amateur offerings weekend

Amateur Offerings Weekend is here again, at last!

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!

TITLEFaçade
GENRE: Drama, Mystery
LOGLINE: A detective investigates the murder of a teenage boy in the quintessential 1950’s American suburbs, unaware of the secrets buried behind the veneer of this picture perfect society.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: (from writer) “Here’s why I think you should read this over others. First of all, as I said, it has been 4 years since I first wrote the original draft. I started when I was 15 and I’m 19 now. I have no formal screenwriting or film school experience. That’s not to say it’s a shit script though, in fact I hope it piques your curiosity. As in the case of Joe Marino, age doesn’t always correlate with script quality. In fact, I had my first short script produced when I was 16 (and another being produced by a filmmaker in India), and “Façade” has been highly rated on other review sites, becoming a spotlight feature on Triggerstreet Labs.”
Side-note: Missus Scriptshadow read and loved this script. Isn’t that reason enough?!

TITLESuper Geeks
GENRE: Comedy
LOGLINE: A strait-laced Bride-to-be, who loathes her fiancé’s nerdy friends, must enlist their help to find her missing groom on an epic road trip quest to Comic Con.

TITLEVerona Spies
GENRE: Crime/Action-Comedy
LOGLINE: After landing a job at an escort service, a young woman learns that her first date is an international spy who’s just stolen a multi-million dollar pharmaceutical secret. She agrees to help him shake the assassins waiting outside of the hotel, and soon finds herself embroiled in a deadly game of corporate espionage.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: (from writer) “I wrote A BULLET FOR MY BEST FRIEND, and submitting it to Am. Friday was one of the most important steps I’ve taken for my career and writing thus far. I attached a producer, took meetings and have an offer from a manager. Producers who haven’t evenheard of Scriptshadow have contacted me.”

TITLE – Birds of Feathers
GENRE – Animation, Children/Family
LOGLINE – Drake, an ugly-duckling introvert, reluctantly accepts the responsibility of delivering a baby after a Stork crash lands in his pond and is unable to continue his mission.

TITLEFortune Cookie
GENRE: Contained-Dark Comedy/Suspense
LOGLINE: A young woman opens a fortune cookie with the prophecy that she will die if anyone leaves the restaurant. When the fortunes of her dinner companions come true, she takes the restaurant hostage.

  • Paul Clarke

    Verona Spies:

    Probably not how a hooker is interviewed, but a job interview is always a good way to setup a character. Although they would probably focus on her other… skills.

    Too much dialogue at the beginning. You can get away with the conversation with Rollo because it’s interesting. Although I thought it could be a little shorter. But the conversation with Wilkinson kills the momentum of the story. We had tension, who is this guy she’s meeting? It’s heightened by the elevator closing. Then they just sit down and talk. And it’s bad exposition. Why would she tell this stranger it’s her first night on the job? When she says “I guess I’ve been trying to figure out what I’m good at for a long time…” No one would say that. Worse, that message is told during the job interview. And in a much more subtle manner. Cut straight to him offering the money. At least have him whip out the cash and leave it on the table while he asks a couple of questions. With her eyes locked on the money, she’d at least be susceptible to answering personal questions. Plus, that’s part of her character. What is she willing to do for money? Hence the profession.

    Made it to page 20, but the excessive dialogue means there’s a serious lack of STORY DENSITY (see an earlier Scriptshadow article with Jim Mercucio).

  • ThomasBrownen

    I thought FORTUNE COOKIE had a great premise and crackled with tension: Is the main character crazy? How do you keep people from leaving all exits of a restaurant? Will the people fight back? Will they believe you? What about her friends — will they stick with her? How would you break a fortune cookie curse (besides the Freaky Friday remake way)?

    So I want to congratulate the author on coming up with an idea that made me open the link.

    But I think it will still need more development. On the first page, we’re introduced to four characters. Just the good old fashioned (really, bad old fashioned) character dump. And the dialogue left me confused. Specifically, “Do you wanting to make her one millionaire?” And this is at the top of page 2… so it’s not a good sign.

    I still really like this idea, but the author should try to find a better way to introduce the characters. We don’t have to start out as abruptly as meeting the four characters at a table. Take the time to introduce our characters in a unique way. Maybe they’re all meeting up at the restaurant, and some are late. Maybe we follow our main character to the restaurant, and she meets up with one of the characters before getting there. Regardless, this needs more work.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mandellwe William Mandell

      Hi Thomas, Thanks for giving my script a peek!

      The grammatical errors for “Do you wanting to make her one millionaire” are intentional. The character is a Brazilian that speaks poor English. This defect is something that will be important for that character later in the story.

      If you indulge me until page 15, you may be pleasantly surprised.

      • ThomasBrownen

        I do hope to read further! Sorry if I came across as one of those people who found something he didn’t like and then bailed. I made it to around page 10 then got pulled away for reasons completely unrelated to the screenplay. :)

        • kenglo

          Yeah Thomas – READ ON! This was a great script William – I’m learning how to write like you!

          • http://www.facebook.com/mandellwe William Mandell

            Thanks!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UXZGWHUNGPUO27HD6UXSOMCMCQ Tor H

    SUPER GEEKS – The moment I read the logline, I knew I had to read this. The verdict? Some chuckles, but nothing really major in the laugh department. I guess it needs another re-write on that. Likewise, the ‘Evil Bob’ thing. Sure, he gets a mention early in the piece, but then he shows up in the latter half. The rapport between Elizabeth and the geeks was pretty nice, though.

    [x] worth the read (by a hair)

  • MrTibbsLive

    Super Geeks: Not sure if I will finish, but I’m 40 pages in and I’m enjoying the ride. I picked this script because the genre is comedy, and I’m always curious to read how other writers produce laughs.

    First thing I noticed about Super Geeks is EVERY character (so far) is likeable. Which is a complete contrast to some of my dark comedies, no one’s really likeable, not even the writer :)

    But there’s some good geeky stuff in SG. There’s talk of Star Wars, Star Trek, LOTR, Yoda, Comic Con, etc., none of which appeals to me, but it didn’t discourage me from reading on because it’s all presented in a very lighthearted, good-natured way.
    Most of the comedy is generated from talk about geek stuff, what else? Which can be a turn-off to some, but again, I’m not really hip when comes to being geek cool and I still enjoyed what I read.

  • Frankie Hollywood

    Verona Spies. I started reading it about 5 minutes after I got the newsletter, when I saw it was another Z. LaPorte Airey production (Loved ABFMBF).

    I really enjoyed it. I didn’t mind her getting personal with Wilkinson. To me, that just seemed her personality.

    Seemed a little bit of a character dump when Verona left the hotel. I’d maybe introduce the gay couple a few pages later (b/c they’re running late from a session with their therapist?). And I’m still not sure who they were working for (I probably just missed it – but it could be reiterated later on).

    I think Z’s biggest strength is his characters. They all have unique traits and each (even the minor ones) have pretty good, fully developed personalities.

    I loved Verona’s motto, “Tits and Teeth.”

    Lots of good action kept things moving along (it’s a very busy night for Verona).

    Wasn’t expecting it to end the way it did – which is good. Surprises are nice, even though it’s not a “good/uplifting” one. But she did find her calling.

    Bottom line, I thought it was fun and entertaining. Definitely a Worth The Read.

    Congrats Z.

  • Tor Dollhouse

    Just finished reading the first 15 pages of “Verona Spies” and it felt like a spec script should.

    Great writing.

    Great concept execution.

    Hope to see this on the silver screen soon !!

  • grendl

    “Birds of a Feather”. The writer shows a lot of promise, and talent. But cut out the pop culture references like “Inception”, and the IRS and FCC.
    Other than that, really enjoyable read.

  • MayfieldLake

    Read to page 20 of Verona Spies. Quick and easy read. Effortless really. I remember trying to read BFMBF a long time ago and thinking that the writing was poor. It seems to me that the writer has made positive strides in writing since then!

    The concept seems sort of intriguing, but I stopped at page 20 because it’s mostly dialog so far. To me it felt like dialog for dialog’s sake, but I am not much of a dialog guy, dialog almost always bores me, so it could be me not the script. But regardless, I was bored. Even just five minutes after reading I can’t recall any of the dialog, which is not a good sign. Because there was so much dialog, the first 20 pages felt incredibly light in plot. This is not the execution I would’ve chosen for the concept. I feel things need to move much faster, there needs to be much more going on by page 20 if this is trying to be an action/comedy. Just my quick thoughts. Hope this comes across as constructive not negative. This would NOT be a bad pick for AF, I can imagine someone maybe trying to champion this on SS comments. All the best.

