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: GRIPPER
GENRE: Horror
LOGLINE: When a young geneticist attempts to save the world’s forests from a rabid insect infestation she unwittingly unleashes a plague of apocalyptic proportions.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: A new, original monster for the horror/nature gone wild sub-genre based on real science and current environmental concerns – and its a pretty swift read at 103 pgs. Plus, the first and last lines of dialogue are ‘fuck’ and ‘beautiful’ ;)

TITLE: Gone
GENRE: Supernatural Drama
LOGLINE: A woman’s past affair with a married writer haunts her in unusual ways.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: I’m a huge fan of the 1986 French film “Betty Blue”. Even though it’s really quite terrible. I remember reading about some arthouse theater in Houston doing a retrospective screening back in the mid-90’s. Perhaps it was being a teen with hormones running amock, along with a burgeoning interest in all things cinema — especially movies I could never see growing up in Crockett, Texas — but those notorious opening 5 minutes of “Betty” had me intrigued. So, while not a great piece of work by any means (it’s a rambling mess, especially the longer three-hour version, with a goofball denouement and incredibly stilted dialogue throughout)… still holds a special place with me.

I think I like the idea of the thing more than the thing. Thus, wanted to pull central story elements and play around with them. Pay homage.

Also, I wasn’t aiming for a surprise at the end, but I’m kinda tickled it’s there.

TITLE: The Cloud Factory
GENRE: WW2 romantic drama
LOGLINE: Torn between family and college or the love of an aristocratic lesbian doctor, a badly-injured American pilot grapples with her burgeoning sexuality and WW2 Britain’s rigid social order.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: ‘The Cloud Factory’, is based on the true story of the women’s section of Britain’s Air Transport Auxiliary, with fictional protagonists. Now, I get that Hollywood seems to think period romances and period dramas are so boorrring. Let’s take ‘Philomena’ (part period drama, and part contemporary). Probably made for less than $10 million; its global box office gross to the end of January was $68 million. Making money’s so boorrring. ‘Atonement’ – made for some $30m with global box office of $120m+. Boring! ‘The English Patient’ – production budget in the high $20m region; global gross of around a quarter of a billion dollars. Really boring! They all had strong female leads involved in a romantic relationship that didn’t end well, in common. Women over 30 especially turn out in droves for relationship dramas with strong female leads because we get to see so darned few good ones. See Lindsay Doran’s TED talk on relationships in movies – women get it! It’s not rocket science. So that is what I’ve written. I’ve just given the period romantic drama a little twist to keep things interesting. And I could be wrong, but as far as I can see, the last time a period drama seems to have gotten a run on Amateur Offerings Week was ‘Templar’ back in August, 2013. Long overdue, surely.

TITLE: The Triennial
GENRE: Action/Thriller
LOGLINE: An elite Israeli secret agent is on loan to the US teams with an unlikely civilian in a race to infiltrate and eliminate a terrorist cell in Chicago.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: During the last couple years, I’ve had three comedy scripts show up nicely in the contest circuit, yet none gained any traction with agents, managers, or producers. Apparently, I crack myself up. So I changed lanes and wrote this action/thriller feature, because… it’s a business, right? Bottom line – I had a blast writing this one, so I’m really glad I left my comfort zone and tried a new genre. Only question – will anyone else be glad? Would love some scared straight feedback.

TITLE: Fantasy Man
GENRE: Comedy
LOGLINE: A fantasy footballer must convince a sports star to play, or else a mob boss will have him killed.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: The story. Period. Even if you’re not into fantasy football, there’s a heartfelt story here about friendship, love and going after your dreams. And it’s also pretty fucking funny. Happy reading and we appreciate everyone’s comments in advance. Thank you.

  • Poe_Serling

    Hey, it’s nice to see our old friend, AOW, back in action. As usual, I gave all five of the scripts the once-over (that usually means reading at least 10 pages or more of each… and often the entire thing if the story pulls me along). The one that kept my interest this week:

    GRIPPER

    Even though the project needs extra work to get it to the next level, there are still some compelling ideas driving the storyline. The notion of humans messing around with Mother Nature and getting their asses kicked because of it is always an enticing setup to a film for me.

    Also, it’s kinda fun to see an eco-horror project pop up here on AOW. A rare sight indeed!!

    These ‘nature gone berserk’ films hit their peak of popularity in the 1970s. Back then, you couldn’t step out the door without being attacked by ants (Phase IV) or frogs (Frogs) or rabbits (Night of the Lepus) or worms (Squirm). And if you were to ask grendl, he’d probably say the only classic way to get your ticket punched during this feeding frenzy was in the jaws of a great white.

    A few quick suggestions:

    >>Format – the left margin seemed extra wide to me. If you narrow it a bit, you could easily shave off another page or two from the script length.

    >>Dialogue – a whole lot of scientific mumbo jumbo in the first 1/3 of the script. Though most of the chitchat sounded legit, it bogged down the flow and main thrust of the story being told. I might do some trimming here and there to reduce the banter and make it more ‘audience’ friendly – so they won’t need a PhD to understand it all.

    >>Character development – For Gena, perhaps she could be less like Elizabeth Shue’s scientist character in Hollow Man (by toning down the feisty cockiness) and more like Mira Sorvina’s scientist character in del Toro’s Mimic (by upping her quiet determination). I think it would create a more balanced and likeable lead in the long run.

    Again, these are just a few things to mull over.

    Overall, I feel this script would really benefit from a Carson review and some more helpful feedback from the SS faithful.

    Thanks to the writer for sharing his work and good luck with it.

    • Eddie Panta

      And.. Kingdom of the Spiders – William Shatner

      • Poe_Serling

        Yeah, Kingdom of Spiders would make a great triple bill with the other two camp classics on Shatner’s resume from that decade: Devil’s Rain and Big Bad Mama.

        • Eddie Panta

          DEVILS RAIN needs a remake. Love that ending. The Best!
          So Drive-In. And it was all a dream… wait no it wasn’t. Love it!

          Day of the triffids. GRIPPER needs to find the right tone.

    • Eddie Panta

      GRIPPER has got me intrigued. But seriously… those first three pages set the tone of an exploitation film. Too melodramatic for my taste. These firefighters are exchanging quips before offing themselves with an axe so as not to burn…. Ugh. Really, No I don’t think you can impale your own forehead into an axe blade and ensure a clean easy death.

      • Poe_Serling

        All good points . Maybe the writer will chime in and tell us his thoughts behind the opening scene.

        The whole ‘impaling your own forehead into an axe blade” made me think of a harikari-like end for that particular character.

        • Eddie Panta

          Right, but we don’t know these characters yet.
          , I’m holding back my opinion but I don’t see why or how that would be necessary so far.

      • Nicholas J

        I read that as a decapitation instead of impaling the skull. He cleaves his skull (off)? Either way, if I had an axe and was about to burn alive, I think I could make due. I’ll have to think about it more… Happy Saturday everyone!

        • Eddie Panta

          Thanks! Gripper is way… way over the top.

      • kenglo

        Really?? I loved that opening!!!

        • Eddie Panta

          Kenglo, come on… I mean it’s intense but seriously? I posted a new comment about the opening. But hey, I still want to read this one over the others.

    • ArabyChic

      And “The Long Weekend” 1978 – outback payback…

      • Poe_Serling

        I wasn’t familiar with that title so I just checked out the film’s trailer on YouTube. Wow, who knew there were so many deadly animals lurking around the beach. :-)

        Thanks for pointing this one out… I’ll definitely give it a spin soon.

      • Eddie Panta

        What was that outback Aussie hog thriller Razor or Razorback?

    • Wes Mantooth

      Don’t forget Prophecy. Giant grizzly bear mutated by chemicals from a logging company. Damn you, mankind!

      • Poe_Serling

        What I remember about that film – the giant tadpole!! Kinda surprised to see it was written by the Omen writer David Seltzer.

        • Wes Mantooth

          What I remember most — the infamous sleeping bag scene. Just watched it on youtube and laughed my ass off. Been awhile since I’d seen that.

  • Andrew Orillion

    I read most of Triennial. It started out well, with clear GSU in the first few pages. I also liked the lead, he was daring, active and threatened to cut an inch off a prisoners penis every time he didn’t answer a question.

    However, the script kind of went of the rails.
    – The female sidekick, Fatima, wasn’t very interesting.
    – There was way too much ‘blocking’ and unnecessary between dialog action. I don’t really need know a character closed a door or drank from a bottle of water.
    – The action doesn’t really advance the plot in a lot of places.
    – The bad guys were generic.

    Around the time David Stone used a jar of honey and some coins tossed out a window to crash a car full of bad guys I checked out.

    • BoSoxBoy

      Thanks for the read and feedback Andrew. I actually rewrote since I submitted a couple weeks ago, and think I addressed a couple of your points. Much appreciated.

  • Art Vandelay

    FANTASY MAN
    I thought this was an incredibly active piece with the best dialogue of any of the contestants. Although not a fantasy football player myself, it’s nice to see a “new world” explored in screenplays. Plus, it was “pretty fucking funny” and I’m not really a comedy dude. Well done to the writers, you guys had a unique voice.

    • Kirk Diggler

      Let’s hear your breakdown of the other 4 scripts, seeing how it’s obvious that you read them.

  • GraemeMcPhail

    I’ve started reading Fantasy Man and can confirm that it is “pretty fucking funny” ;-) Not sure if the story is going to have legs to last another 50 pages but I’ll post again once I finish.

  • Kirk Diggler

    Fantasy Man

    pg 6 — full of exposition

    Clutch : Honestly dude, I still cant believe I let you talk me into getting Vegas biggest crook to front you the money to play in some fake-football-nerd-tournament.

    2 characters talking about stuff both already know.

    More bad exposition

    Clutch: You’re my best friend, so don’t take this wrong. You’ve been obsessed with fantasy football all your life and you even have a dumb fatasy website—-

    The entrance fee for the fantasy tournament was so high $20,000 that they had to borrow money from a Vegas mobster? And this is a major plot point. Hmmm. I know it’s a comedy… but it’s a stretch. Even the Main Event for the World Series of Poker has an entrance fee of $10,000, but first prize is often 5-7 million, with millions more given out to dozens of top finishers. This fantasy football tournament is not based in any kind of Vegas reality.

    But worse, this Garritano mobster says he will kill Todd over the $20,000 he owes. How does having a dead Todd benefit Garritano? Now he DEFINITELY won’t get his $20,000. In fact, he seems willing to kill Todd BEFORE the final event, just because Todd’s starting QB wants to sit out the final game of the season. This is strange character motivation, even for a comedy, things should make sense.

    PG 9

    Garritano, the tough guy mobster, withing earshot of a bunch of people who already knows who is and what he does, explaining who he is and what he does.

    Todd the protagonst has to convince Austin Tanner, playing for the WINLESS Patriots, to play in the final game of the season because if he doesn’t play then Todd’s fantasy team won’t win, because Austin Tanner is a great QB, playing for a winless NFL team…. I mean, WTF?? He sounds like the worst QB in the NFL, not the best. How is the starting QB for the worst NFL teams putting up the best fantasy numbers?

    Writer loses points for including a John Mayer song.

    read 24 pages but it’s a little too broad for my tastes, which is something I see a lot of in SS comedies. But mostly, don’t buy the hook behind it.

    • Kirk Diggler

      GONE – – A screenplay about a novelist that is full of prose…. what are the odds?

      After about 27 pages, not much has happened, mostly character stuff related to the work/homes lives of the married couple and their young daughter. There is one “incident” that happens with the wife that is supposed to intrigue us, and it is well played, but so far it’s way too slow in developing.

      The script is only 97 pages long and 27 pages in we haven’t had any life altering event that breaks into Act 2. It’s a slow burn, and most of what is happening feels inconsequential. This script is indulging it’s characters a little too much, and we need a little more hint what the secondary female character Marina means to the writer Daniel. So far, she is completely removed from the A Story. I think in a spec script, you can’t afford to be so languorous.

    • Kirk Diggler

      Gripper

      Open with two young firefighters killing themselves with an AXE. Ridiculous. If I saw this in a movie theater I would laugh out loud. Even in moments of desperation, human beings don’t act this way. They’d fight til the end. Or huddle next to one another— but suicide by axe to the head? I know some people might like it, but it strikes me as unnatural.

      The pages with Gena at the University feel like a science lesson— an awful lot of info being dumped on your reader/audience

      A shitload of characters— lotsa names

      “We’ve genetically modified a neuroactive steroid synthesized from Gamma-aminobutyric acid”

      Ask yourself if this line is nessesary. Because it’s not.

      This almost feels too smart for it’s own good. Sometimes it’s best to put things in layman’s terms.

      The scene with the testing on the Beetles… writer should come in late and leave early. Too much science mumbo jumbo is killing the story telling and forward momentum

      Still too many characters stuffed into each scene.

      At least there is a discernible act break on page 26.

      This has potential. At least stuff is happening, even if it’s drawn out needlessly. I get that the writer is scientifically literate, but less is more. Having lab geeks talk shop isn’t that exciting. Either is a fungus. But at least based on what happened to the security guard, we know bad shit could be coming our way.

      Gena seems like a decent heroine to build the story around. Maybe a bit young (25) to be so advanced in her field.

      I’m not suggesting the script needs to be dumbed down, just simplified.

      • Eddie Panta

        Yes, a impaling yourself with an axe does seem unnatural.
        Also, don’t forget the smoking snake that slithers and sizzles across scorched earth

      • Stephjones

        Agree with Kirk, here. The opening scene of death by axe was so extreme I thought the firefighters were suffering some sort of dementia. I originally thought their reaction showed a fear of something that went beyond death by forest fire. ( whatever that could be..turning into mutants, maybe) Trust me, I felt for the two of them as they raced for their lives. But having their crisp corpses found under an inadequate fire tent might be enough for your purposes, IMO

        • Eddie Panta

          The fire tent is the best fix I’ve read here. It adds suspense, perhaps they’re still alive inside.
          And YES, I thought suicide by axe alluded to something approaching even worse than flames! That’s the hook I thought is was going for, Then it would be plausible.

    • Kirk Diggler

      The Triennial – (MY PICK) Read only 13 pages before typing this. It’s enough for me to know it was the most professionally written of the bunch. A good protagonist in Stone. A quick set up with the kidnapping, a good hook being that this act of terror takes place on American soil. The dialogue was well done, particularly the opening line between Stone and Jack. Made me laugh. I have no idea if this will deliver on the promise, but I like the writing, it’s action lines are concise without being over-written.

      The craft of this writer is heads above everyone else. Just a fact.

      This type of story is the kind I like seeing in a movie theater but would never have any interest in writing myself. There was verisimilitude. Sure there is an air of familiarity, it’s the same but different. GETS MY VOTE for the week.

      My only real nit or two is this: Regarding the scene right after the kidnapping where the grizzled veteran gets the phone call in the middle of the night while his groggy wife asked “who is it” and he gruffly tells her to go back to sleep…. I’ve never seen that before. Okay, I’ve seen it a lot. Find a better way.

      And this line: “Three bullet holes and he has the pulse rate of a Mormon.”

      Don’t know what this means. I’ve met a few Mormons. Not sure their pulse is higher or lower than anyone else. Inside joke of some kind?

      If I get a chance to read on I will give more notes. Good job.

      • BoSoxBoy

        Thanks for the read and vote, Kirk. I’m getting some awesome suggestions in the feedback, which I’m sure will pay off. Thanks again.

  • Nicholas J

    My choice is GRIPPER. Hands down. If it doesn’t get reviewed I’ll be baffled.

    The common thread I saw this week was authenticity and research. You had one script, The Triennial, which felt empty and unresearched. Fantasy Man had a similar problem. It was like the writers didn’t know anything about football. Then you had the opposite in The Cloud Factory, which was so authentic and specific it made my eyes bleed. Then you had Gripper, which to me, was a perfect blend of information and story, and very accessible to boot.

    I’ll put my full reviews in the replies. But again, GRIPPER is my pick! Well done, writer!

    • Nicholas J

      FANTASY MAN
      Where I stopped: Page 14
      Why I stopped: Cliche and unrealistic plot/characters

      This script was clean and easy to read, so good job on that. However, the premise is very flawed, the characters unrealistic, and most of it feels like a first draft that leaves too many questions. (Not the good kind of questions.)

      Nothing is set up properly. For instance, what’s with this contest? Something like this would require thousands of contestants. Or, a small group of rich people with a $100,000 entry fee or something. Neither are options for this script. The former wouldn’t require a loan from gangsters, and the latter is entirely implausible for a character like Todd. Also, the Tom Brady-esque quarterback is unrealistic. How has Todd steamrolled the competition by using the quarterback from a winless football team? That doesn’t make the least bit of sense. And why would you make your winless football team the Patriots — one of the great dynasties of the modern NFL? Why not the Browns or the Raiders?

      The characters are also paper thin and unrealistic. Clutch apparently works as the muscle for a gangster, yet he fronts money to the victims and doesn’t actually beat them up. So how is he employed by this gangster again? He’s the worst employee ever! As for Todd, in a scene borrowed from Dumb & Dumber, he declares that he’s sick of being a nobody and that’s why he borrowed the money to win the fantasy football tournament. So he’s risking his life to have a nicer apartment or something? Get a job, Todd! And I’m sorry, but owing gangsters money has to be the most overused plot device in the history of amateur specs.

      I could see these characters working if they’re setup to be the dumbest guys alive like in Dumb & Dumber, but that isn’t the case here. As for the rest of the characters they are cutouts from other movies. Eurotrash opponents and gangsters that say “Fuggedaboutit!” Really?

      I honestly think there’s a great comedic premise here, and The League is proof that something like this can work. Unfortunately the writers here are too inexperienced or just haven’t put in the time. Not for me.

    • Nicholas J

      GRIPPER
      Where I stopped: Page 18
      Why I stopped: Time constraints

      Holy shit! This script is something. A horror movie about a fungus? Fuck yes, count me in!

      First, I’ll start with the bad. There were a few red flags in this script that tells me the writer is inexperienced, but I could be wrong. Some spelling errors, introducing a billion minor characters at once, on-the-nose dialogue, unnecessary (CONT’D)s, use of (O.C.), etc, and normally I’d hold that stuff against the writer, but you know what, screw it I don’t even care. The concept/story here is so good and unique that it doesn’t matter.

      The writer is/was either a forestry major or a damn good researcher. The technical dialogue here is outstanding. At first I thought, “Man, this is hard to follow,” and I was going to suggest dialing it back a bit, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked it the way it was. Sure, it’s hard to understand everything they are saying, but I was getting the gist of things, which is what’s important. The dialogue here reminded me of Primer, meaning it’s unapologetically technical. And damn it I like that. Because that’s the way these characters would talk, and as long as I have half a brain I can figure out what’s going on. I know some people will complain about this, but if I were the writer I would keep it as is.

      However, one thing I’d suggest is having a character who represents the audience, and is learning along with us. It seems you sorta had that with Kehler, but I’d make him more important. Have someone giving Kehler the rundown in layman’s terms would be very beneficial. Michael Crichton (who this script reminded me a lot of) is great at doing this.

      But damn there were so many good things about the select pages I read. As soon as I was learning about how pine beetles cause forest fires I was sold! I think I can count how many times I’ve learned something (not writing related) from an amateur spec on one hand. The opening 3 pages were also brutal and unique, and I instantly knew I’d be reading this until the end. (Which I will be later.)

