amateur offerings weekend

Well, I thought I could do it all– get through a bazillion consults, write up a review, put together a newsletter– but shockingly, I’m just a mere mortal.

Instead of a newsletter this week, and in place of a regular post, I’m posting five new amateur scripts for an extended Amateur Offerings Weekend slate. Hopefully next week I’ll return to being the multi-tasking superhero I usually am. Watch out, Iron Man!

This is your chance to discuss the week’s amateur scripts, offered originally in the Scriptshadow newsletter. The primary goal for this discussion is to find out which script(s) is the best candidate for a future Amateur Friday review. The secondary goal is to keep things positive in the comments with constructive criticism.

Below are the scripts up for review, along with the download links. Want to receive the scripts early? Head over to the Contact page, e-mail us, and “Opt In” to the newsletter.

Happy reading!

TITLE: Going Postal
GENRE: Comedy
LOGLINE: Pink-slipped, a mailman and his eccentric allies embark on a quixotic quest to prove how much he and the mail still matter.

TITLE: 3029
GENRE: Sci-fi
LOGLINE: A cyborg and a group of unruly misfits must embark on a journey across a war-torn America in an attempt to stop a super computer and its army of android soldiers.

TITLE: The Girl
GENRE: Horror
LOGLINE: Sam’s life is going nowhere fast, but when he meets his fantasy girl he is dragged into his town’s underworld of monsters and goons.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: I’ve worked as a Sound Designer/Supervisor on over 50 games and films (Aeon Flux, The Matrix sequels, etc.) Basically my job is to help tell a story. Especially as an audio director on video games where I am responsible for music and speech as well. Having worked on projects from concept to finish I understand the iterative process and writing is a way for me to learn essential story telling techniques.  I crave the feedback I might get from even being considered for the amateur offerings.

GENRE: Sci-fi/comedy
LOGLINE: A skeptic gets roped into helping her loony father, a female Rambo, and a nerd stop a group of rebel monsters from using humans as permanent hosts.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: I work as a professional technical writer specializing in the metaphysical, so it makes sense that I focus on the sci-fi/fantasy genre. This script is based on something my mother used to joke about when I was growing up. She’d say that you were a monster from about two until thirty because you were so sweet as a baby and so crazy once you hit the terrible twos, and you didn’t become sane and human again until you grew up around thirty. I started to wonder what would happen if that were real, and this script was born.

GENRE: Contemporary supernatural dark comedy.
LOGLINE: When teenage witches in a small Midwestern town entice the new girl to join their elite clique, the question needs to be asked – What if she’s not interested?
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: Because it’s a quick, breezy read.  And because it’s ‘Heathers’ meets ‘Mean Girls’ meets ‘Juno’ meets ‘The Craft’ meets ‘Abracadabra.’
  • Poe_Serling

    I hope Carson finds the time to review this week’s postponed script The Still.

    ” A group of graduate history students on vacation touring Civil War battlefields are terrorized by a motley crew of Confederate re-enactors who harbor a 150 year-old secret.”
    I felt the script was pretty decent and had a lot of interesting ideas bouncing around inside its pages.

  • garrett_h

    I recognize ABRACADABRA from the Tracking Board forums. The logline raised concerns for many. I for one wasn’t fond of it. It’s a shame to see the writer ignored the suggestions and stuck with the same logline…

    • jae kim

      could the writer have come up with a more boring idea for a script? hopefully the writing makes up for the lack of drama in the log line.

  • MayfieldLake

    Off Topic — Carson, have you written a Thursday Article on how to write great secondary characters? I searched but didn’t see one. I think it would make for a good one. I’ve been thinking about this topic recently because I’ve been studying
    Aliens, and people seem to either love or hate Cameron’s secondary
    characters. I’ve learned a ton from your articles on character flaws and creating memorable leading roles.

  • jae kim

    I understand you got a lot on your plate carson. perhaps you could dial down the family time to make room for more newsletters. just saying.

    as for these log lines, none of them sound that great. hopefully I’m wrong.

  • colenicks83

    I read the first 10 of all 5.

    Going Postal and 3029 was all things we’ve seen before. There was nothing unique to those stories in the first 10 to really grab my attention.

    Abracadabra. This set up is way too long. I read until the main character was introduced on page 16 I think. Plus, besides Blonde being the leader I got no difference in any of the witches personalities.

    Girl: This is supposed to be a horror script, but the tone was off. I had to go back to the logline to figure out it was a horror script. Also, the goons dialogue reads very on the nose/expository. I also immediately questioned that he would instantly bring this girl back to his place. Or that a girl would instantly even go back to his place.
    Monster in Us. I’m guessing that you are going for a Men in Black feel to it. I loved the first Men in Black. I would’ve liked to have seen more of the fun of the world you are building. In the MIB opening they pull over a truck with the illegal aliens which has a different meaning plus we get a glimpse of the gadgets and the cool things that are too come. That’s what I would liked to have seen. Some mystery or image of what you are going to do in this world. I can’t remember what they did in the script RIPD but I do remember Roundtable really do this well. If you are not going for a MIB feel, then all my notes are useless to you.

  • Tailmonsterfriend

    When I saw the logline for 3029, I almost yelled “Stop drilling, you’ve hit oil!” Cyborgs? Android soldiers? War-torn America? Band of misfits? This could be the silly, deliberately campy, sci-fi comedy of my dreams! Yes! Sign me the hell up! What better way to start my Friday than with a fun send-up of all those goofy 80’s sci-fi action cartoons.

    Turns out that my excitement was a bit premature. Despite the funny logline, this isn’t a comedy, but a totally straight-faced attempt at a post-apocalyptic action movie. Well okay then, if it’s got cyborgs and androids I might still be game. But unfortunately the writing in 3029 is so bad, and so amateurish, that the script falls apart like a cheaply-built R2 astromech droid.

    My first piece of advice for Anthony would be to kill his thesaurus. There are a handful of examples of completely wrong word choices in just the first 5 pages (“Malignant” instead of “Foreboding”, “Arraigned” instead of “Arranged”, “Postmortem” instead of “Decay”, “Depleted Building” instead of “Empty Building”… it goes on like that). Work on writing more clearly.

    Another really weak point of this script was the dialogue. Dear lord did that suck. When it’s not chock-full of clichéd lines, it’s pure exposition and zero character development. There’s nothing clever or interesting about this. This is like the writing equivalent of a McDonald’s Happy Meal: all empty calories, no nutritional value.

