Today’s script is going to piss some people off because of its controversial writing style. But I liked it!

Amateur Friday Submission Process: To submit your script for an Amateur Review, send in a PDF of your script, a PDF of the first ten pages of your script, your title, genre, logline, and finally, why I should read your script. Use my submission address please: Carsonreeves3@gmail.com. Your script and “first ten” will be posted. If you’re nervous about the effects of a bad review, feel free to use an alias name and/or title. It’s a good idea to resubmit every couple of weeks so your submission stays near the top.

Genre: Comedy
Premise: (from writer) Three different graduating classes return to their small New Jersey town for a night of awkward reunions and drunken debauchery on the biggest bar night of the year – Thanksgiving Eve.
About: Black Wednesday barely beat out “Ship of the Dead” in last week’s Amateur Offerings showdown. There appeared to be a strong divide in the reactions. Lots of people were up in arms about the “voice,” particularly all the asides. And when there’s controversy, there’s Scriptshadow getting on his Controversy Scooter to solve it.
Writer: Thomas Grant
Details: 111 pages

thanksgiving-eve_640_430_s_c1_center_top_0_0

Okay, Dazed and Confused is one of my favorite movies ever. But it’s also a really tricky movie from a screenplay perspective because there’s no real story. It’s just a bunch of people living their life on the last day of school. For that reason, writing a “Dazed and Confused”-like script is typically a losing endeavor. And believe me, I’ve watched a lot of people try over the years.

You see, when you don’t have a traditional story, you have to be awesome at other things in order to distract the audience from the fact that there’s no story. One of those things is dialogue. The dialogue has to be really good. Now most of the people who write these types of scripts THINK they’re good at dialogue, but they aren’t. You have to remember that the best dialogue comes from dramatic situations. And dramatic situations come from a well-told story, since good stories are built to create dramatic situations. Since you don’t have that in a movie like this, the dialogue is sort of off on its own, asked to be flashy and fun without any underlying help. That’s a skill not a lot of writers have.

This was just one of the things I was worried about going into Black Wednesday. Let’s see if the writer was able to overcome it.

Black Wednesday is about that night before Thanksgiving – the one where everyone comes back to their small home town from all over the country and reconnects with all their friends at the bars before being asked “What the hell are you doing with your life” by their parents the next day. It’s potentially a really depressing time in that you’re forced to face where you are in life.

“Wednesday” follows a hell of a lot of people in that situation. There’s 32 year old Brandon, who’s reluctantly become an assistant football coach at his former high school. There’s Randy “Tag” Taglianetti, who’s now selling alcohol to minors at a local liquor shop. There’s 32 year old Nikki, who’s hot and bitchy and who still hasn’t found a husband. There’s 26 year old Sophia, who doesn’t realize how pretty she is. There’s 26 year old Dan, who’s trying to make it as a comedian in LA but failing miserably. There’s even 17 year old quarterback Vince, who’s hellbent on enjoying the night before the big game tomorrow, despite his coach’s warning not to do so.

There are a LOT more characters than this, most of whom are trying to survive the night in some way. Brandon’s trying to figure out how so many of his former classmates became successful while he’s still stuck in Nowheresville coaching football. Dan’s out of money and debating if he should give up on his comedy dream and move back home. Nikki is trying to use this night to find a suitable man, maybe not to marry, but at least to have as a boyfriend. Sophia’s trying to break out of her quiet shell. And that’s pretty much what we got here. There’s no real overarching story to get into. It’s just a lot of jumping back and forth between these characters.

One of the reasons these scripts are so hard to write is because of the character count. There are always a ton of characters to keep track of and how the writer presents these characters in order to make them memorable can either make or break the script. I mean, I’m finished with the script and I’m STILL kind of mixing Dan and Brandon up. I’m still getting Nikki and Paige mixed up. You have to be a master in character creation if you write a script like this. You have to be very particular about how you name everyone, so their name instantly invokes a unique face. You have to give them memorable opening scenes. You have to know when to eliminate characters that aren’t necessary, since they crowd the name pool. Even something as simple as the LENGTH of a name can make a difference in how (or if) that character is remembered. Thomas did a pretty good job of that here, but he walked into a minefield. It’s tough for us to keep track of everyone, and I definitely struggled at times throughout the first half of the script (when everyone was introduced) as a result.

