amateur-offerings-weekend

This week we have SIX scripts instead of five. Blame it on my bad grades in math growing up.  You know the deal.  Read however much you can and help the writers out with feedback.  Feel free to be critical, as long as it’s constructive.  Enjoy and let’s find a great script!

Title: Black Friday
Genre: Comedy
Logline: A tightly-wound retail store manager on the brink of being fired struggles to prove his worth against a crew who hates him, a competing retailer (who happens to be his ex-girlfriend) out to sabotage him and a mall full of crazed Black Friday shoppers.
Why You Should Read: Because it is a story about working in retail which means that while it’s written as a comedy, it could easily pass for a horror, a drama, a thriller, an action-adventure or any of the wild aspects that make working retail soul-crushingly awful and occasionally (oh so occasionally) great. Also, this script is very much a product of ScriptShadow. I studied screenwriting in college, but spent many years caught up in absurdly grand fantasy-adventure screenplays that were really novels written in Final Draft. And then I stumbled upon ScriptShadow, learned some new lessons, refocused my writing, and set out to create screenplays that were actually screenplays. “Black Friday” is one proud example.

Title: Santa’s Shrink
Genre: Holiday
Logline: A down-on-his-luck psychologist must help Santa Claus overcome a mid-life crisis just three days before Christmas.
Why You Should Read: Need one reason why you should review Santa’s Shrink? 1. My mother says it’s brilliant! And she never lies! Need a second reason? Please enjoy the following haiku:

Santa’s Shrink is fun.
Carson Reeves just might agree.
Thank you in advance.

Title: Revision
Genre: Thriller
Logline: After being manipulated into covering up the murder of a coworker, a collections agent’s life spins into a frenzy of psychological and physical torture that can only be stopped by the compassionate love of his new crush.
Why You Should Read: Revision was named one of the 12 finalist in the 2014 Hollywood Screenplay Contest Thriller category. I love movies like Fight Club, Memento, and Shutter Island when the protagonist doesn’t realize that he is the antagonist. You should read Revision because it is engaging, entertaining, and scary. Mix Tyler Durden’s mania with Lenard Shelby’s “condition” and you get the main character, Arthur Graham. He fights off his demons as he struggles to hold on to his new girlfriend; and he does it all with a smile on his face (most of the time.)

Title: The 11th Hour
Genre: Suspense/Thriller
Logline: “A cop still dealing with the tragic loss of his son has to team up with a serial killer on death row to stop a series of copy cat murders.”
Why You Should Read: Carson and I emailed back and forth a few months ago regarding our Industry Insider contest win for a television show (same contest Tyler Marceca won). We also just got in the top ten of a Sheldon Turner sponsored screenplay contest through the Industry Insider contest. Although we didn’t win, we received a double recommend for both the script and as writers. As we are big fans of your site, we wanted to send it to you.

Title: Bard Lane
Genre: Comedy
Logline: When Hamilton comes home from college and finds his father dead, his mother married to his uncle, and himself hopelessly in love with a feuding neighbor, what follows is much ado about Shakespeare.
Pitch: Nine Shakespeare plays crammed together in the suburbs.
Why You Should Read: I’ve been a longtime reader of your site and enjoyed all your insights into the craft. I lived out in LA for three years, during which time I completed the UCLA Professional Program in Screenwriting and did some internships around town. My very understanding and supportive wife was still back on the east coast, so I didn’t have an unlimited amount of time. Toward the end, I was having coffee with a manager (the only time this happened) and his advice to me was “You can write anywhere.” That’s absolutely true, but the flip side is that each script I’ve sent out since I moved home has gotten less reads as my contacts dried up. At this point, I almost feel like I’m starting back on first base again.

Which brings me to my latest script. It’s been a very interesting project for me, learning all about these Shakespeare plays. I wouldn’t say I was a huge fan before, but reading them as many times I have at this point, I definitely have huge respect for the material. It’s a fun script, present day, small cast, based on stories known the world over. But it boggles my mind how difficult it’s been getting people to request it. Scripts that were a lot less high concept had an easier time getting read. Is Shakepeare really that big of a turn-off?

COMEBACK SCRIPT!

Title: Inhuman
Genre: Thriller
Logline: While working with a possessed teen, a self-assured psychologist makes a startling discovery that challenges everything he has ever held as true.
Why you should read: (The Long Version) After my SS review I was sure Carson was wrong. Sure of it. So I shopped ‘Inhuman’ around a bit. And, as more and more people came back with the same damn note (change the end), I didn’t say, “Eh. Maybe they’re right.” Instead, I said, “Fuck you, all.” And I didn’t write for a while. And what did that get me?

So, I wrote again. And, to be certain nothing like what had happened with ‘Inhuman’ would happen to me another time, I decided to write/direct/produce my own short… that way I would have total control over everything that went into my movie.

And that’s when I learned a valuable lesson: there’s no such thing as “total control” in the movie making process. EVERY SINGLE THING is a group decision. I could only work with shots the camera managed to get. My actors delivered their lines in ways I had not expected. So much of what I planned, just plain and simple, didn’t work… and people during the entire process chimed in. And, thank God, I didn’t shut them out. I listened to their advice. And, I learned.

Earlier this summer, I found myself in a parking lot talking to a writer friend of mine about a possible rewrite of ‘Inhuman.’ He asked me this simple question: “Why do you think people were so taken by the first sixty pages and not the last thirty?”

I responded: “The first sixty pages were about character. The last thirty were about plot.”

I don’t know why I answered that way or why it excited me so much, but I do know that–almost immediately–I realized it hearkened back to so much I have read on SS.

So I sat down and began plotting out a new direction for ‘Inhuman.’ While I was doing so Carson mentioned Pixar’s motto–simple story/complex characters–a few times and I used that as a guide while writing.

The thing about changing a screenplay’s ending is that you really have to go back and rewrite every single one of the setups (since the payoffs have changed). And, so, what I offer you is what Hollywood always wants: The same thing. Only very different.

  • Steffan

    This is Steffan—the author of Inhuman. It’s my son’s second birthday party this evening and so I am posting this as early as I can to say that I won’t be able to answer and questions or respond to comments today as I will be prepping, helping run, and cleaning up after the aforementioned shindig. I will pop in either very late tonight or very early tomorrow to make up for lost time.

    I hope everyone enjoys Inhuman and I look forward to your feedback—especially those who may have read the original (and vastly different) version.

    I wanted to mention that in the 11-26 draft there is a typo on page 46 in which I swap the names of two characters so it appears as if one character is doing something while it’s really the other. It might throw you out of the moment for a second—it’s at the start of a scene and I apologize for it.

    I read chunks of everyone else’s scripts and I have attached my notes. I have also included how much I read so that you can judge my notes off of how much I read of your script.

    Good luck, everyone!

    THE 11th HOUR

    UP TO PAGE 50

    I really like the opening scene–it’s extremely ominous; however, I’d have the scene end with the description of the casket and not the VO dialog so that the scene ends with the same image that next scene begins with.

    I liked each of the characters voices. The dialog was strong at some points, however
    many of the characters spoke with the same tonality and cadence… especially
    early on in the story (the board member, the lawyer, and the killer). Later on you had people with drawls and stuff that broke it up, but I think on a rewrite you really want to give each of the speakers their own tics etc. Because, I never disliked what the characters were saying only–sometimes–how they were saying it.

    The tricky thing about writing a procedural is that they’re done on TV all the time and this script reminded me of a toned down version of True Detective—which isn’t bad (I liked True Detective); however, I just re-watched Se7en the other day and one of the things that that procedural does really well is that it creates escalating stakes constantly… through the body count and the growth of the relationship between the protagonists. If I were going to rewrite The 11th Hour I would focus on 1) escalating the body count sooner and faster—page 52 is too late for the second body to arrive and 2) really delve into the
    relationship between Clayton and Edward earlier. There have only been, I think, two scenes with them in it and they both ended with Clayton being shut down… there needs
    to be some partnership there that grows.

    I also think it might be cool to have Edward WANT to die. He wants to be with Jesus. He wants to begin his time in purgatory etc. And because of that his imminent
    death is another ticking clock. Right now, I feel like it is being played both ways.
    He’s intrigued that he might be granted clemency, but he’s unhelpful.

    I would give the characters descriptions rather than making people Board Member #3 and Female Board Member. Just flesh them out a bit more—even with one adjective. That way I can imagine them better.

    REVISION

    UP TO PAGE 20

    I like the surreal tone you create on page two. I think it should be even crazier. I might be wrong, but I have to guess from the Why You Should Read and the first twenty pages that Arthur is insane. If he is, I’d have much shorter scenes at the start and have the transitions really loosey-goosey with shit that’s barely connected to a sane person but totally logical to Arthur. So… we might see—and I’m pulling this out of my ass, so forgive me if this sucks—we might see like Olivia the barista pouring coffee and then gorgeous waterfalls and then those waterfalls turn a sickly yellow only to CUT TO: Arthur vomiting in a bathroom stall. I mean stuff that makes sense to the character obviously, things that would give us a greater window into his fractured mental state. Now, I know the
    glaringly obvious response is that we see this through his acts of revision; however, those acts are sort of unreal… like they can’t actually exist (you can’t snap a person’s neck and then have not snapped that person’s neck) and so they highlight Arthur’s disconnect with the real world where I’m just as interested in his connection with it.

    In the end though, I like the fever pitch you create early on. I’d like to see everything from the dialog to the movements between scenes match that tonality.

    BARD’S LANE

    BOTTOM OF PAGE 18 (end of Act One – As I saw it)

    I enjoyed the light-heated tone of Bard’s Lane. As an English Teacher who studied Shakespeare in college as well as “teaches” a play of his every year to 100 high school
    students—I can say that I “got” most of the references/jokes… even the hidden, throw-away one about “nothing.”

    The real trick to this script so far—and I’ve really only read the first act—is that you have set up this really micro-cosmic?/ephemeral? (I don’t know the right word) world in the college, but you roots the story in Hamilton’s melancholia… which, I think, is really smart in a lot of ways because it’s almost a fish out of water story anywhere the character goes.

    If I were to do a rewrite, I would want to make the world even zanier. I would point to ‘Clueless’ as the mainstream movie with a literary heart and what that movie does so well
    is—almost in the way of sci-fi movies—that it creates a totally brand new world—with its language and culture and thrusts us into it so deeply that we don’t know we’re in Jane Austin territory. I think Startford University should be like that. I like what this script is doing… I just want more of it.

    One way you can easily do that, early on, is with (and I hate them, so I shouldn’t be saying this) montages… if Hamilton’s needs to pick a major, I want to see him in every other major he’s ever tried: Hamilton as pre-med, pre-law, marketing, archaeology, etc. etc. so that you can set up character while you’re getting your zany, Shakespeare on… because, how I see it, each of those montages could be a little Shakespearean tableau unto themselves.

    BLACK FRIDAY

    TOP OF PAGE 17

    I really like the energy here. It feels like other faux-documentaries I’ve seen (I’m a huge fan of the BBC’s Office).

    I like Carol’s voice and her buffoonery. I would—and maybe it’s because I’m a stickler
    for this—get that entire opening into one page. So that the last thing on page one is, “Don’t shit me. What’s your real angle?” She’s a very fun character.

    You create sympathy for Jonathan early on and easily by giving him more heart than Carol and a baby on the way. That’s smart and well executed.

    The ticking clock (days until Black Friday) is a great addition. I would like to see you milk
    it even longer. We jump considerably… BF is one month away on pg. 2 and one week away on pg. 5 and, then, two days away twelve pages later. I know it might run contrary to typical screenwriting advice (in which you condense time as drastically as you can) but, I liked the idea that we were going to nest in this place… even if it’s just the illusion.

    I’m thinking of how the Shining condensed that one day in the middle of the week (I think it was) with mom and son outside while Jack is staring into space. I mean, there’s a million ways you can cheat it, but I just liked the idea that we had some time to spend with
    these characters and maybe the quick jump from one month to one week threw me
    off. Maybe that’s nitpicky—I dunno.

    I also liked your pacing. There were times where I wanted to spend more time with a character to get to know them more… or sometimes I felt that too many characters were being introduced and I thought that maybe you could just focus on specifically three
    in the first act and then branch out once we get those characters established
    and we all know their goals etc. But, like I said, I liked the verve with which this script moved.

    SANTA’S SHRINK

    22 PAGES

    I think it has a really great concept.

    I think what you’re going for is a 21st century version of the narrator like the one we see in A Christmas Story. I just think that there are too many voiceovers. Let your story’s present speak for itself. I enjoy so many of the images that you create that I think the story can stand without so much VO. The other thing I would say is that why the VO works so well in A Christmas Story is that there is a distance created by time and maturity between the narrator and the boy he once was. In Santa’s Shrink I’m getting the vibe that
    she’s still a young kid. I think that you might want to imbue that character with the distance that A Christmas Story employs. I might be wrong—I realize that Lucy is a wise character and that allows her a distance she otherwise might not have since she’s a kid; but, I think a time gap between the story and when it’s told can go a long way in rooting your adult audience in the story stronger.

