanity to do so.”

      • martin_basrawy

        I tried replying with a different email address but that seems to have gotten stuck in moderation.
        What I’d said was, thank you Citizen M. This melding of both lines of the current logline into one could work a lot better. Would you perchance be willing to take a look at the rest of the script? I’d greatly appreciate thoughts from an SS veteran such as yourself, and as I’d said I could review something of yours in return. Thanks again.
        (my email is martinbasrawy7 at gmail)

  • jonsanhueza

    Hey gang, writer of Guilt here. I just wanted to thank Carson for posting my script and I can’t wait to hear some critical feedback on how to make it better! All the best, Jon

  • Randy Williams


    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    Congrats too for the interest this script received although it didn’t work out. That must have been a thrill ride for you.

    I read 30 pages. Honestly, the only reason I’d continue reading is because Adam is nicely drawn as a sympathetic kid who I can identify with.
    The script spends most of those pages setting up a mystery about the “voice”. I loved the seashell angle, loved him bringing the shell to his lips. You have a different angle there, I can see the poster but it’s not exploited. Like, you could have them living on a beach. Some shells speak with him, some don’t. He could try to find a pattern to the shells. Shells, in general are a creepy visual if you really look at them. I like the shells. Exploit them.

    There’s really no pay off to the first scene with his friend. There is a bit of tension there, but honestly for me it felt sexual in nature. No outbursts or violence from Adam to show he’s on a short fuse or any exclamations to give me an idea where his mind is at.

    The scene with his mother at the restaurant is nicely done, it twists from thinking Adam is fracturing to his mother actually does.

    The scene where he meets his father is so matter of fact, it took me out of the read. And hey, by the way, I’m your father. Okay, let’s eat salad.

    Nice creepy atmosphere, rich character with Adam but too many missed opportunities for me so far. I may get back to it if time allows.

    • Steven

      Writer here. Thanks for the feedback Randy. This script was never posted on AOW before, it was another thriller I wrote last year. Harmony. The second chance Carson is talking about is for me, I guess, not the script ;). Cheers.

  • Somersby

    Cielo Drive
    I read to page 30 and will probably read more.

    The writer has an engaging style. It’s direct and confident… and if I hadn’t read that he writes for TV, I likely would have been able to guess.

    The opening of the script does have a television familiarity about it. Set the protagonist up quickly. Show his close relationship with his daughters—especially Sharon—through a series of family photos, then an emotional 8mm home movie clip. Let the audience know from the get-go that Paul Tate is a tough, disciplined hardass by showing he follows a grueling, regimented daily exercise routine.

    And just like Robert McCall in The Equalizer, he’s a creature of military habit. He rises at precisely 6:00am (with no need for the clock alarm to even sound.) And you could bounce a dime on his bed after he’s pulled the sheets tight.

    That’s all good… if you’re writing a hard action story based on fictional characters. That’s why Robert McCall works so well. But this is a story built on an actual event, on real people. I’m just not sure this big introduction of Paul works to the advantage of the story.

    I believe it was David Mamet who suggested that writers should create some mystery, leave the audience guessing. Don’t tell them everything at once. Or even at all. Let us come to our own conclusions.

    We don’t need to know everything about the characters from the get-go.

    For me, it would be more effective to slowly reveal Paul’s strengths, drives and idiosyncrasies over the long haul. For example, when Paul and Doris enter the house where Sharon was murdered, Paul pulls a Jason Bourne on the cop who tries to stop him. In a flash, he twists the cop’s arm behind his back.

    Now if this happened without having seen Paul working out, seen his muscled abs, knew about his obsessive-compulsive dedication to routine, I would have been impressed. And surprised. And intrigued.

    But I wasn’t because it was expected, telegraphed long before because we already know that Paul is a highly-trained and disciplined soldier. As a result, the moment had little impact.

    There’s one small thing that irritated me in the opening scene. It’s 1969. Kids were still being sent to jail for simple marijuana possession – and Paul is as conservative and as uptight as one could imagine. Yet this is the description of the party that is happening in his and Doris’s home: “They (the hippies) laugh, drink beer, pop pills and share mushrooms as a layer of marijuana smoke hangs in the air.”

    Paul and Doris’s two other children are at the party as well. I just don’t buy it. If this was taking place at Polanski’s home, sure. But at Paul’s house? Not a chance.
    I know the writer is wanting to set the tone for the time and the place, but this is too much of a stretch to be accepted.

    Still, I’ll read more to see how it pans out.


    Drawing Dead

    I read to page 17. Bailed.

    The opening scene was interesting and unexpected. But once that passed, everything falls into the “been there, seen that” category.

    This comes across as an early draft. It needs a good proof read. Typos, misspellings, even a character name that appears from nowhere (Antigone) on page 15.

    My suggestion for the writer is to revisit each scene and reduce it to its essence.

    There’s just a lot of overwriting going on here. Mundane dialogue that serves no purpose to the story (the bar scene that begins on page 13 and goes on for 5 longpages, for example. I assume the scene is there to introduce Loki to a possible love interest. Fine, but as written it introduces a whole bunch of stuff that is just floss. The Macho Policeman, Nina buying into Loki’s assassin story without a blink of an eye – and WHY would he ever tell her that in the first place?? Just doesn’t make sense.

    And a lot of extraneous dialogue about the movie American Sniper.

    That’s when I had to jump ship.

    It’s a good start, but as I said, it’s likely a very early draft. Go back at it and get rid of everything that’s immaterial. Good luck.



    Read to page 20. Will definitely read more.

    This one jumps off the page. Great characterizations, terrific dialogue, sharp, concise scenes. And tonally, it really hits the mark. Nicely, nicely done.

    I couldn’t get a younger Michael Keaton as the character Reginald as I read this. I wouldn’t be surprised if the writer had him in mind as he/she put this to paper.

    I won’t say much more since I have found little to criticize at this point. Looking forward to the rest of the read.

    RECOMMEND. …And my vote for Amateur Friday.

    The Creation of Adam

    Read to page 16.

    One of the reasons I’m not a horror fan is that I have a difficult time believing… It’s strange, I don’t have that problem with fantasy or with what if fare such as “Big”, or body switching movies like “Freaky Friday” or “13 Going on 30” or “Heaven Can Wait”.

    Maybe it’s the tone. Those movies don’t take themselves too seriously. But horror films are always so intense (understandably so), and that intensity has a way of pushing me away instead of bringing me into the story. It’s the conceit of the genre, I know. My fault, not the writer’s, I’m sure.

    I thought the pages I read were competent enough, but it felt a little like making tea. You have to wait until it has simmered for awhile before you can fully enjoy it. I just wasn’t in the mood to wait more than the 16 pages I read to be pulled into the story.

    I’ll leave it to fans of the genre to decide its worthiness for Friday. Good luck to the writer, though.

    The Fuse is Burning

    Read to page 30.

    I’m a little confused by the logline on this one. Frank and his wife are paleontologists, so he’s not just a troubled man looking for relief by digging for bones in the desert. Perhaps that needs to be made clear.

    The opening three pages aren’t needed. Even with great CGI effects, it’s better to plunge right into the story in present day Arizona. Showing how the baby Tyrannosaurus got there billions of years ago doesn’t add anything—in fact, it seems more like an unnecessary distraction that keeps up from jumping right in.

    There’s a lot of jumping around here. Frank’s reality, Frank’s dreams, flashbacks, intercuts and the like. I can see understand the writer using them to build tension and suspense, but I found myself getting a little dizzy trying to keep track of what was happening. As I mentioned in my review of “Cielo Drive”, it’s not necessary to always show everything. I get that Frank is troubled. And we learn why. I just don’t know if it’s essential to keep reminding us how troubled he is. Maybe a little overkill. I’ll be interested to see how others feel.

    I am tempted to read on. Best of luck with it.


    • charliesb

      My suggestion for the writer is to revisit each scene and reduce it to its essence.
      Should be every Scriptshadower’s mantra. (Along with GSU)
      Great notes (as usual) Somersby.

    • Supermario

      Thanks so much for your feedback on Drawing Dead, it’s much appreciated! The ‘been there seen that’ category is certainly not a place I wish to be, and I see now that my dialogue scenes need a trimming.

