Get Your Script Reviewed On Scriptshadow!: To submit your script for an Amateur Review, send in a PDF of your script, along with the title, genre, logline, and finally, something interesting about yourself and/or your script that you’d like us to post along with the script if reviewed. Use my submission address please: Carsonreeves3@gmail.com. Remember that your script will be posted. If you’re nervous about the effects of a bad review, feel free to use an alias name and/or title. It’s a good idea to resubmit every couple of weeks so your submission stays near the top.

Genre: Horror
Premise (from writer): A documentary producer’s search for the cause of her father’s suicide leads her to a remote mountain weather station. A horrifying truth is revealed when she and her team are stranded by natural , and supernatural forces seeking revenge. Based on True Events.
Why You Should Read: As an adventure documentary filmmaker, rI’ve been in numerous places where I found myself saying – “This would be a great setting for a film”. A few years back I did a film on Mount Washington. More people have died there than on Everest. Having spent 3 nights up there in the desolate Weather Observatory, trapped by the elements, I can assure you that the place is a cosmic focal point of bad karma. “The Peak of Fear” is based on a true story which makes it even more terrifying. It’s full of “dramatic irony”, “flawed characters”, “mystery boxes” and “realistic dialogue”. Think “The Ring” meets “Cliffhanger” with a dash of “Mama”.
Writer: Kevin Bachar
Details: 99 pages

scary-child

So yesterday we were talking about MOVIES. Have you written yourself a script? Or have you written a script that could be turned into a movie? Today’s script is definitely a movie. And most horror scripts are. The visceral thrill of fear, of being scared, is a charge that makes it worth paying your hard-earned dollars for. IF you do it right, that is.

In 1987, the adventurous Pomeroy family decides to climb the dangerous Mount Washington, a mountain in New Hampshire that has the distinction of killing more of its climbers than Everest. The family, which includes a nine year old boy named Billy, gets stuck, requiring the mountain’s rescue team, headed up by superstar rescuer Chris Tanner, to save them. Sadly, they save everyone but Billy.

Cut to present day, where the daughter of Chris Tanner, Suzanne, is heading to the mountain to get footage for her Discovery channel reality show. Basically, the mountain is known for having insane winds, and she hopes the thrill of seeing those winds in action will boost her ratings.

Before she goes, however, her father starts babbling nonsensically about “Billy” and then kills himself. It’s a mighty blow to Suzanne, who loved her father, but now her journey has even more purpose, as she can use it to find out what happened that fateful day, the day that Billy died.

She takes her trusty cameraman Tom with her, and they meet up with Chris’s old rescue team, Rick and Phil, as well as the new guy, Toby. We immediately get the sense that something’s off with Phil, who may or may not still talk to “Billy.”

Once up on the mountain, the group starts hearing… sounds. A little boy giggling. A little boy saying things like “remember what happened that day.” Not the kind of stuff you like to hear, well, at all. But is it just the high altitude playing games with them? I mean, Billy’s ghost can’t really still be on the mountain, can it? And if it is, what does it want? Suzanne will have to find out, and learn the truth about what her father did that fateful day, the day that Billy died.

I want to talk about two things today. Momentum and relationships. We talk about momentum in passing a lot. But it’s such an important part of storytelling, I want to give it more attention in this review.

Momentum is the feeling that your story is being PUSHED along. Not pulled. It’s not strolling. Or crawling. Or waltzing or limping. We must get this feeling that we’re being PUSHED along, a hurricane of motion. Your story should have so much momentum that even as the writer, you couldn’t stop it if you wanted to.

Momentum typically has to do with a couple of things. A strong goal and intensely high stakes. Your main character must always need something, preferably quickly, and we must feel like if they don’t get it, everything is going to fall apart, either externally or internally for the character (preferably both).

In Gone Girl, for example, Nick NEEDS to find out where Amy is. Not only does his freedom depend on it, but the entire country is getting angrier and angrier with him. He’s becoming more and more hated. Finding Amy is the only thing that matters in this moment. That movie has some really strong momentum.

I didn’t get that sense with The Peak of Fear. The reason to go to this mountain – a reality show – felt weak. But I also sensed that Kevin (today’s writer) thought it was weak, because he almost hid the reason we were up here. We hear off-handed conversations about how it’s important to get the ratings up for the show or else Suzanne will lose her job.

Just saying something doesn’t make it true. We have to EXPERIENCE IT. It’s the old “show don’t tell” rule. We must SEE Suzanne’s life at the channel and feel the weight of her show failing. It’d be like in Gone Girl if there was no media, no investigation, and we met Nick in the midst of his everyday life casually telling someone that his wife had disappeared and he’d like to find her. There’d be no WEIGHT to his situation.

