amateur-offerings-weekend

Five amateur screenplays.  Read and tell us which one you liked best in the comments section.  The winner gets a review.  Also, feel free to offer constructive criticism to the writers.  

Title: Molniya 7
Genre: Sci-fi, Adventure.
Logline: A reckless American astronaut risks everything to save seven world leaders trapped on board a crippled Russian space station before it crashes to Earth.
Why You Should Read: Hi Carson, my name is Tony and my passion for movies and screenplays spans decades. I’ve analyzed hundreds of works and read dozens of books on the craft — especially your book, which is the best ten bucks I ever spent, (wink, that’s worth a read, right? )
Your mission, Carson, should you decide to accept it, is to open the attachment to this email and immerse yourself in this high concept adventure about ingenuity, human spirit, and the will to live. I’ve kept the read under 100 pages, yet made sure every character has something to do — actors will love this, and I guarantee you that there is stuff in this screenplay that even you have never before seen. — As always, should you or any of your subscribers be caught or killed, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This email will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, Carson.

Title: Quiescent
Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure
Logline: After a long-dormant Atlantean power station buried under Manhattan for thousands of years transforms the city with a mysterious time-meshing force, a vision-haunted Native American tunnel worker, a Columbia geology professor and his beautiful assistant team up with a hardened CIA agent to shut the pyramid down before it destroys the planet.
Why You should Read: Quiescent is a labor of love that took me years of research and a ton of rewrites to complete to my satisfaction. A sci-fi action adventure with a strong male and female protagonist, rich in history, memorable characters and deep metaphysical undertones. The threaded mysteries of time, ancient Atlantean technology and Native American spirituality make this tale an exciting thrillride.

Title: The Battle of Mirbat
Genre: War / Action
Logline: A retelling of the 1972 battle in which eight special forces soldiers defended an Omani town against 400 heavily-armed guerillas.
Why You Should Read: Described as a latter-day ‘Zulu’, the Battle of Mirbat is an incredible account of valor in the face of overwhelming odds. Classified for over thirty years, the soldiers’ mission has only recently become public knowledge but hopefully this script will bring their remarkable tale to a wider audience.

Title: Hadleyville
Genre: Western
Logline: An idealistic Easterner journeys to the burgeoning Western frontier where he falls for a prostitute and gets in the wrong with a powerful businesswoman, forcing him to learn how to leave his idealism and civility east of the Mississippi.
Why You Should Read: While I know the Western isn’t (and hasn’t been for arguably 40 years) the most topical, profitable, or popular genre it used to be, it still has a certain appeal for writers looking to explore ideas that other time periods aren’t necessarily designed for. The lawlessness, the encroaching border of a growing nation, the differences between Eastern civility versus frontier survival: Where else but the Western can you touch upon these concepts?
I’ve been writing screenplays for about five years now (and have a B.A. in screenwriting if that means anything…). I’ve had two features optioned and was hired to re-write a feature — all by indie producers looking for ever elusive financing. On top of that, I’ve been a quarter-finalist, semi-finalist, and finalist in national contests, including BlueCat, Big Break, and Table Read My Screenplay. Hadleyville, in fact earned me a spot as a finalist in The Black List’s 2014 Cassian Elwes Independent Screenwriting Fellowship — I’m sure the fact that it’s one of the (if not the) highest rated Western on blcklst.com gave me a leg up there.
The point is: I know how to write a screenplay, good ones even, but I’m looking to heave myself over the hump into the lands of “Very Good” and “Great.” I have my degree, hours of writing and reading scripts, and tips from Script Shadow to improve my writing — but there’s something I’m missing. Something I can’t get a bead on. And I have no doubt that you (and fellow Script Shadowers) can lead me into the sunsetting happy ending.

Title: The Irish Rover
Genre: Comedy
Logline: Looking to connect for the first time, a son and his drunk, crotchety, dying Irish father take an epic journey to Ireland to get him laid for a final Father’s Day goodbye fuck. Mayhem, whorehouses, shootouts, and rollicking celtic music all ensue in the process of this father and son finally coming together.
Why You Should Read: Fred Seton and I wrote this about two years ago. We took this to only one producer (who we love), got him attached, and the project fell apart. It’s just been sitting collecting dust ever since. Fred wrote “Pierre, Pierre” and recently had his script “Kid Leviathan” that he wrote with Peter Hoare on the Hit List. “The Irish Rover” is a raunchous romp of an Irish R-rated comedy that was originally dreamt up for Robin Williams and Chris O’Dowd to kill it in. The script is insane, wild, got heart, and beers for everyone. It’s a place where you’ll find Van Morrison, The Pogues, the Dubliners, and Ween all getting hammered and playing at the bar. Cheers to the Blarney Stone!

  • GYAD

    I’ve only had the time to read one script so far this week…

    I’m a sucker for Special Forces movies, especially British ones. It’s astonishing to think that with all the movie-worthy things they’ve been involved in – Op Barras and the Iranian Embassy Siege come to mind – that there aren’t more SAS films. The only two decent ones we have are the gritty but flawed BRAVO TWO ZERO and the gloriously right-wing fantasy WHO DARES WINS. So good on Dan Hall for dramatizing the Battle of Mirbat…

    …especially because it’s really good.

    Partly it’s because it’s a cracking story – 9 against 400 – about what should have been an impossible victory. However it could still have been messed up. Mr Hall doesn’t do that. So what works?

    1) The story builds. One of the problems with siege stories is that it tends to involve lots of sitting around and repetitious action. Mr Hall avoids this with a few time jumps (although the first one on p.41 is a bit sudden – it feels more natural when the script cuts away to the air field and then back to Mirbat with a time jump). He also – admittedly helped by real events – makes sure that lots of things are happening to push the story forwards (like the runs to the gun pit, the heli recon, the jet attacks etc.).

    2) There are actual characters. Having nine main characters – not to mention antagonists and supporting cast – is pretty tough. Mr Hall gets round this by making sure there are enough pre-battle scenes in which to get to know the soldiers. It might have been tempting to move straight to the battle, especially as so much happens, but these scenes are crucial; without them the battle wouldn’t have half the emotional impact it does. It helps that being soldiers they all tend to have distinct combat roles which make them relatively easy to tell apart, as does the use of distinct (real-life) nickname. He also use simple set-ups and pay-offs with the doctor, Salim and Salim’s father. These are small (2-3 scenes each) but effective.

    3) There’s a character journey. One problem with many real stories, especially combat ones, is that they tend to be about plot (events) rather than character. Mr Hall gives us a simple, military-specific yet universal, journey for the main character: from nerdy, untried officer to respected leader of men. It’s a small thing but the pay-off at the end of the script (Tak’s “Boss”) is worth it.

    4) It’s real. One of the great things about real life stories is that they tend to feature details that most writers – who, after all, live at desks – wouldn’t know to include. Here we’ve got lots of dramatic, gritty, real events – from a gun which malfunctions to gorily accurate wounds to someone being blinded by shrapnel from a wall. All of these little things add up. They make the reader trust the writer, they add verisimilitude and they’re often compelling.

    5) It’s not bombastic: Related to the previous point, one problem with many real life stories is that in Hollywood they tend to get overblown. It’s hard to take supposedly historically-based stories accurately when they’re as absurdly over the top as, say, PEARL HARBOR. In this sort of small story – basically just the defence of a remote outpost – the fact that it’s so small is a bonus because it makes everything so important and therefore more thrilling. If they lose one position (the gun pit) then they’re done for. If they get shot then, unlike the guys in the THE EXPENDABLES, it could be fatal. If they get overrun then they, all their mates and the locals will die. Sometimes saving the world is less exciting than fighting over a dusty gun pit in the middle of nowhere. Also, giving due credit to the locals for their efforts is not only the right thing to do but adds to the realism (the heroes are part of a wider effort).

    6) The story is clear. At heart this is a story about a bunch of cowboys defending the fort from the Indians, knowing that if they fail then the local settlers get butchered. It’s tough when dealing with an obscure war from the 1970s which most Brits, let alone Americans, will have heard of to make it all comprehensible. Here it is: Brits help Sultan stop commies, save vital oil straits, and keep the world turning. It’s simple to understand – which in turn lets us understand the GSU: Goal – stop the Adoo; Stakes – their lives, those of the villagers, and possibly the geo-political standing of the West in the Cold War; Urgency – every second they hold out is another chance for their reinforcement to arrive.

    Here are some of my reading notes, including a few criticisms. Note that page numbers in my analysis relate to the PDF, not the numbered script page:

    The title is a bit flat and uninteresting.

    p.2 The opening crawl doesn’t need a page of its own. Putting it in the main text would also decrease the page count.

    p.3 “BLAM! BLAM! BLAM!” – Is this Tak shooting or the rebels shooting at him? It can’t be the mortars because they are “screeching” in the next action slug.

    p.3 Might want to mention that Kealey (and Tak) are armed before you have them double tapping people. It’s easy to work out that they must be armed but it’s a needless moment of confusion on your first page.

    p.4 Bullets don’t “fizz” past. If they’re close then they make a cracking noise.

    p.5 Altogether a nice dramatic opening that ends on a cliffhanger, even if it does mean we have to get the dreaded “18 hours earlier” in the next scene.

    p.6 Should there be a gap between the intro of Roger and Tommy? It feels like it should all be part of the same paragraph/slug.

    p.8 You need to mention that Kealy is making tea before he asks Taylor if he wants sugar. Again, it’s easy enough to work out but it makes a reader pause to work it out when they should be reading.

    p.8-9 Why is Taylor – the new guy – giving the lecture on local conditions? Shouldn’t it be the other way round?

    p.9 Shouldn’t you mention that the young Sultan, unlike his father, was a moderniser who was trying to turn the country around? It would help establish that the SAS are the good guys.

    p.14 “moral” should be “morale”.

    p.24 It’s probably worth mentioning when Murdeer is addressing the troops, as it seems like he is still just planning/talking with Juma until he gets “roars of approval”.

    p.39 “amendments” should probably be “adjustments”.

    Writing “in the b.g.” is unnecessarily technical – just say “behind X such and such happens”.

    p.65 “G Squad” – surely “G Squadron”…or did people say this at the time?

    p.74 Tempted to say there needs to be more emphasis on just how dangerous Tobin & Kealey’s run to the gun pit was; this was the action which some people said was so brave it was VC-worthy.

    p.90 “This is the best trained and best equipped guerrilla army on the planet” – Was this actually said or is it invented? It’s a bit of an overstatement and one of the few false notes in the script.

    p.104 Can Taylor “hammer” away with the GPMG? Isn’t it the same one which malfunctioned on Snapper, reducing it to single shots? It shouldn’t be capable of the full-auto fire suggested by “RATATATAT” .

    • scriptfeels

      Whether this script is chosen or not, this is great feedback for the writer! Great Job!

  • Tony

    Based on the first thirty-five pages.

    Quite a tough bunch to get through.

    The one that stands out, and seems like it has the greatest potential is The Battle of Mirbat. But the main character needs to take center stage, and really needs to be taking control of the story. It reads well, from a format point of view, and didn’t suffer from overwriting. The others seemed to get bogged down in over-description.

    The Why Should You Read sections were too verbose and overwritten as well. Again, The Battle of Mirbat was short, sweet, and straight to the point. A logline, and a couple of lines is all that’s required. The rest should come from what’s on the page. We don’t require a dissertation on why this story needs to be read.

    All the best!

    1st Place honors – The Battle of Mirbat

    2nd Place honors – N/A

    Congratulations!

    Notes based on the first thirty-five pages.

    HADLEYVILLE – western

    Page one, A confident, determined woman more than 100 years before it was even considered barely acceptable to be so.

    Prefer to actually see this, rather than the writer tell us.

    Page five, the character introductions seem overdone. Would be far better to see there
    personalities shine on the page, than a description of who or what they’re meant to be.

    Page twelve, lotta guys? Would he say guys? Men?

    Page fifteen, this is very talky, and not much has happened so far. Are we to assume that Tobias is the main character, as the focus has been on him so far?

    Page twenty-five, why not introduce Stella straight away, when they first meet? There’s no need to keep her name from the reader. And have him do something for her, that catches her eye? Maybe she drops something, and he picks it for her. Anything. Make it an encounter that they’d both remember.

    Page thirty-five, incredibly talky with not much going on up to this point. Characters are
    constantly having conversations. At a 118 pages, this feels somewhat overwritten. The story needs to move faster. And the pace needs to be picked up considerably. This is a western.

    All the best!

    MOLNIYA 7- sci-fi/adventure

    Title page. There’s no need for the copyright. An email address is enough. Should someone decide to contact you.

    Page seven, what’s a 19 year old girl toy?

    Page ten, at this stage, we still don’t really know who we’re meant to be following. Not enough time has been spent with Alexis, if she does turn out to be the main character.

    Page eighteen, it’s hangar bay.

    Page twenty, not much has happened to Alexis yet.

    Page twenty-five, this is only 96 pages long, and nothing of consequence has happened to Alexis yet.

    Page thirty-five, things are moving along far too slowly considering the length of this story.
    Nothing has happened to Alexis, and she doesn’t really seem to be taking this story forward with her choices and actions. The pace needs to be quickened.

    All the best!

    QUIESCENT – sci-fi/adventure

    Title page

    There’s no need for all this copyright stuff. Makes writers look paranoid.

    Page five, the description and action is a little on the heavy-side.

    Page thirteen, is the tunnel inside the penthouse?

    Page fifteen, there’s been no real indication as to who we should be following at this stage. There seems to be a lack of focus on any one character.

    Page twenty-six, things are taking a long time to get going. There needs to me momentum. Otherwise a reader is going to fall asleep.

    Page thirty-one, dialogue heavy. This meeting seems a little on the easy side. Wouldn’t it be more fun to have him work harder to gain her trust?

    Page thirty-five, the story is taking far too long to get going. If Johnny is meant to be the main character, he needs more to do. At the moment, he’s not taking control of his choices and actions. He’s not taking this story forward in any clear direction. The relationship that he forms with Cocha happens far too quickly and easily. It needs to be harder for the both of them. He needs to earn her trust and respect, before they
    start holding hands.

    All the best!

    THE BATTLE OF MIRBAT – war/action

    Title page

    An email address would be useful, should someone wish to contact you.

    Page four, unless it’s revealed later that they don’t die, why start the story here?

    Page five, by far the quickest read so far. Not bogged down by lots of description and thick action lines.

    Page sixteen, quite a bit of voice over, and explanation.

