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!

GENRE: Contained Thriller/ Satire
LOGLINE: “A selfish starlet wakes up trapped in a portable toilet… Held captive by a deranged paparazzo, intent on filming her last 15 minutes of fame.”
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: This script was conceived for twit-pitch, and after missing the cut it went into a major overhaul.  You were among the first to provide notes on the early rewrites, at the time calling it “surprisingly layered for a premise like this,” and as a satire on the state of Hollywood starlets, “brilliant.” Over the past 18 months of rewrites I’ve received a humbling amount of positive notes from a half-dozen of the SS faithful, including (most recently) Matty and your own Missus.  A glutton for the guts of a story, I even crawled down into the cave and kicked a sleeping Grendl, for some carnivorous criticism.  So let’s just say there’s no more fat on these bones, as it weighs in a full 15 pages shorter than the draft you had deemed “a fast freaking read… and I mean really fast!”

TITLE: Man Cave
GENRE: Comedy
LOGLINE: Three downtrodden buddies lie to their overbearing wives and set off on a quest to watch the big game, but their journey goes awry when the women discover their plan and hunt them down.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: Sometimes a dude just wants to take a night off from the wife and/or kids.  Meet up with his bros.  Have a beer.  Watch the game.  And sometimes the wife and/or kids do not want that to happen. This is the story of a few friends who try anyway.  God help them.

GENRE: Crime / Drama
LOGLINE: Calvin Barry, lost and adrift in his 20s, falls victim to the charms of Gwen Summers, a seductive young beach bunny. Soon, with the help of Gwen and her stoner roommate Amy, Calvin embarks on a binge of sex, drugs, and violence – a downward spiral he may not be able walk away from…if he even wants to, that is.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: Big fan of ScriptShadow. I’ve been a reader on and off for awhile, and I finally talked myself into submitting a script for Amateur Friday consideration. I’m Caleb Yeaton, a (hopeful) writer from around Chicago. I’ve been writing for a little over fifteen years, although I’m way too cheap to shop my scripts around to contests…which, considering my lack of connections, may be the wrong approach thus far. Anyway, I’m trying to get my current script, California Dream, a little more exposure – it’s been well-received on several workshop sites, and, while those reviews are helpful, I’d love the extensive Amateur Friday treatment. As for why you should read the script? California Dream drags the old-fashioned noir genre into 2014 with style – it’s dark, sometimes unpleasant, occasionally funny, and it’s been fine-tuned over a dozen drafts into a clean, tight story. Not convincing? Okay, there’s also a lot of sex and nudity in it.
That’s all I’ve got.

Orion’s Flight
GENRE: Action/Thriller
LOGLINE: When a governmental Space Station gets taken by a terrorist organisation its once headstrong Architect must escape upon learning that the terrorists have also captured her disabled husband back on earth.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: I’m going to pitch this as ALIEN MEETS DIE HARD in that a strong female protagonist is trapped on a space station while trying to avoid/defeat a stronger, better equipped foe. This wasn’t written to win Oscars or Nicholl contests, but to entertain those seeking an adrenaline rush and a bit of fun.

GENRE: Horror
LOGLINE: A psychopathic survivalist lures his neighbors into his secret bunker when the national power grid goes down.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ IT: Are you and your family prepared to survive for weeks or months on end if the grid goes down and all the stores close? Like most movie going Americans, our hero, Bobby Murphy and his loving family weren’t ready for societal collapse and soon found themselves at the mercy of those who were like our villian Ray McKlusky.  I would describe Ray as Hannibal Lecter meets the Joker at Duck Dynasty’s house. Like many of you, I have been at this for many years passionately honing my skills. While Prepper may appear to be just a popcorn flick/script, it was crafted with care and profoundly inspired.
  • Mike.H

    Reading the loglines of California Dreams instantly reminded me of Sausages, I mean Savages with Blakey Lively sexing with two hot guys with an endless echoes of her throaty Voice Over…

    I’ll try to read 15 pages of most of Today’s submissions and re post later. :)

  • Kirk Diggler

    Read about 18 pages of “Hot Mess”. I have to say I’m not a big fan of contained thrillers. And this literally is contained… in a porta potty… minus the thrills I’m afraid. “Buried” was okay, but it’s not a movie I ever need to watch again. Once the French paparazzo starts yapping into her cellphone, I started mentally checking out.

    The question is, why should I care about Nella? She’s the ‘hot mess’ of the title, but so far after 18 pages, the most i know about her is she’s got a nice rack. Where’s the story? Referencing the Kardashians does not equal satire. It’s almost impossible to make this interesting for me. Thanks for sharing though.

    • Kirk Diggler

      Read 15 pages of “Man Cave”, then skimmed another 15 pages. It’s mostly dialogue, men trying to convince their wives (who are all unlikable, naturally) that they need to watch the big game this weekend. Lots of dialogue that goes nowhere, I’m afraid. As I’m reading, i kept thinking to myself, “Get to it, get to it, get to the story you want to tell, why are you stalling?” Maybe there is no story? Maybe the set up, as we see these married men in their daily lives and their overbearing wives (the writer does warn us), will be enough to carry the day?

      But it wasn’t compelling. By page thirty, the men are only just arriving at the man cave. That’s a long set up for a comedy. Which means it better be brilliant from here on in. But you’ve already lost me, so I won’t find out if the ‘promise of the premise’ pays off.

      Thanks for sharing it.

    • Kirk Diggler


      Pg 1 – should give us a description of Ray’s house

      Pg 6 – dialogue from Ray, “I can’t believe people don’t grow and hunt their own food. What a bunch of idiots. It pisses me off sometimes when I think about it.”

      This is very on the nose, especially since you did a great job of SHOWING us that Ray can do these things. He doesn’t need to voice it. I already got it.