    • Jason Swan

      Swan here. Writer of THE FUSE IS BURNING…
      Many thanks for the “CONSIDER”, the notes, reading to page 30 and as others have stated, being “interested to see how others feel.”

      The job with every script is to keep the reader interested. But that’s only part of the battle.
      I realized going in that this script was going to be presented in a complex manner, with dreams, flashbacks, intercuts, voice overs, visuals, moods, and an ambitious six page exposition mixing a voice over about the past while presenting visuals of the present.
      Many won’t realize that those visuals are a preview of scenes to come.

      The dinosaur sequence becomes more important as the story progresses. You may find it even more dizzying as it leads to a series of reveals. And it’s where the script gets its name.

      Many thanks for being “tempted to read on.” .


      • Bare Bones

        Hummmmmmmmmm… just reading that has my head spinning, thinking not only, why? But, no, seriously why? Try a book. A script has to be presented in as SIMPLE a manner as possible, not a complex one. Screenwriting is deconstructionism, a balsamic reduction (if you cook? I don’t know…), of story elements reduced to a thick sauce pour over a meaty hunk of theme…

        I read a few pages of of ‘Fuse…’ and it has some nice visual components, but there’s nothing happening. When you bring in the couple and the trailer. etc., there’s no story, just story-less banter.

        So, what’s up, bro?

        Don’t blame us because we cannot follow your complexity (don’t be that guy); but lose the tricks and tell is straight. If you can’t do this then you don’t have a story, you have a map legend in your mind we are not privy to.

        If you go on the TED speaking circuit, it might work with what you describe above, but that’s not how you tell a story.

        My advice: what are the elements of your story..? Bare bones style..? Keep it simple.

  • Randy Williams


    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    Read to page 25. I hope more readers get beyond what I thought was a pedestrian first scene,. The energy grows from there and it pops in my view.

    Some things that nibbled at me while reading. The scene with the dancer. Reginald just pulls a crack pipe out of nowhere and starts smoking. So, I’m thinking this is some ruse to get information out of her or something. I’m not reading it as his habit. Maybe have the dancer talk to him in terms of he’s not your typical lawyer, he has flaws, he’s pushing at mortality, etc, all the while she’s got her hands in his pockets and we’re thinking she’s being frisky with him there, when she pulls out his crackpipe, viola, and then he lites it up and we realize he’s got that issue?

    page 21. West Hollywood. The “W” needs to be capitalized.

    May read more as time allows, but it reads more like a TV drama series than a feature so far to me with it being mostly polite with visuals of violence and language.

    • jonsanhueza

      Thanks for the input Randy! Maybe my love for Law & Order is ingrained too deep in my head :)

  • Caivu

    The Fuse is Burning

    Odd formatting on the title page.

    Pg. 1-10
    -The first scene takes up half a page, then the next scene starts on page 2? That along with the camera directions make this seem like a shooting script. Is this intentional or just a formatting error? I also don’t know why the first scene fades to black if the next scene is in the same time period.
    -Triceratops didn’t exist until about 68 million years ago, not 165 Mya.
    -Is “bounces rhythmically” the best phrase to describe the gait of such a heavy animal? Is it running? This isn’t clear. And I’m pretty sure only its head had anything that could be called “armor”, not the rest of its body. Maybe “scaly” instead of armored?
    -You refer to the Trike as the “HORNED ANIMAL” after already giving its real name. The all caps for that phrase is odd.
    -“The underbody of the great beast stands at the edge.” What?
    -And now a T-Rex. The good news is that these two dinosaurs could plausibly have interacted (you’re not mixing up Jurassic and Cretaceous dinos or whatever). But again, it’s almost 100 million years out of place. Just change the date.
    -“A PROLONGED ROAAAAAR SHAKES THE THEATER…” Camera directions are one thing, but I’ve never seen the theater itself referenced in a script. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say you should probably cut that.
    -“SUPER: “165,000,000 YEARS AGO”
    Like an odometer, numbers run down, rapidly- a million at a
    And stop — replaced by: “PRESENT DAY””
    This is kind of a clunky transition. The super is redundant, as you’ve already had one for the date. Why not just set the opening in the day and have a simpler match-cut to the sun? Something like: The T-Rex roars, the camera pans up to the sun, the slowly pans down to the desert. SUPER: Arizona – Present day.
    -Does the make and model of the vehicle need to be so specific? The “some would consider it a dinosaur” stuff just takes up space.
    -Frank’s V.O. and the montage are interesting, but I’m not seeing how most of these places relate to anything yet.
    -“She’s late 20s, stunning, 36 double D. What more do you need to know?” I need to know what kind of character she is, for starters, and not that she’s just a set of giant boobs.
    -“A BLACK PONTIAC drives past. Is there trouble ahead?” I’m gonna say yes. If you hadn’t added that second sentence, why would I suspect anything suspicious about a car driving past?
    -Frank’s V.O. has gone on for about 6 pages now.
    -How much of what we’ve seen was the dream? Was it just the night chase?
    -“We’re nothing but grave robbers.” Okay, I guess Frank’s crazy then, if he’s talking about digging up fossils.
    -“You can almost hear the sizzle. Wait…” This kind of writing is starting to irritate me; it’s too cute. Just mention the sizzling and then cut to the next scene.

    Pg. 20-30
    -I’m 20 pages in and there’s been little plot.
    -“Her blue eyes flash. It’s what she does before telling a lie.” How would I know this otherwise?
    -Page 23: things are getting more interesting.
    -I’m liking the… texture of this script, for lack of a better term. The paleontology, the seafood restaurant, the suburbs… they’re all mixing together to form an interesting flavor. Things are easy to picture.
    -Page 28: Lansing, Michigan, not Lancing.
    -Is this too early a reveal re: Frank’s daughter?

    This is a slow burn story, and that’s fine, but the first 10 pages feel a bit unfocused to me. I’m not sure why the opening starts off in dinosaur times. Does that come into play later? Consider cutting it, if not. Frank’s opening V.O. is maybe a bit long, but there were interesting visuals in it; it reminded me of the opening of No Country for Old Men. Right now I like the concept of this, and the visual texture of it; I think the weakest part right now is the characters. There’s enough there for me to distinguish people, but they could be filled in more.

    • Jason Swan

      Swan here. Writer of THE FUSE IS BURNING…
      First I want to thank you for reading and taking the time to provide notes.

      I’m flattered by what you say in the last paragraph because ultimately as screenwriters we’re trying to reach an audience and communicate an interesting concept, texture, story, and characters.

      Concerning the dinosaur opening:
      Yes, it’s there for a reason. It’s a rather insignificant incident viewed in the contest of millions of years ago, but if becomes increasingly important to the story even after the initial fossils are discovered..

      Concerning the first 10 pages feeling a bit unfocused:
      It’s an ambitious approach to setting the stage. The VOICE OVER presumes to describe how dinosaur populations were affected by extreme weather conditions millions of years ago in the Arizona area. And it does that.
      The VISUALS, however, are showing us PRESENT DAY Arizona. And what we are seeing are scenes that WILL LATER APPEAR in the script (movie) that are loosely related to what the voice over is describing.
      Most readers will HATE that.

      Much thanks again for your time and helpful notes.

      • Dinos are Gone

        Who cares? We all know about dinosaurs, it’s the first thing you learn as a child… and to heck with the postcard approach (get a job at the Arizona tourist office…). From reading your response above… YOU ARE NOT LISTENING!!!! Your approach is not working; OK; and this is a script, not a movie… approach it as piece of writing, not as a movie… then you’ll be forced to write a story and you’ll be forced to drop the gimmicks.

        You’re a lost cause (and I think), you’re own worst enemy. Get out of your own way.

  • Randy Williams


    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    Read the first 25 pages. What stopped me is the pages and pages of dialogue.
    I think this writer really has a voice and is writing what fills seats, but his characters like the sounds of their voices too much.

    What is the audience for this? Is “Crime” a genre? I got an action feel from it, similar to the Fast and Furious franchise. I don’t think the audience for those films would dig all the dialogue here. It just is at times, for me, exhausting. Pages 20,21,22 are what really made me stop. Not to say that there isn’t an energy to the dialogue, I thought there was, but it consumes so much that I didn’t get a clear picture where we were going. It needs severe editing in my opinion.

