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.

Happy reading!

TITLECATASTROPHIC
GENRE: Disaster/drama
LOGLINE: A group of young girls survive a deadly tornado in a storm drain only to get trapped with the water rising.

TITLEIN THE YEARS OF SONDER
GENRE: SCI-FI ACTION
LOGLINE: A sci-fi actioner set in 2045, the story follows two idealistic, advanced humans whose lives get turned upside down when a research doctor hunts them for experimentation.

TITLEOffshore
GENRE: Action-Thriller
LOGLINE: A college professor takes a yacht trip with her investment broker husband, but their plan for a relaxing weekend getaway turns into a deadly struggle when the skipper targets them in retaliation for the husband’s financial crimes.
WHY SHOULD YOU READ: The writer already has two story credits on tv shows including mega-hit, Glee.

TITLESon of the Devil
GENRE: Slasher/Comedy
LOGLINE: When he realizes his girlfriend is missing, a pre-med student starts searching for answers, but before long he and his friends are being hunted by a cult whose leader claims to be The Devil.

TITLEChimera
GENRE: Horror
LOGLINE: A pregnant teenager must kidnap her boyfriend, recently brainwashed by his family into an apocalyptic cult.

EDIT: SORRY!  COMMENTS SHOULD WORK NOW!

  • Paul Clarke

    Well I gave this week’s submissions the full on reader test. I read them late at night while
    tired and grumpy. So apologies for the harshness. But welcome to the real
    world. I guess you can’t guarantee the mood of your reader.

    Catastrophic:

    On page two you call one of the tornadoes a cyclone. They are two very different things.

    I found the initial scene with the mum and her two girls confusing. I’m not sure what I was supposed to get from those pages. It felt like the writer knew his characters well, but just wasn’t making them clear on the page. Writing style just feels like the writer is being too fancy. Everything is implied rather than palpable. This vagueness kept me at a distance.

    10 pages and I just wasn’t involved enough to read on. Didn’t really understand or care about any of the characters.

    Chimera:

    Second script in a row where someone is struck with lightening on the first page. An amusing coincidence. Shows how hard it is to be original in this industry.

    The opening conversation between Mike and Karen is not only on the nose, but also gag-worthy.

    One page 4 Karen’s dialogue is labeled ‘Girl’s Voice’.

    If someone shouts Mike’s name then that’s dialogue and needs to be written so.

    The movie seems to be from Karen’s POV, but the early scenes were from Mike’s. I would change that. Also makes it more mysterious if we haven’t met his parents until they burst in. Put the audience in Karen’s head. Especially as Karen is far more interesting and likable.

    Lacking any flow. Just a series of disjointed scenes.

    On the plus side I could definitely see the story under it all. And it seems like a story worthy of a movie. Karen interests me. I think the pregnancy is in interesting complication and a much better motivation than simply losing a teenage love. I’d give it another draft focusing on clarity and flow.

    Also, either take that opening scene away or give it some meaning. It does nothing.

    In the Years of Sonder:

    A series of shots doesn’t usually have sluglines. I’d take it out. And all the ‘Cut to’ transitions as well. Of course we cut to the next scene. How else would we get there? Not to mention it would probably knock a couple of pages off your page count.

    On page 9 you have a montage which is just one shot.

    I like the opening but it just feels too long. I can’t think of many movies where no characters at all are introduced until 10 minutes in. I’d try to cut that back to 5. Write it as an actual series of shots. Cut the transitions. Cut anything repetitive. That’s all back story and setup. Get to the story quicker if you can. The X-Men like healing mutations isn’t anything new. I think a pro writer could pack your first 9 pages into 1 or 2.

    Not too keen on a slow-mo point blank RPG shot. In fact the action scenes are a little over-directed. Lots of unnecessary details. I liked Wilcox, till he shot a man that was an asshole but no real threat. Page 14 and I’m checking out. Still the one I’d most likely read on so far. Probably largely because of the subject matter.

    Offshore:

    On page 4 the rifle turns into a shotgun. The first 5 pages are intense. The opposite of most amateur offerings. But I just have real trouble believing a world where a sane mother (even a religious one) would kill her entire family over some money issues.

    In the dialogue I’d just call them ‘the Olympics’ – No one calls them the summer Olympics.

    I’d perhaps rename either Ethel or Emily.

    Page 12: Do we really need the financial broker talk? Lots of talk, getting nowhere.

    Made it to page 20, waiting for the story to start. Just takes too long. To be honest, I was only interested because I read the logline. I’d cut all those conversations in half. Get on the boat quicker.

    I assume the missing military son from the beginning comes back and takes them hostage? Reads to me like Paul is squeaky clean. That would be a very boring choice. I’d make him a Gordon Grecko slimeball that has to learn the errors of his ways.

    Again I can see the movie here. But get the story rolling sooner. Another 5 page prologue that could have been a page or two.

    — A mysterious letter arrives.

    — A distraught mother reads it. Takes a shot of gin.

