Genre (from writer): Satirical Dark Comedy
Premise (from writer): When his girlfriend becomes an overnight movie star, a lady shoes salesman must now become famous or he risks turning into the next Kevin Federline.
Why You Should Read: Everyone nowadays dreams of becoming famous. You hit upload, wait around like a child on Christmas Eve, only for someone to eventually gift you a “like” on social media. Our melting pot is currently overflowing with fame whores who move to Hollywood, begging her to make their dreams come true. — As a fame whore myself, let me tell you… life is tough, life in Hollywood is impossible. — Imagine being one of the few in Hollywood who’s not a fame whore. You finally meet the only “great girl” in town, and then somehow you get her to fall for you. Sounds like a perfect Hollywood ending, right? But the only things in Hollywood that have Hollywood endings are Hollywood movies. — Your “great girl” lands the lead in the biggest movie in the world, becoming the next Jennifer Lawrence overnight. You sell ladies shoes. The “great girl” thinks that’s fine, and loves you for you… but the world thinks that makes you a loser, the next Kevin Federline. — Your name is Ernest Pope, and #TRENDING is your story. It’s a satirical dark R-rated comedy.
Writer: James L. Leary
Details: 109 pages

SUKI_1Suki Waterhouse for Molly?

My initial impression of #trending was, “Catchy title.” It’s something that can be overlooked in the process, the title. But when everything else is equal and your script is on the table with several others, it may well be the catchy title that gets your script read.

Here, the “#” sign gives the title an untraditional but intriguing look, and “trending,” ironically, is a trendy word on the internet, so it’s no surprise that it grabbed more attention on Amateur Offerings than generic titles like, “Watching Over Remie” and “Treasure of Fate.” And I’m not saying anything about the quality of those scripts. I’m just saying “#trending” stands out as a title.

Now before I read the script, I have to admit I did a little pre-judging. Readers always do, despite the best of intentions. This was called #trending, implying some light fun faire, yet when I opened the script, I saw 110 pages. Ugh. That long? Really? This feels much closer to a 100 page idea. So I’m already on the writer’s case, even before I’ve read a word. If I see anything here that feels like it’s dragging, I’m going to be thinking, “Yup, I knew it. I knew the script was too long.” I don’t say this bitterly. I just want writers to know what’s going on in a reader’s head when they pick up a script so they can avoid making the same mistake. With that said, I hope I’m wrong, and that #trending is #trending tomorrow on Twitter, which would be so meta.

24 year old woman’s shoe salesman Ernest Pope is a lucky man. He happens to have found love with Molly Taylor, an out-of-his-league aspiring actress who’s doing a lot more aspiring than acting. How Ernest landed Molly is anyone’s guess, but it’s clear she loves him more than anything. For now, that is.

While dining at a Chinese food dump, the couple are bombarded by the paparazzi, who start snapping Molly’s photo and yelling her name. After narrowly escaping photographic death, the two learn that Molly’s landed the role of a lifetime, in a new novel adaptation called “Dawn,” where she’ll co-star with meaty heartthrob Channing Tatum.

I think we know where this is going. Cut to the premiere 9 months later and while Molly and Ernest are still together, he’s getting increasingly insecure. Rumors of an on-set romance between Molly and Channing are everywhere. And the public loves it. They’d much rather celebrate a Molly-Channing coupling than anything to do with this Ernest loser. I mean, the guy has a mustache!

Eventually, the two drift apart, and Ernest’s best friend, Juan Camacho, convinces Ernest that the only way to get Molly back is to become famous too. The quickest route to fame, of course, is to become an actor. With a little luck, Ernest gets a small part in a movie, and when the director’s a dick on-set, he pulls a Christian Bale and goes nuts.

The rant goes viral and, what do you know! Ernest is famous! Well, famous in that cheap internet sort of way. But everyone knows who he is now. This gives him the confidence to rekindle his romance with Molly, but Molly can see that Ernest has turned into a fame whore and leaves him. Ernest uses his fleeting fame to bang a lot of girls, but (major spoiler) he eventually is killed by fucking too much. The End.

#trending started out great. Every character introduced popped off the page. There were these weird asides (a male Sexy Santa contest) that had nothing to do with anything but were still hilarious. I loved James’s portrayal and deep-seated hatred of hipsters (drinking coconut water and standing by their vespas). And there’s this great “doggy bag moment” where we learn all about the thirty mile zone (the acronym for TMZ), which was fascinating. I said to myself, if he can keep this up, we have ourselves a winner.

But as is so often the case with amateur work, it didn’t keep up. The first time I blinked was Molly’s instant-fame moment. People find her at the Chinese restaurant because TMZ tweeted out she just won the Dawn role. But I didn’t know she was even up for the role. Come to think of it, I didn’t see her go up for any roles. I’d forgotten she was an actress. So this came out of nowhere, giving the scene that awkward “did I miss something” feel to it.

From there we make a nine month time jump. You guys know how I feel about huge time jumps in the middle of screenplays. I understand why James did it – he wanted to get to the Dawn premiere, where the fame would be at its highest. But coming on the heels of the sloppy Dawn role reveal, it felt like double sloppy joes to me.

From there on, the script had major structural issues. Molly sort of breaks up with Ernest, although it’s unclear if that’s what really happened or not, leaving the narrative in a confused purgatoric state. I mean if it was a break-up, we know he must get her back. If not, we know he’s got to keep her around. But if it’s neither, we don’t know what he’s supposed to do.

From there, Juan Comacho comes up with this idea that Ernest needs to become a movie star to get Molly back. That’s where the script officially lost me. Not only was I unsure if he and Molly were actually broken up, but now he and his friend are just making up rules for how this is going to work. When there’s no evidence that Molly even cares whether Ernest becomes famous or not, creating an entire section where Ernest pursues fame is strange.  There’s zero stakes attached to that choice.

This is what structure is. It’s creating strong goals with high stakes, so that whatever portion of the script we’re in, something important is happening. Your hero is going after something and there are major consequences to not getting that something. When the importance of those goals becomes muddled – if we’re not even sure that what our characters are doing matters – the script is dead.

