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!

TITLE: Hunter’s Moon
GENRE: Action/Adventure
PREMISE: “Loosely based on a feature article I penned for Maxim (“The Death Dealer”) some years ago about an ex-merc who takes wealthy hunters on human safaris – mostly in Africa where they hunt poachers.”
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: “The merc this story is based on – a very twisted individual by the name of Keith Idema – died last year in Mexico. He made the cover of the Wall Street Journal for detaining Afghan civilians – and torturing them! – back when bin Laden was still alive, trying to get intel on where he was hiding. Idema – who owned a gun store near where I grew up – taught me to shoot. On the weekends, he used to go to El Salvador to fight alongside the Contras against the Sandinistas.My first year of college (U of Maryland) – I came back from a long weekend and he was in my apartment, hiding behind the couch which he had flipped over to guard against grenade attacks.

Yes, you read that right. Here’s his Wikipedia page:

The script, which I’d pitch as Billionaire Boys Club meets Most Dangerous Game meets Deliverance is pretty fuckin’ cool and based on events that actually took place.

TITLE: Penalty
GENRE: Black comedy
LOGLINE: An ambitious soccer referee works his way up the lower leagues when he’s suddenly bribed to start throwing games.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: “One thing I notice about your amateur submissions are that they seem to be mostly written by under 30s with comparatively little life experience. Technically they might be structured well and are always written in a confident style but generally lack a certain nuance that only age can give you. So come on Carson, how about us oldies. I propose an over 40s week to see if you can encourage a more measured kind of voice that can harness the important ground rules to something truly life-affirming.”

TITLE: Safeguard
GENRE: Action Thriller
LOGLINE: A hitman is offered the chance to avenge his wife’s murder by joining forces with a team of highly skilled ex-cons to prevent an assassination attempt in Paris. It’s Ronin meets the Dirty Dozen…
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: “SAFEGUARD was a 2013 Nicholl SF. The script was a (four week) first draft so as you can imagine, I was utterly stunned to see it advance as far as it did in the contest. My first script was an honorable mention in Trackingb and also a PAGE Award winner and has since been taken on by the guys behind the Batman Trilogy and Man Of Steel.”

TITLE: Rigged
GENRE: Biopic
LOGLINE: The true story of Bobby Riggs, The Battle of the Sexes, and how the mafia may have influenced the most famous tennis match in history.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: “Rigged combines something you love (tennis) with something you hate (biopics). Like chocolate covered raisins. It’s also tailor-made for an A-list actor (Paul Giamatti?), has clear GSU and features some of the most intense tennis scenes this side of Bridesmaids. Is this the first amateur biopic to get a “Worth the Read” by Carson?”

TITLE: The Junkie’s Debt
GENRE: Dark Comedy
LOGLINE: When a street-wise, self-centered bookie is held responsible for paying back his junkie friend’s debt, he must go to his books and collect. But when he can’t raise enough cash, his wannabe Mafioso debtor makes an intriguing offer: Kill the Junkie, and only pay half.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: “I’m not much, but I like to write, and I write pretty well for a beginner. The second script I ever wrote was a semi-finalist in the American Zoetrope screenplay competition. I am your classic example of why college might not matter any more, as I have two degrees, and am still just working as a bouncer at a bar. You should read this script because it’s a tough and dirty world the characters are living in. The main character’s a dick, but finds a way to redeem himself. I would describe it as Martin McDonagh’s take on Godard’s Breathless. It’s very blunt, and there’s a lot of white space on the script. If you read it, you’ll have a good time, unless it’s too ‘tough’ for you.”

  • Paul Clarke

    A tough week. No howlers. All very competently written. Shows just how hard it is to stand out in this industry. Here you’re only competing against a handful of scripts and already writing well is not enough. It had to be memorable. It has to stand out from the pack.

    My suggestion – try adding irony. Of these scripts only Penalty stood out as having an ironic setup. A referee with a gambling problem. Straight away that’s an interesting character. As opposed to a bookie in trouble with the mob, or an ex-secret service agent gone rogue to safe himself. Those are clichéd choices.

    With that in mind I’m torn between SAFEGUARD, which is very well written but lacks the previously mentioned originality. And RIGGED, which is also well written but very different. Yet it’s stuck being a biopic.

    Congrats to all writers. Good to see such a high standard of writing.


    I liked the opening scene. The idea of rich people killing for kicks is a cool idea. But then we’re introduced to a new character every page (and they’re all mysteriously 28 years old?). No clear indication as to who’s the main character. Joe, Steve, Trey, Billy – a moment after meeting them all I can remember is that Joe is an asshole, and not in a good way. He’s too over the top movie bad-guy bad. At least Haden is cool. But then the pitbull scene seems unnecessary. The opening already showed us he’s a bad ass.

    Pressed for time this week so only aiming to read the first 10. I like the setup. I like Haden. Don’t really like the others, and not liking Steve could be a problem. Leaving his heavily pregnant wife seems like an ass move no matter what. I just think you could make the team of guys more distinguishable. And I think you could structure the setup in a more dramatic and memorable way. Not just a bunch of haphazard clips/glimpses of their lives.
    Really show us Steve, forget about the others, forget about Haden and the dog. Spend more time building empathy with Steve any maybe you can make us understand his decision to leave his 8 month pregnant (and perfectly lovable) wife.


    Well full credit for writing something different. It certainly felt off the beaten track. After 10 pages you’re starting to build Keith into an interesting character, but I felt he was too close to being quirky for quirky’s sake. He’s also not particularly likable which isn’t always
    necessary, but in this case it seems very much like a character study, there’s no other reason to read on other than to find out what happens to this character, but I simply don’t care. I’m not saying you need a ‘save the cat’ moment, just something to make him feel human and relatable. Otherwise he’s just a weirdo and a referee, which most people don’t usually like. The good ones are the ones that go unnoticed.


    A very generic one word title. Plenty of room for improvement. The previous entry has a one word title but it suited the story well. Not sure about all the underlining. I found it distracting and of little use for anything.

    Stone is badass, but I like it better when he says less. Otherwise plenty of his lines come across as 80’s or 90’s action movie dialogue.

    Flew through to page 10: Very professional feel. Could be more original, but there’s plenty of room in the remaining 100 pages to add some interesting situations. I do think that it’s a crowded market for such a script and from the 10 pages and the logline it would be hard to stand out from the bunch without some sort of hook. Still, very nicely done and the best so far.


    A very interesting premise. I believe I’ve caught the gist of it on a doco of some sort. Not old enough to remember the actual matches. That could hurt the possible audience. Still, it’s very well written. It’s just so hard with these biopics. If I didn’t already know the story I would have no idea where this is heading by page 10. Still, the best thing you have going for you is an interesting and flawed main character. My favourite biopic is The World’s Fastest Indian. If you give people someone interesting to watch, and give them something difficult to overcome – they will watch.


    The logline doesn’t make any sense. Why would he pay off a junkie’s debt? To do so he must care about him. So he therefore wouldn’t kill him. If he didn’t care about him then just don’t get involved. The person collecting the debt can kill the junkie all problems solved. Why would he even get involved?

    Please turn off the continued’s. And probably a little too much attitude in the writing. Leave that for the characters.

    Turns out the attitude is limited to a couple of descriptions at the beginning. Still, first impressions last. The rest of the writing is very competent. Probably suffers from the same issues as Safeguard – just seen it all before. What makes your story stand out? What makes it matter? What’s going to make people want to read it, then make them be unable to forget about reading it afterwards?

    • A Tribe Called Guest

      Just a heads up, man, re your Junkie’s Debt notes: You might have missed it, but it’s stated why the protagonist cares about the junkie.on page 16 of the script.

      • jridge32

        Well, he mentioned only reading the first 10 pages of each script.

        • A Tribe Called Guest

          Then I guess I should’ve read more than the first 10 words of his review :(

    • Montana Gillis

      I agree with Paul Clarke. Good writing on display. The level of script writing competence has improved on this site over the last 3 years. “Rigged” gets my vote this week.

    • John Bradley

      Looks like Rigged is getting a lot of support.

    • Rick McGovern

      I like the name Safeguard, personally. Haven’t read any of the scripts tho.

  • fragglewriter

    Hunter’s Moon – I read the first 10 pages so here’s the following:

    1) Is this story based on your friend? If so, how much is fictionalized?

