Get Your Script Reviewed On Scriptshadow!: To submit your script for an Amateur Review, send in a PDF of your script, along with the title, genre, logline, and finally, something interesting about yourself and/or your script that you’d like us to post along with the script if reviewed. Use my submission address please: Carsonreeves3@gmail.com. Remember that your script 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 (from writer): Euro Horror
Premise (from writer): A Transylvanian Countess struggles to conceal her dark inheritance from
two investigators when she finds herself drawn to a bereaved English girl. A love
letter to European vampire cinema of the 1970s.
Why You Should Read (from writer): Because I’d love to see Carson plunge into the hypnotic, eroticized world of Euro Horror! Sure, LET US TOUCH THE SUN is a zillion miles and at least 40 years removed from multiplexes and opening weekends; but I’d like to think it can find an audience among the fanatical followers of dvd labels such as Blue Underground, Redemption and Shameless. Indeed, LET US TOUCH THE SUN was my attempt to write something I would purchase myself from one of these labels, a film possessed by its mysterious female vampire, unerring sense of place, and all-pervasive sensuality. —The script also represents my learning and assimilation of craft techniques over the past four years (I’ve been working on other projects in that time, but nevertheless this one has been through 100+ iterations!) Certainly, its pages incorporate elements I probably wouldn’t utilize again in a hurry; but ultimately I hope the reader leaves with something not dissimilar to the feeling expressed by Linkthis83 last time around: “… I’m adrift in realms, and being guided towards moments where I’m privy to exchanges and happenings that once all these moments are totaled I will have experienced something that I can neither quite describe nor possibly express in a manner that exhibits understanding… but a knowing that something occurred because I felt it… and struggle to define it.”
Writer: Levres de Sang (selected dialogue from J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s “Carmilla” (1872)
Details: 102 pages

Jessica Chastain

Jessica Chastain for Valerie?

Scriptshadow Nation has finally been heard! If I had a dime for every time someone asked me to review amateur entry “Let Us Touch The Sun,” I’d have a big jangling jar full of dimes to take to the grocery store to put in that coin machine, which would then return 20% of my money and give the other 80% to orphans and spit out a special receipt which stated that if I did not cash the receipt within 90 seconds, I not only wouldn’t be able to receive my funds, but I would now owe the supermarket money.

I’m not going to lie. I’m a little scared here. I’m not entirely sure what “Euro Horror” is and I’ve never read a script before that included selected dialogue from another source, much less a source from 140 years ago! I feel like Snoop Dog walking into Carnegie Hall. But as has been the case in the past, you can experience a lot of great things when you go out of your comfort zone, so let’s see if Let Us Touch The Sun does so for me……

It’s 1978 and Countess Valerie Kristeva is under suspicion for the disappearance of four young women. Detective David Chang from America and Inspector Rollin from Interpol are closing in on Valerie’s trail of death, but there’s no way to connect her to these women. It’s gotten so weird that Rollin has come up with this cockamamie idea that Valerie might be a vampire!

Valerie, of course, is a vampire, and not a very patient one. She has a weakness for young women and her latest target is a beautiful 19 year-old hottie named Malika. Valerie invites Malika on a voyage across the sea and when you’re 19 and a beautiful woman invites you to travel the world, how can you possibly say no?

While Valerie plots her seduction of young Malika on the boat, David Chang and Inspector Rollin are off following their respective leads in the killings of the previous girls. Valerie will eventually take Malika home to her castle, where she’ll either turn her into vampire lunch meat or Malika will finally figure out that it’s a little weird a random woman has invited her to a castle and run the hell out of there.

This is going to be a tough review because I love how much Levres has contributed to the site. He’s an invaluable part of the daily conversation here at Scriptshadow. But I’d be doing a disservice to him if I reviewed the script with kid gloves and it sounds like Levres understands that this script is a little… offbeat. So I’m going go at these notes like I would any other script and Levres can determine if they’re relevant to what he’s trying to do or not.

I’ll start by saying, I could see this movie in my head. Levres has a very distinct style that echoes a 1970s casualness, an almost presumptuous pace that assumes you’ll spend the rest of your day sipping a coffee in the park and then writing in your diary. There is a patience to the story and boy is that brave in this day and age. I commend Levres for it.

But it should be noted that this style is hard to make work no matter what era you’re in. A story is a story is a story, and stories need to move. If Let Us Touch The Sun were a blender, it would be turned to the lowest setting, and I had trouble waiting for my drink to be ready.

The CAA coverage department’s first note of Let Us Touch The Sun would likely be: “Overwritten.” And I wouldn’t argue with that. A quick look through the pages and here are some words and phrases I pulled out: Photogravure, Casa Angola, Cossack style, Foster Grants, Noh mask, perspex screen, slimline Dunhill, somnolent lapis lazuli, afga c60 cassette,

I don’t mind a flourish here and there but when there are a 100+ words I’ve never seen before in a screenplay, or that I’ve seen infrequently enough that I have to read them twice to place them, that can take its toll on a read. I like to enjoy a script, not work for it. And too much of the writing here made me work – squinting through the fog of prose to discern what was really being said.

Indeed by page 50, I was only understanding around 60% of the information on the page. For example, I didn’t understand why Valerie was waiting to turn Malika into a vampire. Why not just turn her into one right away? To be honest, I didn’t even know where they were going on their trip. I know that information is in the script somewhere but that’s the danger of stressing purple prose over clarity, is that the reader is more likely to miss important details.

And that’s how this read. Every 10 pages, I felt like I understood the story less instead of more. I knew there was an internal logic to the plot and I knew that Levres knew where he was going. But the fog-like prose really made it hard for me to keep up. I feel guilty about this and I considered going back and re-reading the script to fill in those gaps but I realized that the average reader isn’t going to do this, so I can’t either.

On the story side, I thought Levres could’ve done more with the detectives. Here we had Valerie on the boat with Malika for a majority of the script and the two detectives were halfway across the world doing their own thing. I wanted them to be closer. I wanted Valerie to feel that pressure, of them putting the pieces together. And really, I wanted there to be only one detective. Having two was confusing and spread the inspection storyline too thin.

What about putting the inspector on the boat with them (I know he starts out there but then he leaves early on)? And actually, if we’re using yesterday’s article as a guide for how to improve a screenplay, what about making the victim and the inspector one and the same?

So you make the Inspector a woman, the female version of Michael Douglas’s character in Basic Instinct. Valerie, who would now play the Sharon Stone black widow character, invites (the now older) Inspector Malika on the boat trip to question her about the missing girls. The two then engage in a twisted game of deception where the lines keep crossing.

That’s off the top of my head but still, I guess I’m looking for ways to beef this story up. Everything here comes across so subtle that too much tension is left on the table.

In Levres’ defense, this is not a “screenplay friendly” movie. It’s clearly stylized in a way that only film can capture, like the difference between reading a Terrance Malick screenplay and seeing a Terrance Malick movie. So that has to be factored in here. Still, I think the script is focused more on imagery than story and when I sit down and read a script, I want a good story.

Screenplay link: Let Us Touch The Sun

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

What I learned: There’s a famous story about an agent who told a screenwriter client of his that his script was “too smart.” And that makes for a funny story but I understand what he meant. Hollywood isn’t looking for high art, perfect prose, or the painting version of a screenplay. They’re looking for a great story. Let me repeat that. THEY’RE LOOKING FOR A GREAT STORY. And if anything in your script takes precedence over that, they’re likely to dismiss it. Here, it seems like Levres is more interested in how his script reads than how his story is told. Strip away all the prose here and ask yourself if the story mechanics (what happens and when it happens) are compelling enough. I think everything’s happening too slowly, even for an inherently slow film, and that more plot can be packed into the pages. Of course, this isn’t a genre I understand well so I’ll gladly leave the final decision in Levres’ hands! I wish you the best of luck, Levres, and keep commenting!

  • Malibo Jackk

    Clicked on the link to read the script.
    Got warning that Micro Trend had confirmed that it’s a dangerous page.
    Would not let me open the page.
    Tried it again. Same thing.
    Not sure what that’s about.

    Anyone else have the problem?

    • S.C.

      It redirects to a livid page, but I just ignore it.

      I’ve emailed you the script in case you didn’t get it.

  • S.C.

    Screenplay format appears to have been tweaked. More spacing between lines.

    There’s room on the first page for an extra four lines (I copied and pasted into Screenwriter 6 and produced a PDF of the first page).

    And if I can spot that the formatting is off, you can bet a lot of professionals will.

    People hate when I do this, but I checked – script is only 16,425 words long. Even for a horror script, you should be aiming for more than 18-19,000 words.

    Not a huge problem… a little bit of extra writing here and there will bring up the length and avoid the necessity for lots of white space.

    Best of luck!

    • davejc

      Your Screenwriter 6 defaults to 55lpp. Final Draft defaults to 52lpp. Warner Bros Formatting Dpt formats scripts properly at 60lpp. Every typewriter manufacture since the 1920’s is fixed at 60lpp. 60lpp has always been the standard. If a page of script equals a minute of film then each line of a properly formatted script(60lpp) equals a second of film. Pages of your Screenwriter 6 scripts do not equal a minute. Neither do Final Draft scripts.