    Now, the beginning. This is a personal preference but if an opening begins in a routine place with routine people like “Guilt” started in a coffee shop. I want conflict right away that contrasts with the routine. The opening begins on a skyscraper rooftop with the non routine appearance of a gunslinger up there. I say it can be slowed down, really put us up there with visual description. Map it all out because we’re just digesting the odd appearance of the gunslinger up there. The geography was confusing for me.

    I like the characters here. As is with Fast and Furious, there’s a hip diverse cast. I say don’t accentuate their ethnic groups with description and speech. I think audiences like a hybrid and a dissolving of race and class. For the life of me I can’t tell you what ethnic group or class Vin Diesel or The Rock belong to. They could be anything or everything and they seem gritty but debonair at the same time. Don’t class the characters for this type of story.

    p.10. I’m an introvert, not introverts.

    There are long stretches of dialogue with no clear visuals to accompany them. On page 12 there is dialogue (Pancho’s) and no visuals. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that.

    Lots of gems in a jewelry warehouse. Pick out the best and run with them.

    • Supermario

      Hi Randy, thanks so much for your feedback!

      Your comments about the opening are interesting. I’ve been trying to keep it short as I’ve been worried about having too many dialogue-free pages to open the script.
      Also interesting that you compare it to Fast and the Furious, which in my mind belongs to a very different genre.

      Thanks also for positive comments, I’m really glad you enjoyed aspects of it.


  • Eddie Panta

    I’d take TAKEN out of the logline. If this is really based on true facts, I’d lead with that instead. Besides nothing makes readers and producers groan more than another script trying to do TAKEN.
    I’m really intrigues by this idea. There’s a lot to explore here. Rob Zombie and Bret Easton Ellis co-wrote and sold a PILOT about the people effected by the Charles Manson murders. But the project was killed before the pilot was shot. Also, I do believe there is another script out there on this subject. The documentaries I’ve seen on it are fascinating. There are still many unanswered questions. Little is known about what Sharon Tate’s father. There is a very bizarre set of circumstances that ties in a wide range of showbiz types to these Mason family murders. It’s a sort of macabre six degrees of separation.

    Apparently, Sharon Tate’s father did hire his own private investigator to find out who murdered his pregnant daughter on Cielo Drive

    Look forward to reading this.

  • Felip Serra

    “Cielo Drive”

    The only one I was able to finish. There’s some good stuff here: It’s tautly written and well paced. I liked the premise of a father searching for his daughter’s killer (think “The Limey” via Andrew Vachss) and could see this as a character piece to allow an older actor to kick some ass one last time (Kurt Russell came to mind when reading…)

    However I felt there were some major issues. The first is the historical angle. The writer may want to step back and ask: If I’m tackling a real murder and a true family tragedy, am I dishonoring them by taking liberties and crafting a fiction with the material? This is just a personal comment and, were it me, something I would be absolutely certain with before moving forward.

    Even if Paul’s story isn’t true, everything that informs the background was. For example the Whiskey A-Go-Go was THE hot spot for music, but to have Black Panthers sitting in there does not ring true. The Hells Angels only did the security for one Stone’s concert (the Altamont). Atop this they were fearless! The Manson family were out of their fucking minds! My point is if you’re going to have Paul storm into this turbulence it would really add some urgency and danger to beef up the obstacles by making them truer to their source.

    I agree with Somersby: No way Paul would allow that stuff into his home at the beginning party. Also, Paul goes off on a mission to find Sharon’s murderer by… Sitting in a bar for three weeks? Is that what a soldier would do? A solider who worked in intelligence? Would he, after getting arrested, call his wife just to check in(pg. 42)?

    Pg. 31: Emily: “You come in here every night for three weeks and order the same drink…” How does she know this? Is she there all the time? Also: Would a person be smoking a joint right outside the Police station? Would she really be waiting for Paul?

    You have Paul and Emily go to a Stone’s concert to find Anderson. The only information we get from the scene is what leads us to Linda. Important yes, but do we need the entire backdrop of a Stone’s concert to get it? Think as a producer for just one moment: Are you going to license the Stone’s music and recreate an entire concert for this one piece of information? Is it worth it? No, I don’t think so.

    A lot of the dialogue between Paul and Emily was done really well. Their relationship (once it got going) felt right and I appreciate that nothing was forced at the end of it; he had to go where she couldn’t follow and that was that.

    Lastly, I was impressed by the writer use of emotion. Throughout the story Paul remembers Sharon in various flashbacks and in each of these I could just FEEL it coming off the page. This is something I don’t across a lot and I was really taken aback. Especially the ending! A beautiful punch to my guy. Well done.

    Well. Enough of my bullshit. I wish you good luck.

  • Randy Williams


    Congrats for making it on AOW! (I think that’s even a better accomplishment than making staff writer for a prime time TV series :))

    Read to page 30, will continue to read as time allows.

    Not much to point out but some things I thought about.

    Perhaps mom can take the call about Sharon’s murder? Dad can be in the midst of that earlier scene helping the daughter with the math homework. In his world, everything is as ordered and makes sense as math and maybe the daughter has her Eureka moment with math with him and then mom takes the call and that ordered world that should make sense doesn’t anymore. I think the look on dad’s face there with a math book would be more compelling than what looks like a heart attack.

    page 14. All those questions from the sergeant so soon at the murder scene there seems odd and unprofessional. Maybe pick one that contrasts with Paul the most, the black panther question, perhaps or stick with Paul’s seeming aversion to all things Hollywood and make it about Sharon’s husband’s mob connections?

    In that vein, I think Paul’s aversion to Hollywood should really be accentuated at every turn so when he does become an “actor” with makeup to investigate, it is ironic. Carson loves irony.
    At the funeral, for example, maybe accentuate that the Hollywood industry mourners seem out of place. Yellow Armani seems awfully cheery for a funeral. This is after all, what we came to see. That contrast.

    Good stuff. I can see it getting lots of love. Not sure yet if it gets my vote yet.

  • Citizen M

    My choice this week is CIELO DRIVE.


    Read to page 29. Not seeing much comedy here. Nor do I get what Reginald is about. According to the logline he feels the need to redeem himself. From what? There’s no indication that he feels guilty about anything and is looking for redemption. He’s a lowlife crack-smoking, whoring lawyer who doesn’t care much about his low-life clients. No story there yet.

    The names Reginald and Phillip are too similar. I had to think about who was who.

    p. 1 – Poor order of information presentation. Better: Phillip; description of Phillip; drinks coffee; banter with waitress, looks at watch; looks out of window, SEES figure crossing street in rain; Reginald arrives in coffee shop; description of Reginald.

    p. 2 – Reginald should buy Phillip’s coffee, not vice versa, since he’s looking for a favour. Actually, I don’t get the scene. It doesn’t seem like Reginald is fighting for his client. If he’s colluding with Phillip and throwing his client under the bus (another possibility), it isn’t clear.

    p. 5 – Handing out business cards to slum kids — huh? Not buying it.

    p. 9 – Unclear how the murder of Maggie goes down, nor how much of it Reginald saw. So later when DA says shots were fired at cops, we don’t know if they are fabricating a story, or making reasonable but wrong assumptions. Nor do we know if Reginald knows the truth.

    As an audience we need to be better informed, since at this stage the question of whodunnit isn’t the important point. The question is who is manipulating the story to their own benefit.


    Read to page 10. Almost nothing has happened; only long descriptions of mundane actions. So far, nothing to thrill or horrify me. No atmosphere, no tension, no problems set up, no one particularly interesting introduced. Could be condensed to about two pages. Needs a vitamin injection and a jolt of electricity.


    Read to page 10. Interesting concept, but I found the script hard to read. So many voice-overs and flashbacks, it’s hard to know where you are in the story. If this was filmed as is, I think the audience would also struggle to know who was who.

    I had to read the conversation on page 3 several times to try and understand it. What I understand is Loki is a hitman who has started killing higher-ranked hitmen so he can move up in the organization. The woman he shot in the opening scene is presumably not the woman mentioned in the logline, but who knows?