    I think here’s why you should create that distance in time between Lucy the narrator and Lucy the character. As a kid when I watched The Wonder Years or Stand By Me or A Christmas Story I liked the stuff that was going on in the movie (Ralphie getting kicked in the face by Santa or the kids crossing the bridge and the train comes or whatever) and the narrator was just there. But, now, as an adult, when I watch that show/movie the narrators create a deep sense of irony and nostalgia through the contrasts they create. The tone of each of these pieces is bittersweet because of that contrast. Lucy as a child narrator—even those she’s a wise, old soul of sorts—is still too young to create the bittersweetness I think your story deserves.

    Your first 17 pages can be condensed into ten. Here’s how I would do that: move Rufus’s introduction to the beginning of the second act. As it stands, he really doesn’t affect Santa or Floyd; and, he has his own montage that takes up time from the main
    storyline. I’d get rid of Floyd riding his bike… I get that psychology saved his life, but I don’t know if that’s necessary… unless you revisit it and we see the same thing in a different light come the second half of Act two. And you just focus on Santa’s mid-life crisis and Floyd’s crisis at home. We don’t need any backstory to Santa except for the nice image you already provide of him falling into the cake (and unless Santa is going to have a heart attack later in the story—so that you can raise the stakes then—I’d have him have a heart attack now so that the stakes are raised earlier).

    Floyd’s compassion index should be 98% not 100 because I know that he’s going to grow and his growth should be indexible (I’m being told by a squiggly red line that “indexible” is not a word). He missed his daughter’s birthday and his anniversary for work and he still is a hundred percent compassionate?! I’d have to see him come home each time and
    apologize sincerely for me to somewhat, kinda believe that. Needless to say… make him 98 or even 95% compassionate and have like Mother Theresa be like 93%… I mean, even she gets pissed at orphans some time.

    I think how it’s written the theme of destiny is too heavy handed. The fact is that you have two different (presently unrelated) characters professing their “destiny” is a bit much
    for me. Even if you just changed the word that Rufus uses or something so that it is more palatable that early on. I’m not even saying that Rufus shouldn’t use the word “destiny” later; I just don’t think right now.

    Rather than a candy cane tattoo Santa should get a candycane stud nipple piercing. I know it’s a bit more “mature” but the image would play on the big screen much better, I think.

    • Poe_Serling

      I remember reading Inhuman back in the Spring of 2013. The storyline was a wild ride of twists and turns, and it kept me guessing the whole time.

      It’s also commendable to see someone willing to take notes/suggestions to heart and tackle a full rewrite.

      • Steffan

        Thanks so much, Poe.

        The real trick to this rewrite I found was figuring out a different mid-point twist. At that point, the story had to go in another direction.

    • JTrop

      Thanks for your comments Steffan! I’ll definitely be looking into the framing device/time jumps!

  • Matthew Garry

    My vote this week is for “BLACK FRIDAY.”

    Congratulations. In as far as any script can ever be considered “done”, I think you’re done. That’s not to say it can’t be perfected or tweaked any further, but I think it’s already in a state where you can put it out there with confidence.

    Minor notes:
    -At times the jokes are very symmetrical. For example, contrasting the good customers/bad customers experience. Exactly the same characters are shown in a series of shots dealing with good/bad customers. Having the symmetry forced might lead to the inclusion of weaker jokes, just so they line up perfectly. You might argue that the direction of the scene is clear, and the jokes are stand alone so anyone
    interested could just cut the ones they don’t like, and you’d be correct in thinking
    so, so what am I on about?

    -The private confrontation of Jonathan and Kennedy was rather tame, and both had to be dragged away from their stores to make it happen, making it feel somewhat contrived.

    Whether the market would be responsive to this particular style and type of movie right now is the question, but that’s fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view) not your decision; it’s the next person’s decision, so try and get it into
    their hands.

    All in all, good characters (with some great characters like Carol), good situations, decent story and development. It could even serve as the pilot for a series. So yes, in my opinion, maybe make some more changes off notes that really strike a chord with you, but you’re no longer in need for any sort of major rewrite, so don’t sit on it for ages trying to revise it until it’s perfect.

    P.S.
    I loved the pointsettias plant. A plant as a “plant”, that’s a nice and subtle wink to a reader. Chekhov would be proud.

    • Matthew Garry

      BARD LANE

      “But it boggles my mind how difficult it’s been getting people to request it.”

      I think the reason for this is answered in your pitch: “Nine Shakespeare plays crammed together in the suburbs.”

      They really are crammed in there. I had great fun reading it, trying to figure out the individual plays, but I can imagine that for someone who doesn’t enjoy finding the Waldos or Shakespeare in general, there are just way too much seemingly unrelated things happening.

      Anyway, these, I think, are the answers:
      -Midsummer Night’s Dream

      -The scottish play
      -Merchant of Venice
      -Romeo and Juliet
      -King Lear
      -Twelfth Night
      -The Two Gentlemen of Verona
      -Julius Ceasar

      I couldn’t for the life of me figure out the ninth one though.

      I thought it was a fun script, but I can imagine why it isn’t taking the world by storm.

    • JTrop

      Thanks for your input and vote, Matthew! And I’m very glad you read it through and could appreciate the poinsettias!

  • Illimani Ferreira

    It’s my first time actually reading every single AOW submission and posting feedback, my apologies if I’m doing it wrong.

    SANTA’S SHRINK

    Read 40 pages and I loved the ride so far

    That’s a strong script. The theme is quite unique and was developed in a charming, cute
    and funny way and the reading was pleasant and breezy. A page turner that addresses, through clever subtext modern day issues without ostracizing any quadrant. Your mom has good taste (but quit poetry, that’s not your thing).

    The only recurring issue is that, even if your dialogue is dynamic and engaging most of
    the times, there are a few bits where it was over-written. I’m not only talking about Lucy’s V.O., although at many moments you could have applied the rule of show don’t tell. It’s an issue that is more patent in the first act. The exchange between Santa and Floyd that happens later is absolutely delicious to read.

    My considerations below tackle punctual flaws or are just random suggestions:

    Page 10

    Sometimes Lucy’s V.O. goes too far. I liked it in general, although there’s always space
    for some trimming. I will not point out every moment where your dialogue could be shortened, but there’s an example of one of those moments:

    LUCY (V.O.)

    One day, mommy made the hardest

    decision of her life.

    – Floyd enters his home and finds a
    note labeled “FLOYD.” He unfolds the paper and reads it.

    LUCY (V.O.)

    Six weeks before Christmas, we moved
    out.

    I would rewrite this bit like this:

    LUCY (V.O.)

    Six weeks before Christmas mommy
    made the hardest

    decision of her life.

    – Floyd enters his home and finds a
    note labeled “FLOYD.” He unfolds the paper and reads it.

    We can easily deduce what’s going on, no need to have Lucy explaining, even because
    the actress will have some space to modulate her voice in order to hint at the fact that such experience was painful for her, and remaining vague shows that way more than talking about it.

    Page 13

    100% in a compassion index? Why not 99%, since he clearly lacks compassion toward
    himself?

    Pages 16-17

    I don’t think we need Clara explaining what the compassion index is (it’s self-explanatory). The subsequent exchange between Mr. and Mrs. Claus was a tad on the nose too, particularly when they state openly that Floyd needs help as well. If you really think that we need to understand more about the compassion index try to show indirectly how it works, maybe with Clara looking at the computer’s screen when Santa Claus’ compassion index graph is going down.

    Pages 20-25

    I love the interaction between Santa Claus and Floyd, but story-wise, it could be more
    interesting if Santa was more reticent. Maybe Clara should be in the room in order to explain the issue to Floyd as Santa would be in denial about even having a problem.

    INHUMAN

    Read 30 pages without wanting to stop.

    I haven’t read your former submission to AOW, so I can’t evaluate the progress you made.

    Personally I like my scripts lean. I’m not a fan of flourished description lines. But I would be an idiot if I said that the literary way you introduce your action lines isn’t helping to set the tone and, most important, to grab my attention as a reader. Well done.

    I’m also very impressed with your dialogue. There’s space to make the exchanges more
    succinct, but I never felt that the lines, even the strictly informative ones, were redundant or out of place when analyzing every scene individually. They brought details that, despite not being crucial sometimes, were entertaining and didn’t distract or bore me.

    On the other hand there are redundancies in the information you deliver in different scenes.For example: the exchange between Alexis and Jonah that starts on page 13 and the one that starts on page 17 tackle (among other things) the same topic: Jonah doesn’t care, Alexis cares. Merging the scenes or reworking them in order to bring this whole side of the debate to after Jonah meets Victor would solve that issue.

    A few typos I noticed:

    Page 21

    Victor (not Peter) slashes Jonah across his face–

    Page 27

    Ritter doesn’t have the leverage to
    call Jonah’s bluff. And
    both MEN know it.

    BLACK FRIDAY

    Read 20 pages and learned a lot with them

    As I read this script I realized that the greatest challenge of a found footage piece like this one, especially a comedic one, is to lure the reader/viewer into buying that the fragmentation of “shots” (actually scenes) is natural and, without sacrificing the need to build a connection between them. The key to achieve such result lies on the transitions and that’s where, in my opinion, the script has an issue. On page 2 we go back and forward with shots that don’t seem to match. The last line of one shot should, as often as possible, be a cue that foretells the theme of the next one, and although the writer nails it
    sometimes (as when Hardy is introduced on page 18 or on page 1, when we see Carol whining about her weight just to see her eating a donut after that), there are other moments where the writer misses that opportunity. Also it’s important to stress that I haven’t read the whole script, so maybe there’s a reason for this narrative choice and I may be wrong.

    The dialogue was well built in general, but sometimes, for what it seems to be for the sake of characterization (one of the script’s strong points), certain lines are a little bit on the nose and could be reworked with a bit more of imagery to support their intent. Example: on page 17, when Carol says “I’m going to enjoy my holiday till the last drop of boxed wine.” Although I loved the reference of boxed wine to Carol’s white-trashy condition, I’d rather see her saying just wine, and then maybe, pointing at a crate full of boxed wines.

    I only noticed two typos:

    Page 10:
    except instead of expect

    Page 15: JONATHAN

    If I ever become like that man. If

    retail ever makes me that man.

    Empty and jaded and mean—

    BARD LANE

    Read 20 pages but I had to push myself to do so

    I love film
    tributes to the masters and masterpieces of the past, but I really didn’t connect with this one, although I’m not sure I can tell precisely why, although I have a guess. When you decided to summon different characters of Shakespeare’s works under the disguise of the fauna that we find in a University, it seems that you allowed the subtext to take the lead in the narrative instead of supporting the story and the unique stakes the characters may be facing. Works that, IMO, have nailed such approach required a simplification of story and
    characterization (most of Jorodowsky’s works and, in a commercial level, Cuarón’s Gravity), but that clearly wasn’t your goal.

    The result of the approach I mentioned is a contrived sequence of scenes that pile up instead of flowing, as your lead moves back and forward in his contact with the different characters, as does the dialogue with its repetitive delivery of information and its unpredictable alternation between familiar-mumblecore to heightened Shakespearean lines (the latter might not be an issue and maybe I’m just being petty)

    I like the concept though and I’m not sure if any kind of suggestion could help since that’s clearly a very authorial script (and I could be terribly wrong in my impression of the first 20 pages), but there’s my input: organize that mess. For example: instead of filling the exchanges between Hammilton and Olivia or Hamilton and Rosen and Stern with other scenes, make them happen in a single scene. Doing that will give a better perspective of the many dialogue redundancies scattered along this first act, so it will be easier to trim and move the story forward.

    11TH HOUR

    Read 20 pages but I had to push myself to do so

    This script was competently written but it left me with the sensation that I watched that movie one million times already. So far Edward is the only element that is truly unique, and maybe the script later uses that to bring something special. But those first 20 pages left me with the impression that the writers are playing safe, delving in over-exploited tropes of the genre both in terms of story beats and in terms of characters (problem child, nagging
    housewivey housewife, laconic detective, shady love-interest for problem child, grumpy investigator that becomes teammate, etcetera), to the point that I found myself not only in a familiar ground, but before something that felt really stale. Sorry if those comment sounds unkind and I sincerely hope I’m wrong about this script. Obviously I’m only talking about the first 20 pages, so maybe the second act can compensate that.

    REVISION

    Read 10 pages but I had to push myself to do so

    There’s a straightforwardness in this script, particularly in the dialogue, that really bothers me. Every single line of dialogue is a direct answer and, although I thought at first that it was a strategy in order to unveil Arthur’s mindset, I could see that every character communicate that way, resulting in a story that evolves flatly. Opting for indirect answers and non-answers when possible is always wise, but you don’t make such option even when they are absolutely necessary in order to ensure believability, as on page 6, when Arthur meets Daniels and immediately points out, with extreme artificiality, that Daniels is
    working in the murder case. A character like Daniels would have two logical options when facing such observation: 1) point out the weirdness of the observation; 2) ignore the observation and get straight to business. Instead, he actually bothers to answer the question with a banal line. Even the bit of dialogue with the exterminator, which hints at a certain subtext, was spoiled when Arthur’s on the nose line that he doesn’t like to have people in his house. There are many other reactions that could have achieved a more enticing dialogue (“Do I look like a slob?”; “Don’t worry, I clean after myself”; etc)

    This option for a dry, almost strictly informative dialogue also results in unnecessary lines. When Arthur meets the Doctor we don’t need him asking what’s going on.The scene could start with Arthur reporting the pain or even later, with the Doctor’s second line (since we already know that they are talking about the headaches).

