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Genre: Crime-Thriller
Premise (from writer): Over the course of one night, a reformed father must step back into his murky past to find his criminal brother who is the only suitable donor for his dying son…
Why You Should Read (from writer): I think it was Tarantino that said he’d been staring through the window at the industry for so long prior to Reservoir Dogs’ success that it felt normal for him to be on the outside now. At times I very much feel the same. I’ve had the agents, the managers, the lawyers and done the water bottle tour too. I’ve had scripts go out to all the major studios and prod cos and placed highly or won most of the major contests worth entering. I’ve written/directed my own award winning short films that allowed me to go around the world to various festivals and meet audiences first hand, and I’ve had pilots go into networks and yet I’m still here bashing away, whilst staring through that looking glass and working as a bartender. So, I decided to take stock, go away and write something that I’d want to see at the cinema. A movie me and my buddies would find cool. It’s taken me 13 feature scripts and 4 pilots to “find my voice” and I’m keen to show it to a script writing community that’s as passionate about writing great stories as I am. This is REBEL CITY – with echoes of Michael Mann’s Thief and The Friends of Eddie Coyle – it’s a neo noir crime flick… Hope you like it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Writer: Chris Ryden
Details: 114 pages

the-drop-tom-hardy640Tom Hardy for Jonjo?

Man, I hadn’t read the “Why You Should Read” until just now. That shows how hard this business is. Chris has already made a ton of headway in his career, and yet he’s still, as he points out, “bashing away.”

After reading Rebel City, I know why he’s made it as far as he has. Chris can fucking write. Not only does he have all the technical stuff down (very sparse description, clean easy-to-read writing, characters that pop off the page as soon as they’re introduced, gets to the point quickly in scenes) but this just feels like a movie when you read it.

One of the things I love, as a reader, is when I go into something with expectations, and those expectations are immediately turned on their head. Like when I see “Crime” as the genre, 9 out of 10 times I know we’re going to start in some restaurant (or bar, or club) with a bunch of “tough guys” (cops or thugs) talking “tough guy speak.” The restaurant will always be over-described, giving the first page wall-of-text ebola. We’ll then listen in on the tough-guy speak, only to realize by the second page that there’s no point to the scene other than for the writer to be able to write this dialogue – dialogue, mind you, that is 95% clichéd.

In Rebel City, we start with a black screen and a phone call. The discussion is quick and to the point. “Where the fuck are you, Seamus?” “Your flight landed four hours ago.” “Wasn’t on it.” “I didn’t hear that.” “I’ll come get you.”

Not only do we start unexpectedly. But we start with PURPOSE. The words coming out of the characters’ mouths actually MEAN something. A story is being presented. In the very first scene! That’s how you catch a reader’s attention.

And that’s how Rebel City opens. Jonjo, a former criminal who used to live in the small dirty city of Cork, has to go back there to pick up his derelict brother, Seamus. You see, Jonjo’s 7 year old son is dying. Seamus is the only kidney match for him. But Seamus is a wreck. He’s already missed half a dozen plane flights back here with various excuses, and somehow Jonjo knows that if he doesn’t get him now, he might never get him.

So back to Cork Jonjo flies, thinking he’ll just show up at his old house and there Seamus will be. Except it’s never that easy with Seamus. Instead of his brother, Jonjo runs into three thugs who rough him up, telling him he needs to give Seamus a message. They want Florenta back, whoever the fuck that is.

Jonjo then heads to his sister’s place, who he hasn’t seen in years, and she wants nothing to do with him ON TOP of not knowing where Seamus is. Jonjo realizes that if he’s going to find Seamus, he’s going to have to go back inside the grisly underworld he worked so hard to escape. He’s going to have to be Bad Jonjo again.

So then, in the spirit of The Equalizer and John Wick (“That dog was a dying gift from my wife!”), that’s exactly where Jonjo heads. He meets some old friends and makes some new ones (if “making new friends” includes being shot at, tied up, and tortured). The longer he looks for Seamus, the more he realizes his brother’s involved in some deep shit, the kind of shit where even if he finds him, there’s no guarantee they’re going to get out of this town alive. But Jonjo’s son takes precedence over everything.  If there’s any chance of getting his brother, he’s going to take it.

It’s hard to read Rebel City and not marvel at the skill on display here, particularly the dialogue, which is something we don’t get to celebrate enough on the site. Chris keeps his dialogue short and to the point so it zings by, knows his characters well enough that each one sounds a little different, and gives each line a touch of salad dressing to elevate it above regular conversation.

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 10.35.31 PM

And his description isn’t too shabby either. Chris never lingers, never over-describes, but adds just enough flavor to paint a picture.

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 9.42.26 PM

You’re probably sensing from my tone that there’s a “but” coming. And there is. But there’s something that didn’t click here for me. And this is one of the most frustrating parts of my job. It’s kind of like being a music producer. You have a singer come in and they have an AMAZING voice. It fucking blows you away. Then later you pop in a song of theirs and the song is ho-hum. You still hear that amazing voice, but the song isn’t doing it for you.

I think my reservations are due, in part, to me hoping the script would go in another direction. I thought Jonjo was going to pick up the world’s shittiest brother, Seamus, and the two would have to navigate themselves out of the town. Cause to me, Seamus was the most interesting character in the screenplay. He’s this piece of shit who has the opportunity to save his own nephew, and yet he can’t fucking get on a plane with a ticket already bought and paid for. I wanted to know more about what made that guy tick. And I wanted to see that sibling relationship play out over the course of the movie.

But after 20 pages, I realized that Seamus was a plot device only. He exists only to get Jonjo there, which means Jonjo’s going to be doing this alone. And don’t get me wrong. There are still some nice moments. Hell, I think the Peg-Leg Pete Dominatrix scene (page 65 for those who want to jump straight to it) should go down in the annals of Amateur Friday history. That was some fun/hilarious/disturbing shit.

But a lot of the other conversations and scenes felt too familiar. Just like those singers who can knock a high note out of the park, Chris had a stranglehold on these characters and they all sounded wonderful. Still, the song wasn’t making me dance. If you’ve asked one low-rent punk where Seamus is, you’ve asked them all.

So if I were Chris, I’d embrace the absurdity of this world. Just like the Peg Leg Pete scene and, to a lesser extent, the Evelyn scene (I feel like we cut out of that scene before things could get good), you make this a cast of characters that are over-the-top and fucking weird. Each one moreso than the last. The further this journey goes on, the stranger it gets. Because, yeah, the Cunninghams were okay as a gang, but they were far from MEMORABLE. I want memorable.

Also, and keep in mind this is coming from a sci-fi geek, I thought the mystery government high-tech box thing should have played a much bigger part in the story. That was the first moment where I went, “Whoa, what the hell is Seamus involved in here?” There was finally some real mystery to the story. But as soon as it’s mentioned, it goes back into hibernation. I would’ve loved for that to arrive earlier and be a bigger part of the plot.

The way I see this is we’ve already seen the standard version of this movie. The thug underbelly English/Irish life. So what are you going to do to make your “thug underbelly English/Irish life movie” different? How do you make yours stand out? I say you do it by putting more crazy into these characters. I understand this changes the tone of the movie significantly, and if that’s not the movie you want to write, don’t write it just because I think you should. But that was my problem with the script. It felt too familiar.