If I were James, I’d stick with the opening, which is good. Just make sure we know Molly’s an actress trying out for big roles. Then, once Molly gets famous, I wouldn’t jump forward 9 months. You can create everything you got from the 9 month jump right here in the present. If you want Channing Tatum in the mix , maybe he wants to meet Molly so they can start “going over their lines.” This results in paparazzi photos of the two together a lot, which starts screwing with Ernest and Molly’s relationship. I actually think it’s funnier if you show all these Dawn fans going crazy NOW instead of once the movie premieres. It shows how freaking crazy they are (“Who are these people?? The movie hasn’t even shot yet!”).

From there, you follow the traditional formula that’s worked for a hundred years. Molly leaves him and he has to get her back. I don’t think the becoming an actor thing works. It appears out of nowhere (he had no acting ambitions prior to this) and therefore feels lazy (“made up on the spot” syndrome). It might be funnier if he tries to become an internet star. That’s such a crazy world and it hasn’t been fully explored in movies yet, giving you the opportunity to really do something original. If he tried to figure out the top 10 most famous internet people and replicate their success (he tries auto-tuning himself, kitten videos, saving a kidnapped woman from a home, a la Charles Ramsey), there could be something there.

I’m just spit-balling. You’ll want to come up with your own solution to this. Because the truth is, James, you’re a funny guy. Your first 20 pages had me lol’ing a ton. You just have to build a stronger narrative into the second and third acts. I wish you luck, my friend. Thanks for letting me and the rest of the world trend with you for a couple of hours.

Script link: #trending

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

What I learned: I want writers to know that when they submit a weird combination of words for their script’s genre, I immediately know it’s an amateur. It’s a huge red flag. The accepted genres are: comedy, period, fantasy, sci-fi, action, thriller, drama, biopic, sports, romantic comedy, black comedy (or ‘dark comedy’) and then there are some accepted derivations. Buddy comedy, action-thriller, science-fiction horror. What you don’t want to do is start using strange combinations of these words and then adding your own twist to them. “Satirical Dark Comedy” should just be “Dark Comedy.” Likewise, you shouldn’t submit things like, “Elevated Science Fiction” or “Coming-of-Age Dramedy.” Even if your script doesn’t fit perfectly within one of these genre tags, it’s better to use that tag than create your own.

  • Patrick Sawyer

    This was a weird one. From the odd structure of the story to the fairly unlikable protagonist. Unfortunately I can’t say that I enjoyed it.

    The beginning felt unfocused. Calling mom, who doesn’t come to play in the story almost at all; a voice over in which the protag spews some philosophical bs that’s got no impact on anything and of course the voice overs completely vanish at some point druing the story which just goes to show that they were pointless; driving a car for a couple of pages with Inception music coming from the speakers flipping off people, why not at least make it cool like in those GTA V trailers; then having another character’s voice over which once again doesn’t add shit to the story; etc. etc.

    The humor wasn’t there for me either. Tom Cruise gay jokes, uninspiring banter between characters, putting characters in situations that aren’t funny.

    First act lasts for about a half of the screenplay which IMO is way too long. I don’t even know what the third act was. The beginning of the story feels like it could be set in the real world but the script eventually starts becoming very absurd and because the absurdity of the story wasn’t made clear from the get go when it does happen it feels off and I don’t buy it. Becoming instantly famous and so famous in fact that masses come find you as soon as news about casting for some YA film leaks was just too out there. And this absurdity keeps going until we’re at John Williams’ crazy party and the protag’s funeral. There’s also a nine month time jump which leaves a lot of questions.

    Based on the logline I thought that for the bulk of the script Ernest would’ve been trying to get famous and getting into comical situations during his efforts but it in fact it only took him less than thirty pages to do so and the method of getting to that fame was just a meh. This results in one of the quickest and even oddest character developments I’ve ever read. When he first hears about his video trending he defiantly says he doesn’t want to be famous (even though this was his goal all along) but it only takes him a second to change his mind and in the next scene he has the swagger of a famous idiot. First I didn’t mind Ernest but as the story progressed he started to seems more and more thick. People around him seem to know more than him and he’s out of it many times.

    We get some personal moment between Molly and Ernest but never really get to know their relationship. Why do they love each other? Then Molly dissapears for a very long time from the story. It wasn’t a hundred percent clear if they had broken up but rather than trying to get a hold of Molly Ernest decides he needs to get famous and fast so he has a chance with her, the woman who has constantly reminded him that she loves him. Why is Ernest so thick he believes Juan’s and others’ talk about him having to be famous in order to keep Molly? If she really would leave him because he’s not known then she’s not worth pursuing. And the whole point of all of this was to get Molly back, right? Well, that happens but the story doesn’t end there. No, we go to some party where we have the final confrontation between the two and they end up breaking up and having only been famous for a day Ernest is well on his way to becoming the biggest asshole in Hollywood.

    Not that it’s all bad. There’s good stuff in here as well. The writing for one thing. I liked the premise but i think it needs to be executed better. There’s a clear angle here with the satire of fame and Hollywood. I just wish it had been done in a more realistic fashion but perhaps that’s just me.

    Some random thoughts/notes I wrote down while reading.

    Page 8: TMZ trivia was interesting.

    Page 12: Not that it’s a big secret but wouldn’t Brad want to keep the fact that he’s Ernest’s brother to himself rather than blurt out “My brother?” immediately. He’s surprised someone comes to see Ernest so why not have him ask why Molly is looking for him. Felt like he said my brother just to let the reader know this.

    Page 13: “You told her I auditioned for Sexy Santa last year?” This felt off to me. It could’ve been shortened to “you told her” and the characters would’ve still known what he was talking about. The rest of that sentence is just exposition for the reader’s sake and doesn’t come off as natural to my ear.

    Page 14: It takes Ernest a moment to realise he needs to open the door for Molly and he remarks: “Sorry, I’m still getting used to this love thing.” Does this mean only now that he’s in love he needs to open doors for her and that he wasn’t doing it before? He wasn’t a gentleman before? But now that he’s in love he needs to what, act like a servant?

    Page 15: I like the description of the restaurant.

    Page 16: Not sure about repeating the “diamond in the rough” line from the description on page 15 now in the dialogue.

    Pages 17-18: Okay. That was a bit strange. She got a part in a film and now she’s uber famous. How does that work? Futhermore how did the people know where she was? Did the homeless guy tweet about her going in to the restaurant? Or where they were following her without the pair noticing? How else could the crowd have come there so quickly and in such large numbers. I just don’t buy this. Even if it was trending.

    Page 20: Now Molly’s phone starts buzzing? Why didn’t it do so earlier?