      The one thing that worries me is the dialogue in those first 3 pages. It was on-the-nose and borderline cringe inducing. The scientific stuff that followed was great, but I’m guessing once the writer has to get into the humanity of these characters as the script goes on it will be a problem. In fact, I can see the character work here being a problem in general. But I’ll really have to read more to judge that.

      But whatever, I’ll be reading until the end regardless. First acts are easy though, so I just hope it stays solid and I’m not disappointed. This is my choice for AF without a doubt.

    • Nicholas J

      GONE
      Where I stopped: Page 15
      Why I stopped: Boredom

      So there wasn’t necessarily anything BAD about this one, but there wasn’t necessarily anything GOOD either. It’s not flashy or action packed, but it’s not meant to be. It’s a slow burn, and I get that, but there just wasn’t enough there to interest me.

      I read 15 pages and I didn’t see any plot developing. It’s based around a family, centered around the writer husband and his beautiful wife. They attend a party, return to pay the babysitter, have sex, and watch their daughter open presents on Christmas morning, and that’s about it. The only intriguing thing here is at one point the wife wanders off and walks aimlessly around the yard, and when discovered by her husband asks him, “Am I dead?” Apparently something like that requires very little questioning and they go about their business for the rest of the day.

      At that point is when I thought a plot would emerge, but it doesn’t, at least not soon enough. I know that if my wife wandered into the yard and asked me if she was dead, I’d be saying fuck the Christmas presents and rushing her to the hospital. Instead, the husband asks her about it a couple hours later and she responds with basically, “Oh I don’t know what you’re talking about,” and that’s about it. Well if they don’t really seem to care about it, why should I?

      I liked some of the dialogue and the writing was atmospheric, even if it was a little over prosed, but it was easy to follow and I got a sense of care from the writer. All good things, but in the end it just wasn’t enough to engage me. Not for me.

    • Nicholas J

      THE TRIENNIAL
      Where I stopped: Page 10
      Why I stopped: My lack of confidence in the writing

      So the writer said he wants scared straight feedback. Well here it is: this subject matter is not for you.

      A story like this needs intelligence. When I watch Homeland, I’m constantly baffled at how well that world is written. How authentic everything feels. Those characters feel like real people and those situations feel legit. The writing is worlds above my knowledge of government, foreign affairs, and politics. You can tell it’s well researched and the writers have put in miles upon miles of legwork.

      Comparing that to this script, which I know might be unfair, the difference is obvious. I can see the writer tapping away at the keyboard, using what he knows about the inner workings of the government from (insert political thriller here) to construct a story. Use a seen-it-before scenario (video taped beheading) name drop some countries from the middle east (Iraq, Iran, Syria) and hire a cliched protagonist (obligatorily named Jack) to investigate and you have yourself a paint by numbers political action thriller.

      And I’m not trying to knock the writer here, really. I’m just saying this subject probably isn’t for him. IMO a script like this is one of the hardest things to write, which is why it’s where the biggest bucks are. It takes a really unique writer, and one who’s going to put in days and weeks and months of legwork to properly research how something like this might go down, in order to pull this off. I just didn’t feel that here.

      My biggest suggestion, should the writer still want to go down this path, is to make the story smaller in scale. Don’t jump around so much, going to the Pentagon and the War Room, jumping from diplomats to assassins to whoever. The scenes here fly by and are all over the place. Slow it down. Focus. Give me a clear protagonist and follow him. Give me a SCENE. Problem, goal, obstacle, result, repeat. None of the scenes really turn here. David talks to his wife. Jack gets a phone call. Someone gets shot. Someone gets beheaded. We jump back in time to a hospital. There’s a surgery. Jack goes to the Pentagon. These aren’t scenes, they are setups. And it’s all stuff I’ve seen before. Not for me.

      • BoSoxBoy

        Nicholas- Thanks for the read and feedback. Incredibly helpful.

        • Nicholas J

          No problem, hope it wasn’t too discouraging. As I said, you picked one of the hardest subject matters to tackle. That’s why I stay far away from it! So all the better if you get somewhere with it. Good luck!

          • BoSoxBoy

            Thanks, man. A Black List reader liked it but said, “the violence goes too far”. I didn’t know that was possible anymore! Anyway, zero issue with your comments — very glad to get the feedback.

    • Nicholas J

      THE CLOUD FACTORY
      Where I stopped: Page 8
      Why I stopped: The writing is denser than a neutron star

      So I put this one off until last because it’s reeeeeally not my thing. Period Romance is at the bottom of my barrel of things that interest me, right above the Grammys but still below televised golf. The word ‘aristocrat’ makes me weep with boredom. I’d rather sleep with my head packed in ice than watch Atonement again. So that’s my disclaimer.

      The first seven pages here are, to be blunt, really boring. It starts with a flash forward? So… isn’t that just… the present? Why call it a flash forward? A date here would also help. We have some people that I don’t know doing forensics on some people that I don’t know. It’s clear the writer has done their legwork and knows their subject, but the failure here is to make it entertaining to the average reader/viewer. Starting off with a 7 page historical investigation sequence isn’t the best way to captivate a reader. Give me a character or a situation to latch on to first. In media res this isn’t.

      Finally at page 8 we go to 1940. Hopefully the story starts here. “An aerial conga line of six new Royal Air Force (RAF) Tiger Moth trainers in yellow livery follow the railway line over verdant paddocks of the Nith Valley north of Dumfries.” This sentence made me curl up into the fetus position, from which I write the rest of this review. Tears are streaming down my face. My wife asks what’s wrong. “Verdant paddocks north of Dumfries!” I shout in reply. She leaves the room.

      This script has the exact opposite problem of The Triennial. This writer seems really passionate and knowledgable about the subject matter, which makes me feel really bad that I just can’t get into it. I’ve never been more intimidated by a person I’ve never met or seen. You just can’t write like this in an amateur spec. It’s way too specific. Jenny is described to be quote: 5’11” (1.8m). Seriously? Just say “tall” and that’s sufficient.

      I’m going to have to say this one wasn’t for me as well. It felt way too much like homework and I just don’t have the time to decipher all of the action lines. I know that may seem unfair, but that kind of stuff matters, especially if you have a reader that’s tired and has a hundred other scripts to get to.

      • Ange Neale

        I’m grateful, Nicholas J, that you gave it a go even though it’s not your cup of tea. I imagine like many others here, it’s a first SP, so I welcome all the constructive feedback respondants can give me. Point taken (and noted elsewhere) on the ‘flash forward’ thing. Most of my writing’s been formal (academic), where details matter; learning how to pare them down and make them more ‘user-friendly’ is something I’ll definitely work on – I certainly didn’t mean to intimidate anyone! Thanks again.

        • Nicholas J

          No problem, Ange. It’s your first script, but you should definitely keep at it! You seem very knowledgable and I think once you get the hang of keeping things sparse and economical I can see you producing some great material. Or, expand on what you’re already able to do and go the novel route! Good luck!

          • Ange Neale

            Sending lots of warm and fuzzy thoughts your way for your encouragement, Nicholas J; thank you, wherever on the planet you may be.

          • Nicholas J

            Ha, no problem, I hope any negative reviews you may get aren’t too discouraging. If that truly is your first script you’re miles ahead of where most people are when they first start. Good luck and keep writing!

          • Ange Neale

            Yeah, ’tis the first cab off the rank. About 20-some years ago, I played around on v1.0 of MS Word with a concept for one, got to about page 10 (no idea what the hell I was doing), never showed it to anyone and I threw out the old 3.5″ 1.44 megabyte floppy disk I had it stored on. If you’re old enough, I’d written it on a 386 – remember them? Hmm. This possibly ‘outs’ me as a dinosaur.

  • Eddie Panta

    Well, I never got the newsletter, it’s not in my trash folder either. So I read the loglines this time, a first. I gotta say I’m psyched, it looks like a really interesting selection of scripts here this week. I even liked all of the Why You Should Reads…

    .

  • Eddie Panta

    THE CLOUD FACTORY – Word repetition in the first three pages is hurting the read, especially word chalk. Just one example “With a paint brush, Olivia brushes chalk shards….”
    Switch up the verbs!

    Also, not sure how the first scene could be FLASH FORWARD if present has not been established. What does that mean?

    Clearly, the first page is too dense. It has way too much detail, a symptom of all the scripts I’ve sampled so far. I don’t know where to focus, I’m not sure what’s important if every little thing is given the utmost attention.

    Time jumps, transitions, and scene changes within the same region should be accomplished by mini scene headings in caps and line breaks.

    AT THE TOP OF THE RIDGE

    I simply don’t understand what is going on in the opening scene.

    • Linkthis83

      It was confusing. Once I had a basic understanding, I thought it was extremely interesting. Trying to follow along visually line-by-line, not at all possible for me. Haha. Could just be me though.

    • Ange Neale

      Thanks, Eddie – I’ve gotten some great feedback and write less densely, use mini sluglines and fix that flash forward were all among them.

  • Matthew Garry

    GRIPPER

    I read the first 62 pages.

    There were too many characters, and the ones that were memorable didn’t work particularly well.

    There’s an overabundance of details regarding the fungus. The fungus is a plot device; if it’s not scientifically sound *and* very interesting by itself, just establish that some characters are an expert in the field, and what the consequences of the device to the plot are.

    The best scene for me was getting Tor down from the tree.

    Overall it felt discombobulated like a first script. Characters, some plot devices, and a plot, tied together by writing scenes to connect them as you go along. Try fleshing out the characters and the plot in lockstep. In the end that might result in a more cohesive narrative with more natural interaction between the characters which in turn makes it easier to give scenes dramatic significance (people just sleeping around and doing drugs isn’t all that interesting by itself).

    Some details:
    p1. -“Seemingly serene” is not prose, and doesn’t serve a purpose as verse here.
    -“She looks about knowing” could use a comma
    p3. -“long-haired, eco-hippy” could do without a comma.
    -In cue lines (and description) like “FIREFIGHTER 1″ the enumerator is usually used with a hash ‘#’ Also, the firefighters ones never speak, so you can leave it out.
    p40. Establish the two locations with scene headers, then start the INTERCUT
    p49.” You’re accelerant” -> “Your accelerant”

    GONE

    I read the first 49.

    As far as I could tell, nothing was happening. There were a few moments where
    Alison’s memory gaps started to kick the story off, but then things returned to
    normal fairly quickly. I also not could get a grip on how the two plots were related.

    From what I read it seemed there was a difference between the story you told,
    and the story you think you told. Things need to be explained or hinted at a lot earlier to get people invested in the story.

    Amnesia and memory loss always make for interesting setups, but the setups need to actually set up later events, and there were no later events here to keep me interested in where the story would be going.

    Some details:
    p1. It isn’t indicated that the quote should appear on screen.
    p3.”Alson” -> “Alison”
    p16. Some scene headers are underlined where others aren’t. I couldn’t
    find a correlation (like “dream”/”reality”) so maybe a note could fix that,
    although I’d recommend to keep them all the same.
    p23. “(to Concerned Adult)” -> “(to concerned teacher)”
    p24. CONCERNED TEACHER has two CUE lines in the dialogue althogh there’s
    nothing happening to warrant them (no interruption).
    p29. The “INTERCUT” here causes more confusion than it solves over the next
    few scenes.
    p41. Two cue lines for MARINA.
    p47. The FLASHBACK cuts from Marina/Richard to Alison/Daniel. That will look
    like a normal transition in between the story lines on screen.

    THE CLOUD FACTORY

    I read the first 39 pages.

    150 pages at 59-60 lines per page is *way* too long for a speculative feature length script.
    Those usually are 90-120 pages. Drama has some leeway here (since the people picking
    it up likely already have a predisposition toward it), but more than 57-58 lines per page
    and more than 130 pages will probably not be looked at.

    The extreme length shows through in the writing, as the story is almost paced as a novel.

    For example Jenny is hit on twice by females before she meets Allison. Even though the
    approaches are different it conveys the same information to the audience (Jenny is attractive to women). In a novel that’s okay, but in a screenplay it’s just filler.

    There’s also a lot of time wasted with the logistics of it all. Again, in a novel having
    the protagonist travel is a good way to get them reflecting and record their thoughts. In
    a screenplay those thoughts can only be hinted at, so it slows everything down to a crawl.

    Also, having her travel in different arangements continuously facing different people
    is detrimental to the drama. When there’s finally some conflict brewing in between Jenny and the rest of the female pilots, she gets seperated from them again, cutting any investment we had in the rest of the crew short; there’s no follow up.

    That said, I liked the subject and the concept. I would read this if it were shorter.

    Also, the “Why you should read” is a little passive-aggresive, as if the only reason
    not to like Cloud Factory would be a dislike of period dramas.

    Some details:
    p1.-“FLASH FORWARD” We haven’t witnessed any scenes that establish the world yet, so there isn’t anything to go forward to.
    -“Later. Sunshine” Put “Later” as a seperate slugline in all caps.

    THE TRIENNIAL
    Coming soon.

    FANTASY MAN
    Coming soon.

    • Eddie Panta

      The opening scene in GRIPPER was so monumental, so specifically above EARTH looking down that I thought, okay cool this is it is going to intro a meteor shower, or at least establish the POV of a chopper with water buckets. But it’s just the “camera” falling to earth directly into — THE FIRESTORM!!!

    • BoSoxBoy

      Thanks, Matthew. Very helpful feedback. The torture scene definitely has to get dialed back – I agree, but I want to keep it in because Stone only has 48 hours to prevent the hostage exchange. Thanks again!

    • Nicholas J

      Good reads, some time consuming work there.

      “The *hero* rips open the pants of another man and exposes his genitals, then whips out his own lad to tell a story about it…”

      Brb, reading more of The Triennial…

      • Citizen M

        Was he reviewing “8½” or “9”?

    • Ange Neale

      Thanks for taking a swing at ‘The Cloud Factory’, Matthew. I did try to put up a post earlier, but it seems to have evaporated like a puddle in a desert, so… Take two. I rolled my sleeves up and pulled 10 pages out of it since I submitted this draft, but dumb-ass me forgot to re-submit. I know there’s another 20 or so pages I’ve got to amputate, and that’s where feedback like yours and elsewhere here is so valuable – I’ve got a better idea of what works and what doesn’t. I really appreciate it, and I’ll be taking it all on board for the next swing of the scythe. Thanks!

    • jridge32

      Gotta love Celtx formatting issues (re: pg 23 and 41)!
      Thanks for all the feedback.

    • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

      Holy shit… can’t believe you read that many pages of each script lol good for you!

    • D. Bryan

      Thanks for the feedback Matthew – ‘character and plot in lockstep’ is top of mind during this next revision.

  • NajlaAnn

    My choice: GONE

  • Randy Williams

    I chose to read “Triennial” because thrillers are my genre. Congrats on the writer on making it on AOW, no easy feat.
    I only made it to page 20 for time restraints, but I may get back to it later. However, I’m not really excited about doing so. So far, this feels like a first draft with first choices and all the imagination and cool stuff to be included in subsequent rewrites.
    Quick notes:
    -Nightstand late phone call, tells wife to go back to sleep. How many times have we seen this?
    -Page 5, needs an establishing EXT. on the Pentagon.
    -I’m at page ten and there has been no action. I’m missing it. A gun fight, an explosion, a car chase, something.
    -a quick visual on an airplane trip. This is done twice so far with no real plot advancement. I’d cut the airplane expenses.
    -O.K. this is where it really seems like a first draft. The first HOOK. SPOILER——–
    He spots the Chicago landmark building in the video. There is no drama to the scene in my opinion. He sees it, says something about it, they move on. In subsequent rewrites, you might have Stone shout, STOP the video, rush out of his chair. The military guy smiles, this guy is observant. Stone says something like, 15th and Lakefront, built in 1970, (whatever, I’m making this up) my father worked there 12 years as a janitor (back story for character)
    -page 12,13, the chat between Stone and military guy. No real tension. Who wants what, who is preventing them from getting it? Again, feels first draftedy.
    Page 15, bar meeting with Stone and owner. Again. First choice. Owner locks up bar so they can chat. There’s weapons in the basement. Never let a weapon go unused. Maybe open with the owner using one of the barflies as target practice or something. He gets paid with whiskey, of course.
    Page 17. “Stone yawns” Really? Your hero?
    Page 18, Jail scene that lasts 2 seconds. 6 guards needed for that just to show the black dude’s attitude. Cut that expense.
    Page 19, “professor that “used” to say” not “use” There are also several sentences missing commas throughout.
    Page 20 O.K, did your protagonist actually just whip out his manhood”? I can’t see a big name actor, and i think you’re going for an older action star here, but anyone, can’t see them agreeing to this scene at all. Second, what does this interrogation do to me? It makes me believe Stone is going to catch the bad guys by intimidating some squeal for names and the case is closed. Even if that’s NOT how it shakes out, I still think that at this point in the script. I’d rather see him try to track the coordinates from that window. In this case your first choice was the better one but you decided to make it impossible.
    Easy read as far as the format, writing, but the above expresses my concerns. Good luck with it.

    • BoSoxBoy

      Thanks for the read and suggestions, Randy. Some very useful stuff there. Much appreciated!

      • Randy Williams

        You’re welcome. You mentioned this was a new genre for you. I don’t think you should give up on that genre if that’s something you love to write. You’ve had success in comedy, I don’t see why not with something like this. I wish I had a link to it, but Scriptshadow did a great review while back of some thriller where the writer was praised for writing his characters into corners that seemed impossible to escape from. I found the advice in that article as well as other articles under the “Thriller” category very helpful.

        • BoSoxBoy

          Got it, thanks! Will give it all a read.

  • kenglo

    Just wanted to chime in right quick. In deciding which one(s) I wanted to read, I went by logline first – The Triennial got me there.

    I must say – the writing from ALL of these folks is TOP-NOTCH! Gripper had the best opening, even though some folks didn’t dig the ax-head impalement….it made me want to read all the way through! As a matter of fact, like I said, all of the writing is great, and I felt I wanted to read all of them……

    Awesome group of scripts guys! CONGRATS to ALL of you !!!

    • kenglo

      K I have to stand corrected…..

      TRIENNIAL – pretty stock. I got up to page 15 and was not overly impressed with the story, it felt like a been here done that.

      GRIPPER – I loved that ax scene. Some people state they wouldn’t do that, but that is what makes it unique. Who the heck knows what anyone would do in that situation. In Toy Story 3 they all huddled together, held hands, faced their doom together as long time friends do. We grew up with them. If they all broke out axes and chopped each other up, it would go against character, I get that.The two in Gripper, we don’t have that liberty. We can only assume, this is what they wanted, I think he subtly stated it – “Krista, I don’t want to burn!” That was good enough for me. Maybe take out the ‘But we’re gonna die.”

      Some folks complained of to much ‘science’ mumbo jumbo. The set up was two pages. that’s just about right I would think….

      GONE – ‘Post coitus’???

      I like the premise of FANTASY MAN, but I didn’t have time to read.

      150 pages for a script, who are ya – Tarantino??? But I would like to read it, seems like an interesting enough story. Still – can’t start off with FLASH FORWARD from somewhere we haven’t been back to !!!

      GRIPPER!!

  • Eddie Panta

    GRIPPER is indeed gripping ( ah ha ha )… Anyway, It’s getting some attention here from the frequent commenters. Some have already voted on it.

    I haven’t read that deep yet. But by page three we are steeped in an exploitation type movie. Not the sci-fi horror I was hoping for. Not sure what progresses but I don’t think it can make up for the opening.

    Exploitation is when take a socially relevant issue in this case, forest fires or messing with nature and exploit it to illicit a emotion from the viewer, without really dealing with the subject matter or characters. You’re just pushing buttons. Basically, I’m waiting for MACHETE to jump out and extinguish the flames with his knives.