    2) The writing was good, but too many characters at once. Also, the first scene where he shoots a cartel enforcer. I know he’s not the leader, but do the enforcer’s travel alone? I’m asking based on Mexico’s “I’ll shot anything that movies policy?”

    3) Pages 9 & 10 when the wife is upset that he’s going on a mancation and puts her hand on his stomach. It’s cliche. Can you find another way of telling relaying this information. Since they were at dinner with her mother who really gave it to Steve, show that scene instead, then going to the following scene with Haden in the loft.

    The writing is good. Loved the slug lines and action descriptions.

    Safeguard – I read the first 73 pages and here’s the following:

    1) pg. 44 – “Stone whips out C4 — putty — a small, compact timer”

    • m_v_s

      The Maxim article is at the end of the script – that guy sounds nuts!

      • fragglewriter

        Ok, I scrolled all the way down. Looking at the wiki, this guy’s story might need a miniseries.

  • Matthew Garry


    I thought the writing itself was very good, the pages just flew by, but where it stood out in writing, “debt” fell somewhat short in dramatic structure.

    Ostensibly, every narrative device and plot point is in place, but it’s almost as if they were put in mainly to satisfy the need for them to exist instead of serving their actual purpose, which is to change the state of the world. With those changes new situations arise that the characters have to respond to, and that’s what drives the story forward and keep it fresh and interesting.

    Here “debt” has a double problem, the world doesn’t really change that much, and the changes that occur have little to no effect because because the protagonist is so self-centered he responds to everything the same: he doesn’t really care.

    As I perceived it that led to a lot of repetition. Michael goes out, collects money,
    kind of looks for Tony. Even though at some point the stakes are raised, Michael doesn’t do anything differently. The story goes in circles. Michael visits the exact same people, gets the exact same information several times without making any progress.

    The odd thing was that there was so much opportunity. There are plenty of interesting characters, there’s good writing and dialogue, the plot points are in place. Everything is in place, but there’s not enough narrative momentum build up to let the plot break orbit and really take off.

    Although there’s plenty of conflict, almost none of it leads to dramatic confrontations. If you’re in a tragedy about an unlikable protagonist in a limited environment, drama is about the only thing left to drive your story, so it should be explored for all its worth. Have Michael kill Tony, and then deal with his dad. Let him almost have the money together to pay off the mob, and then yank that away from him. Have him almost be on that train to Happyville with June, and then force him into that ultimate dilemma, anything that upsets the balance really. A black comedy is basically a tragedy that makes people laugh against their will, so propel the audience forward with doomed dramatic decisions.

    I like what’s already there, but I’d like the world to force Michael to care against his will, and with it the effort and struggle it takes him to remain the same uncaring person he so desperately wants to be.

    Some details:
    p8. “black suite” should be “black suit”

    • ghost

      Really hope to see your review of “rigged”.

    • Matthew Garry


      had a lot of authenticity, and was off the beaten path. I read up to page 72.

      It was plenty of charming, but the disjointedness of the story made me eventually lose the plot.

      Some technicalities.

      On page 1.

      Page 1 customarily doesn’t have a page number

      “…the formality repeats four times…”
      Try and intersperse repetitive acts thoughout the action, or write it out
      in full. It gives a better indication of the on-screen timing. Right now it’s like you want the solicitor to say “And here…” four times and then proceed to the next action.

      There aren’t any other old ladies mentioned, apart from ROSAMUND, who can be distinguished by name, so “OLD LADY” is enough by itself.

      On page 2.
      “Keith at work [..] minimum of fuss.”
      Try giving more visuals and more explicit actions. Something like “Keith, in a referee outfit, runs along with two players over a grass field, a whistle in his mouth.” It makes clearer what’s happening on the screen, and it gives some idea of what’s going on for readers who are not familiar with “ghosting.”

      If you want to give an overview to clarify the larger picture, set up some visual elements first. For example, “The CROWD CHEERS as two CARS ROAR by, locked in a head to head race towards the checkered flag. It’s the final lap of the daytona 500.” It lets those who are unfamiliar with the daytona 500 know there’s a car race of some sort going on.

      Page 3.
      The scene headers are missing INT. or EXT.

      “Keith discretely buys ladies underwear.”
      Like before. It’s very prescriptive writing, that is, what we _should_ be seeing. Try be be descriptive, that is, what we _are_ seeing right now. Is he nervously waiting at the cash register? Is he sideways glancing at the ladies underwear whilst pretending to tie a shoelace?

      Page 4.
      “SUNDAY MORNING” is impossible to show as a time of day. You can’t direct time from the scene header. It’s best to give visual hints in the description.

      Page 10.
      Pierluigi Collina appears on screen for the first time, even if it’s only on a TV (that needs to be filmed too) so his name should be capitalised.

    • Matthew Garry

      As for the last two:

      Safeguard was good, but to stand out as testosterone fare, it really needs an extra edge to set it apart and make it more memorable; it needs something an audience can latch on to, something more high concept.

      Hunter’s moon had a great and memorable character in Haden, but he was so dominating he reduced the actual protagonists to talking furniture. It could do with some character revamping to make the heroes at least as interesting as Haden.

      My vote for this week goes to RIGGED.

  • The Bar

    I think what isn’t necessarily tackled on this site, but fully exists, is the distance of how far away online sites, competitions and the amateur world is from the “pro” version. It’s far, far away ladies and gents, and unfortunately it doesn’t get mentioned enough, even on a site dedicated to the improvement of writing. You place high in competitions or on sites and then think you’re in the game and… it’s unfortunate to learn you still have a solid distance to go (been there and done it). To use a sports metaphor that not everyone will get, it’s like attempting to join the NFL out of junior high school. These are okay, but I think C is going to have to get a little more tough when it comes to reviews because out in industry land the bar is really, really, really high.

    • fragglewriter

      True, but depending on the person in the industry, the bar is really low. I think if scripts were rated objectively, maybe even without the author’s name displayed on the script, then there would be a true review.

      • The Bar

        That’s the problem though, the thought process that “depending on who it is, I can skate” and I have to say that it doesn’t do a service to any writer (whatsoever) to assume you can skate by on ANYTHING. Your writing has to be pro if you want to nail this shit. Take your script and go find a produced script of the same genre. Read the first 5 to 10 of both and literally SEE the true difference. That’s the only way to get true perspective and grow. Don’t settle.

    • themovienerd

      Hmmm… I think that might be a little jade talking.

      I truly believe for most people out in “amateur land,” at least that I talk to, it isn’t “OK. Won a contest. Where’s my deal?” It’s more “OK. Won so-and-so contest. I met that marker. My writing is at least THAT good and I now have that validation. I.E. That’s a feather. So now I can continue to look and go upward from here, with this in hand.”

      Look. There is great value in winning the most-improved and most-valuable player awards on a Junior High football team. It’s not the end of the journey by any means. But. Those can still provide motivation and validation to lowly “amateurs.” Someone who might otherwise have had none and given up down the road, on their way to what would otherwise have been a hall of fame career, won’t.

      Not saying this happens. Not saying this should happen. But in a world full of bullshit, rejection and hopelessness, don’t be so quick to discount the importance of a little light.

      • The Bar

        I wouldn’t discount ‘light’ at all and there’s nothing wrong with optimism, but it needs to be coated with a little reality. And no, not jaded whatsoever. I have my own stuff in the works, but being around the ‘industry crowd’ really brings a new understanding to where all of this sits in the scheme of things. And, while it’s easy to yell ‘jaded’ it’s much harder to say ‘reality’ and really come to the table with a stronger understanding.

        • themovienerd

          Of course. Reality and optimism constitute an important balance to master. If you’re not optimistic about this whole journey, then what the hell are you doing? If you’re not realistic, then, hey….good luck, cause you’ll need it. No argument.

          And yes, again. Not saying winning a contest, any contest, or getting featured on SS or any of those “amateur” endeavors register on “the industry crowds” radar. But. I think outside of pure “industry significance” there is still an important significance that can’t be just so callously written off. And that makes-up its own table frankly. This is still reality out here. Winning a contest *really* happens. It’s a *real* achievement. Having SS give you a ‘[x] worth the read’ isn’t a bullet to the head. And no, all that alone won’t get your screenplay produced or sold, which is what really matters really in “industry land,” I get that. But it’s still something. It’s not nothing.

          And if that achievement is what propels someone to write their next screenplay that DOES end up getting produced or landing an agent or a manger or gets sold or whatever it is that IS industry significant? Because they either took a huge leap in their writing and they would have just given up otherwise? Or they wrote more commercially because they got recognition, but had no movie to show and that is what made them realize they had to think differently? Or whatever it may be … then wasn’t the purpose served? Wasn’t reality and optimism appropriately balanced?