Also, because there’s no story in a script like this, everything rests on the characters. You have to be an amazing character-creator, and the trick to that is, every character must be going through something that this night is going to challenge. If you look at Dazed and Confused, every memorable character there is going through something. The football player must decide if he’s going to sign the drug form, the main character, 13 year old Mitch, is trying to rise above his sister’s shadow, Adam Goldberg’s famous character must learn to stand up for himself, his buddy has to break out of his shell and talk to a girl for once. If there isn’t something for your characters to overcome, then we’ll quickly get bored with them because there’s no story to look forward to to take our mind off that lack of character development.

Black Wednesday has mixed results in this area. Characters like Brandon, Dan, and Nikki were all memorable because they were going through something. But Kevin Africa and Colleen just seemed to want to have a good time. For that reason, while their storylines were occasionally amusing (ending up at a high school party when Colleen was a high school teacher) they didn’t resonate. Even if it’s the smallest thing, it’s still important to have your character going through SOMETHING that the situation in the movie challenges.

Another thing with these movies is that they must be driven by a theme. You need something to reign the randomness in. There were flashes of themes here and there in Black Wednesday, but I’m not sure if we ever really settled on one. There was this moment on page 50, actually, where one of the older (sort of degenerate) characters was talking about how he watched MILF porn earlier in the day, and realized that those MILFS were now their peers. Yeah it wasn’t exactly Socrates, but it was the first moment I felt a potential theme shining through. You grow up fast so you have to enjoy your life. Remember, the best themes are usually the simplest, and I felt like that theme was perfect for this kind of movie. It just needs to be explored in more of the storylines.

Now I’m guessing one of the big problems some people had with the script was the voice. Thomas, here, LOVES to write asides. Like more than actually write the script sometimes. And this always divides readers. I mean, we get things like “This isn’t the Hollywood your friends and family are thinking of,” and “one of those shitty apartments off Hollywood boulevard you live your first year in LA in because you don’t know any better” and “The American Dream this is not.”

Okay, so, note to writers. THIS TYPE OF WRITING MAKES CERTAIN READERS ANGRY. Not all readers. Probably only half of them. But half is enough to be careful about this writing style. If you’re automatically alienating half your readers right away, you’re severely limiting your opportunities in a business that’s already short on opportunities.

Now there are some caveats here. First, if the writer is really good, then these asides aren’t as annoying, cause they’ll be funny and entertaining. Also, if you don’t go overboard and you pick and choose WHEN you use asides, readers are generally more tolerant of them. Thomas DROWNS his script in asides, which you just can’t do. It starts to feel like you’re trying too hard, and once that happens, the reader doesn’t like you anymore, and they don’t like your script either. So it’s a dangerous game to play.

I think Thomas is a good writer so while there were definitely times where I was like, “C’mon already! Enough asides!” it never got so bad that I gave up on him. Which brings me back to the dialogue statement I mentioned at the beginning of the script. Conversational (as opposed to story-relevant) dialogue, is super-dependent on writing ability. I’m not sure Thomas is as good as he thinks he is, but a lot of these conversations felt natural, like the way people coming back together on Thanksgiving Eve for a night of craziness would actually sound. So to that end, I commend him.

Which leads us to the end of OUR night of craziness – aka, this review. One thing Black Wednesday reminded me of is that these types of scripts are so “gotta make it” scripts. The writer has to go make the film himself (Richard Linklater with Dazed and Confused, George Lucas with American Graffitti, Paul Haggis with Crash) because the stories are so specific to the writer’s voice. I just don’t see these do very well in the spec world because, again, the spec world celebrates stories with high concepts and clear narratives. That’s not this kind of film.

So if I were Thomas, I’d go out and make this. Once you make the theme more prevalent and make sure all the characters have something going on, this is pretty much ready to go. It wouldn’t be an expensive film to shoot by any means. And the only other real major problem I had – not being able to remember who’s who – would be solved, since once we see actors on a screen, we don’t forget them.

Black Friday was tough to get into with all the asides and the memory game we had to play with the characters, but once it got going, it was a fun ride.

