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Genre: Psychological Thriller
Premise (from writer): A woman who spent her childhood in a cage, is rehabilitated and given the chance to live a normal life when she moves out on her own, but she meets a mysterious man that threatens to undo her progress.
Why You Should Read (from writer): Okey dokey, gonna keep it simple here… I’m a long time reader of SS. I often lurk in the shadows and comment very rarely, but I absorb all the information like a sponge. I’m a HUGE horror fan and also a lover of character driven films. I wanted to do a new-ish spin on the genre, so I’ve come up with this psychological thriller that I think has a good hook and some complex characters. I’m hoping notes from Carson and the SS community will bring the script to the next level.
Writer: Brittany LaMoureux
Details: 93 pages


A month ago, I laid down the gauntlet. I said, readers of Scriptshadow! I implore you to find me a screenplay heretofore unseen by the Scriptshadow Community, yet still worthy of an Amateur Offerings slot! And so you pitched hundreds of scripts in an endless bid to sway my interest, but only one stood out. Everyone seemed to agree that “Pet” was the script to beat.  And so review it I will.

Now yesterday we talked about the importance of challenging actors with complex roles so you can get financing-worthy attachments to your project. Pet excels in this area, creating two mentally troubled characters trying to carry on their first ever romantic relationship. So the script’s got the characters going for it. But what about everything else? Time to get your adoption papers in order. We’re not leaving here until we find ourselves a pet.

Mya had the unfortunate distinction of growing up in a cage, courtesy of her psycho mother. When said mother commits suicide, leaving her daughter to rot, her uncle, Jake, comes to her rescue. Horrified by the chain of events, he agrees to raise Mya.

Cut to 12 years later and all that cage stuff is in the past. Mya’s a young woman and wants to get out on her own.  Experience the beauties of life.  Like standing in the middle of the cereal aisle at 2 in the morning trying to decide between Lucky Charms and Cocoa Krispies.  Oh yeah, it’s great being an adult.  Jake’s worried about Mya because, well, she’s been sheltered ever since he took her in. To unleash her out into the world now is kind of like dropping a kitten into the middle of New York City.

Mya seems to be doing well though, until she meets Early, a burly intense 30-something who’s a little slow. When Early’s dog gets hit by a car, Mya extends him an olive branch, and all of a sudden they start hanging out. That goes well at first, until Early starts telling Mya that she can’t go to work or contact her uncle.  She has to stay here, with him, all the time.

It appears that our little cage-dweller is once-again, a pet. She’ll have to navigate Early’s increasing paranoia and homicidal tendencies if she stands any chance at getting out of this alive. I guess that means if she doesn’t hurry up, it’ll be too late.  Heh heh.  Get it?

Brittany is a good writer. Pet displays all the qualities of a professional script. The description paragraphs are tight (usually 2 lines or less). There’s a lot of showing instead of telling. The characters are all memorable, even the less important ones (I adored the quirky paint shop owner). The draft is very clean. I don’t think I saw a single spelling/grammar/punctuation error. Which is RARE.

Most tellingly, you see a plan of action here. A lot of times when I read an amateur script, I don’t get the sense that the writer knows where he’s going or what he plans to do. In stark contrast, there’s a deliberate building in Pet, about a girl who escapes from a cage being slowly manipulated into entering another one.  We know that the writer knows where she wants to take this.

The sense of dread that permeates the story is reason enough to keep reading, as we know this is going to end badly and are worried for Mya. A good line of suspense can power the majority of a plot.  But it can’t operate on its own.

At a certain point, I realized how little was going on in the story.  The relationship was developing, and there’s a little side-story about Mya trying to be a better employee at her paint shop.  But other than that, we’re just watching Mya and Early get to know each other.  And since neither of them talk that much (which I’ll get to in a sec), it wasn’t that interesting.

To address this, I thought we needed a twist or two in that middle section – something that changed things around to freshen the story up. The way Hannibal Lecter is released from his cell in the middle of Silence of the Lambs. Something that stirred up the narrative. I actually thought that Brittany was going to trick us. She’d imply that Early was going to be the psycho one, but then pull the rug out from under us and have Mya be the one who cages Early.

The way it stands now, we have yet another creepy guy potentially killing a woman. Is that an original choice?  Can we do better?  Now that I think about it, I realize that my need for twists may imply a bigger problem. Maybe the second act is too slow because we’re not approaching it correctly. Maybe Mya needs more to do, more directions she’s being pulled in.  More plot!

And about that dialogue. Typically in a script, you’ll have one character who’s the dominant talker, and a second character who’s the secondary talker. These two will take up 60% of the movie’s dialogue or more.  In Pet, you have two “secondary” talkers, and that results in a lot of basic, restrained dialogue.

Whenever your main two characters – the people who talk more than anyone else in a script – have similar ways of talking, you get these huge chunks of dialogue with very little contrast.  Dialogue where both characters sound the same can be brutal.  But if both characters are also introverts and therefore don’t talk much?  Now you’ve really handicapped yourself.  I mean how are you going to make that kind of dialogue consistently entertaining?

Here’s an exchange from the middle of Pet. “Nobody aint gonna lock me up no more.” “It’s okay.” “You don’t get it.” “Yes. I do.” “I need to paint.” This is a small sample size but it’s reflective of how a LOT of the dialogue reads. And you can see how that might get frustrating after awhile. At least with me, I wanted to pick these two up, shake them, and say, “Say something!! Don’t just mumble four-word sentences. Say what’s on your mind, man!!” But that moment rarely came.

And to be honest, I don’t know the perfect solution to this. If you make Mya like Clementine from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (babbling all the time) it wouldn’t fit the mood or the tone of the story. If I’d spotted this in the outline stage, my solution would’ve been to avoid it altogether. Rebuild the story so you’re not stuck in this pothole in the first place.  But that doesn’t really help us now, does it.

I guess technically you need to bring a little more personality out of one of the characters.  I always start with humor. Every character has their own sense of humor. It’s a little harder to find humor in really serious pieces, but it can be done. And when it’s done right, it can liven that dialogue right up.  Look no further than The Skeleton Twins.  That dialogue could’ve been really depressing.  And it was in places.  But they found ways to make it funny too.  And I realize Pet isn’t that movie.  It’s its own thing.  But I really feel like one of these two needs more personality if we’re going to stick with them for 95 minutes.

All in all, Pet was a solid effort from a writer I’ll want to see more of in the future. If I hear a good logline from Brittany, I’ll definitely ask to read the script. But this one moved a little too slow and the characters were just a little too reserved for me.

Script link: Pet

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

What I learned: Early in the script, one of the characters in Pet mentions dating on Craigslist. I’ve been noticing a new trend in screenwriting where writers depend a little too heavily on internet-related activities for their characters. They go on Craigslist or watch porn or jump on Twitter or check videos on Youtube. The more it happens, the more it sounds LESS LIKE a real person’s life, and MORE LIKE the average day of a certain writer who never leaves his computer. Your writing is a reflection of your experiences. But your characters should have their own experiences. And a lot of those will be real-life stuff. Don’t fall back on the internet because it’s easy and what you know.

  • Bifferspice

    Congrats to Brittany, this is a terrific script, and seems to be getting her plenty of well-deserved attention – she’s a great writer, and I think destined for good things.

    I like Carson’s notes on this a lot. I personally think that the script reads really well as is – I didn’t find it boring at all, I was hooked throughout – but I still like his ideas of how to change the second act. Interesting things to think about, and to apply to my own scripts.

    Disappointed to see it get a “wasn’t for me”, but I think this is a good review.

    • brittany

      Thanks, Dave! I really appreciate your support! :)

  • Chromeo

    Is there a way we can find out before AF what the script will be? I was all ready to talk about Devil in You from last weekend’s offerings..?

  • Stephjones

    Yay! Congrats, Brittany!
    Thanks, Carson!

  • davejc

    Regarding “What I learned”, I don’t know if that’s true in 2014. Everybody, and I mean everybody, from the farthest reaches and most isolated parts of the planet, is connected. I even know homeless people who are constantly surfing on their government supplied phones.

    I’ve actually been toying with the idea of doing an entire script in computer screenshots. It would certainly keep the budget in line :)

    • Paul Clarke

      Somebody already did it. A short film shown through the guys computer screen. On Facebook, playing his music, etc. Great execution of a simple idea. Wish I could remember what it was called. Someone might be able to chime in.

    • brittany

      The screenshot idea is cool and I’d be interested to see how you pull it off in a script. I watched this indie horror movie on Netflix Instant not too long ago called “The Den” and it was filmed in pretty much all screenshots, I believe. Might be worth checking out as an example. Still, even though it’s already been done that shouldn’t hinder you from trying it out for yourself. Could be a fun writing experiment!

      • davejc

        Congrats Brittany on AF!!!

        The screenshot script (currently shelved) is a romantic comedy, Roman Holiday meets Deer Hunter. The first two acts are screenshots. The third act is f2f, real life. The beauty is the screenshots can be produced out of pocket, and if it does well you can find completion funds for the rest.

    • ArabyChic

      That’s exactly what Elijah Woods’ new movie is:

  • Matthew Garry


    has a great concept, and that combined with an excellent title already makes it a winner. As much as people like to revile Hollywood for its story choices, they have shown to be willing to take up projects just on a concept/idea alone. And in that regard I feel that “Pet” is already “on the market”. However, I did feel the execution was lacking from time to time.

    A story like Pet is very dependent on its characters, and characters is where it sometimes fell short.