Even still, I’m not sure the show angle works. We need an entirely different reason to be up on the mountain. Why not have Suzanne follow in her father’s footsteps? She becomes one of the rescuers? This is her first week on the job, and it just so happens to be during the worst weather in a decade. They get a mysterious call about a family who’s stuck and must go save them. I don’t know, that sounds more natural to me.

The next problem here is relationships. Your plot should have momentum. Your relationships should have MEANING. There’s gotta be a unique problem inherent in each relationship. You do this so that outside the plot, the reader still has a reason to stick around. They want to figure out what happens in that relationship!

I don’t mean to keep referencing Gone Girl because it’s a different kind of movie, but one of the more interesting relationships in the film is that between Nick and the detective on the case. She goes back and forth on believing Nick, leading to a lot of great subtext in their dialogue and just an overall complicated relationship we want to see the conclusion to. Especially (spoiler) once we find out that Amy’s alive. We can’t wait for that cop to choke down her assumption that Nick is guilty.

There wasn’t a single distinctive relationship here. But worse, there wasn’t even an ATTEMPT to create a distinctive relationship. Why not hone in, for example, on one of the rescuers not wanting Suzanne to be here? There’s an icy distance between the two during this story. Something Suzanne needs to crack.

Or heck, why not introduce a romantic storyline into the mix? One of my favorite characters was Steve, a local in the town that sat at the foot of the mountain. There was clearly some chemistry between him and Suzanne, but then we leave him and don’t see him again until the script is almost over.

Get Steve up there on the mountain with Suzanne! Make him a bit of a mystery box to give the relationship some extra pop. Steve is hiding something too, which fits in well with the theme of this journey, that this mountain has a lot of secrets.

All of this is not to say that The Peak of Fear is bad. It has its moments, my favorite of which was the Billy mannequin stuff. That freaked the hell out of me. Granted, as a child, one of my friends convinced me that all mannequins were from hell and were out to get me, but regardless, Billy the Mannequin was scary as shit.

But yeah, the script needs to improve on those two key fronts – momentum and relationships – if it’s going to make any noise. Kevin seems like a great guy. He’s eager to get feedback for “Peak” and make it better, so do what you do best, guys. Help him out!

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

What I learned: Don’t just recite action. Create EXCITEMENT in your action. This line stuck with me: “He loses a grip on the camera which smashes into pieces on the desert floor.” That’s a really boring way to say a camera is destroyed. It should be something more like: “He shifts his body, and in doing so LOSES A GRIP on his camera. He grabs at it, JUGGLES, almost gets a hold of it. But it SLIPS out of his hands. He watches it float towards the desert floor. CRASH. It shatters to pieces.” I might pare that down with a rewrite or two but you get the idea.

  • Brainiac138

    OT: Midnight Luck shared this yesterday, but I thought it still deserved a look, ICYMI. It is the Max Landis Open Letter to Screenwriters: http://www.reddit.com/r/Screenwriting/comments/2oc1eb/open_letter_to_screenwriters_from_max_landis/

    • Andrew Parker

      He probably should have skipped the first half where all he does is talk about himself. But as we learned from Carson, there will be no Max Landis second drafts.

      • kenglo

        I dunno…I liked his little blurb…..I generally cut through all the BS about his thoughts on himself and tried to concentrate on his message…..which is spot on…IMHO.

        • gazrow

          Yeah – me too. Though I also liked what he had to say about himself as well.

          • Cfrancis1

            What’s the actual message? I seriously don’t get what his point was at all. I mean, everything he talked about industry-wise is pretty obvious. I didn’t get anything new out of It.

      • carsonreeves1

        Ouch! :)

      • BSBurton

        Funny.

    • Pooh Bear

      Has a Jerry Macguire quality to it… it’s also thinly veiled with a helping of self-serving, ‘oh btw see my four movies coming out in 2015.’

    • drifting in space

      That is a great fucking post.

    • LostAndConfused

      They’ll make Star Wars. But they’ll never make another “Star Wars.”

      You can read this one line and not have to read the rest of that post. It’s making me think that to sell something that isn’t an assignment nowadays you have to have a really good script that’s been adapted from another source material. Someone wrote a screenplay of Death Note doing this, and it’s being made into a movie.

      With that said I call dibs on The Legend of Zelda.

      • drifting in space

        I’ll take Metroid.

        • carsonreeves1

          First Metroid – Greatest video game ever.

          • LostAndConfused

            Bout time someone gave props to the first Metroid lol, so many people hated it because of its difficulty. Kraid’s Lair is one of the best melodic tunes I’ve ever heard in a video game and it uses 8 bit technology.