      The bottom line of all this is: There are no scripts that are properly formatted except those that come from a typewriter or go through Warner Bros. Formatting Dpt. So if a “lot of professionals” complain about improper formatting, then they got a lot to complain about. Because no script that comes across their desk will be properly formatted :)

      • davejc

        And if for whatever reason in the world you need four more lines per page just add “CONTINUED” “SPACE” at the top of each page and “SPACE” “MORE” at the bottom of each page. That was easy.

      • S.C.

        This is about 47lpp! Honestly, I don’t know what happened, what program he used or what settings he used on it. The font is something called “ScreenwriterCourier” which I’ve never heard of. The margins, top and side, appear fine.

        There’s an extra space between lines, so you get:

        FADE IN:
        #
        #
        EXT. HACIENDA DAY
        #
        #
        Modernist architecture beneath blue Atlantic sky.
        #
        #
        SUPER: APRIL, 1978
        #
        #
        INT. HACIENDA ’96 LOUNGE DAY
        #
        #
        Gauzy fabric sways at a half-drawn picture window.
        #
        #
        Spider plants here and there.
        #
        #
        Walls fashionably wood-panelled.
        #
        #
        Offset by a nineteenth century PHOTOGRAVURE portraying a
        dark-haired young girl beside a woman of sensuality.

        It’s not quite double, more like one-and-a-half, but the cumulative effect is to extend the script by about 10%.

        And there’s not a lot of writing here anyway. Short sentences. Lots of spacing.

        This is the first page of LET US TOUCH THE SUN run through Movie Magic:

        https://www.sendspace.com/file/sbqv9y

        The BLANK LINES represent extra room for writing on the first page.

        • S.C.

          Just checked again and the screenplay appears to have been written on something called Star Office 8 which I’d never heard of til today. Maybe that explains the weird format.

    • Levres de Sang

      Please don’t take this as me being facetious, but I feel the best response to your various points as to my formatting choices (and they are conscious choices) is to provide a link to a recent Scriptnotes podcast in which the so-called “rules” were discussed:

      http://johnaugust.com/2015/the-rules-or-the-paradox-of-the-outlier

      Anyway, sorry my script wasn’t for you. :/

      By the way: I didn’t think “wood-panelled” was a typo? I’m not writing for the US market so go with the double “l” on these words. And wood panelling was fashionable in 1978! Kind of… :)

  • jridge32

    ” I like to enjoy a script, not work for it. And too much of the writing here made me work – squinting through the fog of prose to discern what was really being said.”
    Brilliant. I haven’t read this script yet, but have read a ton and any time I find myself having to read, then re-read, then re-read again any pages, not fully getting what the writer is getting at because they let prose get in the way — style over substance — it’s a bit of a pain. I’m glad you put it into words for me, Carson!

  • Casper Chris

    Just a quick note as I’m reading through the first pages:

    INT. HACIENDA – LOUNGE – DAY

    becomes

    INT. LOUNGE – HACIENDA – DAY

    on the subsequent page. Might want to keep things consistent.

    Valerie sips from a wine glass filled with iced water.
    Making such a thing seem decadent.

    I like it.

    • Levres de Sang

      My belated thanks for your helpful notes, Caspar. (It’s taking me all weekend to get to everyone!)

      1. I was aware of HACIENDA – LOUNGE becoming LOUNGE – HACIENDA, but felt it was okay as the first instance is establishing, whereas subsequently the LOUNGE is the important setting and HACIENDA is added only to help distinguish between this location and the ESP/Intercut location in England.

      2. The car headlights represent Chang being transported aross the island to meet up with Rollin, the main detective on the case. Of course, it could be anyone in the car; but I do feel that it conveys a sense of movement in the present (and contrast) before we CUT TO the Kristeva backstory:

      A fire on the horizon as a HORSE-DRAWN CARRIAGE makes its
      way across sparsely populated upland.

      3. Young Valerie and Nadja introductions: “I know you’re counting on the reader to infer it from the subsequent dialogue, but better to be safe than sorry.” Yes, I was counting on exactly that! But you make a fair point considering my character count.

      4. “… we’re being shown a lot of women with various means of depiction.” Yes, that’s another fair point. If I was directing then these depictions would inform the style of the piece, but equally I can see that on the page there are probably too many. That’s really helpful to know, actually. Thank you!

      5. Title: I do know what you mean. At one point I changed it to the giallo-esque “And Like A Butterfly (She Will come to Me)”, but it’s very long and people seemed to prefer Let us Touch the Sun.

      Once again, sorry it’s taken so long for me to get back to you. And thanks again!

      • Casper Chris

        No problem, Levres. I realize it was not much of a “critique”, but those were just my as-I-read thoughts. You’re a good writer and I liked your sense of visuals/mood. Just need to simplify a lot more for the sake of clarity and readability. Clarity is something I struggle with as well as I hate hamfisted “on-the-noseness” in its various forms, but also have a penchant for big, intricate plots with lots of twists that requires the reader to work. A deadly combo…

  • ThomasBrownen

    Congrats Levres for your day in the, err, sun! Reading Carson’s review reminded me of another atmosphere-heavy script for AF: Eden’s Folly. I think the author eventually got it set up, so it might be worth checking out if you haven’t already. Congrats again!!

    • Levres de Sang

      Thanks Thomas!

      Eden’s Folly: I do recall that title, but nothing else about it I’m afraid. Will definitely reread Carson’s review if I can find it.

      Note to Carson: Please restore the “Archives” sidebar!

  • brenkilco

    INT. CARSON’S OFFICE – DAY

    Curtains waft

    Fading rays of sunlight caress the varnished surface of an IKEA work station

    In the laptop’s shadow a crystal goblet of Veuve Cliquot. Or maybe it’s just a can of ginger ale.

    A delicate forefinger scratched perplexedly at a furrowed brow.

    Hands oerspread the keyboard, the lefthand ringfinger softly and sensuously depressing the X key.

    Wasn’t for me.

    Conclusions don’t come more foregone than our host’s reaction to this kind of script.

    • shewrites

      To me, the lines above convey a delicious note of eroticism . This style may be wasted in/incompatible with a script but they would kill in prose in my opinion. Do you write novels or short stories, Levres?

      • Levres de Sang

        Back in 2011 I crossed over (so to speak) from trying to write novels/short stories.

        It’s been a very difficult transition… but then again my all-time favourite writer, Yukio Mishima, was accused of having an overly baroque style and being a “teller” rather than a “shower”.

    • S.C.

      I was looking for a comparative script, and I looked at the first page of THE VEIL by Robert Ben Garant. You know, this guy:

      Well, he’s done a William Peter Blatty and switched from comedy to horror. Here’s the beginning of his script:

      FADE IN:

      INT. KITCHEN – NIGHT

      CLOSE ON — A WOMAN’S FACE:

      SARAH HOPE

      She’s young, but tired. Very tired. Like she’s been pushed and pulled her entire life.

      She sits at a Formica table. Nurse’s scrubs. Ashtray.

      A SHOE BOX sits in front of her. An open LETTER next to it.

      Pale green touch-tone phone beside her.

      She lights a cigarette. Her last one. Takes a deep drag.

      Fiddles with the phone cord. Twists it in her fingers.

      Then looks at:

      THE SHOE BOX

      Old. Worn. Faded. She slides off the lid.

      Three MOTHS flutter up into Sara’s face — she barely reacts.

      Let’s them bat against her skin. One lands on her cheek.

      She doesn’t move. It flaps its wings. A quick flurry.

      Slow burning, but well-written. Short sentences, but substantial information.

      FADE IN:

      EXT. HACIENDA DAY

      Modernist architecture beneath blue Atlantic sky.

      SUPER: APRIL, 1978

      INT. HACIENDA – LOUNGE DAY

      Gauzy fabric sways at a half-drawn picture window.

      Spider plants here and there.

      Walls fashionably wood-panelled (sic).

      Offset by a nineteenth century PHOTOGRAVURE portraying a dark-haired young girl beside a woman of sensuality.

      A pyramid-like ORNAMENT glimmers with lustrous stones on the sideboard below.

      Paperweight for a First Class travel document headed:

      CASA ANGOLA INTERNACIONAL SHIPPING COMPANY

      It’s just not the same. “Spider plants here and there.” That sentence deserved a line all by itself.

      That plus typos, $100 words, LOUNGE DAY, etc.

  • shewrites

    Congrats for your place in the sun today, Levres!

    • Levres de Sang

      Thanks Shewrites!

  • Poe_Serling

    LET US TOUCH THE SUN…

    Congrats to the writer, Levres de Sang, on his rewrite efforts and for getting his project across the AF finish line.

    Whether this script scored a [x] Worth the Read or not, it’s still both encouraging and refreshing to have a ’70s Euro Horror-inspired project get a review from Carson.

    The hypnotic, eroticized world of Euro Horror + Carson taking the plunge = All the ingredients for instant discussion starter.