    — Takes the rifle from under the Christmas tree.

    — Shoots her unsuspecting husband.

    — Shoots her young daughter.

    — Turns the gun on herself.

    Half a page. More mystery. And a quicker path into the story.

    Son of the Devil:

    A very Evil Dead vibe. Not a bad film to copy.

    “..but I’ve got to ace these finals to get into med school next year.” Nice purely for the audience exposition. Try rewording it. It’s a safe bet Cassie knows he wants to go to med school.

    Made it to page 11. The opening scene seemed to head somewhere, then just ended. If you’re going to do that make it shorter. Or at least end it with some sort of payoff.

    Just wasn’t my kind of humour. Clocked out when we cut to a new cast of characters.

    In a dogfight situation like this, I find the writers are still underestimating the importance of a good opening. It doesn’t have to be all guns blazing, but we need to get an idea of the mood, tone, genre, and general story. Even Patiessirie with it’s supposed ‘slow’ opening has a huge event that sets a chaotic story in motion on page 7. And the pages before that set the mood and tone. Too often I can read 10 pages and have to refer to the logline to see what the hell the story is about. Too much of it is back-story and un-dramatic character setup. Maybe Carson could do an article on audience grabbing
    openings. And how to distinguish what is back story and how to dish it out in small pieces throughout the script.

    • Sly

      Thanks for the crit mate. I appreciate the time you put into it.

    • NajlaAnn

      EXCELLENT idea: “Maybe Carson could do an article on audience grabbing openings. And how to distinguish what is back story and how to dish it out in small pieces throughout the script.”

      • klmn

        Of course if he knew that he’d be a top screenwriter.

    • EtoileBrilliant

      “Second script in a row where someone is struck with lightening on the first page”

      If you’re going to pull up a writer on the differences between a tornado and a cyclone, at least have the good grace to spell another weather pattern correctly.

      “lightning” is the meteorological phenomenon that is usually followed by thunder.

      “lightening” the process of making something lighter in weight

      • AJ

        Spelling is always goode, but I have to side with Paul Clarke on this one. The writer is the writer. The reader is the reader. The writer should have everything we need to know written out. As a reader, I should not have to read tornado on one page, cyclone on another, and then do the writer’s job by correcting the mistake in my head. These are mistakes that always occur when writing scripts, BUT IN THE EARLY DRAFTS! This is Amateur Friday, so it’s important to point out mistakes that will help the script.

      • Paul Clarke

        Ha, my bad. I told you it was late.

        Of course the level of proof reading expected on a ‘finished’ script is a lot higher than a comment on a blog. Not that I ever seem to be able to do either.

    • flipflopfury

      Thanks for the look. Much appreciated.

      Will fix the cyclone word choice, but just so you know… cyclone is an acceptable substitute in tornado alley parlance. Especially in rural areas. In fact, the second definition of cyclone (non-technical) is tornado. But understand the need to change. Too much familiarity on my part.

      – C Smith

      • Poe_Serling

        Hey flipflopfury-

        I must say I did enjoy the opening of your script. I thought that Briana’s VO worked here, especially in regard in relating the facts about the Army Signal Corps and their aversion to anything tornado-related. Then the following scene with the farmer out in his field tied in nicely with her warning spill about the unpredictability of these weather events.

        I would definitely keep working on this one – don’t see many tornado films out there. Just curious – are you a fan of the ’96 film Twister co-written by Michael Crichton?

        • flipflopfury

          Thanks for the kind words.

          It’s funny… I ordered the original Crichton screenplay before outlining this one. Just to see how he treated descriptions, et al.

          As far as the movie goes… it was good popcorn fare. Philip Seymour Hoffman stole the show. And that’s probably not a good thing for the story itself. The tension was off and on. And the stakes just weren’t high enough. If I remember correctly, they tried to establish what their research would mean for warnings and such (speaking of), but it never felt “dire” enough. Jo’s backstory (Helen Hunt) was heartfelt, but again… not very pressing.

          I’m sure that’s more than you wanted, but there you have it. Thanks again.

          – C Smith

    • Paul Clarke

      Another suggestion for an article: (it has probably already been covered)

      Writing a story with a great lead character is difficult. Writing a story with multiple protagonists must be more difficult.

      After reading 15 pages of all I can only tell you the main character in one script: Chimera. And even that isn’t done correctly. The opening doesn’t take place through her eyes, even though she’s in the scene.

      Choose a main character. Stick to their point of view as best you can. You can show scenes of impeding antagonistic forces that your hero will eventually run into. But cut the rest.

      It’s like everyone is so busy setting up their story world they forget the most important part of it is the main character. You’re not writing Fargo.

  • Tailmonsterfriend

    Had a tattoo appointment and not much else to do while a polite Englishman did terribly painful things to my arm with a needle, so I read “In The Years of Sonder” all the way through.