Script link: Rebel City

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

What I learned: It’s no secret that I believe opening scenes are the most important scenes in the script. They’re the scenes where you either hook the reader or lose them. So here’s a strategy for writing them. Whatever TYPE of movie you’re writing (genre plus concept) ask yourself, what’s the most likely opening scene for that kind of movie. For example, if you’re writing a Western, the most likely opening scene might be a duel in the middle of town. Then, write something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT FROM THAT. Just write something they aren’t expecting. Because if you can defy your reader’s expectations on the VERY FIRST PAGE, they’re going to trust you as a writer. They’re going to believe you can keep doing that over and over again.

  • JakeBarnes12

    Looking forward to reading this one.

    As an Irish man It’s refreshing to see examples of Irish dialogue that actually read authentic, as opposed to the few laughable attempts I’ve seen here over the years.

    And while I’m at it, Cork’s in fuckin’ Ireland, Carson. That part of Ireland hasn’t been under English rule since we drove the bastards out in the early 1920s.

    • JakeMLB


      As an Irish man It’s refreshing to see examples of Irish dialogue that actually read authentic, as opposed to the few laughable attempts I’ve seen here over the years yers.

  • oscar vargas

    Who in the world is Christopher Pendegraft?

    • carsonreeves1

      I’m unable to get into the website using my login for some reason, so I had to go in using my web programmer’s login. Sorry for the confusion!

    • carsonreeves1

      By the way, it’s because I made the classic mistake of updating to the new Mac OS. Which sounds wonderful until you realize Safari’s forgotten all 300 of your passwords. :(

    • LV426

      Is he related to Carmen Sandiego?

  • GYAD

    “So what are you going to do to make your “thug underbelly English life movie” different?”

    Set it in Ireland?

    • carsonreeves1

      Wait, is Cork in Ireland? I saw London mentioned and just assumed he was traveling in-country.

      • GYAD

        Cork is about as Irish as you can get; the title “Rebel City” is also one of the nicknames for Cork because of its notorious/famous Irish nationalism.

        Jonjo, like many Irishmen, has emigrated to the UK.

        • LV426

          I recently discovered the “Jack Taylor” movies/series on Netflix. I wish there was more. It’s not groundbreaking, but very watchable. Iain Glen is probably a part of why it works so well.

          I’ve also heard good things about Scottish crime novels or Tartan noir as I believe they call it. I’ve been wanting to try some of that. Although I’m not exactly sure how much it differs from similar fare set in England or Ireland.

          • GYAD

            Yeah, it’s a good series. Thankfully they are making more, although they’ll run out of books soon (that said, they often improve the books during the transition to the screen so we might get some originals).

            In my experience Scottish crime novels tend to be more dour and left-wing than ones from the rest of the UK. They still suffer from the same over-predictable obsessions with serial killers, sexual predators and gruesome CSI as much of the rest of UK crime fiction.

            Oddly the “Brandt” books by Ken Bruen – author of the Jack Taylor novels – about the Met in London are better than his Irish ones. They adapted one for the Jason Statham flick “Blitz”, which apparently nobody but me liked.

        • Paddy

          Good call on Mark O’Rowe, in fact I think Intermission is a great example of a memorable opening scene.

  • Matthew Garry


    starts with a strong opening, and keeps on going strong right up to and including the birthday party. Then it moves on and it’s still strong with well written scenes, all the way to the end… So?

    I’ve been trying to find the exact quote for this but I couldn’t find it. I think it was a Grandmaster of chess talking about Fischer. He said that the strength of Fisher wasn’t those amazing combinations, but the ability to maneuver his opponents into a position where he was able to perform those combinations.

    And that’s what I noticed about Rebel City, even though they’re all great scenes, after a certain point Jonjo seems to get magically transported from one high-octane situation that’s favourable for writing to the next, with little to no maneuvering in between.

    But Rebel City is pulp (and that’s nothing to apologise for if it’s deliberate), so the sort of contrived coincidences that keep the momentum going don’t really matter. But then again, as Pulp it’s somewhat one note. If you have the liberty of making every scene optimal for splashing dialogue or gritty action, it gets repetitive quickly if the focus of most scenes is violence.

    If you look at Pulp Fiction, even though there is a lot of violence, there is plenty of variation in the mix of scenes: OD’ing characters, a dance contest, and a very long flashback about a man talking about smuggling a watch in his arse. And that’s what I missed in rebel city: variation. It’s still cool to follow along with Jonjo on his journey, but I felt there was a diminishing return on the talk-tough/fight-tough progression throughout.

    As a story Rebel City misses an intriguing and driving plot, but then again, a good Pulp shouldn’t let a plot get in the way of the cool stuff. But with the plot lacking, you have to find other ways to keep someone’s attention. Rebel City comes a long way here on execution alone, but could use some more variation to prevent things from becoming repetitive.

    • Chris Ryden

      Thanks Matthew! Appreciate where you’re coming from and yup you nailed it, it’s very much a pulp/ hardboiled piece :)

  • Casper Chris

    Carson, you need to get that Amateur top 10 up. It can’t take that long.

    • walker

      Guys like you just don’t understand how much easier it is to post a pro top 25 than an amateur top 10.

      • Casper Chris

        I’m assuming that was a joke.

        But it’s already been posted. He just needs to update the side bar thingy so the writers can get their well-deserved exposure.

        • walker

          Maybe he is afraid he will receive a ton of HTML.

          • Casper Chris

            lol, maybe

  • hackofalltrade

    This was my favorite from last week, the only one I read all the way through. I was impressed how quickly I became “invested” in the story, and as someone who’s always wished to make my way to Ireland, this writer helped me get there, though he took me to some parts I’ll try to avoid if I get there. I am going to make a suggestion based off your WYSR, and I hope you don’t take offense. A while back, I read “Devil In You” all the way through as well, and he had a similar theme in his WYSR. Near misses, hard work, obvious talent…but…just like everybody else, you want to get one made! My suggestion to you and the writer of Devil-find a writing partner. I think you both have great dialogue, scene description, most of all-you make me want to finish your story. But at the end, the “story” was just a little underwhelming. A writing partner with the opposite problem-someone who creates great set pieces, scenes, who can escalate the STORY to a new level, but maybe that writer struggles with dialogue/coherence, I think together will give you a better shot at getting something made. Half of something is better than all of nothing. Kudos on an enjoyable read!

    • Randy Williams

      It may be a struggle with someone like him with so much “voice”.

      Writing with my partner, I’ve seen how so much of our scene building is verbally talking it out loud in simple, succinct phrases that for the most part go directly to the page. There is no thesaurus searching, no constant noodling with syntax, grammar, as was discussed yesterday in the comments of the troubleshooting article. Nothing flowery or exaggerated that might turn heads in the coffee shops we write together in.

      But, as you said, if one writer has a weakness that the other writer can compensate for, then it can work to your advantage. My cowriter and I often discuss whether we have the same story in our heads because I approach scripts from an audience’s point of view and he approaches it from the motivations of the characters. We are always surprised that starting out on separate paths in each scene, we arrive at the same spot.

      and congrats to the writer for a great solo performance here!!

      • Chris Ryden

        Thanks Randy! Most appreciated :)

  • Scott Chamberlain

    So, read this from FADE IN to THE END.

    I really enjoyed it. I think it was definitely worth the read. Given the nature of the story – lies are everywhere – I’d actually show the son is alive at the end. Erin’s O.S. assurance isn’t enough after the world we’ve just been through. I wanted the comfort of knowing Jonjo had earned redemption, not further pain.