          I get you’re surrounded by the “industry” and that’s really cool. And you snap your fingers about how things happen and you “lunch” and do the HW thing. Been there. It’s great. But there is a whole, big world out here. And some of us will get there and some of us won’t and some of us will die trying. Some of us, we’ll hold on to our Little League trophies and that will be our greatest thing when it comes to that game. Does that mean we shouldn’t have dreamed about playing Big League ball? Does it matter that I played Little League only because I pretended I was playing Big League Ball? That every game I ever played was the World Series in my head? Are you saying my nine-year-old self didn’t win a dozen World Series Titles? Because if that’s what you’re saying…. Well. Go you know what.

          • ArabyChic

            I agree completely, movie nerd. The reality is, if you win a Nichol fellowship or an award at Austin Film Fest, you are pretty much guaranteed representation. That’s not nothing. Is it placing you “in the game”? Well, no you still have a distance, but it’s a huge step. I agree that being a semi-finalist in pretty much any competition means next to nothing to people who are looking for scripts to read, but to the writer it is a great encouragement, and can push them that extra step to write more confidently.

    • Eddie Panta

      What are you calling the “pro” versions? Would it be right to conclude your talking about scripts like the ones on the blacklist? Not sure what you mean…
      The scripts on this site, are all supposed to be SPEC scripts… even though some write like it’s a production draft. Any first time writer who has had a script to screen experience will go through an amazing amount of revisions prior to shooting draft. If we had access to first draft spec scripts that went to screen it would be a real eye opener. Most produced screenwriters would say their first draft that got sold was unshootable. But it still got them the deal, because of the concept, or other principles.
      I don’t think the disparity between scripts here and the “pro” ones is AS wide as your sports metaphor.

    • A Tribe Called Guest

      Hear hear.

  • Kieran ODea

    Just going off the loglines I was only interested in two, SAFEGUARD and HUNTER’S MOON.

    The writing was clunky. For example on page
    2, you write “TWO FIGURES seated in front of him,
    enjoying the show. One is a MAN. The other a WOMAN.” You could easily just say:
    A man and woman seated in front of him enjoy the show.

    Try not to use the word “oozes” when describing someone. It’s very awkward. For
    example your description of the President: “Even his posture oozes class.”

    Page 5. How come the analysts don’t know who he is when the President does? Wouldn’t he have told
    I stopped at page 10. Just wasn’t feeling it.

    Hunter’s Moon
    I like the opening scene but I don’t think you are milking it for all it’s worth.

    What are Dirk’s motives in the park? Just to be a dick? I understand you are trying to give Haden a save the cat moment but I think it’s a little muddled.

    As for your characters, nothing too special but I would read on to see what happens to them, so hats off to your premise.

    Also Paul makes a really good point about how you just show these average half page scenes introducing each of them but not really helping us distinguish them too much. Giving the character a wife is certainly a step in the right direction but it’s not there yet,

    I’m sure I won’t be the first person to notice this but O- is the universal donor. Not O+.

    With that said, my vote is for Hunter’s Moon.

    As for the writer of Penalty, hasn’t your generation stolen enough from the younger generations already? $17 trillion and counting. That is what the older generations have stolen from mine and ones still to come. Your generation and the one previous have done what amounts to the most absurd dine and dash in the history of mankind. So take your ridiculous free meal but don’t take the amateur friday as well.

    People may post their political opinions about this, but I won’t respond.

    • John Bradley

      Lol I think you are confused about where you’re posting, this is Scriptshadow, not the Tea Party website. Look for the site with the photo of Obama photoshopped to look like a Muslim and all the angry messages are misspelled and typed in angry caps. That’s where I think you meant to post this=)

      • Dan J Caslaw

        Yes, yes, he’s clearly got the WRONG sort of politics which means you get to behave like an arsehole, guess what? Your comment was even less necessary than his was.

        • John Bradley

          Thanks Dan for letting me know what you think of me=) I could care less what his politics are. I simply directed him to a group that would care. Stay classy Dan.

          • Dan J Caslaw

            Well one of us has to :) P.S. You shouldn’t let it bother you so much that his comment got any upvotes at all ;)

          • John Bradley

            You’re probably right=)

    • Randy Williams

      Speaking of “dine and dash”…if you eat meat, Kieran, how many lives of living beings have you stolen over your lifetime and lives still to come? Hey, if your bring politics into this board, PETA can crawl in too.

  • m_v_s

    Slightly off-topic but I read The Sea of Trees (and loved it) and found a reader’s notes of it online (pre-Black List appearance), when I’m on my desktop I’ll post the link. Makes very interesting reading (even the pros get some stick!)

    On topic I read the first 10 of Penalty and can imagine it would work as a TV single play. Worth submitting to the BBC Writer’s Room?

    Read all of Hunter’s Moon as the concept and background stood out to me. Seemed like Entourage on Safari way of Eli Roth. Great set-up and nice concept but ultimately it fell short. I can see someone buying this but I think the 2nd and 3rd acts need work (some parts felt rushed).

  • A Tribe Called Guest

    I started with Safeguard and my notes got shorter as I read the two others. Preference of scripts to be reviewed:
    1. Rigged – this is very well done. Strong.
    2. The Junkie’s Debt – Good.
    3. Safeguard – Disappointed as I love action flicks.

    Will read Hunter’s Moon at some point tomorrow.


    Critical feedback first:

    I went through Safeguard and it feels like a first draft- grammatical errors, vocal rhythms that sounded very similar to one another (the ex-French Legion, for example, sounded very similar to the Brit & American and when I covered up their names I couldn’t differentiate). Is the reason for that Rocco grew up in the states? Learned English from American TV? This could be subjective, but the Bourne series changed the game when it comes to authentic-sounding dialogue, but more importantly, the dialogue wasn’t just expositionary: it helped increase tension and raise stakes. By the 8th “fuck” variation in dialogue I started to feel like writing something snarky.

    Also these examples of description:

    – P. 14 Holy fuck — a stunned expression on his face.

    Stares really fucking hard at the patient’s name:

    – p. 22 A fuck load of fire power — and everybody switching targets.

    – p.40: ..studies the apparatus. No fucking clue what to do.

    There’re more examples of this in the script- maybe try to change things up, man. I think I understand that you’re trying to convey an intense expression/amount/situation, but don’t keep using the same word (esp. “fuck”) over and over again.

    ….At the same time if this really is in dev’t hands at Warner Bros then don’t listen to a fucking thing I just said.

    Now for the good stuff:

    – Opening scene was dope. Grabbed me from the beginning and I liked it.

    – The formatting is solid and the description of action is well done. Too many people put in tons of action description and that drags a script, I find. You kept it sparse and it allowed for some imagination. Cheers.

    The other two I’ve read will have less notes, as the game is on:

    *****THE JUNKIE’S DEBT*****

    There’s a continuity error on p. 9: “The two men that Michael ran from earlier stand in the doorway.” Unless I missed it, this may have been cut in the draft.
    Great callback to the Gateway of the West with Pete’s response on p. 13. Some good funny moments.
    p. 16 a few grammatical errors in the dialogue. Good reveal of Tony being the brother of Michael.

    The p. 17 exit is great.

    Might be personal preference, but Frida’s emotional uncertainty and infidelity kind of sucks.

    P. 48 is broken up by 1 line action descriptions. If it’s something like “Todd sighs” don’t put that as a description- I’d put It in the parenthetical of the character’s dialogue. What was interesting is that the strong description of the setting at the beginning made me want to hear more of the description. It kind of just falls off, and having something like that makes for an interesting read.

    p. 83. The cigarette in the holy water is some great stuff. Also that response to the priest asking if he believes in God is Sofa King perfect.

    Great ending. Besides my cons, I found this to be an interesting read and story. Keep at it, brotha!


    First 15 pages of Rigged are very strong. Dialogue is smart and the characters
    sound distinct (p. 10 is a good example of it) and the relationships are clearly outlined. The montage is quick and well described and the action involved is funny.

    I like the trash being talked by Margaret
    The ending is great- arcs completed, no clichés, and I’m pleased as I was afraid this would be a script heavily dependent on V.O. Solid. This script is great at balancing different types of comedy with drama, which I like.

    This is one of the stronger amateur submissions I’ve read.