    ————————————————————————-

    My vote: BLACK FRIDAY

    Why: Although Santa’s Shrink was the best script, the fact that Black Friday is an
    ensemble comedic found footage piece makes it a particularly challenging one in
    terms of execution that I would like to see analyzed.

    • carsonreeves1

      This is great Illimani! Can’t express how awesome it is for writers to get this feedback. Thanks so much.

      • Illimani Ferreira

        My pleasure. :)

      • crazedwritr

        Amen to that!

    • JTrop

      Illimani, thanks for your feedback and your vote! It’s much appreciated and very helpful!

  • Tschwenn

    Revision is the only premise that caught me eye. I read the first 7 pages, but nothing really jumped off the page for me.

  • Randy Williams

    REVISION

    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    p.1,3- what is a boot hook? a settle bench? a balaclava? The beginning nicely mysterious and creepy marred a bit by these equally mysterious definitions.

    p.13- stopped cold here with the “scene rewinds” EDIT: perhaps the first time this happens, really spell it out how this will be presented.

    p.20- I’m a bit confused about where this is going, but I’m engaged, there’s a confidence in the writing that reassures me I will leave satisfied.

    p.24- after other main characters were not given so much detail in their descriptions, all of a sudden a bus driver is given so much detail? Why? This bus scene, however, I thought brilliantly captured Arthur’s frustration.

    p.31- LOVED the barista writing the message and covering it up with the thermal sleeve. These types of “business” are sure things to keep a reader turning pages.
    EDIT: was this paid off at any time? Looking back now, I don’t recall.

    p.72- It suddenly veers from a psychological study to some grisly business. I’m still with it, but perhaps tone it down a bit with the visuals.

    p.96- SPOILER…..it rang untrue for me as Olivia asked Arthur if he’s a serial killer.

    p.98- typo?…”You did the you could”

    I liked this. I felt any reader could identify with Arthur in his work life and everyday life. Loved the use of the “love triangle” to boost the tension. Daniels was a bit of a cypher, perhaps some upgrading to make him more three dimensional.
    A nice read.

    If Chekhov had done “American Psycho”

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

    Back for more. May not be as in-depth, writers please ask about anything that seems unclear in my critique.

    Currently Writing: Sunshine Pack, Comedy, Coming this Month!!

    MY VOTE: (pending)

    Inhuman (pg. 26)
    Theme: Strong
    How much sacrifice is a child worth? When do you give up? Meaty stuff there. Great setup to, what I believe, is the main relationship – The Dr. and Alexis (?) (names are slipping, it’s been a couple days). His wide view of helping and her narrow view, really contrast and pop – I completely understand where both of them are coming from. Let’s hope it continues. I’m very interested in how this plays out.

    Black Friday ()

    Bard Lane ()

    Santa’s Shrink ()

    Revision ()

    The 11th Hour ()

  • http://www.linkedin.com/pub/brett-martin/52/702/72 ElectricDreamer

    Congrats to all of this week’s AOW candidates.
    Let’s find the next Craig Walendziak today!
    I hope all the recent activity provides great notes for the writers.

    My AOW Choice: INHUMAN.
    Honorable Mention: ELEVENTH HOUR.

    BLACK FRIDAY:
    Read to page 20.

    We had a mall manager on the brink of retail insanity last AOW.
    Struggling to prove one’s worth in a mall reads low stakes.
    Consider amping up your protag’s misery in the logline somehow.
    Personal misery is the succulent marrow of comedy.

    If you’re featuring a found footage angle, get that in the logline.
    Or at least in the pitch. That angle may help distinguish your concept.
    Found footage/documentary style comedies are fresher than horror tropes.

    Not sure why the manager would allow the film crew.
    What’s the benefit to her failing retail stores?
    I want to know what’s in it for her to allow this hilarity to ensue.
    There’s comedy to be mined from what you can force your protag to tolerate.

    Stretching major character intros across FOURTEEN pages seems a bit much.
    That’s over 15% of your script just to orient us to a bunch of faces.
    But I didn’t feel like your story was moving at the same time.
    There’s some illness and shenanigans, but it reads and feels like backstory.

    I thought Carol was going to be our protag/guide through the mall world.
    However, she’s been absent for the last DOZEN pages. Maybe I was wrong.
    Find a clear way to anchor the reader in your world through your protag.

    I can feel the plot churning, but the characters don’t stand out for me.
    You’ve got a flair for set detail and holiday retail prose.
    But find a way to centralize your first act around your protag.

    SANTA’S SHRINK:
    Read to page 20.

    Very sobering to see a script here by a successful comedian and TV Star.
    According to my Google-Fu, the writer’s that Dave C. from Full House fame.
    No matter where you’re at in the industry, it’s tooth and nail it seems.

    Your logline lacks the tasty irony that tortures your protag.
    Other than being the doctor, what’s his personal connection to the story?
    How does your story exacerbate your prtoag’s flaws. Exploit those things.
    And you get a +1 for haikuness in your WYSR.

    I question opening the movie by everyone knowing Santa’s fate but us.
    Readers/viewers tend not to like being kept at arm’s length.

    Opening with five pages of voiceover rooted in backstory reads a bit flat.
    We know Santa has a big problem, the narration isn’t enhancing what I see.
    Seems more a running commentary. Lucy should be providing deeper INSIGHT.

    I dig the reveal of Lucy’s dad. Maybe we can get there sooner.
    Lucy admitted this isn’t even Santa’s story. So why delay the cool reveal.
    Starting with the revelation and how it makes Lucy feel would help.
    I want to know why Lucy’s miserable cuz her dad’s a shrink.
    Tie that into her personal life conflicts and let them rip.

    Ten pages of VO backstory is far too much. Let the story happen & unfold.
    If this story is truly about Lucy’s dad, let’s see him in action sooner.
    Also, it might help if I knew how Lucy had all this North Pole intel.
    What’s so special about her? Or do all kids know about the NP now.

    The plot’s being telegraphed through static voiceover.
    Which leaves the reader little to experience or imagine in your tale.
    You’ve unintentionally alienated me from all your hard work.
    Show us an event unfolding, and how your character reveals while it happens.

    I found the compassion index to be self explanatory. No speech needed.
    Too many flashbacks and lack of story thrust should be addressed.
    Your logline suggests this story’s about the father.
    But it reads like this is all for Lucy’s benefit. Unclear who’s the protag.

    REVISION:
    Read to page 20.

    Part of your logline confused me. Specifically, about the crush.
    It’s very fortunate she’s compassionate to essentially being stalked.
    Crushes tend to be one-sided, very unrequited. Let alone welcomed.

    Every single one of the rapist’s victim leaves from a gym.
    If he’s that consistent, sounds like he would be very easy to catch.
    Unclear if the bloody opener was real or just a nightmare fantasy.
    Left me confused instead of shocked by your opener.

    P. 6 I guess I could get BY on $350 a week.

    I laughed when Arthur enthusiastically identified the detective.
    People are not usually that chipper about rape and murder.

    That nurse would lose her job, giving someone’s wallet to a stranger.
    No one does that. Wallets to owners or turn it in to your boss. Period.
    It’s little niggles like this that undermine the credibility of your tale.
    Your characters feel mechanical when forced through logic gaps.

    Shouldn’t Arthur be taking his own pills. Ralph brought them to him.
    Doesn’t make sense to take a stranger’s prescription meds.
    How does Arthur know if they’re even the same drugs.

    Giving Arthur some OCD tropes feels like a transparent device here.
    There’s already so much about him that’s off, the OCD feels superfluous.

    Your logline labels this script as a thriller, but there’s no suspense.
    For instance, if I somehow already knew Arthur was involved in the murder…
    I would be afraid for him when the detective shows up.
    Something like that compels the reader to EMPATHIZE with your protag.
    And that device will keep any reader blazing through your tale.

    Because I’m not in on Arthur and Nancy’s secret, I feel dumb.
    I’m the only one in the scene that has no clue what’s being discussed.
    That’s not a rewarding experience for a reader, it’s very alienating.
    I’m sure you don’t mean to undermine your own hard work, but there it is.
    Consider finding ways to CONNECT your reader and protag through story.
    Needs more juicy plot bread crumbs than hushed whispers amongst colleagues.

    ELEVENTH HOUR:
    Read to page 22.

    Your logline has the juicy irony I dig in stories.
    Since the actual murders are over, I can sorta see emo dad on the case.
    It’s a slightly different slice of the usual cop with a chip on his shoulder.
    But I’m not sure if that will make pages seem fresh, or dramatically diluted.
    Very cool that you’ve made some noise on the contest circuit too.

    Your prose is pretty easy on the eyes and the mind.
    I dig your efficient and visual opener, though I wish there was less Bible.
    But you undermine that great work with five pages of the domestic blahs.

    The shrill daughter and the exhausted wife just kill all the cool execution.
    Consider a scene change that intros your protag in a more CINEMATIC way.
    Our first impression of your protag will carry us to the end. Make it good.
    Dumping him into a sea of melodrama isn’t a rewarding read for me.

    Two whole pages dedicated to walking down a hall is far too much.
    Shorthand that into your OFF-SCREEN MOVIE, suggest it don’t show it all.
    Another bland scene choice undercuts a premise I’m eager see put into play.

    What if… The girl’s waiting in the office for an escort around school.
    New Guy sees her, and PERSUADES her to ditch authority and walk with him.
    Don’t you already want to more about that guy? Simple human behavior.
    It’s the best COMBAT against stale scene choices. Now he’s EARNED her.

    Dozen pages in and I don’t feel your opener FEATURES your protag.
    The family scenes felt totally singular in purpose, just intros.
    I didn’t feel the writer interweaving character and plot nuggets there.
    Your scenes should be multitasking their little letters off from word go.
    It sends a message to the reader that you’re not a — Real Estate Waster.

    I’m INTRIGUED as to why Clayton would lie about the past case here.
    Wouldn’t all that be on record. Hmmm. A shady move, Mr. Protag.

    Make it hard for Clayton to get on this case, we can learn a lot about him.
    For instance, he fights his boss to be put on the case.
    His past connection would cause problems, he argues he’s the best man.
    That juicy early conflict would show us so much about your protag.

    A reconfigured opener should CONNECT cop and murderer somehow.
    That’s your logline’s HOOK, find an interesting slice of it to show us.
    If your protag helped put Edward away, maybe he should be there.
    The writing’s pretty solid and I want to know what happens next.

    BARD LANE:
    Read to page 18.

    Your premise has a niche hook, just unsure if its big enough for a film.
    Sounds like an academic delight for writers, not so much for producers.
    There’s a comedy troupe that used to do supercut speed plays of Shakespeare.

    Opening dialogue feels more quippy than character-revealing.
    Girls bitching to teachers about extra credit, garden variety snark.
    Jibes filling in for human behavior and two pages of parental small talk.

    You can make a much stronger first impression with your concept.
    Dive right into the super-Shakespeareness of your tale. Not sitcom snark.
    Craft a scene that highlights and EMBEDS your concept in the reader’s brain.

    Undeclared and loaded with electives, sounds very RUSHMORE of you.
    The verbal asides to Shakespeare are cute, but not criitcal to a story.
    Your script should be rewarding even if the reader’s never heard of the Bard.

    Through the first dozen, it feels mostly like introductory stuff.
    When we meet these characters, have something happening to them.
    All the sitting in classrooms and offices feels a bit static.
    I fear the laundry list nature of your concept overshadows the story.

    Fifteen pages in and the dialogue needs to go on a diet.
    There’s a lot of long dialogue chains, four lines and up, in the script.
    Also, I was expecting a little IAMBIC PENTAMETER from a Bard homage.
    You’ve got plenty of long speeches but none of the old school meter.

    Shakespeare had a lot of comedy and drama throughout his plays.
    But the mash-up here makes the tragedy read like a sitcom.
    Hamilton uses his dad’s death to insult a nice girl.
    But then we’re expected to believe he’s a deep guy too.
    There’s so much reference stuffing going on, the motivations suffer.
    The writer in me loves your concept, but it needs more to propel it.

    INHUMAN:
    Read to page… No criticisms here. Just a list of what I liked best.

    Very righteous WYSR. It’s never easy to examine your own path.
    Sharing your lessons with the SS faithful is greatly appreciated.
    I recall your upbeat attitude on the AF post back in the spring of 2013.
    And now your script’s journey orbits back to SS again, welcome back.

    Alluring prose injects tight visuals while things are HAPPENING.
    Your writing compels the reader to heighten their SITUATIONAL AWARENESS.
    It’s a stalwart device to yank a reader away from his open web browser.

    Three pages in and this already feels like a movie through and through.
    Dunno what it is about teeth, but they get me every time.
    And it’s fun to see Dimitry get some payback for the beatdown.
    That’s a tidy PAY-OFF that infuses the reader. We love to witness payback.
    It’s a Scooby Snack equivalent, a treat to read. Rapid rewards for the win.

    Really enjoy how Ritter pushes Jonah out of his comfort zone.
    He was waiting to hit Jonah with that nasty publication nugget.
    Set-ups like this SHOW ME that Ritter’s a planner, manages assets well.
    My situational awareness is challenged by this talking heads scene.