    These are the three things I’d recommend in any re-write:

    It’s difficult to get any sense of progression. Ideally, Jonjo should face rising challenges, either physically, or thematically – preferably both. Lot’s could be achieved just be ordering the encounters around some kind of logic. This had a feel of the Odyssey. And perhaps that may provide some kind of ordering logic.

    There’s a couple of points where you introduce a villain and you feel compelled to explain who they are – Magee, Kenny. I think that shows they are not set up right. We should feel their significance from the story structure.

    Consider, when Jonjo beats Cormac, we have no idea he is atoning with his sister. And he risks nothing to do it. At the time, he’s just beating the crap out of some kind he accidentally met in a bar after kind of thinkin he should have a drink with a former school friend cum hooker.

    Seamus earns his redemption in this story, too. The deadbeat brother (if I understand it right) tries to bury for good his brother’s sins by getting hold of the USB evidence. But he unwittingly steals the wrong girl and for that he is killed. This part of the story doesn’t make sense. Why not just destroy the USB, rather than keep it? It feels like a device, not organic.

    I’d consider losing this device and shuffle things a bit. Seamus is the MacGuffin that forces Jonjo to go on a journey that will drive him to confront his flaws, his fears and his sins. Jonjo ran away, leaving ghosts that must be put to bed. His reward is the kidney for his son. But he has to earn it He should be a better man. At present, there’s only a limited sense that Jonjo has atoned. There’s no defining moment where Jonjo achieves something new that he could not have achieved at the start.

    MAYBE calling his dad for help satisfies, but it comes too quick and too late and his claim that family is all that matters to him rings false because we’ve only seen his family not matter to him at all. A stronger climax is needed.

    But for that we have to talk about…

    It’s not overly clear what this story is really about. Jonjo’s final declaration is about family. The brother whose kidney he needs to save his son dies trying erase all trace his own crime back in the day. This isn’t really about family it is about unfinished business, it is about the need to repent and forgive, it is about how sins must be brought into the light to be cleansed because left in the shadows they continue to poison your life and eat your future.

    But his real sin is that he killed a friend to save his family. This event is the cause of his current problems. SEAMUS doesn’t hop on the plane because this is the loose end he’s trying to square away ( why?). And yet, Jonjo never atones for this. He would have killed his friend even knowing it was his friend. And yet he’s allowed to live because knowing SEAMUS died because Jonjo let Magee walk all over him is supposed to be more torment than death.

    So where’s the catharsis? There’s suffering, but to what end?

    So the journey to find SEAMUS should force Jonjo to confront and atone for an ever deeper series of secrets and crimes, leading to a climax where Jonjo only gets what he wants by admitting his darkest crime. He should be offering up the USB to Aiden, exchanging proof of the identity of Kenny killer in exchange for SEAMUS ( or SEAMUS corpse if you really want him humiliated)

    • Chris Ryden

      Thanks for the feedback Scott, really insightful stuff there for me to digest :)

  • tobban

    I hereby declare todays writer Chris Ryden the King of Why You Should Read !

  • Nicholas J

    After all that it’s a [x] wasn’t for me? This has to be the most favorably reviewed wasn’t for me ever.

    • scriptfeels

      I read all of the amateur Friday scripts that week and voted for Rebel City because of the dialogue and how immersed I was in reading the script, like Carson said in the beginning of his review, it felt like a movie! I’d be interested to see what type of characters would make this script even more memorable though.

  • The Kidney Doctor

    Here’s a strange but true reason that this film will never get made. It’s because the Irish film industry is extremely parochial and concentrated in Dublin and the west (see The Guard, Grabbers, Calvary) and there is virtually no infrastructure in Cork. This may seem a silly excuse in a country the size of Ireland but is a very real obstacle.

    Furthermore, Bord Scannan na hEireann might be less than enthusiastic about having cute boutique city Cork, city of culture, best place to, etc, etc portrayed as a den of inequity. Now if it was Limerick you might have more leeway. But Stab City is a less satisfying title.

    • walker

      Hey you mean “den of iniquity”. Los Angeles is a den of inequity.

    • scriptfeels

      So change the city to get the film financed or film it in Cork and search for indie funds? I would so watch this film either way haha.

      • Chris Ryden

        Good to know there’ll be one ticket sold ;) With a bit of luck (come January) I’ll be filming RC…

    • mulesandmud

      STAB CITY is a pretty fantastic title for a crime story, if you ask me.

      • The Kidney Doctor

        Given the current financial situation in Ireland, it’s probably both

    • LV426

      Stab City is a pretty cool title if you ask me. Especially if a rewrite embraced the weird and quirky bits that Carson wanted to see more of.

    • Casper Chris

      Stab City > Rebel City

  • Poe_Serling

    “What I learned: It’s no secret that I believe opening scenes are the most important scenes in the script. They’re the scenes where you either hook the reader or lose them.”

    I totally agree, and it’s worth repeating. And, of course, this notion also extends to the opening scenes of a film and getting the audience to sit up in their seats.

    Just the other day I was watching Night of the Living Dead. Even though it’s 45+ years old, the opening is that big, fat wiggly worm on the hook.

    A brother and sister visiting a graveyard. Some guy stumbles toward them. The town drunk?

    Nope. A new kind of monster – one that wants to eat you!!!

    Still quite jarring and memorable… at least for me.

    • klmn

      I still think The Wild Bunch has the best opening sequence.

      • walker

        Touch of Evil by Orson Welles, Don’t Look Now by Nicolas Roeg, Andrei Rublev by Andrei Tarkovsky.

      • LV426

        The Matrix (although it supposedly made a lot of readers and execs say WTF? when they read the spec)

        Once Upon A Time In The West

        Jurassic Park

        Dr. NO (three blind mice)

      • Dale T

        The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

        • Levres de Sang

          Watched this on TV last night. Hugely atmospheric opening sequence…

      • Casper Chris

        Raiders of the Lost Ark
        2001: A Space Odyssey
        A Clockwork Orange
        Inglorious Basterds
        The Lion King

        So many good openings…

      • Poe_Serling

        “What other great openings can you think of?’

        Classic Classic – Curse of the Demon

        ’70s Classic – Halloween

        More recent film but not a classic – Ghost Ship (2002)

        • charliesb

          Ghost Ship had an amazing opening. It’s too bad the rest of film fell off.

        • brenkilco

          Curse of the Demon is good movie. And the Demon, which the director didn’t want to show, is OK from a distance. But up close he looks really dopey. Like he couldn’t dismember people and chew bubble gum at the same time.

          • Poe_Serling

            Yeah, but today’s standards the demon is pretty cheesy and kind of slow-moving.

            Other than that – it’s still one of my favorite horror films from that era. Loads of spooky atmosphere, solid story/dialogue, and actor Niall MacGannis is so good as Julian Karswell.

          • Levres de Sang

            Absolutely! And directed by Val Lewton alumnus Jacques Tourneur.

          • mulesandmud

            Have great affection for Curse/Night of the Demon, but those demon shots are just plain embarrassing.

            Tourneur knew it, too; he was the original don’t-show-the-monster master. CAT PEOPLE is still one of my favorites.

            Always loved this scene from THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, which payed tribute to Tourneur and summed up his horror approach beautifully:

          • Levres de Sang

            Thanks for posting! Haven’t seen Bad and the Beautiful so wasn’t aware of this scene, but the reference is crystal clear.