    Gave it a shot for the first 10 pages, couldn’t justify reading any further than that. Skip this one. :(

    • PatKirkSS

      Your response seems about right with what the logline presents. I wrote that a comedy would be the only way 3029 could succeed but in the genre, comedy wasn’t mentioned so the only two ways I saw that script going were cliche and/or inconsistent tone.

  • Nate

    None of those loglines really grabbed my attention. I don’t even think I’m gonna check any of them out. Actually that’s not true. I almost want to check out 3029 just to see if it’s NOT a Terminator rip-off. And apparently it’s pretty bad as one poster below me pointed out.

  • Kay Bryen

    So after copious amounts of sweat, tears and Red Bull stains, I managed to frankenstein together a last-gasp submission into Nicholl. Funny thing is it’s not yet good enough for Amateur Friday, yet it was good enough to send to the grandest screenplay contest in the Milky Way. So take that as a compliment, Archduke Reeves.

    Which brings us nicely to today’s AF submissions. I started with The Girl (well duh) and so far I like how Matrix Dude has established a sympathetic protag. Like this character, I’ve been in the eviction hellhole myself; and being homeless is just about the most dehumanizing – well the exact opposite of a makeover, basically.

    Wow, talk about a backstory exposition dump :-)

    Earlier I read a script where the protag actually exposits at a lady: “You know we used to be engaged, you and I?”

    No, refresh my memory, which of my fiancés were you again? I’m sorry, but that’s easily the most horrendous piece of exposition I’ve ever seen in my entire life! And I watch political shows.

    Oh, and did I mention this expo-dump happens in supposedly the greatest film of all time, VERTIGO??

    So to my amateur comrades, when the self-doubt and self-loathing kick in, don’t be too hard on yourself — because even our most exalted screenwriting gods are only human.

    • Citizen M


      • Lisa Aldin

        Why’d you delete? =)

      • garrett_h

        Just re-watched Vertigo recently. It’s a playful exchange. A good example of things that play different when spoken by actors than read on the page.

        +1 for table reads!

        • Citizen M

          I was going to say the same as you: it’s banter, not exposition. But maybe it’s also exposition. I didn’t feel like getting into an argument.

          Aren't you ever going to get married?

          You know there's only one man in the
          world for me, Johnny-O.

          Yeah, I'm a brute. We were engaged
          once though, weren't we?

          Three whole weeks.

          Ah, sweet college days. But you're
          the one who blew it. I'm still available.

          • garrett_h

            It’s exposition disguised as banter. :)

    • Ambrose*

      Good luck on your Nicholl submission.

      • Kay Bryen

        Thanks a lot Ambrose; have you entered any contests?

  • witwoud

    My 10-page thoughts:

    GOING POSTAL: Sense of deja vu here, since there’s a Discworld novel with the same title and plot. The first few pages contain some good gags, but I find it impossible to get invested in these characters or their story.

    3029: A decent opening. Plenty of action. Good introduction to the heroine and her world. But this absolutely reeks of the Terminator, down to the Sarah Connor style voiceover.

    MY VOTE >>> THE GIRL: First few pages look quite professional. A good introduction to our embryonic hero, the mysterious girl, and the bad guys. Lots of interesting questions are raised. Who is she? Can he trust her? I’m curious to find out.

    MONSTER IN US. Sorry, but just too dull, and so far not even remotely funny. If it’s a comedy you have to make it so.

    ABRACADABRA. The target audience of teenage girls might like this, but it didn’t work on me. The characterisation is Spice Girls thin, and the storytelling is inept. We begin with a bunch of 8-year-old girls stealing a book from a library ‘because it looks important’. A couple of pages later they are using it to make people’s heads explode. Not a shred of convincing motivation here. Pass.

  • Graham

    Ok – I’ve spent the last hour or so reading the first 10 – 20 pages of each of the scripts. My in initial thoughts as follows:

    ‘Going Postal’.

    Generally has good, clear writing (i.e. the individual sentences / action blocks were comprehensible and didn’t suffer from ‘over/confusing embellishment’). Liked the ‘idyllic’ opening / dream sequence but I thought it began to lose its way, then me, rather shortly after. I think we need to be clear on whether ‘dream Rollo’ is in any way different from ‘real Rollo'; we see a ‘dream’ version of him and his route (or a few addresses of it) and we (I think) are thereafter supposed to realise – from his friend mentioning the married woman that he is smitten with – that the route and the people thereon do exist in reality and it seems – rather unbelievably imo – that Rollo in real life is exactly the same person as he is in his dream. He just seems TOO nice. I found him as annoying as Carey’s supposedly ‘everyman’ character as first encountered in ‘The Truman Show’ – which is to say, extremely annoying indeed.

    Then we have the Vietnam ‘vet with his confusing references to ‘Charlie’ when we also have a postal boss called ‘Charlie’. If this was deliberate it just didn’t strike me as funny. And then I was thrown by the transition from Rollo being fired by Charlie – too what seemed like another dream sequence – being bitten etc – and then finding himself on the kerb. If that was supposed to be deliberately ‘quirky’ then I guess I’m a little slow on the uptake. I felt I didn’t understand what I was reading / ‘seeing’ and when that happens I get switched off very easily.

    I think I got as far as finding out the ‘Homeless Guy’ was also a Vietnam ‘Vet before stopping (what age would that make these two characters? Quite old is my guess. Maybe they could be Gulf War vets or something like that?).

    There is evidence of a quirky sense of humour here, and some promise, but I actually think we need to ‘slow down’ a tad and establish the world with just a little more care. He seemed to get fired too quickly for us to really get invested.


    This draft of this story feels awfully rushed and ‘by the numbers’. This seems to be set in what feels like a ‘standard’ post-apocalypse. And the reason I say ‘standard’ is that there is little effort made in conveying that world to us. Here’s our opening’…dark clouds loom over the remains of the once beautiful futuristic-styled city. The war has taken its toll.’ Now there is an interesting idea here. This is a city in our future, and now it has been wrecked. But what war? How we supposed to know about it from a visual ? Describe this place to us. Describe how tall the towers are, how what little glass remains gleams in the sunlight, how its complex roads or heliports or whatever are magnificent but now damaged structures. Describe it, describe the damage; let us infer what has happened before we hear the V.O.

