amateur-offerings-weekend

Read as far as you can and tell us which script you liked best in the comments!

TITLE: The City
GENRE: Futuristic thriller
LOGLINE: An illegal artist hides in a nuclear wasteland to avoid a death-sentence but is forced back in an exchange to save his friends who have been kidnapped.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: I’ve spent a bloody long time on this script – over 5 years – and it’s completely different now to what it was when I started, as it should be. The story at the crux of it remains the same, and that’s what it’s all about. It’s a small story in a bigger world… As Jim Jarmusch said, “I’d rather make a movie about a man walking his dog than about the Emperor of China.” Anyway now that it’s “done” I need to get it out there, and I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to do that! Sure I can send out script queries but I feel this needs a real read and review – good, bad or otherwise. I’ve had friends and friends of friends read it for me, but they’re probably just being nice when they tell me what they think. I want professional words of wisdom because if there is one thing I can do it’s take them, take advice, hit notes, improve, and ultimately, from this, write in a way that will help me progress my career. This script has been a part of my life for so long I’m feeling pretty lost right now! This feels like a handy next step…

TITLE: They Ate the Horses
GENRE: Adventure/Horror
LOGLINE: A century after mankind’s near extinction, a daring teen eludes her overprotective father, risks an adventure to a neighboring town, and quickly discovers slavers are the least of her worries.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: Hey! Hey everybody! Another post-apocalyptic wasteland! Someone tell the DP to get the “grey” filter ready! You may notice that this is sarcasm. Glowing sarcasm, in fact. We’ve populated this world with likable (and not-so-likable) characters, danger, humor, and yes, even color. Come for the colorful take on life after (most) humans, stay for the ridiculous twist. I hope you have as much fun reading it as we did conceiving and writing it.

TITLE: The Benefactor
GENRE: Psychological Thriller
LOGLINE: A young widow discovers her husband’s accidental death is the latest in a series of murders-for-profit reaching back more than a decade.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: This is based on my published novel. In its review, Mystery Scene magazine described the book as “a story Hitchcock would have approved of.” Exactly what I was striving for.

TITLE: PARKING ENFORCEMENT
GENRE: Buddy Comedy (Step Brothers meets 21 Jump Street)
LOGLINE: When two bumbling brothers get their shot at a badge after twenty years in Boston parking enforcement, they will uncover a police conspiracy forcing them to go after the very people they’ve spent their entire lives wanting to be a part of.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: After failed attempts at recognition with less commercial fare, this is my first stab at a highly structured, broad commercial comedy. The initial inspiration for this came from a single question: what if The Departed was a comedy? Boston is always used in a very serious way where the deep roots of cops run for miles, so I wanted to take that aspect of it, flip it on its head for a comedy (a la The Heat) and ask a secondary question around, what if two people who had the badge in their blood wanted to be, but couldn’t? And, then finally, what if they were completely opposite brothers? I’d love to better understand what works here and what doesn’t from a story perspective. To date, this is the most structured and outlined script I’ve ever written.

TITLE: Broken Vessels
GENRE: Body-switching
LOGLINE: A New York City policeman tracks a serial killer through 700 years of dead bodies to find the secret to an immortal curse.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: I’ve been a quarterfinalist in the Nicholl three times in four years (with two different scripts). I was a semifinalist in the Big Break the one, and only, time I entered. Frequent site contributor walker listed one of my scripts (not this one) as the best amateur script he’s ever read. I wrote this script with actors in mind. It is Oscar-bait for the Denzel Washington’s and Ryan Gosling’s of the acting world. Plus, you’ve said you are always looking for the perfect body-switching script. What if this is it?

Beyond that: At 40, I am stuck in a middle management job that requires me to get up at 3:30 in the morning and work 11 hours a day 6 to 7 days a week. I have a daughter at NYU, the most expensive school in the country, and my wife is now expecting our fourth child. I know I can write and, up until now, I have been willing to wait for my chance. Circumstances have conspired to put me in a more “Kyle-Killen-when-he-wrote-The Beaver” frame of mind. Were your site to bring that chance to me, I would not forget it—the way others that got their break from your site seem to have forgotten it.

  • Matthew Garry

    Has “WHY YOU SHOULD READ” acquired a new and different meaning? Something along the lines of “dampen any initial enthusiasm a reader might get from the title and logline”

    The WYSR doesn’t count for much for me and I’ll read most of them anyway, but they’re not adding much to the thrill I usually get when I notice there’s a new OAW selection posted.

    P.S. I will read and comment on any next script on aow that will have “I wrote this script with sock puppets in mind” in the wysr.

    • Trent11

      Agreed. These sob stories I keep seeing in the “Why you should read” section are getting to be ridiculous. People must think the section is titled: “Why you shouldn’t read this”.

      Christ.

      No one wants to read your script because you’ve been dealt a shit hand in life… people want to read it because it’s GREAT! Don’t tell us about your shit life, and your shit job, and your shit kids in some over-priced shit college. Jesus. H. Christ. NO ONE CARES.

      Tell us about the script ONLY, and trust that we’re smart enough to decide whether or not to read it based on that.

      • Andrew Parker

        Sometimes I find the the WYSR more interesting than the script. You should definitely try to incorporate some of your life circumstances/world view into your script. It makes it easier to pitch.

        For BROKEN VESSELS, it could be a NYC cop who secretly takes on a second job due to expectant child (let’s say his wife is Catholic and against birth control) & NYU daughter (she wants to be a fashion designer) following cold cases as a PI. That’s where he discovers a bunch of the cold cases lead to one potential killer… who might just be immortal.

        So then his day job (NYC cop) and his night job (PI) collide AND we have empathy for the guy because of his personal life. Plus, the WYSR has resonance cause it ties back into the script.

      • A few choice words

        It’s “Why You Should Read.” Not “Why I Want You to Read It.”

        Agreed; no more sob stories. Turning into “American Idol.”

    • A few choice words

      DON’T tell us you’ve spent “a bloody long time on this script,” especially if it’s five years.

      DON’T be cute and use sarcasm to justify the fact that your script isn’t original (rather emphasize the elements that are original).

      DON’T tell us your screenplay is based on an unpublished novel. What, not even SELF-PUBLISHED and sold on Amazon for 99c.

      DON’T tell us you’ve written something commercial after failing to write “less commercial fare”; it suggests you’ve written something you don’t believe in – in other words, “slumming it.” (Not necessarily, but it comes across that way.).

      DON’T capitalize the second word of a genre where there is no forward slash: Romantic comedy, not Romantic Comedy; Action/Adventure and Action thriller, but not Action Thriller (pet peeve).

      DON’T tell us you’ve been a quarter-finalist at Nichol. Sorry, there are 369 Nichol quarter-finalists every year; given that the other 95% of entrants were probably eligible garbage, your not really selling me on your scripts merit. (I know others will disagree, but seriously, bragging about being in the top 369 amateur scripts of the year? Come on.).

      DON’T tell us your script was written with actors in mind; you can tell us which specific actors you have in mind, if you want, but all scripts are written with actors in mind (or sock puppets).

      Then again…

      DO tell us to have as much fun reading the script as the writer did conceiving and writing it; t’s probably hyperbolic baloney, but it’s a nice sentiment all the same.

      Any others?

      • A few choice words

        Replying to myself because I can’t edit as a guest… DO tell us you were a Nichol quarter-finalist, just DON’T brag about it. Lots of quarter-final scripts end up on Scriptshadow, and they’re not always that spectacular. Again, as Matthew points out, the WYSR is secondary to the logline, so if I don’t like the logline, telling me the script was quarter-final at Nichol won’t change my mind. Telling it was semi-final, or top 10 or whatever, might. Just be aware that there are thousands or quarter-final scripts out there.

        • Trent11

          You nailed it with the rant about Nichol quarter-finalists gloating. It really doesn’t mean much more than saying “my uncle really liked my script”. Seriously. I’m going to go read The Hateful 8 now.

    • LostAndConfused

      Yeah the WSYR section in this batch has kind of turned me away from wanting to read them. Some of them reek of desperation to be honest, or are compensating for what their story/logline may lack.

      Still gonna read them, but I wish I was doing so with a clean slate of mind.

    • klmn

      Writing a feature screenplay for sock puppets would be a challenge. If anyone attempts it, I’d check it out.

    • Linkthis83

      Matthew, the following isn’t directed at you, but towards the conversation thread this has started:

      If you want to criticize something, read the effing scripts. Stop dinging the writers for the WYSR. You either showed up here today to read scripts or script reviews. Anything else is pointless. There’s no protocol for the WYSR. Nobody is forcing you to read those anyway. Everybody has their own interpretation of what should be included. Some people like what these people write in the WYSR.

      If you don’t know you want to read it based on the title, the genre and logline, then that’s on you. If you know enough to be critical of the WYSRs, then you know enough to decide if you want to open their script or not. This stuff isn’t NEW.

      A guy shares his personal life situation here and he’s taken to task for it? Seriously. Who the hell do any of you think you are? “The writer has to sell us?” Get over yourself. This is AOW, we know what’s at stake. This ain’t Studioshadow. You are using a metric that readers don’t even use. You want to play studio exec, then use the title, genre and logline – and then be useful. There are enough odds against writers without other bullshit obstacles being created to overcome.

      (**note to those who are submitting future WYSRs = I don’t read those until after I check out scripts. Write whatever you want, except that your script accomplished what you intended. Avoid saying it’s the best, most original story, and don’t say it’s better than something else, or God help you, everything else. Be humble and sincere. Let the script be confident.)

      I will get down from my soap box now. I only used to be on the same eye level as the others.

      • A few choice words

        I’m reading the first ten pages of each script, which is the most I wish to commit myself too. Like you, i tend to skip the WYSRs, but Matthew brought up a good point: these long, slightly weird WYSRs are putting people off.

        As well as reviewing the scripts, we should offer advice to people on the sort of things they should put in and leave out of e-mails and query letters. It’s no different than complaining about the wording or a logline, or consistent formatting issues, neither of which reflect on the quality of the story and characters, but which are necessary to point out.

        However, I’m not all that knocked out by either the loglines or the first ten pages this week. I’ve one script left, “Broken Vessels,” but it’s difficult not to be too harsh when commenting on these scripts. I suppose we have to leave it, they wanted feedback, they’re gonna get it.

      • Matthew Garry

        Writers write, readers critisise the writing. A WYSR is the first piece of writing a reader usually encounters of a given writer; it’s an opportunity to entertain, which is essentially the goal of a writer.

        If it took a writer 5 years to write a script (this is just a random pick) don’t just put that down, it’s discouraging. Tell us how you started it 5 years ago, but with every script you wrote in the meantime your skill level rose, and based on that you had to rewrite and rewrite it until that first story you loved so much finally came in to its final form. That makes a reader go, “that must be really something!” instead of “he’s a really slow writer.”

        It doesn’t even have to be 100% true, but as a writer, you’ve made it entertaining, a little story onto itself that shows you can take what’s basically a boring fact into something that is compelling.

        The wysr is not a stand alone thing that has nothing to do with the script in that both can be considered creative writing, and as such a wysr is a small opportunity to show off skill.

        Make it entertaining; make it compelling; make it readers open a script. Be creative with it.

        • Linkthis83

          That’s one way to look at it. But it’s you putting an expectation on a writer based on a simple pitch, or backstory, of the script that’s being offered. Weight if you wish, but I am also stating that I disagree that it’s relevant. Plus, it is my preference to give a scrip/story a completely clean slate when I start to read it. My WYSR will have no creativity. It will state:

          “I’ve worked hard on this and you should read if you think it will be worth your time. I’m hoping that I’ve been able to deliver an engaging and effective story, but I won’t truly know until I get some feedback on it. A sincere thanks to anyone who takes the time to read.”

          • A few choice words

            My bottom line: writers need to have a little bit more confidence in their scripts and not overload the WYSRs with “please, please, please like my script.” In my view.

          • Linkthis83

            Which is one reason I posted what I did. I want writers to be confident too. I rant that shit any chance I get. But it takes zero energy to understand why one may not be confident. There’s like 1300 paid WGA writers, and the (insert relevant number here) others trying to break in.

            And none of those WYSRs say “please, please, please like my script.” People have been chasing this dream for years and then you want them to act like it’s no big deal. C’mon. You also want them to be confident, but then gave a list of all these don’ts. Well, the don’ts are reasons they felt confident. And then we’re also adding in – don’t have a personality. Nope, can’t have that. The obvious problem is this: There isn’t ONE way to interpret the WYSR, and yet there is lots of noise of how others think a WYSR should be crafted. It’s nonsense.

          • A few choice words

            It’s nice of you to be nice, but it’s not realistic. These WYSRs exist; we didn’t make them up. And they are not good. That cannot be ignored, no matter how much you would like us to ignore them. Yes, writers should have personality but a good personality, and many WYSRs are “please, please like my script,” because they are often way, way longer and more detailed than the logline.

            If these five screenplays were in-flight movies and I had to choose one to watch for my flight, I would choose none – I’d read a book instead. That’s how bland these loglines are. And the WYSRs don’t help.

            So, what you rather we do, link, dismiss what these guys have written. Let them continue to put this stuff in their e-mails and query letters. It’s not nonsense, it’s reality.

            Oh, by the way, you’re outnumbered on this issue, sorry to say. Most people thought the WYSRs sucked and that this should be commented upon.

          • Linkthis83

            I’m not being nice. It’s the script that matters. The rest is noise. Outnumbered? Haha. I didn’t realize all the numbers had come in yet.

            Sounds like these WYSRs would benefit from a little outlining ;)

          • A few choice words (too many)

            The SCRIPTS could do with more than a little outlining, but I think people should know that by now!

            The WYSRs need EDITING, like a script; cut out everything that is unnecessary.

            Anyway, I’ve got my own script to write and I promised I wouldn’t spend too long on here. Just wanted to make a few points then LEAVE. ;)

    • http://joelthomaswrites.com writerjoel

      While I agree that a lot of the WYSRs often lower my expectations of the script, I question criticizing them. After all, they aren’t really stating why I should read them: They’re stating why Carson should read them, right? A WYSR that makes Carson want to share it is achieving its goal. Maybe Carson likes the melodrama because it makes interesting, if self-sabotaging, reading. In fact, maybe this is a topic for a blog post: What does Carson respond to in a WYSR?

      • Howie428

        I think you’ve hit it on the head here. If there are five WYSRs in a particular style, it’s a bit odd to advise people not to use that style. Those are the chosen ones, this style has succeeded for these submissions.
        None of my efforts have ever made it over this fence, so instead of taking the advice and not doing this stuff, I’m minded to cowboy-up and sob-story my pitch!

    • scriptfeels

      i’ll keep the sock puppets wysr in mind when I finish my script.

    • lesbiancannibal

      This is my WYSR for a script I’m sending to this site tomorrow, probably.

      WYSR:

      I got back from Haiti three days ago and things have been weird. I was doing some telecoms work for an aid NGO, setting up a satellite link and network out of its outreach post in a place called Chansolme, near Port-de-Paix, up in the north of the country.

      Anyway, last night there, and my creole driver takes me to a shady bar, corrugated iron, plastic garden chairs, naked light bulbs, unlabeled thick-glass bottles of a hooch.

      I can’t remember too much. We were drinking this moonshine rum stuff, the driver’s laughing with the barman, and at some point I went for a piss. I was in an alley I thought was the toilet and I realized, there’s no roof and I’m pissing right next to this old woman who’s sort of half-crouched half-squatting, leaning against the wall. It’s not splashing on her but close enough to be offensive.

      So I zip up, apologizing, but she’s not looking at me, she’s focused on something else, and I look closer and see she’s feeding this big black fucking crow, giving it seeds, one by one. I touch her arm, trying to apologies and the bird rears up, squarking, and scratches the back of my hand. The woman just sort of hissed me away, I didn’t really even get a good look at her.

      I can’t remember getting back to the accommodation but next morning on the airplane back I started to sweat, a lot, and my hand is throbbing. I was pretty much burning up and had to get down to my boxers in the toilet cubicle and douse myself with water.

      Got through customs somehow, and a cab straight to the doctors, cos my hand looked infected. He reckons it’s some bacteria, possibly tropical ulcers or something like that, and gives me a month-long course of antibiotics and dresses my hand.

      I’ve been in bed at home for two days with a raging fever, just all over the place. Sweating and half sleeping, diarrhoea, vomiting and shivering.

      But I woke up this morning feeling completely normal. Looked at my hand under the bandage and it’s just a small scratch.

      But here’s the thing. On the desk, next to my bed, there’s a handwritten screenplay, scribbled really, 110 pages, scribbled in my handwriting.

      I’m not even a writer, I’m a telecom engineer. I’ve never written anything before, hardly even write birthday cards. So I want you guys to tell me whether it’s any good. If it is, I’m going to burn it.

      • A few choice words

        I would read a script that had that WYSR because I know it would be funny!

      • kenglo

        LMAO! Awesome….so you go around setting up satcom for 3rd worlds or do you do stuff here in the states too? I imagine it’s hard to run DS3’s over to Haiti, let alone set up any type of infrastructure there…. and per previous comment, HILARIOUS! I’d read yours just because of the WYSR!!

  • Linkthis83

    Congrats to the writers getting their shot in AOW! I don’t have the time to give these their proper due. Read through the openings of all of them (first 10-15).

    My vote: BROKEN VESSELS

    I don’t really care for a story about a body switching curse, but the concept is interesting. This script had the most engaging opening for me and I felt that the writer has control over the story thus far. This is the one I’d continue reading.

