A former Amateur Friday entrant comes back for more. And Carson proclaims that rules have rules. Have both these men gone insane?

NOTE: Scriptshadow will not be posting on Monday, which is Memorial Day here in the states, an entire holiday dedicated to improving our memory. So use that extra day to work on your Scriptshadow 250 Contest Entry!!!

Genre: Dark Comedy
Premise (from writer): In the final days of a yearlong deadline to either improve his life or end it, a sheltered mama’s boy, with nowhere else to turn, appoints a would-be criminal as his new life coach.
Why You Should Read (from writer): March 9, 2012, a day dubbed as “the Jai Brandon experiment,” Carson reviewed a script of mine titled, “The Telemarketer.” — When I originally wrote that screenplay, I thought “entertainment value” outweighed plot, structure, “rules,” or anything else you want to throw out there. I was a screenwriter with all of 18 months on the job and thought I had this craft figured out. I was confident in my ability to entertain, though I never made claims that The Telemarketer was “better than every script sale out there,” or “better than some of the classics that have graced our movie theaters for years.” I wasn’t ever that clueless. However, I did think the story could hold my readers’ interest throughout.

Boy was I wrong.

The most memorable feedback, to me, wasn’t even about the script. What stuck with me the most were comments along the lines of “I put this down at page XX.” Or “I bailed after page XX.” It sucked to fail at the very thing I thought I could accomplish. — Since that time, I’ve read tons of screenplays and penned another unconventional script that never went anywhere. Enough is enough. I wanted to prove to myself that I had the discipline to follow the rules. As a struggling actor, I also wanted to create a story that would be relatively easy to produce, with me as one of the leads. I decided to use the central idea behind The Telemarketer – as well as a couple of scenes from that script – and write a dark comedy called Three or Out. Hopefully this time I succeed in accomplishing what I failed to do earlier: hold my readers’ interest with a compelling and conventionally structured screenplay.
Writer: Jai Brandon
Details: 114 pages


Chadwick Boseman for Arlen??

It’s been a long time since I read Jai Brandon’s original Amateur Friday script, and I went back and forth on whether to reacquaint myself with that review. Ultimately I decided I wanted no baggage going into this one and to judge it on its merits alone.

Also, it seems that Jai has become quite humbled by that experience and I think that’s a good thing. As a screenwriter, you don’t want to ever get too high on yourself. In fact, you almost want to be the opposite. The more skeptical you are of your abilities, the higher you’ll set the bar for yourself.

This review is a bit long, so I don’t want to waste any more time prepping it. Let’s dig in.

Arlen, who’s barreling closer to the big 3-0, isn’t exactly kicking life’s ass. He still lives with his mom, who’s a major bitch and driving him crazy. He has a sucky telemarketer job that barely pays anything. And he doesn’t get no love from the ladies.

A year ago, Arlen told himself that if he didn’t fix these three things within a year, he would kill himself. Now, with only a week left on that deadline, it’s not looking good for Team Life.

However, after a pesky customer named Xavier gets pissed at Arlen for not offering him a job (not sure why you’d expect someone you don’t know to find you a job) the two run into each other at a convenience store, and Xavier takes the opportunity to shake Arlen down for money.

Arlen tells Xavier that he can have his money, but only if Xavier helps him achieve his three goals by the end of the week. The unlikely partners then set about getting Arlen’s life back on track, and in the process, saving it.

What good are my articles if we never reference them? Hence, I’m going to take today’s script and put it through yesterday’s Seven Questions ringer. Buyer beware, this is not the nice sweet cuddly version of “Does your script meet our requirements?” This is the mean Hollywood producer asshole version of “Don’t waste my time.” In other words, real life! :)

1) Is your idea high concept?

This is a movie about a guy who’s basically trying to get a new job. The suicide angle gives it a slight edge, but not enough to call this high concept.

2) Are you writing in one of the six marketable genres (horror, thriller, sci-fi, comedy, action, adventure)?

No. We’re going Dark Comedy here, which is a hard sell in the marketplace, although occasionally celebrated on the Black List. Still, this is two strikes.

3) Is your idea marketable?

I can’t think of any successful movies like this really so I’ll unfortunately have to say no.

4) Do you have a fascinating or extremely strong main character?

Our main character is a depressed guy who wants to be a little happier. Not exactly the kind of role actors are desperate to play. Xavier and the mother have a little more meat to them, but in a screenplay, we’re looking for GREAT MEMORABLE characters, not just “okay” ones.

5) Does it have a unique angle?

Since we aren’t sure what kind of movie this is (there isn’t really a “suicide” sub-genre) there’s no opportunity to create a new angle.

6) Is your script packed with conflict?

There is some conflict here. There’s conflict between Arlen and Xavier, Arlen and his mom, Arlen and himself. So we can say yes to this one.

7) Does your idea contain irony?

The saving grace for low-concept is irony. If you can add irony to your premise, you can really improve your script’s appeal. So this is about a guy who wants to commit suicide or make his life better. There’s unfortunately nothing ironic about that. Although this is a bit on the nose, the idea would be more ironic if our main character, who was suicidal, worked as an operator at a Suicide Prevention Hotline. Listening to Arlen provide a boatload of people with great reasons to stay alive while he was secretly planning to kill himself would’ve been a clever way to draw us into the story.

Which gives “Three and Out” a score of “1” on the 7-point scale. Does this mean the script is hopeless? No, American Beauty would’ve scored low on this test as well. But what it does mean is that the script has to be a thousand times better than the scripts that DO meet these requirements, since those scripts are going to be a thousand times easier to sell. The lower the score, the more amazing the writing has to be.

So was the writing amazing? While I think Jai’s writing has improved, you have to remember that following the rules comes with its own set of rules. And one of those rules is that your story must feel seamless, despite being structured.

Three or Out ran into trouble almost immediately due to its forced setup. How many times throughout history has a telemarketer ran into someone he was talking to on the phone just ten minutes earlier? That’s hard to buy into.

I understand what Jai was trying to do. He had Xavier point out, due to the “private number” on his caller ID, that Arlen must live locally, allowing us to buy into their later meeting. But the fact that Xavier had to bring that up is exactly what brought MORE attention to the artificiality of this conceit, not less.

The second I’m stopping to think about how weird or coincidental things are is the second the script enters Trouble Territory.

One of the skills professional screenwriters have is that they’ve learned to make their plotting SEAMLESS. You never see the gears grinding underneath their script. By that I mean, you don’t see the writer’s attempt at covering up the hugely coincidental moment that two characters run into each other. Professionals either hide the cover-up better, or come up with a situation that isn’t difficult to buy into in the first place.

For example, why not take the telemarketer stuff out altogether? With Arlen being suicidal, let’s put him into an even more desperate state. He’s collecting welfare. And he’s barely able to support his mom with the money, which is why he wants to go out there and get a job in the first place.

Then, have him meet Xavier when they’re both at the store and Xavier tries to rob it. There doesn’t have to be this big weird artificial coincidence that facilitates their meet-up. It can and should be simple.

Another problem with the setup is that it didn’t make a lot of sense. What was it, specifically, about Xavier that Arlen needed to achieve his goal? He needed Xavier to help him visit potential apartments? Really? He couldn’t have done that by himself??

It seems like Jai is following the “rules” approach too literally. He’s so set on having this conflict-fueled pair drive his story that he hasn’t really considered why our main character would need this criminal to help him in the first place. Arlen can barely scrape together 500 a month for rent, yet he’s paying Xavier four grand to act as a second opinion??

I could get into some other things but truth be told, the forced set-up was the moment I sub-consciously withdrew from the screenplay. I’ve been down this road too many times to know that if you can’t nail a seamless setup, then more issues are coming.

And that’s not to say there aren’t some good things here. This script is very easy to read. The writing is sparse and keeps the eyes moving down the page. I like that Arlen has a goal here and a ticking time bomb, even if it’s self-enforced. The dialogue is snappy. I liked the complicated relationship between Arlen and his mom.

But I think this comes down to me not being excited enough about this idea. If I’m Mr. Producer and this hits my desk, I’m having a tough time seeing how I could sell this movie. There’s no real hook, unless you argue that suicide in a week is a hook. And I’d probably fight you on that. And the stakes are kinda low since they’re self-enforced. If Arlen doesn’t meet his requirements, he doesn’t HAVE to die. He can just change his mind. So we never really feel that he’s in danger.

So I think Jai just needs to keep working on it. When you come over to this side (the rules side), there’s two halves to the process. The first is writing a script that follows the rules. And the second is writing a script that follows the rules but integrates them seamlessly, so that the audience isn’t aware of them. You’ve achieved part 1, but not yet part 2.

Get back in there and figure out part 2. I’ll be rooting for you.

Happy Memorial Day to everyone. I’ll see you Tuesday!

Script link: Three or Out

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

What I learned: This isn’t so much a “What I Learned” as an exercise. I want each one of you to try and come up with the best logline about suicide you can that uses IRONY. Understanding irony is the key to writing an indie movie that people will actually care about. Good luck!

  • Poe_Serling

    Congrats to Jai for getting a second script into the AF circle – that’s a rare feat. He’s now in the unofficial SS Double Review Club along with grendl, gazrow, and a few others.

    Also, it looks like he has upped his game since last time in terms of story, technique, and even a bit more humility. All positive things to take his writing career to the next level.

    Again, thanks for sharing your work and good luck with it.

  • Cyarax

    He’ll be back on Tuesday. So, does that mean no aow tomorrow?

    • Poe_Serling

      Good ?. Perhaps it will another free-for-all post your script for some feedback weekend.

      • Felip Serra

        Or maybe we can just sleep in for a change…

        • Poe_Serling

          Careful now… that could be construed as SS blasphemy. ;-)

          • klmn

            Yes, Felip can expect a visit from a SS officer.

    • carsonreeves1

      I might still post amateur offerings. Not sure yet.

      • Levres de Sang

        How about another Second Chance AF weekend…?

        • carsonreeves1

          I might do Insatiable. Not sure yet.

          • Howie428

            I’d be happy to see “Insatiable” get a shot. It looked good to me and placed first in the vote, well ahead of the third-placed “Three or Out.”

            I guess I’d better throw “Heart Storm” in the draw with my other scripts. Now I can write something even more High Concept, extra Genre, super Marketable, strong Character, throw in a Unique Angle, more Conflict than a mob/police conspiracy/hurricane/kid-in-surgery mix, and a slab of Irony. Either that or I’ll try my hand at mumblecore!

  • Scott Strybos

    The first place I stumbled was reading the logline…

    the final days of a yearlong deadline to either improve his life or end…

    I think the writer was trying to create a ticking clock with the deadline, but the deadline is self-imposed, (I didn’t miss anything, it is self-imposed, right), so there is nothing stopping Arlen from just deciding at the end not to kill himself, which robs the story of any tension or drive.

  • Linkthis83

    (Man, what’s been going on ’round here?)

    Congrats to Jai for earning the AF slot. I read the first twenty of the script and stopped. I then went to look at AOW to see what others thought and there is no doubt that @midnightluck really nailed it. After reading Jai’s reply to her, I read up to page 29 where I was certain I wanted to read no further.

    There is no doubt that the writing is clear and straightforward. There’s no confusion as to what is happening in the scenes at all. Of these 29 pages, however, I’m not intrigued about the story. These scenes lay out the “whats” and the “whys” but none of it is getting me invested. I’m assuming the concept of the goals + hiring an unlikely life coach are the elements that are supposed to entice me to continue. If I’m correct, then the reason it doesn’t is because I’m not interested in either of them as they read. And I think most of that is the situations in which they’ve been placed and the dynamics between them.

    I completely understand the difficulty of knowing what you want/need to take place early, and then trying to put these characters in those situations that will naturally deliver that intention that lies underneath. That thing you’re trying to build towards. Up to the point I stopped reading, I’m not feeling a “story.” And for me, almost always, “feeling” is the key. That doesn’t mean dramatic either. It means getting me invested in their situations.

    Now I’ve had quite a few sporadic thoughts hit me as I’ve read, re-read, and checked out other comments:

    –I think there is way too much of asking questions and giving honest answers (sure some of these may not be totally truthful, but based on the premise, it seems that they are).

    –Everything that happens before we are told about Arlen’s goals doesn’t show that he actually has these goals and is actively pursuing them. The whole thing from the beginning is a Debbie Downer vibe. If that is your intent, you’ve succeeded. If you want us to feel like this man has given up, then when we learn his goal, we’ll realize he has…I guess. But that’s not interesting to me. A man gave himself one year to accomplish 3 goals and he’s five days away and just looking bummed. We should feel the weight of that year. That’s where all the interesting shit is when we start the story (though we don’t know it). What stuff did he do when he made this deal with himself. Did he get out there and start dating, flirting, join dating sites, bar hopping? What? What did he do? Did he not get an apartment because he couldn’t afford it? He got scammed you say? That’s it? Has he been a telemarketer this entire year? Did he send out his resume to everybody? go to job interviews? Did he pick up any second jobs at all?

    Basically, I feel there should be something in these early pages to hint at what has taken place the past year. Arlen even went to the store and didn’t even flirt with Dominique. I should be trying to date her in this scene. Even if he’s trying too hard and failing.

    –I didn’t like the randomness of the meeting with Xavier at the store. Was Xavier going to rob the store? Is that why he was there?

    I feel like it makes way more sense to have Xavier and Arlen meet at the store for the first time. Whatever interaction Arlen has with Dominique would be the “opportunity” Xavier thinks he has and would then choose to rob Arlen instead of the store.

    Also, these qualities Arlen lists later as to why he’d want him to be his life coach, I think this is another opportunity for you to build up Xavier more. Let’s say you had Arlen trying to get Dominique’s phone number and ends up leaving his. Then when Arlen leaves, Xavier now has his phone number. Then he calls Arlen up pretending to be somebody he isn’t in order for Arlen to give his address. Once he has the address…then Xavier shows up at his house – Plus, depending on how you set it up, we could see Arlen receiving a call that he thinks is from a telemarkerter and we will learn that it was Xavier. And also that perhaps Arlen is suscetible to the tactics he employs – depending on the situation. I mean, when the story starts, he’s this combo of “great sales guy” and “depressed guy.” – For me, that’s counterintuitive. If he used to be a top sales guy then that would mean something more…I think.

    I mean, you could even do the balance of a proactive-defeated guy. So he’s trying to follow through on his goals but he can’t muster the energy to do them whole-heartedly. I think there’s humor in that. Even though we are human, depressed guys in depressing situations becoming a victim isn’t that intriguing (for me).

    –I didn’t like the “JOIN DAD” thing for Friday on the calendar. It’s a little heavy handed in my opinion. I get what you’re doing here, just feel there’s a more interesting way to do it. Because the payoff comes in the next 15-20 pages of what it means.


    The simplest thing for me is that I didn’t feel a story here. I read a lot of the reviews and the majority of the praise was that it was a quick, enjoyable, and easy read. I don’t feel every story has to stay with you forever…but I feel the story should be the highlight. Not how easy to read it is.

    I also feel that asking your story questions is what makes it better. Once you get into your story world and can no longer see it objectively, it’s really hard to see where you can improve the impact of your intention(s). I think asking your story questions is a great way to do that. What does Arlen want? Do I feel these early scenes are showing that? Are they showing too much?

    I truly feel that being able to discuss your story is uber-helpful. I feel this is where I’m most helpful if I’m ever helpful regarding someone’s story. Giving notes on a script in this forum and having someone take those in, or not, and then decide what to do can be helpful. However, I think being able to discuss your story with someone is the most beneficial. Hopefully you’ve gotten to where you are because you have somebody you can do that with. I’m always willing to discuss someone’s story with them if they need/want it.

    After all this, you can definitely write. You’ve created good opportunities to tell an interesting story but I feel you could push some of the more important moments a little bit further. And I don’t mean towards being extreme, just less familiar to other stories we’ve already seen. Or less like situations that are familiar in other films.

    Early in this script I kept hearing Patricia say “Arlen doesn’t have any friends.” in the voice of Anne Ramsey (THROW MOMMA FROM THE TRAIN).

    Good luck with this script and any future project, Jai. Sincerely!

    • Kirk Diggler

      “I don’t feel every story has to stay with you forever…but I feel the story should be the highlight. Not how easy to read it is.”


    • Nicholas J

      (A severe lack of people like you.)

      • Linkthis83

        To be honest, after catching up on SS this week it made me want to morph into:

        Mad Mike: Fury Shadower

        (and I just might next week :)

    • S_P_1

      This has to be the best motivational review I’ve read. Good job with the critique, suggestions, and encouragement!

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

      Where my review? ;)

      Hopefully he immerses into discussion about his script. A writer, along with everyone else, really gets the most out of these Friday’s when actual discussions take place.

      And we don’t feel like we’ve wasted our time when the writer gets into the discussion with us. Though, I suppose, we learn ourselves by making notes and figuring out what didn’t work and why. At least for us. What doesn’t work for us, can work for someone else. Look at Carson’s recent Impressive.

      I was wondering Carson, have you ever given an impressive or double worth the read, read the comments that got yourself thinking, or maybe even read a script a second time, and changed your mind, asking yourself, why in the hell did I give this an impressive?

      I remember loving movies a first watch, and after a second watch catching myself scratching my head, wondering what I loved so much during the first viewing lol

      • BSBurton

        Good point Rick, lol.

    • BSBurton

      LOl, i’m a big fan of the first 40% of this article. To be honest, that’s where I stopped reading haha. But I’m sure all of it was good :)

  • https://twitter.com/deanmaxbrooks deanb

    Stephen King exploited this “forced life change” concept in Quitters, Inc.

  • klmn

    “I want each one of you to try and come up with the best logline about suicide you can that uses IRONY.”

    A writing guru – struggling to find a good amateur script that follows his rules – starts a last-ditch contest to find a good amateur script that follows his rules, while selecting scripts to read that follow none of them. The stakes? If he fails, he commits suicide.

    TITLE – Death By A Thousand Paper Cuts.

    • IgorWasTaken

      Yeh, but who cares if a guru commits suicide? (present company excluded)

      Or… “Donald Trump decides to do X, and if he fails, he’ll commit suicide.”

      Who among us would not immediately open the script to the last page?

      And only if there I discovered that he did commit suicide might I then actually read the script.

      • klmn

        A lot of folks follow gurus, hang on their every word. If they didn’t, the gurus wouldn’t be gurus.

        • IgorWasTaken

          Yeh, yeh. “Sound of one hand clapping.”

          The key is to get all those people to join him. (knowingly; not Jonestown-style)

    • klmn

      I can still do better. Here goes.

      A writing guru starts a contest to find a good amateur script that
      follows his rules, while selecting scripts to read that follow none of
      them. The stakes? If he fails, he commits suicide by stuffing wild cats into his pants. (The kittens done grew up).

  • Gregory Mandarano

    Here’s my killer irony logline guys!

    KILLING TIME – After a suicidal mob boss takes a poison that will kill him in 24 hours, he’s set upon by a barrage of hit-men trying collect the million dollar bounty on his head before he croaks, so he decides he only has one thing left to live for – revenge.

    • romer6

      I like the poison idea. That’s something from which you can hardly back out.

      • Gregory Mandarano

  • Jai Brandon

    Who’s “Jai Courtney”? I appreciate Carson for giving me a second shot. And I definitely appreciate the Scriptshadow community for giving thoughtful and detailed notes! I learn and improve immensely through failure and after today, a much better screenwriter will be born. You guys haven’t heard the last of me!

    • Kirk Diggler

      John McClane’s son.

    • carsonreeves1

      F*&%! Fixed. Sorry about that.

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

      Keep at it. You’re one step closer to success. Have to get through the bad scripts, or the less than stellar scripts, to get to the one that sells. Time. Persistence. Being humble. Not giving up. And learning from our mistakes. Only a few keys to success.

    • kenglo

      Since I’m late to the show – CONGRATS on making it to AF Jai! You deserved it. I think I mentioned after I read it last year, there was something missing, maybe a sense of urgency (?).

      But yes, you ARE a talented writer, just need the write story!

      Good luck in the future!.

      • Jai Brandon

        Much thanks, Ken!

  • Eddie Panta

    Congrats to the writer. I enjoyed reading Three and Out, but like the others I bailed around page 20… The dialogue was eating up too many pages. When this happens, the plot begins to suffer, unless the story is contained, let’s say like Glen Gary…
    Without room for plot mechanics, it’s going to be hard to line-up characters, place them where they need to be, and still have it feel natural.

    Despite Carson’s best efforts to set up a series of questions to determine at a pass/fail on the subject matter of a script, I don’t think it applies to successful story, perhaps a successful box office. In a creative act like screenwriting the whole is always greater than the some of its parts.