    **Thanks again to the writer for sharing his work.

    • Levres de Sang

      Thanks Poe! It might not have crossed that AF finish line without your support! :)

      • Poe_Serling

        Hey Levres de Sang-

        It’s great to see the featured writer being such an active participant in today’s comments section – it definitely makes for a more engaging and lively AF for everybody.

        Just curious if you have ever seen these couple of Euro Horror flicks: Footprints on the Moon and Tombs of the Blind Dead.

        Thumbs up… thumbs down?

        • Levres de Sang

          Thanks Poe! There’s a been quite a spectrum of comments and I’m still trying to get back to as many as I can.

          I’m not familiar with Tombs of the Blind Dead, but Footprints on the Moon (aka. Le Orme) was a wonderful discovery I made a couple of years ago via the Shameless dvd label. And watching it for the first time I thought to myself: “this is everything I want from film…” Not sure whether you’ve seen it, but I’d say it’s right in your wheelhouse! The setting is uniquely atmospheric (I’m still not sure if the island of Garma really exists?) and the whole thing plays like a faded-colour version of Last Year at Marienbad.

          Another Shameless offering that I rate very highly is Designated Victim. Set in an off-season Venice a year before Don’t Look Now it’s a superbly atmospheric updating of Strangers on a Train. The English language version (all these Italian films were post-dubbed into both English and Italian so there’s no such thing as an original) is unquestionably the one to watch: the flamboyant Count is an amazing character made memorable by the voice actor who dubbed his English lines.

          ** I used to dislike dubbing, but now I love the displaced, dreamlike atmosphere it helps create. Of course, from an Italian perspective it’s entirely accidental.

  • Levres de Sang

    Ah, I was hoping you might fall under the Euro Horror spell… but a big thank you for today’s AF review, Carson! There’s a lot for me to think about.

    My European preferences notwithstanding, I’ve really tried to streamline LET US TOUCH THE SUN and eradicate any obscure usage; but the “overwritten” note seems destined to follow this script to its grave! Ultimately, I suspect it betrays its origins as a predominantly visual conception / homage to the hypnotic stylings of Jess Franco… A roundabout way of expressing my main takeaway:

    The three most important things in scriptwriting: Story, Story and Story!

    ** Some 1970s Euro Horror recommendations for Carson:

    DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS (Harry Kumel, 1970)
    VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS (Jaromil Jires, 1970)
    VAMPYROS LESBOS (Jess Franco, 1971)
    VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD (Jess Franco, 1971)
    LIPS OF BLOOD (Jean Rollin, 1975)
    SUSPIRIA (Dario Argento, 1977)

    • S_P_1

      Some writers have a thorough concept of how a script translates to screen imagery. When you invest significant effort towards tone, mood, setting then the only proper justice the script will receive is self directed or like minded director. I think this script falls under passion project. It’s better seen than described.

      • carsonreeves1

        This is exactly what I was thinking.

    • brenkilco

      I believe Vampyros Lesbos is just out on blu ray. Never heard it was much good. But the greatest title in movie history, hands down.

    • Poe_Serling

      What a great list for those interested in taking a quick dip in the dangerously seductive yet murky waters of ’70s Euro Horror.

      The one common denominator among all the listed films – the story often takes a back seat to the imagery flashing across the screen.

      Here is where I think your script succeeds with flying colors – in the creation of that haunting mood/tone on the written page.

      And as Carson mentioned above, it’s your decision now in which direction to take the project or just stay the course and see if a like-minded director/producer/etc. might hop aboard to bring your vision to life.

    • Eddie Panta

      • Levres de Sang

        I adore Delphine Seyrig in this…! Although everything about the film was probably too much of an influence. Either way, it’s never been out of my top five.

        • Eddie Panta

          Yes, it’s definitely better than any of the Hammer Horror vampire flicks.
          Delphine is exquisite but I loved Andrea Rau in this.

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

      I was wondering why you made it in the 70’s. Could it not take place in present day? Would save quite a bit of money on budget.

      And sometimes it takes a while for a novelist to throw away those heavy prose. We feel somewhat naked without them in our writing.

      But I think salting it with good prose every once in a while (and with words most of us don’t need a dictionary to understand ;) it favors it and makes it more visual, and takes us there a little easier. But I think we have to be selective in which words we choose and where we place them and when we place them. And of course, why.

      So are all these movies vampire movies?

      • Levres de Sang

        This one started out as a homage so I suppose it felt like a natural choice to set it in the 70s, but it’s a very fair point as to budget and it did cross my mind. The reason I kept it, though, was simply because I felt the Mediterranean island settings have probably changed less than urban centres elsewhere.

        Yes, it’s been a difficult transition from prose fiction to scriptwriting and there’s still a long way to go!

        ** Daughters of Darkness, Vampyros Lesbos and Lips of Blood are all vampire films. The other three are more difficult to classify.

      • BSBurton

        Good points rick. Good to see you online ;)

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

          Don’t get used to it lol

    • andyjaxfl

      Looking forward to reading your next script!

      • Levres de Sang

        Thanks Andy! It’s’ a supernaturally themed script and I’m looking forward to working on it…

    • BSBurton

      Glad you got the review. Hope someone sees this and approaches you about optioning it!

      • Levres de Sang

        Thanks Byron!

  • Randy Williams

    Congrats to the writer for making it on AF!

    I didn’t think this was “overwritten” at all. I mean, visually on the page, it looks spare, reads pretty quickly. Look at the action scene at the airport. Most writers would have large blocks of black there. This is almost Die Hard material and it worked. Look at the scene where Chang is working the rope that binds him “between crashing of night waves” In a few lines the writer has totally put me there. Loved that image there.

    Maybe all the little details may be thought of as overwriting. Look at the revival of Sweeney Todd on Broadway or the Broadway musical version of the movie, Once, or many other shows where the cast serves as the orchestra instead of having it in a pit. In this script, I thought the camera was “on stage” and I needed all those little details.

    I agree with the suggestion that the inspector could be made a woman. An older woman, perhaps struggling with growing old and losing her beauty since I felt a recurring theme was women and aging.

    “These veins so secretly aged” Loved this line among many others.

    • Levres de Sang

      Thanks Randy! Glad you’re making it to the end… :)

      • klmn

        Congrats on being picked.

        • Levres de Sang

          Thanks Ken!

          Hopefully, Carson will repeat the Second Chance AF opportunity before too long and we’ll get to see Corridor of Freaks having its day.

          • klmn

            Thanks Levres!

    • http://apairoftools.wordpress.com/ Sebastian Cornet

      I don’t think “overwritten” in this case means having large blocks of text. I might be recalling things wrong, but while the prose looked sparse on the page, the sentences themselves could a little dense.

      They weren’t obscure, but I agree with Carson in that they made the reading a bit more cumbersome for a screenplay. It would argue it was trying even by novel’s standards.

      • carsonreeves1

        Yeah, that’s what I was referring to. Sorry for the confusion!

    • BSBurton

      Good post randy. Always enjoy your insight. Hope you’re well.

  • S_P_1

    I would like to read a future article on overwritten scripts or scripts considered too smart.

    • S.C.

      “There is a tendency to want to impress by working in all kinds of complex themes and philosophies – show how you’re the next Paddy Chayefsky. In truth, it’s your inexperience not intellect that’s being put on display. If long intricate theories and complicated Byzantine ideas are your cup of tea, write a book.” KEN LEVINE

      http://kenlevine.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/overwriting-and-why-its-bad-to-write.html

    • Craig Mack

      A prime example of a script that is “overwritten” is The Strangers 2. Great story lost in the writer’s prose. It took me three times to finish the thing. I found myself screaming at my ipad at some of the pretentious phrasing.

      Such as: “There is a BREATH of air. A single BREATH.”; “A single BREATH. A SINGLE breath escapes Kristen’s lips.”…

      Please… stop.

      • S.C.

        This is a GREAT piece of unfilmable overwriting, at least in my view. From the original $500,000 spec of RUSH HOUR by Ross LaManna:

        FADE IN:

        EXT. LOS ANGELES – DAY

        The whole dysfunctional megalopolis, beige and blurry in the summer smog. If this is the American Dream, do me a favor and wake me up.

        Read the rest of the script – it’s nuckin’ futs (and nothing like the Jackie Chan movie)!

        http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/RushHour.html

        http://www.screenwritersutopia.com/article/d15426a8

        • Casper Chris

          I like that.

          “beige and blurry in the summer smog” rolls of the tongue nicely (alliteration) and paints a vivid picture. The rest adds a bit of voice.

        • S_P_1

          From the Hollywood hills you can see the downtown smog. The second sentence is slightly Shane Black-ish.

          • S.C.

            This was 1994. But I think it still works.

            Hey, Carson, if you’re reading this, this would be a good script to read. It ups the GSU from the produced movie (if the FBI don’t get the kidnapped family back in time, Los Angeles will be destroyed and we’ll be at war with North Korea).

            Plus, the lead character’s name is Carson!

          • S.C.

            From RUSH HOUR:

            Miranda JAMS her heel into his groin. He cries out.