            Though I have Metroid Prime as the greatest video game ever :)

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

            I didn’t know anybody who hates that game when it came out (did I just date myself? Goddamnit!)… though I have yet to finish it. One of these days. Wonder if we’ll see one for the Wii U.

            I know I’m buying the open world Zelda game when it comes out, fo shizzo. The previews look bad ass.

          • LostAndConfused

            Well I’m also pretty young so the gamers I knew were accustomed to video games that made it easy for their players to beat it lol, that Metroid was a different experience for them. Games those days held no punches.

          • drifting in space

            They just didn’t give a shit if you beat it or not. There was no add on pack to buy or that bs. Pure gaming.

          • drifting in space

            I’m all about that Smash Brothers right now.

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

            Never played it. It’s just fighting, right? The only fighting game I ever played was Street Fighter 2 and Mortal Kombat. I’ve been playing Mario 3D World. It’s pretty fun. Makes me feel like a kid again lol

          • BSBurton

            How is it?? I”m still on N64 version. love the original

          • drifting in space

            Original is amazing. New one is a lot of fun when you’re drunk and/or high. Not that I condone or endorse either. Ha.

          • BSBurton

            How is the new smash bros? I’m still playing N64 version

          • susanrichards

            pffft. boys and their toys. meanwhile on the female front our memories are of trying to get into your head and in front of those toys…

          • drifting in space

            My wife does it pretty well.

          • drifting in space

            Absolutely. Second wasn’t too shabby either.

      • Breezy

        My, my, my, aren’t we getting ahead of ourselves. The task of writing a worthy LOZ feature was consigned to me before I was even conceived. Shigeru Miyamoto himself came to me in a dream and said this: you are the chosen one.

        But man it’d be great seeing the essence of the Zelda universe transformed into a movie. Unlike what they did to one of my favorite franchises when they spawned Mortal Kombat Legacy II and Mortal Kombat Annihilation. Fucking abominations.

        And maybe I’m stale dated but I’d still kick someone’s ass on MK4 with N64, who want it?

        This fight was pretty cool too.

        • drifting in space

          Toasty.

      • davejc

        Then I call dibs on Monkey Island!

        Oh wait. They already did that one.

        Never mind.

    • charliesb

      With this and the “notes” that have come out of the Sony hack (which you should all read), it’s been an interesting week for getting a peek behind the curtain.

      Incidentally today I’ve read about a possible Encino Man sequel (pipe dream), Nolan making Ready, Player Oneand that another Robin Hood movie spec has just sold, so the idea of adapting an existing IP (a million times) is till holding true. Time to dust off that gritty reimagining of Jack and Jill I wrote*

      *ok maybe more like typed the idea into my blackberry, while hung over on the subway.

      • Midnight Luck

        *You too?
        too many ideas at the wrong time.
        unintelligible dreams written on cardboard in the middle of the night, or while half out of it, screaming at neighbors while tagging my killer idea to their wall (strictly so I don’t forget it) sure that not only am I doing Shepard Fairey worthy art, but that when I wake in the morning and look out my window at my neighbors garage wall, my scribbles Will make perfect sense (hasn’t happened yet) and my million dollar spec will come to fruition forth with.
        I dream a beautiful dream.

      • davejc

        ” Time to dust off that gritty reimagining of Jack and Jill I wrote”

        LOL! I wish I thought of that first: visual storytelling with built in momentum, GSU and a recognizable protagonist.

      • Malibo Jackk

        Wonder if Max has anything at Sony.

    • Cfrancis1

      Interesting rant. But I have no idea what conclusion I am supposed to deal from it as he never finishes a thought in the whole piece. Everything is changing… Yeah, and… I have a face and it backfired… Yeah, so. I don’t get it.

      I have nothing against Max Landis. I don’t know the guy at all. But this piece is kind of a rambling mess.

    • Trent11

      Thanks for sharing this. Max is a manic genius.

  • Nicholas J

    As someone who still hasn’t seen Gone Girl but wants to before it gets spoiled, I hate the internet right now.

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

      I’m in the minority, but the movie sucked in so many ways, one being it lasting about 30 minutes too long. Not to say it was totally bad, but not enough for me to rate more than a 2/5.

      I had an X-files moment yesterday and found out that I was not alone in my thoughts about the movie lol

      • Nicholas J

        At the same time, I kind of want to never watch it, and avoid spoilers for like the next 10 years, so that I can eventually be the only person in the world who doesn’t know that Ben Affleck’s character was dead the whole time. I could be like a walking time capsule, or Encino Man.