    Likewise the androids – the main ‘mooks’ of this story are barely described at all. One impersonates a little girl with a convenient blonde wig. Is it a dwarf? Is it wearing a dress? It IS described as laughing ‘with its wickedly deceptive, wave-length grin’. I have really no idea what image that is supposed to convey. Is there a screen on its face with a ‘radio waves’ appearing on it? Search me. And then loads more androids appear – from where I am not sure – and are not described at all. Unfortunately this gives a whole sense of the author saying ‘….you know the kind of thing I’m talking about, you’ve seen it before’. Which suggests we’ve really no incentive for continuing to read.

    Mica’s two lines of dialog on the next page ‘This just isn’t my day’ and then ”You GOTTA be kidding me’ just re-inforce this feeling. They are lines from a cliched action movie, and this feels like its shaping up to be a cliched Terminator-riffing action movie. Which is a pity, because there might be a reasonably original backstory here – it’s just that the author gives the impression of not really believing in it enough to ‘sell’ it to us.

    ‘The Girl’

    For something tagged as a straight ‘horror’ I didn’t really see much of that in the opening 10 pages or so.. ‘The Hammer’ seems to be the leader of the bad guys and he gets a little freaked out when the landlady comes onto him. That doesn’t strike me as all that ‘scary’. On page 14 we get a hint of the girl’s true nature – perhaps the first scary moment but it did make me wonder why she didn’t reveal herself like that when the syringe was produced by the goons and she was getting beat up.

    And just on some of the writing choices – I’d drop the +25 Dexterity mentions on the cards. RPG geek that I am, I kinda know what they mean (though I wonder what ‘system’ they are from !) but the images do the job just as well without needless confusion from the non-gaming viewer. Lines like ‘I’m going to teach him a new meaning of the word ‘hell’.’ come off as corny and faintly ridiculous. It’s not poor by any means, but it’s not overly good either – and I suspect that this is less straight horror and leaning towards more of a ‘Buffy’ vibe but am not sure. If I’m right, you might want to re-bill this as ‘horror/fantasy’ or ‘dark fantasy horror’ or similar in order to manage expectations. Partly my issues with this may be that I’m expecting one thing and getting another.

    ‘Monsters in Us’

    There was something about this opening scene that read a little ‘off’ – I think that we jumped almost too quickly into this – there was little or no ‘scene setting’ – where is this mansion; USA? UK? ‘Missus’ sounds English/British/Irish to my ear…And everyone sounds too ‘friendly’ here – the guard seems to know the intruders, as does ‘Patrick’ and while we have a small explosion and a ‘fight’/’disarming’ there do not seem to be any real ‘stakes'; no deaths, serious injuries or ‘real’ consequences. It already feels like a TV series or something where nobody can be bumped off because they’ll be back next week.

    Pages 5-9 are poorer I’m afraid. 4 pages of expositional dialog and vague hints between two ‘talking heads’ – describing a break-in which might actually have been interesting to ‘see’ instead of hear about. Sorry – your job in these pages is to hook me, and I was distinctly not hooked.


    Love/Hate with this one. It’s the most competently written by a fair distance and I got the distinct impression that the author was the most confident with the direction in which they were heading. On the other hand, I still have no idea if it’s a journey I want to join him on.

    I am struggling to grasp the tone or even the genre here, even with the clue given above. Our four initial ‘Tabithas’ (and despite the writer’s best efforts to individualise, I still found this nomenclature confusing) are described as all being eight years old yet seem strangely smart, sassy and basically ‘adult’ in their own ways. They are even referred to as ‘witches’ – which, fair enough, I can buy into – but then they seem ‘altered’ by their encounter with the ‘Book of Shadows’. So, were they already ‘unique’ prior to encountering the book and then made even more so? I think so – which inherently makes things less ‘dramatic’ imo, but am not 100% sure: maybe they are just the type of wise-ass kids so commonly seen in American TV shows?

    I did keep reading until we encountered yet another Tabitha, who seemed – around p16 or so – to be our protag, which led me to conclude that the preceding 15 pages was far too much time to take to get to her. So yes. am torn on this one but did get a generally ‘confident’ feeling from the writing.

    None of these have blown me away or even impressed me I’m afraid. If I had to pick one, it would be ‘Abracabra’, Two choices would include ‘Going Postal’. Which is a shame for the others as they are more within my preferred genres, but they just seem to have too many ‘issues’ which dissuade me from picking them in their present drafts.

  • peisley

    Not to sound snarky, but aren’t there any scripts with more substance, Carson? Going Postal might be worth a look, but, well…

  • JakeBarnes12

    Not feelin’ it this week, sorry.

    Need a little more originality.

    “Pink-slipped, a mail man and a super computer must embark on a journey through a town’s underworld of monsters to entice the new girl, a female Rambo, to join their elite clique of permanent hosts.”

    • Citizen M

      “When the Post Office employs cyborgs to deliver mail on the advice of a computer, a pink-slipped mailman and her loony father set out to destroy the electronic brain using an old-fashioned weapon — witchcraft.”

      • Malibo Jackk

        CM’s got my vote.

    • PatKirkSS

      Great logline. If you’re going to be out there, might as well go all out. Hahaha

  • Poe_Serling

    Hey, this is getting confusing… Malibu Jackk (red highlighted) and a Malibo Jackk (gray highlighted)… Is this a good and evil thing or more a body swap storytelling device? ;-)

    • Malibo Jackk

      Still getting the hang of how this internet thing works.

  • JayRaz

    GOING POSTAL – tone suggests family comedy rather than comedy. Don’t care much for Rollo, nothing to tell about him other than a “nice” mailman (i.e. boring). No laughs. A kid might find the dog scene funny which is why I suggested the family comedy genre. Not a lot happens in the first ten considering this is about 100 pages long.

    3029 – not my genre so perhaps these comments will be harsher than need be but for what it’s worth, here are my two cents on the first ten: a long drawn out (boring) fight scene. Please, keep them short and have A LOT happen i.e. let’s get some story going, not just bang, bang, run, hide, bang, bang. Not sure about the voice-over here, makes me dislike our heroine. I feel like she’s talking down to me. The dialogue between her and her father – info dump. Find another (less obvious) way to work in whatever necessary details need to be there. I’m not certain whether this writer understands subtext. People don’t speak like this and much of this can be shown with very little said.