  • true blue

    birds of feathers.

    great opener with the 4 couples.

    pleasure to read a AF script without swearing, shagging, killing or zombies.

    i can see kids enjoying this film – simple goal, few mates, road trip.

    it’s 10-15 pages too long (like the mobster scene) but a good editor could easily knock this script into shape.

    a bit more action and comedy on the road and i would have hired this from the video shop when my kids were small.

    well done!

  • Murphy

    I read up to age 28 of Fortune Cookie, and I will hopefully get round to reading the rest of it this week, but it was losing me a little bit.

    Firstly though what a brilliant concept, I mean brilliant and original, it certainly made me want to read it. A great idea for a contained thriller and has plenty of scope to be a classic, it could really be an excellent movie.

    I think however that your execution of this great idea still needs lots of work, while the scenario so far is okay, I think it is trying to hard to be funny and it is just coming across as a quite juvenile. In fact I would say your characters, and the dialogue here are far too juvenile in manner to be taken seriously as a table of businessmen. I get the point that Matt is supposed to be unlikable, but I think you can make him unlikeable and realistic at the same time, he comes across as far too crass and I find it difficult to believe in him as a real person.

    I would certainly suggest that you tone it down a bit and don’t try so hard to make it funny.

    Also, I hate to point his out, but a million dollars? I feel a bit like Robert Wagner in Austin Powers but you probably want to make it more. I am not sure many people would be prepared to quit their lives for a million dollars anymore, I would make it five if I were you.

    There is a lot of potential here, like I said I am really amazed by the concept. I would rather see it played a bit more straight and as a more adult orientated thriller. I have no idea how this will play out but I would love to see Katie turn from a nice girl to a crazed maniac and descend into madness Breaking Bad style.

    • klmn

      I agree with you about the dialogue in Fortune Cookie. Unlike you I wasn’t moved to read on.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mandellwe William Mandell

      Thanks a lot for taking the time to give Fortune Cookie a look! I’ve actually strongly considered creating a straight thriller version of this. I might still do it.

  • Murphy

    It seems I need to have a look at Veronica Spies reading what everyone else thinks.

    I read the first 20 of Facade, there is definitely something there and I will be finishing it. It is a little familiar so far, nothing that hasn’t been done before a number of times, but I am assuming that a surprise will come along shortly and do something a little different.

    I would say it is well written, if I have one comment about the writing is that there is probably too much dialogue and because of that some of it is very “on the nose”.

    An example of that is very early on there is the scene in the Roger’s office where he says “I think you need a drink” before bringing out a bottle and pouring a glass.

    If the writer is reading the feedback I would ask why? seriously why does he say “I think you need a drink”? Just have him pouring a drink in silence. It says exactly the same thing but without needing the dialogue. When you watch really great movies or read really great scripts try and pay attention to not what was said but what wasn’t said. In my mind pulling that off is the hallmark of really great writing.

    This does carry on throughout the first twenty that I read, I think there is quite a lot of dialogue that is unnecessary.

    I am hooked enough to want to read the rest of the story though, it looks promising.

  • GoIrish

    I made it all the way through Fortune Cookie. I believe this was the first “contained” script I’ve read. It was only 95 pages and felt like it read even faster than that. If I didn’t have the page count and someone told me it was 75 pages, I probably would have believed it. For a normal script, I’d say there wasn’t enough here in terms of plot/story. Where this is a single location screenplay, it might be enough. I don’t have enough (i.e., any) experience with contained scripts to properly judge. I thought the premise was intriguing. I do think the first 1/3 of the script could use some revisions. The writer almost lost me after Matt found out he won the lottery (pp.13-17…he actually almost lost me on p.1 with the Big Johnson joke). I understand the character is not supposed to be likable, but this seemed over the top. However, after I got by this, I thought the story actually picked up nicely. The writer was able to maintain the tension and seemed to come up with plausible ways to get a new character, Duncan, into the restaurant without being tipped off as to the hostage situation. I wasn’t completely satisfied with the conclusion. I know this is a dark-comedy, but I’d suggest coming up with an alternative ending for Katie (maybe “You” is someone else’s last name or her fortune was smudged/cut-off). Also, by the end of the script, I felt bad for Rob. So, I don’t know if I wanted to see him stay with Martha. For that to work, I think Martha would need to demonstrate some huge contrition. Or you could have Rob put Martha in her place. I realize this is complicated by the fact that she just gave birth, but I think you need something. I liked Duncan coming in for the business meeting, but I have mixed feeling about his role as the life-guru (I know that’s not the best term) for Katie. I understand the purpose for doing that, but it felt a little forced. Please note that I’m just focusing on things that I thought could be improved. Overall, I thought it was a good effort.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mandellwe William Mandell

      Thanks a lot for giving Fortune Cookie a read. Most of the things you brought up are changes I’ve been considering. I’m actually looking to create an alternate ending for Katie, but so far I haven’t come up with one that I’m satisfied with.

      Anyway, thanks a lot for giving it a look!

  • http://nowhitenoise.com/ Mike

    Agreed with most of everyone’s comments about “Fortune Cookie.” Personally, I like the dark comedic tone, so I wouldn’t change that. But I can understand what people are saying that Matt is too harsh and unbelievable. Maybe try to reel him in a bit. That said, my only real main issue is that I thought the ending was completely predictable. As soon as (SPOILER ALERT) Katie spotted the gun, I knew that she would end up killing herself. I really like self-contained movies / bottle episodes, so maybe it’s just that I was thinking too much. Unfortunately, I think it’s just an unnecessary evil about the format.

    But yeah, EXTREMELY fast read. I think you could add more if you’d like. Some things could be drawn out, like Matt finding out he won $1 million (which I would recommend be $10 million). I chuckled a lot! Thanks :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/mandellwe William Mandell

      Thanks a lot for the read! I’ve been looking to make a different ending for Katie that keeps her alive. I just haven’t come up with one that I was happy with. Glad you enjoyed it!

  • http://twitter.com/jaexhkim jae kim

    I personally liked VERONICA SPIES the best.

    it was funnier than most comedy scripts (I also loved the motto “tits and teeth”).

    the developed characters also set it apart from the other scripts. a gay hitman couple, I thought that was pretty unique.

    I also liked the dialogue, although I have no idea what the perfect circle was about.

    the writer has a knack for writing suspense. take the scene at the hotel as an example. veronica doesn’t just go up to see her ‘john’. she runs into someoe who gives her a vial of liquid to drug the guy and steal from him! and once in the hotel room, she drugs one drink and can’t tell’em apart. now that’s writing!

    the only thing I didn’t like was the ending. it was a bit ambiguous.

  • http://twitter.com/jaexhkim jae kim

    fortune cookie:

    great concept, but I agree with everyone else the execution could use a little help. THIS IS JUST MY OPINION, but I wouldn’t have started the story in the restaurant. I would have started with the beginning of the day for the protagonist. maybe show how crappy, but hopeful her life is, then move on to the restaurant. Maybe throw in a ticking time bomb like she has to be somewhere at 3pm for something important. then she gets stuck at the restaurant and she has to figure a way out.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mandellwe William Mandell

      Hey thanks for the read. I don’t want to have any scenes outside the restaurant, because that would negate the “single-location” aspect of it. But I agree that I could probably give Katie some more development. Thanks a lot for giving it a peek!

  • http://twitter.com/jaexhkim jae kim

    facade:

    the story was written well, plus it was easy to read. character development and dialogue were also OK.

    on the downside, it was just a bit too slow for me.
    by the logline I was expecting a town wide conspiracy or something, but by page 40, not much had happened.

    adultry is a big issue in the script, but I couldn’t quite link it to the theme, which I think was something about being selfish.

    (spoiler alert) and whatever happened to roger? we never find out how he died.

    plus the ending just didn’t satisfy me. it was something out of a very PG rated law and order episode.

    • rsuddhi

      Hi jae kim,

      Thanks for giving this a read, I appreciate you taking the time to do so! I made this note in another comment, but I wrote this to try an imitate the style of the classic noirs and mystery movies, rather than something dark and gritty. This could possibly change your perception of the type of story you’re reading. It was just as important for me to build up each of the characters so that everything makes sense in the end and it’s all believable. Also, regarding the death, I intentionally put little hints and make it obvious and inferable. I didn’t want to spell everything out for the audience, and I felt by the end of the script, it should make sense regarding who and why. But I don’t want to reveal more than necessary, so I’ll leave it at that :) Thanks again for reading it and giving me feedback!