    A film like What’s Eating Gilbert Grape wouldn’t fair well against these questions either. It probably didn’t do much at the box office, but everyone remembers that movie. Any attempt to pull apart Gilbert Grape into distinct parts that make it a successful story would ultimately leave out something intangible that gives the story a life of its own.

    I think that the AOW crowd picked up on something intangible here with Three and Out and that’s why they voted on it.

    • Casper Chris

      In a creative act like screenwriting the whole is always greater than the some of its parts.

      Sum. Yea. I agree. And I think Carson does too, as he wrote:

      Does this mean the script is hopeless? No, American Beauty would’ve scored low on this test as well. But what it does mean is that the script has to be a thousand times better than the scripts that DO meet these requirements, since those scripts are going to be a thousand times easier to sell.

      For better or worse, I believe Carson is wearing his producer hat most of the time when he reads scripts.

      • Eddie Panta

        Ha.. nice catch. Thanks.

  • Andrew Parker

    Another script you reviewed that more successfully pulls off the “random phone meet cute” is Demolition: http://scriptshadow.net/screenplay-review-demolition/

    P.S. The most ironic suicidal character in movies is Phil Connors from Groundhog Day. Best scene is when he lets the groundhog drive — “Don’t drive angry.”

    • Gregory Mandarano

      “PHIL:” Hey, did you see the groundhog this morning?
      “NANCY:” Uh huh. I never miss it.
      “PHIL:” What’s your name?
      “NANCY:” Nancy Taylor. And you are?
      “PHIL:” What high school did you go to?
      “NANCY:” … Lincoln in Pittsburgh. Who are you?
      “PHIL:” Who was your twelfth grade English teacher?
      “NANCY:” Are you kidding? … Mrs. Walsh.
      “PHIL:” Nancy, Lincoln, Walsh. OK, thanks very much.

      NEXT DAY

      “PHIL:” Nancy? Nancy Taylor? Lincoln High School. I sat next to you in Mrs. Walsh’s English class.
      “NANCY:” Oh, I’m sorry.
      “PHIL:” Phil Connors. … You don’t remember me, do you? … I even asked you to the Prom. … You look terrific!

  • mulesandmud

    For the record, the character of a suicide hotline operator who wants to kill himself isn’t “on the nose”. It’s just plain good.

    The irony is crystal clear, yes, but it’s also totally organic to the situation and built on real psychology. Of course spending days talking people off ledges would eat away at someone, and certainly does in real life; most intervention workers burn out fairly quickly. And of course a depressed person would be sensitive to negative cues around them, and suicidal talk is about as negative as you get.

    Haven’t read the script and won’t get to it today, so can’t say how easily this idea would fold into the existing story, but that idea all by itself is more intriguing that anything in the logline or the rest of Carson’s review.

    Oh, and I strongly advise changing the title. THREE OR OUT doesn’t evoke much except mild confusion (or football, maybe?).

    Good luck to the writer, and have a great weekend all.

    • Jai Brandon

      I did like the irony in that idea as well. If you see a new draft of this script later and it’s in there, you’ll know exactly where I got it from! And yes, the title does need to change…

    • carsonreeves1

      I could already see some scenes – him surfing the net for ways to kill himself while talking callers down on the phone.

      • Michael

        That, or instead of talking callers out of suicide, he’s probing them on how they would do it and writing down the pros and cons.

        • carsonreeves1

          lol. That could be funny. “You have so much to live for. (pause) But just out of curiosity, how would you do it?” We don’t hear the answer but we see a page tallying all possible suicide methods. Adds a mark to “jump off building.”

          • Eric Plumrose

            Hmm. While I agree the irony of an intervention operator who is himself suicidal is absolutely delicious, the probable misrepresentation of an organization dedicated to suicide prevention is, frankly, shit.

      • klmn

        Websurfing and talking. That’s pretty static. Movies mean “moving pictures.”

        For penance say three Hail Marys and watch the collected works of John Ford.

        • carsonreeves1

          I’m thinking like a 30 second moment at most. :)

  • GoIrish

    Genre: Comedy
    Logline: After learning he has the winning lottery ticket, a suicide bomber must find a way to bungle one mission after the next, but can he escape with his fortunes before his supervisor “terminates” him for insubordination?

    • Gregory Mandarano


    • Nicholas J

      There’s something funny about a suicide bomber winning the lottery and then wanting to back out. But why can’t he just quit? What’s stopping him from walking away? Why does he need to keep doing these missions? Figure that out and you might have something.

      Maybe you just focus on ONE mission. And during the mission, he finds out he won the lottery. That’d probably be a much harder situation to get out of. If the mission is successful, he’ll die. If he tries to abort the mission, his comrades will kill him. So then the movie is him trying to throw a wrench in this mission, without his comrades catching on to what he’s doing.

      • GoIrish

        yeah, not exactly sure how they work, but I was kind of assuming that the higher-ups in the organizational structure don’t look too kindly upon suicide bombers backing out.

        • Nicholas J

          “You die for us or we kill you!”

      • romer6

        Great ideas there. It already looks like a movie to me. :)

    • romer6

      Hey, if we mix your idea with Mandanaro’s we have something interesting also:
      A depressed man takes a poison that will kill him in 24 hours, but he finds out that he won the lottery and now he has one day to do everything he always wanted but never had the chance.

      • Gregory Mandarano

        $10 million worth of chelation.

    • IgorWasTaken

      You’ve sold me.

      He’s at the safehouse, just a barren apartment. The other guys strap on his vest, then they leave. And as he stays there until his appointed time, he stumbles upon a small number of scratch-off tickets.

      • GoIrish

        I like your idea because it would set up the story within a page or two. Another option I was thinking about, which would require a little more setup, would be to have him start out below the rank of suicide bomber and have him buy a lottery ticket b/c he thinks he’s just leading a regular life (aside from the fact he’s in a radical organization). Shortly thereafter, he’s surprisingly tapped for the next suicide mission. The night before his big mission, he’s trying to calm his nerves and watches a little TV – during which, they announce the lottery numbers and of course he wins. Could have two ticking time bombs: 1.) the suicide mission (so, a literal bomb), and 2.) 30 days to claim his prize or the money goes back into next month’s drawing.

    • IgorWasTaken

      Oh, another way to go! Make it a short.

      He stops at a convenience store for a soda. The clerk prods him into buying a ticket with his last dinar. The bomber then checks his watch, figures, :”I don’t need this”, and gives the ticket to the clerk. The bomber leaves.

      We follow him down the street.

      Then, back at the store, the clerk watches the drawing on TV… They start drawing numbers. The first one matches. The second one matches. Then the third and fourth…

      KABOOM in the distance as we hear the bomber blow himself up. But the clerk doesn’t notice as he’s transfixed by what’s on the TV.

      Then the final number matches – Winner!


      We find the now-rich clerk surrounded by 40 virgins.

  • Jai Brandon

    From the “22 Rules of Screenwriting”:

    Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences
    to get them out of it are cheating.

    • Eric

      You can probably see it both ways. If the character really wants to die, anything that prevents that is an obstacle. The audience may see it as a saving grace, but until he does it’s complicating his goal. Maybe it would be better written, “Coincidences that complicate character goals are great; coincidences that solve them are cheating.”

  • ripleyy

    The truth – as harsh as it is – is that there is literally no way you can make suicide work. Yes, you can argue that “Seven Pounds” is about suicide, but that man was a mean, selfish prick who decided to help others (even if that way is extreme). You can even mention “A Long Way Down”, which, even though I haven’t watched it, has at least AN ANGLE.

    Other than that, there is just no way you can make suicide a topic where you and your friends get excited over. “Oh, my God, you guys! We should, like, totally see that movie about that man committing suicide!” followed by laughter. That’s never happened.

    I can see what Jai is doing. He’s writing “mature” content. He’s writing something “challenging”. But man, it’s time you pick your battles. I’m by no means getting at Jai but there is a point where you need to realize that your “challenging” piece actually doesn’t stand a chance. Suicide, as a topic, is suicide itself. Career suicide.

    You have to keep in mind a Producer is there to make sure YOUR CONTENT is going to bring in loads of $$$$$$ (cash, moolah, what-have-you). Even the most challenging of pieces, the darkest of topics, have all had an angle or a hook that made them work. Did they make a lot of money? Sure. But don’t be thinking yours will. It won’t.

    Producer isn’t going to be stupid enough to go with an idea where a man hangs himself because his cat gave birth to FOUR KITTENS instead of NINE. Unless, and as fucked-up as this is, your suicide takes place in Nazi Germany, then we’ll see.

    But the truth is, writing dark material is amateur. Every young writer does it. Everyone. I double-double dare anybody to say they haven’t written at least one depressing, dark, “challenging” piece like this. We all have, but the beauty – strangely – is that you grow out of that phase and you end up realizing stuff like that just don’t work. You could be putting more time and effort into an idea that actually DOES work and one that has a higher chance of getting you repped.

    I wish Jai all the best in the world. I hope this doesn’t discourage him. It’s just tough love and every writer needs it, no matter how harsh it may be (this isn’t particularly harsh, because I’m a pretty kind person). Honesty makes you a better person, and it makes you a pretty awesome writer as well.

    • Gregory Mandarano

      It worked for the hook at the beginning of WILFRED.
      And it works for the emotional climax towards the end of I SHALL BE RELEASED.

      But I agree with your premise in general. In both cases the plot DOES NOT revolve around suicide. It is a plot beat, rather than the concept itself. And the difference between those two things is a staggeringly wide gulf.

      • ripleyy

        It can work, absolutely, as long as you don’t let it stagnate in depression and melancholy. That is what I’m referring to, namely, the ones that are depressing and stay that way. There are a complex number of answers to this particular topic, none of them completely right.

        • Gregory Mandarano

          The hook in FLETCH is that the guy wants to kill himself, but he can’t, so he hires FLETCH to do it.

        • davejc

          Agreed. It’s difficult to get right. But done well it can be a thing of beauty. It can work as dark comedy, Little Miss Sunshine, but maintaining the tone is a tight wire act.

          It can work as satire, Ace In The Hole. But don’t expect studios to be knocking down your door.

          • ripleyy

            Absolutely agreed. It is such a thin rope to balance on, but if you can strike that balance, you’re golden.

      • Nicholas J

        The hook of Wilfred is Wilfred. The suicide is just the setup that allows Wilfred to appear. After the initial episode, suicide doesn’t even come back up. (I think. I haven’t finished Season 2.)

        • Gregory Mandarano

          It does. ^_^

    • Matthew Garry

      > there is literally no way you can make suicide work.

      “Leaving Las Vegas” ?

      • Nicholas J


      • ripleyy

        Sure it’s a good movie, but it’s morbid considering it’s the writer’s very own suicide note. I do love that move, but man, I think I had PTSD after.

      • Randy Williams

        Felix’s suicidal thoughts and the real possibility of it happening in THE ODD COUPLE was actually funny.

        • brenkilco

          Strangely, Billy Wilder, whom most people would consider among the greatest screenwriters ever, utilized attempted suicide as a major plot element in at least half a dozen films. And some of those were comedies.

          • carsonreeves1

            Suicide works well with comedies, I think. It immediately kills the suicide plot’s biggest weakness, which is that it would be a really depressing fucking film. I loved Better Off Dead.

          • Garrett

            Dito. Better Off Dead may be the most successful (and funny) film ever made, on suicide!

      • lesbiancannibal

        Lethal Weapon?

    • Nicholas J

      I’m with you on most of this, though it’s not as absolute as you’re making it sound.

      But I have found myself resisting the urge to go dark over the years. Often times, the temptation doesn’t come because I love dark, it’s because dark is easy. So many times I’m stuck on a story problem, and just think, that if I went dark, it solves the problem. And it does. But then it creates more problems. And then you realize dark isn’t easy at all, and that it’s really fucking hard.

      (Apologies if this makes no sense whatsoever.)

      • ripleyy

        I know exactly what you mean. It’s there, and it’s so easy to use.

        When I mean dark, there’s a couple of ways it can mean: It can be depressing-dark, in this case, a man wants to commit suicide, there is “David Fincher-dark”, which is moody but not altogether depressing. Let’s just say you aren’t jumping at the chance to grab the razor just yet. Then there is “dark”, and by dark, the story itself is only dark but beneath the layers there’s often hope. There’s a lot to work with and it’s not set in stone.

        I’m probably making less sense, but you know what I’m trying to say? There is more than just “dark”, there’s so many angles and threads and tiny things that are underneath that word. It’s malleable, and it can be shaped and formed, it isn’t just one particular thing, it can be a whole host of things.

        I know this is going to sound really weird, but suicide can work if the person is dead. If the person is alive, however, then we run into problems like I’m mentioning. I know how fucked-up that sounds, but I think it stems from the fact the audience/reader don’t have to feel THAT BAD if the person is already dead.

        It’s such a complex debate. I don’t think there can ever be a true answer for how to define dark material but how to make it work.

        • Nicholas J

          I get you. Though I thought we were mostly talking dark comedies here like today’s script. Dark horrors, thrillers, dramas, are a different story, and there the term varies wildly.

          In comedies it pretty much only means one thing. There are different shades of dark in a comedy obviously (Death at a Funeral vs. Very Bad Things) but it basically means that there will be jokes about topics that aren’t inherently funny. And suicide can work as a small gag or joke or something, but as a central plot device, ehhhhh not really.

          • ripleyy

            Okay, I didn’t know “Three and Out” was a dark comedy. In that case, there’s so many different shades of dark comedy. In comedy, everything changes. It can be used, like you said, as a gag or joke.

    • carsonreeves1

      It’s not impossible, but I would definitely recommend against suicide as subject matter. If you’re going to use it, go big with the idea to help offset the dreariness of it. Suicide Squad!

      • ripleyy

        You’re right. It can work as long as it’s not front-and-center, otherwise the uphill battle might as well be on the side of Mount Everest. Go big, or don’t big at all.

    • romer6

      How about “Joe Against the Volcano”? Can it be considered a suicide movie since the guy thinks he would die anyway? I always liked that movie for some reason…

      • Fish Tank Festival

        Joe Vs. the Volcano is one of my all time favorite films. I’ve seen it easily over a hundred times and even worked with the editor before (what a trip!!!). But I wouldn’t consider it a suicide film vs. a man who felt like he was out of time and lacked purpose. It was like a bed time story for adults/a man’s version of a love story.

        And I dare say easily one of Tom Hanks’ best despite its BO performance and Spielberg’s apology to Hanks.

    • Bacon Statham

      There is one film about suicide that I only just watched recently and I quite liked it, despite the acting being a bit OTT at times. It starred a young Keanu Reeves and it’s called Permanent Record.

      It’s about a really popular high school kid who kills himself, despite having everything going for him and you see his best friend played by Reeves struggling to come to terms with it. He has to finish off the production of a school play that his friend was in charge of.

      If you can get past some of the acting, it’s a good film, but sad.

      • lesbiancannibal

        I reckon I’ve watched that film once about 20 years ago probably – but I still remember the line that he knew he’d killed himself because he “there was no scream”

    • Felip Serra

      “No way you can make suicide work…”

      I mentioned “Harold and Maude” and “Better Off Dead” in my comments to Jai.

    • Citizen M

      No way you can make suicide work…

      “It’s a Wonderful Life”

    • IgorWasTaken

      I absolutely have a suicide story that can work. A comedy. Dark-ish, but definitely not dark. It’s dark akin to “Death at a Funeral” (the UK original).

      But I’ve decided I need someone with real experience as a standup comedian to write it with me.

    • LV426

      The Terminator is dark material. It works, makes money, has naked boobs and explosions and all that crowd pleasing stuff. The Matrix, Alien, Saving Private Ryan, etc. All dark stuff. Sure there are rays of light, but any good story needs contrasting elements to not become too one note.

      I hear what you’re saying but “dark” can be used to write marketable material.

  • Howie428

    Having stopped early in reading Three or Out at the weekend, I saw that it had been chosen and figured I’d jump back in and see what I had missed. Unfortunately my answer turned out to be, “Not much.”

    The first 15 pages were the best bit from what I read, since they have some energy and conflict. After that the story fades into mundane mumblecore. Extended dialogue scenes paper over the absence of conflict, stakes, and urgency.

    The main character wallows in self-pity, usually not a quality we embrace, and we’re expected to be concerned that he has set a deadline to kill himself. A character this moribund, who doesn’t make a redeeming contribution to the world, is one that I struggle to care for his survival.

    This story is certainly “Dark,” but for me it is missing the “Comedy” that it would need to get me to follow this guy through his mundane existence.

    My notes as I read…

    Pg 4 – The opening exchange was fun, although I’m not sure it was comedic for me.

    Pg 6 – I know this is a “Dark Comedy,” but for me it’s feeling depressing.

    Pg 12 – The set-up for the situation between Arlen and Xavier has gone well in a dramatic sense, but I guess I’m still not connecting with this as comedy.

    Pg 17 – This was as far as I got on the weekend. I stopped because it didn’t seem funny and I wasn’t connecting with the story, even though it was moving along quickly. Anyway, since this is the chosen one, I shall now pick it back up and see if I can figure out why…

    Pg 19 – The scene with Patricia triggered a concern for me about the voices of Arlen and Xavier. During this scene they are speaking in the same style and saying the same kind of things as each other.

    Pg 23 – Alright, this is a fast easy read, but that’s because these two guys are just standing around yammering at each other. Add the singing and music to this scene and it will play really long.

    Pg 26 – Now that these guys are playing nice with each other the initial conflict energy in this story has just about disappeared. They’ve talked the fun right out of it. Now we’ve got a guy with a false deadline to kill himself, and another guy with a several day deadline to raise $1,000. I guess I’m finding it hard to get excited about that.

    Pg 28 – ““Three simple goals,” that’s what I said. Not a bucket list.” – Bucket list goals might be exciting. His three simple goals are so mundane that alone would be depressing!

    Pg 31 – I can’t shake the thought that this encounter between these two has just taken 20+ pages and comprised of them chewing the fat for most of that. During that time they essentially resolved each other’s problems and the conflict between them disappeared.

    Self-pity is usually a terrible quality to build a story around, because even though we all experience it, we don’t like it in other people. Arlen is a telemarketing loser awash with so much self-pity that we’re expected to care that he has a vague plan to kill himself in several days. Being honest, I’m wishing he’d just do it now, which is a hazard of using such a bleak character.

    Pg 32 – We’re told this guy is a “natural born seller,” but there’s nothing about these sales pitches that supports this. Also, going back to soul-sapping sales calls feels like a jump back to the opening pages and seems to illustrate how the energy has gone from the story.

    Pg 36 – This fantasy dream of him stabbing himself feels like the device that it is. Also, it now means that I’m not going to take other things seriously, because I’ll be expecting Arlen to wake up from them.

    I’d suggest making Arlen have to go out and find Xavier to hold him to the deal, since it makes sense that Xavier would take Arlen’s money and not come back.

    Pg 40 – Having got all friendly earlier they are now having another conversation where they pointlessly bicker at each other and nothing much comes out of it. Within your words is the description of Arlen as “You sound like a real bitch,” and “You ain’t in a hurry, are you?,” which highlights the point that you have an unlikeable guy doing nothing important or urgent.

    Pg 45 – I get that Arlen is supposed to be an awkward failure with Jasmine, but he fails in a really mundane way that makes me bored by him, rather than sympathetic for him.

    Pg 46 – “So whatever happened back there, forget about it. Shit don’t matter anyway.” – There’s a danger that this sums up the way we’ll see it.

    Pg 57 – The apartment hunting sequence feels slow and ordinary. The few jokes within it are weighted down by the detailed negotiations.

    Pg 58 – “Yeah. I still suck at life.” – And I’m supposed to want to watch him do that! I realize that there are mumblecore movies that tell these kind of stories and find an audience, but at this point this is feeling like a dull mumblecore.

    I keep hoping this is going to reenergize, but I’m now beyond the midpoint and I guess there’s not much point in my keeping on being negative about this. Sorry. I hope there’s something useful in these notes.

  • romer6

    Title: Why Go On
    Genre: (Dark?) Comedy, Action, Adventure
    A depressed young man with nothing to live for decides he wants to go with a bang in the next 24 hours by putting his life in harms way saving other people’s, but his plans take a U turn when he saves a full of life girl for whom he imediatelly falls and whose ex, a mob hitman, will stop at nothing to see dead.

    • lonestarr357

      I’d read that.

  • Shawn Davis

    Killer irony logline, eh?



    An angry, down on his luck homophobe commits suicide only to find himself staring eternally as Sanchez, the main performer in the hardcore gangbang gay porno flick, Stuffing Sanchez.