    THE GIRL — hmm. There’s something here. Characterization’s not bad, dialogue and movement between scenes is good. However, this doesn’t feel like a HORROR = tonal issues. This is a maybe for me.

    MONSTERS IN US — This doesn’t feel like a sci-fi nor a comedy. In a sci-fi, you need to set up the world our characters are living in. You merely hint at monsters, aliens, demons and a mention of a king. Comedies should be funny. The tone was all over the place — there was a bit of violence, some child-like humor and elements of fantasy and then a long talky scene between two women. I’m not sure what this is supposed to be and have no desire to find out.

    ABRACADABRA – stopped reading at p.13…the logline suggests it’s about a new girl vs. a clique of witches. All we get are 4 little girls becoming witches. There is no hint of dark humor here, and we have yet to meet the new girl. “In late, out early” applies to scenes and story. Your logline indicates this story is about the new girl; well, we should meet her on p. 1. The other girls should already be witches. Start your story LATE otherwise you’re going to bore your audience.

    Verdict – not entirely impressed with any of these. If I had to choose, then it’d be THE GIRL.

  • SinclareRose

    It’s just good to know you’re human! Take some time. We’ll still be here.

    Looking forward to hearing about The Still. Can’t wait to read these five.

    Question for all you regulars: You know when Carson posts these AF submissions he says to read until you get bored, etc. Well, I’m reading, and I get to a point where I’m bored or can spot the things that are amateurish and don’t feel like reading too much further, but would it be better to read further to examine the second and third acts?

    Will I gain more know-how from reading these……… Hmmmm. How can I put this? Would it be detrimental for me to read more if I sense that these screenplays might not be as well written? Should I put it down halfway through the first act, or keep going? I’d love to hear some thoughts on this.

    There are so many people who say to read scripts. Read produced and unproduced scripts. The more the better. Carson says this a lot, then amateur Friday rolls around, and it’s ‘read till I get bored.’ What should I do?

    • JakeBarnes12

      Read PRO scripts.

  • Paul Clarke

    Can’t you just put a ‘No Junk Mail’ sign on the letterbox?

    • Malibo Jackk

      They’re telling me they have to deliver it.
      I don’t think it used to be that way — but the postal service is now loosing 13 billion/yr. (because of the internet & e-mail) and they need every excuse to collect money from advertisers that they can think of. And I think they’re paid on the basis of the number of households delivered.

      I hear they’re still using pony express in Australia.

      • Paul Clarke

        “I hear they’re still using pony express in Australia.”

        No need. They have trained kangaroos deliver the mail.

  • PatKirkSS

    Hello again. Here are my notes for this batch of screenplays:

    Going Postal
    I’ve never heard the term “going postal,” but I assume it implies going crazy. Either way, I don’t have negative feelings about this title. It doesn’t jump out at me but I’m okay with it, particularly because it’s a comedy and it fits the logline. However, once we get to the logline my feelings turn negative. I don’t like the way this sentence is constructed. The author uses “pink-slipped” as an adjective here and it disrupts the flow of the sentence. Imagine another, more obvious adjective in its place and you will see why this is awkwardly constructed. “Happy, a mailman and his eccentric…” It just doesn’t read well. Just write “A pink-slipped mailman….” It says the same thing as before without me having to reread it again with a confused look on my face. Irregardless, the more detrimental effect of that mistake is I’ve totally lost faith in the writer. Although screenwriting is about story most of all, it still requires a writer to do it. Not to bash on the author but I have so many friends who I know will never make it in the business because they don’t take that second half of the job title seriously… WRITER. If you can’t write, I don’t want to read your script. The sad thing is, the rest of this logline isn’t all that bad. It comes off like a small, indie comedy that might have witty dialogue and quirky, interesting characters and I can definitely get behind if it’s done well. However, I’m not a huge fan of the adjectives here. “Quixotic” feels out of place, like the author went to a thesaurus and “eccentric” just rubs me the wrong way. Maybe because I imagine that the author might force the quirkiness of his characters and might have “look at how weird I am” sort of scenes that are out of place and inorganic. Just tell me they’re his co-workers or allies and then in the actual script, I can read how eccentric–if they even are eccentric–they really are. For now, this is a PASS.

    As a sci-fi flick named after a year, this doesn’t win originality points. It also doesn’t capture the essence of the film presented in the logline apart from it being a futuristic sci-fi flick. But speaking of the logline, this reads like a comedic sci-fi flick but that’s not mentioned as part of the genre. I think the problem is “unruly misfits” coupled with the fact that there are so many cliches. In fact, this probably would only work for me as a comedy because I don’t want to see another future-dystopia-supercomputer/robot-takeover-story. I think if the author had found a way to make that cliched story fresh and exciting, they would’ve alluded to this in the logline. A comedic spoof has more potential to impress me. Maybe the logline should include why the cyborg is going against its own kind since there’s potential for irony and novelty in that. For now, the logline is so generic and dull that I believe the story will be too. This is a PASS.

    Side Note: Not just here, but I’m noticing a lot of “embark on” loglines/stories. I get a feeling that “embark on” might be the new euphemism for “I don’t really know what the conflict or direction of the story I’m telling is but I want to jump the gun and write something anyway.” I’m not saying the writers here fall in that category, but I’d advise anyone with “embark on” in their logline to take a step back and make sure they have a strong conflict.

    The Girl
    This title is terrible. I don’t know the genre. I don’t know the premise. I don’t know the tone. I don’t feel energy or excitement. There’s nothing fresh. If you can’t at least do one of those things for me then I don’t feel bad saying “next.” But moving on, the first part of the writer’s sentence adds to the problem they’ve set up. They just turned boring into boring cliche. I’m pretty sure if I was teaching a class about cliches, “going nowhere fast” would be the first example I’d give. Be more specific about Sam’s life, or Sam for that matter, or find a new way of saying “going nowhere fast.” When I look at the full premise it doesn’t stand out or captivate me, however I see potential in it. If the monsters and goons are interesting and the town’s underworld has a cool style, I can get behind this. But the author’s already proven to me as a writer that they lack originality and creativity so there’s no way I can open up a script that necessitates those things for it to even be readable. Maybe if the author included an actual conflict, this might be a little more appealing. I assume Sam’s goal is to get the fantasy girl but how is the underworld stopping him from that and how are they connected. Right now, the logline reads as three disjointed parts and on top of that, none of them read as horror. It starts off indie drama then turns to romance then turns to crime thriller. Also, who the hell is Sam. I think I’ve read 1 logline ever that uses an unknown Proper Noun without giving them an epithet or alluding to who they were through the conflict and thought it worked. So the lack of focus and banality of this all makes this a PASS.

