amateur offerings weekend

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.

TITLE: Fatty Falls Down, Again
GENRE: Dramedy
LOGLINE: A young man enrolls in film school and befriends a funny classmate who claims to be the reincarnation of Chris Farley. Still haunted by the suicide death of his best friend, the student vows to keep this self-destructive “Chris” from killing himself.

TITLE: KIng of Matrimony
GENRE: Drama/Comedy
LOGLINE: A loving husband and father must maintain a series of affairs in order to save his happy marriage.

TITLE: Rumspringa
GENRE: R-rated Comedy
LOGLINE: When a dimwitted Amish man-child gets a message from God that his long lost brother is living a life of sin in Miami, he solicits two Amish teens to help find his brother and save him from eternal damnation; upon arrival, the threesome unknowingly botch a drug deal and realize that if they don’t adapt to the outside world quickly, they’ll never get home alive!

TITLE: Ship Of The Dead
GENRE: Vampire/Thriller
LOGLINE: After their medical rescue aircraft crash lands above the Arctic Circle, a terminally ill flight navigator must lead the crew to survival in the face of plunging temperatures, the impending arrival of 6 months of permanent darkness – and a horde of vampires taking refuge in a nearby shipwreck.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: Finalist in the Peachtree Village International Film Festival.

GENRE: Comedy/Coming of Age
LOGLINE: Three different graduating classes return to their small New Jersey town for a night of awkward reunions and drunken debauchery on the biggest bar night of the year – Thanksgiving Eve.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: Oh man, I wish I could give you this guy’s query letter. There’s a hilarious story about being an assistant to a producer and having to save his boss’s ass when a major director came in to get notes on a pilot the boss hadn’t read. I can’t give you that but here’s the beginning of his query: I know you asked for a paragraph, but let’s keep this shit sparse. Here are the bullet points. – Depending on what source you check, Thanksgiving Eve is either the single biggest (or second biggest) bar night of the year. Now think how many movies have ever been set on this night. Can you even think of any? HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? – This year marks the 20th year since DAZED AND CONFUSED was released, the quintessential one night, ensemble, coming of age comedy. DAZED AND CONFUSED set on the biggest party night of the year. That’s my pitch..

  • Gregory Mandarano

    Three out of five of these scripts have their scene headings in bold font. When did this become a thing? Am I in the twilight zone?

    • Brainiac138

      That is very common now and very helpful to readers. Many lit management companies now require it. It just helps everyone know exactly where the scene is taking place.

      • Gregory Mandarano

        Something about it feels tacky and off putting. I think bold sluglines should be reserved for action, thrillers, and sci fi. I expect it in a white house down or jack reacher or star wars spec, but not in a leisurely comedy or drama. It feels inauthentic. Of these five scripts id think ship of the dead would get away with the bold but the others would not.

        • TruckDweller

          I’d say the most important thing is clarity. Choose a style that helps the reader keep everything clear and stick to it. Consistency and clarity go hand in hand. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of bold headers but if it goes on for an entire script, I get used to it quickly.

          • Brainiac138

            This is something that more writers need to take to heart. Producers, managers, agents, assistants, and readers go through so so so many scripts every day. Bold slug lines are just one way to keep everyone reading on track, if there is one thing I’ve heard people have to go back and re-read its the slug lines. After reading so many scripts its easy to just scan over them, so making them bold is just an easy way to add clarity. Slug lines are something easy to keep track of when reading the first script of the day, but by your fifth, sixth, or tenth script of the day, they kind of blend into the white space.

          • TruckDweller

            Thanks for this insight. That’s enough reason for me to go back and put all my headers in bold. I think everyone here realizes how tough a job it is to be a professional reader. Whatever we can do to make that job easier should be a priority

    • IgorWasTaken

      IIRC, at least one of the major screenwriting contests has bold sluglines in its style guide.

      I find them helpful, especially if there is only 1 blank line between scenes.

  • TFerg

    I read the three whose loglines piqued my interest.

    Fatty has the most intriguing logline to me. If done right, it’s a Black List script. Unfortunately, I didn’t like it as much as I wanted to.

    My biggest issue is the logline isn’t wholly accurate, or at least my interpretation of it. It promises the Ronnie character claiming to be the reincarnation of Chris Farley. I read that as the character truly believing that he WAS Farley. But in the script, he’s simply a really big Chris Farley fan. That disappointed me. I feel this script would be much stronger and more interesting had the Ronnie character actually been deranged and actually believed he was Farley reincarnated, sort of like Mark Duplass in Safety Not Guaranteed. It would make his path of self-destruction feel more authentic and generally raise the stakes to the story, all while adding a layer of unpredictability.

    Other thoughts: it’s listed as a dramedy, but I felt it skewed much more along the lines of a straight drama. I thought it suffered a bit from being a little too “on the nose,” in terms of dialogue (especially in the first ten pages- there’s a lot of exposition unnaturally unveiled in casual conversation that rang untrue) and in terms of the Ronnie-as-Chris Farley angle. I also thought the constant scenes of Ronnie aping actual Farley/SNL bits grew a little tiresome.

    One last random thought – did anyone else feel like this story would have been better suited had it taken place in the 90s, as opposed to modern day? I can’t pinpoint why exactly, but every reference to modern movies felt a little jarring.

    Anyway, it was a nice, easy read with some good parts (the whole “Bee Faggots” monologue was so out of left field and inappropriate that I laughed out loud) and I think the idea has potential, but I’m not so sure this is the best version of the story.

    I read thirty pages of Rumspringa. It’s very funny and these writers know what they’re doing. But to be honest, the way the Amish are portrayed/used kind of turned me off. I felt the humor early on veered a little too much into mocking their culture, which felt like the wrong tone if you’re going to do this type of story. KINGPIN was a hilariously crude movie, but it never was condescending toward the Amish, which didn’t seem to be the case here. So, while I like the writers and think they have a lot of potential, I was burnt out quickly on this script.

    My pick is Black Wednesday. It takes a while to get going, but once it hits its stride (right around the start of the reunion on page 17), it really takes off. The writer’s voice takes a bit getting used to; there are a lot of asides in the action descriptions early on that are going to turn some people off (though thankfully their frequency fades after the first couple of pages). There are also a shit ton of characters to remember and I had to stop myself a couple times to look back and remember who is who. But the story and especially the dialogue are a lot funnier than I expected them to be and the second half has a surprising amount of heart/reflection for a story that also includes high school kids shitting in pumpkins. The writer pitched it as Dazed and Confused, but it reminded me a lot of Can’t Hardly Wait, that Jennifer Love Hewitt movie that was on HBO every single day in the early 2000s.

    A couple suggestions for the writer: I think Nikki is the weakest main character. I was never entirely sure what her purpose was or what she was after. Most of the other characters had small goals or dilemmas, but Nikki just kind of existed to drive a wedge between Brandon and Paige. I’d suggest giving her more to do, or maybe even getting rid of her entirely (would help lessen your character count, as well). The triangle between Dan/Sophia/Paige tripped me up a couple times. Separately, I like both stories — a guy forcing to be around his ex-girlfriend, and a guy falling for an old classmate — but it almost seemed weird having both happening to the same character. It feels like including both dilutes each of them. Maybe consider nixing the Paige/Dan connection and having him spend more of that time developing his bond with Sophia. And finally, the high school prank storyline seemed like the least inspired storyline, though it was paid off beautifully with Dirt and the house party at the end.

    Overall though, it’s well done with a lot of really funny stuff (everything with Dirt, Tag at the reunion, Kevin Africa in general). This one gets my vote for Amateur Friday. It’s worth the read, and I think there’s a bunch of “What I learned” re: ensemble films with multiple storylines.

    • IgorWasTaken

      Your take on Black Wednesday is interesting. And, well done.

      I stopped at page 17 (I may restart) because I was overwhelmed by so many characters – which I am not blaming on the writer. (Though he could do a few small things to help us keep track, such as using characters first and last names when the speak, since some characters call other characters by their last names (example, on page 9) and it can just help.)

      Anyway, what I like about your comments is that you were willing to take the writer on his own terms. That is, you didn’t seem to love his quirky-style action writing, but you accepted it for the moment, so to speak.

      Interesting to me: You say the quirky asides taper off after the first few pages. It doesn’t seem that way to me. And so, maybe they just seemed that way to you – because (again) you were willing to take the writer on his own terms.

  • Paul Clarke

    Had a quick read through all. My reaction:

    Black Wednesday:
    At first I was a little worried by the style of writing. But chuckled a couple of times, decided at least this guy has confidence and audacity. He knows what he wants to do. Unfortunately after 6 pages it’s been all voice and no substance. Just comes across too pretentious. Like the writer knows who I am and tells me what to think. If something had caught my attention I would press on, but it hasn’t.

    Fatty Falls Down, Again:
    First page rings a couple of warning bells. Character names are offset too far over. If everyone says ‘Amen’ that’s dialogue and needs to be formatted so.
    Page 5: “We were just talking about how you and Coffin had planned on going to film school together. You still gonna go?” Very on the nose expositional dialogue.
    Worked my way to page 10. Nothing intrigued me enough to go on. Found the writing awkward and uninteresting. Could just be because, like the protagonist, I am a cinema worker who writes scripts in his spare time. It’s hard to write a script about a writer, let alone a struggling new script writer. No real market for getting it made outside of film students. Maybe you were hoping to make it yourself? Either way, you need to find some sort of hook.
    Having now read the logline, I see I didn’t read far enough to see the hook. That’s not my fault. There was no indication that this would be either a comedy, or something about supernatural reincarnation. Neither are mentioned or indicated in the opening 10 pages. You need to use that valuable real estate to not only establish the characters and their world, but the genre, style, tone of movie. You class it as a dramedy. Surely you could squeeze one joke into those first 10 pages.