    • Randy Williams

      I can see the poster tagline for this.

      Soap on a rope and our homophobe, too.
      If you like to see them drop, then this movie’s for you.

      • Shawn Davis

        Nice jingle, Randy :)

        I can see the credits–

        This has been a Wienerschnitzel – Astroglide production.


  • brenkilco

    A police negotiator skilled at dealing with would be suicides in spite of and because of his own deep depression faces a crisis when he discovers a man threatening to jump from the Golden Gate Bridge is his own psychiatrist.

    • Poe_Serling

      I like it. Have your police negotiator also suffer from acrophobia and vertigo (just as a homage, of course)… then you would have a Hitchcockian thriller on your hands.

  • Gregory Mandarano

    [HOTLINE] or maybe [NEXT CALLER] – (Dark Comedy) When a serial killer working for a suicide hotline falls in love with a caller, he does everything he can to try and save her life, but when she finds out what he really does for a living and wants to do the same thing, he finds having a partner in love and crime isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

  • JakeBarnes12

    If I don’t like the logline, I don’t read the script. Unless it’s a professional script that gets an “impressive” from Carson. And then I end up kicking myself for being an idiot. “Stupid me to believe in stupid you,” as Placebo said.

    And here, I don’t even understand the logline. First, as C already pointed out, the self-imposed suicide deadline just reminds me of all those dumb “making bets” movies/scripts of the 90s where at any moment the characters could go “You know what? Fuck it. I am not getting into that tank of super-smart killer sharks just to win this bet with my friends.”

    And secondly, why would you appoint a criminal as a life coach? I know some real life criminals and they’re all fuck-ups. I wouldn’t appoint them to get me a pint of milk from the corner store never mind help me get my life on track because they’d somehow end up in a slow chase with the cops along the 405 and they’d have forgotten the fucking milk to boot.

    But yes to irony every time. The suicide counselor about to take his own life who ends up getting life lessons from his most depressed and suicidal caller — now that’s a fucking movie starring Jason Schwartzman as the suicide counselor and Bill Murray as the depressed and suicidal caller.

    There’s a script I would read. Its title? “Last Call.”

    • Gregory Mandarano

      Nice twist on the hotline concept!

      • Gregory Mandarano

        Paraphrasing your twist into a logline:

        TILL DEATH DO US PART – When a hopelessly depressed man discovers that his regular contact at the suicide hotline is planning to kill himself, he does everything he can to save his friend, before either of them can finish the job.

    • carsonreeves1

      Yeah, there’s no logic right now to Hero hiring Criminal. He just seems to be hiring him because he’s in the movie and nearby. You want there to be reasons for everything that happens in your screenplay – for some an easy concept to grasp, for others it’s quite hard for some reason.

      But yeah, if you could sell us a bill of goods about WHY Criminal would be helpful to hire in this situation, we’d be more on board with Hero hiring him.

  • Nicholas J

    I stopped a couple pages after the grocery store, for the same reasons as everybody else.

    The setup is obviously a problem, as these are all the unbelievable and/or coincidental things that needed to happen:

    1. Arlen gives himself a deadline for suicide.
    2. Arlen happens to meet Xavier right before this deadline expires.
    3. Arlen calls Xavier as a telemarketer and just happens to live by him.
    4. Xavier happens to realize Arlen’s number is listed as private and concludes that he lives nearby.
    5. Xavier happens to hear someone say Arlen’s name over the phone.
    6. Xavier happens to shop at the exact same grocery store as Arlen.
    7. Xavier happens to be there at the exact same time as Arlen.
    8. Xavier happens to hear someone at the grocery store say Arlen’s name.
    9. Arlen happens to be dumb enough to think that hiring Xavier as a life coach is a good idea.
    10. Xavier happens to care enough to help Arlen, even though he’s setup as someone who wouldn’t.

    And that was all in the opening pages that I read. Did I miss anything? In short, it’s too much of a stretch. I’d have a hard time believing 3 of these things, much less all 10. Apologies if I got any of these wrong (I probably did) but you can still see the issue here regardless.

    The good news is, by following Carson’s advice and just having them meet in an organic way, you can eliminate this entire problem.

    Best of luck with it, Jai!

  • S_P_1


    My VOTE for comment of the week.


    I don’t feel every story has to stay with you forever…but I feel the story should be the highlight. Not how easy to read it is.

    • Citizen M

      A badly-written script with a good story is the screenplay equivalent of “She’s not good-looking but she’s got a nice personality” i.e. not an enticing prospect.

      We’re a bunch of writers. Of course we’re going to comment on the quality of the writing. It’s the writer’s job to make the writing transparent so the story comes through effortlessly.

      • Eric

        Then again, how many of us spent thousands of dollars committing ourselves to the hottest dumb girl we ever dated.

  • Tyler Givens


    In order to find eternal peace a wondering ghost cursed after death must find a way to come back to life and then kill himself again.

    Might work as a horror. Or a supernatural detective story.

  • Michael

    Congrats to Jai on getting a second AF Review. I noted many of the same points as Carson, so I would say he nailed it.

    Great job on the fast, clean read. I liked a lot of the dialog. While mostly straight forward in tone, it usually rang true. You should try to shorten the dialog and infuse more action in the scenes.

    Jai develops some nice characters. I like Xavier, I like Patricia. Not a fan of hapless losers, they are a hard sell. The character descriptions are thin or non-existent. It’s funny that Carson posted Chadwick Boseman as Arlen, I thought Arlen and Patricia were white? Being white made more sense for Arlen’s conflict with Xavier and his discomfort to going to Xavier’s part of town.

    I read to page 58 and stopped. Beyond what Carson has written and what’s reflected in my notes, I would add that a big part of the rules is paying attention to structure. Page 58 is the exact halfway point of the script and not much has happened. The midpoint is a very important moment in a script where what has come before is turned on its head. Our hapless loser Arlen should be morphing into a new man by now, yet we’ve barely addressed one of his three requirements to go on living. Other than a mysterious AUDI A4 following them on page 41 (guessing it’s associated with Xavier’s storyline), there isn’t much to hold our interest. I don’t think Act 1 was punctuated with an inciting incident to propel the story forward, unless that was Arlen meeting Xavier? If Xavier’s problems are the complication that is coming, they should happen right away so Arlen realizes that his three simple goals are meaningless and he discovers something more important about life.

    Well, for better or worse, here are my notes:

    P 1 Remove title “THREE OR OUT” from page 1. You went with weird font on your title page, now stand by it. In your WYSR: “I wanted to prove to myself that I had the discipline to follow the rules.” Well, you started breaking them on the title page.


    -Change to ARLEN’S HOUSE – BEDROOM, we haven’t met the woman in the voiceover or Patricia, it’s confusing, it reads like Arlen is calling Patricia downstairs. Arlen lives with his mother, got it, but it’s his house too because he lives there.

    P 4 Add “TV plays” to “a recruitment commercial…” Arlen is making sales calls with the TV on in the background?

    P 4 “His demeanor…” Describe in action, don’t just tell us what is emotionally going on with the character.

    P 4 “Join Dad” Don’t handwrite. You can get away with weird font on a title page (although you shouldn’t even there) but not within the script.

    P 1-4 Scene needs to be shorter.

    P 6 AAAGGHHH!!! More handwriting.

    P 7 Arlen telecalls Xavier, then leaves his house and the first person he randomly encounters is Xavier? Too coincidental.

    P 7 More weird font. Please stop doing that.

    P 32 “…give me your number…” Old joke, Seinfeld did this joke in the 90’s, need original joke.

    Okay, through Act 1. Not much humor, not much drama, very milk toast. The writing is clean and fast, but dialog scenes could be shorter to move things along. Patricia and Xavier are interesting, but don’t know why I should be interested in following our hapless loser lead character Arlen. Is Arlen announcing he’s going to kill himself the inciting incident? Seems like we need more at this point.

    P 51 Give the “SUIT” a name. Is it Maury?

    Half way through and all we’ve done is some apartment hunting. Seriously, does that seem like a movie you would pay to see?

    In general, Arlen’s three goals seem so minimal that without having set up his failing at them in Act 1, they seem inconsequential and contrived. As a result I’m not feeling any GSU.

    The premise isn’t even paying off. Arlen needs a realtor to help him, not a criminal.

    Sorry Jai, page 58 and I’m out, too little happening.

    Okay that’s it for notes. I’m going to use that dreaded word, outline. Outline before you start or after your first draft if you are one of those folks. Make sure your structure is solid, without it your story is stuck in first gear.

    Hope these notes are helpful. Good luck with the rewrites.

    Out of curiosity Carson, is Jai’s script the one you thought would be a slaughter, I couldn’t tell?

    Finally, OT: Carson wrote, “What good are my articles if we never reference them?”

    I want to add to the chorus of people who have recently asked to have the chronological Archive restored so it is easier to reference them. Don’t get me wrong, I like the subdivisions of articles you added, keep those they’re great, but sometimes it’s easier to find an old article by looking for it based on when one remembers having read it. Don’t know about others, but I go back and reread a lot of your past posts.

    Have a great holiday weekend if you are here in the states.

    • Poe_Serling

      ” Remove title “THREE OR OUT” from page 1. You went with weird font on your title page, now stand by it. In your WYSR: “I wanted to prove to myself that I had the discipline to follow the rules.” Well, you started breaking them on the title page.”

      Funny and to the point. I got a feeling that Jai’s writing style just naturally tilts
      toward the old saying “you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.”

  • BoSoxBoy

    Log– A middle-aged man wallowing in self-pity from financial woes takes his sailboat deep into the ocean to end his life on his own terms, only to encounter a poor family of refugees on a sinking raft making their way to live the American Dream.

    • S_P_1

      If I could up vote this more I would.

      • carsonreeves1

        A little hard to buy into (the chances of this happening in real life are like 1 in a billion) but probably the best use of irony in our contest so far.

        • Stephjones

          ” A little hard to buy into.”
          Not my world. I have a friend who sailed into a harbor on a deserted island ( in the Bahamas) and came across 60 Haitians who were dying from lack of food and water because their boat had sank. He was afraid they would over power him and take his boat but he stayed and helped them. A true hero. He was able to radio for help and the local coast guard came and rescued them, then tragically sent them back to Haiti.
          Haitians sink on over loaded boats all the time. It’s VERY possible to come across some survivors adrift on something. We were in the Exumas when a haitian boat sailed into the harbor and ran up on a reef. It was over loaded in the extreme. We helped with food, water and clothes but then the defense force loaded everybody up and sent them back to Haiti.
          Google Haitiens rescued at sea. It happens ALL the time between Haiti and the Bahamas.

    • Casper Chris

      Not sure there’s an actual feature length movie there, but the situation is interesting.

      • BoSoxBoy

        I’m thinking in the ocean until the end, with subplots that magnify how one man’s perceived American Dream life and death problems would be a mere inconvenience to another, focusing on the purpose of life, survival, love, and loss. The refugees’ main struggle – the mother is 9 months pregnant and wants to give birth on American soil so her child is a citizen of the land that crushed the dreams of the protag.

        • carsonreeves1

          ” that magnify how one man’s perceived American Dream life and death problems would be a mere inconvenience to another,” I like that.

        • Bacon Statham

          I think it would work better as a Trading Places type of film.

          The protagonist figures he’s never coming back home so he gives the refugee family his sailboat, fortune and house for them to make use of, whilst he lives in their tiny village in South America and realises that life means much more than money.

        • Casper Chris

          Yeah, I get that (the part Carson quotes is the part that initially intrigued me), but you don’t want a talking heads film so you’d have to find a way to “externalize” that.
          It might be one of those ideas that work better as a short story or novel.

    • LV426

      And then they all get sucked into the Bermuda Triangle!

  • Caivu

    Genre: Sci-Fi/Action
    Logline: A new terrorist group begins using suicide bombers who carry out successful attacks… and survive unharmed.

    • Scott Strybos

      The surviving unharmed is confusing, but your genre is sci-fi, so do they survive through sci-fi tech? If not, a cool idea could be suicide bombers who succeed are reconstituted, memory and all, after each attack/suicide and made to do it again and again and again.

      • Caivu

        Yeah, this was a totally off-the-top-of-my-head thing. It wouldn’t even need to be sci-fi; horror could work, if the way to bring the bombers back was supernatural. I was thinking more along the lines of the bombers being immortal, and how dangerous such a group would be and how difficult it would be to stop them. The idea you had is actually something I’m toying with in one of my scripts right now (the memory stuff, anyway).

  • Casper Chris

    Looks like the writer of Insatiable got snubbed. He had about twice as many votes from what I can tell.

  • Felip Serra

    If I may chime in…

    I felt an undeniable sweetness with this work. The writer clearly loves these characters and tried put them into situations that made their better qualities shine in the end (yes, I finished it.) Was he entirely successful? No. But I think the problems originate from the THEME not being clearly defined. And I saw the theme as “How To Be A Man.”

    It’s not that Arlen ISN’T a man — he’s intelligent, responsible, capable — it’s just at the moment when he was supposed to go and make his own way, he was interrupted. And without someone to help steer him towards maturity (I have to assume since the father killed himself he was kind of absent to begin with) how would he know how to get a job, or an apartment, or have a relationship with a girl? We learn by example, do we not? Isn’t Arlen just following his father’s example by wanting to kill himself?

    To me this is far more real, far more identifiable then, say, grown adults trying to live out their youthful fantasies. This is a real person who wants real things and is trying to obtain them the best he can with the equipment he’s got.

    But he needs help, so enter Xavier. But I also felt their relationship a little one-sided; Arlen needs to be something more to Xavier than just money. What else can he offer? (The answer is: A lot.) Xavier wants to be a musician — Is this a fantasy? Or is he really that good? We need to see this. Also we have Xavier extolling these “manly” lessons while also playing video games with his friends and being rude to his sister… Could Arlen in some way help Xavier re-evaluate what “manly” really is?

    I liked it when Xavier showing him the hustle of apartment hunting. It was different. Normally in this kind of movie situation, where the Expert is taking the Novice under his wing, it’s how to get laid. But if you’re going to tackle a more realistic goal the delivery needs to blind us with its shining brilliance. Xavier shouldn’t just negotiate, he should lay down a new science! Think of the most explosive, high-speed way to raise up apartment negotiating. Make people say “I had no IDEA it could be like that!” This is a movie after all.

    The suicide thing. I don’t know. I mean, it’s been done well before (thinking of “Harold and Maude” or “Better Off Dead”) but I never thought Arlen was as desperate a character. On the other hand the way his life was going I could see a window for that kind of thinking. So, really evaluate this and see if its necessary. As it is right now its on the side lines and therefore distracting.

    Which brings me to Mr. Marcel. Whereas I like the idea of the cultured villain (he does have some of the best lines) I don’t know if this whole plot line was necessary. You know the story of “Good Will Hunting”? In the initial drafts the entire third act was Matt Damon’s character involved in some government secrecy bullshit and it became a race-against-the-clock thriller (I’m not kidding). EVERYONE they showed the script to said the same thing: Lose the fucking thriller part and concentrate on the relationship between Will and his therapist. THAT’S your movie… So. Catch my drift?

    Other than that, some of your colloquialisms were jarring (“Whatever gives a rise to that twig between your thighs”; This ain’t Ricki Lake, you pancake face”; “No more than two sausages at a time”) Every time I hit one it stopped the flow. Make them seamlessly clever or ditch them altogether. Beyond that the writing was really well done.

    So. That’s what I got. Best of luck my friend.

    • Jai Brandon

      Thanks for the read, Felip! I did hear about the Good Will Hunting third act. I like Marcel and what he brings to the story, so perhaps the answer is to bring him in earlier. It’d probably turn out to be a completely different movie, but at the same time, as others have said, no one liked seeing Arlen feel sorry for himself, so the suicide angle could be downplayed if they were trying to tackle bigger problems. Lots to think about.

      • Felip Serra

        You’re welcome Jai. Thank you for sharing.

        I really liked Marcel too and I hesitated to suggest that he go away. Maybe integrating him more tightly with the plot, e.g. not simply an antagonist but real obstacle directly tied to the outcome? I don’t know. And yes, you certainly have some things to mull over :)

  • Scott Strybos

    Hardly polished, I haven’t worked any finer details, but here is my attempt at the logline challenge….

    On his 40th birthday, perpetual loser James Black puts a gun to his head and pulls the trigger—an act which sends his soul to Purgatory, one step from Hell, a place of true suffering, far worse than his life before, and where he will setenced for all of eternity… unless he prevails in a unique challenge: go back three days and convince himself not to kill himself.

    • Bacon Statham

      I like it. One thing I’d do is make the dead James Black take on a different persona than the real James Black, so his job is that much harder. It would be too easy if he looked exactly like he did in the real world. It wouldn’t take much convincing.

      • Scott Strybos

        That would be the plan, yeah… the story would be over very quickly if James could identify himself… to himself.

        • wlubake

          There’d need to be some disorientation too. If he could find him immediately (“Oh, I was at Schlotzky’s then) and answer every question about him, it is a one scene convincing process.

          • Bacon Statham

            I think one way to do it would be that the ruler of Purgatory (whoever that is) challenges every soul that ends up there to atone for their sins by saving another person.

            In the case of a suicide, they have to convince their living selves not to carry it out, except the ruler of Purgatory won’t make it easy for those people, so they go back to Earth with the appearance and memories of someone who failed the challenge.

            So James doesn’t know he’s trying to save himself.

          • Scott Strybos

            Exactly, except for the memory part. They need their own memories.

            But I am almost positive this is already a Christian television show. They go before a heavenly judge, surrounded by clouds. The lawyer for each soul is the star of the show who is in every episode… If they can’t do it they don’t go to heaven. Anybody?

      • Scott Strybos

        Sorry, I misread the first time I read this comment. James has to be himself, and remember himself, just not look like himself, and be able to identify himself.

        And part of the problem would be HE CAN’T THINK OF ANY REASONS NOT TO KILL HIMSELF.

        • Bacon Statham

          That makes a lot of sense actually. I can see how that would be more entertaining to watch. Since dead James can’t think of any reasons to stay alive, he has to create them instead.

          Maybe dead James pushes living James into starting a relationship with the pretty neighbour he was too much of a coward to say anything to. And you could get away with having both James’ on screen at the same time with other people by passing them off as twins.

          Dead James could find his second wind and be the more successful brother whilst living James is the loser brother. You could flip it so that the pretty neighbour falls for dead James instead and he does everything he can to put her off.

  • Zackary Hill

    Genre: Thriller


    Logline: A psychiatrist that specializes in suicide treatment and prevention has his identity stolen by a serial killer that steals his victim’s identities and lives out their darkest fantasies before making their murders appear to be suicides.

  • Nir Paniry

    contained dark comedy

    A disgraced and depressed cop gets to a high-rise roof to leap to his death where he meets a woman about to leap to her own death. The woman assumes the cop is up there to talk her down but she doesn’t want to go. Smitten by the woman, he decides to play the part, trying to talk her off the ledge. Things get heated with the inclusion of cops, the media, family, exes, and a few dirty secrets along the way.

  • wlubake

    So here’s my suicide concept I’ve been toying with, but can’t muster up the courage to commit to. Short on irony, but long on intrigue (to me):

    Biopic – Once a sports statistics writer decides to commit suicide on his 60th birthday, he spends the next year meticulously planning the most efficient and least obtrusive suicide in history.

    So this really happened. The guy left a wealth of information in the form of a website outlining his decision-making (he wasn’t depressed, sick or broke), planning (from the way he would kill himself, to setting up his own cremation, to selling off all his assets), and measuring the implications of his death (on both a macro and micro level).

    Admittedly, the website doesn’t leave enough for a movie. It would require some elaboration to create a cast and add some conflict. My key thought is that he needs someone who knows his plans and resists them. I picture him striking up a friendship with a saleswoman at a casket store. It would be a dark romantic comedy without jokes or romance, if you will.

    I spent about a week voraciously reading every bit of that website, and couldn’t shake the idea that it was a unique viewpoint that deserved to be more widely spread (by film). I had cast J.K. Simmons in my head, before he got big-ish with Whiplash.

  • wlubake

    Here’s an out-there one:

    The world’s most depressed man can’t kill himself without also taking the life of the happiest man he knows – his conjoined twin brother.

    Basically, I like the concept that killing himself would also take the life of someone very happy. The conjoined twin was the only realistic approach to that I could think of in the last 90 seconds.

    • LV426

      Interesting idea.

      I can’t think of a lot of conjoined twins movies, so you might have something unique with this.

  • carsonreeves1

    There’s a certain “buy in” factor though. It can’t be too hard to buy into.