    Monsters in Us
    I don’t like Blake Snyder very much and I think the beat sheet is silly. I actually teach a screenwriting class and he’s just not my cup of tea but in one of his books he mentions something about Legally Blonde and how great of a title that was because it expressed everything without being too on the nose. He gave the example of Barbie Goes to Harvard as a possible title that technically worked but was too on the nose and cheesy. That’s what this title is to me. Too on the nose that it’s cheesy. And because it’s a comedy, I’m assuming this is going to be a cheesy comedy which is not a good thing. Making matters worse, the logline is either so vague it makes no sense or too specific it’s off-putting. Starting off with the vague, the author writes “a skeptic gets…” and my first thought is “skeptic of what?” Already I’m confused and that means the irony of the story and the power of the conflict will be lost because I already have no clue about my protagonist (sort of the same problem as Sam in The Girl). Now the loony father, female Rambo and nerd come off as flamboyant caricatures created outside of the story simply to create conflict and spectacle. It just reads as forced and to be honest this is probably not what the writer will want to hear but this problem might have started at conception. So this might not be something that can be changed. But onto the off-putting specificity. I’m a firm believer in originality and creativity if it hasn’t been made obvious yet, and unfortunately saying things like “female Rambo” epitomize the opposite of these things. Whether the author did this intentionally or not when creating this character, I assume they just said, “what if I make Rambo a girl and stick her in my script!” That might appeal to some people but that sounds like an rediculous idea I’d send back to the drawing board. How about create your own tough, kick-ass ex-SEAL that’s a female. Rambo doesn’t need to have anything to do with your logline or story unless you’re writing a sequel. As for the rest of the logline, “monsters” is so generic. And noting that they’re rebels implies there’s some community of gentle monsters. If that’s the case, why not mention this sort of world in your logline since I will admit, that might be the most intriguing part I can discern from your story. And then the “humans as permanent hosts” part is confusing. So the monsters are in us the entire time? That’s probably something you need to mention in the logline. So in conclusion, I can’t really describe the problems I have with this logline in one sentence but I can say that this is a PASS.

    I’m getting tired of writing this and I feel like anyone reading these is likely tired of this too, but cliche and boring. Please oh please Carson, lets have an article about making good titles. I really think the title is underestimated and although titles are the easiest to change in the pre-production process, it doesn’t hurt a writer to be good at writing their own titles. Anyway, back to Abracadabra: worst title in the bunch. BUT the writer combats that with arguably the BEST WRITING of the bunch. Your story is clear. You don’t bog down the logline with unnecessary adjectives. And you can construct an information-dense sentence that doesn’t read ambiguous or wordy. The problem though is the question at the end. Okay? So what if the new girl doesn’t want to join the elite clique of teenage witches? What makes this an issue for the teenage witches who are presumably the protagonists and why is this new girl so desirable? Those are definitely questions you need to address for the irony and significance of the conflict to take shape. Right now, I’m just saying so what, where’s the real conflict in your story? Because I can’t really get an idea of your story or create some expectations, this is a PASS.

    So like last week, my verdict is the same: none of these are appealing! But if I had to choose one, I’d have to go with GOING POSTAL. Although Abracadabra has the promise of being well-written (which is pretty big for me since good writing implies intelligence which implies ability to do other things like tell a good story), it also has the promise of 0 story or conflict and Going Postal has the most potential although I’m 95% sure it won’t decent.

    PS: I promise that I’m not lazy and just saying PASS on all these because I don’t want to read them. I read about 7-10 screenplays a week and I’d love for one or two of them to be from the AF selection. I just read so many bad scripts that I’m critical of all others.

    • Graham

      Just on ‘going postal’ as an expression/title. My understanding is that this became an expression to signify craziness / madness after a postal worker in the US somewhere went on some kind of killing spree in his place of employment.

      Perhaps someone else can confirm?

      If I’m right, I’m not sure how that would sit with the desired tone of this script.

      • witwoud

        It happened several times. There’s an entire wiki-page about it.

        For this sort of comedy I doubt it’s a problem.

    • witwoud

      As an un-American, I was a little bit confused by ‘pink-slipped’. I couldn’t work out why the postman was wearing a pink slip — was it a cross-dressing comedy?

      • PatKirkSS

        I assumed it meant fired. I could be wrong. Again, the writer needs to fine tune their writing regardless.

      • jae kim

        long ago (I don’t know when) when a worker received a pink letter at work, it was notice that they were losing their job. I don’t know if this was real or something made up, but that’s where the phrase pink slip comes from.

  • PatKirkSS

    I did a quick experiment. I asked my girlfriend–an average movie goer–how she felt after I read her the title, genre and logline of each submission and here were her word for word responses.

    Going Postal: “I’m wondering how you can make that interesting.”

    3029: “Okay.” (sarcastically) “I feel like I’ve seen this movie many times before. I Robot. Eagle Eye. Matrix. Anyway.” (eye roll implies next)

    The Girl: “It’s not specific enough so I don’t care. Like, I’m not sure if there is hidden potential or [the writer] has no idea what [he’s] doing.”

    Monsters in Us: (look of confusion) “Umm. The fact that it’s a sci-fi comedy makes me think this could be different in a good way and it could be interesting.”

    Abracadabra: (before reading the logline and only reading the title) “What the fuck!?” (after genre and logline) “How can you make even a half hour movie out of this. What a crummy plot.” (in faux movie trailer voice) “What if she’s not interested. Dun dun dun!!”

    She then told me that depending on the trailers and who was staring in them, she might see The Girl. However, she said she’d likely not watch any of them. Keep in mind she watches about 10 movies in theaters a year which is probably a lot more than the average American.

    I think it helps to get the honest opinions of people completely removed from the movie world who make up the general public which movies are written for. Although this forum can be helpful, there is a bias that everyone shares in being too close the craft. I hope her thoughts were helpful.