    King of Matrimony:
    Quick sparse easy writing. Flew through to page 14. Joe comes in, takes a seat next to Joe? No description. I’m trying to work out who he is. Went back through thinking I’d forgotten. No sign of Joe. Broke the flow.
    The good news is I got there without realizing. I’m not sure how accepting people will be of an adulterous protagonist, even though he’s playing by the ‘rules’. You really need to make it clear it’s a comedy. I’d prefer if he was the funny one, not his daughter. People are far more forgiving of someone who makes them laugh.
    So far a possible AF choice.

    First page shows signs of being overwritten. A lot of black on the page. First two thirds of the page is an establishing shot that could be written in one line. I’m from New Zealand and even I know what an Amish community looks like. You only need to describe details that make it different from a regular Amish farm. Save the “ubiquitous clotheslines” for a novel.
    The opening clearly sets up the story. Nicely done. I can see exactly where this is going and what type of movie it’s going to be. The best setup so far. Still some warning signs – Page 4 has an 8 line paragraph that should be 2 or 3 individual shots.
    Read to page 30. Only stopped to read the final submission. Never split my sides laughing, but I did chuckle on nearly every page. A Simpsons kind of attack. If you don’t like a joke, wait 30 seconds, there’ll be another one. I can definitely see this as a movie. Not everyone’s taste, but enough people to get it made. If I find the time I will have no hesitation to keep reading this one.
    Carson said he’s always looking for comedy. This is looking very promising. (especially if you format those action blocks properly.)

    Ship of the Dead:
    Not sure if that title page is intentional.
    I normally like the short abrupt sentence structures, but in this case I found it distracting. A little overdone. I think it works better when you use short quick sentences during short quick pieces of action. And possibly a little more description when describing characters and locations.
    I like the use of technical jargon in the dialogue. Gives it a realistic feel. Like they are who they say they are. The audience don’t need to understand as long as the characters do. But you probably use it a bit much in the action descriptions. You don’t want to alienate readers who don’t know what it all means. What is an LC-130?
    Page 11: The plane crash. Took too long. The opening prologue scene was okay, nothing fancy. Set up the vampires nicely enough. But the next 7-8 pages are the crash. It either needs to happen quicker. Or the better option is to use it to get to know the characters. I feel like I know nothing about them. It was all lost in the technical jargon. I can barely distinguish between them all. This intense situation is a great place to give us some insight into the true character of each person. How they react under pressure and with imminent death.

    My choice – Rumspringa. Not exactly breaking new ground, but with the relative success of Eurotrip and Sexdrive, I think it has the most potential.

    • Palangi

      Thanks for your comments on Ship of the Dead. From what I’m reading, they are consistent with others, and I appreciate that. Narrows my focus on the corrections.

  • Jonathan Soens

    Just read the beginning of “Fatty Falls Down, Again” and I have to say: I love the choice of having the character be from an area in Washington that’s still sort of in the shadow cast by Kurt Cobain. It just seems like such an inspired choice for a story that is going to be about suicidal self-destruction and angst.

    It reminds me of the choice in “40 Year Old Virgin” to have the guy compulsively collect action figures and to have his love interest make her living selling things on eBay. In most movies, the choice to have a character collect toys that they keep in the box, or to have a character have a weird job like selling things (like unopened toys) on eBay — those things would just be meaningless quirks to make the characters seem quirky. But in a story about a guy who never took his virginity out of the box, those character choices made so much sense for the story.

    I look forward to reading the rest of the script to see what other choices the writer made.

  • RobertJ

    So I wasn’t chosen for AF, again. That which does not kill, makes you stronger. Or bitter… haven’t decided yet. I submitted it to a professional reader service. Keep your fingers crossed… in the meantime, I am open to suggestions/criticisms (constructive ones, anyway…) and look forward to making CC better.

    • carsonreeves1

      post your logline here Robert. Maybe folks can give you some suggestions (assuming you haven’t done so already?)

      • gazrow

        “assuming you haven’t done so already?”

        Carson, if you know what I think you know? (and what I certainly know!) Then doesn’t this bring into question the validity of allowing newbies to vote during AOF weekend and perhaps even submit their scripts too?

        When a person can create two or more ‘identities’ and even reply to one of their own posts using one of their other identity(s) then surely that shows the current voting system is flawed?

        Whilst the person I am referring to never actually voted for their own script (perhaps only because it wasn’t selected?!) it does show AOW is unfortunately open to abuse!

        Perhaps one way to go would be to only allow long time posters to submit their script for AF? At least they will have earned it!

      • RobertJ

        Posted above. Thanks.

    • Gregory Mandarano

      Robert, maybe this is just a stylistic choice, but if I were you I’d get rid of the first page with the opening quotes, the end page with Pete’s song, and I’d delete every single one of the wrylies / parentheticals. You’d probably shave 5 pages off your script if you did this, all of it completely unnecessary.

      • Kay Bryen

        Did someone say TWO PAGE MONOLOGUE??

      • RobertJ

        Yeah, I agree. I’m cutting here, cutting there. I wanted to give each character their moment to shine, but I’m tend to over-write.

        Thanks for the AF plug–maybe Carson will have a change of heart. Here’s hoping…

        • Aaronboolander

          Hey Robert, just a quick tip. IT’S is a contraction for IT IS. and if
          it’s possessive you use: its. as in: “the script plays by its own

          I found that you used “its” instead of “it’s” throughout your script…And in this post…

          About your script, read it, and was a tad confused… firstly, I didn’t get why ruining the reputations of the actors in Jarrod’s movie helped Victor’s goal of ruining Jarrod’s career– the plagiarism made sense.

          But the major problem was:

          The big twist at the end — SPOILER ALERT — that Tessa was Victor’s daughter, I feel, and maybe I missed something, so hopefully you can clarify, but, it kind of didn’t makes sense. If she was his daughter,
          and the one at the top of the stares (the teenager who appears to be a boy) when Jarrod snaps Margret’s neck in the flashback, wouldn’t Jarrod know her face? They lived together, no? Did she get a sex change? Or plastic surgery?

          Another point that lost me was when Victor
          decides to go to Jarrod’s with a gun because he wants to cover up the rape. Why wouldn’t he get someone else to do the dirty work?

          Besides my issues with it and, as I said maybe I’m missing something, the dialogue was strong (although, I think the scenes could be cut a bit) and the story was compelling enough to make me stay up till 3am last night to finish it!

          best of luck buddy.

          • RobertJ

            3am?? wow. That’s the BEST compliment I could have ever gotten–I truly mean that! after some comments posted on here I didn’t think anyone would bother–so thank you.

            Jarrod initially recognizes a familiarity with Tesse when she introduces herself: “Do I know you, you look familiar…” and his comment about, “There’s something about you; isn’t that odd having just met you?” My thought was that when she lived with Jarrod, she was an early teenager (12 or 13) and now she’s in her mid thirties, so her face has changed considerably and her hair color as well. I see family members fairly often, but if it’s (and I used it that way to save on space, my bad…) someone I haven’t in 15 or so years, I probably wouldn’t. Kinda like the guy in Valentine (David B.) No one recognized him less than 10 years out of college. But a very valid point. Actually, when I was forming the basis of the characters, I used Marion Cotillard and Chandler Riggs (they both have a slight turned up nose, piercing eyes and could pass for brother and sister…)

            Victor sabotages the production, so when (and if) the film fails, he can say, “See, you critics are full of shit. Critically acclaimed writer, notable film critic and you STILL couldn’t do any better…” Which an earlier exchange between Victor and the Golfer kinda summarizes:

            You want the film to do bad? Why?

            So he’s readers’ll know his Mensa mind isn’t worth a shotglass full of shit. They’ll be using his reviews to wipe their ass–and this time, he’ll take the fall.

            He’s trying to undermine Jarrod’s creditability as a critic. “See, you couldn’t do any better…” I guess I need to make it more obvious.

            As for Victor doing the dirty work, I think he wanted to be the one to watch the life drain out of Jarrod–they’ve hated each other for years–and wanted to do it before he was able to tell anyone else about the rape. And as Hollywood as this sounds, I think, given most people end up telling other peoples’ secrets, he’d probably want to do it himself–less people who know about it, the better chance he’d get away with it.

            I cannot thank you enough for finishing it. Gives me hope… thanks!

          • Aaronboolander

            Anytime buddy, best of luck to you:)

    • Will Vega

      It helps to give a face to the characters, even though it’s actually discouraged. Picturing Victor as Jack Nicholson, for instance, definitely made this a more enjoyable read.

      I have to read the descriptions over a couple of times though, as it wasn’t clear what exactly was going on. Plus if the character interacts with anyone, even minor, it’d be great if they had some description like the reporter in page 2.