    Not a good script. Confused and confusing plot, oddly anemic characters, and weirdly preachy in a lot of parts. There’s a fair bit of action, but it’s all so… pointless. Like Burke’s speech during the prison break toward the end. Felt like the writer desperately wanted to deliver a speech about not giving up and standing up against oppression and rah rah rah, trying hard to invoke all the sound and the fury, but it just didn’t come together. There’s also quite a few spelling and grammar mistakes. This script could have benefited from a proofreader.

    Also, if it talks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then for god’s sake call it a duck. There’s no shame in calling these superhumans “mutants” instead of “manifestations.” If you’re going to rip off X-Men, at least own it and don’t hide behind cute handwavy names.

    I’d pass on this one.

    • Sly

      Writer here. I Appreciate your thoughts and the read.

      • Tailmonsterfriend

        To provide some more constructive feedback, I’d suggest taking a closer look at your villains. Right now, they’re pretty straightforward, especially Rowan. He’s a straight up racist bad guy / totalitarian, which is something we’ve seen before. Think about what the story would look like if Rowan was the hero. What kind of motive could drive him that would make him believe that he was actually doing something noble and even heroic? Maybe Rowan IS a manifestation (mutant?) who believes his own kind needs to be exterminated because he is abhorred by his own power. Maybe he did something messed up to someone he cared about in a moment of weakness, and dealing with the mutants is his way of seeking atonement.

        Start with your villains, and see where it takes you. Good luck! :)

    • witwoud

      I think this should be a new category:

      [x] More painful than being tattooed by a polite Englishman.

  • Dyland55

    First time doing this, so here I
    go. I read each script 10 pages at a time and eliminated one at a time.
    Ultimately I think Offshore by Lauren Jefferson should get the read, but
    Catastrophic by Chad Smith was a close second.

    The first one out was Chimera.
    The reason was that at page ten I didn’t care about the characters that much,
    and I couldn’t see a reason for the girl to go on her adventure. I see in the
    log line that she is pregnant, maybe get that in earlier. I did like that the
    girl was a gamer, I feel like that probably plays later on.

    The second one out was Son of
    the Devil. The reason was that the characters were very annoying and
    stupid, as in the characters were actually not intelligent. I see that this is
    a comedy, so I think the writer was going for a sort of Cabin in the Woods
    feel, but what I ended up seeing were cartoon versions of characters that were
    just the extreme end of perversion, anger, and other prime emotions. I would
    suggest bringing back the people and ask would a real person talk like this?

    The third one out was IN THE YEARS OF SONDER. Honestly I thought this script had the weakest writing, but I liked the premise and it kept me engaged to a point, and if Offshore
    hadn’t started to kick into gear I probably would have kept this out of sheer
    curiosity, but ultimately the tons of exposition killed it for me. I also was
    confused at who the main characters were, and I couldn’t understand why people
    were so against them, kind of an X-men tale I assume. I would say make this
    world smaller, and maybe make the invincible characters the bad guys, that way
    the human hunting them was the weaker character thus raising his chances for
    defeat.

    I ended up between Catastrophic
    and Offshore and by page 40 it was pretty close. In the beginning Catastrophic
    seemed like the clear winner, but slowly Offshore started to pick up
    steam, so I finished both. Here are the notes.

    Catastrophic: This has a
    great log line and I appreciate the attempt to deal with more than the story by
    adding a God theme, but in the end I thought that it was a little too sporadic.
    Not to sound too much like twister, but I think that the parents should be
    getting a divorce and at the end get back together. Maybe the captain flies in
    just to finish signing the divorce papers, and at the end they tear them up and
    let them fly into the wind. Also I would get rid of the group of boys, they
    don’t really don’t do anything for me. I would have the parents looking through
    the debris but not being able to find the children; that would make my heart
    ache more. Like I said, it seemed like you were going for God thing but her
    realization was so miraculous that it left me wanting more. What if the parents
    were there and couldn’t find the kids, got in a fight, and then the Mom sees a
    golden cross necklace that the girl owned by the storm drain, just an idea. The
    beginning got me hooked, but I started to loose interest mid way through.

    Offshore:
    When I started this one I did not think it was going to make it to the end, but
    once it got going it kept up. But much like Catastrophic, I felt like
    this story was too spread out. I think it would work better if the whole family
    was on the boat. That way all the danger is right there. I also think the
    writer missed a huge opportunity to build more tension. I think the captain
    should stay creepier longer, before he attacks. When he is watching them have
    sex, that is so creepy, but then he kills the husband, and all the tension is
    gone. Now it’s just a survivor story. The closer we get to someone being killed
    or being caught the more tension we feel. For example, if the kid was on the
    boat, and the mom got off a flair, and the coast guards came. We could watch
    the killer have the kid and tell the coast guard that his kid shot it off, then
    the kid could give the sign for “help me” which is basically a thumbs up, but
    the coast guard doesn’t get it. Anyway I would just say try to build more
    tension and keep everyone on that boat. Also I didn’t like that they had a
    killer aunt at the end. Overall I think
    this is the one to review, because it is the one that gave me the most ideas of
    things the author could do, and when that cord is struck I think there is
    something to the script.