    A giant lizard terrorizing a city I can buy into under the right circumstances. But if he also turns into a human in his spare time and has built a secret house inside the moon, now I start to say “ehhh… Not sure I’m buying in anymore.”

    I’m not saying this idea is that extreme but it just seems a little unlikely that right when someone’s going off to sea of all places to kill themselves (why not just jump off a building?) that they meet a drowning family in the sea.

    • Will_Alexander

      “Why not just jump off a building?”

      Because most life insurance policies won’t pay out in full for a suicide. Going out to sea could make it look like an accident, and therefore the guy’s family could still benefit from the policy. And as far as finding the drifting family, just put it at the beginning and it would work. A story can always be BASED on an amazing coincidence.

      You put ONE amazing coincidence in the first few pages, have everything else in the story escalate directly from it, and never use another coincidence to help your protag but maybe use one or two more to hurt her and you’ve got a potential story.

  • wlubake

    End of my stream of consciousness posting, but the Avengers deals with an ironic suicide concept: the suicidal character who can’t be killed.

    I paraphrase: “I tried that. I put a gun in my mouth, pulled the trigger, and the other guy spit out the bullet.”

    • Bacon Statham

      I’ve wondered about how that even happens. I know it’s a film based around superheroes and I shouldn’t look into it too much, but it takes a minute for him to fully change into the Hulk, so by the time he pulls the trigger, he should already be dead.

      • wlubake

        Maybe the hard plate on the roof of his mouth is the first thing to change over?

  • Randy Williams

    Congrats to the writer for making it on AF!

    I voted this second because although I loved the characters, I felt the story was a bit thin and unfocused.
    I could see this working very well as a mini-series, an extended soap opera with the focus on the romantic relationship building between Arlen and Xavier’s sister and everything else secondary. With plenty of time for flashbacks as we see the back story of Arlen and his mother, the suicide of his father. Some flashbacks to Xavier’s life. His sister’s. The relationships between characters are what made this script so rich for me. I mean, I rarely feel for characters like I did in reading this. I wanted to know much more about them and a feature would be limited in doing that.
    Unfortunately whereas all over the world, you can watch soap operas that have a limited run, that would fit this story, in this country they don’t produce them.

  • Eric

    Kinda tossed off here. I’m sure I could phrase it better with more time…

    LOGLINE: An inept housewife kills her husband and successfully makes it look like a suicide in order to collect life insurance, but once she’s informed insurance doesn’t pay out to suicides, she must tamper with the police investigation to make it retroactively look like murder again.

    Genre: Dark Comedy

    Title: Second Chances(?)

    • Scott Strybos

      The story might work better if she has to retroactively rewrite the crime scene after she has already called the cops and reported a suicide BUT BEFORE the cops arrive. Before the investigation. The cops aren’t rushing because it is a busy night, and no one is in eminent danger, but she has to do it all before the police arrive sometime that night.

      Tampering with police evidence has the thrill and tension of her breaking into a police station but this might strain plausibility (?)

      • Eric

        It was a spur of the moment idea so I don’t have anything ironed out. Tampering with the actual evidence seems a stretch too far, unless she figures out a way for them to bring something to her and leave her alone with it.

        Mostly I’d think about inventing new evidence and feeding the cops connections and half-truths. Things that almost point directly to her and what really happened, but trying to swing it toward a patsy as well.

    • carsonreeves1

      Ooh, I like that one. She has to make it look like murder but not HER being the murderer. That could be good.

    • Erica

      First image that came to mind reading that logline is Melissa McCarthy. I love the concept. Like the Scott said about changing the crime scene before the cops show up. Kind of like a “Horrible Bosses” type comedy.

      • Scott Strybos

        “Less Melissa McCarthy, more Jenna McCarthy.”

        (Don’t crucify me—this is obviously a comedic quote, hence the quotation marks, and not my actual opinion.)

    • wlubake

      This is clever, but has two problems (I just bought life insurance not long ago):

      1. Most life insurance only has a 2 year exclusion on coverage for suicide. The rationale being that no one plans their suicide that far in advance.

      2. Everyone knows that suicide is a possible coverage exclusion. You’d be setting this up, and the audience would be whispering to each other “but she can’t collect if they think its a suicide, right?”

      • IgorWasTaken

        She thinks the 2 years are up, kills him, makes it look like suicide. Then she discovers she was one day too soon.

      • Eric

        Thanks wlublake.

        1. I’d have to look into this. I like Igor’s suggestion. It might allow her to be smart and have made a mistake, rather than dumb and somehow pulled off the perfect crime.

        2. I’m thinking the end of Act 1 would be where her mistake is revealed and she realizes she needs a new plan. Maybe we could watch her executing the murder plot (lots of details that would be revisited throughout the movie) and not know until she’s sitting with her insurance agent what the ultimate goal even was. And once it’s revealed, so is the screw up along with it.

  • BSBurton

    Then, have him meet Xavier when they’re both at the store and Xavier
    tries to rob it. There doesn’t have to be this big weird artificial
    coincidence that facilitates their meet-up. It can and should be

    — Good point Caron.

  • Randy Williams

    My ironic logline about suicide.


    A small town that considers suicide a sin, buries all the suicides in a forgotten plot outside of town.
    A young woman fighting her demons discovers that her town is actually “heaven” and “eternal life” and those who killed themselves wanted out for good.

  • wlubake

    Logline: Godzilla, depressed because he doesn’t fit in (given he is so much bigger and stronger than everyone else), repeatedly tries to electrocute himself.

    • brenkilco

      Given his cultural roots he wanted to perform hara kiri but since he doesn’t have thumbs he had problems with the sword.

      • Poe_Serling

        Just saw this article and thought you might enjoy it:


        From your comments, I’m pretty sure that you’re a major Hitch fan… right? I hope I’m not getting you mixed up with another commenter.

        • brenkilco

          No, you’re right. Thanks for this. Knew about most of these. But Cary Grant as Hamlet. That was a new one.

    • Bacon Statham

      It must be a short film. All someone has to do is tell Godzilla to think of a T-Rex making a bed. Problem solved.

  • brenkilco

    As noted the tone of the script is low key and indie/natural but the set up is contrived and implausible. Leaving aside the cosmic coincidence of Xaviar and Arlen encountering one another at the store, why would a newby criminal in desperate need of money stage a home invasion which could get him a major jail sentence in order to rob a telemarketer? Robbing somebody with actual money would involve the same risk. And why would Arlen pay a couple of grand for real estate and job advice to a person such desperate financial straits that he has been reduced to robbery? For that matter why is somebody with five k in cash on hand having trouble getting an apartment? Despite elements of charm the foundation this script is just too flimsy

  • Citizen M

    best logline about suicide you can that uses IRONY


    A psychiatrist who has fallen in love with a patient’s wife tries to persuade him to commit suicide, and plants a gun, noose, knife etc in the hope he will use them, only to find them used against him when the patient finds out and tries to kill him.

    • Casper Chris


    • carsonreeves1

      sort of Hitchcockian.

    • LV426

      I like it.

      Alt. title idea: SHARP OBJECTS

  • Erica

    TITLE: Subscribe


    Desperate to gain their first viral video, a couple of Rich Kids devise a prank that ends up going too far after a stranger is convinced to commit suicide. Only later do they realize that it was all a set up when they discover everything is gone from their home while being charged with murder that didn’t really happen.

  • BellBlaq

    Just some thoughts if you really want this to be a dark comedy and not a drama…

    The 3 Main Story Problems
    1) Why does the Telemarketer want/have to die?
    2) Their coincidental meeting.
    3) Why does the Telemarketer hire a criminal as a life coach?

    1) After his mother’s death, his long lost father (one of the most important men in the world) receives word that she’ll expose his bastard son’s existence and gives the boy an ultimatum: prove himself worthy of being his son, or die.
    2) Consider not having them meet face-to-face (or maybe not until the end of the movie). The hero’s a telemarketer, so why not let the Criminal harass him via telephone (constant texts, midnight calls, etc) with his advice?
    3) Consider what kind of criminal he is. Instead of him being a petty thief, why not make him a financial planner? Or a real estate broker? Or an actual life coach? And then have the “criminal element” be that he scammed people or whatever. Maybe the Criminal keeps changing burner cells as he’s dodging prosecution and the Telemarketer keeps inadvertently getting his new number (however it is they do that), so he (the criminal) starts out intending to vent his frustrations on this annoying telemarketer and they end up actually helping each other?

  • BellBlaq

    Genre: Comedy
    Title: So Happy We Could Die
    Logline: A thrice-divorced woman thinks she’s finally found the perfect man, and determined to never live without him, secretly adds murder-suicide to their honeymoon itinerary.

  • LV426

    Title: The Erasure Artist
    Genre: Sci-fi/ActionLogline: In the future where everyone lives via two lives, a virtual online duplicate citizen and their real world offline self, an activist who’s online personality has rebelled must rely on the talents of a professional assassin known as an “erasure artist” to kill her virtual self.

  • IgorWasTaken

    Carson, I’m glad you reviewed this script. I regret your response to it.

    Is it arguable that the setup is “forced”? Yes. But lots of setups are forced. The setup for “Crazy, Stupid, Love” is forced – that the guy helping Steve Carell’s character happens to hook up with that character’s daughter. Shit, it can be said that the setup for “Some Like It Hot” is forced.

    I figure, the first 10-12 pages is where a writer has lots of license. And that’s what happens here.

    Also, I thought coincidences that cause problems are given greater leeway than coincidences that fix problems. No?

    I get your suggestion that Arlen maybe should be collecting welfare. But making him a telemarketer makes him more interesting and easily despised. If you took a poll: “Who(m) do you hate more: Someone on welfare or someone who calls your phone to sell you stuff?” The telemarketer gets more votes.

    All that said, what’s great about your review is this: It shows that if a reader does not buy a writer’s setup – doesn’t matter if the reader is “wrong” or whatever – then the writer is dead. Dead, dead, dead.

    Which you point out explicitly:

    But I think this comes down to me not being excited enough about this idea.

    It’s like, “Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?”

    • Jai Brandon

      Yeah, coincidences exist in just about every story – plausible and implausible. If two complete strangers come together, it’s always going to be a chance encounter of some sort. And if a reader doesn’t subscribe to how that happens, then you’re right, it doesn’t matter what follows on the page.

      I wanted to paint Arlen as a character so desperate to try anything to get out of his situation, that he would in fact hire a man who he believes has qualities that could help his situation. I understand that I failed in making that desperation pop off the page. Should say I also would’ve abandoned this idea a long time ago if others had a lukewarm reaction to it, but that wasn’t the case. The self-imposed thing was an issue, but generally the others liked it enough to encourage me to go forward. After hammering out a first draft, I sent it to a Page (Screenwriting Competition) judge for notes and his thoughts were:

      “This is a solid concept that could serve as the basis for a fun, high concept dark comedy. You’ve done a solid job telling an unusual and somewhat dark story in a manner that still managed to be light enough to entertain.”

      Who’s wrong here? After the feedback today, wherein the majority couldn’t get past the initial set-up, it’s clear the fault lies with me. I can make their encounter more organic, strip away the telemarketing angle, and infuse some irony. Doing those three alone would make for a much better script. I also have to find a way to make his desperation seep through, so others won’t question why he hired this man.

      I am glad you liked the piece, Igor, you weren’t the only one. Now it’s on me to up my game and produce a better story. I need more to like it. Much more.

      • IgorWasTaken

        Just throwing something out there…

        Maybe the coincidence at the supermarket – which, I think totally works after the bit on the phone (“you must be local…”), but –

        What if, as they are at the market, Xavier is about to rob the place, Arlen has not reached the door… Two other guys come in and rob the place, put everyone in a back room, and rob all of them, too. Now we have reason for Xavier to be in a confined place with Arlen. And with Arlen’s personality, we can accept he’d be trying to explain to the two robbers why he won’t give it up. So now Xavier has lots of time to hear Arlen speaking – hearing his voice, hearing maybe some favorite phrase.

        Again, just a thought.

        • Jai Brandon

          To flip this story completely on its head, I could scrap Arlen’s three goals altogether, have a suicidal Xavier call him on the hotline, then have Arlen break protocol by agreeing to meet this stranger in person. I don’t think others would question that set-up. And because this is a comedy and Xavier still has his problems, the initial meeting between the two could still result in Xavier trying to rob him.

          • IgorWasTaken

            OK, I see that. But, off the top (and of course you know Arlen a LOT better than I do), I think you’d have to come with something substantial for Arlen to do that.

          • Jai Brandon

            Yeah, absolutely agree. The “why” has to resonate with the audience.

      • Linkthis83

        Jai, in my opinion, it’s not about right or wrong. You are empowered to write the story you want in whatever way you feel you want to.

        With story, it’s rarely the “thing” alone that’s the issue. The way all this stuff is connected is that it’s the stuff before and the stuff after and the dynamics of the relationships or lack thereof.

        The coincidence can happen if you say it does, but it’s so casual that it feels like it’s been written as opposed to existing naturally in your premise.

        By casual I mean this: Yes, the coincidence itself is irritating because it feels so unlikely and yet so necessary for your story. The majority of stories have some sort of random coincidence/occurrence because was it not for that random scenario, the story wouldn’t be kicked into motion.

        With yours specifically, the casualness comes from him going to the store for sugar for cereal, then the coincidence, then an encounter that doesn’t have much meat, up to the home invasion. It’s missing it’s own sugar. It’s missing the things that make it interesting, unique, inspired, and intriguing.

        So the reason the focus is on the coincidence is because it is the thing that stands out most in this chain of events. Elements of stories are always possible no matter how contrived, cliched, or coincidenced that piece is in the story, it’s how it’s delivered that makes not hone in on it.

        And there will always be those who do. Like me. Reading a story in this format is like pausing a movie frame by frame and being critical of everything without knowing nor understanding it’s place.

        I loathe the critique “this would never happen.” – the thing that makes most movies awesome is because the thing that would never happen is happening. We’ve all had experiences to things that would never happen and yet they have – and for some reason people will still deny it. That takes the fun out of story creation and imagination.

        That’s why I say I didn’t like the coincidence, not that you can’t have it. But for me, and as far as I read, the coincidence is unnecessary. It’s not even needed. For me, it’s more impactful if Arlen meets Xavier under circumstances that are extreme for both of them. The emotional states are the coincidence and that won’t matter as much. Also, the fact that Arlen has contacted Xavier BEFORE they meet is the coincidence more than them running into each other at the store…in my opinion (which is almost always bold and overstated :)

        • Jai Brandon

          I do see what you’re saying, Link, and just wrote a response for a more organic encounter. Coincidences have to exist, but if they feel like they come about because the writer’s hand is at play, then they have to go. Rest assured, I’ll make this script a better one.

          • Linkthis83

            I just re-read what I wrote and I feel my tone wasn’t the way I intended it. Sorry about that. It felt way more positive than it reads.

          • Jai Brandon

            I took nothing negative away, Link. It’s very clear it came from a constructive place. Thank you.

      • Citizen M

        Jai, what you need to do IMO is set up Arlen and set up Xavier, so when they finally meet we think “Oh shit, here comes trouble/comedy/action/whatever”.

  • lesbiancannibal

    Title: Death Row Suicide

    A BRILLIANT lawyer wrongfully convicted of killing his family has three days to convince a Governor to pardon him — so he can join his wife and kids on his own terms.

  • LV426

    Title: Magic Bullet
    Genre: Action/Comedy
    Logline: A by-the-book secret service agent must bend all the rules in his attempt to keep a severely depressed President of the United States from committing suicide.

    • IgorWasTaken

      A by the book secret service agent

      Caution. The hyphen-police will be here shortly.

      • LV426


        I was thinking of it but got caught up in the rest of the logline logistics.

        What about the idea though?

        • IgorWasTaken

          That would be very hard to make work. And as I see it, you’d have to know a LOT of inside baseball just to get started.

          For example, I’ve spent time with execs in Hollywood, and I think I can write decent satire, but I could never have written The Player.

          • LV426

            I changed it from satire to action/comedy.

            You’re right though. It would certainly be a challenging idea to tackle. Fun, but very challenging. I thought it was good though. At least maybe there is something there. I was kind of joking with it to be honest, but now I’m thinking it has some juice, but will need to let it marinate in my mind a bit.

            Thanks for the input.

          • IgorWasTaken

            How about the agent has to keep the President’s seriously depressed brother from committing suicide. (True, adult siblings don’t typically get SS protection, so some excuse would be needed to explain that.)

            Thing is, this brother has been such a political embarrassment, the President’s senior advisers are hoping the brother will kill himself. And so now the agent keeps running into roadblocks – like, he’s reassigned after saving the brother once, because saving him pissed off the Chief of Staff. So now this agent has to devise ways to do it on his own time, maybe with help from some oddball friends of the brother…

          • LV426

            That is interesting.

            Stakes idea: the President’s staff is waiting for the brother to off himself so they can conduct some slimy black ops missions and the international media coverage of the sure to soon be dead brother will divert so much attention away that they’ll be in the clear as well as rid of the embarrassing ass of a brother.

          • IgorWasTaken

            Yeh, that can work for stakes. Or depending on your POV, a B story. And I guess those sorts of movies often do have that kind of B story.

            OTOH, the stakes could be whether the brother will die. There could also be stakes that the agent could lose his job. Is he willing to take a career-bullet for the President’s brother?

            I guess a lot depends on what tone you want. Such as whether the brother does or doesn’t have any redeeming qualities. Total loser versus just a guy who doesn’t know better.

  • LV426

    Title: SHELL
    Genre: Sci-fi/Action
    Logline: After escaping a future war zone, a cybernetic soldier finds out he has been cloned and his dupe put into service as a lackey for military propaganda on the homefront. Dodging a team of assassins he must kill this copy of himself if he wants to reclaim his life and family.

  • Midnight Luck


    In a future where unnatural advances in life extension technology makes it impossible to commit suicide, a Doctor discovers a way to end a severely ill and injured patients life. The moment the patient dies though, he realizes he’s opened a Pandora’s Box of problems as the world and everyone in it begin to die.

    • LV426


      Although maybe add something about how due to the life extension tech, that attempting to commit or even assisting a suicide would be met with extreme punishment.

      Maybe something like… “life extension tech makes it nearly impossible and highly illegal to commit suicide.”

      • Midnight Luck

        I actually didn’t want it to be wishy-washy at all about if you could or couldn’t commit suicide, so it needs to be that it is IMPOSSIBLE to do so.

        At least that is what everyone believes at the time, it is an agreed upon understanding around the world by then. It doesn’t happen, it is not possible. EXCEPT there would be talk here and there, someone heard someone did find a way, someone has a friend who knows someone who knows of a secret way to off yourself, kind of thing. (but all of that info would be part of the script, not something I would try to cram into the logline).

        as for having something about there being dire consequences should someone commit suicide, well, the logline is already a bit long and complex, I agree that could be a good thing to include, but it also might not make sense, because

        who would the dire consequences affect? the person who did it is dead. Would it affect their family? their money? would they care since they just committed suicide? Now if it affects the person who helps them (the doctor) ok I can agree that is an added problem, yet then what I explained before comes into play. If it is just a “given” that it isn’t possible to commit suicide anymore, why would there be such harsh punishments or legal ramifications? all that would do is make people think there ARE ways to accomplish the suicidal goals.

        Ok, I over think everything, so sorry for the long winded response, but I think all my points are still valid.

        • LV426

          I was thinking the consequences (the law) could still have an effect on someone that attempts to commit suicide, but fails or is prevented from doing so by some kind of intervention (cops, family, etc).

          The reason I brought it up is that to me, life extension hints at longer lifespans and healthier life, not invincibility or the impossibility of suicide/death. Although perhaps in this future the life extension treatments come with a dose of some drug that makes it so that the person can’t kill themselves. The brain is tricked into not allowing anyone to self-terminate. Or they have nanobots in their heads or whatever doing this. You could even set it up so that part of the sales pitch for the life extension treatments states that “even should you become depressed and contemplate suicide, you won’t step off the deep end and commit the unspeakable act.”

          Perhaps even getting depressed past a certain level or mulling suicidal thoughts sets off an alarm that notifies your doctor?

          There is lots that you could do with it.

          Crazy idea or subplot material — underground death cults who are fascinated with the notion of taking your own life, or they perform some pagan-like ritual sacrifices to some new death god they now worship.

          • Midnight Luck

            that is why I called it an “unnatural” life expansion. Something has been done to give people eternal life, but by doing so, they actually can’t die. At some point people get so tired of living they want to off themselves, they get sick, can’t die from it, but are in pain and hell for eternity, so again they just want to end it, but can’t.
            This unnatural extension causes all kinds of issues, yet no one can do anything about it.
            I just came up with the idea and logline, so I don’t know all the aspects yet, but that is the simple basis.