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

          Actually, everyone else was dead, he was the only one who wasn’t a ghost. Oops, is that a spoiler? lol

          As far as the twists, I’m sure you’ll see them a hundred miles away. That’s not why I didn’t care for it though.

          • Nicholas J

            Ben Affleck’s character was Batman the whole time.

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

            Actually… he was Cinderella.

            …well, until midnight, and then the pumpkin carriage turned back into a pumkin batmobile.

            And then of course, he sadly turned back into Batman. He secretly wishes he was a Ninja Turtle though. But you didn’t hear that from me.

      • carsonreeves1

        I think a lot of people agree that it lasted too long. I find it strange that the people behind the film feel this is a great “talking point” for the movie. No, it was just a bad ending. But I really liked the rest of it.

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

          The end was definitely dumb. I actually think they should have brought her in sooner. I say that because we all knew she was alive. Kind of knew she was playing him. We just didn’t know why. But it felt structurally off to me.

          Them taking her money also felt forced to make her seek out her rich x-boyfriend. I also think she would have went after them for taking her money.

    • jw

      Sorry for all the spoilers, Nicholas. But, when Affleck removed his face, a la Face-Off, and we realized the whole time that it was his wife who was playing him, after killing him and putting his body in a hot air balloon and sending it into the sky over the Atlantic, it’s just really hard to contain that level of enthusiasm after being surrounded by such genius. Likely one of the greatest plotted films of all-time with a storyline that will leave you on the edge of your seat for hours!

    • carsonreeves1

      I was going to try and avoid any Star Wars spoilers for the next year. I realized that with the internet, that would’ve been impossible. Or at least, that’s how I justified watching the trailer. :)

      • Linkthis83

        Have you seen the George Lucas version of the trailer? LMAO!!!

        • charliesb

          The lego one is pretty awesome too.

      • Nicholas J

        This is going to be me when the full trailers come out to avoid seeing them at all costs (minus the television):

  • hackofalltrade

    OT:Anybody have The babysitter? Or for that matter, any of Duffield’s stuff? jdhelm{at}me{dot}com.
    Sorry to say I just couldn’t get into this one. Not necessarily the writers fault, I am not a big horror guy. Bummed not to see “Extradition” here.

    • http://vimeo.com/adamwparker Adam W. Parker

      OT: would like a peep at those too. adam[at]alumni[dot]vcu[dot]edu

      • Linkthis83

        I sent you:
        -MONSTER PROBLEMS
        -YOUR BRIDESMAID IS A B*TCH
        -VIVIEN HASN’T BEEN HERSELF LATELY
        -THE BABYSITTER

        (not sure if there are any others)

        • Pooh Bear

          Oh can you forward me the same list? thanks!

          mobie540 (at) gmail . com

          • Pooh Bear

            got em thx.

          • Dan B

            Hey Pooh – any chance you could forward Monster Problems to dblixbreen(at)gmail.com

          • Dan B

            Thanks guys!

        • gazrow

          JANE GOT A GUN. :)

          • Linkthis83

            I don’t seem to have that one – would you mind? :)

          • gazrow

            Sent.

          • Midnight Luck

            Hey Link, could u possibly send me all these (except Babysitter)? I would love to check them out.
            thanks a million.
            M (@) blackluck dot * com

          • Midnight Luck

            Awesome Link, thanks, you’re the best.

        • kenglo

          What’s that one link?
          -VIVIEN HASN’T BEEN HERSELF LATELY
          Could you pop that one my way?

        • charliesb

          Can you forward those to me as well, I think I have Jane Got a Gun, but just in case :)

          birdieey at gmail dot com

          thx

        • http://glintoflifeblog.blogspot.com/ K.Nicole Williams

          Hi Link, can you send them to me too. I’d love to see this lean exciting writing of Duffield’s that Carson (and all of HW) fanboys about.
          Thanks in advance kn.williams@gmail.com

        • bex01

          Oooh Link! Or anyone! I’ve wanted Monster Problems for ages! Would also like a read of Vivien.
          Any chance you can send to:
          babelfish79 at gmail dot com

          And keeping with the Duffield theme I have Worst Honeymoon Ever if anyone wants a read

          • Midnight Luck

            I wouldon’t love it if you would.
            M @) blackluck d.o.t. com
            thanks much

          • Midnight Luck

            Awesome, thanks oodles.

        • Crazedwritr

          Link, Could I get vivien, honeymoon and jane? Moviegurl at me dot com. Thanks

      • For The Lulz

        Can I get in on this? Free lifetime supply of air to the kind people who send ;)

        depsign@outlook.com

        Thanks!

        • Linkthis83

          Sent. If I ever run out air, Imma come look for you! ;)

    • hackofalltrade

      Awesome, got it, thanks!