    • Malibo Jackk

      Here are some harsh questions to ask —

      Is there an intriguing title in this bunch?
      Is there an intriguing logline?
      What is the opening image?
      Are you hooked by page one?
      Are you hooked by page ten?
      Do you want to know what’s happening next?
      (Or are you only reading because it’s an AF selection?)

      And the harshest question of all —
      Is this a movie that needs to be made?

    • themovienerd

      I’m with your girl. This crop is … oh too obvious.

  • deanb

    That’s freakin hilarious. It reminds me of when a Philadelphia Inquirer salesman lurking in a supermarket at one of those subscription kiosks tried to get me to sign up for an annual delivery. I thanked him, but declined, and said I read all my news online. He implored, “But what about when you’re in the bathroom? What are you gonna read then, huh?” I told him that’s a good point, but I’m sure I’d think of something. Later it dawned on me how sad it is that a once great industry has been reduced to scraping by on the indulgences of those who demand a fish wrapper in their hands when they’re on the john.

    • Will Vega

      That sounds really sad. And also sounds like a great opener for a bigger story.

      But for movies like Going Postal they need to go the extra mile. Here’s the logline for the upcoming Owen Wilson/Vince Vaughn film “The Internship”:

      Billy and Nick are salesmen whose careers have been torpedoed by the digital world. Trying to prove they are not obsolete, they defy the odds by talking their way into a coveted internship at Google, along with a battalion of brilliant college students.

      See? Now THAT’S a movie. I had no idea what the advertising was all about, posting Wilson and Vaughn’s faces with INTERN all over it. But when I read that, I was sold.

  • jae kim


    OK so this script is very amateur. It has underdeveloped characters, structure, dialogue, and execution.

    having said that, I think it’s a good attempt at a futuristic sci fi script. descriptions are breezy to read and the action was fast paced. I would suggest that the writer try writing a drama to learn character development and conflict in dialogue, because sci fi is just a drama with science involved. the script also needs to explain what happened to the world. not all the details, but just a brief intro. lastly, this script needed something we haven’t seen before, or at least a higher concept than androids and futuristic ruined city. space aliens riding in on comets, mole people coming out of volcanoes, anything to make it more unique.

  • Malibo Jackk


    Fascination 127 made the Launch Pad Semifinals.
    Dan Dollar signed with CAA.
    Still no word from B-cat.

  • jae kim

    going postal:

    by the logline, I just can’t imagine this script being interesting. the postal service losing money is just not something most people would want to read about.

    the biggest problem was the protagonist. rollo is too plain. there is nothing about him that stands out. I want to know more about rollo. his personal life, his flaws, his aspirations and dreams. there is just not enough here to make me want to follow rollo for 100+ pages.

    • Malibo Jackk

      The postal service knows where you live…

  • Will Vega

    Wow. Lots of harsh responses this week.

    If the writers need to take anything away from this, it’s test your concept with a couple of people before you start writing and submitting. Just glossing over the loglines, and I’m already uninterested. May seem unfair, but its just as unfair as passing over that shelf of books before finding one you want to read. Or scanning your redbox or netflix streams to pick out a movie you want to dedicate an hour and a half of your life to.

    I remember reading somewhere here that we should give the writers at least the benefit of 10 pages before passing judgement. Yeah, would you give 10 pages or minutes with EVERY book or movie you even don’t find remotely interesting? Didn’t think so either. Time is precious, competition is high, and attention spans are getting shorter. You wanna make it on top you need to make something that catches my attention from the getgo and hold it for the whole duration.

    • jae kim

      I read at least the first 10 of each of these scripts. the biggest problem I run into is the lack of structure. the only reason I’d want to go past page 10 is if I see something I’ve never seen before, or I run into a very interesting character, and most importantly, after the 10 page intro, something interesting should happen. the plot should be written in 12-15 page blocks with each ending in a reveal, a mystery or a reversal or something else to keep us reading. this structure is very hard to find in amateur scripts.

      but I absolutely agree, just based on the log lines, I did not want to read any of the above scripts.

    • SusieM

      But this isn’t Netflix, or Barnes and Noble, it’s a forum for amateur writers to help other amateur writers. Surely, as this is not a product we are paying for, we do not have to hold it to the same standards before we dismiss it as something unworthy of our time and critique?

      Sometimes I think amateur Friday brings out the worst in this community. Instead of tackling this scripts in a constructive or collegiate light we fall victim to the worst habit of a community of struggling artists, “Hey, I’m better than that guy”-itis.

      • Will Vega

        You can change the analogy to basic tv programming and YouTube videos. In the end, it all comes down to if you want to go out of your way to take time out of your day and spend time with it. And that determines longitivity, which gets the creative heads behind it a salary to continue as reward for capturing people’s attention.

        Besides, these are aspiring to be movies. Therefore we have to hold them to the same standard. Cause no one will look at a poster or trailer and go “well, its an amateur attempt, let’s give it a try”. No way, it’ll be judged like any other movie. So from concept to execution, it has to impress and intrigue.

      • jae kim

        I once received a script cover that tore my script apart. I mean just tore it to pieces with nothing constructive in it. The same script got the same reception here during AF, BUT the criticisms were more constructive, and more importantly, free.

        for us amateurs to improve, you cannot baby us. we are all adults (most of us) in a very competitive environment. I’m not saying we should be mean about it, but amateurs who submit to AF have to stop expecting kudos for their work. some people don’t expect criticism, they expect validation, which impedes their growth as writers. at our level of writing, pretty much everything we write has to be thrown out and re written after feedback.

        if there was something I’d like to see more of in this forum during AF would be more specific problems someone sees with a script and the writers actually reading and trying to understand it, if they don’t, they should ask for clarification. I know criticism is hard to swallow, especially after you’ve spent months, sometimes even years working on something, but those who can do this will be ones who improve the most and fastest in my opinion.

  • MWire

    Going Postal looked the most interesting to me. Probably because I write comedy although that assertion is still under debate.

    The script’s not bad. The writing’s clear and concise. Story chugs along OK. Chuckles here and there. But after 25 pages I still wasn’t invested. Couldn’t figure out why for the longest time. Finally determined that the author has a bad case of alligator arms.

    For those not familiar with American football, when a player doesn’t extend his whole body, particularly his arms, to catch the ball, he’s saddled with the designation alligator (short) arms. IMHO the author didn’t quite reach far enough with his characters to really make this story compelling.