Script Link: Black Wednesday

[ ] what the hell did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[x] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: Aside or not to aside – that is the question. Only use asides in a comedy script (or a script with comedic elements). It’s the only real time they work. And even then, use them sparingly. Too many asides and readers will throw you over the side…of their boat…into the Sea of Forgotten Scripts. Can’t risk that!

  • IgorWasTaken

    Congrats to Thomas Grant.

    And, it seems my hunch was right. I’d voted for this script because I thought there was something there, but I couldn’t quite figure out what it was. And, I wanted Carson to review it because Carson has a way of actually detailing the things that make “odd” (which is not a bad word) scripts work (or not-work). Thanks, Carson – for taking the time with this script that it needs, and deserves, and for the deconstruction/analysis.

    • gazrow

      Good call, Igor! You’ve obviously got good instincts!

      • IgorWasTaken

        Thanks. Or maybe I’m just the proverbial (analog) clock that’s right twice a day. (Still, I’ll take it.)

  • Jerry Salvaderi

    Firstly, that accompanying picture is fantastic.
    Maybe I’ve just been conditioned to think this way because of Dazed and Confused and Superbad, but I envisioned the “one day/night” story would revolve around young college kids returning home from their respective schools. Not people in their early 30s trying to decide what they are doing with their lives. I guess I’ll have to peruse the screenplay later to see if it’s better in this scenario.
    Also, which high school schedules the “big” football game for Thanksgiving?

    • Jonathan Soens

      My high school in south Jersey played the same school every year on Thanksgiving morning/day, I’m pretty sure.

      I was never very much into the high school athletics, so I’m not clear on the details, but my recollection is that people treated it as a fairly big deal to play that other school. Now, whether they scheduled that school for Thanksgiving because they were a big rival previously, or whether they only kind of became a rival after years of playing them on Thanksgiving, I dunno.

  • martin_basrawy

    I’ve never used an aside, myself. I didn’t even realize it was a “thing” in the screenwriting community.

    Anyway, what Carson says towards the end of this review matches up with something he said in yesterday’s article too, which is that sometimes when the writer’s voice is so unique it’s better to just make the movie yourself rather than trying to sell it as a spec. I’m actually endeavoring on this myself (i.e. making a film from one of my scripts).

    However, I have a request for Carson. Would it be possible to do the following two articles?
    1) how to actually get an agent or manager, especially if you’re not in California. Having already won a writing contest (Nicholl etc.) optional.
    2) if you do make your own film how would one go about marketing it to the right people? I suppose entering it into festivals is the only option, rather than sending a DVD directly to agents. I guess marketing films kinda doesn’t fall under the purview of this site (reviewing scripts).
    Regardless, great article Carson.

  • JakeBarnes12

    I’ve made a few shorts (directed and edited; thank you, Red and Final Cut Pro) and based on that experience, here’s what I’ve learned…

    IT’S ALL ABOUT THE ACTORS.

    That’s it.

    The technical stuff should be in place (video, audio, editing).

    The creative stuff should be in place (a decent story).

    But it all doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t have good actors.

    No one sees your witty asides, no one sees your dialogue at all. They only HEAR an actor’s interpretation of it. And if that interpretation isn’t skillful, well, better to toss your money into the La Brea tar pits and enjoy those cool bubbles.

    • martin_basrawy

      Agreed. people have told me to stop breaking the 180 degree rule, and I’m like fuck that, the actors are engrossing enough where non-film students won’t notice or care about the 180 rule.
      For my films I usually scour the local theaters (stage actors) because that’s my background and they can be relied upon to have at least some sort of formal training.

      • https://twitter.com/cmulliganauthor Chris Mulligan

        Agree with having good actors, but I don’t get what that has to do with the 180 rule?

        • martin_basrawy

          what i meant was that when the general audience watches a movie, if the acting’s good enough and the characters are believable enough then they will be engrossed with the movie and won’t care about technical issues that only hardcore film nerds know/care about.

          • Will Vega

            So if the film angle suddenly turns upside down and sideways with no explanation, reason, or seamless transition the general audience is not going to know as long as the characters are believable or engrossing?

            So take any film you love. If one scene was suddenly framed wacky, it won’t take you out for a moment?

        • martin_basrawy

          i just meant if the actors are good enough and are engrossing the audience, the people won’t care about having read asides in the script or if things like the 180 rule gets broken.

