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Genre (from writer): WW2 Romantic Drama, Coming-of-Age, LGBT
Premise (from writer): After a near-fatal crash-landing, an American pilot falls for her aristocratic physician, forcing her to confront her sexuality and gender prejudice of class-divided WW2 Britain.
Why You Should Read (from writer): It’s shamelessly greedy, I know, to try for a second bite at the AOW cherry when so many others are still vying for their first. But I got so much terrific advice from the first bite, and TCF’s evolved as a result. This is partly a ‘Thank you; I heard you.’ — Back on July 18th, 2013, Carson warned about the six types of scripts least likely to get you noticed. These included the coming-of-age script and the straight drama. Needless to say, I didn’t get that memo until ‘way too late and rolled two types into one script. Mulesandmud commented recently about a producer asking him why he’d ruin his career writing a female protagonist. I didn’t get that memo, either, and I’ve included two of ‘em. In poker parlance, I’m going ‘all in.’ No guts, no glory. But mostly I’ve just tried to write what I’m passionate about. In this case, a young woman’s coming-of-age / coming-out story set against the backdrop of WW2 and her work as a ferry pilot. Fictional protags, but lots of real historical details, events, and a few characters based on real people to heighten authenticity. I humbly invite you to again be the judges, and thank you in advance for your feedback.
Writer: Angela L. Neale
Details: 130 pages

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This one garnered a TON of commentary in Amateur Offerings, mainly due to Angela’s willingness to thank everyone for reading her script and engage in discussion.  Having said that, Angela was slightly defensive at times. Some responses like, “I can’t do that because…” Or “That’s not possible.” With a script, anything is possible. You’re God. You can change anything and everything you want. For example, Angela mentioned that she couldn’t add anything else because her script was already 131 pages and that would make it even longer.

I’ve seen writers say this kind of thing a lot. You can add anything. You just have to get rid of some stuff as well. Getting feedback on what’s clicking and what isn’t allows you to make those cuts. Sure, you may think that Count Harold’s subplot is an essential component to conveying your theme, but if it only casually intersects with the main plot, it might be time to jettison it. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Let’s see what’s causing all the discussion.

The Cloud Factory introduces us to 18 year old World War 2 pilot Jenny Morgan, or “Bubbler” as she’s known to her friends (a “bubbler” is what they call water fountains in Wisconsin. I remember being told this as a child and I’m still baffled by the term).

Once in Europe, Jenny ends up piloting a bad plane that crashes after take-off, barely surviving the ordeal. She’s sped over to the nearest hospital, where she befriends a cute nurse, 25 year old Allison. Allison is a lesbian but does NOT get involved with patients and is NOT into the whole teenage thing. 18 is way too young for her.

Uh-huh, riiiii-ght Allison.

Jenny is just now coming into her sexuality. She hasn’t had a boyfriend or girlfriend or anything yet. All she knows is that she’s attracted to Allison more and more every day. Pretty soon, the two find themselves sharing lingering looks and touches, skating that line between professional and personal, until Allison can’t handle it anymore.

Once she graduates from patient to civilian, Allison is all about The Jenny, and the two hang out non-stop. In the meantime, Jenny is being questioned about her involvement in that plane crash, with the implication being that she’s in some serious doo-doo if it was her fault.

The rest of the script is pretty straight forward. Jenny and Allison hang out a lot, talk about life a lot, and become closer. That’s essentially “The Cloud Factory” in a nutshell.

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The Cloud Factory is one of those scripts you read and you just sort of nod your head every once in awhile, mumbling things like, “Not bad,” but never feel all that close to what’s going on. This is confusing for the writer, who believes that by writing such a personal character piece and not some wham-bam effects heavy blockbuster, that emotion is ALL the reader should be feeling.

What they don’t realize is that people talking and developing a relationship is a pretty generic thing to watch. To keep a reader engaged, the script needs structure and it needs drama. These are two things The Cloud Factory is lacking.

Let’s start with the lack of drama, which, to keep things simple, means a lack of conflict. There is some conflict in the script, in that Allison and Jenny aren’t sure if the other likes them. But it’s so light to the point of it not even existing. We know, since we’ve seen both of them confide in friends, that they like each other. So there’s no doubt in our minds that they’re going to get together. That eliminates a ton of potential suspense.

It also leaves the exterior world responsible for injecting all the conflict into the story. Unfortunately, there isn’t any exterior conflict. Besides a pesky close-minded nurse, there’s no reason why these two can’t be together. At least none that was clear. Being a lesbian in the army wasn’t exactly given a huge endorsement, but according to other characters, it wasn’t a career-ender either. And while the hospital seemed to look down upon worker-patient relationships, you didn’t get the sense that anything terrible would happen if one occurred.

In any script, you have to establish stakes. If you want to convey that two people will have a tough time being together, you have to make clear that if they’re caught, they’ll have hell to pay. Look no further than the greatest love story of all time, Romeo and Juliet, to see how that works. People’s LIVES are at stake. Their families’ lives as well. Here, it just seemed like if Allison and Jenny got caught, someone was going to get a slap on the wrist and a dirty look.

But that isn’t the biggest problem with The Cloud Factory. The biggest problem is the lack of structure. Once we get into that hospital, the script just sprawls on endlessly into a mostly mundane “we’ve seen it all before” relationship.

If your entire focus of a script is a love story, it’s gotta be one hell of a love story. Two people talking about life and how difficult being a lesbian is for 115 pages in a hospital isn’t enough. I mean look at The Fault In Our Stars. There was so much AT STAKE in that movie. This might be this girl’s last chance to do anything exciting again ever. She wants to find out what happened after her favorite book ended. And this is going to be her ONLY shot. This is it! The drama is heightened. We want so much for her doctors to let her go and find out the truth. That’s drama!

So what I’m going to do here is pitch the Hollywood-Friendly version of this story. Angela can ignore it, but if you want to make this more mainstream and more studio-friendly, this is the route to go.

In this new version, Jenny’s plane crashes, but she’s not injured as badly. She’s hurt just enough for, maybe, a week of hospital stay. This is where she meets Allison, just like now, and the two start up a friendship, which leads to a relationship.

One of the reasons the current draft is kinda rambly is because there’s no focused time frame. There’s no finish line for the reader to look forward to. So I say, the army informs Jenny that she’ll be shipped out in two weeks. Make it clear that after this happens, Jenny will never be back here. This is the only time she will ever be in this town. This way, the stakes are high. Their relationship will only last until she has to leave.

The two then spend the second week in the city together (after that first week of recovery and getting to know each other), fall in love, both ignoring the reality that this affair is temporary. The more they fall in love, the more devastated we’ll be that that that love is coming to a close. Sort of an elongated version of Before Sunrise.

From there, I would create more exterior conflict wherever possible. Your job is to make us doubt that this relationship is going to work out in as many ways as possible. For example, maybe Allison is more torn between this life of being a lesbian and taking the “easier” traditional route. An old boyfriend comes back into town (in the second half of the script). He’s rich. He’s well-liked. Marrying him will result in that easy perfect life, whereas being a lesbian means fighting a battle every day that she doesn’t know if she can fight. Show her battling with that as the deadline approaches.

I would also put them a lot closer to the war, possibly in a city that’s in constant danger. I don’t like ideas where the most unique or biggest parts of the idea aren’t explored in the script. This is a script about women flying fighter planes during World War 2. Except for 90% of the story, we’re not flying in fighter planes and we’re nowhere near World War 2. By putting them in a place that’s more affected by the war, that danger could impede upon their relationship in interesting ways.

As far as integrating the pilot stuff more, maybe Jenny learns at some point that they need extra fighters for a big mission and they’re considering bringing in female pilots. This is her DREAM. And it’s finally coming true. So as the end of the two weeks nears, she’ll get the call. They want her for the mission. And now she has to make a choice – go out there and live her dream or stay with this woman she’s fallen in love with. That gives the script that bigger focused ‘climax’ it’s desperately in need of.

I’m not saying you MUST do this or the script has no chance. You can go with the slower artsier less plot-point-y type of screenplay, but I contend that every story needs drama, big or small, and right now The Cloud Factory is too low-key. It needs a few shots of adrenaline.

I hope that helps Angela, if not in this script, then in the next script she tackles. Her writing is strong. But storytelling is where it’s at. That’s what you have to master.

Script link: The Cloud Factory

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

What I learned: In every story, your job is to make us doubt that it’s going to work out for your protagonist in as many ways as possible.

  • GYAD

    “As far as integrating the pilot stuff more, maybe Jenny learns at some point that they need extra fighters for a big mission and they’re considering bringing in female pilots. This is her DREAM. And it’s finally coming true.”

    But Carson — it’s not true. OK, so the screenwriter can do anything with their script — but a historical film must bear at least some relation to history. You can bend history but you can’t break it. Otherwise it’s unbelievable.

    As for the script, unfortunately it still suffers from the same problems it had last time.

    At 130 pages it is seriously over-long considering the lack of drama. The reason is simple — pages of drama-less dialogue and dense descriptive paragraphs.

    For some reason even dramatic subjects, like lesbianism in straight-laced 1940s Britain, are underplayed. This should be forbidden love, not tepid love.

    Now, in fairness, the research is excellent and the writing good. Clearly a lot of effort has been put into this. For that, well done Angela. But it’s not a script, it’s a novel.

    The problem is that very little happens — on screen. This is a drama about people and relationships and thoughts. It’s too internalised, too…novelistic.

    Consider a previous WWII set romantic drama like “The English Patient”. That was also over two hours and had serious, long dialogue scenes.

    But it also had three storylines, a great mystery hook (who is the burned man?) and numerous dramatic scenes (paratroopers! mines! desert storms!).

    Whether or not Bubbler is going to get into trouble over a crashed plane simply isn’t enough to sustain two hours plus of drama onscreen.

    In truth it feels like a Lifetime movie — slow and kind of boring but worthy. I’m not sure anyone will go to the cinema for that though. With all the planes, the period setting etc. this would be an expensive film to make — and one without much of an audience.

    I’d say this would make a great book — even an ebook if publishers aren’t interested.

    But it just isn’t a Hollywood film (yet).

    • hickeyyy

      “You can bend history but you can’t break it.”

      I know he may not be the best example, but Tarantino shot Hitler dead in Nazy Germany. That seemed to work out fine. I think Carson is right. You’re only limited by your imagination. Abraham Lincoln wasn’t truly a vampire hunter, based on my history books. I think you can break history of you want and if it makes sense to the story, IMO.

      • Casper Chris

        Yea well, you can’t do that in a serious period piece. Or at least you shouldn’t.

        • hickeyyy

          I’ll give you that, for sure.

          • Ange Neale

            Thanks Casper — I’ve tried to write a serious period piece.

        • Nicholas J

          BRAVEHEART. Phenomenal movie, tons of Oscar attention and positive critical acclaim, financial success… and so so so historically inaccurate.

          • hickeyyy

            This is a great example of how you can basically break history if it makes the story compelling. Wish I’d have thought of it!

          • Nicholas J

            Yeah, audiences like accurate history in movies to a point, just not at the expense of entertainment. Have you ever had someone recommend you a movie and the first thing they say is “You need to see _______! The historical accuracy was so awesome!” Me neither. It’s always “I cried” or “So funny” or “So much action!” or “Scared the crap outta me.”

          • Casper Chris

            I think Braveheart is an excellent example of “history bent”, not “history broken”. Wallace dies at the end doesn’t he? Against all Hollywood convention, he dies at the end. To respect history. Creating the love angle between Wallace and Isabella of France was certainly historically inaccurate as Isabella was only nine years old when Wallace died, but this was a case of bending history a little to avoid what would’ve otherwise, from a sheer story mechanical viewpoint, been a missed opportunity.

          • Dale T

            Also that the greatest scene in the entire movie, the Battle of Stirling, was a frikkin’ skirmish at a bridge. When you read what else is not accurate with the movie you realize that history is bent so backwards that it might as well be broken.

            And you know what? It was worth it. Braveheart’s a masterpiece.

          • Casper Chris

            Turning a skirmish into a battle is not even bending by Hollywood standards. That’s just augmenting.

            Now, if Longshanks had challenged Wallace to a duel in the great arena… *cough* Gladiator *cough*

          • Dale T

            The point was that the most iconic event of the movie was the most inaccurate scene in a movie full of inaccuracies.

          • Casper Chris

            I’d wager the scene where Wallace beds a 9-year-old French princess is more inaccurate.

          • Dale T

            For what it’s worth they actually never meet.

          • Casper Chris

            Exactly :)

          • BSBurton

            Your favorite Gibson film?

          • Gregory Mandarano

            At the end of Braveheart when they’re charging the english army and it says they fought like warrior poets and won their freedom on the fields of bannickburn (spelling). In reality six thousand knights templar entered the field allied with the Scots and the english army fled. The leper guy before he died made an alliance with the knights templar who were thrown out of europe as a result of the French inquisition. The templars settled in Scotland, and a few centuries later had taken over the aristocracy of England via Freemasonry.

          • astranger2

            When Randall Wallace, the writer, was asked about historical discrepancies, he replied, ‘I don’t let the facts get in the way of the truth.”

          • GYAD

            Never understood that one myself. I’d probably say that it escaped because so few people knew anything about the period in question.

            Anyway, it’s inaccuracy has subsequently led to it becoming a bit of a joke. So history has caught up with it.

          • Guest

            Never understood that film myself.

            In part I imagine it got away with it at first because so few people (outside the UK) knew about the period.

            It’s also worth considering that everyone now remembers it as a really historically inaccurate film. So history had its revenge.

      • GYAD

        Rule #1 of screenwriting: Tarantino is allowed to do things you can’t.

        Anyway, it’s a nasty, ugly little film.

        The Abe Lincoln one was so silly that I don’t think anyone considered it serious history and judged it accordingly. On the other hand, had “Lincoln” suddenly had a vampire scene it would have been ridiculous.

      • Guest

        Rule #1 of screenwriting: Tarantino can do things nobody else can.

        Anyway, it’s a nasty little film.

        As for the vampire hunting film — it’s a fantasy film, not a historical one. If “Lincoln” had featured a scene where Honest Abe kicked ass at Gettysburg though we’d all have thought it stupid.

    • Ange Neale

      Btw, how far into it did you get, Gyad? At what point did you stop?

      • GYAD

        I read properly to somewhere around the halfway mark and then skim-read the rest of it.

        I did read the whole of the prior draft posted here though.

        • Ange Neale

          Oh, cool. Thanks for that.
          Among your comments from last night was one about underplaying even the ‘forbidden love’ aspect.
          I seem to be having real trouble gauging this stuff: if I go subtle, it’s impossible to see it, and if I don’t, it’s too on the nose.
          If I underplay things, it’s blah, and if I overplay it, it’s melodramatic. I suppose it’s a bit like salt and pepper — this much is fine for some people, too much for others and not enough for still more.
          It’s the Goldilocks dilemma: what exactly is just right?

          • GYAD

            No worries, I’m always interested in serious historical scripts.

            As for the forbidden love…well, getting a love story to work is one of the hardest things in any screenplay. It’s something that I struggle with terribly and certainly haven’t mastered.

            For what it’s worth I’d suggest playing up the forbidden aspect of lesbianism — especially as someone mentions it quite matter-of-fact in the first ten pages.

            I’d also say there needs to be more in the way of passionate scenes — especially scenes where they are close to discovery and risking it (for the thrill and for love).

          • Ange Neale

            I’ve tried to keep it PG-13, and done judiciously, that wouldn’t change the rating. A stolen kiss here or there…
            That’s definitely do-able, especially if combined with Mulesandmud’s suggestion of situating much more of it in the hospital.
            Hmm. Got me thinking. Dangerous thing to do at quarter to midnight here…

  • Ange Neale

    Thanks for the review, Carson. I appreciate your time and thoughts. I’m sad you didn’t like it, but, hey, you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

    You’ve picked up on JakeBarnes12’s suggestion about Jenny being a fighter pilot to up the stakes and excitement. After all scriptwriters are God. But this script has a theme of the impact of sexism running through it. At times it’s very subtle, but it’s there, both shown and told. I was never writing for the audience that needs to be hit over the head with it to get it.