    • carsonreeves1

      thanks for the extensive breakdown Dylan!

    • Lauren

      Lauren here! Just to clarify, I’m *not* the writer of Offshore– as Scriptshadow assistant and newsletter-put-together-er, my name and email is on the MediaFire download account you all use to get the script links, so that’s maybe where the misunderstanding happened. Just wanted to make sure the right authors (Joey Gray & Tim Wollaston) got credit here :)

  • RMG

    I liked “In the Years of Sonder” Thought the characters were well-written and the dialogue was interesting.

  • jaehkim

    chimera:

    is karen japanese? it’s implied, but not said.

    p4. karen’s voice (o.s), then it’s a girl’s voice (o.s). this is confusing. also, there is no intercutting here.

    besides the few amateur mistakes, there is a general lack of clarity. I’m never too sure what’s going on, or why people are doing what they’re doing. the first scene is a mystery I get that, but the scenes after that are also mysteries.

    the second scene with karen and mike. why are they at the park? why were they trying to sneak up on each other?

    and mike’s dad in the following scene. why was he rolling a suitcase into the kitchen? why did mike’s mother say ‘i’ll see you frist thing tomorrow morning’? it implies that something is happening in the morning, I just don’t know what.

    also, on p4, mike’s mother is trying to hook up mike with a girl named brianna. but on p5, when karen asks why he isn’t telling his parents about them yet, he says “they just turn into these statues that say ‘It isn’t time yet'”. by the dialogue that follows, he seems to be really into her, so why is he lying to her?

  • jaehkim

    in the year of the yonder:

    dialogue is pretty good.

    fast paced, with good action scenes.

    but there is no clear protagonist and no clear goal. lionel doesn’t have a goal of breaking out of jail, the goader has no goals except to stay alive. only dorthy has a goal, which is plain revenge, but she doesn’t feel like a protagonist.

    on p10, the goader survives an RPG explosion, but after the fight with dorthy, it’s implied that he doesn’t heal. his abilities, besides flying isn’t explained well.

    and if the goader is working for the government, why can’t he go to the government for help when dorthy attacks him? there is no reason for him to run and hide.

    there are too many uses of flashbacks. the pattern of a mystery revealed then the answer provided by flashbacks is repeated over and over.

    • Sly

      I’m glad you liked it.

      As for your points….

      1) The manifestations were going to be executed. Lionel broke out because he didn’t want to die and as Burke requested the night before, to help get rid of Wilcox/Rowan once outside.

      2) The Goader’s deal with the government was sort of clandestine. Going to Rowan would end the binding contract.

      3) Dorth is an antagonist. Initially her job was to simply hunt the Goader down but as you later found out, she had a score to settle with him.

      Apologies for the extensive use of flashback. It’s a bad habit I have to shake.

      • jaehkim

        was #2 in the script somewhere? I think I missed that.

        • Sly

          It was sort of a one off contract. The Goader does his part and Rowan leaves him alone. Besides, Dorth was unhinged. She was out for blood so she would have still hunted him. You raised a good point though. Made me think.

          • jaehkim

            It was when Rowan tells Wilcox to leave the goader alone. he says “because he’s an agent of the state.”

            if they had a one off contract, why would he care? he made it sound like he’s a government employee so he wasn’t to be touched. at least that’s the feeling I got.

          • Sly

            True. But thinking about it, Rowan cared more for the work the Goader did than for the Goader . Besides the Goader wouldn’t seek help from the same group of people that gave his wife brain damage and deafened his son.

          • jaehkim

            I’d buy that. the goader seems like the kinda guy who wouldn’t ask anyone for help.

  • jaehkim

    catastrophic:

    I found the descriptions confusing.

    these are some of the description lines. the ENTIRE lines.

    “slammed shut.”

    “charging ahead to catch up with her friend.”

    “… trendy overnight bag in tow.”

    this continues with numerous description lines that begins with “…-ing”

    “… grabbing”, and “… pointing” etc. I was stopping every other line to figure out who’s doing the action. it’s ok I guess if there is only one person in a scene. but with multiple people in a scene, it got confusing.

  • Rach

    Just starting out on OFFSHORE. Very first impression: the writing in the action lines is brilliant, but the dialogue is horrible! The dialogue between Nancy and George is all just clumsy exposition (which turns out to be peripheral anyway), whereas the paragraph introducing them is a thing of beauty. Weird.

  • nawazm10

    Alright, I have some time to spare. Will give my overall thoughts on the logline and first ten or so pages of every script. Apologies if any of this comes harsh.

    Catastrophic – Logline definitely has potential but the idea’s a hard one to execute, especially for an amateur.

    The second paragraph doesn’t make sense. “See now”? What exactly do you mean? I think something like “Upon closer inspection” would work better here. I get you’re going for the staccato style but make sure you don’t take it too far.