    Take the introduction to Rollo. We find out that he’s a very pleasant guy. I guess that’s enough to claim that a cat was saved but that cat wasn’t very high up in the tree in the first place. Couldn’t Rollo do something dramatic and cool in the first scene to really get us to like him? Hell, it’s a dream sequence, go for it. Reach for the stars, dazzle us.

    Then later he gets laid off. OK, that’s not pleasant but thousands of people get laid off every day. And it didn’t seem particularly unfair or nasty. How about another mailman who wanted his route got him fired? Planted drugs in his mailbag or stole Rollo’s mail and claimed that Rollo was too lazy to deliver it. Now Rollo can be self righteously pissed. Give the reader a reason to get behind Rollo.

    We go to movies to see something larger than life. Stick those writerly arms out there and snag something awesome that’ll impress us.

    Anyway, that’s my take on it. Might be worth an AF.

  • Vitamin Bee-otch

    *deep sigh*

  • Stank

    Read the two with the most interesting loglines:

    Going Postal – Read first – it was professional and fast,
    but I fell off at page 25. I felt like it was a slightly confusing read:
    2 different dreams in the first 10 pages, some confusion around why who STEVE
    really is and why he helps ROLLO, also I don’t know how I felt about the
    HOMELESS guy joining. There were humorous
    moments, but it just wasn’t funny enough or interesting enough to keep me. It had a lot of potential though.

    Monsters in Us – Read Second – Was out by page 8. The convo
    between Wendy and her Friend was an info dump. Just a ton of exposition: these
    kids robbed me, our mother said kids are monsters, it’s your birthday, also I’m
    going to London next week… too much! Dialogue
    just doesn’t feel real at all.

  • carsonreeves1

    Hey guys, sorry about the slow moderation– had to go to a wedding this weekend.

  • Malibo Jackk

    Hey Evan & Darren —

    I think I own one of your suits.

  • Poe_Serling

    HEY EB & DB-
    I enjoyed reading your script and jotted down some quick notes. Oh, don’t worry – mostly good stuff with a suggestion or two for you guys to mull over in your leisure time. :-)
    If Carson doesn’t post your review in the next week or so, I organize my notes and shoot you an email.

  • jae kim


    I read the first 25 pages. the first thing I noticed was how slow the story was. the first 15 pages are spent on the 8 year old girls and how they became witches. this could be skipped entirely. just show us an interesting first scene involving the girls already in highschool doing witchcraft and move onto the main character. as it is written, it seems the witches are the main characters, not zany.

  • SusieM

    Basic TV and youtube videos are a form of mass entertainment for the consumption of the general public. Amateur Friday, in fact most of Scriiptshadow, is an educational tool used by a small population trying to develop a highly specialised skill. The two don’t equate at all.

    While I agree that gold star for effort, gratuitous praise is nobody’s friend when it comes to writing, I do not think that dismissing a film in this forum based solely on its logline is particularly helpful. Writing loglines is a skill, an eminently teachable one, a skill connected to and distinct from writing a good screenplay, Terry Rossio admits he’s always been terrible at pitching. Hell, how many good movies have sunk because studios don’t know how to sell them?

    Besides, if the writers of Amateur Friday scripts thought they were on par with Sorkin, Terrio et al, why would they release them to amateur Friday, potentially disseminating hundreds of copies across the internet and devaluing their work? This is an improvers forum, and the prize for the weekly winner is not a sale, it’s a critique, it’s feedback.

    I’m not arguing that we shouldn’t hold these screenplays up to exacting standards, or that they shouldn’t b considered as potentially viable films, only that we should approach them with more open-mindedness than the average reader trawling through the slush pile. No one is paying us to be here, any more than we’re paying them. We are all – presumably – doing it out of love and enthusiasm for the craft.

    • PatKirkSS

      Well Susie M, although I don’t quite see eye to eye with you I will respectfully say this: I took time out of my day to give a well-thought critique on each of the submissions based on their title, logline and genre. My criticism was constructive and informed each writer why I did not want to invest time in reading their entire project. I could’ve simply read them and said “no thanks” to myself, but then the writer’s would not have received the possibly valuable information about the effect their loglines had on me.

      Like many businesses, all you have is a preview and a pitch with the hopes that someone might give you the resources and capital. I think there is a good balance here of patience on this site and some people read all 5 screenplays in its entirety and some just stick to the loglines. I would think if I submitted my screenplay here I’d like all the feedback I could get whether it was based on my entire script or just the logline.

      I don’t think you honestly have negative feelings to the feedback that I–and many of the other posts similar to mine–provide. If so, then I apologize for offending you but I’m in the belief that most of the writers who submitted material here don’t feel the same. A strong logline packs a lot of information in a small amount of space. It gives a sense of the mood and the style. It tends to reveal the protagonist and their stakes as well as the conflict and the plot. Although a logline is not a script, surely you have to understand the connection between the two. I know ability in one doesn’t equate ability in the other, but there’s a strong correlation. Is it unreasonable to believe that a poorly written, unfocused and plotless logline would suggest the same kind of story? I’m not sure if you’re suggesting we keep our opinions to ourselves unless we are willing to read the entire script but I’m assuming you’re more reasonable than that and that’s not what you mean.

      We actually might be in agreement, I’m not entirely sure. But I have to say Jae Kim’s thoughts express my own. No one here should expect to be babied but everyone who comments should expect to elaborate on their critique because as you point out, this is an educational tool. But if you are equating someone’s dismissal to being uneducational, I’m going to disagree. As long as a dismissal is backed up, I think it’s just as valid as any other critique.

  • Tor Dollhouse

    “When a field trip turns south, a class of students race to find their missing friend against a platoon of Civil War re-enactors carrying a hidden agenda.” (27 words)

    Try to be clear, concise and have a catch when writing a logline. It is best kept at or under 25 words and can be the make or break factor.

    Hope this helps. :D


  • SamuelClark

    Going Postal – There’s some fun writing here and it’s nice to read. Good development of Rollo’s character too, ignoring all the cynisim around him. It pulls a nice trick in making the character likable, ie surrounding him with nasty folk. I think it takes a few too many words and lines to tell/show us he is a mailman. I really liked the twist with the Bulldog talking to him. It’s a good idea (you should run with it) because I was really miffed at it being a dream. The econmic downturn of the post office is less interesting. The scene whereby he gets fired has a couple of funny lines “Lockers… I have an area?” and such like. After that it gets kind of surreal, not sure it has a solid enough context. It’s suggestive of Rollo’s imagined world and he might just be going crazy… It was fun.