      Pg 7 – You follow this with more of the same, but this time with the trailer home family. CHARLENE “Just be glad that we don’t have to live that way, kids.
      CODY “We can afford to buy our food, huh?”

      You are having your characters voice things you have already shown us.
      Then you give us this.

      From the outside it looks like every light in the house is on and it is loud
      Their electric meter spins quickly.

      Just down the road Ray’s house is still. His electric meter barely spins at all.

      Not sure you need to hit us over the head with your theme.

      Pg 11 – Not sure we need a 2nd scene of Ray gutting a deer. He’s a self sufficient hunter… got it. It’s a little repetitive.

      I find it odd that the trailer family has 7 LAP DOGS living with them, which is mentioned on Pg 24 (we should know this earlier, i would think).

      Pg 26 – “Listen people, we are going to have to toughen up and adapt. It may be
      months or years until they get the grid back up.”

      Information like this is repeated over and over…. like a few paragraphs later.

      “We can’t leave. There’s nothing out there but rioting and looting and God knows what. At least here we have shelter and food we can capture.”

      The tone is getting melodramatic, especially when Bobby starts praying with his family.

      Read 30 pages. Lots of scenes repeat each other. Just like “Man Cave”, they don’t head to the bunker until thirty pages in. The pacing needs to pick up. Not much happens outside of the power grid going down and Bobby’s dogs getting shot. A story like this can’t take it’s time, especially since the dialogue is pedestrian.

      Thanks for sharing your work.

  • Eddie Panta


    A fairly dense page 1.

    Pg1 –surrounded implies “on all sides”

    Prison is described as “typical” in first line. Two paragraphs later we find out it

    has NO WALLS… How is that typical? You mean the prison YARD has no walls?

    If no walls, fences, or guard towers, why make the presumption that we are seeing
    prisoners? What if in the opening you had to describe it without the words: prison or prisoners?

    You might need a new scene heading after the ”SUPER”

    Scene 2. INT Prison. This would be a prison corridor NOT a hallway. You don’t need to repeat “prison block” I say this mainly because page one is dense, so anything redundant should be eliminated for the sake of white-space.

    Pg 1 – Last Scene / Intro Julius: “notorious criminal”? Says who?

    His never blinking eyes, don’t blink… never ever ? You mean unblinking stare, unblinking daze,concentration. His eyes that never blink give nothing away? Hmmm….

    Pg 2 – the bikers. Appears to start the description from a far, in
    which case it would be just TWO BIKERS, without their names. You can’t repeat
    it twice in all CAPS

    Adrian has a “pretty” face… But it’s a man?

    Pg 4 See’s – Sees

    A sudden JOLT throws him off. – Sounds like he fell of the bike.

    Pg 5.Futuristic Wheelchair – Can’t be capital “F” and “W”, describe futuristic… Same
    is true for: Energy Drink and Exercise Bike., Holographic Image and Space Shuttle, is it “thee” Space Shuttle or a new space shuttle.

    Pg 6. -Carolyn’s office.. . The second paragraph is good enough don’t need the first line on this page.

    Pg. 7 in a futuristic world, cabs still honk from outside.

    Pg.9 Doubled up on the descriptions again:

    “SIX MEN and ONE WOMAN stand on the tarmac . The Six men ( The Investors), all wearing suits, surround the Single Woman dressed in a Grey Pilots Jumpsuit…”
    You need to combine the description with action. Standing is not action. Wearing
    clothes is not action… Are they walking, who is leading? Where are they headed. If that is in the next line, then you don’t need the first line. Try, maybe…

    A group of six men all dressed like serious investors. with a woman, who appears to dressed as a pilot
    KRISTY, 30s , an attractive woman, in a pilots jumpsuit, leads six suited men towards
    an aircraft.

    Pg. 9 – The Space Shuttle is “Futuristic” in appearance.. It’s your job, as the
    writer, to describe it.

    Has KRISTY really hypnotized the investors?

    And here comes the lead, rolling up late in a taxicab that drives while approaching, just in time to continue the exposition… But why are we even in this scene prior to her arrival… If she’s late we should be late.

    I’m parachuting out here… The writer has a lot more script reading to do.

    • Foreigner

      Great critique, and I learned a lot. Good work.

  • Randy Williams

    Reading “Prepper” since I submitted a script with some similar elements to the AOW lottery last week. Wanted to see what beat me out.
    Congrats on making it!
    Quick and easy read so far. Lots of white space. I’m at page 15, one mystery box so far, who killed the dogs? Not much else in terms of atmosphere that give me a “horror” vibe or any spooky occurences.
    Family members kind of all sound the same, no distinct personalities. Dad is a bit soft, not your typical rural alpha male, didn’t like that. Ray and his Ma are fine, nicely done, so far, I thought.
    Page 20- A paragraph of description that doesn’t tell us what we’re seeing. I know you’re hands are tied from using a news broadcast which is the obviously choice because they don’t have power. Still, you have to give us some visual.
    Page 21- Isn’t it deer season and cool to a degree? She is complaining about having no air con.
    Page 22- The small town populace is rioting the first day of a blackout? I think you need another panic trigger. This doesn’t sound realistic.
    Page 25- It hasn’t been 24 hours and they are already contemplating eating their pet dogs and in front of the children? Did I get that right?
    Page 28- It’s been one week and they are practically starving. No food in pantry, fridge? support from anyone? I think you need to explain more their isolation.
    Page 31- Asians eating dog remark from Ray. I’d cut. Offensive. Same page, he actually chainsaws their pet dog in front of them. I’d say cut that, too.
    Page 39 – Their small son is actually hung upside down and explicitly butchered in front of them and us? Sorry, I’M OUT.

    • Eddie Panta

      There was another Rapture script last week too.