    A good rule of thumb is to keep the focus on your interesting characters, and then only when they’re doing interesting things.

    If I look at the first exchange between Jake and Evelyn, Evelyn is almost explicitly set up to be uninteresting. The truth here is that people like Evelyn don’t exist in the real world. Even the most vapid real-life people have reasons for their behaviour; they don’t explicitly do or say things just to be perceived as unlikable.

    Evelyn is predictable here because she’s a flat character, so nothing she will do or say will captivate an audience. She’s already boring before she opens her mouth. In comedies you have a few explicitly flat characters for comedic value, but in a psychological thriller 2 dimensional characters will just work against you.

    Now Jake is interesting. He’s someone who, out of the blue, adopts a child. He’s a good guy. We like him, so we should focus on him: the interesting character. But Jake doesn’t have a lot to work with here. There’s just Evelyn being unlikable and easily rebuked for her selfishness.

    One way of creating things to work with is falling back on the backstory. Often heard advice here is to create a biography for your characters. But often that advice is misapplied and writers just write up a completely normal life story for their characters. Much like how movies are like life with the uninteresting parts cut out, those biographies should focus on the key elements of why your characters are different, and as such would respond differently to situations they encounter than a normal person would.

    As an example, imagine this:

    The only reason why Jake ended up where he is today, is because of his big sister (the crazy mother of Mya). Jake, in fact, is the product of a horribly abuse childhood. Only the fact that his sister always intervened to take the brunt of the abusive behaviour has allowed him to grow up relatively normal. After they managed to leave the house, Jake, being the good guy, tried to take care of his sister. But for her, already being damaged, seeing Jake was just a reminder of a terrible childhood, and she drifted away from him, up to a point where he lost her completely. He simply
    couldn’t find her anymore in spite of his best efforts. That’s Jake’s burden. It pains him, but there was nothing he could do about it, until Mya showed up.

    None of that backstory needs to make it into the narrative, but reimagine the scene between Evelyn and Jake with the above in mind. Now Jake has something to be passionate about. There’s no way he’s going to let this opportunity for redemption
    slide, no matter what Evelyn’s objections will be. It will make him more relatable and understandable. It also allows closing the plothole of how Jake got custody of Mya: he burned enough money to buy a new Mercedes convertible on lawyers, which in turn gives Evelyn a reason to be resentful instead of just plain refusing.

    And ultimately, it gives you an opportunity to make Evelyn more likable, more three dimensional, giving Jake a real dillemma when having to choose between his wife and Mya (whereas currently it’s obvious he will leave Evelyn). One of the reasons for their marriage could be that neither wanted children (Jake for obvious reasons. Evelyn because she doesn’t want to lose her figure; still vapid, but at least grounded). Now Jake has to renegotiate on their marriage, not because it’s easy because he doesn’t like his wife, but because he has no other choice.

    Now that’s just an example, and deepening your characters could go a thousand different directions, but making characters more complex helps steer you away from the easy choices and opens opportunities to let the plot take temporary detours and make the overall journey more interesting.

    To make the execution of “Pet” live up to its concept you’d ideally want every exchange to be as impactful as Early saying “You feel that? You feel that, Momma?”, which was as terrifying as it was dramatic. For that I think you need to deepen characters and really reach deep into their psyches to a degree where you aren’t feeling comfortable doing it anymore.

    But like I said, I feel the concept*execution is already worthy of serious attention, and it’s just a matter of working on the execution to take a potential workload off an interested producer, making it easier for them to get involved.

    • brittany

      These are wonderful notes, Matthew. Thank you for the time you took to read it. You’re dead on about Evelyn, as is everyone else that brings her up as being too much of a caricature spoiled housewife. I now know I need to pull back on her WAY more and sort of twist into what you brought up about how she doesn’t have to necessarily be unlikable, but just unwilling to accept a random child based on her relationship and lifestyle with Jake.

      And wow, your backstory for Jake is pretty close to what I had in my mind. Though, yours is more fleshed out, so that’s awesome! I’ve been struggling to deepen his character without having him take over the script, so I really appreciate the your thoughts. Thanks again!

  • Paul Clarke

    I read the first act. Beautifully written. Easy to visualize, a breeze to read. Very nicely done.

    A couple of thoughts I had:
    – For the first 7 pages Jake is the protagonist. That’s probably bordering on too long. We’re just getting settled in watching events through his POV and the rug is pulled our from under us. We have to readjust and get back into the story from Mya’s POV. Either rework the early scenes so they’re from her POV (excluding the police scene), or make that section much shorter.
    – And secondly – Is it just me or are we missing a huge potential irony by not having her work at a PET STORE? I mean come on, she could be surrounded by animals in cages. Frank wouldn’t know her background. She would want to free them, empathize with them. That would be a more understandable way to get her into trouble. And a better way to bring her into contact with Early. She could still paint as a hobby, just not sure it needs to be her job.

    My 2 cents. Will read on if I get a chance.

    • jeaux

      The Pet store angle is a great idea!

      • Andrew Parker

        Let’s up the ante and make it… a zoo! And the script could have a B-story where she’s bonding with one of the animals in its cage. And she decides to help it escape, as a surrogate for her own inability to escape. And that animal she helps is… a dangerous gorilla!

        If we’re being tawdry, we could also have a scene where she and Early are making love, very carnal. And we do a reverse shot, where we see the bed is one of those iron post ones, so it looks like she’s in a cage.

        Maybe I should read the script instead of making it into a B-movie.

        • Erica

          95% of the comments you get on a work of art is accurate, 95% of the solutions you get are inaccurate. – Neil Gaiman

      • NajlaAnn

        I like the Pet Store idea too.

    • brittany

      Thanks, Paul! Glad you enjoyed the first act. I really like the idea of her working in a pet store. I’m going to think on that. Also, you make a solid point about the POV. That gives me some interesting ideas. Seriously, great insights!

    • Kirk Diggler

      Is it irony? Or maybe a little too obvious? As in hammering home your theme with a pile driver.

      • pmlove

        I agree. Thought it was a great note at first but I think on the big screen you might end up hating that choice.

        Maybe something like a Kindergarten, she keeps letting the kids roam free would work better.

      • Paul Clarke

        Sure, done poorly it would feel very contrived. But I can think of many organic reasons to make her work there:
        – Her therapist advises it as a way to confront her fears and move forward.
        – Getting a job is tough, it’s tougher for someone who had a poor start in life and is probably behind in education.
        – She may sympathize with the animals, be attracted to them in an odd way. Desperate to sell them to new owners so they can be free. In fact she could have these amazing speeches she uses to guilt trip customers about freeing them from their cage, which are really a great way for us to hear insight into how it felt to her, all while not being on the nose (dramatic irony).

        Anyway, just a suggestion that popped into my head. Make the most of the premise. According to the review they paint becomes more prominent.

        • Kirk Diggler

          A solid defense of your idea.

    • Eric

      My only problem with the pet store idea is why would this character want to work in such an environment? Isn’t she traumatized by that upbringing? Would she not feel uncomfortable and ultimately decide to work anywhere BUT a place that reminds her of her abusive childhood?

      I haven’t read the whole thing, though.

      • gonzorama

        Sometimes people are unknowingly attracted to that which traumatized them.

        • Malibo Jackk

          (The abused becomes an abuser.)

        • Eric

          Sure it can make sense, but it’s likely not a small thing to change. It’s not as simple as, “What if she works here…” We’ve potentially changed the character’s entire psychology and that needs to be accounted for.

  • Jim

    Congrats to Brittany on getting read. There’s a twisted little script out there from a few years ago with the same title (Pet) that’s worth a read if you can find it (Carson may have even reviewed it, I’m not sure…it was from 2007 written by Jeremy Slater who has a few movies in the pipes including the new Fantastic Four.)

    I unfortunately wasn’t able to post a link when Carson threw down the gauntlet, though I submitted by logline which drew a number of votes – I was in the middle of a re-write, then had to restore my Mac from an earlier point and lost what I had completed to that point. It’s been done so I figured for those who were interested, here’s the link.

    Title: “The Fourth House.

    Genre: Mystery/Ghost Story

    Logline: A young mother, believed to be suffering from postpartum psychosis, flees her family with newborn in tow to a haunted lakeside bed and breakfast in search of answers to visions of her own murder in a past life.

    Why you should read it: I found the script Carson posted last week Revelations – which he liked – had some similar elements, notably the past life bit and the suspense factor stemming from the vacillation between is he or is he not crazy though this is grounded much more in reality. Other than that, you read all the accolades and fluff here:, and if there’s anything else on there someone cares to read, just drop me an e-mail (it’s listed at the bottom of the page.)

    • Malibo Jackk

      page 1
      “KYLE (19) rolls his pencil down his slanted armchair.”
      Like the idea — but it’s a confusing visual.

      page 2
      your papers are… (Not — your papers is…)
      from repeatedly rolling his pencil… (Not — from repeatedly role his pencil…)

      “FLASHBACK – EXT. INN – NIGHT (1987)
      The ROLLING PENCIL continues.”
      suggests that the rolling pencil is seen in the flashback.

      (Like many of visuals, not necessarily the sentence structure.)

      • Jim

        Thanks for pointing them out; obviously not something picked up with spellcheck. I obviously need stronger coffee that early in the morning as I’m fortunate to have someone find one or two in an entire script.