            MIRANDA
            Ever hear of “fuck-me” pumps? Well, these are fuck you pumps!
            (pushes harder)
            Where’s the family?

    • Michael

      Carson wrote that article last week, “My Sentence Is Better Than Your Sentence.”

      http://scriptshadow.net/scriptshadow-250-article-my-sentence-is-better-than-your-sentence/

      After developing your ability to tell a compelling story, readability should be the next skill you hone in prioritizing your journey as a screenwriter.

      Your story may be a Ferrari, but it might as well be a clunker Hyundai from the 80’s if it doesn’t have any gas in the tank. Readability is the gas in a script that will allow you the hit the accelerator and propel the story forward. People will enjoy staring at a Ferrari for only so long before losing interest, but let them take it out for a drive and they will drive it all day long.

  • brenkilco

    In no way is this script overwritten in the usual sense. It’s actually quite spare, but it isn’t simple. At once very specific in its imagery and quite elliptical. The prose and the narrative are both deliberately dreamlike. So it looks like it should be a quick read but it requires concentration. And it appears Carson and others find that frustrating. Judged from the pov of a reader being paid by the script I suppose they have a point. Still, nice to know that experiments like this are still being attempted. Congrats to Lev.

    • Levres de Sang

      Thanks brenkilco!

      In all honesty, it was an “experiment” that originated from a somewhat naive standpoint. But maybe that’s a good thing…

  • mulesandmud

    Back when the horror genre was a second class citizen, horror buffs mostly sat at the weird table in the corner of the cafeteria, showing each other splash pages from Fangoria. Even then, Euro-horror fans were the weirdos at the weird table.

    Now, horror is a cash cow and a go-to genre for spec screenplays, but Euro-horror got left in the corner. Fans of the genre are an endangered species at best.

    I have deep love for Dario Argento, and have logged lots of hours with the Bavas, Franco, Fulci, and other heavy Euro-hitters. While I’m glad I did the work, I think most of those films are curiosities more than must-sees. Their weird mix of pomp and camp is pretty hard to decode. Often it feels more like the directors just dumped their psychosexual baggage on screen rather than tried to tell an actual story.

    I mean that almost as a compliment. Some of those filmmakers really tapped their inner demons in a cool way. David Lynch is one of the few American directors I know who even comes close in terms of injecting pure subconscious into his films.

    Maybe the thing I admired most about Euro horror is that it wasn’t particularly scary. More often it was gross, or erotic, or gross/erotic, or ponderous, or just plain moody.

    I hate how narrow the modern definition of horror has become. Horror isn’t all about scares, cheap or deep. At its core (WARNING: I’m about to get into it here), horror stories are about confronting ‘the other’. They’re about the collision of the real world and the unknown, about people encountering something they don’t understand, often something supernatural and/or inexplicable, and attempting to reconcile what they’ve found with what they know.

    Fear is part of that, sure, but so is attraction, repulsion, disgust, fascination, repression, humor, etc. Horror gives a story access to a full emotional spectrum, most of which tend to get ignored in the genre nowadays. Many of my favorite horror movies – BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA, THE SHINING, CARRIE, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, ROSEMARY’S BABY, EYES WITHOUT A FACE, DON’T LOOK NOW, AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, NOSFERATU (Murnau or Herzog) – make scares a secondary concern, or else hardly a concern at all.

    Am curious to see if LOST IN THE SUN shares the Euro-horror indifference toward what most people consider horror. Will try to give it a look later and post some thoughts.

    Levres, are you planning to more work on this script, or have you moved on at this point?

    • Will_Alexander

      A lot of what you’re saying about the horror genre is why I consider (and I know I’m not alone) Jurassic Park as much or more of a horror movie as it is any other genre, and I think it’s a really great one — an update of the Frankenstein story.

      I’ve always wanted one of its sequels to just fully embrace the horror side of it and run with it. I think there’s a possibility that the new one MAY go that way. I’m hoping, anyway.

    • Midnight Luck

      I believe at the core of Horror it must actually be about the fear of SELF and CHAOS and the pure RANDOMNESS unknown of it all. Yes it is about about the “Other”, but the truly terrifying “other” for people isn’t some masked man going to chop you up, it is about “other which is us and what we might in our deepest souls be capable of, or acts we might do just because, and all the things we don’t understand about “us”. All the things deep down that make us uncomfortable and make us question the world, our place in it, how anything works, why things happen, and how the unknown can appear out of nowhere, at any time, for any reason, and DOESN’T have to make one lick of sense at all.
      RANDOM, CHAOS, and SELF are to me, the three key aspects of what a truly great Horror story must contain.

      • Linkthis83

        dig this

    • Levres de Sang

      Fabulous post as always, mules!

      And you’re right about Euro Horror being “left in the corner”. Although I believe there are faint flickerings of its influence in things like The Stange Colour of your Body’s Tears and The Duke of Burgundy.

      “I hate how narrow the modern definition of horror has become. … horror stories are about confronting ‘the other’. … Maybe the thing I admired most about Euro horror is that it wasn’t particularly scary.”

      Absolutely! For me it’s this strange, mesmeric quality whereby characters are manipulated by circumstance. Not dissimilar to Last Year at Marienbad — which could also be deemed a horror film at a stretch.

      ** For the sake of my sanity I’m pressing on with a new script as I’ve now been through 100+ iterations of LET US TOUCH THE SUN. I really need something else in my back pocket.

      Please don’t get me wrong: I’m thrilled to get the AF slot as well as all the notes people are posting today. They’re certainly not wasted as in the first instance I will take principles (such as grendl’s point as to a clearly identifiable protagonist) into my new supernaturally themed script.

      I hope you get the chance to take a look at LET US TOUCH THE SUN.

  • Linkthis83

    Congrats, Levres, on the review and condolences on the rating (expected or not).

    I’ll be on the road for the next ten hours so I won’t be able to hang out and discuss today. And I will refrain from posting anything I’d like to discuss because I don’t have the time to articulate it well enough to not seem combative or falsely authoritative.

    The simplest and clearest thing I can express is this:

    Sometimes writers aren’t “trying” to be the thing a reader thinks they are. Sometimes that writer is just writing…as an instinct. And that instinct is made up of experience, feeling, skill, desire, intention, etc. It’s not calculated as “trying” to sound smart and it’s not prose for prose sake. The voice of the story is the voice of the story via the entity that crafts it. And for this particular story, you need atmosphere. A very specific ambiance to put you into it’s world. My feeling is that this style for this story is rooted in its intention. You can’t deliver what Levres has without the style. He’s not trying to be anything other than what is necessary to tell this tale. That’s my feeling anyway…

    …if I’m mistaken, however, Levres…you son of a…

    • S.C.

      Safe trip, friend.

      You are right, and we should respect both the needs of different genres and a writer’s individual voice; however, we are right to call attention to any aspect of script that makes it a tricky read.

      • Linkthis83

        Thanks, man.

        Calling attention and/or saying the writer is trying to be something are different components to me. I don’t care about the right and wrong of it, just the context. I feel one thing is a potential benefit to a writer and the other one is more about the reader.

    • Levres de Sang

      Thank you, Link! You’ve nailed it perfectly once again!

    • Midnight Luck

      Hey, I was just on the road for 10 hours as well. Great minds, huh?
      Now I am amongst the Beach-y towns of L.A. as it happens.

      Picking up a little sunny ocean air…
      So it proceeded to monsoon – pour on the entire drive, which California desperately needs, but tough driving for the middle of the night.

      Hope your trip is grand…

      • Linkthis83

        It stormed most of my trip as well :) Hope you enjoy your beach-y towns.

      • BSBurton

        Midnight, what’s new? How have you been? Glad you had safe travels

  • JakeBarnes12

    Reminds me of the langor of Visconti’s “Death in Venice” crossed with the foreboding of Roeg’s “Don’t Look Now” liberally sprinkled with the cheesiness of Jaeckin’s “Emmanuelle.”

    “Berberian Sound Studio” got made because it didn’t simply ape Giallo but used its tropes to showcase Strickland’s unique vision.

    Strip away the Foster Grants and Dunhills and we have here little more substance than an ad for Aramis.

    • Levres de Sang

      Not sure if these are compliments, criticisms or both, but I’m a huge admirer of both Roeg and Visconti. The ‘coming down to dinner’ scene in Death in Venice is one of my favourites. That 70s soft porn ambiance was deliberate, too!

      Afraid I still haven’t seen Berberian Sound Studio, but Strickland’s new film The Duke of Burgundy looks like an intriguing throwback to 70s Eurotica.

    • walker

      In fairness I know plenty of people that when you strip away their Foster Grants and their Dunhills have very little substance.

  • Javier Eliezer Otero

    I second Carson here, the script is too way overwritten, I couldn’t pass the second page.

    I like prose in a screenplay. I use it myself because I think it enriches the reading experience, but it is something that should resonate with the action. To give us a hint of something more. I didn’t see that here. If you’re going to use prose, you need to be aware of this point and only use it, if it’s necessary to the action element involve.

    I would love to see Rose review. That script deserve a chance in the Amataur Friday. Please Carson, please.