    Is he trying to escape on a tractor? Wouldn’t it be faster to run? Not sure about this one. But then again, there’s a tornado outside so I can understand if he stays inside.

    I personally wouldn’t put 30,000 FEET as a location. Anyway, I’m hoping that beginning sequence wasn’t completely useless to the story later on.

    “A Victoria Beckham starter kit… save the accent.” Description needs some work.

    I don’t suggest using Int/Ext slugs with a scene this long. Took me a while to understand that they left the car. Just write “EXT. PARKING LOT”.

    I’m sorry but you’ve absolutely lost me at this point. Where are we again? How did we get to Ambar? There’s a huge problem with clarity here at the moment. Highly suggest you work on this scene.

    In the Years of Sonder – Not a fan of the logline. Three things in there that are huge turn offs. “A Sci-fi auctioneer”, you already told us this in the genre and if the script is any good, we should find out for ourselves when we read on. “The story follows”, unnecessary words that don’t have any relevance. “turned upside down”, always try and avoid this line, very generic and not original.

    Stopping at page 11. Honestly, I enjoyed this. A few minor things but I was invested in the story enough to ignore them. The logline is a huge turn off though, I’d consider working on it. One thing I should mention, hopefully that 9 page introduction wasn’t just for the cool images. I’d read on.

    Offshore – To be blunt, the logline is pretty dull. A college professor and an investment broker getting chased by the skipper? It almost sounds comical. Anyway, onto the script:

    Starting off with a 6 line passge, quoting Dodgeball here – “It’s a bold strategy, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off for him”.

    Holy exposition, I can see you’re trying to handle it and for the most part, it’s done well but I’d suggest against throwing so much information at us In big chunks.

    Got up to page 10. Liking it so far. Intro felt a little tiring, but it was still enjoyable. I’d read on.

    Son of the devil – Logline seems fun, we need more good slasher comedies!

    Strange description of the Lake Cabin, especially in the middle of the scene. I’m hoping it really does matter what it looks like since you seem to be very specific.

    I’d suggest against introducing 7 characters in less than half a page. Knowing me (and others), I’ll forget half of them as I read on.

    Being blunt – poor dialogue between Cassie and Josh, definitely needs a rework to make it flow and not be so wooden.

    Ken’s reaction to Barbie being killed is a pretty comical, not sure if that was your intention or…

    You should mention Lex and Cassie already being in the room, we get no description of them and suddenly, they have action lines. It just feels sudden. They should also have some kind of reaction.

    And stopping at page 10. This was a strange one. The writing could use some work, some bits definitely made me stumble. Try and inject the story with a little more humour as well. I could see you were trying to spoof those B-movie slashers but it just wasn’t working, the script itself actually felt like a B-movie when it shouldn’t. I’d read on and see what happens in the next few pages but I would be hanging on by a thread.

    Chimera – The logline reminds of that one Simpsons episode where the scientologists brainwash Springfield into worshipping ‘the leader’ and Marge has to rescue the family. Just thought I’d mention that. Anyway…

    You already mentioned that it’s a field in the slug, no need to write it again.

    Typo on page 4 – Mike’s dialogue. I’ve noticed the story is moving undeniably slow at the moment, even with the eye catching opening, hopefully something interesting comes up or I’m afraid I have to bow out.

    You should at least say Mike puts the phone to his ear.

    Try and cut down on the passive verbs, they just slow the read down.

    I think I’m going to stop at page 10. It just feels so sudden when Karen says “I’m going to find him”. I mean, what have you been doing for the past 9 weeks? Checked his facebook profile? I’m sorry but that does not sit right with me at all. This is a shame because the opening scene and the kidnapping were both really well done scenes. But you can’t have one good scene and then five other bad/decent ones.

    Verdict: My vote goes to Offshore. In the Years of Sonder comes in at a close second. I wouldn’t mind reading these two in full. Good luck, guys!

    • Sly

      Thanks pal. My script is certainly divisive. I’m glad you enjoyed it though, I appreciate the time and effort.

    • flipflopfury

      Thanks for the look. Appreciate it.

      And I agree completely with using a new slug after she steps out of the car. And another when she gets back in. I was trying to keep the scene from stopping down, but after further inspection…it’s too long and confusing. Consider it done.

      – C Smith

  • GoIrish

    I made it to p. 21 of Son of the Devil. While a few INT/EXT sluglines were used, pages 10-20 (the introduction of the 7 new characters until their arrival at the cabin) felt like one long, dialogue-heavy scene. We did get some sense of the characters, but there really isn’t any plot development for these 10 pages. I’d suggest cutting those 10 pages in half so you get them to the cabin faster and get into the heart of your story.

  • Poe_Serling

    Based only on the loglines, I think I would roll the dice with Chimera. If we can’t get a lake monster in the SS pool, why not a mythical animal with parts taken from various
    animals…

    And oh, Happy Father’s Day to the Scriptshadow Reader Faithful (Carson’s creation, not mine).