      I liked the opening dialogue with Victor. I found it freakin’ hilarious, I actually laughed out loud a couple of times). But after Tesse came in, it quickly became very boring. Even imagining her as Marion Cotillard didn’t help. There needs to be something STRIKING about her to make her just as interesting as Victor, otherwise it’ll be a classic case of “oh shit, here’s THAT person…when are they gonna get to the OTHER character?!” But then it also falls apart by page 10, there are alot of talking heads yet nothing is really happening. I skimmed through and that initial magic that was there didn’t stay for long.

      Reading it further, I get the impression the target audience is the older crowd. If this was a current studio executive sinking in red, it’d be more interesting if he spouted off classic hits while his contemporaries are talking about RECENT hits, of which he has no clue of and is ignorant about (which is why he’s failing, he’s too out of touch with the market now). Unless this was set in the 1980s-1990s or something.

      Ultimately (since I had no logline to read from), I thought it was going to be a comedy about this out of touch studio exec who tries to make the best damn modern picture he could with people he had to scrape together or else he has to declare bankruptcy. Now…it’s a drama?

      I’d ask myself two questions: “what is this about” and “who is this aiming at”? If it’s a comedy aimed at an older audience, then make it sophisticated and funny through and through. If it’s a drama for an older audience, then hike up the drama. Let me know what’s at stake for Victor, cause he seems like a great character, or else i’ll quickly tune out like I did here.

      Those are some of my thoughts. Good luck!

      • RobertJ

        thanks for your feedback. The target audience is anyone who likes Nicholson being a prick–he just has that quality where you want him to be bad. I picked Marion Cotillard becasue she has an understated quality about her. You need to only see her as a mailroom clerk until the 3rd act. You think she’s trying to claw her way up the studio ladder, but when the big reveal happens, you see she’s been the one pulling the strings all along.

        Also, you said the descriptions weren’t clear: which ones? I honestly thought it was pretty straight forward, but then, Smirnoff has been a constant companion. I’ve been wrong before.

        And to answer what its about–its about getting revenge. Pure and simple. In fact, the 21 points is all about revenge, but I think I’m saying too much.

        Thanks for your feedback. I appreciate it.

        • Will Vega

          With the descriptions, the opening where Victor was talking to the Voice. I didn’t know if the Voice was in a different room or he/she was in a chair and we couldn’t see them (Dr. Claw-like). It was mostly stuff like that.

          And what I meant about the target audience is if this is a meant for an older audience, younger audience, both? Producers and Execs feel more at ease if they can sense this can be tailored for a wide enough audience (not summer blockbuster or anything).

          Also, revenge is always a great theme to play with but who is getting revenge and why? You don’t have to answer those, but I still need to know the genre. With your pitch, the whole premise needs to sound clear and intriguing. Maybe I need to read your logline, as I’m having problems getting the full picture. Cause it could be about revenge, but I just mostly read studio execs talk about movie losses and a woman going shopping. There was one moment where something sinister could’ve happened but nothing really happened. So if this is a thriller, play up the thrills. If its a drama, play up the drama. ect ect.

    • Michael

      1) Take all of Gregory’s advice.

      2)Whatever you do, don’t take Will’s advice and put a face to a character using an actor. Which Jack Nicholson are we talking about, A Few Good Men or About Schmitd? It’s lazy writing to use an actor, but more importantly, a good character description is more about the internal character and not what they look like.

      3) Before you take Carson’s advice, you should contribute to the community and post comments for a few months and not hijack a thread for your own script.

      • RobertJ

        I picked Jack Nicholson (and Terence Stamp) because that’s who I actually wrote the characters for. It was part of my senior thesis. And nothing conveys a ‘don’t-fuck-with-me” look better than Nicholson. He’s essentially playing Harvey Weinstein (Victor Gottstein). I don’t consider that lazy writing, but I respect your right to think so.

        Gregory had good points (actually reading it sober I thought, Christ, how many ( ) did I use? I’ve taken most of them out. Good advice.

        I have contributed, but I didn’t read anything about needing to reach a time limit before proceeding. And, without starting a diatribe of insults or snide remarks, someone said to post my script and they’d read it. So I did. I didn’t force anyone to read it, I didn’t even force anyone to click the link. No highjacking, no intimidation, no forcing whatsoever. I simply asked for feedback to make my script better. And isn’t that one of the main reasons for forums like this–to improve your writing? If this isn’t, I’m missing the point.

        Carson, the synopsis is rather simple: In a game of cat and mouse, Hollywood producer, Victor Gottstein, stops at nothing to silence his biggest critic. But Critics’ Choice is a lot like Hollywood in that nothing is at it seems…

        Thanks for your comments (here and via email). Starting a rewrite tonight…

        • ArabyChic

          I think it’s alright for writers to write for actors, using them as a model in their heads – in fact it’s a very useful tool that is often times espoused by professional writers. However, naming actors in a script is frowned upon for many reasons. Like Michael said, it’s usually seen as a sign of laziness, and since your chances of getting said actors are actually very slim, you alienate people and hurt your chances more than anything else. The first thing your agent or manager (or producer, if it gets that far) will tell you is to take it out, because there’s nothing so fragile as an actor’s ego. And even if it gets into the hands of Jack Nicholson? He’s not going to read it and be flattered. He’s probably going to be put off. “What, he puts my name on it and thinks I’ll play it? I’m not that easy!”

    • rsuddhi


      I’m in the same boat as you :) Your script seems interesting — if you want, we can trade reviews! Just let me know. In fact, anyone who’s interested, feel free. My script (Facade) was actually one of the 5 amateur offerings a while back, but didn’t get much attention at all (even though, according to Carson, Ms. Scriptshadow apparently loved it — see March 10 post ).. would still love a read, and could use any tips and criticisms. I really want, more than anything, to make this the best it can be. Anyways, let me know! :)

      • Paul Clarke

        Sounds familiar. Has this been bouncing round Triggerstreet? Don’t think I’ve read it before.

        Will give it a try later tonight if I have the energy.

        • rsuddhi

          Hey Paul! Yes, a couple drafts are posted on Triggerstreet, and an early one has been Featured a couple times. :)

      • Malibo Jackk

        Concerning your first page:
        The telephone call should be cut short. You could say —
        “Hello? My name is Barbara Adamson. I want to report a missing child.”
        (we don’t need to hear the rest. It’s BORING. UNREALISTIC. And you’re NOT ENGAGING the audience — you’re throwing information at the audience instead of making them work for it.)

        But there’s another problem with my suggestion. It’s cliche. TV drama.

        You’re writing a drama/noir/mystery and there’s a murder. Great.
        Now show us your skills. Be creative. Impress us.
        That’s the job of the screenwriter.

        • rsuddhi

          Thanks Malibo! :) You know, initially I was hesitant about cutting it short for fear it might make the scene end to abruptly, but I’m thinking about it and might do it… it seems to draw a lot of criticism anyway. I understand the concern about it being too similar or unoriginal, but I wasn’t attempting to do anything particularly groundbreaking here, rather I was trying to write a classic noir. In addition to the mystery aspect of it, there’s also a domestic drama side to the story (some previous readers mentioned Ordinary People or Rabbit Hole), which I think sets it apart from just your regular old crime TV show. Anyway, whether you decide to read or not, I hope I do impress with the rest of the script, and am open to all comments and criticisms.

      • Gregory Mandarano

        Things / people are not what they seem. Thats a powerful theme to take on. It would be nice if that applied to every character in the script rather than just the antagonist and I hope thats the case in this script, but by the look at the ending its not. Is there any way you can highlight this and bring it even more to the front?

        • rsuddhi

          Hey Gregory – I don’t know how much of it you read, but I tried to apply this theme to everyone and everything, including much of the supporting characters. It’s a shame you skipped to the ending though… I think, in my humble opinion anyway, that the script works best reading through so we can see the gradual “transformation” of some of the characters. If you only skipped to the last page, by the way, it definitely goes deeper than you might initially think – just another connection to the theme ;)

      • RobertJ

        I’ll read it! I love murder mysteries… especially when clues are presented to make you go, “Damn! How did I not see this coming…. ?”

        • rsuddhi

          Alright, thanks! I’ll email you when I’m ready :)

  • bidi

    I had an idea almost identical to Rumspringa. Even had the same title. Probably should’ve written it… And RobertJ, I wasn’t chosen for AF again either. Don’t get down. Get drunk! Isn’t that what true writers do?

    • Marija ZombiGirl

      “Get drunk !” – That’s the spirit o/

      Seriously, though, whenever something I wrote gets rejected, I take an hour max to feel as bad and whiny as I want to and when that hour is up… I get back to work.

      Never ever let ONE rejection make you bitter or discourage you permanently. Learn from it (if you’re lucky to get some kind of feedback), learn from yourself, look back at what you have achieved and how you have grown as a writer and as a person. And keep writing :-)

      • gazrow

        Great advice, M!

      • RobertJ

        Well said!

    • RobertJ

      I’ll drink to that!

  • Malibo Jackk

    Would I get in my car. Drive to the theater. And pay $12 to see any of these movies?
    Ok. Maybe that’s the wrong standard.

    If I was standing outside the Cinema 16. And these five were on the marque. Along with 11 other movies. And I had already seen Iron Man 3. Would I go see Iron Man 3 again…?

    If I was a busy producer. And these came across my desk. Along with 100 others. And another 100 would come next week. Would I spend a lot of time looking at these scripts?

    Sorry. I took a quick look at the first few pages — and came away uninspired. (Not for me.)
    I actually though there might be something to SHIP OF THE DEAD. (A competition finalist.) But here’s the thing. Page 1: …ING, …ING, ..ING. Page 2: …ING, …ING, …ING, …ING, …ING. I turn to the last page: …ING, …ING, …ING.