    Page 21: So Miss Happy Dragon was the culprit. Still doesn’t explain how all those people got there so fast in such vast numbers and why Molly’s phone started buzzing only after the crowd showed up. Surely it would be faster for friends to call her than it would be for people to come to the restaurant.

    Molly getting the role is being mentioned a lot but what exactly is this role? What role could possibly result in instant uber fame?

    Pages 24-25: It’s nine months later and only now is Juan trying to convince Ernest that Molly is going to dump him. I feel like it’s should be made clear they’ve had this conversation a thousand times by now.

    At least I now know that Dawn is what caused Molly’s instantaneous super fame.

    Page 26: “What are Dawntards?”. Why is Ernest so out of it? The love if his life got a huge role in a YA film and he doesn’t care enough to find out everything he can about it.

    Page 29: “Is that the real name they go by?” So even Molly doesn’t care enough to find out about the fans of the book who are also her fans.

    Page 30: Molly’s adamant about having Ernest on her side at the premiere. Does Ernest really have anything to worry about? Maybe if she was a little hesitant about Tina’s demand of her going solo but eventually gaved in it would give Ernest more reason to fear a break up was on the horizon.

    Page 31: It’s nine months later but we’re already at the premiere of the film? I suppose it’s possible but I think there still needs to be at least a year in between Molly getting cast and the premiere. There needs to be enough time for filming, post production, marketing etc. Nine months is cutting it close.

    Pages 32-33: Is it important fro us to know the surnames of the Mickaelene couple? And why is the other one adressed as simply Mallory at one point in the description yet by the surname Mickalene (missing an e btw) in the dialogue while the other is called merely Wilbert? Why not use first names with both characters?

    Page 39: Now it’s Mallory and not Mickalene?

    Page 43: “Maybe people are right… it would be easier to date someone famous.” Saying this makes her very unlikable. She acts like she symphatises with Ernest yet she’s breaking up with him even though that’s definitely not what he wants. Makes me think she’s just using this situation as an excuse to leave him. Now I don’t even want the two be together.

    Pge 44: “You’re wrong about her. She really does love me.” Well, yeah she’s been repeating that every chance she gets to the point of it being annoying and yet you, Ernest, keep listening to everyone else’s opinions and warnings and threats about your relationship.

    Pages 52-53: With all the people randomly joining the conversation I was half expecting them to burst into a song and dance number. It could’ve started with Juan’s bs metaphor about chess pieces and Hollywood.

    Quite a late start for the second act, no? If the story is about Ernest trying to become famous in order to get his girlfriend back shouldn’t we have arrived to this point earlier?

    Page 60: “Bring it.” I wish he had. They could’ve started circling and measuring each other like boxers before trying to out act one another: Ernst shoots Brad with a “To be or not to be”, Brad retaliates with “Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape” etc.

    Page 71: Wilbert? The same Wilbert we already met or are there two Wilberts in the script?

    Page 78: “You’re trending.” Well, that didn’t take long.

    Page 81: So, Schoolboy Q has conveniently decided, only a day after the incident, that Ernest is the man of the year and shall have a song made about him and the song is already done. Well, that didn’t take long either.

    Page 82: “I don’t want to be famous.” WHAT?! Then why the hell have you been trying to get famous this whole time (this whole time meaning for the last 20 to 30 pages)?

    Page 85: Ernest goes on stage without any sort gameplan. No rehersals, no Q, no idea what to do.

    Page 90: Molly makes a comeback after being MIA for 45 pages which is a hell of a long time.

    Page 91: “I went to your premiere… it’s your turn to do something for me.” They just made up but Ernest is already making demands and confronting her.

    • Malibo Jackk

      More brutal than ISIS.
      Sounds like a good review though.
      (Have you submitted a script for AF? Not trying to cause trouble.
      Curious to know if there are good, overlooked loglines out there.)

      • Scott Crawford

        Not sure if there are MANY good, overlooked loglines. Carson says he picks the top 20%. Maybe an idea to start keeping a list of them, the ones that made AOW but not AF.

        • andyjaxfl

          Loglines have been better of late, but there have been some pretty brutal spelling/grammar mistakes this year on AOW entries. Tighten it up, people!

  • rickhester

    “110 pages. Ugh. That long? Really? This feels much closer to a 100 page idea. So I’m already on the writer’s case, even before I’ve read a word. If I see anything here that feels like it’s dragging, I’m going to be thinking, “Yup, I knew it. I knew the script was too long.” I don’t say this bitterly. I just want writers to know what’s going on in a reader’s head…”

    Readers should just stop bitching and do their job.

    • 90to110

      I don’t think the problem is that he’s “bitching.” He should and can complain all he wants. I just think he’s flat-out wrong.

    • cjob3

      is it really a “job” if your not getting paid?

      • Scott Crawford

        He’s been not been getting a lot of great AOW or AF scripts lately.

    • Rick McGovern

      Except it lets the writer know what’s in the reader’s head… which is valuable information to know.

  • Scott Crawford

    This sounds more like a R-rated romantic comedy, or just a plain comedy, which is how I would label it since the romantic part is clear from the logline (as, I suppose, is the satirical bit). Dark to me suggests people being killed or incest or something.

    However, congratulations to James, who is a great guy and I know he will take all the advice in the spirit it was given. And, frankly, with what’s happening in the news right now, all those leaked photos, a story of a young actress on the rise couldn’t be more timely.

    This is probably not the TONE you’re looking for, but here’s a somewhat light, Gauloise-scented take on your story:

    • andyjaxfl

      I’m going to take your lead on the leaked photos bit — maybe Ernest has some photos of Molly that are hacked and she blames him and moves on to Channing Tatum. It adds a bit of drama between them (maybe he is careless protecting his online data and she was always warning him about it — now his recklessness impacts her life and rising stardom).

    • cjob3

      I agree. I read the first 20 and from this review there doesn’t seem to be anything particularly dark about the humor or subject matter. Seemed pretty lighthearted compared to my black comedy favorites like “World’s Greatest Dad” or “In The Company of Men.”

  • Dale T

    Didn’t read the script but just going off of Patrick Sawyer and Carson’s summary of the story, I would have changed the story where we focus more on Molly’s undying loyalty for Ernest despite her continuing bloating success. She’s getting famous, but her love for Ernest hasn’t moved a needle. It’s Ernest that’s jeopardizing the relationship because of his insecurity. He sees the tabloids, the media reports, and has this convoluted idea that his social status needs to be parallel with Molly’s.