          • Stephjones

            I thought this was a good idea. A story driven by a plot along the same lines of ” the invention of lying” might work. Make it where folks don’t even know that taking your own life is a possibility? Maybe someone, with enough motivation, helps someone die and that opens the floodgate. It could be a great way to explore attitudes about death, dying and the sanctity of life.
            It might be set in a post-post apocalyptic world where populations had been diminished to the point where it became a crime, then an impossibility to kill yourself or someone else. You might have an ensemble cast, each with a different life circumstance which makes them wish to off themselves. Once the opportunity presents itself it would be compelling to see who does it and who doesn’t and why.

          • Midnight Luck

            Maybe, it could work. I would be a bit hesitant about writing an ensemble story. They seem almost impossible to do well. it needs to be orchestrated so perfectly and masterfully that no one notices the interweaving of stories.

  • Midnight Luck

    Jai, it looks like Carson put out a call to action for everyone, so sorry if your day in the light is dimmed in any way.

    I do want to say Congratulations for getting on AmFriday though!
    Hope you get a ton of helpful feedback.

    I did a breakdown of my thoughts and feelings about it over the AoW weekend. I hope something I said helps.

    Great job, and keep going!

    • Linkthis83

      Your notes were awesome.

      • Midnight Luck


    • Jai Brandon

      Thanks, Midnight. Onward and upward.

      • Midnight Luck


  • IgorWasTaken

    Carson, here’s an unsolicited suggestion –

    You should have stopped by page 10 or so on this script and not done a complete review.

    And I think you should do that with any AF script.

    Aside from starting a script and thinking, “This just sucks”… For me, there are two basic sorts of problems within the first 10-15 pages:
    (1) I have no idea how this is gonna pay off.
    (2) This doesn’t suck (like, the writing/grammar/formatting is fine), but I’m not buying it.

    For you, this script clearly fell into category 2.

    Now, I think an abbreviated review of those first 10-15 pages would be helpful – why you you didn’t buy it. But otherwise, I dunno.

    Some time ago I wrote a comedy with a concept that everyone loved. I mentioned it to a (“non-creative”) industry guy at lunch, he did a spit-take.

    But I sent it somewhere for notes and those notes started with, “This is not a comedy concept.” Total rejection of the very concept. Of course, comedy is subjective. Regardless, since she (I think it was “she) rejected to concept, how much value could I assign to the rest of the notes? I figured, not much.

    Now this is an extreme example, but… If you don’t think that any comedy routine with the word “rape” in it can ever be funny, then if you’re at a Louis CK concert and he says “rape”, what chance is there that you’ll find anything else after that to be funny?

    Again, just a suggestion: If you just don’t buy it by page 10-15, stop. Then tell us why.

    • Kirk Diggler

      “Regardless, since she (I think it was “she) rejected to concept, how much value could I assign to the rest of the notes? I figured, not much.”

      I think you hit on an interesting point. I’ve tried my hand at various genres, wrote a rom-com once. Some people really liked it but 1 in 4 or 5 readers just HATED it. Usually started their notes with “I’ll tell you in advance, this isn’t really gone be my thing.” They keep reading and ripped me a new one along the way. They probably should have quit after 10 pages if they KNEW they were gonna hate it. I certainly wasn’t going to learn anything valuable from that person.

      The trick is finding the reader who genuinely LIKES your concept and the way you are choosing to to tell it, but who understands that there is room for improvement and knows how to communicate this to you. Of course, if absolutely no one likes what you’ve written, then yeah, take the hint.

      • Poe_Serling

        “The trick is finding the reader who genuinely LIKES your concept and the
        way you are choosing to to tell it, but who understands that there is
        room for improvement and knows how to communicate this to you.”

        Exactly. Feedback that actually allows the writer to enhance/tighten/rearrange/etc. their story and take it to the next level.

        “Of course, if absolutely no one likes what you’ve written, then yeah, take the hint.”

        True too.

  • LV426

    Genre: Action/Sci-fi
    Logline: A lonely urbanite fed up with his boring life kills himself over and over again until discovering that he is a non-playable character in a lifelike video game. He seeks out other “glitches” like himself and they start up their own crime syndicate within the game, which attracts the attention of the game’s developers, players, and the real world media.


    Alt. title: GLITCH CITY

  • walker

    Congratulations to Jai. The script was crisply written with some nice dialogue and memorable characters. A big improvement on his previous AF script. And Jai deserves to be commended for his participation today even in the face of the suicide loglines distraction.

  • John Foderingham

    I’m actually stunned a black person has been chosen here to play the main character, but then again he chooses a criminal as a life coach so go figure. Cheers mate!

  • carsonreeves1

    Some people say Insatiable had more votes. – When I went through, it looked like Three or Out won. Maybe more people voted since then. But part of the problem is that some people will write a 5000 word comment and bury their vote somewhere around word 3019. Or they’ll say, “I liked script B more but would probably buy Script C.” I don’t know what that means as far as a vote.

    I try to tell people: Leave your vote clearly at the top of the comment so it’s easy for me to go through and tally the votes. If anything’s unclear, it might not get counted.

    • Cyarax

      Lots of people were talking abour Insatiable, but it was unclear if it was getting voted on more. I feel your confusion. Maybe you should institute a rule where members have to construct their vote a certain way. For instance, “My vote: (whatever)”. Otherwise it won’t be counted.

    • Shawn Davis

      Just a thought…

      Hello , I’m voter X

      [ X ] – The best pic

      [ ] – The second best
      [ ] – Third best

      Set up a poll script. Let the reviewer ramble all they want but put a poll play in a review reply to have the reviewer make an absolute vote.

      After all, there is no guessing on what you decide at the bottom of your reviews by doing the same thing.

      Black and white.


    • Howie428

      It’s fair enough that the counts are tough. This particular one ended up being between three of them, with both of the others picking up votes as well. So not very clear and difficult to agree on.

      In those circumstances it’s accepted that you’re entitled to pick. In this case the perception is that you made a choice that bizarrely contrasted with yesterday’s article. Your point about thinking that “Three or Out” won the vote is reassuring, because it seemed like a strange choice.

      I’m particularly sensitive to this because the last time I narrowly missed out was when you opted for the better premise of “Super Epic” over my script “Midas.” This time around, I thought I had the best premise, so it was a head-scratcher to see a one-out-of-seven premise get picked. It’s good that you’ve cleared up how that happened.
      I’ve wondered in the past if it would make sense for someone to post a comment on Sunday declaring what they believe the count at that point to be. Then other people could chime in on whether they agree or disagree with it. That would give you a starting point for your decision.

      • Jai Brandon

        No matter how “strange” you thought the selection was, remember there’s an author to that script. Have respect for the work of others. Had he picked Heart Storm, I would’ve shrugged and went about my business, rather than waste energy creating posts to complain about the situation.
        The top of the voting process was heavy for Three or Out and seemed to come from those who actually read pages, as opposed to those who voted for concept. Of course you can be upset, but don’t disparage the work of others in the process.

        “it seemed like a strange choice.”

        “a head-scratcher to see a one-out-of-seven premise get picked.”

        “Having stopped early in reading Three or Out at the weekend, I saw that
        it had been chosen and figured I’d jump back in and see what I had
        missed. Unfortunately my answer turned out to be, ‘Not much.'”

        Your point has been made. You didn’t like the script or the selection. Now move on.

        • Howie428

          Having benefited from a miscount and received a review which makes a point of explaining that your premise is flawed, it’s absolutely right that you should celebrate your good fortune.

          Last weekend I respected your work by reading the first 17 pages of it and making positive, if qualified, comments. I also respected the work of the other authors by reading their work and giving notes, including reading the whole of Insatiable, which I was very positive about. Seeing that your work had been selected, I respected it further by reading on past the halfway mark. Last weekend you respected our work by saying you’d take a look…

          Those of us who look at the AOW scripts are entitled to express opinions on the selection process. The only post I created in this thread was the one where I gave you notes on half of your script. I also commented in favor of Insatiable getting a review. Perhaps you could check your notes from reading the other four scripts and offer your views on whether any of the others deserve the opportunity you’ve now had twice.

          • Jai Brandon

            I took zero exception to the notes you provided for the first 17. I might’ve even upvoted the time & effort you spent writing those notes (my apologies if I didn’t). The notes following the announcement of my selection were clearly written with a condescending tone and I couldn’t take them seriously. If this is how you usually give feedback, then I apologize for taking exception.

            I did take a look at the other scripts, didn’t have time to write up notes, but sadly none of them sustained my interest. Three or Out couldn’t sustain the interest of many here either, so who am I to say who deserves what? Whether I received the nod, or not, I still would’ve respected the selection process. And that’s what I’m imploring you to do.

          • Howie428

            It’s a fair comment that my notes on your script are not my best, but I really did try. I wanted to read it all, but didn’t make it. However, I think my cratchety comments fit with observations made by others.

            You are obviously a skilled writer with a good handle on dialogue and the craft. It’s great that you note how much help to you the notes of other writers have been. It’s a shame that other writers don’t get the same help from you. If it’s fair for you to take exception to my comments, I wonder what reaction four other writers of 400+ pages of screenplay can be expected to have to “sadly none of them sustained my interest.”

            Respecting the selection process can’t mean that people who’ve taken the time to participate shouldn’t make any comment on it.

          • Citizen M

            IMO writers who are chosen for AOW should confine their comments to their own scripts that week and not comment on the other scripts in contention.

            It’s jsut too easy to be suspected of some sort of bias, even if none exists.

          • Howie428

            While I can see the principle behind that, for me the number of non-participating entrants is higher than it should be as it stands. Declaring a policy of this kind gives them even more of a license to sponge.

            The comments of biased writers are of no consequence compared to the impact of people whose friends turn up to offer supportive comments. That’s an extra element that makes the task of choosing a winner really tough.

          • Jai Brandon

            I’m not understanding your comments. This is now about me not providing notes? Are you saying I’m obligated to do so as a measure of respecting other writers and their work? I gave an honest opinion regarding the other four because you asked for it. It wasn’t offered unsolicited. Of course I could write up notes on all of the other scripts but I simply don’t have the time at the moment. I’m guessing the other three writers didn’t either as they weren’t heard from during the process. I read 20 pages of the Heart Storm, but put it down because the world didn’t feel authentic. A cop threatening to shoot an unarmed nurse because she was carrying a disposable heart in an attempt to save another’s life? Sorry, I can’t get on-board with that. Forget the fact I didn’t have time to provide notes, what it really boils down to is I didn’t think Heart Storm was ready for AOW and since my opinions mirrored the others, I didn’t want to pile on a fellow competitor. Best of luck to you and your writing. Happy Memorial Day.

          • Howie428

            To clarify my comments, I take issue with being accused of being disrespectful just because I give my opinion of the selection process. I’m then making the point that I took part in that process, while you simply benefited from it.

            You’ve made it clear now that you don’t consider any of the other scripts from that AOW to be worthy of attention, which is fine. It’s taking that a bit far though to shut down all discussion of those other scripts on the basis that it offends you.

            Even if I had no horse in that race, I’d still be wanting to see Insatiable get a review. I think it’s a solid genre script that could attract producer attention.

            Thanks for your comments on Heart Storm. I’m sure I’ll tweak that scene on the next rewrite.

            It’s a shame we’ve ended up disagreeing on this. I’m sure part of that is due to my stinking mood! Have fun with your future writing.

          • Jai Brandon

            It wasn’t that you gave an opinion on the selection process, it’s that you undermined another script in the process of doing so. My script. So yes, I did take exception to that, as would any other writer.

            And to clarify on my behalf, never did I say those scripts weren’t worthy of attention. I said they couldn’t sustain MY interest, just like Three or Out couldn’t sustain the interest of others here, so who am I to say who deserves attention? One script will emerge from the pack and this week it happened to be mine. Maybe when you cool down you’ll look back on this thread and see where you were wrong. And I’m just going to throw this out there, because I feel like it needs to be said —

            You all don’t know that my original dream was to play professional basketball. I was met with nothing but failure in that sport, after dedicating years and years of my life. In sports, athletes who aren’t *special* like to harp on “politics.” “I didn’t make it because the coach didn’t like me,” or whatever. But as a player, the goal is to become so good that you give the coach no choice BUT to put you out on the court! Those who are truly special aren’t subject to politics. Screenwriting is similar. Instead of complaining about not being picked, write something so strong, that those reading will have no choice BUT to vote for you! None of us have written a classic – yet – so we’re all in the dreaded “politics” zone. “He chose this script over mine and it’s not fair!” Well, life isn’t fair. Don’t complain. Focus on rising above the politics.

          • Howie428

            It’s bewildering to me that you can’t gracefully accept your own good fortune. By your own count, you didn’t win the vote in the way that it was thought you did when you got selected. And the review makes it clear you wouldn’t have been selected on the premise.

            This was the game where the coach put you in because he misread the number on the back of your shirt.

            I don’t see that I undermined your script. I do see that we’re not going to view the way this played out in the same way as each other. For you your superior script won the day and any questioning of that is a questioning of your script. For me the selection process was flawed and you benefited from that. I don’t connect that issue with the quality of your script.

            You got the prize, so be happy about it. It seems though that it’s not enough for you to win the prize, you also require that we accept that because you won the prize, no mistakes could have been made.

          • Jai Brandon

            “For you your superior script won the day and any questioning of that is a questioning of your script.”

            “It seems though that it’s not enough for you to win the prize, you also require that we accept that because you won the prize, no mistakes could have been made.”

            Geez, you just don’t get it. And probably never will. Good luck to you, Howie.

          • Howie428

            “Geez, you just don’t get it. And probably never will.” – I’m happy to agree with that. Good luck to you also.

      • IgorWasTaken

        I was at a dinner with a senior guy at Disney, back when Eisner ran the place, and we were talking about how an upcoming corporate decision would be made, and he said (almost verbatim), “Six or seven of us meet in a room with Michael. And we each get a vote. And then Michael gets a thousand votes.”

        At some point, here, it comes down to, “And then Carson gets a thousand votes.”

        Overall, in their own ways, I think both Eisner and Carson were/are benevolent leaders, but at the proverbial “end of the day” it is their show. Even when the vote is not close. But here, it was close.

      • walker

        The voting is unofficial and the results are advisory. I agree with Igor in the post below that Carson is like a benevolent dictator here. I actually prefer a little grey area in the selection process and frankly that mimics the inscrutable and obscure way in which scripts are chosen for reads in HW. I am sure it can be frustrating to the writers in an especially strong field like last week’s, but strong weeks are the exception not the rule.

    • jonsanhueza

      Would it be possible to embed a little “thumbs up” button next to each script?

  • spencerD

    Anyone have script by Max landis thst is not in production yet stuff like: Frankenstein, girl talk, Militia, typhoon, The Ever Afters, Pepper, Fall Of The Third Kingdom…?
    Also anyone have the script for syfy Peter pan miniseries, neverland, or the Pan blacklist script?

  • Cyarax


    Keep trying.

  • Shawn Davis

    “No way you can make suicide work…”

    There’s a movie from a friend of mine that is kicking fucking ass that involves suicide.

    It’s call “The Suicide Theory” written by Michael J. Kospiah.

    It’s already taken a shitload of major awards including one at Austin FF.

    Michael won’t tell you this, but I will. It looks like it’s getting picked up for national distributorship.

    It’s one of the best spec’s I’ve read to date.

    Michael’s script started out out as any spec script does, making it’s rounds but then it got picked up and it’s on its way up.

    He’s floating a script right now called 1 Buck. it’s getting pretty strong reviews as well.

    Got done with it last week. It rocks. Hit me up if you want to read it.


  • S_P_1


    11th Hour


    (political) thriller / drama


    Probability of me writing this – no time soon. Hmm, No Time Soon sounds like a good movie title.


    An innocent man is on suicide watch while awaiting his death row execution date.


    An innocent man is on suicide watch while awaiting his death row execution date. His legal team has exhausted the appeals process. The sitting president is a proponent of the death penalty. An incumbent governor with a 47% approval rating is seeking re-election. National media sensation grieving wife / mother has turned her tragedy into political aspirations for governor. With the help of international amnesty organizations, family of the inmate, and retired law enforcement, a student of divinity college seeks justice for a man wrongly accused. Things are not as black and white as they seem and new blood will be spilt to prevent the truth from coming out.

  • Nathan

    How about… “Seven Letters”. A depressed man discovers a new love for life after miraculously surviving a ten story fall – the only problem is the seven suicide letters he posted yesterday telling everyone what he really thought of them.

    There’s gotta be something wrong with this cos it’s been a nightmare to write. Kinda turned into “Sex Tape” for a draft or two..

    And there really is no escaping the darkness of that jump.

    • jeaux

      I like this idea. Haven’t seen Sextape so can’t coment on that but I think you can always write your way out of the darkness. Maybe the letters to those 7 people are really rotten folks but in his “last” act, his words change them for the better, maybe each person suffering from one of the 7 deadly sins. And in changing them, he makes his own life better/worth living. Just spitballing here. I also like the tie-in of the 7 letters in the word “suicide”.

      • Nathan

        That’s an interesting take actually. Wasn’t sure if anyone would pick up on the seven letters /suicide thing. Maybe I should take another look at this thing. Thanks.

        • jeaux

          Cool. Always glad to toss ideas around though I don’t always have time for it. Let me know if you wanna kick it around some more, or send me a draft of what you have and perhaps I can help there in some way.

  • Citizen M

    I read Jai’s script to the end. It’s quite a sweet story, but it’s very lightweight.

    There are all the problems with how Arlen meets Xavier that other commenters have mentioned. I felt that the resolution was problematic as well, with the belt and the FBI being a deus ex machina rather than evolving organically from the characters.

    Xavier was never fully developed as a character. He was a generic down on his luck slightly bad guy who didn’t seem to have a life when he wasn’t with Arlen.

    The writing was excellent. It really flowed. The dialogue wasn’t bad, but there was too much repetition and pleasantries, not enough meat.

    I feel there’s a lot of promise in the setup, but it needs more depth, and Xavier is the key. We need to see more of his world.

    You’ve got Arlen, a scaredy cat with one strong point, the ability to sell. You need Xavier to be a real hustler, up for anything, but unable to express himself. They need to get mixed up in each other’s world. Cyrano de Bergerac/Roxanne set in the seedier suburbs.

  • Scott Chamberlain

    It’s difficult to get a hold of the concept underpinning this story.

    A timid, man-boy, telemarketer trapped in a co-dependent relationship with his mother gives 1k now and 1k later to a home-invading, black, failed, country and western songwriter to find him a girlfriend, a better job, and a nice apartment of his own within three days or he will suicide as he promised himself just under a year ago. In the process he must learn… what?

    It’s a coming of age story for a middle aged man but it doesn’t really have a point of view on what a middle aged man needs to grow up except a luke-warm version of wife a job and a mortgage. Is this what you believe? Is this what people will pay to see?

    Some brainstorms (hope you don’t mind, ’cause its your story…)

    The goals are too vague. A girlfriend should be a specific girl. Maybe even an ex. And a girlfriend isn’t something that you “have”. The problem is providing a visual end to the goal so that we know it has been achieved. The goal should be to have her move in. But to do that he needs to get away from mom and to do that he needs to get a better job.

    Now you would have structure to the conflict. If he doesn’t get X to move back in within 3 days he will kill himself. He gets a better job, but Mom becomes more demanding and more needy. The money that would get the nice apartment goes on her medical bills. The mom (and not some random gangster) is the antagonist.

    Assuming a coming of age story for a man boy is the type of story you want to write and the type of part you want to play, why not look for a way to embed it inside a different genre. For example:

    Contained Thriller: The Ex girlfriend comes to pick up her stuff. Xavier (and his gang) chose that moment to invade the house. And then there is a lock down/storm/some reason they cannot get out. All four are trapped inside the house. But the real monster is the mother and her passive aggressive demand and manipulations slowly turn Xavier and his gang into weapons bent on killing the ex to stop Arlen from moving on in life. Alternatively, the mother is such a daunting adversary that the psyche of Xavier and his crims all crack. They commit suicide and Arlen, witnessing the truth of his mother finally leaves her. He still has no girlfriend and no job or house, but he is free and the world is his oyster.

    Horror: The mom is a true monster/demon/zombie. And Arlen must kill her. Or you could riff off The Babadook and make her the ghost that haunts his life and causes him to sabotage or kill his new wife and best friend to stop him from moving on in life.