    Ok now. Say you’re visiting the video store. And the bins are nearly empty. And only these five remain. Which of these would you choose?
    (Only one man’s opinion. All the scripts are likely better than I suggest. Down arrows are welcome.)

    • Gregory Mandarano

      Malibo, you pretty much took the words out of my mouth. I had the exact same thoughts, settled on Ship of the Dead, and was completely thrown off by the wrong tense. ING ING ING.

      • Malibo Jackk

        Nothing happens. Everything is in the process of happening.
        The reader is not allowed to see it happen. Instead he is told it is already happening. Readers want to see it happen; not be told it is happening.

        “… grabbing a quill.” How long does it take to grab a quill?

        It’s bad form. It sounds like bad poetry — and leaves a ringing in your ears.

        • Gregory Mandarano

          Very insightful!

      • Palangi

        Thanks for the vote. And I am considering all the comments.

    • Citizen M

      Producer Griffin Mill in The Player

      “I listen to stories and decide if they’ll make good movies or not. I get 125 phone calls a day, and if I let that slip to 100, I know I’m not doing my job. Everyone that calls, they want to know one thing. They want me to say ‘yes’ to them and make their movie. [snip] The problem is I can only say ‘yes’ — my studio can only say ‘yes’ — 12 times a year. And collectively we hear about 50,000 stories a year. So it’s hard.”

    • Abdul Fataki

      Thing is: people watching a film won’t see no …ING.

      • Malibo Jackk

        We don’t need no stinkin …ING.

    • IgorWasTaken

      OK, I am not against ING in general, because sometimes a present participle is what you need to explain we are catching someone mid-action.

      And so normally, I might click the down arrow, MJ. But on page 1 in this script, I agree with you.

      A storm RAGING. Wind HOWLING. White caps, stinging spray
      streaking horizontal. Rain. Sleet. Snow. AND ICEBERGS!

      Raging and Howling – Uh, OK.

      Stinging spray – Maybe if we saw people in this scene, “stinging” could be OK, since we could see them wincing at the sting. But we don’t need it. (And yes, I know “stinging” is not used as a verb here, but it does set off many people’s “ing” upset.)

      Moving into frame, the rakish bow of a wooden ship heaving up,
      then CRASHING down, into massive swells. A FIGUREHEAD on the
      prow. Glossed in ice. Beneath it, a name: ‘FAIR MARIA.’

      Moving into frame – What? That’s wrong on two levels. Unless the camera movement is a setup or payoff on a reveal, IMO it’s unneeded.

      heaving up, then CRASHING down – We already know we’re in the midst of a storm, so no need to continue with the INGs. Besides, since (again) we know we’re in a storm, less detail would do just fine: “The ship’s thrown about by massive swells” or something like that.

      • Palangi

        Thanks, Igor, for your comments on Ship of the Dead. I’m seeing the pattern – drop more than a handful of the “ings.” Admittedly, it was an experiment at technique, but looks like not-so-much. I appreciate your input and the time you took to read it.

    • Palangi

      Thanks for your insightful comments on Ship of the Dead. I’m guess”ing” that I need to re-think my “-ings.” And I mean that in a nice way. It does pervade – a bit much. :)

  • TGivens

    I’m going to give Rumspringa a chance. I like the log line. It sounds funny, it sounds as A COMEDY.

  • GoIrish

    I read all of King of Matrimony.

    PROS: I thought the dialogue was
    pretty humorous. For a while, I hadn’t found many of the AF comedies
    very amusing. I was beginning to think that I was being one of those
    people who is overly critical because I am also working on a comedy.
    So, it was refreshing to find something that made me laugh more than
    once out of every ten jokes. The writing style was crisp. I actually
    felt like the author devoted time to plotting things out. While there
    were a few typos, I got the sense that the author actually put in some
    work on this script.

    CONS: I almost gave up at p. 43 because it
    didn’t seem like there were any stakes. Up to this point, the friend
    was trying to convince the husband to have an affair to get revenge for
    the wife having an affair. While it was unknown the friend, the husband
    and wife were in an open relationship. So, there was no real issue if
    the husband had a revenge affair (as he already was engaged in outside
    relationships). Admittedly, the stakes pick up later in the script, but
    the writer potentially risks losing readers earlier on.

    logline is not quite accurate. The husband doesn’t “maintain a series
    of affairs.” If I recall correctly, the only affair the husband had
    (after the friend discovered the wife’s affair) was with a waitress very
    late in the script (earlier in the script, it seemed like he was about
    to have an affair with a sex addict, but I don’t think he actually went
    through with it).

    The husband doesn’t change/overcome his flaw.
    On p. 90 (of a 97 page script), the husband goes to visit his father who
    he has not seen in some time. The husband is angry at the father
    because of all the affairs the father had when the husband was a child.
    The husband is angry because he turned out just like his father. In
    the very next scene, the husband has the affair with the waitress.

    another commenter noted, there are difficulties selling this concept to
    an audience. The parents satisfied their lustful needs, but ruined the
    lives of their children in the process. The 13 year-old daughter’s
    classmates learn of the affair (with pictures) and begin to tease the
    daughter. The family is ultimately forced to sell their home and move.
    I understand this is a fictional comedy, but I don’t see how a girl of
    that age could ever forgive her parents. So, while I did laugh at the
    dialogue, when I put the script down, I mostly felt sad for this family.
    For this to be more marketable, I think there would need to be major
    revisions to the third act.

    As a minor note for the author, CJ’s
    date with pigtail girl didn’t really work. I understand that you were
    trying to show that the son’s behavior was a reflection of his parents,
    but it didn’t seem realistic for a teenage obsessed with another girl
    (Tina) to do this. I also felt like CJ too easily forgave his parents.

  • Abdul Fataki

    (My vote is at very bottom)

    First things first, I implore you Carson to bring back genre weeks. So one week it’s Comedy then Action then Sci Fi etc. Why?

    Because I have a deep rooted bias towards the genres I like/write. So give me 4 good Comedy loglines and I’ll still prefer the thriller/mystery/action logline. + comedy scripts have a TRACK RECORD of being…well, shit.

    This blog also made me obsessed with GSU, I disregard any script if I can’t find at least two out of three. Which is usually Goals + Stakes or Goals + Urgency.

    So BLACK WEDNESDAY is out for me. No goals, no stakes and no urgency. It’s basically ‘some people meet up, comedy ensues’ – uhm, no.

    King of Matrimony – We’ve got a goal, keep cheating so that he save his marriage…WHAT? This isn’t a twit pitch contest. The generous Carson will give you a few extra lines to explain your story. I assume it’s someone blackmailing him or something like that. I could actually see it more as an erotic thriller a la Basic Instinct. So a man might get drunk or even drugged, has sex with woman that same woman turns out to be a psychopath…You can take it from here.

    Fatty Falls Down, Again – Something I could see a younger Joseph Gordon-Levitt in. We’ve got a goal, is it a strong one? How do you prevent someone from killing themselves? Is the friend suicidal?Then again Dramedy scripts aren’t my thing so….

    Rumspringa – Sounds decent, we’ve got a GOAL, we’ve got Stakes, we’ve got OBSTACLES. It even has an urgent factor to it. So this is my SECOND CHOICE.

    My choice for this week is: Ship of the Dead – It’s basically The Grey meets 30 Days of Night meets The Descent. All solid flicks. I can see this as a film. I can see the posters. I can see the trailer. So let’s get cracking..*opens PDF*

    OK, have you ever read a script where the premise of the cold open is better than the remaining pages? Vampires on a ship? That sounds cool. Contained Horror. If anyone wants to run with it, be my guest.

    Then..a boring crash scene, I’m sure this will all look good on the screen but it reads boring, if that makes sense. It’s also advisable that we focus on the main character which is Reno. How does he respond/react to the crash? If he has a flaw, it’s best to show it NOW, he only cares for himself? So he buckles in and doesn’t help the others. Or we have a save the cat moment. Everyone is buckled in but one person get’s loose. Captain orders everyone to stay where they are. Reno can’t help it so he jeopardizes his own life to save someone else.

    They then find the ship from the cold open, some people get slaughtered etc. That’s page 33. I’d advise to do two things:

    Get rid of the Cold Open, the ship scene, we don’t need to see what happened to their ship, and we should NOT see the vampires on the first page.


    Also change the letter the captain wrote ‘The vampires are at my door’ — no dude, just no. Replace it with ‘They are at my door’ or something similar. That will create more intrigue, more mystery.

    And that’s it!


    • m_v_s

      “And comedy scripts have a track record of being….well, shit.”

      That line made me laugh so much. Great post.

    • Palangi

      You make good points on my script, Ship of the Dead. And I appreciate your considered comments. I see below I have more, so I’ll taken yours and run with them. Thanks!

  • jae kim

    I haven’t had a chance to read any of these yet, I’ll try to read’em today.

    ship of the dead sounds like a rip off of 30 days of night. hopefully it’s more original.

    rumspriga has the best log line of the bunch. looking froward to it. will report back tonight.

    • Palangi

      Thanks for the comments on Ship of the Dead. Others have made that observation, though I’ve never seen 30 Days. So…no rip off, but I appreciate the concern that, on some level, it’s been done already.