    One of the things that most frustrated the women ferry pilots of Britain’s Air Transport Auxiliary in 1940 was that official Royal Air Force policy regarded EVERY WOMAN as too physically and psychologically weak to fly fighters and bombers, and that didn’t change until July, 1941. Middle-aged, one-armed men could and did fly the fighters as ferry pilots. Douglas Bader had no legs and still flew fighters in combat.

    But women were too weak. Lettis Curtis was a pilot who joined in July, 1940. She had a maths degree from Oxford and she was a triple-blue (highly-accomplished in three sports). In her autobiography, ‘The Forgotten Pilots’, she never complained once about their treatment because it would’ve been seen as unpatriotic, but her frustration at it oozes off the page in the sub-text. That’s what I’ve tried to pick up on.

    Allison’s actually a surgeon, not a nurse. Her duty of care to her patient and her oath to ‘First, do no harm’ presents a very real conflict of interest. I wrote her as a surgeon because the war-time nurse trope is just done to death, and women did do many, many more interesting things in war — but we almost never get to see that. That’s a subtle way in which sexism plays out in Hollywood. Women in war movies are invariably either nurses, typists or prostitutes. Oh, okay, and ‘Charlotte Gray’, the spy.

    I want to address the budget issue because Jake raised that, too. A reputable British script consultancy took a look at it and recommended a “devastating edit” to excise ALL of the flying scenes but for the inciting incident.

    Their concern was that the required CGI would put ‘The Cloud Factory’ out of the price range of the British producers who wouldn’t baulk at a same-sex relationship. The producers who did have deep enough pockets to make the flying scenes, in their opinion, wouldn’t want to risk their money on a lesbian movie. It’s a classic catch-22.

    Now, if a Hollywood producer comes along with a blank cheque and says, ‘Write me some more flying scenes’, count me in.

    I’m not imagining these constraints. There’s an elephant in the room — it’s sexist and homophobic — and I know that if I write a script that’s gonna cost $30m, $40m or even $50m, the chances of getting it made drop from, what, 30 or 40 out of the 50,000+ spec scripts written every year to maybe 1 in a million. It may as well be 1 in 10 million. It’s unfortunate you see that as “slightly defensive” — I’m trying to be realistic.

    I haven’t assimilated all of your comments yet, Carson, but I will. As with all of the other feedback I’ve had, it all gets considered and addressed if I think it’s appropriate and doesn’t change what I believe is my story — and the war that’s going on in it isn’t one being fought with bombs and bullets.

    • GYAD

      “Women in war movies are invariably either nurses, typists or prostitutes.”

      What else would they be?

      Excepting a handful of unusual situations, hereditary leaders and cross dressers, women have only ever been support staff in wars until recently.

      It’s not sexism, it’s history.

      Anyway, female spies are fairly common in (British) films, as are (usually silly) warrior women (albeit mostly in classical or medieval films).

      I suppose we can all hope for something like a film about Hussite warrior women but I doubt anyone (apart from me) is interested in Czech history.

      • Ange Neale

        Gyad, in Britain during WW2, women served on anti-aircraft gun crews, on barrage balloon crews, in munitions factories, as signallers, as cryptologists at Bletchley Park, as translators and interrogators, and there were even a couple of Czech women ferry pilots who flew for the ATA.

        A small number fought in combat infantry units for the Red Army, and for bomber and night-fighter regiments for the Soviet Air Force, and of course, there were large numbers of women in resitance movements, including as partisan fighters.

        You’d probably be as surprised as I was to find out they were at the Battle of Trafalgar, too. Women and boys carried the powder and cannon balls on Royal Navy ships in those days, but I don’t know if they were deployed on long missions or whether that was just a one-off.

        • GYAD

          British women in WWII served largely in support roles — as I said.

          There are a huge number of British films or television dramas which pay tribute to or include women serving in the war effort.

          Many of these were made at the time; films like “Millions like Us”, “Odette” and “Carve Her Name With Pride” among others.

          Almost all of your examples have been filmed already.

          Soviet women did much the same. A tiny, tiny handful served as fighter pilots (the so-called “Night Witches”).

          Others served as partisans. Hollywood demonstrated its sexism by including them as long ago as 1944 (in “Days of Glory”).

          As for the women at Trafalgar — they were prostitutes who helped out. That’s not unusual for camp followers across history.

          • witwoud

            There’s also “They Flew Alone” (1942) about ATA girl Amy Johnson.

            I’d hazard a guess that if you were female and did anything remotely interesting in WWII you were more, not less, likely to get attention for it.

          • Ange Neale

            Amy died while ferrying an Airspeed Oxford for the ATA in January, 1941. She’d been a media and people’s darling before the war because of her record-breaking solo flights in the 1930s (and because she wasn’t rich and spoilt – she was a lawyer’s daughter from Hull whose fame go to her head). Mix that her loss was felt so keenly in with the need for war-time morale-boosting and patriotism, and you’ve got a recipe for a movie.

          • Ange Neale

            “Carve Her Name With Pride” is the youngest of the films you’ve mnetioned. It’s from 1958: if my maths is right, that makes it 56 years old. Just wondering how many people who aren’t diligent students of cinema would know of these?

            “Almost all of your examples have been filmed already.”

            By this logic, should we not make movies any more about men who are pilots or submariners or soldiers, because it’s been done?

            If that was true, we wouldn’t have a second Godzilla, a second series of Spider-men, X-Men version 37.0…

            Both “Days of Glory” and “Millions Like Us” were made during WW2 (the others you mentioned were Cold War). They were effectively propaganda pieces to keep the people’s morale up to the fight and keep the recruits signing up.

            They necessarily overlooked the shenannigans that went on at the time. Not all men resented female intrusion into the military sphere, but there were some who did, and it occasionally got vicious, even possibly murderous.

            I’m curious as to your source for the occupations of the women at Trafalgar. I was under the impression some of them were wives.

          • GYAD

            “Millions Like Us” is from 1943 whilst “Odette” is from 1950. There’s also “Went the Day Well” (1942) which has British women fighting (albeit as irregulars) & “Against the Wind” (1948) has a female SOE agent.

            There are several other examples.

            What I’m saying is that there are a number of films which go beyond your nurse/whore/typist claim — and furthermore which were made around the time of the war in question.

            That’s not to say more such films couldn’t or shouldn’t be made, only that your original claim is wrong.

            As for Trafalgar — it’s impossible to be sure because women weren’t officially supposed to be on board ship. They were almost certainly prostitutes or – as you say – wives.

    • carsonreeves1

      I understand where you’re coming from. I’m not all that concerned about there being flying scenes. The problem here is that this is a dramatic film with very little drama. That’s like a comedy with no laughs. If you’re writing a drama, you have to make it dramatic. Things go pretty well for these two all the way through. That’s my main beef. Blue is the Warmest Color started (fairly) subtly, but eventually added conflict and obstacles to keep the drama going and, therefore, the audience invested.

      • Ange Neale

        Could’ve sworn I replied to this but Disqus might’ve eaten it.

        In response to the last AOW feedback, I’ve since tried to ramp up the conflict, particularly by making Allison more resistant to Jenny, and by making Sir William more sceptical about Allison seeing her, for instance.

        **Spoiler alert**. ‘Outing’ Jenny in the press almost nipped the entire thing in the bud. She cleared out her locker at work, packed her bags, got on a train, spent a night in an air raid shelter and very nearly got on a ship with no guarantee she was coming back. She told Allison she might not be back. She only went back because she figured out that you can’t run from bigots or it only encourages them. Kind-of like Nazis.

        I hear you, Carson.

        • ChadStuart

          I don’t know if that goes far enough in making the conflict movie worthy. Whereas I don’t agree that you need to have a ticking clock and goals like it’s an action movie, but you do need to have large conflicts. Being more resistant to a love affair is not movie-worthy conflict.

          I’m just gonna spitball here (and this is just an example of the type of conflict), but what if one of the pilots hits on Allison and she rebuffs him. It hurts his pride. And then, later, he sees Jenny and Allison together. Being a homophobe, he later beats Allison for choosing another woman over him. After all, he’s a man and awesome. How could a woman possibly not recognize his maleness?

          As retaliation for the beating, Jenny sabotages his plane. She feels she’s in the right since the guy’s a pig. But, the sabotage doesn’t just take him down, it also takes down an innocent.

          That way you’ve built a moral quandary. Jenny was techincally right to do what she did, and the audience would be right there with her as she does it. But, then when it hurts an innocent, we’d feel guilty right along with Jenny.

          Also, that guilt of what she did eats at her, and turns her cold towards her relationship with Allison. That’s the type of obstacle you can throw at your characters’ relationship that’s big. A conflict we can all feel.

          You can also turn the tables and have a guy beat Jenny, and then that guy is hurt in battle and put on Allison’s table. As a healer, she’s bound to help him. As a person, she would rather let the pig die. What should she do?

          Those are types of conflict people want from your script. Something big, something that’s engaging, something that makes us question our own actions. That’s what makes movies big, even if you don’t have explosions.

          • carsonreeves1

            I don’t know about a beating. But I like the idea of a man hitting on her, her rebuffing him, him later seeing her with a woman, and then “telling on them.” This only works if the consequences are raised though. You must establish that a homosexual relationship could get both of them fired from their respective positions and therefore ruin their lives, taking away from Jenny what she loves most – to fly planes.

          • Ange Neale

            I’ve actually sort-of done that already, Carson.
            An ATA mechanic sees them together skating. He outs Jenny in front of her pilot colleagues the next work day. They almost physically fight — he tries to head-butt her but she ducks and trips him as he goes past. Her colleagues see him sprawled on the ground. Jenny denies she hit him and says he slipped on the wet grass to avoid rubbing salt in his wounded pride, but the damage is done. He contacts a prominent (at the time) leader of a men’s defense league, who outs Jenny in the press as the foreign lesbian who was found guilty of destroying one of the British taxpayers’ aeroplanes.
            A public outing alone would’ve been deeply traumatic at the time and it very nearly sends Jenny home. It’s her ‘fight or flight’ moment.
            Nowadays it’s no big deal. As Jodie Foster said, you hold a press conference and launch a fragrance — but people used to commit suicide over that sort of thing.

    • ChadStuart

      I understand that you’ve done a lot of research and want to remain true to that. But, the reality is that history books only report the common experience. Just because something didn’t happen in real life, doesn’t mean that it COULDN’T happen to your fictional characters. Events in your story don’t necessarily have to be historically accurate, they just need to be historically believable. That’s an important distinction every writer of historical works has to learn.

      For instance, just because a biography says that women pilots didn’t stomp their feet, doesn’t mean that YOUR character couldn’t stomp her feet and complain to every man in the chain of command that she’s needed. When recounting personal history in an autobiography, people say how they want to be remembered and not necessarily the absolute truth. It’s skewed through a prism. I would hazard to guess she did her fair share of yelling and screaming. I know enough about human nature to where that would pass the smell test.

      Point being is that you don’t need to be so beholden to your research. Research is just a jumping off point. I feel like you’re struggling with the facts and you’re forgetting to write the truth. Fiction isn’t fact telling. It’s truth telling. It’s okay to change a few things here and there to root out the truth of a story, even if you have to sacrifice a few facts.

      • Ange Neale

        Thank you, Chad, for your comments.
        I apologize for not acknowledging them sooner. I hope you’ll understand.
        I agree with you completely about history books and the common experience, so I tried to write about the uncommon experience.
        Historically believable’s a good test; thus I couldn’t go with Jenny as a fighter pilot.
        A ferry pilot, yes, but that in itself isn’t a movie, which is why I put the focus on the romance with an overt battle being waged between Great Powers as a backdrop to keep the budget down, the mostly covert battle waged by a few (and I stress NOT necessarily the majority) to ensure the supremacy of one gender over another as a little theme running through it, and the internal struggle of Jenny coming to terms with her sexuality as part of her character arc.
        I have in fact taken some (modest) liberties with historical accuracy. For instance, the first American women to sign on with the ATA did so early in 1942, although there were a number of American men who joined up very early on. I won’t bang on about that as I explained why I wrote Jenny as American elsewhere.
        I did, however, wish to avoid egregious inaccuracies and anachronisms, such as the ‘Braveheart’ stuff mentioned elsewhere.

    • BSBurton

      Glad you got this shot and the review. I hope all the notes from others were helpful. Take about 3 weeks and detach from it. Then tackle it again with passion. :)

  • Stephjones

    It’s been awhile since I’ve read TCF and I haven’t read the latest but from a woman’s POV, the conflict in the story arose more from watching a young woman negotiate a man’s world, as basically a second class citizen, who further stacks the cards against herself by her choice of lover.
    I do agree that, from what little I know about screenwriting, that in the previous version any dilemma presented is easily resolved and that this needs to be addressed. Jenny does need to have plans which are put at risk by her love for Allison. In the TCF I read, she wants to design planes. She has to want this more than anything. And then when she is given an opportunity to pursue her dreams it means she must make a choice between the dream and Allison. A heart wrenching choice. In The last version I read this was too easily resolved. I think it would be okay to have Jenny leave Allison to pursue her dream ( but of course be miserable) Allison, in her misery, enlists for action closer to the front. Now her life is at risk. Jenny freaks. There are no easy resolutions and the story becomes more about the power of their love. What would you sacrifice for love?
    Just a few thoughts from an antibiotic haze. Congrats, Ange. I believe you have what it takes to make this happen. Keep plugging.

    • Ange Neale

      You still have aliens in your knee, Steph? Persistent, aren’t they?

      Did you want the draft I did since last AOW (which is down to 127, I think)? I’ve taken up some of that feedback, but I’m on a deadline for a literature review so I’ve had to set it aside for a bit. Let me know – neal0018 at gmail dot com.

      • Stephjones

        Sure, Ange. Kalikalot at hotmail dot com.

        The alien and I are at peace. We have bonded over ice cream.

        • Ange Neale

          Funny you should say that. I’m yielding to the temptations of the same hideously sugar-laden confection right now, except I don’t have any excuse for it.

          • Stephjones

            Pralines and cream, Ange. All the fat, all the sugar.
            Once I tried the fat free stuff. Ate a bowl. Explosive diarrhea within an hour. Next night. Ate a bowl. Explosive diarrhea within an hour. Hmmmm, I thought. Could it be related? I checked the carton and it read: ” Warning, excessive consumption could have laxative effect”
            Then I checked the serving size. 1/2 cup. Who the hell eats a 1/2 cup of ice cream? Why bother?
            According to my alien, humans who practice non consumption of ice cream have a genetic defect and are ear marked for extinction. Not sure if it’s kidding. Best err on the side of caution.

          • Matthew Garry

            I hope you will pursue this line of story once the antibiotic haze wears off.

  • ripleyy

    The biggest missed opportunity of the decade was making this the female/lesbian version of “The English Patient”.

    Jenny doesn’t have to be burned, but I do think there are a hundred ways of spinning this story and each version could be marginally better than this. I’m only being constructive when I say this, but 130 pages long for a story like this was always going to be a crash-and-burn situation. 130 pages is 2 hours and 10 minutes approximately. That’s insane.

    A story like this could easily be 90 pages long, which begs the question – what could fix this? Anything. Now I know where Angela is coming from. She wanted to make a statement and I think that’s very brave of her to do so – this story could be an Oscar-winning story if done right.

    This story could be absolutely stunning. Jenny crashes in the enemy territory and Allison, a daughter to a patriot, takes her in and secretly nurses her back to health why her country is going berserk for the blood of Jenny’s nation. There is tension, there are STAKES. If Allison’s dad finds Jenny, that’s it! Allison needs her healed as soon as possible – but wait! Jenny’s nation is invading the country, now there’s a war! Now the stakes have quadrupled!

    Guess what? Allison’s falling in love with Jenny. Jenny has a husband at home, but finds herself compelled to her. Now we’ve got a lesbian love-story set in a war setting.

    THAT is how you fix this. This could be winning Oscars because it’s the type of story that could be a game-changer. Not this rambling mess of a story – I’m sorry. I know Angela is a lovely person, but she doesn’t realize what sort of gold-mine she’s sitting on. If she cracks it – done! She’s set for life.