    • Murphy

      FYI, Junkie’s Debt. I got stuck at the same moment you did, wondering about the two men he was running from.

      But it is right, I had to go back and check, but at the end of the scence in the diner the two men enter the door. The very next scene opens with Michael “running” down the road.

      Not very clear, but actually reading it again I realised it was actually a fairly funny cut and would work much better on screen that in the script.

      • A Tribe Called Guest

        I’ll go back and read it again- disappointed that I missed it.

    • A Tribe Called Guest

      Quick Monday mini rant:

      Can people *please* go a little further past reading just the first 10 pages? I
      understand that you’re probably busy, but quality over quantity should also be
      applied to giving script feedback.

      You can read a 100 page script fully and give better feedback then if you just
      read the first 10 pages of ten different scripts and gave shitty feedback. These
      writers put time into writing 90-120 pages. The feedback you give is useless
      unless you read the whole thing.

      You’ll find out quicker what makes a good script. (Spoiler: It’s not just the
      first 10 pages.). Could this make you a better writer? Yes!

      *If you read just the first line of this rant then you might have a problem.

      • Thea

        Sometimes the first ten pages are all you get to make an impression. Not saying you’re wrong, I also believe that solid feedback comes when you finish the whole story (that’s why I try and read as many of these submissions as I can to the end). But if there’s something tripping up the reader in the first ten pages, and they find a good stopping point with no desire to continue, guaranteed any producer will stop there as well. Not a bad thing for the writer to know.

        • A Tribe Called Guest

          That’s a fine point, it’s just more often than not I’ve read on this board that people are voting after reading the first ten and doing it on a regular basis. Some scripts that have won have had a decent first ten but then experienced *major* story/character/dialogue issues all the way through to the end, while some unique *and* marketable stories have been passed. I think it’d be more beneficial to read and learn from the latter.

          As a dev’t assistant I’ve posted in the past about the 20-10-10 habit. If you’re an exec, an assistant who provides coverage, or if it’s from time constraint, fine, I have no problem with that.

          But if you have the time and you’re calling yourself a writer, read the whole damn script so you can benefit from the notes Carson or his team are giving.

          Also, anybody need anything from the grocery store? Picking up a few things so let me know asap.

      • Randy Williams

        If “the feedback you give is useless unless you read the whole thing” I’ve never heard that expressed here from one of the writers but if it’s true then many of us have wasted our time and theirs. Personally, I apologize and due to not really having the time to read entire scripts. (I might have read through a few contained thrillers and a comedy once) I won’t comment any longer here.

        • A Tribe Called Guest

          Lol, man, feel free to ignore it. I’m just being grumpy and opinionated. Do whatever you want :)

      • Linkthis83

        I try to at least read the first 25. If I can’t make it that far then I’ve at least tried. I understand where you are coming from. Some of the critiques people have of the first 10 pages drive me insane. I feel you can’t critique set ups when you don’t hang around for payoffs.

        I go in with the mindset of just seeing what the STORY is. And then trying to process if I am invested or not. Plus, I always want to be supportive of the author. I have much respect for anyone who finishes writing a script. That alone is an accomplishment. Even if it’s awful. And even if it’s awful, there’s usually something somewhere in there that has some sort of value (even if only to the writer).

        • A Tribe Called Guest

          “I feel you can’t critique set ups when you don’t hang around for payoffs.” YES!! Nailed it, man, thank you.

          • Linkthis83

            You’re welcome. I feel your frustration. I’m on the side of the writers, not the critics.

            I do wish we could get the scripts a week before AOW. It’s a real challenge to sit down and note the first 25 of 5 scripts (let alone actually read all of them).

            I could never read all 5 for the weekend and do the writer any good. Not the way I get into scripts when I read/note them. Nope. Couldn’t do it. I’d be doing the writers a disservice.

          • A Tribe Called Guest

            Excellent suggestion.

          • John Bradley

            That’s my problem too, I feel it’s a disservice to just do the first 10, but I don’t have the time to read 5 full scripts and give feedback over a 2-3 day period. Many of us have a fixed amount of time and do the best we can with it. On top of writing, I try to read 2 scripts a week (that usually includes feedback). But I agree with you Link, getting them a week in advance would raise the level of feedback a great deal.

          • Linkthis83

            I’ve mentioned it in the comments section before but it really didn’t pick up any traction.

            I wonder if Carson wouldn’t want us to have them a week early because then it’s likely they will be discussed during the week on other articles. I wouldn’t want that to happen either.

          • John Bradley

            Yeah that wouldn’t be good either……….Hmmm, there really doesn’t seem to be an easy solution.

          • Linkthis83

            I wonder how difficult it would be to create another blog spot like this where we discussed the 5 amateur scripts for the week. He could put the link tab in between “HOME” and “ADVICE.”

            And then whichever script won could be highlighted here on the main page. That way we’d be discussing the appropriate scripts in the appropriate place and not taking away from any articles appearing on here during the week.

  • John Bradley

    Man I’d hate to get an Amateur Review the week after a [xx] worth the read! Will check these scripts out tomorrow, looking forward to it! I’m on a good streak of picking the winning script, I hope it continues!

  • Trek

    I don’t normally chime in on AOW articles simply because I usually don’t have the time to read the scripts and give each writer the time they deserve. However, when a script like Hunter’s Moon comes along, I HAVE to chime in.

    Good stories about hunting of any sort are a rarity. The reasons for which are various, but they usually involve the fact that hunting is a mostly silent affair.

    That said, even without seeing the script, Jack’s pitch has me sold. Hunting for humans? That’s nuts-o crazy. Ditto, since it’s based on real life. I want to see that script reviewed.

  • m_v_s

    The overall grade (so to speak) was “weak consider” – good to know that regardless the script made the BL, it’s brilliant, very well-written and something that’s stayed in my head.

  • themovienerd

    Read the first ten of: Safeguard, Rigged, Penalty and Hunter’s Moon. For some reason I just wasn’t struck by Junkie’s Debt. Not the log line, not the first page. Could be just me though.

    Well there’s no doubt that Safeguard reads the best. Very clean, visual and well paced.

    Hunter’s Moon was the most overwritten. Didn’t help I went from Safeguard to HM probably, but… there it is. Best why you should read though. Unfortunately, there was just too much on the page for me to really bite into it.

    Penalty… meh. It was fine. But this week had two real strong ones, that make fine not nearly good enough. Safeguard and …

    Rigged. My vote. I really liked the feel of Rigged overall. It felt like there was really something *there.* Something, just, unique. The voice of the writer was by far the strongest here, which was really cool. Safeguard felt like a Bourne knock-off/one-off, even though I was flying down the page due to really smart writing. It just felt “done.” Been here. Done this. Whereas Rigged felt like something worth putting in some time to read. I think “commercially” it may have some issues, but beyond that, it was a great demonstration of talent with a real unique outlook. If you take it as a quirky little script with an indie feel, but also without over indulging in that regard? Which might make it somewhat commercial in its own right? My 2 cents…

    All in all, some real strong writing. Real strong this week. I’d be happy with Safeguard or Rigged to be honest. Just giving Rigged the slight edge due to “unique” factor..

    Best of luck to all.

  • Poe_Serling

    Thanks for pointing that out. ;-) I made the correction above.

  • Brainiac138

    Is there going to be another amateur pilot week soon?

  • Wes Mantooth

    Thanks for the heads up. That was special.

  • Murphy

    I plumped for ‘The Junkie’s Debt’, mainly because I am a sucker for black comedy, it suits my own sense of humour.

    I liked it, for what it was. It was again a quick and easy read and well written. I don’t mind the asides, if any genre can get away with asides it is this. In fact I would consider that they are almost a requirement of a script of this nature.

    My only real problem with it is that I never really gave a crap about Michael, which even when we have a script about scumbags I am pretty sure we need to find something likeable about them. We came close with his treatment of the wife, and I guess although it came late we were served with some back story that hints at things we could be sympathetic to, I don’t think it was enough for me.

    I would like to read this script again but next time feel more for Michael’s plight. I hate to say it but this to me is a perfect example of where ‘Save the Cat’ is great advice. During the first ten pages I really want to see something in Michael that makes me want to root for him. Something that despite all his flaws marks him out as being different, worth saving…

    **Spoilers ahead….

    …and then, once that has been accomplished, he doesn’t need to die at the end. I mean really, that is such a bad ending. Make him worth saving and then save him – it is a much better ending for this script.