    Molly gets casted for this coveted role, but she doesn’t become famous right away. They’re eating at this Chinese restaurant and some fanatic of Dawn asks to take a picture with Molly. It goes up on social media and has a small “trending” following, on the lower end of the newsfeed. Ernest sees this and that’s the first sign of his insecurity eating up at him. He embarks on this mission to get famous through youtube videos doing some ridiculous stunts and pranks (white boys almost getting killed in the hood is a thing nowadays), and gets a modest following. Molly even insists on helping him out, but Ernest is absolutely adamant that she’s not involved because he wants to earn it.

    During Ernest’s journey Molly’s fame keeps on going up and up, far outstripping the collective efforts of Ernest. He starts acting distant with Molly when Molly excitedly tells him of her great experiences on set with Channing Tatum.

    And then at this point Ernest sees this as a way to counter back by getting a video with a has been celebrity. This gives Ernest a big boost in his youtube channel and earns him a trending spot in an obscure city in the country (does twitter still have trending topics exclusive to certain parts of the country? Haven’t been on for ages). He’s not satisfied as he sees that Molly’s name is appearing more towards the top of the trending just below a school shooting and something about ISIS.

    I’ll stop there.

    Reading through all that again it may not be the most original story, but in the original story neither one of Ernest nor Molly seem at all likable. They’re both fickle not knowing what they want. I can’t cheer for that.

    • Magga

      Haven’t read either, and feel a bit silly for always suggesting things without having read the script, but a couple of failed auditions for Molly would make us like her, and if Ernest does readings with her and rehearses and builds her confidence we like him too. Then she gets a part that’s much bigger than he expected, and he’s happy but nervous. Then Channing Tatum comes to her house to rehearse, the scene calls for chemistry, and Ernest is there, watching what he thinks is a a real romance blossoming, gets more and more jealous, hangs out on set, watches kissing scenes, maybe even a sex scene, isn’t able to tell reality and fiction apart and decides he needs to “be somebody” too so he doesn’t lose her.

      • Scott Crawford

        I don’t think anyone can accurately guess the plot of THIS screenplay based on the logline. There are a dozen ways this LOGLINE could be done right, but the writer – write or wrong – has their own version of the story, and it’s slightly odd.

      • Dale T

        Good call on the auditions. That would add a nice dynamic to the story and a sense of authenticity.

  • Matthew Garry

    Congratulations to James Leary and “#trending”. I hope the extra notes and exposure you’ll get from AF will lead to great things. I’ve read it, and liked it, but I feel there are others on here who are more proficient at writing about rom-coms (#trending felt like a rom-com to me, at least until everything went wrong for the hero).

    So instead, as a consolation prize, I’ll write a bit about runner-up “Watching over Remie” since it did fairly well, and I was quite taken by it.

    There was a lot of love for this one during AOW, but also a lot of dislike, where the dislike usually took the form of “I’ve read X pages and nothing happened!”

    One thing a reader should do is try and assume an optimal audience for a particular screenplay. Unfortunately that’s a hard thing to do, and it’s not even always possible.

    I think what caught a lot of people off guard here was the antagonist, or rather the lack of one, which basically made nothing happen.


    Contrary to what movies have taught us to believe, OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is not defined by washing your hands too often or meticulously arranging cutlery.

    What OCD is, is a man driving a car and passing an intersection. He drives on. Now,
    nothing happened at that intersection, and the man knows that. But somehow, the man gets the feeling that he might have hit someone on that intersection, that he’s committed a hit and run.

    As he drives on, this feeling gets stronger and fills him with dread. But still, rationally he knows that nothing happened. Still he pulls over, gets out and checks his fenders, just to get rid of this feeling.

    There’s no signs of any damage on his fenders. He gets back in the car and drives on.

    But his dread builds again, even if he knows nothing happened, and even if he checked his car for damage. And this dread keeps on building until it becomes so unbearable that physical evidence and rational thought cannot contain the dread anymore.

    The man finally turns around the car and drives back to the intersection. There’s nothing there.

    He might laugh it off early on, and is relieved. He thinks himself silly for his behaviour.

    But at some point it happens every time he passes an intersection. He can no longer drive a car to get somewhere on time. It disrupts his life completely, all over a silly idea that the man _knows_ to be silly.

    It’s an insidious disorder that people are embarrassed to talk about, since they rationally know it’s nonsense.


    OCD is the antagonist in “Watching over Remie”.

    In “Watching over Remie” we are presented with a perfect little family: Claire, Alain, and Remie.

    As some commenters mentioned, nothing about them stands out. Claire is a caring mother. Alain is a good husband and father. And Remie is no prodigy but the typical five year old light of the family.

    They are slightly richer than an ordinary family, but the attention to detail ensures they’re not unlikable because of it. Alain is not a banker or a lawyer, he’s a hardworking architect.

    They don’t drive an achiever car–something European and expensive, but a Japanese one, good value-for-money, well-engineered, and stylish, but nothing to impress the neighbours with.

    The family is not painted as particularly likable to have the broadest audience possible root for them, but rather as realistic enough to allow for projection.

    What is to be assumed for the story to work is that the target audience can simply feel empathy for a happy family _and_ have an understanding of OCD. That may not be a very large audience, but then again, it wouldn’t need an extraordinarily large budget. And metal illness, especially of the realistic kind, is actor-bait.

    Now, given a sense of empathy for the family, and an understanding of OCD, a lot happens on these previously flat pages. Claire starts exhibiting symptoms of OCD, and what’s worse, giving into her compulsions directly influences the happiness and development of the child, which is the beating heart of the family.

    But Claire is smart, and Alain stable and understanding, so she recovers quickly from her lapses in judgement. They’re a strong family; they can overcome adversity by sticking together. Maybe it really is just a case of Claire being overbearing. A caring audience should latch onto that; everything is going to be okay; the family won’t be torn apart.

    But over time Claire’s behaviour becomes more erratic, and we feel it’s not going to correct itself, and it puts Remie in increasing danger and isolation. Will the family hold together under what may or may not be destructive compulsive behaviour?