          • Andrew Mullen

            Except the 180 rule has nothing to do with acting or writing, it’s because it’s visually confusing to cross the 180 degree axis.

            You can flount your nose at rules like 180 degree rule like it’s the same as the “don’t use flashbacks or asides” rules, but it’s not.

            It’s a basic fundamental law of filmmaking because you are sending the wrong visual information to the brain of the viewer if you choose to violate it.

            You don’t have to be a hardcore film nerd for your brain to go, “Wait…he was moving that way…now he’s moving the opposite way? Did he turn around? I’m confused.”

          • martin_basrawy

            yeah I understand the reasoning behind the rule, it was just an example. no worries.

          • IgorWasTaken

            SUPER: “Reverse Angle”

            But otherwise, yeh.

          • PatKirkSS

            The only time the 180 degree rule is broken intentionally in film is (ironically) to destroy the illusion of film. There’s a whole film movement that was all about using these kind of jarring, filming techniques that would cause the viewing experience to be skewed by film nerds and the average film Joes alike. Either way, I’m going to have to second you although I will add: unless you’re trying to make some meta-analysis of film through film, the 180 rule isn’t really an artistic choice, it’s just logic.

          • martin_basrawy

            oops double post

    • http://the-movie-nerd.com themovienerd

      Good golly. Where were you guys when I was in LA?

      Or maybe it was just me. Ha ha.

    • Will Vega

      It’s about great collaboration.

      We do see the actors, yes, and they are a big part of why a movie works. But you also have to have a good script. You have to have someone who gives good direction. The thing needs to look good, you know film being a visual medium and all, so you need to have a good cinematographer. You need a good sound mixer, you need a good soundtrack (if you need one). You need to have a good editor. And you need to have a good producer to be able to pick these people out and know it’s going to work out pretty well in the end.

      All these things are needed. Reservoir Dogs would’ve been just a good book if Harvey Keitel didn’t pick it up from a long chain of “hot potato” started by Lawrence Bender. A Few Good Men would’ve only been a good play if David Brown didn’t call up Rob Reiner and crew. Dazed and Confused (which I’m not as crazy over) would’ve been just a good unknown indie film and not the groundbreaking counter-culture movie that keeps getting referenced and revered many years later.

      • JakeBarnes12

        All true, Will.

        I’m just saying a good script and good production values all collapse if you don’t have good to great performances.

        I tried cutting around a bad performance and it was just horrible and depressing. One bad actor in a scene ruins the scene for everyone because you immediately lose the audience.

  • Tschwenn

    I really enjoyed this script, and can see it produced without much need to work on the script. Well done, and definitely a fun read. With the right people behind it, I could see this as a huge hit and possible classic.

    I do have some suggestions however:

    1) Cut down on the scenes with Matty & Vince (and especially their dialogue). Give them really just 2 scenes, then we meet up with at the end of the night – and they see what their lives will become if they continue to be idiots. I think we spend too much time with them.

    2) Cut down on the scenes with Dirt & Mrs. Dirt. We really don’t have to see them as much, which will make Dirt’s hero moment more shocking.

    3) While the finished film would help discern the different characters, I kind of got lost with who was who (besides Kevin Africa – he’s really the only memorable character; and Tag).

    4) I know that it’s part of the script’s objective – but these characters are far too aware. The writer could cut the inspiration speeches down in half and still have plenty to get over.

    5) I would like to have seen more of a structure/plotting. Even Dazed & Confused, which this most emulates, has a structure – the initiation, setting up the party, the party.

    They go to their reunion – yet we see just about nothing of the reunion. Then they leave to go to a bar – and we’re not even there that long.

  • R.Sharp

    How do you feel about using asides for character descriptions? I think people often mix up asides with unfilmables and that it is partly why some are bothered by them. If they aren’t over used, I think asides can really evoke a clear mental image or tone.

  • ThomasBrownen

    Congrats to Thomas Grant! I hope this is the first of many [x] worth the reads (and better!).

  • John Moss

    My congratulations to Thomas.

    While I agree with Carson that you should have dialed your asides back, I also thought a lot that of them were fun. Don’t change too much.

    John Moss, writer of ‘Fatty Falls Down, Again’.