    • klmn

      This script is reminiscent of one I read when Amazon Studios first appeared in 2010. The old man and the young man, the storytelling, the Inuit and Norse angle appeared in both. But reading on, the plot has changed.

      And the name Joel Barish is new. Not the writer I remember – my AS review is still up and the author’s name appears as TMAC. So this looks like an extensive rewrite, plagiarism, or a strange coincidence of two writers on the same track.

      EDIT: The title is the same, so it appears to be a rewrite.

      I’ll go ahead and VOTE FOR THIS SCRIPT

      • Linkthis83

        Interesting. I hope the writer chimes in to clear this up.

        • klmn

          You can read my review of the original script at

          http://studios.amazon.com/users/4874

          You may have to click on “see all 11 reviews.”

          • Linkthis83

            yeah…I noticed the title was the same. I do dig the concept.

    • Jack O’Connell

      Hey one of the writers of HORSES here. My partner and I are always looking to improve, and I’d love any comments you could give us on what you read that lead to you not wanting to continue. It’s a complaint a lot of commenters have had, so it’s going to get addressed in the next draft for certain.

      The more perspectives we can get, the better we can make it! Thanks for any and all thoughts!

  • http://apairoftools.wordpress.com/ Sebastian Cornet

    Have to say, I tried out “The Benefactor” first on account of the Hitchcock reference in the WYSR because the logline was kind of weak. And that’s unfortunate, because it hurts a concept that’s actually remarkable.

    An agency that kills people and then extorts the deceased’s spouses for insurance money and whatnot? Good potential for conflict. I would rephrase the logline in those terms. Or maybe even suggest that the lead is trapped by a group that killed her husband, and if she doesn’t meet their monetary demands, they’ll plant evidence to make it seem she ordered the deed.

    In other words, something that really puts the main character under the gun. Maybe the story was headed that way, I don’t know.

    Oh, yeah, didn’t tell you. I only got as far as page 20. It was the intriguing concept that got me there. But the dialogue was so on-the-nose expository, thus making the characters mere generators and receptacles of information, that they weren’t compelling at all.

    But, hey, you got the concept right. That’s half the battle right there.

  • leitskev

    I have not opened an an amateur script here in a while. Decided to open The City just because the writer said he put 5 years into it! I figure he deserves some attention after that dedication.

    Only had time to read the beginning. And I have some humble suggestions. And to be honest, these tiny flaws(IMO) were enough to discourage me from wanting to move on with the story, even though it might be truly awesome. I point these out because they are EASY fixes if the writer agrees they would improve things.

    The story is post-apocalyptic, set a hundred years in the future. Yet we open in some guy’s apartment. It could be 1920, 1980, 2014, or whenever. You really want to establish your genre with the opening shots and the first scene. Show us this is in the future, that the apocalypse had occurred. Intrigue us with your vision…right from the outset.

    The story does get to this futuristic showing in the third scene on page 4. But even then, there is not enough to SHOW us what’s happened. The story says “post WIII – nuclear”…but it doesn’t show anything to suggest that. No sign of war or destruction. Instead it shows a futuristic city. And it doesn’t actually seem futuristic. We know we’re in a world with an oppressive government from the sign, but that’s it.

    Also, that first scene is precious territory, very valuable. It’s not just for introducing the character. You want to hook us into the story, especially if this is a spec script by an unknown writer. You want a character that intrigues us, or at least captures our sympathy. What we have here is a frustrated artist who has lost his mojo for painting, and indeed for living. So he seems to be drifting through life…but quite comfortably and with a beautiful girl to play with. You’ve established a need: he has to get his mojo back. But other than that things aren’t so bad for him. There’s nothing compelling about him or his situation. The girl is said to be a “secret” lover…but that is not shown in any way that I can see. There’s no conflict or drama at all.

    These things are fixable. Let’s begin with approach. OK, you’ve read the books on screenwriting. And they all tell you that we must have a hero with a need, a flaw, a problem. Now it’s time to move past that, even forget about it if it helps. This is sci fi. You need to capture the imagination of your audience right away. Give us the sense that this is a world we want to explore and a character we want to spend time with. Not a mopey dude in his apartment with his half-done paintings. The theorists have led you astray, my friend. Put away the theory for a while and just watch some sci fi and see what they do that works. Flaw and need are useful tools, but you have bigger fish to fry first. You simply have to focus on what will make us want to spend 2 hours with this character and in this world.

    Let’s say you want to keep your artist’s problem: he’s frustrated. Ok, but recognize the situation. No one is going to care to spend time with a mopey hero…UNLESS you make him interesting in some OTHER way. And we HAVE to see that in his first scene. For example, if this guy is really funny, then his mopey quality becomes endearing. Maybe he’s hit rock bottom. Or maybe he’s so selfish it’s amusing to the point of being entertaining, like the hero in Iron Man, who is rich and spoiled but witty and fun.

    There are different ways to make us care about a character. Liam Neeson in Taken is not a very interesting character, but his SITUATION is interesting(his daughter is abducted) and Neeson is sympathetic character(he’s divorced, loves his daughter, his overprotectiveness has caused resentment).

    In Iron Man it’s the character itself that is more interesting. There’s more than one way to skin a cat. Or save it. So with your frustrated artist, you can make the character itself more compelling, or the situation. In this story you are going to use the situation, and that takes time to develop, so let’s look at the Taken opening to compare: Liam is doing a security detail at a concert and he saves the live of the singer. A tone setting opening that’s appropriate for a situation based character.

    So my recommended check list:

    1) begin with opening images which convey your post apocalyptic world and which intrigue us. Remember, post apocalyptic is done all the time, so set your story apart somehow.
    2) the world building should continue in that opening scene when we meet our hero. So think about making that apartment different.
    3) that character has to be someone who intrigues us from the start, someone we want to spend time with. It’s ok that he’s a frustrated artist, good even…but that won’t intrigue us, some there better be something about him that does. He’s a lovable rogue, a charming degenerate, a reluctant hero…something. If not, at least open with a situation that makes him more compelling. Have him DO something that wins our immediate respect.
    4) it would also help if there was some tension and conflict in the opening scene.
    5) generate some kind of question we need to see answered. Getting his art mojo back won’t do it. Most good stories are built around such questions, but especially sci fi.

    I hope my comments will be taken in the constructive spirit intended. These are easy fixes. If I’ve made a mistake in my reading some part of these scenes, I sincerely apologize, it happens. I will even amend my comments or take them down if asked. I only want to help. I believe you’ve shown the dedication and the talent to make this story rock even more, so good luck!

    • kenglo

      Yeah…that’s what I said…not in so many words, but I got the feeling the whole first scene could be cut….good review!

  • A few choice words

    I didn’t think I was going to like “21 Jump Street” all that much until the opening sequence totally changed me around. One of the best openings for such a movie I can think of. Instantly made me like the two heroes and want to stick with them, no matter what they do.

    The first 10 pages of “Parking Enforcement” are not so hot. Not without laughs, but… cops getting the number wrong and raiding the wrong place? I saw that on “Monk” years ago. There are lots of these cop buddy films of late “21/22 Jump Street”, “The Heat”, “Ride Along”, “Let’s Be Cops”. You’ve got to get those early laughs in there I fear. I wasn’t compelled to continue.

    Best advice: watch or rewatch “Beverly Hills Cop”, “Running Scared” (with Billy Crystal), “Lethal Weapon”, “Freebie and the Bean”, “Bad Boys”, a few others, and see how soon they get the action/comedy in there.

  • Mad rush

    May I suggest a title change to: They Eat Horses, Don’t They?

    • Jack O’Connell

      We also considered “A Ravishing in Duluth” but decided that it cried “taught, sexy thriller with thick coats.”

  • A few choice words

    I was only going to read the first ten pages of “The Benefactor”, but I read a bit further, to page 14 or so.

    Good point: Establishes a mystery, a question that needs to be answered. Can’t emphasize how effective this is; we’ll always keep watching/reading if we want to know what it’s all about.

    Bad point: It’s all too much too fast. Too much dialogue. Villain too “mustache-twirling”, “look how evil I am.” Even the “I’m just a businessman bit is a bit labored.”

    Alternate opening (forgive me if this is not the story you’re telling; I’m basing this on reading the opening): Start with a death, but not the lead character’s husband, someone else. Maybe a short scene of a funeral. Then widow or widower gets a phone call.

    Person: What do you want?
    Caller: I want half.

    Now cut to the woman and her husband and set up those characters. Then have him killed. This could take us to page 20, but don’t worry; we’ll stick with the story because we want to know the meaning of the phrase “I want half.”

    In short, don’t give it all away too soon; milk it.

    Recommended viewing: “Malice” with Bill Pullman, Nicole Kidman, and Alec Baldwin. Starts with a bang then lets things build.

    • Malibo Jackk

      What country are you from?
      (The video doesn’t work. It gives this message — “This video is not available in your country.”)

      • A few choice words

        I assumed it would work in America. But my point stands; “Malice” is a good (if not perfect) example of how to do a mystery thriller.

        (I’m trying to remain anonymous because of the capricious attitude on this website.).

        There… happy now!

        • Malibo Jackk

          Cool.
          Screenplay by Aaron Sorkin and Scott Frank.

  • kenglo

    THE BENFACTOR – JJ Moran

    This is THE ONE! Had me riveted from the get go – a bit wordy in the dialogue, some of it can be cut, but the premise of the whole thing is fascinating. Kind of like Adjustment Bureau, only more intense. Writing reminds me that Nathan Zoebl fella! From the opening to before I knew I was on page 20 awesomeness….Great job!! Carson should run with this one….

    THE CITY – Hugo Ford

    I’d cut that whole opening (four pages) and start with the CITY. It felt a little off. I know you wanted to show some character and our protagonist, but it just didn’t pop with me. He’s an artist, we get it, but you show that in the following scene with the City.

    And that is what threw me off about the story. I felt like it should have started faster. Or maybe it was because the one I read before this was The Benefactor, so I was a bit deflated. So don’t take my word for it.

    Excellent concept though!

    BROKEN VESSELS – Joel Barish

    Love the concept, the premise and all, let’s read –

    Read the first five when I realized all of the dialogue was VERY expository. The team of fishermen would have been better served if they didn’t talk so much, and you SHOWED their struggle instead of speaking about it. For example –

    TONRAQ
    We are getting too far from land.
    I can barely see the coast.

    ANYU
    The seals are far from land today.

    KASKAE
    Tomorrow or the next day the whole
    bay will freeze.
    (confidently)
    Today is a day for chances.

    Could be –

    Tonraq squints back towards the fading coast. Anyu takes notice.

    ANYU
    The seals are far from land today.

    KASKAE
    The bay will soon freeze over.
    (confidently)
    Today is a day for chances.

    I think Tonraq makes a statement, and Anyu reiterates it, but I don’t think that is neccessary. SHOW the coastline fading, have the two exchange glances, say one line, move on. It’s a small cut, but I think it reads better that way.

    And then reading further, it is Anyu who ultimately captures the whale? The way that read ealier, I would have thought the confident Kaskae would have caught it? If Anyu is the main guy in the group, he should be the one who is confident. IMHO.

    On page 4 –

    TONRAQ
    If we can find our way home.

    ANYU
    We will find our way home.

    SITIYOK
    Tonraq is right, the whale may have
    pulled us in circles.

    Boundless water confronts them.

    TONRAQ
    There is no longer a sun or a shore
    to guide us.

    SITIYOK
    And it’s beginning to snow.

    Could be –

    TONRAQ (ever doubting, as earlier)
    If we can find our way home.

    Boundless waters confront them, a light snowfall in the air.

    TONRAQ
    There is no longer sun nor shore!

    Anyu scans the deathly cold waters.

    ANYU
    We will find our way home.

    We pan out to see the tiny boats in a vast, endless
    sea of nothingness.

    Or something. In other words, I felt these guys talk too much. I like the scene, I like the action, I like what you are trying to show, but do show, don’t say.

    Needs a little tightening, but I love your logline and premise of the story. Will continue to read.

    PARKING ENFORCEMENT – JA

    Page 2 just threw me off. Six-year olds don’t talk like that! I don’t care if you’re from Boston or the Bay….

    Sorry, had to pass.

    I apologize for not reading I ATE THE HORSES.

    THE BENEFACTOR is my pick!

    • Linkthis83

      Completely agree about the opening of BROKEN VESSELS. Plus I think it’s extremely beneficial for the story to show them communicating through actions rather than actual words. Also words that don’t make me think 1300’s Inuit (not that I have a reference for that.) I did think “Man, these are some chatty Inuits.”

    • Jack O’Connell

      Hi, one of the writers of HORSES here. Please look at this as “I want to improve” rather than “AM I NOT PRETTY ENOUGH FOR YOU?!?!”

      Why didn’t you read our script? Does the genre not intrigue you, the logline not grab you, other?

      We’re always looking to improve every aspect of our writing, so any light you can shed on this particular piece would be much appreciated! It’s a hard one to get a good perspective on.

      • kenglo

        Well, first of all, I ran out of time. I perused the ones that I was interested in first, and to be honest, like some of the commenters stated, your title may need to change. I was thinking nice kid’s flick or something! BUT….

        I started reading it yesterday, and although you take a while to build up your characters, and it was AWESOME, I feel like you should get to the action sooner. Like some folks who did read it, pointed out. Maybe if you got to the ‘husks’ sooner maybe.

        But, I’ll add this…It is a VERY well done thought out script. Probably better than the one I previously said should be read. I’m usually into slow burns, I think those are the best horror scripts, builds up mystery and that sort (A ROSE IN THE DARKNESS comes to mind).

        Bottom line, when I wrote that first comment and proclaimed THE BENEFACTOR the clear winner, it was because I didn’t read yours. I must now admit – it’s a toss-up between the two.

        I’ll finish it today tho’! Promise….once I get through OTIS KRINGLE!!!

  • A few choice words

    First ten pages of “The Ate the Horses”: Similar to what leitskev said about “The City”: It’s all too general and non-specific. There’s intrigue and there’s not knowing what it’s all about. “A century after mankind’s near-extinction,” but 10 pages in and we don’t know anything about that.

    My best tip: Take your time to set the scene. Describe the landscape, the abandoned buildings, the billboards for “Transforrmers 7: Back to China – coming 2027.” Don’t worry; we’ll wait. But writer is just a bit too quick to get into dialogue and people getting shot. Based on the generic logline and first 10 pages, I’m not compelled to read the rest, I’m afraid.

  • A few choice words

    First ten pages of “The City”:

    Man #1: How are you today?
    Man #2: I’m fine. How are you?
    Man #1: OK. Did you read that piece of exposition in the newspaper yesterday?
    Man #2: Yes. More exposition. What are you going to do?
    Man #1: Don’t know. See you later.

    An exaggeration, but only a little. It’s all dialogue. Imagine watching a film of this script without dialogue – you’d stop watching it. Try stop watching “Blade Runner” or “I Am Legend” after the first ten minutes. Sure, after a while you’d want to know what they’re saying, but things are happening, visually.

    Things may get better after the first ten pages – maybe the first ten pages just need to be cut – but I’m not betting on it. Sorry, it seems to mean a lot to you, this script, but you need to make it tighter, and more original. “The Running Man” did the “REPORT ON CORRUPTORS” bit, and Steve de Souza made it funny!

    Best tip: Make a list of all the scenes in your script – an outline if you will – then cross out all unneccessary scenes, all those that don’t drive the main character towards or away from his goal (his Outer Motivation as Michael Hauge puts it – read him, he’s great), all those where the value charge doesn’t change (as Robert McKee puts it – read him, he’s pompous but great). Weave exposition into action.

  • mulesandmud

    I haven’t so much as peeked at any of these scripts yet, but the loglines for the THE CITY and THEY ATE THE HORSES got me thinking.

    Setting a story in the future, whether utopian, dystopian, or other, is a very specific choice.

    I always ask myself: does this story have to happen in the future? Is there something about the characters and their drama that is unique not just to a future, but to this specific future world?

    Because if the story could take place in the present with little to no effect on the plot, then why put it in the future?

    I just re-watched MINORITY REPORT last night. Lots to admire about that movie. Most importantly, its story is tied inextricably to its future. The plot revolves around the central sci-fi idea of pre-crime, and the dramatic situation – a cop who arrests murderers before they commit their crimes learns that he may be the next to kill – could not exist without that central idea. Perfect unity – that story needs to happen in that world.

    Looking at the loglines for THE CITY and THEY ATE THE HORSES, I can’t tell if that same story-world unity is present. Both movies seem to take place in dystopian futures, but the loglines are awfully vague about those futures, and the actual plots seem nearly unrelated to their worlds.

    THE CITY – It sounds like a future where all art is illegal, but I can’t tell for sure. However, the story seems to be about a dude on the run who has to rescue his friends. How does that plot intersect with the art future premise? If your script has a through-line that connects all of these elements, we should see it here.

    THEY ATE THE HORSES – A teen escapes her father and hangs out in the next town. Except for the word ‘slavers’, this story sounds like it could happen in a small town in present-day Minnesota, aka anytime anywhere. But you suggest that the slavers aren’t even the real problem; in fact, the central element of this future is…unsaid. You’ve traded the mystery of (I assume) a surprising plot twist for the sake of giving us an understanding of your world.