    Page twenty-six, while the fastest read so far, this appears to be suffering from familiar
    issues, like not really knowing who we should be following. Are we meant to be following Kealy as he appears to be the odd one out? Especially after his voice over about how he wants to win them all around. And gain their respect etc.

    Page thirty-five, last few pages have been good, quite a bit of tension is created in this
    situation. But it’s still unclear as to who the main character is.

    Out of the four, this is the best of the bunch. It’s not overburdened with dense action, and
    description.

    All the best!

    THE IRISH ROVER – Comedy

    Page one, is Cormac Scottish?

    This man lives hard and he should be dead.

    How does having a drinking problem equate to living hard?

    Page two, are we to assume that because he drinks Jamison whiskey, he’s Irish, because they way his dialogue is written indicates that he’s Scottish? It’s also, Jameson Irish Whiskey?

    Is this an R-rated comedy?

    There is a smile on his face as he believes his hard work and sacrifice will make him
    a partner at the company today.

    Let’s see this, rather than be told it. How can this be established by a smile? Must
    be some smile.

    Page five, gay joke, gay humor? And they just happen to be discussing father-son
    relationships on the radio?

    Page eight, Brendan’s eight, and he knows all these curse words, not only that,
    he has Tourette syndrome?

    Page twelve, this Cormac character really isn’t coming across as Irish?

    Page sixteen, a lot of dialogue here.

    Page twenty-one, instead of having them use voice over to tell us what’s going on,
    just show us what happens?

    Page twenty-four, FLASHBACK, BACK TO PRESENT.

    Page twenty-six, this story has a lot of potential. Why not make them father and son? Why is she a prostitute? Why not a dating site?

    Page thirty-three, why not make Cormac of Scottish descent? He really isn’t coming off as Irish in any way, shape or form? And have them travel to Scotland?

    Page thirty-five, it would be far more entertaining if there was more conflict in this. Why not introduce some relationship problems into Ryan and Sophia’s marriage? What if she doesn’t like Cormac? What if she thinks Cormac is a bad influence, and doesn’t want Ryan to go?

    All the best!

    • ximan

      Copyright “stuff” isn’t paranoia. The writer is required to label the script as copyright protected if indeed he/she has paid for the copyright. Otherwise, the writer could lose his/her protection because they failed to inform the public the work was copyrighted.

    • scriptfeels

      “Page seven, what’s a 19 year old girl toy?”
      wouldn’t you like to find out, hahahaha.

  • Malibo Jackk

    Am planning to read some of The Battle of Mirbat.

    Since audiences seem to love hearing “Based on a true story,”
    I would hammer that home in the logline — instead of saying “a retelling of.”

  • Matthew Garry

    My vote this week: HADLEYVILLE

    Wow, that dialogue sure went down smooth. A little too smooth even, since just by itself if managed to distract me right up to the point where I’m three quarters of the way through and then everyone suddenly dies. The plot pacing really condenses and expands at random to accommodate the character development: all fleshed out and nowhere to go.

    Maybe it’s because I still have “East of Eden” on the brain, but I really loved Marie. She’s a stellar villain with just the right mix of evil and allure. In fact, the only time I felt my attention waning was when Marie was absent for multiple pages.

    I really had no idea what Hazel was about. She does have a tiny plot point, but I’m not sure that’s worth it to keep her around for for so long. I would really make her more important or drop her completely.

    Another strange duck was Slayton. Maybe he’s modelled after MacB.s Sayton, coming out of nowhere and being helpful (and also an armourer), but the late appearance of a mentor-like character felt strange. Once again, I liked his direct interactions with Tobias, but their relationship felt underdeveloped.

    As a personal preference I would have liked a sadder ending with more ambiguity about Stella’s motives. Something more in line with the theme and tone of the story.

    But pacing and spacing issues aside, I can see why this scored so highly. Characters, mood, and the story are all there, and it’s just a matter of shuffling scenes and sequences around to land it in that Goldilocks zone.

    What I learned: Strong characters lead to strong dialogue, and strong dialogue leads to strong characters, so extra attention to either pays off double.

  • Tschwenn

    Molniya 7 – wasn’t into this.

    Quiescent – what I read was overwritten (much like the logline)
    The Battle of Mirbat – sharp, vivid writing. This is the only script I felt like continuing with.

  • Citizen M

    My vote this week goes to THE BATTLE OF MIRBAT with honorable mention to HADLEYVILLE.

    MOLNIYA 7 96p by Anthony M. Dionisio

    Read to page 31. There’s too much family drama and not enough space action for a space thriller. Your main audience will be teenage boys and I don’t think they’ll be interested in parental arguments about a snotty self-absorbed kid. By page 31 things should be happening, but our heroes aren’t even is space yet, they are still bickering on the ground and all is well on the space station. And anyway, I don’t know who our protagonist is. Could be Vince, Jeb, or Alexis.

    p. 4 – ‘circular dark spots’. Say these are from nuclear blasts. I thought you were referring to centre-point irrigation areas, as seen on satellite maps.

    p. 17 – T.V. Uses satellites in geostationary orbits. GPS, weather satellites, and the ISS use LEO. Russia can’t use geostationary satellites for TV because, being over the equator, they are too low on the horizon as seen from Russia, so they compromise by using Molniya orbits which give them satellites high in the sky although they don’t stay in one spot like geostationary satellites. There is little point in putting a manned station in Molniya orbit because of the fuel needed to reach the orbit. Unless there is a good script reason, which there isn’t so far, I would have a space station in conventional LEO.

    Niggles: lightening/lightning; thermal nuclear/thermonuclear; girl toy/toyboy

    QUIESCENT 117p by Rob Barkan 2014

    Read to page 38. Too many characters, visions, legends, flashbacks, exposition, and government agents. Not enough story. The writer is still laying the groundwork. No one has taken any sort of character-revealing initiative. We should be well into the power station affecting New York by now, according to the logline.

    Too many names the same: Teddy, Johnny, Freddy, Tommy. I think Johnny is the protagonist, but then why have a long flashback for Tommy boxing his brother? What has that to do with the story?

    Personally I’m not a fan of sacred gemstones fitting perfectly-machined crevices and activating long-buried machinery, nor of dinosaurs biting mammoths, nor of Ancients with powers unknown to us. That’s kid’s stuff, and kids want swift action and entertainment, and that’s not happening here. This script never gets out of second gear.

    THE BATTLE OF MIRBAT 112p by Dan Hall

    Read to page 37. Only stopped because I need to read other scripts. Very good description of a military situation. Enough background on men without overdoing it. Inexperienced commander, veteran men, overwhelming odds: great setup for the coming battle. Reads like fiction but it’s actually fact. Definitely want to read on.

    HADLEYVILLE 118p by Zach Jansen

    Read to page 37. Enjoying it so far and want to read on, although I would like a bit more of a plot. I’m not sure what protagonist Tobias’s big need is. Miss Marie is the stand-out character. Mick is a bit one-note carrying on about the railroad, presumably a plot point though I don’t see it yet. I also like Dan the barman, although I wish you would call him a barman when you introduce him. I thought “fights with beer barrels” meant he was some kind of low-level skivvy.

    Most of the clasic Western characters are there: the sheriff, his deputies, the bank manager, the girls, the cowboys. One person I don’t see is a villain. In most scripts Tobias would have made an enemy by now, but he doesn’t seem to have. A character we don’t have is the mine boss. Will Tobias’s mining background come into play? The classic Western always ends with a showdown. Who will the other party be?

    THE IRISH ROVER 104p by Fred Seton & Andy Sweat

    Read to page 34. Lots of fun, but… A lot of the humor comes from swearing. I don’t think you can sustain a whole movie that way. And the Tourette’s, while funny, is so non-PC I wonder if it will be acceptable, let alone finding a child actor willing to do it.

    I felt devoting eight pages from 17 to 25 in Theo’s house was too long off the main storyline. And the flashback of Cormac’s last Father’s Day, while funny, is so outrageous it uses up a lot of humor capital. You’re going to have to top that in the rest of the script, and I can’t see it happening. I think it would be better if Cormac acts all humble initially to get Ryan to take him to Ireland, and grows increasingly out of control as the script goes on.

    Also, everyone’s too nice and supportive. Where is the conflict going to come from? You need a bad guy. Grady Meeks the boss is the obvious candidate but I don’t see how he is going to throw a spanner in the works.

  • Bill Anthony Lawrence

    I don’t have a final vote yet, but the first few pages of both HADLEYVILLE and THE BATTLE OF MIRBAT suggest they will be very fine scripts.

  • brenkilco

    Haven’t read Quiescent but I just have to give it a few pages. The whole logline is so cosmically awful. Let’s start with the title. An SAT vocabulary word that half the test takers probably got wrong. Remember big budget movies need teenage mouthbreathers to succeed. A dormant, Atlantean power station. Probably dormant because the citizens of Atlanta didn’t find it cost effective to import energy from the big apple. Wait, let me grab my dictionary. Hm, relating to the God Atlas. Still lost. Ah, third definition, concerning the lost continent. Got it. Buried for thousands of years. Well, I guess it would have to be. I mean if it had just been installed Con Ed would be pissed. It’s time-meshing everything. Just imagine if it were active. It could probably time crush and time puree. So we have this vision haunted Native American tunnel worker. What are the odds? Guessing he’s an IRT maintenance guy but it’s just a guess. And a beautiful geology assistant. Ever notice in scifi movies female assistants are always beautiful unless they’re really funny. And a hardened CIA agent. Ever notice in adventure movies that CIA agents are always hardened unless they’re rookies who don’t play by the book.

    And it’s an exciting thrill ride full of native American Spirituality with deep metaphysical undertones. Because let’s face it. An illuminating examination of indigenous religion just makes the thrills thrillier. I’m so there.

    • Kirk Diggler

      “Ever notice in adventure movies that CIA agents are always hardened unless they’re rookies who don’t play by the book.”

      What about the hardened CIA agent who has never played by the book? But that might fall into the category of ‘there are old pilots, there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots’.

  • ripleyy

    Both “Quiescent” and “The Irish Rover” have huge loglines. I’m beginning to think people are mistaking loglines for synopsis, and it only proves it’s a rushed, second-thought before sending it into Carson.

    Quiescent: “After a long-dormant Atlantean power station buried under Manhattan for thousands of years transform the city with a mysterious time-meshing force, a vision-haunted Native American tunnel worker, a Columbia geology professor and his beautiful assistant team up with a hardened CIA agent to shut the pyramid down before it destroys the planet”

    Sure, this tells us everything we need to know (“time-meshing”?), but it’s so long-winded.

    My Revised Quiescent Logline:

    “A Native American, haunted with strange visions, teams up with three others to shut down an ancient Atlantean power station, buried beneath Manhattan, that threatens to destroy the world”

    I’m sure others will have different opinions on how to tackle it, but I think “Native American” is definitely a good place to start. That tells me something that will at least separate it from other movies with a similar plot.

    “Atlantean power station” is also another thing that’s essential. It may be three paragraphs, but that’s as far as I could get it down without losing any of the important stuff.

    The Irish Rover: “Looking to connect for the first time, a son and his drunk, crotchety, dying Irish father takes an epic journey to Ireland to get him laid for a final Father’s Day goodbye fuck. Mayhem, whorehouses, shootouts and rollicking celtic music ensue in the process of this father and son finally coming together”

    That’s a lot to get through, and none of it is rather important.

    My Revised “The Irish Rover” logline:

    “A son takes his drunken father on a road-trip to get him laid before his final Father’s Day”

    Often times, on Amateur Friday, people write long loglines (or “synop-lines”) because they’re not sure the story itself is any good. Carson has mentioned this more than once, so I’m not going to echo it. There is no point in sending in a script if you haven’t put twice as much time into the logline. You send in a script with a logline that is over-written, and you’re killing any chance it will be read. People WILL read it, but only out of curiosity.

    Stripping “The Irish Rover” down to the revised logline, I begin to realize just how dark it may be. You don’t need to OVER SELL a script, you need to just be HONEST. There is a fear that “people might not read my script” so the writer over-plays it. Don’t. You’re doing the exact thing you’re terrified of.

  • Randy Williams

    HADLEYVILLE

    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    Read 20 pages of this. I am not a big fan of reading historical scripts. I find many of them weighed down with too much world building, an introduction of too many characters at the beginning and often a wariness to be so historically credible that the writing is zapped of blood, sweat and tears that we can identify with. My co-writer and I are outlining one and I’ve made it clear I don’t want an opening of a group of characters sitting around a table talking about sailing a ship across the ocean to discover a new land and riches. I want to open with a character bursting with emotion, that he’s lost the love of his life and he wants to just forget her, escape from the pain, and thus volunteers to take a ship that just happens to be searching for a new land and riches.
    I got a little of the characters sitting around the table with Hadleyville. Lots of talk, lots of character introductions. An “innocent abroad” beginning that went down very easily, certainly endearing with the character of Tobias, a pleasure to read, but lacking for me the blood, sweat and tears. I don’t recall one mystery box in those 20 pages. Everyone wore their heart on their sleeve and showed their cards.
    The writer asked in his WYSR if we felt something was missing in his writing.
    I say, what are you hiding in your own life? What are the characters hiding?

  • Mhocommenter

    If anyone has current year’s Nicholl finalists scripts please forward: MAY1MSG AT GMAIL DOT COM. Thanks in advance!

  • pmlove

    Is the Battle of Mirbat Dan Hall the Submerged Dan Hall?

  • Randy Williams

    MOLNIYA 7

    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    Started off with an involving space mission, although perhaps a bit more on that shattering windshield and a line about the consequences of it giving way would be cool. But then, after I started reading what came after it, I got this “summer blockbuster” feel to the script and looking back on that opening, then felt it was much “too small”.

    I thought the characters were drawn very well. The two guys with conflict up front. Loved the scene with the father and son eating cereal. Liked the switch from the usual guy leaving a girl in the bed with Alexis. The introduction of the President, however, was a bit dull and confusing. Russian?

    Still, on page 19, I’m not clear about how these orbits work and why I should be interested. I’m not clear where this is going. What is the challenge? Is the earth at risk for something? Who is the “star” here? I feel for the characters, this FEELS like a movie, but let’s cut to the chase.

  • NajlaAnn

    My choice: Molniya 7 [I like the log line.]

  • NajlaAnn

    My choice: Quiescent

    I’m in the mood for sci-fi adventure these days and its log line intrigued me..