    Sci-fi: It’s the future and death has been conquered. Old people only die when they have grown too tired to live. Arlen’s mom has successfully manipulated him into staying with her and she refuses to go, despite being nothing but a drain. In this world there are specialist “hitmen” like Xavier who are skilled at talking the elderly – selling the elderly – into voluntary euthanasia. But the hit goes awry and now both Xavier and Arlen are prey to the mother’s manipulations…

    Anyway, just brainstorms. Best of luck with your writing.


  • Casper Chris

    Kevin Spacey commercial for Renault. The intertextual references should be obvious to most people here:

    • Buddy

      this is a very good ad. I know someone who worked on the set. This was shot in Miami a couple of months ago.
      All the rose petals are true (unless the last one which bring the transition with the usual suspect scene). He told me Spacey was very cool and funny and makes sex jokes all the time…

    • Kirk Diggler

      A mini-van is still a mini-van to me, no matter how you dress it up.

    • IgorWasTaken

      It’s an odd choice for a car company to release an ad that references – in the dialogue and the imagery – a movie in which a middle-aged man has an affair with a high-school girl.

      On the other hand, it is a French car company.

      • Casper Chris

        At least they changed
        “I’ve been a suburban father going through a mid-life crisis, dreaming of having steamy hot sex with my 15-year-old daughter’s girlfriend”
        “I’ve been a suburban father going through a mid-life crisis, dreaming of a rain of rose petals”.
        Quite PC if you ask me.

        • IgorWasTaken

          I think it’s telling about Renault that, after I did a quick search, I found no group has protested the ad or called for a boycott. And my only explanation is: No one has noticed. Renault is invisible.

    • Midnight Luck

      it reminds me of the Rat Liotta “Enough Said” ad for a Tequila company, where it keeps referencing movies he’s done and who he’s played.

  • spencerD

    Another question,
    (Like posting here because your guys are a different breed of writer then I’m likely to find elsewhere)

    Rights and Concepts/Pitches, where does the line end between the rights someone hold to a concept/Pitch. If someone tells a pitch or idea even a logline and has or hasn’t written a script based on it (Unsold lets say) and I write my own take on the concept, can I sell it or so I need to talk to the original writer/creator of the idea/pitch?

    I know that a logline or idea can’t be copyrighted and that no one should really fear a script idea being taken (as no matter what it won’t be the script “you” the originator of the story intended to tell but their take on it.) What about an idea that you write which someone else made – say a comic or conceptual art for something….but your idea is only partially based on it (nothing more then the basis the rest being original) like saying Don Quixote set in modern times, and a person who helps that don on his quest today, but feels he is in need of psychiatric help. (that could be the fisher king kind of – vaguely).

    Hope you understand where i am going with this….Also rights to characters and projects, where do public domain stand on writing a concept, I mean how can I know if someone is own by one company or people and yet another version of a story is in public domain? How does it work to allow me to draft the story I want….

    Thanks for all the answers.

    • IgorWasTaken

      If you’re saying, for example, that someone posted a suicide-themed logline on this thread and now you want to write a script with a story that’s (a) just like that logline, (b) similar to that logline, or (c) only kinda like that logline, then the question is: Will you respect yourself in the morning?

      • spencerD

        Logline or pitch, I mean say I read something like ie: romantic comedy/adventure about a young, un-sophisticated guy named Johnny Glorioso, who takes an elite new California wine to a New York wine tasting contest (the wine has the much desired and very rare fungus named Botrytis or “noble rot” of the film’s title, that can either destroy an entire crop or turn it into a legendary smooth and sweet wine), falls in love with a very untrustworthy but sexually desirable young
        woman named Christine, becomes involved with a diamond smuggling ring, and maybe grows up a little and loses his naïveté in the process.

        What if I write a version of that story, because something pulled at my inside and I thought I could draft a filmmable movie.

        If you’re saying, for example, that someone posted a suicide-themed logline on this thread and now you want to write a script with a story that’s (a) just like that logline, (b) similar to that logline, or (c) only kinda like that logline, then the question is: Will you respect yourself in the morning?

        I’ll feel fine, if the story motivates me to write I don’t care long as I’m writing is all. It comes down to why me, why this story, is thee something differently I see for it that others have not? Is there something I can do to make this story that others couldn’t? Does it move me, make want to see the film if I didn’t make it, make me want to do it so I don’t have to have that feeling – of long to have been the person that makes it? Then I have to. I’ve read hundreds of pages about unmade films and stories that motivate me all the time many I’m planning or started at some point to write my own takes on….just saying….my opinions.

        • IgorWasTaken

          ‘ll feel fine, if the story motivates me to write I don’t care long as I’m writing is all.

          So, someone posts a logline here, “Hey, everybody, here’s a logline for my script. What do you think?” Or “This is a logline for a script I’m thinking about writing…”

          Then you read that, like it, and write your own script based on it. And you “feel fine” doing that.

          I think that’s a scummy move. And I hope everyone here recalls your position on this if you should ever again post a question asking for help.

          • spencerD

            Not what I meant, not meaning to come off scummy. Say something like this…..

            I read this logline: An over-the-hill hitman faces off against a younger clone of himself.

            The project has Been locked in development hell since the 90s. I found the angle and path to make it really happen. I read somone else’s work and stsrted my own drafted because not only that but a sizzle reel motivated/inspired me to do my own take and make the story work to actually finally reach the screen!

            If someone posted that and nothing happened with it or I saw away to tell my own take on the logline id do it regardless. Not meaning to be scummy, you may feel that way but what about a project from say I don’t know… 1950s, that never got made maybe it was scripted but for all intensive purposes I never read it.

            Or take these two projects:
            Charlie chaplins the freak VS passion play…

            Is it scummy to take the freak and write my own draft? Without having read it or seen it? No, in the end it comes down to writing and your own take on a story Which ultimately it will come to be. Yes, similarities will arise but it’s going to be that persons own version.

          • Eric

            I don’t have the answers to your questions. I’m sure it’s very complex and would take a lot of leg work. I just wanted to note:

            For someone who “feels fine” taking someone else’s idea and working it yourself, you’re being awfully cagey as to what your source idea actually is.

            Are you worried we’ll steal your stolen idea?

          • spencerD

            Are you worried we’ll steal your stolen idea?

            Yes. But i have many and not many which are known here.
            But again as I have said before, it comes down to your vision of that take VS mine. They may have similarities but they won’t be scene or word for word the same. That’s what makes us individuals and original in our own ways.

            Plus I have many ideas that the “source” idea is many. From the beginning of film to today and even historical events and biographies as well. Lots and lots of sources.

          • Eric


            Why? “They may have similarities but they won’t be scene or word for word the same. That’s what makes us individuals and original in our own ways.”

            You’re basically asking for our assistance in helping you to lift another writer’s idea while:

            A) giving us every indication that you would lift from us and

            B) showing you clearly know the possible damage this can cause to a writer because you yourself are shielding yourself from that damage.

            There’s a word for this, but on a board full of writers, I shouldn’t have to say it.

          • spencerD


            Why? “They may have similarities but they won’t be scene or word for word the same. That’s what makes us individuals and original in our own ways.”

            You’re basically asking for our assistance in helping you to lift another writer’s idea while:

            A) giving us every indication that you would lift from us and….

            (No, not at all)

            B) showing you clearly know the possible damage this can cause to a writer because you yourself are shielding yourself from that damage.

            (I do that with any project regardless if it was my own project and no one else was part of it)

            There’s a word for this, but on a board full of writers, I shouldn’t have to say it.

            (Well you did LOL)

          • spencerD

            Why? “They may have similarities but they won’t be scene or word for word the same. That’s what makes us individuals and original in our own ways.”

            You’re basically asking for our assistance in helping you to lift another writer’s idea while….

            (Not at all just trying to figure out some questions I have but I’m done asking for a bit.)

            A) giving us every indication that you would lift from us and

            (No I’m not, I can write the script with out your saying anyway, just won’t be able to know what to do once it’s drafted….)

            B) showing you clearly know the possible damage this can cause to a writer because you yourself are shielding yourself from that damage.

            (Not at all, I’d want to deal with damage if it was my own (singular work I did and no one else was part of it as well)

            There’s a word for this, but on a board full of writers, I shouldn’t have to say it.

            (Your thinking troll, scam artist…which isn’t me. I’m just a writer with many concepts and Idea that are big and that I wouldn’t want the studios to mess with. So I am trying to do my work independently. That’s who I am a motivated, intelligent, creative, dream who has more then once been told not to do the ideas or concepts I have that they are too big yet I’ve written them and been moving towards them no matter what. I won’t stop not matter what. You can push me but I won’t fall. I’m like a weeble wobble lol)

            OVER AND OUT.

          • gregthegreg

            This guy deleted his comments/profile after having a similar conversation with me in the AMERICAN HOSTAGE review comments.

            Claimed to have hundreds of loglines but once he was asked to share became super cagey until I shared a few of mine. Kind of hilarious that this conversation happened soon after.

          • Eric

            It’s easy to have hundreds of loglines when you’re taking them from other people :P

          • Bacon Statham

            Yeah, to be honest with you, I always feel wary about posting a logline in case that does indeed happen.

            I posted a logline on here back when we had that logline contest about a year ago. There was a script that got picked for AF recently that is eerily similar to something I’ve been working on and when I saw the logline, I had this nagging feeling in the back of my head that the writer saw mine, liked it and did their own version of it. I’m not saying that’s what they did, but it made me feel quite iffy.

            I’ve been here for a few years now and this place is quite a close knit group that I feel I can trust. But seeing similarities to something you’re writing in another person’s work after you posted the logline for it not long before, it’s not a good feeling. And not just similarities, but pretty much the same concept, just done differently to how you would do it.

            Yeah, it’s pretty inevitable that you’re gonna see some parallels between your work and someone else’s work, that’s just the way it goes. Like say if I wrote a script that had a fistfight on a crane in it, but I found out that Casino Royale had that exact same scene. They did it first, so now I go back to the drawing board or I make my scene bigger and better. So long as that script isn’t about an assassin trying to infiltrate a terrorist group by winning a blackjack tournament, it’s all good.

            We all get inspired by the things we watch, read or play. I personally think that’s fine, but you have to make it your own. It’s no good writing The Dirty Dozen or The Great Escape, you have to write Inglorious Basterds or Uprising. Even if it isn’t any good at least you can say it was your idea, even if it’s inspired by something else.

          • spencerD

            Yeah, to be honest with you, I always feel wary about posting a logline in case that does indeed happen. (Same here, which Is why I haven’t done so).

            I posted a logline on here back when we had that logline contest about a year ago. There was a script that got picked for AF recently that is eerily similar to something I’ve been working on and when I saw the logline, I had this nagging feeling in the back of my head that the writer saw mine, liked it and did their own version of it. I’m not saying that’s what they did, but it made me feel quite iffy. (But even so, it would never be your vision. So you could do what ever you wanted write you draft and you might sell it, I’m sure there are many, many cases of similar script being sold as well — there are cases of similar movies being made and coming out around the same time.)

            I’ve been here for a few years now and this place is quite a close knit group that I feel I can trust. But seeing similarities to something you’re writing in another person’s work after you posted the logline for it not long before, it’s not a good feeling. (True, and I feel sorry that you had to have that nagging feeling someone took what was yours as their own.) And not just similarities, but pretty much the same concept, just done differently to how you would do it. (Again, why you shouldn’t care too much that they might have used the same concept, it’s like saying JAWS is MOBY DICK, KINDA?)

            Yeah, it’s pretty inevitable that you’re gonna see some parallels between your work and someone else’s work, that’s just the way it goes. Like say if I wrote a script that had a fistfight on a crane in it, but I found out that Casino Royale had that exact same scene. They did it first, so now I go back to the drawing board or I make my scene bigger and better. (Which never bad, it makes you become even more creative and inventive in the end….)

            So long as that script isn’t about an assassin trying to infiltrate a terrorist group by winning a blackjack tournament, it’s all good. (True)

            We all get inspired by the things we watch, read or play. I personally think that’s fine, but you have to make it your own. (which is definitly what I always intend to do!!!)

            It’s no good writing The Dirty Dozen or The Great Escape, you have to write Inglorious Basterds or Uprising. Even if it isn’t any good at least you can say it was your idea, even if it’s inspired by something else. (That’s true even If I was writing a remake I’d put my own spin to make it work while keeping the love and sprit of the original)

    • klmn

      I believe there’s a four part test for copyright infringement. I don’t have it memorized, but you’ll want to research the issue before proceeding.

      I think it comes down to how much you borrow, how large a part of your project the borrowed material is, and how it affects the value of the source material.

      • spencerD

        I’ll definitely look into that. What if the work was only a pitch and never something that was gonna get made unless rights were handed to that per

        • klmn

          For something that specific you should talk to a lawyer.

          • spencerD

            I will do that but still as many answers I can get without having to pay….the better.

      • spencerD

        Interesting, have to google that definitely. Thanks for letting me know…..

        Let’s say something like Peter pan, which is owned by Disney and a children’s hospital it’s strange I wonder about that….

        • klmn

          Peter Pan has been adapted numerous times by several companies. I’m sure the original play has lapsed into the common domain. If you use that as your source material you should be okay.

          Check Wikipedia and IMDB for more.

          • spencerD

            What it was based on both that and original ideas that someone created…for a pitch that never went anywhere. I’ll check Those pages out.

            What about remakes, such as something like metropolis (Fritz Lang’s 1927 masterwork) ?

            In 07 word was said it was going to be made and then…..fizzle it was gone in a puff of smoke and never heard of since…

            Also similaities in concepts/pitch…..something like this plot that I read about from Max landis called, ” Fall Of The Third Kingdom – A young American couple, having inherited a farm in rural Ireland, find themselves in an all-out war for survival against a heavily militarized army of gnomes.” Which seems similar to…Disney’s King of “The King of the Elves, sort of. Just saying.

          • spencerD

            Someone telling a story or pitch on a podcast, anyone know what legalities are there, does that stop me from going ahead and writing a take on that story?

            Also what about a script used primarily as a teaching tool, nothing more In a book on screenwriting where would I stand had I completed/added to that work? Could I be able to anything?
            Also pitches in a book like: Writing Movies for Fun and Profit. They say they are free for the reader do as they please but what is the truth is there rights due to there being featured in the book and its published/owned by a company which put it out?

          • spencerD

            What about a prequel or something say the blacklist script pan how does that legally work?

          • spencerD

            And what about writing a short into a feature to show to those who originated the short in the first place? Where is the line and how could one allow it to get read?

          • klmn

            I don’t think you can touch someone else’s copyrighted work.

          • spencerD

            what I meant was someone makes a short and then I write a draft of feature take on it to take to those who originated the idea. To work with them…..

          • Eric

            If you wrote a feature based on my short, came to me with it and I loved it, I could steal it from you. I own the right to that short, not you. And if I could prove your script is entirely dependent on my world and characters, it would be mine, not yours.

          • spencerD

            Even If I had it Copyrighted and came to you wanting to work together with you on a project, that would be very shitty. I’d be honored if someone did it to something I made, want to talk to them about why they loved the short, what they added, read the draft and work with them. But that’s me.

            Even I did base it on your short, Legally it depends – credit wise on how much was from the short and how much I made up. Least I read something like that. But again, wouldn’t want to work with the person who took the time to honor your work and expand it to a longer take. I would. Might feel sad I didn’t do that for my own work at the time or I’d tell to rework it to be there own project as they should have done in the first place. But still I’d want to work with them depending on if I like the take they had for my short to feature.

          • spencerD

            Also the short I am talking about are—75 and 15 years old. Own by a big name company, I won’t mention, and I’d have to get them allow me to show them both script and pitch to them my takes on featurized versions of their shorts.

    • davejc

      I’ve always been told it comes down to idea vs. execution. You cannot own an idea. Example: A concept is an idea and anybody can use your idea. But you can own the execution of a concept. A script constitutes an execution of your idea. For a feature it’s pretty easy to see where the line is. But for something like a reality show, IDK?

      • spencerD

        Makes me smile to read, For a feature it’s pretty easy to see where the line is. But for something like a reality show, IDK?

        But what about a pitch or idea someone talks about that is not scripted but just an idea – on a podcast. What about original versions of stories such as

        Hail, caesar!
        A Hollywood fixer in the 1950s works to keep the studio’s stars in line.

        Originally was going to be about: 1920s and follow actors performing a play about ancient Rome. Someone that might be part of the Stor but the overal sorry it was going to be won’t be.

        • davejc

          It seems to me the safest bet is to protect you idea with a copyrighted script. A story I keep hearing is a writer pitches his idea, the studio loves it, he doesn’t hear back from the studio. When he does it’s “No thanks, we already had something like that in development.”

          It’s just my opinion and I am no lawyer. But if that writer developed his idea in a script, even if the studio wanted to develop the script themselves, they would at least buy the script and then fire the writer.

          In the case of Lawrence Of Arabia there were very few similarities between the Robert Bolt script and earlier Michael Wilson script. But never the less Michael Wilson won over the studio.

          But I should mention that there is one case that’s been used in recent years to reverse everything I’ve said. In the 1950’s Billy Wilder was sued by someone who pitched the idea for a movie about a little girl stuck in a well. Billy Wilder made Ace In The Hole about a man stuck in a cave. The case hinged not on how similar the two stories were but on whether or not there was any type of verbal agreement between the two parties. This case gets used a lot in recent years as a precedent.

          Several writers have used this case to win compensation for their ideas.

          • spencerD

            It seems to me the safest bet is to protect you idea with a copyrighted script. (True, that’s what everyone says)

            A story I keep hearing is a writer pitches his idea, the studio loves it, he doesn’t hear back from the studio. When he does it’s “No thanks, we already had something like that in development.” (Me too, hear it all the time and it’s sad, basically people and it’s more my opinion then anyone should just get a lot of cash together and make a many movies as they can then get people to help them put them out in to the world). like Kevin Smith has said, “Make a movie which won’t be too expensive, then go make it and if you have only a few people needing to see it for a return…and you get it, you can make anything and you’ll never need many people to see it!”

            It’s just my opinion and I am no lawyer. But if that writer developed his idea in a script, even if the studio wanted to develop the script themselves, they would at least buy the script and then fire the writer. (which is one of the reasons I’d never want to work with the studios)

            In the case of Lawrence Of Arabia there were very few similarities between the Robert Bolt script and earlier Michael Wilson script. But never the less Michael Wilson won over the studio. (Do you know this, as they are both based upon history)

            But I should mention that there is one case that’s been used in recent years to reverse everything I’ve said. In the 1950’s Billy Wilder was sued by someone who pitched the idea for a movie about a little girl stuck in a well. Billy Wilder made Ace In The Hole about a man stuck in a cave. The case hinged not on how similar the two stories were but on whether or not there was any type of verbal agreement between the two parties. This case gets used a lot in recent years as a precedent. (Was there a verbal agreement between the two parties?)

          • davejc

            “Was there a verbal agreement between the two parties?”

            I don’t know. But the judge thought so.

          • spencerD

            Hummm…interesting any more information on the case?

          • davejc

            Yeah. The case was used as a precedent against Miramax for breach of contract concerning the film Rounders, and again against NBC for the show Ghost Hunters.

          • spencerD

            What the hell happened with the film Rounders?

          • spencerD

            Thanks for the information, by the way.

          • brenkilco

            The Bolt script is readily available. And portions of the Wilson script can be found online and elsewhere. There are similarities- how could there not be when the scripts are largely based on the same autobiography? But if I Had been Wilson I would have hesitated to push my claim too hard. Bolts script has a class and verbal elegance completely missing from the on the nose scenes of Wilson’s I’ve read.

          • Marija ZombiGirl

            Billy Wilder wasn’t averse to “getting inspiration” from the movies that he watched, whether good or bad :) I think this happens to most of us but obviously, the more we disguise it, the better.
            (I’m a huge Wilder fan. I ordered and received Cameron Crowe’s Conversations with Billy Wilder last week – looking so much forward to digging in!)

          • davejc

            Ace In The Hole is my favorite Wilder film and one of my favorite movies of all time.

            There is one other interesting detail that the appeals court seem to overlook in the Desny vs. Wilder case. A little girl actually did get stuck in a well in LA in 1949/1950. It is now considered the first modern media circus, with round the clock media coverage, including television. So both Desny and Billy Wilder drew inspiration from the same event, with Wilder more focused on the media circus.

  • Nathan

    I’m not sure if anyone’s still on this thread, but since we’ve got a long weekend ahead of us I was wondering if anyone would be interested in exchanging scripts for some feedback. I’ll be critical of your work if you’ll be critical of mine.. I’m in the Comedy genre. I think this script is my tenth. Magic number 10. But I have somehow blown through like 15 years of my life to get here. So yeah, I’m a cautionary tale waiting to happen, folks.