    Another interesting question is Alain’s dilemma: at what point are you going to decide your partner is no longer mentally fit enough to handle your child? Deciding to act on that will uproot your family, whilst not acting on it might lead to worse. And what if you’re wrong (we’ve witnessed Claire’s excessive behaviour, Alain only has hunches)? Your partner will never trust you again. It’s a good dilemma that should make an audience wonder about their own answers.

    Eventually Claire gets committed for a short time. In the hospital she meets Tara, a fairly normal patient, or so it seems. Good to the writer’s promise, their goodbye is a disturbing scene, which lets us see the depths at which Tara’s madness runs.

    It’s after Claire gets out of the hospital that “Watching over Remie” fell apart for me. Alain suddenly didn’t seem to care much about his wife, and by proxy, the family, anymore. And if he doesn’t, why should I? Where previously tension was carefully build and released, easy choices ruled the plot now. They were sufficient to bring the story to an end, but the shift in tone was too large for me to be captivated all the way.

    To me it’s as if the writer finished it in a relative hurry after Claire’s breakdown at
    Remie’s school:
    -Claire’s stint at the hospital, though good, wasn’t fully milked for potential.
    -Alain eschews responsibilities, whereas he had been set up as very responsible and stable.
    -There’s rushing in between multiple locations, whereas the tone before was brooding and quietly menacing.
    -Grandmothers are used to wallpaper over Alain’s absence.

    Overall I liked “Watching over Remie,” but I feel it could do with a revision of the final 1/3rd.

    It’s an easy to produce drama within reach of preferred indie budgets, and could serve as a springboard for serious actors. There’s also a build-in audience of mental healthcare professionals.

    • Linkthis83

      WATCHING OVER REMIE was definitely my choice as well. The thing that I realized while reading the pages where “nothing is happening” is that it’s on purpose. It’s to give us the last moments of normalcy for this family before it starts to unwind.

      I didn’t read the entire script, but I felt the ACT I pages were done really well. A good balance. It also sounded like the script could’ve pushed the extreme of the disorder quite a bit in the 2nd half. That it didn’t quite deliver on the set up. Otherwise, it was definitely well written early.

    • ASAbrams

      Good points.

      And your example of the man and his irrational fear of driving through intersection has something that I feel that Watching Over Remie could improve on–specifics. The man who can’t drive his car has a very specific fear. Claire’s fear was too abstract for me, as I said when this script was posted. She needs to be a more specific character.

    • cjob3

      This is the one I read as well. I thought the writing was excellent. (Although the phrase “head on a pivot” is used a few too many times.) It’s intentionally slow, building suspense, and that’s fine with me. (Reminded me of the under-rated “SAFE” with Julian Moore.) However I do wish it built to a bigger crescendo. Basically her big ‘unhinged’ moment is knocking on the glass window of the classroom door ’til her hand bleeds. That’s a great moment and a creepy image but I do wish it built to an even bigger moment from there. Something really memorable like the boiled bunny from Fatal Attraction. The whole film is such a slow burn I feel like you need a really killer climax to put it over the top.

      • walker

        “Safe” is a great film, and it is highly regarded in certain circles. In the 1999 Village Voice film poll it was voted the best film of the 1990s.

        • cjob3

          Oh wow

          • walker

            The writer-director, Todd Haynes, is very talented.

    • cjob3

      PS: You’re right about Alain, he seemed to give up on Claire rather abruptly. He also seemed to talk around the issue, rather than full-on confronting her, which was a bit frustrating.

    • Andrew Parker

      I too picked WATCHING OVER REMIE. It was like TAKE SHELTER from a female perspective, but could have definitely benefited from some Act Three notes. Alas, we’ll never know Carson’s thoughts.

      I wish people would skim the rest of a screenplay if they like the first 20 pages of something. It’s pretty easy to put together 20 amusing pages. Much harder to make a whole feature film consistently funny and with narrative drive. That’s what you should be on the lookout for with comedy loglines + scripts.

      • carsonreeves1

        Not necessarily true. I know some people really liked “Remie.” — Maybe because the last few Amateur Offerings haven’t produced an outright winner, but when I go through the voting, I see a lot of comments like, “I liked this one and sort of liked that one and that one was okay.” People sometimes forget to make their vote clear (I love when people say at the top: “My pick is…” so I know that’s their vote). Otherwise, it’s left up to me, and in those cases I just go with the script people are discussing the most in the comments (good or bad).

        • grendl

          You do a helluva job running this site. Don’t let anyone, including me tell you different. Seriously.

        • Andrew Parker

          I understand. #trending definitely stirred up some conversation — plus I’m always in favor of comedies — so I’m glad we got to see your thoughts. Though the title made me want to #throwupalotbitinmymouth.

          I was just interested in your take on WATCHING OVER REMIE because I thought it had a great logline, but an execution that was slightly lacking. One of those, “I wonder what I would have done if given that logline as an assignment” moments…

        • Scott Crawford

          It seemed to me that more people WANTED to like Remie but were disappointed by it. To me, WANTING to like something is not the same as it being a good script.

    • carsonreeves1

      Yeah, it felt like a rom-com tone to me as well. It’s only at the end, when he dies, that it feels like a satire.

  • andyjaxfl

    Unlikeable protagonists are tough to get the audience to root for. It’s Always Sunny is loaded with unlikeables. They are schemers who rarely do the right thing. Sometimes they succeed, mostly they fail. Audiences seem to enjoy the humiliation these characters experience after they fail — they get their comeuppance as schemers should in Hollywood — and they tune in again next week to see more of the same, as they did with Seinfeld.

    I think Carson’s right — with an unlikeable protag in a comedy, it’s probably best to follow the traditional formula. Make the transition from Ernest being a dick to an okay guy enjoyable by keeping some of his unlikeable moments in there, but also add some reasons for us to root for the guy. Nobody roots for a frat boy who just wants to sleep with women during his pursuit of one particular woman after he scores his 15 minutes of fame.

  • jw

    I’m waiting for the article… What Roger Federer Can Teach Us About Writing a Kick-Ass Screenplay! What a match last night! That guy is just EPIC!

  • Panos Tsapanidis

    Good “What I learned” today. Most of us knew it or felt it, but somehow we wanted to see it written here.