    Read to page 26. Keeps moving and holds interest. Professionally written, although the format is unfamiliar. Many more scene headings than usual for a spec script, and “Off Paul…” used in transitions. More like a shooting script. Must be a TV thing.

    I’d be interested to know how much of this is true and how much is speculation. I would like to read on.


    Read to page 13. Taking too long to set the scene. The writer is trying something interesting by tying past climate with present-day Dry Gulch, but i don’t think it works. No need for repeated scenes of Frank’s drinking — we get it on Take One. All the vignettes of small town life — are they really necessary? They don’t seem to be describing character or advancing the plot.

    • jonsanhueza

      Hey Citizen, I appreciate the feedback on Guilt. Best, jon

    • Supermario

      Thanks for your feedback on Drawing Dead!
      Reading your and other comments I realize I’ve complicated matters. You read it right, but three times is two too many and that’s a great learning for me.

    • Eddie Panta

      I’d be interested to know how much of this is true and how much is speculation. I would like to read on.

      It goes far beyond speculation, it’s a complete fantasy.

  • Caivu

    The Creation of Adam

    Pg. 1-10
    -If you’re going to capitalize the hands, maybe capitalize “man’s” and “baby’s” as well.
    -This Medusa painting better be super-important, for all the attention it’s getting.
    -“Takes a deep breath, trying to repress a budding feeling of anger.” Keep the “takes a deep breath” part, but consider cutting the rest or making it more visual. I get that Adam’s angry, but “trying to repress a budding feeling of anger” isn’t something I can picture very easily, at least not as easily as a scowl or flared nostrils, etc.
    -“Then scurries off the room” Scurries *from* the room?
    -I’m noticing how staccato the writing is. There’s nothing necessarily bad about that, but some people can find that irritating.
    -Ringtone isn’t a term I associate with landline phones, but okay.
    -6 pages in, and nothing really interesting has happened since the first image and the changing painting. Could be a slow burn thing going on.
    -“The sound of the shell soothes him, makes him drift away somewhere in the unknown, helps him forget he even exists but only for a moment.” This kind of writing isn’t visual. How can you *show* this?
    -Will an audience understand that Halleigh is the same person from the photo, especially if her hair’s different? I know who she is because I was told this information.
    -“Though, one can tell she’s suffered and worried too much over the years.” Again, how? Does she have significant wrinkles despite being relatively young? Scars? Skin problems? What?
    -I’ve never heard Mary referred to as “Mother Marie” before. Is that correct?
    -“He’s used to eating alone, in silence, only accompanied by the sounds of cutlery clinking on his plate and his mouth masticating.” Okay, this’ll be the last time I mention novelistic, non-visual passages like this, because it’s happening a lot.
    -What’s all this about the dad now? Did I miss something?

    Pg. 12-30
    -A bunch of stuff’s coming out of left field. Again, did I miss something?
    -Now Halleigh’s freaking out? What’s going on? Everything feels random.
    -I’m not seeing much point to the Goth Girl and elevator scenes. I’m also not understanding why Adam feels so compelled to find his real dad. A mysterious voice is telling him to, but why listen to it?
    -Adam falls asleep in his car just moments after getting in? Kyle arrives in the same amount of time without Adam noticing on the way to the car? Maybe have Kyle pull up and confront Adam as he’s leaving the porch.
    -Adam hasn’t at least considered that Kyle’s his father? He seems way too surprised by that information. Kyle also seems to casual about the whole thing, but that might just be ulterior motives at work.
    -A lot more talky, seemingly random scenes. Do they have a purpose?
    -Now we’re in space? WTF.

    This is definitely a slow burn; maybe too slow. By page 30 only a few things have happened, and many of the scenes don’t seem to serve any purpose to the story. These might come into play later, but I don’t see how. At this point the script feels formless to me. The writing is also overly novelistic. Some of that can be okay, but there’s a lot of it in here; if nothing else, it should be cut to save space.

  • davejc

    Proofread or just plain proof.

  • IgorWasTaken


    Nothing to add to other comments here, except, at the top of page 2 –

    Paul snaps out of his reverie to find…

    • Somersby

      “Revere” is used again a little later in the script as well, where it should be reverie… but, hey, I re-read my own stuff all the time and NEVER see the obvious omissions, mis-namings, and replications that a first time reader catches. Curse of the trade, methinks. :-)

  • Kirk Diggler

    Read 29 pages of GUILT – enjoyed this one a lot, would read more for sure.The following are more or less random comments and nits to pick and so forth.

    –Rain in LA? Come now!

    –Steven King hates adverbs. That opening paragraph or two has several.

    “we’ll drop the attempted manslaughter to reckless endangerment.”

    -I’m pretty sure there is no such thing as attempted manslaughter. Attempt implies intent. Manslaughter implies the opposite. Maybe change this to ‘voluntary manslaughter’

    The Barista sets Reginald’s Americano on the table with a sneer.

    REGINALD: I’m gonna need that to go, doll.

    –There is nothing more ‘to go’ then a cup. Maybe that was intentional…black comedy and all

    REGINALD: I know, I know. It’s twenty dollars you’re holding me over the coals

    -2nd time he used this phrase

    REGINALD: Rock, paper hold the scissors.


    CONNOLLY: Don’t think I haven’t seen you eye-fucking my desk a few times.

    -good one

    ‘Looks like she just stepped out of the Sears catalog.’

    -you must remember a different one than I do.

    REGINALD: I thought you were acrophobic. Why don’t you come down off that high horse before you fall and kill yourself?

    –maybe ‘vertigo’ would work better here

    “He finds a folded note in his suit pocket, with the same naked female drawing as on the bathroom mirror.”

    –this feels like a shout out to the Big Lebowski

    Phillip is having dinner with his soon to be fiance, HEATHER(30’s). A classy, sophisticated, intelligent, skinny bitch.

    – LOL

    REGINALD : Hi there, Phil. Can I have a word?

    –this is great, interrupting a proposal

    “unless you mistake fraternity drinking songs for the California Boys’ Choir.”

    — too funny

    REGINALD: I dunno, say, unlawful discharge of a firearm. Something like that.

    PHILLIP: That is a step down from a murder charge. That’s a fuckin’ leap.

    — some great dialogue

    REGINALD : (to himself)

    This is a nice latrine.


    Really liking your story here, the dialogue is great, there is dramatic irony with Reginald being within the vicinity of the crime when it was committed, and you’ve managed to make a pretty unlikable guy on the surface someone that a reader can root for. Not easy to do.

    9 times out of ten this would get my vote, and it still may, got to take a look at the others first. Nice job.

    • jonsanhueza

      Thanks Kirk! I have to look into the manslaughter thing, I might’ve missed that.

  • klmn

    AM I SURE OFFERINGS? Carson should write an article on titles, and then read it.

    • carsonreeves1

      some backstory on the changing title of Amateur Offerings. When I just put “Amateur Offerings,” it doesn’t post. I think because I have so many “Amateur Offerings” posts that there’s a glitch and it won’t post them anymore. So I have to give them unique names to get them to post now. And I’m running out of ideas! We’ll see where it goes. :)

      • Matthew Garry

        Well, fwiw, on the old numbering scheme, this one is #81 (I still save them in weekly folders named that way), just in case you’d consider reverting to the old number scheme and want to preserve some continuity.

        • klmn

          That’s a good idea.

      • Linkthis83

        It would be nice if you could keep the word “amateur” somewhere in the title (in order to make searching for old AOW’s easier).

      • klmn

        Have you tried using Amateur Offerings and the date as your title? Like Amateur Offerings April, 11?

  • Bob Bradley

    I liked the idea for Cielo Drive. I was a little disturbed by:Tate’s father do go…and then the misspelling of reverie, twice.

    I read the whole thing very quickly, skimmed past a lot of the descriptions. And much of the beginning. But loved the action and could easily see this getting made. Others will do a better job of critiquing specifics. I just wanted to say that this should get made.

  • gazrow

    GUILT – Reads more like a thriller with witty dialogue than a dark comedy IMO. It’s a good script just not particularly funny.