    • AJ

      I have always been curious to know if Carson counts votes given based solely on the logline for AF. The logline is a HUGE part of getting people to read the script, so obviously they are greatly significant, but I just always assumed that’s why there were separate logline competitions apart from the more script focused AF. Does anyone have the answer for this?

      • Poe_Serling

        That is a good ?!

        • IgorWasTaken

          • Poe_Serling

            Funny stuff. I could picture Carson playing the kazoo in his spare time. :-)

  • Stank

    I started reading all 5:

    CATASTROPHIC: This was my favorite logline, but when I saw it was 120 pages, I was immediately turned off. Followed by two into’s (the first one cool and the second one with the farmer seemingly pointless). I kinda like this theme of technology controlling our lives, but it started to feel redundant. The dialogue was extremely confusing, I had to re-read scenes to try to figure out what they mean. I was out by page 9.

    IN THE YEARS OF SONDER: The writing was cool, I like the idea of three catastrophes at the beginning but by page 12 no story had come about. It took 12 pages to set up the world, which was cool, but I wished we had at least a main character to care about by this point. I stopped by page 12.

    OFFSHORE: I thought the dialogue here was a bit choppy, but when the wife killed her family, I got hooked. I didn’t expect it so early and it was pretty nuts. That with the prayer in the back ground worked for me as a really cool scene. I continued on, but then became bored with poor dialogue and uninteresting scenes. I was out by page 15. To be honest, I was slightly biased against this one because I thought the logline was super generic.

    SON OF THE DEVIL: This one was my favorite for all the wrong reasons. It was a bit corny and there were a ton of characters introduced (maybe cut down on the car scene from pages 10-20). I almost put it down, but once they got to the cabin it really picked up and felt like the b-movie spoof the author was going for. I laughed out loud a few times. It was a super fast read. Overall, I enjoyed it, but not because it was a great story exactly, more because it was a guilty pleasure.

    CHIMERA: This was my second favorite (maybe I was in a horror mood last night), I made it to page 24. It was quick and I love the mystery box of the boy missing and his family. The scenes seemed a bit choppy and ultimately I needed more than just where is the boy. I probably would have finished, but it was just getting late and I wasn’t super hooked. Close second.

    My Vote: SON OF THE DEVIL

  • Citizen M

    None of the loglines stood out. They weren’t bad, but they were rather generic. Nothing to catch the imagination.

    After reading the first 25 pages there were still no obvious candidates. My choice is either Catastrophic for some good descriptive writing, or Chimera for originality.

    CATASTROPHIC 120p by Chad Smith

    After 25 pages: Getting the story off the ground was a bit slow with a lot of inconsequential droppings off and cellphone business etc. 15 named characters so far, including weathermen. That’s a lot. But once the bad weather hits the pace picks up and it gets lively. I wanted to read further.
    Suggestions: Cut the character count. Set up more plot/emotional landmines to exploit later e.g. rivalries between the girls. Establish in first couple of pages that Bri misses her dad so she has an incentive to see him again.
    Fears: It will be hard to keep momentum going at this pace for 120 pages.

    IN THE YEARS OF SONDER 114p by Sylvester Ada

    After 25 pages: I still can’t figure out what’s going on. There are “manifestations” among us, humans with the ability to heal and maybe other powers, who are subject to special laws enforced by Patchers. One manifestation is hunting another with an RPG. Why? Don’t know. One flies away, the other is captured and strapped to a table, ready for probing. Why? Don’t know. The professor asks a bounty hunter to pull in the manifestation who flew away, alive. Why? Don’t know.
    Suggestions: Lose the scenes from 2014, 2015 and 2030. They are too expensive to film. Show us ordinary life in 2045. Get us to understand the world and how our characters fit into it and who wants what.
    Fears: It will be all action and gimmicks, no story.

    OFFSHORE 112p by Joey Gray & Tim Wollaston

    After 25 pages: Not a lot to report. Very dark beginning sets a grim tone, not persisted with. She’s a psychology professor, maybe that’s important, he works for an investment firm that’s in trouble, but it’s not clear if he’s a crook or not. They are on the yacht with deaf son and nursemaid, who will be leaving so are not under threat, and the captain who is a bit bad-tempered. Methinks they need at least one crewman as well, given it’s a big boat with hot tub and all. There’s no tension or sense of menace.
    Suggestions: Hint at some sort of threat from activist investors rather than resignation and suicide. Make clear if the husband is guilty or innocent of wrong-doing. We don’t know who the good guy is, yet. Some of the dialogue is exposition-y.
    Fears: There’s not enough story for a movie.

    SON OF THE DEVIL 97p by J.L. Woodbloom

    After 25 pages: Bright beginning with spoofy murders in the cabin by the lake, then slows down with frat boys and girls coming to the cabin. Typical insulting frat-boy banter is not particularly funny. Why didn’t they see blood or the broken door in the cabin? I also didn’t get a sense of creepiness when they explore the other, abandoned, cabin.
    Suggestions: None. Not my genre.
    Fears: Only for the bong-smoking generation.