      • http://twitter.com/jaexhkim jae kim

        now that you mention it, I can see a bit of noir in this. but I do think noirs are a bit dark and gritty. not in the sense of ‘seven’, but in the sense of troubled detectives and a femme fetale. dreary I guess the word I’m looking for. something like the maltese falcon.

        I would suggest adding a bit more mystery. more suspects and dead ends.

  • Citizen M

    These all looked promising, so I read the first 25 pages of all five. As an experiment, I wrote down what I thought they would be like based on the title and logline alone, then I read them in reverse order.

    FORTUNE COOKIE

    Before: I expect we’ll be introduced to the young woman and her bf. The woman will have a flaw which she needs to overcome in order to end the siege, and she will learn during the siege the bf is unsuitable. At the restaurant people will start dying in amusing ways, and she will wiggle and squirm and try to deny it is happening. Along the way she will meet the man she needs to meet.

    After 25 pages: OMG, how wrong could I be? It’s an assholes convention. Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. Not one person I can identify with. The protag, Katie, is in the toilet half the time. We know nothing about her. 25 pages in and we’re still setting up. It’s not funny and there’s no tension.

    Verdict: Interesting premise, terrible execution. Abandon and move on to the next script.

    BIRDS OF FEATHERS

    Before: Sounds like a sweet story. I expect Drake to be morose and picked on at his pond. When the stork crash-lands he will have to step forward because no one else will do the job. After many adventures during which he will learn life lessons he will deliver the baby and return a hero.

    After 25 pages: Good first montage gets us under way crisply. Delightful scenes in the baby factory. I like the storks’ esprit de corps. At the pond, however, things need work. For those of us who are not avian experts it needs to be made clear who migrates and who doesn’t. It should be a major topic of conversation. Jack in particular doesn’t work for me. Too OTT, and should be female. Structurally hits all the beats. The setup is over and we’re about to head out on the great journey. It seems all Drake’s buddies will come along, contrary to my expectation.

    Verdict: Very promising but needs work.

    VERONA SPIES

    Before: I expect a ditzy down on her luck heroine forced into an escort job for financial reasons. Her first escort will be a suave and worldy type and she thinks she’s lucky until bullets start flying. Thereafter she chooses to believe his story and go on the run with him and help him with counter-moves. She ends up a fully-fledged corporate spy herself.

    After 25 pages: Okay, that went down more or less as expected. Good opening montage shows how accident-prone Verona is. Crisply into being an escort. Rollo the driver is a great character as wise man/comic relief. Quickly into first date then wham, hit brick wall as pace slows to a crawl with Wilkinson. Give him half a page, no more, as she walks. Her attempts to drug Simon are suitably klutzy. Don’t like the BJ. Keep the party clean in this genre. Good twist as Simon recruits her.

    Verdict: Good structure and pace. Wry humour. Looking good. Pro standard with a tweak.

    SUPER GEEKS

    Before: I’m not sure that a strait-laced bride and nerdy friends are a good mix for a comedy. They’re too similar. Prefer her to be a wanton minx. Still nerds on a road trip, Comic-Con and a missing groom, sounds like a mix between Paul and The hangover, both of which I enjoyed.

    After 25 pages: Dragging a bit. Needs to up the pace. Too much geek speak, although I like the bit where they use game incantations against Elizabeth. Geeks vs bride is shaping up as a good fight. My problem is, I can’t see Steve and Sheila as a couple. Nor can I believe he would disappear without telling her what he’s up to.

    Verdict: Not bad, but principals need a makeover and story needs to be amped up.

    FAÇADE

    Before: I expect something dark and gritty. People forced to reveal secrets or be implicated in the murder. A picture-perfect surface, rotten underneath. Not sure if the detective is old and world-weary or young and horrified by what he finds.

    After 25 pages: Dreadfully slow. 25 pages in and we’re still setting up. Nathan was bullied. Okay, we got it in two pages, we don’t need twelve. By this time the detective should have unearthed his first clue, not still taking statements. The dialogue is very stilted and unnatural. I wasn’t sure what was going on in the opening scene between grayson and the PI, or what relevance it had.

    Verdict: Needs a large pair of scissors and a page one rewrite.

    CONCLUSION

    For Amateur Friday I vote Verona Spies, with Birds of Feathers as runner-up.

    • Somersby

      I like the expectations vs delivery comparison template you used for this, M. Very effective.

      Based on strength of loglines only, Fortune Cookie intrigued me most – but it didn’t hold me past 10 pages. Birds of Feathers shows good promise and it nicely targets its intended audience.

      I wasn’t as sold on Verona Spies. The comedy here and the choices the writer makes just don’t jump off the page. Tonally it just seems a tad contrived and predictable. And soft. We don’t sense any real desperation from Verona about the importance of getting the escort job. She has to need to make this work. Her need for an income and for an opportunity to prove to herself and everyone that she’s not a failure should be evident from the moment we meet her. But there’s no driving motivation, no real reason to get this job because if she doesn’t, something else will probably turn up. And hence, no dramatic tension.

      I won’t say much about Facade other than to say it reads young – but given that the writer is only 19, that’s fair. Keep at it, Rock.

      I didn’t crack Super Geeks open because it is just so not in my wheelhouse.

      • rsuddhi

        I won’t say much about Facade

        That must not be a good thing… Well if you’re willing to share why you felt that way, I’m sure it would be constructive. Thanks anyway! :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/mandellwe William Mandell

      Thanks for giving Fortune Cookie a look. Sorry you couldn’t connect with it.

  • cjob3

    I remember Bullet For My BFF. That was awesome. I wondered what’s been going on with that…

  • shewrites

    Birds of Feathers: read up to page 35. Loved it, the premise, set up, tone.Adorable. I will finish it. Well done. Definitely worth a Friday review.

    Verona Spies: read up to page 25:I like it enough that I will read through the end event hough I felt act 1 dragged a bit with the Wilkinson sequence. I have some issues with Verona’s decision to help Wilkinson but I still liked her enough to forgive it. She is a well drawn and endearing character. I want to know how this ends.

    Super Geeks: This is not my cup of tea. Too many geek movies in Hollywood of late in my opinion.

    Fortune Cookie: fantastic premise. read up to page 40. Stopped and won’t read the rest for two main reasons. First, there’s hardly any tension, not what you’d expect in a hostage situation. Second, way too much talk about something I don’t care anything about, that is the negotiation bit with Mikael.

    I started Facade but the beginning, though decent, didn’t hook me.

    I would defiinitely love a review of both Birds of Feathers and Verona Spies. Great picks this week, Carson. Thanks!

    • http://www.facebook.com/mandellwe William Mandell

      Thanks for giving Fortune Cookie a look. I’ve actually strongly considered dropping the comedy aspect of it and turning it into a straight thriller. Anyway, thanks for speaking your mind.

  • kenglo

    I was only interested in two overall – Then I read the comments on FACADE and will read that shortly. The two I read were VERONA SPIES and FORTUNE COOKIE, just based on the loglines. I’m not going to get into what works and what doesn’t work, everyone has an opinion on that. As a reader, I would just want to pass or recommend, so I don’t think analyzing the story here as some people do would help. There are so many things that go into giving a green light to a film, I just want to know if I can make money from it if I invested in it. Like last week’s PRECIPICE – If I had 5M or so, I would make that movie, work out the details pre-production (Rewrites). I want to look at these and decide whether or not they are viable films to produce, not whether the story has holes. A lot of people said KEEPING TIME had holes, but I loved that script too. That being said –

    VERONA SPIES – FAST READ! Before I knew it I was at page 47 and wanting more. This usually doesn’t happen to me, I think KEEPING TIME was the last amateur script that did that to me. Talk about sparse writing – this thing hummed. The dialogue was witty, I loved Verona – has Emma Stone written all over it. Kind of a take charge girl without knowing it. I think the writer knew where he was going and I liked that. The only problem was the ending – I just couldn’t see Verona mugging folks. I think if you change it to her maybe slipping something into their drink, it might end better. But as far as “Do I see a movie here?” – YES. An amateur writer who can write as sparse as the pros is worth a read every time.