  • ThomasBrownen

    I checked out the first ten of Molniya 7. I really liked the author’s enthusiasm and upbeat attitude in the Why You Should Read, but I’m not quite sure it’s infused in the script yet. The first few pages of the script were set in space, but I was rather confused about what was happening. That could be my fault and maybe I was distracted, but it all seemed a bit too technical and confusing for me to understand.

  • klmn

    My choice is The Battle of Mirbat, based on loglines and partial reads.

    • Poe_Serling

      Thought you might enjoy this:

      http://www.shocktillyoudrop.com/news/372401-listen-night-new-track-john-carpenters-lost-themes/

      Classic Carpenter in my opinion. ;-)

      • klmn

        Nice. I’ll preview the album on Amazon, and probably buy it (if the other tracks hold up).

      • kenglo

        They had an interview Series on the El Ray channel, Rodriguez gave him an interview, it was highly in depth and mind bending. At the end Carpenter was saying “Horror! Horror! If you want to make a movie, are just starting out, make a horror film!” (or something like that, I was just trippin’ on how weird he looked!)

        • Poe_Serling

          Thanks, kenglo!!!

          I get the El Rey Network, so I’ve been enjoying the director interviews too.

          “At the end Carpenter was saying “Horror! Horror! If you want to make a
          movie, are just starting out, make a horror film!” (or something like
          that, I was just trippin’ on how weird he looked!)”

          Plus, you don’t see many people chain smoking on TV anymore.

          And oh, here’s a bit of new Carpenter news:

          http://collider.com/escape-from-new-york-remake-fox/

          • kenglo

            Yeah, the smoking was funny! Thanks POE!

  • Andrea Moss

    Hadleyville or Mirbat. Both have strong loglines.

  • Randy Williams

    QUIESCENT

    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    Manhattan in 1664. Dinosaur skulls. Creepy atmosphere. What’s not to love about this opening? You’ve put me in a place I don’t recall ever being in. I feel I’m in the hands of someone with an immense and fun imagination. The only criticism I can make of that opening is perhaps the use of CAPS would be of benefit to set off the creature, the sounds, some action, breaking up things a bit, really putting us there.

    Then a stunning forward to present day Manhattan. A nice mystery box with the ice on the bird. Oh my god, I’m loving this. Then to the bodega and the stunning forward is muddled…oh no… with a flashback to Mayan times (been there, done that) and something not of the writer’s imagination. Wanted less stilted dialogue from the Guatamalan and more insight into who this ex-CIA agent is. At the “doom of Atlantic” I suddenly felt some doom of my own. This was only reinforced with the Indian’s dream sequence and I wanted to run back to that creepy opening and start over again. Too many balls to keep suspended for me. Is the ex-CIA the character I’m supposed to grab on to as we make this ride or one of the many Indians?

    Looking forward from any commenter who has read the whole thing to see how this all comes together.

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

    Happy New Year to all, let’s make more success stories happen this year!
    The Battle of Mirbat wins the logline war this week. Terse and true, boom.

    AOW Winner: THE BATTLE OF MIRBAT.
    Honorable Mention: HADLEYVILLE.

    MOLNIYA 7:
    Read to page 30.

    Pretty solid logline, but there’s room for some IRONY.
    What is your protag’s PERSONAL CONNECTION to your story?
    That ironic fact will entice a lot of readers. Revise with that in mind.

    Jammer seems like way too much of a movie name.
    Little deets out of whack like this can derail readers. Reconsider it.
    Your thick prose is suffocating the story.
    “Jeb offers Parker a look of absurdity. His attention is then captured by the video screen”

    You can just say: “Jeb eyes his son. A screen activates…”
    Don’t take the long way to say something very SIMPLE.
    Reserve your purple prose for when the reader needs complex orientation.

    Alexis’s intro borders on 80s action movie parody, big time.
    The hungover one night stand reveal of a reckless protag.
    Too many action movies go there, try another way to engage the reader.
    As written, it just sends the message your a movie fan with a checklist.

    Lots of backstory domesticity in a very short action script.
    Taking way too long just to get the McGuffins onto the space station.
    Your script’s a third over before your premise really begins to unfold.
    Can’t expect your audience to wait to have some fun for that long.
    That and no clear protag (Jeb, Jammer or Alexis?) are why I stopped reading.

    QUISCENT:
    Read to page 16.

    Please consider putting your logline on a diet, there’s repetitive phrases…
    “Long dormant & buried for thousands of years”, basically say the same thing.
    Also your protags resume details aren’t story critical, trim that down.
    You can just call the trio: “A tunnel worker, geologist & CIA agent.”

    Thick prose to start your tale, the sentences read choppy.
    Try to be more visceral with your prose, don’t focus on staging.
    Ask yourself: What’s HAPPENING that the reader absolutely must know?
    It’s so thick on the page, that I totally missed the DINOSAUR in your prologue.

    First ten feel like backstory. Five pages of priests arguing.
    Then we get another flashback heaped on top of that.
    All of it reads like Burden of Investment, no fun just stuff to remember.
    Feel like you missed a drunk joke with an Irishmen & Native American.
    Two ethnic groups known for their alcoholic entanglements.

    And the third flashback is going to send me packing.
    Very dense prose and backstory-loaded time jumping kill my enthusiasm.
    You may know this story well, but I’m lost in a sea of disconnected details.
    Nothing’s happened in the present day except someone picking up a gem
    Find a clearer and simpler slice of your concept to orient and engage the reader.

    HADLEYVILLE:
    Read to page 26.

    Everything after the comma in your logline reads superfluous.
    Consider ending it after “businesswoman” it encapsulates plot just fine.
    Maybe you can slip something in there about his dream/plan in the West.

    I wanted to know what fun Tobias has with Lucy.
    Maybe cutting to that from the prairie is the better way to go.
    Let the reader ride into town WITH Tobias. So we’re linked together.
    We experience Hadleyville when he does. Heightens the potential for EMPATHY.
    And it tells the reader in no uncertain terms that Tobias is our man.

    You can jumpstart the protag’s GOAL by Tobias telling folks why he’s come here.
    I feel like Tobias should have a very specific goal here in town…
    For instance, in Liberty Valance, Jimmy Stewart endeavored to be a lawyer.
    He wanted to bring written law to the West in the office, not with a gun.
    John Ford’s character is one I can get behind. Do the same for Tobias.

    I do enjoy a lot of the dialogue though, reads very well down the page.
    The supporting male characters mostly blend together.
    It’s the flow of their speak that still keeps me reading.

    IDEA: What if Tobias came out here for a job at the bank?
    But when he gets there, it’s gone. And why that happened connects to a villain somehow.
    Tobias has no prospects now, until Marie has a need for his specific skills.
    Just the job screwing ALONE helps me like Tobias a ton. Consider my plan.

    The directness of the job interview reads flat, elongate the tension here.
    I feel like Marie’s the kind of girl that like to play with her food first.
    Let Marie make it hard on Tobias to just ask simple questions. She toys with him.
    She should only give him a TRIAL RUN. A week, a month. Give us URGENCY.
    Jimmy Stewart was always on the clock against poor Liberty Valance.
    I like how Marie guides Tobias, and she does the same for the reader too.

    THE IRISH ROVER:
    Read to page 27.

    Drop the entire second sentence of your LOGLINE.
    There’s nothing in it that adds to the comprehensive first one.
    You can lose the “drunk & crotchety” bits too. Stripping down says more.

    I dig the tone and readability. Though there’s some EMPTY CALORIES.
    Consider moderate trims to your mostly fun verbosity on the page.

    P. 5 How can Boston radio be playing in Philadelphia?
    Methinks there was a city swap at some point.

    Author, I DEMAND to read the audition scene for the school play!
    I must know how that casting decision was made in the room, good sir.
    Whose coke habit allowed this human resource malfunction to occur?

    Mrs. Dominick has quite a mouthful of backstory on page 17.
    Do we we need to know the 7th grade thing. Doesn’t read that way to me.
    Ryan/Theo chat sprinkled with time jumps kills all your fun MOMENTUM.

    The pages were flowing until this narrative road block ambushed me.
    It’s an eight page sequence that derails all that clarity you had going.

    Too many gimmicks bog down the best assets of your tale.
    Your prose is a lot of fun when it’s allowed to breathe on the page.
    Tone down your internal editor, crank up the juicy character conflicts.

    THE BATTLE OF MIRBAT:
    Read to page 28. Easily could’ve kept going.

    You got the winning logline & WYSR, can you pull off the trifecta?

    I get shades of ZULU as I read, and that’s a very good thing.
    You don’t have the creepy disaffected Caine, but your pages are tight.
    Great orienting skills. Your geography is visually effective.
    I know this place is a lynch pin waiting to be pulled, a ticking bomb.

    You’ve got the invasion beginning at the end of Act One.
    Everything clicks into place. We’ve got a flawed protag I’m on board with.
    And you anchor us in the world. Foreshadow harrowing events.
    The best part is that you achieve this while making sure things are always HAPPENING.
    In other words, your scenes seamlessly MULTITASK their brains out, kudos author.

    In summary: Every single page of this script reads like a MOVIE.
    I look forward to offering the writer a full review when he takes the AF crown.

    • Eddie Panta

      Re: The Battle of Mirbat Logline

      I wasn’t as taken in by the logline as much as you were.

      A “retelling” implies the stories been told. The logline fails to mention that it’s British Special Forces.

      Not that I think it’s bad just that an army war battle logline pretty much writes itself. There isn’t a turn in the logline either. The other scripts have a much more difficult task in creating theirs.

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

    I’m casting my vote for The Battle of Mirbat, as well. From the concept and situation alone it seems the most cinematic of the bunch. I’m still reading the script, but I couldn’t wait to finish it before pointing this out.

    Anybody else think that on page 14-15, when Kealy begins his letter, is when the story really takes off? Before I was having a hard time balancing all the characters and figuring out who’s important and who isn’t. The stakes were clear from the map scene, but I think it’s even clearer when Kealy details them in his letter.

    What I feel right now is that from page 14 to 20 the author conveys the goal and stakes of the SAS troops, the protagonist’s flaw, establishes the more outstanding soldiers in the football game (sort of like Trainspotting did), and even introduces the antagonists in a cool scene. It seems more dynamic and clear than the first ten pages.

    Now, maybe some of the stuff Kealy writers is on the nose (I don’t know if he really wrote that letter and used those words) and may seem info-dumpy. I’m not sure either if I want to keep the early attack sequence and flash back 18 hours earlier.

    All I can say the stakes, goals, characters, and character traits were neatly summarized between pages 14-20, and it would be nice if they could come up a bit sooner.

    • Levres de Sang

      Yes, I agree. Everything came alive with that letter. It was an outstanding V.O.

  • GoIrish

    Irish Rover – I wound up reading all of it. Despite the language, it had a light-hearted feel to it, which I enjoyed. As mentioned by others, a little more conflict in the first act might be beneficial. Also, some of the flackbacks slowed the momentum, so you may want to pare that down a bit. Not really a show-stopper, but I was curious where Emma had been (dating back to when Young Cormac walked out of the bar). If Cormac was obsessed with her this whole time, it seems like he would have tried looking for her – even through internet searches (which wouldn’t seem to pose a problem for him given his computer-savvy at the beginning). Overall an enjoyable read.

    Notes while reading:

    On p.3 he’s in Philadelphia; on p. 5, he appears to be in Boston???
    p. 20 – not sure if I was supposed to be reading this literally, but I don’t believe Cormac ever told Ryan she was “red”
    p. 45 – Sophia: “What do YOU mean…”
    p. 46 – Ryan: “…whip his dick OUT…”
    p. 46 – the first “Chuck E. Cheese”
    reference uses a period after the “E” – the next three references do not
    p. 47 – Ryan sits AT a table…
    p. 48 – …going so far as TO wave
    p. 66 – Cormac just walks away????
    p. 77 – Cormac: “…family THAN anythin’ else.”
    p. 93 – Sean: “…before I they kill me.” (delete “I”)
    p. 102 – “Ryan packs his things slowly, reflecting on things.” Almost has an Austin Powers-like feel to it (“Allow myself to introduce…,myself”).
    p. 104 – “he embraces Cormac with a hug.” Is there any other way to embrace? Feels a little redundant.
    p. 104 – Sophia: “Cormac BROUGHT…”

    You alternated between “whiskey” and “whisky” throughout (the majority of the time you used “whiskey”). On one site I saw, “whiskey” is preferred by American and Irish liquor producers.

  • Randy Williams

    THE BATTLE OF MIRBAT

    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    Read to page 15 of this. I was constantly interrupted while reading this with something else but it wasn’t a chore getting back into it. There is a “comfortableness” to this. I think, that “comfortable” feel for me has its disadvantage, compared to what features I see selling these days, however.The sense of propulsion that you find in many of those scripts isn’t there for me here. Personally, I got more a mini-series feel where you settle in slowly and get to know the characters, take in the surroundings, all wrapped up in professionally feeling writing without a lot of fuss. “Taylor tries his tea, likes it” sort of thing.

    Enjoyed the uniqueness of the Fijians, loved that when I was just sensing that it needed some humor, up pops up the camel joke. Must read, that one.

  • MJ86

    MOLNIYA 7: I read to page 30.

    I did not read the logline for this until after I read a portion of the script. I wanted to see if I could figure out what the script was about without being told. By page 30, I did not know where the story was going. Depending on how you look at it, that could be seen as a good thing. It could mean the script was unpredictable. IMO, it was not so much that, but more that the script bored me and I just didn’t know where it was going. Then I read the logline and realized you just dragged out the Act 1 setup for too long. And considering we didn’t learn that much about the characters / their situations, I think that means you had too many characters TO setup.

    Also, after I read the logline I thought, “so this is Gravity with more people?” I know everyone says write something “the same, but different,” but is that really what we should do? Why not write something different…and then mo’ different? Who wants to be known as the guy who “wrote the other space station rescue movie?” I, personally, just don’t think this is an interesting premise. I still haven’t watched Gravity for this very reason. Or Apollo 13. idk how you can make this idea fresher, but I hope you figure it out!

    My Suggestions: 1) Change the title. Maybe I’m just crazy, but it’s a hard word to both look at and say. 2) Cut some characters. Start with Kitch. You can have the scene showing Jammer’s recklessness without him. We don’t need to see Kitch break up with him. You don’t show what happened to Alex’s partner, and it’s the same thing. Find a way to either eliminate or combine some of these characters. 3) Don’t save the interesting stuff for last! Wow us from page one and then don’t stop!