          • brenkilco

            MacGannis is perfect. Great voice. Not really known for much else, although he was a thougtful Zeus in Jason and the Argonauts.

      • klmn

        Star Wars, of course.

        12 O’Clock High.

        • brenkilco

          you can’t get much different than those two openings

      • mulesandmud

        Kiss Me Deadly
        Malcolm X
        The Road Warrior
        The Player
        Citizen Kane
        Boogie Nights
        Children of Men

        Fun game. Could do this all day.

      • Randy Williams

        I like openings where you may wonder later, where the hell was the camera and the crew?

        Openings like the aerial and mountain pasture shots of The Sound Of Music. The Sound Of Music is a good one too, because it gives you a protagonist who immediately says, (in this case, through song) “Something is off in my life and I want to set it straight”

      • brenkilco

        Lots of good ones mentioned already. Wild Bunch is probably best ever. Some others:

        The Hustler: Who he is and what he does in one great scene.

        Rio Bravo: Famous wordless opening.

        Close Encounters: The sand, the fence, the plane flaps, the old guy with sunburn and a clueless Bob Balaban.

        Dirty Harry: The Sniper. The bank robbery too, or is that cheating?

        The Searchers: Wayne in the distance.

        Sunset Boulevard The narrator corpse in the pool.

        The Palm Beach Story Ok, they’re getting married. Just what else is going on remains crazy till the end and even after.

      • Poe_Serling

        Here’s another great opening with some major star power – Austin Powers: Goldmember.

        It’s not every day that you see ‘Steven Spielberg’ flip and cartwheel off the set. ;-)

      • Ryan Sasinowski

        The Dark Knight/Rises
        Sunset Boulevard
        Double Indemnity

    • Levres de Sang

      My selections are in chronological order…

      The Letter
      Secret Beyond the Door
      Last Year at Marienbad
      Les Biches
      Vampyros Lesbos
      Aguirre: Wrath of God
      The Parallax View

      Loved this exercise and interesting for me to realise that four of the above begin with V.O.

      • brenkilco

        Think of Aguirre as more of a great opening shot than a scene. But Letter and Parallax definitely. Will have to check out the artistry of Vampyros Lesbos.

        • Levres de Sang

          If you look at the original draft of Parallax it begins with an ‘accident’ on the Interstate. There’s no sign of the Space Needle sequence… By the way, the girl in the polka-dot dress is, I believe, a reference to the Bobby Kennedy assassination — and the sort of background descriptive detail that would likely get called out on AOW. It’s not fair being an amateur… :)

      • Poe_Serling

        Nice list. Plus, it’s fun to see a Fritz Lang film make it.

        • Levres de Sang

          Thanks Poe. Secret Beyond the Door is so underrated. Even Maltin perplexingly refers to it as a “tedious Lang misfire”. I do wonder, though, whether Lang borrowed the paper boat on water from The Woman in Green — the final Rathbone outing as Sherlock Holmes?

          • Poe_Serling

            Even so-so efforts from Fritz Lang always have at least a few memorable cinematic moments… at least for me.

            My favorite Lang film: The Woman in the Window.

          • brenkilco

            If you come to Lang after Hitchcock, his rigorous, pared down style may initially seem underwhelming. Add to that the fact that most of his movies are more fatalistic melodramas than thrillers. But full of good stuff. Also like Ministry of Fear and his dark, quasi-swashbuckler Moonfleet.

          • Levres de Sang

            I loved The Woman in the Window when I saw it on TV many years ago… and it’s currently near the top of my re-watch list.

            Interesting how painted portraits played into quite a few 1940s films.

          • Poe_Serling

            “Interesting how painted portraits played into quite a few 1940s films.”

            I instantly thought of The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945).

          • brenkilco

            Laura of course.

          • Levres de Sang

            And Portrait of Jennie.

          • brenkilco

            And other movies where the portraits are used to emphasize the importance of people we never meet. As in The Uninvited and Keeper of the Flame. Always thought it odd that there wasn’t a portrait of Rebecca at Manderley. Shouldn’t there have been at least a few snapshots lying around?

          • Levres de Sang

            Agree as to Rebecca, but perhaps entry into her bedroom is all we need…

            I realise these older films we’ve been discussing aren’t really in Carson’s wheelhouse, but I’d like to see him do an article on ‘invisible’ characters. Brando’s Kurtz would also qualify as we don’t see him until very late on.

          • brenkilco

            Even Brando’s Kurtz is thirty five years ago. The invisible character or big buildup, delayed entrance character isn’t really much favored in movies nowadays. And it really works dramatically if done well. Orson Welles is what we remember from the Third Man. And he has maybe ten minutes of screen time and only one scene with lines. Trying to think of recent examples. Guy Pierce in the nothing special Prometheus, maybe. Others?

          • Levres de Sang

            Just that I think of Apocalypse Now as modern… which probably says a lot about my taste.

            I guess we’re being taught (in screenwriting terms) to get to everything that much quicker — leaving little scope for a Kurtz or Harry Lime. Then again, the charisma of both Welles and Brando makes them well worth the wait. Sorry, can’t think of any recent equivalents.

          • davejc

            “And other movies where the portraits are used to emphasize the importance of people we never meet.”

            Dragonwyck! :)

          • brenkilco

            Sort of a movie given that if your story takes place in an old mansion there’ll be a relevant portrait hanging up on the wall. Think it’s called the Hound of The Baskervilles law. Just picked up the blu ray of the Wolf Man. Above the mantle is a portrait of poor Larry Talbot’s dead brother. And he looks just like Lon Chaney. Since the hulking Chaney’s dad is played by dapper, five foot tall Claude Rains you wonder what on earth his mom looked like. There were no portraits of her. Probably wouldn’t have been a pretty picture.

          • Poe_Serling

            Dragonwyck – I watched it for the first time about a year or so ago. Really enjoyed it!

        • davejc

          Big Lang fan here :) Have you ever seen Der Mude Tod? the Lang film that inspired both Hitchcock and Bunuel to go into the biz:

          • Poe_Serling

            I haven’t had the opportunity to see that one yet. I’ll definitely check it out when I get a spare moment or two.

            Of Lang’s earlier pics I’ve enjoyed watching: M, Metropolis, Siegfried, and Kriemhild’s Revenge.

          • davejc

            M is my favorite, so far ahead of it’s time.

            I really can’t think of many great opening scenes. I guess I’m not an opening scene kinda guy :) But Fight Club had a pretty good opening scene, I thought so when I saw it in the theatre.

          • brenkilco

            Spies is also good. The original Mabuse film is kind of disappointing but Thousand Eyes, his last movie, is great, crazy fun.

        • klmn

          One more I thought of. Un Chien Andalou.

          If that opening doesn’t send you up the wall there’s something wrong with you.

          • davejc

            Ahahaha, if any of us tried using that to open our story we’d get roasted alive :)

            this is my favorite Bunuel scene probably in my top ten scenes of all time. The “what now?” look Claudio Brook gives is priceless :)

          • klmn

            “Ahahaha, if any of us tried using that to open our story we’d get roasted alive :)”

            Yeah, we’d have to sneak it in later. Like this. Click on the window to view it.

            I love you.

            I love you too.

            Tom opens his straight razor and slashes Mary’s eye.

            From my new screenplay, Love Is Blind.