        The flashback scene – that’s why I had “The ROLLING PENCIL continues” both italicized and capitalized, to denote off screen sound (via caps), with the italics differentiating it from the rest of the narrative descriptive. It’s tricky to write because it’s technically not even an off-screen sound – but unlike a voice over, there’s no real sure-fire way of formatting that I’ve found. As much as I dislike using “the sound of,” I added that along with brackets to make it clear we’re hearing and not seeing, but am open to suggestions/recommendations if someone has a better way of communicating it.

        • Malibo Jackk

          PRE-LAP is when a voice or sound from the next scene overlaps the end of the previous scene.
          Not sure what they call it when the opposite happens.

          Kyle RATTLES the pencil across the (desktop? arm of the chair? — not sure what you had in mind) as we transition to a —


  • brittany

    So, I wake up this morning to check SS like I normally do and… Holy shitballz! I see a review of my script and almost spit my Cafe Bustelo all over my keyboard. What an awesome surprise! Thank you so much for the stellar review, Carson! You make many great points and I’m going to work on weaving them into my next rewrite, for sure.

    Also, I can’t thank the SS community enough. You guys have been so supportive and I’m deeply grateful that a lot of you voted for Pet out of the five or so other standouts from the gauntlet a few weeks ago. The Henchman, Corridor of Freaks, Chicken Lickin, Silver Arrows, Tinseltown, IL… Sorry if I’m missing a couple, but it was stiff competition and I’m honored to be among the ranks of these awesome writers. Hopefully you guys will get your review soon, it’s only a matter of time.

    Now, I’ve got my mechanical pencil refilled and ready to take lots of notes. Luckily, I’ve got the day off from work, so I’ll be wading through the comments and responding to everyone the best I can. Again, thanks to Carson and the SS community. You’re the best!

    • klmn

      Congrats on being the Chosen One, and I’m sure you’ll nail it in your rewrite.

    • Midnight Luck

      Congrats Brittany.
      Glad you got the Friday spot.
      I haven’t read it yet (well I read to page 10).

      I will continue on and finish it.

      I hope you get a ton out of your time in the sun.

    • Linkthis83

      Hey hey, Brittany! A big congrats for making into the AF slot today. Because today’s script is yours, I wanted to take some time to have a look and give some feedback.

      I read to page 23, then I read Carson’s review, and then I went through some of the comments. Based on my experience with your story, I’m not in the same boat as a lot of the reviewers here. It’s true I’ve been called a Script Scrooge in the past, so maybe that’s the case here, or I simply didn’t get what everybody else did from the early pages of your script. After reading the title, the genre, and the logline, I wanted to love this. As it is, I only love the concept/title.


      p4 = a lot of this early set up reminds me of MAMA.

      p5 = this conversation with Evelyn feels wrong. Jake and Evelyn would’ve hashed this shit out intensley before he ever brough Mya home — And because they would’ve, in this moment, you could’ve introduced us to Evelyn through her actions, body language, terse comments that show they’ve had this talk already, and her overall dispostion towards Jake

      p6 = stand in front of which door? Where are they in the house?

      p6 = I’m not sure I like the reassuring gesture here from Vera. It depends on her role in the rest of the story (as we later learn, she becomes Jakes love interest) – I felt that we should learn something about Jake here based on Vera saying something to Jake. At this moment, I didn’t really feel that Jake was “doubting” his choice. So I didn’t feel he needed reassured. I felt this gesture by Vera was to hint at a future relationship. Which isn’t needed here. I think learning something about Jake’s story here would be important (if he’s part of the bigger story later – by this set up, I’m thinking he will be)

      p7 = NOPE! I completely disagree with your approach to the removal of the collar. THIS is your story’s opportunity for Jake to EARN the trust of Mya. To give this relationship a solid start. A trusting connection. Jake has to EARN the opportunity to remove the collar.

      Put them in an actual situation that allows this to take place. For Jake to earn it. I feel the removal of the collar is extremely important and significant. For each character indivdually and for the relationship overall.

      p8 = now we jump forward 12 years — I’m really kind of bummed about this. I feel it also lessens what you had established thus far. Even if you were to strengthen the first 8 pages, I think this time jump would even be more of a let down. Although, it would depend on where we land in Mya’s life in the time jump.

      p8 = is the canvas old and unstable of the easel?

      p11 = daises = daisies

      p13 = work from home = work-from-home

      p13 = how is she gazing at a city landscape? Where’s Jake’s house located? Did I miss a description somewhere? I do miss things…a lot. I thought they were in a normal, suburban neighborhood for some reason.

      –Why is Mya getting an apartment? And she needed to pass a home school test in order to do so? I’m confused. Is this just coinciding with some previous agreement between her and Jake? Did she graduate? GED?

      p15 = As of right now, with the extreme change Mya has had to go through (none of this shown, we just know it based on the extreme difference between when we met her and now), I feel Mya is a ticking time bomb. And that’s the only hook right now for me at this point.

      There’s no stated goals, wants, wishes, needs, concerns, etc. Also, and this comes down to my own dislike in a lot of scripts/stories, EVERYTHING feels so vague/mysterious. Unnecessarily so. Even the apartment – Is it just to live on her own? A necessary step in her growth? Closer to work? Jake has a change in his life that necessitates it? There’s only a mysterious set up of the big day and then we learn she’s getting an apartment.

      Moments like her getting her own place are a huge deal. And I’m not invested in it right now. I think Jake should be way more vocal about his fears/concerns. This shows us what the potential stakes/risks are of this apartment move. Then we get Mya’s confidence in her ability (even if she has her own internal doubts). She becomes the reassurer here.

      All the scenes thus far with Mya as an adult are like the “highlight reel” issue I dislike at times. However, I know it’s necessary to get a sample of what is “normal” life for our main character, in order to share in the experience of when the normal changes. For me, this feels like a list of scenes for “things the audience needs to know for impact later” but aren’t woven into the narrative.

      I want to keep saying “create situations to put Mya into so we learn these things and experience them.” If I were you, I’d probably feel that I had. Like the bus scene and painting Tina, and watching Tina, and the paint store customer service scene. But, these feel like cut-outs of a checklist of things to accomplish. It’s like these are scenes/moments without consequences or results. Especially the shit with Tina. Mya’s been doing some serious creepin’ on this girl and she doesn’t react. Doesn’t call her out. Doesn’t get in her face. And how long has Tina lived there? how long has this been going on? This falls into my issue of when stories feel like they don’t have a memory. And in this case, this one has at least 12 years before these moments and yet, they still feel like the first time any of these people have interacted. What’s the history? Does Tina know Mya’s backstory any? Stuff like that. You don’t have to tell me on the page, just show it with their actions + interactions. But before you do any of that…is Tina necessary? Is this relationship necessary? Is it a hint at something else to come later that’s similar but not directly related to Tina, or is this specific relationship going to play out somehow.

      p18 = This scene where Mya meets Early, and Fred is being Fred in the background, this is the moment I want to bail. I feel we haven’t been given any situations thus far with these characters to invest in. I didn’t think this scene with Early was created in a way to make me invested – more to serve the purpose of “Early exists, they meet, and we’ll catch up with them later.”

      So while I keep saying nothing to invest in, what I think I mean is this = none of the scenes I’ve read remind me of the promise you made from the discovery of Mya and her situation. None of this so far has gotten more interested in her now at 20 than I was when she was 8.

      Also…the woman on the door. That’s a great visual. It tells me YOU are telling me a certain kind of story. Rightn now, I’ve seen this girl go to work, get home schooled, meet a dude, peep on a girl – but none of this is interesting enough. How about a scene with Vera. Let me get a sense of that relationship. Let me get a sense of where Mya is psychologically. Show me Vera saying that she doesn’t think Mya’s ready and Jake’s been convinced by Mya she is. Now I have drama, conflict, competing wants/needs, the relationships become more stressed. etc.

      p19 = Mya is at the same grocery store as Tina? What? Did Mya take another bus ride? How far away from Tina’s home is Mya’s apartment? Where’s the grocery store located? (oh within walking distance for Mya) — Is this an accident they are at the same store? Purposeful by Mya? And again, she’s busted and nothing is said. Not by Chad either, who I would assume has had conversations with Tina about the strange girl who creeps on her.

      p20 = Mya has visions of her old life = THERE IT IS! There’s what I’ve been waiting for – I’m not intrigued by the way it was delivered/created, but glad it’s here.

      I feel something should happen to cause this vision. I mean, as far as I know, things have been basically fine for Mya for a while. What was the catalyst for this vision? The meeting with Early? If so, then that interaction needs to be more psychologically impactful. Subtle, yet impactful. Like, Early giving commands to Mya about where to put the charcoal paint. Something like that. I just don’t think the visions should surface based on chance.

      SUGGESTION: Maybe Early’s chihuahua snaps at Mya. The dog senses the animal in Mya. Perhaps Mya growls at the dog instinctively, or snaps back, or hell…just simply shows her teeth aggressively without realizing she’s doing it. This could be the spark. But…I still feel this isn’t enough. Surely she’s encountered dogs in the last 12 years. Was it an issue any other time?

      It feels like a lot of important story information/moments have been glossed over and left out and your goal is to have us going from a new, normal Mya regressing back to an old, animal Mya.

      p23 = This scene with Early, the dog, and the car is where I’m out.

      SUMMARY: Well…I’ve been quite bold here and I hope it doesn’t come off mean or aggressive. I think I get this way when I read something that has so much potential and I feel that it hasn’t been maximized or capitalized. I also recognize that this comes from what I want from other people’s stories. So my apologies if my tone has come across as harsh. I like the elements you have here. I truly do. And for me, stories are about relationships.