    The writer does not seem to be self-aware of what they are getting into…

    Curtains of flame, wind-whipped and multi-hued dance

    before his eyes, then —

    The axe cleaves his skull.

    Mind you, this is a firefighter/forest ranger that has just killed a man so he won’t burn a live.

    EXT. FIRESTORM – NIGHT

    Hell on earth.

    This would a good spot to tell us what state/region we are in.

    Next line uses the word firestorm again. What kind of woodland is this? What kind of tree is a 1000 year old tree? An oak? Doesn’t Krista know…

    Ok, so forest fire has gone out. Krista and Bob’s remains are burned to a crisp. GENA an intense beauty ( of course) arrives with another guy, same age, 25, TOR, as well as two random firefighters. Upon seeing the charred remains. the first line goes to random firefighter # 1 : “Aw, Fuck.”
    Tor bends over and vomits.
    Gena, the intense beauty, coolly inspects Krista’s charred remains. Why? Because she’s cool like that.

    I don’t know what’s happening here but this guy is either: On to something or “On something”, either way. you’ve got my attention. I didn’t read past 10 because I have to go back read to first three over again just make sure this was really happening.

    • Nicholas J

      I think you’re too caught up in the exploitation stuff and the opening 3. Just because something’s ridiculous doesn’t make it exploitation. I read it as just a fun horror movie based in science gone wrong. Evil Dead meets Michael Crichton. There’s some action, fun gore, a bit of character, a unique plot, good voice, no Nazis or Zombies, and all from a seemingly inexperienced (?) writer. It’s not going to win an Oscar but it’s perfect for an AF review from Carson.

      • Eddie Panta

        Yeah, I’m all about it. What I meant was that the writer didn’t seem to be aware of the tone. Science gone wrong is fine. A fun horror sci-fi is great, but this is way over the top.

  • witwoud

    GRIPPER — This began losing me at its clumsy first line: “High above the earth a star-lit night illuminates mountain peaks that thrust through low-lying clouds.” — ‘High above the earth’ is utterly meaningless in this context. If the night is ‘star-lit’ would it really illuminate mountain peaks? A moonlit night would, not sure about starlight. And mountain peaks don’t ‘thrust’ through anything, they stay exactly where they are.

    Sorry, I laughed out loud at the ‘inflamed deer’ (What’s he so inflamed about?) And the ‘smoking snake’ is even funnier. So is ‘peeling Krista’s remains off the tree.’ Good for a laugh, this … but pass.

    GONE — I’m on page 11 and have no idea what this is all about. Couples talking?
    — Okay, I’m now on page 30 and still have no idea what it’s about. Boring publishing types having affairs, or something? With a supernatural element? No idea, but I’m bored. Pass.

    THE CLOUD FACTORY — You’re right, not all period romances are boring. But this one is. I parachuted out at page 35 (of 151) because I couldn’t take any more of this endless meandering dialogue. If The English Patient is one of your models, suggest you take a look at Anthony Minghella’s screenplay and see how he did so much with so little.

    MY VOTE!! —THE TRIENNIAL. I’m in a savage sort of mood tonight, so I enjoyed this Jack-Reacher-in-a-Yarmulke yarn. It’s, er, not going to win any fans among civil-liberty types, but let’s face it: this sort of thing sells. After the previous two screenplays, I was grateful that you put your inciting incident on page three and got on with the story. Read about thirty pages of it. There’s nothing new here, but it’s efficient. And violent.

    Just a few notes:
    Page 1 — Why say that David is wearing a yarmulke on his *skull*? Sounds odd. Also, “The sound of ocean waves *are* near???” And “the *horizon* is too dark to see anything beyond the deck.” (Surely *night*?)
    Page 6 — It’s a bit weird that Stone’s flashback shows him losing consciousness on the operating table, and then goes on to show other people talking about him while he sleeps.
    page 12 — If Netanyahu has already agreed to release the Hezbollah Seventeen, doesn’t this rather decrease the stakes? He releases them, the girl goes free, big deal. Maybe this will change?
    Page 14 “Yeah. The diabetes finally got her.” Exposition speak!

    FANTASY MAN — Reading this made me remember a ‘rule of comedy’ I recently read: no matter how far-fetched your scenario, you have to make the audience believe in your main character. That’s where Fantasy Man comes a cropper. I couldn’t believe in any of these characters, especially Todd. In the first few pages we learn that he’s a fantasy-football nerd who has borrowed money from a Vegas mobster to place a bet that’s going to win him a million dollars. Well … okay. That already is rather a lot to swallow. I find it hard to picture such a guy. In the next scene we learn that his best friend Clutch works as an enforcer for the same (?) mobster. Now you’ve lost me altogether. Who are these people? Is this the sort of thing that happens in Vegas? Because there’s no reality here that I can even remotely relate to, and as a result I can’t give a fig for these characters or their situation. As far as I can see there’s nothing here apart from a crime-caper plot and wisecracking. Pass.

    • Eddie Panta

      Great notes on the opening paragraph… Mountain peaks do not “thrust.”

      I’m all about an opening image. Just needs to pick one. The fire lighting the night sky is plenty good, I’d stick with that.

      • Nicholas J

        I have no problems with saying mountains thrust. It’s just an active way to write as it creates the illusion of motion when there isn’t any. Stuff like that makes the script read well and not seem too passive. It’s just a style thing and I’m not sure a script should be docked for something like that.

        • witwoud

          Okay, fair enough. We’re deep into subjective territory here. To me, it seemed inelegant to describe the mountains thrusting through the clouds. It suggests that the clouds came first, and then the mountains arrived and pierced a hole in them. I admit, I tend to be a bit, well, literal-minded when it comes to metaphors. Ivy thrusting through a window, okay. Pine trees thrusting into the sky, fine. But a mountain thrusting through clouds, that just seems like the wrong way round.

          Also, I’m not sure that we always want to make every description active. The opening mood is ‘serene’, the screenplay tells us, so in this case surely it would be better to create an illusion of stillness rather than of motion? Emphasise the solemnity and the beauty of the mountains, rather than have them thrusting? To me, ‘thrust’ just seems like a word chosen for the sake of using a dramatic word.

          But you’re right, it’s a style thing, and one can pick too many holes.

          • MWire

            Besides, mountains actually do thrust upwards, just real slowly.

          • Eddie Panta

            It’s just giving a verb to an inanimate object…
            But anyway, clearly the light source here should be the FIRE! Not the stars.
            And it should look like a volcano is going off, because right down below is the FIRESTORM.

    • BoSoxBoy

      Thanks for the Triennial suggestions, Witwould! The “stakes” issue you raise (hostage trade) does indeed change at the end! Thanks again.

    • Ange Neale

      Thank you, Witwoud, for taking the time to perservere as far as you did with ‘The Cloud Factory’, especially as you found it boring. I’ve addressed my biggest flaw (page length) elsewhere, so won’t bang on here. I know I have to get it down close to 120-ish, and the feedback from all of you helps.

      Btw, I have read ‘The English Patient’ script a few times. While they don’t bother me, in a forum like this, the late Mr Minghella would get absolutely hammered these days for writing in 7, 8, even 10 line paragraphs. If he’d stuck to 1 – 3, perhaps an occasional 4 (which I tried to do), his page count would’ve blown out, too. There’s also quite a few ‘unfilmables’ in TEP, some of which come across in the film as tone and mood. Regardless of that, I love it, and it’s that bar I’m trying to get to. Thank you again for giving it a go!

      • http://the-movie-nerd.com themovienerd

        Ange–

        I love that you set a bar. And your goal is most def a worthy one. The English Patient is a fantastic film written by a fantastic writer/director. So don’t let anyone tell you not to shoot for the stars. Including me.

        I think I also read in another comment of yours you’re a beginning writer, and this is your first SP. So I say the following with this in the forefront of my mind.

        First and fore most, take into account I, nor most people on this board (or Triggerstreet as I believe you use that site as well) have any more success at screenwriting than you generally speaking. Thus everything should be taken with numerous salt grains.

        If your goal is to write a great screenplay, then keep playing, working it and grinding it down. This could be great.

        BUT! IF your goal is to SELL a SPEC, then I offer the following:

        Mr. Minghella wrote the English Patient *screenplay* with two HUGE advantages over you: 1) it was based on a relatively well recognized piece of literary work. Meaning SOMEBODY (likely a studio or prod co) owned the rights and he landed that writing/directing gig and 2) He had a massive amount of experience and time put into the industry before he wrote it.

        He worked an entire career UP TO the English Patient. It wasn’t the first bullet out of his gun. Even a really great review on AOW here on scriptshadow will likely not clear this hurdle for you. BUT, it could get you some recognition as a writer, which could lead to the NEXT thing being heavily sought after. So good on you for throwing your hat in the ring. Just be realistic about the outcome.

        As a writer, you should know what sells. Know the market. Know *WHAT* is in development around town. All of this is, honestly, easier said than done, but worth the effort. Because one day if all goes according to plan, you will have a phone conversation with a manager or an agent about what you should write next. And if you’ve done your homework, that conversation will go much smoother and the person on the other end will be much more apt to take your calls when you want them to and lend you an ear in the future.

        Also. Know *WHY* this subject is a tough sell. For every film you mention in the why should read that is a financial success, there are 10 others in a similar vein that are not.

        Clearly. You are a talented writer. But read more screenplays, as many as you can stomach. In genres you may not even like. Get a feel for what works on the page and why. Find what works for you and for where you are in your career, not what worked for a well seasoned vet who could get away with a million and one things you and I can’t.

        But mostly. KEEP AT IT! Please. You have a voice. And we need a Minghella replacement. He was one of a kind, to be sure. But…. there’s a hole needs filling.

        Best of luck in your future endeavors!

        • Ange Neale

          Thank you, themovienerd, for your encouragement, advice and kind words! I will stick at it. Stephjones elsewhere told me the same thing – there’s a good yarn in this concept, but I’ve got to tell it better.

  • Matthew Garry

    From what I can tell, usually less than 8 hours.

    After a certain amount of time or posts, your posts don’t have to wait for moderation anymore, unless disqus eats them, which is quite often, and then your posts disappear forever, unless you repost it, and then the original post is bound to show up minutes after that. It’s disqus’ way of showing you who’s boss around here.

    • Citizen M

      I thought it was until Carson wakes up bleary-eyed and checks the moderation queue.

      • Matthew Garry

        I hold Carson waking up, implying sleep, for unfounded rumours.

        I mean, reading a script four days a week, writing 1500 words about something 6 days a week, then tending to the business end–the notes service–for another chunk of time, on top of that presumably there’s “lunches” with writers and movie people all over town as often as possible, then there’s a relationship that needs to be nourished, and to top it all off, there’s Sean Penn who needs to be stalked into friendhood.

        When would he actually sleep?

        I think the bleary-eyed part is probably spot on though.

  • Linkthis83

    My vote is for Gripper, but not because I love it. Only because I need to choose one out of these 5.

    Congrats to all 5 writers. I think I wrote the note “This is written well” for all of them. This was a good set of scripts.

    Gripper (horror):

    p1 = mountain peaks illuminated by stars? I disagree

    p1 = “hallucinatory maelstrom of pungent smoke and sparks” = really? This sentence is a maelstrom of text. So…at this moment on screen, we the audience will be seeing: a hallucination-like situation of confused activities/emotions of strong/sharp smelling smoke and sparks? No idea what that looks like :)

    p1 = Witty banter in this scenario isn’t for me. I know it’s a defeated, witty banter but I still don’t like it. I like Krista though. I like that she is bold and unafraid and pissed off at being defeated. Just show her handling business. I don’t even mind that she is strong than the guy in this scenario. Labeling them volunteer firefighters though doesn’t help your story any (based on what I read to). It only matters that they are volunteer if one of them were to survive (unless their story resurfaces further in the script – which a document search revealed she does not).

    p6 = There is so much specific and detailed dialogue here. I have no idea what is truly happening in these pages. Sounds like you did your research, but I have a feeling on screen this is going to be confusing. On the page, it’s confusing. I can’t refute if it’s accurate or not, but that’s not my job here. You should probably have one of the many characters here be the “audience” character. I don’t want to tell you to do the cliche “dumb it down” moment, but as it is, isn’t working (for me). There has got to be a way to pare this detailed dialogue down and make it more accessible to the audience (if this is a note you get a lot – otherwise, it’s my problem. LOL)

    p24 = packing a flight cases = packing flight cases

    Summary:

    I have mixed feelings about your opening scene. I think it makes an attempt at being a great visual with some worthy characters meeting their demise. And this demise introduces us to this tree and the story. However, I feel this opening is a cheap trick. I don’t believe that the tone that the murdering Krista set is going to be consistent with the rest of the story (and I don’t feel it was with how far I read). The other thing to is, I liked Krista. And I believe you did too. That’s why you made her Gena :) I would really like a way to make Krista into Gena for real. Based on the feeling I get about Krista’s character, I see that opening scene playing out more like:

    Bobby is still weak. He and Krista are fleeing together. Bobby is losing heart and falling behind. Maybe he’s injured. I don’t know. His panic and fear of being burned alive start to overtake him. Krist/Gena sees the tree. Yelling at him to just make it to the tree. He’s wailing and Krista knows he’s not going to make it. she also sees that Bobby is terrified. Pulls out her axe and kills Bobby. Puts him out of his impending misery. He doesn’t see it coming and it’s NOT a beautiful moment. After killing him, she takes his axe and hauls ass to the tree. Begins using the axes and whatever other necessary items that are on her person to start scaling/climbing the tree. This chick is a survivor. She is a fighter. She is not going gentle into that good firestorm. I’m assuming this tree has no low branches or else they would’ve tried climbing them in your original scene. If Krista could survive this and be your protagonist, then you’ve taken a scene that you’ve created and showed who this character is and what she is made of.

    (currently working on the others)

    • Kirk Diggler

      Good notes Link. You make some great points about the author in Gone not having a problem hooking up with another publisher…. or I don’t know, if it was really a problem he could self publish. Everybody’s doing it. He’s already a name in the business. There was no urgency or stakes in the early going. Killed it for me.

      And your thoughts on Fantasy Man truly show why comedy is dangerous. The moment you announce you’ve written a comedy is the moment people are waiting to laugh at your script. It truly is the most subjective of elements. And sometimes it’s not really about the laughs, but caring about the character you’re laughing about. Make us care about the character first, then make us laugh about him/her.

      • Linkthis83

        Thanks, Kirk. Yours were awesome as always. There are a lot of posters giving good notes these days. I like it.

        You’re right about comedy. Even when making my suggestions I was doubtful that even those were funny. I was mostly trying to use the elements they already provided and then try to add some humor. But since it was the core of that story that I think was missing (making us care about Todd and Clutch), then my suggestions aren’t going to be that helpful.

        I do like breaking down different genres though to learn what does and doesn’t work for me. Especially to challenge myself to make it better. I always look at giving feedback like I’ve been given this script as my assignment. It really adds some nice pressure :)

    • Nicholas J

      “Maybe I’m not qualified to comment on comedy scripts but I just didn’t feel this one.”

      No, these are some good notes for Fantasy Man. I especially like the crony in the dark ideas.

      I think the biggest problem is the lack of a setup. We’re already in the new world (fantasy football and gangsters) when the script starts and it’s confusing and disorienting.

      In Happy Gilmore we meet the character and are given reasons why he would enter the golf tournaments so we can root for him when he does. In Dumb & Dumber we are shown how the characters lives are in shambles, so we understand why they go to Aspen. In Fantasy Man we have unclear motivations and characters right from the beginning.

      I don’t know if this will make sense, but it’s much easier to stay on board for the journey if we start on the boat with everyone else instead of swimming alongside it figuring out how to climb aboard.

      • Linkthis83

        Thanks. I like the notes you’ve been putting out as well. I like seeing how others interpret the same things I read.

    • Ange Neale

      Linkthis83, thanks for your review of ‘The CloudFactory’. I appreciate constructive criticism (no subtext intended) and any that helps me improve this is welcome. You were right on the money about the flash forwards – I didn’t want to ‘flash back’ almost every other scene. I might check out how James Cameron did it for ‘Titanic’ because that goes back and forward between 1912 and present. I apologise for the length of it – I’d heard ‘write what you’re passionate about’, so I did. Kinda went overboard. Speaking of which…

      Re Amy Johnson and hypothermia (true story, btw) — a Royal Navy ship (HMS Haslemere) trying to rescue her got stuck in the mud. The crew threw lines down to her but she’d already been in the water for several minutes. The Thames in January, it was snowing, etc… She called out to them but she couldn’t grip the lines because her hands were numb. In that sense, she did die because of hypothermia. Then a wave picked the back of the ship up, she was swept under and it came down on her. It’s likely the propeller got her (hence no body), but I thought that might’ve been too off-putting for many people, so I described it less gruesomely. The ship’s skipper dived overboard with a line tied around him, but he couldn’t find her. By the time his crew pulled him aboard, he was barely conscious and hypothermic. He died later that day. They gave him a gallantry medal posthumously for trying.

      And ‘Hear, hear’ for Lindsay Doran – she’s so good, isn’t she?

      Thank you again, and I’ll be taking yours and others’ feedback into the next draft.

      • Linkthis83

        The passion is definitely on display. I found myself in quite a conundrum when reading your script. I kept thinking about how much is in here, yet, there’s no way I can get through it all (not with the other scripts to look at).

        The subject matter is unique and extremely interesting. I didn’t want to ding you for anything but I also had to be honest. If someone suggested this to me as a movie to watch, I most certainly would watch it. I hope it reaches that stage. But I do have to remind myself where it is that I’m encountering this story and it is at the amateur spec level. That’s going to be your challenge. If you can find a way to capture the essence of this story and do it with around 30 less pages (a lot I know – I cringe), then I have no doubt that this script/story should get you something. Even if it’s just assignment work. But then how much period drama assignment work is there? :)

        If I knew even just the highlights of the hypothermia story I would’ve gotten it, but how it’s referenced in the script made me ask that question.

        Lindsay Doran = yes, she is that good. Thanks for submitting and congratulations on getting selected for AOW!! Good luck with this project.

        • Ange Neale

          Thanks, Link!

          “I didn’t want to ding you for anything but I also had to be honest.” – Anything less than honest usually isn’t very helpful, so please, please, please never feel bad for being honest! I’m not the sort to ask my room-mate if my ass looks big in clothes because, hell, I know if it was any damned bigger, I’d be able to make money selling advertising space on it and not have to think about writing a spec script as an alternative to a 9-to-5er. On hot days, small dogs seek shelter from the sun under it. If I stand on the street too long, the city council wants to charge it for taking up a parking space. On the bright side, I’m permitted to use ‘bus only’ lanes. Nah – wishful thinking.

          I’d be much more concerned if people gushed platitudes and left me wondering what the hell I’d done wrong.

          • Linkthis83

            I’d suggest advertising your script on your ass, but…you don’t want to walk around with the title The Cloud Factory on your rear ;)

            Thanks for the laugh.

          • Ange Neale

            LOL!

      • Linkthis83

        Went back and checked out the hypothermia exchange.

        p7 = baled out = bailed out.

    • D. Bryan

      Excellent notes Link, very much appreciated and many points taken to task. Yes, Krista is now Gena in the current draft :) And thanks for the vote!

      • Linkthis83

        Hey, Drew. No problem. I love doing notes when they are actually useful to somebody. Lol. Although, I also do notes for myself. I learn a lot about what matters to me in a script/story by breaking down other scripts. I learn so much from this process.