    • Ange Neale

      Just curious, Ripleyy, you’ve read it? Part of it? All of it? If you stopped, where did you stop?
      Interesting idea for a second script, but that’s a different beast to what I’ve tried to write. I’m NOT saying your idea is NOT without merit, don’t get me wrong. I’m just saying it’s a different script.

      • ripleyy

        I was busy it debuted on AF, but today I read about twenty pages and I plan to read some later on! I also understand completely, my idea was only a suggestion, I realize it would be stepping out of what you’re trying to achieve.

        You seem really quite content with what you’ve written and that’s great. Like you said, if this was all blocks of text, it would probably be something like 125-120, but it would seriously handicap your script. Also, another positive is that it’s really quite different from what we’ve got here at SS, so it’s refreshing.

        • Ange Neale

          Thank you for that, Ripleyy.
          Would you like me to send you the version I tweaked after last AOW? It took up some of the advice received recently. I haven’t had time to take it all up yet.

          • ripleyy

            Give me a shout when you’ve taken it all up and I’ll happily read it and give you notes on it :)

          • Ange Neale

            Thank you for the offer, Ripleyy.
            I really appreciate it.

  • carsonreeves1

    Ooh, now we’re talking. Dammit, making my game look bad, Jay! :)

  • Stephjones

    You pick up wisdom from unlikely places. :)

  • Guest

    “falls in love with a nurse fighting for the opposite cause”

    So basically “In the Land of Blood and Honey” but with heterosexuals

  • Nicholas J

    Wow! Had no idea this was getting reviewed and I’m glad it did because I think Ange has worked mega hard on this and deserved a review.

    Ange is sitting on a great story here, she just hasn’t learned how to dramatize everything. Subtle is good, but there is such a thing as TOO SUBTLE. Maybe the conflict is there in your head, but your job is to convey that to the reader on the page.

    I’ve told her this before, but I think a good film to study would be Brokeback Mountain. Similar stories, different settings. Brokeback is boiling over with conflict and drama. It’s complex and subtle, but’s its scenes turn on a dime and the story moves.

    If Ange can learn how to make complex and subtle entertaining, I think people will take notice. Her knowledge of the subject matter and the care for her writing is something you just don’t see in most amateur writers.

    I know you need more suggestions like you need a bucket of rotten milk, but Ange I’d suggest you distance yourself from this script for a while and work on something else. Read as much as you can about dramatizing (starting with this if you haven’t: http://www.slashfilm.com/a-letter-from-david-mamet-to-the-writers-of-the-unit/) and then write something that isn’t tethered as much to historical accuracy and don’t worry about trying to be subtle. Focus on dramatizing and entertaining the hell out of people. Don’t think about budget and what people will think. Just entertain me. Then when you revisit CLOUD FACTORY, I think you’ll have better tools at your disposal for a rewrite.

    Good luck and congrats on your day in the AF circus!

    • carsonreeves1

      The “subtle” approach is hard to execute because you can be subtle to the point of being invisible. Being subtle is an art. You have to know that subtlety runs the risk of boring the audience, and work in mysteries, secrets, tension, suspense, dramatic irony in order to keep their attention.

      I’m hoping the fact that a lot of people have brought the lack of drama up will help Angela. When one or two people say something, you can shrug it off as a difference in opinion. When it starts getting up to 4, 5, 6, it’s time to make a change.

      • Nicholas J

        Exactly, and so much of subtle depends on acting, directing, and editing as well. Sometimes as writers you have to beat people over the head a bit to get a point across. Nothing wrong with that, just don’t overdo it.

      • Ange Neale

        Point taken, Carson. I clearly need to work out how to do this.
        There are a few things I can’t stand in movies and one of them is where something’s made so obvious it’s like the writer/director/actor have tried to hit me over the head with a bat.
        It’s what completely ruined ‘Elysium’ for me, for instance.

        • BSBurton

          Ange, there were many many things that ruined Elysium… Makes my skin crawl. I knew it was fucked when he bent down to tell the girl the bullshit elephant or giraffe story when he was pressed for time. LOL, WTF! Then they call back to it at the end.

          The whole damn conflict wouldn’t have been bad if they just lowered one of those damn healing machines to the surface! COME ON! lol

      • BSBurton

        The Rule of 5! I think that should join the ranks of G.S.U. :) 5 negative comments and the item in the script should be changed.

      • IgorWasTaken

        For scripts, it seems to me the subtlety has to be done as subtlety or subtlety. Or even even SUBTLETY.

        You need to do everything short of saying, “Note: There is a lot of subtlety in he next block of action. So PAY ATTENTION. (thank you)”

        Then if the script gets made into a film, the director can dial things back.

        I’ve noticed this in some scripts that I’ve read after I’ve seen the films. In the scripts, I find things that say “Look At Me” – entire scenes, even – that didn’t make it to the screen. To me, it makes sense that these SUBTLE bits were not in the film, but it also made sense that they WERE on the page.

        Even in comedies written by pros, I now see underlining of words and phrases in the action, trying to make sure the reader doesn’t miss a setup for a joke, or the joke’s punchline.

        Subtlety in a script should be like face makeup for the stage. Be sure it works for people way back from the stage, even at the risk of it looking a bit strong to those down front.

    • Ange Neale

      Thank you, Nicholas.
      I watched ‘Brokeback’ again the other night after you’d mentioned it, and I’ve read the script a couple of times, including its great blocks of text.
      I actually have something else to work on, but it’s not very dramatic, I’m afraid — I’ve got to get cracking on a literature review for my dissertation. I’m up to my ears in journal articles…

      • Nicholas J

        Cool! Great film to study. That’s good you have something else to work on, as spending too long on one thing your head can get oversaturated. But make it DRAMAAAAATIC! Draaamaaaaaaaa….. I’m gonna send you a recording of my voice just saying “draaamaaaaa” over and over again for you to listen to while you sleep. Creepy? Sure, but it might work!

        • Ange Neale

          LOL

      • Kevin Kenney

        If I’m not mistaken, homosexuality was a punishable crime in the U.K. up until the mid-60s, so that very fact could and should give a jumping off point for all kinds pf potential drama. Also,I would recommend you seek out a BBC miniseries which just concluded called “The Crimson Field”. It details the lives of a group of volunteer nurses serving at a field hospital in France during the first year of WW1. It is littered with intrigue, drama and everyone has secrets which will have consequences if revealed. There is one nurse in particular whose personal secret is of such notoriety that its revelation could bring punishment worse than incarceration. In any event, the show is a straight-forward drama loosely based on real characters, but liberties are taken for the best reasons of drama. Best of luck with this script! It’s a story that should be told.

        • Ange Neale

          You’re right, Kevin, but only for men was it illegal. Unfair, I know. Citizen M pointed out recently that it was Queen Victoria who couldn’t work out how two women could possibly have sex so she refused to sign the Act that would’ve outlawed it.
          I guess it doesn’t say much about the application of imagination in her love life with Albert.
          I’ll keep an eye out for ‘The Crimson Field’. I live in Australia but we often get BBC series here. Thank you for that tip, and for your kind thoughts!

          • Kevin Kenney

            My pleasure, Ange! I think the basis for your story is wonderful,honestly. Having said that, I would also say that there is no such thing as a bad story; I do think,however, there is the legitimate question as to the story being told via the best means,or the best execution. Having read your script, I can honestly say there is no doubt, whatsoever, as to your passion, your expertise and your desire to tell said tale –which, again, is an important piece of our shared history that should be told. But, you are up against a tough nut,so to speak,in that you are offering up a period piece; which is immediately going to be judged in terms of cost and return on investment. Like it or not, that’s the simple fact of whether or not these kind of scripts get noticed, rejected, or developed into actual movies. The folks here at scriptshadow,myself included,want you to succeed — and I think it would benefit you to seriously consider their notes and ideas as a means to proceed with a re-work of this lovely script. I completely understand your desire to tell such an important story in a fashion that serves the script you’ve slaved over for so very long,in a fashion that feels deserving of your passion. I get it, truly. But, it is near impossible to break into the modern studio system as an avant-garde unless you have the means to put this together and produce it yourself in terms of how the script presents itself. Whether or not you choose that route,or you rewrite the material so it becomes something more attractive to the “machine” is entirely a choice which will, no doubt cost you many sleepless nights,either way. In any case, I look forward to what you do with this project and what you create in the future. Best of luck!

          • Ange Neale

            Kevin, that’s really nice of you to say.
            It’s been an interesting day to say the least, and I appreciate it.
            FIrst thing I need to do is let the dust settle and get a clear head so I can properly assimilate all that’s been said, discard what’s not constructive or well-intentioned, then work out how to incorporate the rest.
            There’ve been some really good suggestions and advice here and also in the last AOW (not all of which I’ve had time to take up yet), but it tends to get drowned out by what’s unhelpful at the time.
            Thanks again.

    • BSBurton

      Hey N J, good post about too subtle. That’s why reviews are so great. You get to see how well you told your story and showcased your characters. I think this will be of great help to Ange when she goes back to work on it. I admire her hard work on a story that deserves to be told.

  • https://twitter.com/deanmaxbrooks deanb

    Dear Hollywood, please, please, please, please, please cast Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchapolous as the leads in this film. Thank you. Signed, Everyone.

    • BSBurton

      Lol, you are funny. I just watched Blue. I liked a lot of it, but what about the ending. For a movie that long, I would’ve liked a better closing

      • Casper Chris

        I agree. The ending was a bit ‘meh’.

        • BSBurton

          For the ride that we had to endure, I want an “everything comes together” ending. Like Killer Joe, a strange and slooow movie (i don’t mind, hell i bought it) but the last 12 minutes are as riveting as anything I’ve ever seen on film. The story comes together and then there’s all sorts of shit going down lol.

  • Linkthis83

    Super congrats, Ange!!

    Since I’ve started truly writing, I have no idea how you people keep a real job, write, AND find time to read scripts and give feedback. It’s so frustrating not being able to participate. With that being said, I’m going to make the d’bag move and provide feedback based on other people’s reads (it’s so lame – I know).

    The good news = it sounds like you have STORY problems.

    Based on its first go around in AOW my initial thoughts on just learning the elements of this concept were: Well this has all kinds of potential to be a fantastic, unique movie.

    Also, I only have 15 minutes before I have to be in a meeting so this is my style of a “quickie” review based on material I haven’t read. So whatever follows might already exist, and if it doesn’t, I’m doing it with the intent that these aren’t the actual answers to help, but hopefully idea inducing suggestions that help.

    First, is this relationship based on real people, or is this more like Titanic and we’re looking at a Jack and Rose (or Rose and Rose) type relationship? If it is fictional taking place in a time of fact, then one thing that works against it is that we don’t know what they are building towards. With Titanic, we certainly know. Plus, the way that relationship started was based on class separation and secret keeping. It starts immediately with conflict, tension, secrets, and taking the peasant out of his world and putting him in hers. And to me, none of that really felt forced. There may not have been policies in place forbidding this relationship, but there certainly was social protocol. In the case of your story, it sounds like there is both. So did you truly maximize both?

    So you may not want more airplanes and you may not want them closer to the fight. That’s great. I don’t think you need to do that. However, it doesn’t mean you can’t use them. Have this relationship mimic the volatility of the war. When things rise in the war-background, have them doing the same with this relationship. Have the waves of this stuff increase and recede. Also, put the story in a place where you could have the Germans advancing on their position. We don’t have to SEE the physical advancement. We’d get it with the way people in the area begin reacting. More troops showing up. Both injured from the line and others in reinforcements. Make the world around them building to something extreme.

    Also, have some consequences/influences regarding this taboo relationship. Now, I assume you already did this and I just don’t know how. The fact that it is taboo and always lingering in each scene isn’t probably enough. If you ask the question “what’s the worst thing that could happen to these characters?” then whatever answers you come up with, grade them in intensity and either implement them as story or imply that they could happen

    For example, perhaps a superior male officer learns of this relationship. And now he is wanting to extort some favors from them. The surgeon chick consents. Trying to save their relationship, her job, and the 18 year old. You don’t have to overtly show the “favors”. Just make it known that is what he wants and make it known that he gets. Then that event has influences on their relationship.

    Perhaps he wants the 18 year old, and because he doesn’t get her, he gets her re-assigned to the FRONT. The threat of this is enough to dictate some of their decisions.

    I know I’m a bastard for going down this path with no real info, but like I said, it’s hopefully to spark some conflict/tension based on existing parameters of your world. They are there, you just have to find them. They also don’t have to be solely about the relationship. They could exist for a number of other reasons. They are in WWII. There’s plenty to choose from.

    • Nicholas J

      “Since I’ve started truly writing, I have no idea how you people keep a real job, write, AND find time to read scripts and give feedback.”

      Working from home helps! Also, having no kids.

      • Midnight Luck

        You hit the nail on the head!

        It works, if you don’t work it!

        No kids, no sig. other, and without working while working from home! a winning combo!

    • Ange Neale

      Thanks for this, Mike. I’m sorry for my slow reply — it’s taken me a while to work down the list. I should’ve sorted posts in chronological order. You reply deserves a more thorough response, but I gotta go cook. Hopefully I can get back to you.

      I’m gonna copy and paste everything, good and bad, into a Word doc, let the dust die down and go through it all with a fine-toothed comb next week.

      We’ll talk soon, hey?

      • Linkthis83

        No worries, Ange. Honestly, this post of mine isn’t even worthy of a reply, much less a thorough one. Ha.

        The more I read through the comments the more I realized how far off base I was when I made them. But like I said, the whole intent of even posting was to hopefully spark some ideas.

        The one thing that is true from my post is that you have STORY problems. Which I think are the greatest to have. It just sounds like it needs a way to be delivered with more effective impact.

        I’m going to try and get around to reading it (or at least some of it) if I can this weekend. I will send you some thoughts when I get a chance.

        • Ange Neale

          Hopefully I can get STORY under control after all this feedback.
          There’s been some cracking good ideas and suggestions raised here.

  • grendl

    If the theme of this story has to do with acceptance, I think I’d like to see men represented in the first ten pages as human beings, not just ogling the women.

    I find that kind of offensive frankly.

    One Armed ATA pilot, Turnhouse Watch Officer, Kinloss Ticket Seller and Grizzled Mechanic.

    You know men have names and are people too.

    Why wouldn’t you bother giving them names. You gave the females names.

    All very agenda driven this Planet of Women, where they were the heroes of WW2.

    Not very believable. Sorry.

    I didn’t bother seeing if Ange provided an actual real male character with a name. She’s not interested in her male audience. Men bad. Women good. They deserve names.

    Why don’t you write a script about the Wright Sisters at Kitty Hawk while you’re at it, Ange?

    How women made the first airplane flight.

    Men deserve names in script. Unless you see them as the enemy. Or as an idea.

    • Casper Chris

      Actually she shouldn’t name minor characters. Male or female. I haven’t read the script, but something tells me “Armed ATA pilot, Turnhouse Watch Officer, Kinloss Ticket Seller and Grizzled Mechanic” were all minor characters, not because of their gender, but because of their story function.

      • Kirk Diggler

        Yep. Never occurred to me that Ange was making these character name choices based on sexism of any kind. It READS better. It’s one less name I have to remember. Silly criticism, really.

    • Ange Neale

      No, I don’t see men as the enemy at all. The most homophobic character is a female, Sir William is Allison’s Dad and he’s a good guy, and there’s also a KINDLY NURSE, a MESSENGER WAAF, a FURIOUS WOMAN PILOT, a FRIZZY-HAIRED JOURNALIST, a MATRONLY WAAF CORPORAL…

      Just out of curiosity, in ‘Saving Private Ryan’, the typists in the secretarial pool, Private Ryan’s mom or the French woman and little girl in the village whose house had its side blown off… Did they have names? I’d expect not, because the movie was war from a masculine perspective. It doesn’t mean it was sexist. I’ve written this from the feminine perspective.

      I’m not trying to be sexist. My Honours supervisor was a man, and my Ph.D. supervisors are both men. If I’d taken the alternative I was offered, I could’ve had two women supervise me.