    I suspect that both scripts are actively trying to mix in elements not usually associated with the genre (art and coming-of-age, respectively), which is great. Doesn’t excuse you from making these future worlds sound distinct in the logline.

    If you don’t tell us what’s unique about your future, then they’ll just imagine a pale photocopy of the poster for THE ROAD WARRIOR or BLADE RUNNER, or whatever sci-fi movie they watched last. And if you don’t suggest a story that feels relevant to your future, then your plot will seem tacked on and disconnected rather than part of a singular vision.

    I owe both scripts a read after this comment, so may check back in with more thoughts. Good luck to both of them.

    • Linkthis83

      It would’ve been helpful had you supplied the logline for MINORITY REPORT. So I went looking for it, and found different versions of the logline. I’ve realized it’s been challenging in the past to find loglines to movies we cite as examples here. IMDB has what could be viewed as a logline, but it doesn’t mean it is the logline.

      IMDB = “In a future where a special police unit is able to arrest murderers before they commit their crimes, an officer from that unit is himself accused of a future murder.”

      I also found this which I thought was interesting:

      http://makeyourbookamovie.com/building-the-perfect-logline-for-your-book-screenplay-or-other-story/441/

      Here’s a snippet from the link regarding MINORITY REPORT:

      “Minority Report is a classic example of a tale that does need a setup. A normal, everyday logline might read like this:

      A cop convicted of murder goes on the run to prove his innocence.

      Not bad—though not terribly original either. From this, we know WHO our main character is (a cop); we know what he wants, his GOAL (to prove his innocence); and we know what stands in his way, the OBSTACLE (the murder conviction and, by implication (on the run), the criminal justice system.

      We do not have the kind of personalized antagonist/obstacle present in the (quite similar) Fugitive logline. While there is such an antagonist here (Lamar), explaining his role would introduce needless complexity to a logline that (as we’ll see) is already more complicated than most.

      But, back to the cop convicted of murder going on the run to prove his innocence. Not a bad logline, as far as it goes. But it’s not the whole story, either. In fact, it completely misses this tale’s unique hook—because the murder he’s been convicted of has not yet happened. So let’s drop that into our logline:

      A cop convicted of a murder he has not yet committed goes on the run to prove his innocence.

      Perfectly accurate—but you see the problem. It’s massively confusing. Because this doesn’t just say he was wrongly convicted; that, at least, would be easy to comprehend. This logline says the offense has not yet been committed. How can anyone, let alone a cop, be convicted of something that hasn’t happened? And how can anyone know it willhappen?

      The whole thing makes no sense. The reader, knowing only what we tell him, must assume this story takes place in the everyday world. That same reader will then swiftly conclude that we cannot write a coherent sentence, let alone an entire story.

      Unless we include a setup line to, well, set up the fictional world of the story: a future society in which captive, drugged psychics foresee crimes (and the people who commit them) before those crimes take place.

      Still, that’s a bit too much information for a logline, so let’s reduce it to essentials: a future society where criminals are arrested before their crimes are committed. That’s the concept, without the clutter of supporting details. So let’s saddle up with that and see where it takes us:

      In a future where criminals are arrested before their crimes are committed, a cop convicted of a murder he has yet to commit goes on the run to prove his innocence.

      Better, but “he has yet to commit” makes this both awkwardly long and repetitive. A quick fix might be:

      In a future where criminals are arrested before their crimes are committed, a cop convicted of a future murder goes on the run to prove his innocence.

      Better, shorter, smoother—but now “future” repeats. So let’s go back and change the first “future”—giving us:

      In a society where criminals are arrested before their crimes are committed, a cop convicted of a future murder goes on the run to prove his innocence.

      Wow. That’s a mind-bending logline. The not-bad logline, which then became confusing, now smoothly conveys a radically original concept.

      It also raises fascinating questions: how can anyone know what crimes will be committed—and by who—before they happen? And with enough certainty to arrest and convict? And if that vision and that certainty do exist—how can someone (a cop, of all people; talk about irony) be innocent? And if he is innocent, how can he possibly prove it when the crime hasn’t even happened?

      That’s a story that begs to be read. Conveyed in a scant 27 words, setup and all.”

      • mulesandmud

        Most likely, MINORITY REPORT never had a proper logline, since it was a development deal between mega-A-listers, but if it did have one, I doubt it’s any better than what you posted.

        Great find, and one of the better breakdowns of the logline thought process that I’ve ever seen.

      • Paul Clarke

        Minority Report works as a logline because the premise is so strong, and so interesting because of the irony.

        The setup line is needed because we need to understand the sci-fi world in order to understand the premise. And yet the idea is so simply it can still be summed up in 27 words.

        It feels like a movie, and interests us enough to want to watch and find out more.

      • brenkilco

        The time scheme is the hook and also an invitation to confusion. A suggested tweak

        In a future where crimes can be predicted before they happen, a cop must go on the run to prove he will not commit the murder he’s being hunted for.

        • Linkthis83

          If Mark Kermode were reading that he’d promptly say, “…the murder for which he’s being hunted.”

          • brenkilco

            A preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with. Or as Churchill said, that is something up with which I will not put.

    • Jack O’Connell

      Hi, half of the writing duo of HORSES here. I’m sort of half responding to this and half responding to your actual take on our script (which is going in our AOW Evernote in its entirety, dubbed “The Mountain”).

      We were very deliberate in choosing NOT to talk about the Husks in our logline. We didn’t even tell the people we had read this before for notes that that was happening. We sort of took inspiration from “From Dusk ‘Till Dawn” in that regard. Additionally, with the inundation of zombie scripts, we want people to open this for other reasons, and then be (hopefully) pleasantly surprised when it takes such a turn.

      On the general topic of loglines, I’d like to throw out the logline for 2013 Hit List script ENDANGERED: “When a drug company discovers a primate over 200 years old, a team descends on the perilous jungle of southeast Asia in search of the Fountain of Youth, only to find there are ancient reasons it has stayed forever hidden.” I pose to you that this is a kickass logline. It’s certainly got a lot more hook than the one we came up with for HORSES, that’s for sure. Once I read the script, I decided the logline sucked. The “ancient reasons” don’t actually happen until well after the third act turn. It read like these ancient reasons would be the main conflict when in actuality it was the end game.

      So this brings up a question. How deep into the story should the logline penetrate? The logline of HORSES gets us to the midpoint, I’d say, but it tells us what the conflict is to that point (rebellious teenagers, slavers). The logline of ENDANGERED takes us to page 90.

      I’m not saying that my partner and I wrote a better logline than the gentlemen who wrote ENDANGERED, nor am I trying to say that our script is better than theirs. I’m simply contrasting two styles: “What’s worse than slavers? I know on page 50.” “What’s this ancient secret? I find out on page 90.”

      Thanks so much for the read!

      • mulesandmud

        Happy to help.

        I’ll say this: as a feedback strategy, hiding your premise the way you did is an interesting way to get an honest response out of people. Once you decide to send it out around town though, that kind of coyness is almost definitely unproductive. Then again, if you put zombies in the logline, then readers would spend the first 37 pages complaining that there are no zombies, so maybe it’s the frying pan versus the fire.

        Your situation is trickier than ENDANGERED, for sure. Bottom line: ENDANGERED’s logline hides 15% of its plot. Your logline hides 60% of your plot. I don’t pretend to know exactly where the line is between teasing a twist and burying the lede, but you’re certainly over that line. It’s like imagining the logline for PSYCHO as “After a lady steals money from her job and goes on the run, you’ll never believe what happens next.”

        That’s why I suspect you’ve got less of a schizophrenic logline problem and more of a fundamental story flaw. It’s cool to make your midpoint a 180-degree story shift, but if I can’t look at your script from an aerial view and say “Actually, as different as those two halves are, when you step back a little, this whole thing is all of a piece!”, then there’s a problem.

        POX AMERICANA is a recent script that accomplished something like what you’re trying to do, albeit in very different genres. Definitely worth a read.

  • Randy Williams

    THE BENEFACTOR

    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    I chose to start with this one because the logline intrigued me the most. As well, a psychological thriller is what my co-writer and I are writing and I want to learn something from this script.

    The script is based on a published novel. Congrats on this achievement! However, as you’ll see in my comments as I was reading, I felt there was too much exposition and I would have preferred more trusting of the viewer with visuals and dramatization of many things in what is, I feel a great, great concept.

    p.5-6. A protagonist is always stronger for me if you can sense they are thinking at all times and better yet, thinking ahead. I thought it would work better if instead of Seifer just explaining things to her, he would go about it in a round about way, maybe even getting in to her good graces and then a lightbulb goes off in Claire’s head and the tables turn.

    p.13. Again, having a protagonist thinking ahead. Instead of resisting going into the restroom with Seifer’s sidekick, she goes in, thinking now she has an equal target to manhandle and get to the truth, but the mousy woman is more than she can handle.
    Lines like “Defiance clashes with anxiety on Claire’s face” can be dramatized in this way.

    p.47- All this black is an example of exposition. Dramatize it. In the jump ahead in time, maybe have Claire already involved in a situation with Fanning. Everything seems ordinary, almost like a different movie, but this has been an orchestrated set up by Seifer. As it is, she is just approached by him with more exposition, okay, now we’re going to do this now. Seifer, as dramatized is not as clever as the script purports him to be.

    p.47-48. Rehashing old stuff in the dialogue, why his plans work, the unhappy people are happy now that their loved ones are gone. This is a simple facet of the concept that anyone can grasp at the beginning. It doesn’t need to be repeated so often. I’d rather focus on the fact that Seifer doesn’t have to harm anyone to get what he wants.

    p.72. Didn’t like the tone of the Claire Fanning romance. Had a Lifetime movie vibe. Some lines so lighthearted for a psychological thriller at the page 72 mark unless they are hiding something don’t fit for me.

    p.87. Again, dramatization would have been preferred by me instead of just telling about the note warning Seifer.

    p.103. The sudden Mafia angle was distracting. I would prefer a smart, manipulative common man. The flashbacks only reinforce a sudden attempt at explaining this man’s psyche when those clues should have been dropped all along.
    Fanny playing detective here takes the power away from the protagonist. Even if she has to do it from the confines of a jail cell, it’s HER movie. Fanny can play detective on a wild goose chase. Claire gets the answers.

    p.109. The whole ring scene had a nice set up but no pay off. I was expecting a shock with Garvey walking into the courtroom.

    p.110. Pierce showing up and testifying, I felt, too contrived and doesn’t add to the putting the protagonist to the fire.

    Ending is nice, but doesn’t give me any kind of twist of the plot or on the theme that I would have wished. I’d prefer a twist on who kills Seifer there.

    I loved the scene in the church the most. I was hoping for some religious themes reverberating throughout. The first murder in the bible and how that led to the next and the next.

    Overall, the concept is ripe for exploring but breaking it down into parts, with overlapping and backtracking and surprises is in order, I feel.

    • scriptfeels

      Nice review! We did get a twist on who kills Seifer in the end though, the new Sentora Family Sniper!

  • A few choice words

    First ten pages of “Broken Vessels”: I’m sounding like a broken record, but it’s all too much dialogue. Ten pages in and the writers have created a mystery, but not one I’m overly enthusiastic to continue with. Five pages of Eskimos whale hunting followed by five minutes two guys talking about books – it’s not exactly a page-turner.

    The first ten pages are important; people have so many scripts they could be reading, that if you don’t hook them in with the first ten, they won’t want to read the next hundred. Unless they’re being paid to. I’m not being paid, and so “Broken Vessels” has failed the Kubrick test and been flung against the wall.

    There’s something in this script, sure, but it needs to start sooner. Not sure how; maybe start in the present day, hook us in with something crazy – like in “Timeline” where the guy gets picked up, taken to hospital, and the doctors scan him and he’s all cut up inside. Then we find out he’s traveled through time (too much, hence the internal damage).

  • rickhester

    About 60 pages into PARKING ENFORCEMENT. It’s hilarious. SUPER TROOPERS meets STEP BROTHERS.

    • klmn

      I read 10 pages. It didn’t make me laugh.

      • A few choice words

        Comedy is subjective, but I felt – after reading just 10 pages – that the writers weren’t trying, fighting for laughs. That’s all I ask for a comedy, that it at least tries to be funny.

        • klmn

          On this site being funny isn’t enough. Carson is a story nazi. The script has to follow all the rules of structure and character. But the rest of the world wants funny.

          Herr Reeves even trashed the script for Ted, which was a world-wide success to the tune of over $600 million.

          When it comes to comedy, Carson is goose-stepping to the beat of a different drummer.

          • Casper Chris

            Ted had people at pot-smoking, trash-talking teddy bear (great concept). It wasn’t all that funny IMO.

          • klmn

            I thought the comedy parts worked, for the most part. The standard stuff – plot, love story, etc – were a drag.

          • lonestarr357

            The script (at least, the draft that C reviewed) was runny shit. Thankfully, a funnier draft made it to the screen.

  • A few choice words

    Based on the first ten pages of each script, I would pick “The Benefactors” and “Broken Vessels” as the two front runners. Both have issues with their openings, but both also have enough intrigue and promise that I would be interested in reading a review by anyone else who makes it all the way to the end of either.

    THE BENEFACTOR: Originally though this was an unpublished novel, sorry for the mix up. Intriguing idea but all executed a little too fast. Slow down, build the intrigue and the characters, then drop the big idea on us.

    BROKEN VESSELS: Not bad opening, but could be stronger. Again, great idea about time travel or body switching or whatever, but you need to hook us in faster.

    THEY ATE THE HORSES: Based on the first ten pages, could be about anything. Could be an episode of “The Walking Dead,” I guess. Needs more originality.

    THE CITY: Slow first five pages, uninspired next five pages. Again, rest of the script could be great, but there’s not enough promise in the first ten. Start with a bang.

    PARKING ENFORCEMENT: Not bad, not good, not that funny. Make me laugh out loud – not titter elegantly – in the first ten pages and you’ll distinguish your script from hundreds of others. Yes, you better believe it, you’re not going to be the only script out there about parking attendants who become cops. Statistically, they are probably half-a-dozen similar scripts “out there” right now, and one of them is probably set in Boston like yours. Yours has to be the best, the funniest, with the best plot and characters. Go for it!

  • Tony

    Congratulations!

    1st Place honors

    The Benefactor.

    This seems like it has the most potential based on the opening pages. Definitely an idea that has plenty of scope to grow with some structured input.

    2nd Place honors

    They Ate The Horses

    This does have potential, but we need to know more about their motivations, and reasons for going. Some solid notes and feedback on structure and character will certainly help.

    All the best!

    Notes based on the first twenty-five pages.

    THE CITY – futuristic thriller

    Page six, mix up the names a little. While they’re different, they sound similar.

    This also seems very similar to Fahrenheit 451(1966), Equilibrium (2002) and other such stories about oppression. Instead of all this talking, why not show this government burning painting, drawings etc.

    At fifteen pages in, not much is happening with Adam. We’re mainly seeing him reacting to the world around him, rather than seeing him make any decisive choices or decisions.

    It would also be worth giving Adam a reason for being so paranoid. What if he’d just received some paints and brushes from someone? Or he’s seen someone he knew being arrested and taken away, and he thinks he’s next?

    Three areas the writer might want to take a look at in future drafts.

    Rather than having theses characters talk about this oppressive world they live in, show it. Show paintings and artwork being destroyed. Show TV broadcasts banging home the law, and what will happen if you don’t abide.

    Something needs to happen to Adam that pushes him out of the world he’s used to, and into a different world that he’s not used to. One minute he’s safe, next minute, he’s suffering from paranoia.

    Going back to showing this world, this should cut down on the amount of dialogue and explanation.

    All the best!

    THEY ATE THE HORSES – adventure/horror

    Page one, who’s Carl?

    Page two, scene headings could do with some consistency.

    Page six, there’s been a number of characters introduced so far.

    At ten pages in, we still have no idea what genre this is, as nothing’s been hinted at. Apart from a wolf toy, and some dialogue about wolves. We also don’t really know who we should be following, as there’s been no focus on any one character. Who’s the lead character that’s going to be driving this story forward?

    At fifteen pages in, we still don’t know who we should be following, and the story seems to have jumped forward in time. Why not start the story off in this time period, and utilize those opening pages more?

    Page twenty-one, why exactly are they going to Duluth? It’s unclear.

    Three areas the writer might want to consider addressing.

    Make sure we understand what the genre is from the start. There’s been no horror, or hint as to what the genre of this piece is so far.

    Make sure someone is taking charge of this group. We need someone to rally round and follow as they make their way through this story. Make it personal for one of them. Is there someone that went to Duluth, boyfriend, sister, brother, that they’ve lost contact with?

    Get the story rolling sooner. It’s taking too long.

    All the best!

    THE BENEFACTOR – psychological thriller

    Page five, best five opening pages so far. Plenty of focus on who might well be the main character of the story. It’s also formatted well, and reads quickly.

    Page seven, it might be worth having her just receive a mysterious note from Seifer, this would help cut some action lines. At 119 pages, this seems a little long.

    Page ten, could probably just cut straight to the restaurant. Again, thinking about the page count.

    Page seventeen, what would make this interesting is if we actually knew Bernard a little bit more. Especially if Claire and Bernard were on the verge of reconciling and giving their marriage one more go, only to have him snatched away from her? Then it would be a far more personal journey for her.

    Page twenty-five, this story started off strong, but has fallen into the trap of being extremely dialogue heavy. Lots of conversations.

    Three areas that might help the writer.