  • Midnight Luck

    #OK #Reading this #REVIEW has #COVERAGE messed with my #HIPSTER #BRAIN Anyone else have this #.#.#PURGATORIC #HipLingo #Problem?
    I mean I found very little #Ebola and didn’t get #FRANK far in #Readingthisscript . I need to #GetThisTwitterOut! I need my #iPhone quick! so I can #TwitTwitTwit this shit!
    #Ineedmy#MTV #PoundPaparazzi! I’m agonna #Write a #MidnightComedy and who is #SukiWaterhouse? wasn’t she the main #FuckingCharacter on #TrueBlood and isn’t it funny, after yesterday:


    that #IMDB is #atwitter about #THECHAIR the #NEWshow from #CHRISMOORE today? I can’t ###STOP. I’m #hav’ng #Super#Short#AttentionSpan#FRIDAY ###

    • Midnight Luck

      Didn’t even know you could Upvote yourself. #Accidental #UpvoteSelfie

      How very #Narcissistic of me

    • carsonreeves1

      You went there, Midnight. You really went there.

  • readmoredolt


  • Craig Mack

    Speaking of #trending … are you guys on twitter? @craig_mack would love to keep up with everyone there.

    • Dan B

      @DanR_Breen – are you from Boston? I was there for work – and happened to notice the 617

      • Craig Mack

        Yes, Im in Boston. Been here for 15 years.

  • pmlove

    This script felt symptomatic of something I’ve been feeling whilst reading the ‘best of AF’ entires of the past two weeks – it’s too much about the writer demonstrating their ability to be sassy and satirical and not enough about plot, structure and character.

    Take for example, Carson’s comments about hipsters, Vespas etc. I absolutely disagree. It’s a cheap and easy shot, nothing more. It isn’t satire – it’s too on the nose. It’ll also date the script way faster than anything else.

    A lot of the ‘buzz’ scripts on the best of AF have ‘remember me’ moments. Fatties, Goodbye Gene, Dexter Strange (and that portaloo script too) – they’re all ‘out there’. But the best thing about Fatties, say, is it has a very tight structure and character work.

    When you hit the eighth script like this though, it becomes tiring. Another plot involving gimp suits, rape, paedophilia for increasingly less clear reasons.

    Ironically, the standout scripts then become those that don’t have the look-at-me moments. The Patisseries, the Real Monsters, the Breaking the Chains, the Black Autumns, the Keeping Times – these will most likely be making my list (not to say that the likes Fatties etc won’t).

    The kicker being, of course, that it’s much harder to write something when you lose the ‘look-at-me’ moments.

    • carsonreeves1

      I don’t know. I’ve never seen a joke making fun of coconut water before, which I think is the most ridiculous and unnecessary creation in the world, targeted specifically for people trying to be different and not because anybody actually wants it. So I loved that he called hipsters out on it.

      • Craig Mack

        Coconut water mixes very well with Rum…. I call it the South Boston Pina colada. So there’s that.

      • Dan B

        Real Coconut water is great! If you’re on your honey moon and its from the actual coconut. I don’t understand how paying $5 for it is better for you than water or milk. I think Hipsters in Chicago do other things like watch Improv and drink PBR and High Life ironically – and bitch about how cops are actually writing them tickets for blowing red lights on their bikes. I think there is a different reason to be bugged by hipsters in different regions.

  • Randy Williams

    I thought the writer had a breezy, comfortable style which was a pleasure to read but overall more suitable for a rom-com then a “dark comedy”.

    I would have liked the focus, however, to be on the results of his girlfriend making a splash and not his own desire to make his own. Remember the movie about first wives, The First Wives Club? How about the first boyfriends of young women who make a splash in Hollywood whom have been dropped for better red carpet escorts form the First Arms Club?

    • Rick McGovern

      I agree… it’s more of a rom-com than a dark comedy.

  • Ryan Sasinowski

    Ladies shoe salesman just reminds me of the adventures of Al Bundy.

  • James Joseph

    I (writer of #trending) would like to thank everyone for their read and comments. This has been a great opportunity for growth, thanks Carson. Most importantly thank you to everyone for inspiring my evening, see you at the BAR! #everybar :)

    • carsonreeves1

      Keep writing, my friend. You’ve got some talent. Focus on structure in your next rewrite or next script. Make sure we’re always pushing towards something important with consequences attached. Good luck!

    • Rick McGovern

      Looking forward to the rewrite ;) and I’ll try to have more uplifting notes next time hehe

    • Erica

      What might be fun is if Ernest who is a smart phone rep., does everything he can think of to keep the girl he love still interested in him. I’m thinking silly thinks like sing to her, buy her things (cheaply) that he thinks she wants.

      Then one day while selling a phone he snaps an innocent selfie picture while showing a feature to a customer. The picture shows someone famous with someone they shouldn’t be with (or something fun), but this could tell a sub story and lesson. Maybe make it his mom that finds the picture and sells it.. This ends up going viral catapulting him into the internet stardom.

      This turns it more into a romantic comedy but hey, just throwing out ideas.

    • Dan B

      James – you write funny stuff, most people don’t. I left some comments on the board too if you want to read them. Keep it up!

  • Dale T

    Yes I’ve already covered that, clearly.

  • pmlove

    It’s just about balance. It’s not that the look-at-me is bad per se, it’s like you said – if it replaces any story/character, it tires very quickly.

    I think some good examples of the ‘right’ way to avoid this but keep a ‘voice’, would be films like In Bruges or Skeletons (if you haven’t seen this, I’d recommend it). The films work because of the characters and relationships – you could take them and put them in a mundane situation and I’d still watch. They don’t need to be in a ball-gag to be interesting – but both maintain a very strong ‘voice’.

    In Bruges is probably a clearer example, as Seven Psychopaths is a far weaker follow-up for me, precisely because it lacks that character depth and relies on a little flash and flair to make up for that fact.

    Skeletons, should you be interested:

    • Scott Crawford

      It’s interesting because I’m always banging on about outlines, but Martin McDonagh doesn’t write outlines; he makes it up as he goes along. But he has a strong sense of character, so I guess that’s his approach.

      I still maintain that there seem to be two type of scripts hitting AOW at the moment; thin, “mood piece” scripts, and bloated, “everything-and-the-kitchen-sink” scripts.

      Majority of scripts I see here prove that people can write, no question, no problem. But how many have had a truly strong story. You’ve listed a few, pmlove, but it should be more than that.

    • Nate

      In Bruges is in my top ten favourite films. There’s not a whole lot going on, storywise, but because it focuses so much on the characters, it works really well. Back when Carson was doing his movie breakdowns and he asked for suggestions, I thought it’d be nice to see him breakdown In Bruges, because of how unconventional it is.