  • Nicholas J

    I felt that my avatar probably pissed people off whenever I said something they disagreed with. Like I was laughing at their inferior opinions with that orange smile. Maybe I’ll change it back. Maybe I won’t. I dunno. Deal with it, son!

    • walker

      I admit the orange smile thing freaked me out.

    • carsonreeves1

      I must admit, the Nicholas J avatar change has thrown me off too.

      • Nicholas J

        UGH FINE MERRY CHRISTMAS YA JERKS

    • drifting in space
  • jw

    I believe this is one thing TV writing can teach feature writers – KEEP YOUR CHARACTERS CONNECTED. You’ll notice in TV writing the characters who are at the crux of the plot are never far away from each other and additional characters are NEVER introduced where there is no pay-off. Amateur feature writers often make the mistake of having many characters held together by the thinnest of threads. Basically, this is what Carson is saying when he’s mentioning the potential for a “love interest”. He’s not necessarily saying, “throw in a love angle to this story” as much as he’s saying, KEEP YOUR CHARACTERS CONNECTED. The closer they are, the more we buy in to their relationships, the more we buy into their relationships the more we buy in to your story.

    • carsonreeves1

      Wow, it’s like you were in my head, jw. :) This is exactly right and a great tip. In TV, characters are connected because they have to be. Because sooner or later, the plot that drove the pilot fades out or is replaced. Then, what do you have left? Just because your feature screenplay is a one-shot deal, don’t think you can skimp on character connection.

      • jw

        Carson, I find this to be especially true of series’ that begin with A QUESTION. For instance, How to Get Away With Murder, introduces a question at the beginning of the season that asks, “who killed the husband?” But, once that question is answered at the end of season 1, there has to be a reason for the viewer to come back and want to continue to watch. Obviously, the first question has now been replaced with a second — will they get away with it? But, that is a much SOFTER question than “who done it?”

        • charliesb

          I just started watching ‘Secrets & Lies’ which is an Australian show about the murder of small boy and how it affects the man accused of his murder and his friends and family, and it’s the same. It introduces a bunch of characters in the first few episodes and each one of the relationships is a question. Each one feels like we’ve come into the story part way through their own movie, and we have to figure out how it connects to the protaganist’s story.

          I’ve always felt that you need to treat each character as if they are the star of their own movie that intersects with the one you are writing. We don’t need know their whole story but it needs to feel like it exists.

  • LostAndConfused

    “Momentum is the feeling that your story is being PUSHED along. Not pulled. It’s not strolling. Or crawling. Or waltzing or limping. We must get this feeling that we’re being PUSHED along, a hurricane of motion. Your story should have so much momentum that even as the writer, you couldn’t stop it if you wanted to.”

    “When an army has the force of momentum, even the timid become brave; when it loses the force of momentum, even the brave become timid.” – Sun Tzu

    Thought I’d share that quote. I was watching a documentary that applied Sun Tzu’s lessons throughout history, and it’s pretty staggering how different history would have been if people heeded Sun Tzu’s lessons (Gettysburg and World War II for example).

    Momentum is the most direct lesson I can take away from The Art of War that can be applied into storytelling. The story has to come slow and steady, but when it starts catching fire you have to be igniting the flames, not hindering it. One of the worst things that can happen to a story is when momentum stops. The reader feels like more should be happening, and they start feeling angry and bored when it isn’t. That’s when a story loses us.

    • carsonreeves1

      There’s something in the word itself that’s begging to be dissected. “Moment-um” – Moving moment to moment? There’s something there.

  • Nicholas J

    Upvote for someone actually talking about today’s script.

    • drifting in space

      No joke. This is amazing.

  • carsonreeves1

    Honest character reactions is a tiny part of screenwriting, but an important one. Too many times, writers are thinking of the image on the screen with a character reaction (in this case, resting her head against the door). You have to put yourself in the character’s head and ask, “What would I do in this moment?” Be honest. Don’t try to add any creative license.

    • Shawn Davis

      The same holds true for those who write and have their characters do absolutely nothing. That’s not what real people do either. I read a script a few weeks back that had a conversation between two people go for almost two full pages. The dialogue was decent enough but you got the vide that they were mannequins. Frozen. Not a single action from either. The natural brush of the hair or even rolling of the eyes will give the reader something.

  • Levres de Sang

    Wondering if Kevin sent Carson an updated draft to review? Just that I recall him being keen to action some of the AOW notes pretty much immediately.

  • Nicholas J

    It is the face of unwavering determination my friend.

  • ripleyy

    Momentum can make the slowest of dramas work, but that’s an article for another day. In “The Mountain Between Us”, the two characters — one male and the other female — are forced together by chance, but it’s their love that they end up having for each other that physically keeps them alive.