    FORTUNE COOKIE – THIS WAS CRAZY. Contained, it also hummed along. I HAD to read on to see what was going to happen. I noticed one comment that it was too talky. What are you supposed to do in a diner? GSU!! Every bit of dialogue has something to do with the story, so I don’t see a problem with that. Also, if you saw IDENTITY, same type of concept (sorta) and the fact that you just jump in and run with it, this was another one where I was at pg 40 before I knew it. It was like BAM! Now what? I’d make this movie (with your money!).

    As I mentioned earlier – What I am getting from this exercise is recognizing the quality of the writing, whether or not the story makes sense, not so much believability, because, heck, look at E.T., or AVATAR, or anything that is beyond belief. JOHN CARTER. The reason these films get made is because someone believes in the concept, the story itself. I think if you can get someone (those with money) who believes in these ‘little’ films like VERONA SPIES and FORTUNE COOKIE, you can spend 5M to make 20-30M, easy. It comes from the quirkiness of the films themselves.

    Babbling now – [x] worth the read on both.

    Wish I could have read them all, but I have to write too!!

    Ken

    • kenglo

      Oh! Have both for AF, Carson! That would be a first!

      • http://www.facebook.com/mandellwe William Mandell

        That’d be great! I have to admit, I really liked Verona Spies too. When I read it, I was like crap, Fortune Cookie’s gotta face off with this one. Crap.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mandellwe William Mandell

      Thanks a lot for the read. It’s really encouraging that you enjoyed Fortune Cookie so much. I actually wrote it with the idea in mind that I might shoot it myself someday. But yeah, thanks a lot for the vote of confidence!

  • MWire

    Read about 20 pages of Super Geeks but probably won’t continue. While there’s nothing really wrong with it, there’s not a lot there to keep my attention.

    The writing’s fine but it just seems so generic for lack of a better term.

    Let’s look at page two where Elizabeth, the wedding caterer, helps the panicked bride. Good idea. Endearing and a chance for cats to be saved. So what’s the bride’s problem? She’s breaking out and has gas. That’s it? Meh. Show us something fun. Something different. Something that takes more ingenuity from Elizabeth than a pat on the hand and some generic advice. How about last night’s bachelor party included a viewing of Girls Gone Wild 19 in which the bride happens to be a featured attraction? Oops! Or perhaps the groom’s ex-girlfriend has shown up? With a baby. That looks a hell of a lot like the groom.

    Or better than those, call up a few wedding caterers in your town. I’ll bet every single one of them has some kind of wedding horror story (where they saved the day) and would be more than happy to have you include it in your script.

    Same thing with the vinyl cape Jawa. From all of the set up, it must have a big part to play in the script. But we’ve all seen unopened collector figures in movies out the wazoo. Generic. And if you can just buy this stuff, it really means very little. How about Steve has some old story where once he stopped to help some guy change a tire in the rain. Turns out this guy is George Lucas who, in gratitude, sent Steve some prop from a movie. Something so rare and valuable it doesn’t even have a price. But more importantly, it’s a gift from Lucas. Now it means something. It’s personal. Doesn’t have to be exactly that but you get the idea. Not generic.

    And while we’re on the subject, the dialogue is pretty generic too. It’s not awful but it feels like these people had only met a couple of weeks ago. It’s conveying the information that we need to know but is lacking the flavor of conversations that people really have.

    Anyway, punch it up a bit, takes some risks and you’ll have a nice little comedy on your hands.

    • Kay Bryen

      Bless your heart Michael, these are outstanding suggestions! I felt this script should not only be about geeks, but should appeal to the inner geek in all of us. We all have an obsession, just that there’s a fine line between how we use it. I hope the writer takes your advice constructively because it’s major league “Script Consultant” level. Speaking of wedding planners, too bad I’m not marriage material, or I’d definitely put you top of my guest list…

      • MWire

        Thanks Kay. :)

  • Steve Wisniewski

    FAÇADE
    LOGLINE- I didn’t think the logline was compelling, even though I’ve done the same “there’s a
    secret” thing myself.

    FIRST 10 PAGES – The first 10 pages didn’t grab me. Even the first page felt somewhat redundant, with the word “idyllic” being used twice within a couple inches of writing. I think
    the idea of an idyllic 50’s family needs to be put across with a single “pow” image or line, and then move on to what it means or how it is important. And I didn’t think Barabara’s call to the police was realistic: she calls and leaves her name, but leaves no phone number, no address, no followup. So I kind of lost the reality of the story at the bottom of the very first page.

    I thought the intro of Grayson and Roger was confusing. We are in a PRIVATE DET OFFICE and DET GRAYSON in intro’d, so I assumed Grayson was the private detective. But it turns out he is a “police” detective and ROGER is the “private” detective. Yes of course, you don’t really call PI’s “detective” but this was unnecessarily confusing. And sex is not a “horrific act.” And “Beatrice” is introduced as if we know her, but it is the first mention of the character
    in the script. Who is she?

    OVERALL, I felt there was quite a bit of overwriting. I would have preferred a more sparse
    approach to the text, and a faster movement into action. The phone call was not realistic and simple writing was unnecessarily confusing. So this did not grab me.

    SUPERGEEKS
    LOGLINE – Logline didn’t knock me out but it sounded good and clear.

    FIRST 10 PAGES – The script has a date on it and has the title in the header. The slugline spacing is one line instead of two, and the margins are suspect. This is incorrect formatting
    and does not set up a good read.

    I liked Elizabeth and the worried Bride. I liked “I hate golf.” This was a good intro to Elizabeth. However, I didn’t like the nerd scene that followed, nerdism is kind of known now from many shows, so this dialouge has to be really unpredictable and original and I don’t think it was (therefore it didn’t strike me as funny). I like that Elizabeth is “like Mom is home.” Good conflict. But I don’t believe anybody gets “Yoda” wrong; too easy a joke.

    OVERALL, something is happening and is going to happen, but the characters are not grabbing me enough, and there are no big laughs in the first 10 pages and this is a comedy.

    VERONA SPIES
    LOGLINE – “Crime-action/Comedy” is too many genres. Maybe “Action Comedy” — you have to really put across the comedy aspect because the logline does not sound realistic.

    FIRST 10 PAGES – Good opening, pretty funny and consistent, loved “EMT really didn’t work out” and good physical description of the protagonist.

    (Note: the following shows I commented as I read)

    One question – Does escort mean a hooker or not? This needs to be clear. If you hear about escort services on the news, it usually means prostitution. I assume that is not the case here.

    Okay, it is prostitution. Even in a comedy (and I thought some of the interchange with Rollo was very funny), what happened to the scene where a young woman comes to terms with turning into a whore? How did this happen? The fact you can’t hold a job doesn’t make most people prostitutes (other half the country would be hookers).

    Okay, then she meets Wilkinson and they talk about her being a hooker. But in both cases, I think you waited too long to address/clarify the issue. Even if Verona never ends up doing anybody, she still has the intent of prostituting herself and this is being glossed over. So I don’t buy it. I’m not looking for a heartfelt scene here; it can still be funny.

    But the writing is very good and it’s funny. But I don’t know if I’d keep reading it if I kept having imporant narrative or thematic questions and had to wait another few pages to have them answered. But this is good screenplay writing.

    BIRDS OF A FEATHER
    LOGLINE – Logline makes sense and tells a story. Full disclosure: I doubt I would read an
    animated film script.

    FIRST 10 PAGES – Wow, that cutting between 4 couples went on way too long. The intro of Drake and others felt long-winded. Jack had some funny lines, but he has so many lines I
    began to wonder if Drake or Jack was the protagonist. (Drake is, right?).

    OVERALL, not really grabbed by these first 10, but the bar is so high from Pixar movies, with
    dialogue and visuals that appeal to kid and adult simultaneously. The opening was very adult, and then the following was very kid-centered, so that might be problematic. Plus, the opening did not have a single funny thing in it.

    FORTUNE COOKIE
    LOGLINE – Thought this was a great logline/idea. Why “Contained-Dark Comedy/Suspense”? Save “contained” for the pitch, it is implicit anyway. This sounds like a Dark Comedy. Leave off Suspense.

    FIRST 10 PAGES – You intro 4 people in a row — which I admit were great descriptions — but I
    immediately had to reference the intro’s to see who was talking. You identify “Robert Ross” but use the name “ROB” for his dialogue which adds to the confusion. If KATIE is the protagonist, call it “Katie’s table” not “Matt’s table” because suddenly I think Matt is the most important character, even though the logline ID’s a girl as the protagonist.