    • jonsanhueza

      Thanks for the read! I was juggling the genre for a while… Wasn’t sure whether to call it a dramedy, a crime dramedy, or what… It’s kind of like Bad Lieutenant 2( the Nick Cage one) where it’s got some seriously dark subject matter, but Nick Cage is so crazy fun that i was laughing the whole time… I’m not sure if that’s a comedy or not either.

      • gazrow

        Well, the premise isn’t inherently funny so I think it’s really stretching it calling it a comedy of any kind.

        IMDB lists the Bad Lieutenant starring Nick Cage as a crime drama. Again no mention of comedy.

        That said, from what I’ve read you’ve written a good script. I just think it’s ill advised to describe it as a comedy… even a dark one!

        Good luck!

        • jonsanhueza

          True, I might have to figure out a new genre label. I guess Crime Drama works just as well… I also initially thought Courtroom Drama, but then again, there’s not a whole lot of time spent in the courtroom.

      • Kirk Diggler

        Gaz is British. They have their own ideas as to what comedy is. ;-)

        I saw the comedy in what you were doing and yes it’s black to me. I noticed Citizen didn’t think it was funny either and I believe he’s from South Africa.

        New SS rule: If you state something isn’t funny, you have to state what part of the world you hail from.

        • gazrow

          “New SS rule: If you state something isn’t funny, you have to state what part of the world you hail from.”

          See, that isn’t funny either! Well, maybe a little. :)

          • Kirk Diggler

            And I wasn’t even trying. That’s the best kind.

          • gazrow


        • Linkthis83

          I read the first thirty and didn’t find anything comedic: Merica :)

          I think it comes down to what people want and what they are open to. Like Gaz, I didn’t find this premise, nor the opening pages, setting up anything to be comedic (dark or otherwise). In fact, I was wondering why the writer wouldn’t write this straight. There’s a lot of good in the early pages if he were to write it sincerely. Some really drama/tension/conflict to be mined from these relationships.

          -Why is Reginald interacting with David in the scene when he should actually be interacting with the prostitutes. Depending on what conversation they are having, it will heighten whatever intention the writer is going for.

          -Why is Reginald or Angelique keeping the fact that he was there a secret? He was already there drumming up business. Besides, I’m assuming they called Reginald because she already had his card. Which means he would’ve been there. Why isn’t she screaming at him when he enters the room? This look of “knowing” aggravated me – so they know they were both there – big deal – he knows she’s innocent – she knows he was scoring drugs probably – Hell, I think Reginald should’ve seen the girl in the mask with the gun – I think that really adds conflict to Reginald’s scenario.

          -Just wasn’t digging this. Glad you did though. I always hope others enjoy a script/story that I am didn’t.

          • Kirk Diggler

            I think the word here is ‘darkly comic’, or more accurate, ‘black humor’.

            It’s not comedic in the Adam Sandler sense, but I’m surprised you didn’t find any of the dialogue back and forth amusing. The scene where Reggie interrupts the proposal has some witty repartee if you ask me. it’s not laugh out loud funny, but I think it falls under the black humor category, for me, anyway.

          • gazrow

            The pages I read had lots of witty dialogue. But witty dialogue alone does not make for a dark comedy.

            Casablanca for example is full of witty dialogue but to my knowledge no one ever described it as a dark comedy?! :)

          • Kirk Diggler

            Witty dialogue coupled with the dark underpinnings of the story can though. I wouldn’t describe this as a straight up black comedy like Heathers or A Fish Called Wanda, far from it. It’s more a drama that mines Reginald’s personality for humor. Someone mentioned Better Call Saul and that might be an appropriate comparison.

          • gazrow

            Yeah – I agree “it’s more a drama (thriller?) that mines Reginald’s personality for humor.” I just think it’s important that the writer doesn’t market the script as a dark comedy because some people might ultimately be disappointed if he does.

          • Eric

            The dialogue is frequently witty. I laughed when Reginald told the kids to watch out for crackheads. But it’s more like a drama with some humor than a comedy, and the deeper I got into it, the less humor there seemed to be.

            This has always been a pet peeve of mine, though. You put a few jokes into your script and people start calling it a comedy. But if you actually label those same pages as comedy, people tell you it’s not funny enough to be called comedy.

            Well, it was… back when it wasn’t.

          • jonsanhueza

            Hey Link, thanks for giving it a shot! I think the reason I didn’t write it as a straight drama was because it would feel a little too dark for my tastes. I hate watching a good movie that’s just depressing as hell, because even if it’s brilliant, i never want to watch it again. You need levity in life. Thank you for your comments though! I appreciate it. Best, Jon

          • Linkthis83

            I agree that to write this straight with the elements you have would lead to a mighty dark story. I think my reaction has to do with the “dark comedy” aspect.

            My reaction to how you’ve written it thus far is that the only element that is darkly comedic is Reginald. I think the rest of your world is too “real” so to speak. In those first thirty, if almost all of the other characters had a certain “darkly comedic” perspective on this gloomy environment you’ve created, then I think I’d “feel” the humor.

            The characters and their interactions is what sets the tone, in my opinion. Reg is the only one who jumps off the page regarding his disposition towards his reality. I mean, he walks by prostitutes that are going to play a role in the story and all he does is give them a card. I feel like this is one of those opportunities to SHOW that Reg isn’t the only one with an interpretation of the surroundings and darkness. Give those prostitutes a personality and have them solicit Reg.

            Regardless of his personality, all the other things just make this world feel too dark, sad and tragic for me to “enjoy” any of it.

            Doesn’t mean you’ve written it wrong, it’s just not working for me as it is intended. Which could mean you’ve written it well ;)

        • Fish Tank Festival

          America, Cali representin’. And I did think it was funny and brilliant. A BETTER CALL SAUL vibe with Bob Odenkirk written all over Reginald.

      • Matthew Garry

        In case of doubt, just pick “drama.”

        “Drama” is often misinterpreted as being serious and deep, but it’s really just the largest common denominator “genre.” By its nature every screenplay is, strictly speaking, a drama, seeing that drama means “action” and every screenplay conveys a story through observable actions instead of internal thoughts.

        Read your way through all the Blacklist scripts labelled “drama” and you’ll find that a lot of them are actually quite funny, just not quite funny enough to be called a comedy. Some are even funny enough to be called a comedy, but calling it a drama instead puts the spotlight on the fact there’s a lot more going on than just the story being funny, that is, the humour is secondary to the development of the dramatic question.

        There’s a reason a lot of Nicholl contestants pick “drama”, even if their play could reasonably be classified as something else as well.

        I’d shy away from adding “dark” to your genre, since it’s so ill defined, and I’d only use “black” if the story actually has a “bad ending.”

  • Citizen M

    It’s the explosive new smash hit.

  • Eddie Panta

    Yes, Aquarius is the show that got that was acquired by FOX then later canned because they didn’t want to compete with NBC’s Aquarius.
    It was supposed to something a long the lines of a mini-series.

  • shewrites

    Another great AOW. Congrats winners!

    Cielo Drive: the subject matter alone is enough to make me open it the script.
    The element of the father investigating is compelling.

    Read up to p 29:

    Paul’s adoration of his daughter(s) is well established as is his bad ass quality. In spite of that, I can’t help that feel that something’s missing. I’ve reached the act one break
    but I don’t feel that invested in the story. On an intellectual level, sure, I want him to find his daughter’s killer but the pages felt paradoxically unemotional. It may be just me because I see that all the elements are on the page. But somehow Paul feels “robotic” to me. The very clipped scenes don’t help. We barely have a chance to be in a scene and we move on to the next.

    One specific thing that bothered me is that we have Paul prepare to go into the L.A. underground scene without any lead up as to why he came to the conclusion that the answer was there especially after his suspicions were clearly on Polanski,

    If I were to give my impressions of the script so far in just a few words, I would say that it’s
    very dry and surprisingly non-compelling. As I’m writing this, I think I may have cracked why I feel this way: we are made to care about Paul’s feelings for his daughter but we haven’t had a chance to know Sharon and care about her enough before the ignominy of her slaying.