    Make this more personal for Claire. What if she and her husband were on the verge of reconciling and giving their marriage another go?

    Make things difficult for Claire. What if she goes to the police for help, and they ignore her?

    Hiring the private investigator is a good idea. But what if she hires him, and he gets bumped off? Then she has to become far more active in trying to find out what’s going on with these people.

    All the best!

    PARKING ENFORCEMENT – buddy comedy

    Page three, is it necessary that we see these two characters as kids. Why not start in present day?

    Page fifteen, we still don’t know who we should be following. Which one of these two characters is trying to achieve something? Who wants what, and how are they going to get it? It would be far better to see them actively pushing themselves through this story. At the moment, they’re just reacting to the world around them.

    Protagonist – Main character.

    Antagonist.

    Motivation, and their reasons for wanting to o to police academy.

    The above are two things the writer might want to consider addressing in future drafts.

    What’s their motivation for wanting to go to police academy?

    Who’s the driving force in this story? Which one of these two characters is on a mission to accomplish something? At this stage, we still don’t know what either of these characters really wants or needs?

    Who or what’s getting in the way of them succeeding? No one has been established as the brick wall that they will need to get over at this stage.

    All the best!

    ALL THE BEST – body-switching

    Not entirely sure if that is a genre. Never come across it before.

    Certainly the strongest opening five pages out of the bunch. Reads reasonably quickly as well.

    Page twelve, quite a bit of dialogue, and why doesn’t this young man have a name?

    Page sixteen, while interesting, no one appears to be taking charge of this story. Why doesn’t this character have a name?

    Okay, unfortunately, the story seems to have lost this reader. Apart from a past account of his life as he tries to explain to this young boy. Nothing much has happened in these opening twenty-five.

    All the best!

    • Tony

      ALL THE BEST ?? That’s not the title!

      Broken Vessels – body-switching

      Still not sold on the genre. Is it a genre?

  • Panos Tsapanidis

    Based on loglines only, I vote for “The Benefactor”. The guy (or gal) wrote a novel and then turned it into a screenplay. This spells grit to me. Also, I appreciate the short and to-the-point WYSR.

  • rickhester

    Finished PARKING ENFORCEMENT. Very, very funny. And a great story. This is Adam McKay material. Or Jay Chandrasekhar. In future drafts maybe work on the visual setups of your scenes and crisper sentences, but great work JA. Best of luck.

  • Look what I found
  • Look what I found
  • Randy Williams

    PARKING ENFORCEMENT

    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    This is one of the few comedic scripts I’ve read on AOWs where the writing seemed most similar to what commercial comedies look like these days. Page 11 was a good example of the writer’s skill, I thought. The funny “Johnalisa” lines and the opposite visuals on the police and parking enforcement stations.

    Hollywood, they say, however, wants the same but different and this starts off a little “too same” for me (I read to page 50 or so). The pairing of two clueless men, the illegal drug trade in an unexpected place by unexpected people. Recalling 21 Jump Street a bit too much.

    Carson is always talking about irony. You have the irony of them wanting to be real cops but finding the cops they want to join are corrupt, but I think in comedy you should multiply irony as much as you’re able. Like instead of there being two of them, there is only one parking enforcement cop. For the competition he decides to recruit an ally who can help him win, the worse parking ticket receiver of all time. Someone who totally went nuts, trashed everything in sight in anger for getting a ticket. He’s just out of jail for this destruction and a slew of unpaid tickets and the protagonist nails him down to help, thinking this guy might know how to win this thing. The reason he was parked there in the first place could be tied to the cops corruption. That is irony.

    A bit concerned about the stereotyping with character introductions on page 12. The integrity of the writing suffers by these inclusions, I thought.

    Thanks for the smiles and laughs. Needs work.

    • Paul Clarke

      Not just 21 Jump St, but it sounds even closer to LET’S BE COPS.

      2 losers who pretend to be cops, only to find police corruption and drug smuggling.

      Might be a case of same, but still the same.

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

    MY VOTE: pending

    The Theme-Monster’s take
    Broken Vessels (pending)
    Parking Enforcement (pending)
    The Benefactor (pending)
    The City (pending)

    They Ate the Horses (pg. 30)
    Theme: Moderate
    Some good exchanges between the teens though I’m having trouble separating their voices. I’ve met so many characters so far, it’s hard to keep up. I’m not seeing why 7 characters is necessary on this journey (yet?). Lord of the Rings handled groups well – and since we’re leaving home, you can condense the character count there (all we REALLY need is the father – that’s where the conflict is). Have you introduced any characters that will not be used later? (if so, strongly consider Xing them). What these characters are missing is definition. Who’s the bravest? Most cowardly? etc… I get some definition in the great four or so lines of dialogue when they’re drinking. Hit it two or three more times before we set off so I can get these names in my mind (and heart).

    One simple tool to define is change up the names:
    Kelsie
    Nick
    Eli
    Mike
    Aiden
    Lenea
    Clarity

    I’m lost. “Clarity W. Parker” “Nick from the Sticks” “Quiet Mike” “Aiden Jr” I don’t know, something to define them. If at least a few can’t be instantly memorized, we’re going to be confused.

    I was completely lost in regards to who is lying to who and who is hiding where in the opening. It didn’t seem to factor into the story – unless it pops up later – simplify. Again, this may be due to the names.

    Lastly, I’m afraid this is going to rely too heavily on the twist. (I hope not). The theme of a daughter wanting independence from her father is cool. But then we leave the father behind – the source of the conflict. Who’s going to present the conflict now? I’m not talking about physical but emotional. You have the physical 100% taken care of – slavers – cool. I hope there’s enough dynamics within the group to carry this. Thanks and keep up the good work!

    *If you would like me to read it all and give notes, just ask and I will

  • Montana Gillis

    “BROKEN VESSELS” gets my vote for AF… Gave all of them a try. “Parking Enforcement” starts very strong and is well written but felt familiar.

  • Midnight Luck

    OT: First page of JOHN WICK, in case others didn’t see it.

    Doing what we are all told NEVER to do. Open with the alarm going off, hand smacking the button, bumbling around getting up and getting ready.

    Someone saw this first page and said: I GOTTA HAVE THIS!
    It is so boring.

    Oddly, it is exactly how the film opens (after the teaser opening), except that this lists the Wick family home as “small, quaint, two bedroom farmhouse….feels slightly abandoned….in dire need of an overhaul.”
    NOTHING like the movie which was a multi million dollar glass and concrete mansion. So, guess they thought that would play better with the money hungry world.

    Just strange, kept the boring part, and added a more boring part to the boring FIRST opening page.

    • pmlove

      Seeing as we’re going OT, I rewatched Halloween, which commits all sorts of ‘sins’.

      The protagonists have no goal, stakes or urgency for most of the film and spend most of their time discussing characters not in the film or watching TV.
      Donald Pleasance (Loomis) stands around waiting in a bush for most of his role.

      Michael Myers is invincible without explanation.
      Despite being invincible, each individual ‘kill’ isn’t actually that hard fought. A quick stab with a knitting needle and he’s done.

      Loomis rescues the protagonist in the final act.
      Michael Myers spends time scoping the boy for no apparent reason.
      Michael Myers chooses these kids for no reason (because she left a key under his old doormat?).
      Loomis spends what seems like 2 hours movie-time behind the bush not noticing the car parked a few yards down the road.
      etc.

      That isn’t to say I don’t like it – I do. It just seems to break a whole bunch of ‘rules’.

      • Linkthis83

        They weren’t sins so much when others got to do them first; or there wasn’t an outlet for the masses to collect and discuss their observations. :)

      • Midnight Luck

        not sure what this has to do with my post, unless you are going off topic of my going off topic.

        wasn’t a huge fan of Halloween (the movie) myself. Pure slasher flicks don’t do a ton for me typically. Something like SCREAM which is funny also, and is self aware and making fun of the stupidity in other slasher films, is something I would enjoy.
        i wasn’t really talking about “sins” in screenwriting.
        Except how much it broke the #1 sin I guess, DON’T BE BORING. Who wants to watch a boring film? or read a boring script? I don’t think that sin can be excused, because others do it. Boring is not an attractive quality.
        I was mainly talking about not only how boring the first page was, but how little it fit with the actual film, style-wise. They didn’t follow almost anything about how that first page looks, except him waking up and doing the lame slamming of the clock, focus on the numbers of the clock, stretching, sleepy eyed, padding around the room in his undies, bumbling with this or that. Whatever. Who gives a crap?

        Nothing important happens on the FIRST PAGE. Nothing of interest, at all. It doesn’t matter he wakes up at 6am. Has no bearing on anything, especially in the movie version.

        • harveywilkinson

          Re: JOHN WICK not saying it was a strong opening but there certainly was a point to it. The point was to establish a set of rhyming images which show Wick’s life before and after the dog, in particular how he was stuck in a rut grieving his wife, and how the dog helped pull him out of his routine of grief.

          He hits the alarm at 6 (before), the dog wakes him up by licking his face (after). He wakes up and makes coffee and still puts TWO cups by the coffeemaker (before), then he has to figure out how to feed the dog (after), etc…the whole point of the story was how the dog “woke him up” from his living death of grief and gave him something to live for, and the filmmakers showed this through images.

          You call the coffee making “bumbling with this or that” but the filmmakers were in fact showing us a lot about where he was in the grief process. Again, not saying these were particularly brilliant choices, but you can’t say it has no bearing on anything.

          • kenglo

            Great analysis Harvey! I felt pulled in (by the script) exactly for the reasons you stated. It was a subtle thing, I didn’t know exactly what it was until you so eloquently laid it out.

            It’s kind of like MMA. To most folks, it’s two guy bashing the crap out of each other. But to a trained person, you can see the subtleties of the techniques, you can actually anticipate what will happen next, and enjoy the counteractions (unexpected reversals!) from the fighters. A cat and mouse game between two accomplished warriors.

            John Wick, for all its ‘dumb’ action and violence, was written pretty well. Simple. Direct. Kinda like what AVATAR was…simplistic in it’s story, over the top in its delivery.

            I’m weird….like your comments!!

          • harveywilkinson

            Thanks kenglo. And there was other stuff going on in the opening too. The underwear, for instance. The directors said it was important to Keanu that he was barefoot and in boxers for the scene when he’s attacked by Ms. Perkins in the hotel — he wanted to heighten the sense that she attacked him at his most vulnerable. That’s a fine choice, you don’t often see assassins fighting for their lives barefoot and in boxers. But, if that was a meaningful choice for that part of the script, guess what? You need to use the same wardrobe earlier in the script. Which they did in these opening scenes. Midnight found that pointless and boring, but it was just one more choice the filmmakers were making to tell their story a certain way.

            In both scripts and in movies, I think it’s important to look closely at the small choices that are being made in the opening pages and understand how they’re fitting in with the larger themes and story — it’s a little lazy to just sit back and demand to be wowed by something shocking and original.

          • kenglo

            Oh believe me, I don’t want to take anything away from MidnightLuck, she is definitely astute (past and present) in her view of films! Different strokes for different folks! If she was bored by it all, then she was bored. I for one love those types of films (Asian influences, John Woo, Tadashi Miike) so I may have a bit of bias. Hell, I liked (not loved) BULLET TO THE HEAD! With Stallone! How sick can I be??

            Again, props on your analysis.

      • scriptfeels

        I re-watched halloween as well, and saw halloween II for the first time. Michael Myers isn’t invincible in the first movie, I only found out he was invincible in the second film after he gets shot 6 more times and stabbed by multiple people just to continue killing people. Since I had only just seen the sequel to Halloween, I was never under the impression Micheal was invincible until it was established in the second film.

        As far as the goals of the characters, the characters’ goals don’t relate to micheal myers, but they have their own goals, whether its hooking up with each other or babysitting, they are active characters. These goals make these characters incredibly believable and the teenage murders even more compelling. Michael Myers is the only one who wants to kill teenagers and its his character which makes the audience scared because the teenagers are unaware and act normally which is great dramatic irony.

        Micheal’s actions are related to his childhood, him watching the kid relates to Michael’s lore and it connects Micheal to the babysitter because that is the boy the girl babysits in the film. Michael’s choice of kids isn’t explained in the film, but its clear he wants to kill teenagers based off of his murder as a child.

        Loomis not finding the car until later is something I hadn’t thought of, but he is active in his goal of searching for Micheal even when the police don’t take him seriously and he has to do it alone. He isn’t behind that bush for no reason, he is on the lookout for Micheal his patient for the past 15 years.

        I also thought Loomis rescueing the protagonist was great because it was unexpected and gave him the hero spotlight to make his character feel justified. Also, he comes in to save the girl after she fights Micheal 2 times before that. Showing that the antagonist was so strong she wasn’t able to defeat him on her own even though it appeared that she had twice before.

        The main thing for me was the difference of the amount of detail put into the death scenes. I felt the first film spent time building tension and showing the audience the details of the death where as the second film focused on shock value and quick cuts. For example, in the first one the boyfriend character goes downstairs to the kitchen, sees the door open, looks in a closet, then opens a second closet to have Micheal come out and strangle him to death while cutting from his feet to his facial expression showing the boy’s feet go from swinging to still and the boy’s dieing facial expressions along with the creativity of him being held up by the knife on the door. In the second one, Micheal would stab a character with a syringe, it would cut in 2 seconds, and the character would fall to the floor. And the deaths felt more gorey than the first film such as the hot hospital Jacuzzi drowning scene. Where we had a long take of Micheal forcing her head under water and showing the audience her skin peeling off her face and body.

        Hopefully my thoughts are constructive!

    • Linkthis83

      It also seems that John Wick was in his early sixties too.

      Very first line of THE EQUALIZER script:

      ALARM CLOCK

      Hits 5:30 AM and goes off.

      • Midnight Luck

        Well worn.
        And unless it has some real pertinent value, don’t see how it adds anything to show the alarm clock time, and the alarm with a hand whacking it. And the groggy face and walking around the apartment in underwear.
        Seen it once seen it every time. Starting off that way is chancy I believe.

        But hey, that’s two big movies in a couple months with big stars that start the same way. So, who knows, maybe we should all start our scripts that way. A dark and bleak script should have the same opening, to let us know it is dark and bleak. I would have him (the protag) waking at 3:11am or 4:20am and scratching his butt, walking to the john to pee naked and taking a hit off his bong, or lighting up a cigarette (like Riggs in Lethal Weapon).

        P.S. I don’t think his name was John Wick in that movie as well :)

        • Linkthis83

          And you’re not going to have him cry a single tear and turn to the dog and say “Let’s get out of here.”?

    • kenglo

      Hey Midnight, just askin’, did you read the whole thing? I just thought the overall script was a good read….The opening actually had me going, not the clock thing, I tend to ignore those given it’s a ‘pro’ writer, the wife dying, the dog dying….. But without having watched the film, I thought it was an ‘okay’ story, just like EQUALIZER, my cup of tea so to speak.

      Hope you see something more in tuned to your persona!

  • fragglewriter

    Can someone upload the scripts via sendspace or email them to me at fragglewriter at yahoo dot com

    Much appreciated.

    • Midnight Luck

      sent

  • Randy Williams

    BROKEN VESSELS

    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    I read 20 pages and I found this script extremely demanding. I just don’t have the brain power to do it justice. Part of the problem is I’m not a fan of mixing visuals with thought. For example, “He brushes a small tear from his left eye which contrasts sharply with the blue collar nonchalance of his dress.” This kind of thing was ubiquitous. I really like when the writer just gives me visuals and doesn’t make me think too much. (See above about brain power)

    Hope you get some love.

  • Stephjones

    Broken Vessels: read the first 10 and maybe I’m just tired but I had to re-read the action sequences to understand what was happening. Here’s an example:

    “The kayak beneath Anyu shoots forward. He leans back until he is a few degrees from the horizontal. The bow of the kayak skims under the waves and icy cold water spills over the lip of the cockpit”

    I understood that he’s just harpooned a whale…and btw, I cringed when he wrapped the cord around his wrist…goodbye hand, I’d say. Anyways. I think I got what you wanted me to get but with too much effort on my part.

    Why not just simplify?
    Anyu’s kayak shoots forward. He leans back to lift the bow. The kayak skims across the frigid water.

    The way you wrote it I thought the thing was torpedoing. When the bow of any boat is skimming UNDER the waves, and the cockpit is filling, well, that sucker is going down.
    Sorry, that opening stopped me from wanting to read further tonight. Maybe I’ll try again in the morning.
    BTW! Congrats on the job, daughter in college and child on the way. your life sounds full of blessings.

  • Stephjones

    The Benefactor–Kept surprising me. Read about half-way. Thought it was well-done. So far, it gets my vote.

  • Randy Williams

    THEY ATE THE HORSES

    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    I’m not a fan of post-apocalyptic stories or zombie movies which this in some ways approaches, but damn, did I get pulled along by this one.
    I think mostly because the writers (congrats for a good job of collaborating) really placed me in this northern Great Lakes location with quick and effective strokes. The opening was intriguing. Children kidnapped because of the scarcity of farmhands. The talk of places that offered danger or escape or just the romantic notion of discovery.

    There were lots of characters introduced and I would have liked one to really cling to but the characters glowed with what I can only describe as an “American optimism” that I found appealing.

    I like knowing what I’m seeing at the beginning of a scene, throughout and how the visual ends. Around page 20 is an example of where I was lost. A few pages of dialogue there. It seemed like just the group standing around talking with each other. Several scenes were like this, begining with no real clear visual and ending on a line of dialogue and not a visual to lead us out.