    Enjoying the failure of the first meeting. Scene multitasks a ton.
    All those character intros handled while things were happening on the page.
    We learn about characters by how they carry out their AGENDAS. Fun stuff.

    Alexis & Jonah’s debate over getting results is nifty.
    They both have points wroth reading, so few scripts have functioning debates.
    Opposing like-minded characters this way adds mucho DEPTH to your canvas.

    Lot of foreshadowing in Jonah’s recording, someone’s not who they say they are.
    If the writer’s easter egg here is to be trusted. Anticipation rising.
    And I can’t wait to read the rest of this for an Amateur Friday review.

    • Steffan

      I just wanted to thank you for the hearty thumbs up, electric.

      I’m glad that Ritter came off as a planner and a manipulator. I worked on that the final few passes and, from your take on it, it payed off.

      Thanks again.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/pub/brett-martin/52/702/72 ElectricDreamer

    OT: Huge Congrats to a recent AF Winner that has broken through!
    This is great news from Thursday worth re-posting for weekend visitors:

    http://deadline.com/2014/12/contracted-sequel-phase-2-ifc-midnight-1201307821/

    The author of AF fave, The Devil’s Hammer, has made his first mark in Hollywood.
    Craig has scored a major victory for all the SS faithful. Way to go, pal.

    • cjob3

      That’s another one for David Kahane!

    • Casper Chris

      Awesome! Way to go, Craig. Hard work pays off.

    • Shawn Davis

      Congrats to Graig!!!!!! I’ve actually worked with Producer J.D Lifshitz with Boulderlight films this year. He wanted my input on some concepts he’s developing. J.D’s a great guy. Graig is really gonna enjoy working with him. Best of luck, man!!!! Keep us posted.

  • Casper Chris

    I remember reading the previous version of Inhuman and liking it a lot (despite not being a horror fan). If writer has found a way to improve the third act, he could have a winner.

    • Steffan

      I think I have, Casper. I hope you check it out.

  • JakeBarnes12

    Haven’t read any of the scripts yet, but I just wanted to say to the writer of “Inhuman,” that’s the best freakin’ “Why You Should Read” I’ve ever read on this site. I’ll take an ounce of humility and insight over a pound of overconfidence and braggadocio.

    I’m now intrigued to check out the script.

    • carsonreeves1

      Yeah, that WYSR could be a script in itself. :)

    • Steffan

      Thanks, Jake.

      I am going to be finishing the short film I mentioned in my WYSR in the next few weeks. Which is apropos since it’s a Christmas short. I’m going to post it on SS with the script in case you’re interested Jake. I figure, it’s just as much a product of SS as is Inhuman.

      • JakeBarnes12

        Looking forward to checking it out, Steffan. Good luck with it.

  • Mhocommenter

    Happy holidays to all, especially to Carson for his hard work! :)

    If anyone has Eric Koenig’s recently sold spec MATRIARCH per DEADLINE REPORT, please share. MAY1MSG at gmail dot com. Thanks!

  • klmn

    OT: Just a reminder, the Anaconda Eats Man show goes down Sunday, Dec. 7. The perfect way to celebrate the holidays – if you’re a snake.

    Of course, you could always watch the Star Wars Holiday Special.

    https://search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt=AtKEW8zQoEVuuO17WCBuNwmbvZx4?fr=yfp-t-901-s&toggle=1&fp=1&cop=mss&ei=UTF-8&p=discovery%20snake%20eats%20man

    • klmn

      Well, that was a big disappointment. When I tune in to see a man eaten by a snake, I want to see him eaten by a snake. They knew it didn’t happen but they kept on promoting the show – and stretched it out to two hours, mostly walking through the jungle.

      Someone should sue Discovery for false advertising.

  • jw

    This week is a pretty solid group of contenders! Congrats to all.

    To the writer of Black Friday, I’m going to give you props for a couple things — first, I pitched a story like this in an exercise with producers and they bought it (hypothetically of course) on the spot, thus, I think this is a great concept and the first few pages are very well paced and drawn out, allowing us to get involved with the story and be sucked in from the beginning. On top of the solidly comedic dialogue. Nicely done here in the beginning. I’m hoping to get to more of this later on in the day.

    To the writer of Inhuman, and any other writer out there falling in this camp; I like your writing, but here’s where I have a problem with it — the descriptive passages are not visual in a way that allows me to see in my head what is happening on-screen. IE: “A guttural, contemptuous whisper hovers on the edge of perception. And then another. And another. Each adds infinitesimally to the volume.” It feels more like NOVEL writing than it does SCREENwriting. I’m also unsure what “hovers on the edge of perception” actually means. If you were to write, “A guttural, contemptuous whisper grows louder and louder, until…” I think that would give us what is happening without the reader wondering what it all means.

    The other point is that it feels as though you’re using more descriptions than I think you need. “A dozen more. A dozen dozen. The sound swells, grows oceanic in its scope, infects everything it touches.” When combining the aforementioned sentence with this, all we need is, “A guttural, contemptuous whisper grows louder and louder as it swells to oceanic scope and envelopes everything it surrounds.” With this single sentence, we’ve just cut about 8 lines down to 2.

    Then I got to this line and didn’t know what this meant either… “The man carries a string of books held together by a leather strap, treats them more like tools than a library.” I’m not sure how someone simply holding something is telling us the difference between tools and a library. And, then I’m assuming tools versus library is USE versus PRACTICALITY (the man who DOES versus sits around and READS about others who do), which I understand, but the more the reader has to “decipher” what your lines mean, the more work they are going to feel the read is and the more work it becomes the more it tires them out. Please feel free to call me a “stupid American” and maybe it’s my lack of an Ivy League education, but I wasn’t even out of page 1 when I had to take a breath.

    A look at a description as well — “SISTER BEATRICE (29), a young woman trying to make her mark in a man’s world.” Many characters are introduced this way in terms of someone trying to prove themselves, so tell us a bit more. What does she look like? Is there something about her eyes? Is there something about her look that can help us with our visualization of who she is? Even if it’s just to say, “Piercing eyes and soft features carefully mask her determination.”
    Maybe this is an article idea for Carson — writing for the screen versus writing for the page and when to pay attention to how it is your writing is creating more work than it should. I think Inhuman is a solid effort and definitely a solid concept, but the read became far too cumbersome for me to continue…

    • Steffan

      You make some interesting points, jw.

      I have always approached introductions as describing the essence of the character more than a physical description.

      I’m sorry you felt that the script was too cumbersome, but I appreciate the compliment that you could sense it was a solid effort/concept from so quick a glance.

      • jw

        Steffan, I think writing style is VERY important and I have to say that even my own style of writing can often be “against the grain” a bit, but what we always have to keep in mind is how the person on the other end interprets what we’re writing. Because it’s in OUR head and we need to convey it to someone else there has to be a care taken when we do that. And, of course, as has been pointed out here many times, there is a difference between what is “allowed” for amateurs versus pros.
        The other part of this that is mentioned around here at times is WHAT readers are looking for and WHO readers are. The honest truth is that being a “reader” is “bottom-barrel” in the industry, which means you have over-worked, under-paid, debt-ridden twenty-somethings in their Hollywood studio apartments up at 3am trying to get through their allocated “stack” of scripts and that doesn’t truthfully help the writer because they’re looking for ANY reason to throw your script into the REJECT pile and get 3 hours of sleep before they have to be up again the next day and do it all over again.
        I would say that if you can find the balance between writing stylistically and conveying your message succinctly then you will be at your most powerful.
        For instance, I imagine you wouldn’t write KNOCK-KNOCK, but rather… “a hand reverberates against the door drawing his attention.” Neither of which is “wrong” but look at which one gets the point across in the shortest amount of time. Just keep this in mind as you move forward. The chops are definitely there and you clearly have a distinct vocabulary, but as has also been pointed out around here, vocab is for novels and storytelling is for scripts. Remember which one you should be focusing on above all.

        • grendl

          Exactly.

          Rasping voices, hisses, snarls, whispers, these are more evocative concise terms.

          Guttural contemptuous whisper. Will someone record that and post the audio link because I can’t wrap my head around the concept.

          When the alien hisses, as its two sets of jaws open up, the script didn’t even specify that sound. O’Bannon and Shusett;s script didn’t include the sounds the xenomorph made.

          “Brett reaches for Jones.
          Jones hisses.
          An arm reaches for Brett.
          The Alien.
          Now seven feet tall.
          Hanging from the undercarriage strut in reverse position.
          Grabs Brett and swings up into darkness.
          Brett screams.
          To no avail…
          In the doorway Ripley and Parker.
          They witness the horror.”

          Now everyone knows that Giger’s alien creature hissed before those small fanged jaws penetrated Bretts flesh.

          How would Steffan write that simple attack? I’m curious. Is this simplicity too little?

          • jw

            The other difference is where focus is placed. I remember in my early days of writing I would want to write the soundtrack and credit sequences too, but it just isn’t viable unless you’re shooting your own script, especially in today’s marketplace. You don’t need to do the job of the director and composer because ALL of this will change when the script makes it into other people’s hands. Again, nothing wrong with setting mood or tone or anything like that, but remove “title sequences” from your script and give us the overall tone, but don’t unnecessarily beat us over the head with it. Like anything with writing, or life in general, MODERATION is the key.

  • Randy Williams

    THE 11TH HOUR

    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    I read the whole thing in one sitting. Didn’t even stop to take page notes. Don’t recall any typos, any major bumps for me. Just an easy, compelling read.

    The initial images, poster worthy, creepy and memorable.The following family scenes, however, failed to meet that beginning with rote dysfunction.

    Loved the twists and turns, all punctuated with visuals instead of pure exposition. Would have preferred, however, a bit more of early James, less of a dismissal of his possible guilt with exposition from Clayton.

    My major problem is what is included in the logline. That he lost his child. This was a tremendous burden on him, yet I never really felt how it was impacting this all except to mirror the final reveal when that came. Also, if a crime in the past seems more compelling than the current crime, then that’s a distraction and losing his own son with not a whole lot of explanation was a distraction to me. Finally, that horrendous burden on a parent unless really dealt with by the parent himself in the story is left to the reader to carry. Not a burden I wanted with everything else I needed to concentrate on.

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

      I didn’t get the loss of a son at all in the first 25. Maybe I missed something or it’s touched on later. But I was OK without it.

  • brenkilco

    Haven’t got a lot of time this weekend so I was hoping some commenters would put the effort in and tell me which one of these I should really read. And luckily some have. Seems like Inhuman has the edge so I started it. And I’ll read a good chunk. But I have to confess-and I know I have a tendency to get pedantic- that the first few paragraphs just made me crazy.A guttural contemptuous whisper. First off, it’s tough to whisper gutturally. Whispers are naturally sibilant. And just what makes a whisper contemptuous? Well, the speaker saying something mean I guess. But we’re not told what’s being said, or whether what’s being said is even intelligible. Hovers on the edge of perception. Barely audible. Got it. Grows oceanic in its scope. Not sure what that means. The ocean’s big but not that noisy. Course it does have swells. Infects everything it touches. Positive I have no clue what this means. If I hear this meaningless whisper will I start whispering? About to overwhelm us. We’re about to go deaf but still can’t make out what’s being said. Sometimes writers tend to get a little enamored of their imagery and forget to ask what it’s really conveying or whether it really makes sense.

    • grendl

      I had this problem the first time around.

      Gutteral comes from the throat, whispers come from the lungs, and contempt, well that comes from the brain really.

      I honestly don’t know why the writer clung to the beginning, after this mea culpa WYSR.

      And I agree 100% ( and did way back when) about the “infects everything it touches”.

      This is purple prose. The writer hanging onto it shows he hasn’t objectively stepped back and really examined it.

      The solution of course would be not to try to be so impressive at painting a picture in action lines, and just telling us what we’re seeing and hearing. Again, these are blueprints, not your chance to show how you can or can’t master similes and metaphors.

      Purple prose drives me up the fucking wall. And its so easy to spot.

      I appreciate the second submission and the fact that it was rewritten but again. if the first three pages derails a reader all the rewriting in the world won’t matter.

      Just write what a director needs to show. How about that?

      • Casper Chris

        I think I know what the writer was going for with ‘gutteral whisper’. Throaty + breathy. But technically, you’re correct. A whisper can’t be gutteral. A gutteral sound requires vibration of the vocal cords and a whisper, by definition, has no vibration of the vocal cords. I suppose the writer could get around this by writing ‘gutteral murmur’ instead.

      • Illimani Ferreira

        I’ve been thinking since yesterday about what you posted here and, after reading Steffan’s take today I have something to say.

        Like you, I conceive my scripts as blueprints and prefer to read scripts that are crafted like that. But I disagree when you express that a script MUST be a blueprint. I liked Steffan’s literary approach in his description lines, although they aren’t necessary. IMO the only danger of such approach is the fact that it can eventually distract the reader about flaws that the script may eventually have (for example, in this particular script, the way how the dialogue conveyed the repetitive information in different scenes).