  • deanb

    If Carson’s going to start using punny titles for AmFri, I say we help him out. Here’s a few of mine:

    Amity Shore Offerings (good for horror week or Shark Week on Discovery Channel)

    Army Tour Offerings (for historical war epics or shoot-em-up thriller week)

    Ameri-teur Offerings (for Fourth of July week)

  • shewrites

    Drawing Dead: Great conflict in the logline which could be re-worked
    Perhaps: An ambitious hitman is finally given a mission that will put him at the top only to discover that it consists of killing the woman he loves.
    I’m sorry to say that I gave up early on the script (p5). In my opinion, there are too many un-filmables, the script doesn’t flow and I too often had to make a real effort to make sense of what was happening.

    • Supermario

      Thanks shewrites! That is a great suggestion.
      Thanks also for giving it a go. I’ve learnt a lot from the feedback here, and will come back stronger in the next draft!


  • hickeyyy

    MY VOTE: Cielo Drive, followed by Guilt. EDIT: I changed my mind on this. I initially voted for Guilt, but Cielo Drive has stuck with me beyond its reading and would like to see it get more attention.


    Logline Interest: Medium to Low. I’m not sure about a crack-smoking lawyer as a protag. Don’t lawyers have to get drug tested?

    Read: 15 pages.

    Notes: You write some FANTASTIC dialog. I loved it. You actually blew away my expectations for this when I started reading it. Congrats. So far the story doesn’t feel like it is going off the rails. It’s fast-paced and focused. You did a great job. If this wins, I’ll finish it up.

    As a side note, I want to point out something you can either consider or not consider. This is one man’s opinion. It drives me nuts when writers ignore race for white characters. I’m not even considering race until you bring up the 4 black kids. You mention the prostitutes are black. Charlie is black. The killer is hispanic. Reginald? Connoly? Philip? Barista? Cassie? No mention of their race. That makes them white, am I correct? Either ignore the race of the characters, or point out the race of ALL the characters.

    Pg 11 – strips should be stripes.

    The Creation of Adam

    Logline Interest: Medium. I like the idea of evil passed down through generations.

    Read: 9 pages.

    Notes: Nothing is really happening so I’m checking out. No offense intended. So far it’s just a kid hanging out alone. Even when you’re setting up the world you need to have your scenes feel like they are moving the story towards something. Right now I’ve seen a kid wander aimlessly, it feels. I don’t think you need to get to the story faster, but we need some scenes to establish that there is a story at all. Best of luck!

    Drawing Dead

    Logline Interest: Very low. This sounds like something I’ve heard about a thousand times.

    Read: 4ish pages.

    Notes: Okay, I am not sure about this. Is this The Professional meets the Office? You have some grammar and spelling issues that are hard to ignore. It keeps taking me off the page. I stopped on the ‘if you fuck with this guy, he’l kill you, IF you are lucky’ bit. I don’t really know what to say other than I’m not feeling it. I was slightly intrigued by the three sniper bit but it didn’t last very long. I think you could save that for a very cool scene to have three snipers running around rooftops shooting at each other. That’s a set piece. It lasted one page. Good luck!

    Cielo Dead

    Logline Interest: High. I like the idea of taking real events and creating your own history with them.

    Read: 20 pages

    Notes: This just LOOKS professional. Great job. I think it’s really interesting so far. You did a great job of making us care for Paul via his relationship with his family and his strict regimen. It’s a great start. I’m definitely enjoying it. Paul seems like a realistic character and I’m excited to see him go fuck shit up. Not sure what all I can say other than congrats.

    Page 2 – your parenthetical that reads ‘for the millionth time’ is missing a zero.

    The Fuse Is Burning…

    Logline Interest: Medium.

    Read: 7

    Notes: ”She’s late 20s, stunning, 36 double D. What more do you need to know? “ She’s your protagonist’s goddamn wife. A lot more. I was relatively okay with what was happening up until this point, but when I did a CTRL+F on Karen and saw 215 instances spanning the entirety of the screenplay and the ONLY THING you bother to mention is her tits? I’m out. YOU don’t even care about one of your most prominent characters so why should I?

    • klmn

      I disagree with you about race. IMO, you should mention race only when it’s a factor in the story.

      Why discriminate on what actor can play a part when it’s not necessary?

      • Fish Tank Festival

        Exactly. Race does not factor in, unless it does.

      • hickeyyy

        On the flipside, I don’t think there is a reason a prostitute who is on screen for 1 minute total NEEDS to be black, or a group of kids on screen for 10 seconds NEED to be black. Why discriminate there?

        It just find it bothersome when white is the default race. I don’t think its an issue or will hold the screenplay back, which I must enjoyed, I just wanted to point it out.

        • jonsanhueza

          Thanks for pointing it out! I honestly didn’t really notice it before that it could be taken that way, but it’s absolutely unintentional… The reason I left out race on the bigger characters was because I wanted to leave casting open (as I wrote this to direct myself and not sure who I can/can’t get at this point), but the smaller characters I just kind of pointed out who I imagined I would cast as far as day players…. But again, totally unintentional! No offense intended. Thanks!

          • hickeyyy

            I honestly didn’t believe it to be intentional either. I really think I’m the only person to be bothered by it. I doubt anyone else cares. I really just think it’s something that you might want to be aware of.

            This was brought to my attention one time in a creative writing course in college. It blew my mind that I had never noticed it before.

            Your screenplay is awesome regardless, so be excited about it!

  • hickeyyy

    Dinosaur stories are kids? You mean like… Jurassic Park?

  • jonsanhueza

    Thanks! Any ideas on how to improve the opening scene? Best, Jon

  • charliesb

    OT: First Daredevil and now Game of Thrones, with all this binge tv watching, how’s a person supposed to get any writing done?!!

  • shewrites

    Well, that’s a tough one. Read to p 23. The descriptions and dialogue are good. The read is fast and easy.
    A question I have for both the writers of Drawing Dead and Guilt is: why not introduce the main character first, before any others, unless there’s a clear reason for it? We are “trained” to consider the first character we are introduced to at the MC. It may not be a big thing but anything unnecessary that slows the read is to be avoided.
    I couldn’t find anything compelling about Reggie that would make me want to root for him. He ratchets up work by approaching kids who make so little money, they are paid in singles for their scams. Since the writer brought up “The Verdict”, the Paul Newman character gets business at funerals. Paradoxically, he’s much worse than Reggie but at least it makes sense in that he could get some meaningful business approaching adults versus kids. Moreover, it’s made clear that Frank Galvin was a great lawyer before, hence the tragedy of what he’s become.
    Sure, Reggie tries to get a good deal for his girl client but that’s his job. One suggestion would be to make Reggie so bad that we feel he is at the end of his rope, like Frank was in The Verdict and we fear what will happen to him. Reggie, despite his crack habit, seems to be functioning just fine. I hope this helps.

    • jonsanhueza

      Thanks! Just to answer your question, i wanted to introduce Phillip first as the antagonist, which i think is many times more compelling as the antagonist introduces the problem in the story- like the joker’s bank robbing scene in the Dark Knight or Vader in Star Wars… I wanted the audience to see the good looking, alpha male and assume he’s the main character, but then witness Reggie pop in and seize control of the storyline like a fast talking car salesman. But through the course of their dialog we find out Phillip’s no angel since he’s allowing Reggie to abuse his role since it gets Phillip the quick numbers and successful career he wants so much. An honest prosecuter would have to report a defense attorney who so brazenly ignores his role of looking out for his clients’ best interests for a no-hassel job. And thats also what i wanted to illustrate about how messed up our justice system is that constantly pushes poor uneducated people through years of jail time like an assembly line for privately owned prisons. Thanks so much for the read and the input!! I hope i was able to answer your question. Best, Jon

  • shewrites

    The Fuse is Burning:
    Logline: I think it would help to know why the man is troubled/and or what he’s trying to find solace from. This is a bit too vague. I also feel that the two sentences seem unrelated except for the location element.
    I still read through the first 11 pages. Though the VO is interesting exposition, I feels that it goes on for too long before we get real action. Perhaps it would be better to try and spread the exposition through act one.
    I do like the “murdered girl” element. I will get back to it if feedback is good.
    Creation of Adam: the best logline in my opinion. Unfortunately horror is not for me. However, I will read it if I get the feeling through the comments that it’s more thriller than horror. Very good work on the logline again.
    My vote: Cielo Drive because of the subject matter.