    Anyway, It was enjoyable, well written, easy to read and some great characters and funny scenes. Well done on ending on page 93 too!

    Great efforts, cheers.

  • ghost

    I want to see Rigged get reviewed.
    Read all the way to page to 5o. A very smooth read, way to establish character, from page one I was interested in this guy, and his character fit so perfectly with he wanted. other interesting scenes that made me smile followed. It isnt “OMG this is great!” for me though, its really more like a nice massage that keeps me smiling and wanting more, nothing can go wrong when youre in this trance

    Hunter’s moon had so many characters introduced at once and no reminders to let you know who was who. And none of them really stuck out. OK, Joe stuck out, but only as some insensitive jerk with no redeeming qualities. He disrespects women after sleeping with them and doesn’t give a damn that his father’s dead while exploiting and defiling his dead dad’s expensive toys — well aware his pops is turning in his grave. Way to piss on your dad’s grave… well his ashes.
    I read up to page 11 going through a bunch of scenes that didnt add anything storywise. Guy does this, guy does that but for what really? seems like those scenes were just there to establish characters but they still didnt work for me.

    The first scene in penalty made made me smile but then it fell off. Dont want to just say it was “boring” but really I dont why I wasn’t interested so I cant think of anything else to say. I checked out on page 10
    I have nothing bad to say about safeguard. Just that I liked Rigged more!

  • tr3i

    So i start reading Safeguard, you know, because the people behind Man of Steel and Bats trilogy are on it, right? I got to exactly page 1 where I met Daniel Stone, 30’s, hard body and military buzz cut. With the risk of sounding rude, is this the kind of description that gets people like that interested? A porn actor name and perhaps the most cliched and general and vague visuals you can think of?

    • Malibo Jackk

      If the overall concept, story and writing are strong, no one should care.
      If not — it will stand out like a sore thumb.

    • m_v_s

      “I got to exactly page 1 where I met Daniel Stone, 30’s, hard body and
      military buzz cut. With the risk of sounding rude, is this the kind of
      description that gets people like that interested?”

      In quite a few scripts I’ve read recently, you might not even get a description. Just a name and a quick association. I think the description is fine personally, tells you what you need to know.

  • NajlaAnn

    My choice: Safeguard

  • klmn

    They all look to be well written. Any one of them would do for a review.

  • bluedenham

    I liked Hunter’s Moon a lot. Much higher quality writing than most “amateur” scripts, but it should be, since the writers are professionals (well, at least one of them). It’s well written, but with just enough weaknesses to make the review interesting and useful.

  • hickeyyy


    HUNTERS MOON. Read through 20 pages. I like the title to this. It’s something you
    hear and is memorable right away. Into the reading, I feel like none of the
    characters pop off the page. They all seem kind of boring stereotypes. You have
    an unlikeable rich dick, you have the nice guy, you have a token black guy
    (just to be make racial jokes?), and you have the musician. None of them have much of a personality as of
    yet. I’m not sure how Haden relates to anyone. My only assumption is Haden
    takes them all hunting like he did with the guy in the beginning, which was an
    awesome scene for the record. The killing of the dog scene? Not so much. Hated it and in turn hated him as a dog
    killer. The problem with this is 20 pages in, is he supposed to be a villain? I
    guess I don’t see any goal yet. It’s well-written and it’s interesting and I’m
    intrigued where it is headed but I do see these problems right away. Could be
    my choice on a lesser week.

    PENALTY. Read through 24 pages. I think Keith is a very
    interesting character. I like what you’ve done here with him. I must admit, I
    don’t know enough about Football (Soccer) to understand some of what was
    happening there, but it seemed like you were coming from a place of knowledge
    on the sport and refereeing as well which means you have done plenty of
    research or know the topic. I think it’s well-written and concise. Good dialog
    and plot. I’m intrigued by where this would continue to go. One thing of note:
    you have this classified as a black comedy. Not too much humor here. May want
    to change the genre or up the humor. Either way you did a nice job!

    SAFEGUARD. Read through page 10. Man, this thing is sharply
    written and fast-paced at first as far as the action is concerned, but once we
    hit the flashbacks and the interrogation, I got disinterested. I feel like I
    know where this is headed already. The dialog
    is kind of iffy. He gets called a “turtle shit” on page 7 and a “pigshit” on
    page 8. Lots of exposition on Page 9. Sorry, I’m going to pass here. The other
    options are too strong.

    RIGGED. Read through page 15. This is definitely my favorite
    of the week. It’s funny. It’s different. We saw a gambling problem with Penalty
    but this one isn’t JUST gambling. I love the intro. Great job with the scene
    where Bobby’s brother picks him up from the airport. In only one scene you
    manage to the make the brother very likeable. I’m impressed you managed to have
    a character break off a marriage out of boredom and not make the main character
    a scumbag as that scene had potential to ruin sympathy with the protagonist. You
    have your own style that with most doesn’t work but the style of writing it
    does. For instance “think of this as the anti-Rocky montage”. That’s
    unfilmable, but it works for what you’ve done here. This is just really well
    written. I only went 14 pages but I know I really enjoy it so far and intend on
    finishing this one.

    THE JUNKIES DEBT. Read through 15. Page 3 has a pretty big
    error. Two men enter. Why is this relevant? Our protagonist presumably left.
    Page 4 we get an odd description of the city that sounds like dialog but is an
    action line. Michael is hilarious but a dick. I think it works here to be
    honest and it doesn’t always. Your characters here are intriguing. What exactly
    the story is, I’m not sure. You do have interesting and fun, and importantly,
    funny scenes. You have a talent here for sure, and I only read 15, but I think
    we need to find out what the hell is happening a bit sooner. Nice work. This was a strong week, otherwise you’d be a
    fine choice for AF.

    Congrats to all the writers for getting featured!

    • Wes Mantooth

      Just a note about Hunter’s Moon: Haden didn’t kill the dog in that scene. He took it home and made it his own. At least that’s what happened in the first ten, haven’t read the rest of the script yet.

      • hickeyyy

        Oh wow, I completely misread that scene. Ok, I feel a bit better now about Haden as a character. I don’t dislike him as much!

  • John Bradley

    Okay I’m starting my first 10 page read of all the scripts. Excited to do so.

    • John Bradley

      Hunter’s Moon

      Logline: “Loosely based on a feature article I penned for Maxim (“The Death Dealer”) some years ago about an ex-merc who takes wealthy hunters on human safaris – mostly in Africa where they hunt poachers.”…A film about humans hunting humans is far from a novel concept, you have The Hunger Games, The Most Dangerous Game, Rambo (First Blood), Hard Target, Battle Royal, etc…However, the logline has two things going for it, one it was an article penned in Maxim and two they hunt poachers in Africa (throw in a little Dexter to my list I guess).


      1. Page 1, The challenge for this script to me is how it’s going to set itself apart from all the stories that have come before it. Because of that I feel people are going to hold it to a higher standard.

      2. Page 1, I liked the character description for Basilio.

      3. Page 1, We start out right away with some action. I wish there were a teensie bit of set up so I’m more invested in the people involved in the action. One thing Breaking Bad did really well was give the drug cartel some charisma and nuance. I’d love to see a little of that in the opening before all hell breaks loose.

      4. Page 2, “Gringo clamps his finger on the trigger, sprays rounds everywhere, stitching the car.” The writer does a nice job of mixing up his vocabulary and keeping his action lines terse. It was well written to me.

      5. Page 2, The conversation between Haden and Gringo was well written. No on the nose dialogue with strong subtext. I got what was going on without either of the characters directly saying it with bad exposition. To me that was some really good, high level writing.

      6. Page 3, Joe is certainly painted well as an asshole. Reminds me a bit too much of that scene of Jeremy Pivon in Smoking Aces kicking all the hookers out of his hotel.

      7. Page 4, I feel like we are getting introduced to a new set of characters every page! On the plus side the writer understands pace and moving the story forward.

      8. Page 5, I get to a new page and I meet a new set of characters! I’m guessing Haden whom I met on Page 2 is the Protag cause he seems to be setting up human hunting, but if I hadn’t read the logline I’d have no idea who the protag is. (Heck I still might not)

      9. Page 5, The scene with Billy and Ugly Fat Woman kinda reminded me of James McAvoy’s character situation at work in Wanted.

      10. Page 6, “My word’s more valuable than your money.” I really liked that bit of dialogue. Tells me a lot about Haden’s character.