  • Randy Williams

    THE IRISH ROVER

    Congrats for making it on AOW!

    Okay, finally a script with a goal stated pretty early. I know where I’m going.

    EDIT: For this reason, THE IRISH ROVER gets my vote.

    A breezy read, some confusion. Is he in Philly or Boston and would an Eagles fan ever wear their jersey to do what the old man does in the beginning of this. More like a Cowboy fan and then never wash it.

    Anyway…I liked this..the laughs were there.. But I think it needs something which will do two things. 1)make the Tourette character more acceptable since some may object to making fun of a character like that 2) Make the characters forthcominess about things more believable.

    What if the Tourette’s character makes everyone realize they need to be honest about things. I just didn’t understand Mrs. Dominick’s sudden revelations about her bathroom exhibitions or the old man’s sudden need to get some for the first time. Everyone just lays it bare. If the kid casts a spell over everyone with his profanity laced seizures, either literally or persuasively, then it would all make more sense.

    • scriptfeels

      I second your critique of making the Tourette character more acceptable and the character’s forthcominess about things more believable.

  • ASAbrams

    My vote is for THE BATTLE OF MIRBAT.

    • ASAbrams

      Molniya 7 – Read to page 26.

      I liked the concept. But I feel the action should be starting much earlier. So far the setup seems to drag. Mostly because there are very little stakes–personal or public–for the characters. Two astronauts bicker and stop being partners. So what? They don’t seem to like each other anyway. An astronaut tries to get away from a clingy one-night stand. Talk about extremely low stakes. Two exes bicker over their son. So what? What are the consequences of this argument? The astronauts are about to lose their jobs. Okay that’s something, but the characters are just like ‘Aw man!’ How will this affect them in painful ways? Then there is the debris that will hit the space station. Well, there haven’t been scenes at the space station at the point I stopped reading. And when the debris becomes a threat, we’re told about it second hand.

      Also, the characters felt too much like people in a movie. Not very plausible–I’m talking about simple reactions and interactions with other people. I don’t really get their motivations (for example, I didn’t see one hint for why Alexis would be the way she is). None of these characters were very compelling to me either. (btw, the first lady’s name should probably be ‘Susan Urban’ instead of ‘Susan Liam’ on page 23.)

    • ASAbrams

      Quiescent – Read to page 10.

      That’s some logline. I think it could do with some trimming. Too many adjectives and clauses.

      I think this will be one of those ‘just not for me’ type of stories. I couldn’t get into it as the story opened hundreds of years ago, then we follow a series of characters doing whatever. Then a dream sequence… Also, I had trouble fitting all of the concepts presented–dinosaurs, Atlantean legend (Greek mythology), Native American mythology, and Mayan mythology–all into a cohesive narrative in my head. I wouldn’t be able to say the one thing this story is about.

    • ASAbrams

      The Battle of Mirbat – Read all of it.

      I moved pretty quickly through this one. It was well paced and structured.

      The one thing that could be punched up are the characters. Right now, the arcs are a little lacking. For example, we’re told (through a written letter voice over) that Kealy’s men don’t respect him. That was news to me. I think that one of the prior scenes should demonstrate this more. Put some tension in it. Make sure we see that this is an important thing to Kealy. Many of the scenes afterward hinge on the whole ‘follow the captain thing’ so it should be set up well. The relationships are mostly just them getting along. They don’t have to fight, but nobody has a secret, or something in their past to resolve, or something like that. I like how the soldiers interact, but I think that who they are could be followed through on from beginning to end better. For instance the medic abandons his post to tend to the villagers during the attack–is that set up? I did like Laba and Tak–they were given depth.

      The antagonists are only faceless mooks. Give them positive or compelling traits, too. Make them people. Right now, they could be villains in a cartoon.

      The descriptions were confusing in some places. (For example, shrapnel hits Fuzz in one of his eyes, but it says he’s blinded–which implies both eyes.) Also, the asides in the parentheses started to get annoying. Why not just make them apart of the story when something is first introduced? For example, when we first see the soldiers describe them and the state of their clothes. Then when Taylor arrives simply describe him and his dress and we’ll know that it’s different. No need to baldly tell us turning points and descriptions, especially after the fact.

      Then some of the characters are given multiple names in the action. No. Refer to them the same way every time. For example, when the Adoo make it to the mountain village and catch the teenager, he’s referred to as young man, then teen, then man. That was really confusing. I think some of the main characters have alternative names, too. There are too many characters to do name switch ups.

      I think the ending could be punched up, too. It depends a lot on waiting and outside forces. Then the loose threads are kind of summarized with their reinforcements picking off the Adoo.

      But I enjoyed reading this and thought it was a solid story.

      • scriptfeels

        congrats for reading some of the AF scripts to the end! I was wondering which script would play out better, this one or hadleyville? both scripts peaked my interest based off of the first ten pages.

        • walker

          Both scripts “piqued” your interest. Later on your interest may “peak”.

    • ASAbrams

      Hadleyville – Read all of it.

      Okay…computer crashed and I lost the first review. I hope I’ve covered everything the second time around.

      This was very well written. I could see all of the effort and research put into it. I thought everything flowed very naturally.

      However, I struggled with reading this. The characters didn’t advance the story as I expected they would.

      Tobias, our hero, came off as very bland. He comes into the story looking for a railroad job. But the railroad hasn’t been built there yet. Yet he gets another job he’s conveniently qualified for pretty quickly. Marie, the saloon owner, hires him as her accountant. This was the result of the bartender just telling him there’s an available job, not because Tobias struggled or strove to get another job prospect. And now what’s his goal after this? The one that going after will lead to him being challenged to the very core? Well, that goal doesn’t show up until the last act. Up until then, he’s kind of taking life as it falls into his lap.

      I’m not even sure what his ‘core’ is. Being sheltered isn’t really a personality trait. He goes after Stella…kinda–she pursues him more than anything. Then they get together pretty easily and their relational conflicts (Tobias having a problem with Stella being a prostitute) are swept aside without them actually resolving them. They sneak around a little because of Marie’s no fraternizing policy, but that doesn’t keep them apart. And the reason for his heading West for a ‘fresh start’ is never stated or shown.

      Marie, as the main antagonist, should have had a concrete goal, too. Her acting on her plans, in a way that let us know that she was getting closer or further away, would give her opportunities to show how determined she is to maintain her hold on Hadleyville and what she’s willing to do to keep that control. As it is, she kind of just reacts and thinks her way through the entire script. Someone does something she doesn’t like and she handles it in the most roundabout way possible. I’d sharpen her character, give her a harder edge. Then I’d push her until she started (somewhere near the middle, not the end) to unravel.

      I didn’t understand Mick’s deal. He kind of just confesses to something he didn’t do. But why? The consequence is being hanged. I didn’t see anything that Marie did that would be worse than that.

      All the characters come off how they are initially introduced. Tobias is the sweet, naive city boy. I wouldn’t say that his justified revenge challenged that. Dan was the ill-tempered, but reluctant lackey of Marie’s–did that change by the end? Marie was the hard-nosed manipulator who had the sheriff in her pocket. Same at the end. Stella was the angel in prostitute’s clothes. And I guess that was her at the end. And so on and so forth. Nobody surprised me. Everyone did what I thought they would do. I kept waiting for that ‘fresh start’ thing of Tobias’s to come about and we see that Tobias isn’t all naivete and do-right, but that never happened.

      If Tobias had a goal that was at cross-purposes with Marie’s from the beginning, I think that would drive everything in a more compelling way. For instance, Tobias was a politician who was traveling with the railroad builders and was pushing for statehood so that he could be governor or mayor or whatever. That would definitely threaten what Marie had going. They’d have no choice but to deal with each other if they were to get what they wanted. Tobias would still be naive and idealistic, just with a definite goal. Him falling for Stella then would have definite stakes. He might even feel obligated to go after Hazel instead, despite not loving her, because she’d make a more respectable wife. Make the fresh start thing come in to play where he’s hiding something he did back East. I think everything could be a little bit messier for everyone.

      I think what’s here is pretty good, but it needs a spark to get a fire going for it.

    • ASAbrams

      The Irish Rover – Read to page 9.

      This story definitely has spunk *wink wink*. I think this could be written a bit snappier, though. By page ten, I’d have the gist of the story put in place–the son figuring out a way to get the apparently virgin (forget drunk and crotchety, I’d put that in the logline) father laid or whatever. I just didn’t feel there was enough room for the characters to be dragging their feet in a story like this.

  • Poe_Serling

    I had the opportunity to read the first ten pages or more of all five scripts, and it was obvious that the writers put a lot of time and effort into their respective projects.

    By glancing over the comments so far, it seems like The Battle of Mirbat is marching to a well-deserved victory. With that being said —

    My pick this week: QUIESCENT

    The defintion of quiescent – Quiet, still, or inactive.

    This script is anything but quiet. You have feuding clergymen, dinosaurs, a pyramid spitting out blinding light, dismemberment galore… all in the opening scene.

    Now throw in Mayans, Atlantis mythology, CIA skullduggery, etc…. even George Washington shows up by the end.

    What a wild ass story!!!

    As commenter Randy Williams stated below, “You’ve put me in a place I don’t recall ever being in. I feel I’m in the hands of someone with an immense and fun imagination.”

    I agree.

    I’d love to see Carson take this crazy train of a script for a AF ride.

    • scriptfeels

      I too loved all of the ideas, but had trouble keeping up. I got confused at times and didn’t know the character’s goal. Then again, I only read the first ten pages, so maybe that’s all cleared up with another flashback.

  • brenkilco

    Have read 33 pages of Hadleyville. No great criticisms. Not crazy about every line but in general appreciate the matter of fact clarity of the writer’s style. But we are, in page to the minute terms, more than a half hour into this movie with no first act break in sight. Tobias’s slight, proscribed flirtation with co-worker is the most dramatic thing that’s happened so far. Will keep reading but am starting to wonder where we are going or if we are going much of anywhere.

  • For The Lulz

    Read the first 30 pages of Molniya 7.

    I wanted to like this one. Huge fan of anything space related and only a 96pg read.

    Unfortunately this needs some work. The logline is exciting and pulls you in, yet the first 30 pages of this script really drag. Maybe the next 66 pages are the most exciting pages in movie history. But no one will get there because nothing really happens in the first 30.

    This is what I can remember from the first 30-

    – In the future (No idea when as it’s never stated or hinted at), a stereotypically reckless astronaut grabs up some space debris, his partner disagrees with his dangerous actions and announces he’s quitting on him. A cockpit window was harmed.

    – A female astronaut sleeps with a 19 year old then picks up her son from his father who had previously lectured him about bad behavior and washing his own plates while watching a news report on a Middle-Eastern peace treaty that for some strange reason is going to take place in space on a Russian space station…….okay……

    – The US President speaks some Russian to his wife and not so subtly reveals his Air Force background in a conversation about space underwear, and prepares for his trip to a peace treaty signing….on a Russian space station….okay….

    – Female astronaut gets called in to say she and the others are getting canned because for some reason the US government will no longer be funding NASA…..okay…..

    – US President and ONE Secret Service Agent arrive one the station…boy…Presidential security ain’t what it used to be….I guess in this future the US really did have to pay back that $18 Trillion debt, hence the cut price security and the Russians having more advanced space technology.

    – Seven world leaders meet on the station, some more Russian is spoken, some stereotypical references to Communism, The Soviet Union, Also the Middle East nuked itself for some reason (not yet mentioned why)…..

    So…thirty pages in, and I can’t identify a protagonist, I don’t know if we’re out of Act 1 yet. There’s so much filler and exposition little of which is revealed through action. The only important, relevant event that takes place is the Russian satellite getting smashed (which I assume comes into play later). The dialogue needs some major work, I don’t believe the characters would talk or act like that. Drunk astronauts?

    It seems very unfocused at the moment. Too many characters. A lot of cutting back and forth, yet not enough exciting or interesting things happening to any of them.

    You need to ramp up the pace. Get into the main action much sooner. Cut out some characters. I would also change the concept slightly. I just didn’t believe the idea of a peace treaty taking place on a space station. I mean, space is kind of dangerous. Seven important world leaders risking that, the vulnerability, as well as the enormous cost involved. They could just meet in Geneva or something….I just didn’t buy it.

    Better to simplify the story. Something along the lines of In the near-future, the US President inspects a new space station which has a secret that could secure America’s standing in a world fast filling with new superpowers. When sabotage sends it tumbling towards destruction, a secret service agent/astronaut must get the President safely back to Earth no matter what the cost.

    This didn’t work for me. Good luck with the re-writes. There’s real potential for a story like this, but it needs to be executed better.

  • ChadStuart

    I’m in a Sci-Fi kind of mood lately, so “Quiescent” triggered my read impulse this week. I got about 10 pages in. My biggest note would be that the first six pages are spent on the “thing” when it should be spent introducing your main character(s).

    Think about “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. It doesn’t open with a retelling of the Ark being opened and melting faces off. Nope, it’s spent building up Indy.

    Your first six pages are spent with people that are inconsequential to the story, and you immediately tell us what the pyramid is capable of doing. Save that for later. Make that your mystery box.

    Then, before you really tell us anything about the people we’re going to be spending a few hours with, you jump into another flashback to the 1500’s and the Maya to explain another object. Movies aren’t about objects, they’re about people. I suggest rewriting these pages and spend time with the people of your store, and not the “things” of your story.

    To help you with your rewrite, the Mayan flashback is where (and why) I stopped.

    • scriptfeels

      I had similar thoughts. We go from year 1664 to present day Manhattan to a flashback all within the first 10 pages. I’m not sure how anyone could setup a character doing all of these things.

      In raiders, we’re in the present, but we are shown the past through the temple’s traps and the artifact itself along with the natives who try to kill Indie once he accomplishes his goal. Although indie’s character is simple in this setup, its important to establish what he does and that he’s the best.

  • Howie428

    My vote is for HADLEYVILLE.

    Molniya 7

    The opening scene in this is a lot of fun, even if I’d guess actually debris gathering would be much more boring than this!

    The story then jumps to another new set of characters and a hefty exposition dump of the sort that I guess stories of this kind need.

    Then we get another character establishing scene, followed by the scene in the White House where yet another new set of characters is introduced.

    I’ve now read the first ten and while I like the world building set-up, I’m feeling like things have become a bit aimless. You’ve made it tough to get into this story by repeated cold intros and each of these scenes might be backstory for what’s to come, rather than feeling like a story that’s in motion.