      • MaliboJackk

        Didn’t get last weeks copy of The Watchtower.

        Does this kind of thing happen in a Rapture?

        • Eddie Panta

          Are you really going to eat our son
          in front of us? Really?

          No ma’am. That would be rude. You
          are going to have some too.

          Please no more Ray. Please I beg you.

          • MaliboJackk

            Has a Carson [x] Impressive written all over it.

          • Eddie Panta

            This one really raises the… STEAKS!

          • Randy Williams

            You guys are cracking me up. I’m laughing tears.
            Beats feeling disheartened my life-affirming thriller script wasn’t chosen over this well intended but no doubt torture porn bloodfest.

          • Wes Mantooth

            You prefer your Cody medium or rare?

          • klmn

            I haven’t read any of them yet, but you just convinced me Carson should review PREPPER!

          • Nate

            There’s a part of me that wants him to review Prepper just so everyone can see how not to write a script, but I think it would be pretty unfair on everyone else who got picked for AOW if he did.

          • Kirk Diggler

            My opinion is, let’s not waste any more time on something that screwed the pooch when it turned into a snuff film. I’m reading California Dream right now, and I believe the writing is the best of the four I’ve read so far. It just suffers from what they all suffer from, a slow start. But at least there is an catalyst on page 19 that could make the story interesting.

          • Randy Williams

            Let’s not be too harsh on the writer. He did make some great choices, in my opinion. Great idea, commercial, limited location, characters. All good things in the spec market. Great title, too. The story choices were abominable in my opinion especially the slaughter of children and pets. Maybe coming off the poetry and humanity of “Of Glass And Golden Clockwork” I’m not in the right frame of mind, but I don’t think so.
            And, I agree with Kirk. And “CALIFORNIA DREAM” has MY VOTE.

          • Nate

            ”Great idea, commercial, limited location, characters. All good things in the spec market.”
            I agree completely. Idea and characters especially. I was expecting the protagonists to be this white collar suburban family not a step above trailer trash. Clever. But unfortunately everything else falls apart.

    • Kirk Diggler

      Okay I didn’t get that far, but I read Pg 39 out of curiosity.

      The family looks on in shock and horror, still SCREAMING.
      Ray starts butchering Cody’s body as if he were a deer.

      How could you do this?

      Charlene is Cody’s Mom. And that’s what she says??? She watches her son getting filleted… and that’s her response? Ummm… yeah.

      Also, the part about survivalist Ray saying he picked up a taste for dog on a trip to Asia rang false. I have no reason to believe Ray ever left the town he was born in, let alone West Virginia.

      • Eddie Panta

        That is Ray’s joke… You missed the part when he says he’s never left the state!

    • Eddie Panta

      It’s NOT their SON — It’s BUDDY the DOG that is hung upside down and butchered.
      Both are equally unacceptable in movies.

      • Nate

        No, he’s right. It is the son. Buddy the dog is cut in half with a chainsaw. Cody the son is hung upside down on a hook and cut into pieces.

        • Eddie Panta


        • Eddie Panta

          I got 36 confused with 39!

        • Eddie Panta

          Are you really going to eat our son in front of us? Really?

    • Eddie Panta

      You got to kill it before you can grill it.

  • Nicholas J

    ORION’S FLIGHT gets my vote.

    I had a tiny bit of free time this morning, so I read the opening pages of each. To be honest, none of them really stood out to me, and I don’t have much desire to read any of them to the end. I’ll also say I didn’t read the loglines first. But if I had to go with one, my pick would be ORION’S FLIGHT, followed by PREPPER.

    PREPPER has the most promising setup. With the pampered family living next to a psychopath, I could see conflict on the horizon. And after reading the logline, I must say I’m a little intrigued to read on. However, the dialogue was pretty bad and had no subtlety to it, which was a turn-off. And the psychopath villain’s home life is shown right away, where he lives at home with his mommy, so he stopped being scary pretty quickly.

    ORION’S FLIGHT would be my first choice, for one reason, which I’ll get to in a second…

    While reading these, I could hear my wife in the other room watching an episode of LOST (season 2, The Other 48 Days). Anytime I got up and caught a glimpse of what was going on in the episode, I realized it was hard to not sit down and watch it. This is because every scene is a SCENE. It’s a SITUATION. The plane crashes in the ocean and everyone’s stranded in the water. Bernard’s stuck in the tree and needs to get down. They discover someone in the group is a bad guy, but they don’t know who. Ana Lucia puts a guy in a makeshift jail and drills him with questions. The guy disappears in the night and nobody knows where he went. What great situations. THINGS ARE HAPPENING!

    So I crack open CALIFORNIA DREAMS. A happy couple on a beach. WHAP! Calvin hits one of them with a pistol and asks for their stuff. Okay, good, here’s a situation– oh, nevermind, the scene’s already over. Now Calvin’s in a cab. Now he’s talking to his Mom(?) about his girlfriend. Now he’s talking to his sister about getting kicked out of his parents house (but doesn’t actually say if he did or not so we don’t actually know). Now the family’s eating dinner. Nothing is happening. (Not to mention we were introduced to our hero by showing him rob a happy couple on the beach for no reason.) No desire to read on.

    On to MAN CAVE. Okay, after the first scene where nothing happens, we start with a situation. Rob’s creeping through the house so he doesn’t wake the kids. Okay, good. That’s funny. Well done. Followed by 8 pages of three guys all having the same conversation with their wives. Nothing is happening. Oh, but they’re talking about something that’s going to be happening, so if you just wait for like 15 more pages, something might be happening then, so just keep read– oh, you stopped reading.