      I’m glad you got a lot of love from the SS folks and I almost found myself doing the same. I think that’s because I like your SS presence and I don’t want to be overly critical, but then remembered to throw out social protocol and be honest with my reaction.

      Hopefully somehere in my notes there something that’s even a tiny bit helpful. And I also hope I’m wrong about a lot of stuff and that this script gets you some success. I’m a fan. Good luck with this project!!!!!!

      • brittany

        Awesome notes, Link! I really like your idea about Vera advising Jake against Mya moving out for more conflict. Also, I can tell the first act needs to get going a bit faster based on yours and most everyone else’s notes. Oh and about Tina, yeah, she plays into the ending a bit, so it sorta makes sense after you read it. I see where your confusion comes from though and it’s warranted. Again, very helpful notes and not harsh at all! I really appreciate your honest opinion. Another shiny, gold nugget to add to the pile of today’s feedback! :)

    • mulesandmud

      Love your subject, brittany, but have barely scratched the surface of the actual script. You’ve got enough interesting ideas in the mix that I’d rather not toss half-baked thoughts into an already crowded pile of feedback. Fingers crossed that I’ll read it all the way through this weekend.

      For now, I just wanted to compliment you on your gracious and open-minded approach to people’s feedback. You’re thinking, talking, and (most importantly) listening like a pro, and that gives people all the more reason to read.

      Best of luck.

      • brittany

        Thanks for the kind words, Mules. Yeah, definitely lots of good feedback here, still mulling it all over. Of course, I’d always love your thoughts if/when you get around to reading. I’ve followed your posts on SS and find your comments very insightful. :)

    • John Bradley

      Congrats Brittany! I had no idea you’d got reviewed till just now! You deserve it and I hope to see another of your scripts here again soon!

      • brittany

        Thanks, John! :)

  • Gman

    My two cents. Only read the first 10 pages, but only because I’m short on time this week. No reflection per se on the writer.

    Overall: I like the title. Like the concept. Well written but had some issues for me in the first 10 pages..

    First 3 pages. Liked the opening. Puts me right in the
    middle of things. The Mya-Jake relationship intrigues me.

    Page 5: we meet Evelyn. I hate her already. She feels too
    extreme. Now I’m wondering what her deal
    is and why Jake is with her. Probably not good for your story if you want your
    focus to be Mya and Jake. By the way, what happened in the kitchen between the
    sister and the officer? What happened to the sister? Am I missing something?

    Page 6: It seems like Jake and Evelyn are going to continue
    their argument over Mya but then Mya just shows up at Jake’s house. Feels like
    we’re missing a story beat or two here between Jake and Evelyn. (Not sure I
    liked that beat to begin with.)

    I’m sorry, gotta call you on this. There’s no way CPS and
    the “system” would just drop a child off like this without some
    pre-therapy or other support system in place. I do believe they would grant
    Jake custody. Absolutely. Also, seems like there’d be some kind of criminal
    investigation beforehand. I think you are missing story beats here.

    Oh, there’s Evelyn again. And, again, wondering why she
    exists in your story. If she acted as a sounding board to Jake to force him
    into asking hard and sincere questions about the ramifications of taking in
    Mya, I’d buy that. That would give plenty of opportunities to slip in backstory
    and make Jake question his motives here a little. However, as presented she’s
    just a bitch. Plain and simple. Not good.

    Page 8: Twelve years later? I was just hoping to invest
    myself in eight-year-old Mya’s story and now she’s twenty. Very jarring to
    happen this early in your script. The before/after temptation dynamic is great
    but here it simply happens too quickly.

    It’s fine to do a jump in time like this. I just think it
    should be your break into act two. We need to spend more time with Myra in act
    one, I believe, to make this work.

    Still, I think you have a good thing going here on balance. If I can find the time, I will keep reading.

  • Poe_Serling

    The handful of scripts I was hoping to see reviewed during this Halloween season…

    >>Corridor of Freaks by klmn.

    >>Silver Arrows by Montana Gillis

    >>Violet Sun by David Alexander

    >>Pet by Brittany Lamoureux

    >> Let Us Touch the Sun by Levres de Sang

    **Congrats, Brittany!!

    That’s one down.. four to go.

    • klmn

      Let’s hope Carson takes the hint! :)

      • Montana Gillis

        Yeah, lets hope Carson takes the hint… Great Idea!

    • Levres de Sang

      I’d love to see Prepper by Bill Rhoads added to this list! It was audacious as well as utterly hilarious in places! (I also recall its crazy old mother/grandmother as per today’s script…) Carson would have a great time!

  • darren

    Typo, 7 lines in dude.

    • Bluedust

      I didn’t see it. what’s the typo?

  • ElectricDreamer

    First off, thrilled to see the AOOD reading I did helped Brittany land the AF spotlight.
    She’s top shelf and clearly has the dedication to keep refining her already nifty tale.
    I’ll try to finish the reading PET this weekend. This quote got me thinking:

    “To address this, I thought we needed a twist or two in that middle
    section – something that changed things around to freshen the story up.”

    Most scripts I’ve read lately have the wandering second act sickness.
    To avoid this snafu in my own work, I force myself to follow this Act Two rule…

    — Protags must make DECISIONS that COMPLICATE the journey to their GOAL. —

    Let’s call it: DCG. This formula also tends to up the UNCERTAINTY in your tale.
    We’ve got the well-established acronym, GSU, for the overall script. But…
    I think we should take a look at the DCG that’s needed to keep Act Two healthy.

    Perhaps it’s time for a DCG article, Carson.

  • Randy Williams

    I loved the writing here. Unwaveringly fluid, never a chore, with creative visuals to savor.

    I loved the beginning story, how we’re made to feel for this girl, her days on the job. Her meeting Early. Then, for me, it became more Early’s story with Mya his sidekick and seriously derailed into a caricature of sick puppies (mama smelling his junk to see if he’s had sex, wanted to bail there) bordering on torture porn with the murders.

    I’d make it Mya’s story from beginning to end, with her making the monumental choices and not Early. Give her some flaw. Maybe she actually likes cages because her mother actually put her in a cage to protect her from her mother’s wrath, threw the key away and hanged herself eventually, so Mya finds comfort in cages and maybe even has a fetish for them and wants Early to engage in that fetish with her but Early has a fear of being confined. Some conflict there. So, she goes to Tina’s boyfriend and he likes getting dog collars tied on his neck and dragged along but something goes wrong, perhaps, jeopardizing her relationship with everyone.

    I wanted so out of Early’s house with his mom and another plot.

  • carsonreeves1

    There shouldn’t be any heartbreak. Brittany is a good writer. And while the script wasn’t for me, it definitely has its fans. I didn’t like Lars and Real Girl either (a script similar in tone) but the movie is well-liked by many. :)

  • Guest

    …. WHAT?

    Must be a good day to be a troll.

  • Gman

    I agree with Carson. It’s clear that you do write well from the pages I read. Only 10 granted but still. I wad more critical than most and still think you’re ahead of most amateur writers. Based on your style and sound concept here.

  • brittany

    Definitely not heartbroken at all. Actually, I’m really happy and grateful for the chance to have my script reviewed by Carson even if it wasn’t exactly his thing. Though, thanks very much for the sage advice and good luck with your new script. It sounds intriguing, I look forward to seeing it on AOW someday. :)

  • cjob3

    I met Britany on Talentville where I’ve reviewed a couple of her other scripts, “Rex and The Doggy Style Killer” and my personal favorite, “The Art of Dying Daily.” (twice) I had started a review of Pet when she emailed and asked that I hold off until the next draft. I never got a chance to read that new draft, so I figured I’d post my unfinished, first-draft thoughts. Maybe she can get something out of it.


    Dog meet Dog

    Two scarred, star-crossed artists find love and other very scary things in Pet, another Brittany LaMoureux meditation on sex, violence and canine accesories.

    Couple signs you’re reading a good script. 1.) You read it all in one sitting. 2.) You hardly make any notes.

    As I’ve come to expect with Brittany, this is a smooth, easy read and simple, effective storytelling. Though, this is another Brit script where I find myself increasingly worried about her as a person. I hope this is all just the product of an active imagination.

    Overall, I liked it very much. Though I do have a few Pet peeves, as it were.

    The title of the script is PET which I like, but, because it’s the title, I think it led me to believe we were going to learn more about her life as a pet. In the very intriguing openeing, we learn Mya was raised like a dog for the first few years of her life but that’s pretty much it. We flash forward to present and while this event obviously affected her state of mind, we never really hear about it again. It cast such a large shadow you expect more screentime devoted to the issue. For all it matters we could just start the story with Mya coming to live with Jake. The scars on her neck and a mention she was found in a cage and the the mothers in jail would tell us all we need to know.

    I know that violates the show-don’t-tell-rule and the opening is awesome because it hooks us in immediately but it’s borderline bait-and-switch.The opening is so shocking and intriguing it causes us to ask questions that aren’t explored. What kind of person would do such a thing? And why? And what happened to them? And how does Mya feel about it? Added to the fact we know Jake’s sister was the one doing it raises some questions about him. His sister was clearly a psychopath – wouldn’t that then raise a red flag about his mental well being? How does Jake feel about what his sister did? How did she go so
    off-course while Jake is a stable, well-adjusted adult? Both Mya and Early just so happen to be have been raised by completley insane people. I wish there was a little more depth to that. It’s as if the world view here is that people just happen to be totally derranged the same way some people happen to have red hair. It’s treated as a fairly normal occurance when (at least, i’d like to think) it’s not.