        This biggest help is when I find things I don’t feel work for the script/story and then I challenge myself to solve it. It’s more involved but like I said, that part is for me.

        I’m glad to hear that Krista is now Gena. I think that’s really going to help right away.

        You are welcome for the vote and I look forward to reading Carson’s review of it. Good luck with future drafts! (I think you definitely have one of those concepts that could get you noticed now. I hope that turns out to be a reality after the review.)

  • Eddie Panta

    I wanted that one guy Bob, the volunteer fireman, to light up a cigarette and have a last smoke before he took an axe to the head, at least that would be ironic.

  • Malibo Jackk

    OT

    Herman Mankiewicz’s advice to Ben Hecht on moving to Hollywood —
    “Millions are to be grabbed out here, and your only competition is idiots.”

    Ben Hecht on Hollywood —
    “Hollywood held this double lure for me, tremendous sums of money for work
    that required no more effort than a game of pinochle.”

  • Stephjones

    The Cloud Factory- reviewed a newer version over on TriggerStreet and really enjoyed it. It’s a well told, intelligent story. The dense writing is double edged. It’s very evocative but requires reader commitment. What I liked was that it offered a window into the world of some extraordinary women during WW2 and I’ve never read anything quite like it before.
    I had issues with the opening scene because it devoted too many pages to an already bloated narrative without being entirely necessary, IMO. Once we get to the women flying the planes, the story enthralled me. I think this is where the story should open.
    I also think Jenny needs to be single minded in her goal to pursue college. This sets up much needed conflict when she falls for Alli and only wants to be with her. When she gets accepted it should become agonizing for her to choose.
    As I mentioned in my TSL review, Ange, I think that knowing the two women die tragically from the very beginning kept me at an emotional arm’s length from them throughout the story. It would be a gut wrenching conclusion without that spoiler in the beginning.
    I would really love to hear Carson’s take on this story. I believe this could be a movie in the making.
    Cloud Factory gets my vote.

    • Ange Neale

      A big, humble, cyber-hug coming your way, Steph. Thank you! So, start with the Tiger Moths in Scotland. Pare down then push back the 21st century prologue so it follows the last WW2 scene. It’s a really good option and it takes out several pages. I know it’d be far too harrowing to leave an audience with just the WW2 ending. This plan, they’d have a few minutes’ denouement, and it’s still the kind-of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ pathos-rich ending I was looking for. Two thumbs-up!

      • Stephjones

        Or open with the discovery of their bodies in present day but leave the cause of death a complete question mark?

        • Linkthis83

          I agree with this. I thought learning about the WWII era shells was too quick. There’s a nice reveal in that information. Let us wait. The mystery of the bodies alone is really intriguing.

          Maybe they only find one shell at first and just before you cut to the past, the guy says that it’s a shell from WWII. Then you could transition to the past. That’ll leave us hanging on the mystery of the present day story why you start setting up the past.

          • Ange Neale

            Steph & Link, a young British guy (Sutinder Bola) kindly sent me a set of notes on Sunday night that suggested I had my inciting incident and first act turning point all wrong. I’d plotted the former as Jenny’s unconscious admission on the train that she might be gay and the latter as the accident, but he suggested the accident’s the inciting incident and Jenny realising and admitting she wants Allison is the first act turning point. Which, with the benefit of hindsight, makes a hell of a lot of sense. That makes the first act some 55 pages long. His solution is to cut all of the contemporary stuff fore and aft (which gets rid of what kept you at arms’ length, Steph), cut ruthlessly into the remaining first ~50 pages, then it’s really close to where it needs to be for page length. It matches up with your feedback and much of what else has been noted here. I’d need to tweak the ending a little, but most of the razor work’s at the front, not the rear.

  • Eddie Panta

    THE TRIENNIAL
    aka OUR MAN STONE
    Much easier read than the others. Fantasy Man well written did have a dense first page.
    But what follows is a story structure that needs some real work in terms of what we see an intro first. Let’s start with the problem on page 1 — A kidnapping, instead of the moody stone. The backflash comes in too early and takes to long. I want to see STONE do something first before you tell me his past. He hasn’t done anything yet.

    Actions occur without reaction. Especially when Marsha is kidnapped. There is no sense of tension and the writing does not express urgency or fear. I am sensing that the writer is more comfortable with dialogue, subtle moments, than action sequences.

    AS opposed to the other scripts here which throw us right into there world, TRIENNIAL starts off nice an easy, a bit too easy though on it’s main Character —

    STONE who is in a BEACH HOUSE, sitting next to a FLICKERING PATIO TORCH, wearing a yarmulke on his “skull”. We don’t know where exactly, but he’s out on the deck being moody, he ushers his pregnant wife inside, she goes, he says he’ll be in soon… And that’s it. Nothing happens.

    They exchange.. words. We understand that he is deep in thought.
    He sees his wife’s face in a reflective planter, she sticks her tongue at him sarcastically, through the glass doors. He smiles. .

    Not sure what’s up with the flickering patio torch or why it’s all in caps, or why that’s important. I thought something was going to catch fire. This looks like it’s gonna be our action hero and there is no action, nor anything learned about him. He is Jewish but the yarmulke told us that, not the story. I am guessing he is in Israel, but why not tell us where we are? This page one character intro is expensive page real estate. You’re going to have to dig deeper than this.

    In the scene that follows A woman, we also don’t learn anything about — MARSHA is in Chicago, about to get into a cab, an old man “MAN” waves at her, says: Have a great weekend “Marsha” ( he tells us her name, so we know who she is talked about later)

    Marsha is in the cab, stopped at a stop sign. Taxi’s don’t really stop at stop signs in Chicago. This is when she is kidnapped by two masked men. They jump inside the cab!

    For some reason in the scene below, we have no reaction from Marsha, we’re not sure who this story is happening to. Also, the taxi driver does not speak, yell, or do anything.
    We don’t see the story through Marsha’s eyes, not the eyes of the kidnappers either. But most importantly we don’t see it through the eyes of the only eye witness , an old man walking his dog. Which would of set up the scene the way the write wrote it, from an impersonal, far away, omniscient vantage point.

    The below scene should be page one. It could start with a man walking his dog.
    I don’t need to see Marsha get into the cab or wave goodbye pleasantries to anyone.
    Then Jack’s scene, then go to STONE, bring him in, when he’s ready to do something.
    If he wants to be alone, outside on the deck, then give us a reason why. This should be when gets the proverbial call to action. This way you can put the two scenes together and make them one, save time.

    INT. TAXI-NIGHT

    The DRIVER is a middle-aged male.
    MARSHA:
    53rd and Woodlawn please.
    Taxi stops at a STOP SIGN in a dark, quiet neighborhood.
    The back seat doors fling open and two MEN with scarves over
    their faces get in the back seat on opposite sides of
    Marsha, put a fabric bag over her frantic face, and zip tie
    her wrists.
    A third man pulls out the Driver, throws him to the ground,
    shoots him, takes the wheel position in the taxi, and drives
    away.

    EXT. TAXI-NIGHT
    A man walks his dog on a dark side street, sees the taxi
    incident, undetected, and yanks his dog by the leash in the
    other direction.

    • BoSoxBoy

      Eddie- Thanks for the read and the GREAT suggestion for the opening scene. I love it!

    • Kirk Diggler

      I disagree with your idea of starting with the kidnapping. Not to be a slave to form or structure, but ‘they’ always say your opening image should be the world of your protagonist before things change. Stone at the beach with his pregnant wife establishes this. We get the idea in our head that he is our hero. Calm before the storm, so to speak.

      Starting with the kidnapping would focus our attention on the General’s daughter, who is probably (I haven’t read the whole thing) a plot device.

      • Citizen M

        Start with the kidnapping, then cut to Stone relaxing with his wife and his phone goes and you know, uh-oh this has something to do with the kidnapping. Then cut to Jack in the war room on the phone to Stone filling in the details.

        I’d like to see the kidnapping smarter and more organized. Snatching at a traffic light seems to be a bit chancy. You want to know that Stone is up against worthy opponents.

        Someone else suggested you should get an idea where the terrorists are from the angle of the view of the Hancock building. If Stone had a map of Chicago with rays coming out of Hancock indicating possible locations, and cross-checked with the list he got from Fort, he could narrow down his search to only the most likely addresses.

        • Eddie Panta

          Exactly, pretty standard thriller format.

      • Eddie Panta

        But we wouldn’t know it’s the General’s daughter or even her name.
        It would just be a business woman being kidnapped, shown through the view of the villains. You could still have an opening image / opening scene after that.

  • Stephjones

    Fantasy Man — gave it a go. Sorry, guys, but I did not connect with your characters in the first 15. You might think it’s because I’m a woman but I can assure you I’m very sophomoric with low brow tastes that run to buddy comedies like: The Change Up, Hot Tub Time Machine, Hall Pass even Bad Grandpa. I actually think there’s something wrong with me…but I love those movies. The thing that makes those movies work for me is that I like the characters and the relationship between the characters. As long as you can make me like your characters it’s fairly obvious I’ll watch them do almost anything, no matter how ridiculous. Actually, the more ridiculous, the better. I tell you, I’m fucked up. Is there someone I can talk to about this?

    • Montana Gillis

      You are definitely in the right place! Birds of a feather and all…

      • Stephjones

        Enabler. ;)

  • Wes Mantooth

    Just because you submitted a script, it doesn’t mean it will be chosen for AOW. It’s all about what catches Carson’s eye. If you’ve already tried four times, maybe you need to take another look at your logline. Why don’t you post it here and see how people respond to it.

  • brenkilco

    Read the Cloud Factory to page thirty. Appreciated the mostly careful writing, the superior research on display and the detailed scene setting. And this is despite the fact that the genre generally holds no interest for me.

    The problem. It is too slow. So little happens by page thirty. A wartime protagonist who wants to fly bigger planes and is naive even about her own sexuality has a brief, extremely brief, flirtation with another woman on a train. That’s it. And it’s not nearly enough. The writer seems to understand this which is why she’s included a prologue that indicates a mysterious and tragic end for our heroine. To create an interest the opening proper fails to provide. But even the prologue has problems. We have a couple of pages of forensic archaeology chatter, but it turns out the bodies have I.D. and photos on them. So why waste time on talk of ulnars and brow shapes. The writer seems determined not to let any of her exhaustive research go to waste and the result is too many planes, too many obscure British locales, military operational details etc.

    Bottom line, our heroine could have hit the birds, landed, established who she was and her job frustrations in a brief conversation with a ground crew, been on the train and met the love of her life by page five with nothing of much consequence being lost. Presumably something interesting is going to happen in the story or the writer wouldnt have put so much effort into it. Whatever it is needs to happen sooner.

    • Ange Neale

      Brenkilco, thanks for putting so much thought into your review and for the compliment about the writing – I really appreciate it. All of you reviewers here and elsewhere have given me lots to think about for the next draft. I need to work out how to tell the story more efficiently (i.e. at 120 pages) and in a way that’s more exciting. It’ll get there!

  • Nicholas J

    Exactly. I was so intimidated by it that I transformed into a fetus for a few hours. Plus it’s a new moon tonight where I am. I’m like the opposite of a werewolf.

  • Ange Neale

    In hindsight, guilty as charged, Nosrac, and I apologise. I might’ve been having a hormonal day. Or possibly chocolate withdrawal.

  • http://the-movie-nerd.com themovienerd

    Gripper. By quite a bit honestly.

    First 10 – The writing was taught. The action great. Will read the rest before next week to really throw my 2 cents in. Which is just how sure I am this one will take it. It really got me, well done to the writer!

    But I have to say, overall, this week was not the strongest.

    Wanted to love The Cloud Factory. Loved the risk taken on subject matter/the subject matter. Really liked the Why You Should Read, because YES!

    But holy crap. Edit. Please. SO overwritten. Like woah. Also, I’m a pretty intelligent guy I feel like, but when a script makes me feel like an idiot because I don’t understand an average of a word a scene… FML. I hate you.

    Looks like the writer friendlies are already out in full force for “Fantasy Man.” But nope. Just not that funny, really struggled through the first ten.

    “Gone” was not even close. The dialogue needs WORK. And there was just way too much writing for no end to get any sort of momentum built as a reader.

    And I couldn’t even understand “The Trienneal’s” logline after reading it literally five times so I didn’t even bother there. Sorry :-/.

    • Eddie Panta

      taught — Taunt.

      • Linkthis83

        taut

        • Eddie Panta

          but I was taunting.

          • Linkthis83

            I obviously didn’t get what was happening. lol

          • Ange Neale

            Taughntology: teaching sarcastic or insulting comments in a needlessly repetitive manner.

          • Citizen M

            As taught in the Taunton College of Tauntology — a daunting course.

      • http://the-movie-nerd.com themovienerd

        PLEASE NOTE: He’s not crazy… I edited.

    • Ange Neale

      Have addressed my lack of user-friendliness and excessive page length deficits elsewhere, so won’t reiterate. But I thank you for diving in! And for your comment elsewhere.

  • Ange Neale

    Thank you, ASAbrams, for having a crack at ‘The Cloud Factory’. I’ve pulled 10 pages out of this draft but forgot to re-submit. (Dumb-ass rookie mistake!) I know I’ve got to get it closer to 120-ish for it to have a fighting chance at selling it, but I really appreciate yours and all of the constructive feedback here. Thanks!

    • JakeBarnes12

      Hi, Ange,
      Just a couple of general points that I hope you find helpful.

      Don’t cheat on the formatting in Final Draft. The program has settings that allow you to “tighten” the layout (i.e. get more words on the page). Readers see so many FD scripts, they can immediately recognize when the layout has been tampered with and don’t appreciate it.

      In a similar vein, you say 120-ish, which means you’re thinking you can get away with 125 to 130. Spec dramas can go UP TO 120 pages. Anyone sees anything over 120 it’s going to be a major turn off.

      In academic writing, not only can we rattle on for pages in the main body of the chapter, we can expound on tangential but interesting material in footnotes. All of this is very bad training for screenwriting, which is about story stripped down to its barest dramatic core.

      Of course dramas can move a little slower than thrillers, but there still needs to be clear forward story momentum. If nothing significant is happening to your protagonist, it should be ruthlessly cut.

      All your knowledge and research on the period is great, but again the academic impulse is to put it on the page. In screenwriting it’s better to think of Hemingway’s iceberg, seven eighths of which is below water and not visible to the reader. The research will give authenticity to your story, but it exists to serve the narrative and not vice versa.

      At the very least plot out your story in terms of inciting incident, act 1 turning point, act 2 midpoint, act 2 turning point, climax as it all relates to your protagonist. Your protagonist’s development is the spine or throughline of your story. Anything not directly related to that spine should be cut. Any scene where there is no conflict between characters should be cut.

      There are many screenwriting books that expand on the previous paragraph.

      Finally, your title page proclaims here is a writer who doesn’t know the basics. It should be 12-point courier font, the title all-caps or underlined, and then next line “By” and the following line your name. Contact info at the bottom is fine.

      There’s so much to learn in screenwriting (which is part of the fascination) but it can be frustrating at the beginning when you want to wrestle a story into this rather strange and truncated form.

      Hope this helps with your rewrites.

      Good luck with what sounds like a fascinating project.

      • Ange Neale

        Thank you, Jake, for your advice. I don’t actually use FD. I used Trelby, so I checked the settings and they seemed okay. The PDF settings had defaulted to my Australian ones – A4-sized paper, not US letter, which is slightly taller but less wide. And I’ll fix that title page, too. D’oh – rookie errors. Thanks for pointing them out.

  • John Bradley

    Okay, I’m up and running, ready to give all 5 a read. I’m going to try and get to at least Page 20 of each…………….Here we go!

    • Linkthis83

      It’s about freaking time ;)

    • John Bradley

      Gripper: “When a young geneticist attempts to save the world’s forests from a rabid insect infestation she unwittingly unleashes a plague of apocalyptic proportions.” I live in Colorado and we have something called a Pine Beetle that is destroying trees here at an alarming rate. The logline reminds me a bit of I Am Legend, which was a plague started by trying to cure cancer. This is a well written logline to me, short, we see the protagonist, and the Inciting Incident. I shall move on to the script…..

      – Page 1, Really good visual, opening imagery. Sets the mood for the type of script I imagine this is going to be. Followed by a high GSU scene with Bobby and Krista. This is how you write a good opening scene for a horror/thriller type script, really great job.

      – Page 3, Just an opinion, but if you’re trying to market this in America, I would use feet instead of meters. Yes, I know, we are kinda backwards here.

      – Page 3, I don’t like seeing the words “starts” and “begins” in action lines. They are on the 7 Deadly Sins of Screenwriting. Instead of “Firefighters start peeling…” I’d just say, “Firefighters peel”.

      – Really excellent use of vocabulary. I can tell a lot of thought went into your prose. I haven’t read enough to tell if this is a great script yet, but I have read enough to tell you are a good writer.

      – Page 4, Ah, the Pine Beetle! Good stuff with that. Often times the best works of fiction start their origins in reality. That helps with the suspension of disbelief.

      – Page 5, I like delivering verbal exposition in dialogue vis Voice Over while other images are being shown. I like this technique shown on the page.

      – Page 6, So this is a tiny suggestion, but it seems like we are getting hit with a ton of continuous exposition. I might break it up and spread it out a bit more.

      – Page 10, Also, a tiny deal, but 10 pages in and we have been introduced to a lot of characters. Between the parade of characters and exposition my mind is having to work hard to keep up. Gena, Darius, Vern, Kehler, Dr. Maynard, Franzen, Tor, Krista, Bobby……

      – Page 12, I think by this point I will mention something I harped on earlier is I think we could break up the exposition and insert character. Ultimately a screenplay is about a person. I understand the situation well, but I don’t understand the character dealing with the situation. I want to say that everything is well written, and want to praise it. But I would take out a little exposition and add a little character development.

      – Dialogue is short, natural, and conversational. I think it’s pretty well done.

      – Page 16, “Your funding window is shrinking

      Darius. You don’t get funds this

      quarter you might have to wait for

      next years budget. Or the year after.” Good stuff infusing more GSU.

      – This is one of those scripts that I think would play better onscreen than on the page.

      Stopping at Page 20, for now. This is definitely a script I would love to finish.

      Overall: The writer crafts his words in a very visual style, has an interesting concept, solid logline, editing and format were both on par, Dialogue was short and not stilted. My main suggestion was what I stated on 12 and that is cut a bit of exposition (at least early on) and add more character depth. This was a good read, I still have 4 more to go, but would enjoy seeing this get an AF shot.

      • John Bradley

        Gone: “A woman’s past affair with a married writer haunts her in unusual ways.”….I always joke with my writer friends that every writer eventually writes a story about a writer. Hell 90% of Stephen King’s protagonists are writers! This is different though, it’s about a woman (I think you could have added an ajective about her in the logline) who had an affair with the writer. I am intrigued by the subject matter, I enjoy these kinds of stories. I will say the logline is a tad on the vague side, for example is the woman married or just the writer?

        – Page 1, The first thing I’m noticing is that parts of the direction are written in a passive rather than active voice, ex “picking” instead of “picks”. It doesn’t bother everyone, but I prefer an active voice and think it’s a stronger form of writing.

        – Page 1, That said, the opening visuals are well written and I can visualize them, so good job with that.I do think the direction is a tad thick and can be trimmed down.

        – Page 1, “Is” and “are” are also considered passive verbs. Try to eliminate them and use more vivid and active descriptions.