    On to PREPPER. A girl is walking. A guy is flaying a dead deer. They talk. The girl tells her mom how the guy is creepy. The dad picks his son up from school. Talk about bullies. While, like I said above, I can see cool future conflict here, there is still nothing happening. Had you simply started off with a situation or two, this script would’ve easily been my choice.

    I open HOT MESS. Alright, now here’s a situation. A girl’s stuck in a port-a-potty. Well done, good job. Something is happening. Unfortunately I find out it’s going to be 80 pages of the same situation, and frankly, a port-a-potty has to be the most disgusting place on earth, so there’s no way I’d want to spend 80 pages inside one. I’m sorry, but dear god this concept is just too gross to be into. Not for me.

    And then ORION’S FLIGHT. A guy sits in prison. Alright, nothing’s happening, no situation, but it’s kind of intriguing. Cut to a guy and his wife on futuristic motorcycle bike things. They race. His goes out of control. He’s going straight for some rocky territory, unable to stop. FINALLY! AN EXCITING SITUATION! Reminds me of JJ’s first Star Trek, with Kirk as a teen driving the car through the desert, avoiding police, full throttle toward a cliff… Though this one with the motorbikes isn’t nearly as good, but hey, at least it’s something.

    That’s how you make a promise to your reader that things are going to be happening in this script. By SHOWING me that you know how to write a scene where things are happening! Not by saying “things will happen… oh they will…” in your action lines, followed by 10 pages of nothing happening.

    So many amateur scripts fail to start with a situation. It’s the single best way to entertain, to promise future conflict, to start in media res, to illustrate character, to TELL A STORY, and yet barely anybody does it.

    If you have a script up for AOW and start with a situation, you have a 90% shot of getting my vote from here on out. Even better if you follow up with more.

    So, again, my shaky, unsure vote goes to ORION’S FLIGHT.

  • Eddie Panta

    Wow! Rapture is a big theme, this one has a cooler vibe. Unfortunately that doesn’t stay the theme for long here. THis is about a psycho who tortures people and kills pets.

    Killing pets in a gruesome way is one of the biggest hollywood studio No-No’s.
    People will deal with rape, murder, torture, all day long, but nothing will make you lose the audience quicker then killing the family pet. Which is named “Buddy” here. Buddy is the 4th most popular name for dogs in the US. On the other hand, nothing will make you gain the audience’s sympathy quicker then saving, adopting a dog, This isn’t the comedy, the light-hearted fare I thought it was going to be. This isn’t a Fish Called Wanda.
    When the pet rabbit gets boiled in FATAL ATTRACTION that is all the audience cares about! No one cares if the husband’s going to die. But that wasn’t the main plot. And the set-up to that rabbit stew was actually very heavy-handed. Those days are gone.

    When you appeal to the audience’s sympathies by endangering or killing children and dogs, you’re in the land of exploitation B-Movie filmmaking.

    This script is a case study in raising the stakes. It handles the exposition wonderfully. Straight and to the point, tackles it head on with confidence…I’m loving how fast this reads and how much the characters stand out. And then bang! It all goes down the drain at page 37.

    It’s also a case study in how white-space kills tone and vibe. The script has no discernible style. The prose is generic, so I don’t get a feel for the writer’s intention, the vibe the story. That’s why its such a shocker when it turns out this is an exploitation horror movie.

    Anyway, here are my notes, I wish this had gone in a different direction.

    Pg 3., Don’t end the scene telling me in dialogue what the next scene will be…

    Pg.3. Picking Up CODY from School.
    Start on Cody, coming out of school then you don’t need the “moments later”. Last name Bobby, the father, would imply he is thefather.

    Pg,5 INT RAY’S HOUSE – If there are rifles and guns stacked everywhere, I believe this would be foremost in the shot –Small, clean – not foremost. Don’t see how it’s “uncluttered” if rifles and guns are everywhere. What kind of guns? Hunting rifles? What does “sans” mean?

    Pg. 4 Bobby smiles – this is the scene ender, no need to foreshadow or forewarn about
    Pg 7.Ppl talking about other people.
    Pg.7-8. How does the story structure you created allow you to be on an electric
    Pg. 10.Cody: What’s going on? – Time spent on
    questions reader/audience knows the answer to. Another scene ending with a Yes, No Okay, Sure, Thanks, Alright.

    Pg.11 Setting up scenes that will happen
    later. Dialogue still centers around the plot

    Pg12. Casual Chit-Chat starts the scene.
    Pg13. Neighbor kills the dogs, the story starts moving faster, slicker.
    Pg 19.EXT DEEP SPACE – a huge solar flare — Super quick grab it by the balls exposition. Ilike it. The writer is making no qualms about the fact that is in fact a story.
    INT.BOBBY’S TRAILER is repeatedly referred
    to as a house. This is throwing me. Scene could start with Dark. Dead Silent.

    Pg, 22 Ray states the fact that he might go
    into town. There’s a lot of characters telling us what they are going to do
    right before they do it.

    Pg 23. Nice ending to that scene. I’d like to see a bit more of this.
    Pg.25 Radio Newscaster Exposition. Seems way to comedic, needs to be adjusted for
    Pg.29. I’d raise the STAKES another notch here before the family agrees to go in
    the BUNKER. They should refuse to go at first.
    The dad, Bobby should be forced into a no choice situation to go to RAY for help.
    Pg. 30-35 Everything is going great, I’m getting really excited about the script, I’m so into it then…
    Pg. 36. This turns into a real exploitation horror movie featuring little kids. No longer is the exposition valid. The comedic elements prior to this part now amounts to lazy writing.

    Ray kills their other dog Buddy, with a chainsaw, in a gory scene…

    It’s not fun, it’s not funny. Not cool either, I thought you threw away what was a great story idea… Look, I understand the principle of go big or go home. But come on…

    • Eddie Panta

      He taunts them.