    Don’t know what to think of the three men as all that really stands out is their collective swearing. I don’t mind swearing, I’ll swear my fucking head off, but with the name confusion and everyone sounding the same because everyone swears, this table might as well be one character instead of three.

    “Sight” of the gun, not “Site” of the gun. What is “porn music”? What characterizes porn music?

    You got “if anyone leaves this restaurant you will die” right in on page 10. Excellent, you get the main idea out in ten pages. But why does the main character leave the scene (for the story-altering reason of going to the bathroom!) for the first 4 pages of the sp? The only reason I knew she was the protag was because of the logline. Matt feels like the protag from the
    first 10 pages.

    OVERALL, this sp has some great character descriptions and I love the idea. But the male
    characters talk the same and seem to be working really hard for us not to like them (probably so we don’t mind them being killed later on?). I like this idea but I don’t know if I would
    hang with the writing.

    Thanks! Steve

    • rsuddhi

      Hi Steve,

      Thanks a lot for taking a look at Facade. Thank you for the heads up, I’ve been sorta spending the day going line by line cutting unnecessary descriptions and dialogue, hopefully to make things more concise and easier to read. And thanks for catching some mistakes (like using Beatrice’s name before being properly introduced – I originally introduced her before, and when I cut it, I missed that bit). Anyways, thanks for the feedback.

    • IgorWasTaken

      Steve Wisniewski wrote: “FIRST 10 PAGES – The script has a date on it and has the title in the header. The slugline spacing is one line instead of two, and the margins are suspect. This is incorrect formatting and does not set up a good read.

      Looking inside the pdf, it seems Super Geeks was written in MS Word. Yes, the margins aren’t standard, but “suspect”? And I had no trouble reading those pages: They are presented fine on the page; it’s just that the margins aren’t standard.

      As for a single blank line before sluglines – You might not like them that way, but they are well accepted. Even the script the Academy provides as a formatting sample for Nicholl does them that way.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mandellwe William Mandell

      Thanks a lot for your read of Fortune Cookie! Definitely gave me some things to think about.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mandellwe William Mandell

    Haha thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mandellwe William Mandell

    Thanks for the read of Fortune Cookie. I’ve actually considered dropping the comedy aspects of it and going for a straight thriller. As for the phone conversations, I formatted it the way I did to show pauses in the conversation to show when the other party was talking. Another reviewer had suggested I give these action lines to show the pauses. I like the idea so I included it.

    Anyway, doesn’t sound like you connected with it other than the concept, but thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mandellwe William Mandell

    Haha, I’ll take that!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mandellwe William Mandell

    Hey, thanks a lot for giving Fortune Cookie a read! I’m glad you enjoyed it. You gave a lot of great suggestions for me to think about as well. Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/margaret.mills.940 Margaret Mills

    OK, I’m new so hope it’s ok if I chime in. Read Facade all the way through and feel the writer has promise, especially for one so young. The plot was the best thing, although story needs tightening. One thing – the “Father” is supposed to be a Baptist minister, but only Catholic priests are called “Father.” To be true-to-life he needs to be “Pastor so-and-so.” Or make him Catholic and a molester of altar boys. A Baptist minister would most likely be married, but could be involved with another woman, or be secretly gay, etc. As a minister who was involved with a girl, he’s not a believable threat to Nathan since “switch-hitters” are not that common. Just for better realism.

    • rsuddhi

      Hi Margaret! Thanks so much for reading it, I appreciate it! I’ll go ahead and admit now, my knowledge of church and religion is next to nothing, and I never realized that would ever arise as an issue. :) Thanks again for taking time to give it a read.

    • Malibo Jackk

      Have you been talking to Gideon?

  • IgorWasTaken

    Verona Spies

    I got a good vibe from this, but I stopped at page 37. Not because I was uninterested in the story, but because it was way too slow – i.e., what happens on page 33 should actually happen on page 24 or so. The good news is – I think that can be done easily.

    At least based on what I’ve read so far, I wouldn’t suggest that any of the plot be deleted in those pages. Rather, a lot of the dialogue can be trimmed/tightened. Yes, it may sound impossible to keep all the plot and yet delete 8-9 pages from the opening 33 pages, but I think that’s quite doable here.

    I actually like the characters’ voices – so from that perspective, the dialogue is good. The problem I have is that it tells me the same stuff multiple times, and/or stuff I don’t need to know.

    One small item: On page 29, the guys in the surveillance van. I learned this from the script for Midnight Run – Tell us (i.e., cheat) who they are listening to. For example, “They eavesdrop on Simon’s phone call.” Yes, you have Simon speaking and indicate V.O., but at first I thought these guys were in cahoots with Simon – like in “True Lies”, when Tom Arnold is in a truck listening to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    BTW, assuming it’s important for us to know that the eavesdroppers have plucked eyebrows and expensive haircuts, I am intrigued as to how that pays off.

    Bottom line: If the writer wants to do a rewrite, I’d like to see a new & improved version for AF.

    Super Geeks

    While Verona Spies needs dialogue trimming, this script needs massive trimming. Waaaay to much stuff is told over and over again. For example, on page 4:

    CHELSEA
    He’s a Nerd and he plays Dungeons and Dragons.

    ELIZABETH
    That Nerd’s going to be your brother in law.

    And yet when Elizabeth gets home, she says to her guy:

    ELIZABETH
    Dungeons and Dragons? Seriously?

    Seriously? I mean, we get it – He’s a nerd who plays D&D.

    And smaller stuff. On page 8:

    ELIZABETH
    I know. But everybody’s going to be judging

    me. Past clients. Future clients. I need you

    to take this seriously. I need your friends to

    take it seriously.

    I struck out the first words because that kinda stuff should rarely be in dialogue. I struck the end sentence because, at that moment in the story, isn’t it enough that she simply put it in terms of Steve?

    And on pages 8 and 9, when she shows Steve the wedding dress:

    STEVE
    What?

    ELIZABETH
    I want to show you something.

    Elizabeth pops the rear hatch on her Prius. Carefully laid out in back, wrapped in plastic and tissue is a Wedding Dress.

    STEVE
    Is that what I think it is?
    (off her smile)
    Isn’t it bad luck for me to see it?

    Dialogue needs to seem real, not be real/verbatim.

  • IgorWasTaken

    Super Geeks

    While Verona Spies needs dialogue trimming IMO, this script needs massive cutting. Waaaay to much stuff is told over and over again. For example, on page 4:

    CHELSEA
    He’s a Nerd and he plays Dungeons and Dragons.

    ELIZABETH
    That Nerd’s going to be your brother in law.

    And yet when Elizabeth gets home, she says to her guy:

    ELIZABETH
    Dungeons and Dragons? Seriously?

    Seriously? I mean, we get it – He’s a nerd who plays D&D.

    And smaller stuff. On page 8:

    ELIZABETH
    I know. But everybody’s going to be judging
    me. Past clients. Future clients. I need you
    to take this seriously. I need your friends to
    take it seriously.

    I struck out the first words because that kinda stuff should rarely be in dialogue. I struck the end sentence because, at that moment in the story, isn’t it enough that she simply put it in terms of Steve?

    And on pages 8 and 9, when she shows Steve the wedding dress:

    STEVE
    What?

    ELIZABETH
    I want to show you something.

    Elizabeth pops the rear hatch on her Prius. Carefully laid out in back, wrapped in plastic and tissue is a Wedding Dress.

    STEVE
    Is that what I think it is?
    (off her smile)
    Isn’t it bad luck for me to see it?

    Dialogue needs to seem real, not be real/verbatim.

    There’s an inherent irony/challenge with a story about nerds – especially when central characters are actually saying (in so many words) “nerd means boring”: As a reader, I’m afraid the script about nerds is going to be boring. And so, a writer has to make it exceptionally non-boring from the start. Give readers a sense that this ain’t gonna be boring. Unfortunately, I felt as uninspired as the Chelsea character.

    For example, what if at the start, we meet the group playing D&D, and then we discover they’re playing it at a strip club, strippers stripping in the b.g., because one of the players is a stripper and she’s playing between her sets on stage. And these geeks are so into D&D they don’t even notice the naked ladies.

    • Kay Bryen

      >slow clap< Wise words Igor. For me the amateur script CRASH COURSE did a fantastic job of giving us a window into the world of nerds who were anything but boring. Remember, that's why they play D&D in the first place: they crave thrills, challenges and unsolved mysteries.