    • walker

      I am afraid that you do not understand the meaning of the word “prose”.

      • Javier Eliezer Otero

        Yes I do, my friend.

        • S.C.

          So do I. A little bit of novel-like prose in a screenplay stops the writing from being too clinical.

          • Javier Eliezer Otero

            That’s what I’m saying Scott. It really enriches the experience, but you just have to use it carefully. Remember it is first a screenplay.

        • walker

          Well then you would know that every screenplay is written in prose. As are most novels, as well as nonfiction, journalism, academic works, and instruction manuals. Carson’s article is prose, your comment is prose and so is my response. I think what you may mean is stylized, atmospheric prose, which is often dismissed as “purple prose” when it is deemed to be unsuccessful. But “prose” is simply defined as any writing which is not intended as poetry.

          • Javier Eliezer Otero

            Well that’s what I’m saying walker. Maybe I should have used the “purple prose” word.

          • walker

            Yes I believe you are referring to various types of elevated prose styles that are employed by writers for a range of effects. Not all of it should be called “purple prose”, because that is really a pejorative phrase used in criticism. The word “prose” is a general term used to refer to any writing that is not overtly poetic. In most cases it is used with some sort of modifier to make it more specific. Here you are mainly talking about techniques for polishing your descriptive prose to make it more memorable or effective within your story framework.

  • Scott Strybos

    OT: Did anyone watch Wayward Pines last night? Its debut attracted only 3.8million viewers, which is low. Not many were enticed. I enjoyed the books, but since I know the twists, opted not to watch the series. That and the show didn’t look good from the trailers. If you did watch the pilot, I’m curious: what did you think and have you read the books?

    • Andrew Parker

      It premiered against the Blacklist and Scandal finales. That was a Fox scheduling error. Couldn’t they wait one more week?

      I personally thought it was OK. Visually pretty solid by M Night. The story mysteries didn’t really set their hooks into me. Probably would have been better billed as summer event series like Under The Dome or Extant. Those are “bigger” shows, but they also were able to get strong marketing pushes. Wayward just kind of limped onto the air.

      • Frankie Hollywood

        Yep, I agree 100% with your assessment.Though, since I read the pilot I wasn’t expecting to be too impressed with the first episode. But since it’s only 10 shows I’ll probably stick with it.

    • Eric

      I checked it out and turned it off halfway through. I found myself unengaged with any character or situation on screen. The pacing was off. The characters stiff. The protagonist acted in a way that was absurd. It would’ve taken me about ten minutes of walking around town to realize everyone was screwing with me, but this guy just wouldn’t ask any relevant questions. It’s what Roger Ebert referred to as an “idiot plot”. The events can only take place as long as key characters act like idiots. There were also flashbacks whose sole purpose was give us scenes where the characters spoke nothing but exposition.

      I felt confused because I’d heard a lot of good things. I wondered if it was just me. In trying to assure myself, I found this pretty humorous recap of how I felt (at least until I turned it off). Spoilers abound, of course…

      http://observer.com/2015/05/wayward-pines-wtf-recap-week-one-there-are-no-crickets/

      My favorite part…

      “We get a flashback to a time when Ethan led his son blindfolded on his birthday to his mom holding a birthday cake. That…is bullshit. If you’re going to blindfold a teenage son on his birthday you better lead him to something better than his mom with a cake.”

  • http://apairoftools.wordpress.com/ Sebastian Cornet

    Well, if anybody else is a fan of Euro Horror, then it might be a good time to support the new generation! Check out what I found today: Nazi zombies on flying sharks!

    • klmn

      That’s the dumbest thing I ever saw. A one joke premise. Maybe there are enough idiots to fund it.

      • http://apairoftools.wordpress.com/ Sebastian Cornet

        If there were enough people to stand behind Sharknado, I’m sure there’ll be a couple behind this one, too. It’s already getting more backing than I thought possible…so who knows?

    • Frankie Hollywood

      Is this a new trend? If it can swim, now it can fly?

      These two are gonna go at it like Alien vs Predator.

      • http://apairoftools.wordpress.com/ Sebastian Cornet

        It’ll be the Godzilla vs. Mothra of my generation! In all fairness, at least the Leviathan guys are trying harder. If they get a good story for all these visuals, I’d be in.

      • Eddie Panta

        … change Jump The Shark to Jump the Flying Whale.

  • S.C.

    It’s an homage. Rhymes with fromage… if you’re an American.

    Don’t read enough horror scripts to know if it is plagirized; reads odd though.

  • Eddie Panta

    It’s not what you do… It’s the way that you do it.
    Is it really all about Story, Story, Story or is it about your take on the “story”?

    This script puts Levers’ firmly within the realm of a writer/director.
    After all, we have films like KISS of the DAMNED ( 2012) and Eli Roth’s GREEN INFERNO ( 2013)
    Ti West’s schoolboy obsession with the 80’s straight to video b-movie horror scenes with their lingering open spaces – building tension and disarming the audience to the point in which they relax enough and stop looking for information. Should these sequences be described in script format, or left entirely to the director?

    Is it wrong,or some how illegal to be direct in our attempt to visually titillate, to exploit the viewers common approach to cinema. Perhaps the pages of a screenplay are not the best way to express these intentions. But, it’s a fun challenge. Somebody IS going to do it.

    Back in the day, you had to scrape the bottom of the barrel of a video store to get to these weird ass 70’s films dubbed English release. Believe me, I’ve dug up a lot of chum.
    The reason being is that after you went through all the 80’s horror rip offs of Friday The 13th and Halloween, there wasn’t much left that had an effect on you… They all seemed the same. They followed a very Western formula.

    Finding the 70’s Euro horror/exploitation/giallo films like THE SLASHER ( so sweet, so perverse ) on the Monterey BigBox release or the impossible to find REDNECK ( La Senza Regione) Fulci’s the BEYOND. Paul Naschy’s monster horror movies was like entering into a different world of movies. Now these films are easy to right off, but it’s also easy to forget how groundbreaking they really were in their time. Style did eclipse form in these films, they took you to a place where the typical narrative structure couldn’t.

    In most of Levres’ passages, the VERB effects the OBJECT prior to the SUBJECT, the character. This disorientes the typical narrative structure by placing importance on tactile movements that seem independent of the “story”. Most things are treated with equal importance. It’s a more democratic approach to the character’s experience within the scene.

    Perhaps Levres’ writing is a little showy. The reader definitely feels the weight of all the spicy words. . But the answer is for Levres’ not to be less challenging, only to be more true to his vision, without seeking out playful sentences.

    I thought Let Us Touch The Sun would of benefited from a page format that was more suitable to the prose style. Something along the lines of the format in “Near Dark”. This would help with the pacing as well.

    • Eddie Panta

      Quelli che contano
      (1974)

    • Levres de Sang

      I really enjoyed your thoughts here, Eddie. Thank you!

      And an especially interesting observation about all things being treated with “equal importance” in my scenes. I wasn’t aware of that, but again it probably betrays the script’s predominantly visual origins.

      I’ve just downloaded the Near Dark script and noticed that it’s written in a version of the haiku style. And actually, a much earlier version of Let us Touch the Sun did adopt this technique; but I found people didn’t like it at all. Although you’ll notice that I’ve retained elements of it here and there — especially towards the end, which seems in line with Carson recently saying that scripts should read faster by this point.

      ** You clearly found some fascinating stuff in your local video store! Personally, I need to watch more Jess Franco!

  • ripleyy

    It’s possible someone has already mentioned this, but this would have been a much more enjoyable story if Malika was actually an informant sent to see if Valerie is, in fact, a murderer, only to realize she is actually a vampire playing a game on Malika.

    That version could be really intense, just the thought of Malika sending messages to Chang or someone else and trying to conceal her identity from Valerie, while she herself is slowly coming onto Malika.

    • Levres de Sang

      That does actually sound like a really interesting idea! I suppose there are so many ways in which we can take a story and it’s imperative we choose the best. As Carson says in his review (and with yesterday’s article in mind) it may well be that I didn’t find the best combination in terms of dramatic tension for these characters in this particular situation. I guess it also comes down to choice of genre as well.

      All these choices being a primary reason why screenwriting is so difficult!

      • ripleyy

        Tell me about it. There are like 21 outcomes for every idea, and it’s hard to figure out which way is the best never mind how about writing that idea to the best of your ability.

        I think you’re in a unique situation though where every idea being mentioned is good. :)

  • Kirk Diggler

    I think Carson nailed the problem here. I made two attempts to read this and had trouble both times. Levres has written the script from the auteur’s point of view, a great deal of care went into creating the finer details, and those details lend credence to the fact that Levres would probably make a hell of a director.

    But his strength on that front cut into my clarity. It bogged the read down. This is a script that is easy to admire, hard to like.

    Re-write this script as if someone else was directing. Sneak in bits of atmosphere whenever necessary. Strip it down to story and characters. Will it stand on it’s own without all the bells and whistles? I don’t have that answer. But I wish you good luck with it.

    • Levres de Sang

      “Re-write this script as if someone else was directing.” That’s terrific advice and something I’ll definitely keep in mind going forward. Thanks Kirk.