        As you may know my genre of choice is comedy (although I write other genres as well), and if there’s one thing that makes the life of a comedy screenwriter a nightmare is the rift between slobs and snobs, and how they automatically reject the kind of comedy that the other group makes, even though those two kinds of comedy always co-existed among the classics. That rift is artificial and I personally like to bring on both “slob” and “snob” comedies to my scripts. After all, that’s what Aristophanes and Molière did and people still read and perform their plays today, right?

        The same way, we have guys who embrace “purple prose” and dismiss, usually in a pedantic way, those who are more objective in their description lines, and you have guys like you, who bring on valid points about the importance of objectivity but dismiss those who deliver something different.

        I think we should co-exist and accept our differences, building a bridge between the rift that separates us instead of throwing rocks at each other.

        By the way, I liked the “guttural whisper” image. As you pointed out it’s something that is impossible to perform by a human, but hey, what’s the title of the script again? ;)

  • GoIrish

    I thought you were just making a joke about the name being the same, but I think it actually is Uncle Joey.

    Update: Per his IMDB bio, PJ Lewis is an emmy-award winning writer.

    • Poe_Serling

      From a 2013 interview:

      A&E: We talked about the
      “Clean Guys of Comedy” coming out in theaters and you’re on tour now,
      what’s down the road for you?

      Coulier: I just finished writing a movie called “Santa’s Shrink” so I’ll be shopping that around, as they say.

  • ASAbrams

    So…um. 11th Hour is my vote? Didn’t get very far with it, though.

    Black Friday:
    Nicely written. Definitely the easiest for me to read. Clear action. The only thing technically that tripped me up was the clunkiness and repetitiveness of some of the exposition. That didn’t slow me down, however. But I don’t feel compelled to read more than the 17 pages I read. What’s the hook? What is the thing that I will be anticipating for the duration of this script? Black Friday? What about it? Also, I’m not invested in this story or the goals (which weren’t concrete by the time I stopped reading). Lastly, I have no idea why this has the framing device of a documentary (that is really just a reality show). Added to this is the deception that the doc’s really a digital marketing campaign/ Make-a-Wish thing but no one at the stores even mentions that.

    Santa’s Shrink:
    aka Santa’s Mid-life Crisis? So why is a girl with a too advanced for her age vocabulary narrating this? The premise is funny and provokes a lot of what ifs, but I don’t think what I read (which to be fair, wasn’t much) capitalizes on that. I already know the ins and outs of how life at the North Pole as dramatized by books and movies and whatnot. Get me to the shrink. Get me to the sessions. Show more of what a mid-life crisis (I mean, why just gloss over Santa in skinny jeans? That’s gold) means for a jolly guy like Santa.

    Revision:
    I’m not sure what to say about this one. My suspension of disbelief kept falling. So it starts with a father barging in for whatever reason. I just read this but I can’t remember what he wanted. The kid kills him and is like, “Whoops. I done done it again.” *wacky trombone sounds* Firstly, I wasn’t convinced that I child could kill a grown man with a blunt hook. So, I was thinking supernatural power? But if that’s so, then that needs to be clarified because that would change my expectations of this story. Then all the stuff about the yellow notepad. Then we see this guy all unstable and grown up. I became more and more confused the more I read.

    The 11th Hour:
    I got to page 10. There was a lot of character work here. But the characters were the same old, same old I’m used to seeing. I don’t understand what most of them had to do with the story or plot. Why are we following the teenaged daughter? But I can see a lot of effort went into this, so I’d be willing to say that this would all pay off. I’d keep the beginning more focused, though.

    Bard Lane:
    The main character needs a goal. He doesn’t have to pick it himself, but a concrete goal would make him less uninteresting to me. Also, he needs stakes to his waffling. What happens if he doesn’t declare a major? I don’t know. What happens if he doesn’t go home as his parents want? I don’t know. What happens if he doesn’t pursue this girl Olivia? I don’t know. Consequences for him failing to make decisions would really amp up the urgency and keep me engaged. But… the character relationships were handled nicely. I could see and get a sense of most of the characters (except his roommates who seemed like a two-headed person because they were too undifferentiated). Last thing… I know this is riffing off Shakespeare but the monologues were a bit much for me. Stopped at page 14.

    Inhuman:
    Wished I kept my first notes on this. I keep trying to read it, but I can’t get past the second page. I don’t know why. There is plenty of story here in the opening scenes, but it seems like it’s more interested in telling me how everything looks instead of unfolding what’s happening and what it all means.

  • Howie428

    Tough week to pick one, since they’ve all got some good qualities. I thought it was going to be Santa’s Shrink, but I ran into problems with it. I think then that I’m picking THE 11TH HOUR, although it’s a script that for me could be tighter and sharper if it was heavily pruned.

    SANTA’S SHRINK

    “He staggers and suddenly passes out in the cake.” – I like the opening voiceover and this is a cool moment, although you could milk this moment a bit more. Have him waver, start to say something, wobble again, then WHAM, he face plants into the cake.

    “Santa works out to Insanity.” – Funny stuff. Again you could milk it a bit more. The problems at Christmas on page four might be overdoing this voiceover.

    The teaser that ends on page 6 probably runs on a bit long for what it is, but has a lot of fun stuff. Actually though I think I’d suggest making more of it instead of less. Perhaps intersperse the set-up of Floyd with the Santa crisis stuff.

    I’m on page 8 and I guess I’m a bit surprised that Floyd got into psychology for a reason that doesn’t tell us much about his character and that he’s a success at it. I’d wonder about making things harder on him.

    “My daddy is what you call a workaholic.” – The voiceover has gone on for a long time. This line is an example of where the nine year old voice sounds a bit more like your writerly voice. I like that you have two workaholic characters.

    At page 13, I’m not sure about the way Mrs Claus picks Floyd. I guess I’d suggest something more fun and random.

    On page 17 the thing where Mrs Claus explains how they might set each other straight feels a bit heavy handed.

    I’m at page 20 and while I’m enjoying the story, I’m feeling like I’m getting it second hand. Because of the continuous cutting and voiceover it feels like I’m being told the story rather than experiencing it. Also you’ve got a lot of nice people in this. It seems like two nice people with minor problems are going to get together and help each other out. That doesn’t sound very exciting and because the story is being recounted in past tense by a jovial nine year old I’m not in any doubt as to it having a favorable outcome.

    On page 27 you have Santa explaining his psychological issues to Floyd. For me this feels like putting the cart before the horse. To explain what I mean imagine if Santa is in denial over his crisis and has run away to the Bahamas where he is living the beach life. Floyd meanwhile should have given up on himself as a psychologist and be a ship crewman with a lonely job, who gets left behind by his shipmates in the Bahamas. These two meet each other, one refusing to acknowledge his problems, the other refusing to attempt to treat them. With an approach like this there is way more progress needed for the story and much more doubt over the likelihood of success.

    BARD LANE

    I’ve spotted straight away that this is in the tight format and you single space you scene headings. So your 107 pages could easily be 115+. Being honest, I’m almost tempted to not read it at all when I see this. Anyway…

    The first paragraph in this feels overwritten to me. There’s no need to tell us something is “regular”, that’ll be our default. If someone has “intricately chalked” something then we know they’ve put effort into it.

    I got to page five of this one and while there are some nice touches and I’m curious to see how this Hamlet story will be handled, everything so far is feeling quite mundane, so I’m moving on to the next one.

    BLACK FRIDAY

    Great title. A lot of people’s favorite holiday!

    First five pages are a lot of fun. Nice off-beat atmosphere. I’m a bit surprised that time jump forward so quickly.

    I just looked at the other scripts and read the loglines before coming back to this and I’m surprised to learn that the main character hasn’t appeared seemingly until this page.

    On page 9, I’m feeling like the story started over again on page 5 and I’m not sure I’m enjoying this story as much as I was the other one. Jonathan comes over in a very negative way and unlike Carol, he’s not being redeemed by the comedy, which for me has gone a bit flat.

    REVISION

    The teaser opening is okay, although I guess it’s a familiar story approach. Then you do two versions of the wake up from a dream thing, including a big time jump, a character getting himself ready in the morning, and some news anchor exposition. All those things are a bit cliché.

    I’ve got to page 7 and I get the sense that you’re doing these common story beats deliberately, but it’s challenging to play that game and still keep us onboard.

    THE 11TH HOUR

    I know people are on death row a long time, but 28 years seems a bit extreme.

    The teaser in this probably runs a page or two long.

    Ten pages in, the family drama side of this is playing well.

    Page 13, the murder mystery has got going. Feels a bit odd that the Captain is already complaining about the press, and for me it would make sense to have at least one policeman recognize this murder style. We the audience recognize it, so it’ll feel like the story is dragging if the police don’t connect it, especially since I’m assuming the previous cases happened around this area.

    Page 14 has a few mundane beats on it. In particular the scene tails off with a cuttable exchange.

    At page 20, I’m still curious about the case, but I’m feeling like it’s taking its steps a bit methodically. Given that you have more pages than are desirable it’s worth considering whether you can tighten some of this up.

    At page 26 it feels odd that it’s still the same day the investigation began. Also, I didn’t see why Clayton would be so keen at this point to help save Edward, although that could be a fun story element later on.

    The mini scene at the top of page 27 is another obvious candidate for a cut.

    I’m going to drop out of this here. I like a lot of what I’ve seen. The case seems well developed and I like the intrigue around the prior case and Clayton’s family history, even though I guess those story elements are not fresh within this genre. For me this script could benefit from a substantial trim to get the story moving along more sharply.

    INHUMAN

    I read the first ten pages of this and while the exorcism scene was fun and I can see some simple potential in the exorcism based story, I’m not hooked by what has happened so far. You have an exorcism scene that seems like a down the middle of the road version of that, followed by a long office based dialogue scene, which felt static and exposition heavy.

    I continued on to page 17 and saw some solid drama, but it also took the form of a couple of long dialogue driven scenes. So far this is very talky and some of these exchanges would probably feel pretty long winded when performed. I’d suggest considering whether you need all this background and see if you can drive on into the story without much of this.

    • klmn

      ““He staggers and suddenly passes out in the cake.” – I like the opening
      voiceover and this is a cool moment, although you could milk this moment
      a bit more. Have him waver, start to say something, wobble again, then
      WHAM, he face plants into the cake.”

      A face in a cake is hardly original. If you enter “face cake” on YouTube, you’ll get “about 457,000 results.”

      • brenkilco

        That’s why Kubrick is a genius. He had Alex pass out in a plate of pasta.

        • klmn

          I’ve read that he filmed a pie fight for Dr. Strangelove but cut it.

  • HRV

    Read all of Inhuman, but it stops abruptly like the end is missing.

    • Steffan

      Wow. Thanks for reading the whole thing.

      The falling action is only a page long, you’re right. There isn’t much space between the final feverish moments and the end, but most of the people that read it earlier felt that two/three pages of buffer was too much.

      Thanks for your note though. I’ll ruminate on it… and, again, thanks for reading the whole thing. I hoped you enjoyed it.

      • HRV

        I also noted any typos I found:
        Pg. 27 both me(n)
        Pg. 42 one th(r)ough
        Pg. 48 whadda(ya) mean
        Pg. 63 In MONTAGE, O.C. should be V.O.
        Pg. 65 hors d’oeurves
        Pg. 66 player(s)
        Pg. 81 gyr(at)ing
        Re: your use of O.C. My understanding is that O.C. is used for T.V. scripts and O.S. for film.

        • Steffan

          Thanks for the heads up on these typos, HRV. I swear… I’ve had this script read so many times and by people other than me I don’t see how they can get by.

  • Randy Williams

    SANTA’S SHRINK

    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    I read 30 pages of this. Effervescent tone, perfect for a Christmas story. I assume this is a family script but I think it’s difficult to explore a man’s mid life crisis in that frame, but the writers did a good job of trying to compare some kids’ tribulations, chocolate milk hangovers and all to that adult crisis.

    I yearned for a bit more irony, however.What makes the psychologist the least and then most favored candidate for the one to help Santa? He doesn’t seem to run contradictory to the Christmas spirit except just to be too busy to participate.

    For an example, let’s say he was well known for writing a book about that moment when kids first realize that Santa Claus along with other mythological Holiday icons (hope no kids are reading) do not really exist? That would create some friction there. Then throughout this process in helping Santa he can learn that that moment kids do this is the exact moment that adults stop believing in themselves?

  • Randy Williams

    BLACK FRIDAY

    Congrats for making it on AOW

    Is the “Roosevelt mall” here that sad complex in northeast Philly? The best sales jobs there are in the army recruiting storefront.

    Anyway, I read 30 pages of this. I think I’ll read more when I have the chance. Especially if there is more of Carol. I thought she was one of the best characters I’ve ever seen on AOW. Brutally honest but endearing. Funny. Loved the roach lecture! She should have her own TV show.

    It starts off as found footage? and then seems to forget to remind us we’re seeing footage or I missed something. Bit confused there. but a distinctive voice here, good job.

  • rickhester

    OT but ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is a GSU juggernaut. Within minutes – and on page 2 of the script – the Goal (saving George Bailey’s life), the Stakes (Clarence could finally receive his wings), and the Urgency, (he has an hour to save George’s life), have all been established.

  • Randy Williams

    BARD LANE

    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    I read to page 23. Hamilton is an endearing character and there is a romantic feel to his time on campus, his interaction with his fellow students and the faculty and their interaction with each other that I was totally, totally captivated by. It was more charming than laugh out loud funny., however. More visceral than visual.