  • Citizen M

    To be very picky, the battleground isn’t forgotten, there is no race, there is no struggle to understand, they don’t want to bury the truth they want to keep it secret, and I wouldn’t call it a weapon or ancient.

    “A group of grad students join Civil War re-enactors and get sucked into a terrible secret when one of them goes missing on the battlefield.”

  • Charlie Toaster

    These are my thoughts on the following scripts as I read
    them. I hope it’s not too late. I download them when they got posted but I didn’t
    get a chance to read them until today because of my job so I forgot what the
    loglines were.

    Going Postal: I really like this beginning and I wish the
    script kept to this type of “Peewee’s Big Adventure” tone but then it turns out
    it was a dream. Then another dream happens in the scene when he gets fired; I thought this was his paranoid imagination again and he really didn’t get fired but then mister homeless comes around and this is where
    the writer lost me. I stopped caring what was happening because of all the dreams. (page 16)

    Side note: I’ve only been following this website since the
    beginning of the year and it seems like every other amateur script was written
    by this guy. Does this writer have a hundred scripts he’s been sending off to
    Carson (in which case I applaud the writer for being so prolific) or is this
    name a pseudonym like Alan Smithee?

    3029: When I opened this up I only guessed it was a sci-fi
    script because of the title is in reference to a future year. However the title
    page read 3,029. Maybe this was a script when someone finds $3,029 in a
    mysterious bag? Read the first page and I’m already confused. Mia, our protag,
    is headed towards a war-torn city on a “future” bike and a “future” shotgun in
    her hostler needing to get to Washington D.C to kill big bad master computer.
    Then we have action madness with androids that raises a lot questions for me.
    One we are assuming New Los Angeles is where “old” Los Angeles was and old Los
    Angeles was blown up during “The War;” however we are supposed to believe Washington
    D.C was never flatten to a nuclear pancake during “the war”? I thought it would
    be a high value target in the past thousand years. It’s a very tiny detail but
    it bothered me because if Los Angeles did blow up people would just rebuild it
    and call it Los Angeles again or something else entirely. If it’s a New
    something it should be new. I guess that’s why New York is 3,000 miles away
    from York. Two: Wouldn’t a “worn torn city” be loud? Three: Why do the androids
    pretend to look like humans when they consider us to be a disease? Their
    disguises don’t appear to be that effective so why bother? Four: Page 11 takes
    place at an “Old Gas Station.” Old
    compared to what? It’s been a thousand years! This is where I stopped.

    Abracadabra: First 10 pages are cute and fun. I think the
    transformation should be toned down a tad into something less grotesque. The
    head exploding is a little much and I’m starting to get the feeling this isn’t
    for children. Okay I’m getting the idea of the target audience with the intro
    of Zany. This is for more of a teen girl crowd in which case I suggest adding a
    more mature joke in the beginning to balance out the child-like whimsy and then
    exploding head stuff would flow better. On page 26 they rob a bank and I’m starting
    to wonder why, couldn’t they just wish for money? Also I feel like they should’ve
    encountered Zany at this point if she is a main character or is she a
    supporting character that will offer the shy Tabitha a different lifestyle and
    then create conflict? I don’t like the celebrity cameos could’ve been done
    without. On page 28 the shy one dies in a very cruel way. On page 30 we finally
    get to the scene I was waiting for the meeting of Zany and the Tabithas. What
    was the point of the classroom scene? It had the exposition that was already
    covered before: Zany’s real name is Tabitha and Tabitha Brown is dead. I say
    cut this scene. I stopped on page 40 when they started quoting “Dead Poet’s
    Society.” I’ll continue later but the script was losing energy at this point.

    Side note: The cover page is neat but isn’t this frowned
    upon in the industry or it doesn’t really matter?

    Monster in Us: I’m guessing the opening scene is supposed to
    get me excited but it reminded me a lot of something that would pop up in an
    episode of MST3K. Who is the king anyways? I kept reading to find out but
    instead there was a very long scene of two people who are very calm after one
    of their houses has gotten robbed then another scene when there is a mysterious
    man in the main character’s house explaining the whole premise. That’s where I
    stopped. I started thinking too deeply about the premise and I got the feeling
    the script wasn’t going to help me. What exactly do these aliens do to us until
    we’re 30? Where does a person’s identity lay in all of this? Is the alien in control
    of me or is it giving me bad advice and extra hormones and it is up to me to
    make the decisions? Where does responsibility end or begin? I wonder because I’m
    25 years old and this script is saying I have a monster inside of me that’s
    making me do stupid things. Should I listen to my Girlfriend when she tells me
    I didn’t do the dishes right or could ignore her because she has an alien
    inside of her!

    The Girl: I think the title needs something more because
    after the first ten pages I’m getting a silly “Buckaroo Banzai” vibe mixed with
    an episode of “Buffy.” I’m very much digging it and liking how Sam is a D&D
    gamer adding modifiers to real life things. I think you can cut the montage on
    page 10 I don’t think it does anything. I’m a bit confused if the gang that
    tried to beat up the girl was super-natural or not so that needs to be clearer
    right off the bat. I got to page 40
    because I’m running out of time and I need to go to work. My only problem with
    the script so far is The Girl herself seems too one dimensional and clichéd but
    I don’t know if she’ll grow into a person later or not because she is hiding a
    lot of things.

    Overall my vote goes to “The Girl” and my runner up is “Abracadabra”

    I hope my notes helped.

    • Malibo Jackk

      “Should I listen to my Girlfriend when she tells me I didn’t do the dishes right…”

      Once had a girl friend who told me not to eat the heel from a loaf of bread because — her mother had taught her that the heel keeps the other slices from going stale.

      My first inclination was to grab the heel and eat it.
      (Yes, I need therapy.)

  • theprozacqueen

    I read Abracadabra and enjoyed it…it was the kind of movie a group of ‘tween’ girls might watch at a slumber party, well after the parents have gone to bed. Then again, ‘Heathers’ was one of my favorite movies when I was in junior high.

    • Craig Paulsen


  • Craig Paulsen