    • mulesandmud

      Personally, I think men were a terrible idea. Sloppy structure, bad dialogue.

      Even God knows it. Read the Bible: Adam was a first draft, Eve was the rewrite.

      • klmn

        Or a chew-toy for Adam.

        • Ange Neale

          You crack me up, but I’m steering clear of any further comment lest it be misconstrued.

        • BSBurton

          Best laugh of the day!

  • grendl

    Jesus, are you people good observers.

    She doesn’t give a single male character a name in the first twenty five pages of this script.

    Not one.

    They’re all their jobs. Women are people though, and get names.

    Ugh.

    Learn how to write objectively. Men are people too.

    • Ange Neale

      Good catch, grendl! There are some women who’re just known by their jobs, too.

  • pmlove

    Congrats Ange!

    I feel that if it isn’t working as a screenplay, this would be the sort of thing that the BBC would love to put on as a series.

    What happened to Primal?

    • Ange Neale

      There’s been a tv series on the ATA-girls stuck in development hell since 2011. It seems to be going nowhere fast for reasons I can’t ascertain. It’s theoretically a co-production between a UK prodco and an NZ one. Trying to write a second one didn’t seem like a smart move when the first seemed stuck in the mud.

  • JakeBarnes12

    This review basically covers everything I tried to explain to Ange in detail a few weeks back regarding her story’s serious lack of structure and drama and her not fully exploiting the crucial element that makes her relationship story stand out (women pilots in WWII!).

    Learning how to structure our screen stories effectively and how to create drama through conflict and urgency is not selling out to crass commercialism; it’s acquiring the most basic screenwriting skills that will allow us to tell much better stories that will move and capture the imagination of readers and eventually an audience.

    Best of luck to the writer on this journey.

    • Nicholas J

      The most basic screenwriting skills that people don’t truly learn and employ until far too late in the journey. The basics are always emphasized as being structure, and that seems to be where everyone starts. IMO it should be the other way around. We should start with how to create drama. Structure is easy. Fitting drama into structure is hard.

      • Midnight Luck

        I agree.

        Building character and drama is probably the most difficult. Knowing how to do it, and how it plays out. Along with understanding how Irony works, and implementing it as well.

        Structure? much simpler.

        • Paul Clarke

          Character, drama, and even irony all come from structure. Not the other way round.

          To make a scene dramatic all depends on how you structure it.

          To add depth to a character you need to structure their arc, the problem, their flaw, etc.

          Structure isn’t some silly one dimensional Blake Snyder beat sheet like people think. It’s everything from scene structure, to sequence, to overall. All encompassing.

          • Midnight Luck

            Not exactly what I meant.

            I in no way said or insinuated it was some silly cast off thing. But getting people interested in your characters, having it be dramatic in a deep and profound way is a difficult thing as well.

            You may be right, that it is all based in Structure. However there are a million ways to look at it. It also is all about character, about story, about idea, about all the rest.

            Everyone’s right. Everything is important.
            Everyone’s not right, it isn’t one thing. It isn’t just spelling, or character arc, or your Logline or Title or name scheme or pacing or whatever.

      • leitskev

        Good point. A lot of people seem to not understand that structure(as well as any “rules”) is a means not an end. Structure is there to help build drama. And there are many types of structure that can achieve that end. If the writer did not achieve a dramatic reaction in the reader, then the reader should rightly try to identify the problem with some structural analysis. But only as a means of trying to help the story become more dramatic and moving. Structure is the servant not the master.

    • BSBurton

      A very tame and quality post, Jake. I thought you had some good points last week as well. Sometimes it would just be easier if we could all do a web seminar lol

    • Ange Neale

      Thank you, Jake, for wishing me best of luck.
      Your post is quite a bit mellower than I’d anticipated, but it’s okay — others have stepped into the breach with great gusto.
      Cheers!

  • mulesandmud

    Ange, can I ask if you’ve considered setting most if not all of the film during Jenny’s stay at the hospital? I bring it up for a couple of reasons:

    1) LOGISTICAL. You’ve mentioned a few times (here and in your AOWs) that you’re actively concerned about keeping the budget down, and for that reason you’re hesitant to add many more flying or war elements to the script. I think this is an admirably practical perspective on your part. With that in mind, you should be targeting the $10-15M range. Absent the attachment of a megastar, a project like this (mature, dramatic, historical, woman-centered) can’t expect much more than that, even with a powerhouse angel investor. If you can get the script into that range without feeling creatively stifled, I say do it, and a huge step in that direction would be to narrow down your locations. Obsessing over budget can be creatively damaging in the early stages, but now that you have your ideas in order, it’s time to cross-reference the bottom line with your top priorities and figure out what absolutely must stay versus what can change or go. That’s an essential part of the independent filmmaking process (the studio process too, but in a different way). Personally, I mostly agree with that devastating Brit consultant of yours – one flying scene is just about all you need.

    2) CREATIVE. I didn’t read much past Jenny’s discharge from the hospital (midpoint-ish, I believe – kudos for taking me along that far), but without question, this is where Carson’s structure comments are the most palpable. The audience feels very much set adrift at this point in the story, with the budding romance as the only forward momentum. It can be a wonderful thing to have no idea where a story is going next, but not at the expense of drama. Much of your script’s tension until that point had really centered on this question of discretion and restraint in the hospital setting, and there’s definitely potential for an entire film worth of drama there. Could you imagine a version where the romance starts to fully blossom while Jenny is still in recovery? That doesn’t exclude the prospect of a sneaky day-trip date or other getaways, of course, but it would certainly give the story a clearer shape. Plus, it seems a shame to spare Allison the hardship of ratcheting up her workplace danger, and it would also give you the opportunity to really exploit the ticking clock of Jenny’s departure (by far my favorite thought of Carson’s), e.g. once she’s discharged she’ll be on the first plane home.

    All in all, it’s palpable how much work you’ve put into this thing, and bravo for that. Putting in another significant chunk of work will make it significantly better (true of most scripts, produced or not), and from where I’m looking the best chance you have to make that earlier work pay off is to double down and dive back in. Once more into the breach, and all that. Good luck with it.

    • Ange Neale

      Thanks, Mules,
      and no, actually it hadn’t occurred to me to situate it all in the hospital.
      And now you’ve got me thinking that there’s maybe a cracking good short script in there and if that can get traction at a film festival… Hmm.

      Mules, I’m going to get back to you on your post. It’s just gone 2:40 a.m. where I live (South Australia) and I’m fading fast.

    • Ange Neale

      Mules, sorry for my slow response time.
      I’ve been unexpectedly busier today than I’d planned.
      Here was I, imagining I was going to spend my Friday night assimilating ‘Primal’ over a bowl of non-diarrhea-inducing, full-fat ice cream, and my Saturday kicking back with a few dry academic journal articles.
      No such luck.
      I’d figured on $10m – $15m with the cost of at least one half-decent lead actress and a hopefully competent director.
      There was a very clever Canadian director I read about recently who got his CGI-rich movie made on a shoestring budget — something like $2.3m. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, as they say.
      “Brokeback” cost around $14m with Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger and Ang Lee on board. Obviously that’s a few years ago now, but I wouldn’t want to write something like “Amelia”, which came in around $40m, or “Red Tails” at $58m.

      You’ve given me a lot to think about here, and I will, but I might have to leave it for another day. But for a few hours’ sleep, I’ve been at this pretty solidly now for the best part of a day and I’m struggling to put a coherent sentence together.

      Thanks again, Mules!

      • mulesandmud

        Have just been catching up on these comments myself.

        Not surprisingly, the discussion has churned up more than a bit of latent (and sometimes blatant) misogyny and homophobia. I don’t think most of the perpetrators mean much by it; they may not even realize the tinge of many of their sentiments. Overall, it’s a testament to the male bias of the film industry (even here at the margins), which probably makes this useful practice for dealing with more inevitable bias in the future. The life of a screenwriter is chock full of grin-and-bear-it moments, and women tend to get the worst of that.

        Frankly, you’ve got an overwhelming amount of feedback to sort through here, since even some of the uglier comments are in fact laced with useful ideas. I don’t envy you the task of picking through all this wreckage. Just be honest with yourself and remember your priorities. Best of luck!

        • Ange Neale

          Still here, but going any second…

          Big thumbs up. I’m being positive. It’s all good.
          Catch ya tomorrow probably!
          Don’t even know if ‘Primal’s up yet…

  • Midnight Luck

    Just as a purely observational response to Carson’s: “What is a Bubbler” question,

    Many water fountains in the older days poured forth in a very fluid “blubbering” sort of fashion. I suppose it could be considered to look like “Bubbles”, but to me it looked less like that and more like soft Blobs of calm, fluid, yet smooth water. Water coming out with such low force it barely made it out beyond it’s own spigot. (did no one else have these kinds of water fountains in their Grade School, Middle, or High Schools? Was I the only one subjected to such horrific, yet mild, ABUSE?)

    Unlike now, where upon, you hit a faucet knob and it rockets forth with such INTENSITY, like a Two year old peeing after holding their bladder through two Lord of The Rings Double Features back to back (and having drunk an extra, extra large vat of Coke).

    Urine shotgunning forth with such force it shatters the toilet or urinal, then splatters back with such enthusiasm as to soak the perpetrator’s own knickers (do I sound old? yet I so am not).

    Thus, I believe the name may have been coined from the flaccid blubbering look of the water as it oozed from the shiny chrome tap, and slowly caressed the young tikes’ lips.

    (holy overdoes-y of prose-y-ness)

    • Midnight Luck

      if I had more time, I would’ve made that reply, well, short (er)

    • Ange Neale

      LOL. I fished ‘Bubbler’ out of some research I did on language of the time, to figure out how Jenny would’ve spoken – what colloquialisms she’d have used, what movies, songs, books were popular, proverbs, etc. I figured it’d make perfect sense for her to show up in Britain and ask where to find a bubbler, and her colleagues would pick up on it in a flash. Apparently it’s still commonly used in several states.

      • Midnight Luck

        I have heard the term some where at some point, I believe in a movie. I haven’t had anyone use it around me that I recall, though I do have a friend from Wisconsin and another from Michigan. It isn’t a standard term in other parts of the country as far as I can tell. But I would bet many people recognize the term overall.

        • GoIrish

          I used to use it growing up in Massachusetts (it’s properly pronounced “bubblah” by the way). Interestingly enough, it wasn’t until I went to college in the midwest that I dropped the term …along with wicked, cordah, cah (kids can be so cruel).

          • Midnight Luck

            I haven’t heard of cordah, or cah, but I used to use Wicked all. the. time. I loved that word. It had about a hundred meanings to me, it could be used for just about anything. It was plain wicked.

          • GoIrish

            cordah – 25 cents
            cah – primarily comes in 2 and 4-door models and can get you from here to there wicked fast
            “wicked” was used as a rough substitute for “very” – wicked hot, wicked cool, wicked annoying

          • Midnight Luck

            I used Wicked in place of Awesome
            That is so wicked

            and many many other uses. it was a great word.
            but it probably dates me

            i get cah
            and now i get cordah as well

            thanks for clearing all that up…

      • Casper Chris

        It’s clear you put a lot of effort into your research. I admire that.

        • Ange Neale

          Thanks, Casper.
          Pretty much six months full-time and follow-up stuff as required after that. I wanted to make sure I knew exactly what the hell I was talking about. I had a feeling it’d be controversial and I’d have to defend my choices.

          I read several pilot and WAAF autobiographies, plus two general books on the ATA as an organisation. Lots of editions of Flight magazine for the details they provided about the aircraft being flown back then, plus trawling through the database from London’s ‘The Times’ for May through to October of 1940 (the end of the Phoney War through until the end of the Battle of Britain). I read a lot of squadron histories from the RAF’s archives and details about its stations to make sure I didn’t introduce anachronisms like mentioning an aircraft model before it was being produced or a station before it began operating. The BBC archives were a great primary source, too; they keep hundreds of transcriptions of interviews with military personnel and civilians from the time for historical research — I didn’t read them all, but I must’ve read 50 or so, from men and women as they tended to focus on different things and I wanted to get as comprehensive a picture as possible. That’s how I worked out what life was really like for most people at various stages of the war.

  • Eddie Panta

    Congrats to Ange for the review. The script shows a ton of hard work and dedication, not to mention research. I only read part of the older version and now a few pages of the new version, never got a chance to read more and vote last week. So my notes/tips here on the opening sequence.

    I think yesterdays article can help Ange a lot here. I am not afraid of all the black type on the first few pages. A story like this needs visuals.

    After the first three pages I felt like I could fly a plane, but I was exhausted. There’s a mixture of technical jargon and visual action that isn’t jiving.

    It’s hard to avoid clunky sentences if you include these idiosyncratic details. Especially when you want this to move, they’re flying right, really fast. What can I see?

    “Silver barrage balloons loom ahead of the gaggle of four descending Moths. Deadly steel filaments connect balloons to lorries. White dots on the grass resolve to seagulls.”

    I know research is important, especially in a WWII film, but I don’t think the opening sequence/image is the place for that, save it for later, for now, lets soar through the clouds, really fast, with a stunning visuals.

    It’s already there, but it’s hiding behind words that slow the action down.

    JakeMLB made an interesting post yesterday about the order of visuals. What we should see and what would naturally come first. Movies focus on the subject either gradually, instantaneously, or simultaneously,

    The opening sequence has a few moments where it’s a cart before the horse situation.

    “Through the lead biplane’s wing wires, the pilot’s face: beneath leather helmet and goggles, soft facial features punctuated by bright lipstick.”

    in the above sequence, the subject is the pilot’s face. Pilot’s face is shown gradually to reveal lipstick, i.e. woman.

    The subject, a pilot’s face, is partially concealed, half-hidden by “wing wires” and is “beneath leather helmet”.I think that subject here would work better either first, or last. The subject seems split,

    “hills and lush paddocks either side of the river. A railway line.”

    What’s a paddock? On either side of the river? Where is the railway line in relation to the paddocks?

    “The faint roar of propeller-driven aircraft engines break the silence.”

    Here the sound should be together in the sentence: A faint roar, breaks the silence. The pitch of an engine, rises louder.

    Just sound first, on its own, no subject, all we know is that it’s an engine, roaring. New sentence, intro subject : “propeller-driven aircraft” Does what? Break the silence? But it’s not silent, there’s already a faint roar.

    In the second paragraph the subject is split FOUR ways, aircraft approach. An aerial conga line of biplanes, six new royal Air Force ( raf) Tiger Moth trainers, in yellow livery.

    The subject is buried in the sentence again, and assumed as known– “the” aircraft. But we’ve only heard it, so this defies the previous sentence.

    Remember we haven’t seen it yet, just heard it, so it’s not “the” aircraft, it’s “a” aircraft.

    This is a SHOW and TELL.

    Ok, so I get it, I’m not as dense as I may seem, the PLANES are coming at us, moving closer, faster, from general to specific, but maybe still too specific. For now, in this moment, in this split second, stick with one subject Aircraft, biplanes, six new royal air force RAF, or Tiger mouth trainers.

    The word flying seems to be missing literally and figuratively. The only verb here is “approach” but it’s not an action verb.

    Leave the details, the reveal for when they land, when we can see it. Is she really going to be wearing lipstick at this moment? Should we know its a woman before the PLANES land?

    • Ange Neale

      Thanks, Eddie, and sorry for the slow reply.
      I’ve got a mountain of feedback to wade through and take up, and yours’ll be in there, too.
      I didn’t realise ‘paddock’ was a word unfamiliar in some countries — my bad. It’s a field with a fence around it that grazing animals live in. It can also be a colloquial term for a rugby field in NZ, as well.

  • Midnight Luck

    Want to say congratulations to Ange, way to go getting two Carson and AmFri spots and coverage. That is pretty unheard of. Best of luck on your writing future and your journey.

    • Ange Neale

      Thank you, Midnight Luck. I know how incredibly rare that is. It got much, much better after the first AOW outing. I’m still taking stuff up from the second and there’ll be more from this.

  • Eddie Panta

    Some ppl posted that the newsletter stated PRIMAL was getting the review. I never got the newsletter, anyone know if it’s next week?