      11. Page 8, That was an interesting “Save the Cat” moment. Now I’m sure Haden is the protag. Is the pit bull dead or just onconcious? I feel the answer to that will greatly affect how the audience percieves Haden. Also the situation felt a tad forced. I don’t get why it’s in there other than to give Haden a Save the Korgi moment.

      12. Page 10, The pit is alive! Okay, now I know. Testoteroine is just oozing from the script. Maybe a little too much for me. There is a very macho attitude to all the scenes and characters. It makes watching Walker Texas Ranger seem like an episode of Oprah. With that said though, if that’s the effect you were going for, you nailed it. I prefer nuance over Macho in-your-face-attitude. But, with that said, for what this script was going for on an artistic level I think it accomplished pretty darn well.

      Overall: This was a really well written first 10 pages. Solid voice, diverse vocaulary, good pacing, an obvious understanding of the craft. Really there were tons of positives and this would be a fine selection for AF, I would have no complaints.

    • John Bradley


      Logline: “An ambitious soccer referee works his way up the lower leagues when he’s suddenly bribed to start throwing games.”…..I remember an NBA referee getting sent to Federal Prison a few years back for this. Really like the logline, there is a lot of obvious natural conflict implied and subject matter that we haven’t seen a ton of.

      1. Page 1, Opening scene was interesting. It gave us some subtext about Keith. Everything is reading pretty well so far.

      2. Page 2, “Keith at work, refereeing an amateur Sunday League match.” This sentence came off to me as passive writing. Screenwriting requires active writing. “Keith referees an amatuer Sunday League match.” Try to get rid of “ing” whenever you can.

      3. Page 2, Haha what is “referee paraphernalia”?

      4. Page 2, The scene between Derek and Keith was good. I’m a sports fan and always wanted to see a star athlete and ref go at it (verbally) after the game was over. I just wish the conversation were more snarky. More emotional. I think the dialogue could be improved a tad. But the good thing is I believe we got the theme of the script stated here.

      5. Page 3, Keith as a referee who gambles makes for a great character. I think it would be funny if you showed him going there in a disguise. Could be a comical moment.

      6. Page 4, I really hate soccer! Just throwing that out there. But more importantly, soccer is really not popular in America and few understand it. So I think the sport you have chosen as a vessel for the story puts you at a bit of a disadvantage in America. I think if you’re going to keep soccer in, you really have to sell the audience on why it is such a great sport and why they should care. Show the passion, show the emotion. As it stands, I feel like this script just goes through the motions so to speak on the soccer scenes. If you can’t make us care about the game, then why should we care about someone who cheats it?

      7. Page 5, I’m not sure I understand the importance of the scene of the Traffic Warden and Keith. I’m assuming it will lead to something later on.

      8. Page 6, If it were me, I’d have him bet on soccer matches rather than horse racing.

      9. Page 9, The strip club scene was okay, I’m assuming Cheryl has some important role in the script later and we got some backstory on Keith. We get Derek’s offer which appears to be the Inciting Incident.

      Overall: There is a great concept here, the writing was competent, things were well edited. Things came off a bit plain to me at times. I would love to see some more spice, more passion. Especially in the dialogue and subject matter.

    • John Bradley


      Logline: “A hitman is offered the chance to avenge his wife’s murder by joining forces with a team of highly skilled ex-cons to prevent an assassination attempt in Paris. It’s Ronin meets the Dirty Dozen…” Honestly, if the writer is working with “the people” (Producer, Director, Writer, Studio…etc…?) who made the newest Batman and Superman movies he must be a pretty darn accomplished writer. That sets my expectation unbelievably high (the writer may not want that)…..As for the logline, it is very confusing to me. How does preventing an Assasination attempt in Paris avenge his wife’s murder? I’m sure the story makes sense, but that logline makes none what-so-ever to me. Is it just me?

      1. Page 1, We start out in an Opera house. Everything looks very competently written through the first page. Good opening image. The name “Stone” reminds me of all those bad Jesse Stone made for tv movies lol. I will not let that affect my read though.

      2. Page 2, I don’t think I have ever scene such casual swearing in direction before. So Stone was obviously there to kill someone, but didn’t realize it was the President until he got face to face with him. Interesting. I’m confused but assume it will be explained.

      3. Page 3, The quick Flashback was nicely integrated and would play well visually.

      4. Page 4, We get our exposition about Stone in the Interrogation. I wish some of the backstory were woven in a little smoother than someone reading his entire life story off a piece of paper. Besides that, I don’t have too much negative to say about the writing or style.

      5. Page 6, Stone’s dialogue is sarcastic and funny.

      6. Page 6, The fact that Stone is in a Max Security prison in Colorado doesn’t make much sense to me. He attempted to assasinate the President and had been living overseas for what seemed like a good while. That seems to me he would be sent to Gitmo or some other military prison rather than a civilian one. Just my thoughts. Also he’s a trained assasin. Maybe I’m wrong.

      7. Page 7, There was nothing really new or unexpected in the way the guards treated Stone. I wish there had been. That said, everything was competently written (espeacially considering this is an early draft) and can see how with a much further developed script he could write on a professional level.

      8. Page 8, I’m surprised they don’t do basic background checks on Stone’s visitors, considering his crime and how there was likely a major conspiracy behind it. It just doesn’t make sense to me that they would let Decker walk right in with a easy checkable lie like that. I wish he had at least had to get a fake id or something. Make getting in take a little effort.

      9. Page 9, Okay so this explains how he was sent to kill the President but didn’t know it was the President.

      10. Page 10, I’m noticing a bit too much exposition being forced in dialogue like “Your father-in-law’s medical bills aren’t cheap.” Between this and the Interrogation scene, I would enjoy it more if Stone’s backstory were more subtly slipped in to us.

      Overall: The writer has talent and I’m interested in where the story is going. My biggest gripe was the obvious exposition dumps, but it’s an early draft and know the writer is talented enough to smooth those out. Congrats on all the success you’ve had, you’re further along in your writing career than 98% of the people on this site and I really hope to be in your shoes one day!

    • John Bradley

      The Junkie’s Debt

      Logline: “When a street-wise, self-centered bookie is held responsible for paying back his junkie friend’s debt, he must go to his books and collect. But when he can’t raise enough cash, his wannabe Mafioso debtor makes an intriguing offer: Kill the Junkie, and only pay half.”………Well there are definitely goals and stakes. There is a character flaw with an obvious arc, and a tough choice. Let’s see where this goes.

      1. Page 1, “MICHAEL (late 20’s) looks directly at you.” Breaking the 4th wall right off the back is very ambitious.

      2. Page 2, The convo between Gerard and Michael is entertaining. There’s a bit of nice subtext too.

      3. Page 2, I really like the line, “Nobody that’s good for it ever says, “You know I’m good for it.””

      4. Page 3, The direction is thick and full of narration. You have an entertaining voice with it, but it’s length slowed the read down for me just a bit.

      5. Page 4, “Dave’s a robust Union-Man with old-man strength, the kind your dad had when you were a kid.” I didn’t know my Dad growing up, you have me mistaken for someone else.

      6. Page 5, You’ve definitely created a unique relationship between Dave and Michael.

      7. Page 5, All the “Continued”‘s at the top of the page aren’t need.

      8. Page7, There is a lot of narration from the action lines.

      9. Page 8, Pete and Frank kicking the door down was funny!

      Overall: There are definitely goals and stakes to the story. The writer has a voice and is not afraid to use it. This could turn into an interesting story.

    • John Bradley

      I have posted a review for Rigged twice now and it keeps disappearing! Ugh! Sorry to the writer, The notes I put keep disappearing after I post.

      • gazrow

        They’re probably stuck in “moderation” and will eventually show up – so no point in trying to keep posting them. :)

        • John Bradley

          Thanks, I hope so. I don’t save the notes as I write and I didn’t feel like doing them a third time lol.

  • Citizen M

    Damn. Swallowed by the Disqus monster twice. I give up.

    • ElectricDreamer

      Didn’t I read your comments a few hours ago?!? WTF.
      Hunter’s Moon and Rigged. Right? Very weird.

    • John Bradley

      Same thing just happened to me! Very frustrating.

      • Citizen M

        You used to get a message “Your script is in moderation” or something like that. Now it just disappears, so you don’t know whether to wait or repost.

        • John Bradley

          Haha I wonder how my post today ended up in moderation? It was a short review of the script I liked best! I guess it was probably a technical glitch.