    Similarly, I was kinda expecting there be somekinda connection between these two. Because they’re both so similar, both emotionally and physically abused by their parents and who deal with their individual traumas through painting, that I thought it couldn’t just be a coincidence. But it is. Like, for a moment I thought- and this is terrible – that they’d turn out to be brother and sister.

    Come to think of it, its the first scene and the last scene that I had the most issues with. Everything in-between was solid for me. They almost feel like a foreward and an afterward to the script. Not completely connected to the main subject. I love the parent walking the kid on a leash. That’s great. But somehow the idea that Mya is now an avenger of the abused felt a little tacked on. We’re rooting for Mya to overcome to demons in her past, but this feels more like she’s succumbing to them. She’s just a cold-blooded murderer now, just like Early. (Okay, her kill is portrayed as nobler but it’s still a psycho thing to do.) It’s treated like a happy ending, when it’s kind of a downer. Killing a wife beater maybe be bad ass and righteous but it’s not exaclty the moral choice. I felt it cheapened her a bit. Like now she’s Dexter or the Punisher. I also didn’t like that she’s pregnant- because that seems doomed to have an unhappy ending. Now she has to raise his demon spawn.
    That’s all I had note-wise, but I think Carson made some great points. Congrats, Brittany! You’re an awesome writer. And so say all of us.

    • brittany

      Thanks so much, Colin. Sorry again that I kept updating the script while you were trying to read it back then. You still bring up some solid points about the script, especially the bit about Jake and his sister. I’m still toying with it and I’ve also gotten some good notes on it here today, so hopefully I can rework some stuff. Also, thanks for bringing up the ending. I was going back and forth about it for a while. I was just going to end it on a happy note, but I really wanted to throw in something a little crazy. I’m still tossing the ending around, so it’s not set in stone quite yet. I’m going to think about it, for sure.

      Oh and is it terrible that I kind of like the idea of Early and Mya ending up to be siblings? If I end up doing that I’ll have you to thank for it. Ha! Seriously, though, I appreciate your thoughts so much. I can always count on you for some great feedback.

      Now hurry up and write “Miss Universe”! Your fans are waiting!

  • ElectricDreamer

    OT: RED OAKS has been put to series by Amazon Studios.

    Much kudos to Joseph Gangemi! Thanks again for donating your time here.
    Hopefully one day, he can return to the blog and regale us with more industry tales!

  • Caleb Yeaton

    Huge congrats to Brittany; it’s a well-deserved review, and it’s nice to see her name jump out of the comments. I’ve reviewed this script a couple times offsite so I’ll spare my thoughts here, since I’m sure Brittany has read over my “Early talks like a Deliverance hillbilly” note about 8,000,000 different times. For the record, I really dig the script. I think Carson’s right on the money about making the characters contrast a little more – even if they’ve both got similar personalities, you can still split the bill (just don’t make it Rain Man). But it’s still a damn good script, and congrats on the review!

    As for the “What I Learned” bit? For the record, I don’t think the CL name-drop has any effect on Brittany’s script overall. But I can see where Carson’s coming from. I’m at the point where if a character checks Google more than two times in a script (or a movie, in the case of that shitty new Spider-Man flick), I’ll stop reading. Unless the script is about Google, and even then. There’s nothing exciting about watching someone check Google results, and it boggles my mind – maybe I learned things differently – how many writers lean on Google / the internet as a “Get out of jail free card” when they can’t figure out how to get a character from point A to point B, or explain a certain plot device.

    • brittany

      Ay, Caleb, Early don’t like ya bringin’ up his hillbilly twang, ya hear? Ha. No, seriously, your feedback has been fucking monumental to me. Though I can’t bear to lose his southern drawl, I have tried to pare it back so it doesn’t have that “Weeeee, squeal like a piggy!” rapey-redneck vibe. Thanks again for all your support and advice, I’m lucky I have a kick-ass writer like you to turn to for feedback.

  • walker

    Congratulations to Brittany; the script has a great premise and the writing is crisp.

  • Levres de Sang

    Hi Brittany

    Congratulations on a well-earned AF slot! I too loved the image Carson chose to accompany this review. Definitely one for the poster/dvd cover…

    I have to say that for around 40 pages I was really impressed. And, to this point, easily one of my favourite scripts of the year. Your scene description flowed effortlessly, navigating that fine line between economy and evocation. I also appreciated the sensitivity inherent: You capture perfectly Mya and Early’s damaged souls. Moreover, I completely agree with Carson’s “The sense of dread that permeates this story is reason enough to keep reading”.

    Unfortunately, things slowed considerably from the midpoint… and I agree with Randy’s comments as to the latter stages being too much about Early — alongside the story’s descent into queasy torture porn. Also, Vera’s conclusion as to there being something “off” about Early felt convenient. Where did she get this information? Equally, it felt to me like Jake ‘disappeared’ a little between realising Early is “Not right” and his rescue mission.

    Overall, though, it feels like you’re not far off and I can really imagine this being made! Catchy title, too…!

  • Malibo Jackk

    First visual:
    “Dark. Grimy. A stained couch. Coffee table full of rotten
    food. Flies buzz.”
    Second visual:
    “Streaks of light shine through small holes of an aluminum
    foil covered window.”

    The second is a great visual. I would lead with it:

    Streaks of light shine through small holes of an aluminum
    foil covered window.

    The room is dark. Grimy. A stained couch. Flies buzz around
    a coffee table full of rotten food.

    Someone pounds at the front door…

    • brittany

      Malibo, that is a really good suggestion. I hadn’t thought of ordering it that way, but it totally makes sense. Simple, yet effective change. Thanks!

  • brenkilco

    Read the script. Very well written. Effective. Just not sure about the story or what an audience would be expected to take away from it. It’s labeled a thriller but for more than half it’s length its only a rather slow moving story of a disturbed young woman who takes up with an even more disturbed guy. When the suspense does finally kick in it’s more grueling than exciting and the whole thing plays out very predictably, even the sting in the tail coda. I’m honestly not a fan of movies that attempt to make points by upping the ante in terms of human depravity. It would be unfair to compare a script this well done to torture porn. But we’ve still got ultra violence, incest, self mutilation, physical squalor, that ungodly queasy scene where the mother tells the son to drop his pants, and a climax in which our heroine rips her lover’s throat out with her teeth. The well observed character moments are somewhat at odds with the exploitation elements. So though I can’t deny the writer’s ability this script is definitely not for all tastes.

  • Erica

    My first thought when I started to read the script was, Oh snap, it’s gonna be one of those movies I have to watch through my hand.

    I have to say I enjoyed the beginning and will continue to read if I can peel my hand away from my eyes.

  • pmlove

    I meant that I think on screen it could end up being a bigger version of that Simpsons joke about the Departed – “The rat symbolizes obviousness”.

    (edit: although Paul Clarke has suggested some potential ways around)

  • ElectricDreamer

    Read through the rest of the script. This is a fine achievement, Brittany.

    However, when the narrative focus narrows, my interest wanes. Around p. 40.
    All due respect, but I’m not sure you’re delivering on the promise of your premise.
    Your first act promised a TRIANGLE of characters, not just a pair.

    Jake is the key missing ingredient in Act Two for me.

    If I need to energize character dynamics, I dissect how they RELATE to each other.
    Act One set up a TRIO of characters, not a duo. Jake disappears until around p. 60.

    Pages 40-60 were mostly a slog for me, diminishing Act One’s enticing thrust.
    Why isn’t the protective savior figuring into this unfolding twisted romantic drama?
    My story suggestion would mean a lot of work, but it’s the best thing I got…

    I recommend making Jake the *Animal Control Officer* that finds little Mya.
    Very often, ACOs will be called for dog complaints and then find unspeakable horrors.
    There’s that kinetic moment when he takes in the horror of all he’s seeing.
    And for him, under all that matted fur and flesh of a girl, is a being of pure innocence.

    Jake is her savior. She’s his biggest success story. Making him very protective of her.
    And the absolute last place Jake would want his Mya working is — a fucking pet store.
    She’s better than that. And Jake sees himself better than his sister.

    But Mya feels safest at the pet store, like it’s a GATEWAY to society.
    Or… Is she ACTING OUT a little bit against her father savior? I’d say it’s a mix of both.
    This also pits Jake AGAINST Early the pet store owner, that triangle oozes CONFLICT.
    Allow the reader INSIGHT into how your characters RELATE to each other.
    And that relationship triangle you craft will keep us turning pages to the end.

    Hopefully, there’s some crumb of an idea in here that aids you, Brittany.
    But I think somehow COMPLICATING your protag goals w/Jake will buoy the story.

    I’d gladly give you private notes on a future draft. Good luck.

    • Gman

      “a fine achievement”? OH. MY. GOD. I was supportive because I think the writer has potential. However, the first ten pages are a disaster. An unbelievable disaster that exhibit a blatant lack of life experience and maturity. I only believed the first three pages. After that, oh my. Oh no. Again, I think Brittanny has a lot of potential but this subject matter is obviously so out of her league it hurts.

      • Kirk Diggler

        Well aren’t you a swell guy just looking to help out. We should all be grateful to get this kind of note from you in the future because it’ll mean we probably did something right.

        • Gman

          My note is the only thing between her and a future of disappointment.

          • Linkthis83

            That’s assuming she lacks self awareness and she naively believes that she’s nailed it. I’m certain she didn’t need your dose of reality. But if she did, she owes you one ;)

          • Gman

            My apologies then.