    OT:
    I’ve been looking for a way to break out of a climatic scene and go to a character’s hallucination, just for moment, nothing hokey, something really quick. And then “go back to scene”.

    I want to avoid the BLACKOUT, then light at the end of the tunnel troupe. But I’m not sure how to segway to it and then return to the scene.

    Any suggests thoughts would be appreciated.

    • Poe_Serling

      “I’ve been looking for a way to break out of a climatic scene and go to a character’s hallucination, just for moment…”

      Perhaps the QUICK FLASH. It’s a technique I saw used in the script Original Sin by Joe Eszterhas:

      ON THE PORCH

      The couple stops. A moment of apprehension on Jenny’s part.

      QUICK FLASH

      A terrified little girl racing out the front door.

      JENNY

      She shrugs off the uneasy feelings and removes the house keys from her bag.

      • Eddie Panta

        Yeah, this is my go to solution if all else fails.
        He doesn’t use BACK TO SCENE which I like.
        Just that my flash would be longer than 4 lines, so not sure quick flash is appropriate.

        • Poe_Serling

          Maybe just keep it really simple and to the point. Using the example from above:

          ON THE PORCH

          Jenny stops at the front door. A moment of apprehension on her part.

          HALLUCINATION

          Insert your four lines or more here..

          JENNY

          She shakes off the disturbing images and removes the house keys from her bag.

          **Good luck with it. ;-)

          • Eddie Panta

            Hmmm,
            Calling out straight here as a hallucination is not a bad idea.
            Just weary about using that mini-slug, never seen anybody do.
            But it’s definitely a confident move.
            Thanks again!

          • Poe_Serling

            A few years back…

            During an online Q & A session, one of the aspiring writers asked Steven E. de Souza (Die Hard, 48 Hrs) how to handle dream sequences/nightmares/visions/etc. His response?

            You are all writers. Be creative. Come up with something that works best for your particular scene.

    • mulesandmud

      If you’re looking for something unique but somehow organic to your story, more context would help.

      Love it when films find transitions that are formally and thematically appropriate to the material; I always think of the match dissolve from Ripley’s face to the planet Earth at the beginning of Aliens. For hallucinations in particular, The Big Lebowski dream sequence transitions are great (and often use blackouts in some form).

      • Eddie Panta

        Right, organic exactly. I do have a visual thread that ties it together.

        What about a WHITEOUT in the transition, instead of BLACKOUT?
        Like headlights obliterate the scene. I’ve seen this before in a script, but don’t remember where. You see it sometimes in movies with photographers flashbulbs popping.

        Yeah.. Big Lebowski, I should check that out again. Thanks!

        • mulesandmud

          Whiteout’s fine, but then again so is blackout.

          Is the hallucinating character in the scene just prior to the hallucination? If so, using something in-scene as a trigger (a la your headlights example) is a perfect way to jolt both the and the reader into the hallucination.

          Can’t do much more for you without details, but sounds like you’ve got it under control.

          • Eddie Panta

            A girl driving in a jeep down a dark road, is on a collision course with the villain who is shooting at her. Headlights swell from around the bend, she brakes — too late. And realizes A patrol car is coming straight at her, and the villain. They collide head-on,
            Whether the Villain has escaped in time is unknown, we are on the GIRL driving, freaking out, Headlights collide – airbags explode.
            Then brief daydream/vision blackout.
            Then back to scene – the aftermath.
            It’s really about whether cutting away at a climactic moment is a good idea. You only get a wide on the accident scene in the aftermath. But it’s cheaper that way too.

            So that’s the details if you have any other thoughts. Thanks!

          • mulesandmud

            Sounds like the crash is your transition for sure, and I like the headlight whiteout too.

            Might take some experimenting to find the sweet spot between the hallucination’s length and it’s level of disorientation. It’s cool to confuse people for a beat or two, but any longer than that and you better make sure you’ve got a plan.

          • Eddie Panta

            Well said, I think that I have short enough, just that haullincation takes place in two settings.
            But in the end your right, no exact answer only working in out.
            I think I’m on the right track now though.
            Thanks again.

          • Randy Williams

            I like physical triggers, for instance,

            The airbags explode becoming sheets whipping on a clothes line.

            Thunder roars, crackle of lightning from an approaching storm as two people argue at a clothesline as one furiously takes down the sheets,

            One pushes the other into a sheet, and back to the airbag exploding against her face.

          • Eddie Panta

            Thanks for the notes. That’s a cool segway.

  • Cambias

    Women didn’t fly combat missions in WWII, except in the Russian air force. If you do that, you may as well have her fly on a unicorn to Berlin and beat Hitler with the power of her song.

    • brenkilco

      If you do that you may as well fly to Paris, join a commando group and machine gun Hitler to death. Oh, wait a minute….

    • Kirk Diggler

      You didn’t read the script did you?

      • Casper Chris

        I think it might have been in response to Carson.

        • Kirk Diggler

          Ah, my bad.

  • Craig Mack

    Congrats Ange — I think Carson’s review was fair and to the point. This is going to be a ‘tough’ sell in its current form. That’s fine. Either work on it, and try and beat it into ‘Hollywood’ shape, or don’t, and keep it as something you love. Nothing wrong with that. Don’t change the story into something that you wont be happy with… (unless you are pressed for cash of course!)

    What happened to Primal? Is that getting pushed until next week? Or are we going with Black Autumn?

    C

    • mulesandmud

      I smell double review.

      • Midnight Luck

        me double 2

        • Eddie Panta

          Me three
          Monster Mash

    • Ange Neale

      Thanks, Craig!
      Nobody who’s pressed for cash should ever take up writing spec scripts. The odds of selling one as a newbie writer are, what, one in 1,500 in any given year?
      The Gods must really be smiling for that to happen. Better to take your Nicholls entrance fee and go punt it on the doggies; the dishlickers as they’re affectionately known here.

      • Midnight Luck

        For selling a Spec?

        Odds have been likened to WORSE than Winning the Lottery (though it might just be an Urban Legend to try to keep would be Screenwriters away):
        $400-million Powerball: Odds of winning are 1 in 175 million.

        So, 1 in 1,500 is thinking VERY optimistically.

        Just for Shits and Giggles, Odds of winning lottery TWICE in One Day:

        Double lottery winners beat odds of 1 in 24,000,000,000,000 / Belmont couple spends $124,000 — $20 a day for 17 years — then hits jackpot twice in one day

        • lesbiancannibal

          this is bollocks though isn’t it – because the lottery is not awarded on the basis of merit.

          • Midnight Luck

            This is true. It isn’t an even – even situation. There’s no skill, no friend of a friend, no happy accidents, no slaving hard for 5-10 years, no yoga instructor who knows your macrobiotics chef who slipped someone a script, no learning the craft and getting better, then things finally come together. The lottery is pure chance. Script selling, yeah, there are more variables which can’t really be quantified.

            There is a bit of truth hidden somewhere in there though.

    • BSBurton

      Great advice, Craig. You make good points

  • Ange Neale

    Hi everyone, I’m not chickening out on all of you but I live in South Australia, and as I post this, it’s 2.44 a.m. here. I’m fading fast and I can’t give your comments the considered responses they deserve. Give me a few hours to catch some zzz’s and I will get back to you all.
    Thanks for your feedback. I appreciate it!

    • Midnight Luck

      very understandable.
      good zzz’s.
      and hopefully wake up ready to tackle the world.

  • Gilx

    Congrats on the AF read, Ange! As I’ve said offline, your main characters really live and breathe, and continuing to build their story until it sings is going to be well worth it. Happy to read drafts any time. Cheers to you.

    • Ange Neale

      Thanks, Tom.
      Appreciate the support.

  • BSBurton

    Great article and great suggestions, Carson. I find that conflict is lacking in a lot of scripts, but it’s also very very important not to overdo conflict, especially with “LIfetime” character whining and lame dialogue.

    MOM: How was dinner with your whore Fred?

    FATHER: Come on Irene, I was just helping her

    MOM: Oh, I’m sure. You never were much help around here. Not since you got on disability and ruined our lives!

    SON: Mom, come on. He —

    MOM: — Oh shut up! You’ll be just like him. Knock somebody up at 17 and have a clone version of you!

    Too much “crap conflict” is just as bad as too little conflict. At least, that’s how I react when I read scripts like that.

    • Casper Chris

      Very true. Let’s call it ‘superficial conflict’.

      • BSBurton

        I like that title! Good call Chris :) Throw that in with GSU

        • Ange Neale

          Wow, weird Disqus moment here. See my reply to Liberal Skewer above. I put my protag in a tree and threw rocks at her.

  • witwoud

    I’ve not read it all, but that’s never stopped me yet, so here goes:

    * The heroine — tall, athletic, feisty, American, only 18-years-old but already a brilliant pilot, and determined to prove herself despite the crusty RAF establishment — is an obvious Mary Sue.

    * It reads like a piece of meandering, wish-fulfilling fanfic — especially when the tall, athletic, feisty heroine catches the eye of the older aristocratic doctor who, despite all her principles, cannot resist her. I can’t help wondering if the author’s resistance to introducing more drama to the story, is because it’s already what she wants it to be: a personal fantasy.

    * Yeah, it was tough that ATA-girls could fly Tiger Moths and not Hurricanes, but of all the problems facing Britain in 1940, starting with imminent invasion by Hitler, it comes far down the list. The script is going to have work much harder to make me care.

    * Despite the period details and the 1940s slang, I never felt for a moment I was in wartime Britain. The attitudes and outlooks of the characters are modern American. I’ve no doubt that lots of women felt hard done by in WWII, but the sense of feminist umbrage that saturates this script is anachronistic. You don’t find it in, say, 1940s novels by women. It’s impossible to suspend disbelief when the author’s fingerprints are so clearly visible in every scene, and the agenda so nakedly obvious.

    Sorry if this sounds harsh. But I honestly think this is a case of an author getting TOO personally invested in her script, and failing to pay much attention to what an audience might want to see.

    • Ange Neale

      I have no idea what a ‘Mary Sue’ is, but I’m sensing it’s not complimentary.

      I’m not at all averse to introducing more drama. In my earlier drafts, I killed them both. It was in fact grendl who put the biggest doubts in my mind about the wisdom of that strategy when he pointed out that killing protags the audience likes tends to really piss them off. For me, the pathos-rich ‘Romeo and Juliet’ ending works better and I’m still tossing up whether to do that deed and how to do it without blowing up the page count.

      I’m not going to introduce the sorts of drama that would a/ blow the budget out to stupendous proportions; b/ be so ridiculously historically improbable and outrageous as to invite scorn and derision from that quarter; or c/ do it merely to appease people who don’t really give a flying fish because it doesn’t feature guys with magic powers or zombies. They would never go to see it anyway.

      The chances of it getting made are already infinitessimal; I’m not going to sell my soul or academic integrity to increase that to merely slender.

      If you’d watched TCF evolve, you’d note I’m not at all averse to taking criticisms on board and trying to make improvements. But I don’t rush to agree with every idea that gets suggested because if I did, it would be Dr Doolittle’s Pushme-pullyou by now.

      The audience I’ve tried to write for is Hollywood’s most neglected demographic, the one that turned out in droves for ‘Philomena’ but don’t go to the movies as often as they did when they were younger because what generally gets churned out now [X] isn’t for them. They mostly stay home to get more thought-provoking fare on tv, but if you give them something to think about, they will turn out.

      As for who Jenny is and whether she’s a personal fantasy (which seems to be what you’re insinuating)…

      I mentioned Lettis Curtis elsewhere, who joined the ATA in July, 1940. She had a maths degree from Oxford and she was a triple-blue (accomplished in three sports). She was tall and athletic, an accomplished pilot with hundreds of hours in her logbook when she joined, but until July, 1941, the RAF regarded her as inferior. Incapable of handling an operational combat aircraft purely because of her gender. She’s in her mid-nineties now and lives in a nursing home, but apparently she’s still intellectually formidable.

      Or take Jackie Sourer, who was from South Africa. She also joined the ATA in 1940. She flew her aircraft all the way up Africa ON HER OWN and got as far as Egypt, where the RAF apparently impressed it for their own use. She was 19 years old and also an accomplished pilot at that age. She was also the only one of the ATA-girls who managed to pick up a commercial pilot’s job after the war. None of the others could because the RAF boys were entitled to them. I don’t make this stuff up, Witwoud.

      There’s a bit of both of them in Jenny — the athleticism and physicality to highlight the complete absurdity and blatant chauvinism of RAF policy at the time; an adventurous spirit coupled with a strong sense of duty and a decent intellect. Miss Curtis herself has refused to be drawn on whether she’d have flown in combat if she was asked to, but she certainly had the flying skills to do so.

      Now, I could’ve made Jenny from Canada, or Australia, or NZ, or South Africa. In fact, the ATA-girls eventually came from some 28 nations. The choice to make her American was deliberate and it’s two-fold: the first is audience. The biggest movie-going audience is still the US, and its audiences tend to be parochial — they like to see other Americans up on screen. I was trying to give TCF the best chance I could of making a profit if it ever gets made. The second is to do with liberal political values.

      If you’ll cast your mind back to the nineteenth century, the United States almost tore itself apart over slavery, but the “better angels” eventually prevailed. Or as Winston Churchill remarked (I can’t remember the exact quote so I’ll paraphrase), one can trust the US to do the right thing eventually, after all else has failed. Even though the US wasn’t in the war at that stage, the ATA was actively recruiting American pilots in the US in 1940. For some, it was about money, or adventure. For others, they went because they believed that what the Nazis were up to couldn’t be allowed to stand.

      Britain in 1940 at the end of the Phoney War: what I’ve described is what I found and borrowed directly from the world of the pilots’ autobiographies. They went out to restaurants, and all of the pubs and nightclubs remained open. Rationing had the biggest impact on people’s lives until the Battle of Britain began, and then the bombing was mostly limited to people in cities once the Luftwaffe turned its attention away from trying to break the RAF’s south-eastern defenses. The rich fled to their country estates. If you went out to dinner, to make sure that the poor weren’t disadvantaged nutritionally, the government imposed a limit on the price of meals. I think it was 5 shillings.

      As for the attitudes and outlooks, which you claim are contemporary American, with “the agenda so nakedly obvious.” You mention fiction written by women during the 40s. Sorry to have to point out the obvious, but this was a time in which for any author (let alone a female one) to have written anything which suggested something was seriously amiss in British society, he or she would have been pilloried far and wide as unpatriotic – possibly fascist-leaning, and later on, Communist-leaning.

      I’d also point you in the direction of Virginia Woolf’s ‘A Room of One’s Own’, written in 1928. In my Penguin edition, right on page 2, she writes, “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction”. The women writers you read from the 1940s had their own agendas. The class system that had provided them with those privileges was under threat. They were hardly going to tear it apart for its inequities.

      There were women in Parliament in 1940 who were feminists — Dr Edith Summerskill and Eleanor Rathbone, for instance, and not all of the RAF hierarchy was “crusty.” If you read the Accident Committee scene, the Chairman himself tries to defend Jenny’s actions on the medical evidence. In fact, the RAF was the service most open to new ideas.

      As for Allison’s motivations, loneliness and feeling besieged are both excellent psychological motivations for overcoming her inner conflicts and turning to someone who wants to provide solace for both.

      As for her looks, should I have made her ugly and unattractive? Would that appease you? Can lesbians not be attractive? I know several who are. Perhaps they’re not real lesbians and as soon as they meet the right man, they’ll get over it.

      Either way, I look forward to seeing these sentiments expressed consistently in future when you lambast men for having naked agendas and impugn their characters by suggesting they’re writing personal fantasies, because if you weren’t consistent that might suggest you yourself had an agenda.

      But why am I bothering to debate this with you, Witwoud? You’ve already said it: I haven’t made you care. If it ever gets made, you’ve as good as said you wouldn’t go to see it.

      Please don’t presume to think I’m not interested in what the niche audience I’m aiming for thinks. You yourself as good as excluded yourself from membership of that group.