    THE IRISH ROVER

    I’ve read the first five pages of this and while I can see the simple potential for a character story, I’m also finding myself rolling my eyes at the various attention grabbing moments.

    THE BATTLE OF MIRBAT

    The opening pages of this have a solid battle scene, although it’s hard to be really on edge for characters we don’t know. Also, I knew within half a page that this would be a flashforward, and sure enough on page four is the “SUPER: 18 HOURS EARLIER”. I guess that approach works, but in this case it feels like the device that it is.

    I’ve reached page 10 and I can see the set-up of the situation playing out and it is a situation with some potential to be a strong story. However, so far it’s feeling quite mechanical. I’m not interested in any of the characters and nothing is happening so far that has hooked me into the story. I’d suggest getting some mini-goals and conflict, or perhaps a mystery, into this opening so that we have something to chew on as you set the scene.

    A story like this shouldn’t need the flashforward to get us engaged and at the moment I’d definitely suggest taking it out and figuring out different ways to make this opening compelling.

    QUIESCENT

    The Manhattan opening has a lot of fun aspects to it.

    The modern times scenes that follow it and that include the flashback feel exposition heavy to me. There’s a danger of piling up too much oddness and not grounding your story with things that we can relate to.

    And on page 10 you have a dream sequence that piles more oddness onto the story. I’d suggest considering if you need all these various devices and if there is a way to center this around a single character who can be our way into the story.

    HADLEYVILLE

    Nice simple Western opening with the hook of the hanging to get us interested.

    I’m on page 13 and things are rattling along nicely. I’ve been catching up on Hell On Wheels recently and this feels a lot like it. You’ve done a good job of setting up the location and Dan’s situation, now I’m hoping for some story momentum.

    I’m up to page 28 and things are still going well. The story still feels a bit like set up in that I couldn’t tell you yet what the central dynamic of it is going to be. There’s a danger that the main character will be dwarfed by the big supporting characters if he doesn’t become more active.

    I’m on page 37 and while there is fun to be had with the inexperience of Tobias I’d wonder if the story needs a bit more spice by this stage.

    At page 54, I’m still liking the scenes and the character work is solid. I guess I’d like it if a bit more plot progress had happened and if there was a bit more momentum to the story, but I’m guessing that stuff will kick in.

  • Kirk Diggler

    Quiescent – this is not a good title. Naming a sci-fi adventure film after a word that is synonymous for ‘idle’ or ‘dormant’ is not a good idea.

    -A conversation between a clergyman and a priest. Talky and uninteresting.

    -Long blocks of action lines.

    -The actual story starts on page 6.

    -A quick glimpse of the Native American character eyeing an iced up bird, then nothing more. Who is he? Important to the story? He didn’t show up again in the first 20 pages so he hardly seems pertinent, yet you gave him an intro.

    “CIA agent HOWARD BARROW, 50s, comes up to the counter. Too many years of espionage have carved deep furrows into his grim, weary face. He wears an expression of desperate purpose perhaps too heavy for one man to bear.

    –you don’t need the 2nd description after giving us the first one.

    So we started with a 5 page Manhattan precursor in 1664, now on page 7 the inevitable flashback with accompanying VO to an earlier time, only this dates back to a Mayan temple in 1553. Hitting us with exposition before getting to know the main characters.

    On pages 9-10 we are treated to a dream sequence. Who am I supposed to be following or care about?

    “Lavish, overlooking Central Park, full of priceless Native American artifacts. Industrial tycoon VINCENT MALVESE, 50s, sits on a living room sofa sipping a brandy.”

    –how do we know he’s an industrial tycoon? If this were a movie he could be anyone. You intro him then cut away without having him do or say anything.

    More characters appear, Tommy, Morgan, Johnny. A long scene of Morgan ‘splaining’ stuff followed by yet another Flashback, this one to 1973.

    Yet another flashback on page 20, albeit a short one.

    Can’t make heads or tails of this one. Who’s the protagonist? What’s the goal? Writer seems to be throwing multiple story-lines and characters at the reader. By page 20 we should have a very clear idea of what kind of story we’re reading. There’s a lot of ideas being tossed around, pyramids, gemstones, shamans, but it’s scattershot. Maybe all this stuff comes together eventually but in order to find that out I have to be invested in at least ONE character to continue the read, and so far that’s not the case.

  • Lucid Walk

    THE BATTLE OF MIRBAT
    Based on loglines alone…
    -Molniya 7 sounds interesting and filmmable
    -Hadleyville confuses me; an idealistic man changes his ways after going somewhere new? Doesn’t sound all that entertaining
    -Quiescent is WAY TOO LONG with WAY TOO MUCH detail
    -The Irish Rover is also too long, and I’m pretty sure it’s frowned upon to include the F-word in a logline

  • Scott Chamberlain

    Later day “Zulu”? Winning concept. Battle of Mirbat gets my vote.

    Second place, The Irish Rover. First 15 pages were great fun. And showed talent, I thought.

  • brenkilco

    Got to page sixty of Hadleyville. Checking out. It’s competent but so far almost head scratchingly uneventful. A tenderfoot getting acclimated to life in a western town is simply not a story. And at this point it’s simply too damn late for a plot to start kicking in. A writer with the experience this one claims should have sensed the structural problems with this.

  • Kirk Diggler

    Molinya 7 – unpronounceable title, if i have to think about it before I say it that’s not good.

    — it’s not Russian for ‘static’ I hope.

    “The pilot is VINCE JAMMER, 28, hotshot astronaut.”

    –Well, what else would a guy named Vince Jammer be? If he ain’t a porn star with a jackhammer style then he has to be a hotshot pilot.

    –The opening scene with Kitchener (mentor, experienced vet) and the err… young ‘hotshot’ Jammer having a moment where Jammer pushes the safety boundaries has been done a thousand times. Maybe more.

    KITCHENER: I got two mortgages, three kids in college and my wife spends like a
    drunk politician. You have any idea what that adds up to?

    –cliches?

    A peace treaty on a space station? I hope there is a good reason for this.

    On cue- a tv reporter explains the reasons for going to space while simultaneously filling us in on the recent nuclear war.

    ALEXIS: I’m late, you didn’t think I was staying for tea and crumpets did ya?

    –she better be English talking like that

    The scene with Girl Toy that continues outside seems 100% unnecessary. The ‘out of this world’ line is cheesy and seems there just so Alexis can have her “I work in space” comeback. Really forced.

    This script is jumping around like crazy, outer space, Nevada, now the White House.

    pg 15 – KITCHENER : Vince, you are talented but extremely reckless.

    –wow, this is right out of Top Gun. Most pilot programs know how to weed out bad risks like Jammer. He’s not a realistic character and a total popcorn movie trope so far.

    Giving us a minute of Jeb’s tour guide spiel is not compelling and just seems an excuse to give us more info about the space station peace treaty but it doesn’t seem all that important.

    pg 20 – LIAM: Comfortable? We were Air Force roomies — how many frat houses we tag team back in the day?

    –‘tag teaming frat houses’ conjures up an image that you probably weren’t really going for.

    Okay, so the President of the United States (referred to as ‘Liam’) goes up to a space station with one bodyguard/secret service agent? And then they allow the agent to have a firearm? I’m going to go out on a limb here, but firing a gun on a space station could have disastrous effects if he misses his target.

    –another scene of Jeb giving his tour, things should be amping up already, the pace is far too leisurely for an action film.

    Liam and Treat’s conversation is long and talks plot but does little to advance it… it’s just another conversation where we’re waiting for the action premise to begin. It’s a 97 page script, I’m 30 pages in and no inciting incident in sight.

    pg 32 – ‘Jammer enters the room behind her, whistles.’

    JAMMER: Look’n a hell of a lot better in that suit than my old partner.

    ‘She twists her torso, looks at him, softly smiles. This deliberate move adds to her sultry pose.’

    ALEXIS: Um, ladies locker room!

    –so, you’ve established Alexis a certain way, someone who drunkenly bangs ‘girl toys’ and barely remembers it. She’s had a ‘cant give a shit’ attitude about everything but suddenly becomes a prude when Rod Jammer walks in on her? SAY WHAT? This is not character consistent, but since you’ve established Jammer as a male version of Alexis, you have her act out of character. It doesn’t work.

    Alexis should be like ‘Enjoying the view or should I bend over more?”

    I’m bailing on page 33. It’s boring. Political speeches are boring. Tour guides talking are boring. You’ve got a decent premise and some interesting ideas, but you haven’t delivered your premise yet and I’m a 3rd of the way in. Shit need to be a happening. Get to it. Capture the reader’s attention a whole lot sooner and this might work. Don’t give us wasted scenes…

    like:

    -Alexis and her kid going to an amusement park

    -The President and his wife talking about under-garments

    -some tour guide having breakfast with his son

    -some suit talking about how their funding was cut and how he might hire some of the guys at his new job if he gets the chance.

    None of these scenes push your main premise, which despite being a bit of a stretch, is promising enough. But so far it’s wasted with scenes that lack both drama and action. If you can figure out a way to have the space station start tumbling to Earth within the first 25 pages it would help the pacing immensely. Get rid of Jeb. If he isn’t on the space station he’s just getting in the way. Get rid of the President’s wife and all the secondary characters. None of these people matter. What does matter is:

    –Space Station, President, World Leaders, the person who’s going to save them.

    • scriptfeels

      –Well, what else would a guy named Vince Jammer be? If he ain’t a porn
      star with a jackhammer style then he has to be a hotshot pilot.

      Hahaha found that hilarious

  • Midnight Luck

    RIP : Taylor Negron
    http://deadline.com/2015/01/taylor-negron-dead-57-after-long-battle-with-cancer-1201346798/

    Comedian and Actor just passed from Cancer.

    He would always make me smile as The Pizza Guy in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and creep me out in Better Off Dead as The Mailman, or as The Hairdresser in Seinfeld, and as MILO in The Last Boy Scout.

    He was a great bit part character actor.

  • scriptfeels

    My pick of the week is….

    Hadleyville!

    With The Battle of Mirbat in a close second.

    1. Hadleyville
    2. The Battle of Mirbat
    3. The Irish Rover
    4. Molniya 7
    5. Quiescent

    This week, I only read the first 10 pages of each. In the past I’ve usually read the entire scripts, but I was tight on time so I apologize to the writers and hope that whatever feedback I give is beneficial! Congrats on getting your scripts reviewed on AF and continue writing! Hopefully my constructive criticisms are helpful.

    • scriptfeels

      molniya 7:

      If they’re in space, why does each slug line have ‘-day’ in it?

      page 2 ‘The cockpit glass spiders’ how does a cockpit glass spider?

      pg.3 what does the pilot punch in anger? We can’t see ‘something’ on screen, unless its supposed to be offscreen and we’re not supposed to know what he punched?

      pg.5 could probably cut the ‘parker, come up for air.’ line, and just start with the ‘waddya say you learn to wash your own dishes?’

      pg.6 the male reporter has a lot of dialogue, is all of this adding towards the scene? I personally don’t mind it, but if a reader is scamming over the first ten pages and see’s that block it may frighten them.

      pg.7 what time is 0900? Since we see this on screen, is the alarm clock showing 0900 as the time?

      pg.8 at the bottom, who recoils at the experience, alexis or the 19 year old girl toy? Also, I would suggest giving the 19 year old girl toy a name.

      pg.9-10 the president talks space underwear with the first lady. Can’t say i’ve seen this before.

      Would I keep reading:
      If I had time, yea I would be willing to read on and give feedback on the script. I enjoyed Alexis’ introduction the best because it established her character through action. Also, it reminded me of kirk from the last few star trek movies as a young hopeful who works in space but parties on earth. I think the writer could better their script by reading it out loud with a group of people, to work on the flow of the dialogue and catch any errors that would come up to the readers.

      thoughts on the title:
      No idea how it correlated to the first 10 pages. (not that it has to). I originally thought the 7 correlated to the draft number.
      genre:
      Sci-fi and adventure are shown clearly in the opening sequence.
      log line:
      The only hint of this so far are scenes that take place in space and the president talking about how he’s going into space. But how much of a log line can you really show in the first 10 pages anyway?

      • scriptfeels

        Quiescent:

        pg.1 Wanted to ask other script shadow readers about this, if you want to show a group of soldiers swearing under their breathes, is describing it like here okay or should we see dialogue like ‘soldier 1:fuck’ , soldier 2: damn’, etc.

        pg.2 ‘from the direction of new amsterdam..’ we are in manhattan, I have no idea where manhattan is in relation to new amsterdam in 1664…

        i got distracted on page 4, not sure what this conflict is about, or why the priest and clergyman are fighting over it.

        pg.5 what is a ‘dimetrodon’ ? We don’t get a description of what it is, aside that its a dinosaur and that it eats a burly soldier’s arm whole. It’s also described as a sailback, I’m more confused now.
        A soldier has a ‘blunderbuss’ but this is the first mention of a gun. Also this is 1664, so its an alternate 1664 with guns, dinosaurs, and flying pyramids. okay.

        pg.6 the brooklyn bridge has sisters?

        pg.7 Shopkeepers dialogue is really straight forward “in guatemala there was little chance of a decent life for my wife and children. I want no trouble.’ Also, what instigated this comment from the shopkeeper?

        Awkward cut to flashback of mayan temple from the barrow.

        pg.8 jewel is doomed with the curse of Atlantis, but we are shown a mayan temple fight between a priest and a spanish conquistador?

        Felt like putting down the script at this point.

        pg. 9 who is the destroyer, how does this shopkeeper know about him?

        Thoughts:
        Felt like too many ideas. Wasn’t sure what this was about. We start with a priest fight over a flying pyramid in 1664, followed by dinosaurs, skip to present day where a tired looking man receives an artifact and we have another flashback showing a priest fighting a conquistador for the artifact. I’m all for pushing storytelling boundaries and putting crazy things in a script, but they need to make sense. I wasn’t sure if this was our world, or an alternate timeline from our world because of the dinosaur and other things, but this script would benefit from some simple world building scenes where its clearly established to the reader/audience what type of movie this is and what we are supposed to expect. It could have been a horror movie from the artifacts for all I know. Anyone seen skeleton key here?

        Another advice would be to see how to do this story without a time skip, or a flashback. Do you need to start it in 1664? Do you need a flashback to show the artifact’s backstory? I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to make sense of what I had read.