  • travisf111

    Facade:

    Not exactly a new concept but it sounds like the writer has gotten some good reviews so I was interested in reading it.

    The whole opening sequence was kind of confusing. I had to read it a few times to understand what was going on. I’m not really sure if it was the writing or if I just wasn’t paying good enough attention, but having a private investigator and a detective in the same scene really threw me (for whatever reason I didn’t pick up that one was a detective the first time I read it, I assumed one was a private investigator and one was a client).

    Also, the first scene seemed a little unnecessary. I would scrap the first scene and combine the next two into one. Introduce Grayson in his office. Let us know he’s a detective. Suddenly he gets a visit from his private investigator friend, who reveals the news about his wife. Before he has a chance to fully absorb the information Wallace comes in and tells them they have to go. I think this would work a lot better and be less confusing.

    Most of the dialogue was okay, but some of your lines seem a little unnatural. It’s not necessarily bad, but it could use a little work.

    A few other quick notes:

    – I would expect a stronger reaction from the mother when she learns her son has been murdered. A scream, uncontrollable sobbing, falling to the floor… something along those lines.

    – Why did Grayson wait so long to ask them questions about the murder? Wouldn’t he ask these questions right away to get the investigation moving?

    – Why is Nathan (15) in the same class as a 17 year old?

    – The choking scene seemed a little over the top. I know bullying can get pretty bad, but I find it hard to believe that a bully would try and strangle a kid with a tie.

    – Why is Nathan being bullied? There’s usually a reason (he looks different, he acts different). We need to know.

    So far I’ve read to page 31. The writing is solid and the story is moving at a reasonable pace. I just haven’t read anything so far that’s really caught my attention. With so many murder mysteries out there you need to do something to differentiate yourself, and I don’t know if you’ve done that.

    • rsuddhi

      Hi Travis. Thanks for reading this, it means a lot. You make some interesting suggestions that I may consider working into the script. Some other things you mention were done that way for a reason, for establishing character or setting up certain plot points… I don’t want to be too specific though :) I really do hope you find time to finish it though, as I truly believe it is well worth your time. Anyways, thanks a lot for giving it a read!

  • travisf111

    Super Geeks:

    I`ve read to page 10 and so far I haven`t laughed once. It sounds like a really funny concept that`s full of potential, but so far I`m not feeling it.

    Opening the movie with Elizabeth seems like an odd choice, given that this is a comedy and she`s not a funny character. Just like an action movie needs to open with some action, a comedy needs to open with some laughs, so make your opening scene a funny one.

    When things switched to the nerds I was hoping for the comedy to begin, but it didn`t. There weren`t any funny lines or scenarios. It feels like I`m just supposed to laugh at how nerdy they are. Just because they`re playing dungeons and dragons doesn`t mean it`s funny.

    Also, the part where Elizabeth screams and then we pull back to the apartment, the city, the world is pretty clichéd, so you should cut that and come up with something more original.

    Different people like different kinds of comedy, so it`s possible someone might find this funny, but it just didn`t work for me, sorry.

  • travisf111

    Verona Spies:

    Really liked the logline. Definitely sounds like this has some really good potential.

    The opening montage showing Verona`s various jobs worked really well, and had some really funny scenes.

    The conversation with Rollo in the car was hilarious. “Fill my box?” Great line haha.

    The story seems to move a little too fast. One second she’s interviewing for the job, the next she’s getting sent out on a date. I don’t really think this would happen, no matter how desperate they were. Also, becoming an escort isn’t a decision you come to lightly. It just seems like any other job to her when really it’s a huge decision.

    I think a better way to ease us into the story would be to have Verona interview to become Ms. Breillat’s assistant, and have her be a little unsure about working in this industry. Then have after she’s worked that job for a little while, and we get to know her a little better, have one of the girls call in sick so Ms. Breillat has no choice but send Verona. Make her have
    to convince Verona to do it, and have Verona be more unsure about herself on the way to the date.

    This scenario would be more believable and wouldn’t seem so sudden. This would also push the scene where she meets Wilkinson to around page 20, where it should be since this is the turning point and the plot point that should launch us into act 2.

    There needs to be more obstacles when she tries to sedate Lynch. He basically gave her the perfect opportunity to pour that vile in his drink but she blew it because she’s kind of a klutz. Make it harder for her to find the right opportunity. She can still be a klutz, but don’t make that the reason she failed, it’s too easy.

    Also, it seems that all the comedy is based on how awkward she is. It was funny at first, and you can still use this from time to time, but you need to try and find other sources of humour. Otherwise it just starts to feel repetitive.

    That being said the writing is good and the story has potential. I’m at about page 30 and I’ll try to find time to read more.

    • IgorWasTaken

      travisf111 wrote: “The story seems to move a little too fast. One second she’s interviewing for the job, the next she’s getting sent out on a date. I don’t really think this would happen, no matter how desperate they were.

      That’s an interesting observation. On the one hand, I agree.

      OTOH, and I think this wins out here, this is the conceit of the story. The setup. If this were on page 45, I agree it would (probably) be too fast. But in the opening it’s OK – and actually standard (in a good way) – to do it as the writer has done here. And then for us as readers, we either buy that conceit or we don’t.

  • travisf111

    Birds of Feathers:

    I’m not really much for children/family movies, but decided to give this one a try. I was actually pleasantly surprised and ended up reading the whole thing. The story (at least ¾ of it) was really solid and there wasn’t really a dull moment. Lots of excitement and lots of laughs. I think this has a lot of potential and could really be a hit with kids. That being said, there are some strange decisions made in the last 40 pages that kind of quelled the excitement I had for most of this script. Anyways, below are my notes.

    The opening with all the couples, then the smash cut to the factory worked really well.

    Jack, the paranoid bird, is pretty funny.

    Pg. 12: The storks have a flight control tower? Awesome.

    Pg. 16: I don’t really understand why all the birds were giving Drake a hard time about not migrating, and then they all decide to stay behind as well. You need to give a good reason for them to stay behind, otherwise it seems like they just did this because it was convenient for the story.

    Pg. 25: The Fellowship of the Joy is kind of corny, I would cut that.

    Drake should have a harder time learning how to fly with the Joy. He should also have more reservations about leaving his home. Remember, the more obstacles for your characters the better.

    The scene with the “Jailbirds” was fun, but why did they get electrocuted after they stole the joy and not before? Doesn’t make sense. Find a way for Drake, Charlie and Jake to outsmart and get the joy back. That’s more satisfying than just having them get lucky.

    Loved the scene with the Geese, very cool.

    Pg. 49: Why can Major General Gaggle fly while sleeping and Jake can’t?

    Pg. 52: If you’re going to reference a movie make it a classic movie that everyone knows about. Plus, a lot of your target audience likely hasn’t seen Inception, so I would get rid of that reference.

    Pg. 67: The Seahawks fly through the semi trailer? I don’t buy that.

    Pg. 71 How exactly did Charlie make the ice castle shelter? This is never explained. It seems overly extravagant and not really believable.

    Pg. 73: I would cut the religious reference to the Three Wisemen, Mary and Joseph. You want your movie to be accessible to kids of all faiths, not just Christianity. Just my opinion though.

    Pg. 87: That whole scene about becoming mates with an eagle seems like a really strange choice. One, because this is a kids movie and you’re talking about mating, even though kids probably won’t get what you’re talking about, and two, because Drake has to leave right away anyways so he can’t really be mates with Sakari. EDIT: Ok, she comes back at the end, but still having a Duck and an Eagle mate is kind of weird. Also, this “romance” feels pretty rushed.

    Pg. 91: Why does Drake have to travel the final leg of the journey alone? It’s not really explained.

    Pg. 94: Just so you know there are no penguins at the North Pole, even though Kingpen is a pretty clever name lol.

    Pg. 98: How did the hieroglyphs get there?

    Pg. 102: Okay, I was a little confused why they were heading for the North Pole, but I figured it would make sense in the end… but it really didn’t. The baby was intended for Mr. And Mrs. Claus? I thought it was for one of the couple at the start of the movie… Okay, so I went back to the start and I see you do indeed state that one baby is meant for the Claus family. But still, their old. How are they still having kids? Sorry, this just doesn’t work for me.

    Okay, like I said, the quality kind of dips in the third act. But there is a lot of good stuff here. If the third act was rewritten this could be a real gem.