        – It’s okay (and in my opinion preferable) to break up long action blocks by shot rather than cram them all into a 5 line block of action. White space is a readers friend and right of the bat there is very little. Look how to say what you want with less words.

        – Page 2, I’m a little concerned that Blake’s first line of dialogue, “Congratulations! Montana Bloom is now the highest selling novel in Milestone Publishing history. You passed the previous record holder by half a million copies.” is an exposition dump. Show they are celebrating and allow the audience to figure out what they are celebrating through subtext. Don’t feed the audience 4; give them 2 + 2 and let them get to 4, it’s so much more rewarding.

        – Page 3, This is just my opinion, and other’s will disagree, but I wouldn’t spend so much of your valuable white space on descriptions like “Tonight’s waxing moon battles minimal cloud coverage to leave particles of shimmering light on the water’s surface. Snow beginning its piecemeal descent.”……..It’s beautiful prose, but it takes up 3 lines and doesn’t move the story forward. I’m here for story, not prose or mood setting (others might be so take my opinion with a grain of salt). This is something I rarely see in pro scripts. It’s good writing, I just don’t feel it is worth valuable space it is being used on.

        – Page 3-4, I liked Daniel and Allison’s back and forth dialogue here! It was cute and funny! Good stuff here. So much better than Blake’s convo on Page 2! Entertaining stuff here.

        – The constant 3-4 line blocks of direction are tough to get through. I would try to trim them down to 2-3 lines.

        – Page 8, The dialogue through here is solid, natural, and not stilted. So kudos for that and giving your characters voices. Really nice job.

        – Page 9, This page is how you should write direction! Short, 1-2 lines, contracted sentences. I would look at the way you write direction here and try use it throghout the rest of the script.

        – Page 12, “The paper lays untouched…” (lies) This mistake will piss off anyone over 50, trust me, I know.

        – Page 12, The Inciting Incident appears to be Allison has some type of amnesia. Interesting. That’s a nice little mystery box. I’m genuinely interested in what has happened to her.

        – Page 15, Now Allison is back to normal. Very interesting.

        – Page 16, I would just label this a flashback.

        – Page 18, I really like Allison as a character. She is interesting. She has depth. Really good job on her development.

        Stopping on Page 20 for now……I’m really interested in the mystery set up with Allison.

        Overall: There was some solid character work and dialogue going on. There were some lulls storywise in the first 20, but overall I was left interested and invested in the characters, which is exactly what you want as a writer. The main suggestion I have would be to cut back on the excessive prose, shorten the action lines, and use more active verbs rather than passive ones. Overall, I thought this was a pretty good job.

        • John Bradley

          The Cloud Factory: “Torn between family and college or the love of an aristocratic lesbian doctor, a badly-injured American pilot grapples with her burgeoning sexuality and WW2 Britain’s rigid social order.”……….I will say this, we at Scriptshadow don’t see too many WW2 Romantic Drama specs. I have a couple problems with the logline. There is too much going on. I feel like every subplot is being crammed in and I’m having a mental overload trying to wrap my head around what the main plot is. I would simplify the logline if it were me.

          I will also preface my reading by saying that I’m usually not the biggest fan of coming of age stories by amateur writers because I find them all to be too similar. Now setting it as a British lesbian love story during WW2 is something I have never read before and I hope the writing is as original as the concept.

          – 151 pages! Holy cow! I have never read a script that long. I have only heard of a handful. Maybe this could be broken up into a series?

          – Page 1, I’m overwhelmed by the amount of black ink on the page. This is not a welcoming sight for a reader who is about to start a coming of age preiod piece.

          – Page 1, How do you start a script with a flash forward? I have never heard of that before? Hopefully someone can explain that to me.

          – Page 1, Typically “Later” as in this phrase, “Later. Sunshine. The valley revealed.” gets it’s own mini slug line or a full scene heading (I prefer the mini slug line myself) I never see it casually thrown in direction.

          – Having a movie’s opening image of inspectors looking over someone’s death has been done and in this version is not that exciting. I was watching Sunset Boulevard the other day and it starts with police looking over a dead body, but what made that scene pop, what made it unique was that there was Voice Over narration….from the dead person That was cool. That was original. Your job as a writer is to take those mundane scenes and find a way to entertain the reader/viewer. Just cause you are writing a period piece does not mean you have to stick to convention. In fact, I encourage you to break it. Find a way to show us a period piece in a style we have never seen before.

          – Page 2, In screenplay dialogue, The Hollywood Insider suggests to use (–) instead of (;) in dialogue. Just throwing that out there.

          – Page 5, This has an opening that feels more like a detective caper. Definitely defied my expectations as an opening. The one thing though is that I have not made an emotional connection to any of the characters. I really hope I do soon.

          – Page 6, Last time I will mention it, I’m not sure what is going on with the Flash Forwards?

          – Page 7, I feel a lot of exposition going on. There needs to be conflict, character, goals, stakes, urgency, humor, irony, mystery, and other things mixed in so that the exposition is not so obvious.

          Okay, I’m going to stop here because I took a peek and realized I’m giving you the exact same notes everyone else is and don’t want to be redundant. I’m just going to leave you with a little advice…….and that is don’t sacrifice entertainment for historical fact. Here is an example of what I mean. Have you seen the movie A Beautiful Mind? Of course you have. It was amazing right? Well it was a period piece told in a very unique way. In real life, John Nash was married, divorced and remarried. However, he filmakers only had one wife in the movie, because going through a divorce and remarriage would have conveluded the story. So, remember, the point of a film is to entertain and inspire, not give a bullet point history lessons. It’s okay to smudge a fact here or there if doing so contributes to a better story.

          Okay, that is my one bit of advice and I sincerely hope it helps. Congrats on making it to AOW! I look forward to seeing you around.

          • John Bradley

            The Triennial- “An elite Israeli secret agent is on loan to the US teams with an unlikely civilian in a race to infiltrate and eliminate a terrorist cell in Chicago.” Which “US teams”? The unlikely civilian seems to be the reluctant hero in the hero’s journey, so that could play well. The thing I always seem to notice in amateur scripts about terrorism is that the “terrorists” usually end up looking like 2 dimensional caricatures of those guys you see on Fox News swinging across the monkey bars, and I get bored quickly. Let’s see how this script compares to the others involving terrorism……….

            – Page 1, In screenwriting you never want to repeat information. Here is an example, “A woman exits the house through a sliding glass door onto the deck.” You can cut “onto the deck” because we already know we are on the deck. “A woman exits the house through a sliding glass door.” is a stronger sentence because it removes a needless prepositional phrase that slows the read down.

            – Page 2, The Inciting Incident happens here, we are right into the heart of the story without wasting any time.

            – Page 2, I might give Jack’s wife a different name than “Woman”. Often these names are used for the credits and even if you’re not going to name here, Woman just doesn’t seem right.

            – Page 3, His wife catching him get his stash of cigarettes was funny. I’m noticing a lot of 4-5 line blocks of direction I think you could break up by shot to make the read a bit easier.

            – Page 4, Okay, now we are up to 2 characters named “Woman”.

            – Page 5, If someone is on the phone it is (V.O.) not (O.S.).

            – Page 6, “he has the pulse rate of a Mormon.” I don’t get this line. Neither does my girlfriend or her mom, I asked. Maybe it was over all 3 of our heads.

            – Page 7, Films are more of a visual medium. The dialogue in it hasn’t added much for me. I wonder if the flashback would play better if you took out the dialogue and just showed the flashback through visuals? Just a thought I’d throw out there.

            – “End Flashback” transitions are typically seen on the right side of the page, per The Hollywood Standard.

            – Page 7, Okay last time I will mention it, (O.S.) is used for a character standing in the room but just out of sight of the camera. (V.O.) is for a person speaking on the phone, television, or intercomm. It’s for someone who is not in the same room.

            – Page 8, The action is way overwritten on this page, in my opinion.

            – Page 9, I liked the Stone-Jack dialogue on this page.

            – Page 10, I really liked this piece of dialogue, “They kidnapped Marsha McKnight. Daughter of General Fuck Iraq Fuck Iran Fuck Syria Fuck Afghanistan and Fuck Pakistan McKnight.”

            – Page 12, Think of a script visually, not just as a story. We have had a few pages of Jack and Stone just sitting in a room delivering a bunch of exposition. Why not have them doing something active, so they are movie? The scene is not badly written, but how many straight minutes does an audience want to see two characters sitting in a chair delivering exposition?

            – Page 13, There are a lot of unnamed throwaway characters that have dialogue. I recommend cutting back on that. Maybe even combining a couple characters into one, adding importance to them. Movies are about both story and character and it is hard to get invested in the latter when there are so many nameless/faceless characters getting screentime.

            – Page 17, We did not need a half page of bloated direction to set up that Fort and Stone are in an interview room. One 3 line block would have been so much better. When you overdecribe the setting in a way that does not move the story forward it absolutely kills your pacing.

            – Page 18, “jumpsuit is torn open at the crotch, and his penis is exposed.” we are in NC-17 territory here. I might try a different technique.

            – Page 19, If dialogue is broken up by a new page, you are supposed to put (cont’d).

            Stopping at page 20………..

            Overall: There is some potential here. There were quite a few bits of dialogue I found entertaining. I actually think this could turn into an enjoyable read. However, this script just doesn’t seem polished enough for the limelight. I would like the writer to clean up some of the little formatting stuff and cut a few of the no name characters, then get another shot at AW cause I feel there is definitely something there, I just know with some easy fixes the script could be better.

          • BoSoxBoy

            Thanks for the feedback, John. Really useful and practical stuff that I can easily implement. Grateful for the suggestions!

          • John Bradley

            Your welcome. Look at Offline. It didn’t get picked for AF when it was on AW. And yet it was reviewed yesterday. I hope you take all the notes, do another draft, and Miss SS picks you to go back on AW in the very near future so that you get your best work possible in the spotlight.

          • John Bradley

            Fantasy Man: “A fantasy footballer must convince a sports star to play, or else a mob boss will have him killed.”……I play fantasy football and am addicted. I’m a huge fan of The League. really love that show. A comedy about Fantasy Football will ultimately get compared to it. The logline contains plenty of GSU which is a good thing. The logline to me is well crafted and I am interested in the story. Now, onto the script………………

            – Page 1, Nice visual opening. Good stuff there. You told a story with Todd and Mike visually, with no dialogue and in half a page. That’s a good opening.

            – My favorite fantasy football team name in my league was someone had “Suck My Vick”………..very funny. I think you should be able to come up with some pretty funny team names.

            – I like that Clutch used to be a High School football rival of a professional quarterback. Good backstory there.

            – Page 2, Much of the dialogue feels very stilted. I recommend using more contractions to make the dialogue sound natuaral.

            – Page 6, “You’re my best friend…….” I hate seeing exposition in dialogue. How often do you casually say to your best friend, “You’re my best friend…”? I know I never do. I mean ever.

            – Page 7, I like the goals and stakes you guys have set up for your characters. Good stuff with that.

            – Page 9, Every bookie in movie and screenwriting history has threatened to “break someone’s knees if they don’t pay”. What takes a screenplay from average to great is when the writer(s) dig deeper and break those stereotypes. Show us a unique but believable bookie we have never seen before. Don’t show us the same bookie we have seen in every gambling movie our entier lives.

            – Page 12, Austin Tanner being ruled out for the game feels like a mini-Inciting Incident that shifts the whole story. Although, couldn’t the guys pick his backup as a Free Agent in fantasy? I mean they are going against the leagues worst pass defense.

            – Page 12, Add (V.O.) when someone speaks over the television.

            – Page 14, Now there is urgency added to the goals and stakes because the game is taking place next week. Good job with that.

            – So this turns into a buddy road trip movie. Interesting.

            Stopping at Page 20……………

            Overall: This was well structured and formatted. There was clear GSU, and an interesting backstory for Clutch. Honestly, there were a lot more positives than I thought there would be going in. My biggist critique would be for a comedy, I didn’t find a ton of humor in the first 20 pages. The story played well enough, nut I wasn’t really laughing. So I would like to see more humor infused. Overall, I thought this was pretty well written

          • Ange Neale

            Much appreciated, John. Given feedback, the contemporary material is causing more trouble and taking more pages than it’s worth, so they’re getting the chop. Didn’t deliberately cheat my margins but it is my screw-up — I didn’t change my PDF conversion settings to US letter and it defaults to Australian A4 because that’s what I normally use. Won’t make that mistake (or quite a few others that have been noted) again. That’s why this feedback is just invaluable, so thanks!

  • John Bradley

    Gripper: “When a young geneticist attempts to save the world’s forests from a rabid insect infestation she unwittingly unleashes a plague of apocalyptic proportions.” I live in Colorado and we have something called a Pine Beetle that is destroying trees here at an alarming rate. The logline reminds me a bit of I Am Legend, which was a plague started by trying to cure cancer. This is a well written logline to me, short, we see the protagonist, and the Inciting Incident. I shall move on to the script…..
    – Page 1, Really good visual, opening imagery. Sets the mood for the type of script I imagine this is going to be. Followed by a high GSU scene with Bobby and Krista. This is how you write a good opening scene for a horror/thriller type script, really great job.
    – Page 3, Just an opinion, but if you’re trying to market this in America, I would use feet instead of meters. Yes, I know, we are kinda backwards here.
    – Page 3, I don’t like seeing the words “starts” and “begins” in action lines. They are on the 7 Deadly Sins of Screenwriting. Instead of “Firefighters start peeling…” I’d just say, “Firefighters peel”.
    – Really excellent use of vocabulary. I can tell a lot of thought went into your prose. I haven’t read enough to tell if this is a great script yet, but I have read enough to tell you are a good writer.
    – Page 4, Ah, the Pine Beetle! Good stuff with that. Often times the best works of fiction start their origins in reality. That helps with the suspension of disbelief.
    – Page 5, I like delivering verbal exposition in dialogue vis Voice Over while other images are being shown. I like this technique shown on the page.
    – Page 6, So this is a tiny suggestion, but it seems like we are getting hit with a ton of continuous exposition. I might break it up and spread it out a bit more.
    – Page 10, Also, a tiny deal, but 10 pages in and we have been introduced to a lot of characters. Between the parade of characters and exposition my mind is having to work hard to keep up. Gena, Darius, Vern, Kehler, Dr. Maynard, Franzen, Tor, Krista, Bobby……
    – Page 12, I think by this point I will mention something I harped on earlier is I think we could break up the exposition and insert character. Ultimately a screenplay is about a person. I understand the situation well, but I don’t understand the character dealing with the situation. I want to say that everything is well written, and want to praise it. But I would take out a little exposition and add a little character development.
    – Dialogue is short, natural, and conversational. I think it’s pretty well done.
    – Page 16, “Your funding window is shrinking
    Darius. You don’t get funds this
    quarter you might have to wait for
    next years budget. Or the year after.” Good stuff infusing more GSU.
    – This is one of those scripts that I think would play better onscreen than on the page.
    Stopping at Page 20, for now. This is definitely a script I would love to finish.
    Overall: The writer crafts his words in a very visual style, has an interesting concept, solid logline, editing and format were both on par, Dialogue was short and not stilted. My main suggestion was what I stated on 12 and that is cut a bit of exposition (at least early on) and add more character depth. This was a good read, I still have 4 more to go, but would enjoy seeing this get an AF shot.
    quarter you might have to wait for
    next years budget. Or the year after.” Good stuff infusing more GSU.
    – This is one of those scripts that I think would play better onscreen than on the page.
    Stopping at Page 20, for now. This is definitely a script I would love to finish.
    Overall: The writer crafts his words in a very visual style, has an interesting concept, solid logline, editing and format were both on par, Dialogue was short and not stilted. My main suggestion was what I stated on 12 and that is cut a bit of exposition (at least early on) and add more character depth. This was a good read, I still have 4 more to go, but would enjoy seeing this get an AF shot.
    Stopping at Page 20, for now. This is definitely a script I would love to finish.
    Overall: The writer crafts his words in a very visual style, has an interesting concept, solid logline, editing and format were both on par, Dialogue was short and not stilted. My main suggestion was what I stated on 12 and that is cut a bit of exposition (at least early on) and add more character depth. This was a good read, I still have 4 more to go, but would enjoy seeing this get an AF shot.
    Gripper: “When a young geneticist attempts to save the world’s forests from a rabid insect infestation she unwittingly unleashes a plague of apocalyptic proportions.” I live in Colorado and we have something called a Pine Beetle that is destroying trees here at an alarming rate. The logline reminds me a bit of I Am Legend, which was a plague started by trying to cure cancer. This is a well written logline to me, short, we see the protagonist, and the Inciting Incident. I shall move on to the script…..
    – Page 1, Really good visual, opening imagery. Sets the mood for the type of script I imagine this is going to be. Followed by a high GSU scene with Bobby and Krista. This is how you write a good opening scene for a horror/thriller type script, really great job.
    – Page 3, Just an opinion, but if you’re trying to market this in America, I would use feet instead of meters. Yes, I know, we are kinda backwards here.
    – Page 3, I don’t like seeing the words “starts” and “begins” in action lines. They are on the 7 Deadly Sins of Screenwriting. Instead of “Firefighters start peeling…” I’d just say, “Firefighters peel”.
    – Really excellent use of vocabulary. I can tell a lot of thought went into your prose. I haven’t read enough to tell if this is a great script yet, but I have read enough to tell you are a good writer.
    – Page 4, Ah, the Pine Beetle! Good stuff with that. Often times the best works of fiction start their origins in reality. That helps with the suspension of disbelief.
    – Page 5, I like delivering verbal exposition in dialogue vis Voice Over while other images are being shown. I like this technique shown on the page.
    – Page 6, So this is a tiny suggestion, but it seems like we are getting hit with a ton of continuous exposition. I might break it up and spread it out a bit more.
    – Page 10, Also, a tiny deal, but 10 pages in and we have been introduced to a lot of characters. Between the parade of characters and exposition my mind is having to work hard to keep up. Gena, Darius, Vern, Kehler, Dr. Maynard, Franzen, Tor, Krista, Bobby……
    – Page 12, I think by this point I will mention something I harped on earlier is I think we could break up the exposition and insert character. Ultimately a screenplay is about a person. I understand the situation well, but I don’t understand the character dealing with the situation. I want to say that everything is well written, and want to praise it. But I would take out a little exposition and add a little character development.
    – Dialogue is short, natural, and conversational. I think it’s pretty well done.
    – Page 16, “Your funding window is shrinking
    Darius. You don’t get funds this
    quarter you might have to wait for
    next years budget. Or the year after.” Good stuff infusing more GSU.
    – This is one of those scripts that I think would play better onscreen than on the page.
    Stopping at Page 20, for now. This is definitely a script I would love to finish.
    Overall: The writer crafts his words in a very visual style, has an interesting concept, solid logline, editing and format were both on par, Dialogue was short and not stilted. My main suggestion was what I stated on 12 and that is cut a bit of exposition (at least early on) and add more character depth. This was a good read, I still have 4 more to go, but would enjoy seeing this get an AF shot.
    quarter you might have to wait for
    next years budget. Or the year after.” Good stuff infusing more GSU.
    – This is one of those scripts that I think would play better onscreen than on the page.
    Stopping at Page 20, for now. This is definitely a script I would love to finish.
    Overall: The writer crafts his words in a very visual style, has an interesting concept, solid logline, editing and format were both on par, Dialogue was short and not stilted. My main suggestion was what I stated on 12 and that is cut a bit of exposition (at least early on) and add more character depth. This was a good read, I still have 4 more to go, but would enjoy seeing this get an AF shot.
    Stopping at Page 20, for now. This is definitely a script I would love to finish.
    Overall: The writer crafts his words in a very visual style, has an interesting concept, solid logline, editing and format were both on par, Dialogue was short and not stilted. My main suggestion was what I stated on 12 and that is cut a bit of exposition (at least early on) and add more character depth. This was a good read, I still have 4 more to go, but would enjoy seeing this get an AF shot.
    – Page 1, Really good visual, opening imagery. Sets the mood for the type of script I imagine this is going to be. Followed by a high GSU scene with Bobby and Krista. This is how you write a good opening scene for a horror/thriller type script, really great job.
    – Page 3, Just an opinion, but if you’re trying to market this in America, I would use feet instead of meters. Yes, I know, we are kinda backwards here.
    – Page 3, I don’t like seeing the words “starts” and “begins” in action lines. They are on the 7 Deadly Sins of Screenwriting. Instead of “Firefighters start peeling…” I’d just say, “Firefighters peel”.
    – Really excellent use of vocabulary. I can tell a lot of thought went into your prose. I haven’t read enough to tell if this is a great script yet, but I have read enough to tell you are a good writer.
    – Page 4, Ah, the Pine Beetle! Good stuff with that. Often times the best works of fiction start their origins in reality. That helps with the suspension of disbelief.
    – Page 5, I like delivering verbal exposition in dialogue vis Voice Over while other images are being shown. I like this technique shown on the page.
    – Page 6, So this is a tiny suggestion, but it seems like we are getting hit with a ton of continuous exposition. I might break it up and spread it out a bit more.
    – Page 10, Also, a tiny deal, but 10 pages in and we have been introduced to a lot of characters. Between the parade of characters and exposition my mind is having to work hard to keep up. Gena, Darius, Vern, Kehler, Dr. Maynard, Franzen, Tor, Krista, Bobby……
    – Page 12, I think by this point I will mention something I harped on earlier is I think we could break up the exposition and insert character. Ultimately a screenplay is about a person. I understand the situation well, but I don’t understand the character dealing with the situation. I want to say that everything is well written, and want to praise it. But I would take out a little exposition and add a little character development.
    – Dialogue is short, natural, and conversational. I think it’s pretty well done.
    – Page 16, “Your funding window is shrinking
    Darius. You don’t get funds this
    quarter you might have to wait for
    next years budget. Or the year after.” Good stuff infusing more GSU.
    – This is one of those scripts that I think would play better onscreen than on the page.
    Stopping at Page 20, for now. This is definitely a script I would love to finish.
    Overall: The writer crafts his words in a very visual style, has an interesting concept, solid logline, editing and format were both on par, Dialogue was short and not stilted. My main suggestion was what I stated on 12 and that is cut a bit of exposition (at least early on) and add more character depth. This was a good read, I still have 4 more to go, but would enjoy seeing this get an AF shot.
    quarter you might have to wait for
    next years budget. Or the year after.” Good stuff infusing more GSU.
    – This is one of those scripts that I think would play better onscreen than on the page.
    Stopping at Page 20, for now. This is definitely a script I would love to finish.
    Overall: The writer crafts his words in a very visual style, has an interesting concept, solid logline, editing and format were both on par, Dialogue was short and not stilted. My main suggestion was what I stated on 12 and that is cut a bit of exposition (at least early on) and add more character depth. This was a good read, I still have 4 more to go, but would enjoy seeing this get an AF shot.
    Stopping at Page 20, for now. This is definitely a script I would love to finish.
    Overall: The writer crafts his words in a very visual style, has an interesting concept, solid logline, editing and format were both on par, Dialogue was short and not stilted. My main suggestion was what I stated on 12 and that is cut a bit of exposition (at least early on) and add more character depth. This was a good read, I still have 4 more to go, but would enjoy seeing this get an AF shot.