  • klmn

    “And if this is true: his first script ‘has since been taken on by the guys behind the Batman Trilogy and Man Of Steel’… I’d say this writer is already off and running. Congrats.”

    That alone should qualify it for a regular weekday review (not Amateur Friday).

    • John Bradley

      I kinda agree with that. Sounds like he moved on past us amateurs already.

  • Eddie Panta

    This is was a real strong AOW showing, hence I am late on my post… I don’t think there was another week where I stuck with each script this long…

    I got to admit I was really taken in by SAFEGUARD, But here’s my two cents on the sports scripts this week.


    Dialogue driven, character, sports-comeback bio-pic with lots of white space. This script reads pro…
    Unfortunately, just not visual enough for me. It wasn’t cinematic. It felt more like a Cable TV movie. Too many pages of just dialogue with cute nudges as to character demeanor. The dialogue hit too many story beats right on the nose. I’ll admit the writer seems self-aware of the story beats, even noting the “training montage troupe” which was a nice touch. But it just was a little too cute in the way it seemed to utilize the sports come-back cliches’. Almost relying on them to tell the story while being snarky about them at the same time.

    But how about a scene where everything isn’t so broad. I’d go for a little less “white space” and some more detail. Show me the sweat. A subtle intricate detailed movement, without the sports-movie cliche.

    The story is framed well and I feel for Bobby. Originality wise, the movie was already an HBO special, also there have been two Docs on this story. Not sure if they’ve covered the Mob slant, but doesn’t look like this one is going to get gritty. Just can’t give a thumbs up based solely on the wonderful dialogue give and take, especially knowing how hard it is to create your own characters.

    As opposed to…

    PENALTY – another sports related script, which had a new concept and a new character. The sports movie, via the angle of the REF, love that idea as well as the writer’s “Why You Should Read”… He makes an excellent point. It’s completely clear he’s writing from the principle of” “Write What You Know”. As opposed to RIGGED, which I felt was more a story about sports stories, than a honest true story.

    In Penalty, I felt we were really in the stadium, right in the soccer / football game. Subtle details and intimate moments were described concise. The writer here is not afraid to spend time on a moment that at first don’t seem cinematic. It does start off a bit slow, I thought it got into its own when the Keith and Derek were at the script club. Here the dialogue ran true and it really flowed.

    My complaint is that I didn’t think the script is ready for American consumption. I think a lot would of been gained if on the first page we got a settling, pin-pointing this country and town specifically. An Establishing shot. Also, why not be specific about the teams? Perhaps this is not meant for American studios but why not make it readable both ways. Maybe I’m just ignorant but by page 15 I still don’t know if we’re in the UK or IRELAND, that said, I’ll keep reading.. .Nice work.

  • John Bradley

    Haha that’s awesome! I like that you rated it, that was a great rant.

  • Eddie Panta

    No… where was that?

    • Wes Mantooth

      In the comments section for In the Flesh, from Friday.

  • Randy Williams

    With so many daggers thrown lately at those kind enough to take time to read entries and in spite of our placement along the learning curve of criticism, offer our reactions, I’m almost reluctant to comment anymore. However, I feel you’re lucky to get anyone to read your work and offer their reaction and free at that! So, I’ll plow ahead with some brief reactions.
    I read the first ten of each. I liked the writing from all of them. Well done, all, on being selected!

    Hunter’s Moon – Very cinematic, loved the first scene, definitely see this as a movie. I don’t know, though, a centerfold blonde’s first words upon arousing from sleep as eloquent as ” I thought we’d do breakfast?” Sorry, don’t buy it. The introduction of lots of characters, maybe focus on main character a little more? Pit bull scene a little difficult to stomach as well as believe.

    Penalty – Loved the bikini line description in the strip club. Many times I read description that makes me laugh and wish the writer would have put it in dialogue instead. The set up for the story is all there by page ten, well done, I thought. Wanted to be a little more sympathetic toward main character.

    Safeguard – title is too vague, too deodorant sounding. Another very cinematic beginning. I liked this character very much. Maybe a line verifying that he is indeed not a waiter. Perhaps he mumbles under his breath about the last time he was required to balance glassware and the disastrous results. Maybe expand on the “aiming at that fucking opera singer” with a joke or more specific, like, “She’s been sleeping with Carmen’s husband” By page 8, I wanted to move on from more interrogation and on to something else.

    Rigged – I’m not a big fan of stories where the hero wins everything which he practically does in the flashbacks. Maybe because I never do that I can’t identify with him. I’d concentrate on when he didn’t win, didn’t win that kiss as well. In present day scenes, wanted that contrast a little more between our perception of a jock and this man. Anyway, definitely see this as a movie, and definitely written so as to make you want to keep reading, I thought.

    The Junkie’s Debt – Another script where some of the description, I thought, was very funny and felt bad that movie audiences couldn’t hear it and wished it was in dialogue. I wanted him a little more beaten down at the construction site. That would have given me a little more sympathy towards him. By page 7, it got repetitive, I wanted to move on to something more sedate without all the hyper talk. Maybe a sedate female is needed about here. Overall, enjoyed this, put a smile on my face.

    Again, very well written stuff from all. Very fast reads except Hunter’s Moon. If I had to vote for one to make the review, I’d say maybe it’s time for a bio…RIGGED

  • John Bradley

    Lol I deleted this one because I made two (they weren’t showing up in the comments) but I guess thanks for reposting the one I deleted=)

  • davejc

    My vote goes to Junkie. The writer has an ear for dialogue that would impress Guy Ritchie. And in reality dialogue is the biggest contribution a writer makes to the final product, if not the only contribution. I agree with some suggestions others have made, i.e. the ending. You have a lot of developed characters in the wings at this point. Bring them all out and give this script a Guy Ritchie ending.

    • Bifferspice

      well i don’t think that’s true at all. i would say structure is by far the biggest contribution a writer makes to the final product.

      • davejc

        That is true in some cases, and in all cases regarding the success of the script. But many stories get restructured during development. And again during post production.

  • Eddie Panta


    Hard-boiled, fast paced-action. A bit too 90’s perhaps, but with enough plot to confuse even JJ Abrams. There’s three movies crammed into one here . A real fun, suspenseful read.

    The writer isn’t languishing on any scenes. Just as one event culminates we’re thrust into another. Another mystery is right around the corner.

    There some heavy handed exposition, intercutting these scenes with action sequence . could alleviate this issue.

    Another reason to read this one. is to see how five characters can be introduced in two pages with intense clarity. Not an easy task. Going into this Mission with a team of personalities, we know who everyone is. But that’s what is so great about extreme characters, in extreme situations, they could be easily punched up to stand out. The writer doesn’t pull any punches.

    The writing her is excellent. I don’t think it needs all of the action hyphens or the underlines. I totally got what was going on. Besides it’s not saving any space on the page.

    The scenarios do get a little over-the-top but I think that can be easily reigned in. I wouldn’t use the President, perhaps a lower-level politician, or some dignitary.

    Readers here need to stick with this one past 30 to really see it shine. There’s a lot of set up, but when we get to Paris, and the mission gets under way, the script really takes off. We’ve spent over 20 pages watching Stone being beaten down. So, when he gets a chance to show his stuff, it really explodes.

    STONE.. Daniel Stone, as the name would imply, is a stern-faced, hit-man… But with a heart.

    Our Super-reluctant hero is actually Ex-Special Forces, Ex-Secret Service, and now
    part of a Shadow Agency, sent out to do a hit in a Opera House. Well, turns out, that mark is none other than the President of the United State.. He doesn’t….” take the shot.”

    Stone – has been set-up. Now captured and beaten, and inside an we learn he had at one point protected the President.
    But our hero – Stone keeps his mouth shut, takes a beating, acts snarky and even head-butts a fist. That’s when the young Techie comes in with the electrodes.
    And Bang!

    Flash Forward – 18 Months Later…

    Stone – in the Fed Pen and suicide prone. After a visit from an ex-cohort, and now member of the same Shadow Agency that got him into the mess at the Opera House, Stone is offered a deal, just one last job, and Stone will get a pardon.

    Here we also learn that Stone’s wife has died of some illness. On top of that his father-in law is gravely ill.Still Stone refuses to do the one last job, He turns down a chance for a pardon, Stone goes back to his jail cell and attempts suicide. Now, that’s a reluctant hero… Right after the failed suicide attempt, Stone learns via secret jailhouse communication that his wife’s death was not natural!