          • Levres de Sang

            Thanks for posting, Dave. I haven’t seen too much Bunuel, but I loved the atmosphere of this scene — and its conclusion was something I never would have predicted!

            I’d love to channel this kind of surrealism within my own scripts, but it’s so hard to do in a manner that’s’ meaningful on the page.

            N.B. Fassbinder’s Niklashausen Journey uses similar anachronism and is one of the great man’s little known gems.

          • Poe_Serling

          • Poe_Serling

            Salvador Dali and Walt Disney once tried to collaborate on a film.


          • klmn

            Yeah, I ran across that on YouTube maybe a year ago.

          • Levres de Sang

            I had absolutely no idea about this, so many thanks for posting! The 6-minute short is mesmerizing… and somehow a perfect compliment to the Simon of the Desert scene that Dave posted.

    • Malibo Jackk

      Best opening scene ever — RE-ANIMATOR.

  • rickhester

    I’d have to give very high marks to the opening scene of Children of the Corn. Completely chilling and establishes both Isaac and Malachai as particularly terrifying antagonists. Especially Malachai. And it’s classic Stephen King, it’s not only physically violent, it’s psychologically violent. A group of kids poisoning, then butchering a cafe full of adults.

    Randomly mentioned to my mother this morning that I’d watched Children of the Corn last night. Her response, ‘Oh, you used to love that movie when you were a kid.’


  • Casper Chris

    The writer wrote further down:

    With a bit of luck (come January) I’ll be filming RC…

    He’s making it himself. If turning your own scripts into film means you’re a pro screenwriter, I’m a pro screenwriter too.

  • Howie428

    When I looked at this last week, I ended up reading all the way through, and that alone makes it worth the read or better for me. I’m kind of scratching my head at Carson’s rating for this.

    The story has a fun energy and propels forward really well. Of the amateur scripts I’ve read on this site, I’d put this among the best of them.

    That being said, I’d suggest that the story could be a bit less episodic and that the ending goes a bit wonky.

    A way to tackle that might be to bring forward one of the final act plot reveals to the midpoint. That way the story would feel like it’s moving along more in the middle and you don’t have to drop so much new information on us in the final act.

    For me, it would also make sense to have a rethink of how the final act plays out, because much of it steps away from Jonjo and becomes a bit back and forwards confusing.

    Good luck with it.

  • Chris Ryden

    I LOVE that note thanks Mulesandmud — it shall be applied!!!

  • Chris Ryden

    Electric D — wow — these are some brilliantly detailed notes and I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to do them! As with all good notes, I’ll sit on them for a few days now and allow them to ferment before tucking in properly. On a side note: If I may be so bold as to throw two things into the discussion of this disection I’ll say this (and perhaps it’s more of european thing) but not all protagonists have to be liked. I often find that when it’s done in this way it’s usually a deliberate choice of the writer. That said, we do have to RELATE to the protag’s turmoil, be it inner or outer, and/or EMPATHISE with them. And secondly, an emotion I feel has perhaps been missed here or jumped over (particularly in the why doesn’t he beg/ why would he not jump straight to it with his family scenes) — quite simply, it’s because some people allow pride to get in their way and as you may have noticed as Jonjo’s story pans out — this is gradually stripped away, leaving an empty vessel.

    My two points aside — this feedback is amazing and a huuuuuuuge thank you for this. I feel nothing but gratitude for such comprehensive and insightful notes :)


    • ElectricDreamer

      Thanks for the kind words, I really enjoyed reading your script.
      All I hope is that my efforts help you make good decisions about your work.
      Protags don’t have to be likable, just interesting. I agree.
      Last night, I did sleep on why your opener misfires for me.
      I do have one question for you about that fateful phone call…

      ***What is happening to Seamus on the other end of that phone?
      We never find out, right? Well maybe we should, at the very end.***

      Maybe Seamus had a GUN to his head while talking to Jonjo.
      That he’s being FORCED to sound like his usual irresponsible self.
      Then I would CARE a lot. I would feel ASHAMED for judging Seamus.
      Like Jonjo in the end. I’d be filled with regret too. Stupid pride got in the way.
      I can see Jonjo finding this out, while he’s standing over his dead brother.
      Maybe Seamus talks to Jonjo for the last time by his own — OPEN GRAVE.

      I think that opener may need a coda/pay off. Good luck with your script.

      • Chris Ryden

        I seriously DIG that idea! If you don’t mind me trying it, I’m gonna see how that would work. It’s a little like the story behind Pulp Fiction. QT and LB play the flick for Harvey W. They’re worried about the fact Travolta dies near the end. At the end of the screening they ask HW “are you cool with John being dead?” HW replies “Sure… Besides, he ain’t dead at the end of the movie, so it’s an up ending!” LOVE it, thanks again Electric ;)

  • Rizwan Cabani

    Man ED… these notes are worth a fee — ever consider entering the consult game? Impressive analysis brah — nice work.

  • Chris Ryden

    Thanks Thomas! :)

  • Kirk Diggler

    “The parents deliver poor exposition, they both know these facts.”

    While most of your observations hit the mark, this one is plain wrong, which you then follow with poor advice on how to revise the scene.

    The writer delivers exposition exactly how he should. Jonjo and his wife may ‘know the facts’, but who’s to say they know exactly how each other feels about Jonjo potentially returning to Cork? We don’t, so the writer hides his exposition in the context of ‘debate’, which is perfectly good and reads as a realistic bit of back and forth between Jonjo and his wife.

    But your suggestion here…… “He (the Doctor) asks if there’s family nearby. Jonjo says his brother’s two hours away. Doctor say that’s great, but Jonjo and Erin are like, “Not really, doc.”

    ….. is poor.

    Why? Well umm, it completely negates the opening V.O. And it makes no sense. Are you trying to say that the Doctor and Jonjo haven’t already had this conversation months ago? The kid is on a donor waiting list. He’s near the top. So that means they had this discussion months ago. But again, it just kills the opening V.O., which most everyone liked, including Carson, and I quote.

    “In Rebel City, we start with a black screen and a phone call. The discussion is quick and to the point. “Where the fuck are you, Seamus?” “Your flight landed four hours ago.” “Wasn’t on it.” “I didn’t hear that.” “I’ll come get you. Not only do we start unexpectedly. But we start with PURPOSE. The words coming out of the characters’ mouths actually MEAN something.”

    You still suggest the writer change this just because of some poor exposition that isn’t poor at all? Trust me, the writer of this piece has thought this out more than you have.

    And this:
    ‘Boom! You’ve set up Seamus in seconds without him even being in the room.’

    And BOOM! he already did that. (See the opening phone call).

    Why do I feel constrained to point this error out? Because this kind of over-analyzing of script minutiae can be paralyzing to a writer, and it’s all done in the name of “helping someone out”. I’d hate to think any writer would change something that is quite good over a misguided note.

    • mulesandmud


      I agree with ED that that Jonjo/Erin conversation clunks more than it should, but as you say, it’s certainly not worth butchering the entire opening to fix.

      The critical offender for me was this exchange:

      ERIN: We’ve still got a couple of days. He’s top of the waiting list.
      JONJO: Seamus is a match. He’s two hours away. He can fix our little boy.

      It might be enough just to move that exchange up to the top of the scene, where it would feel more like debate and less like information dump. Right now though, lumped at the tail of the conversation as it is, it acts as ballast, stealing power from better lines (“I can’t lose you both.”/”Nobody’s losing anything.”) that emphasize emotion over exposition.