      • astranger2

        Put all the GSU from these TCF discussions into your next rewrite, and you’ll have enough conflict for a franchise of films. ; v )

        • astranger2

          BTW, Ange, I can see there’s a lot going on for you here… I know you have a huge emotional investment in this story. My previous comment may have seemed a little flip, and I apologize. From what I’ve gleaned, however, MOST of the board is reaching out with care and concern. I hope you’re surviving this well. @}—-

        • Ange Neale

          Oh, God help me, astranger. I don’t think my ticker could stand it.

      • astranger2

        BTW, Ange, I can see there’s a lot going on for you here… I know you have a huge emotional investment in this story. My previous comment may have seemed a little flip, and I apologize. From what I’ve gleaned, however, MOST of the board is reaching out to you with care and concern. I hope you are weathering this well, and are all right. You must be exhausted… @}—-

        • Ange Neale

          Please don’t apologize – it’s really not necessary.
          It’s certainly been an interesting 20 hours and counting.
          I’m thinking of it as practice for the day some three and a bit years down the track when I have to defend my dissertation.

          • astranger2

            I’m just saying you have some real loving support here! So if things get too tense, you can either re-enact one of the more frequently abused movie tropes submitted on AOW — hit your alarm clock, pop down a couple yellow, green, blue — or whatever color pills

          • Ange Neale

            It’s character-building.
            Or better yet, research for when I write my script about an amateur author whose script gets eviscerated in a public forum and she decides to take up something somewhat less controversial and with the promise of a better outcome, like Middle Eastern peace diplomacy.
            For now, I’m just gonna switch the computer off and go cook dinner.

      • witwoud

        Sorry if my comments were a bit raw, Ange.

        On the other hand, I can’t really reply to your post because most of it is about things I never said. (No, I don’t think lesbians are ugly. Where, in my post, do I remotely begin to say that lesbians are ugly? Or imply it? Or mention lesbians at all?) There are just a couple of points I will make.

        * I’m not making any insinuations about your character, as you claim. But yes, I am guessing at your motivations for writing this particular story, and I think this is a valid thing to do. Having finished your script last night, I still feel that it reads like a wish-fulfilling fantasy.

        * I’m not ignorant about 1940s Britain. It’s a period I know quite well.

        That’s all. Good luck.

        • Ange Neale

          Witwoud, I first came across the story of the ATA-girls courtesy of a BBC documentary called ‘Spitfire Women’ (if I remember rightly).
          It’s from 2011 and it’s available on youtube.
          It’s an hour or so long.
          It was funny and sad and a story about a bunch of women who just rolled up their sleeves and got on with the job, despite bottom-pinching and occasional insults and sometimes even overt resentment.
          One of them, Freydis Leaf Sharland, lost her brother and 7 male cousins. Others lost dear friends as well.
          16 of the ATA-girls died, including Amy Johnson. If their friend died, they got two days off then back to work because there were aircraft to be delivered.
          They were stoic and so extraordinarily modest that their story’s little known. I was just starting my Honours degree when that doco was broadcast here, but I couldn’t forget it.
          Take Diana Ramsay, who had a speech impediment and couldn’t say ‘R’ properly. She was ‘Wamsay’ to everyone. Wamsay was trying to land a fighter with a throttle stuck fully open one day. At a great rate of knots, she shot all the way across the airfield, through the cow paddock next door and toward a wood. She tore the wings off on trees and finally came to a shuddering halt lodged between two more trees. The rescue party found her calmly sitting up on the canopy smoking a cigarette with hardly a bruise or scratch on her. She’d started to walk back to the airfield but had thought better of it because she was afraid of cows. She didn’t brag about that story — the pilots all thought it was terribly bad form to ‘line-shoot’ about narrow escapes.
          We live in a world where everyone under twenty-five seems to think it’s a terrific idea to end up in rehab or get arrested because you get great media exposure. Where young women auction their virginity on the internet and no-one seems to think that’s sad, and the millionaires who win the bids don’t have the decency to simply give them the money and tell them to save themselves for someone who cares for them. If it was young men doing it, I’d think and say the same thing.
          My grandmothers — the same generation as the ATA-girls — would be mortified. They bore their traumas and losses with grace and dignity. They didn’t trumpet their accomplishments. Modesty and decency mattered to them.
          I deeply, deeply admire and respect them for their values. If that reads to you as a personal fantasy, then so be it.

          • witwoud

            Hey Ange. I’ll say this, your script certainly got me interested in the ATA, and I was up half the night reading “Spitfire Women of WWII” by Giles Whittell. I agree with you, they were a fascinating bunch — rich, gutsy and mad as snakes, half of them. I’ve got bags of admiration for them and I’d love to see a movie about them.

            It’s an inspiring story, and an important strand of it is obviously the ATA-girls proving themselves in the face of opposition. Having said which, what was the worst of this opposition? Stupid letters in Aeroplane magazine and lots of harrumphing and foot-dragging by the top brass, which was soon brushed aside by the diplomacy of Pauline Gower. Meanwhile the women got to continue their pre-war hobby of flying planes, while receiving enormous amounts of adulation and publicity, and having more fun than nearly anyone else did in 1940. I know your script touches on this, but mostly it’s determined to present the ATA-girls as victims, and your heroine as a beautiful butterfly crushed on the wheel of the British Establishment. Well, okay … but it seems to me that you’ve brushed aside most of the really interesting things about these people and these times, and replaced it with a rather hackneyed tale of oppression and woe. (I confess, I’ve little patience for these.)

            For instance — maybe it’s because I’m a guy — but what about Corrie and Dutton and the rest of the Ancient and Tattered Airmen? I know they’re not your primary interest, but they are a pretty colourful bunch of men in their own right. When they make a brief appearance in your script, however, it’s as ridiculous figures whose only role is to prove the unfairness of the ATA rules. I really think they deserved a bit more than that.

            By the same token, the rest of your script (love story aside) is so narrowly focused upon its themes of sexism and intolerance, that it lacks any real interest for me. I’d much rather read about the real ATA-girls, because they were intriguing, complicated, contradictory people. Your Jenny Morgan, forgive me, isn’t. Apart from the standard-issue feistiness and ambition of any heroine, she really doesn’t have much personality. She’s there to be a victim of the establishment and to have aristocrats fall in love with her and to fit in with the script’s agenda and to be a sort of wish-fulfilling author avatar, but she never felt like an actual person to me. Does she even have a single flaw? I can’t remember one. I’d much rather about the massively-flawed Amy Johnson than about your heroine.

            On which note, I’m now off to read the rest of the Spitfire Women :)

          • Ange Neale

            If it was up to me, American Ed Heering (who ended up commanding the ferry pool at Lossiemouth and was the only ferry pool commander to miss out on — hmm, I think it was an MBE the others all got; I’m not sure but they ignored him, which was pretty rude) would also be in there, as would one-armed Keith Stewart-Jopp. Problem is, I’d end up with a 300-page script if I included something for everyone.
            I hope someone writes a script about the men. I completely agree they were a colourful, fascinating bunch. But it won’t be me. Not because of a lack of interest or because I have narrow views, I assure you — I don’t presume that I can write men nearly as well as I can (or it seems, can’t) write women. That’s mostly why men don’t have a bigger focus in mine. I’m not ashamed to admit I’m still trying to learn how to do this.

            I have Whittell’s book. The BBC doco’s based on it and features him. If you’re really keen, Lettis Curtis’ autobiography ‘The Forgotten Pilots’ is also an insightful and interesting read, although written in a much drier, more factual style than Whittell’s. Also Diana Barnato-Walker’s ‘Spreading my wings’ tells much about the lifestyle of the rich party animals amongst the ATA-girls. She had her share of narrow escapes and personal losses, too. That nobody bothered to tell her her fiance had been killed in action was appallingly insensitive. A couple I couldn’t get hold of were Hatfield Operations Officer Alison King’s autobiography book ‘Wings of gold’ (?) and by South African pilot Jackie Moggridge (nee Sorour) ‘Woman pilot’. For the organisational history, EE Cheesman ‘Brief Glory’ gives a nice potted overview. He worked for the ATA.
            Or you can duck over to Maidenhead to the museum.
            For all her flaws, Amy Johnson didn’t deserve the death she got, nor the hare-brained conspiracy theories afterward. Ultimately, insecurity was her biggest, ultimately fatal flaw, in Lettis Curtis’ opinion.
            Too subtle to pick up on apparently, it’s also my protag’s near-fatal flaw. That’s why she hesitated but got in an aircraft that her intuition was trying to warn her was in no condition to fly. Naivety is a second — she’s young enough to still expect the world to be fair, and she gets frustrated and disappointed when she finds out it isn’t. That she can be bullied and intimidated into fleeing after being ‘outed’ in the press is a third. It takes her a few days and the realisation that she’ll lose what she values most before she understands that she has to go back and fight for it. Not everyone’s flaws are painfully obvious.
            I happen to find it much more interesting to have to work it out for myself what a protag’s flaws are. Getting hit over the head with it in a movie takes half the fun out of it: this is John. He suffers from OCD. We can see that because here’s his medicine cabinet with tablet vials precisely arranged in alphabetical order, and his precision-ironed shirts are hung in his wardrobe in the order of colours of the rainbow. Or whatever.

            Enjoy ‘Spitfire Women’. I found it an entertaining read.

  • IgorWasTaken

    About “subtlety”…

    (I posted this as a reply to one of Carson’s reply-comments on this page; but now all replies under his there seem to have vanished. So, I’ll try here.)

    For scripts, it seems to me the subtlety has to be done as subtlety or subtlety. Or even SUBTLETY.

    You need to do everything just short of saying, “Note: There is a lot of subtlety in the next block of action. So PAY ATTENTION. (thank you)”

    Then if the script gets made into a film, the director can dial things back.

    I’ve noticed this in some scripts that I’ve read after I’ve seen the films. In the scripts, I find things that say “Look At Me” – entire scenes, even – that didn’t make it to the screen. To me, it makes sense that these SUBTLE bits were not in the film, but it also made sense that they WERE on the page.

    Even in comedies written by pros, I now see underlining of words and phrases in the action, trying to make sure the reader doesn’t miss a setup for a joke, or the joke’s punchline.

    Again: These are comedies written by pros. A reader who opens the script knows that this writer is a successful pro with comedy. And yet, even these pros writers, presumably, have had problems with pro readers not seeing the jokes on the page. If pro readers miss the jokes of pro writers, on the page, then it seems unreasonable to expect things to work for us if we have subtlety in our dramas and present that subtlety subtly on the page.

    Subtlety in a script should be like makeup for the stage. Be sure it works for people way back from the stage, even at the risk of it looking a bit strong to those down front.

    • Ange Neale

      Thank you, Igor.
      You made me laugh, and I don’t mean subtly.

      I apologize for taking so long to acknowledge your comment.

      Somewhat busy day.
      Hope you understand.

      • IgorWasTaken

        Yeh, that makes me laugh, too. I laugh at the “idiot readers” for being idiots; for making me do subtlety as SUBTLETY; then I do what I know I have to do.

        OK. I don’t actually know if those prospective readers will be idiots. Just, if I think of them that way – as poor, poor idiots – it helps me do what I have to do. (When, of course, it may well be that they are smart, while I am the idiot.)

        I also don’t like taking out the garbage, but if I don’t, it stinks up the place. (Note the SUBTLETY of that garbage allusion.)

  • grendl

    I don’t have a Loch Ness monster script.

    Never written a script set in Scotland in my life.

    Why am I not surprised you’re hiding troll. Scared.

  • Kirk Diggler

    Nobody thinks you’re offended that Ange didn’t give names to her minor male characters. Not a single person.

    The Tom Hanks comment is just, well, lacking in merit. Tom Hanks played a major character in “A League of their Own”. One Armed Pilot is a minor one off. I don’t need to know his name. Neither does the reader.

    You are making assumptions about Ange’s script, like she has an agenda of some sort. Trying to re-write history, or god forbid, force her LGBT agenda on her audience. Her script happens to center on female characters. Get over it or grow up.

    Yeah yeah, we know, you have a reputation to protect. Must say at least one provocative things a day. Ho hum. It’s played out.

    Got anything useful to say about The Cloud Factory? Or are you too busy being offended by the One-Armed Pilot?

  • Jim Dandy

    Ange, here are some notes:

    The early flying scenes set up an expectation in the audience that the story is going to be about pilots and war. Then everything flattens out and becomes quite static (lots of talky interior scenes), with the war forming merely a backdrop. It’s almost an anti-climax.

    The novelty about women pilots is established early on, but then you keep reinforcing the point. Yeah, we get it. No need to re-state the obvious, which gives it a preachy and earnest tone.

    You can’t film someone *designing* a plane. You can film someone building a plane, flying a plane, having a dogfight in a plane, crashing a plane, landing a plane in an exotic location, and so on. But designing a plane is static, passive and conceptual. For example, I’m currently typing this post, but I also *could* be designing a plane. See the problem? Find a way of giving your protagonist a pursuit which is filmable and in some way dramatic. She seems to spend most of the story *almost* doing things, rather than actually doing them.

    No offence, but some of the dialogue is on-the-nose, flaccid or cumbersome. For example, “We were in their gunsights, Alli. If I hadn’t run, we’d both be dead.” Yeah, we know, we just saw it on screen. No need to tell us what we are seeing or have just seen. Another one: “It’s a complete upheaval of all your familial, cultural and religious norms. In some ways, it’s a tacit rejection of your parents’ relationship, too; the union at the cornerstone of your life. That’s why you’re struggling with it.” Ugggghhh!!! An actor is going to have difficulty keeping a straight face delivering those lines.

    Also, some of the dialogue is too “chatty” and informal. Don’t forget, you’re dealing with military professionals. Making the women sound like they are at a pyjama party doesn’t do your theme any favours.

    Overall, I had trouble determining what sort of story this is. Is it a love story set in a war, or a war story with a romantic subplot? Is it a tirade against prejudice, both military and moral, or is it about thwarted dreams? It felt like a collection of details you’ve gleaned from what has obviously been some extensive research, but it lacked a cohesive spine.

    Finally, have you seen the movie “Wings” by Larisa Shepitko? It’s about a woman pilot in the Soviet Air Force during WWII and her difficulty in transitioning to civilian life.

    • Ange Neale

      Thank you, Jim, for your constructive comments.
      My apolgies for my tardy response.
      You make some excellent points.
      Along with the other comments, I’ll copy and paste your feedback into a Word doc, let the dust settle and attack it all when I can be dispassionate about it.
      For reasons which I’m sure won’t escape you, that won’t be today.
      I always meant it to be a romantic drama, set against the backdrop of the war. I guess it’s also in part Jenny’s coming of age story. Her sexuality is certainly a big part of her character arc, as is her almost-fatal flaw — her insecurity about whether she belongs in this elite group of pilots. It’s the cause of her bad decision to try to ferry the aircraft that almost kills her.
      I haven’t seen “Wings”, no. A few people have mentioned some terrific movies for me to see lately, but our local video rental place and entertainment stores are infuriatingly dominated by big studio fare and under-stocked with foreign language and independent material. (I don’t have cable or access to Netflix or other video-on-demand where I live.) I’ll note it down, Jim, and try to get it on Amazon. Thanks for that.

      • Ange Neale

        .

    • mulesandmud

      If you’re interested, watch ‘The Wind Rises’ for a profoundly active, visual and dramatic story about a person designing airplanes. Of course, other conficts creep up as well, but the design isn’t shuffled into the corner, it’s given equal time and dramatic value. Some of these activities that get dismissed as passive can be activated quite well if given the proper treatment.

      • Ange Neale

        I haven’t forgotten it, either, Mules. I’m going to have to get it through Amazon I think.

  • Matthew Garry

    > This isn’t the beauty shop, or a female penitentiary.

    because those are the typical places where one would expect a predominantly female cast?

    • klmn

      Works for me. There have been some great women in prison movies. That’s a genre ripe for a comeback.

  • tokyoYR

    The frenzied defense of men’s honor is the best digression on this thread, don’t stop it now!