    CHIMERA 90p by Brent Dragoo

    After 25 pages: Quite an original take on things. Nice to see some fresh thinking. So far it’s more like drama with scary bits than out-and-out horror.
    Suggestions: Karen needs stronger and more urgent reasons to contact her boyfriend. Some descriptions are too impressionistic and the scene is hard to picture. Give us the facts and let us use our imaginations.
    Fears: Second act will be routine search for boyfriend and not scary.

    • flipflopfury

      Thanks for the nod. Much appreciated. And do let me know if you read further. Would love your final impression. thesmithsonian at me.com

      – C Smith

  • MrTibbsLive

    Read Some of All:

    CATASTROPHIC: Loved the logline for this one. The opening scene was great and after 5 pages I was certain this would be my pick. But the next 5 pages weren’t as good. Too many characters to count and the writing style swayed my interest.

    This…kind…of…writing…makes…it…hard…to…get…a…reading…pace. Next time just use a comma.

    IN THE YEARS OF SONDER: It takes a very creative and bold writer to open a script with very little dialogue, but 10 pages to establish the world where the script takes place is too much. I suggest getting into the story sooner. Anyway, I did like the logline.

    OFFSHORE: Boy, the set-up in this one sure made an impression. The set-up, combined with the logline, very curious to see where this one’s headed. But I’d be a little worried about how this story will hold up over 100 pages.

    SON OF THE DEVIL: Found this one easy to read. But as far as story goes, well, there’s definitely an audience for this kind of movie, it’s just not me.

    CHIMERA : It’s tough to get excited about this logline, but I gave it a try. The script is easy to read, there’s just some unnecessary scenes that can be axed to make the story flow better.

    MY PICKS: 1ST PLACE – CATASTROPHIC. 2ND PLACE – IN THE YEARS OF SONDER.

    • flipflopfury

      Thanks for the read and vote. And for fighting… through all those… speed bumps. ;)

      – C Smith

  • Gregory Mandarano

    Catastrophic.

  • TruckDweller

    Not a huge fan of any of the loglines this time. This may be my personal taste, but only Catastrophic sounds like a story that I would expect to see on the screen. Though, I admit, part of me groans at the Catastrophic logline. I imagine seeing the trailer, groaning, and saying “What will they think of next to force an enclosed thriller.” Anyway, it gets my vote from the cursory logline review. Not much time this weekend.

    When is pilot week? 30-60 page reads sound awesome right now.

    • Jonathan Soens

      “Offshore” sounds like something I’d expect to see get made, too. I mean, supposedly it’s impossibly difficult to do film shoots on the water, so maybe that’d keep it from happening.

      But, based purely on the logline, “Offshore” sounds like something I could see being made into a movie.

  • carsonreeves1

    thanks for commenting, Chris! :)

  • Will Vega

    I read through some of CATASTROPHIC cause like others, the logline really attracted me. Reminded me of the Stallone movie Daylight which I enjoyed as a kid.

    The first thing that put me off was stating the word “tornado” was banned. Not only that, they were forbidden to be reported and researched leading to the demise of several citizens in three states. I just couldn’t help but think “why is that?” The only reason given was cause they were considered too unpredictable. But if something is unpredictable, shouldn’t you be more privy to research and warn people of the impending danger as much as you can? Not only that, if they’re unpredictable, that means they can strike without warning. So that itself is all you need if you want to go that angle.

    Also I thought the action didn’t really kick in until around page 20, and I mean the
    action that impacts the main characters (the girls). There were alot of characters and I had a hard time keeping track of them aside from Briana, who is playing the “smart ass” role, and Cindy who is basically a ditz.

    I suggest you kickstart it with a meteorologist noticing something is off for the beginning and then cut to the main characters. Intercut them living their lives so we can get to know them (each as clearly as possible) with the impending doom (the tornado) floats around. Then 10-15 pages later, it hits. So that way we the audience are sitting back expecting something to happen (very eagerly!), in the meantime are getting to know these characters, then danger strikes. That way we can get a nice little bundle of action, character development, and impending doom in the beginning.

    Other than that, I do love the premise. If it’s an all girl cast, take a look at films like Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants or maybe even Goonies. Both of those I thought had a very distinct well-rounded cast of characters. It’ll be easy to fall into the pit fall of very stereotyped characters (the typical spoiled girl, the typical nerd, ect) but if you tread very carefully and find perks to give us the impression they’re atypical, I think it’ll work.

    ===========
    bOUNTY – A gambler is forced into bounty hunting for a Mexican Cartel to settle an illegal debt while being pursued by Nevada police for a murder he’s not sure he committed. http://bit.ly/14EuytF

    • flipflopfury

      Thank you so much for the look. Really appreciated.

      Just so you know…the facts about banning the word tornado and forecasters being unable to research were all true. It was a misstep and the result was mass casualties years later. And yes, it makes no sense. But they were apparently concerned with inciting panic. So they chose to turn a blind eye.