    When he gets home after his father’s death, with the quickie marriage by widow mom, it felt absurd and I yearned to go back to dorm roommates, feuding over a T.A, and day dreaming.

    I’ll probably check more of it out when I have the time. I have no interest in Shakespeare. Don’t know any of his stories except Romeo and Juliet and I can’t keep the families straight, but I’d like to know what happens to Hamilton. Definitely.

  • IgorWasTaken

    “Gutteral””Guttural” is not about the gut.

    The word comes from the Latin word for “throat”. http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/guttural

  • Randy Williams

    INHUMAN

    Congrats for making it on AOW! (again)

    I read this twice the first time it was on here. It was possibly one of the first scripts I read on here. Was very impressed with it at that time, felt parts were stunning. I think it may have inspired me to write. I’ve learned to be a much leaner writer myself since then, to not use words like “sylvan”. I have no idea what that means, it’s in reference to a forest description in this script.

    I remember the earlier version well. I actually prefer that one. This third act was much too busy. Enough with the ticks already.

  • Citizen M

    My vote goes to THE 11TH HOUR as the most polished and movie-ready script.
    SANTA’S SHRINK is fun but needs work; REVISION is intriguing but confusing.

    BLACK FRIDAY 104p by Jason Tropiano

    Read to page 56. Didn’t laugh once, which is unfortunate for a comedy script. I don’t think it’s edgy enough. There’s no one outrageous. The villain from the shop across the road has a personal grievance against the main character but we don’t know why (characters know something audience doesn’t = bad), and anyway she’s only made her move now. It should have happened sooner. The script is not in bad taste enough to carry off exploiting a Down’s Syndrome child.

    Comedy is subjective, of course, but one expects a few quips and one-liners. There weren’t any. The writer has clearly done his homework in researching retail and has some observational humor in noting the types of shoppers. There could be more of this. For instance, shoppers who mix up the sizes when putting items back on the rack. Illustrate with action rather than observation, like staff having to rush ahead of a very important customer to fix displays before she gets to them.

    The main character should be good at his job, so we want to see him get in a pickle and get out of it by some ingenious means, only to land in the next pickle. Apart from Black Friday approaching, there’s no sense of things building up. Something happens, he sorts it out; something else happens, he sorts it out. What is happening that he doesn’t know about?

    The shop staff don’t seem to like the main character very much, but we don’t know why (characters know more than audience = bad). It can’t just be because he’s a by-the-rules sort of guy. They don’t even try to sabotage him, which is the sort of thing one expects in a comedy. The upbeat attitude they’re supposed to adopt doesn’t seem to be well enforced. We hear about the various Key Performance Indicators in a scene that is pure exposition, but they aren’t used to keep score.

    Also, not sure why this has to be “as seen by a film crew”. Doesn’t add anything. It’s not found footage because the Charley & Waves scenes are not filmed by the crew, nor the flashbacks, as far as I can tell. And the script doesn’t make clear when the character is addressing the camera, talking to himself, or talking to someone else.

    Why is it One Month to Black Friday, then a jump to One Week, then 2 Days, then BF? We just see similar scenes with no feeling of something building up. Condense. Have Day Before, and BF.

    SANTA’S SHRINK 104p by P.J. Lewis & Dave Coulier

    Read to page 45. Lots of good stuff, but somewhat uneven. Santa having a mid-life crisis and needing therapy is a great concept, and the scenes at the North Pole were very imaginative. I liked how Santa knew what Floyd got for every Christmas; that the elves were ethnically diverse; Santa’s ink-blot replies; and Santa’s mid-life crisis montage.

    Floyd’s family stuff dragged a bit. Got a bit mushy at times. It could be trimmed. And elf Rufus’s animosity needs to be set up more. Maybe Lucy could sound more like a 9-year-old and less like a smartass teen.

    Does Mrs. Claus give away the plot on page 17. “you’ll set each other straight”? And how can Floyd neglect his family and still get a 100% compassion rating? Maybe use a different measure, like dedication to patients, or preserving patient confidentiality.

    It’s well written, moves fast, is quite funny, and I’d like to read more.

    REVISION 100p by KC Burbank

    Read to page 50. I don’t quite know what to make of it. The tone is more like a very dark comedy or a spoof than a thriller. If we’re supposed to take it seriously as a thriller it needs work, filling in location details, making conversations and relationships more realistic, trimming over-long scenes.

    The thing that kept me reading was the mystery box. What is the connection between the pills, the blackouts, the murders (or were they?), the girlfriend, the co-worker, the detective’s son in jail, the Skull Rapist? I hope it is all made clear in the end. I certainly couldn’t figure out the plot.

    This is a couple of passes short of ready, but intriguing nonetheless. I just hope the final reveal is not a let-down.

    THE 11th HOUR 124p by David Michael Kushner & Joshua Nathan Bullock

    Read to page 55. This is basically a police procedural where the believability depends on getting the details of the investigation correct. I don’t know enough about US police procedures to judge the verisimilitude. There was one “audio cleaning” scene I though was a bit iffy, but otherwise it all seemed legit.

    Assuming it passes the reality bar, this is a good script so far. I can easily see this as a movie. There’s no great drama. It’s a steady unpeeling of the layers. An intriguing series of small-town murders with religious overtones, plenty of suspicious people with secrets, a politician needing results, a cop dealing with personal issues as well as the murders, no obvious suspect. It’s believable. The characters all act like real people with real issues.

    If I have reservations, it’s that it’s too long at 124 pages, and the scenario is not original enough. We’ve seen this stuff before. But I’ll let others judge that because this is not a genre I’m familiar with. For me, I’m enjoying it. I want to read on and find out whodunnit.

    BARD LANE 107p A Tragicall Commedy

    Read to page 50. Well written with plenty of pace, incorporating Shakespearean memes quite cleverly, but not my thing.

    On the plus side, there’s plenty of Shakespearean that doesn’t need to be set up. But the problem with such stories is, does the story fit its own internal logic, or is it forced unnaturally into a pre-written template? Is the protagonist driven by his own goals or the need to conform to an imposed plot? Will someone who knows nothing of Shakespeare enjoy it on its own merits? This feels a trifle forced to me.

    An additional problem with this script is it mixes elements of magical farce, comedy, romance, and drama. One is not quite sure how to react to events. When Hamilton’s father dies suddenly, is it supposed to be funny, or tragic, or something where magic will save the day? Audiences are always more comforable when they know what is expected of them.

    Not saying it’s bad, just that it’s not for me.

    INHUMAN 99p by Steffan Ralph DelPiano

    Read to page 50. This is getting too weird for me. I have little idea what is going on, or where it’s headed.

    A couple of thoughts, which are probably not worth much.

    Motivation. Why would Ritter call on a psychologcal defense expert like Jonah? I see two possibilities: A) He believes Peter’s defenses are preventing him (Ritter) from confronting the demon; or B) He believes the demon is using human defense mechanisms to protect itself from his exorcism. Neither seem to be the case here.

    Why would Jonah take the case? He’s a bit of an asshole, more concerned with his academic reputation than with the welfare of his patients. If Peter was a high-profile case, or a rival had won plaudits for tackling a similar case of possession, he would be keen to take it on to enhance his reputation. But I understand there’s a big twist later on that makes the whole motivation thing moot.

    p. 4 – Set the scene. Does Jonah work in a hospital, a university, in private practice?

    p. 16 – There’s a lot of talk about defense mechanisms. Perhaps it could be trimmed a bit. How authentic is the psychology? Is it standard textbook stuff or something the writer cooked up? It sounds authentic to me, but I’m no expert.

    p. 21 – “Peter slashes Jonah across his face–” That should be “Victor slashes…” unless it’s a deliberate mistake.

    p. 22 – How did Victor’s attack make Jonah change his mind about taking on Peter’s case? I can’t connect the dots.

    p. 26 and elsewhere – I’m never sure whether people are addressing Peter or the demon inside him. Logically Ritter should speak to the demon and Jonah to Peter, but it’s unclear to me if this is so.

    p. 27 – “Eleven months before, she turned heads.” Comma missing.

    • Levres de Sang

      Another excellent set of notes, Citizen.

      REVISION really is a strange one: it’s got a lot going for it, but something’s not quite there yet… And I completely agree with your analysis of INHUMAN.

    • JTrop

      Citizen M, thanks for your feedback. I’ll certainly consider the points you’ve made. Also, just to be clear, I want to add that I’m absolutely not exploiting a person with Down Syndrome. There’s a very decisive arc to that character/plotline that makes itself clear by the end of the script. So I really had no intentions of that character coming off as exploitative.

  • Malibo Jackk

    OSOT:
    (Only somewhat off topic)

    Based on Thursday’s screenwriting article, which of these scripts
    are not movies?

  • Steffan

    A few of the posters in the forum have raised concerns that Inhuman is overwritten–especially in it’s first few pages. I disagree and I would like to explain why.

    The opening paragraphs (which are really the lightning rod, it seems) are coming under scrutiny because of the “guttural, contemptuous whisper” that “infects everything it touches.” Grendl and brenkilo point out that its “purple prose” seems to forget “what it’s really conveying or whether it really makes sense.”

    This opening “guttural” sound directly contrast with the “angelic soprano” whose voice “hits registers to which men pray” (also on page one). In other words, we start with a legion of deep-rooted, hateful voices and then immediately travel to the heavens with a different, single voice.

    It’s like a mini-exorcism experienced through sound right off the bat. That was done on purpose and, as I writer, I’m proud of it.

    JW brought up the fact that I could have condensed the first six lines into two. He wrote about how I don’t need phrases like “A dozen. A dozen dozen. The sound swells…”

    I want the reader to take some time–even for 15 seconds–to read about the swelling sounds. I want the reader, in some form, to “feel” the pacing of the scene; to understand that I want the audience to bathe in this sound for a bit before the first image. Also, a “dozen” and “dozen dozen” are numbers that are biblical and I wanted even just the smallest allusion to it.

    Look, I can’t please everyone–in spite of the fact that, as a writer, I want to.

    You guys might be right. One of the rules I have when it comes to writing is that if a scene exists SOLELY because of theme then I cut it. Everything needs to move story and character… and I think that this opening scene does all three. It explores THEME, STORY, and CHARACTER. How:

    One of the themes of Inhuman is identity. Through the shards of Ritter and Beatrice in the mirror we see “fractured” people that are then reaffirmed as “whole” in Sekora’s shop window. It is an image that is similar, yet different, to an image on the last page of the script (99). Also, mirrors and mirroring is one of the main image systems I set up within Inhuman. If you read the script you’ll also see how, through these images, the exorcism of Peter is foreshadowed.

    In terms of character, I like that we don’t know who these people are at first. They seem almost like hit men. They seem dangerous and mysterious and I like the fact that that is how a priest and a nun are being introduced–because these characters, among other things, have motives that are mysteries to us.

    Storywise, I want you to ask: Where are they going? What are they doing? It’s a small mystery box that I’m setting up through the opening credits.

    I’m a very exacting writer when it comes to stuff like this… especially on page one. The descriptions that I give are both art and craft. I’m going to tell you what you (as a reader, director, actor) need to know and I’m going to do is, hopefully, on multiple levels so that the story and it’s themes resonate while staying true to the tone of the piece. (In my defense, when I write comedy it doesn’t sound like script.)

    I just don’t want people thinking that I’m sloppy. I’d like to say that all of my pages are designed and I think about how words/images on the page relate to one another. I stand by Inhuman. Its opening pages are something I’m proud of.

    • brenkilco

      Since, I was so critical I think I owe it to you to read the whole script which I will try to do some time today. And maybe my objections are more a matter of taste than anything else. Because before anything else I think a script ought to be clear. But there seems to be a trend in some of the scripts I’ve read recently to try to be much more obliquely evocative, not just to direct the story on the page but through impressionistic visuals or auditory cues to invoke theme, mood etc. And I’m not always comfortable with it. There was one script a while back whose name I don’t recall that started with a sea of white and glistening braided tubes and gasps and beeps and reflections on metal. And finally after a full page of this stuff you realize you’re looking at a guy in a hospital room lying under a sheet and surrounded by monitors. Why didn’t the writer just say so? A writer is allotted so few words in a script that every one should add something substantial, and nothing indulgent should be permitted. My two cents anyway. Will get back to you when I’ve finished the script.

      • Steffan

        Thanks, brenkilco.

        • brenkilco

          OK finished the script. Lot’s of energy, striking and sometimes gross imagery. Keeps you involved and would certainly make a hallucinatory experience as a movie. Overall, I wouldn’t say that the prose is purple but it does get a little violet tinged at times. I was impressed by the script but still had my share of problems. I will confess to not being a big fan of movies that rely heavily on dream elements. It’s difficult to get invested in the world if you don’t know what the rules are. So I don’t much care for things like Jacob’s Ladder and Vanilla Sky or even Inception which seemed to spend hours trying to lay out the rules but still failed to make complete sense. Anyway, my biggest problems:

          1. I didn’t quite buy the character of Jonah. An emotionally closed off guy tormented by guilt over a child whose death he caused nonetheless maintains his status as a world class clinician and treater of troubled kids, which one supposes would require just a smidgen of empathy. Plus he doesn’t come across as someone whose walled off his emotions like say the William Hurt character in The Accidental Tourist- who had exactly the same history- but simply like an egotistical asshole.