      • Kirk Diggler

        Yeah, it wouldn’t be bad to start the conversation with the above exchange instead of sticking it in the middle. I still don’t think it’s bad exposition though. But it might be less obvious if we come across this sooner, it can replace this line–

        “You heard what the doctors said. We don’t get that transplant, he’s–”

        –which IS blatant exposition, because like Jonjo says, she heard what the Doctor said.

    • brenkilco

      I think the criticism is valid. The scene seemed tinny to me. And the writer needs to be careful. You’ve got an incredibly contrived situation. Dying kid and only his feckless, low life uncle can save him. So you need to ease into it as naturally as possible. You need it to be as indirect as possible. No big expository lines. Let the audience piece the situation together. BTW if they cant even get unc on the plane when the kid is about to go toes up, how did they get him to undergo the tests to determine whether he was a match?

      • Kirk Diggler

        Dialogue can always be tweaked. My problem with ED’s note (and there were others that made me scratch my head) is that he implied the whole thing was ‘bad exposition’. To me, it’s at most a line or two that needs to be removed or fixed.

        Sometimes you just have to accept the premise, accept the fact that much has happened off screen prior to what we are seeing. Do you want another line of exposition explaining how Seamus is a match for Jonjo’s son? Do we really need to know when the blood test was done? I don’t think so. Is the basic premise believable? Yes. Is every screenplay perfect? No. Does every story have a certain amount of acceptable contrivance that the reader/viewer ignores because they are enjoying the story? Yes. Do we need to get out our red pens and rip every little choice the writer makes? No.

        • brenkilco

          Folding exposition into the action painlessly and invisibly is a next level skill that I think really does make a difference. You’re right, all genre movies are built on contrivance but the trick is to make the audience buy the contrivance. To know the difference between what will get by and what will look lazy.The writer should always be ready with his red pen.

          Of course sometimes the writer can worry too much. There’s a scene in Die Hard 3 where Willis and Sam Jackson are in a car racing toward a Wall street subway station and they get trapped in traffic. Then Willis has a great idea. He reports a shooting, and follows the ambulance that appears from a nearby hospital as it clears a path for them. Great. They’re home free. Except that halfway to their destination the ambulance peels away to head to the address Willis gave. They’re stuck again. This is necessary because plotwise the pair aren’t supposed to get to the station by the deadline.
          At this point the writer was clearly feeling guilty. So he has Jackson ask Willis why he didn’t just say that the shooting had happened on Wall Street so they could have followed the ambulance the whole way. And Willis replies that if he had an ambulance would have responded from another, more distant hospital and they would have had nothing to follow. This clunky, and probably unnecessary exchange was inserted by a writer fearful that the audience would call him on the plausibility of something he’d done. Although given how ramped up the action was at this point, his fears were probably groundless.

          • mulesandmud

            That’s an interesting read of the DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE beat. I always thought of that line as a clever demonstration that our hero knows his city, not a posthumous explanation of what just happened. And pacing-wise, a great aside to help break up the action beats.

            Goes to show you, one man’s fearful is another man’s confident.

  • Chris Ryden

    Thanks Grendl!

    Ps A pal of mine watched Birdman at a private screening the other day and LOVED it.

  • Chris Ryden

    Thanks Gman, glad you liked it! — appreciate the support :)

  • Ryan Sasinowski

    Hmm. Seems like maybe we could use an article on how to make multiple elements more memorable.

  • brenkilco

    A late arriving train, some inept moving men, homicidal panhandlers, an Incan Rube Goldberg, a nonhuman polygraph, a POV DOA.

  • Coops

    I’m with Kirk D on this one. For me the art of good feedback is to see it from the POV of the writer and offer an alternative that might make the scene/ story better. Your notes are very one dimensional. For the record, I was a big fan of Rebel City. Did it have its flaws? Yes. But most of those that jarred with me were clearly a matter of taste. I’d have liked a little more variety in the middle section and much like Carson perhaps a different journey in the 2nd phase. That said though it was a fun ride and based on the WYSR it’s obvious this writer knows what they’re doing.

    Issues: You claim there’s not enough conflict for Jonjo on his journey… but surely a conflict free story would have him arrive in Cork, pick up his brother and go home…? For me almost every scene makes things more difficult for him and leads him onto the next quest.

    Also the comment regarding the logline not being true to its word. DISAGREE. And here’s why.

    Over the course of one night a reformed father must step back into his murky past to find his criminal brother who is the only suitable donor for his dying son…

    Let’s break this down.

    Is it set over one night? Yes.

    Is the father reformed? Yes.

    Does he step back into his past? Yes.

    Does he search for his brother? Yes.

    Is his son dying? Yes.

    None of the above offers answers it only poses questions to a dilemma. You not liking the author’s answer to the story shouldn’t bare any reflection on the writer not delivering on some sorta promise that was never there.

    Some good notes Electric D but delivering them with conviction shouldn’t mask the fact that notes are meant to be neutral and these seem to be packed with opinion and not an entirely accurate assessment.

  • Citizen M

    I thought it started well, and I liked the ending, but the middle needed work. There were plenty of surprises, it was never boring, but…
    – it was too repetitive
    – there was no escalation of tension or pace
    – the backstory was too hard to fathom

    Typically, the pattern was, Jonjo would go looking for somebody, there’d be an argument concerning something in the past, there’d be a fight, and Jonjo would escape down an alley. Some of the scenes were good muscular action scenes, although none really memorable, but I never got the sense of forces massing against Jonjo. It was a series of brief engagements rather than an increasingly difficult campaign.

    The one really memorable scene involved Peg-Leg. My problem is, it just felt tacked on, as though the writer felt he needed something different to liven up the story. There was no build-up. The fight wasn’t a resolution of some previously existing tension.

    When the audience knows more than the characters (dramatic irony), you are generally okay. When the characters know more than the audience, tread carefully. The audience doesn’t like being kept out of the loop. We want to feel superior and omniscient, not like ignorant fools. Generally, when there are mysteries, we uncover them with one of the characters. that’s not the case here. Everybody seems to know what went on except us, until the last minute. Even then I’m not sure I understood what went on.

    This is what I think happened: McGee is a major underworld figure in Cork. Jonjo’s brother Seamus shot McGee’s racehorse when he lost money on it. In revenge McGee’s henchman Cormac kicked Jonjo’s pregnant sister. Now she can’t have kids. Despite this, Seamus continues working for McGee. It turns out that McGee had evidence that Jonjo murdered a policeman then fled Cork, and Seamus is protecting Jonjo from exposure. McGee is trafficking body parts and Seamus nabs Roma girl Florenta for McGee, which sets off his current troubles. Aiden is a powerful figure who is involved somehow but I never figured out who he is or how he’s involved.

    Seamus’s actions on this last day drive the action, in a way, but I couldn’t piece them together. He steals a USB stick from McGee, tells Aiden he’ll confess all and plans to disappear. Has dealings with Tintin and Peg-Leg. Ends up in McGee’s clutches. But in what order? What was his plan? Where did it go wrong? What led to what?

    Either simplify the backstory, or give us more clues. For instance, say Seamus keeps trophies of the women he snatches. Jonjo finds them and wonders why Seamus has all these female [whatevers]. Is he a major pick-up artist, or is it more sinister? We uncover the secret with Jonjo. It would also help with escalation, as we know more and more.