    The end builds with jeopardy and some truly striking images. Something to stick around for.

    • kenglo

      Read your review and got back to reading the script….this IS good! I may have jumped the gun for The Benefactor….Hmmmm….

    • scriptfeels

      The whole second half of this script had me reading nonstop, I loved the settings of the scenes for this script a lot as well along with the attention to detail for character’s death scenes, really pulled me into the script.

    • Jack O’Connell

      Thanks for the kind words and notes! The note about scenes without a clear visual is interesting. It’s like something Carson would put on a “what I learned.” If a scene doesn’t have a clear visual clarity to it, it’s not something that will stick around.

      Thanks again!

  • brenkilco

    Read The Benefactor all the way through. Held my interest and is the sort of story I like. Is it reminiscent of Hitchcock? Well, not of his movies. It is mostly talk with no set pieces to speak of and little in the way of purely visual suspense except the brief scene in the church. More like the old Alfred Hitchcock Presents show. And really the sort of setup that would have fit nicely into one of those sixties or seventies crime dramas like Hawai Five O or Mannix. In fact, I think a sharp writer would have no trouble whittling this script down to a sixty minute TV episode, It’s very talky, and a little repetitive.

    The premise is fun, if a bit preposterous. A guy thinking he can blackmail ordinary people into committing murder by means of a fairly perfunctory frame. Looked at logically if Seifer had been forced to incriminate Claire the police would have charged Brody with murder. She would have confessed the setup and Seifer would have found himself in the soup. And having to occasionally kill troubling interlopers like Garvey suggest Seifer’s whole system may be more trouble than it’s worth. BTW during Claire’s trial why is everybody harping on the ring? Wouldnt it be more relevant, and more helpful to Claire, to point out that poor Mr. Garvey has indeed vanished off the face of the earth?

    There are a number of contrivances. Joanna just happens to drop the villains real name and Fanning just happens to have Mafia contact who just happen to know the guy. And one of the prior beneficiaries just happens to get terminally ill when a deus ex machina is needed.

    The pacing also is off. We get a tedious romantic interlude between Fanning and Claire at a point where the story really should be accelerating. And I kept expecting a third act twist that never came. I was thinking that Seifer really did know Claire, knew that would confess to Fanning, and that this was somehow all part of his master plan to incriminate her. That perhaps Fannings wife was actually the intended victim, and Fanning in on the plot. But nothing like this or any other big surprise occurred. Things just played themselves out, right down to the final scene of the villain being lured to his death, which had a rather been there, done that feel

    Not to be too harsh. The script was overall enjoyable with echoes of classic pictures like Dial M and Experiment in Terror. Just think it needed a bit more visual suspense and a couple of more surprises up its sleeve.

  • NajlaAnn

    My choice: The Benefactor. It’s a very well written, quite differnt psychological thriller laced with clever suspense. I’m on p.40 and will finish the read in a short while.

  • scriptfeels

    My goal today is to read farther into the scripts, but as a result, I’m going to give less descriptive notes and instead a response to how I felt to the script as a whole or parts of the script. So I’ll be giving less attention to specific points and spend my time instead reading as far as I can.

    The City
    -Already on page one, theres more tell than show… like in the description of the woman, “Adam’s best friend, model, and secret lover” how are these things shown on screen when we first see the woman?

    -page 14, not really holding my attention at the moment, and not sure what’s going on anymore…

    page 19, there’s been mentions of blue suits and black suits and i don’t really know who these people are or what the color of their suite means, but it seems important to the story. I would clarify this as early as possible.

    weird dialogue to me – page 21 “Well that’s a pleasant sound!” Doesn’t sound believable to me.

    A lot scenes seem out of place and don’t add anything to the story, like the scene where adam tells the posh lady that her boyfriend should stop pissing on her plants. I can see this scene being in here to show what Adam does at work, but as the scene stands I still don’t understand what Adam does at work nor his relationship to this posh lady. page 24.

    The parade plot point felt forced. The characters have been talking about the parade in multiple scenes, but i never understood why or what relation the parade had to the characters. Another thing is that Alistair tells Adam to keep her with him at the parade tomorrow, then it cuts to the parade, which is the next day. Seemed odd to me if she was in danger.

    pg.32
    “they’re not war heroes! they war criminals!” this made me laugh because i have no context on what she’s saying. Who are these people, what war were they in, why does she know that they are war criminals. It was funny to me because none of it made any sense and it was random.

    page 36, I still haven’t been told what corrupting is…

    page 40 – this government building scene is the first time we’ve had a scene away from Adam and revolved around the government people. Just thought i would mention that its the first scene focusing on these characters.

    page 43, why didn’t we see the black-suits attack them? That sounds like a fun scene to watch.

    I took a break from reading at page 47

    pg 48 – what camp are they going to?
    I also think its funny how the first idea alistair has is their solution to their problem, theres no conflict and it comes across as forced to me. I also still don’t know what a corrupter is, maybe show me what a corrupter does in an early scene to build that knowledge or fear into the reader.

    pg. 49 – I don’t know why painting is illegal, or why these paintings are important to Adam, also why they are valued by other people as well. He just painted in his bedroom, I don’t see any stakes or urgency here.

    Theres no conflict in them bringing the kid to market, also we haven’t met this kid before and we don’t know why they care about this character or how any of this relates to our character’s goals.

    page 58, although you explain what a zed is to the reader, it might be helpful to show the audience on screen that these people can’t live in the city, either by the way they look, the jobs they do, or worst comes to worst dialogue of the characters talking about the zed. I would look at the matrix as an example of a film that describes and shows a futuristic setting effectively.

    page 63. I really feel that this is a black comedy instead of an action thriller, reading out the bottom of this page in tommy wise really sealed the deal for me:
    “Adam: I’m pretty certain we weren’t followed. Carousel Husband: Well let’s hope so. Let’s hope so.
    Silence. Awkward nibbles on lunch.”

    pg. 65 the dialogue still feels like a comedy to me. “oh no. Chad, what do I do?” Great sarcasm!

    pg.67 is plonked a real word?

    pg71 – you describe what a zed camp here, this should be on page 58 when you first introduce a zed camp.

    pg.79 why am I finding out now that alistair is Skye’s little brother!!

    page 94 – putting a painting in a boot makes someone a corrupter? how do you put a painting in a boot anyways?

    pg 105, Why do people want to buy these paintings so bad? Not sure how Tiger would sell all of the paintings if they’re considered illegal.

    The ending felt really random. Saunders walks out the door and it ends with a group of children what is this scene about?

    Overall notes: The tone and voice of this script read to me as a romantic comedy set in a dystopian future. The majority of the scenes revolve around Adam and Skye arguing and flirting with each other. I didn’t connect with any of the characters in the script, but I had a few good laughs from the cheesy dialogue and plot points. My feedback would be to focus on the story. What is this script really about? Look at the GSU of this, I really needed to be shown the stakes for Adam being able to paint in this world, why were paintings so important? Also, setting up the characters need to be done as well, for the suit characters I never understood who they were or what their goals were. It was a mystery that didn’t go anywhere. I need to care for these characters, understand their motives for their goals, and see them try their hardest to achieve them. I didn’t get that in this version. Also a lot of the conflict was easily solved, like during the middle of the script when they had to deliver the boy, a character thought to bring him to the market, then they brought the kid to the market and there were no problems. It felt boring, out of place, and wasn’t entertaining because there were no conflict in these scenes. I think this script needs a major rewrite for it to move forward and for clear goals to be established for each of the major characters. The tone of the script should be changed to make it a futuristic thriller if that’s the writer’s vision. Overall, I have to pass on this script.

    This week I’m trying to read each script to the end. This script’s ending was better than its middle, but the world and characters felt underdeveloped and the story wasn’t clear to me.

    • scriptfeels

      They Ate the Horses

      SPOILERS!

      I really liked this script! It felt like it clearly had 3 acts, and kept surprising me all way to the end. I kept thinking that the script was going to turn into cliches, but it kept surprising me instead. The husks reminded me a lot of the zombie creatures from the will smith i am legend movie, but also world war z because of how they would swarm people. Even though they reminded me of other zombie creatures, these felt unique because of how they stalked and followed people who took their things, these traits made them feel different and interesting to me.

      I wasn’t sure how I felt about the slaver plot in the first act, but as the story progressed, I began to like it more and more because of Annie’s character. Escpecially in the third act I thought a slave ship was going to come, but instead we get a finale that reminded me of Edge of Tommarow because they went underground, ran past a giant monster, and were chased at by more hoards of husks!

      I also loved the first act because it established our group of characters and their relationships. I love stories that setup a group of characters to have them be killed off throughout the script. Early on it reminded me of a teenage version of the goonies and other movies with a teenage cast. Just light hearted character bonding.

      I feel biased looking back on the script because of how much I enjoyed the third act and Annie’s character, that I forget a lot of my criticisms I had at certain moments in the script. I have only good things to say about the script at the moment.

      I would consider changing the title, but I’m not sure what to change it to at the moment. Another small thing is in terms of world building, it took me a while to understand that this wasn’t today, but set in a dystopian future setting. There was a point in the script that clearly stated where we were that helped, but aside from that in the first act I was just enjoying the characters and wasn’t thinking about when the story was taking place. Another critique is the focus on wolves in the first act, are the parents supposed to know about husks or are wolves just a term to cover them up? I felt that the parents didn’t know husks because of the scene when they first encounter them, I was just asking about what the relation of the wolves had to do with the story. The abandoned school scene with the tiger is kind of random, with all of the body bags filled with bones that were never explained, but I really enjoyed reading the scene because it was unexpected and worked in terms of how the tension and stakes built throughout the story, because a husk is more threatening than this peculiar tiger. Also a giant tree in an abandoned school filled with dead bodies in bags is a unique setting I haven’t seen on screen nor read before in a script, so I think it should stay in the script, but maybe add some payoff from this scene in relation to the husks lore.

      Overall, I really enjoyed this script and want to advise the other readers of script shadow to stick this script out because its fun and has a great villain! There are a lot of characters to keep track of, but if you go with the story you’ll be in for a great read!

      • A few choice words

        I think you’ve made a good point about the difficulty of judging a script based on the first ten pages. Based on the first ten pages, I would reject “They Ate Horses,” but unfortunately that’s the way it often is. The lesson every week is: it’s never too early to get the good stuff in there.

        • scriptfeels

          I definitely learned a valuable lesson here, because in the past weeks I’d read from around 20-45 pages of a script and for They Eat Horses it builds and turns into a monster adventure horror film from a rag team group of teenagers running away from their parents, I’m excited to read the other three scripts as well :D, but I learned from reading the city that if the script already has a lot of problems, those problems will only add to more problems you find in the script as you read on whereas with They Ate Horses, I didn’t run into any glaring problems so the script could build accordingly and flip my expectations on its head because I was pulled into the story. Spoilers: Reading the script to the end definitely impacted my view of this one, because the first act was probably the weakest part of the script as a whole just because it was slower than the other parts and had to focus on setting up the characters who are teenagers and parents which is a lot less exciting than the scenes that follow. Although the first act isn’t as exciting, its important for the development of the story because it sets up the characters and the world. It led me to believe that wolves were going to play a role in the story only to give me man eating husks and slavetraders. I also love the around third act twist where the villains end up helping the teenagers/parents who they were trying to enslave prior, was a great device for the story.

      • Jack O’Connell

        Thanks so much for the read and the kind words! I actually watched Edge of Tomorrow last night on the strength of this comparison.

        My partner and I made the choice to sort of hide the fact that we’re in a dystopian future for the effect of a reveal later: ostensibly, the tiger billboard. My question to you, especially as one who enjoyed it as much as you did: Would it be advantageous to reveal this more immediately? Maybe rather than implying a different time with our opening scene, we open with something that clearly shows that we are far in the future?

        Again, thanks so much for your reading and help. You’ve been quite the champion for us this weekend!

        • scriptfeels

          I think its important to set up the world of your story. What I liked about the script is how it built into a zombie survival story with settings that reflected the world you put us in. I liked that we started down to earth with the characters because it put me at the mindset of a family sized drama which then grew to combating slave traders/surviving. Its how the script grew in conflict that I enjoyed and as long as the script continues to escalate until the end like I thought it had, I think you’re on the right track. Giving us a clear reason for the characters traveling is important along with establishing that this is in a dystopian future and how that affects our character’s daily lives, but at the same time the dystopian future doesn’t have to be the main focus of the story as much as the character’s journey and development unless its pivotal for them. Someone posted this sometime on the site in response to The City, to ask yourself if the same story could take place today and how its timeline directly influence the story. For this script, the dystopian future is important because it makes the idea of slave trading believable, along with husks more believable as well. If you could setup more ways for this world to feel real and the husks existence to be rationalized in addition to giving Annie logical reasons for her motivation to catch children and sell them as slaves then the world would help solidify the timeline as well.

          To answer your question, I think it can work either way. The tiger scene didn’t directly tell me that we were in a dystopian future, but showed that things were amiss outside of our character’s island life, especially with the bones in the bodybags. I was expecting a reveal that the tree ate them to be honest, since I watch Life of Pie a lot. I think that maybe hinting and showing small details early on that we aren’t in the present would be helpful as long as it doesn’t detract from the story or confuse the reader. Then use the hints and small details to build a case for showing how dystopian the real world is when they run away and are far away from home. If you’re willing to spend some time trying to figure out which works better, you could write a scene where its clearly shown and a version where its shown, but is treated as a part of normal life for the characters. After both versions compare them to decide which improves your story and solidifies your script’s themes and make a choice from there.

          smaller notes:
          Put in a little more description into Darren’s death. Its clear Annie pushes him towards the husks, but we should get a line of description describing how he specifically dies if its shown on screen.

          Another feedback I would have looking back on the script now would be to give some of your character’s unique traits or characteristics to help them identify them to the reader. There are a lot of characters to keep track of and the reader goes from scenes with the teenagers to scenes with the parents to scenes with the two villains interacting with both groups. For example, Clarity was the only character who did drugs so she had a characteristic no one else had out of the teenagers. Eli’s sister had the wolf toy so that was a good characteristic/totem that characterized her. Look at each of your characters and discover what other ways you can help the reader’s identify them for important scenes.

          Overall, great job guys, one of my favorite amateur friday reads! I think it was mostly how I kept being surprised and the story kept changing from what I was expecting, and then character’s started getting killed and I started getting more pulled into the story as a result of it evolving. I ranted a bit in my first paragraph d’oh.

      • scriptfeels

        notes

        The Benefactor:

        Okay so I read this one really late last night and didn’t take notes while reading it, but here’s my thoughts on the script based upon what I remember while reading it.

        The story/concept of the Benefactor grew on me the more I read the story. I think this concept is good and is well delivered in the script.

        SPOILERS:

        I thought the script moved a little more slowly after Claire decided to give Seifer the money at the end of the first at.

        I loved the character development for Claire. It was believable that she wouldn’t go to the police because her daughter’s life was at stake. The only part I wasn’t clear on was how Claire was different than the other victims Seifer had chosen. I wanted more information about Claire’s relationship with her dead husband to setup why she wasn’t greedy like the other victims and what influences in her life led her to standing up to Seifer later on in the script.

        Scenes that stuck out to me:

        The finger in the box scene. I liked how it was written, we see her reaction to what she opened.

        The scene where Claire puts the poison into Fanning’s fish tank. Was an interesting way to show how the poison works visually while using the office setting into the scene.

        The scene where Fanning and Claire figure out that Fanning’s wife slipped a piece of paper to Seifer from the audio recording alone. I didn’t see it coming and was a great plot device to flip expectations and cause more problems for our characters, not only do we have to deal with Seifer, but also Fanning’s wife.

        There were some parts that bothered me though. For example, at the end when it transitioned to a court case, I wasn’t sure who Pierce’s character was and the scene where he kills Elizabeth Carlisle .

        The scene where Pierce kills Elizabeth Carlisle felt out of place to me because I didn’t know Pierce’s character, but I was entertained throughout the scene because of how it was delivered. I had never seen a death through communion peace at church before in a film so its a creative unique setting for a murder.

        In the end where Pierce confesses in court, it didn’t see it coming, but I didn’t feel that this development occurred because of our characters. He reads the newspaper and then five pages later he’s called onto the stand by Blake. It was unrelated to Claire and Fanning’s actions and felt like a clear deux ex machina to me. I can’t overlook this plot device, but am happy that the script continued from there with the goal of catching Seifer. I thought the sniper ending was ironic because we discovered Seifer’s background as a sniper and his mob connections so this scene gave me what I wanted in a way that I wasn’t expecting.

        Overall, I liked how the plot developed and think this is well worth the read.

        • scriptfeels

          Parking Enforcement:
          Spoilers!!

          If Wyatt is six years old, this isn’t believable at all, but this is a comedy and this joke is a mob reference based on the description.

          pg.8
          Why is the ice-cream driver a midget? Any reason in particular?

          pg.11
          Why does Wyatt tell John to stop gettin’ his ass kicked by twelve year olds if the teenager they stickered was able to drive, meaning that he’s at least 16, I’m probably knit-picking here, but it was something that didn’t make sense to me. Maybe just use teenagers instead of twelve year olds?

          pg. 12
          Didn’t know Gary was also a woman’s name. I’ve also seen the muscular woman joke done before like in Napoleon Dynamite.

          pg.14 although John passing out is funny, along with John saying suck it, I have a hard time seeing how John would say suck iiiiiit after getting sucker punched in the stomach, so without a description there its a bit too unbelievable for me to take this seriously. If he’s having a sexual fantasy or something I would exaggerate it and make it clearer here.

          pg. 16, shouldn’t the police chief have a real name, or is he referred to as police chief by everyone? Officer chiclets is a funny name used for the other police officer as an example.