    If anyone is keen, (or feeling that 15 year pinch) feel free to throw me a bone at imoffshit at hotmail.com

    • jeaux

      I’ll email you in a sec.

    • jeaux

      Nathan, tried to email you earlier but looks like it isnt going through. That email correct? Or you can just email me: joe_lbp at yahoo

  • IgorWasTaken

    OK, I am now very, very frustrated by the fact that so many people had trouble with the opening “coincidences”. And after re-reading a number of comments posted here, and re-reading the opening of the script…

    I have a theory that the opening “coincidences” are not the real problem.

    There are always coincidences in setting up a story. Consider (as a totally-genre-shifting example), “Lethal Weapon”. The detectives assigned to investigate a girl’s suicide – it just so happens that Murtaugh and the girl’s father know each other. And then in the next sequence, when a house blows up, and then Murtaugh and his brand-new partner Riggs investigate, and talk to a little kid, they get a lead on who set the bomb because it just so happens the bad guy has a “Special Forces” tattoo like Riggs has.

    Who complained about those huge coincidences?

    Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t give a rat’s ass (OK, maybe I give a rat’s single buttock) about coincidences in the opening. For me, the opening pages are a sort of no-charge/no-fault zone for coincidences. I just want those pages to grab me. How? First, I want clarity – I want the words on the page to describe what I’m supposed to be seeing; what the characters are doing.

    But then, all I want is my interest to be piqued – by the subject matter, the action, and/or the dialogue. Give me at least one of those and… “Your coincidences fly free!”

    And frankly, I think that’s what most readers want. And so, I have a hunch that, among the many readers here who didn’t “buy the coincidences” in this script, the real problem was something else. Which, I am quick to add, I am not putting on the readers; it’s the writer’s job to make it work.

    I guess one thing that frustrates me about the “coincidences” complaints is that, not only did they not bother me, I actually found them clever – Xavier’s comment on the phone about “Private” on the caller-ID and that meaning the call is local (which, even as a phone-tech geek, I’m not totally sure is true), and then recognizing the voice. In general, any old a voice (by itself) is not likely to be recognized. And, of course, on the page, we don’t know what Arlen sounds like – the pitch, timber, and pacing of his voice. But there is certainly a distinctive anal-quality to Arlen’s way of expressing himself, and as Xavier is a conman, I think he’d pick up on that. Plus, because Xavier said what he did during the call before that – because we had the setup of “You local, right? M-town?” – the crossing paths at the market entertained me. But even without that setup, because the market scene takes place in the first 10 pages, I simply buy it.

    Then, if I’m right that the real problem isn’t the coincidences, it’s something else – What is that “something else” here? I can’t quite say. I have some hunches. I think some people (if only subliminally) were put off by the odd font on the title page. I also think that, for some people, the Arlen-and-his-mother relationship is distinctly unappealing. And Arlen, himself, is not everyone’s cup-of-tea as a character.

    An aside: While it seems that Jai may be reworking things away from the telemarketer setup, what if it was the same opening scene as now, but from Xavier’s POV – with Arlen as the V.O./on the phone? Because maybe readers find Xavier more engaging – that he’s more likely than Arlen to engender in a reader, “I’d like to spend some time with this guy.”


    • Linkthis83

      From my perspective, and I commented on this to Jai already, I didn’t find the coincidences interesting (like you did). I agree coincidences exist and most of the time are necessary. But they didn’t work for me. And in the case of this story, I didn’t find the store coincidence necessary at all. I think it works way better if there is no call to Xavier beforehand. Having Arlen run into Xavier, a guy who was going to rob that store, who then chooses to rob Arlen instead, is better.

      And I wasn’t bothered by the font at all. I liked it in fact.

      • IgorWasTaken

        I’m not saying that this could/would/should change your thinking about the phone call/store coincidence… But that sort of coincidence, if it happens in the opening pages, helps set ‘the rules’ for the story. Especially in a comedy. And so if you’re going to have a coincidence like that (and, again, a coincidence that sets up a problem) on page 47, it can be better for that page-47 coincidence to not be the first one.

        Of course, if the reader doesn’t buy it in the opening, that distinctly will not help set up the one on page 47. I’m just saying I think there’s that facet to the calculation, too.

        • Linkthis83

          I replied because you stated that you don’t think some of the readers issues were the actual coincidences. With me, they were most definitely. In your LW example, I find those coincidences interesting and more acceptable. Plus, the characters are way more interesting in LW. That was my other gripe was that I wasn’t interested in these characters, and because of that, the coincidence stands out more.

          I think people focused on the coincidences because the rest of the story was not all that intriguing.

          For you, it was. And that’s great. For you and the writer. Just because a lot of us felt something similar doesn’t make us right. That’s also what I highlighted to Jai (and would any writer). If you think what you’ve written is the best representation of your intention, then stick by it. His story didn’t win me over…no big deal. I’m not anybody important. If someone he trusts and respects says it, or wants to give him money, then he should listen :) And even then, he should stand his ground if what they want doesn’t align with what he wants with this script/story.

          • IgorWasTaken

            Just because a lot of us felt something similar doesn’t make us right.

            I agree, kinda. I think the number of objections here to the opening coincidences reached a critical mass. IOW, I think there is a problem with them. But then I think the questions is: What’s the solution?

            I had an uncle who felt you should get a haircut if your hair was down over your ears. But he wouldn’t say, “You need a haircut.” He’d say, “You need your ears lowered.”

            Maybe it would work if, during the initial call, the operator breaks in and says to Arlen, “You have an emergency call from Mel Gibson.”

        • Linkthis83

          BTW, I love you going to bat for this writer and this script. I dig when people do this.

        • Linkthis83

          After thinking about it more, I think it’s important to highlight that it’s not the coincidence itself that bothers me, but how it is delivered/executed.

          A coincidence that I think would’ve bolstered these opening pages would’ve been if both Arlen and Xavier were telemarketers and ended up calling each other on the same day…and then the story ensues.

      • charliesb

        Agreed. My issue with beginning had more to do with the fact that it felt like an overdone way to get two characters to meet, and had very little bearing on the rest of the story.

    • Citizen M

      How can people watch the movie when their eyes are rolling so much at the coincidences? ;o)

      • IgorWasTaken

        Roll them at 24 rolls/second.

    • davejc

      Getting notes/feedback sometimes requires a bit of detective work to construe where the real problem is. In this thread people mentioned the coincidence as a problem. A coincidence in and of itself isn’t a problem. Mike elaborated on that issue noting that he saw the writer’s hand in the coincidence. Seeing the writers hand is a problem.

      So how did people see the writer’s hand? It’s possible that the problem lies in the logline and not the coincidence itself. The logline tells us these two people will get together leaving us to wonder how. If we didn’t already know these two people were going to get together, that the story was about these two people getting together then the coincidence would fly under our radar screen.

      For myself the coincidence isn’t enough of a problem to put the script down but it seems it was enough for some other readers..

      • brenkilco

        It’s a combination of coincidence and illogic. And maybe also the fact that the huge coincidence isn’t particularly necessary to the story. Why would a guy in desperate need of money decide to rob the home of a telemarketer even if he had just had a bad interaction with him? He couldn’t find a WalMart cashier? And if there had been no phone call, couldn’t the writer have come up with a lot of simple, plausible reasons in the store scene to make Xaviar suspect that Arlen might have money at home? A coincidence that has to exist for the story to happen is easier to buy than one that isn’t essential.

        • davejc

          “A coincidence that has to exist for the story to happen is easier to buy than one that isn’t essential.”

          That’s a good point. But what is essential to a story is debatable and isn’t revealed to the audience until the final final reel. Till that moment we are in the hands of the author.

          Case in point Bergman’s The Virgin Spring. The story of a devout Knight whose faith is tested by the rape and murder of his daughter. After the murderers commit their crime they unwittingly seek refuge at the Knight’s castle where the Knight exacts his revenge. The odds of this coincidence occurring are not repeated anywhere in the annals of history. And the knight faith being tested would occur without the revenge. If we were made aware of the revenge angle going into the story it would scream “deus ex machina”. We’re more likely to accept it as fate if we are taken by surprise.

          • brenkilco

            I suppose it all depends on the type of story. I’ve always read that the general rule is set it up early, pay it off late. The audience will accept any situation or stray fact at the beginning. So it’s usually possible to avoid a feeling of happenstance or coincidence by laying out the element you’re going to be relying on later on at the beginning.

            Virgin Spring doesn’t quite work that way. But it does take the trouble to establish Von Sydow and the girl’s family as major characters early on. So that while the murderers seeking refuge with them may seem unlikely we buy it structurally. We expect these characters to reenter the narrative. How much weaker would it have been if we had met the family only after the murder at the point the killers show up at their door.

        • Jai Brandon

          I’m no criminal, but I’d have to think that robbing an individual inside closed doors would be MUCH easier to get away with than robbing any single cash register. We’re living in an age where cameras are everywhere. I get the coincidence talk though – if it’s not necessary, don’t do it.

          • brenkilco

            I agree. Easier but still risky. In my state thefts inside houses, generally labeled burglary, are treated more seriously than nearly any other crimes besides rape and murder. Home invasions carry very substantial jail sentences. So my point is if somebody is going to chance it he should at least choose a posh house and well heeled victims.

    • Matthew Garry

      I agree in that I think an opening coincidence or conceit is almost a given. It’s the very thing that makes what might be a common encounter into something special enough to warrant a story.

      To wit: “Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine.”

      • Citizen M

        Hardly a coincidence. Everybody comes to Rick’s (original title).

    • Jai Brandon

      I like how Three or Out has sparked this talk of coincidence. I also appreciate Poe for linking that article. The lesson being, if you can get around a coincidence, do it, because if you don’t, you risk alienating your audience. Had these two met without a coincidence, I wonder if those who put the script down would’ve read further. When I wrote the opening, in my mind I thought it’d be funny if Arlen and Xavier came together in such a crazy way. Unfortunately I pushed readers away using this device. Lesson learned! Once I clean it up, I’ll start pushing the script out there again.
      And thanks, Igor! I love that you didn’t have an issue with it, but when 65% can’t subscribe to what I’m doing, it’s time to open Final Draft once more.

  • charliesb

    Congrats to Jai for being chosen. It looks like from the comments Jai is going to play up the suicide storyline a bit more (maybe use the suicide prevention hotline angle).

    My suggestion is that he switch the main perspective from Arlen to Xavier. Xavier is the one who needs the money so why not make him the telemarketer. Maybe Arlen’s about to kill himself when he’s interrupted by Xavier’s call. Perhaps Arlen misses his window of opportunity* and so has to reschedule the suicide for the next day, Xavier figures out what’s happening and calls again the next day, his goal is to stop Arlen from killing himself and to make the sale (which he keeps doing because Arlen always agrees to the sale so he can get off the phone.) Eventually he asks Arlen why he’s trying to kill himself and then he attempts to help Arlen reach these goals by showing him how easy it is.

    *Further down someone had a suicide pitch where the goal was the insurance money. Maybe Arlen wants to check out, but want’s his mom to get insurance money so he sets up elaborate suicides** that are made to look like accidents.

    **I’m reminded of the suicidal lady in Delicatessen.

    • Casper Chris

      Brilliant scene.

    • Jai Brandon

      Thanks for the thoughts, charlie. My solution is just to make it natural. If Arlen is a crisis counselor, or whatever they’re called, if the man on the other end of the phone (Xavier) tells him he’s suicidal and needs to talk to someone face to face, or he’s going to blow his head off in ten seconds, having Arlen reluctantly agree to meet him removes the coincidence of the encounter. At a neutral meeting site, Xavier never shows up, but he’s watching Arlen, and follows him home. That’s when we start the attempted robbery. It won’t be an act though, Xavier will be suicidal, as well as Arlen, and in addition to the qualities Arlen sees in Xavier, he wants to hire him to give him purpose. A situation where each party helps the other. That’s all I have for now, haha. Still thinking about this…

      • charliesb

        So they’ll both be suicidal? That’s a little… coincidental. :) jk

        You’ll have to do some research on this, but I don’t think a suicide hotline person would be allowed to go to the person calling’s house. If a situation was dire they would call the authorities. I’m also worried that making Xavier suicidal will mean rewriting his character, and I think (as do others) that he’s one of the strongest parts of your script.

        I know a lot of people had a problem with the way these characters met, but I honestly think this is a minor problem that will resolve itself once you figure out some of the scripts other issues.

        I think you need to work on your story’s theme. In the end Arlen (quite easily I might add) get’s a girlfriend, moves next door, defeats the villain, and gets offered a job at the FBI. How does that fit with theme(s) of your story? What is the theme of the story? Are you sure this story even needs a villain? And if yes, since Arlen is suicidal shouldn’t the “villain” be connected somehow to his desire to kill himself? (i.e. His mom, his boss, his Dad, life).

        Anyway those are just a couple more things to think about as you rework it. Good luck.

        • Jai Brandon

          I do plan to call a hotline & ask some questions. I’m almost 100% certain they wouldn’t be allowed to meet someone In person, so Arlen would definitely be breaking protocol. I’m going to ask the center how they’d handle an ultimatum in this situation and spring board from there. I also think these calls are anonymous, so I’m not sure if calling the authorities would help. And I definitely don’t want to take the magic away from Xavier’s character, so he won’t change all that much. Doing these things for Arlen gives him purpose and that’s his goal – to be relevant. To matter.

          When I thought about theme prior to writing, it was “life is worth living, even when it’s not.” Something along those lines. When Arlen failed to reach 3/3 goals, he learned and accepted that suicide wasn’t the way out.

          In the re-write, the villain would be related to Xavier’s desire to kill himself. In a perfect world, I’d never involve the FBI. Arlen and Xavier would take down Marcel using strengths from each (Arlen’s intelligence & selling skills/Xavier’s street smarts). When I sat down and thought about this and thought about it and thought about it some more, I just couldn’t see one believable way to take him down without the involvement of the authorities. It was, and still is, the toughest part of the script.

      • Citizen M

        What about…

        Arlen is still a telemarketer. He phones Xavier at random and Xavier messes Arlen around to show off in front of his friends who are there when he takes the call.

        Part of Arlen’s script is to enquire as to occupation. Arlen jokingly says “gun dealer” (because he and his friends are messing around with illegal guns at the time). Suicidal Arlen pricks up his ears at this and asks, “Do you deliver?”

        Xavier replies “Yes” and figures he’s got an easy robbery when he arrives at Arlen’s place with a gun. But Arlen’s not entirely stupid and asks the trade to take place at the grocery store where Dominique works.

        Just spitballing.

        • Jai Brandon

          I do like the idea of Arlen summoning Xavier because he has a gun, but I’m not sure I can make it work. Thanks for spitballing!

  • Poe_Serling

    The Perils of Coincidence…


    Just another take on the subject to mull over.

    • charliesb

      Thanks Poe, a while ago I was looking for an article just like this.

      • Poe_Serling

        You’re welcome.

    • Levres de Sang

      My favourite film based on coincidence: The Woman Next Door (François Truffaut, 1982).

      For me, the reason this one’s so masterful comes down to backstory: we accept the coincidence not only because it occurs in the first ten minutes and lays out the film’s entire premise, but because a prior relationship is also established. In short, these characters clearly existed before the narrative present and therefore bring an added frisson to that present.

  • Breezy

    First, congrats to Jai. I read the script in its entirety and enjoyed it even though I felt the ending was a couple more pages than it needed to be. And this trivial, but I also loved how no shoes were allowed inside Patricia’s house – im ocd about this same thing. Plus it is the Japanese way.
    I also read and liked Insatiable, hopefully a review will come soon.

    Since Carson’s not here… time to get racial in this bitch!
    This isn’t related to suicide. Nor is it a LOGLINE:

    The quiet, four-member family life of a caucasian candidate in the presidential primaries is turned upside down when his daughter, Shante Keisha-Latavia McBride, his son, Maximilian Kunta-Kinte McBride AND his babies’ mama, Toya shedontplay ex-McBride (from a “different” past) come to live with them from an unfortunate… ratchet slum. With his past and current lives clashing, the head of the household struggles to maintain an appearance of a functional family without any public fuckups before the polls open at the end of the week.
    Will he prove he can fix racial tensions better than obama? Will ebony and ivory put aside their cultural differences and sing kumbaya? Or will it perpetuate the biggest smackdown this side of Ferguson, Baltimore and South Carolina??

    If it’s been done before — I didn’t know. If it doesn’t make sense — I didn’t know.
    And if it’s site-innapropriate, lock me up moderator! I’ve been deported before, it’s not that bad.

    • charliesb

      Are you looking for feedback on your premise?
      Or pitching your script for AOW?

      • Breezy

        Neither, that second part was just tongue in cheek

      • Breezy

        And I also have Not been deported — that part was also tongue in cheek :)

  • Poe_Serling

    Hey Jai-

    As you mentioned briefly in your WYSR, both of your featured AF scripts (thriller/crime and dark comedy) have a telemarketer at the center of the story – coincidence or does the occupation have a more personal connection?

    • Jai Brandon

      Ha, I used to work as one of those bloodsucking leeches! A long time ago, but that’s where the idea came from. It really was terrible work, at least, my position: outbound, cold calling (sales). I took the telemarketing angle from that script and put it into this one, because I thought it made for good comedy. I probably should’ve just approached this script entirely new.

      • Matthew Garry

        I’m going to go against the grain here and say the telemarketer angle is fine, great even.

        I also think the coincidences are no problem.

        I feel the problem is that you don’t start Arlen off as an engaging character. Because he’s not engaging his goals don’t resonate with the audience. And because he doesn’t resonate an audience looks up from the script and they start wondering why it’s not working for them, notice the coincidences and decide, “Ah, that’s probably the problem.”

        So let’s talk coincidence for a bit. Coincidence is Marcellus Wallace walking right in front of Butch’s car in a city of millions of people. A thought of contrivance starts forming in the audience’s mind, but before that thought can get fully formed. CAR CRASH! GUN FIRE! Bring out the gimp! And at that point the audience vaguely remembers a thought forming at some point, but who cares, we’re in the now, now.

        The scene in the store in “Three Or Out” should be tension driven. Sure it’s unlikely Xavier runs into him there but I really have no time to think about that because I *have* to know how this robbery that’s about to be committed will play out.

        As for the telemarketer angle: I think that’s your irony right there, but currently it’s not working. What I really wanted and expected to happen was see Arlen weasel an old lady out of her life savings. He’s brilliant at it and could sell anything to anybody; he’s the most charming, confident and reassuring person alive when on that telephone (and we hate him). Then he interacts with his mother, and he’s reduced to a stuttering simpleton. In short: he’s got it all, but having had to live under the yoke of his mother for most of his life, he’s unable to be a success in the real world, which is a vicious circle because every failure in the real world (girls, apartments) drives him back to his mother, whose continuous putdowns drive him back to the only thing he’s good at, being a telemarkter, which he actually really hates (and now we pity him).

        So there you have it, a young man full of self loathing, hating himself, hating what he does, loving his mother. That’s the state of your world. In fact, if you think about it, you don’t even need the hard suicide deadline anymore. Arlen can maybe contemplate suicide, or even plan it, but it’s not arbitrary any more; scrap one contrivance.

        Enter Xavier. That’s the inciting incident of Arlen’s story. It’s what disrupts his ordinary every-day life. Now you have an odd couple that works and the world is your oyster.

        To streamline the story a little I’d put the accomplishments of all of Arlen’s goals right after the first plot point in the “fun and games” section. You highlight their differences and show how together they can help each other accomplish goals that neither of them could have accomplished by themselves.

        Now Xavier is a wanna-be criminal, maybe he wants something. Maybe he wants to be Scarface, or maybe he’s in love with the crimeboss’ mistress (which maybe could play out as “Cyrano de Bergerac/Roxanne set in the seedier suburbs.” which Citizen M suggested, and which I think I think would be a great angle that makes use of Arlen’s verbal skills). Now you have a reason to introduce the bad guy, instead of him just showing up in the apartment and haggling over a 1000 dollars.

        In short: I like the characters, and I like the setup, but there’s not enough drama taking place, and without drama there’s not enough tension to keep people reading. Since it’s not a setup for an action you can’t really add explosions or car chases, so you will have to rely on your characters.

        Get yourself a copy of “In Bruges” and take notice of how even the minor characters interact in the plot in a big way. Then ask yourself, how can I do that with mine: Xavier’s sister, the crime boss, the mother, etc? Push your
        characters right up to the edge and see how they respond, and reroute your plot to include situations where it’s natural for them to be pushed towards such an edge.