    • Linkthis83

      could benefit from a little more white space :)

      • John Bradley

        Holy Cow! I’m using WordPad cause I just had to reinstall Windows and I am struggling with it lol. I will fix it shortly!

        • Randy Williams

          I thought I was bad.

          • Linkthis83

            I was going to ask John if he attended the Randy Williams School of Formatting ;)

          • John Bradley

            God, Wordpad is awful and my computer is slow doing updates. I hate having to reinstall Windows! lol

    • Poe_Serling

      Watch out, JB. It looks like the Gripper ‘infestation’ has wreaked havoc with your WordPad, post… and what’s that on the back of your hand? ;-(

      • John Bradley

        It’s gonna be tough for one of the other 4 to beat that one! I’m cracking open Gone right now.

  • Montana Gillis

    I read Ben Pickles script “OF GLASS AND GOLDEN CLOCKWORK” today. It was IMPRESSIVE! If you get a chance – ask him to share it with you. It’s a very touching story thats professionally written. Highly recommended. — I will try to get to this weeks entries after work tomorrow.

    • BennyPickles

      Thanks for the endorsement, Montana. Looking forward to reading yours!

      • John Bradley

        Have you been submitting to Carson?

        • BennyPickles

          Not yet. Though I probably will in a couple of weeks. I’m trying to get a few reactions first. To fix whatever issues I can.

          Once you submit to AOW, there’s no going back…

      • kenglo

        I wanna see it! glover_13000@yahoo.com

        • BennyPickles

          Sent you an email.

  • GoIrish

    I like comedies, so I started with Fantasy Man. I made it p. 15 before quitting. The story was okay, but aside from the fantasy football angle, it felt a little familiar – i.e., owning money to a gangster (admittedly there are a lot of pages left, so perhaps this took some twists and turns). This was mentioned elsewhere and I have to agree – it was a little odd that Todd and Clutch would borrow money from the gangster that Clutch works as an enforcer for. May want to consider some alternatives. Comedies are tough and humor is pretty subjective – unfortunately, the humor wasn’t strong enough (for my tastes) to keep turning the pages.

  • Ange Neale

    Thanks for this, Nicholas J! Plan ‘B’ sounds like the goer. One of the things I’ve changed since is giving the rambling man on page 1 a cellphone to call the cops with – that’ll set that bit in the present for an audience. The Tiger Moth biplanes is a pretty big hint that it ain’t 2014 anymore – some of these old girls actually still fly, but they’re few and far between now.

  • Citizen M

    I vote for the comedy FANTASY MAN this week, with TRIENNIAL as runner-up.

    GRIPPER 104p by Drew Bryan

    After 25 pages: A forest fire kills two firefighters but not the tree they were sheltering under. Scientist Gena takes samples and discovers there’s a mycelium protecting the tree from the pine beetle which is killing the forest. The mycelium is a type of fungus which spreads underground and also helps feed the trees. Back at the lab they genetically engineer the mycelium to make it more virulent and demonstrate it to the Westfor forestry company, hoping for financial assistance for their laboratory. Under the action of an accelerant the mycelium grows and sends out spores which infect the pine beetle, driving it to climb high and die and spread more spores. Trouble is, it also kills ants and wasps. They get their money for a field trial. Gena doesn’t think they’re ready, but lab head and Gena’s ex, Darius, orders the rest of the crew out into the field for the trial. Meanwhile, one of the mycelium spores has escaped and infested Vern the security guard. Darius catches him heading for the roof with his arm and head swollen and turning black…

    Promising, but too much exposition and not enough human relationships. The first scene is good, but the main story isn’t in the same class. I though most of the exposition could be cut in half, and the character introductions could be much more dynamic and spread out more. You wouldn’t lecture the Westfor people. They know the pine beetle is killing their forests. Have Dr Maynard usher the Westfor people directly to the laboratory for the demo. He would introduce them to lab head Darius, thus establishing rank. It’s not clear who does what in the lab, nor why Gena is so moody. If it’s about Darius, let them have a tiff in the lab. One bit of exposition we didn’t have is what can go wrong. What is the worst-case scenario? Unless we understand that, we don’t know what the stakes are. You need a doleful individual who is negative about everything and who gets ignored. Maybe it’s Gena, but I don’t see her objecting to the trials yet.

    GONE 97p by Jon Ridge

    After 25 pages: In a utilitarian bungalow by the sea, Marina and Richard make love. Afterwards, “Her expression is an unsettling mix of contempt and closure.” In a lake house a publisher, John Blake, holds a party for his prize author, Daniel Hewitt. Daniel has delivered his last book per his contract. He tells his wife Alison he will write different stuff in future. They are both drunk. They get home, dismiss the sitter, and make love. Next morning is Christmas and their 5 yr-old daughter Haley wakes them from their hangover to open presents. Alison wanders outside into the freezing air and continues down the road. She seems vacant. Daniel brings her back inside. At the bungalow by the sea, Sarah Creedy watch a Justice of the Peace marry Marina and Richard. At work, Alison reads screenplays for a production company. John Blake the publisher introduces Daniel to another publisher, Michael Andrews. Their companies are thinking of merging. Alison goes for a run with her best friend Cynthia. She tries to talk Cynthia into giving up smoking which she herself has recently done. She picks up Haley from school a little late. That evening she enters Daniel’s den to see what he’s typing…

    Twenty five pages in and I have no idea what the story is about. The logline is no help. Pass.

    THE CLOUD FACTORY 150p by Angela L. Neale

    After 30 pages: In present day, a chalk cliff in Surrey crumbles revealing a skeleton and large-caliber bullets. Forensic archeologist Olivia Roy establishes there are actually two skeletons, two woman who were in an embrace when a WWII German aircraft strafed them. Flash back to wartime Britain and young American flyer Jenny Morgan is delivering Tiger Moth biplanes to Scotland. She is one of six women transport pilots in the Air Transport Auxiliary. They pair off to three different airfields. Jenny hits a bird while landing but lands safely. Later in the mess it’s clear the pilots are heroes to other women who are doing scrubbing and cleaning work. One seems to be attracted to Jenny but Jenny doesn’t realize she’s making overtures. The women pilots make their way back to England on creaky old trains. On the journey the other pilots start probing Jenny about her sexuality. She’s confused, not knowing what they are getting at. She’s more interested in a good hot bath. The others manage to cadge a lift in an aircraft and Jenny continues alone by train. She meets Lois, a pretty New Zealand Wren who seems to take a fancy to her. Jenny is stirred by Lois, but Lois’s station arrives and she gets off. Back at her cottage near London Jenny can’t sleep and goes sculling on the Thames at night. Next day she goes for a run. She’s an athletic Wisconsin farmgirl who has been around aircraft since she was a child. The BBC announces the Germans have invaded Holland and Belgium. Jenny goes to Northolt aerodrome to deliver an old banger of an airplane to the factory for a refit.

    Read 30 pages because the script is so long. I can understand a script being longer to give period detail, but this was too long. This might be better as a novel. There doesn’t seem to be much plot. It’s more a lesbian coming-of-age story set in an interesting period when women were starting to take over duties previously reserved for men. It’s not bad, but given the slow story, the limited marketing appeal, and the high cost of making period films, especially when ancient aircraft are involved, this would be a tough sell as a movie.

    THE TRIENNIAL 100p by Rich Ehrenreich

    After 25 pages: David Stone and pregnant Sasha relax in a California beach house. Stone wears a yarmulke. In Chicago, Marsha McKnight, daughter of hawkish General McKnight, is kidnapped. In Washington, Jack Spritzer is woken by a telephone call and goes to a war room in the Pentagon. He views a CD of a terrorist beheading and calls Ari Melamed in Israel. He says he needs to deploy Jack Stone. Stone gets a phone call and flies to Washington. Jack shows him the CD of the beheading and says the kidnappers will kill Marsha unless the Hezbollah 17 are released. Netanyahu has agreed to their terms. Stone is outraged. He personally brought in many of the Hezbollahs. A tech enlarges a frame of the video to show the John Hancock building. The terrorists are in Chicago, Stone’s old territory. In Chicago, Stone gets gets weapons etc plus a mini van and keys to a safe house from Fred, a bar owner with a secret room. He tells Jack he needs to see Jeff Fort. Fort is an African-American baddie from Chicago whose gang supplied weapons to Libyan terrorists. Fort is securely chained in an interrogation room where Stone tortures him until he gives up names and addresses. Later, Stone investigates the third name on the list. It’s an apartment building with terrorists inside preparing to video something. Stone pretends to be a drunken bum desperate for a pee and bangs on their door. He enters. The room is empty. WTF?

    The story moves along at a good clip. There are no more characters than necessary, which is good, nor any obvious plot holes. Our protagonist is clearly a man of action, driving the story. I personally have a problem with the torture scene. I don’t like them and I think it’s lazy writing. Think of a smarter way to get information. Also, I doubt Netanyahu would cave so quickly. But these are personal reservations. Otherwise the script is a fairly professional genre piece so far.

    FANTASY MAN 92p by Jonathan D. Jones & Francisco Magdaraog

    After 25 pages: In slow-mo we see Patriots quarterback Austin Tanner in his final preparations. Followed by slow-mo of Todd Boorman and his buddy Clutch Adams winning the semi-finals of a fantasy football tournament in Las Vegas, thanks to Austin Tanner’s great game. Note that Todd, Clutch, and Austin are all in their 30s. Todd is good-looking and charismatic, Clutch sexy and strong, and keen on the waitress. Trashy Sergio, also 30s, and his sidekick Pepe confront Todd. Sergio predicts his fantasy team will win the million-dollar prize. Back at their crappy apartment Vic, a hoodlum, waits for them. He wants money but will wait for the finals. It turns out Vic is an enforcer for Garritano, and Clutch is Garritano’s driver. Clutch persuaded Garritano to front them twenty thousand dollars to enter the fantasy tournament. Next day Garritano, Vic, Clutch, and Garritano’s teenage son Ned arrive at Leonard’s garage to get money. Ned is a softie who wants to sing and play guitar like John Mayer, not be a gangster like his dad. Garritano tells Clutch to beat Leonard up. Clutch fakes the beating and pays the money himself. Ned sees Clutch’s good deed and wants to be Clutch’s friend. Sergio arrives at Leonard’s garage in his Mustang that needs fixing. He tells Clutch that Tanner has decided not to play the final game of the season, thus wrecking Todd’s chances of winning the fantasy football. Aghast, Todd decides they must go to Boston to persuade Tanner to play. Turns out they were all at school together and Clutch was actually a better quarterback than Tanner. Todd went out with Becky who now works for the Patriots. Ned joins them, they steal Sergio’s Mustang, and head off for Boston. Sergio discovers his Mustang is gone and sets off in pursuit. Todd insulted him at the Prom and he is determined to never let Todd get the better of him. Meanwhile Preston Myers, a nerdy Silicon valley type, has taken over the Patriots, and statistics tell him Tanner should play. Old-school Coach Poli says he knows better than Myers because footballers all get naked together, and Myers can’t face up to staring at his cock.

    Only when you summarize it do you realize a lot is happening. So far it’s not laugh out loud funny, it’s more of a comic drama. I think we need either more jokes or more acting in character. For instance, Todd and Clutch are described as good-looking, sexy, charismatic, powerful etc, but if it wasn’t for their descriptions, I’d have imagined them as a couple of scruffy losers, because that’s the way they act. There’s a disconnect here. But it is well plotted and our heroes are deep in the shit and I would like to know what happens next.

    • Citizen M

      GONE 97p by Jon Ridge

      After 25 pages: In a utilitarian bungalow by the sea, Marina and Richard make love. Afterwards, “Her expression is an unsettling mix of contempt and closure.” In a lake house a publisher, John Blake, holds a party for his prize author, Daniel Hewitt. Daniel has delivered his last book per his contract. He tells his wife Alison he will write different stuff in future. They are both drunk. They get home, dismiss the sitter, and make love. Next morning is Christmas and their 5 yr-old daughter Haley wakes them from their hangover to open presents. Alison wanders outside into the freezing air and continues down the road. She seems vacant. Daniel brings her back inside. At the bungalow by the sea, Sarah Creedy watch a Justice of the Peace marry Marina and Richard. At work, Alison reads screenplays for a production company. John Blake the publisher introduces Daniel to another publisher, Michael Andrews. Their companies are thinking of merging. Alison goes for a run with her best friend Cynthia. She tries to talk Cynthia into giving up smoking which she herself has recently done. She picks up Haley from school a little late. That evening she enters Daniel’s den to see what he’s typing…

      Twenty five pages in and I have no idea what the story is about. The logline is no help. Pass.

      • Citizen M

        THE TRIENNIAL 100p by Rich Ehrenreich

        After 25 pages: David Stone and pregnant Sasha relax in a
        California beach house. Stone wears a yarmulke. In Chicago, Marsha
        McKnight, daughter of hawkish General McKnight, is kidnapped. In
        Washington, Jack Spritzer is woken by a telephone call and goes to a
        war room in the Pentagon. He views a CD of a terrorist beheading and
        calls Ari Melamed in Israel. He says he needs to deploy Jack Stone.
        Stone gets a phone call and flies to Washington. Jack shows him the CD
        of the beheading and says the kidnappers will kill Marsha unless the
        Hezbollah 17 are released. Netanyahu has agreed to their terms. Stone is
        outraged. He personally brought in many of the Hezbollahs. A tech
        enlarges a frame of the video to show the John Hancock building. The
        terrorists are in Chicago, Stone’s old territory. In Chicago, Stone gets
        gets weapons etc plus a mini van and keys to a safe house from Fred, a
        bar owner with a secret room. He tells Jack he needs to see Jeff Fort.
        Fort is an African-American baddie from Chicago whose gang supplied
        weapons to Libyan terrorists. Fort is securely chained in an
        interrogation room where Stone tortures him until he gives up names and
        addresses. Later, Stone investigates the third name on the list. It’s an
        apartment building with terrorists inside preparing to video something.
        Stone pretends to be a drunken bum desperate for a pee and bangs on
        their door. He enters. The room is empty. WTF?

        The story moves along at a good clip. There are no more characters than necessary, which
        is good, nor any obvious plot holes. Our protagonist is clearly a man
        of action, driving the story. I personally have a problem with the
        torture scene. I don’t like them and I think it’s lazy writing. Think of
        a smarter way to get information. Also, I doubt Netanyahu would cave so
        quickly. But these are personal reservations. Otherwise the script is a
        fairly professional genre piece so far.

        • Citizen M

          FANTASY MAN 92p by Jonathan D. Jones & Francisco Magdaraog

          After 25 pages: In slow-mo we see Patriots quarterback Austin Tanner in his final preparations. Followed by slow-mo of Todd Boorman and his buddy Clutch Adams winning the semi-finals of a fantasy football tournament in Las Vegas, thanks to Austin Tanner’s great game. Note that Todd, Clutch, and Austin are all in their 30s. Todd is good-looking and charismatic, Clutch sexy and strong, and keen on the waitress. Trashy Sergio, also 30s, and his sidekick Pepe confront Todd. Sergio predicts his fantasy team will win the million-dollar prize. Back at their crappy apartment Vic, a hoodlum, waits for them. He wants money but will wait for the finals. It turns out Vic is an enforcer for Garritano, and Clutch is Garritano’s driver. Clutch persuaded Garritano to front them twenty thousand dollars to enter the fantasy tournament. Next day Garritano, Vic, Clutch, and Garritano’s teenage son Ned arrive at Leonard’s garage to get money. Ned is a softie who wants to sing and play guitar like John Mayer, not be a gangster like his dad. Garritano tells Clutch to beat Leonard up. Clutch fakes the beating and pays the money himself. Ned sees Clutch’s good deed and wants to be Clutch’s friend. Sergio arrives at Leonard’s garage in his Mustang that needs fixing. He tells Clutch that Tanner has decided not to play the final game of the season, thus wrecking Todd’s chances of winning the fantasy football. Aghast, Todd decides they must go to Boston to persuade Tanner to play. Turns out they were all at school together and Clutch was actually a better quarterback than Tanner. Todd went out with Becky who now works for the Patriots. Ned joins them, they steal Sergio’s Mustang, and head off for Boston. Sergio discovers his Mustang is gone and sets off in pursuit. Todd insulted him at the Prom and he is determined to never let Todd get the better of him. Meanwhile Preston Myers, a nerdy Silicon valley type, has taken over the Patriots, and statistics tell him Tanner should play. Old-school Coach Poli says he knows better than Myers because footballers all get naked together, and Myers can’t face up to staring at his cock.