        Would I continue reading?
        From what I read, I would personally pass. I would expect this script to follow up with more ridiculous scenes though. I wouldn’t expect a simple story with complex characters, but instead a complex story with simple characters.

        title:
        From the first ten pages, I have no clue what quiescent is. (i don’t need to know in the first 10 pages tough)
        Genre:
        I can understand labeling this as sci-fi adventure, but the tone of the script felt like neither. Although there is a flying pyramid object, a dinosaur, and a conquistador priest fight, It didn’t feel sci-adventure to me reading it. Although, if I had to put it into a genre I don’t have an answer, so sci-fi adventure it is?
        Logline:
        The logline sounds great to me, and now I feel that the scenes I read were just setup scenes for the pyramid and the artifact. A rag team group of people try to save the world, a classic premise.

        • scriptfeels

          The Battle of Mirbat

          pg.4 I love how we cut to right after when Kealy pulls the grenade pin! It makes the reader/audience wonder what’s going to happen to them.

          pg.5 not sure how i feel about the description ‘someone older, more imposing’ I personally like it, but its more of the written thoughts of Taylor than a description of the scene or Captain Kealy, its a description of what Taylor expected Captain Kealy to look like.

          pg.7 the doctor is mad that they are helping the locals? Not sure why he is personally angry about this.

          pg.8 sounds like a hard to achieve goal based off of their conditions. The stakes seem big too. Not sure on the urgency though.

          pg.9 Having a new member to the squad is a great way to introduce the characters to the audience, we’re put in Taylor’s shoes. It’s fun with the comradory, nicknames, and small character ticks and roles.

          Thoughts:
          Was the easiest to read script so far. Quick, simple, moved quickly. I loved the setup putting us straight into action, then pulling us back to character introductions right before what we believe is an imminent death. Good storytelling and interesting characters for an AF slot. A strong ten pages in my opinion.

          Would I continue reading:
          Probably, Although I liked the writing and storytelling, I’m not sure how personally invested I am into war stories or what makes this different from other war stories of the same time period. I think this script has commercial appeal as a war film though, I got the script to fury for example and I haven’t read that yet.

          Title:
          Title is clear, establishes genre, and based off of the first ten pages informs me what the entire movie is about.
          Genre:
          war and action is perfectly setup in the opening 10 pages.
          Logline:
          I like it, but not sure what the Omani town has to do with the battle of mirbat, without knowing anything about this specific battle. Has a clear underdog premise in the log line alone.

          • scriptfeels

            Hadleyville:
            pg.1
            I always enjoy a page 1 nude woman, lol.
            is there a way to show the sheriff james caswell’s description ‘He doesn’t run things so much as he’s run by them.’ on screen?
            Also, where is caswell in relation to him talking to Marie Upgood? Marie is looking out her window nude at the carpenters and Caswell is somewhere talking to her, but its not clear if he’s in her house, in the street talking to her naked, or anywhere else.
            pg. 2 Based off of the dialogue I’m assuming he walked into the room, because she askes him to help her with her dress.

            notes:
            I was getting into the story. Tobius’ situation made me ask a lot of questions about him and gained my interest in seeing what was going to happen to him.

            Would I keep reading.
            Definitely, I felt bad for Tobias and wanted to see that he was going to be okay. I also wanted to find out what his background was and why he was in this situation int the first place.

            title:
            I’m assuming this is the name of the town we were in? It’s okay, but I can’t think of anything better at the top of my head.
            Logline:
            Not sure how I feel about the log line, but I’ve only just met Tobuis.
            Genre:
            I had guessed that it was a western and I was right!

            After reading the wysr, I’m curious if the script shadow community can find what he’s missing.
            For me, I guess the script wasn’t flashy enough. It’s executed well and established an emotional connection between me and the main character so in terms of screenwriting goes it seems to be in good shape, but I understand what the writer is saying here. We’ve all seen westerns before so what makes this one different? To me it was the mystery behind our protagonist. Questions like, why is he here, what does he want (aside from the job at the nonexistent bank). I’d be interested in seeing the other scripts this writer has written to see if any of them peak my interest.

          • scriptfeels

            The Irish Rover:
            title page: Cool! A collaboration between two writers!

            pg.1 for some reason I decided to read this script out loud to myself, I’m already laughing from the dialogue between Howard and Cormac, but I’m not sure how much of it are the lines themselves or myself enjoying my own impressions of old men saying these lines.

            Whose saint patrick?
            this scene came across as really sad to me. Cormac masterbates to an irish cam girl, at least this script is taking risks.

            pg. 5
            Ryan’s dialogue rant at the top of page 5. Is having Ryan torrenting these obscenities the best way to show this character for this situation? The joke afterwards with Grady didn’t work for me.

            pg.6 nice introduction for Theo Dominick.

            pg.7 ry-guy, haha I’ve actually heard a ryan called that before, too funny. But who wouldn’t accept a blow job from their wife?

            pg.8 Why did the kid have to have tourettes syndrome. why! To me this character flaw is too over the top, but I’m sure certain people would love this. I’m not one of them though.

            pg.10 Why is Ryan bringing up Cormac? Because he doesn’t like spending money?

            pg.11 funny joke by howard on bottom of page 11. ‘help i’ve fallen and I can’t go the bathroom’ plays on the ‘help and I’ve fallen and I can’t get up advert meme’.

            Thoughts:
            Parts I loved, parts I hated. Overall, not bad, although the parts I disliked stopped me from recommending this one. The writing is quick, the story moves quickly, its simple and the characters are shown through their actions. If it wasn’t for the dialogue being only obscenities and making fun of a kid with tourettes syndrome, I would like it higher. The only script of the five that I kept reading because it was hard not to. I wasn’t emotionally attached to the characters, but I’m curious how Cormac and Ryan interact with each other. Cormac seems like a very funny character and reminds me of a real life bad grandpa.

            Would I continue reading:
            Yes and no. I think I would keep reading, the pages are sparse, the story is moving quickly, and characters are setup. The negatives are that some of the humor really put me off, like having Cormac masterbate to a cam-girl on page 2, but other jokes were great like Cormac’s introduction at Juniper. Overall, based off of the first ten pages, this has some potential in my opinion.

            Title:
            The Irish Rover? What is a rover? is this a play on someone irish saying the word lover? The Irish Lover?
            Logline:
            Cormac didn’t come across as wanting to connect with his son, more so as a way to see the cam-girl? The rest of the log line sounds very entertaining though and full of obscenities!
            Genre:
            Comedy, spot-on!

        • Poe_Serling

          “pg.1 Wanted to ask other script shadow readers about this, if you want
          to show a group of soldiers swearing under their breathes, is describing
          it like here okay or should we see dialogue like ‘soldier 1:fuck’ ,
          soldier 2: damn’, etc.”

          I’ve often seen pro scripts handle this type of group dialogue business with a simple AD-LIB label. For example:

          The armed soldiers swear under their breaths from the
          laborious climb. AD-LIB

          • scriptfeels

            Neat. I haven’t really seen this in scripts before, but thank you for answering my question!

          • mulesandmud

            I’d recommend against using AD-LIB in a spec.

            This note tends to be added during pre-production, when the AD combs through a script line by line and figures out which actors are needed for which scenes, whether they have speaking parts, and exactly who says what. The same stage where you scene numbers are added and pages are locked.

            A producer who sees the AD-LIB note in an unproduced draft may assume the writer simply couldn’t be bothered to write the actual lines for the scene. Admittedly, some pros will do this, especially on assignment, and depending on the situation they may be judged as efficient or just plain lazy.

            Simply saying the soldiers swear under their breaths and leaving it at that is the safer move, and flows much more smoothly in my opinion.

          • Poe_Serling

            “Simply saying the soldiers swear under their breaths and leaving it at that is the safer move, and flows much more smoothly in my opinion.”

            Oh, I agree. Using AD-LIB should be used sparingly or not at all.

            Just recently I was reading over the script Any Given Sunday and saw it used a few times. An example from the script:

            “Enraged, Madman roars and tries to go up into the stands after the unlucky FAN, but he is restrained by teammates. AD LIBS…

            ***This was the number of writers listed on the front cover of the ‘Any Given Sunday’ script.

            Written by Jamie Williams, Richard Weiner, John Logan, and Daniel Pyne.

            Revisions by Gary Ross, Ray Gideon, Bruce Evans, Lisa Amsterdam, Robert Huizenga.

            Current Revision by Olivier Stone.

  • Nathaniel Bannister

    My vote goes to HADLEYVILLE.

    I read the first ten pages of everything and decided to read Hadleyvill in full (close call between this and The Irish Rover but I’m a sucker for a western). One thing I noticed with all of the scripts (bar The Irish Rover) was that we are introduced to a lot of characters early on. There is something to be said for allowing the reader/audience to get to know 1 or 2 characters before introducing a wider cast.

    Molniya 7 – I didn’t really see anything particularly distinctive or new in those first 10 to make me want to read on I’m afraid. I wonder if the description in the first scene could be reworked to make it flow a little better too. The slug lines taking us in and out of the cockpit, whilst technically correct I guess, might work better if they were just described in one or two paragraphs?

    Quiscent – whoa. Those first few pages are description heavy. I was a bit unsure of the tone the writer was aiming for. Is this gothic horror? Is this action adventure? There’s a lot going on in the first 10 pages – flashbacks, flash forwards, dreams. When I read the logline my first thought was ‘convoluted’ and the first 10 confirmed that.

    The Battle of Mirbat – firstly, the use of N.B. and brackets with descriptions of characters is less-than-subtle. This one had some promise, it felt authentic (I’m guessing the writer is British and may even have military background). But it reminded me a bit of a recent British release called Kajaki. The problem (in my opinion) with that film was that it was just a straight retelling of events. There was no attempt to tackle the geopolitical context. Which is fine if you just want to show some cool secret operations, but I would like more.

    The Irish Rover – I felt in safe hands reading this, it was assured writing. And the scene with Cormac and Esmeralda made me laugh out loud. But I didn’t really see anything fresh enough in the characters to keep me reading. Foul-mouthed older person? Seen it. Office monkey who is getting denied a promotion? Seen it.

    Hadleyville – again, I felt in safe hands reading this. This was assured, visual ad distinctive writing. There’s a lot to praise (every character had a voice, the world was well-created, strong female characters, every scene has tension and conflict) but I’m going to focus on my criticisms:

    Small stuff – there are a few typos here and there. Maybe just have someone pick through it with a fine-tooth comb. There are a lot of characters to get our heads around early on. There was a lot of profanity. This isn’t a problem in itself but I’m trying to remember another Western with so much profanity and I can’t (Kill Bill 2 maybe – but that’s an anomaly in itsef). And the payoff of the two cowhands and the rope breaking might have been clearer when Tobias’ rope breaks. The Shakespeare quotes – I like them, they make this distinctive. But I’m not sure how much they work?

    Big stuff – I think the major problem here is stakes and motivation, particularly in regards to Tobias. I think fine-tune this and the script gets kicked up a notch.

    Who is Tobias? What has prompted him to leave a cushy life in the East and come West. I know we’re told he wants to make it for himself but I don’t think that’s a strong enough motivation. Maybe he could be a scout for the railroad? He is sent to Hadleyville to research putting a rail stop in there? Maybe we could see him at home in the East? Spend the first 10 minutes getting to understand his motivations. I was mentally checking my favourite Westerns in my head and they all have clear aims and goals at the start of the story. When he does finally come to Hadleyville he is too passive for my liking. I don’t really understand why Marie would hire him, but she does. And then Dan shows him how to be a man for a while, with Dan driving the story for a while. It’s not until Stella is murdered that Tobias really starts doing something. I wasn’t really convinced by his arc in to this vengeful force either. And then when everything is resolved he just goes back to Pittsburgh! I would personally try and find a way to make his motivations clear early on, something which is going to force this transformation upon him, rather than have him benignly accept gun and horsemanship training and be accused of murder.

    More generally, you mentioned in the WYSR that the Western uniquely placed to explore certain themes. I didn’t really get any of that. I think you could have exploited the railroad context more: Marie is ruler of this town, she doesnt want the threat of railroad/government, so she is trying to sabotage that. That motivation could come up against Tobias’ quite obviously. I think that’s what you might have been grasping at with Charlie Hackett, but it was never clear what happened to him? That could then feed in to a critique of how government works for/with the people, the progress of technology etc.

    Finally, just wanted to reiterate again that I really enjoyed this. Good luck with it!

  • Malibo Jackk

    QUIESCENT
    The horrible title.
    lengthy logline,
    copyright notification,
    placement of your SUPER as the opening image,
    and the 6 line second paragraph
    all suggest that this is your first script (whether true or not)

    Nevertheless, I wanted to read some of the script.
    (Short on time — will add additional comments later.)

    • Eddie Panta

      This should prove to be very helpful. Good work, now I don’t have to do my post.
      The writer shows great imagination and seems willing to back it up with tons of information, history, and detail.

      It’s okay to have the opening scene be a complete unexplained mystery, a phenomenon occurs. Just let it happen, wait until later in the script for characters to argue about it. Sci-Fi quite often needs a separate scene solely for exposition.

    • Poe_Serling

      Solid advice, Malibo.

      Like you and others, I prefer to see the SUPER come after a descriptive line or two.

      Image first, then text.

      Both ways work for me. Your suggestion…

      FADE IN:

      October. A primeval wilderness. Boots trample dead leaves.

      SUPER: “MANHATTAN 1664″

      or

      Changing up the original just a bit:

      FADE IN:

      EXT. MURRAY HILL, MANHATTAN – DAY

      A primeval wilderness painted by October. The eerie silence broken by boots trampling dead leaves.

      SUPER: MANHATTAN 1664

      • brenkilco

        Small pet peeve but I agree there has to be a gap between the heading and the super, especially when they are more or less identical. But I did learn something from the super. Always wondered where the old telephone exchange name for Manhattan came from. Once upon a time the numbers were all MUrray Hill 5-5555. Now I know.

    • brenkilco

      The writer would do well to pay attention to this.

    • Midnight Luck

      I harp on this all the time.

      The order and structure of words, then sentences, then paragraphs are of such incredible importance.

      As are the words, images, sounds, ideas, dialogue.

      The writer so needs to make sure the visual they give the reader BEGINS in a powerful place, but then MOVES in a logical, interesting, and comprehensive way.

      Too many of the scripts I read on SS have such trouble understanding that the order of images in a sentence or paragraph means that a reader (logically) puts them in order. So if the writer creates images out of order, it confuses the reader and they have to go back and forth and reconstruct the order of what is happening, THEY have to rewrite the script on the fly, in their own head. Something the screenwriter should have done LONG AGO, long before presenting it to the world.