      Just wanted to make sure you understood I didn’t make that up. If I need to be more clear with how idiotic their thought process was… that’s a different story. ;)

      – C Smith

      • Will Vega

        Aah, then I owe you an apology then! I had no idea it was based on a real event.

        In regards to that, I’m not sure about referencing that event in the beginning. I feel it should be mentioned before or after this tornado hits so we can get to the movie as quickly as possible. But those are my thoughts. Good luck!

        ===========
        bOUNTY (TV Pilot) – A gambler is forced into bounty hunting for a Mexican Cartel to settle an illegal debt while being pursued by Nevada police for a murder he’s not sure he committed. http://bit.ly/14EuytF

        • Malibo Jackk

          Hey Will
          Is your pilot a one-off?
          Or is it meant to be a series?

          • Will Vega

            Hey Malibo!

            Yes, definitely a series. The pilot has a main objective but the ending is open ended enough for newer adventures and revelations to come into play as the series progresses. I thought up of three main story arcs, one for every season.

          • Malibo Jackk

            Cool.
            Have you gone as far as deciding on how many episodes per season?
            3, 8, 13, 26?

          • Will Vega

            Haven’t gone that far yet, lol. But I think 13 episodes a season sounds like a good number. Enough to fit in all the good stuff for an hour each.

        • Citizen M

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tornado_warning

          The USAF pioneered tornado forecasting and tornado warnings, mainly due to the Weather Bureau’s
          strong discouragement/ban on the use of the word “tornado” in forecasts
          or statements, fearing that it would cause the public to panic if they
          predicted tornadoes. In 1950, the Weather Bureau revoked their ban on
          the word “tornado”, thus allowing public tornado warnings.

      • Jonathan Soens

        Very interesting nugget.

  • Sly

    Thanks for the vote. You definitely raise some good points. I considered stream lining the story to center on the Goader but my fear was if I did that, the action scenes and the whole being hunted plot point would get a bit stale. By the way I think you meant Lionel instead of Burke. Thanks again :)

    • Chris Leonard

      Apols Sly, I did of course mean Lionel rather than Burke!

      I totally understand. I could tell you were clearer on Goader’s backstory and motivations than Lionel’s, and that you were trying to broaden the story out from just Goader being hunted by Dorth.

  • Chris

    Catastrophic has my vote.

  • Film_Shark

    Hey guys, I liked the OFFSHORE script. It does remind me of ‘Dead Calm’ a bit but I can tell that you did your homework with the financial talk. The opening scene is dark but it does grab your attention and is relevant to the story. It does take time for the suspense to build but the boat is a great setting. I mean, there is no where for Rebecca to run or hide on the yacht. That’s terrifying. Your scenes are tight and that is the biggest problem I see with other scripts on here. Other screenwriters dwell too much on a scene. I can tell you have experience with setting up the scenes and that kept me turning the pages. This screenplay has potential to be optioned and is one of the best I’ve read on this site. Well done and Good luck!

    • Joey & Tim

      Film_Shark, thank you so much for taking the time to read our script OFFSHORE and for your kind words! It means so much to us that you felt it’s one of the best you’ve read on the site, especially given the amount of great screenplays that have been featured here. It’s very rewarding to hear someone acknowledge (and appreciate) the details and pay-offs of our act one build. Hopefully you’re right on about OFFSHORE’s potential to be optioned, we would love nothing more than to get this story up on the silver screen!

  • Film_Shark

    Give the OFFSHORE script a chance. It’s suspenseful. It’s very professionally written. It takes 40 pages to get to the meat of the story but these guys did their research about investment scams that give it credibility. What I like most about it is that they describe a scene and move on. So many amateur screenwriters on here make the same mistake – they fall in love with the scene and don’t want to end it. Joey and Tim’s scenes establish the setting and action succinctly. This makes you want to turn to the next page of their script. Good luck, guys. I think you have a winner here.

    • Joey & Tim

      Thank you so much (again) Film_Shark! Getting past those first 40 pages seems to be too daunting a task for most of the site-readers, haha — which is too bad, because once the action kicks in, we think it’s a total joy ride of suspense! So, for that alone, we can’t say enough how grateful we both are to you for reading the entire script and taking the time to comment with your feedback and positive review.

  • Stank

    I finished it Brent… while it was overall a very enjoyable read I would have liked to know a little more about the cult.

    (spoiler alert) I don’t understand exactly while killing him to save her life at the end make her “A Believer”. Will the audience understand this. Maybe I just missed it as well but was there any ever specific significance to the mark? Is it that easy to brainwash people? Over the course of just a few days?

    Overall very enjoyable read, but at only 90 pages I think you could use a few more pages to explain a few more things. Cheers.

  • Crazdwrtr

    I read on Carson’s TWITTER producers were already sniffing around OFFSHORE! Congrats Joey & Tim!

    • Joey & Tim

      Thanks, Crazdwrtr! We were very excited to read that on Twitter as well! :)