          Only when you summarize it do you realize a lot is happening. So far it’s not laugh out loud funny, it’s more of a comic drama. I think we need either more jokes or more acting in character. For instance, Todd and Clutch are described as good-looking, sexy, charismatic, powerful etc, but if it wasn’t for their descriptions, I’d have imagined them as a couple of scruffy losers, because that’s the way they act. There’s a disconnect here. But it is well plotted and our heroes are deep in the shit and I would like to know what happens next.

          • Citizen M

            THE CLOUD FACTORY 150p by Angela L. Neale

            After 30 pages: In present day, a chalk cliff in Surrey crumbles revealing a skeleton and large-caliber bullets. Forensic archeologist Olivia Roy establishes there are actually two skeletons, two woman who were in an embrace when a WWII German aircraft strafed them. Flash back to wartime Britain and young American flyer Jenny Morgan is delivering Tiger Moth biplanes to Scotland. She is one of six women transport pilots in the Air Transport Auxiliary. They pair off to three different airfields. Jenny hits a bird while landing but lands safely. Later in the mess it’s clear the pilots are heroes to other women who are doing scrubbing and cleaning work. One seems to be attracted to Jenny but Jenny doesn’t realise she’s making overtures. The women pilots make their way back to England on creaky old trains. On the journey the other pilots start probing Jenny about her sexuality. She’s confused, not knowing what they are getting at. She’s more interested in a good hot bath. The others manage to cadge a lift in an aircraft and Jenny continues alone by train. She meets Lois, a pretty New Zealand Wren who seems to take a fancy to her. Jenny is stirred by Lois, but Lois’s station arrives and she gets off. Back at her cottage near London Jenny can’t sleep and goes sculling on the Thames at night. Next day she goes for a run. She’s an athletic Wisconsin farmgirl who has been around aircraft since she was a child. The BBC announces the Germans have invaded Holland and Belgium. Jenny goes to Northolt aerodrome to deliver an old banger of an airplane to the factory for a refit.

            Read 30 pages because the script is so long. I can understand a script being longer to give period detail, but this was too long. This might be better as a novel. There doesn’t seem to be much plot. It’s more a lesbian coming-of-age story set in an interesting period when women were starting to take over duties previously reserved for men. It’s not bad, but given the slow story, the limited marketing appeal, and the high cost of making period films, especially when ancient aircraft are involved, this would be a tough sell as a movie.

            Couple of extra notes, bearing in mind I haven’t read past page 30…
            – You are packing all the boring stuff in the beginning like transport problems and chauvinist attitudes and desire for a good bath. Dole it out over the course of the script in drips and drabs and get on with the story rather.
            – The period from September ’39 to May ’40 was the “phoney war”. Play on that. Have people say the war is a farce etc, and your big dramatic moment that starts Act Two is Hitler invading Holland and Belgium. It’s no longer phoney. Now it’s serious.
            – Brits are very good at humor. Self-deprecating, gallows, vulgar, any sort really. Plus they are very class conscious and the classes hate each other. Bring that out more in dialogue.
            – I’d say you need her to realize she’s a lesbian about page 15 or 20 (allowing for the flash forward) and plan a serious affair by page 30 of a 120-page script, but of course Hitler’s attack on Holland snatches her true love away for both must do their duty.
            Then Act Two becomes them trying to get together but held apart by the war. Maybe they get together in London at the mid-point but the Blitz starts, and German bombs force them into the air raid shelters instead of a night of passion.
            – Act Three the final consummation and brutal end.

          • Ange Neale

            Thanks for your thoughtful review, Citizen M, and kudos to you for knowing about the Phoney War. I read somewhere the Germans themselves used to joke about it and call it the ‘Sitzkrieg’ or something like that. I tried to allude to it with a comment along the lines of, ‘There’s a war on, apparently. One must make sacrifices.’ And dumping the contemporary stuff entirely is looking more and more like the right thing to do. Thanks again!

          • kenglo

            In depth…..wanna read one of mine? I’m having troubles …..

          • Kirk Diggler

            I’m shocked! Shocked I tell ya! ;-)

        • BoSoxBoy

          Thanks for the read and feedback, Citizen M. The Netanyahu cave-in isn’t what it seems, but that’s a later reveal. Thanks again for the comments.

  • BennyPickles

    Someone slamming someone else in the head with an axe, I can imagine. And that could be great. Someone slamming themself into an axe? Not so sure. Seems a little too ‘guy running into a brick wall’ to me.

    Plus, have you ever actually tried to slam your head into a wall? (not joking, seriously – try it) It’s almost impossible. The self-preservation part of your brain stops yourself, no matter how hard you try.

    And I think that would be a better moment. She tries to kill herself, but can’t bring her body to comply. So she burns to death instead. Far more real.

    • Citizen M

      I was expecting her to sink the axe into the tree as high as she could reach then haul herself up out of the flames.

      • BennyPickles

        Seeing as the tree’s the only thing left standing, that probably would’ve saved her life. Suicide is never the answer, kids.

      • Stephjones

        Thats exactly what I expected. A symbolic act to focus us on the tree as salvation, to drive home its potential to save ALL of mankind because of its resistance to whatever was affecting the rest of the forest.
        But I didn’t read beyond the first act so not sure whether that idea is appropriate or not.

        • kenglo

          That’s a good direction to take it though….

        • Kirk Diggler

          Great point.

  • Citizen M

    The wartime section starts “Super: May, 1940.”
    Just start the opening scene with “Super: Present Day.”

    BTW dashes are used in sluglines after INT. or EXT., not periods
    e.g. EXT. CHALK ESCARPMENT – SURREY – DAY
    not EXT. CHALK ESCARPMENT. SURREY. DAY.

    • Ange Neale

      Thank you, Citizen M – I’ll check all of these out. Appreciate your help!

  • jridge32

    Thanks so much for all of the valuable feedback.

  • Tor Dollhouse

    To the writer of GRIPPER, we Tor’s enjoy the occasional haircut.

  • Ange Neale

    Thank you, Gilx, for your advice and sticking with ‘The Cloud Factory’. I’ve addressed some of the things you mentioned elsewhere, so won’t reiterate. I appreciate the time you’ve clearly taken and thought you put into your review.

    • kenglo

      Have you looked at shortening it?

      • Ange Neale

        Drove me nuts trying to figure out how to do that without gutting it like a proverbial fish, kenglo. It’s something I haven’t quite learned how to do effectively yet but clearly need to. That’s where this feedback is brilliant, as it’s giving me vauable insights into what works and what’s redundant.

        • kenglo

          You don’t have to gut it so much, just get rid of all the ‘novelistic’ writing. Just think, a page a minute. Your whole first page is less than a minute of film, in reality. You only want to show what ‘we’ see, the reader. I didn’t get the FLASH FORWARDS, but I think you got that from previous comments. Like your opening should be more sparse.

          EXT. CHALK ESCARPMENT – NIGHT

          THUNDER RUMBLES. A lightning FLASH reveals the escarpment, heavily wooded. A DOWNPOUR. Another FLASH reveals —

          A riding boot sticks out of the mud, a sock still in it.

          EXT. CHALK ESCARPMENT – DAY

          A dog sniffs at the boot, then runs off. Another dog stops at the boot, glances around, also dashes off. A PAIR OF MUDDY SHOES trudge up to the boot. A MAN kneels down, examines the boot. The dogs BARK in the distance.

          MAN
          What is it now?

          The man scrambles up the hill after them. On his way, he finds something in the mud —

          A BOOK.

          He picks up the book, examines it. The lettering is washed away.

          His eyes follow his barking dogs, and his expression changes. His mouth opens in astonishment.

          The dogs BARK wildly. They circle —

          A body. — YADAyadayada

          Or something like that and —

          BOOM. Done. I put this in Final Draft, 1/3 a page. You don’t need all of that other stuff. Let the production designer, the props people, the director come up with the look and feel. You want to put pertinent info in there.

          After a storm, a Dude with two dogs comes across a boot, a book, and a body.

          THAT’S IT.

          Ya feelin’ me…?

          • Ange Neale

            Yeah, sure am, kenglo. I.e. quit pissing around and get to the point! Very grateful.

  • ElectricDreamer

    Congrats to all the AOW candidates this week.
    I bet you’re getting a truckload of feedback from the AOW-deprived readership. :-)

    FANTASY MAN —
    Right away I get the sense the writer is not an American Football fan.
    Too many generalities that statistic hounds like fantasy football players would never use.
    The Patriots (down 35 to 14) tied the game with three comeback touchdowns.
    So, how does a tie land the Patriots a trip to the Super Bowl?
    Wait, how can Sergio be vindicated next week? It’s a two week break until the Super Bowl.
    Any football fan in this country knows that. Please research your subject better.
    Ditto here… The “semi-final victory” is the AFC Conference Championship game.
    No one who knows anything about football would talk like that. Ever.
    Such a massive RED FLAG that the writer hasn’t delved into their subject matter. At all.

    There was absolutely no tension or build-up in that comeback victory either. Why?
    Consider the reader meeting a desperate Todd begging/praying for a miracle.
    Show us your protag on his knees pleading for help.
    Meeting Todd in that moment is much more endearing that what’s presented here.

    This expository lump detonated the read for me…

    CLUTCH
    Honestly dude. I still can’t believe I let you talk me
    into getting Vegas’ biggest crook to loan you the
    money to play in some fake-football-nerd-tournament.

    There’s no reason for Clutch to tell Todd all these things.
    He already knows what he did to get into this predicament.
    So, this upchuck of data is solely for the benefit of the reader. Sigh.
    This exposition sin and the lack of football knowledge is a — DEAL BREAKER.
    Recommend the author spends more time on research. Pick up the lingo.
    It’s easy enough to do. Just watch the American fantasy football sitcom, “The League”:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_League

    Why have Garritano tell the reader that Ned can’t sing.
    When Ned chest-thumps to his dad, why not have dad challenge Ned to sing?
    Ned gets stage fright, his throat closes up. But he tries anyway. With mousy results.
    That’s much more VISUAL. And I’d feel for the kid. He’s got a tough road to his dream.

    Wait. Clutch is the mob boss’ enforcer? That wasn’t in the exposition dump.
    So, he lets his best friend borrow from his own boss?
    That’s sounds like the opposite of job security. Why not use another bookie?
    So, if the guys lose, Clutch still has his job with the mob. As written, it makes no sense.
    I’m sure you can find another bookie. It is Vegas after all.

    How can an author expect me to take their script seriously when I casually know much more about the chosen subject matter than they do?

    PASS.

    • Linkthis83

      The Super Bowl here is the FF Super Bowl. Not the actual one. Fantasy leagues end before the playoffs. The drama of the comeback was for fantasy points.

      • ElectricDreamer

        Thanks for clearing that up.

        • Linkthis83

          Right place, right time :)

    • ElectricDreamer

      GONE —
      I was a fan of Betty Blue when it was released.
      Skipped school and biked to Boston to check it out. *dates self*
      I see your first couple have a beachside place, just like Betty and Zorg.

      Had a hard time picking up the story threads and differentiating the couples.
      Even their dialogue reads very similar to me. Started skimming pretty quickly.
      Unsure who the Protag is or where the story is going.
      These people don’t have any real problems I can relate to.
      This style of storytelling is common in French cinema, but lost me pretty fast.

      The flowery prose isn’t helping me read down the page.
      Might be more interested in Allison’s ghost if the prose was thinned out.
      Pretty sure the author feels being subtle is helping their cause.
      But I couldn’t find a proverbial rudder to guide me through the characters.
      I’m through the 20% of the script and couldn’t tell you what it’s about. PASS.

    • ElectricDreamer

      CLOUD FACTORY —
      Your left margin alignment is a tad off.
      Are there students assisting the forensics team at the crime scene?
      I doubt the police would take kindly to kids contaminating the area.
      Recommend not starting with seven pages of backstory.
      Perhaps interspersing it with WWII events would tighten up the narrative.

      Some narration to acclimate the reader might help.
      Especially for those unfamiliar with female flyers in WWII.
      Consider giving a subtle expository bit to clue the masses.

      The detailed prose is more befitting a novel than a screenplay.
      Twenty pages in and I don’t know much about the ladies.
      I wish the dialogue was varied enough to help solidify the characters.
      Lower class flyers wouldn’t speak like the aristocracy and old money, etc.
      That’s an easy tool to help diversify your female flyers.

      I feel like the author definitely researched their subject.
      Their love the for material is evident on the page, but it doesn’t translate for me.
      Twenty pages in and everything still reads like backstory. PASS.

      TRIENNIAL & GRIPPER coming soon.

      • Ange Neale

        Thank you, Electric Dreamer. Margins are to do with me forgetting to change my Australian A4 paper size defaults on the PDF conversion. They turn up so many ancient remains in Britain that if the Police are fairly confident it’s not a contemporary murder, they hand them over to the universities. With staff overseeing students with metal detectors, mapping and sieving debris, that wouldn’t be a problem and the forensic archaeologist who does the exhumation has a detective looking on in case it turns out to be something the police should rightfully pursue. They wouldn’t bother trying to prosecute a Luftwaffe pilot who’s more than likely well into his 90s or probably dead. That’s partly why I showed Luftwaffe bullets and bullet-holes on p. 1 to set that up. But the whole contemporary stuff seems to be creating more problems than it solves, and pulling that stuff out saves pages front & rear – 11 in all, I think. Given the feedback here, cutting them all is a really easy decision. Thanks for your feedback!

    • mulesandmud

      Chump change.

    • ElectricDreamer

      THE TRIENNIAL —

      SS submission is out of date. The author sent me a link to the latest draft:
      https://www.dropbox.com/s/pewym8pjvi2l0x6/THE%20TRIENNIAL.pdf

      I’m working on an action/thriller right now. So, I’m excited to dive in.
      There’s a peculiar order within your descriptives that disrupts the read:

      “Jack answers the call while a similarly-aged WOMAN next to him in bed, his wife, tosses.”

      You’re distracting from the real action (phone call) with an intro.
      Not to mention you’ve could’ve just called the woman his wife:

      “Jack answers the call in bed. His WIFE still asleep.”

      Something like that will unclog your prose.
      Which will be a big help with speedy action/thrillers.
      Small words and fast sentences make overwhelmed readers happy in the brain.

      P. 2 – Why are you calling Jack’s wife, WOMAN? It confuses the read.
      His wife calling him out for lying makes your hero look weak.
      If she’s a spy’s wife, I’m sure she’s quite used to late night phone calls.
      P. 6 – Very clumsy dialogue here….

      JACK
      If this starts to go south we’ll
      have to wake him so he can talk
      before he goes.
      Professionals don’t talk like this. They’re economical and precise. It’s their job.
      This dialogue seriously undermines the credibility of your tale.

      There’s way too much stage direction in the prose. Every turn of the head is choreographed in the prose. Leave that to the film crew, unless it’s story critical.

      The dialogue could use some intelligence lingo. Insurgents. Terrorist cells.
      Not much modern context to the character’s words. It would help the authenticity.

      Stone’s interrogation goes Full Monty pretty fast. He seems borderline psychotic. Interrogations. Kidnappings. Beheading videos. Terrorist demands.
      There’s nothing here that I haven’t seen in many films already.
      Sharpen the dialogue & intelligence jargon. And refine your prose.
      Nothing here threw me out of the read, but nothing grabbed me either.
      Overall it’s a decent steak, but it’s got little to no sizzle for an actioner. PASS.

    • ElectricDreamer

      GRIPPER —

      Thrusting mountains? Resist the urge to perfume up your opening sentence.
      Suicide by axe. Exploitative? Sure, but kind of hilarious.
      The sporadic uncapitalized character intros are annoying. Trips up the read.
      Overall though, these pages are the smoothest I’ve read of the group.
      Gena the Expository Girl has some issues. I like that.

      To make your opener pop, consider showing the bug inside the tree.
      Tease the plot by enticing us with the specialness of the beetles.
      I see you’re using the “zombie ant” parasitic effect here for your lab test.
      At one time I considered writing a Bio-Horror script about hyper parasites.

      P. 19 – I’d probably get high after seeing the Mycelium too. Chuckle worthy.
      The break-up sex made me laugh. What is Gena on?
      Wish the script was either more serious or more exploitative.

      The pages read pretty fluid and the subject matter has some appeal.
      But I’d like to see a more detailed approach. Give us an opener to tease the plot.
      Billy Wilder says: Let the audience figure out that 2+2 =4 and they’ll love you.
      Gives up some pine beetles in that opener. Let us do some simple math.

      Tonally, this one’s a mixed bag. It vacillates between Outbreak and Sharknado.
      I’m all for committing to one or the other in the next draft. CONSIDER.

  • Malibo Jackk

    Scott Frank (the go to guy for script rewrites) in his BAFTA speech comments that with 90% of the screenplays he sees — he wonders why Hollywood is bothering to make them.

    Not sure much has changed, Back in the ’30s, Raymond Chandler commented —
    “(Hollywood’s) idea of production value is spending a million dollars dressing up a story that
    any good writer would throw away.”
    (Sorry Link. No hard feelings.)

    A few years back, I attended The Screenwriter’s Expo and watched a panel of producers speak frankly.
    For two hours, amateur screenwriters stood up and pitched their ideas. And one after another, each was given real world advice. And here’s what each was told —

    “Your concept is not good enough. It’s not compelling.”

    Having said this, write what you are passionate about. Learn the craft.
    But here are a few miscellaneous suggestions:

    GRIPPER
    Your WYSRead promises “a new, original monster”. Great. Tell us what that monster is
    in your logline. (or is it just another plague story?)

    GONE
    Your logline suggests that it haunts her “in unusual ways”. If the unusual ways are compelling, wouldn’t you want to mention that in your logline?

    THE CLOUD FACTORY
    Google Atonement and The English Patient.
    Weren’t they both adapted from novels?

    THE TRIENMIAL
    “… eliminate a terrorist cell in Chicago.”
    What are the stakes if they don’t? What are they planning?
    Why is this script better than other terrorist scripts?

    FANTASY MAN
    The punch line should come at the end of your logline.
    Here’s the punch line — a fantasy footballer.
    Now rewrite the logline.

    (Full Disclosure: It’s only one opinion.)

    • Poe_Serling

      Hey Malibo-

      Those are some great suggestions regarding the loglines.

      GRIPPER

      “Your WYSRead promises “a new, original monster”. Great. Tell us what that monster is in your logline. (or is it just another plague story?)”

      Totally agree with this point. And, as the writer, if you are concerned about giving too much away, then I might consider coming up with something clever to at least hint at the potential menace in the script.

      Always liked this logline from the horror flick The Ruins:

      “Trapped in the Mexican jungle, a group of friends stumble upon a creeping horror unlike anything they could ever imagine.”

      Without really spelling everything out, the word ‘creeping’ seems to infer vines of some kind and yet still sketchy enough to pique one’s curiosity.