  • charliesb


    I like the premise, but I think you can get more out of it than what you’ve got. Shortly after Angelica says she want’s to take the deal, the story becomes unfocused.

    I have a few suggestions.
    – don’t introduce the fact that Reginald smokes crack until he gets to his dealer. I don’t mind the strip club scene, but I’d make it more about an exchange of services, i.e. he’s willing to work on a case for her (custody, restraining order). You need to set up Reginald as a good and likeable lawyer before we start to question him. Yes he’s a little shady, and self serving, but there should be some sort of “good” in him that we see right away.
    – I’d play up the angle of Reginald receiving “goods” for his services. He’s the lawyer that people who can’t get better lawyers have to go to. Yes he gets crack from his dealer, but he also gives him law advice.
    – After witnessing the murder, he should be torn about coming forward, but before he can make the decision he’s hired as the girls attorney.
    – Your second act should be about him frantically trying to find a way to get her off without coming forward, and consternating running into obstacles that make it seem like he has no choice. Maybe she’s denied bail, which makes him feel guilty, and then she’s beat up in prison – more guilt, maybe her mom loses one of her jobs because she’s late coming back from the courthouse – even more guilt. At the same time, situations should be coming up that make it seem like he might be able to get her off without having to come clean. For example, there’s a ATM camera across the street that should have captured the footage, the gun has been used in a previous crime which brings new suspects to the table, another witness is found, etc. Each of these things either ending in a dead end or not working out.
    – Play up the fact that Andrea knows that he’s a witness and hasn’t name him as a witness

    Regarding Lorelei, I have a suggestion you may not like or agree with, but here it is anyway.
    Having Reginald constantly reaching out to a prostitute feels easy or familiar. What if you made the relationship a little more ambiguous. He calls her, she comes, they talk, she seems like a prostitute, but it’s not confirmed. They don’t have sex. Maybe she even does drugs around him, but it makes him a little uncomfortable. When the teens beat him up and his phone rings and dials Lorelei, the lie he tells about her being his daughter is actually true (not the pregnancy though). We don’t realize it then, but later when he’s talking to her mother we start to put it together. Reginald having a daughter in a similar situation to Andrea is a good tie in (IMO). He’s desperately trying to save Andrea, not just because he knows she’s innocent but because he’s looking for a way to save his own daughter.

    Whatever you decide, the ex wife and daughter situation felt like it came out of nowhere, I’d introduce them earlier in the script especially since you end on her.

    One last thing, the kids who beat up Reginald also came out of nowhere. It might work better if they were either a recurring thread through the story or you gave them a stronger reason to want to kick his ass.

    Overall I really liked this story, and think you’re really close. Congrats, and good luck with it!

    • jonsanhueza

      Wow! Thanks Charlie, you make some really great suggestions… I especially love the ones about things getting rougher and rougher on Angelica. Thanks!

  • Eric

    Guilt –

    Read to page 24 and skimmed ahead a bit.

    First the good. I was really enjoying this for awhile. The characters felt real and interesting. The dialogue drew me in. There’s a lot of good writing here and some pretty authentic world building. Reginald is a character I can see an actor wanting to play. The fact that he witnesses the murder and Angelica’s innocence, but can’t help her even though he represents her is a great conflict. The problem?

    The central conflict seems tacked on somehow. It’s almost as if an early draft was written where Reginald was just a normal lawyer defending his client, and in the rewrite the author added “the witnessing” but didn’t change the plot beats.

    Pg 22 “This is the first time Reginald set eyes on Angelica since the shooting, and the two share a knowing glance.”

    Forgive my abruptness, but bull. They don’t “share a knowing glance.” Her eyes pop wide upon seeing him. She jumps up pointing, “That’s him! That’s him! That’s the guy who saw me not do it!” There isn’t one single reason given for her to not react like that. I can see why Reginald wouldn’t bring it up (though if he’d been thinking at the crime scene, he could’ve said he was in the area to meet with a client and just happened to witness the shooting). But there’s no reason for Angelica to be sitting on this. Likewise, Reginald should know this and be terrified throughout the whole scene.

    But skimmed on. I wanted to find a scene with these two alone. Once they were alone, it has to come out. I got that scene on page 56. Angelica has something she has to say to him and it’s…

    “I want to take the deal” What!? She’s agreeing to go to jail without even once trying to convince her witness to come forward? With no reason given for her to not just throw him under the bus? With that bit of illogic, I’m out.

    There’s a lot of good here. Probably a lot more good than bad actually. But for me, this one issue breaks the entire script. The good news? It’s only one issue.

    • jonsanhueza

      Thanks for read Eric, you make a good point. :) Best, Jon

      • Brooks

        Yeah, I’d have to agree. There were some logic bumps there.

        My problem was Reginald instinctively running TOWARDS gun shots, down the hall, out into the street where he simply yells: Hey get the fuck inside!

        Then we cut to the killer dropping the gun into a dumpster (why exactly, I don’t know) and running off.

        Then we cut to Reginald trying to get his shoes back. Why did he run outside TWOARD gun fire in the first place? To help somehow? I didn’t understand his motive there… Seemed like the writer NEEDED to have Reggy witness the crime so he has him run outside, even though it doesn’t feel like the natural thing to do.

        The writing and dialogue are pretty strong though, so I give him marks for that but the logic needs to be checked.


        Read to page 30.

        This writer obviously has chops. Beautiful description and strong dialogue. I love historical dramas too. Might be trouble with accuracy, as others have mentioned, but still, strong work.

  • Eddie Panta

    My Vote goes to CIELO DRIVE simply because I’d like to see Carson’s take on this psuedo true-crime script.

    The writer is seems very talented. The script is clear and easy to ready. It’s got some great emotional moments. But putting a TAKEN spin on this sad story sends it right off the cliff. Propping up Paul James Tate as an action type movie hero is clear exploitation.

    The scripts starts fair enough. I was anxious to keep reading to see how much research into the life of Col. Paul Tate the writer had done. Unfortunately, this is pure fiction. Little is known about what Col. Paul Tate’s investigation. Besides, if it really had a story, Bugliosi would of already written it. As a matter of fact, the author of Helter Skelter has gone on record saying the Paul Tate’s meager investigation was inconsequential to the capture and conviction of Charles Manson.

    Paul Tate killed a Manson Family member LInda? No, that didn’t happened. Paul Tate never got close to Charles Manson. Linda is still alive, she was the State’s prime witness. She was given immunity. She is still alive. Paul Tate put a shotgun in Charles Manson’s mouth… What?

    Clearly, the Tate family would never let this type of fiction get aired anywhere. Film, TV, or otherwise.

    The author here, a tv crime fiction writer, needs to forget about the traditional suspense structure.

    It’s always tricky business when the audience knows the answer that the lead character doesn’t. This is obviously the main challenge here, but the plotting of Cielo Drive moves along like it’s s a who-dunnit. And, to Paul Tate it is, but you then need to incorporate something else to maintain suspense.

    IF this was an unsolved crime like the ZODIAC or BLUE DAHLIA, then it would be different, but it’s not. So, I’m not sure if putting us in Paul Tate’s shoes is the right approach here.

    Since everyone knows it was the Manson Family, the script should own the fact right from the start. Besides, this script needs a bad-guy. You need Manson as a target. I think it also needs to bring in city bureaucracy as another point of conflict.

    Prior to the Cielo Drive murders, Manson, and a few other cohorts took part in the murder of a DRUG DEALER, who was in a motorcycle gang. Manson cut off his ear. They wrote Political Piggy on the wall of the dead biker’s apt. This is something we haven’t seen on film before. It took place less than a month before the Cielo Drive murders. Starting with this crime would make Paul Tate’s investigation more relevant.

    Also, the night Sharon Tate was murdered, her two younger sisters had called the Cielo Drive residence and asked if they could come and have a sleep over. Sharon Tate declined. This was a really close call. Not sure why that’s not in the script. Paul Tate almost lost three daughters that night.

    As far as I can see, the only real story here with Paul Tate, is his one perseverance despite culture clash. But our hero has a pretty easy time arm wrestling with bikers, hippies, and Black Panthers. Not sure what Paul Tate ended up learning from this. I highly doubt anyone outside of the immediate Tate family could ever relay that.