  • travisf111

    Fortune Cookie:

    This was probably the logline that interested me the most.

    The first thing I noticed was the character descriptions. You should really only be describing what they look like. The line “Stick a lump of coal up his ass and in two weeks you’ll have a diamond” does not help me visualize your character. Stick to their appearance, their mannerisms and any unique traits they have. Their personality will come out in the dialogue.

    The opening exchange seemed very unrealistic. “From this day forth, it is decreed that I shall be addressed as Mister Big Johnson.” I don’t think anyone talks like that.

    I’m not really sure what your character is trying to say here: “Do you wanting to make her one
    millionaire?” I know he supposedly speaks poor English, but I should at least understand him.

    Only describe what we see. Don’t include lines like “Go ahead and be the one to push her buttons today, see what happensto you.” If that’s her personality then show us that through her actions.

    Matt seems a little over the top. I get it, he’s supposed to be a douche… but is anyone this much of a douche?

    “Through the front door enters a sack of white mice.” I’m assuming your referring to the smell, so make that clear.

    Okay, that whole exchange between Matt and his girlfriend after he wins the million is just too much for me. I hope he dies before this thing ends but I’m not willing to read any further to find out.

    It’s a really interesting premise and it could get better, but so far it’s just not
    for me.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mandellwe William Mandell

      Thanks a lot for your thoughts on Fortune Cookie! I’m definitely seeing some trends in what people disliked in this script, it is sure to help me make it better. Thanks!

      • kenglo

        Now that you mention it, those descriptions were a bit odd…I’ve seen writers do this, know one writer who swears by it, but I don’t know if it is all necessary. What say you Carson?

  • travisf111

    Okay, so I’ve read some of all these scripts and I would say that my favourite was probably Birds of Feathers. Despite some of the problems I had with it the story was well structured and entertaining. I could see kids really digging this story.

    That being said, I think Verona Spies is also really good and definitely worthy of a review as well.

  • Laura

    Will – I read Fortune Cookie all the way through. First, the good stuff. It was a fast read, action kept moving along and lots of great twists and turns along the way. Great longline, I imagine the trailer for this movie would be killer and really drive some business for a low budget film.
    Now for some constructive criticism.
    1. Dialogue needs work. It’s straight forward and gets the job done but there’s no personality infused in the dialogue. We need to learn more about the characters personality through their choice of words. But everyone pretty much speaks the same (except for mikael due to accent). Just want some interest in the way people speak. It’s sort of bland and robotic.
    2. Agree with other comments about Matt being too offensive. The audience can dislike him but if he’s too offensive, we won’t want to spend time with him.
    3. Would like to see a more creative ending. Felt let down as this was sort of what I expected to happen. Especially after Duncan’s discussion of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Not sure what else you can do, but definitely worth some brainstorming for alternate endings.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mandellwe William Mandell

      Thank you so much for reading Fortune Cookie!

      As for the ending, I’m actually not entirely satisfied with the ending I have now. I want to come up with something else, but I haven’t quite cracked it yet. Thanks a lot for your thoughts!

  • Malibo Jackk

    The Disciple Program had that great opening scene.
    If you’re an agent and have 100 scripts a week flooding your office and you read
    the first TWO pages, you’re saying — I’ve got to read this script!

    Everyone has a different reason for wanting to be a screenwriter.
    It may be Wes Anderson, Tarantino, Nora Epron or John Paul Anderson.
    But for me, it’s the first page of the script — Lethal Weapon.
    (Yes, it’s different from the movie.)

  • Sai

    THANK YOU!!! (yes, I just yelled that)…to everyone who read and gave notes on Birds of Feathers. You guys are amazing. A lot of really good constructive criticism. I will definitely be making some changes in my next rewrite.

  • Malibo Jackk

    Liked the beginning of Birds of Feathers.
    Not sure about delivering Santa’s baby.
    Didn’t read that far — but it sounds like it belongs in an X-mas movie.

    (Pixar has a short dealing with storks.
    Might want to check it out.)

  • tipofthenose

    This week I tried to read every script. Here are the results. I hope I stayed constructive enough. I am in the same position as anyone on this blog, so don‘t overprice this :-)

    Facade – Before I start, congrats to the writer, he is only 19, so I think he will make his way.
    Nevertheless I only got to page 25. Maybe there is a secret, maybe there is something going on but up to page 25 it is scene after scene of been there done that. The same case, the same murder, the same detective, the same private eye, the same bullying, the same wake as in hundreds of films. Nothing NEW happens in those 25 pages (= 25 minutes). The dead kid isn‘t getting to me and I still don‘t care about him after the flashback. The flashback told us nothing new. Mom could have said he was bullied and that would have summed it up. Also the mother child relationchip is totaly unrealistic. Why is she so puzzled by her 15 year old son not telling her everything, He is 15 years old, it‘s called puberty!!!!
    Find a new approach to tell your story. Like I said, maybe there is some twist or turn later on, but I never got to it. I am sorry but this (wasn‘t for me)!
    Again, I think with 19 you are on the right track. Just write and read more and most important, find your own voice. At your age my 90 minute screenplay was already over after 25 pages (that‘s how much I knew about screenwriting at that time).

    Super Geeks – I am sorry but I don‘t like fanboy stories and I only stomach one roadmovie every four years or so. So this whole screenplay was a no go for me from the start. I never really got into it. So my opinion could be a little unimportant when it comes to the actual jokes, which were all very fanboyish for my taste. (I love Star Wars and I knew all the allusions)
    It read until page 25 and this is what I can say about structure and especially character. I didn‘t believe the relationship between Elizabeth and Steve. Sorry but I couldn‘t see these two together or getting married. He is a total nerd (she says it all the time and not in a very nice way), she hates his friends and we don‘t know anything about her. And I have to say I am getting a little tired of stereotypes. All she seems to care for is the wedding, really?
    I think if you can show, why they belong together and why they love each other, then you have the viewer more invested. And then you can start this little story and I would belive it.

    Verona Spies – Yes, yes I could see this one turning into a movie with Reese Witherspoon. I started reading and at some point I felt that this is not going any deeper, it is just a small comedy and that is okay. I looked at the pagecount and I was already on page 40. So despite some scenes being a little long (the beginning is actualy just one scene in a hotel room), this one was moving.
    The only time I watch this kind of movie is on DVD after work, when I am completely exhausted and don‘t want to think anymore. It also had a little bit of an early 2000s vibe, it all felt a bit been there done that. The characters where just not interesting enough and a bit too goofy for my taste. There was no real villain, no one posed as a threat to our heroes. Everyting was somehow under control during the first 40 pages. And the big spy theme and the hunt for those documents, didn‘t thrill me.
    In a nutshell, it (wasn‘t for me), it was to smooth for me. But I know Hollywood is doing those kind of movies every once in a while. So hey, that is the most important thing, right?

    Birds of feathers – I like the idea and I like the characters! I think they could be a little more detailed but I see a sweet, classical children‘s film. I read until page 40 and if I interpret it right this one is for very young children. There is no violence, no references for grown ups, like with the Pixar movies and it has a very simple plot. I like it.
    Still I would go over it again and try to show more. Right now almost everything is explained by talking. Children of all ages (from 0 – 99 and above) like action and in this case I don‘t mean the blowing stuff up kind.

    Fortune Cookie – Yes we have a mysterie on our hands and it would be interesting to know how those messages got into the cookies but I bailed after 28 pages (so if someone read the whole script please tell me). Talk about a forced plotpoint and a long scene. 28 pages of four people sitting around a table and talking, NO! I don‘t think Tarantino would get away with this. And the scene didn‘t even end there, I only stopped reading.
    This completely constructed plotpoint killed the whole script for me. Nothing was believable. Four constructed characters and suddenly they are all just connected in this weird way.
    A contained story is one of the most complex things to pull off. Yes, it is great in terms of production costs but it means you have to go the extra mile to assure this doesn‘t get boring. I tried some contained scripts mayself and I soon discovered it is really hard. You easily fall into the trap of having people stand around and tell your story.
    Bottom Line: wasn‘t for me

    What I learned from all the scripts: I often had hard times just reaching the first plot point. Maybe some of these stories gain momentum later on but for me it was to late, I was already out. I think it is crucial to get right into the story and make your script flow. Watch out for those long and boring expositions. Yes you can start slow, but then your characters have to be watertight and fascinating. The biggest weakness for me, in almost all of the scripts were the characters. I wasn‘t invested in them and for that reason, I didn‘t care what would happen to them.