    • Linkthis83

      I don’t think I quite understand the apology. Would you mind spelling it out for me a little bit. What I think you are showing me is that no matter how important I feel story is, the business doesn’t care as much. They are still going to do what they do regardless of story. And if that’s the case, then you are saying “Sorry, Link. No hard feelings.” because you revealed to me what truly matters in the business. Am I close? :)

      • Malibo Jackk

        Yes. (No serious harm intended.)
        That’s why I referenced Scott Frank and Raymond Chandler.

        What I think agents, producers, and studios find important are
        !.) movies made for a budget and 2.) scripts with great concepts.
        (Especially true for amateur scripts, because studios don’t like
        to take chances with unknown amateurs, IMO.)

        • Linkthis83

          First off, thank you for mentioning Scott Frank and BAFTA. After watching only the video (plan on listening to the whole speech) I realized I’m mostly Scott Frank (as far as my approach to writing). The difference is, I’m not fearful. And his insight/experience in the business isn’t going to be a deterrent for my approach. Nor is the Chandler comment.

          My heart is in STORY. My instincts are in STORY. I don’t have anything else to bring to the table. Yeah I’ve got concepts and ideas that I think studios would eat up. I think I’ve got stuff that can’t wait to be made (if I can deliver it).

          I also have always said since day one on here that I think my true strengths lie in making stories better. Not telling original ones. It’s this obstacle I have overcome to prove my worth.

          While I personally don’t find this reveal to be harmful to me, I find the sentiment harmful to other writers here. I don’t mind being fearless and going after this the way I feel I should. Others, however, don’t have this audacity. And I think telling them that the business doesn’t care as much about story is harmful. In our current status, what else do we have to offer them?

          So I don’t care what the business wants. Not right now. I’ve always told people to do what they have to do until they can do what they want to do. Right now, I have the most freedom as a writer I will ever have until I make it. But between here and the top, I’m going to be at their mercy most of the time. And I have no doubts that my approach and vigor will hurt me. I’m okay with that. I accept that. But for right now, I’m going after this however I want.

          Plus, how can I help other writers if the sentiment is: story doesn’t matter as much to the business. What feedback is there to give then? That’s noise to me. And I say “So what?” They don’t get to control me at this level. I’m going to do this the way I feel is best for me and plays to my strengths. And so far, it’s worked out pretty effing great. And I feel I’ve helped other writers improve their work with my approach. I also feel that if I can transfer even just a percentage of my passion into others who are probably more talented than me, it’s going to benefit all of us.

          This comes down to perspective. I use that word so much on here. I’m an amateur fighting my way through my first script. But I oh so very much believe that I have a story worth telling. And it’s that STORY I need to even get me to the level to be turned down for business based reasons. They aren’t looking at me now. And, there are multiple paths to make this a career.

          1) My spec script gets purchased and made.
          2) My script gets purchased
          3) My script gets me repped and assignment work
          4) My script gets me repped and meetings
          5) My script impresses my peers
          6) My script fails to execute but my peers tell me there’s hope for the concept
          7) My script fails to impress anybody but my mom (even though she doesn’t count because she quite didn’t get it). But going through this process as made me that much better for the next idea/project I tackle.

          What’s the common thread for all of this? I need a STORY to tell. I can’t do any of it without it. If I don’t have story, I don’t have any business being here.

          So, if Hollywood wants to slap new paint on shitty houses and sell them for a profit, so be it. They’ve been doing that forever. I have no control over that. I’m focused on what I can control. I’ve got to get noticed. I’ve got to get traction. I’ve got to show up on somebody’s radar. And then maybe they’ll just come and check out the shitty house I just built and say “You know, with a fresh coat of paint, we just might be able to sell this.” And I will let them.

          I’m an amateur until i’m something else. So I can’t embrace the reality you believe you revealed to me. It does me no good. I’ve gotta stick to my heart and my instincts. That’s all I’ve got at this stage.

          (I hope you understand my perspective on this. All this is my impassioned response to your reveal. Nothing against you.)

          • Malibo Jackk

            Hollywood’s attitude has not stopped a great number of amateur and professional screenwriters from writing amazing screenplays.

          • Linkthis83

            Nobody is born a professional screenwriter. (Right? You’re not going to show me a reference of an actual screenwriter being born? Are you?)

          • Malibo Jackk

            Not sure.
            (Wasn’t there when you were born.)

          • Linkthis83

            Wow! Great line. Even if it is facetious. You can’t teach timing. Just excellent. Real laughter.

    • Linkthis83

      Just listened to the entire Scott Frank speech. Wow. I’ve been channeling him since I showed up to SS and didn’t know it.

      My reaction to most critiques I hear on here is “So what?” To hear him say that was great.

      Thanks for exposing me to this. I had listened to the Charlie Kaufman one previous. Listening to writers talking about writing is the absolute best. I feel if more people did that on here, they’d have a bit more understanding when they are doling out their “advice”.

      Thanks.

  • Richard Trenholm

    Have to admit I haven’t read Fantasy Man, but it occurred to me the title might have more impact as a riff or pun on fan/fantasy. “Football Fantasy”? “Number One Fantasy”? “Biggest Fantasy?” OK, that idea needs work

  • Richard Trenholm

    The Triennial feels a lot like the movie Jack Reacher in the set-up, only better (that film was awful). I like the idea of a badass Jewish agent fighting terrorists.

    But I couldn’t stick with it, sorry. I’d watch The Triennial on Netflix, but it sure feels put together from other movies: The retired badass in the beach house. The phone call. The glib boss. The nerd who enhances the video. The weapons cache. The red dot. The terrorists who just have time to exchange glances before a grenade blows them up.

    I’m not sold on the hero chopping someone’s thumbs off in the first few pages either (I stopped watching 24 when he tasered his own boss minutes into the first episode).

    Also, ‘waves’ is misspelled ‘waives’ a couple of times.

    • BoSoxBoy

      Thanks for the feedback, Richard. Very useful.

  • kenglo

    Can we officially say, this is a toss-up???

    • TomG

      This is why I like the idea of having one or two prior AOW scripts every week (scripts that didn’t get chosen but had a strong premise where the author has several months to really make it shine based on feedback given here). Not everyone has access to really strong reviewers before they post. This week kind of feels like several are close and might have something compelling after digesting all this great feedback… We can handle six or seven choices, lets give more writers a second chance! And no, I haven’t had a script rejected here… yet.

  • andyjaxfl

    OFF TOPIC: what happened to Paul Clarke??

    • Matthew Garry

      I couldn’t help but wonder about that myself. The newsletter was nice and early this time.

      I always feel bad for the writers when he can’t make if for one reason or another, like they’re missing out on a lot of the value that comes out of participating in AOW.

      • andyjaxfl

        He hasn’t posted in a few months, I believe. With all due respect to everyone, I think he writes the most literate constructive criticism here, and his voice has been missed on this board. Hope he’s in good health and writing away…

        • Linkthis83

          I know for certain that he has been very busy and still writing.

          And I agree, I miss his reviews.

  • Eddie Panta

    Mod won’t take long. Depends on if you are posting for the first time.
    Anyone can comment on this board via disqus.

  • Stephjones

    Great suggestions!

  • Kirk Diggler

    OT: Anyone watching the Oscars or attending a party, informal or otherwise?

    • Kirk Diggler

      Put your Oscar comments here folks!

      • Citizen M

        Oscar Pistorius is innocent.

  • Malibo Jackk

    Story is important to every screenwriter.
    Marketing is important to every studio.

    A massive bidding war for American Beauty? I had to look that up. What I read happened to call it “a minor bidding war”. It also made a comment that bemoaned that it would not be made today. (One person’s opinion.)
    I believe that Goldman said the same thing about Butch Cassidy.
    (but I don’t think he was referring to a remake).
    I only mention this as information. Not trying to create an argument.

    Here are three things that bother me:
    1.) Professionals in the industry often say — they won’t make movies like that today (despite great scripts).
    2.) Michael Clayton was an amazing script. Drive was a good script with cars, action, great characters and a love story. The studios didn’t want to make them.
    3.) And great scripts don’t guarantee box office. But people flock to remakes, adaptions and, often times, bad movies.

    That’s the world we live in.
    It suggest that we write a compelling script.

  • jridge32

    How did the ending of “Gone” play? If anyone got that far..

  • Ange Neale

    Wow, Richard, you’ve given me a whole lot to think about! I’ll get back to you about this soon. There’s all sorts of little bits and bobs tucked in there – you picked up the broken jaw metaphor. Alli’s Dad’s a wealthy Group Captain and Jenny sails the skies… Remind you of anything? And the milk’s Jenny’s last vestiges of adolescence. The Peregrines are her envy of them, her wanting to fly fast, high and unfettered. To be continued…

  • Malibo Jackk

    Everybody knows about how important remakes, adaptions and existing properties are to marketing.
    So why were studios bidding on Category 6?
    Can’t say for sure. Wasn’t there. But I’m wondering if the marketing people have a love affair with movies that are “based on a true story” because they think that audiences are drawn to such concepts — the same way they are drawn to remakes, adaptions and existing properties.

    Like I say, I only guessing what the marketing people were thinking.

    I think you may be missing my point. The studios knew that Michael Clayton was a great script. They just didn’t want to make it. The studios didn’t reject Drive because it was not a great story. They knew it would make money. They just did not want to be bothered — because it was not a great concept or franchise. That’s what I’m saying.

    I am not trying to say that a great script can’t get made. That would be ridiculous.

    I was replying to Link’s comment which regarded — “what truly matters in business.”
    .

  • jridge32

    Thoughts on “Gripper”:

    Page 1. “Eyes wild, defiant. She looks about knowing this is it.”
    (?)

    Page 2.
    BOBBY: I don’t wanna burn!
    KRISTA: You ain’t gonna burn.
    BOBBY: But we’re gonna die!
    (awkward)

    Page 2.
    I’m guessing Krista kills Bobby because neither of them will be making it out alive and they’re both going to burn to death. Which sucks, so you take steps to prevent such a demise. I get it, but still the moment plays awkwardly. Why is he getting the axe and not her? Couldn’t they have attempted to both make it out, somehow? Screamed for help?

    Page 3. “the fire burn stopped a foot from the trunk”… if that’s the case, couldn’t Krista/Bobby have attempted to stand, I don’t know, really really close to the trunk? Flush against it? Do anything it took to survive just a little longer. Probably would’ve been excruciatingly hot, but if you have enough space and time to swing an axe then impale yourself right after, wouldn’t there be enough to stand there with the tree and hope for safety?

    Page 4. “He backs off to the Tree, slinging his backpack off.”
    (confusingly put)

    Page 5.
    GENA: I didn’t get from what Westfor division you two are from.
    (awkward; also, is Westfor the name of the university, or a lab within the university or some other company? Should be clarified sooner than INT. UNIVERSITY – WESTFOR LAB on page 8)

    Page 10.
    Pine needles and soil, and cordycep amniobutyric neurotransmitter mycelium.. it’s all sounding very factual. Researched. But, also very dry.

  • Ange Neale

    Go hard or go home!

  • Ange Neale

    That’s lovely of you to write — thank you!

  • jridge32

    “Fantasy Man”. My pick (if not my own script, of course!):

    The first 10 pages establish the Clutch/Todd friendship really well. Their goal and
    the consequences if they don’t reach it are clear. Snappy dialogue — “The day you lose… is the day you pay”. The opening sequence is clean, swift and not too writerly.
    Good job, so far.

  • Rebecca

    I read all five, each I stopped reading when I got to a point whereby I struggled to remain gripped. I haven’t read the other comments yet, so apologies if I highlight things others already have, and the writer has since acknowledged.

    I vote for Gripper purely because of its potential – the hook is strong. Although along with Fantasy Man I found it the hardest to keep reading, only managing to p.15.

    The Triennial:
    Easiest read was The Triennial, I got to p48. But I found it to be a little generic; I read it fast because I kind of knew what would happen so didn’t need to pay too much attention to a lot of the text. I don’t get on well with action scripts that have lots of military types (all men) acting in a cliche way – it would be nice to have a different, unexpected take on this. I liked that the action was on American soil, the religious aspect was interesting. Not sure about the flashbacks up to the point I read, the first could be avoided purely from him getting dressed to leave, and us seeing bullet wounds. I thought the interrogation scene was akin to a thousand Jack Bauer scenes, it needed to change up – couldn’t the guy being interrogated be more interesting, maybe? I would also be more engaged if Stone’s boss Jack had more conflict in his character – these two should have more clashes, why do they have to like and respect each other so much?

    Gone:
    I read up to p.45. I did not know Betty Blue, I think the writer needs to look at the script assuming the reader doesn’t – I suspect there may be assumed knowledge, or not quite the realisation of how obvious certain things need to be. I found it easy to follow the Daniel side of the script but really struggled when Richard popped up again, I had no idea who they really were in the context of the story. I kept reading, thinking it would become obvious, but in the end my confusion prevented me going further. I went back to the beginning, and read the first page. I still couldn’t understand where they were supposed to be, and what their relation was to the other couple. Both couples were either beachside or lakeside (both on the same night?), so reading quickly I assumed the same place. I ended up googling Betty Blue but to be honest, am not sure who the protagonist mentioned in the logline is, even by p.45. It may be down to putting clearer times and places in the sluglines. I like this kind of story though, so would be interested to read it if it was made clearer.

    Cloud Factory:
    I read up to p.22. The page count and the volume of words on p1. really hit me, but the Why You Should Read encouraged me to keep going, I like how different the premise was. I think the issue I had was that the focus on scene-setting took over from story-telling. It took 27 lines on the first page for a dog walker to discover a body and the book/scarf. I think vital information gets lost almost amongst a need to show the writer’s level of knowledge and research. It may be interesting to go through some of the scenes and look at the goals – there was very little conflict/drama in the ones I read, more exposition. I didn’t realise, for instance her plane was out of action from the bird hitting it, that got lost as I tried to remember who all the female characters were. It would be a fun exercise to strip out all the historical fact/prose and look at how the story progresses, how many lines it takes for each – and then reassemble more cleanly, putting selected historical elements in the prose and dialogue back in. Maybe this is better as a historical TV drama if there is such a richness of material that you are reluctant to drop.

    Fantasy Man:
    I read up to p.14. I have to be honest, this isn’t my thing as a subject, so do bear in mind! However, I did love Rigged the other week, so if a sports hook is well written I would read it. For me, I didn’t understand why the mafia needed to front money for a guy to enter a fantasy football contest, or why they would lend it if the guy was initially so hopeless he could never pay it. This may resolve itself later, so apologies if so. I didn’t find anything to like about these characters, I think there needs to be some reason why we would care about them being at risk – if they are macho/bawdy etc. then the dialogue needs to be a lot funnier to make you engage on some level. Weirdly, I would have preferred a totally different story from that title, whereby the guy was awful at the beginning, but tried to be an actual ‘Fantasy Man’, i.e. use statistics/algorithms to be the perfect guy, to find a girl. Or, if the guy was so good at Fantasy Football, after a local coach got sacked, he managed to blag a job as the real coach – you always hear about the deluded guys who apply when those positions are empty, their CV full of their fantasy/gaming managerial prowess.

    Gripper:
    This had my vote due to the Why You Should/Logline – the hook is the best of the lot, but I found it difficult to read. I think it would benefit from some revisions and pointers. I found the dialogue needed to be a lot cleaner – some was very clunky, and there were quite a few typos in the first five pages that slowed my reading:
    its ripped – p. 1 – it’s
    she looks about knowing – p.1 – does it need a comma after about? I read it twice to get it.
    when beetle infestation – p.4 needs ‘a’
    of millions of more – p.5
    One of the characters asks what division they are from, it sounds clunky.

    Number of characters could be slimmed down – not sure about intense beauty/darkly handsome as descriptors, the other ones were better.
    Sounds silly, but look at how they explained things in Jurassic Park – we trusted they knew their stuff, we didn’t need to hear every single detail to get the idea. Would move things along more easily and I would have read much further. May consider using an analogy from Darius, who silences the science-speak as he realises it is going over people’s heads.

  • Poe_Serling

    Hey Drew-

    Thanks for taking the time to chime in. Eco-horror can be a lot of fun in the right hands,

    “..was a treeplanter in my university days so this story has been brewing a while… ”

    Your passion on the topic was definitely reflected in your story.

    >>And it looks like your script has a good shot at being featured in next week’s AF slot. Make sure to send Carson the most recent and updated version of the script for him to review – these kind of opportunities don’t come around that often. Good luck with it.

  • Ange Neale

    Hi Richard,
    I promised to get back to you – I know it’s taken me a while. Unless you’ve got an auto email thingey going, you might never know I did, but I’m going to anyway.

    I’ve completely cut away the contemporary bookends (which also deleted the Arsenal and Time Team references – I hated losing those, but the bookends combined were ten or eleven pages). They caused more problems than they solved. Also, I’ve changed the
    ending slightly – Jenny and Allison survive the attack, but not without injury.

    ‘Jankers’ made the cut. I also considered cutting the ‘wizard prang’, but what we’d see as insensitive now was kind-of how the RAF was and I was trying not to impose too many 21st century sensibilities into the RAF of 1940. It was in some ways a very bravado, heroic culture, and a perverse mark of respect that the sergeant would say to Jenny what he’d probably say to an injured male pilot. I’ve kept Allison’s father as socially progressive as a reflection that the RAF was a bit of a conundrum.

    The Wrens and the ATS – the Royal Navy and Army equivalents – their officers couldn’t order lower-ranked men around. WAAF officers could order lower RAF ranks. And although initially resented or at best regarded as a curiosity, RAF men came to accept female mechanics, ferry pilots and the like, because it freed them up for more interesting but often more dangerous roles in Bomber or Fighter Command.

    I’ve taken up several of your suggestions: the Luftwaffe attacking the airfield at Hatfield (it really happened – a Junkers-88 on October 3rd, 1940, bombed the airfield and ’94 shop’ at adjacent de Havillands where they were working on the Mosquito designs. 21 were killed). I’m also going to do a little more with her male pilot friends – I’ve made them Royal Canadian Air Force and that the four of them met on the ship over.

    With the help of a British reader who’s just turned pro, I’ve cut out almost half of the first act, and a lot of what you’ve noted slowed down the read and blew the page count out – the train travel, for instance – that’s all gone. Meeting the Wren on the train has gone. Alli saying ‘on-the-nose’ that she blames herself – gone. I’ve had to take the music suggestions all out – they shouldn’t have been in there in a spec script in the first place. Cut the poetry down a bit but left some in.

    There were some characters I couldn’t combine – Winnie, Mona and Pauline were all real people, as was Amy. I’ve given Amy a little more to do though so we feel her loss more keenly.

    I’ve also fixed what others noted about my screw-up with A4 pages. Consequently, it’s down to 128 full, US letter-sized pages and a handful of lines on p129. In other words, it’s getting there.

    I want to thank you again for putting in so much thought and coming up with some terrific suggestions, Richard. I really appreciate it.

  • Ange Neale

    Hi Gilx,
    don’t know if you have an auto notification about replies, but just wanted to say thank you again.

    After doing much tweaking and cutting as per some terrific advice here and elsewhere, and correcting up my Australian A4 page length down to US letter size, I’m down to128 full pages and a handful of lines on p129. The contemporary bookends which caused so much angst to a number of people, for instance – they’re gone. Much of the train travel – gone.

    It’s in much better shape than it was, but still work to be done. Are you interested in seeing a slimmer version? If you are, email me at neal0018 at g mail dot com and I’ll send a PDF. Cheers!