        • Jai Brandon

          Great thoughts all around, Matthew! I think you hit the nail on the head with an oversized cartoon hammer, haha. Arlen wasn’t engaging in the opening scene and it ruined the read for some.
          I don’t know about Arlen being a conniving weasel himself, as I’m sure it’d be off-putting for most (even though I see your hate/pity angle), but I do have to give him something interesting to tackle right away. Since my mind is on the suicide hotline, if he is talking Xavier out of killing himself, and then agreeing to meet this person, at least there’s some sort of emotional investment that would exist that was missing previously.
          I’m giving thought to scrapping the deadline as well, but I will say Marcel’s presence at the house wasn’t over the $1000. It was the principle of Xavier dealing behind his back. The amount could be half that and he’d still have a problem he’d feel he needed to fix. The ultimate control freak, who can’t stomach the idea of any of his minions getting away with something on the side. That’s what I was going for there, the money was inconsequential.
          I need to finish “In Bruges,” it wasn’t my cup of tea when I first tried to watch it, but I need to give it another go. Thanks again for the thoughts!

          • IgorWasTaken

            I need to finish “In Bruges,” it wasn’t my cup of tea when I first tried to watch it,

            Here is what I love about In Bruges, and why someone turned me on to it to begin with.

            In the very opening minutes, Colin Farrell a despicable character (and sometimes I’ve had the same sort of feeling about the actor). So I’m thinking: This is a guy I not only won’t ever root for, I don’t even want to spend time with him.

            IOW, it wasn’t my cup of tea, either.

            But then, as a writer, I thought – How the hell does the writer of this change my mind? This I gotta see.

            And in a way, the very fact that we hate Farrell’s character from the absolute start is like a throw-down/challenge.

          • Jai Brandon

            Ha, even more reason to watch! I’ll look it up for sure.

          • Jai Brandon

            Oh! And perhaps the scene between the home and the store is when Xavier first has contact with the FBI. Plant it early, so it doesn’t reek so much like a deus ex machina in the end. What will add to the interest of this scene is that he has the gun on him.

          • IgorWasTaken


            As a reader, I’m fine with stuff like that just showing up at the end (for the first time). But the people in charge hate that.

            They insist that anything that happens after the midpoint has to have been hinted-at early on. Even if it’s just seeing the return address on a letter on a character’s table; a story on the news; seeing that late-entering/important character in a small scene near the start, even in a seemingly unrelated way; whatever.

          • Kirk Diggler

            In Bruges is one of the most quotable movies of all time.

            — Ken, I grew up in Dublin. I love Dublin. If I grew up on a farm, and was retarded, Bruges might impress me but I didn’t, so it doesn’t.

            Ken: I was not aware that there were any prostitutes in Bruges.

            Jimmy: You just have to look in the right places… brothels are good.

            —-“That’s for John Lennon, you Yankee fuckin’ cunt!”

            “An Uzi? I’m not from South Central Los fucking Angeles. I didn’t come here to shoot twenty black ten year olds in a drive-by. I want a normal gun for a normal person.”

            ——What exactly am I trying to say? You’s a bunch of fuckin’ elephants.”

            Ken: You from the States?

            Jimmy: Yeah. But don’t hold it against me.

            Ken: I’ll try not to… Just try not to say anything too loud or crass.

            ——“One gay beer for my gay friend, one normal beer for me because I am normal.”

            Clhoe: “He doesn’t like being called a midget. He prefers dwarf.

            Ray: This is exactly my point! People going around calling you a midget when you want to be called a dwarf. Of course you’re going to blow your head off.”

            —–“You can’t sell horse tranquilizers to a midget!”

            “Purgatory’s kind of like the in-betweeny one. You weren’t really shit, but you weren’t all that great either. Like Tottenham.”

            and on and on and on… the whole film really.

          • shewrites

            Thanks for the quotes. The dialogue in one among many reasons I’ve watched In Bruges several times. It’s a gem of a movie through and through. The characters are outstanding and the plot so expertly woven. To me, it is a case study on how to write a script.

          • Marija ZombiGirl

            I wholly agree with you :) I like this article taking the movie as an example for “externalizing the internal”:

          • shewrites

            I would really encourage you to watch it through the end. I’d be very surprised if you didn’t change your mind seeing how the Colin Farrell character agonizes over his action.

        • IgorWasTaken

          Great, great stuff. I don’t know (its’ too early in the AM) to say yes/no on each specific, but this is a great scenario for at least reconsidering a rework of the story.

          And as someone who has been trying to say similar things during this discussion, I gotta say you’ve done better than I.

          I, too, think telemarketing is better than a suicide hotline. Yes, there is irony if it’s a suicide hotline, but I think it’s on-the-nose irony. A telemarketing job (at least in some people’s minds) is a top-10 reason to want to commit suicide. Or at least that’s a character an audience will easily want to see die.

          Coincidence is Marcellus Wallace… A thought of contrivance starts forming in the audience’s mind, but before that thought can get fully formed: CAR CRASH! GUN FIRE!…

          And yes, heightened interest in something else smothers coincidence every time.

          I can’t explain it at the moment, but I think it could help structurally with the tension building if there were a scene without Arlen between his scene at the house with mom and his scene at the market. Maybe that scene could be Xavier’s prep? Or with some other character we meet later? (And cut down the length of the scene with mom.)

          “In Bruges” is fantastic. Script and the movie.

        • Kirk Diggler

          Really like your Pulp Fiction example as how an audience can overlook a coincidence. It’s like a magician using sleight of hand.

        • Midnight Luck

          Great ideas.
          I really like the idea of flipping it so that Xavis the one who needs Arlen to save him or do something for him. Or both need the other for their own special reason. Xavier needs Arlen help and Arlen needs Xavier to help him escape someone he swindled.

          Great stuff.

      • Dan B


        I thought the telemarking thing was fun. My comment was, while I was reading, I wasn’t sure that he was telemarketing or running a “scam.” Do most telemarketers work from home? The ones I knew when I lived in Iowa City used to go to an office for work. The at home thing to me said “scam artist.”

  • gonzorama

    Okay Carson, here’s my attempt at a suicide logline with irony.

    “A down-on-his-luck alcoholic father learns the only way he can save his terminally-ill daughter is to give her most of his internal organs. With suicide he can achieve this. Unfortunately right before he offs himself he lands the job of his dreams, which could changes his life.”

    Sure, it’s a little long, but check out that irony!!!

    • Midnight Luck

      make him an astronaut and set it during the time when he is chosen the be the first person to go into space (past) or Mars (future) and it could be interesting. He’ll be doing something for all of mankind or he’ll be doing something for his daughter. The stakes have to be big for both. Because nothing is going to come close to saving his own daughter, especially some job.

      • gonzorama

        You’ve just upped the stakes! You’re right, something as big as going to Mars needs to cloud his reality.


        • Midnight Luck

          I wasn’t trying to be jerkish about your idea, but when I read it I just couldn’t agree that someone whose daughter was dying and they could save her by giving their organs would be that conflicted if they were offered even the GREATEST job ever. There is just no way (for most people) any job could compare with the pressure of saving your daughters life.
          BUT….if the job were something that helped the entire human race, if this person was THE BEST and ONLY one who could do something everyone needed, like being the first one to see Mars, or to setup the beginnings of a colony on Mars, or some sort of INTERSTELLAR kind of thing, by doing something to help save humanity, well that would have the kind of stakes which could cause a real predicament.
          The benefit of the MANY or the benefit of ONE, which happens to be his daughter (who most likely will die before he gets back)?
          I would say that would be a TRUE and realistic tearing at the soul for the Protagonist.

          • gonzorama

            I didn’t take it as jerkish at all. In fact I appreciate your input. I was paying Carson’s game and you helped make my logline better. That’s my favorite part about this site.

            I enjoy your comments, and your positive attitude goes a long way…

          • Midnight Luck

            I was so focused on putting down what I wanted to say to you about the story that I didn’t think about how I was wording it.
            When I went back and reread it before responding back to you again it sounded kind of bitchy or demanding or something.
            But mainly it was just I didn’t go back and edit it.

          • gonzorama

            I didn’t take anything as bitchy. I only read your good intentions. And if you were to be a little firm, well, I can take it. I really appreciate your input!

  • Javier Eliezer Otero

    Here’s mine:

    Title: Twin Flames
    Genre: Drama/Comedy/Romance
    Premise: A passionate 70 year old man who fervently believes in reincarnation and twin souls, has given up his search for true love. He goes in a quest to find the perfect place to commit suicide, so in that way he can reincarnate and have another chance in meeting his desire twin mate. Only to find out that she still out the there, closer than he might think.

    • Midnight Luck

      A Rom-Dram. Could be interesting.

      • Javier Eliezer Otero

        Thanks, I changed the premise a little.

        • Midnight Luck

          I picture a reverse, or different CASTAWAY.
          He’s a pilot who’s decided to fly out into the great beyond where he will either die on the way, run out of fuel or find his eden. At the last minute a woman who has stage 4 cancer hires him to take her to a remote island in the middle of nowhere whereupon she’s parachuting out to go live her final days out.

          The whole flight they are at each others throats, they REALLY don’t get along.
          But there’s something there. They both also want the same thing.
          Yet he can’t wait for her to jump out and leave.
          Until she does.
          Then he runs out of fuel, and while he’s crash landing, realizes all he wants is to be with her, and has to figure out how to get back to the island she parachuted to without (ironically) dying.
          Because now all he wants is to live and be with her and take care of her until her last breath.

          • Javier Eliezer Otero

            That’s a great ending!

          • Midnight Luck

            I hope you run with it.
            I would love to read or see something like that.
            But then again, I’m a romantic.
            Not sure many people are anymore.
            The romance has gone the way of the Pterodactyl.
            Unless it has Vampires in it. But that isn’t actually romantic (and neither is 50 Shades of Huh?).

          • Javier Eliezer Otero

            I’m a very romantic person too, Midnight and I loved when movies take diffent aproches in that genre. Movies like Once, In search of the Midnight Kiss, Silver Linings Playbook and many others I can not remember right know.

            I also like when filmmakers mix a little romance into differents genre, like Michael Mann did with Collateral. The movie is clearly a Thriller, but he Infused so much romance into the protagonists, that I just falled in love with them. For me, more than a thriller, it’s a Thriller/Romance.

            So that’s what I try to to do when writing a romance. I don’t just wanted it to be romance. I want it to be something more. Something bigger!

          • Midnight Luck

            I think one of the best non Rom-Com or straight Romance movies ever is TRUE ROMANCE.
            Just a masterwork in keeping the story interesting, heartfelt, fun, exciting, funny, etc.
            Love, love that movie.
            Just with a shitload of guns, drugs, prostitutes, the mob, Walken, Slater, Arquette, Hopper, Samuel L. Jackson, Gary Oldman, Val Kilmer, Elvis Presley, Detroit, and Brad Pitt with a fu-manchu beard.
            I mean, it is just out-there-crazy-fun.
            And yes, it is a ROMANCE.

            I agree with you. Find an unusual story and setting and then turn it into a romance.
            One of these days, another movie will do well like that. It has been a very long time, but it will come back around.

          • Javier Eliezer Otero

            So true!!! And I love what Quentin did with Django. A masterful Western with a great Romance into it!

          • Dan B

            I love True Romance… but what is interesting is how little time Clarence and Alabama are alone together for a “romance movie.” It’s really just the set up, and then everything from there moves quickly through the plot. Which is unusual for a romance, because you don’t get those beats in the middle and end that focus on their relationship. However, it’s unique as a “crime movie” because the set up is slow and builds a relationship…. with the action coming later.

      • IgorWasTaken

        A dram of rum would be interesting.

  • scriptfeels

    Title: KILL! KILL! KILL!

    Genre: Action/Fantasy

    During a high school shutdown, 7 scene girls make a pact to kill themselves, but things get complicated when one of the girls doesn’t go through with it and the other 6 come back to life hellbent on revenge. Hunted down by her best friends, a helpless schizophrenic high school emo girl becomes popular by murdering her old scene, literally. In order to live, she’ll have to kill each of her best friends before they murder everyone in school, including her!

    • S_P_1

      Sounds similar to Suicide Club (2001).

  • IgorWasTaken

    Ripleyy mentioned “A Long Way Down”. Here’s the amusing start to a review:

    Suicide comedy ‘A Long Way Down’ is dead on arrival

    Among group-suicide movies, “A Long Way Down” may prove uniquely
    inspirational: It’s bound to make audience members want to kill
    themselves. It might be the only summer movie during which the snack
    bars will be selling cyanide Kool-Aid.


    • Midnight Luck

      But the book was great.

  • Jai Brandon

  • S_P_1
  • Casper Chris

    Math genius and nobel prize winner John Nash has died in a car accident. He was played by Russel Crowe in the 2001 film A Beautiful Mind. John and his wife were in a taxi cab when they collided with another car. Both he and his wife were killed instantly (age 86 and 82 respectively).

    RIP. Going to revisit the movie one of these days. Been a while.

    • Midnight Luck

      Wow, sad. RIP.

    • Midnight Luck

      I’ve only liked two Ron Howard films, SPLASH is the best, and then A BEAUTIFUL MIND. It was a really interesting story, and Crowe and Jennifer Connelly were just great in it.

      • Poe_Serling

        Speaking of Ron Howard… Is anyone interested in seeing his latest effort:

        The film was scheduled to open on March 13th, but WB has pushed it back to December 11th now.

        • jeaux

          Yes! I loved the book and i think the trailer looks great.

        • Midnight Luck

          I saw the trailer for this a few times a couple months ago, then it disappeared.
          I didn’t find it interesting.
          I think it is a Moby Dick retelling, only different, maybe?
          I thought the trailer looked painfully boring, but then again, I am not a big fan of this kind of thing. I don’t find most Pirate, Nautical, and Testosteron-y driven stuff of much interest.

          I am pretty sure I will pass.

          • andyjaxfl

            It’s the Hollywood version of the true story that inspired Melville to write Moby Dick. The book is pretty outstanding, and the whale is only one portion of the story. It’s more of a story about surviving against horrific odds than macho men out-machoing each other.

          • Midnight Luck

            well that does sound more interesting, but i didn’t get ANY of that storyline from the trailer I saw, which didn’t make me want to check into it any further either.

            It just looked like a bunch of big guys misunderstanding and being “attacked” by a big fish (whale) and trying to be manly and kill it.

            that was it.

            And I do have a big problem with that.
            I just don’t agree with (obviously) the slaughtering of the whale as some sort of show of manliness (as you said), or the slaughter of the whale at all (especially if they are trying to pretend that the whale wants to “kill” the men).

            It is much like everyone going ga-ga over THE GREY. I had no interest in that movie as it just all seemed to be an over-the-top machismo movie / script about a guy killing a bunch of wolves in revenge after they killed everyone else in his group. Which is just ridiculous.
            Making a bunch of wolves into these terrible “JAWS” like enemies is just stupid. Wolves are not these evil entities out to slaughter people. They have their typical food (rabbits, small prey, other already killed animals, and then foraging on berries and plants), but NOT people, just like Sharks DO NOT want to kill or prefer people.

            Anyhow, a WHALE has NO interest in killing people, unless it is out of pure survival because the people are harpooning it, or messing with its environment or young.

            Anyhow, long winded explanation of why this movie (based entirely on seeing the preview) was of Zero interest for me.

            But, maybe there is more to it, and that would be refreshing.

          • andyjaxfl

            Given that the trailers played up the whale angle, I’m curious to see how much of that factors into the film. My guess is that’s the first half of the movie (maybe less), and the rest is the crew’s survival, which is pretty dramatic and horrific.

        • andyjaxfl

          Yes, really itching to see this one and I was bummed that it was delayed, though I don’t see that as a bad sign, rather a sign of the studio’s confidence in the movie. The book is fantastic, and the story was a major inspiration for Moby Dick. I loved Rush, an under appreciated gem in Howard’s filmography.

        • klmn

          Animal Planet showed a movie based on the Essex earlier this year, narrated by Martin Sheen. Looking at IMDB, it was evidently a BBC production.


          Shifting gears, the docudrama The Cannibal In The Jungle airs tonight, on Animal Planet.


        • klmn

          I liked Rush, but IMO Clay Regazoni – who was a minor character in the film – was a more interesting person than either James Hunt or Niki Lauda.

      • Kirk Diggler

        Apollo 13???

        • Midnight Luck

          I’ve seen the first 1/2 hour to 1 hour of it twice. Both times I stopped (which is highly unusual for me). Not exactly sure why, but for some reason it just wasn’t engaging to me? was it boring? maybe?

          Anyhow, I keep meaning to re-watch it FOR REAL, but never do.

          • Kirk Diggler

            Give it one more shot. I think it’s a good one. And as accuracy goes, for the most part they nail what actually happened, which makes it all the more incredible.

            Did you ever make it as far as the “Houston, we have a problem” quote? Because that’s when it really takes off from a dramatic perspective.

          • Midnight Luck

            I will, I’ll give it another try.
            I can’t remember where I stopped, it has been a while.

            It always intrigued me, which is why it is strange I haven’t made it all the way through.

      • Casper Chris

        So I’m watching the movie now (A Beautiful Mind).
        At 50:00, John Nate’s “prodigal roomate” tells him:
        “My sister died in a car crash”

        • Midnight Luck

          yeah, it is an ouch, but so many people die in car crashes, it isn’t that strange either.

      • cjob3

        How ’bout GUNG HO. Underrated classic. And PARENTHOOD – amazing script structure. .

        • Midnight Luck

          Oh thank you. I actually really liked GUNG HO. I forgot about that one.
          PARENTHOOD I liked parts of. Basically I laughed hysterically when Grandma says “I’m shrinking! ” and the guy says “bummer”. That was one of the funniest things ever. But I don’t remember anything else about it.

        • Dan B

          Gung Ho rules. It actually hits the stereotypes well, and the movie has a clear point of view on them. The movie is just fun.

          Also – guilty pleasure is still Backdraft. Some is so weird (sutherland), but some is so good (DeNiro).

  • Malibo Jackk

    Scriptshadow Suicide LL Challenge


    A man who attempted suicide is talked into joining a support group. But when four of its members are found dead from “suicides,” the group is disbanded — and the man begins fearing for his life.

  • charliesb


    “It’s less than we were hoping, but when you decide to take a risk with an original story and a new intellectual property, it comes with a trade-off in the lack of pre-awareness,” Disney distribution chief Dave Hollis told TheWrap Sunday.

    This annoys me. I’m pretty sure TOMORROWLAND didn’t do “poorly” at the box-office because of a lack of pre-awareness, it did “less than they were hoping” because it looked less than exciting and according to RT isn’t very good.

    Thank God for this though :

    “Launching an original film was a point of pride for Disney, said Hollis, and practicality.
    “While not suggesting this is going to change the whole landscape, it is important for the industry to tell original stories. We can’t just produce franchises and sequels,” he said.


    • Midnight Luck

      “We can’t just produce franchises and sequels,”
      they can’t?
      that seems to be their 99.9% m.o. anymore, so that is what they are going for, sequels and franchises.
      This isn’t letting them off the hook, it is based on a Disney ride like Pirates of the Caribbean, so, not really original. they are just feeding off their own I.P.

      • Jai Brandon

        Sequels, prequels, adaptations, and remakes. The only four categories that exist to a studio.

    • Scott Strybos

      Did anyone on this board go out and watch Tomorrowland? The trailers hooked me but then the reviews soured me. Can anyone tell me if it is worth the price of admission?

      • Javier Eliezer Otero

        I did. I really liked it and had a great time. There are huge issues with the third act, though. But in general, it was funny, it was clever and the movie has lots of twists and turns you will no expect. My only problem was the third act, it just didn’t work quite well for me.

  • Scott Chamberlain

    Suicide with Irony

    A dismal circus clown* becomes rich and famous for his ever-more-spectacular failures at suicide.

    * Russian. He’d have to be Russian. And it’d all be captured on GoPro and dashcam.

  • Scott Strybos

    You silly Americans. The holiday Monday was last weekend.

    • Citizen M

      Memorial Day… when they gather at the Tomb of the Unknown Memo.

  • Poe_Serling

    May 25, 1977….

    Star Wars opens in theaters.

    Is that possibly the real reason Carson took the weekend off? ;-)

  • S_P_1

    Happy Memorial Day!

  • http://batman-news.com Liz Strange

    Thanks to everyone who read my script and offered feedback and constructive criticism. I appreciate your time and energy.

  • Casper Chris

    It may still show up. When Carson returns.

  • Jai Brandon

    Thanks for the notes, CCM. Some of that is just my writing style, while other points do raise a valid argument. I’m in the process of re-writing now and love how the new pages are coming along. I’ll be posting the first 30 or so whenever they’re ready. Thanks again!