          2. The initial scene between Ritter and Jonah didn’t work. Just for starts a respected medical professional receives a DVD of a young man being held against his will in great physical distress and doesn’t call the police C’mon. And this world renowned guy whom even this cleric has heard of has publishing problems. He can only be famous if he’s been consistently published. And Ritter acts as if he’s the first shrink they’ve consulted. Given Peter’s catatonic condition it’s certain every doctor he’s been seen by would have brought in a psych team on a consult. And Ritter doesn’t seem stupid. He really thinks this DVD is going to convince Jonah that it’s all about the devil? Shouldn’t he have limited himself to describing the clinical symptoms? This is a movie scene. Not a scene from real life.

          3. Jonah makes a mistake with a kid and gets injured. It appears there’s pretty lax security at this clinic, not to mention a staff shortage and insufficient attention paid to potentially violent patients. Anyway, for some reason this makes him think that it would be a good idea to help out the crazy exorcist he just tossed out of his office. I’m not sure why.

          4. Jonah ends up at this creepy monastary where he finds this kid shackled in a dungeon without medical supervision. And for the second time he doesn’t call the police. Of course we’re told that Ritter has obtained custody of Peter. I would love to see that probate court order. The interview scenes are good and tension builds. The reveal of just how much of what’s going on is in Jonah’s head is creepy. Jonah finally rejecting what’s going on and calling the authorities sort of stalls the action. And just how this single case allowed him to create a best seller and avoid a charge of risk of injury to a minor I’m not sure.

          5. As far as the third act goes I don’t think it quite works. The gradual spread of the evil to the other kids is fine. But the final, very lengthy hallucination didn’t quite do it for me. Just how is it that Jonah ends up defeating the demon? It seems like a race against time for him to accept his family’s death and make a therapeutic breakthrough. And once he smashes his recorder and realized what a selfish son of a bitch he’s been this ultimate evil that’s tormenting him packs it in. Maybe I missed something but to be blunt in spite of the effectively horrific elements it felt a little sappy.

          6. The brief coda that shows the evil hasn’t really been defeated but is just waiting to reemerge is reminiscent of every other horror flic of the last fifty years. Ends things on an obvious note.

          A lot of interesting elements here. The idea of a shrink who starts off treating a kid he believes mentally ill and gradually finds himself being sucked into something demonic is a good premise. Good luck.

          • Steffan

            First and foremost, thanks so much for taking the time. That Inhuman went from unreadable to a script that impressed you says just as much about you, as a reader, as it does the screenplay.

            I will take your notes into deep consideration… they are well thought out and I don’t want to write some knee jerk response; so, I won’t.

            Thank you again… reading a full script in such short notice and then writing notes on it is no small task.

    • Altius

      Hey Steffan. You’re certainly a skilled writer with a command of language, and I have no doubt you wrote what you did with deliberate reason. However, I’d caution you here. You don’t get to use footnotes in your script. You can’t include your above comments in the margins. Your script is what you give them, so your script is what they react to – not your intentions behind it. If it takes too much explaining, it might be best to err on the side of reader perception.

      Of course, every word choice is the writer’s, but I agree with the posters who call out those first several lines as difficult to the point of tripping on them. It’s great writing. It’s not great SCREENwriting. So, for what that’s worth to you. But it does seem like you’ve come a long way with this script, and props for getting back into AoW Offerings!

    • Midnight Luck

      I think there is a simple point you might be missing here.
      If people are explaining the troubles they are having with the beginning of your script.
      And your response is to go into a very involved explanation of what, how, and why it is done that way, well, I believe you are kind of missing the point.
      You will never have the chance to explain and lay out all these points of what your story means, or why you did it the way you did it to readers.

      Basically, the script has to flow and make sense completely on it’s own, without an Author coming in to explain the why’s and how’s.

      If it opens and is immediately difficult to read (which I found it to be as well) because of lot of purple prose, strange word usage, difficult sentence structure, and unusual language or meaning, then maybe it needs to be looked at by you and really try to be open and honest about what you are trying to do with it. Try to see what people are telling you, and find out if just maybe it isn’t working as well as you think it is.

      It is great to have all kinds of reasons you are creating scenes the way you are, however, if they aren’t working, well, they might just not be working.

      It is better to go back and reconstruct scenes (ESPECIALLY opening scenes) so they work as perfectly as you can.

      The author has NO room for error, they cannot push their reasoning for why they are doing it the way they are. A reader will just be done with it and never ask you why you did X, or what you meant by Y. They will just dump it and move on to the next one.

      Now if your goal is to film this yourself and it is for you to Direct, then hey, more power to you and go ahead and write it in whatever way works best for you to create your own vision.

  • andyjaxfl

    My pick this week: BLACK FRIDAY.

    I wish I had time to put up notes on all of the AOW offerings but I have to put Christmas lights up outside/around the house, but I’ve never done it before and I have to get to work.

    Congrats to all of this week’s writers!

  • IgorWasTaken

    If guttural cannot come out as a whisper, then Arabic* can’t be spoken in a whisper…?
    _______
    * – for example.

    • Malibo Jackk

      (Nor the Godfather.)

  • Levres de Sang

    My Vote: A tie between… SANTA’S SHRINK and BARD LANE

    Firstly, congratulations to all the writers! This was an exceptionally strong week and very difficult to pick just two scripts let alone an outright winner. Perhaps (in the spirit of Christmas) Carson might want to read the first act of all these scripts. It would certainly make for an AF with a difference…

    SANTA’S SHRINK [Read: 34 pages]

    This has a fantastic premise and the script doesn’t disappoint. In short, it’s definitely a movie and from the outset I enjoyed 9-year-old Lucy talking directly to the audience. Moreover, the whole set-up is great with its parallel stories destined to intersect mixed in with some nice Woody Allen-esque touches (i.e. Floyd playing shrink to himself). There’s also an emotional register and a ticking clock.

    I just think the reader could do with a few more slug lines to orientate themselves early on. As it stands, Santa’s mid-life crisis symptoms are presented as a long montage.

    BARD LANE [Read: 33 pages]

    I didn’t expect to like this at all, but it’s a breezy, engaging read. The dialogue is sophisticated without being alienating or pretentious. Clearly, the author knows his Shakespeare. Indeed, it’s filled with plot that draws cleverly from all of the great man’s familiar motifs: masqued balls; familial intrigue; longstanding feuds; and comical advisors. (Let’s hope there’s a ghost and a shipwreck somewhere on the horizon!) I particularly enjoyed the brief exchange on page 20 as Hamilton gets out of the taxi:

    HAMILTON: Keep the change.
    ROBIN: Keep changing.

    Lines that succinctly express the theme of the whole. Overall, the best compliment I can pay BARD LANE is that (so far) it could be filmed as is. Great work!

    REVISION [Read: 41 pages]

    This is fascinating and I’m keen to read further, but I’m convinced you don’t need that opening dream sequence. It creates a serious tonal problem in that we think we’re in for some kind of heavy dustbowl melodrama; yet suddenly we’re on the set of THE TRUMAN SHOW. Just start with Arthur in the present and allow us to learn more about him as we go along. It’s too jarring a transition as things stand.

    The REWIND is a great device. I’d make a little more of it on the page first time out, but it ramps up the intrigue. Kudos to the author! [N.b. I thoroughly recommend HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT (2002) — a fantastic French thriller that also utilises this trick.] I also like the way it helps establish a pattern of behaviour. Again, I can really imagine this unfolding on the screen.

    THE 11TH HOUR [Read: 41 pages]

    A somewhat daunting page-count, but another well-written piece. Moreover, it presents a fully realised world in geographical terms. Everything is smoothly handled and there’s a mystery unfolding from the outset. Yes, the whole cop with family issues feels well-worn and perhaps that’s where some of the page-weight could be lost? Then again, maybe the whole goth thing dovetails with the symbolism used by the killer…?

    Afraid I don’t have a lot more to say on this one… Maybe it IS a bit too familiar? Either way, it’s a nice read and I hope others provide you with some good notes.

    BLACK FRIDAY [Read: 22 pages]

    Another great premise that really catches the despair of modern retail. Hence, we have instant sympathy for the plight of these characters. There’s also some great description lines such as “sun-kissed grim reaper” and “Everyone tired. Everyone longing for death.” The documentary-style SUPERS are a neat touch, but necessary as I’m starting to wonder at the high character count?

    I bailed once we hit the late night stock room rap antics, but overall this is very well done.

    INHUMAN [Read: 34 pages]

    Sorry, but this was the only script that didn’t really grab me. I reread Carson’s original AF review and realise my comments contradict somewhat, but here goes…

    The opening is atmospheric and the pages read well for the most part, but for me the problems emerge once we spend all that time in Jonah’s day-to-day life. Yes, we get his refusing Ritter’s repeated requests, but I’d prefer a few creepy moments instead… Also, I just don’t see why being attacked by a patient causes Jonah to change his mind? Consequently much of Act 1 feels like we’re treading water (i.e. all that stuff with Alexis and Victor). I would have preferred an initial meeting between Jonah and Peter within that first act — an experience that causes Jonah to say he’s not interested. This would feel earned. As it stands, Jonah’s refusal feels more like something designed to meet a screenplay paradigm.

    I know the author wants character to prevail, but my feeling is that it does so at the expense of plot with excessive dialogue and backstory. It’s almost novelistic, in fact. This rewrite also focuses on the third act, yet Billy Wilder famously said that third act problems are merely the result of your first act. And I’m not disagreeing with him!

    • JTrop

      Levres, thanks for the comments for Black Friday!

  • Steffan

    Thank you, Pepper.

  • IgorWasTaken

    grendl wrote:

    What I do know is that this phrase was a stumbling block for both me and brenkilco.

    So it’s worth pointing out, if more than one person stumbles on phrasing which sits and makes you think about phrasing rather than story.

    You’d agree with that right?

     
    Yep.
     

  • klmn

    Based on partial reads, my vote goes to BLACK FRIDAY. It feels fresh, like it won’t be a chore to read on.

  • jw

    Jason, had to come back and comment on Black Friday for a couple reasons —
    1. You aren’t going to find any breaks on this site when it comes to comedy. As a matter of fact, I’d venture to say to the world, DO NOT submit your comedy script to this site. Sorry, I know that’s harsh language, but I’ve been here a bit and part of my observations around this site is that the people here wouldn’t know a $100 million dollar comedy if Channing Tatum slapped them upside the head with it. And, that’s not to be rude, it’s just to be very, very honest. Let’s just face it folks, for a majority of those around here, comedy is not their forte and thus, it makes it doubly difficult for a comedy writer to get ANYTHING out of their submission (can you tell I’m speaking from a bit of experience?).
    2. You have some really, really solid comedic writing chops. Your timing is ON-POINT! Your dialogue is organic. Nothing feels forced (outside of what a comedy film usually is). And, the funniest part of all this is that these characters EXIST. They are real and authentic. I’ve worked with them, it seems like you’ve either worked with them or encountered them at some point in your life and that is why they resonate. Films have been made about people at the mall, SNL has done skits about stores in the mall, and millions of people are employed by malls across this nation, which means one thing — your audience is already there.
    3. Now I’m going to throw out an idea that I think could be worth A LOT to you — I don’t see this as a film, I see it as a television series. There’s just so much potential here. I see an ongoing storyline about mall characters, characters new and old that can hold attention, comedy to poke fun at the ludicrousness that exists in the “every-day” world. I would sum it up like this — Parks & Recreation at the mall…
    That’s my 2 pennies… good luck with it! Your comedy writing shows promise!

    • JTrop

      jw, thanks a lot for your feedback and your encouragment! I totally see your point about this working as a TV series! It’s a great idea! There really is so much material to mine from!

    • Eric

      To be fair about point number 1, comedy is the hardest genre. And unlike other genres where the reader can imagine how it might play out on screen, it’s harder to give points for, “Well, if you filmed it, it MIGHT be funny.” We’re either laughing or we’re not. If we’re not, you’ve failed. It’s much easier to determine success and therefore less forgiving to amateurs.

      • jw

        Comedy is very subjective, this is true. However, this site is less predisposed to comedy in general. THAT is not subjective as much as it is a general taste and genre affection. That genre affection here is more horror and thriller based.

        • Eric

          Well, comedy is subjective, but that’s not what I’m saying. Comedy isn’t the hardest genre to write because people’s tastes are subjective. It’s the hardest genre to write because most people aren’t as funny as they think they are. It’s not an audience’s fault for not laughing. I doubt everyone here is such a humorless, stuck-up shlub that jokes just doesn’t work on them. The reason comedy isn’t a popular genre around here is because it’s usually poorly executed. It also doesn’t help that most of us aren’t good enough at comedy to be able to give useful notes on what would make an unfunny script funny.

          Like I said, other genres are more forgiving. I’ve frequently enjoyed horror movies that never REALLY scared me. I’m much more susceptible to the cheap thrills of a cheap thriller. But I’ve never enjoyed comedy that I didn’t laugh at. And while the jokes MIGHT be made funny in filming, nothing’s more painfully boring than reading comedy that isn’t making you laugh.