          • Kirk Diggler

            Do you think the opening 10 are a disaster? Curious.

          • brenkilco

            The writing is fine. If you want to get down in the weeds, Jake’s wife is a cliched, under developed, over the top character and a totally extraneous one as well. And to think that a child as profoundly developmentally disabled as this one would be immediately turned over to to a relative is likewise absurd. As is the idea that any state DCF budget allows weekly home visits from a shrink But at bottom this is a B shocker, so most readers would roll with it.

          • Linkthis83

            Not a disaster, but not as great as a lot of folks on here.

            My issues start on page 3. However, I also don’t mind being a READER that can be at fault. Perhaps what Brittany’s intention is for this story is quite different than the story I thought I was getting – or should be getting.

            Even still, what happens from page 3 on seems to skip over the things that I think are important. Instead, I feel we get the moments to get us to other moments to get us to the story she wants to tell – and by doing that, we skip the moments that could get us invested – otherwise, why start with the opening? It would seem that she should start the story somewhere else and we discover her back story.

          • brenkilco

            Starting with her at twenty and only gradually revealing the source of her problems and the reasons for Jake’s concern is a good idea and would add a lot of first act interest.

      • brittany

        Hey, man. Thanks for your thoughts below that I read earlier. I was going to comment there, but I think I might as well respond here. As for the first ten pages. They were tough and I am the first to admit that they are still not running on all cylinders like they should be. The reason the opening is so condensed and seems to be skipping over the behind the scenes stuff with the DCF and her going to live with Jake… I’m aware that there are certain procedures involved with children being passed on to family members and whatnot, but I was hoping to express that all of that did actually happen, but it was behind the scenes, so the reader (I was hoping) would just assume that she had been through all the procedural stuff before moving into Jake’s. Obviously, based on yours and others feedback, this is currently not coming across. So again, thank you for bringing it up, I aim to make it work in my rewrite. And I plan on paring way back on Evelyn in order to make room for more focus on Mya as a child before I hit the time jump. Again, I appreciate your thoughts.

        • astranger2

          This is probably an odd place to post this comment, and once again I am late to the party. But I didn’t know where else to place it.

          I didn’t dive into this initially because I didn’t have time, and I found the logline pedestrian. I didn’t think the idea pedestrian, however, and am glad I decided to give it a read.

          I think you are a gifted writer, and enjoyed the opening very much. There are brilliant moments here. I did think it flattened out later, and didn’t read into the actual meat of the script. (I didn’t even get much past Early’s intro, which I realize is like going to a great Steak House and only eating the salad…)

          But I did want to say you write superbly. And I love the whole story concept. With images like: “She grabs the crayon. Picks up the baby doll. She pets the doll’s head, draws a collar around its neck.”

          This script has tons of potential — and I also prefer the paint store for her work place. Your writing is consistently good, so I just wanted to compliment you on your work.

          IMHO, your writing in general, is some of the best I’ve read here.

          • brittany

            Thanks for the kind words about my writing! Sorry you couldn’t get much past Early’s intro. Still, I am grateful when someone takes the time to read my script, no matter how many pages they get through. Again, thanks a mil for chiming in here. I really appreciate it. :)

          • astranger2

            Perhaps I didn’t phrase it properly.

            It wasn’t that I couldn’t get past Early’s intro, it was more time constraints. With AOW popping up, and other friends shooting me scripts, among other things, I was intrigued enough about your story to go back and read it.

            I love the way you write, and found the feral aspects of Mya fascinating. I think when a writer portrays an interesting character — and then progresses past them — I grow so immersed in them I am disappointed. (It’s like when an author kills off a great character.)

            So, if I read on I may have very well enjoyed Early, and the adult Mya more. I sincerely believe you have a great talent. It’s just that the FEW pages I read about the adult Mya didn’t feel as compelling as your well-drawn set-up. You do know how to paint a picture. I have no doubt as to your future success if you keep diligent in your writing.

          • brittany

            Oh, okay, gotcha! Yeah, I get the time restraints. No worries. :)

            I’m glad you brought up wanting to stay with Mya a bit when she’s young and feral. I’m actually thinking of paring way back on Evelyn to spend more time with Jake and Mya. Maybe a few “time passing” scenes throughout her childhood or that sort of thing to show how things progressed before the big time jump. Not sure yet, but I’m going to try and ease the reader into her adult life the best I can. Again, thanks for bringing it up as it seems to be the general consensus.

            Also, I forgot to mention that I appreciate the comment about my logline being pedestrian. I agree, it needs work. I’ll admit I’m not great with loglines, so it’s been tough constructing one for this particular script. I think I’ll go back to the drawing board and see if I can give it a makeover. Thanks again, astranger!

          • astranger2

            ” A young rape victim tries desperately to pick up the pieces of her life, only to find herself at the mercy of a would-be rescuer.”

            — logline from Something Wild.

            Not the Jeff Daniels/Melanie Griffith movie which is also pretty good, but an old Carroll Baker black-and-white. Nice, small, two-actor film.

            I didn’t hate your logline. But Pet is a phenomenal title coupled with some terrific writing. I don’t think it does your fine script justice.

            Also, and again without reading your script in its entirety or other posters’s comments, I do think your time jump a bit jolting.

            The young feral Mya is a goldmine of conflict and tension. Audiences love watching characters struggle, and what could be more fraught with psychological and societal obstacles than a young Mya finding her way.

            Its much like a young Helen Keller in The Miracle Worker, with Jake or some other mentor, as her Anne Sullivan.

            If it were me, I’d devote the entire first act, showing her gradual growth and assimilation into adulthood in the real world. Like Helen Keller, talk about character arc possibilities!?

          • astranger2

            “Caged like an animal by her deranged mother until the age of five, a young woman finds the courage to move out on her own, with the help of a “kind” man.”

    • brittany

      You’re the best, ED! Your notes are gold. I agree about bringing Jake into the second act some more, it definitely needs something. Also, love the idea of him being an animal control officer. Nice! Thanks again for all your support, I appreciate it more than you know! :)

  • Kirk Diggler

    Only read the opening 8 pages. As others have commented, the writing is good.

    One thing I think needs some scrutiny is 8 year old Mya. She is portrayed as animal-like, scampering around on all fours and growling at people. If that is indeed the case she will never develop any language skills whatsoever. There are plenty of similar cases to back this up, Genie being the most famous.

    So it’s important to show in the opening scenes that Mya has language ability, not just as a ‘mimic’, but that she can communicate, even if it’s broken English.

    The other thing I would change is the scene where her Uncle removes her collar. It’s a stretch to think the collar wouldn’t have already been removed by caregivers and her wounds treated when she was first taken into custody. But overall it’s a good setup to a story.

    • brittany

      Thank you very much, Kirk! I’m familiar with Genie and she is part of what inspired my story. I tried to make Mya more advanced than her and younger when she was found, but you’re absolutely right. I’m thinking I’m going to make Mya even younger, maybe five. I’ll also show that she is able to speak based on mimicry a bit more, just to show that she is capable. The collar thing is a legit criticism as well, I’ve gotten that same note a few times. Honestly, I’ve been stubborn about removing it because I love the visual of him removing it, but I think I’ll try and build up to it a bit more so it seems more realistic. Thanks again!

      • tgraham22

        for the collar, you could maybe just have someone say, that anytime we go near it she flips out and we don’t want her to hurt herself, so we haven’t taken it off. Or that we had taken it off, but she was hurting herself until we put it back on.

  • For The Lulz

    Congrats on the AF slot!!!!

    It was one ‘pitch’ of a weekend (See what I did there?….Yeah….I’m a loser), but PET was a worthy and deserving winner. Well done!

    I read the whole script. Now these kind of movies (scripts) are not usually my thing, so take my advice in that context and feel free to dismiss if you want.

    The writing style is excellent. Professional and easy to get through. Pages flew by, no getting bogged down anywhere. A definite plus when a tired guy wants to do anything but read a screenplay.

    Mya and Early are well crafted characters. I believed all of their actions and reactions, given their respective histories, and saw them as credible in the world of the script. I think you did a good job on making them memorable. Though like a few others have said, maybe another element is needed to differentiate them more. Based on an earlier article on providing characters actors want to play, I could see why someone would want to sink their teeth into these roles. They need a bit more work, but the foundation here is strong.

    I saw why Mya would be drawn to Early (Early on anyway…..see what I did the-…..never mind). Though I’m not sure I fully believed her willingness to ditch Jake for Early. I know she was chafing for some independence, but still, Jake (and Vera) have done a lot for her. She kind of came off as a brat here. I think she may need some more motivation for choosing Early over Jake. Also, as some others have said, Jake comes off as a little thin as a character. More needs to be revealed about his backstory, his relationship to his crazy sister, and what motivates him to take in Mya in the first place. Except for the first act and the climax, his presence is less than I’d expect. He needs to have a more active presence in the 2nd act, which could help spruce up the 2nd act in general. Maybe he is covertly trying to get info on Early, which causes tension/paranoia between Mya and Early. Early could retaliate, and put Jake and Eva in danger, pulling them into the story more. Obviously the focus shifts mainly to the couple, but Jake needs to be seen intermittently thoughout, not just appear out of the blue in the third act to try and save the day. His method of tracking Mya down by finding Early’s address from the paint store seemed a little too convenient, but it got him from A to B, so I’ll accept it.