      • Kirk Diggler

        ‘If I grew up on a farm, and was retarded, Bruges might impress me. But I didn’t, so it doesn’t’.

  • Nicholas J

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’m surprised I haven’t seen anyone mention how LOUD this script is. This is soooo densely written for a comedy.

    At their best, comedies should be page turners. It should barely feel like you’re reading. This thing seems to be written within an inch of its life.

    It’s hard to find a word that isn’t bolded, underlined, italicized, capitalized, or a combination of the four. We have voice overs, camera directions, montages, quotes, parentheticals, a hundred characters, music cues, movie clips, continueds and continuouses, cut tos, etc. Every tool in the box used left and right.

    And everything is so specific. We’re driving a 92′ Chrysler Lebaron convertible. (Do we care that it’s a 92′ Chrysler Lebaron?) Extras (in other words, characters that aren’t important) are drinking coconut water (How will we know the water is coconut flavored?) and standing next to Vespa scooters (They can’t just be scooters?). Oh and they cough so mildly as to not ruin their wrinkle-free denim and ski caps. There’s a shot of text that is a three-line-long conversation that Bette Davis had with Johnny Carson that accompanies a painting. (Is the shot going to be 15 seconds long so we can read it?) Also, for some reason Juan Camacho is constantly referred to as Juan Camacho instead of just Juan.

    Words and phrases seem invented or wink-wink-nudge-nudge-creative. He spits game. Swagger habanero spicy. Dancing with the Magic of Mike. Instead of walking, a character “peacocks.”

    So much directing on the page as well. Look at this sentence. “The glitz and glamour of the Sunset Strip beams through our vantage point behind the weathered Chrysler HOOD ORNAMENT.” Cool shot, but that’s not your decision to make.

    Look, there is nothing inherently wrong with any of these things. I like that a character “peacocks.” I like referring to Juan as Juan Camacho. I like using bold and italics where appropriate.

    But throw all of this stuff together (and that’s all from only about 12 pages) and it weighs the read down EXTREMELY. This sounds like a fun story, but the writer won’t let me access it. I like ice cream, but not when a bucket of it is dumped on my head.

    Slow down. Build. Pick and choose. Focus. This writer clearly has the talent, now they just need to learn how to reign it in.

    I’m going to peacock my way over to the couch now. I have a headache.

    • Rick McGovern

      I agree. For me, overdoing bolds and underlining takes me out of the story…

      And his descriptions did get a little novelistic at times, which can come across as directing on the page (though the shot through the ornament was definitely directing on the page. Though, I can’t say it actually bothers me when it’s done, unless maybe if it’s overdone).

      And to me, the beginning felt dense, and was honestly hard for me to get through (the first ten pages specifically… was almost confusing)… but then it just opened up and it read super quick and seemed to take no effort at all. I thought it was structurally wrong, and I didn’t like a lot of the choices in the script, but it was still an easy read.

      For me anyway.

    • Paul Clarke

      When everything is emphasized, nothing is emphasized.

      I think specifics and interesting verbs are important (although peacocking would get old fast) but it’s the straw the broke the camel’s back with so much else going on. Camera directions and overuse of bold’s, etc give us the impression that the writer doesn’t have confidence that his message is coming across.

      Let your story do the talking.

  • Rick McGovern

    Yeah, exactly, how can you give notes on something you didn’t even “try” to read? lol if you’re going to be a critic on someone’s work, then read their work.

    • Dale T

      Quite the presumption you’ve made. Stories can still be judged on its summary and plot points, I never critiqued it outside of those parameters. If I was criticizing its dialogue and writing? Yes you’d actually have a point.

      • Rick McGovern

        Those aren’t always the notes that are being given.

        A lot of times the notes were based on other people’s notes, and giving ideas how to make the script better without actually having read the part of the script that they are now giving notes on.

        How do they know that they wouldn’t like it the way it’s presently written? Spitballing ideas about stuff they don’t actually know anything about, except what someone else has said about a script they haven’t actually read.

        Doesn’t seem as helpful to me. But I admit, I could be wrong ;)

        • Dale T

          I’ve went through the past amateur weekend offering when #trending was submitted to cross reference the plot points and the story. I read through Carson’s and Patrick Sawyer’s reviews twice over just to cover my bases again. Now I’m not justifying my post as a legitimate alternative to a critique, there’s no superior insight than from one who has actually taken the time to read the script, that’s why I tried not making it seem like it’s more than it was.

      • Rick McGovern

        Also, I wasn’t talking about you or anyone specifically. It was just a general statement.

        • Dale T

          I see, sorry if I sounded snappy, tough day at work. I generally agree with your statement on the other hand and try not to do this often just cause I don’t want to legitimize trying to provide critiques without reading the story. In this case I felt compelled to.

          • Rick McGovern

            Not a problem. And I hope you have a better day, tomorrow! which is a Saturday! :) Hope you have the weekends off.

            I head back to LA in two days… just in time to leave the cold Denver rainy weather and head back to the warmth (almost too warm!). But my goal is to beat my first time ever 205 bowling score lol my second best was a 199, and that was like ten years ago… so if I’m lucky, maybe I’ll beat my 205 by 2024 lol

            Anyway, back to the discussion, I didn’t actually read your comment, which is why it was a general comment.

            I usually don’t read the comments that start with, “I didn’t read it, but…” lol, especially if they’re super long, and so I was just replying my agreement to Z.

            But you know, maybe there was something in there that James can use. And you were trying to help. And God knows, Ideas, even ones we don’t like, can lead to ideas we do. So who knows.

  • Rick McGovern

    Not sure what script you read, but it doesn’t read like a sex fantasy. In the first 18 pages the only sex is in the first page on the TV.

    Nor does it feel like it was written by a little kid. But name calling does make you seem like a little kid. #justsaying ;)

  • carsonreeves1

    The debate about page count will never die. I’m just telling you what I and most of the readers I talk to say. Though I admit, if you write an amazing script, page count won’t matter.