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

    I like the idea of a suspenseful and steamy vapire Basic Instinct

  • walker

    Just finished this new draft. Wore my smoking jacket while I was reading. Congratulations to Levres for making AF, and for participating in the forums today. Always happy to see SS regulars featured.

    • Levres de Sang

      Thanks Walker! (I’ll try and respond to as many comments as I can.)

  • Levres de Sang

    I’ve worked on this script on and off since 2011 and can honestly say it’s NOT plagiarized. I HAVE incorporated / adapted several lines of dialogue from J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s out of copyright 1872 novella, CARMILLA. This, however, is clearly acknowledged on my title page.

    Sorry my script isn’t for you.

  • Casper Chris

    Good point about the ESD. I thought about mentioning that as well, then thought maybe a director would come up with a way to convey it visually. Maybe some blurry, dream-like vignette on the ESD scenes. But still, like you say, it should probably be clearer from the actions of the character. That was my initial thought as well.

  • klmn

    Nazis piloting mechanical sharks?

    Do I agree? Hell no!

    • http://apairoftools.wordpress.com/ Sebastian Cornet

      Judging from Marcos’ description, I have to wonder if he was referring to the Leviathan teaser.

  • Midnight Luck

    Congrats Levres on the AmFri coverage.! Great Job.

    • Levres de Sang

      Thanks Midnight! I know you always enjoy something a little different… :)

  • walker

    Hey if there is zero voice and it’s plagiarized, then the original writer must have no recognizable voice, in which case how could you tell it was plagiarized and why would anyone appropriate the material?

  • Levres de Sang

    Thanks billy! I seem to be getting this “will work better on screen” note quite a bit so clarity on the page is clearly an area where I need to improve.

    Love the Argento comment! And pleased that you picked up on that European art house vibe, too.

    • Marija ZombiGirl

      Have you seen his DRACULA 3D ?? Please trust me when I tell you that no, he would not be a good choice for this ^^
      As you already know, I enjoyed your script immensely because of the way it was written, and I agree with Kirk Diggler above and others who have stated that you’d make a “hell of a director” :) Of course, that road is paved with a whole other set of problems but who knows, you might walk down it one day. It is the “worst” I could wish you ;)

      • Levres de Sang

        I couldn’t even get through the trailer for Argento’s Dracula! It just looked ridiculous! Actually, I haven’t seen any of his post-Tenebrae work, but get the sense that very little after Opera (1987) is worth a look.

        ** I hope you get the chance to finish my script. :)

  • Howie428

    I’ll make notes as I read… A number on page 1, that’s it, I’m out!

    Pg 2 – The first page and a half are visually fun, but I’m not sure the content merits that much page space.

    Pg 3 – The teaser is solid stuff, but doesn’t hook me as such and feels a bit drawn out for what actually happens.

    “SUPER: ONE MONTH LATER” – Feels a bit odd to tell us this when the stuff that happened so far is so vague and not time specific.

    Pg 7 – We’re getting quite a bit of back story set out here, but in spite of that I’m still not feeling settled within the story. Maybe some actual events rather than news stories and gossip commentary would set the context for us.

    Pg 8 – “… She’s barely changed.” – I’m afraid I missed the set up for this pay-off, so I’m not getting how we’d know he’s thinking this.

    Pg 11 – Admittedly I’ve just had my head pummeled by seeing Age of Ultron, so I’m not concentrating very hard, but I’m finding it a bit awkward to follow the flow of this.

    Pg 15 – I recently saw “Only Lovers Left Alive,” which is a take of the same idea of long lived vampires and seems tonally similar to this. I guess that has the effect of making the twists about their long lives not very exciting to me, and I’ll admit I’m getting a bit impatient for more plot to kick in.

    Pg 24 – During this gap I took a look at Carson’s review and the other comments to see if I was unusual in finding this awkward to read. I’m finding that it feels like reading a Shakespeare play in the sense that it is heavy with flourish, and the story is hard to get at in the background. Of course, when they perform Shakespeare it usually turns out well, and perhaps the story in this would emerge in performance as well.

    Pg 26 – “Yet those two women do not age a day!” – I can see how this could be a big story moment, but for me it feels quite well-worn. The murder aspect of the story seems like the fresher side of things, but even that dimension is commonly played in vampire stories. “Only Lovers Left Alive” includes these issues but gets a new angle by focusing on the impact of extreme long life on the skills and loves of vampires.

    I guess that makes me wonder what that fresh insight is for your story. I’m wondering if that aspect can be the Mother/Daughter relationship. Valerie could be a woman who lost her children at the point when she became immortal. She craves finding teen girls who will be happy to be a daughter to her. If the attempt fails then she has to kill some of them. If it succeeds she will turn them so that they can remain in the role. Of course after several decades each new daughter would grow tired of Valerie and move on, leaving her alone once again.

    If you follow that note then this movie becomes the story of one such search for a new daughter. It would begin with rejection by the previous one and play through to an ending that perhaps breaks the cycle. I guess that what you’re actually doing is exactly this, but with lesbian lovers, which is fine, but more difficult to attach emotional baggage to, and more difficult to make stand out from other lust related stories.

    Pg 45 – I’m finding that the situation of this story remains quite static. The investigators seem to make minor discoveries which all hint at vampires, while the vampire courts her new girl. It feels like these beats are repeating themselves rather than the story propelling forward.

    Pg 53 – Again in the last few pages, Rollin researched vampirism in an archive, followed by Valerie and Malika getting hot.

    Pg 71 – Things have got going now. I’m enjoying the relationship process, although I guess I’d wonder whether there could be more uncertainty and tension about it.

    Pg 74 – The thing with Malika’s father feels a bit random. I guess I always wonder about stories that rely on characters having convenient supernatural visions of other places.

    Pg 84 – These pages work fine. However, I guess they feel to me like a second act story sequence since the story has moved on and fresh investigations are happening, but I’m not sure I’m seeing a build to a finale.

    Pg 91 – I’m enjoying that things are rattling along now, although I’m not sure I know where they are going and what the point of it all is.

    Pg 102 – And the ending reveal of the other girls is good stuff.

    As others have noted this is a visually fun feast. The stylization is cool.

    For me the primary note I’d have is that the story feels a bit thin. It feels like a story where you have several strong beats in mind, but have drawn out the rest of the story to fill the space. I suggest considering adding a layer or two of plot to the story, or possibly rethinking what you have with the thought that the plot you currently have only covers two-thirds, or a half of the story.

    Having said that, it’s fair to note that “Only Lovers Left Alive” also has a thin plot, and even though it could have used more, it did make that work out. So an alternate approach might be to simplify things so that they flow smoothly, then focus in on the main characters and their relationship.

    I hope there’s something useful in these meandering notes. Congratulations on getting your day in the sun.

    • Levres de Sang

      My belated thanks for your helpful notes, Howie. (It’s taking me all weekend to get to everyone!)

      I was genuinely thrilled that you read the entire script. And just to answer one or two of your questions:

      1. Pg 8 – “… She’s barely changed.” – I’m afraid I missed the set up for this pay-off, so I’m not getting how we’d know he’s thinking this.

      Yes, this is a total unfilmable, but I imagined the camera lingering on Rollin following his brief interaction with Valerie simply to infer that there’s some history between them. It’s paid off later (Page 51):

      ROLLIN (V.O.)
      Because, like that barman, I’d
      seen her before… In Ostende,
      Antwerp, Eindhoven.
      (then)
      Haunting that cool, bloodless
      autumn of sixty-six.

      2. Only Lovers Left Alive: Someone else mentioned this film when my script appeared on AOW. I haven’t seen it, but probably should!

      3. Your Mother/Daughter note is really interesting and not something I thought about. It just shows how many possibilities there are with our characters. I suppose the lesson is to explore as many possibilities as we can before committing to only one.

      4. Pg 74 – The thing with Malika’s father feels a bit random. I guess I always wonder about stories that rely on characters having convenient supernatural visions of other places.

      I had to start bringing all six main characters together. What I Learned: Reduce main character count on next script!

      5. I’m pleased that you liked the ending reveal — especially as you’re the first person to ever mention it!

      6. For the sake of my sanity, I really must put this script aside but I’m hearing the “thin plot” note loud and clear and will ensure that I give that aspect more attention on subsequent scripts.

      Once again, I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you. Thank you again for reading!

  • Levres de Sang

    Thank you, Laura! I guess you craved that “Where’s the danger?” moment. Hopefully, the lesbian vampire blood-lust scene (page 44) or Natalia bringing the glass of blood to her lips (page 48) at least came close in this respect.

  • Levres de Sang

    Thank you for an insightful set of notes, grendl! I’ll try to address some of them…

    Undoubtedly the first 10 pages caused me the most trouble and it may well be because as you say “We need a representative in this story. We need that in order to work our way up to Valerie. She’s given to us on a silver platter and where do you go from there?”

    Perhaps this absence of a representative is indicative of story choices not being made at the premise stage. Consequently, it became this dual narrative (Malika AND Valerie) with a binary opposition (Rollin AND Chang) also vying for the role of protagonist. Needless to say, there were times when I became completely tied up in knots!