  • tokyoYR

    There are some lovely passages of prose in this script, my problem is that I feel that the writer is allowing a surfeit of well written description to compensate for a serious lack of story, which doesn’t work. In all sorts of scripts, main stream or otherwise, there should be a story driving the action along. There is a lot of material here that can be flushed into a story, luckily. The writer jut needs to keep in mind that asking your reader to come along for 130 pages of hohum story is a lot to ask and will not get one very far. This website has some of the most patient readers, considering the fact that they are actively seeking scripts to read. The real world is less forgiving and I fear that this screenplay wouldn’t get read. Don’t put that writing to waste! Be strict with yourself and listen, really listen to others.

    • Ange Neale

      Oh, I have been listening, and I’ll keep doing it!
      The earlier drafts sucked ‘way worse for the lack of feedback.

  • lesbiancannibal

    Congrats Ange – you do seem pretty defensive though. I’ve read both comments sections and it’s all ‘ah but, what I was trying to do’ or ‘that’s not my story’ or pointing out historical inaccuracies etc.

    I don’t want this comment to make you more defensive.

    I understand the desire to defend your work, especially when people miss the point and come up with what seem outlandish suggestions.

    But I think saying you’ve made whichever character more resistant, a bit more tight-lipped etc, to increase the conflict is missing the point.

    The conflict has to be structural, come from the situation – and not just that lesbians were generally frowned upon in wartime Britain. And then, on top of that, you’ve got to have people pulling in different directions in every scene.

    And we need stakes.

    Why don’t you – just for a writing exercise – completely gut it.

    Follow Carson’s advice, or create your own structural conflict, make the lead a German fighter pilot who’s crash landed, whatever.

    You seem to be way to precious about it. You need to be the opposite. Brutal and heartless.

    It’s also very dense – look at p1, look at p18, just walls of text.

    So write a different version, 90 pages, loads of white space, based around conflict.

    You read early drafts of films, Se7en for example, and there are massive changes – there’s no head in a box, the ending is in a church, I think maybe even Brad Pitt dies etc etc.

    And most films are like that, they’re rewriting them on set. Gladiator for example.

    If you can’t bear to make wholesale changes now, how are you going to be when the studio says ‘actually having Red just journeying off to the Robert Frost field on a bus is too ambiguous, we want Red and Andy to meet at a beach on the end’.

    • Ange Neale

      Duck further down and read Witwoud’s comment. It’s pretty offensive and designed to needle, but I’ve tried not to be defensive back at him. I’ll get back to yours soon.

      • Linkthis83

        In my opinion, you are doing a fine job here. I wish the writers who get AF slots would engage this much.

        I don’ think discussing your script/intentions is defensive.

        I’d rather writers ‘defend’ their work all day with the caveat that they aren’t absurd. Hell, I read more absurd criticisms than I do explanations from writers.

        Unless a writer has written the greatest script ever, then they will always be outnumbered on Amateur Friday.

        Also, I don’t think I’m providing you insights that will enlighten you, but I’m stating these things in general mostly for other amateur writers who fear receiving responses like you’ve gotten today.

        I already know you to be a smart, tough woman. I do also think it’s nice when someone is willing to say that they support you as well.

        Besides, you already know the majority of these comments are made with the intent of helping your script/story from their own experiences/beliefs/perspectives/paradigms.

        Sorry for giving you that weak trash review earlier too. I just wanted to help so bad, I made shit up. Lol.

        • Kirk Diggler

          Good post Link. I think Ange has a good story to tell, she just hasn’t quite cracked that nut yet. But there are plenty of people who offer excellent suggestions, some work well for the story she’s writing, others don’t fit the framework she’s established.

          She should tell the story she wants to tell, other people may have different expectations, but that doesn’t matter. If you try to please everybody, you please nobody. I think there is a good and worthwhile story here, and i think she now has plenty of ammunition to improve it.

          • Linkthis83

            Thanks, Kirk. Completely agree that there is a STORY to be told with these elements. The title alone is great. It makes me think it’s an animated movie for kids, but it’s still a great title.

        • Ange Neale

          Sometimes making shit up is good.
          That’s where writng starts, right?
          We make shit up, then we figure out how to make it smell better and present it appealingly, then we get people to admire it.
          Granted, some dump it out there then run away and hide.
          That’s always seemed a bit discourteous to me, as reviewers are mostly sincerely trying to offer helpful advice and put time and effort into their comments.
          Others like to giftwrap their doo-doo in newspaper, put it on the front porch, set fire to it, knock, run and giggle behind a while someone tries to stamp the flames out.
          That also seems a bit rude to me.
          I have the advantage of being older and pretty well-grounded so I can take a bit of heat, Link.
          Also, a lot of what’s been said is both right on the money and meant constructively.

          The other stuff, well, it says more about those who write it and how bloody miserable their lives must be.

  • Ange Neale

    I kinda thought I had: she went to Britain because her Grampa threw her college scholarship applications in the trash; I made her exhausted, homesick and frustrated her with policies that meant she had to take a slow, smoke-filled train home rather than fly home; I nearly killed her in an aircraft crash, put her in hospital for a month drinking her food through a straw; then I had the Accident Committee find her guilty for not following regulations that definitely would’ve killed her in the same crash; I outed her in the press, humiliating her in front of her colleagues; I separated her from the person she loved and put her in danger during an air raid…

    • Casper Chris

      I made her exhausted, homesick and frustrated her with policies that meant she had to take a slow, smoke-filled train home rather than fly home

      Oh the horror!

      Sorry Ange, couldn’t help myself ;)

      I’ll give you the plane accident, but according to another poster here the plane crash was a bit… mild.

      • Ange Neale

        Yeah, it’s a different crash. The first one wasn’t a crash, merely a bird strike. She landed safely. That scene sets up a few things: we find out Jenny’s the new girl, the foreigner, the different class, and that not all of her colleagues have accepted her as one of them. Plus, as a consequence of the bird strike, rather than just refuel and go, they have to hang around so Irene (the only out lesbian on the base) can hit on Jenny, raising the issue of her sexuality.

        I’m not sure what he’s talking about with the base full of lesbians. Jenny’s three colleagues are straight and one flirts with the (male) fighter pilots. There’s one lesbian in the canteen, a 21 year old enlisted. She hits on Jenny, but she’s certainly not upper class. In those days, the upper class were always the officers. They certainly didn’t scrub latrines and sinks.

        If he’d gotten to about p16, 17, I think it is, it’s a carbon monoxide leak into the cockpit. Regular occurrence with those old engines.

        Intoxicated, Jenny has to switch the engine off, but carbon monoxide blurs your vision and causes confusion, headache, nausea, unconsciousness, coma, death. She crashes the landing because she can’t see properly. Numerous broken bones, a collapsed lung and her jaws wired shut for a month. Which is the inciting incident to get her together with Allison.

        Number 1 — exhaustion, homesickness and frustration are all emotions we can empathise with.
        Number 3 is anger at being set-up to take the fall for something no pilot should’ve been blamed for. Again, an audience will be able to empathise. It’s no less cinematic than every courtroom drama.
        Number 4 — once upon a time, being outed as gay or lesbian in the press woudld’ve been an incredibly humiliating, career-threatening experience, and because some of her colleagues feel they’re worked so hard for what respect they do get, Jenny’s being outed sets them at odds with her. They fear they’ll all be tarred with that brush.
        Number 5 — so Jenny’s first instinct is to flee home to her family, It’ll be at the price of her blossoming relationship with Allison, which isn’t even sexual at that point.
        Number 6 — once Jenny gets to think about things before her ship sails from Liverpool, she spends a night in the shelter. We see her drawing a heart with JGM loves ACBP — it’s the first time she’s acknowledged how she feels about Allison. This scene is also an important set-up for another plot point: the children’s ship. She’s in the shelter with a young mom and two boys bound for Canada on the ‘City of Benares’.

        Jenny’s booked on it, along with hundreds of others, including 90 children. She turns up at the dock, and sees an older brother poking his younger brother. The little one lashes out and gets busted, told off. He complains that it wasn’t fair that the woman who told him off hadn’t heard his side of the story.

        This resonates for Jenny. It’s her fight or flight moment. If she leaves, she’s running from bigots who’re just bullies with poison pens. Nobody knows her side of the story, and nobody will unless she tells it.

        She chooses to fight and go back to face the press and her colleagues, to tell her side of the story. To fight for Allison. The truth will set her free, and completes her character arc to accepting who she is and that she loves Allison.

        She never gets on the ship. Four days out of Liverpool, the ship’s torpedoed with the loss of nearly 300, including some 80 children (that was a true story, by the way). Jenny and Allison read about it in the paper.

        When Jenny faces the press, she tells that story as it puts what happened to her in perspective. This, too, will pass. She’s gone through a baptism of fire and been reborn, and she’s stronger for it.

        It’s all about character. Apparently this is not sufficiently dramatic. Personally, I think the audience I’ve aimed for will get this. Others beg to differ.

        • Casper Chris

          It sounds like the novels my grandma reads (aside from maybe the gay angle). She absolutely loves this kind of stuff. She’ll give me these long summaries on the phone and I will try hard to sound interested.

          Number 1 — exhaustion, homesickness and frustration are all emotions we can empathise with.

          Yea, but it’s not an obstacle to be overcome. When people talk about going hard on your protagonist, they usually mean placing obstacles in the way of the protagonist, and if not an obstacle by way of some high stake situation (e.g. the protagonist is in a life-threatening situation and must find a way out), then an obstacle that is in the way of some clearly defined goal, a goal that we’re invested in as an audience. You can only have so many scenes that show the protagonist being humiliated or angered for the sake of creating empathy. Now, I understand this is not a GSU vehicle and that’s okay, but you need a focal point. It seems like there’s a “fight against the establishment” (for some flight-related regulations) and “the fight for Allisson” but how do these connect?
          Frankly, a lot of your story beats sound so subtle as to be almost invisible to an audience. Take for instance:

          She turns up at the dock, and sees an older brother poking his younger brother. The little one lashes out and gets busted, told off. He complains that it wasn’t fair that the woman who told him off hadn’t heard his side of the story. This resonates for Jenny. It’s her fight or flight moment.

          You think the audience will interpret this as her big fight or flight moment? I think they’ll just wonder what the hell was the point of showing these two brothers scuffle. It seems you have a clear narrative throughline in your head, but when that throughline passes through one invisible story beat after another, the story is going to feel incredibly tame to an audience. It doesn’t help that these nigh invisible story beats are coupled with on-the-nose beats like this:

          We see her drawing a heart with JGM loves ACBP — it’s the first time she’s acknowledged how she feels about Allison.

          I know we’re told “show, don’t tell”, but this is as cliched as it gets.

          The reason I say this would work better as a novel is because you can make these nigh invisible story beats visible through internal monologue.

  • grendl

    Look Ange

    You can write whatever you want. That’s the beautiful thing about the blank page, you are god on it.

    If you want people to respond to your material you have to meet them halfway at least, and I didn’t see any men with names on the page. So I presume you wanted to leave no doubt that it’s a womans story, so as to remove any chance of confusion on my part.

    Fine. I can get on board with female protagonists. I loved “Fried Green Tomatoes”, so I’m there. I think a mechanic is kind of important to the maintenance and operation of an aircraft and thought maybe giving him a name would help make the story seem more authentic, but evidently those kinds of details aren’t necessary.

    Even though writing is about specifics, putting us in a certain place and time. You see how giving a mechanic a name like say Mike, might just make it seem a little more real? It’s like saying instead of a flower, a dandelion, a wilted dandelion maybe.

    You’re trying to transport the audience to this place. Ticket taker that’s fine. Cop #2 is fine, but a mechanic of an aircraft is crucial. Why wouldn’t they be saying his name? Hey, Mike this things a flying deathtrap! Something to paint in our minds a relationship between them. They’re not strangers. People who team up together call each other by their names.

    Which kind of makes it seem like these women don’t talk to the mechanic, or engage him on a human level. But people in wartime do engage each other on a human level. And not just their own sex, and not just flirtatiously, or ogling. Conversation, joking around, commiseration.

    I didn’t get that from any characters save for the women in the squadron in the first twenty pages. There’s just this isolated group that talk among themselves.

    And the first scene where Jenny’s plane hits two birds, that is an opportunity to introduce the prejudice and sexism your story is going to explore. What if the mechanic Mike was kind of an asshole and made an Amelia Earhardt comment. That would probably get her blood boiling suggesting the most famous female aviator got lost.

    It probably pisses a lot of women off for me to even write it here. I don’t care. Mike the Mechanic said it, not me. See that’s how you build emotion. Create as asshole character, a Bluto making fun of your Jenny. Don’t be precious with her. She’s not you. She’s your invention and you could throw her into a volcano and have her come out of it smoking a cigarette coolly.

    You have to manipulate the audience, to get them on her side by making her seem the underdog. Not just because she doesn’t wear lipstick. The other girls should be “Mean Girls” to her, ostracized her like in Muriels Wedding where she finds a kindred spirit in the female doctor. But you can’t pussyfoot around. You have to show alienation right off the bat.

    Starting with an air incident. Like maybe the birds that flew into the propeller made her veer into one of the other’s flight paths and that sparked a fight on the ground. We love fights and conflict as an audience.

    Get us riled up. Whether its Mike the named mechanic, or a fight with one of the heathers, but get us on Jenny’s side. Just her side. Not all of theirs.

    I mean there may very well be a movie here, as a female pilot would seem like a good underdog, but you have to get the audience onboard with her plight. Something like a bird attack on a plane which she can’t help, which could easily happen to a male pilot that she gets unfairly criticized for would work. Or something similar.

    Men and women can connect with protagonists of either sex. But you have to show something we can agree on, common ground, like injustice and bullying.

    Anyways, good luck with it.

    • Ange Neale

      Sorry to point out the obvious, but I did get you riled up.
      For all the wrong reasons.
      Please don’t get riled up again — I’m kidding!
      The mechanic was an older RAF man, so he’d usually be addressed by his rank.
      But there is certainly one character that I gave a bigger role to after the first AOW and he should definitely have a proper name because he turns up at the Accident Committee hearing. I’m going to fix that today.
      Grendl, our exchange has certainly been one of the more lively I’ve had recently, so would you do me the honor of picking a name for him?
      He’s an enlisted man, English, 30-ish, cheerful, courteous and helpful.

      Thanks.

      • grendl

        Kirk Diggler.

        • Kirk Diggler

          Yep. Say my name G.

        • Ange Neale

          Okay. Kirk Diggler it is.

  • Ange Neale

    For the record, I don’t have a problem with men.

    Some of the finest human beings I’ve ever had the privilege to get to know have been men.

    Please see my response that tells the story of my grandad, who served in WW2 as that explains things in some detail.

    I do have a problem with vitriol. There’s really no need for it. It’s just a script. Nobody’s life depends upon it.

  • Craig Mack

    Ange,

    With all your well written ‘defense’ of this screenplay — you could have written another one. Take the points, and move on. Everyone has an opinion — doesn’t mean they are right.

    You are defending the screenplay on a historical basis, not a theatrical one… I think that is where the major disconnect is. Just because something ACTUALLY happened doesn’t mean it makes a good movie, you know?

    C

    • Matthew Garry

      Having read the first 170 page draft and a couple of later ones, I think I can say that, in spite of Ange reiterating her motivations of some choices to commenters–which could be seen as ‘defensive’–good advice and ideas will find their way into a next draft.

      As a frequent commenter here, I find it heartening that our collective time to read and critique sometimes results in a much improved screenplay since more often it turns out an AOW submitted screenplay “wasn’t a serious attempt anyway” and simply turned out to be a waste of (our) time trying to give hints and pointers to the best of our ability.

      I’d rather have it this way, defensive or nor, than the other way around.

      • Ange Neale

        Thanks, Matt.
        I really am trying to disprove the theory that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

      • Craig Mack

        Mathew,

        I’m just saying don’t feed the trolls. No need to dignify some of these posts with responses.

        C

  • Kirk Diggler

    Doesn’t take long for your conversations to devolve into insults does it? But there’s a reason you are in constant moderation. You’re a thin-skinned child.

    So look Joe… Your name is Joe right? Fat, middle-aged, depressed? Ring a bell buddy? Tell me I just didn’t nail you to a tee? Calling people names. What are you, a pimply faced 15 year old who borrowed his mom’s laptop?