  • jridge32

    “Ship of the Dead” — I like vampires, when something creative is done with them. Plunging temperatures, the impending arrival of 6 months of permanent darkness – a horde of vampires… sounds very “The Grey” meets “30 Days of Night”. Those two aren’t all that far apart from one another, as it is, so “Ship of the Dead” could actually be compared to either one separately; we aren’t really combining pieces to make an original whole. You could just say it’s “30 Days of Night” with even worse temperature issues.

    Anyway. The rampant use of “-ing” in the first few pages of this kind of bugged me:

    Christian entering.

    Room brightening.

    Turley entering, GROUSING.

    Crimson blood GUSHING, SPURTING.

    Couldn’t get past it.

    • Palangi

      Thanks for the comments on Ship of the Dead. Hopefully, I can get it past the “ing” thing and make it for a better read. Also, I’m seeing great comments on narrowing some of the scenes, etc. Thanks again.

  • NajlaAnn

    Although vampires, zombies, and werewolves are not my thing I’m always captivated by survival stories. Having said that, my pick is Ship Of The Dead.

    • Palangi

      Thanks for the vote.

  • IgorWasTaken

    I vote for Black Wednesday. But if you pick that one, Carson, be sure to be extra-clear-headed, because there are lots of characters to keep track of.

    I’ve read the first 10 of Rumspringa. The writers are funny. The setups are good, the action is clear. But – The dialogue is waaay expository and on-the-nose.

    It’s an odd combination for me – A good pace, despite too much exposition.

    For example, on page 5:

    Cut the crap. Your mother is
    grotesque, even by our extremely
    low standards. In fact, the bishop
    was willing to allow her, and only
    her, to wear makeup. He pretty much
    pleaded. So you know I didn’t marry
    her for her looks. Nope, I married
    her because she was willing to give
    me complete and total autonomy.

    Half of that can be cut while giving us all we need. It’s almost radio-theater dialogue. I’d suggest rewriting that while keeping in mind that we will see the mother’s grotesque face and all her makeup.

    And add some action – to illustrate her ugliness and to show us this guy being a control freak: He can rub his finger along her face – then show his finger to the kid, and it has a huge amount of makeup on it.

    At present, that reads as if the mother is O.S. (OTOH, if you want her to be so ugly that, indeed, we never do see her… That’s another possible way to go. Though if we don’t see her (much) after the opening, it’s probably not the way to go here.)

    On the upside, I think the Rumspringa writers will do great. Humor can’t be taught and pacing is tough to learn, and they already show some command of those two essentials. As for fixing the problems with the dialogue – relatively speaking, that’s easy.

    • ThomasGrant

      Hey Igor,
      Thanks for the vote. If you don’t mind, would you maybe talk a little bit about why you chose it, or what you liked? I think you mentioned that you had stopped at page 17 earlier. Did you go back and read more, or is your choice for AF more so because of the lessons that can be extracted from the script?
      It seems a lot of people are so turned off by the action lines that they’re giving up before the real meat of the story even begins — and that’s totally their right. Just thought maybe it’d be helpful to offer the perspective of someone who read on (assuming you did).

      • IgorWasTaken

        As I said above in a reply posting, “I was overwhelmed by so many characters – which I am not blaming on the writer.” IOW, I always have trouble with scripts/books that have lots of characters. And so far, I haven’t restarted your script.

        I picked your script because, well, I sense it has “something”, but I just can’t say for sure – or, exactly what it is – and I’ve found in the past when that happens, Carson has a much better eye for sorting that out. Not that I always agree with his conclusions, but he does a great job of deconstructing a script to its elements. (Yeh, I know those 2 sentences are a bit vague, but that’s the best I can do at the moment.)

        About your “voice”. At first, it startled me because, as you should know, it’s outside the norm. But I gave it a chance and it worked for me. And then, it seemed liked it was tapering off – but nope, it was back again, full force.

        Here’s the thing (according to me): In the first few pages, you did set your tone with those asides. And for me, it worked. But (and again, this may seem a bit vague), it started to get annoying. It seemed forced, as if there was some rule that you had to have so many of them every 3 pages.
        And it was just more of the same.

        I won’t say that it “pulls me out of the story”, as I don’t like that
        expression. But it does take the focus away from what the characters
        are doing and saying.

        Some people can pull that off easily (or, it seems easy). They are simply natural storytellers. But if you try it and you’re off by just a little bit, it’s worse than not doing it at all.

        I can’t be sure at the moment, but I think some of your “asides” in those first 17 pages simply aren’t good. That is, they are bad executions of the voice you’ve chosen to use. And frankly, some seemed gratuitous.

        As for all of your characters, consider the timing of their introductions. Even if you keep all of them, you want us to latch onto one or two of them early, and I don’t think you’ve done that.

        One small thing: Maybe put “LA-area” in your first slugline. It helps orient things before you mention the “BORED AGENCY ASSISTANTS” in the audience.

        • ThomasGrant

          Thanks again, Igor. Very insightful and helpful.

  • Citizen M

    SHIP OF THE DEAD gets my vote this week. Although vampires are not my genre, it’s exciting and well written and I want to read further. Rumspringa gets an honourable mention, and King of Matrimony shows some promise.

    FATTY FALLS DOWN, AGAIN 95p by John Moss, second draft

    From the logline: Had to look up Chris Farley. Fat comedian, died of an overdose. Okay, this might be interesting.

    After 25 pages: Not enough jokes for a comedy. Not enough drama for a drama. I would avoid slang expressions the reader may not be familiar with like “fucking the dog”. We’ve got our characters into film school but we know nothing of their personalities beyond that Ronny is a bit wacky and Les is shy with girls. The one character whose physical appearance is important is Ronny, so he should get a couple of memorable lines devoted to his resemblance to Chris Farley. Les’s father could simply be called “very large” because his weight is unimportant AFAIK. Yet in the script the father’s weight gets the biggest mention. Les also seems to be fat. Is there a reason why both leads are fat? If so, they should joke about it. If not, make one thin. Also, why avoid showing the family bringing furniture? So far the little brother is the funniest guy. He could make cracks about the new digs. In summary, there’s no inciting incident, no goals, nothing to look forward to. I have no desire to read on.

    Verdict. Not for AF

    KING OF MATRIMONY 96p by Michael Abdul-Qawi

    From the logline: Keep a marriage happy by having affairs? This sounds impossible. I have to read it just to see how the writer pulls it off.

    After 25 pages: Started off quite funny with Kyla, then lost comedic momentum. Situations were not milked for laughs. I don’t quite see how the affairs will save his marriage. We maybe need to see how not having affairs will destroy the marriage. In any event, it’s a very line to tread. You’re into sophisticated comedy territory a la Noel Coward. The character Joe was not introduced. Possibly a scene has been cut from this draft. I feel the elements are in place but the story needs to move up a gear.

    Verdict. Maybe for AF.

    RUMSPRINGA 101p by Griff Kohout and Micah Goldman

    From the logline: I see the comedy potential of the setup, but the phrase “dimwitted Amish man-child” is a warning bell. You have to maintain a respectful tone towards the Amish.

    After 25 pages: Very un-PC in places, but funny. I loved Ma’s sense of humour. The stepfather wasn’t convincing, though. The Amish dialogue was just like any young American’s. I thought maybe it could be a touch more formal. Some of the gags were really good, like making us think Isaac was looking at porn, in the meantime it’s Popular Mechanics. But you need to not overdo jokes that depend on ignorance, like talking about the untouched moon. That gets tired quickly. The story moves along at a brisk pace and I’d like to read further.

    Verdict. Maybe for AF.

    SHIP OF THE DEAD 94p by Eye Gore

    From the logline: To me, a vampire in the frozen North is out of his element, therefore less dangerous. He’s like a tiger in a lifeboat. It doesn’t seem right, somehow. I’m not attracted to the concept.

    After 25 pages: So far, so good. The plane crash has some very descriptive writing. The aircraft crew interactions are believable. Everything is set up for confrontation with the vampires. But… I felt the scenes on the brigantine were too hasty. We needed maybe another page of setup to get ourselves into the story. What was the origin of the two bodies? Were they pulled from the water? Were they turned crew members? We need more knowledge as to the dangers facing the aircrew. Otherwise you might as well cut the first scenes out entirely. Just have the plane crash near a brigantine in the ice, and we discover with the crew what’s inside the wooden ship. In any event, I want to read on. I just hope my interest is maintained once we meet the vampires.

    Verdict. Good candidate for AF.

    BLACK WEDNESDAY 111p by Thomas Grant

    From the logline: Very unoriginal. One hopes there’s a plot there somewhere. This is going to be very much character-driven. From memory, Dazed And Confused was almost entirely about drugs. If Black Wednesday is, I’m outa here.

    After 2 pages: I can’t bear this type of writing, where writer assumes he and I are colleagues and share the same superior outlook on life. I’m not reading any further.

    • Palangi

      Thanks for the comments on Ship of the Dead – I appreciate your time reading it and hope the story ultimately came through for you. I’m considfering all the comments – gotta get this to work, the right way. Thanks!

  • ThomasGrant

    Black Wednesday writer here. Thank you to everyone that has taken the time to read, if only for a few pages.

    I completely understand people being turned off by the “voice” of the script. That’s just the style I employ. To each their own, I guess.