  • thom

    Carson, you write some of the stupidest things it the world. Dazed has no story, Shawshank has no goal. And you wonder why so many people hate you. It’s not because you post scripts, it’s because your grasp on cinema is almost as bad as your writing. The things you commit to the page illustrate just how poor your decision-making can be.

    • carsonreeves1

      Annnnnnd…someone got up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

    • Linkthis83

      thom, individuals like yourself crack me up. If it wasn’t for people like Carson doing the things they do, you wouldn’t have any validation for your false sense of superiority. If you were truly superior, you’d already know that Carson is not on your level, thus you would know that there is no point in making the comment you made. Yet you made it, proving you are not superior. Wa-Waa :)

  • andyjaxfl

    15-pages in and really enjoying the script. Congrats to the writer, and I hope you can find a way to get it made.

  • SeekingSolace

    Shane Black does witty asides all the time. “Lethal Weapon” is loaded with them and everyone raves about that script to this very day. Maybe luck plays more of a factor in success than anyone is willing to admit. Thomas Grant does witty asides, they don’t go over well. Shane Black does it and everyone hoists him up on their shoulders and throw money at him as they shine his throne. Weird.

    • Poe_Serling

      Here’s a recent article about Shane Black and his use of witty asides, clever in-jokes, setups and payoffs, etc. from his screenwriting bag of tricks:

      http://www.vulture.com/2013/04/why-iron-man-3s-director-ruled-hollywood.html

    • Gojuice

      I mentioned this in an earlier post (on the voting post), but Shane Black wrote Lethal Weapon in the 80s and there were great asides. That’s his style. He made millions during the spec boom of the 90s and now he can do whatever he wants. So you can’t compare the two. That’s like saying Spielberg can make a movie about Lincoln and everyone hoists him up on their shoulders, but if Thomas Grant tries to sell a Lincoln spec…Shane Black is entrenched.

      Also, Lethal Weapon is responsible for the buddy/polar opposite partner formula that’s been ripped off in every fourth movie since. It’s one of the best specs ever, even if the genre isn’t your thing. No offense to Thomas, but this isn’t going to set anything on fire. If Thomas’ script was The Sixth Sense with witty asides, it would sell. If Shane Black were a struggling screenwriter, the asides wouldn’t be as well received as they were when he wrote LW. Different climate. Also, Shane Black uses 1/8 of the number of asides that appear in Black Wednesday.

      Thomas is talented, but the asides in his script are Ivan Drago and the story is Apollo Creed.

    • Will Vega

      That’s cause Shane Black knows how to use them. I read Lethal Weapon and loved how it read cause it was 70% story and 30% asides. This script felt like the opposite. Its drowned in them.

  • SeekingSolace

    What happened to the Amateur Friday Selection post? I was hoping for a comparison between them and the posts from ITSONTHEGRID.

    • http://the-movie-nerd.com themovienerd

      Selection posts usually come out on Saturday.

  • martin_basrawy

    Carson, is it okay to use asides for character descriptions? What I’m thinking of specifically is, let’s say I have a character that’s a badass spy. In describing him can I just say “imagine a black James Bond”, or “imagine a female Jason Bourne”? The reader can immediately identify what the writer’s going for with that particular character.

    • Andrew Mullen

      Since I was all “RAWR FILM LAW” up thread, I will respond.

      I used to loathe asides. I felt like, even if there was ONE aside in the script it would make me rage. I’ve softened my stance now. As long as they are organic and inobstrusive and have a point aside from “HEY THIS IS MY VOICE” then I don’t have a problem with them. But keep in mind, I will always…ALWAYS feel like people should avoid using asides whenever they can.

      Character descriptions -is- an area a lot of people have difficulty with (me included) you and I can see every tiny speck of who this person is in our heads, but we have 2 maybe 3 lines to get all that info out because it’s going to shape how they read the ENTIRE rest of the script.

      Rather than something like, “imagine a black James Bond” I would use a little less passive terms. I wouldn’t ask them to imagine. I would simply describe because they are reading, so of course they can’t help but imagine what I am saying. Secondly while “black James Bond” is a quick easy way of describing your character, there’ve been a lot of James Bonds. Is he a George Lazenby? A Pierce Brosnan? A Timothy Dalton? Or maybe he’s an Idris Elba…who was rumored to have been approached at one point to play Bond.