    Jonjo is given a midnight deadline to return Florenta. He seems rather unconcerned, and indeed when he meets up with the Roma after the deadline has expired, nothing terrible happens to him. The deadline was a false alarm. You can’t have that in this kind of story. Threats have to be credible. Failure to carry out tasks must have consequences. Can’t think of them offhand, but there seemed to be a lot of empty threats in this story.

    Typically in these stories, as the protagonist knows more, he realizes the conspiracy is wider and bigger than he ever suspected. In this case each group of opponents — Roma, McGee, Aiden, the Cunninghams, Garda — seemed to stay separate. There was never a level at which they were connected and working together to oppose Jonjo.

    I felt there was too much reliance on photographs to convey information. Will the audience really pick up family resemblances etc. from a picture?

    Carson wanted more memorable characters. My reaction was the opposite. I felt they were quirky for the sake of being quirky. Character foibles were not organically incorporated with the story. Brendan with the wife’s ashes, whipping boy Peg-Leg Pete, Aiden icing a cake, nipple biting in a fight, McGee with a military burn-box — it seemed a bit pasted-on and overdone. I was waiting for Goatfucker Kelly and Pimples O’Hara to put in an appearance (just kidding).

    Maybe change the title. Does it really fit? I’m not familiar with the name “Rebel City”. Presumably it is a nickname for Cork, presumably earned by being a center of IRA resistance against the English interlopers. But it never featured in any way. The locations were dark and gritty, and the characters tough, but we could be in any city. There was no use of Cork’s features, like a final showdown at the statue of Paddy McGinty’s goat, or whatever Cork is famous for. And no IRA references. (I thought Aiden might be an IRA commander, but it’s never made explicit, and anyway he’s too young.) And none of the character arcs go through a rebel phase.

    Some notes while reading or re-reading:

    p. 9 – Bogdan: “You a thief?” Sounds like he wants to recruit Jonjo. Make clear he suspects Jonjo is a thief. Rather, “Doing a bit of breaking and entering, eh?” or something like that.

    p. 9 – “bringing two donkeys and a fuckin’ hammer to a remonstration” Unfamiliar expression.

    p. 10 – “return Florenta to our camp for her wedding or we’ll find him and rip his balls off with her dead mouth.” Are they planning to kill Florenta? Why? The girl is getting married.

    p. 10 – How do you burn someone’s hand when their face is pushed against a wall?

    p. 11 – Were the watchers in the 4×4 watching Seamus or Jonjo? If Jonjo, how did they know he was in Cork? If Seamus, what for? He’s just a lowlife criminal. (We later learn they are Aiden’s men, but I never figured out what his interest in Jonjo or Seamus was.) I think we need a brief scene inside the 4×4 where they are about to get out and ring the doorbell, but see Bogdan’s crew and decide to wait. Why did they follow Jonjo? They know he’s not Seamus. They should have gone to the house after Jonjo left if they were looking for Seamus.

    p. 16 – This family is hard to sort out. Ann Marie is a policewoman (we learn later) and is married to loser Michael who sells ice cream for his uncle Bernie. Ann Marie’s best friend Maureen is Michael’s sister and is married to Padraig. Maureen and Padraig blame Jonjo for Ann Marie’s childlessness. That it? Rather make Michael and Maureen Bernie’s children. Uncle is too distant. (I kept mixing up the fathers/uncles. Bernie and Brendan. Make the names more different.)

    p. 16 – Indicate at the party that Ann Marie is a policewoman to set up the scene later with Michael and Jonjo.

    p. 20 – Maybe Jonjo and Michael should drive off to the pub in the ice cream truck to set it up.

    p. 27 – Is there a link between Tintin and Bogdan? Both are Roma, but they seem to be independent of each other.

    p. 30 – Brendan: “I hear yer boy’s in trouble.” I thought this was a reference to Seamus. Maybe say something like: “I hear yer kid’s in hospital.”

    p. 31 “Brendan, incredulous — ” Do you mean ‘credulous’, maybe. Why should Brendan be disbelieving that Jonjo wants to see Seamus’s wallet. Incidentally, the wallet thing is a huge coincidence. That Brendan has it just when Jonjo needs it, and they met by chance. Can’t have too many of those in the script.

    p. 32 – Why the family hostility at Jonjo? Seamus shot McGee’s horse, which brought all the trouble. What did Jonjo do wrong?

    p. 29-33 – Too much dialogue, not enough action. In an action movie, long reflective conversations happen just before the third act.

    p. 38 – “Bird’s got the gerth of a fuckin’ sandpit.” Girth not gerth. As wide as a sandpit? That’s a strange expression.

    p. 41 Gaz: “you made some bloke, some vet shag a goose to clear off all his debts.” Is this important? I didn’t understand it. A military veteran and an actual goose, or a human female?

    p. 42 – Barry: “I’d be more concerned about your mouthy brother shooting his chatter off to that IRA bloke.” If he’s worried about Seamus’s loyalty, why does he let him be part of the gang?

    p. 42 – Would Jonjo identify Digger as a possible cop while both were in the middle of a gang’s premises? That is asking for trouble, big time.

    p. 43 – Gaz’s phone falls near Jonjo, who pockets it. Too convenient.

    p. 47 – Maybe make a bigger scene with Rosie and the dead Kenny and his brother Aiden, given Jonjo’s involvement that we learn later.

    p. 57 – Explanation of why Aiden’s men were at Seamus’s place when Jonjo first arrived. But why were they watching? Expected them to get out and ring the bell.

    p. 54-59 – Scene goes on too long. Family pic for info again.

    p. 59 – Lost interest. Jonjo is looking for Seamus, over and over. I’m not feeling any urgency, despite the kid in the hospital, because Jonjo doesn’t appear to be too concerned with time ticking away. No sense of escalating menace.

    p. 59 – Why do Aiden’s men drop Jonjo off outside the city limits? They want him to find Seamus. You would expect them to go out of their way to help.

    p. 61-63 – A chase. No plot development. Filler.

    p. 65 – If Pete is handcuffed to the bed, how does he turn down the music? I have a hard time visualizing this setting.

    p. 65 – It must be ten years since Pete has seen Jonjo. He should at least comment on the time that has passed.

    p. 79 – Show us he’s on Washington Street where he is to meet Tintin.

    p. 80 – Chugging vodka despite being on the wagon. Cliché. Perhaps we can drop that angle.

    p. 82 – Why is Jonjo smacking Tintin around? He just wants information. He doesn’t want to punish him for anything. Unmotivated violence.

    p. 84 – Jonjo’s attack on Kramer in the middle of the nightclub seems stupid, but I’m guessing it was a ruse to get him taken to Evelyn. However, Jonjo should first be shown trying to get to Evelyn and being rebuffed, and needing to make another plan.

    p. 88 – Just how powerful is Aiden, exactly? If he could just walk into Evelyn’s like the big boss, surely he has the power to sort everything out without Jonjo’s involvement.

    p. 88 – AIDEN: “Tintin told me Seamus was here.” Surely this is Jonjo’s line? Tintin has no link with Aiden that I know of.

    p. 88 – Is this violence against women really necessary? In any case Aiden’s power comes from presence, not the threat of violence. If he assaults McGee’s sister, he makes a very powerful enemy. Can he afford to?

    p. 101 – How old is the corpse? Preferably let Jonjo hear Seamus getting shot, then we know it’s fresh.

    p. 107 – How will the audience know that it is Aiden’s brother being shot in the video? It could be any cop. And why did McGee want him dead? And how did McGee get the footage? Was it a security camera or someone filming? Too many questions.

    p. 110 – I thought it was Michael’s uncle Bernie Flannagan who had the ice cream van. Jonjo’s dad Brendan is an ex-cop. It’s not set up that he has any involvement with ice cream.

    p. 114 – Satisfying ending.