          I would suggest reading the script to Ted for a successful comedy that took place in Boston.

          pg.21 What is ‘normal’ for the other police parking ticket collectors? Are they in uniform or in normal outside work clothes. Also, why does Lupita almost fall out of her chair?

          pg.25, I keep looking back to page 12 to see which character is which from time to time. I looked back here because I forgot who Ted was.

          pg.27 good to see Timmy reintroduced, was wondering when he was going to come back into the script.

          pg.30 Why hasn’t Wyatt slept? Parking meters in boston are free from 8pm to 8am unless its resident parking, but I still haven’t seen a meter maid work at night before.

          pg.32 Why does Sergeant Gary skip the number 2 spot and go from 3 to 1?

          pg.34 Dispatch is really a thing? The only mention was on page 4 and it was used in a joke. Who is dispatch??

          pg. 36 How does Wyatt inhale ice cream?

          pg. 44 The door to the apartment is shown flying open, but we don’t see who opens it?

          pg.52 Wyatt’s said something’s wrong twice now, but it hasn’t led anywhere either time. leads to john explaining the cops are selling drugs through the ice cream trucks on page 54??

          pg.56 great dialogue bit bringing back what wyatt said as a kid – wyatt: ‘But, we’re runnin’ these streets.’ ‘and john, now it’s time to take out the trash.’

          pg.62 When John is darting for the keys, its not clear what gets taken down too quickly, the keys, the homeless man, Frank, or John?

          pg.74 having Nippy be a little person makes this scene more believable because keeping him as a hostage as compared to someone more threatening would be harder for our heroes, especially with just a headlock.

          pg.98 why are we flash backing to the pong game in the beginning here?

          yay John and Wyatt get in to the Boston Police Academy!

          Throughout the script I never understood something. If this takes place in Boston, why is the city hall named podunk city hall and references to podunk throughout the film? Is this trying to make a joke off of dunlin’ donuts? dunks?

          Also, it was never clear why John and Wyatt couldn’t become cops after 20 years of being parking ticket collectors, I think giving the reader a clear reason why and having it be abolished or resolved by Nippy at the end would fix this.

          In terms of Nippy’s character, at first I groaned at his introduction, but as the script continued and I found out he was undercover it was fun to watch him interact with our protagonists and I thought the writers made him stand out from my expectations, especially with the ending. I could also see the scene following when Wyatt kidnaps Nippy to be funny on screen because its the complete opposite of the scene prior.

          I got a few chuckles from reading the script, but never laughed out loud. Wyatt’s character is pretty funny in certain scenes and John plays the straight guy in this to balance him out. Personally I think the script’s not bad, but there were a few things holding it back for me. I didn’t appreciate the racial jokes like referring to Lupita Sanchez as Rice and Beans. Also I feel like I had already seen a lot of this script’s premise and jokes done in other movies before, but I haven’t seen a cop film based off of parking ticket collector’s before. I’m not sure what’s really holding this script back for me, which is bad feedback on my part because it was structured well enough, John and Amy’s relationship gets resolved and John even arcs as a character in the third act when he becomes more decisive. I think I’ve just seen too many cop comedy films for this to come off as fresh to me even though its from the parking ticket collector’s angle. I think I wanted more stakes about why these guys had to become cops instead of parking ticket collectors, like as if their family name was ruined or some backstory about why becoming a cop was important aside from they wanted to as kids and their grandmother was a cop. Overall, I’ve read worse comedies and better comedies as well and this one is somewhere in the middle for me, and I think its because of its premise. Ticket Collector’s acting like cops didn’t excite me enough or make me laugh while reading the script, but if I was watching the film version of this, maybe it would. I love watching comedies and know that some of the comedies I love are super cheesy and run off of stereotypes for jokes and caricatures of people, for example ‘The New Guy’ or any one of the ‘Scary Movie’s. I think I am judging this script somewhat harshly, but would like to see the jokes taken up a notch, even though they weren’t bad, like naming an undercover midget cop Nippy is pretty funny. So I would watch this movie if it was on tv or netflix if I was bored, but probably wouldn’t go out of my way to pay to see it in the theater.

          • scriptfeels

            Broken Vessels:
            pg 2. What is an umiak?
            thought brilliant was an odd choice to describe the whale’s bloody bubbles.

            pg 6. “apnea” – is this a real word or a spelling error?

            pg.10 I’m already confused. The dialogue comes off as strange to me from the past four pages and one of the character’s names is Hydrant?

            pg.12 how does Hydrants hand shimmer and vibrate?

            pg.15 what is an inuit? ‘Inuit Hyrant’

            pg.17 more strange dialogue….
            how are we traveling through time? Its just cutting to 1307?

            pg.19 so hydrant sees his wife’s killer, but all the young man sees is himself? Why doesn’t the young man have a name?

            pg.23 what is inuit? i stopped reading the script and googled it and its ‘a group of culturally similar indigenous peoples inhabiting the Arctic regions of Greenland, Canada, and the United States.’ Is inuit a language as well. Pretty confused by something that should be really simple.

            pg.28 when they swap bodies, how is this shown on screen? Hydrant’s vision goes white, but then it says the norse young man is gazing down at him, then after a line of dialogue, that he is in Hydrant’s skin. shouldn’t that be addressed immediately if we see him gazing down at Hydrant?

            pg.30 so now hydrant is addressed as husband hydrant, so that means that whomever’s body hydrant is in should be in front of his name I’m assuming?

            pg.40 I liked the black prince’s character. The way this story is being told reminds me of Interview with a vampire, but our interview characters are walking through the past scenes instead of letting us see them for ourselves.

            pg.53 I don’t understand Hydrant’s character. He wants to kill the young man, but wants to save him as well? Its clear Hydrant’s goal is to make the young man remember, and the young man’s goal was to find out about the book or something that he came to Hydrant for, but we are going through the young man’s new memories and I’m not really sure where this is all leading towards.

            pg.56 there’s two young men in this scene? I’m confused. What is the figure?

            pg.62 a lot of this script consists of the young man and hydrant drinking tequila together and talking in the bookstore…

            pg.64 what does ahasuerus look like on screen? is he a person, a demon? is he in freud’s body? Not really sure what would be on screen at the moment.

            pg.69 what is a grand-mal?

            pg.94 so Eva is the other one?

            pg.96 I still don’t get the screaming part. Is he swapping with the screaming painting?

            Parts of this script has great detail in the descriptions for the settings, but the dialogue threw me off during a few scenes as well as how the reader was supposed to keep track of characters in other character’s bodies. This wasn’t explained well and if theres a screenwriting rules for characters in other character’s bodies that is being used correctly here I’d like to learn about it. Overall, the story is interesting, but hard for me to fully grasp as I feel I didn’t fully comprehend certain scenes. What I took away from this script was that it followed an interviewer who remembered he was an immortal being constantly fighting the other immortal being only to reveal at the end that … ‘You’re not the only one.’ Not sure what the script’s theme is, but some scenes stuck out to me like when they went to the memory of the French battle and everything was frozen and when time started the heavy inertia filled arrow flew upwards. My feedback on this script is to make things more clear to the reader. Which character is in which character’s body should be clear at all times if we are supposed to be aware of that. I would also name the young man. Also, the walrus tusk totem seemed important to the story, but it wasn’t clear me who that character was so I missed out on why it was important. I think this writer is doing a great job on certain scenes, but needs to be more clear what is being shown on screen and who is who in other scenes. This script wasn’t for me, but it was well written and read like a lot of time was put into it. If only I understood everything the writer was getting across, then I think I would have enjoyed this story a lot more.

          • scriptfeels

            This week was an interesting experience for me because it was the first time I finished reading each of the scripts to the end for an amateur friday. I learned that the log lines don’t usually summarize the story, the genre is relative to interpretation, and that the titles can be hit or miss. What surprised me was how important the endings impacted my reviews of the script. A few of the scripts had endings that satisfied me, but also needed a bit more fine tuning while others made no sense at all. To be honest, I didn’t take the titles, genre, and wysr at more than a face value and would usually just open up the script and read it from beginning to end, and then look back on the title, genre, log line, and wysr afterwards. I learned that concept and execution can be pivotal as well as giving the reader what they want in a way they don’t expect it.

            Here’s my rankings for this week:
            1. The Benefactor
            2. They ate the horses
            3. Broken Vessels
            4. Parking Enforcement
            5. The City

            It was really close for me to choose between The Benefactor and They ate the Horses. When I compared the two scripts side by side, I decided that the Benefactor had less cleanup that needed to be done with it and thought that if it got more exposure it would be more likely to be put into production based on the version of the script that I read. I really enjoyed They at the Horses and I think a lot of that was because I had just finished The City so my expectations were really low when i started reading the script which led to them being blown away the further I got into it. All in all, if either The Benefactor or They ate the horses gets reviewed I will be a happy dude!

            MY VOTE: THE BENEFACTOR.

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

      That’s commitment lol

      Kudos and Karms

  • Randy Williams

    THE CITY

    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    I read to page 54. This had some value for all of us. I thought the description was some of the best I’ve read on AOW. It tells you what you’re seeing at the beginning of a scene, emphasizes any changes or details we should notice and then tells us what we’re seeing at the end of the scene. All done without much flourish, just nice and clean.

    I felt the script should begin with the artist burning his canvases. As it begins now, it’s rather bland and could be anywhere. That scene of him burning his canvases in a spare, white bathroom , paint peeling and melting, coalescing mixed with visuals of the futuristic big brother society on the outside would be cool.

    There was just so much polite chit chat, how are you?, I’m fine, thank you, that’s good that it truly became so aggravating and annoying, I bailed out at page 54. Besides that, I liked it. However, I sensed at page 54 that for a thriller, it lacked complexity. Where were the myriad threads to follow? Clues to latch on to for a twist ending? Take another five years and work on a plot.

  • kenglo

    It was the first one I read because I loved the premise….I’ll try and read some more, ran out of time this morning, lot of scripts to read !! *peeking around corner in fear of Mr. 250*

  • hickeyyy

    OT: I know Halloween is over, but the 2014 Blood List was revealed. Here is a link below for those interested:

    http://www.bloodlist.com/the-lists/2014-blood-list/

    Lots of these sound pretty interesting. Bird Box is the winner and it sounds to me like the best, based on loglines. If anyone has any of these, I’d love to give them a look.

    • klmn

      Post your email and some may show up.

    • kenglo

      writetoreel.com is your friend…

    • scriptfeels

      It’s cool to see The Bringing on there as Carson got me a little hyped for it with that spooky elevator footage!

    • Paul Clarke

      Read TAU, loved it. Thought it was much better than the shark one that sold for a million.

      Might have to tone down some of the more brutal scenes if it was to be made, though. They don’t seem necessary for the premise. Most could be implied.

      • hickeyyy

        I’ll check that one out after I read Bird Box.

  • MJ86

    After reading the rest of THEY ATE THE HORSES, I’ll say I’d pay to see it in the theater. Once. The characters made the movie for me. The monsters? Not so much (except the boss monster, I liked him). The story (don’t get killed by the monsters)? Pretty standard. I’d have liked something truly original. There’s a lot of “oh, that’s different” and “yeah, that’ll look cool on screen,” but nothing that screamed, “definitely gonna talk about THAT for the rest of my life.” A tall order, I know, but shouldn’t it be the goal? For a while, I thought we would find out that it was all a lie (hence my comment above about Kelsie’s question) and America had just been separated by class (the rich live on the island, the poor live in the cities). Nope, just monsters.

    Also I don’t think there were really any scares (better none than cheap ones), just a lot of suspense/tension and that made the read fast at least. And maybe it’s just me but, is it ironic or just plain silly that these kids risked/lost their lives to go to Duluth, fucking, Minnesota?

    More suggestions: 1. Work out your plot holes. How is it these monsters have ravished several cities (including the one next door) and the slavers know about it, but the government (Nick and Kelsie’s parents) doesn’t? There’s fuel for ferries/ships, but not cars? 2. More animals. Why even mention wolves and tigers (or was that a misdirect?) and not have anybody get killed by one? 3. The “creepy critters skittering about in the shadows” got old. Add some variety there.

    • scriptfeels

      I agree for the ‘talk about that for the rest of my life.’ Also, I’m glad we weren’t told that it was all a lie for example and that its unanswered because the focus wasn’t on the society as much as it was about our character’s traveling through this world.

      I hadn’t thought of the risking life bit over Duluth before, why do they want to go there so bad? Is their island that boring? They do mention there is good booze there in the script if I recall, but still don’t think that it’s a good enough reason…

      I agree that working out the plot holes would add to the story, but think these should be answered in the later part of the story without slowing down the action. I had a similar opinion about the wolves, why mention them if they aren’t in the story? My conclusion was so that the reader/audience would expect wolves, but then get a tiger/husks instead which are far scarier. I honestly expected this to turn into a werewolf movie when we go the shed scene with the boys and was so happy it turned into something I didn’t expect instead!

      • MJ86

        Yeah, they def need a better reason to wanna go to Duluth. They had a friend there (I think), maybe (in a rewrite) that has friend kept writing them letters talking about how awesome it was, blah, blah (piquing their initial interest), and then that friend fell out of communication with them and their parents gave them the run around (b/c they knew about the husks), prompting their investigation…

    • Jack O’Connell

      One of the HORSES writers here: Thanks so much for your reading, kind words, and notes! We’ll definitely be taking these thoughts with us into the next draft.

  • GoIrish

    I gave Parking Enforcement a shot. I read up to p. 25. I probably could keep reading, but I didn’t feel compelled to. A competition to hand out parking tickets (which is around where I stopped) didn’t seem that dramatic/interesting. I get that it’s supposed to be somewhat absurd, but I felt like I needed something more.

    I’d suggest skipping the introduction with their childhood. I don’t think it added that much. If you do keep it, you probably should take another look at Wyatt’s dialogue. It didn’t seem to match his age. As one option, you could start right at the moment where Wyatt smashes the Delinquent through the store window. Shortly thereafter, we’d discover that he’s parking enforcement and not a cop.

    The age of Wyatt and John posed another issue. Perhaps this is addressed somewhere in the script, but I believe Boston requires individuals to apply to be cops before they turn 32. Here, Wyatt is 39 (possibly 40) and John is 40 (possibly 41). This is obviously a quick revision (if you choose to do it), and it also can be used to put the U in GSU. You could have John be a month/week/days away from turning 32 and becoming permanently ineligible to be a cop. And perhaps Wyatt makes a pact with John that they are in it together – it’s an all or nothing proposition. John’s last shot is Wyatt’s last shot. That gives Wyatt a sense of urgency as well.

  • ThomasBrownen

    My vote: BENEFACTOR. Huge potential here.

    I glanced at the first ten pages of Broken Vessels first. The WYSR seemed earnest and I liked that, although I was skeptical of the idea that a body switching story is the kind of story that would be giving actors Oscar winning roles. But the first few pages seemed to introduced four characters who were not the major characters, I don’t think, and a really long drawn out scene about hunting in the water. Also, when I skimmed to the story in the current time, I noticed, I think, that the characters’ ages weren’t consistently referenced, and while this isn’t a big deal, it didn’t inspire confidence. I kept reading a bit more, and while it was good, I was getting tired.

    Then I checked out the BENEFACTOR. I don’t know anything about this script (it’s from a published book…?) or the author, but I liked his straightforward WYSR, and I’ve been working on a psychological thriller too. (Random note: Apparently, the main character’s name is different than in the book…? I only noticed this because my psychological thriller I was working on had a minor female character whose last name was also Medina, so I was paying attention to that random coincidence when I looked at the book’s Amazon page.)
    Anyhow, the BENEFACTOR script was REALLY, REALLY good. From the start, it grabs you and throws a few really fast curveballs at you. Really keeps you reading. I got to page 49 without intending to, and I’m not one to do that. I’m a bit concerned about the time jump after the first act (not usually a good sign, and it can reduce a bit of the urgency in the story), but I was willing to see where the story went. Also, I’m a bit concerned that the story might become a bit too preposterous and coincidental (based on the logistics of Seifer’s scheme), but that’s just a hunch, and the author has earned the opportunity to prove me wrong when I continue reading, and hopefully, after Carson gives this script its time in the limelight. The opening ten pages reminded me (in a good way) of Chinatown and I was thinking of Strangers on a Train (in a good way) at another point in the script, so congrats to John for making it this far, and I hope we see more of him!

    • Jack O’Connell

      Hey one of the HORSES writers here. I’m sort of asking around as I go through the comments to get some thoughts on a part of the writing business that’s difficult to put into words and even more difficult to get proper perspective on. Please don’t take this as me crying out for attention or to give us a second chance; on the contrary, we legitimately just want to improve.

      Why didn’t you pick up our script? Was it a genre thing, a logline thing, other? Thanks for any thoughts you have!

      • ThomasBrownen

        Hey Jack! Good question. Hmm… this is difficult to put into words, but I think I remember reading the title, and thinking, “eeww, that sounds gross,” (which probably says more about me than your title), but it did get my attention, so it had that going for it. Then I read the logline, and I remember thinking it was rather unfocused — something about a girl in a post-apocalypse setting, but what she was doing was rather unclear. Something about her father, traveling to another town, and something about slavers. I think it felt more like a few cool concepts thrown together rather than a logline that gave me a feel for the story.
        But that’s just my reaction. I see you got some positive feedback in the comments, so good luck with the script and getting Carson’s attention!