    I know some people have suggested a Pet store as an alternative work place, but I’m going against popular opinion. I liked the paint store, and how it linked Mya and Early together, as well as using paint as a tool to express their respective psychological issues/traumatic histories (Mya with the eyes/Mother). Maybe this could be exploited more, Mya’s painting seems to disappear half-way into the script. Maybe Mya paints something at Early’s house as a clue she’s in trouble, and gives it to Early to take to her apartment (when he said he was going to get her stuff). When Jake goes to Mya’s apartment in the 3rd act and sees it, it pushes him into action to find her. Especially since painting has been a huge part of her life growing up. Jake would catch on if some SOS message was in the painting (maybe even the house number and street name of Early’s house is on it).

    Don’t know if this was intentional, but the idea of the scarf was intended as a metaphor for the dog collar, it’s a good idea. Maybe once she’s ensnared by Early, he could give her a new scarf as a present, as a symbol of how she’s now his ‘pet’.

    Like some of the others, I was a little put out by the more graphic elements. It’s not really my thing, but I can see how it works in this script. The whole thing with Early’s mother obsessing over whether he’s had sex was a little ????, but the incest thing/abuse reveals a lot about why Early is f***ed up.

    Evelyn is a completely unnecessary character. Cut her out. And I’m not sure if Fred’s side jokes about his hair, etc fit the tone of the script. they seemed a bit out of place.

    The opening is VERY well written, atmospheric and pulls you into the story quickly, but I don’t think this is sustained beyond page 7. The period of older Mya’s pending Independence seems to put the story and pacing into quicksand for 15 pages until the Early stuff gets going. Spending a little more time on young Mya’s torment, and less time on older Mya’s first steps into independence would probably improve the pace in first 20 pages.

    The climax was well done. But I think Mya’s motivations/ability to stab and bite the throat of Early needs to be stronger. I didn’t believe her capable of doing this. She needs some character building in the period where she is locked in Early’s basement and he’s off capturing Pam, to finally overpower her own trauma, to give her the strength to tackle Early directly.

    Overall, I think this script deserved a ‘Worth the read’. I think it’s a solid effort and up there amongst the strongest scripts I’ve read on SS. Still, for some reason, it doesn’t quite seem like it’s reached or exploited its full potential. With some more work, this could be elevated to an even higher level. But even at this stage, it’s strong work, and you should be proud of it.

    • brittany

      Thanks so much for these insanely good notes! Seriously, I love your idea about Jake covertly getting info on Early and also Mya painting an SOS message. The next thing I’m going to be working on is the second act and your notes have inspired me to really kick it into gear! And good on you for mentioning Evelyn needs to go. Seems like everyone, including me now, is in agreement on that! Poof! That bitch is gone! Thanks again!

  • brittany

    Thanks for the great notes, yesliketheriver! Sorry so late with this, I’m just getting back to responding to everyone now. I’m glad you brought up Early being sideswiped by the car as being unrealistic. I always like the visual of it, but realized from you and others that it’s just not quite working. So, I’ve decided to have it where he’s just sitting on the side of road crying with his lil’ doggy dead in the road in front of him. Also, I find your idea about the foster family interesting. I know exactly what you mean and it’s clear that they do need to be either brought together in that manner or differentiated some more. I’m going to think on both angles and hopefully come out with a much improved rewrite. Thanks again, I really appreciate your thoughts!

  • Citizen M

    I read to the end, but lost interest around page 40. I didn’t feel the need to keep turning the pages to find out what happened.

    The genre is more psychological horror. A thriller implies edge-of-your-seat tension, and I never felt that. There were a few shocks and surprises, but no real tension. To experience tension the audience has to anticipate trouble, which means they need some idea of what’s going to happen next i.e. be able to discern a pattern and project it into the future. But events were too random in this script. One thing didn’t follow as a consequence of another.

    The one time I felt tension was when we were introduced to Evelyn, Jake’s pill-popping, vodka-swilling, entitled princess of a wife. I thought to myself, “Uh-oh, here’s trouble. She and this child will never get along. How will Jake handle it?” Unfortunately, we then skip to twelve years later, when the wife has conveniently disappeared, and everything seems hunky-dory. So no drama.

    I never figured out what drove Mya. She seemed normal enough as an adult, just unable to make good choices regarding men, which is nothing unusual in young women. Presumably the author did some research on abused children, but I don’t see how her past influenced her choices in any way. Are abused people attracted to other abused people? I don’t think so. My feeling is that they have low self-esteem and don’t believe they deserve anyone better, so settle for someone damaged. But settling isn’t attraction.

    I’d like to see Mya moving out of Jake’s home as more of a declaration of independence, once she’s got a job earning her own money. She sees sexy Tina and Chad next door and compares with her own limited existence with Uncle Jake, and impulsively gets a flat despite Jake’s objections.

    I felt Mya needed more of a push to get her with Early. Surely she’d be a lot more suspicious of people, given her background? Perhaps if Mya was somehow responsible for Early’s dog getting run over, she’d feel she had to make it up to him somehow, so went with him despite her better judgment.

    Incidentally, Early’s horrible mother Doris never referred to the dog. I can’t believe she let him keep a dog without complaining about it, and she would be glad it was dead. She should at least mention it. I thought she was a bit OTT and dominating, but I saw how my own stepfather, a big strong miner, was terrified of his mother, a fierce little Scottish woman not even five foot tall. Bad mothers can do terrible things to helpless little children.

    BTW, is Early his given name, or is it the diminutive of Earle, in which case it should be Earlie, and is rather unsuitable? But I can’t imagine his mother calling him by a pet name unless she used cajoling rather than hitting him as her weapon of choice. Note that audiences never see his name spelled, so they’ll probably think it’s Earlie.

    The character count was commendably low, always a good sign. I thought Fred the shopkeeper was a bit one-dimensional. Give him at least one good feature or moment of insight. Toupee jokes went out years go. Find something else. BTW “paint shop” was a bit indefinite for me. I presumed it was an artist’s supply shop, but given the bucket of crimson paint, it may have been a paint and hardware shop. Also, I thought Fred giving her a raise was a bit much. She did nothing to deserve it. She’s lucky to have a job. You have to show her coping with a shop situation she couldn’t manage before to justify her raise.

    I thought you relied too much on animated paintings, turning door knobs, etc. Try and do it without visions and sound effects. Let the actors do the work, not the technicians. But this is a personal preference. BTW, the turning doorknobs Mya sees have no reference to her cage existence. What was that about?

    In general, well written with a few scares, but not suspenseful or psychologically insightful enough.

    Some notes while reading:

    p. 2 – Hanging woman — good shock.

    p. 3 – Jake’s role is introduced very economically. Good.

    p. 4 – Evelyn. Obvious clash with Mya (not followed through).

    p. 11 – Not sure what scene with customer is supposed to show. (We should see Mya very ill at ease dealing with her first customer, later on getting much better at dealing with people, given her history.)

    p. 12 – Jake telling Mya Tina gets lonely. Should be a bigger scene. Jake wanting Mya to live a normal dating life but not wanting to lose her, Mya scared but also envious of Tina, something along those lines. Then Mya going off and doing what Jake doesn’t want.

    p. 15 – Where is this script going? What will Mya struggle to do, given her background? There is no foreshadowing. Her life seems fixed up with a job and everything.

    p. 20 – Hallucinations: bang bag, growl, door slam, doorknob — what’s this about?

    p. 22 – Be more dramatic if Mya’s actions cause the dog to be run over.

    p. 26 – Early is a stalker. Mya should be creeped out.

    p. 39 – Losing me with Teardrop fight. Still not sure where this is going. What role does early play?

    p. 42 – Jake is her uncle. Why doesn’t she say so? (There are slight suggestions throughout the script that Jake and Mya have feelings for each other and might end up as lovers. I don’t know if this is intentional or not.)

    p. 44 – is the house vast, or the area?

    p. 52 – Why is Mya in the paint shop at night?

    p. 59 – “flips on the light” — it’s day.

    p. 61 – The Jake – Early confrontation. Not dramatic enough. Early and Mya should be having an issue, then Jake bursts in at the worst possible moment and complicates matters.

    p. 86 – Good fake of stab, but show us what happens to Pam.

    p. 93 – Didn’t like the ending with Chad in the toilet. Tonally wrong.

    • brittany

      Hey, thanks for all these kick-ass notes, Citizen M! I’m glad you brought up the genre. I’ve been going back and forth about it. I started out with psychological horror and then flip flopped to thriller. But you’re right and I like your example that a thriller is supposed to be more “edge of your seat”. That’s definitely not the kind of thing my script is, so I suppose psychological horror would fit better. Gah, it’s been a pain to figure out, but I’ll work it out somehow. Also, your other comments are spot on and I really appreciate all the time you put in. Again, thanks so much!

  • tgraham22

    Have read whole script and some of the comments. Think there is some real good advice.

    I agree with the consensus that it drags a bit in the middle. a lot of just Mya and Early.

    I think maybe you have some event that Mya is supposed to attend with Jake and Early shows up. Have Jake and Early be more of a conflict throughout and the struggle that Mya is going through be some of the drama.

    Maybe a few of those type scenes and then Jake and Vera also discussing them adds a bit more to the middle. Mya appreciates what Jake has done, but also wants to take the next step in her life (living alone). Perhaps she off-handedly calls out Jake for being some form of what her mother was to her, (caging her in and not letting her out.) Jake wants to give her freedom, but also can see that Early is just not the right guy. She doesn’t see that he is off, just that he is someone new who is giving her attention and who has shared interest.