      What if YOU were thinking of Sean Connery classic Bond, but THEY are thinking the kind of “sexy bumbling uncle” Bond of Roger Moore. That would be an entirely different screenplay depending on who reads it.

      So I think if you’re going to use an aside in a character description, it needs to leave absolutely no wiggle room. Otherwise there’s no point. Just use a description.

      • martin_basrawy

        Hey thanks for responding. So you’re saying it’s okay to refer to pop culture stuff when describing your character? I just didn’t know how the industry perceived that kinda thing. So for example, if I were to say “He’s like the Daniel Craig version of Bond”, that would get the point across better? I just think it’d be a great shortcut for character descriptions.

        • Andrew Mullen

          I wouldn’t say there’s anything wrong with that. If it takes a 5 line description and boils it down to one sentence that gets the exact same imagery in their heads? Use the pop culture reference.

          You could also make a case that when you use a specific pop culture reference, it can set a tone quickly.

          For instance, If you wanted to make a spoof of spy movies, but you don’t want to reveal it’s a comedy until a few pages in, you could reference Bond and the reader would be more likely to think “okay serious spy action movie” than they would if you just described the spy using Bond’s characteristics.

          Where you would have to be careful is in a situation where it can make the script seem derivative.

          Like if you’d written a good action spy movie with some interesting set pieces and some original ideas, but you said, “like a female Jason Bourne”. The reader might then also read the whole script with “Just like Bourne” on their mind and just write it off as a Bourne clone.

          • martin_basrawy

            thanks guys. this was helpful.

        • IgorWasTaken

          Not that I’d recommend the James Bond reference, though I agree with Andrew (I think) that it could be OK. But if you want to go that way, and pre-remediate Andrew’s concerns about which James Bond, then perhaps…

          “Imagine the ________ James Bond ever, and he’s black.”

          For the blank, you might use “studliest”, “toughest”, “most suave”, “wittiest”, etc.

          And/or depending on the tone of your script, after you intro the guy, he has his scene, and exits, a character could actually say, “I feel like I’ve just meet James Bond.” And someone else says, “Connery, Brosnan, or Craig?” “All three.”

  • carsonreeves1

    he likes to insult me every couple of weeks to feel better about himself. I let him have his moment.

    • John Moss

      I think thom just illustrated how bad HIS writing is.

    • Acarl

      You should charge for this type of therapy, Carson.

    • klmn

      You two should fight a death match. Not with scripts. For real.

  • ripleyy

    The easiest way to overcome a lot of characters in a script is actually easy: You write their full names and not just their first name (for example, instead of “LEE” you write “LEE HARRISON” and then do the dialogue. At least, that works for me if I ever find myself doing a lot of characters. It’s also easier to follow if their full names are written.

    As for the script, whilst the voice is unique, I found it getting tiresome. Still, I was happy that I read a part of it.

  • Jerry Salvaderi

    Ah, ok I stand corrected (well, not corrected really, but enlightened). I’m from California so I was not familiar with that tradition. By the looks of the Wikipedia page it’s very much an East Coast thing.

  • thedudespeaketh

    “If you said something like that to me in person, you’d lose your kneecaps.”

    Old school, huh, Joe? Well said. LOL!!! I can’t get my head around how thom can so freely say this about somebody who’s consistently, day-after-day, Monday-thru-Friday, shared their knowledge about the business. I tell you, ungrateful fuckin’ people.

  • Michael

    Ask David O. Russell about directing celebs:

  • Somersby

    Big Chill, Grand Canyon, Body Heat–three of my favourite films. And you can probably throw Silverado in there as one of my Top 10 westerns. Kasdan also wrote The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Pretty figgin’ amazing–and versatile–CV.

    He and Carl Reiner are the reasons I wanted to become a scriptwriter. Glad to see you are so familiar with his work. :-)

  • Michael

    Congratulations on the AF review Thomas.

    The judicious use of asides or unfilmables is okay in my book, it’s usually a more entertaining way to pass on information. The problem is, most writers are too clever by half when using them. I have two rules for using asides, they have to be more concise than a normal description (the easy part) and they have to be universally understood (the hard part). Most writers don’t get the second part right.