          (Note: none of this is intended as reflection on Black Friday)

  • Craig Mack

    AOW I’m down to give a full read and notes to any of the writers that are interested. First come, first served. Reply here.

    • JTrop

      Hey Craig, I’d be really appreciative for a full read! There’s a lot of little setups/payoffs, so I’d like to see if all adds up to a fresh set of eyes!

      • Craig Mack

        thecraigmackATgmail

  • hickeyyy

    My vote this week is Inhuman. Unfortunately I don’t have much time beyond that to add more. Good luck all!

    • Steffan

      Thanks for the vote of confidence, hickeyyy.

  • Malibo Jackk

    Read 10 pages of BLACK FRIDAY.
    Impressed by the way it’s handled.
    Writer has talent.

  • pmlove

    I can’t vote as I haven’t read them all but would enjoy BARD LANE making its way into AF. Nice to see something ambitious making its way on here.

    BLACK FRIDAY was entertaining but feels like a TV show (a good one though). Reminded me of ‘People Like Us’ [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0214362/].

  • Malibo Jackk

    Still think we should have a Santa Death Match
    for Christmas.

    Maybe save Santa’s Shrink until then.

  • MJ86

    SANTA’S SHRINK: I read to page 30.

    Why start your story with 10 pages of straight exposition and flashbacks? I think Act 1 should build up to Santa’s mid-life crisis in real time (like, that should be the point of Act 1). Let us see the meltdown, full on, while it’s actually happening. I don’t want a 9-year-old summarizing it for me a year later.

    Page 26 – Santa is unrealistically astute at diagnosing himself. Wouldn’t it be more fun if he were in denial or something? Wouldn’t it be fun is Clara and the elves had to trick Santa into therapy?

    I really like this idea and think it has tons of potential to be funny and inspiring because it’s definitely different, but I don’t think you’re pushing yourself enough. I think you need to brainstorm some more options for how to get to your plot points. I think you’re still only skimming the surface of this story.

    My Suggestion: The beginning is shrouded in flashbacks and exposition because Floyd’s the protag, not Santa, right, and you feel you don’t have enough time to really go there? I don’t think that’s how you want to start a movie. Even a kid’s movie. I think dual protags could work here. Have the two storylines run concurrently, not in flashback snippets. And have Floyd/Santa battling the same core problem (workaholics? family problems?) that they’re approaching (dealing and not dealing with) in two different (failing) ways, instead of them having two different sets of problems. That way you can save time when showing both of them (because they’re essentially the same anyway).

    And please cut the Lucy voiceover; you don’t need it.

  • MJ86

    BLACK FRIDAY: I read to page 30.

    Page 4 – I like that you start with action and movement. I don’t like that I can’t really get a handle on what’s happening. There’s a documentary because the mall is the biggest in the state. Ok. Who are the people filming the doc? Some college kids? Grad students? From where? For what class? To what end? And then we don’t get to know the purpose. Is it solely to give the movie that mockumentary feel? Is this supposed to be satirical?
    Page 10 – I like the idea behind this, but I’m not seeing much of an actual story yet. Again, stuff’s happening, but there’s not enough context. Jonathan’s the protag… what happened to Carol? Why’d we even start with her? And speaking of Jonathan, what’s his deal in all this? Are we just gonna follow him around for the entire movie hoping to gain a sense of what it’s like to work retail? Why would I (as an audience member) want to do that?
    Page 11 – I see that Jonathan’s desperate, but I don’t know why. Is it because he’s an expectant father? Will the story go deeper than that later on? Where’s his pregnant wife? Waddling around looking miserable and pitiable? Where’s the stack of bills Jonathan needs to pay? Where’re the overbearing, disapproving in-laws breathing down his neck? Is someone gonna break into the store and fuck everything up? Is a shipment not gonna come in on time? Will a natural disaster strike, barring customers in their homes? What gonna happen besides the normal? Right now it all seems very “a day in a life that generally sucks,” instead of “a day in the life of a man transitioning to something ‘better’ that seems more and more unreachable as the day goes on.”
    Page 21 – Ok, so they’re preparing for Black Friday? … Where we’ll see if their hard work allows for Jonathan to keep his job?
    Page 22 – As far as I know, gangsters don’t dance. Therefore, I don’t think I’m envisioning your intended visual. Trivial? Yes. But I’m so bored, I can’t help but notice these things.

    On a more positive note, I think your dialogue’s good. Like one-liner good, though. I enjoy reading what the characters say, but I don’t care about what they say, you know? Like Will Smith before he decided he wants an Oscar.

    My Suggestion: Figure out why this story matters and why people should/would want to see it / talk about it / care about it. We watch Star Wars for the adventure. We watch Casablanca for the love. We watch Bridesmaids for the laughs. We watch Memento for the mystery. We watch Jaws for the thrills. Why will we watch Black Friday? You need a good answer for that. Right now, Black Friday feels like Dazed and Confused, Clerks or Empire Records (and even those kinds of movies kinda went out in the mid-90s).

  • MJ86

    REVISION: I read to page 30.

    Page 3Please don’t let Arthur be the Santa Barbara Skull rapist (and does this mean the rapist rapes people’s skulls?); that would be boring because you set it up to be obvious (unlike the movies you mentioned in your WYSR: Fight Club and Memento). But, hopefully, you haven’t done that :)
    Page 4 – I hope these people turn out to be Stepford androids. “Top of the morning to you, Tim!” *slow blink* This whole series of exchanges are as unbelievable as possible, so
    please let there be purpose to it. I’m sorry for not giving you the benefit of the doubt, but this ain’t court, you’ve got to earn it around here!
    Page 6 – Wait, Arthur’s on the phone, then the detective just walks up to him at work? There’s no fanfare or anything? I think if you’re gonna go all Donnie Darko weird surreality, then go all Donnie Darko weird surreality! Where are the visual cues? Give some hint of whether or not this is real. Don’t be obvious about it, of course, but give us something that we can go back to in the end and say, “oh yeah! how’d I miss that?” (a la The Usual Suspects) or “is this really happening?” (a la American Psycho). Right now, I’m not confident you have a plan in place here.

    I kept reading, well… skimming, but pretty much mentally checked out when I got to the way too long bus scene.

    My Suggestion: Right now, this script isn’t very easy or fun to read. It’s unclear when Arthur’s dreaming and when he’s not. I assume that’s intentional, but as someone outside of your head (me), it’s confusing, and reads like you’re trying too hard to make a complicated story, and that’s fine, as long as you make sure it makes sense. Describe the settings and action more clearly. Make sure there’s no ambiguity about what’s happening exactly (even when “what’s happening” isn’t really happening). In Shutter Island, even though we don’t know what’s going on, we are always clear on what we’re seeing, ya know? Trick us; don’t confuse us.

  • MJ86

    THE 11TH HOUR: I read to page 30.

    Page 1 – Good opening image.
    Page 3 – I don’t know this Edward dude, and I know from the logline that he’s not getting out of jail, but I am terrified of the possibility of him getting out. To me, it’s incredibly scary to think of a detective with such strong Christian ideals perpetuating such heinous crimes. That’s some strong (and very effective/complimentary) characterization you’ve got going on! I can clearly see/feel what good writers you are already!
    Page 6 – Hmm… spoke too soon? Clayton’s 180-degree attitude shift reads forced. He’s cranky, but he doesn’t want to be (something’s clearly bothering him and hanging over the family) and all it takes is a little snap from the wife to make him be nicer? I’d expect him to ignore her, do what he was gonna do anyway, and maybe mumble to himself. I’d expect more sass from the daughter. I’d expect the wife to snap, but for it to lack impact (which any woman knows is waaay more frustrating).
    Page 22 – This conversation is starting to read like every other interrogation scene of the sort. This is becoming increasingly less interesting; it’s starting to feel “been there, done
    that.” I hope that turns back around…
    Page 26 – There’s no ease to the dialogue. This isn’t how people talk (and everyone in the script talks this way). Read it aloud, or have someone read it aloud to
    you, and you’ll hear how labored it sounds.

    My Suggestion: Think about your obstacles. I didn’t see any in the first 30 pages. Nothing’s really standing in Clayton’s way when he’s investigating. I think you can go further in making the story harder to solve both internally and externally for Clayton. Consider moving the timeline. What would happen if they’d been in town a lot longer and Maggie had known Abigail? What if she (Maggie) was desperate for Clayton to solve the crime then? What if she involved herself in the investigation? What if Clayton inadvertently lost or damaged evidence and then covered it up? What if the death row guy took a vow of silence for the remainder of his sentence and would only communicate with Clayton through nonverbal means? I’m just saying, I need more. Of course, I assume some stuff happens through the middle, but right now, the beginning makes me wonder how much.

  • MJ86

    BARD LANE: I read to page 30.

    I actually like Shakespeare’s works. However, I am not specifically drawn to this script/premise because it seems like it would get out of control with the references and contrivances really quickly. We’ll see…

    Page 7 – I’m not sure how I feel about the mash-up of modern American and Elizabethan language. I can’t tell how seriously I’m supposed to take this story yet.
    Page 8 – Ok… now I’m wondering if this you even intend for this script to be made into a movie. Is this a vanity project? I think we all tackle that one script in our careers where we are just so impressed with ourselves that we don’t care about anything other than accomplishing our lofty vision of literary transcendence. Is that what’s happening here? I can practically hear the sound of you patting yourself on the back, going MWAHAHAHAHA. Did you write a Shakespearean homage just to say that you did and could? Cuz I can’t see anything else in this pursuit. I’m not trying to be rude, it’s just… why did you write this? Why did you feel the need to tell this story, and why tell it this way? I guess you don’t need to answer that for me, but I hope you can at least answer it for yourself…
    Page 17 – The melodrama’s killing me. I don’t like any of these characters. I don’t
    understand any of these characters. What is this screenplay about again?

    My Suggestion: Mmm… I think the problem with combining 9 other stories into one story is that you end up actually not having a story. What is the story you’re looking to tell here? Figure that out and let go of the … *searches for the right word* … self-importance. Don’t let yourself become more interesting than the script. Don’t make it hard for a reader to get into the movie because they’re too busy thinking about the dude who wrote it. What you’ve got here is a gimmick and the enjoyment of that (unlike Van Damme vs. Seagal or Blockhead) is lost because you’re so heavy-handed with the approach. Get out of your own way and find a story worthy of the drama connoted by the name Shakespeare.

  • MJ86

    My Vote: INHUMAN

    I read the entire script without wanting to stop.

    Page 1 – I’m not crazy about this opening image. It makes me think the rest of this
    script will be labored, strained, teetering under the weight of superfluous writing (much like that sentence).
    Page 2 – I think other than the opener, you start off strongly with good visuals. I can easily see this as a movie.
    Page 7 – Up to this point, I feel like I have a strong sense of the characters that have been introduced.
    Page 15 – I like that we’re not meant to like Jonah. I like that he’s brusque and self-important. I like how you represent his career-mindedness; it feels natural and true.
    Page 22 – I understand the story needs an inciting incident to get Jonah to Peter, but the attack from Victor (and Victor on a whole as a character) seem forced, like nothing more than a function of the plot. If Jonah’s attacked, would his response really be to take on a more dangerous patient (one who holds grown men in the air by the throat)?
    Page 25 – This is probably a random comment (more so than the rest), but I would like to know more about Ritter and Beatrice. I mean, who are they exactly (or did I miss it?) and what’s their goal with Peter? And why (why’re they so invested)? Just a little clarity there
    would be good.
    Page 40 – Wait… is Peter having a normal conversation with Jonah? I don’t understand…
    Page 44 – Jonah’s reactions are starting to make me wonder if he’s real or if I’m being hoodwinked. If so, that’s fine. If not, be mindful of your character’s behavior.
    Page 45 – Ok, it was a dream, but still… Jonah seems to be going along with things kind of easily. If I were him, I’d be asking myself why the fuck my mind’s playing tricks on me.
    Page 48 – Ritter: “Do you believe that Peter is talking to you?” Yeah… now it’s coming together for me!
    Page 85 – I like how Jonah’s full backstory is saved for the end. I like how you decided against flashbacks and the like to display it, but gave it to us in the same manner as the rest of his deluded possession.
    Page 99 – They forgot about Tyler? Seems like a hell of an oversight.

    My Suggestion: Don’t rely on weirdness and shock value. Yes, you had some creative and uncomfortable imagery happening from about page 90 on, but I got bored with it quickly. Nothing was actually happening. The demon in Peter was taking over Jonah and we watched a bunch of random weird stuff happening in his delusion. There really isn’t anything interesting about that. It reminds me of Inception, but they had a plan for what to do in the dream world and Nolan had a purpose for it; I don’t get that feeling here. Don’t let your work crumble at the end!

    • Steffan

      MJ, Thanks so much for the read, the notes, and the vote.

      I’m glad you had a good time with it.

      It will take me some time to think about your notes and how to incorporate them. When I do, I will PM you back.

  • Steffan

    Nathaniel.

    Thanks so much for the vote, the full read, AND the notes.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the visuals and the subtext of the church. When a rewrite is done I’ll focus on Hemmingwaying the descriptions.

    Again, thanks so much for the vote!