      RAY (CONT’D)
      Boo, hoo, hoo. Boo fucking hoo
      Haha. You fucking ass holes. I told
      you to shut your fucking dogs up. I
      told you, you dumb mother fuckers.
      Why didn’t you listen to me? Fuck!!

    • Kirk Diggler

      Sans = without.

      As in… This script is sans merit.

      • Eddie Panta

        Ah ha… never thought I could learn so much from such depravity.

    • Ange Neale

      Mommy, mommy, I hate daddy’s guts.

      Just push them to the side of the plate, dear.

      An old joke but, well, simultaneously oddly apt and deeply disturbing. How will I sleep tonight?

  • Nate

    Before I begin I just wanna say this: I want everyone on this site to succeed. I think everyone wants each other to succeed. We’re all amateurs and we come here to get better.

    Everything I say in this post is not meant to dissuade the writer, it’s to help them get better. I don’t want them to quit writing. I want them to take our advice. Unfortunately I don’t think they will get any useful advice from this review. Constructive criticism is a good thing if the writer listens to it. I have a feeling they won’t because it’s not gonna be very constructive.

    Prepper. I know it wasn’t the writers intention (or maybe it was) but this script was really funny, not to mention painfully bad. It honestly felt like it was the first draft of someone’s first ever script that they had spent a week working on, not years like the writer claims he did.

    I’m not trying to be awful but the writer seriously cannot have expected this would get picked for AF. It seems like something you’d do for a bet.

    I know I’m not the only one who wrote a really shitty first script. We all did. Even the writers we admire. I just can’t believe that someone could write a script for several years and not see how bad it is.

    Everything about this script was just unbelievable and on the nose. The dialogue, the violence, the characters. The entire script was strange but it was also pretty fucking stupid.

    The antagonist tells the mother and father he’ll let them live if their daughter marries him. What does the mother do? Says yeah.

    The antagonist forces his hostages to eat their young son/brother. What happens? They start throwing up all over the bunker.

    The mother is raped by the antagonist and she taunts him about how small his dick is. He murders her during the act and finishes inside her. Then he throws up all over her body.

    The antagonist walks in on his 70 year old mother high on meth and having a gangbang with three men.
    Bill, I’m not trying to be a prick here, but dude, come on, you can do better than this. Every single choice you’ve made is wrong. I honestly think you need to write a lot more scripts, read a lot of professional scripts and a lot of screenwriting books. You’ve got a long way to go, mate, and I hope you get there.
    I think if you’re gonna take anything away from this, it’s keep this script so that in ten years time, when you’ve hit the majors, you can look back at it and see how far you’ve come.
    I wish you the best of luck. I really do.

    • Amazon

      I uh… Vote for Pepper then…

      • Casper Chris

        Yea, AF has been marred by too much quality lately. It’s turned into Semi-pro Friday. It’s about time we had another “The House That Death Built” a.k.a. “Trajent Future”. Those were the days.

        (note: haven’t read Prepper yet)

    • Kirk Diggler

      So in other words, i stopped reading too soon. Umm, wow.

    • Nicholas J

      IMO giving notes on a script is best when those notes are honest, to the point, and constructive. Your comments have the first two, but not the third.

      You’re just being mean. The only constructive thing you said was, “Everything about this script was just unbelievable and on the nose.” Saying the script is shitty, reads like the result of a bet, is unintentionally funny, painfully bad, and pretty fucking stupid — that’s not being helpful in the least. They’re not notes, they’re insults.

      If you truly want to help the writer get better, like you said, then providing actual reasons why you didn’t like the script is a much better way to go. Don’t just say it sucks and then wish them luck. It’s rude.

      • Nate

        I did say it wasn’t gonna be very constructive. The way I see it is if you’re gonna throw a script into the AOW ring then you have to be absolutely certain that what you have written is your best work so far. Maybe the writer did think that but I don’t know, it just feels like they wrote a first draft and didn’t even bother to give it the once over before submitting it for AOW.

        Provided I like the logline or people recommend it, I’ll take the time to read it because the writer took the time to write it. It’s the least I could do.

        But I’m not gonna waste several hours writing a big review going through every single problem that the script has if I thought the script was bad from start to finish. I admire those who do but I can’t do that. If I don’t think the writer really gave it their all then I won’t give it my all.

        If I read a script that had its problems but I ultimately liked, I’d write a review for it because I’d feel like the writer put effort into it.

        • Nicholas J

          If someone tells me they’re going to punch me in the face and then punches me in the face, I’m still gonna be mad.

          You don’t have to waste hours writing a review citing every problem. If you didn’t agree with the choices and it wasn’t your cup of tea, that’s fine to just say that. Your note saying his choices were too unbelievable is a simple enough response. But you don’t need to be so disrespectful to the writer’s efforts, no matter how bad you think the script is. All I’m saying.

  • Stephjones

    Hot Mess — despite initial misgivings I thought it got pretty damn funny and the protagonist became more likable further into the story. Read to about page 38. What turned it for me was the dialogue with Gail followed by Nella’s life being in danger and her response to it. I must admit, I almost gave up after the first 15. Nella’s obtuseness was used to better comic effect later in the story. In the beginning, it created a tough wall to breach and I thought the story was going to be a yawn fest but I was pleasantly surprised after hanging in there for a bit. Might go back to see what happens if time permits.

  • shewrites

    I’m NOT the writer of any of these scripts but I feel deeply for each of them.
    The harsh though not undeserved comments they received have to hurt. Expect for Orion’s Flight (only because it’s not as blatantly lacking as the others), they shouldn’t have been picked for AF IMHO.