  • Dan B

    I read this all in one sitting – that said, I was on a plane to Boston with no WiFi… But I enjoyed reading it. I thought the premise was good for a rom-com. You went with Satire, however, it started more comedy/rom-com and then went more satire later in the script. And it wasn’t just satire, it was satire injected with Jose Canseco’s dealer’s steroid needle! Way over the top in the last 30 pages! The script also seemed to shift between parody and satire, while you should probably pick between the two. That all said – there was a lot of funny jokes and moments. James is funny, thats a fucking fact. The script could be improved by cutting 15 pages – there’s at least 5 in the first 30. The artistic comments about the LeBaron driving (is it Jon Voight’s LeBaron?) are a bit too much. And the scene with Mom made me feel like she’d be a bigger part of the story, but she’s just getting porked by Juan Camacho later (or Barbacoe’d? I don’t know). The brother can probably go to. Focus on Ernest and Molly. I think alot of the jokes are throw away gags with characters that don’t have to do with the plot – homeless guy jerking off, gay guy working at MAC (an estee lauder company). The best comedy comes from truth and relationships – i think a scene at the premier after party where Ernest has to interact with the Hollywood types would be better than just papparazzi yeling at him. Also – The Wilbert name was used twice – is that the same guy?

    James – you came up with a good premise, and this idea as promise. I liked it. I also thought it was funny he was a shoe salesman, the irony of it given his earlier description. You’re funny. Most people aren’t. This script has promise.

    Now my wife is looking at me pissed because I’m commenting on a blog this late on date night…. yeah I know that face. No sex tonight. DAMN YOU SCRIPTSHADOW!!!!!!

  • Citizen M

    Read the whole script. This is a strange beast. Starts off as a standard rom-com and ends up as a downer “don’t do drugs” morality play. As written it would have some fans I suppose, because there are some good sections, but this would not be to most peoples’ taste.

    I liked some of the Hollywood satire, for instance the way the restaurant staff all seemed to be ex-actors, and the crazy way social media makes you a star.

    The low character count is a plus. Sign of a writer who knows what he is doing.

    But the central driving force to Ernest’s actions, his love for Molly and fear of losing her, is not well described. I never felt any urgency or desperation. Molly herself goes missing from the story for long patches. She is in any case just a cipher. We never learn much about her.

    The central character, Ernest, was also not fully fleshed out. We almost never see him trying to be a composer, although his big ambition is to write movie music. He never plays an instrument and only once works at a computer. He doesn’t seem to have much musical appreciation. He plays clichéd pieces like the Rocky theme rather than his own stuff or great but obscure pieces like many music fundis I know.

    Also the big nine-month jump Carson comments on. What was happening before then? They must have reached some sort of working arrangement for their relationship. Maybe Molly is the one who wangles a job for Ernest as an extra on the Dawn set and he blows it.

    The red carpet premiere scene is tailor-made to be the big finale. Will Molly choose Ernest or Channing? That’s when the big confrontation and/or reconciliation should take place, in a more standard structure. All the Act II action should take place before then.

    The early scenes where the LeBaron hood ornament features strongly were even worse on the second reading. I was even more confused about what was going on.

    Is it permissible to label Kevin Federline a loser and John Williams a drug user? Even if it’s true (which I don’t know). “The greater the truth, the greater the libel,” my lawyer father used to say. I wouldn’t like to take the chance.

    Some notes made while reading:

    p. 1 – Yosemite Sam had a big red beard, huge mustache, and sombrero. Ernest just seems to have a mustache and wear plaid shirts. Maybe compare to a different character. Nietzsche, perhaps.

    p. 1 – Half a page doesn’t seem adequate to portray their relationship. I’d like to see him composing and her reading lines. Maybe discussing how they met. Did he sell her a pair of shoes? Maybe there’s a funny incident they share that bonds them.

    p. 3 – car wipe is directing on page. So many words on a mural? Rather have dialogue bubbles like in a cartoon.

    p. 5 – totally overwritten even on second reading. “a finger pushes STOP” Directing on the page again. Just say he stops the tape.

    p. 6 – Brown suit, plaid shirt. Would a shoe salesman in Bloomingdale’s be allowed to wear this outfit?

    p. 8 – So where exactly is the center of the TMZ? Presumably Bloomingdales, but he doesn’t say it. I’d show the Bloomies going from the car park through the mall to Bloomingdales during Brad’s VO. Perhaps Ernest and Juan could arrive late.

    p. 10 – Why are the Sexy Santa contestants all WIDE-EYED? It seems to be a significant detail but the import escapes me.

    p. 13 – I hate all scripts that use the word “smirk”. They never seem to use it correctly.

    p. 13 – So what if Brad auditioned for Sexy Santa? Why is he ashamed of it? This is not the smooth, confident response of a sales manager. Idea: what if Brad and Ernest competed for Molly and Ernest won?

    p. 18 – We should have known Molly was auditioning for the Dawn part.

    p. 19 – Paps faking injuries. Looks like something being set up but never pays off.

    p. 19 – Music choice adds nothing. As an aspirant composer doesn’t he play his own music? Maybe he composes crappy music, contrast with Molly’s good acting.

    p. 28 – What’s with the plaid shirts? If they’re his thing make it clear when we first meet him.

    p. 33 – MICHALENE used instead of MALLORY in a few places.

    p. 39 – Why does Tina want to crush Ernest? He needs to have pissed her off somehow.

    p. 37 – “I love you.” Peculiar time to say it.

    p. 43 – This is not feeling real any more. Losing interest.

    p. 51 – So how is Juan Camacho, a shoe salesman, so wise about Hollywood. And how is Ernest, a would-be Hollywood composer, so ignorant about Hollywood?

    p. 53 – Nice that all the staff know about acting.

    p. 60 – Brad being nice and saying “I love you”? Crap. (Okay, I see why later.)

    p. 63 – Porn audition. I enjoyed this scene.

    Crazy way to become famous, but believable. The slightly zany, crazy atmosphere is not sustained throughout the script, however. I think a more manic approach to the story might work better. Show Hollywood as a weird, far-out place.

    p. 89 – Finally Molly appears. We last saw her on p. 43. Forty pages is too big a gap to lose a major character. We need reminding of why Ernest is doing all this.

    p. 93 – Can you show John Williams taking drugs?

    p. 98 – Ernest is too much of a dick.

    p. 108 – What a downer ending!


    Niggles: “lady shoes salesman” is a female who sells shoes. “ladies’ shoes salesman”; fireplae; Tattum; chaplan; p45 let’s/lets; p48 point’s/points; p49 who’s/whose; p50 Director’s/directors; nays/neighs; Enrnest