    Be an adult, chuck this fake bullshit internet persona that you’ve crafted and start relating to others on a human level.

    Or maybe you can’t. If that’s the case, stop cutting your zoloft and zanax in half. Go with the full pill. You’ll be happier. Either way I don’t care, I’m here to converse with adults, not emotionally hindered toddlers who hide behind their avatar.

    Good luck with your writing Joe.

  • scott chamberlain

    So… read the first ten pages. Sure, that’s not a large chunk of a 130 page story. But, still…

    Three key comments.

    LOOONG TEN PAGES

    First, it’s a long ten pages. By that I mean while the action paragraphs are generally three lines or less, they often disguise several “shots” within them. So, really, they should be broken into separate paragraphs, meaning it’s really 13-15 pages/minutes.

    LITTLE HAPPENS

    Second, almost nothing happens. In the first ten pages, our lead crashes her bi-plane into a bird. Lands at a base full of upper-class lesbians and is hit on, but she’s a naive girl from Wisconsin and doesn’t even notice. She flies another plane somewhere else and has to spend three days in a smoking non-sleeper cabin before being unable to fly back in the Hurricane with everyone else, after which we follow her train trip to London… zzz

    This doesn’t deliver on the logline at all. The crash is sold as near fatal. She’s supposed to meet a lesbian aristocratic physician and the story begins… but first we gotta go see the countryside.

    So the opening ten minutes are redundant. It should all be cut. So if the opening 10 is emblematic of the remaining 120, then there would be plenty of opportunities to trim the screenplay.

    The essence of the story concept is a “forbidden” (more about this later) lesbian love affair between a naive american farm girl patient and a worldly aristocrat doctor played out against the backdrop of the women’s auxiliary flying corp in WW11. Focus only on that.

    The set up could have been achieved in just two scenes. Begin with the real near-death crash scene. That crash and subsequent landing could have introduced us to our Hero’s courage and athleticism. The fact she is female could have been a stunning reveal played against expectations AFTER the plane was brilliantly, daringly, miraculously landed.

    The physical assessment is then the “meet cute” that sparks the love story. It could begin on page 5. And the subsequent rehabilitation is “the lock” that locks two opposed characters together so that one could discover her sexuality and the other could… not sure. Don’t yet know what the aristocratic Alison gets out of the relationship, what part of her is missing that Jenny brings into balance.

    WHAT MAKES THIS LOVE STORY DRAMATIC?

    I get that I’ve only read ten pages, ten pages that don’t really contain any story.

    But still, the first ten is missing any imagery or indications of theme/larger story. This is a love story. Normally, “love conquers all” which means love has got to conquer something. Hence the reference to “forbidden” above. Without that resistance there is no drama.

    So, what is the force opposed to love that makes this story function as drama? One problem is lesbianism is introduced as de-riguer here, so it loses all it’s power. It could be male doctor and female patient and nothing would change within the milieux you’ve established.

    So, what is the greater peril that must be risked for love as it deepens? At the midpoint, when, presumably, you crack your protag and have her move towards (almost kiss) Alison rather than away, how are the stakes heightened? Is the love forbidden/difficult to achieve and sustain? Will she be cast out of the best job in the world? Is it some kind of lesbian mafia from which she cannot now escape even if she wants to? Does the war become real such that having found love now it may be lost, making her worse off than if she had never known love at all? Is there a man involved, a traditional path to success and luxury that is threatened and makes this love a secret thing?

    ‘Cause it can’t be just two women with different accents getting it more and more on amongst the bi-planes.

    • Ange Neale

      Hi Scott,
      I apologize for taking so long to get to you — been a bit busy.
      Just want to let you know I’ll post tomorrow in reply.
      I’ve heard you’re an Aussie, so you’ll understand it’s near midnight in SA and I’m done for.

  • Kirk Diggler

    You’re still on about Tom Hanks? No one cares anymore little Joe.

    You’re used to a lotta things I imagine. Manic depression. Padded rooms. Restraints.

    Let us know when you show some sack and post one of your scripts under your real name tough guy.

  • Jim Dandy

    I was wondering when this subject matter would draw the ire of our resident Tea Party crank.

  • Ange Neale

    Grendl, please open the script and turn to page 97. Don’t argue. Please just do it and read from about 40% down to near the bottom.

    It’s not the focus of this particular script, but I haven’t ignored their sacrifices. This is just the most overt acknowledgement. The others are apparently too subtle and have been overlooked.

    The fatality rate for ATA ferry pilots in WW2 was almost 10% and on a par with the bomber crews — males and females alike.

  • Ange Neale

    From memory, 26 American women flew for the ATA during WW2 ferrying aircraft between factories, maintenance units and squadrons.

    A pilot falls for her surgeon forcing her to confront her sexuality… Did the ‘her’ not give that away?

  • Casper Chris

    Well, the problem with having your important story beats fly under the radar is obvious.

    The clichés are a lesser detriment to be sure. It’ll make cliché-weary bastards like me roll their eyes, but that’s probably the extent of the damages. I’d say it’s better to err on the side of the latter. After all, clichés become clichés because they work (usually).

    How old is your protagonist? Because drawing hearts and stuff seems a bit childish. Is that really what you’d expect this serious careerist (my assessment) to be doing? If it’s both clichéd and out-of-character, it definitely needs to go.

    But yea, like so many other things in life, it’s a balancing act :)

    I had a scene in my current script where the love interest reveals she’s pregnant. That’s such a rehashed story beat that a part of me really wanted to omit it altogether (I also remember Carson railing against this story beat in an article). But I pushed myself to come up with an original way of doing it and now it’s one of my favorite scenes in the script.

    And I prefer Casper ;)

    • Ange Neale

      Hey Casper,
      protagonist’s 18. You’re right about drawing hearts. I didn’t think of it as seeming a bit childish at the time. She likes to sketch and doodle, and it kind-of made sense to write that about a first love, that it’s something someone who’s at that cusp of adulthood stage might do. She’s pretty mature (young people didn’t have the luxury of being teenagers until they were 25 in those days), but you’re right.
      Maybe I should have her sketching Allison from memory instead. That might feel a bit more organic and real. I didn’t want her doing anything too clichéd, melodramatic or vomit-inducing like getting dewy-eyed over a photo.

      • Casper Chris

        Maybe I should have her sketching Allison from memory instead.

        Yea, that is an improvement. But you could probably push yourself to come up with something better.

        Now, I don’t know how much they interact prior to this moment. And this is probably a silly example, but bear with me, I’m just trying to illustrate a point: Suppose you had a scene where the two girls are in the same locker room, changing into their pilot wear. Maybe Jenny notices as Ali puts her boot on the bench and ties her laces with a triple knot. Maybe Ali notices Jenny noticing and makes a quip about it, say, “Three for good luck” (Bear with me, this was the first line that popped into my head. Surely you can come up with something more witty / endearing. Extra points for making it character-defining!). Later when Jenny is alone in a locker room, changing into her pilot wear, she puts her boot on a bench and ties her laces with a single knot like she normally does. A beat. She adds two more knots. By making her copy Ali’s quirk, you’re not only giving the audience a callback to a moment where Ali was endearing (not just to Jenny but to us as well), but also SHOWING us that Jenny is thinking of Ali and probably thinking of her fondly — in a non-clichéd way. Now, this is just an example. They could also be in a canteen together eating and Jenny notices that Ali holds her fork in a peculiar way. Maybe they have a funny exchange about it. Then later you can have Jenny copy this behavior when she’s eating by herself. You get the point. Again, these are literally the first ideas that popped into my head (and you should never go with first ideas!), but I’d say they’re already a significant improvement over having Jenny draw a heart with J+A in it.

        • Ange Neale

          I’ll add coming up with something better to my list, Casper.
          It’s a very long list. Daunting, really.
          Btw, your grandma’s right in the audience demographic I was trying to write for. She mightn’t go to many movies these days, but I reckon if she did, it’d be ‘Philomena’? Maybe ‘Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’? If she hasn’t seen the latter, she’d get it in a heartbeat and love it.

          • Casper Chris

            Well, she does go to the movies. She’s in one of them senior film clubs in fact. I haven’t seen “Philomena” or “Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” so I can’t say. But she loves historical stuff. And some crime stuff.

          • Ange Neale

            You may well love ‘Best exotic’ — your grandma sure would. It’s British and quirky about a bunch of seniors who, for various reasons, can’t afford to retire in Britain so they move to India to a hotel rather more generously described than it ends up being.
            Judi Dench & Maggie Smith and a bunch of other recognisable Brit actors are in it, along with the young Indian man from ‘Slumdog’. It’s very funny. One of the jokes I remember (there are other goodies so this won’t completely ruin it for you) is Maggie Smith remarking that she’s so old she doesn’t even buy green bananas any more.

  • tokyoYR

    You are the troll! Lol, where do you find the time?

  • Citizen M

    Whew! Finally finished reading it. Took me a week. Not exactly the easiest read. Then skimmed through again to sort it out in my mind. It was tough going but I liked the ending.

    I’m not sure where to start. Maybe with story mechanics. Getting people on and off stage. Why are they in the scene and what are they trying to accomplish? Scenes followed each other, almost at random. One was never able to get a feeling of being carried along in the story.

    Just one instance. On p. 73 Allison and Jenny have a long chat at Jenny’s place. Then a brief scene of Allison in the hospital. It almost seems like she’s decided to give up Jenny. Then a long scene of Jenny being flown (she still has a broken arm). She meets Amy Johnson and flies over Oxford. Nothing to advance the plot that I can see. Maybe to give a timeline. Mussolini has declared war. And progress in the A.T.A. They can now fly Lysanders. Nothing that needs a whole scene on its own. Then she meets Allison’s parents. Then the Air Ministry hearing.

    None of these scenes is anticipated. You would think Jenny was apprehensive about the hearing and would talk about it. Ditto about meeting Allison’s parents. Surely she would be terribly worried about how to behave, how to dress, etc? From Allison’s side, it’s a big decision to bring your same-sex lover home to the folks (not sure if she’s already come out to them).

    The characters of Jenny and Allison. Allison is 25, Jenny 18. Allison has already had one passionate love affair, Jenny has never been in a serious relationship. One would expect Allison to be the senior partner, yet often it is Jenny who seems to take the initaitive in the relationship. I can understand Jenny being young and enthusiastic and Allison more reserved, but I often got the feeling Jenny was the more mature of the two.

    We need more exposition to understand the workings of the A.T.A. Instead of starting in Scotland, start the movie at Jenny’s home base (White Waltham or Hatfield, I wasn’t sure which). Jenny arrives as a civvy and Pauline interviews her. Jenny explains her past flying experience, and Pauline explains the A.T.A., what they do, and what the systems are (i.e. how they get allocated planes, where they fly to and how they get back, what they need to do to get promotion and fly bigger aircraft etc), and introduces a couple of the other girls. They should have a briefing room we get used to, where Jenny gets her orders, and maybe a map of the war zones so we can follow the big picture. This is more for the audience’s benefit, not Jenny’s. Also see Jenny getting her cottage, ration book, and explaining why she, an American, volunteered. (The public reason, not her private thoughts). This doesn’t need more than a couple of pages, but it gives the audience a familiar anchor.

    I had to check wikipedia to work out how much time had passed, and I know my WW2 history reasonably well. Her big crash is on 10 May 1940. It’s not clear how long she’s been in the A.T.A. before that. She’s in hospital until after Dunkirk (1 June). She’s flying as a passenger when Mussolini invades (10 June). It’s not clear when she starts piloting and gets her first officer’s epaulettes. She’s in Liverpool to go home 12 September, but returns to Allison. Jan 1941 she starts university, July 1941 the story ends. So the story is spread out over more than a year which is always tricky.

    Give the other flyers more personality. See Saving Mr Banks for how to give even minor characters some individuality.

    I agree with others that she should meet a man who is interested in her, and turns against her when she chooses Allison. Maybe he could have a journalist friend who breaks her story in the newspaper. Personalize the antagonism, don’t leave it to some nameless groundcrewman. You need pub scenes where the men can grouse about the women.

    The hospital scenes last from p. 21 to p. 59. I think this is way too much time devoted to what is basically just Jenny meeting Allison. I also think Jenny should see Allison from afar earlier in the script and be intrigued by her, unsure what the attraction might be, then meet her for real in the hospital.
    I would like to see more wartime atmosphere. Rationing was always a problem. Dunkirk must have been a major topic of conversation, as well as the general progress of the war. Germany started attacking RAF airfields around July/August 1940, but the first raid on an airfeld in the script is much later.

    Generally, I would like to see more of a smooth progression. See the story unroll, with scenes following as a consequence of preceding scenes. Setups and payoffs. Foreshadowing. More drama. As Mamet says:

    Question: what is drama? Drama, again, is the quest of the hero to overcome those things which prevent him from achieving a specific, acute goal.

    So: we, the writers, must ask ourselves of every scene these three questions.

    1) Who wants what?
    2) What happens if they don’t get it?
    3) Why now?

    • Ange Neale

      Thanks for this, CitizenM,
      I was going to wait a couple of days then copy & paste everything, but I’m glad I checked back a bit early because you’ve come up with some of the best suggestions yet, and I really appreciate it.
      In the earliest drafts which nobody but me has seen, I wrote that they met while Jenny was picking Allison and a bunch of other French and French-speaking doctors up from Northolt to fly them to Leavesden to help treat the wounded French soldiers who’d been evacuated from Dunkirk.
      I changed it for reasons I can’t even remember now, but that might be a better opening, then Jenny’s crash puts her in Allison’s care. I can tinker with the timeline so I don’t introduce any discontinuities. Looking back at that stuff — some of it’s absolutely god-awfully written, but I can do it better now.
      It also brings the war a bit closer to centre stage.
      As for making Jenny more the ‘pursuer’, for want of a better word, I’d read protagonists should drive the plot with their actions and decisions, so I’d tried to do that. It’s also a reflection of her confidence / insecurity flaw, that she hides her insecurity with almost excessive confidence, leading her to get in an aircraft her intuition tells her is unsafe.
      Hmm. Much food for thought. Thanks again.

      • Citizen M

        Hi Ange. You’ve been really good about replying to everyone. It’s nice to see.

        About Jenny. I felt she went rather quickly from someone who had never heard the word ‘lesbian’ and who apparently was unaware that human females did what cows sometimes did, to taking the proactive role. I thought a period of self-doubt, is this really what I am? type questions, while Allison opens her eyes without actually leading her on, should be more clearly brought out. It might have been there, but if so my male brain failed to notice the subtle signals among the music listening and poetry quoting.

        You mention elsewhere she made friends with Canadians on the boat coming over in an early draft. I hate to suggest adding to an already long script, but if she arrived at the A.T.A. with a male Canadian buddy, you would be able to contrast his treatment with her treatment to show up the prejudice against female pilots. If he was a friendly, sympathetic type she might use him to clarify her feelings about men and women, and he would be useful for her to meet other men, which I think she should do. I’m thinking a minor character, but someone she can bump into from time to time and have a drink and a chat with.

        • Ange Neale

          If people take the time to read things and make the effort to put some thought into a review, it’d seem impolite and a bit disrespectful to me to not at least acknowledge it.
          Plus I’ve gotten some innovative and thought-provoking feedback for which I’m genuinely grateful, even though a few punches were thrown and some of it got a bit personal. But the vast majority of people have been like yourself — sincerely trying to help me make this better, and I do want to keep improving it. It’s come such a long way.
          I scratch my head over why some people throw their script into the AOW ring then have nothing to say afterward. It’s in having our choices challenged and then either defending them or finding ways to better them that our work improves. Sure, it can be a bit of a jostle at times, but if one has a fragile ego, writing’s probably not the best occupation to try to get into.
          Anyway, it’s looking more and more like I need to do a page one re-write, and that’ll take a while.There’s enough feedback been garnered here and from the last AOW to keep me going until July!

  • Ange Neale

    Changes made. ‘Northolt Groundcrewman’ is now and forevermore ‘Aircraftman Kirk Diggler.’