    I, like most people, agreed that last Friday offered a great selection which made for a tough choice. This week is the complete opposite. I totally understand, Carson, that you can’t be expected to vet the scripts you pick for AF, but clearly, if we go by this week’s crop, selecting them on the basis of the logline only is not sufficient.
    I know we can learn from bad scripts but this level of bad I feel does not help the average reader here. I think the majority of us have learned enough about what makes a script decent (in good part thanks to this site) that we wouldn’t dare submit the level of work we are seeing today.
    If you could find a way to have your picks’ first ten pages read just to make sure would be great. Since this site or at least AF is read by industry professionals, you want to keep them coming back.
    I apologize if I sound like a snob, everyone has a right to their chance but for those who submitted today, they should have had their scripts read by more other screenwriters than they have.

    • Randy Williams

      The stars have just aligned this way, influenced by April 1, no doubt. There is something to learn from each script, no matter what we think of it.

    • Stephjones

      IMO, you are being unfair. I have been following this site since summer and have seen no evidence of the consistent excellence you seem to imply. Good scripts, average scripts and bad scripts are the norm in the AOW. We come here to learn. The subjective nature of our response to submittals makes it unlikely any single crop of scripts will be universally liked but your across the board dismissal of the efforts of others comes across as sheer arrogance. Your assumptions and the world weary tone of it are more of a reflection of your assumed place in the screenwriting world rather than a statement about this group of writers. If I had a dog in this fight I’d find your statement offensive in the extreme. Shame on you, shewrites. IMO, you undermine the spirit of the site.

  • gazrow


    Decided to crack this one open as I have a soft spot for contained thrillers. Not so sure about a contained thriller/satire though? Will be interesting to see if the writer can pull it off?

    Unfortunately, for me at least, this script has huge tonal issues right off the bat.

    Pg 2 – Has our protagonist trapped in the dark in a confined space and her reaction is one of fear as we would expect.

    “Too scared to touch anything. Too scared to look.”

    Please please please… This isn’t
    really happening.

    This works fine in a thriller. However, on the very next page our hero discovers that she’s trapped in a PORTA-POTTY and for some inexplicable reason her reaction changes from fear to flippancy. She starts cracking one liners regarding the foul stench such as:

    It’s like sex with Russell Brand!

    Having a woman in fear for her life one second and the next second doing a comedy act doesn’t really work IMO. I mean, how can we the audience be expected to root for the protagonist during her terrifying ordeal, if she doesn’t take her predicament seriously herself?!

    One other thing worth mentioning, at 84 pages this script feels lean and reads fast. However, with the very short, single lines of action, this script feel more anorexic than lean and I seriously doubt it would run for more than an hour if filmed.

    A good example of this sparseness is page 3 where almost half a page is devoted to the protagonist screaming: “Aaa!!!”

    Apologies to the writer if this sounds harsh – just giving my honest opinion.

    • Kirk Diggler

      Yeah, and that line about the porta potty being like a Dodgers game threw me as well.

  • Stephjones

    Man cave– still smiling. Read 25 pages. I love these characters. Funny as hell.
    But…very repetitious story beats in that first act. The dialogue was funny but the debate went on for too long, covering the same sort of ground. Might read more to find how what happens to these guys if I have the time.

  • Paul Clarke

    Funny, I was just telling my friend that of the last dozen or more scripts I’ve read every single one has either spelled LIGHTNING or BRAKE wrong.

    Literally 2 minutes later I open ORION’S FLIGHT and find at bottom of page 4 – “Hitting her break.”

    Is this a strange Americanism I’m not familiar with? It can’t be a coincidence.

    Just an observation. Still seems like an interesting story.

    • Kirk Diggler

      The strange Americanism is that people who don’t know proper grammar still want to be writers. ;-)

      Okay, maybe it was just a typo. I’ll give the person a brake.

      • walker

        A lightening quick reply. Thanks for lightning the mood.

        • Kirk Diggler

          Their, there, this could get out of hand.

          • walker

            Your so right, you’re joke is infinitely adaptable.

      • Eddie Panta

        That’s very vein of you.

    • Linkthis83

      I do that shit all the time. The brain is just on autopilot when typing words like that. Why does it bother people so much? And the people who read for mistakes like that can autopilot over them too. Lol.

      Although, there should be ZERO of these in the first 20 pages in my opinion.

      • MaliboJackk

        Let’s stop calling them shit.
        They’re homophones.

        (Ok, I had to look that up.
        Big f*cking deal.)

        • Linkthis83

          I first read that as “homophobes” and I was thinking “who’s a homophobe?”

          So I think that illustrates while I will always refer to them as shit. So I don’t make the other mistake.

          • Montana Gillis

            Homophone? really? No one has bit on that set up yet? Nothing?

      • Paul Clarke

        I’m no perfectionist and certainly make my fair share of mistakes. But you’d be surprised how often they occur on the first page, or first line even. And it’s always those 2 words. (maybe I’m just looking for them now)

        The breaks – brakes one can be particularly stifling to the flow when it’s a situation where both could be used. An accident happens and the car breaks. Did it stop, or is it now broken?

        • Linkthis83

          I find myself auto-piloting on here/hear and are/our for some reason.

        • Charlestoaster

          I just made a similar mistake with “horse” and “hoarse.” Didn’t notice until someone pointed it out to me. Felt ashamed.

          It must’ve been some gremlin who went on my computer! I swear!

          • GoIrish

            I had one character using “heroine.” Just gotta quit that stuff cold…

          • Casper Chris

            I found “hours” instead of “house” in one of my scripts yesterday.

            Must’ve been a gremlin on crack.

      • Eddie Panta

        You’ve peaked my interest.

        • Linkthis83

          No joke, Eddie. Someone actually wrote this sentence to me just yesterday. Lol.