  • Malibo Jackk

    My vote (so far) goes to BROKEN VESSELS.
    Only had time to read 12 pages or so.
    Love the skills on display.
    Some dialogue could be cut.
    (May add additional comments later.)

  • rickhester

    Reading THE BENEFACTOR. Reads like Agatha Christie meets SEEKING JUSTICE.

  • jaehkim

    WINNER – PARKING ENFORCEMENT.

    benefactor

    p3 office scene. it’s way too long. also, seifer’s dialogues are very on the nose. and why isn’t claire more upset? she’s too passive in this scene. this scene should end with claire telling seifer to go f himself.

    p10. restaurant scene. again, it’s way too long (9 pages!). most of the dialogues could be cut, and they’re mostly on the nose.

    broken vessels

    I’m sorry but this one just wasn’t for me.

    the second scene is 8 pages long and I have no idea what these guys are talking about.

    they ate the horses

    p1. who the heck is carl?

    p3. did time pass? is there someone else named Luke? his name is bolded so I assume it’s a different person. but it also looks like time has passed without saying so.

    this is too confusing. the script is well written, but I can’t read going back and forth constantly.

    the city

    again. a 6 page scene of 2 people sitting, talking on the nose about everything that’s happening in the world.

    I see a pattern with a lot of these AF scripts. in the first 20 pages there is at least 1 really long scene with 2 people sitting down and talking about everything that’s going on.

    parking enforcement

    I think this is a good example of same but different. some of the characters might be cliche, but at least all their voices are distinct, and they’re developed WITH their own goals, weaknesses, personalities, plus meter maid angle has never been done before, I don’t think.

    I don’t know how funny this is, but it’s FUN to read. there is a guy who might be a serial killer, a british ass wipe, a puerto rican fire cracker, a CSI miami wanna be and a momma’s boy.

    this script is very polished. everyone should study this script. it has great sequence structure. it starts off with a goal, and as the script goes, the stakes are raised, there are turns and reversals, personal flaws and shortcomings are confronted. characters are developed. there are moments of emotional highs and lows.

    this is how you write a m-f*ing script.

    parking enforcement is my pick for AF.

  • rickhester

    My vote: PARKING ENFORCEMENT.

  • A few choice words

    What made you think I was talking about “The Benefactor;” don’t be so egotistical. OTHER people have submitted scripts based on unpublished novels and I was talking about them. Got it now? Best of luck with that attitude.

    • Marija ZombiGirl

      … Wow. I’m seriously impressed with the way you whip around and blame others for your own mistakes and personality shortcomings. There really is no need for people like you in this kind of forum and I’m surprised to see so many upvotes on your unnecessary post but hey, that just underlines the overall negativity and envy that AOW has spurned here in recent months.

      Seriously, just read the loglines and the scripts. I don’t look at the WYSRs before opening the scripts, not because I don’t care but because I don’t want to be influenced by anything. Anyway, what’s wrong with saying that your script placed in a contest ? Lashing out against that says more about the lasher than the scriptwriter…

  • Experiment

    Up-vote if you want THE BENEFECTOR to win.

  • Experiment

    Up-vote if you want THE CITY to win.

  • Experiment

    Up-vote if you want BROKEN VESSELS to win.

  • Experiment

    Up-vote if you want PARKING ENFORCEMENT to win.

  • Experiment

    Up-vote if you want THEY ATE HORSES to win.

  • Jack O’Connell

    Hi guys,

    I’m half of the writing duo behind “They Ate the Horses,” and I gotta tell you, thanks so much for cracking it open. Whether you really loved it or couldn’t get past page 10’s teenage shenanigans, my partner and I appreciate any notes. The point of AOW is to get better, right? You guys have really helped us get better in the last 24 hours, so thanks.

    If anyone would like to really give tear-it-apart detailed notes, please do. Our email address is “Gjere.oconnell@gmail.com” for anything you’d rather send privately. I know that both Tom and myself would be more than wiling to return the favor as well.

    A question to those or you who’ve read it: Tom and I talked yesterday (and in the past) about how this story has horror elements, but maybe it’s unfair to list it in the genre. Thoughts on that?

    Thanks again so much for the opportunity, Carson, and the great notes, commenters. It’s really given us renewed energy to get another draft or two in!

    Thanks, Jack (John) O’Connell

    • Randy Williams

      I like the way you have the genre listed now, Adventure/Horror. The adventure aspect of the material, I thought, lends itself to a video game. The Horror aspect lends itself to a TV series. The title aspect, however, lends itself to very poor box office in the state of Kentucky.

      Good luck guys!!!

      • Jack O’Connell

        After careful discussion, Tom and I have decided you can stay. The all-important Kentucky box office has led us to change the title to “Guys, Like Seriously, There’s No Horse Eating That Takes Place Here, for Reals.” :)

  • hackofalltrade

    I will confess, I have been a selfish lover.

    I have taken but not given back, reading and learning, but
    not contributing. I will attempt to rectify that, so here goes… I have been
    logging how far I get into the Amateur Friday screenplays for about a year
    before putting them down. I try and step away for a few days, then go back and
    attempt to pinpoint the reason I put it down. Sometimes there is something
    specific, other times I’m just not into it.

    I wanted to learn what would kill a script for me. And in my
    writing, avoid it like the plague. I suppose it’s helped some in that regard, but
    after reading so many scripts there has been an OVERWHELMING frontrunner for
    why I’ve put a script down. Accessibility.

    I will tell you up front, I’d fail the Mensa test. And I’d
    bet the writer of this week’s BROKEN VESSELS is a super smart guy. And a
    talented writer! But is the story accessible? I would argue, no. It
    could be a total coincidence, but it’s penned under the name Joel Barish. And you
    might consider me a hypocrite because I’m a fan of Eternal Sunshine(JB is the
    main character)…which conceptually is challenging. But the “memory-erasing”
    premise doesn’t come into play in the first ten pages. The script establishes
    these two characters, makes us like them, makes us want to cheer for them, AND
    THEN throws us into this strange world. Also, in getting people to read your
    stuff, it doesn’t hurt if your name is Charlie Kaufmann. The WYSR from Joel is compelling;
    it’s why I wanted to read it first. I can FEEL the earnestness, both in the
    WYSR and in the writing. And I love it. But this story just isn’t accessible
    for me. I almost feel like you are reminding me that I’m not a Mensa candidate,
    and that isn’t something I’m particularly fond of. One of your characters on
    page ten actually says “To not being insulting…” and I laughed out loud.
    Because when a story isn’t accessible, it’s basically the equivalent of saying,
    “this story isn’t for you…”

    Anyways, I hope this is helpful. I have all confidence in
    this writer, and if you were paying for script notes, I would offer a unique
    (x) recommend for the writer, but pass on the script. Best of luck!

    • Randy Williams

      I felt the same way, and honestly, feel guilty about dismissing it for a possible vote because I couldn’t find my way into it. And the writer is older and I’m one for “paying one’s dues” so that’s an added regret.

      Thankfully, it’s gotten some love here and maybe in another life, God will let me slip past the unwashed masses.

      Hope you continue contributing. You seem to have a fresh approach.

    • Linkthis83

      I concur about accessibility. This is what kept me from truly enjoying the amateur script THE SORCERER.

      LOGLINE: When brilliant-but-forgotten inventor Nikola Tesla dies mysteriously at the height of World War 2, a couple of FBI Agents race to discover the whereabouts of his final creation – a devastating and world-changing death ray – before it falls into the hands of the Nazis, and along the way put together the clues that reveal the deepest mystery behind Tesla’s life: what drove him to madness.

  • fragglewriter

    The City – Read until page 18. The story didn’t intrigue me to keep on reading. A post WW III city cracking down on Artist. Seems rather dull, but the story might pick up later on, but there was no intrigue or mystery that kept me going so I bailed.

    They Ate the Horses – nice title but I don’t like horror so I didn’t read it. If I have time, will read later on tonight.

    The Benefactor – Read until page 6. The story was good until page page 2 when Claire’s character is introduced. Then two pages later, a mysterious man walks in. I stopped reading on page 6 as I got bored. Might pick it up later on.

    Parking Enforcement – I love comedy, but for some reason, as the story progressed, the jokes felt forced, not organic. I read until page 17.

    Broken Vessels – Read until page 20. I got a little confused halfway through page 20, so I don’t know if it was the script or just me reading it after a long day with barely enough sleep from the night before. I found it to be slow and boring, and the flashbacks slowing the story down.

  • Craig Mack

    I saw Nightcrawler last night. Definitely my favorite movie of the year. One of the best depictions of a sociopath I’ve ever seen.

  • walker

    Did it ever occur to you that your interest is not really worth grabbing?

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

    I didn’t realize “body-switching” was a genre lol

  • Friend

    Never apologize for being honest.

  • Experiment

    Up-vote if you don’t want any of these scripts to win.

  • kenglo

    Oh me oh my…*EDIT*

    Toss up – THE BENEFACTOR and THEY ATE THE HORSES

    Popped HORSES open this morning, and these two dudes can definitely tell a story! Great writing from both I thought…..

  • Mike Caggiano

    Got around to checking out 4 out of the 5. Apologies to They Ate the Horses.
    My vote goes to either The Benefactor of Broken Vessels.

    The City: Read to pg 20. I like the concept and thought the world-building was solid, aside from the most important aspect. I didn’t understand the stakes or motivation for making art illegal. Maybe show a fellow artist friend that gets caught. Or show the hero in a covert meeting with a shady character, like a present day drug deal would go down, only this meeting takes place with an art collector. Also, there wasn’t much subtext to the dialogue. The opening with Skye is pretty straight forward about him being a depressed, struggling artist. Reading on, it was about him getting rid of his art.

    Parking Enforcement: Read to pg 7. Feels like there’s a better way to introduce the brothers, their flaws and their desire to be cops. A few years back, there was a parking scam in Boston. I don’t remember how they carried it out, but a number of public spots in downtown were disguised as private, with the same people utilizing the high-priced spaces everyday. Maybe show the brothers working an undercover sting, or raiding the home of a “high-profile” scofflaw. Introduce them as “cops,” then reveal they’re parking enforcement. Even though I only got through seven pages, I didn’t get the sense the writer had a firm grasp on the occupation. If I’m reading a story about parking enforcement (which I think is a great idea), I want to learn something new about the profession, how they really talk, what they think about being hated by everybody and how it plays into their desire to be cops. Lots of potential here though.

    The Benefactor: Read to pg 20. I like the mystery and premise. Lily doesn’t talk like a 13 year old. IMO, acknowledging this fact isn’t enough to make it work. I like Seifer and his calm, cool demeanor, as it plays off his actual intentions. Only having read this far, I wonder why Boyd stopped to ID herself, since she would fry if Claire didn’t play ball with Seifer. Though they seem to have everything planned very well, so I’m thinking this would be accounted for. Claire seems to be rather unemotional about the revelation of her husbands death, despite their marital difficulties. It’s impossible to tell after only reading 20 pages, but I wonder if getting to know Claire better at the start would help? Introduce her and Bernard – their business is in trouble – show them at marriage counseling or divorce mediation – introduce Seifer, he wants to buy into / save their business, but is concerned about their relationship being a problem – Claire jokes/flirts with him about “Bernard just dropping dead” – Seifer takes her up on her wishful thinking. This makes her at least somewhat responsible for his death, something they could go to the cops with, besides all the business and economic motives. I’d like to read on if time allows. Nice job.

    Broken Vessels – Read to pg 15, stopped due to time. Nice dialogue, conflict and prose. I’m interested to read on and see how the two timelines play off each other.

    • Jack O’Connell

      One of the writers of HORSES here. Please know that I’m coming from a place of “We want to improve” rather than a place of whiny writerly “I need to be the prettiest girl at the dance, dammit.”

      Why didn’t you pick up our script, or more specifically, why were we your fifth choice? Not a fan of the genre, logline doesn’t stand out, other?

      Any thoughts you have would be appreciated! This is a difficult question to answer, but that’s exactly why it would be so useful. Nobody ever talks about it. Thanks so much!

      • Mike Caggiano

        Kudos to you for following up. First and foremost, post-apocalyptic just isn’t my thing. Digging a little deeper, it’s possible you glanced over your hook – what are slavers and what is the even bigger threat you elude to? An overprotective father isn’t a big enough obstacle in this type of story. And What’s her GOAL? Why risk going to the neighboring town? I’m not saying “adventure” doesn’t work (maybe in a coming-of-age story), but from a logline perspective, it’s not as strong as something more tangible. A cliche example using the limited info…

        A century after mankind’s near extinction, a daring teen must defy her dying father by journeying to a neighboring town and steal life-saving medicine from a community that wishes to enslave her.

        That’s far from passable, but I think it comes down to – what makes your script different from all the other post-apocalyptic films we’ve seen.

  • pmlove

    Only time for a very quick read of them all.

    BROKEN VESSELS: Agree that the hunter dialogue is a little on the nose. I like the mood, tone but if the story is about revenge for the murder of his wife, I think you’d be better spending some time showing us Anyu/Hydrant with Sakari, rather than this Young Man. From what I read, seemed to work for John Wick’s dog.

    I also feel that it doesn’t utilise the concept of the body switching, at least not at first. Could also use more conflict and action to get things going a little faster.

    PARKING ENFORCEMENT: I like the set-up – a good quick character intro. Old Grandma’s being crude isn’t my thing, but I can appreciate there is a market for that sort of thing. Sadly, I can’t help too much.

    THE CITY: Character intro through dialogue isn’t working for me. Not sure there’s much for me to add beyond what others have already said.

    HORSES: Who is Carl (p1 – russell?)? Good intro, into the action. Characters always doing, on the move. p5 – ‘the mayor’ – if I were 18, I’d definitely have some sort of nickname less obvious than ‘the mayor’. p9 typo – I can handle anything this island just fine. Conflict, action – all there.

    Good – this is my vote so far.

    THE BENEFACTOR: Good intro, straight into the action. Hooked, intrigue from the off. Great reversal of expectations – we assume that the story will be about Claire finding out that her husband was murdered. Next scene, someone tells Claire that they did it. Looks like this has been around for a while, but definite shades of Gone Girl (unhappy couple, potential framing of living partner).

    MY VOTE: Benefactor or Horses.

  • klmn

    I finally did remember your name. I won’t post it to respect your privacy. I think this would be a good one for Carson to review.

    And yes, this script requires some effort on the part of the reader. I think it will be more accessible when it is filmed.

    • walker

      That is a good point Ken. This script poses difficulties for a reader that would not be issues for an audience, in that the visuals would make some sequences clearer and more compelling.

  • Levres de Sang

    My Vote: THE BENEFACTOR

    Read: 35 Pages

    This script contains one of the most fascinating premises I’ve seen on AOW — and for the most part executes it in a way that kept me reading. I only stopped to make time for the other four scripts.

    There are elements of both STRANGERS ON A TRAIN and THE PARALLAX VIEW, but in a way that feels fresh and intriguing. I’d be surprised if it doesn’t gain interest in the marketplace.

    Notes:

    pp.8-9: This ‘show-the-protag-at-home’ scene goes on too long and Lily’s dialogue feels overly precocious. I’m not sure we need the parking lot prelude either. Rather, I’d use the home life scene to introduce Victoria as a babysitter and then dissolve from Claire putting on the pearl necklace to her wearing it at the restaurant — especially in light of the overall page count.

    pp. 30-32: I’m not sure we need this predominantly exposition-heavy scene — especially if we can meet Victoria earlier. I get the sense she’ll be important so this seems far too late an entrance.

    I’d lose the INSERT / BACK TO SCENE format in light of your page count, but overall this is very well written and I’m intrigued to see how things unfold.

    [XX] Worth the Read

    RUNNER-UP: BROKEN VESSELS

    Read: 43 pages

    In all honesty I nearly bailed on page 1 when I was confronted with:

    Rounding out this asymmetrical V formation is Tonraq, (20’s).
    A consummate follower, he positions himself physically where
    he fits in the group metaphorically.

    Indeed, the opening scenes felt overwritten and were also borderline confusing. Also, the early exchange between Hydrant and the Young Man feels like ‘throat clearing’ to an extent. There’s even a somewhat bizarre ‘disclaimer’ at the foot of page 18. And yet, the semblance of a really interesting narative was somehow taking shape and by the time we were in Fifteenth Century France with the Black Prince and Chaucer I was pretty much hooked!

    One other thing that struck me about this script was that it seems more suited to being performed as a stage play. I can just imagine this as a classic two-hander on a revolving set; whereas the historical / geographical arc would likely cause concern in terms of a film budget.

    I would revisit the opening scenes, but overall I’m intrigued to finish this one.

    [X] Worth the Read

    Afraid I couldn’t get past the first 5 pages of the other scripts. Not sure why, but the set-ups just felt a bit off.

    THE CITY: Cliche ‘movie’ choices made the whole set-up feel generic; i.e. “It’s late. I have to go.”

    [X] Wasn’t For Me

    THEY ATE HORSES: The writing itself didn’t draw me in to what could have been a very dramatic opening sequence. I was also confused on Page 1: Who’s Carl?