    Even in the most bleakest of situations, love of any kind can make characters work. Suzzie might as well have been a mountain herself, distant and non-existent.

    I think this script tells us the absolute importance of characters needing one another. We reply on others, and it applies for characters as well.

  • drifting in space

    Having a “My Buddy Doll” ruined my life when I happened to see my dad watching “Child’s Play” when I was a tot. I get the mannequin thing, Carson. I feel your pain.

  • Linkthis83

    I completely agree with Carson regarding the points of relationships, experiencing the situations/characters, and modifying the action. Most of my notes are from the original AOW draft. I didn’t realize there was a new draft until I read Levres de Sang’s comment, and skimmed through the new one a bit.

    We learn about Suzanne’s stakes at the hotel after the desert shoot. In the first draft, Tom makes a comment that I felt shoul’ve been the platform from which to show us a relationship, Suzanne’s determination, and the importance of those stakes through her actions.

    TOM: “The footage wasn’t the first thing on my mind at that moment.”

    I keyed in on this because at first it felt false for a camera man. Then I realized that it’s okay if that is his stance. What that led me to was that this is the opportunity to SHOWcase what is at stake for Suzanne. I think there should be some dialogue regarding their current show situation with Discovery. That way, when Suzanne is instructing Tom to get the shots no matter what, it puts in into context. This is one of those things we should learn after the fact, but before. I also think she should be more stern regarding these instructions. Be more forceful with Tom – especially if it’s in his nature to bail on the footage when shit gets real – I mean, the dude was in Iraq and talks about not flinching – he’s either the guy who is going to get the shot no matter what, or he’s the guy who is so-so about getting the shot when the moment gets dangerous. And I think he should be the so-so guy. That way, it’s working against what your protag wants/needs = footage.

    So in the case of the lightning in the desert, when Tom bails on the camera, have Suzanne go back for it. She needs this shit so bad she will put herself in harms way to make it happen. She still may not get usable footage, but this is how determined and desperate she is. We gotta know she wants something. That she’s vulnerable about something. Show us that, and we’ll subconsciously take it in and be on board.

    Also, maybe she works for the weather channel, as opposed to discovery.

    Keeping with Suzanne, I don’t think an “old friend” should reach out to her for the Mount Washington stuff. True, it’s organic to the story because of the backstory, but I think it should be her reaching out to the old friend. Perhaps the observatory was extremely resistant, especially the old friend, because he doesn’t want to highlight the negative aspects of the mountain, she just wants to tell the story of the “weather” even, though she wants it all based on some of the shit she knows from her father. Plus the statistics that back up it’s deadly nature. Plus, she’s going for selfish reasons, and it’s not luck that someone reached out to her. Also, if they did reach out to her, why were they doing so? Maybe state that if you insist on it being that way. Or maybe make her reluctant to accept going to Mount Washinton and that’s when she learns the statistics and it makes her want to go. The same stuff you are pointing out in the WYSR is some stuff you can put in the script. It helps make us interested.

    I don’t think the opening scene should be where it is. Not if you are going to have the desert scene AND the family fishing scene. Feels like to many beginnings for your story. Plus, the only thing I think you really get from that opening scene that is necessary is for the audience is Billy’s interaction with the frog.

    I didn’t really think the scene with the girl at the airport was necessary either. It felt like one of those moments to show Suzanne’s big heart, but it’s over within a moment. Maybe she sends Wes a get well package to show her big heart :)

    On the plus side, there were some great visuals in the few pages I did get to read. The lightning storm, Wes’ face, the fishing, the dream, the worm-like behavior, etc. Based solely on what I got to read, there’s some intriguing elements for a story here, they’re just not delivered in a way that gets me invested and having to find out what’s next.

    Congrats on the AF review!! Another thing I forgot to mention is how well things were improved from the AOW draft to the one you put into the comments section. Good luck with this!!

    • Linkthis83

      The other major point I left out was this: To me, the emotional weight of Suzanne seeing her father commit suicide on page 15 is too much to recover from to continue with the rest of the story. Depending on what Suzanne DOES next will determine whether or not I’m on board — after witnessing the suicide, we go from the bedroom, to a cemetery, to mother and daughter going through boxes in the garage. Suzanne pulls at a jacket, we get Kathy’s reaction to it, and then Suzanne remarking about how she’s never even seen a photo from back then.

      This is the emotional core of your story and we’ve just completely skipped over it. Suzanne is your emotional connection to the audience – I’m traumatized by what she witnessed and she isn’t. Thus, your connection to me has been completely severed. He can commit suicide, but having her witness it and then going about her business with some remnants doesn’t work for me. This is the point where I want to start telling you what to do with your story so I will stop here.