      • Bifferspice

        “Why does it bother people so much?”

        really? other than the writer not being able to write properly?

        if the writer’s already won the reader over by then, it’s probably not an issue, but otherwise, “why does it bother people so much when the writer has smeared shit all over the page? why don’t they just concentrate on the writing?”

        • Linkthis83

          This is the kind of reaction I’m referencing. Like the writer has insulted you with these mistakes. That it translates into shit being smeared on a page.

          Are some writers lazy when it comes to this stuff? Sure some are. I lean towards the concept that they are just honest mistakes. I also take this approach because I make honest mistakes. So I don’t take it personal when this happens.

          I also have the ability and willingness to entertain the notion that not all storytellers are great with grammar. And I’m okay with that. I am also aware that some might just not have the support group to help them.

          So…you take it personal and waste the energy on reacting. I will give them the benefit of the doubt. Besides, that’s one purpose of this community = to help other writers get their stuff together. If this is to insulting of a job for you, then some of the rest of us will handle this portion and you may continue being above it.

          • Bifferspice

            That should be “too insulting a job” :)

          • Linkthis83

            Lol. Now I’m as embarrassed as Old Macdonald when he misspelled COW.

            I was going to intentionally do that all throughout my post and felt it would be too snarky.

            So, I guess I made that honest mistake I mentioned in my other post.

            Alas, I’m still ashamed. You go get the mob and I’ll meet you over by the stake.

          • Ange Neale

            For some, formating errors (been there) and using the wrong font on the title pages (done that) disrupt the read and scream ‘AMATEUR!

            To be a ‘screenwriter’, surely one ought to pay at least some attention to the proper arrangement of the twenty-six fundamental building blocks of every word, sentence, paragraph, scene, sequence and act in every script written using the English language. (Or however many there are in Sanscrit, Klingon, Twitterese, Cobol or whatever other language you’re trying to write in).

            Nobody calls themselves a ‘driver’ who can’t tell the difference between the brakes and the accelerator. The ability to make a vehicle go and stop is pretty fundamental to driving.

            I can’t understand why anyone would shell out hundreds on scriptwriting seminars and software packages yet scrimp on a few bucks for a dictionary and a thesaurus. In the age of on-line dictionaries and thesauruses (or is that thesauri? — just checked Oxford Dictionaries on line and it says either is fine; took all of 15 seconds), it seems almost wilfully negligent to me.

            Having a prodigious number of mistakes in a first draft is perfectly understandable. The focus should be on getting the ideas on the page.

            Surely each successive draft should diminish the number until a final draft should have only a handful or two and be so unobtrusive that they haven’t been picked up even by the sharpest-eyed of readers.

          • Linkthis83

            The stake part was purposely dramatic.

            I would say I don’t share in this belief that these things “scream AMATEUR.” I do believe that reactions of “scream” and “wilfully negligent” are dramatic in their own right. I also believe this stance of being offended by it is absurd. We can choose how we react to things.

            Do some writers not put forth the effort = absolutely. Do other writers make common, unintentional mistakes = yes. And it’s these I feel we run into most often.

            This is a site for amateurs. If people want to get up in arms over these things then project onto these writers, I can’t stop it. I’m not going to be okay with it either.

            You can be a great storyteller and not have the grammar tools. You can be a great writer and not have the necessary support system to insure you don’t scream amateur.

            I look at it from the perspective of who might be reading your script and deciding whether or not its going to be a movie. If there are too many of these mistakes then YES, it takes you out of the story. The things around here that most people take issue with aren’t those scenarios. It’s a simple thing that someone mistakenly overlooked. It’s not the end of the world. It takes people out of the story not just because they notice it, but because they must then interject their belief system upon it.

            Just note it and move on is my opinion. Again, a site for amateurs looking for some help. I feel they should get it without inferences that they are lazy or insulting. I feel strongly about this so I apologize for the tone that may be coming through here. I’m not just reacting to you, but the bits of your post that ring true for many here.

            I don’t think it’s too much to ask for someone to comb through at least the first 20 pages and make sure everything is up to code. But there are so many simple reason why I know they could miss something. And also, I don’t care they made the mistake. That’s what it is. They may have looked 20 times and still missed it. They may have had friends look at that missed it. They may not have anybody in their system. They may not have anybody that has the ability to catch these mistakes. Or, they may have had somebody that made them change it to the thing that is the mistake. I think being dismissive of these possibilities is MORE LAZY than giving the writer the benefit of the doubt and not treating them like they are indifferent to the error and thus cause the reader harm.

            Again, so sorry for the tone. I feel very strongly about this. The laziness of readers on here lately is testing my patience.

            I completely understand your point of view. And I mostly agree. And I still think you are awesome. But as others have their stance, so shall I have mine. :) Plus, I do these mistakes ALL THE TIME IN MY NATURAL WRITING. So, if I scream amateur because of it. Then so be it. I don’t do it on purpose and I try to catch all of them that I can. But I miss them. I’m human. An amateur human. lol

      • Citizen M

        Would you respect the New York Times if it was full of typos, homophones, and errors of spelling, grammar, and punctuation?

        • Linkthis83

          I can’t tell if this is sincere or sarcastic.

          I know there’s no way you compared an amateur spec script to the NY Times.

          And there’s no way you could believe that statement. An amateur writer doesn’t have team of people to insure that no mistakes surface anywhere.

          So…it must be sarcasm. Right? :)

          • Citizen M

            No it’s not sarcasm. But pick any reputable publication. It won’t be full of errors.

            If you want to be considered a professional you need to meet professional standards. That includes spelling etc. if you want to be a professional writer. It’s not difficult. Tens of thousands of people manage to write good mistake-free English. It’s a lot easier than telling a good story cinematically. Consider it a minimal bar in your writing career.

          • Linkthis83

            Well, I’m specifically focusing on these times when writer’s make the simple, honest mistake. Especially when it comes to homophones.