    The “blood-red lip gloss” and “glacial, ancient lineage” (Page 1) were intended as visual clues to Valerie’s vampirism, but they’re probably a good example of just how locked in my head these images were. So easy to forget that readers won’t necessarily envisage them in the same light.

    “And your job is not to entrance, enthrall, mystify and shock the people reading your screenplay as much as it is to present them with a clear vision of what we’re going to see onscreen.” Yes, one of my biggest challenges is to dispense with a modus operandi more suited to prose fiction and to work towards a style that does not confuse the reader. I’m trying! Honestly.

    Thank you again for these detailed notes. I will certainly take them with me into my new script.

    Great to see you back!

    • grendl

      Thank you for taking them in the spirit they were given.

      And take it from someone who weathered two brutal days on the boards, none of this will kill you or your script.

      Your passion and desire to improve it are all you need because you are a talented writer.

      Sometimes that works against a screenplay which is just a blueprint. We want to paint pictures in the readers mind, and sometimes forget that its not about the visual, but more about the emotional flow of a script. Thats why we need our representative in a movie.

      We’re born narcissists. We want to experience a movie first hand through our protagonist or we get bored. If Malika is our rep, that would make sense.

      Like you said the detectives are fighting for protag duties too.

      Ask yourself, who needs to learn a lesson in your story. Which life is out of balance and who is the agent of change who can bring it into balance.

      And if I’m wrong about any of this, it wouldn’t be the first time.

      • Levres de Sang

        I concur with BSBurton and especially like your observation as to “the emotional flow of a script”. Fascinating stuff…!

  • Mihailo

    I totally agree with Carson on the advice to make the story your primary goal. Somehow the story doesn’t hook you in enough if you “overwrite” the script. A nice lesson.

    One suggestion to Carson: I often underwrite as I love to keep things simple and easy and fast to read. I would love to see the article about where is the boundary of underwriting and owerwriting your screenplay. Would be great to see that (maybe you had an article on this but I can’t find it?).

    Another thing about the AF script. I didn’t feel much tension and I didn’t really care if Valerie is caught after 4 missing or after she kills Malika, or if she’s left loose. Don’t know why but that’s how I felt, like the were no stakes. I think it’s maybe cause I’ve seen a lot of vampire movies and one more victim (of thousands I’ve seen or read) is no stakes for me.
    But it could be me. I would put more stakes on this – Valerie took Malika by boat to U.S. (first by train to Portugal, then boat to U.S.) and wants to spread the vampirism worldwide. She manages to do that with her sexy companions throught Europe on the road to Portugal and is now on a boat to U.S.

    Screenplay is unique though, I like the style, I liked the words you used that Carson mentioned as too heavy.
    Basically, I think you could be a great screenwriter, and you need to start eating some hollywood brains to get yourself there,
    Some people just want to break through on their own rules, and I respect that. Maybe you want that?
    I saw a lot of positive things in your screenplay and some negative as I said. I would like to read that again with some plot modifications and more stakes.
    But the question is – will you lose the initial fell & idea and do you want to stick with the original plan?

    All in all, you’re one great person and wish you all the luck and success whatever you do with this and any other screenplay.

    And I thing it was a good choice by fellow amateurs choosing this script for AF. Had quite a lot to learn from this AF.

    • carsonreeves1

      I agree with that. The stakes felt low for some reason. I never felt scared for anybody.

    • Levres de Sang

      Hi Mihailo. Thank you for your nice comments and interesting observations! (And sorry it’s taken me a while to get back to you.)

      It’s a fair point as to the feeling of low stakes and that’s something I need to consider at the premise stage on future projects. I also liked your comment about “Hollywood brains” because despite my sensibility being better suited to the European market, there’s no doubt in my mind that when it comes to story dynamics and the screenplay itself the US is way out in front. (In the past people like Francois Truffaut were conscious of the disparity; but I’ve no idea how the current crop of writer/directors in Europe feel about scriptwriting.)

      Anyway, I’m pleased that you found my script a worthwhile choice.

  • Eric

    “Now Eric may chime in and say its not fair to judge a script on ten pages and I would say bullshit.”

    No, but I would say you couldn’t know whether or not he tied his subplots together at the end. That isn’t even an opinion. It’s just a statement of fact. And unemotional as well.

    Try not to get confused. Up vote for everything else.

    • grendl

      It’s just nice to know you read my posts religiously.

      Always good to meet a fan.

      • Eric

        I read every post. Even the greys. It’s okay if you want to create a strawman to knock down for the purposes of creating a point, but you shouldn’t misappropriate people’s words. It’s dishonest and generally distracting.

  • Citizen M

    I’ve read a few pages and I’m not sure if I’ll continue.

    The main thing for me is the frustration at having to work out stuff I should be told. For instance, we are told in the logline we dealing with a Transylvanian countess. So I expect a cool middle-Europe setting.

    p. 1 – But straight away we find ourselves in a hacienda. “Modernist architecture beneath blue Atlantic sky.”

    Well, we have lots of examples of modernist architecture beneath blue Atlantic sky right here in Cape Town. Cost you a pretty penny too. But they’re not really haciendas, so I don’t think our countess is in Cape Town.

    To me, ‘hacienda’ suggests South America. Maybe Spain. Later our countess is ina cafe on a Spanish island. Is the hacienda on the island and she walked to the cafe? Or was she on the boat in the harbor and disembarked with the other passengers? We saw a ‘First Class travel document’ on the table. Presumably it’s a ticket for the boat.

    For something set in a limited location like within a city, it doesn’t matter much where the city is. Seattle or Austin or Saigon, they’re all functionally the same. But where the script ranges widely in time and space, you need a rough idea of where you are and how you moved to get your bearings.

    p. 2 – Valerie’s ESP. She mentally sees a 1930s residence set in England. The question is, have we jumped back in time from 1978 (the time in the hacienda) to the 1930s and these are her memories, or is this some sort of ‘seeing at a distance’ ability she has, and what she sees is what is happening right now?

    We later meet the adolescent girl (presumably 12 or 13 years old) from the ESP, and she’s 19. So presumably these were Valerie’s memories from a few years ago. But why then are they described as ESP? I’m confused.

    p. 2 – I don’t know why the writer chose to break the ESP sequence into three separate sections. Write this as a single montage to help the reader, and let the editor try intercutting it to see what works.

    p. 4 – OT: “FEDERAL REPUBLIC DENY MEINHOFF LAWYER CLAIM” Purely by chance I rented “The Baader Meinhof Complex” last night. Too long and dragged a bit in the second half, but the first half was a riveting re-creation of those troubled times. All those protesting students, where are they now? Worried about their pensions I guess.

    p. 4 – “FOURTH GIRL MISSING: INTERPOL IMPOUND PASSENGER LINER” I think we need to draw more attention to this. It’s the sort odf thing viewers will easily miss unless telegraphed.

    p. 5 – “HOTEL TERRACE” I would like a few lines of scene-setting here. Are they high above the harbor, looking down? Just what does Menorca look like? We can’t picture it like we can picture well-known places like New York, which need almost no description.

    p. 5 – Contess Valerie again. How did she get here from her haciienda? We see Agent Chang’s journey by plane to Menorca, but not the countess’s. I know we should let the audience add two plus two, but I think we are supposed to deduce that from the hacienda she went to a harbor, caught a liner, the liner was impounded in Menorca, and they are now living in a hotel. That’s a bit more than adding two and two. that’s adding two and two, taking the cube root, and multiplying by the date of the American Revolution.

    p. 5 – “Valerie elsewhere…” Is this another of Valerie’s ESPs? When I read this on AOW I thought Malika and her father were on the same hotel terrace as Valerie and Natalia, but now given they are heard in VO i think they are maybe on the liner and Valerie is remembering them while talking to Natalia.

    This uncertainty of what the writer is trying to convey is really annoying!

    p. 8 Now it seems Malika and her father ARE on the hotel terrace. Oh, wait, the father vanishes. So is Valerie just imagining they are there? More and more confused. Give me Chang any day. I know he’s real and he’s touching down at Mahon airport, at the other end of the island from Menorca (I looked at a map).

    p. 8 – Now a “flashback”. Is this different from an “ESP”?

    p. 8 – Katerina in all her “secretarial mystique.” Huh? Those two words don’t go together. is she like a secretary, or is she mysterious?

    p. 9 – And back to the terrace, and then another flashback. That’s one flashback too many for me. I’m out.

    • JakeBarnes12

      Indeed.

    • Citizen M

      Okay, I read to the end. It reads very long for 102 pages, I think because of all the non-story elements.

      “Chang stares at one or two bottles on the dressing table before wandering out onto the balcony.

      A mesh of curtain billows…

      … and falls lazily behind him.”

      That’s one paragraph of story and four lines of fluff.

      The problem is the writer is describing the film as he would shoot it if he were the director, shot for shot.

      But a script has to get the STORY right — the characters, their emotions and interactions, their movements and assumptions. The director breaks it down into shots and storyboards it later, with the editor refining it down to the last frame.