    If I was to hard on anyone: I AM TRULY SORRY!
    Don‘t worry I`ll be out with my own script soon. Hopefully it will be on amateur weekend and then you can have a go at it. ;-)

    I would like to see „Birds of Feathers“, simply because it is so different from what we have read over the last month and it is so refreshing harmless

    • carsonreeves1

      liked your “What I learned!”

    • rsuddhi

      Hi tipofthenose,

      Can’t thank you enough for taking a look at Facade, and for your invaluable feedback. It may be true the flashback runs a little long, but I wrote it that way for a reason. I definitely could’ve had them mention the bullying in a single line of dialogue if I wanted to, but as the writer of the story, I knew in my gut that would be the wrong way to go about it. The fact that you didn’t feel anything for any of the characters is important to me, since the whole goal for me of the first part of this screenplay was to establish these characters and get the reader invested in them, and I feel a quick mention of the incident would fail to achieve this goal. In this writer’s opinion, the flashback is very significant to the story, especially later on; in fact, I tried to carefully scrutinize every line of action and dialogue to make sure everything these characters say or do either establishes their character in some way or sets up a future plot point. It’s just that important to me, and for the screenplay, to build up certain character traits for that reason. It may not seem like it (this is a fault on my part, by the way), but the flashback wasn’t meant to be just pure exposition; I also feel that it’s definitely significant to the plot, so I’ll definitely work on making that clearer.
      Anyways, I’m really sorry if I’m coming off as defensive because that’s not my intent. I really value your feedback. If you ever find the drive to keep reading though, I promise it’ll all come together in the end! Thanks again! :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/mandellwe William Mandell

      Tipofthenose,

      Thank you for your thoughts on Fortune Cookie. I realize that by doing a contained story, especially a comedy no less, that I would find myself with a greater challenge. I appreciate your thoughts on my work.

  • Midnight Luck

    Fortune Cookie:

    I am like another on here, you came so close to losing me on the first page with the line “I shall be addressed as Mister Big Johnson” or whatever. 99.9% of movies with guys in a room talking is EXACTLY like this. Everyone referring to their big johnson. Everyone being all macho manly, crass and idiotic. Egotistic and chauvinist. Boring.

    I did however read on. I am on pg. 62 after a long break. It did pick up some, but the same issues with almost all the men run through.

    I also immediately felt like this resembled the movie COMPLIANCE. Though Compliance is a True Story, and disturbing as sh!t as well. It really has a creep factor. Somehow this story had a lot of familiar vibes to that movie. It is obviously different, but….

    Another issue is, most people in America are the 99%, well, 99% of us. So no matter who you are in that group, if you just found out you won $1 million bucks, you wouldn’t sit around shooting the shit with your friends for 30 pages (even if everyone on this site thinks a Million isn’t what it used to be, no one, and I mean no one would turn it down. And they definitely wouldn’t let it just sit around as they contemplated their navel. It is still a crapload of money). He even said he had to get down there on a tight time limit. He doesn’t start to respond until way way later. I don’t think so. He would have been bolting out the door before we even found out about all the fortunes coming true. Need to figure out the timing of when he learns of his win, and pull it in to right when she realizes the fortunes come true. No real lag time.

    I agree also that I am sure the business dealing is a huge part of the entire story, but everything slowed way down, nearly halting it. It changed the pace.

    There is a lot of dialogue, which did allow the reader to Cruise through the story, but it also became like a roundtable of everyone trying to Swinger talk or something.

    It won’t take long to cruise through the next 30 pages, and I will finish it. I agree also it needs more meat. It will zoom by in less than 60 minutes.

    Thanks for letting us read it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mandellwe William Mandell

      Midnight, thank you so much for taking the time to read Fortune Cookie!

      I’ll start by saying that the Big Johnson is on the chopping block, so to speak. I’m actually strongly considering a rewrite to approach this more as a straight thriller than a comedy. Tends to be less subjectivity in the genre than comedies. I haven’t seen compliance, I’ll have to check it out.

      Anyway, thanks for the feed back!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mandellwe William Mandell

    Thanks a lot for the read of Fortune Cookie! Glad you enjoyed it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/mandellwe William Mandell

    Haha, thanks!

  • Midnight Luck

    Verona Spies:

    Have some good stuff in there. The back and forth conversation banter works well between most parties.

    I have to say I don’t get the part though, when she is going to meet her first trick and she is pulled away by some guy, who she then listens to and follows his orders? Why? Does she just go along with anything anyone says? Does she have her own will? if so what is it? She is terrible at every job and tries them all. Now she is being an Escort and also failing at that. Why? That is a pretty big undertaking to begin just ‘cuz. So some random stranger somehow gets her to just sit down with him, when I assume she is on a timeline with her date, and then also gets her to agree to steal something, and DRUG him? What?

    You lost me here. There is suspending disbelief, but I just can’t see how she can just say, “yeah, well, ok” to most anything anyone asks of her. What is HER motivation, why would she do all this, just because.

    23 and bailed.

    Not saying there wasn’t interesting stuff in there, because there was. I just didn’t believe in the lead, and I didn’t trust in her character. She seemed to just be ping ponging around what everyone else wants her to do. The only thing she wants is to be good at a job, but a job as an Escort? why is that so important to her, daddy issues? what are they? Just a lot of random.

    That all said, you can definitely write, so if this is a first draft, after it is cleaned up and some of the why’s are figured out, I would like to read again.

    Thanks for letting us all read and comment.

  • Midnight Luck

    Super Geek:

    Ok, so many people seem to just love the Geek Boy world. Think it’s funny. Think it’s endearing, I guess? Think it is cute, or something. Think an eternal onslaught of Boys not yet Men is interesting.

    It just isn’t. At least to me. WHAT YOU DO WITH THEM could be interesting. I’m 14 pages in and it isn’t interesting. Unless your 12 maybe, but then you won’t be interested in a woman who really wants to be married, or a bunch of Old Guys (at 28 or 30) who still play D&D.

    Plus the whole guy who still has perfectly sealed toys in boxes and the women who don’t get it, was covered really well in The 40 Year Old Virgin. Do you really want to tread the same territory and hope you can do it better? Plus we have just had such an onslaught of Boyz not yet Men, it is an old storyline. Again, unless you find a way to REALLY make it different or new. Not seeing it here.

    Haven’t gotten to the part where He disappears (Hangover), bride hates nerdy friends but enlists them for help (so many many other movies), road trip with nerds (Road Trip), Comi-Con (always brings a show to a boring halt, think ENTOURAGE) etc. So far we have a Bride to be in some breakdown and the woman who is a magician at talking her down and happens to be the caterer or planner (The Wedding Planner). We have nerds at home, nerds play games, nerds try to mesh with civilization and fail, nerds are funny aren’t they?

    We have an ongoing joke about a Mint on Card, which is a what?

    Please oh please, find a way for us to care about the characters, then we can care about them being nerds, or her losing one and trying to find him because we DESPERATELY have to see them together. We need to care deeply about them so we must know how she finds him and how will they bet back together.

    Sorry if that all comes across as a bit harsh. I appreciate you putting your story out there for us to read and critique. I think it has work that needs to be done to find the characters and what drives them, what makes us care about them.

  • rsuddhi

    Hi all, this is the writer of Facade. Just want to say thanks, to Carson and his assistant for including my script in this weeks batch of amateur scripts, and thanks to the few people who read or took a look at my script! Can’t thank you guys enough, and I’ve already started making some tweaks based on the feedback. I literally sat through the whole day yesterday and today going line by line, deleting as much as fluff as I could find to hopefully make the writing a little more concise. I also made some of the writing a little more clear, such as in the first scenes where some got a bit confused. I was able to shave a few pages off the total page count, so that’s good. Thanks again everyone, and I hope some of you still decide to give it a chance. I promise it’ll be worth it :)

    Rock

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=22702269 Zaike Airey

    Thanks for the reads, ya’ll! As always, your feedback is fantastic. First order of business will be cutting it down considerably (goal: 98 pages) so I can focus on strengthening the characters and motivation and less on the banter. Glad it’s divisive — I’m a glutton for controversy! Overall I think I’m getting a sense of the main qualms: vague characters, slowish first act and a flimsy protag. Glad some people see a movie in it though! Mucho appreciado to all readers!

    Z.