    And I can’t argue with the issues raised about the character count. It’s a lot to digest at first, but my hope is as the story progresses the characters begin to distinguish themselves. Maybe they don’t, but that was the plan.

    I’ve had a chance to skim through the other submissions, and they all seem well-written and worthy of selection. Good luck to the other writers, and Happy Memorial Day weekend, everybody.


  • Aaronboolander

    Stephen Rove…? Or Roger Cove? Wanted to vote for FFD,A but alas, there simply weren’t enough punch lines/jokes, besides using, verbatim, SNL skits that Farley was in — And I dont think that counts…

    My vote is for Black Wednesday, as this was definitely the funniest of the comedies. Rumpspringa was 2nd.

    • ThomasGrant

      Thanks for the read, Aaron. Glad someone enjoyed it.

      • Aaronboolander

        you bet buddy! you’ve got super funny voice– I’ll finish up the script tonight.

  • Angel film investor

    My vote goes to Rumspringa, based only on logline. A year ago I would have chosen Ship Of the Dead but am feeling a bit fed up with zombies, vampires and warewolves at the moment.

  • gazrow

    I call it how I see it!

    On May 21 – 10 Screenwriting Lessons You Can Learn From Close Encounters of The Third Kind

    Someone calling themselves “TesseGreenview” posted the following:

    “Ok, I’ve written a drama/suspense and I’m sending it out to a production
    company later this week… so I’d like some feedback from your readers
    (some of you are very critical and hopefully, you’ll be able to give
    some suggestions without me wanting to hang myself after reading your

    So if this person is in fact your roommate why are they claiming they wrote “YOUR” script?!

    Even more puzzling is your own reply to “TesseGreenview”

    “I’ll read it–I’m always looking
    for a good twist, like The Usual Suspects or Diabolique–great stories.
    So sick of Rom-Coms and crap like Twilight or the new incarnation of
    some zombie apocalypse… would like to be a fly on the wall when these
    projects get greenlit. How many can we possibly need?!?

    Do you want me to send comments via email or on SS?”

    So If I’m understanding this right, you were basically offering to read and give notes on your own script?!!

    I get that you are desperate to get read (most amateurs are!) – but I think the way you’ve gone about it is wrong and more than a little deceitful in my humble opinion.

    As regards my suggestion long time posters should be given preferential treatment for AF, I firmly believe posters such as Somersby, Poe Serling, grendl, MarijaZombigirl, CitizenM, IgorWasTaken etc. DESERVE their shot (if indeed they want it?) simply because of all the time, effort, support and education/entertainment they have given the SS community.

    Since the success of The Disciple Program lots of amateurs/newbies have flocked to the site, most of them (not all!) with one intention only – to get read via Amateur Friday. Once this objective has been achieved they disappear off the radar never to be heard of again! They are here only to take not give!

    Why should they be given priority over the people who have more than earned their shot at AF?!

    And you my friend appear to be a shining example of this selfishness – One of those here to take not give. For a couple of weeks you and your um… “roommate” have been practically begging people to read your script. Yet, as far as I can tell, not once have you offered to read anybody’s work in return!

    Also in case you didn’t know? This is AOW for the five scripts selected by Carson. Yet, you’ve posted a link to your own work and attempted to engineer the discussion towards your own script and thus by doing so have inevitably taken some of the heat away from those chosen. Their loglines/scripts were picked, yours was not!

    Note: This post is not self-serving. I’ve had my moment in the AF spotlight! I’ve also been lucky enough to have my work read and been given notes offline by some of the great people mentioned above! And I too have read and given notes to some of my fellow SS members, though, as yet, not to any of the above!

    • GeneralChaos

      Wow, Robert. Just… wow.

  • JayRaz

    I’ve got to wonder how much the writers of Rumspringa researched their subjects? They’re written in an almost cartoonish way, coming across as really dumb, ignorant and innocent…well there’s a show on Discovery called Amish Mafia…I’d say they’re fairly well versed in the outside world.

  • Kay Bryen

    Damn you Disciple Program!

  • jae kim

    haha, didn’t really think about that. good point.

  • jae kim

    my vote is for black wednesday. I know some people are put off by the writing style and I get that, but I personally thought this was the best written script of the bunch. the scenes are short, the story moves at a good pace, and most of all, there is structure in the storytelling.

    • ThomasGrant

      Hey Jae,
      Thanks for reading and for your kind words. Much appreciated.

  • SinclareRose

    This one’s for the boys, the men, the people of male persuasion…..


    I feel better now.

    Yes, I’m yelling at you!

    Most of you introduce a female as ‘the most beautiful woman on the planet – with big breasts,’ or ‘so ugly you have to turn away, but not before you check out her big breasts.’

    Please, please stop. If you’re character has to have big breasts, at least come up with something a little more creative than just writing, ‘big boobs.’

    I can – “It looked like she was feeding two infants near her chest, but on closer observation it was the soft, round baldness of her large cleavage. You couldn’t fit a dime between those things.”
    See, I still objectified her. I just did it creatively. Let’s all try it now!

    • Citizen M

      Sexist comment deleted.

    • Midnight Luck

      “Well, if I do change my mind, you’ll know because my breasts will be heaving and moist with perspiration.”
      – Roxanne Kowalski – Roxanne (1987)

      love that movie.
      So well written.
      With great female characterization.

  • SinclareRose

    Read this: It will help the newbie screenwriter. (Like myself.)

    • Citizen M

      I wonder if emoticons will ever become standard in scripts.

      HEADMASTER >:-[
      Sit down, boy.
      SMALL BOY <:-|
      In this chair, sir?

  • Kay Bryen

    My two dirhams’ worth:


    Remember Mariah Carey? She annoyed an entire generation – not because she couldn’t sing, but because she over-elaborated the beautiful voice she did have. Forgive me Thomas, but this reads like a Mariah Carey script to me. I can tell you have a good ‘voice’ bubbling somewhere underneath; but this is one of those songs where the audience is too busy focusing on the voice that they don’t even hear the lyrics.

    Then we come to the black hole that is Kevin Africa. He just seems to have that superior worldview that makes him come across as insufferable. Take his whole “Every song worth listening to was written before you were born” mentality. Guess what: That’s exactly what 11th century douche wagons used to say. And that’s what ‘douche-borgs’ will still be telepathically beaming to each other’s holograms in the 31st century.


    Opening it. Reading it. Disliking it. Quitting it. Re-starting it. Re-quitting it.

    See how that works? It doesn’t.

    No. Just… no. Quit it. Please.

    You’re dragging vampire fingernails across the chalkboard of my soul.


    The only reason I read this was to solve the mystery of how an affair could possibly save a marriage. Now I see it was more than a little misleading. The writing isn’t bad by any means. But given our astronomical odds of making it as screenwriters, sadly “not bad” is “not good enough”.


    Yet another misleading logline. Whenever I’m suckered into reading one of these I always think: “Well why didn’t you write that story instead?” It’s like those magicians who use humor to distract the audience while working their illusion — but the reveal is so underwhelming that you think: This guy would be a killer stand-up comedian instead!


    I’ve always wanted to write a script about the Amish — something like Amish Mafia. This script was offensive and demeaning and tonally schizophrenic so I wanted to dislike it — but you can’t stay mad at someone when they’re regularly cracking you up. Well done, Griffin and Micah.

    But for the love of Nebuchadnezzar, be consistent in your humor! You just can’t have one moment a cow kicking a guy through a barn wall, cartoon style — then a couple of scenes later have Mother responding to hip hop music by saying: “That’s the sound of herpes spreading.” Funny as hell, but pick a side.

    Nevertheless, the humor in this more than makes up for its flaws. My vote for AF.

    • IgorWasTaken

      “Douche wagon”?!

      Anyway, as for comedy consistency. I thought the herpes line was a bit lame, though I can envision it being well-sold by the actress. That said, I thought it fit with everything else. This strikes me as a Mel Brooksian smorgasbord comedy, and I think they set that up (per standing rules) in the opening pages.

      And to round things out, “douche wagon” sounds like something in a scene from “History of the World” or “Love and Death”. I am still laughing.

    • rsuddhi

      Regarding Black Wednesday, that’s an interesting metaphor. Although personally, I don’t see much of a problem with Thomas’ voice – it adds an energy and liveliness to the page, something you don’t really see as much with just standard writing – it’s a risky move, but I wouldn’t say it’s taboo. Your metaphor reminds me of the criticisms about Super Bowl national anthem performances – a lot of people complain about the singers’ various renditions and overuse of melismas and ornamentations, and tell them to ‘sing it as it’s meant to be sung’ – the problem with that is, if every singer sang the anthem the exact same way every year, there’s nothing to look forward to; it’ll be the same performance every time. It’s interesting to see the new styles and variations that they bring to the song, besides just the standard ‘singing as it’s meant to be sung’. That’s how I see it anyway.

      • Kay Bryen

        I get where you’re coming from rsuddhi with the Super Bowl anthem analogy. But how would you feel if the singer not only sang the anthem, but then gave a running commentary of the game — to the tune of Star-Spangled Banner…?

        Thomas, I’m only saying this because I love you and you’re talented: excess in moderation, dude. Read these asides from only the FIRST TWO pages; then tell me I’m over-reacting:


        1) I don’t want to name names, but you know the type.

        2) The kind of place where the funniest guy in your circle of friends goes on-stage —

        3) And that’s right where we find our hero —

        4) This isn’t the Hollywood your friends and family are thinking of.