      If you had to ask me what happened, I couldn’t tell you, except in the vaguest terms. It’s all unclear.

      How did Valerie first meet Malika?
      Is Malika vampire born?
      What is the relationship between Natalia and Valerie, and Natalia and Andresson?
      Do these vampires need young female blood, or will any blood do?
      What clues allow Rollins and Chang to follow the trail?
      Why are they one moment cruising on the liner, the next on Madeira or Porto Santo island?
      What is it with Jesus and the ants?
      What are the rules of this vampire world?

      Just too many questions. Also, because we can’t follow the story, there’s no suspense, no sense of danger, just this overall languorous, soporific feeling. Maybe that’s what the writer was going for, but it doesn’t make for a crowd-pleaser.

      • Levres de Sang

        Citizen: A very belated “thank you” for your comprehensive set of notes. It’s taken me longer than I thought to get back to everyone, but I was thrilled (and surprised) that you read the whole script considering the problems you encountered in the opening pages. Certainly, those first ten gave me the most trouble and I’m determined to never go near a flashback or extrasensory perception (ESP) again!

        Anyway, I thought I would provide you with a few answers:

        The script began as a homage to the style of Jess Franco and so I pursued the idea of a vampire in a Mediterranean setting. On Page 1 Valerie is at her hacienda on Porto Santo, but geography is not crucial at this juncture. We do, however, see the first class ticket from the shipping company and later catch up with her among the other passengers on the Balearic island of Menorca — where their ship is impounded following the disappearance of a passenger (Katerina Engelmann) 24 hours earlier.

        Yes, the ESP sequence could be signposted better and unbelievably I forgot to use the ornament as a visual reference; whereas the “1930s residence” is simply the style of the house. I should probaly have put “1930s-style…”

        I thought “adolescence” encompassed the years 12-18. Anyway, the ESP sequence takes us to a period just prior to the narrative present. It indicates Malika’s bereavement and (via the compact of white powder) her father’s involvement in her mother’s death.

        Pages 5-11 take place on the HOTEL TERRACE with all the characters present at the same time (apart from Chang who is on his way there). It is only broken up by Valerie’s flashback to the previous night and the disappearance of Katerina.

        “p. 8 Now it seems Malika and her father ARE on the hotel terrace. Oh, wait, the father vanishes.”

        I was trying to indicate that the camera pushes in on Malika to highlight her crucifix. Perhaps I should have written exactly that.

        How did Valerie first meet Malika? Valerie foresaw their meeting via ESP and the Scrabble tiles. Their actual meeting takes place on Page 10:

        ANDRESSON
        You must meet my daughter,
        Malika Andresson.

        Is Malika vampire born? The implication is that she’s a reincarnation of Nadja the Infamous, one of Valerie’s ancestors.

        What is the relationship between Natalia and Valerie, and Natalia and Andresson? Natalia is also a vampire and Valerie’s companion as well as ex-lover. Natalia draws in Andresson (Malika’s father) so that Valerie can get to Malika.

        Do these vampires need young female blood, or will any blood do? Valerie’s preference is clearly for youthful female blood; but we also see Andresson fall victim to Natalia.

        What clues allow Rollin and Chang to follow the trail? Predominantly those at the hippy commune and the Romanian archive.

        Why are they one moment cruising on the liner, the next on Madeira or Porto Santo island? They reach Madeira on Page 55:

        EXT. FUNCHAL HARBOUR – MADEIRA (BACK TO PRESENT) DAWN
        The Ischia Princess edges past rusted container ships.

        While on Page 57 (in the disco) Valerie invites Malika to her hacienda on Porto Santo:

        VALERIE
        You must visit my hacienda––

        Page 58:

        I/E. HELICOPTER DAY
        A tiny island comes into view against a turquoise sea.

        What is it with Jesus and the ants? Jesus is the Renfield character and the ants are a variation on the flies that Renfield obsessively catches in the Dracula novel.

        What are the rules of this vampire world? I admit they are relaxed in that Valerie moves freely in daylight (albeit behind sunglasses). Again, this comes back to my Jess Franco homage. As does the following:

        “there’s no suspense, no sense of danger, just this overall languorous, soporific feeling. Maybe that’s what the writer was going for, but it doesn’t make for a crowd-pleaser.”

        Finally: “And, just like no plan survives contact with the enemy, no shot list survives contact with the locations.” I like this very much and will take it with me going forward.

        Thanks again for taking the time to provide me with such detailed notes. It is much appreciated.

        • Citizen M

          Okay, fair enough, and thanks for the clarifications.

          Some suggestions…

          Porto Santo. I’d never heard of it. I had to look it up on Wikipedia. For those of us geographically challenged, give us an establishing shot:

          EXT. PORTO SANTO ISLAND – DAY

          A small inhabited island south west of Portugal near Madeira.

          Introducing Malika. I’d connect her more directly with Nadja. Say the picture of Nadja contains an amulet, and we see Valerie holding the same amulet and going into a trance and seeing Malika. (Spelling out “Malika” with Scrabble tiles is going a bit far.) Later she will give the amulet to Malika saying it belongs to her.

          The terrace scene. When you set the scene, say explicitly that Valerie and Natalia are at one table, and Andresson and Malika at another, before any dialogue or action.

          At some point Natalia should say something like, “I see you fancy the girl. I think the man is rather yummy myself.” Something like that, only better of course. Set up that they want to seduce father and daughter. This provides a bit of tension as we wait to see if they pull it off.

          For the rest, I read very quickly and obviously missed a couple of clues.

          • Levres de Sang

            Some more good points. Thank you. I guess we can never have too much CLARITY!

            ** I particularly like your suggestion as to setting the scene on the terrace. It’s so simple and will hopefully avoid a lot of confusion.

  • BSBurton

    You are a wonderful asset to the writing community. This post was crafted with expert skill. Have you considered teaching yourself ?

  • Eric

    Neither your original post, nor my response said anything about doing it successfully. I don’t think most AOWs manage to execute the main plot successfully, but that doesn’t mean the main plot doesn’t exist. For all we know, many of the AOW scripts try to weave in a subplot, or have a subplot take over. Some have subplots take over by accident due to lack of craft. I was simply saying it’s hard to know what’s going on because most of the scripts aren’t compelling enough to get the reader to the end in the first place.

    I’d be like saying, how many SS scripts have happy endings? Who knows. We don’t get to the end of most of them.

  • Eric

    What the heck are we even doing here?

    “We don’t get to the end of them because they lack the skill to entice us to.”

    Congratulations. You’ve repeated me.

    You spoke of a subplot that takes over at the end and asked how many scripts here do that. It’s not controversial to say you have to get to the end to know.

    “To be fair you have no idea how many scripts I read.”

    And there’s nothing in my post to suggest otherwise. You’re creating all sorts of insinuations that aren’t there. The strawman is that you took a simple off-cuff-comment and turned it into, “Eric says we can’t judge a script in ten pages”

    Bullshit. I never said anything close to that. Stop attaching my name to arguments you’ve invented in your head. And stop assuming any response to anything you post is an attack that needs to be “called out” in someway.

  • Jack F.

    Lev, you wrote exactly the script I believe you set out to write. Not a word more, not a word less. It is haunting, creates a genuine mood, and is full of surfaces that would make Oscar Wilde envious. (Reaches for Bauhaus record) Now, I am not sure how a costumer would like being told what to supply for every scene. While visuals of baubles around the necks of gaunt sirens beckoning in the cool night air aid the story, I’m not sure what drinking Pepsi tells me about Chang’s character. Also, as is the case in many Eurohorror films, there is a remoteness to the characters. But this is clearly the effect you were going for. You wouldn’t have Thomas Jerome Newton in “The Man Who Fell To Earth”, for example, go all romantic comedy. The remove is the character and the character is the remove. “Zabriskie Vampire Lovers” – I dig. I was hoping for more time spent with both Chang and Rollin, though. Anyway, thanks for sharing with us. This is not a Hollywood movie. This is not a commercial movie. This is a Lev movie. Best of luck.

    • Levres de Sang

      Thank you, Jack for such a wonderful comment! It’s a great feeling when someone truly understands what you’re trying to achieve. That “remoteness” you mention plays into what I’ve been saying elsewhere on this thread about the mesmeric quality of something like Last Year at Marienbad or the displaced, dreamlike feeling that post-dubbing lends to those 70s giallos.

      I was also thrilled that you mentioned Thomas Jerome Newton and The Man Who Fell to Earth. It’s one of my top 10 films, while Bowie’s Newton is otherness personified! (By the way, I read the book a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. I’d always imagined it wouldn’t match the film, but in actual fact it’s very well written and quite moving, too.)

      You’re most certainly right about Let us Touch the Sun not being a Hollywood/commercial movie. Rather, it’s very much aimed at the European arthouse. (I wonder if any European producers read ScriptShadow…?)

  • BSBurton

    Lol, that’s genius! Have you thought of building your own website?

  • Eric

    You gotten used to it because you do it yourself. Snarky posts that seem a bit vitriolic? Why you never!