    Niggles: 6. photograph’s/photographs; 7. cigarette’s/cigarettes; ash stained/ash-stained; 26. quaffed/quiffed; 33. deep routed sadness/deep-rooted; 41. your Seamus’ brother/ you’re Seamus’s; 66. conformation name/confirmation; 67. singular USB stick/single 94. empire’s fall/empires; 97. incase/in case, The engine’s start up/engines

    • Chris Ryden

      Thanks for the thoughts Citizen. Some good stuff to ponder there. And yes Aiden is IRA. Age wise he’s the right age. As for announcing it, It’s not something people shout about. The IRA and RAAD (The republican action against drugs) have a history of ‘monitoring’ criminal activities in their cities, hence Aiden’s lack of fear re Magee — they don’t commit without facts.

    • davejc

      “When the audience knows more than the characters (dramatic irony), you are generally okay. When the characters know more than the audience, tread carefully. The audience doesn’t like being kept out of the loop. We want to feel superior and omniscient, not like ignorant fools. Generally, when there are mysteries, we uncover them with one of the characters. that’s not the case here. Everybody seems to know what went on except us, until the last minute. Even then I’m not sure I understood what went on.”

      This is one of the best pieces of advice that I’ve ever read on SS.

  • Chris Ryden

    WritesAugust I can’t put into words how grateful I am for your generous words. And I’m honestly amazed and thankful for the comments I’ve received across the board this past week from everybody. Thank you.

    But I feel like I wanna say this to you directly WritesAugust. We’ve all felt down about this craft. It’s a perennial head frack. But all of us have our own journey. A unique journey where we will experience different things, good and bad. However, along this writing path we will all at some point or another pass the same landmarks. I’ve been where you are. In fact I remember the day I discovered the ‘mid beat’ — jeez did I go hard on the mid beats after that! From “There’s a bomb in the building!” to “Holy shit you’re my wife AND an assassin?!” Real on the nose kinda stuff. But then as each script was finished, cursed and locked away in my folder of shame, I found that those elements that I battled with would gradually start to become second nature to me, until it became about nothing but my voice. And yes there are those that will look at Rebel City and say that it doesn’t stick to the nuts and bolts formula of a studio script. The inciting incident, the sequencing etc etc. This was a deliberate choice though. Not to be difficult or controversial, it just felt right to tell RC this way — Now, it’s been well documented that I plan on making this myself and those that have followed the links posted on here will know i have agents in London too. I showed them Rebel City yesterday. I said to them it’s not studio friendly be nice. The response? Who cares, you’re making it outside of the system. Do it your way. Take some risks.

    And this is my long winded way of saying to you to not worry. Not doubt yourself. Write in your own time at a pace that suits you. Fail and then learn from that fail. And throw away the mystical ‘pro’ bar that looms over aspiring writers. There is no level to aspire to. Only another script to finish. Personally I think we learn less from praise than criticism. And my gut tells me you’re gonna be just fine. Just trust in the fact that learning our craft takes time. It hurts and it heartens. And then. It takes more time… but for me, time is a state of mind. Good luck WritesAugust and keep on writing.


  • klmn

    Will there be a newsletter this week? Amateur Offerings?

    • Casper Chris

      Guess not.

  • Casper Chris

    Damn, Birdman is tearing The Equalizer a new asshole on Rotten Tomatoes.

    92% Birdman
    88% Gone Girl
    80% Fury
    63% The Maze Runner
    62% The Equalizer

    Can’t wait to watch it.

  • Casper Chris

    The only thing that’s utterly useless is that comment of yours.


    Best opening scene that I can think of is Law Abiding Citizen!

  • Somersby

    Colloquialisms are fine if used sparingly to flavour your script with a sense of authenticity, a sense of place. But if you leave the reader (or viewer) scratching their heads as to what the hell is going on–especially if you are writing for markets OUTSIDE that particular setting–then you really need to limit the emphasis on regional realistic dialogue.

    Writing scripts that can be appreciated (and understood) ONLY in Ireland or Scotland or Timbuktu is akin to shooting yourself in the foot. If you want the folks in LA, New York, Toronto, Johannesburg–wherever the film might be released in English–then making your script more accessible to those markets is essential.

  • Kirk Diggler

    Yes, saw that. Glad he liked your suggestion. Anything that helps the script get to that next level is a good thing.

  • Poe_Serling

    With the weekend slowly winding down and no sign of any amateur offerings, here’s a timely article to check out:

    I’ve seen 6 out of 10.

    • Levres de Sang

      Guess we’ll see a few of these articles over the next week or so… Somewhat shamefully I’ve only seen two of them.

      • Poe_Serling

        My top three (in no particular order): In the Mouth of Madness, Don’t Look Now, and Body Snatchers (guilty pleasure… I’m also a big fan of the ’50s and ’70s versions).

        • Levres de Sang

          Well, that certainly whets my appetite for a list from you on Halloween night!

          Black Christmas is the must-watch for me on that list, by the way. From the very little I know about the film, I can’t help but wonder if it was an influence on Argento.

        • andyjaxfl

          Body Snatchers (currently on HBO Go) was a staple of my youth because of the wonderful Gabrielle Anwar…

    • walker

      I think Repulsion by Roman Polanski and Peeping Tom by Michael Powell should be included in such a list.

      • Poe_Serling

        Both worthy additions to such a list!

  • bex01

    I’m pretty late to the party here but I just finished the script on the way into work this morning and I have to say… I loved it! I’m not going to be much help with constructive criticism this time round because I was so drawn in. I just went with it. Was so eager to find out if Jonjo would find Seamus or not. I have to disagree with one of Carson’s comments specifically – the Peg Leg dominatrix scene felt as though it came out of nowhere for me. Sure, it was memorable, and if there’s a better way for it to be included in the script then I’m all for it, but as is it felt a little random and forced.

    Perhaps this story is a little ‘been there, done that’, but I can definitely see this as a film and one I would pay to see. Definitely think it deserved a worth the read!

  • Malibo Jackk

    Ran across several sites talking about
    plot holes from great movies.

    (Was going to post some, but
    — didn’t want to mess with your minds.)

  • Citizen M

    I noted two turns of phrase that were unfamiliar to me. I didn’t criticize them. If they are common vernacular phrases, fine. If they were something the writer cooked up to sound more Oirish, maybe he should rethink them.

    I did criticize others that could be misinterpreted or lead to confusion.

    • Chris Ryden

      Hi Citizen, got jump in on this one. I’m not ‘trying’ to be OIRISH — I am in fact, Irish.

      • Citizen M

        For the record, I thought the dialogue was excellent, and to the best of my knowledge, authentic.

        Although I am South African, I do know Irish people, some with accents so thick I can’t understand them.

        And I have a soft spot for the Irish. An Irishman rescued me from a bunch of Scottish yobboes who beat me up on the street in Edinburgh one night. I still landed up in hospital, but they might have killed me had it not been for my rescuer.