    Take the line “New Jersey handsome but SoCal single.” I’m guessing if you haven’t seen an episode of Jersey Shore and don’t live in LA you’re not clear who that character is. Honestly, I’m not sure what’s externally distinguishable about being single.

    “Once upon a time, Tag was the most fun guy you knew. Now, he’s selling beer to high school kids.” This is a good internal description for a character, but doesn’t really help me with the physical part. I have two competing images. One guy is a Silent Bob partier and would feel mission accomplished if he was selling beer to kids and the other is a jock and would be stung by the fall from grace, the difference between casting Jonah Hill or Zac Efron. Now I’m not sure which way the writer was going with what I thought was a strong internal description.

    Asides aside, Thomas has a good writing voice and it’s easy to rain in the asides on a rewrite.

    Good luck with the script.

  • ThomasGrant

    Thanks to everyone that’s taken the time to read and give feedback. It’s appreciated.

    One quick note, though. It seems Carson linked to a different draft than the one he read. The linked draft (with descriptors in the dialogue headings; ex: “Dan” is “Dan Hollywood”) is the easier read. Carson based his review off of the draft that was originally sent in the Amateur Offerings post.

    Just a heads up, as some character names were tweaked (Brandon to Brent, Nikki to Christine, Paige to Mallory).

    • leitskev

      I only had time to take a peek, and I skimmed through about 15 pages, mostly reading the dialogue. The main thing I took away is that the dialogue impressed me a lot…I mean, a lot.

      One thing that drives the rules people crazy is that they can master the rules, but the ability to write dialogue is a gift. So they hate it when someone else has this talent but doesn’t want to play by “the rules”. And they will bring all the merciless fury that envy can muster.

      I do think, even from the brief sample I read, that Grendle has a point about momentum and story line. That might be the next trick for the writer to master. But I myself envy his natural gift for dialogue. I expect a promising future is in the works. Congrats!

  • Jeff

    I really loved this script. Incorrect format is one of my biggest pet peeves when I read scripts, so I figured the asides were going to kill me. However, while they were sort of annoying at times, I really did love this script. I agree with Carson though, I don’t really see anyone buying this script. If they did, I don’t see it making a ton of money. It’s still great though. I too hope to read more of Grant in the future.

    • ThomasGrant

      Thanks for the kind words, Jeff.

      You reminded me of something I think all writers need to keep in mind: while obviously the ultimate end goal of writing a screenplay is to sell it, plenty of careers are launched on scripts that don’t.

      I’m realistic – this isn’t the type of script that is going to sell as a spec. The aim was to put together a strong writing sample that could potentially a) attract a smaller producer in the 1-5m range or b) open doors for myself to pitch my more commercial, saleable ideas.

  • JakeBarnes12

    Hey Joe,

    One area where I disagree with you is “bad acting can ruin a scene or film, but not really. A good director can work with both, good and bad actors.”

    The idea that a good director can get a good performance out of a bad actor just isn’t true. Maybe in scenes calling for little emotional reach, but if you need them to actually, um, act, you’re scuppered if the actor doesn’t have the skill.

    The other aspect is that even standing in silence, good actors are acting. Bad actors or non-actor friends you draft into the production just stand there looking blank.

    All this focus on “cheap” digital cameras and editing ignores the crucial aspect that you need real talent on-screen.

  • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

    I guess I must have bad taste or something lol which means I must be the only person who couldn’t get past the first 19 pages and thought the descriptions (which were way over the top (like Shane Black on steroids) and got annoying after a while) were funnier than what I read as far as story and character and dialogue goes.

    I didn’t read the updated version, so my mind could be changed, who knows. But I am left wondering, would a reader have kept reading? Carson kept reading because he had to review it (I think)… of course, I’m the only person who seems to not have been able to get through it. Maybe I will try again and see if I was just not in the mood or if I stick to my opinion. I will try the newer version if I can find it :)

    But whether I personally like something or not, most people talk about writing and never do, so I think it’s awesome when people shut up and just do it lol and learn as they go along, getting better and better. So congrats on finishing! :D

    • grendl

      It’s precocious.

      It’s trying to impress in places you should be invisible.

      I see so many amateurs who don’t realize they’re doing themselves a disservice and actually making screenwriting harder on themselves by writing things like “Kevin is the coolest guy you know”.