  • Fish Tank Festival

    My vote: GUILT, close 2nd is CIELO DRIVE

    Wow. Tough crowd of judges around here this week. I thought a lot of the writing was brilliant and professional and top grade. I actually felt compelled to finish no less than three of these (for now, gonna try the other two). I just base my reading on what I find entertaining, compelling, worth “watching.”

    With that: Really enjoyed the three I read — GUILT, CIELO DRIVE (I know nothing about the historical facts of this story — too young) and to a degree THE FUSE IS BURNING. The latter was sometimes a frustrating read with its depressing protag and repeated scenes (drinking and drinking some more and looking out at the desert, wife turning over in bed and not getting the attention she deserves and fussing at husband, etc).

    But I applaud all the writers. Your stories were “worth the read” and “price of admission” — the latter in my head of course.

    • jonsanhueza


  • Levres de Sang

    My Vote: CIELO DRIVE

    My vote is based solely upon the POTENTIAL of Cielo’s undoubtedly fascinating subject matter because I found the presentation maddening!

    CIELO DRIVE [Read: 18 pages]

    All the master slugs are needlessly killing the flow. (Not to mention the “Off Paul” and “Off Doris” stuff.) By contrast, the writing comes to life when we go into second person POV in Cielo Drive.

    Page 1: Gimme Shelter is a fabulous track to use in terms of foreshadowing the awful events, but I imagine it’ll cost a million to license!

    Page 1: If it was an engagement party then Polanski was her “future” husband.

    Pages 2-3: Doris kisses Paul THREE times.

    Pages 7-10: These beats feel a bit too close to THE EQUALIZER for comfort.

    THE FUSE IS BURNING [Read: 10 pages]

    I thought this sounded promising and actually liked the transition into the present day, but from there it was really difficult to concentrate. Probably because of all the very short scenes in close proximity. I can see the author imagines them playing out on screen as a montage for the V.O., but I’m not sure they’re working on the page. If instead you’d hinted at the mystery promised by the logline then you would have secured my vote.

    Page 7: Missing word: “a dig in this corner of Arizona desert.”

    N.B. Have to admit I enjoyed Karen’s intro and can definitely see her on the poster selling a few tickets!

    THE CREATION OF ADAM [Read: 15 pages]

    Besides an initial hallucination that whole opening sequence doesn’t take us anywhere. Indeed, it all feels rather disparate as though ideas and characters are still trying to form an organic whole. In addition, the writing itself reads both flat (scenes are starting too early and ending too late) and also a little clunky:

    Page 2: “Modernly furnished”

    Page 7: “Her voice is husky and fragile, as if it could break at any time, always on the verge of extinction, it seems.”

    Page 7: The phrase “play date” was NOT used ironically despite Adam being nearly eighteen.

    Page 9: “reoccur”. Also, the word “room” is used three times in as many lines.

    Page 15: “Is it the first time you see your mom experiencing those hallucinations?”

    Afraid the other two scripts didn’t appeal: I’m not the audience for Dark Comedy; while anything involving hit men leaves me feeling that originality will be in short supply.

    • Eddie Panta

      I concur.,,
      The author of Cielo Drive appears to be a very talented writer. I really like to see him take this in a much more serious and realistic direction.

      To me, the Manson Family murders that occurred in August of 1969 needs something similar to what T. Hanks did with PARKLAND, on the JFK assassination, which by the way, was based on a book by J. Bugliosi, the author of HELTER SKELTER.

      PARKLAND took some liberties as well, bending and condensing the facts but it focused on the ordinary people effected by assassination, like Zapruder.

      I’m still very curious what SS thinks about it. It’s hard to do a research based true-life story as a SPEC script.

      • Levres de Sang

        Great points. I’m not familiar with Parkland, but wholly agree in terms of the tone. For me, Zodiac is the obvious comparison. Indeed, what’s so great about Zodiac is that it has more in common with All the President’s Men than any contemporary flick.

    • Poe_Serling

      “…undoubtedly fascinating subject matter…”

      I was kinda hoping that the writer of CD would show up this weekend. It would be interesting to know if he had access to or was privy to more information regarding the investigation than what is readily available online.

      • Levres de Sang

        I was recently watching the Zodiac DVD extras and someone involved was saying how they went so deeply into it all that Fincher felt they might even solve the case!

      • Erik Stiller

        The writer of Cielo Drive here, and I didn’t have any more access to the case than what is readily available online. I used the entire case merely as a jumping off point for a revenge-fantasy-action flick about a lost daughter. Thanks to everybody for the feedback, and I can’t wait to get back at it.

        • Poe_Serling

          Hey Erik-

          Thanks for the reply. Congrats on securing a staff writer position for Criminal Minds and hopefully we’ll see your script CD featured on an upcoming AF.

    • Jason Swan

      Swan here. Writer of THE FUSE IS BURNING…
      Thanks for the kind words. I kept the description of Karen in the script, despite some strong words from at least one girl.

      • HRV

        Like they say about writing for film: “It’s all about the visuals.”

  • Eddie Panta

    I saw EX-MACHINA last night, great flick.
    I highly recommend this for those wanting to see how to jump-start a story.
    The film incorporates what the audience already knows, it doesn’t linger on the backstory, actually, the lack of information on the characters only adds to the intrigue.
    The screenplay is very sprite, and the exposition is held to a minimum. Style, tone, and theme run the show. Nicely done.

    • Adam W. Parker

      was on the fence, now I’ll def check it out

  • HRV

    What has struck me with reading a number screenplays of late, is the variety of slugline types being used: traditional, bold and underlined — sometimes bold underlined. I prefer traditional or simply bold. What do the rest of you prefer?

  • brenkilco

    Read to page 31. A lot of effort has gone into the transitions and the manner in which you want to present the material. And while it’s awfully busy- flashbacks, deceptive supers, voiceover, prelapses, subliminal cuts, dream sequence, cross cutting and on and on- the fact is that by what would be at least the half hour mark not all that much has happened. You’ve got this vaguely estranged couple looking for fossils, and apparently not dealing well with the death of their kid, and the possibly unrelated disappearance of a girl whom the local sheriff seems awfully quick to believe has been murdered by a psycho killer. Not a lot of mystery so far. And virtually no suspense. If It weren’t for the description you provided I’d suspect this was going to be a glum psychodrama.
    Am also getting the feeling that paleontology is going to be pretty tangential to this story. So while your logline might be accurate it still seems vaguely like a bait and switch.
    I would suggest simplifying the flash and moving the story along more quickly. The situation of Frank and his wife isn’t that complicated. And at least so far they aren’t that interesting.

  • Libre

    Two of them are pretty solid.

    GUiLT and CiELO DRiVE

    Tough one. They both have some interesting writing, for completely different stories. Both are well written. Both had me interested more than any of the other scripts on Amateur Weekend.

    If I had to choose I would go with GUILT. The writer of CIELO seems to have some success already, and I think it would be nice, and interesting, to see what Carson thinks of GUILT should he decide to do coverage on it.

    My CHOiCE ——-> GUiLT it is.

  • HRV

    Read up to pg. 12 of ADAM. There are little hints of something to come, but just not enough happening. Almost no conflict. People don’t skitter or scurry, small animals do. couple of other mistakes, but I didn’t make a note of them.

  • jonsanhueza

    Hi Harsh, thanks for giving Guilt a read. I appreciate your input. I have to ask though, what do you mean about the title page? Because another reader mentioned something about font but I wasn’t quite sure about what he meant either as it wasn’t specific. Was it just the absence of contact info? I’d honestly just like to know. Again, thanks for giving it a shot! Best, Jon

  • jonsanhueza

    Thanks jon!

  • HRV

    Read all of CIELO and GUILT and more of DRAWING.
    I preferred the plot of Cielo. What it has going for it is that it’s based on a sensational true story, but the technical aspects of the writing could use some tightening up. Guilt has a simple plot but improved as it went on — talk about a guy with self induced bad luck. The writing was tight and the dialog was natural. Drawing is densely written,and takes longer to read. All three have typos etc. that need to be addressed since they slow the read down. Normally I’d make a note of the errors and include them in my comments, but not today. It’s a toss-up between CIELO and GUILT