      • BSBurton

        A reply to yourself with great info and thoughts. You should pat yourself on the back! :)

    • Levres de Sang

      I was just going off memory and still can’t see where the new draft is located? Carson didn’t include a link today either.

      • Linkthis83

        He certainly did not, which is why I went off the original first. I found it by clicking on the writer’s sn and looking through his comments :)

        https://www.sendspace.com/file/20i072

        • Levres de Sang

          Great detective work! Thanks Link.

  • rickhester

    I had a hard time getting past Billy haunting two spaces that were so geographically distant: In Florida, with Suzanne’s father, and the Peak of Fear itself at Mt. Washington. I’m not much of a horror aficionado, but don’t hauntings usually focus exclusively in a location where the original tragic event occurred? This really took me out of the story.

    That and a Discovery crew filming lighting in a desert. Pretty sure Discovery’s covered that phenomenon. Certainly might explain Suzanne’s low ratings.

    • carsonreeves1

      This is a good point. At the time, I knew I felt something was off, but I wasn’t sure what it was. That was it. Billy could just be anywhere.

  • Linkthis83

    For certain. Glad you got to see BIRDMAN finally. There were so many great things about that film. From every angle that influences a film, there was something powerful on display. I especially loved Norton’s performance in it. And the dynamics of the relationships and how they played out. From the scene in the bar between Riggan and Mike about HW and theater, to the interaction between Mike and Tabitha, up to Riggan and Tabitha. Great stuff.

    My favorite line was when Riggan’s wife tells him he’s not Farrah Fawcett. So good.

  • BSBurton

    Great work, I’m sure the writer appreciates the amount of time you put into the script!

  • Linkthis83

    The end was a bit tricky for me as well. When Mike tells Riggan to get a more convincing gun earlier in the story, I actually thought to myself “Please don’t be a set up to him shooting himself.” For me, it lessens what Riggan was building up to, and made it really too melodramatic (maybe melodrama is the point in some way).

    However, it doesn’t take away from my overall enjoyment and appreciation for the film. After seeing it, I immediately wanted to check out the script. By reading the opening of the script, it highlighted to me that the subject of suicide was present early within the dialogue of the play they are rehearsing.

    Honestly, I found myself at times in awe of what I was watching that I missed things. Especially early, concerning the dialogue. The direction, continuous camera shot, the music, and the character performances had me entranced at times.

    I can’t recall specifically what was written in the critic’s review, but I think I remember her praising it for bringing that type of reality to the audience. Which is kind of a call for more bloodshed – literally and figuratively.

    I think you are spot on with the word “ambiguous” regarding the ending. It’s also quite possible that I just didn’t get it as well. Part of me feels like his intention was to commit suicide and he failed, but in failing, he shot off his “beak.” And by doing so, he gets the admiration without having to don the costume again, Perhaps it freed him from what imprisoned him. Perhaps even that interpretation is too melodramatic.

    After a few rewatches at some point in time down the road, I will probably feel/perceive different connections/explanations within BIRDMAN. And I also think that’s what makes it great, is that I want to experience it again.

  • Linkthis83

    Also, I was looking forward to your interpretation of it because you have an ability to articulate elements of story that I lack, and I knew your perspective would show me things I missed.

  • Citizen M

    Read the 96-page revised version linked on AOW. (Those first pages are an improvement.) Started reading late one evening and stopped on page 56. Continued the next day to the end, but had to go back many pages to pick up the thread of the story. That tells me that there are structural problems. There’s not enough sense of progression. If you can shuffle scenes around and it won’t make much difference, you are marking time and not getting on with the story. And that was the case with a lot of scenes on the mountain.

    SPOILERS

    The concept is good. Boy dies on mountain because of rescue team’s negligence and wants revenge. And the weather observatory is an interesting location, one I haven’t seen before. But the general outline needs a bit more structure.

    Firstly, why now? Well, that’s easy. It’s because it’s the first time the team’s all together again, with Suzanne standing in for her father. Except that the team is all together only for a moment. Rick the Snowcat driver drops Suzanne and Tom off at the observatory, and leaves. I think he needs to stay at the top with Phil and Suzanne, and Billy needs to be picking them off one by one.

    They also need to die in appropriate ways, by snow and ice and suffocation, not in a fight or a fall.

    That leaves Tom and Toby and the cat as uninvolved persons. If they block Billy in his mission, by protecting Suzanne or whatever, they earn the right to die as well. (The moment you have an animal in the movie, people will want to know what happens to the animal.)