    [X] Wasn’t For Me

    PARKING ENFORCEMENT: Difficult to believe these kids are 6-8 years old as they carry on like gangsters!? I’m probably missing the joke, but all the same its just not in my wheelhouse.

    [X] Wasn’t For Me

    • Linkthis83

      If you thought a script was overwritten… :) Just having some fun with you.

      • Levres de Sang

        Ah, you got me…! :)

  • Malibo Jackk

    (There’s a heckler in every crowd.)

  • Benni J

    The batch this week seems to suffer from one common problem: Clarity. I know that grammar and formatting are the least of our worries when we are knee deep in the third or fourth draft, but when its being presented on a forum that revolves around criticism and dissection, AOW scripts should really come more prepared than these. Saying that…

    The City – Agreed with most people, the apartment opening was rather dull. Start with the city. Its never a good thing when you open a script and it has a splattering of cliches, like naming the faceless big brother government as ‘suits.’ And then meeting a professor on a bench reading a news paper? Its 2085. Maybe is a retro thing. Like Vinyl. I do like however that this story seems to mirror the Chinese cultural revolution of the seventies and puts it into the future. That works for me. Read to P10

    They ate the horses – I enjoyed the opening scene. Could be explored further though. This script needs more clarity. I found myself going back and forth a few times. Plus I don’t know the relationships between half of these characters at the beginning. It started to go into a story similar to Hanna. Which I loved. Read to P10

    The Benefactor – Good opening scene. Could have gone further, again. I don’t know how long its been since scene one and two. Days? Years? It seems that the office conversation became redundant when the bad guy (?) asked Claire to meet him later for dinner, where I assume there would be more talking. The daughter encourages her mother to partake in a Lesbian lifestyle?? Read to P11

    Parking Enforcement – I’m not sure if the opening scene has much punch by the time we get to a second scene that could explain just as well that these two friends would rather be in the police than their current low ranking positions. But this story has been dooooone of late. Paul Blart, Observe and Report, Ride along, and Let’s be cops.
    Not interested. Read to P5.

    Broken Vessels – For such an intense opening the writing seem almost lethargic. Maybe its not my thing, but I could not get into this one at all. Read to P11

    My pick for this week – They Ate The Horses.

  • klmn

    I would agree with some others here that you could cut the hunting sequence completely and get into your story a little quicker.

  • lonestarr357

    First 25 pages of each.

    PARKING ENFORCEMENT – Not bad, so far. Amusing, if unremarkable.

  • gonzorama

    My vote: PARKING ENFORCEMENT. Congrats everyone!

  • mulesandmud

    I read all of THEY ATE THE HORSES. Apologies for not budgeting my time to look at any other entries.

    First of all, very weird that I pegged this as being set in Minnesota in an earlier post; I hadn’t even opened the script yet. Not sure how that happened.

    Second, this is a zombie movie. You omitted that fact completely from your logline, which is silly. Why misrepresent your premise so completely? For fear of giving away the twist? That decision speaks to script’s major problem, I think.

    The first half of the script is pretty much what your logline describes. And it’s not bad at all. You’re sort of filtering THE ROAD through a YA lens, which gives you a bunch of genre textures to play with: dystopian sci-fi, road trip, teen movie. A bunch of kids try to get out from under their protective parents and set out into the world, only to learn that the world is far more dangerous than their parents suggested.

    I loved that the parents always warned their kids about ‘wolves’. In fact wished that ‘wolves’ was more specifically used by the parents as code for slavers or husks; as written though, their meaning is pretty muddled, since there aren’t any actual wolves, but the kids already know about slavers, and nobody seems to know about the husks yet. Better if the kids had been so completely sheltered by their parents that they didn’t know to fear anything but ‘wolves’ until they find themselves out in the world. (After running into the tiger, I imagined one of them asking ‘Was that a wolf?’)

    By the end of act one, I was excited to see your kids face off against slavers in the ruins of the modern world. But halfway through the story, you ditch all that world-building and hit us with a zombie movie instead. The kids get ambushed, then the plot reboots as a team-up between the surviving kids, the parents who have come rescue them, and the slavers they crossed paths with along the way.

    The midpoint reveal of the husks (after a brief glimpse of them on page 38) is less of a twist than a segue into a completely different story involving the same characters. Part of the reason you list the genre as Adventure/Horror is that you’ve got two separate movies here.

    Most of the characters’ personalities get buried in this dogpile of people and husks (zombies), and when you do try to dredge up some of their earlier melodrama, it feels forced and sloppy. (p. 74 – Aiden gets pissed because he realizes that Nick has been sleeping with Lenea. Who the fuck cares at this point? She’s a husk now and they’re all gonna die any minute. And then a second later Darren shoots Lenea, but Aiden isn’t mad about that at all. Huh?)

    You’ve also got some serious world building problems. We’re in a post-apocalyptic future where society has crumbled for unknown reasons. The apocalypse doesn’t seem to have been caused by the husks, since most of the adult characters have no idea what they are. Zombies and apocalypse fit together nicely, but here the combo was confusing because there was no sense of cause and effect, just a pretty severe case of double mumbo jumbo: two random apocalyptic scenarios mashed together without apparent connective tissue.

    At the risk of robbing your story of its most commercial element, I think the story would be more interesting and unique if you ditched the husks entirely (or saved them for another script), and dug deeper into the slaver idea, which is plenty scary and can build in all kinds of great ways that don’t smother the kids’ interpersonal drama the way the husks do.

    Or, if you’re sure you want to make half your film about the husks, then you need to do the work of threading them into the fabric of your world in the first half. It can be done in subtle ways, leaving them offscreen and keeping your twist somewhat intact, but a good story needs to make that reveal feel like it’s been building the whole time. If you give us zero hint of the husks while spending a huge amount of time building up the slaver threat, it just feels muddled. I’d minimize or remove the slaver idea entirely and rebuild the mythology of your future so that the husks are tied directly to the apocalypse, and the kids’ parents are fully aware of their existence.

    In terms of action writing, the zombie (husk) scenes were well executed, though the rules of their behavior got convoluted pretty fast. They attack when hungry – fine. They don’t like when you take stuff from their territory, even if it’s stuff you brought in – arbitrary, but fine. They don’t attack if they think you’re going deeper into their territory, only when you try to leave – WTF? And why do they avoid attacking the church? You hint that it’s part of some kind of grand husk plan, but that’s incredibly vague, since we don’t understand their intelligence level.

    Two other general notes on the writing:

    The teenagers seemed a hair too present-day in their affectations, I think, but some of that relatability is definitely nice (a stoner chick in an agrarian dystopia is a fun choice).

    At times, the script gave me the sense that some hasty changes and cuts were made without taking time to circle back and make everything match. (e.g. page 15, SAMANTHA: How much did you drink? / KELSIE: Yes.) The whole thing needs a thorough clean-up.

    And that’s all I’ve got. Good luck with it.

  • jaehkim

    hi, congrats on making it to AF. and from the looks of it, benefactor is going to win.

    I personally couldn’t get into the script, but all the votes speaks to the concept and its execution, so good job there.

    I didn’t see anyone else raising this objection and this is just my 2 cents so feel free to ignore it, but why didn’t claire just accept seifer’s deal?

    I mean it’s not like seifer is asking claire to give up anything she already has. he just wants some of the insurance money and stuff that’s coming her way now that the husband’s dead. it’s a win win. the only objection caire might have would be moral, which seifer asks, but claire never explicitly says why she won’t give him the money.

    this leads to an interesting problem after the first act. what is claire’s goal? claire tries to figure out who these people are, which seems to be most of act 2, but why? what is she gonna do after she finds them?

    I would suggest giving the script a more clear goal. maybe seifer wants everything, not just half. maybe claire can’t pay because the company is in deep debt. so maybe claire has to find seifer and get all the evidence and kill him before the 3 days are up.

  • Citizen M

    A clear winner this week: THE BENEFACTOR.

    THE CITY

    Read to page 17. I was really irritated by this script. There are so many problems. I’m still not sure just what the problem is. In a “green” city, Adam has a day job as head greenkeeper, and paints in his studio apartment part time. There are notices against “corrupters”. The Prof warns of “Art Crime”. Presumably his paintings make him a corrupter. But is it the subject or the style or the mere fact of painting? What don’t the authorities like? Why don’t they just find out who’s buying oil paints and raid his apartment? Why follow him?

    There’s too much tell, not enough show. E.g. on p. 2, Skye complains Adam is grumpy. Show him acting grumpy so we can see for ourselves. On p. 5 the Prof says we are on the brink of war. Show us broadcasts, call-up papers, troops in the street, posters etc. Create the “brink of war” atmosphere that we can see for ourselves.

    I gather the Prof wants to save his paintings during a parade, but cannot save them all, so Adam must destroy the rest. Which to save and which to destroy? This is Sophie’s Choice and should be a big dramatic scene. There is no such scene.

    The exposition is clumsily handled. There are newspapers and internet, but no radio or television? What kind of green city is this where they are still killing trees daily? The Prof thinks they are in paradise, so what is his feeling about the authorities? I can’t make out what the objection to this future is. There are no telling incidents that illustrate this future. It seems normal and nice, and Adam seems needlessly paranoid. But that’s probably not what the writer wants me to feel. If he’s going for a Stepford Wives type atmosphere, he failed.

    The story is moving too slowly. I’d say the attempt to save the paintings should start by page 12, and they should really be in a jam by page 25. So far we are still setting the scene.

    I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer, but after five years I think it is time to cut your losses, abandon this script, and move onto the next one.

    Detail comments:

    p. 1 – Describe the paintings. Portraits, still lifes, landscapes? Classic style, impressionistic, cubist, modern? What’s the objection to them?

    p. 3 – It seems the front door leads to the kitchen which leads through a locked door to the studio/bedroom. Seems strange. Is this right?

    p. 3 – My impression is this world is a little too perfect. Prefigure this by Adam loving Skye for some little imperfection.

    p. 4 – The mother punching in data is important in creating a paranoid atmosphere. Give it a paragraph all to itself. Give us more significant actions to paint life in this new world. Show us how it works beneath the surface.

    p. 5-8 – Expositional dialogue. Could be condensed to one page. The Prof should refer to Adam’s day job. Let us know what he really does for a living. Where does the Prof work? Can the authorities threaten their livelihoods? Show us how our protagonists are vulnerable.

    p. 9 – “Corrupters will be prosecuted” should be separate from “Report Corrupters”.

    p. 11 – I don’t see what’s wrong with the coffee bean discussion.

    p. 11 – So who are the Blue Suits? Correctional Services?

    p. 13 – Smoke and smell of burning art would be detected by other apartment dwellers. It’s not sufficient to disable smoke alarm.

    p. 14 “I brought you the paper” Very expositional. Thy don’t have e-news and tablets in the future?

    p. 14-17 – Another long scene that could be condensed to one page.

    THEY ATE THE HORSES

    Read to p. 31. It’s reasonably well written, but I’m not sure what the story’s about. These teens have sneaked off through dangerous territory to Duluth. Why are they making the journey (goal)? What are the dangers they anticipate (stakes)? When must they get there (urgency)?

    Detail notes:

    p. 1 – “A brick house with modern side paneling, but it’s ancient.” Confusing description.

    p. 1 – Who is Carl?

    p. 2 – Action could be described more clearly. What is the point of this first scene anyway?

    p. 6 – Are Eli and Katie on the boat or on the dock?

    p. 6 – Describe more clearly the layout. Is it a wooden jetty close to the house? How close are the nearby houses? Is this a little community or isolated lakeside houses?

    p. 9 – “other various unsundries” ??

    p. 11-15 – Long-winded and expositional. Make a compelling reason why the teens have to go to Duluth.

    p. 18 – The character count is mounting. It’s getting hard to keep track of who is who. Danger sign!

    p. 19 – What is the technology? Are we back in the horse-and-buggy days pre-electricity?

    p. 20 – Is there a street party like the Mardi Gras going on? I’m unsure why they went over to the mainland.

    p. 21 – What problems are they anticipating on the journey? What will their parents do when they discover the kids gone?

    p. 22 – We need to see how the kids organized the getaway. Reveal character in action.

    THE BENEFACTOR

    Read to page 26. Well written and a quick read. The story is shaping up nicely with an intriguing premise and a good villain up against a smart cookie of a protagonist. Not much to say apart from I want to read further.

    Detail notes:

    p. 8 – Lily sounds too adult for 13.

    p. 16 – Perhaps Seifer could sweeten the deal by offering a finder’s fee if Claire tips him off about other people she knows of in similar situations.

    PARKING ENFORCEMENT

    Read to page 31. According to the logline they should be in the police force uncovering a conspiracy by now. But they’re still writing parking tickets. The story isn’t moving fast enough.

    The montage on page 6 was funny, but apart from that there weren’t enough laughs. There’s not enough contrast between the brothers. We’re told John is neat and Wyatt is sloppy, but that’s not reflected in their behavior. They need to be more competitive with each other. Friendly and supportive isn’t funny. Timmy is set up as a villain then not used till page 26. Amy is an obvious love interest, but again not used till page 26. The training montage on page 18 and 19 seemed tacked on. They never used the moves they trained for.

    I don’t understand the competition. Why do you need to be the top ticket writer to get a police academy slot? Surely anyone can apply? Also, each parking officer is given a box to themselves to write tickets in, but John and Wyatt seem to be working together, not in their individual boxes.

    There are some suggestions of them inappropriately behaving as policemen, but it’s not carried through consistently. I’m not feeling their desire to be cops, nor understand why they couldn’t just apply.

    There’s too much screen time given to others on the parking squad. Focus on our two, and move the action along faster. The meat of the story is in the police force, not the traffic dept., according to the logline.

    BROKEN VESSELS

    Body-switching. Is it a drama, a comedy, a romance, a mystery, a horror? Let’s find out.

    Read to page 27. My mind boggled at the body swap. I’m lost. What are the rules to this world?

    I found it difficult to visualize what we should be seeing on screen. For instance, on page 13, did the modern Hydrant and Young Man and table materialize inside the 1307 igloo? How did they all fit in?

    There was a lot of padding. Page 5-12 could be condensed to one page. There is no development of story or character in this passage.

    Technical faults: Characters should be in CAPS on first introduction. Page 16 church scene. EXT specified, but INT described. Overblown writing: “saturates an apnea of pitch black”, “soak up the flashing fluorescence”.

    It appears to be a revenge drama with Hydrant toying with the Young Man. But when they body swapped, I had no idea what was going on. The significance of the blood on the necklace and the stubble on Hydrant’s face also escaped me. Color me confused.

    • Levres de Sang

      Excellent set of notes, Citizen.

    • Jack O’Connell

      Thanks for the notes. We’ve had a lot of commenters talk about how they don’t like the first 25-30 of HORSES, but thus far this is the most detailed description of why. The notes about clarity are especially helpful. You know what it’s like when you work on a script for a while and lose perspective.

  • jaehkim

    she accepts and 18 months pass? wow I completely missed that. (reading again).

    I see. your second doesn’t start til p35. I think this is a bit late. if this was moved up to p 20 or something it would have grabbed me better. I think I will finish this now. thanks.

  • JA

    Guys, writer of Parking Enforcement here. Didn’t know Carson was going to choose PE for AOW and I was away for the weekend. Just wanted to say thanks to ALL who gave a look at the script. Much appreciated.

  • scriptfeels

    Thanks Joel, glad to hear that my comments were constructive for you! It sounds like you understand your story pretty well its just a matter of making it clear to the reader. You cleared up a couple things in your comment that I half understood/picked up on, but wasn’t entirely clear on from reading this version of the script.

    I agree on your comment in regards to writing the body switching, I’m not sure what the best way to do it either, but my advice would be to look at a couple body switch scripts that have sold and see what they do. I can’t really think of any similar scripts unfortunately so I would do some research or ask around and see what you can gather.

    I’m not close to putting out a script for af at the moment, but might have one ready at the beginning of 2015 if I’m consistent.

    Nice theme!

    I look forward to reading your next script!

  • Raphael Howard

    I read all five scripts in full. Ranked from 5th to 1st, they are:

    5. Parking Enforcement – The humour is often terrible. So one of the ticket wardens is named after one of Americas Worst murderers and is just as bad as his namesake? How is that supposed to be anything other than dark and offensive? If you wanted to make this funny, change his name to something nice, or change his personality. The other jokes and ideas are pretty weak, and the plot is slow to get going. Some dialogue is good, and some action well-described, but this is the only one I actively disliked.

    4. The City – This features a very vivid world, and some very memorable protagonists. It follows Blake Snyder’s 110-page structure almost perfectly. The only reason why it’s 4th is the fact it doesn’t really offer anything particularly new or complex – most dystopias ban art and creativity. The characters and writing make this stand out.

    3. They Ate The Horses – This features great characters, particularly the duplicitous villain Annie, and strong descriptions which make the characters more interesting and the zombies (“husks”) scarier. It’s a little too hard to follow, but very unique.

  • Raphael Howard

    My top 2. Sorry they are in a separate post.

    2. The Benefactor – The premise is brilliant, and so the antagonist and protagonist are well-developed. The only issue is with the third act. Whilst Henry and the Mob are introduced earlier, their appearances at the end are solely to provide a dues ex machine – Their presence is too convenient. Otherwise, this is a strong script.

    1. The descriptions and premise can be hard to follow, but the characters are very interesting, the body-swap plot unique, and the periods of history are depicted in an interesting and creative way. It’s a very unusual and creative script, so it should be picked as Script of the Week.