        5) One of those sh*tty apartments off Hollywood Boulevard you live your first year in LA because you don’t know any better.

        6) You can practically smell the piss.

        7) For the sake of the story we’ll say it’s Pitman, NJ, but really, this could be anywhere.

        8) This is the setting for our story, and odds are if you’re reading this, it’s the place you fled the moment you were old enough to.

        9) Yes, lumberyards do exist. And yes, they’re just as depressing as you thought they’d be.


        Had they been spaced out they would’ve been humorous; but I repeat: that’s only the FIRST TWO pages.

        • ArabyChic

          I’d say a third of those miss, only because they’re not as witty as they think they are. The other ones hit. And that’s a skill in its own right.

          Read the screenplays of Brian Duffield. A large part of their success is his ability to turn the action lines themselves into jokes and witty asides. A lot of people are divided on his scripts. Personally I think they’re entertaining as hell. And since he’s such a hot item in Hollywood right now, I think most of the readers and producers there would agree (Lynne Ramsey aside).

          Does the audience see these wry asides, breaking the fourth wall and talking to us, the readers? Most of the time no. But the writer is first and foremost trying to entertain a bunch of people who are looking for ANYTHING that stands out from the pack. People who go into a script bored already. Dry and concise action lines don’t help that, even if that’s what we’re all taught to do.

          I haven’t read the script, so I can’t comment on the quality of the writing. But I don’t think Thomas’ writing should be deemed “wrong” because he is breaking the rules. Obviously it doesn’t work for a lot of people. I think for a lot of others it probably will.

          Thomas, make sure if you’re going to do it, that it’s worth it. Read Duffield to see how he goes for the joke.

          And personally, “you can practically smell the piss,” as a descriptor, works pretty damn well for me. I prefer that to someone doing a cliche paragraph detailing old take out cartons and other crap laying about in an apartment. It’s not even really breaking any rules.

          • grendl

            You know what’s a good read for me? When I forget that I’m reading a story, be it a novel a short story or a screenplay.

            When I can visualize everything happening as its happening and not have to wonder about the language and whether or not the writer is trying to impress me. I’m impressed by invisibility.

            If a writer can make it seem like a story isn’t even being written, that impresses me. When it seems like a court transcript of what was said and done. with no attempts at embellishment and all the manipulations writers use to sway and elicit emotion are well hidden.

            Like a magician who makes a trick look like real magic.

            Its not that Thomas’s writing is wrong. Its that its inconsistent. If you want to be clever about a bathroom smelling like piss, and also be clever about describing a lumberyard with the aside ( yes they still exist. or do exist or whatever ) then it becomes a matter of deciding which asides are more accurate and necessary.

            And by virtue of those inequities, because they’re all not going to be gems, it threatens the integrity of the fourth wall. You’ve just incorporated an element for judging in a script that was unnecessary, a literary element.which if you just told those “dry” and concise action lines wouldn’t be an issue.

          • Paul Clarke

            Totally agree with those two examples:

            “practically smell the piss” — does give me an idea, a visualization of the environment. So it works.

            “yes, they still exist.” — on the other hand does not. It comes off as pretentious. It sounds as if your are talking down to the lumber/construction industry. Or even anyone poor soul who, god forbid, must work with his hands. I mean of course they exist, what do you think your house is made of?

            So I think it’s not so much the voice that’s wrong, but the attitude that comes across. Keep the interesting descriptive ones, cut the snarky remarks.

          • ThomasGrant

            Hey Paul,
            Thanks for using specific examples. I agree on the lumberyard one — that’s one I’d like to have back.

          • Paul Clarke

            No worries. All asides aside, what they do show is confidence and audacity in your writing. Two traits that are just as important in the writer as they are the hero of your story.

    • Gregory Mandarano

      Annoyed a generation? I dont know what fantasy world you live in but mariah carey is one of the best selling musical artists of all time and one of the best female vocalists. Her voice is not over elaborated. Her runs are a measure of skill ability and talent. To compare one of the best voices in the world in a derogatory fashion to a writers.voice is ludicrous.

      • Kay Bryen

        Greg, isn’t Justin Bieber also one of our best selling, multiple award-winning artists for almost half a decade? And isn’t he also talented? Yet wouldn’t you also agree he annoys his fair share of people? I took care to say Mariah has a beautiful voice. Music, like screenwriting, is art. There’s nothing “ludicrous” or “fantasy world” or “derogatory” about anyone not liking any artist. Thanks.

        • Gregory Mandarano

          Mariah Carey has sold more records than Justin Bieber by over a factor of 10. Bieber has sold around 15 million in his entire career. Mariah has sold over 250 million. Your comparison is irrelevant.

          • Kerry

            Oh, God, what horrible taste you have. It’s especially sad that you’re impressed by her showy runs.

            Who cares how many musical morons she’s sold her shallow records to?

            Educate your ear by listening to real singers like Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald.

    • MrTibbsLive

      Kay you confuse me sometimes with your post. You’re articulate, witty, and your avatar is cute, but I have no idea what will satisfy you… Just like my ex-girlfriend :)

      • IgorWasTaken


      • Kay Bryen

        Then I should introduce you to my ex. You and him would have a lot to chin-wag about… none of it screenwriting related. I enjoy reading your posts, so I’m sure there’ll be a new Mrs Tibbs soon :-)

    • Palangi

      Thanks for the comments on Ship of the Dead. I get the “ing” thing. I do. And I appreciate that you at least tried. Really.

  • Nate

    I’d give Ship of the Dead a read but it sounds too much like 30 Days of Night. I’m also not a fan of the flight navigator being terminally ill. It just screams false to me. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would place a terminally ill flight navigator onto one of their planes. Perhaps it makes sense in the script but because it’s in the logline it turned me off. I don’t know, maybe if the writer makes a passenger terminally ill instead I’d probably buy it.

    • Palangi

      Thanks for your comments on Ship of the Dead. I’ve seen other references to 30 Days, though I’ve not seen the movie. Always hopeful to have a novel idea. Only retwists on a theme. Anyway, I do appreciate your comments on the notion of a “terminally ill” character. Will consider that in my re-write. (And the “ing” thing, too.)

  • harveywilkinson

    So, don’t mean to get all Amish Anti-Defamation League here, but I’m about to get all Amish Anti-Defamation League here. I’m not Amish, but that is my family background, and I have Amish and Mennonite relatives on both sides of the family and lived near Amish communities and even went to college with some Amish guys (yes, some of them do that before they choose to get baptized, if they choose that). My orthopedic surgeon grew up Amish and the pilots of one of the flights that went down on 9/11 grew up Amish. Many, many Amish choose to leave (yes, they have a choice) their communities, and the ones who choose to stay have often travelled the world and run complex business operations that put their “worldly” competitors to shame. In many Amish communities they’ve long since run out of farmland and have been active (and successful) in non-farming enterprises for decades, including everything from roofing to machining specialized auto parts. The idea that Amish are witless or dullards or naive or unaware of the outside world is kind of a joke and a hoary old cliche and I’m surprised people are stlil writing screenplays based on this notion.

    But I digress, that’s simply a small disclaimer. For starters, I would say any time you single out any particular racial or ethnic or faith-based group and make them the subject/target of broad-style humor intended for mass consumption, you are treading on very thin ice. Especially when it comes to movies, this type of thing is done successfully very, very, very seldom. And for good reason. And when it is done successfully, the tone/spirit of the thing is very different than what we have here. Read the first 20 pages of MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING and read the first 20 pages of RUMSPRINGA and you will see the difference. The GO’s (Greek Orthodox) in America absolutely loved that movie. The Amish would not love this movie. MBFGW was made by insider to that community; RUMPSRINGA obviously is not. MBFGW was a bread-and-butter romcom about the struggles of an “outsider” being welcomed (through a relationship) into a community very different from his own. You could have substituted any number of communities and had essentially the same movie with the same universal appeal; you take away the Amish here, you have no movie.

    Anyway, I could spend pages delving into the inaccuracies of the script (right off the bat — what language are they speaking?), but a note to screenwriters considering choosing the Amish as a topic for your next script: a) you probably shouldn’t, and b) please consider the larger cultural context/history on this subject when you make your choices. For starters, the Amish have been depicted on film and television. A lot. From the respectful (WITNESS) to dumb broad comedy (FOR RICHER OR POORER) to irreverent/kinda offensive (KINGPIN), to self-styled hard-hitting docs (THE DEVIL’s PLAYGROUND) to god-knows-how-many LIFETIME movies to the whole wave of Amish-sploitation now on reality TV (BREAKING AMISH and AMISH MAFIA). What really, is your idea adding to this body of work?

    Most people, even if they’ve never met an Amish person or bothered to learn much about them, know that hey, they’re more complicated than they look, they have problems too, they have experiences/knowledge beyond milking a cow. So why feed these audiences yet another lowest-common-denominator, cartoon version of the Amish? It’s an odd and by now, outdated choice. Try something new. Try an Amish detective or a brilliant Amish root doctor (a HOUSE, MD for Amish) or the world of a hidden Amish legal system or an Amish invention that threatens to upend the mobile device industry (and these may all be the bad versions) but please give us SOMETHING besides an Amish half-wit who needs an education in the outside world. Please.

    • Malibo Jackk

      Amish vampires?

      • Poe_Serling

        When I was atteding college in the Midwest, there was a famous ghost/witch tale with an Amish spin.