    I also think Early’s not feeling pain is a bit confusing and not talked about at all. I have a little trouble just accepting that. Maybe he has got very good at not showing it when his mother is beating him, but he does show it at another point. This may add to his character a bit.

    Enjoyed the writing style, it flowed nicely, I did almost give up on it through the middle though. Also the ending seems very Stephen King, but I’m not sure I like it.

    I see the idea behind the Tina-Chad story, but I’m not sure I like the execution. Some people may like that ending though, so it may just be a preference thing.

    Def good work tho and I’m glad I read it. Hope to one day have a script of mine reviewed on here.

    • brittany

      Hey, thanks for chiming in with your thoughts. I really appreciate the comments on the second act dragging a bit because that adds to the consensus that it really does need work. Awesome, now I have some surefire ammo to go bring into my rewrite.

      • Eric

        I decided to post my notes in a reply just to make sure they aren’t missed. It’s nice to see someone engaging the feed back, so here goes…


        I’m a bit of a horror fan and from the review this seemed to share some themes with a script I’ll be pushing soon, so I thought I’d check it out.

        Beginning strikes me as similar to MAMA with Evelyn’s reluctance echoing the Jessica Chastain character’s reluctance. Sounds like the script goes in a different direction, but it might be a good idea to eliminate such upfront similarities if possible. Are Evelyn and her problems important enough to this story to risk evoking the comparison?

        Pg 6 Why does Mya still have a collar on? That thing would’ve come off within a couple days of them finding her. I suppose the idea is she’s been growling at people who tried to take it off, but I think someone would’ve slipped it off in her sleep way before they handed her to Jake. Maybe have Jake visit her within 24 hours of her discovery. The doctor’s say they’ve been able to examine her, but she tries to bite anyone who removes the collar. Then go on to have Jake able to remove the collar in his first visit. The bond between these two may actually be strengthened if it’s automatic and somewhat inexplicable.

        At page 29 and I’m wanting the stakes to be higher. We have Mya trying to balance a life outside the nest and stay stable despite her past, but what are the stakes if she fails? What’s the worst that can happen? Despite some quirks she seems fairly normal. She hallucinates a bit, but I think we need a glimpse of the damage that can do if it gets out of control.

        Just as an example, imagine if the sequence with 8 year old Mya ended not with Evelyn walking out, but with her deciding to openly antagonize Mya. Imagine that this ill-conceived tormenting ended with Mya going feral and trying to rip out Evelyn’s throat with her teeth. You could still skip forward to a relatively stable 20 year old Mya. You could still keep Jake in the picture, having stayed committed to the little girl rather than the woman who torments 8 year olds. But you’d have a much clearer (and more urgent) picture of what failure would look like for Mya. Now every little tick is a possible warning sign. When we come to a scene where kids are annoying her on a bus we have a clear worry. Will this be the scene that ends with Mya trying to rip out some little brat’s eyeballs?

        It might also be worth it to make clear that if Mya gets fired from her job, she’ll have no money for the apartment she’s staying at and would have to move back home (as is, Jake could possibly bail her out, which lowers the job’s importance). Once again, not being a weirdo at work has clearer consequences. It’s easier to invest in those scenes knowing what the risk is.

        Pg 30 I feel like I’m seeing too much of Jake. A big deal is made of Mya stepping out on her own, but Jake is just a phone call away and comes over to fix the plumbing. I think both her and the reader should feel the distance a little more. Try to think of a moment where it becomes clear that Mya’s gonna have to deal with some stuff on her own whether she likes it or not. Maybe there’s a moment like that later. I think it could be earlier.

        Pg 44 I wish I knew more about Early’s backstory. It seems like he and Mya would’ve had conversations by now about their past. Aren’t they curious to know something more specific about each other’s scars? Shouldn’t we be privy to some of that talk?

        Pg 51 Are Mya’s meetings with Vera official visits? If so, Vera is ethically bound to keep Mya’s secrets unless they involve death or suicide threats. I’d be careful with this character. You seem to have a psychiatrist who’s involved with the patient’s dad and is now blurring the lines between parent and psychiatrist with the patient herself. This is all ethically dubious for her profession.

        Pg 54 Mya and Early in an alley, painting and scaring away someone by barking like dogs is a beat we’ve already played. I’m not getting anything new here and am hoping the next plot point comes soon.

        Pg 62 “Mya and Early lay on the bed, cuddle.” Just a quick note on the writing. It’s mostly strong, and maybe this is a style choice (I know I’m going against the crowd here), but there are a number of sentences similar to the one above that seem off. It’s so close to grammatically correct that the fact that it’s not bothers me. I think it reads better as either, “Mya and Early lay on the bed and cuddle.” or “Mya and Early lay on the bed, cuddling.” I’m curious as to whether you’re actively avoiding the ‘-ing’ gerund and that’s why it’s written this way. I’d say that’s unnecessary. Avoiding the gerund is just about avoiding passive writing, but if you’ve already got a sentence where the gerund would be grammatically correct, it just makes it awkward to lift the gerund out. This is one of those instances where I don’t think the ‘rules’ are doing you any favors.

        Now with that aside behind us, maybe, “Mya and Early cuddle on the bed.”

        Pg 63 With Early punching himself, I’m just now realizing something that felt off the first time Mya and Early started barking at people. Does Mya not realize that this sort of behavior is a regression? Does she feel any anxiety about this man bringing out a side of her she’s been trying to repress? Maybe she feels that way, but she never has a chance to express that worry so it’s like she’s just going along with the flow. The protagonist shouldn’t seem absent from her own struggle.

        Pg 67 With the fake teeth and oxygen tank in the corner, Mya seems to be willfully ignorant about what likely happened. I think Early needs a more plausible explanation for what happened to his mom and clues shouldn’t be strewn about the house. I also think Mya should uncover the truth on her own. By having Early pull Doris from the floorboards unprovoked, you inadvertently reinforce Mya’s passivity.

        Pg 82 I would expect Mya to at least TRY to reason with Early. He’s obviously hallucinating so why not try to wake him up to the fact that Pam isn’t his mom? He also supposedly cares for her. Why not appeal to that to get Early to calm down? Not saying it has to work, but right now Mya just kind of accepts that crazy is here to stay.

        Okay, finished. Overall, there’s definitely a lot of promise here. The characters are well drawn, if a bit incomplete. The story lends itself to strong themes and I think most of what you need to execute a compelling take on this concept is already here. But the structure’s a bit misshapen and Mya and Early as characters need to be better defined and a bit more active.

        Looking back I realized I started to distance myself from Mya when Early breaks into the gallery. She expresses little qualms about this vandalism and a short time later is barking at people. The girl who’s been trying to live the normal life of a normal person just vanished off the page and was replaced by a passive protagonist who was going to follow Early around and do whatever he wants. I understand there’s some reality to this; that nice girls fall for bad boys. But usually nice girls also TRY TO CHANGE bad boys.

        My instinct and suggestion here is to make the first half of Act 2 about Mya trying to help a kindred spirit deal with his ongoing abuse. She connects quickly to Early and, despite getting a bit caught up in his crazy, ultimately tries to help him act like a normal person and encourages him to stand up to Doris’ mistreatment (ie it’s Mya and Early vs Doris). Perhaps Jake doesn’t think she’s far enough along in her own progress to be able to help someone so disturbed. That could trigger the rift between them if Mya believes Jake doesn’t see her as “normal”.

        As things go along, Early actually seems to do well despite some dicey moments, though perhaps Mya’s visions get more frequent, indicating that he may be bringing her down just as much as she’s bringing him up. It’s right around here that Doris would cause Early to snap and murder her. I’d do what you can to make that the midpoint shift. By capping off the Mya and Early vs Doris plot with Early murdering her, you’ve opened up a wealth of conflict for the remainder of the story. From there I’d have the second half of the Act 2 revolve around A) Mya moving in with Early, slowly realizing he’s not doing so well after all and eventually being held captive, and B) Jake’s attempts to dig up dirt on Early so he can get Mya away from this bad influence.

        This is roughly the structure you already have, but I think the getting to know you stuff between Mya and Early goes on for far too long without a goal. On the flip side, once Doris is killed we fly through a lot of conflict and drama that could easily be milked if you wanted to.

        I also think by making Early Mya’s ‘project’ the ending can have more impact even if she ends up okay. They are essentially the same person, so even when Early goes completely crazy, Mya would still have sympathy for him because she knows exactly where he’s coming from. That could’ve easily been her and Early’s death at her hands (or teeth) should be touching and tragic because it means she wasn’t able to help him the same way Jake helped her.

        Anyway, I did like the concept and enjoyed a lot of what was going on here. It got me thinking and that’s always welcome. Good luck with it.

        • brittany

          Wow, these are amazing notes. Your idea to make Early Mya’s “project” is a really good idea that’s got my wheels turning. It would solve a lot of issues, especially the reason she’s so drawn to him.

          Also, love your idea about Mya being more of a loose cannon with Evelyn in the beginning to show what’s at risk if she reverts back to her feral ways. Kind of like a dog that snaps out of nowhere, it’s something she has to constantly keep in check.

          Seriously, this is really helpful. You know those rare times when feedback suddenly sparks inspiration? Yeah, this is one of those times. I can’t thank you enough!

          • Eric

            Thanks :) I’m flattered. I think you have the makings of a wonderful script here. Mya and Early have the potential to be a great bizarre/tragic duo. Best of luck with it.