      Well, people in the movie business think they know a lot of cooler people than this writer can concoct, and the fact that Kevin Africa isn’t very cool in how he talks or what he does would unnecessarily work as a strike against the writer, and his presumptuous statement. Don’t get so familiar with the reader. You don’t know me.

      If he’s cool, show him being cool, not walking up to a group of high school kids for no reason and tell them they’re all a bunch of douchebags or whatever. That comes across as a writer who’s a little full of themselves, especially when the speech goes nowhere. Everyones full of shit at sixteen, so what? We need Kevin Africa to point that out? Sixteen year olds can read “Catcher in the Rye” and listen to the very funny and witty J.D. Salinger talk about how Kevin Africa could be seen as a douchebag just for doing what he did.

      This script has so much attention to individual scenework, but as a whole it has no momentum to pull us from scene to scene. You have to spark interest in what happens next, not just by surprising, but by developing a story line, planting seeds and growing them. There were so many scenes that just were self contained at the beginning of this, it was clear the writer didn’t have the totality of the story in mind.

      It’s like a bunch of vignettes strung together, at least the first act. And some of its funny, and there may be a story here. But the asides were annoying. Maybe it is a shitty comedy club, but maybe some of your readers don’t like that description.Its like putting “fuck” in action lines. Why not just tone it down?

      You want to keep out of your script. You want to remain invisible. QT doesn’t infuse his own beliefs in the action lines. Maybe in the dialogue and some of the characters, but he would never write Jules as “the coolest bad ass mother fucker you know”.

  • Malibo Jackk

    Cool suggestions.

  • Brian Lastname

    I agree that the asides were taken too far. There’s a difference between having a voice and being overbearing. As Michael stated in his comment, things like “New Jersey handsome and SoCal single” just didn’t make sense to me. I knew where you were going, but I had to stop and think about what it meant, and you definitely don’t want a reader to have to do that. However, some of the descriptions worked well, like when referring to the Hollywood apartment — “you can practically smell the piss.” I like that. That works.

    When you tell me that a character is “the coolest guy I know,” that’s when you start to lose me as a reader. As Grendl said, you don’t know me. Please don’t tell me what I should perceive as cool.

    Overall, I liked Black Wednesday. I just think the asides need to be walked back a bit. Read Brian Duffield — that’s how it’s done.

  • AJ

    I disagree that the line is stolen simply because the same words are written on the page. McConnaughey’s character was Mr. Aloof himself, with his womanizing of naive high school women and always hitting a cooler pose than anyone else in the frame. Almost every line he delivered made the direction he received appear to be “say it with less effort”.

    The Tag that was offered in Thomas’s script appeared to scream “What’s up, bitches?” every time he entered a room. I would even say that the Tag character was everything that McConnaughey’s character was not. Loud. Obnoxious. In your face. You have to read it as though that will be the delivery.

    I would say that I would not use it because I don’t think a person who screams “what’s up, bitches”, would ever think things were just alright alright.

  • Film_Shark

    What I’ve noticed is that indie films have more creative license than more commercial Hollywood fare. One in particular is playing the art house cinema circuit. It’s Noah Baumbach’s ‘Frances Ha’ starring Greta Gerwig. It’s a quirky comedy but it also manages to examine the struggles of a 20-something trying to find her calling after college graduation. At a dinner party, a lawyer asks Frances, “So what do you do?” She honestly tells him, ‘It’s complicated because I’m not really do it.’ She aspires to be a modern dancer in New York.

    The reason I bring this film up is that it really does have a no plot either but it is one of the best indie films of 2013. It even shows New York hipsters and how they are able to coast through their twenties as pseudo-artists simply because they have rich parents to pay for their expensive rent in Manhattan. What I also like about ‘Frances Ha’ is the cinematography and Baumbach’s liberal use of French New Wave through out the film. And I agree, if plot is lacking, you better have biting dialogue and like ‘Dazed and Confused,’ ‘Frances Ha’ has memorable lines that make it pop in every scene.

  • Pierce

    I thought the asides were pretty funny. And Tag reminded me of whatshisname from Always Sunny. I’d totally watch a movie about him having to mature for some reason but screwing up in the process