      I am sure many people would say, “well, that is why I put it out here for you all to read, to catch these inconsistencies and help me know where mistakes are”.

      These are the kind of “mistakes” that should NEVER go out there into the world.

      Basic errors like these are the reason you are a writer. To come up with ideas and visuals that are compelling, engaging, and make sense as a story.

      If a writer is asking the reader to make sense of them and then put them in the correct order, well, I think the writer has a lot of time and effort ahead of them still to figure out what a movie is. To figure out what a story is, and how to tell it.

      This is Screenwriting 101 basics.

      Or, maybe, they just aren’t a writer.

      I read so many scripts that miss these points and think the writers have just dashed this story down in one sitting in a couple of hours. Otherwise, how on earth could they miss something so basic?

      I wish writers cared as much about making sure their scripts are as flawless and ready to go, BEFORE they send them out, as they care about doing their hair, getting a perfect tan, getting fit, working a diet, or shopping at the mall.

      Sadly, this writing thing seems to be an afterthought for too many. They do seem to believe it is something they can just slap together because they heard “X”, “Y” and “Z” did it at one point and sold a script for a million bucks. (“X” being Sylvester Stallone, or insert your own overnight success here)

  • brenkilco

    I think character pieces are often deceptive. They seem to be only about observing the characters but actually do abide by the three act structure. The modern western Hud is a good example. It seems to be just a look at Newman’s charismatic SOB but it contains both internal conflict. Will his adoring nephew break free of his influence? And an external conflict. Will an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease drive the ranch into bankruptcy or will Newman succeed in his unscrupulous plan to unload the possibly diseased cattle before anyone discovers the truth. And the film does have a three act structure.

    I think of The Remains of the Day as a sort of ultimate character piece. The surface of the thing is so placid that it seems nothing is happening. We’re just watching Hopkins emotionally repressed butler. But the movie is actually chock full of incident from the Lord’s naive flirtation with Nazism to the sad death of Hopkins father. And surrounding it all the question of whether Hopkins will ever be able to express his love for Thompson.

    I guess my point is that character pieces don’t require less incident or conflict. Often they require more. Though of a smaller or more subtle sort. Which in turn means that extra effort must be put into making these conflicts compelling since the writer doesn’t have the cushion of pyrotechnics.

    Lastly, I think the bar for this sort of story in a western setting is pretty high.
    A world as convincing and involving as the one Altman created in Mccabe and Mrs. Miller. Dialogue as intricately brilliant as the sort David Mich wrote for Deadwood. As you note westerns- which I have grown to like more and more as I’ve gotten older- have been out of favor for decades. So good is probably not good enough.

  • Hello

    These loglines just get worse and worse

  • Levres de Sang

    My Vote: QUIESCENT

    Firstly, Congratulations to all the writers! This lot proved an interesting bunch…

    QUIESCENT [Read: 14 pages]

    I’m a huge fan of the 70s matinee flick THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT and this writer’s WYSR (alongside Poe’s endorsement) really put me in mind of its poster for some reason! And I have to say that the script ALMOST delivers with its portentous opening sequence… The prose really needs trimming down and falls somewhat flat on the page, but there’s a genuine cinematic imagination in there somewhere. Perhaps that’s why I became bored by the long construction site scene which just seemed so workaday by comparison. QUIESCENT clearly needs more drafts, but I’d love to see Carson help the writer out by taking a chance on this one… Fantastic title, too!

    THE BATTLE OF MIRBAT [Read: 18 pages]

    Great idea to utilise a recently declassified file. Moreover, I love the notion of a “secret war”. It also reads well and has a certain 1960s old school feel that suits the material. I particularly liked Kealy’s long V.O. as we watch the makeshift football game (although I’m sure the shirt over the head routine wasn’t around in 1972). And I like Kealy, too. No real issues with this one!

    HADLEYVILLE [Read: 15 pages]

    Firstly, I liked the central character Tobias. Any audience will surely root for him. Crucial in what appears to be a character piece. The script itself also seems very well written for the most part, with the writer clearly affecting the rhythms/cadence of the classic western. If time allowed I would read further (although it promises to be a very long 118 pages), but I do think there’s a credibility issue with Tobias being handed a job so easily by Marie. Maybe have him casually demonstrate his facility with numbers — thereby encouraging her to have a change of heart. Also, as another commenter noted, the profanity sat uneasily on the page for me. (And once again everyone keeps saying “ya”. Twice in one week. Strange…!?)

    MOLNIYA 7 [Read: 11 pages]

    Another fantastic title and promising logline got my hopes up for something in the vein of Tarkovsky’s SOLARIS… but this couldn’t have been more different. The opening sequence with all that space junk just wasn’t that exciting. On the contrary, it felt like a low stakes video-game (despite red lights and klaxons). However, I did really like the idea of an extraterrestial peace accord and believe the writer should start with that: perhaps opening to a map (a la CASABLANCA) showing the nuclear black spots in the Middle East before panning out to reveal a military briefing. Exposition can then arrive via a q&a (i.e. “Who else is gonna be there?”) rather than scenes we’ve seen in countless other movies (i.e. single father bantering with son while watching TV news). I also didn’t like any of these characters. It didn’t help that they all kept saying “ya”.

    THE IRISH ROVER [Read: 16 pages]

    R-rated Irish comedies are so NOT my thing… but I have to say that this does have quite a lot going for it. The dialogue bounces along very well for the most part and I can see that Cormac will become an endearing character. I expected not to like this at all, but that wasn’t the case. I hope others provide you with some great notes. Good luck!

    • Poe_Serling

      Another good call regarding The Land That Time Forgot. The Quiescent script also gave me a Land of the Lost vibe. – the kids’ show from the mid ’70s that still plays Saturday mornings on ME-TV and recently made into a comedy feature film starring Will Ferrell and Danny McBride.

      • Levres de Sang

        Don’t think I’ve seen Land of the Lost — although it kinda looks very familiar from what I’ve just been reading. Possibly because there was so much great adventure around during that period! By the way, the closing scenes from The Land That Time Forgot never fail in my book: Doug McClure throwing his message in a bottle into the sea… and that snowy landscape which he’ll never leave.

  • brenkilco

    Am on page ten of Quiescent and feeling a bit giddy. Seventeenth century Dutch, Sixteenth century Mayans, flashbacks, dream sequences, shamans, conquistadors, cursed jewels, angry dinosaurs, ancient evils, super magnetism, alien powered pyramids and a morning commute on the IRT. Imaginative, crazy, over written, full of portentous B movie dialogue, the ultimate scifi fantasy mashup and probably poised to go completely off the rails. But it’s definitely something.

    P.S. Always thought the Dutch made out by buying Manhatten for twenty three bucks from the local native american tribe. The script makes clear that Peter Minuit and pals definitely got taken.

  • Kirk Diggler

    The Irish Rover: first 2 pages – Poor Cormac is quite pathetic. This would be ‘look the other way-ish’ on screen.

    Tourette’s syndrome Brendan being cast in a school play is Farrelly Bros territory. Which isn’t a bad thing, could be a funny thing.

    RYAN: You’re not my father. You adopted me, remember?

    CORMAC: Oh that’s right! The 70s were giving tax breaks to single dads.

    yep, total Farrelly Bros humor.

    Now, Cormac actually bludgeoning a man at the front desk of his nursing home— yikes, followed by toilet humor… almost ready to check out.

    RYAN: I can’t believe you taught him “cunt.”

    CORMAC: At least I didn’t teach him how to be one.

    –there are some rude laughs here, but the story isn’t that interesting. It’s sort of “80 Year Old Virgin” only the 80 year old is completely unlikable.

    The Mrs Dominick scene made me laugh.

    RYAN: Is Theo here?

    MRS. DOMINICK; In his room in the basement. Want some cocaine?

    — i mean, this will either crack someone up or not. I kinda laughed. The humor is so over the top you either run with it or run away. Something About Mary had a great story with some characters worth caring about. I haven’t see that here yet.

    THEO : Like that time he banged Carrie Fisher while she was doing her one-woman show off Broadway about King Arthur and Camelot?

    RYAN: Apparently a lie. And there was never such a thing as “The Carrie Fisher King.”

    –oh man.. lol

    So I’m bailing on page 21 – I’ve tried to read a lot of comedies on AOW, sometimes I rarely laugh but I did laugh here a few times… felt bad about it too. It’s not terrible and it does have a clearly established goal for Cormac. BUT– I’m stopping. I can kind of see how this will play out, Father and adopted son gradually warm to each other, maybe Cormac falls in love on his trip and learns the real value of … something. I could be wrong but I don’t care enough to find out. It did have some funny stuff in it though.

  • Midnight Luck

    Choice: HADLEYVILLE*

    I read 10-15 pages of each.

    And remember, these are just my 2 to 4 cents.
    Please disregard anything you want.
    But hopefully there are things in what I have to say that might make the writers pause and take another look at what they have written, or How they have written their stories, and maybe, just maybe, they find a way to elevate their stories to a higher level, and the story might come out better afterward.
    Or, maybe they will just tell me to “F’ off” and call it good.

    I am ok with either, as, I am by no means the grand pooh-bah.
    some of this could be rough.

    A quick breakdown of my impression of each.

    –Molniya 7 (?)
    I get incredibly tired of everyone in scripts (typically Amateurs’ scripts) being incredibly “Cool”. And by cool I mean, Acting cool, sounding cool, doing cool things, riffing cool, being jackasses which is supposed to be cool. Driving cool, driving a cool car, having a cool job, being a top notch “?” whatever, but it is cool.

    This script oozed with all of that.
    Just coolness overload.
    From the Top Gun cool pilot who is going to do crazy things because he does shit his own way, but he does it all with slick “coolness” so everyone get out of his way, to the young sexual woman who does things her own way (cool) by screwing whomever, then roaring off in her cool car, all the while flinging “cool” one liners about.

    I think here the writer believes the more they dump all this intense coolness on us, the more we will think the story is utterly KOOL, with a K.
    In fact it does the opposite.
    Yes the spaceship scene is futuristic, but it all sounds and feels like Top Gun, including Nicknames, like straight out of that scene from that movie with Goose.

    As I read, all I can think is: “What is this about? What are we doing here? Why am I being shown all this? And please for the love of god, give me a regular scene, something I can sink my teeth into, not all this over inflated, trying to impress, b.s. I need a truthful scene. a true character. a REAL thing to grab onto”.

    Now, that may just be me, but I want to ask the writer (and I say it over and over on here) to DIG DEEPER.

    Surface, flash, COOL, aren’t actual “things” in the writer-verse. They are just superficial markers added to try to “Pump Up” a thin, or anorexic story or character. Cool is not character. Cool is not an interesting story. Cool is forgettable, cool doesn’t last.

    Something which is truly Cool comes from someone NOT trying hard to be cool. Someone who just has certain mannerisms, certain “ticks” that make them odd, strange, interesting, and/or different. But these things are all – OF THAT CHARACTER. They make sense FOR THAT SPECIFIC CHARACTER and for a reason.

    Also, please find a way to give us information you think we need in a different form than an EXPOSITION dump via a TV news anchor. And Do we really need to be told all of this? or can we just see a bit here and there of something we need and then we can piece it together?

    Don’t dumb the viewer / reader down. Most can pick up quite a lot from a little.
    Most are intelligent and don’t need everything spoon fed.

    Ok, you get my point I assume.

    On to the next.

    Quiescent (note: what is this? what does it mean? do you really want to start our first impression of a story out with something incredibly difficult to say in our heads?)

    Ok from the Logline and the WYSR I couldn’t quite understand if this was supposed to be about ATLANTA, GEORGIA or ATLANTIS. I had to read it over numerous times to try to get what was meant. I believe it was intended to be about Atlantis, but why is it appearing under New York? Is Atlantean the actual word used when speaking about Atlantis? Somehow I don’t think so. I could be wrong though.

    Anyhow.

    So I have to say, I didn’t get far. None of the opening scenes made any sense. I couldn’t keep track of who was who, what they were doing, why, or plainly what was going on.

    The entire opening was written with SUCH IMPORTANCE, that it made you feel like something was supposed to be happening, yet I couldn’t find it, and I really couldn’t find it amidst the confusion of trying to figure out what was going on.

    And the BLOCKS OF TEXT were just brutal. I am not one that normal has much issue overall with that, unlike many on here (keep it under 3 lines, 4lines, this or that), or in Hollywood, but if you are going to have them, you HAVE to have them for a REASON, and you have to MAKE THEM WORK.

    These didn’t.
    It is like this script needs to go through it’s FIRST rewrite, and the writer needs to find a way to CUT OUT THE FAT.
    Like cut 50% of the fat.
    streamline.
    Because it is just full of extraneous, flowery. purple, unknown words, style of writing. How many people are really going to spend their time searching out what some various word or thing is or what it might mean? I didn’t, and I HIGHLY DOUBT a Hollywood reader or Agent will.
    You want to write in a pretentious way, write a 500 page novel and get it out of your system. And who knows, maybe it will sell.
    But The best scripts are simple. Straight to your Gut.

    I can’t even go into specifics about what transpired in the first ten pages because I have no idea, don’t remember, and honestly it was so difficult to keep paying attention, I just didn’t care by the 10th page. Priests and Pyramids and people talking about important things, talking about ? Something? yelling, stomping of feet, slamming hammers, because? why?

    As Mrs. Birdsong (I believe) said in The Rainmaker: “Cut, Cut, Cut”.

    next.

    –The Battle of Mirbat

    This would have been my second choice.
    i could see the skill in it. I could tell the writers can write a script. There could be great stuff here.
    However, I’ve seen Fury, have seen enough war movies in my life.
    And overall, so far, this feels like so much I have already seen.
    Sadly, it could just be me, and that ALL war movies seem like every other war movie I have seen. I struggled to keep going with this, because of that.

    I had some trouble understanding what we are seeing, what was happening. I got the Overall idea, but I didn’t get a movie visual. I think a lot of imagery was missing.

    Many writers struggle with the LAYING OUT of images. Of what the reader or viewer is supposed to be seeing. There are good, strong ways to do this as you enter scenes and move through them.

    As one person said at some point, the best way (in Filmmaking) to set a scene is a Wide shot, followed by a Medium shot, then intersperse a few Close Ups, and so we all understand what is happening, pull back out to a Medium shot.
    Imagine, in your Minds Eye, how your scene will look on screen. Picture exactly what we are to be seeing, then get it down on paper in the most visual way you can.