    Maybe in the prologue have the three behave the way they react to the tragedy — Phil, intense and brooding on guilt; Rick, happy-go-lucky, water off a duck’s back to him; Chris, denial and avoidance. (It does happen, sort of. Make it more explicit.)

    The exploding cactus thing was quite comical. Use it as the sort of thing Tom and Suzanne banter about later on to build team spirit. “Hey, we’re freezing to death here.” “At least we’re not being machine-gunned by exploding cacti.” sort of thing.

    As far as the writing went, it was okay apart from a few typos, but I’d like more description of the location (it is unfamiliar to most of us), more sense of the storm raging outside (it seemed to disappear at times), and surprises to be highlighted.

    Detail notes:

    p. 8 – “now this”. What is Suzanne referring to? Was the lightning footage destroyed? If so, how could we see it?

    p. 11 and elsewhere – It’s an iPad, not an Ipad or IPad

    p. 15 – Chris’s suicide. Rather melodramatic. (I still think you should cut out Florida entirely and have Chris meet Suzanne at the lower Visitors’ Centre.)

    p. 20 – Suzanne seeing Billy. Okay, so she’s inherited the curse after her father’s death, I can understand that. But was it a dream or a hallucination? Why does she apparently not remember it the next morning? At any rate, she seems unconcerned by what must be a scary experience.

    p. 28 – Phil at 64. Describe him as still fit and tough, so we can believe that he gets the better of younger men later on.

    p. 34 – Phil sabotaging the fuel supply. This seems totally unmotivated. How has Billy persuaded him to do this? Does Phil not struggle against the impulse? Is he totally Billy’s bitch? If so, why doesn’t he finish the party off more efficiently when they arrive, seeing as how he’s already setting traps for them. Anyway, he himself will suffer from lack of fuel. Does he not think of this?

    p. 43 – I can’t visualize the scene at the weather station. What do the buildings look like? How are they related to each other? Is it the peak of the mountain or on a slope near the top?

    p. 54 – A basement in a cabin? A cabin is usually a fairly temporary structure. BTW, perhaps Rick could point out the cabin to Suzanne on the drive up to the observatory.

    p. 56 – Still setting up. The story should be on its way by now.

    p. 56 – Say the dull metal door leads to the outside.

    p. 61 – How can Toby hear a boy’s voice in a howling wind?

    p. 63 – Write the reveal of Billy’s crampon deception more dramatically. (Still not sure of Billy’s powers. He can move small objects, manifest at will, and control Phil, I think.)

    p. 66 – “Rick wipes the glass with his sleeve and reveals Billy’s face…” This is a big scary moment. WRITE IT MORE DRAMATICALLY!!!

    p. 75 – How does Toby know the story of the body bag but Suzanne doesn’t? She was a kid at the time but people would have told her what the enquiry said. It would be better story-wise if the three covered up the exact manner of Billy’s death and kept it a secret between them. I assume an autopsy couldn’t tell if he got oxygen starvation under the ice or in the body bag.

    p. 77 – “”No wonder my father never kept it locked up inside.” That should be ‘always’ kept it locked up.

    p. 82 – Phil attacking Tom. Dramatic moment. Write more vividly.

    p. 83 – Phil behind Suzanne. Ditto.

    niggles: 3. “…help people, not complain.”/comma missing; 8. storn/storm; 16. “Their both still there.”/They’re; 17. Carl s/be capped; 25. “Tent’s and…”/Tents; 34. pallet/palette; 52. “…get’s the call.”/gets; 54. CHR/CHRIS; 54. Smoke bellows/billows; 56. “…apple pie.” Close with a ‘?’ because it’s a question. 60. “…is blowing.”/’?’ 62 let’s out/lets; 66. breaks/brakes; 67 “out” building/outbuilding, “?’ at end; 86. back-peddling/pedaling

    • carsonreeves1

      This is a wonderful observation! “If you can shuffle scenes around and it won’t make much difference, you
      are marking time and not getting on with the story. And that was the
      case with a lot of scenes on the mountain.”

  • Citizen M

    Excellent notes.

  • Citizen M

    I didn’t realize you were such an experienced filmmaker. I think you should work the nuts and bolts of filming more into your script. Give it that touch of authenticity audiences appreciate. All we really get is a wayward boom.

    When Tom actually captures a spook on camera he should be delirious. He’s got a world-wide scoop on his hands. Eff filming the wind. This is big time. Maybe he could throw Suzanne under the bus and try and get the exclusive footage to the outside world by himself. Create tension between them that way.

    And if Suzanne were to at some point end up with the precious footage, running down the the mountain, and have to take shelter in the very cabin the boy died in… See where I’m going? (Just spitballing.)