        For some reason I never checked the place out for myself back in the day… probably too scared – um, I mean too busy with my studies. ;-)

        • Malibo Jackk

          Love the name — Chesterville Witch.

    • IgorWasTaken

      Caricatures work for Family Guy.

  • Charlestoaster

    Great point. One day while working at the movie theater I got a complaint that a guest was talking during Hugo. It was a obnoxious guy telling his blind friend what was happening on screen. The blind man really enjoyed Scorsese’s films before he lost his eyesight and asked his friend to help him out watching this one. I felt bad so I just told the friend to be a little quieter.

    A half-hour later the blind wanted a refund because the action in the movie “Sucked. Trains don’t crash like that!”

    Well that’s my two cents. Great Post Citizen M! I look forward to one day reading your script.

    • Will Vega

      Oh my god, that’s hilarious. LOL

  • ximan

    King of Matrimony! What a hilarious, well-constructed script!!

    Kudos to the writer.

  • MrTibbsLive

    I read some of Rumspringa and King of Matrimony, both start out pretty well and have some funny moments. When I stopped reading I was curious to see where both stories were headed, and that’s a good sign.

    Since I have to favor one, RUMSPRINGA gets MY VOTE, but I wasn’t a fan of the logline.

  • Kay Bryen

    In case I came across as criticizing your voice: don’t change it. (You can’t change it even if you wanted to anyway. It’s innate; that’s why it’s called your voice. And that’s why voice recognition software isn’t easily fooled).

    Your voice has the quality, now work on the quantity.

    Plus even if your asides are insanely funny, there’s always the risk that they actually become more entertaining than your actual plot. For example when I read the part about the crappy place you first move into in LA because you don’t know any better, suddenly the Herculean odyssey of a newbie screenwriter taking on the Hollywood gods and goddesses seemed way more intriguing than a group of friends going out to a bar to get sloshed.

    Wish you all the best Thomas because as I keep saying, you really are talented.

    • ThomasGrant

      Hey Kay,
      Thanks for the kind words. And no worries, I didn’t take any of your comments as you being harsh, or criticizing just to criticize.
      Everybody that’s commented on the script (and especially those that hated it) have given me invaluable insight into what works (and especially, doesn’t work) in my writing.

  • Beautiful Derek

    I started readIng “Fatty Falls Down Again” three seconds after ingesting the log line. When I realized Ronnie didn’t actually think he WAS Chris Farley….I was sooo fucking disappointed.

  • m_v_s

    I vote for Ship of the Dead, very well-written, seemingly well-researched and very visual. The only point I would make so far is technical detail. It’s impressive the writer speaks in a technical tongue but really they could’ve been speaking another language in the aircraft, the action did all the talking. It’s a balance to show you’ve done your homework and alienate the less-informed with jargon. I kept reading regardless, wonderful set-up, kept thinking of The Thing.

    • Palangi

      Thanks for your comments on Ship of the Dead. Appears the consensus is that I re- think the “ing” thing. I tried to avoid too much technical, and admit I probably could cut some of that and get the points across. Thanks again.

  • m_v_s

    The reason I didn’t read Black Wednesday is because – from the logline – it doesn’t appear to be about anything…..actually you know what after I’m through with Ship of the Dead, I’ll give it a read to see if my pre-conceptions are justified!

  • Charlestoaster

    “…she can instantly tell when one was written in a free program like Celtx instead of Final Draft , and that she keeps that in the back of her head during the read, as
    she feels those that use free software aren’t as serious about the craft
    as those that pony up the cash for the industry standard.”

    I don’t agree with that either. I got Celtx because my program was incompatible with windows 7 but still…. crap.

    • Kerry

      Clown time’s over, Charles.

      This is a highly competitive field with huge rewards for the few who make it and you’re futzing around with free software.

    • IgorWasTaken

      I don’t know about the FD/Celtx anecdote, but all one needs to do is use a 3rd-party pdf print-driver/software to create the pdf (versus “save as pdf”) and no one will know, either way.

  • SinclareRose

    Exactly!!! Thank you Carson D. — Objectified female character, but still creative and funny!!

  • IgorWasTaken

    ThomasGrant wrote: “p 3 – re: “network programming” line. It’s funny, but seems out of place, since I assumed the Amish didn’t watch television. Is there an alt. line you can use?

    I was stopped by that line, too. But – Then I figured it is so well known that Amish do not watch TV that that line must be intended to help set the detached-from-reality-sort-of-comedy tone.

    • Malibo Jackk

      Some Amish homes have a hidden room — a room where they can watch television, while still keeping up appearances.

  • IgorWasTaken

    I don’t know about the FD/Celtx anecdote, but all one needs to do is use a 3rd-party pdf print-driver/software to create the pdf (versus “save as pdf”) and no one will know, either way.

  • Palangi

    Thanks for your comments on Ship of the Dead. Seems a lot of folks are down on the “ing” thing. I’ll reexamine that and go from there. I do appreciate your time and comments. Thanks

  • Palangi

    Thanks to everyone for comments on Ship of the Dead. Admittedly, now, at least, the “ing” thing needs additional consideration. Also, good points on some of the scenes being too informative; I realize i could back off a bit there. So, too, the comments on building tension/mystery – don’t give too much away too early. I do appreciate the time you’ve given the script and am considering all your comments.

  • Malibo Jackk

    Deja vu.

  • Shaun

    What a great way to explain that point! I’m going to borrow that when I tell people about that in their scripts. (If you don’t mind).

    Not that you’d ever know…

  • Poe_Serling

    True, especially when it comes to these rural tales of things that go bump in the night.

    Regarding the Chesterville Witch, it sounds like it is just a really old tombstone in a small town graveyard with its name weathered away and probably no formal church/town record of the person buried there… which often leads to speculation and a good ghost story or two.

  • ThomasGrant

    Hey Evan,

    Thanks for the read and for taking the time to give some feedback. Good point re: the character count. It’s a lot harder to keep track of them when you aren’t the one who created them!

    You were in no way harsh — rather, your notes were very constructive and respectful.
    Thanks again.

  • ThomasGrant

    Well, since it seems there was no clear cut winner this week, Carson is going to have to choose. Please allow one final, self-serving missive for why I think Black Wednesday would be a good selection:

    1. Black Wednesday was, pretty clearly, the most divisive of the five scripts. Some people liked it, while others wanted Robert McKee to strangle me with his bare hands. Now, from two plus years of reading this site, one thing I’ve learned is that the comments are usually the most active, passionate, and helpful when the consensus is divided.

    2. Ignoring for a moment the discussion of which of the five scripts is “the best,” I’d make a case that Black Wednesday is the “most teachable” script. By that, I mean the elements comprising the story can most easily lead to a larger discussion.

    For example, it’s an ensemble comedy with a large character count – not very often has that type of story been broken down on this site. It’s also a story that takes place over the course of one night, and while there are always a handful of these types of movies made each year, I think the last one that was discussed on this site was FUN SIZE. And that’s not even getting into the whole issue of a writer’s “voice,” the one topic that dominated all Black Wednesday discussions so far.

    This site is at its best when Carson is able to isolate an issue with an individual script and turn it into a larger lesson about the craft of screenwriting, I think Black Wednesday offers the best opportunity(s) for that.

    3. Finally, Carson – I’d hate to think I wasted my JS story for nothing. Tie goes to the guy who tells the best off-the-record story.

    But like I’ve said time and time again, I think any of the scripts would be a fine choice. And thanks again to everyone that read and posted feedback. It’s been a neat experience. Hope we get to continue it next Friday.


  • Palangi

    Thanks for your insightful comments on Ship of the Dead. I appreciate that you took the time. I really do.

  • Palangi

    I did re-write – eliminating most (and I mealt almost all) of the “ing” things. Thanks for the comments. :)

    • johnny_ironjacket

      That’s great … I think you have an excellent story here and I’m voting for SotD.

  • blueiis0112

    Thanksgiving Eve is the biggest bar night of the year? This needs to be a different holiday to really make sense. My husband is from a very small town and all these people think about are menus, grocery lists, where to put everyone, making sure mama is happy with the progress of it all. I will say that my husband’s reunion does beat out the script and might therefore take a lesson in originality. Husband’s graduating class had a boy who was a certified genius. The kid made up his own alphabet and language on the par with JRRTolkien for “Lord of the Rings”. He could start a sentence with his left hand and pick up the middle with his right hand. He finished the sentence and it looked perfectly normal and made sense. He graduated in his junior year and went to a major college from there. When he attended the reunion he did so as a transgender female taking estrogen simply as an experiment to see what it would do. He told me he really had no goal for surgical reassignment. I guess I should say that the tone of this story reminds me of “Caddyshack”. My question for this story is which group is more shallow?

  • SinclareRose

    Hello Grendl! I was looking at My Disqus today and had no idea you replied to this post. I never got an email for it either. Anyway, I guess it’s meant to be because I checked out the Andrew Stanton TED Talk and really needed to hear some of his ideas on storytelling. Maybe I wouldn’t have heard him three months ago. Timing is everything, right?
    I know exactly what you mean when you compare blueprints to a screenplay. It makes sense. Completely. And now I’m thinking about some of the things I wrote in different ways. Thanks for the thoughts!
    Looking forward to Wednesday. I plan on reading Real Monsters before Carson’s review to make sure I can view the two fairly.
    Best of luck to you!!!