    Again, as with some of the other scripts, even though we open on two men, I had trouble keeping anyone straight by the time I stopped reading. We are introduced to new people when it cuts back to earlier. Yet we had NO DESCRIPTION of the two men we were following in the Foxhole. This is the entire description:

    MIKE KEALY, 27, and TAK TAKAVESI, 35.

    Both of them are in shocking shape. Gunshot wounds. Blood.
    Broken bones. Converging on them from all directions are…

    A) What is SHOCKING SHAPE? does it mean we should be shocked by how they are in such great shape? does it mean they are suffering from SHELL SHOCK? The sentence doesn’t make sense, unless Shocking Shape is a “term” that I don’t know but everyone else does?

    Also, look at the sentence. This is a perfect example of how — the way the writer structures their sentences can either help or confuse the reader–.
    1.They are in Shocking shape (again, confusing because I don’t know what that means), then: 2.Gunshot Wounds. (them I assume). then 3.Blood (them? or blood all around?) then 4.Broken Bones (really? who? them? they are manning a giant gun, then they are firing and moving about, nothing about what happens after gives you the impression that from their intro they are THAT beaten up. ESPECIALLY having Broken Bones. And which ones? There is a BIG DIFFERENCE between breaking your Pinky toe, and your Neck, Back, Face, etc. Even a broken leg is a lot different than an arm.) then 5. Converging on them from all directions are….
    this last part of an already very short but confusing couple sentences really does me in when reading this.
    So the sentence makes us Get Up Close by showing us they are in great shape, closer, by telling us they are bullet-holed up, closer showing blood, and broken bones, then IMMEDIATELY ends the sentence by saying “Converging on them”, what is? the broken bones? the blood? are they being inundated by zombies or rivers of blood?
    This makes no sense.
    The structure of the sentence needs to tell a story.
    NEEDS to GUIDE the reader through a scene, or break down a visual, or take you along a path where the images make sense and tell you that story. The more they get chaotic, the more words are put together that aren’t referencing each other, the less the reader keeps up with it, and the sooner they bail.
    That one sentence would have at least been better off put a line below, it would’ve worked better. Maybe it was an oversight, for me it just illustrates these points I am trying to make, and why I had trouble following what was happening in this story from the beginning to where I jumped ship.

    –The Irish Rover
    Ok, I know many on SS have a love for really raunchy “humor”, or really crass character work, or really over the top “stories”. I for one don’t.
    I think all it shows is the writer would rather choose to spend time trying to fake us out, by diverting our attention so we don’t see the character work isn’t quite working, or isn’t there, or that the story is wanting, or non existent.

    The more writers work hard to SHOCK!! and OFFEND!! the reader, the more, to me, it shows they are either: really young, or a little OVER confident with what they think they can do, while also being UNDER skilled doing that exact same thing.

    They would rather DASH off some offensive, shocking story to try to get reads, and believe their brilliance with humor and crassness will land them applause.

    Humor only works when grounded in reality, and human-ness.

    And this is one of many, recently, where the writer thinks it is interesting or unique to put the word FUCK into the Logline. Seriously?
    I don’t think so.
    Yes there was a phase when putting the “F” word into a title was deemed funny or interesting, but I am sorry, putting it in the Logline just makes me think a) this writer is flailing and trying too hard 3) this is going to be REALLY bad (even before I have started to read it) and D) they aren’t nearly as clever as they think they are.

    So, I had to force myself to make it to page 10 and honestly, don’t think I made it there, or at least I was speed skimming to get there, so didn’t really read much of it. (which I don’t believe most writers want a reader to be doing)

    I couldn’t tell you anything about what I read, much like some of the other scripts.
    What is this about? A vulgar Grandpa? A kid with Tourette’s? Why? I couldn’t tell you why any of this was being put down on paper.
    Is there a story somewhere in here the writer feels moved by and really wants to tell? I don’t think so. I think they just saw BAD GRANDPA and thought it would be easy to write an offensive and vulgar script.
    I checked out. I don’t even have any words on how something like this could be helped out. Is it because it just isn’t my thing? maybe.

    —–
    o.k.
    —–
    The Main things I came away understanding about this whole group is that the writers need to really think about
    1) How they want to ENTER a scene, ESPECIALLY the OPENING scene. Really figure out and guide our eye and brain to see the layout, to see the people, to hear them uniquely, to get a feel for how the scene is constructed. Really we need to be able to easily understand what is happening and how it looks. To create a mental image in our minds’ eye of what is happening.
    This is done by the writer “guiding” us as to where we look and what we see.
    2) Have a purpose and reason for the story you are telling. Give us insight in those opening scenes as to either a) what this story is about, or b) who these main character (s) we are watching are. We need to “get to know” them quickly and deeply in some way. You need to get us “On Board” with them. The more the reader is “wandering about’ with nothing to ground them, with no one to Hold On to, the more likely they will bail, and the more likely your story isn’t working.

    So:

    Hadleyville

    This is the only one of the stories that opened with something that KEPT US INTERESTED.
    It opens with what could be called a Mystery Box. WHO IS GOING TO BE HANGED?
    So, while we are seeing the olden town, the people building the hanging spot, and seeing the self assured naked woman in the window and getting to know the Sheriff, we are wondering: what is going to happen? Will they hang this person? Who is the person? Will someone come and try to break them free? what will happen?
    It made for an effective opener that kept me interested and reading as things were set up.

    I had some troubles with page 3-4 ish as the people get out of the Carriage. It is written in a confusing way, it almost sounds like 5 or 8 or something, people are getting out of this carriage. I didn’t know they could really fit more than 4 without being stock full.

    Anyhow, it was mostly again the way in which the sentences were structured. The author would be talking about the people getting out of the carriage, at the same time as they began talking about people coming out of a Saloon? or standing on the Sidewalk? or passerby’s? or just various people around? (I assume?).
    Just needs a bit of fixing up.

    Also, By the time I stopped I still had little understanding of what this story might be about.

    Most stories, by 15 pages, or 25 at the most, will have ONE SENTENCE, on THING, be it a piece of dialogue, or a reference to something (though usually it is dialogue spoken by the main character or the antagonist) which Succinctly says EXACTLY what the story is about. This thing, if done really well, we won’t even notice, it won’t “stand out”, but our subconscious mind picks up and notes it, and as time goes on in the script / movie, everything about this story will reference back to that one line, or that one line is like a wagon wheel and ALL the stories and happenings stretch out from this one central idea or thought.

    When someone goes back and looks, they see how everything that happens, everything going on reflects that ONE CENTRAL IDEA or IMAGE.

    This THING, or that IDEA guides everything, gives it purpose.

    I know some other commenters on here referenced their problem with HADLEYVILLE was that it didn’t really have a reason, or it didn’t have something which happened, or wasn’t “about” anything.
    I feared as I got to page 15 that the story wouldn’t really go anywhere.

    I think many Western’s struggle with that. A wander-about story.
    I don’t know if writers feel this gives the story an authentic Western-ness to them?

    But, all that being said, it was the most effective story at keeping me interested. It made me intrigued to read more. I was fully engaged as I read.
    And for an Amateur script, That is saying a lot.

    So Hadleyville is my choice.

    Way to go to all the writers for finishing a script, for getting it chosen for AoW, and for getting your voice and work out there.

    Good job, and best of luck to you all.

    • kenglo

      Synopsisis guud….I agree with you on HADLEYVILLE, best of the bunch. QUIESCENT made me snore, ROVER was stupid. Haven’t cracked open MIRBAT but will…and MOLNIYA 7, just based on your opinion, maybe too cool for me!

  • jaehkim

    my vote – BATTLE OF MIRBAT

    the pages flew by in this one. it was just so easy to read. contrast this to some of the other entries. especially something like Quiescent. I couldn’t even get through the logline without stopping a few times.

    I’d say this about loglines. it’s not a summary. it’s the script’s hook. if you can’t state it in a single or couple of lines, you need to think about your story some more.

  • MJ86

    My Vote: THE BATTLE OF MIRBAT

  • ximan

    You “took” copyright law? And yet you don’t know that this “automatic” copyright you mention isn’t actionable in an actual court of law?

    Were you taught about case precedence in this course? If so, please list the cases where not including the copyright and/or not having a formalized copyright at all resulted in a successful infringement complaint.

    Not being snarky. I’m genuinely interested in these cases.

    • Matthew Garry

      No, you are being snarky with the quotation marks and all. You’re also wrong.

      Everything you write (creative works) automatically is copyrighted in all signatories of the Berne Convention, you don’t have to do anything for that. You can reinforce that by e.g. submitting it to the Library of Congress, but it’s not necessary.

      Registering your work somewhere can help establish you as the writer, but not doing so doesn’t mean the work is un-copyrighted or in the public domain.

      As for case precedence and citing case files, what you’d be looking for is cases where original authorship is clearly established but infringement is ruled on as not illegal because the author failed to “copyright” their work. There are no such cases, because “copyrighting” your work (as in, making it copyrighted where before it was not) is not a thing.

      You might find cases where the work is deemed insufficiently creative, non-derivative, an exemption (e.g. satire, parody), but none where a work is un-copyrighted and therefore free to infringe upon.

      If you can find such cases, I’m all ears, but you can’t put the burden of proof on Matthew Bishop whose argument is clearly derived from a normal interpretation of the relevant laws.

      • ximan

        Did you “read” this before posting it? And I’m not NOT being snarky (read: I am). But seriously, what you wrote doesn’t make any sense!

        **WRITERS BEWARE: Anyone who tries to convince you that it is “paranoid” to copyright your work, which you are going to be posting on a public forum such as this, is NOT to be trusted!!!

        And yes, there are examples of copyright infringement cases where the defendant wasn’t aware the work was protected, and so there was no malice intended and therefore, no punitive damages were assessed. It’s called the INDEPENDENT CREATION defense. As a lawyer, or someone defending a lawyer, you both should know this.

        • Matthew Garry

          Putting a copyright notice on the title page is immaterial, it only serves to make you look paranoid and/or make it obvious you have a poor grasp of copyright laws.

          > “there are examples of copyright infringement cases where the defendant wasn’t aware the work was protected”

          Which has absolutely nothing to do with the requested cases.

          >**WRITERS BEWARE: Anyone who tries to convince [..]

          You are entitled to being wrong, but when you pull out a soapbox to paint those who disagree with your fallacious reasoning as having nefarious motives, that’s pretty much where this conversation ends. Unless you care to actually state relevant case files, this is now a he said/she said debate, with the notable difference that anyone can look this stuff up on the Internet and decide for themselves what is to be believed (Hint: skim the title pages of the recent Blacklist entries and count the number of copyright notices).

          • ximan

            I’m sorry. I thought I was having a discussion with someone who was simply uninformed. I see now that I made a gross overestimation.

            “Requested cases”? LOL, I made the request first! Where are my requested cases? XD BTW, do you know what affirmative defenses are? Hint: Any cases argued successfully will have one or more affirmative defenses applied. That’s how the law gets interpreted. But again, I have a strong feeling you don’t know what any of this means. Which is okay!! But let’s stop pretending that you do.

            And scripts on the blacklist don’t need to say copyrighted. Most of them are already optioned or sold, and ALL of them are at least represented (which means that the legal department of a large corporation would sue the hell out of anyone who dared to infringe, thereby preventing infringement). Amateur writers don’t have such a luxury.

  • Malibo Jackk

    LOVED the first two pages of HADLEYVILLE.
    LOVE that the naked woman in the window sets up a little mystery.

    What was she doing there? Great opening.
    LOVE the subtle handling of the the gallows/hanging.
    “When you hangin’ him?”
    LOVE the dialogue.
    “Don’t just sit there like a corpse…”

    [IF YOU ARE THE WRITER — STOP HERE.]

    Ok. I only read 10 pages. And —

    Soon had trouble with the tone. Comedy? Dramedy?
    Except for a few lines, most of the chit-chat seemed like — chit-chat.
    Didn’t really care for the protag and most other characters.
    The hanging talk was overdone. The hanging undramatic. And too early in the script.
    A gunfight or shootout in the bar would have worked better for me.

    I think screenwriters often have good ideas, but —

    they don’t always write stories that will drive audiences to theaters.

    I could see this going in a different direction..

  • Dan J Caslaw

    Casting a vote for Hadleyville

  • ximan

    See above. It’s called the INDEPENDENT CREATION defense. Basically, once someone feels their work has been infringed, they then need to file a complaint in court. In courtrooms, only cold hard evidence may be presented. If you never filed a copyright, you have no evidence so your case will be dismissed. If you file for WGA registration, your case will still be thrown out because the court doesn’t recognize the WGA registration as evidence in the copyright infringement laws (because it’s not a copyright!)

    If you did have a copyright, but didn’t mark it on your script, the defendant can enter a defense of INDEPENDENT CREATION. This means that he/she is admitting to infringing on your work, but with the caveat that they didn’t know it was protected. So again, your case will be thrown out.

    Bottom line: Anyone who tells you that it’s “paranoid” to file a copyright on a website where writers are encouraged to frequently post works of creation should NOT be trusted! Use common sense.

  • Kirk Diggler

    Read the first 17 pages of Hadleyville. Really love the writing and the set up so far. I normally avoid Westerns like the plague but this is intriguing, the characters are really good, I like Tobias and Miss Marie a lot so far.

    HADLEYVILLE gets my vote. I’ve no idea where it’s going but the writer seems in command of his subject matter, that alone means makes me want to read on.

  • Eddie Panta

    VOTE: HADLEYVILLE

    2nd Place: Battle of Mirbat

    Just wanted to get my vote in. I’ll post comments when I have more time.
    Both these scripts deserve a review. But if I had to pick I’d go with Hadleyville, it’s an unquie approach to a traditional Western scenario that is both subtle and poignant.

  • scriptfeels

    i was confused as well, I’m assuming it was a spelling error.

  • kenglo

    I REALLY loved HADLEYVILLE, finished reading it today. This is like APPALOOSA or UNFINISHED LIFE where it’s a slow burn drama but you HAVE to get to the end to see what happens! The characters are beautifully written, the personalities are distinct. You say in the WYSR that you are missing something…..it’s been said here, and you even mentioned it yourself, Westerns are a hard sell. But the writing chops are there. I hope you get a shot Zach, because you wrote the SH%&^T out of this story.