    Now Stone is pissed,and finally ready to do that one last job, whatever it takes to find the truth behind his wife’s death..

    The assignment takes him to France, aboard a private jet, where a rag-tag group of international cons, like ROCCO, who have also been sprung from slammer have been assembled. Their mission… still unknown.

    Aboard the private jet, they sit and listen to an assignment they have no choice but to
    take. The mission is explained, in detail by mystery man, Travis, who shows them footage of an International Bad-Guy: Oedipus… who turns out to be shockingly familiar to ole’ Stone… We realize that this same bad-guy might also be the person behind his wife’s mysterious death…

    And we’re off to Paris with the team assembled in search of a Little Red Box, which contains info they’ll need to go after Oedipus. The Little Red Box is being held by a drug-lord, LUC. Breaking into his heavily fortified mansion won’t be easy..

    A soon as they hit the ground. The plan to sneak into Luc’s mansion begins…

  • TomG

    I vote for HUNTER’S MOON for two reasons: it’s extremely well written and it’s a fantastic ‘case study’ for discussing real, deeply flawed protagonists and how dark they can be within a commercially viable film. I only read one obituary, but it sounds like our ‘true-life hero’ was an egomaniac to the point of self-delusion. The writers chose a compelling but somewhat safer path (what might be called ‘The Hangover’ meets ‘The Deer Hunter’). I respect their choice, but wanted something darker, including his episodes as a con man and his presumably criminal activities in Afghanistan, which I’ll admit would be much riskier. There’s an incredible story here, personal and thematic, the fascinating question is whether you maximize its potential by telling it all.

    Note: sounds like a good week for multiple winners (or a runner-up week!)

  • Eddie Panta

    If what you’re saying is true.I wouldn’t worry about it too much. It’s obvious which votes are real and which come from friends. I’m sure Carson and team will be able to sniff it out. The users who vote for a specific script, without mentioning the other scripts in detail, are usually friend votes. It probably won’t have any effect. Besides I don’t think they mind traffic driven to the site.

  • Thea

    I have to cast my vote for RIGGED, with HUNTER’S MOON a close second.

    RIGGED – read this one to the end.
    This was the one that sounded least interesting to me, but once I picked it up, it just flew by…and I loved it! It’s rare that I read a character that I love to dislike, but still want to root for anyway. We have that here in Bobby Riggs. The character arc is great (maybe a little shaky at the start, his leaving doesn’t feel motivated enough, but it picks up quickly). The lesson and learnings are clear, and the end is satisfying. It’s a bonus that this is based on a true story…the details about the match (bare-chested muscle men? scantily-clad models?) sounded almost too made-up until I Googled them and discovered they weren’t embellishments.

    One thing I was wondering, and it’s a question for you guys…it’s pretty clear that the author was writing for specific actors or character types (Alan Arkin and James Franco are mentioned). Is this a pretty standard thing to do in a spec script? Or is it taboo?

    HUNTER’S MOON – read this one to the end.
    FWIW, I think “The Death Dealer” is actually a better title.

    I loved this one too, it’s only behind RIGGED because the characters didn’t feel as fleshed out. Their dynamics and relationships were fantastic, I could feel the tension…it was also clear which characters I was supposed to love and which I was supposed to loathe. But they felt a little bit thin when looked at individually. Who are these guys when they’re not with their friends? I couldn’t be sure.

    I liked Haden’s character the best, because he doesn’t come across as the typical shallow, well-worn, tough-guy hunter type. He has obvious intelligence and heart, which makes me want to watch him a lot more.

    And can I just say: Using your own broken femur bone from a compound fracture to saw through your bonds?! And then using that same femur bone as a weapon?!?!


    (When I described this scene to my husband, he pointed out that this sounded completely unrealistic. I agree, but the script made it sound BELIEVABLE, which is way more important. So that’s a pretty impressive feat of writing.)

    Anyway, I had only one nit-pick. I don’t know a single woman at eight months pregnant who can fit behind the wheel of a car. It’s a small detail, but it’s a moment that is going to catch most mothers in the audience and bring them out of the story for a moment, saying “yeah, right.”

    SAFEGUARD – read this one to the end.
    I liked this one as well, the intrigue and the twists were entertaining. Sometimes the plot was a bit hard to follow, so make sure to keep it simple whenever possible. The lighter was a good setup and payoff, things like that will help the audience keep up.

    I have one major suggestion: consider changing either Cullen or Rocco’s gender to female. I think it could be a lot more interesting and dynamic, and wouldn’t feel like such a sausage fest…you might even get more of a female audience.

    Also, a nitpick: I don’t buy that Camille could be poisoned and then [SPOILER] her son is delivered healthily through C-Section. Any poison that entered her bloodstream would have immediately passed to the baby, and it would take only a fraction of the amount to kill the son that it would take to kill the mother. A far more believable scenario would be that she went in for delivery, had to have a C-Section, then was poisoned right after (or had an artery cut while on the table…it’s not hard to hide when she’s already open and bleeding), and the baby was passed off as (or swapped with a) stillborn.

    PENALTY – read to page 18 or so.
    I could recognize that Keith was an interesting and well-written character, and the dilemma he gets into is a goldmine of material. My biggest barrier for this one was that I know nothing about soccer and the rules, so all of the descriptions about what was happening in the games told me nothing about what was going on. Was that play just now proof that Keith was a good referee, or a bad one? I couldn’t tell. It made me want to give up trying to follow what was going on. This might be fine for sports fans, but not for me as a layperson.

    Also, I didn’t realize until page 15 that this actually takes place in England, and that all references to “football” are to what we call “soccer.” I know the rest of the world calls it football and what we call football is American football…but if you’re going to be sending this script to American producers, you might want to think about localizing the language. Even with the logline, whenever I hear “football” mentioned in the script I picture helmets and goal posts, not cleats and nets. Other language is very British too…”pitch”, “traffic warden,” etc. At the very least, on the first page we should get a setting that mentions we’re in England so we can mentally adjust to the environment.

    THE JUNKIE’S DEBT – read to page 5 or so.
    Just couldn’t get into it, unfortunately. I was excited about the first page, it seemed as if he was talking to me in the audience a la High Fidelity or Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, so that was fun. But then when I realized he was talking to a someone else, it felt a little forced. In fact, a lot of the conversation felt a bit forced. I just couldn’t get into it, it didn’t feel as natural as I would have liked.


    Good efforts all…this has been a great learning experience!

    • Kirk Diggler

      Haven’t read Penalty yet, but i object to your request to remove the colloquialisms for American readers. When I hear ‘football’ I see a ball and a foot kicking it. Pretty simple. Smart people will figure it out what a ‘pitch’ is.

      • Eddie Panta

        You need to read it first… It’s not whether you use the words football or soccer. Besides, I wouldn’t count on there being a lot of smart people in Hollywood.

  • Crcbonjour

    No SciFi post Apocolyptic Zombie redux this week? Did we enter a parallel universe?

    I was pleasantly surprised to read all five loglines this week; regular human stuff. We still need movies like that every now & then.

    I read the first 25 of each script. Congrats to all the writers for being featured on AOW! Good luck moving forward in your careers.

    Hunter’s Moon
    Nice work guys. It’s well written, “high concept” that I believe would attract stars and a major audience as it’s quite dark. Not the typical buddy trip by a long shot. Admittedly for me, it was almost too much but I’m a wimp (except for gangster pics/military) so a few things might need a bit of an adjustment but then, maybe not. I’d only ask one thing: that dog scene in the park, I thought he killed the dog but then it seemed he hadn’t (hung over his shoulder) but it was WAY too brutal to take. I get that these guys need to be proven BAD (except maybe Steve) but is there another way to get it done? I guess if you evoked the reaction from me, it worked but I almost stopped & would likely walk out of a film with a scene like that. Not sure. Otherwise, I think it’s probably brilliantly dark & disturbing!

    Well, I’m loving football more & more; think there’s a great story in here but it felt a bit slow starting out. I’m still not sure about Keith’s mum, the Will etc., but I’m su

  • Art Vandelay

    A little late to the party, but I liked RIGGED. I thought it was well written, with no extraneous dialogue and the the plot moved along at a nice pace.

  • Andrew Parker

    Anonymous –

    I only briefly looked at people’s profiles, but I only counted two first-time posters, Rebecca and Art Vandelay. And Rebecca actually had a lot of constructive criticism.

    That being said, I do see your name pop up here often, so I will take your word for it.