            It’s so easy to do and so easy to miss that one even did it.

            And that was what Paul was highlighting. Not scripts that are “full of errors.” Any script that is full of errors are a combination of all the things listed in the excerpt you cited. It’s the moments where on a page 4 someone makes the brake/break error and some respond like it’s an atrocity.

    • Mike.H

      Cultural, grammatical black hole: There Their they’re, too, to, It’s its tail, seems to me the too, to is the most common and easiest to fix but ignored. :)

  • Kirk Diggler

    Keep it simple. Just tell us what worked for you and what didn’t.

  • Stephjones

    California Dream– gets my vote. Read to page 25. Thought set-up was well done. Will read further to see what happens.

  • Linkthis83

    I did not have time to do notes this weekend. My apologies to the writers.

    I was, however, also one of the SS faithful that got to read an EARLIER draft of HOT MESS back in December. I looked back over my notes that I sent Scott and the elements I didn’t really like then seemed to stay with the script. I didn’t feel like the script was ready, but what the hell do I know anyway :) Also, I won’t begrudge a writer for standing his ground on his vision. Some great films have been created for that very stance (which includes Donnie Darko — first script Richard Kelly ever wrote and wouldn’t let go of it because he wanted to direct it. This was his only script, took meetings all over town for 6 months, and refused to let go of it because he was going to direct it. Love this shit. How many of us would’ve done that?).

    Congrats on making it into AOW, Scott and good luck!!

    Here are the first act notes + story summary that I sent Scott in December:

    P1 = “Just bra and panties. Hot.” = You’ve just alienated your female readers (in my opinion). It may work for the story, but right now I feel you’ve just pissed them all
    off. Female leads get such shitty intro’s. – Even after reading the whole story, I still feel she should get a better intro.

    SUGGESTION: Maybe you shouldn’t start her off in just a bra and panties. Have her wearing a few more clothes and then make her use her clothing for bartering with her captor. She’s got no shame, so she’d totally shed some clothes for something she needed/wanted. Lead the audience to her being in a bra and panties. (I also get putting her in her undies to help hold the interest of the audience. She is going to be in a shitter for an entire movie….but still….make it story relevant.)

    P1 (NOTE): I personally don’t care about my following critique, but I feel others will and I
    think this may work against you = You have 3 separate sections of Nella’s description. None of which would be ascertained by watching this moment on the screen. We wouldn’t know any of this about her by just seeing her in the bathroom. I personally don’t care because it puts your story/character in to some context, however, unless you show the audience these things, I don’t think it will work.

    P1 = Jail? She thinks this tiny, dark room is Jail? And she says, ‘not again,’ so she’s been in this exact same situation before? — After reading, if she has been in this situation before, it never came up. So…her reaction to this scenario seems very unlikely. I have no doubt she’s been in jail before, so she’d know that this isn’t that.

    P2 = ‘It’s a place no girl ever wants to be.’ = Where is that exactly? Guys would be okay being here?

    P5 = I like her having to reach into the toilet to retrieve her bag/phone. This is a scenario I feel you could’ve done more with. I can’t imagine having to do that. Unless you
    are trying to show that she has no shame and reaches in there without hesitation.

    NOTE: If you are going to succeed, you NEED Nella to have REDEEMING VALUE – and right now, I really don’t give a shit about her. If she’s too stupid to be scared, then why would I root for her.


    So obviously, these are all just OPINIONS from somebody who can’t claim he knows anything about STORY. Well, I guess I can claim it but I can’t back it up factually at the

    I think you should make this a contained horror/suspense and play it straight. You set this up right, this could be a pretty intense flick. It would probably remind people of Buried or Phone Booth (or a mix of the two) but so effing what.

    I do think there is a story here. I think even if you tried to throw in some more heart to this current story the way it is, it still won’t succeed. I could be wrong, but I don’t think it will

    Your first scene sets the tone for your movie. Your first scene was fucking dark, my
    man. And it was done well until Nella opened her mouth. There is plenty of room
    for story. Especially if she does have access to her phone. And….the battery
    being almost dead never played any role in the story. Hell, Nella was never even fearful of the battery running out. She made every call she wanted and stayed on the phone as long as she wanted. Besides, every movie has the near dead cell phone. Give her a fully charged phone. Maybe THE MAN made sure it was charged so she’d have plenty of battery for him to play his game.

    I think you’ve got a ton of potential here. I think your writing itself is good. I don’t know about your character development because it feels like these characters were vapid on purpose. If they weren’t, then I owe you and apology for my crudeness, but then would follow said apology with the suggestion to work on your characters ;)

    I do think you’ve got something here and I think it should be creepy and scary (because it starts that way). I think the real CHALLENGE will be to come up with THE MAN’s reason for kidnapping her. And for that reason not to be like all the other things we see in these
    scenarios. If you nail that, this thing will sell no doubt. Scriptshadow will eat the fucker up, guaranteed.

    • Nicholas J

      Good notes, but I’m not sure it’s possible to play it straight. I mean, it’s a porta potty… It’s inherently funny.

      • Linkthis83

        You might think differently if you get kidnapped and held prisoner in one :) It’s funny, until you (we the audience) realize it’s not. It works for me to do it in a straight/horror type fashion.

        But I also have the advantage of having read that entire script and I try to actually solve the things I don’t like about scripts. It helps me develop. So I then I look at my noted issues and figure out what I would do if I was assigned the project. And I felt really strongly about some of the directions I’d might want to go. I do understand the challenge, but I also believe that if this was presented right, the audience would be on board and no longer find it funny. At least that’s what I’d want to accomplish and probably why I like the challenge of trying to make it believable.

        • Nicholas J

          Being trapped in a porta potty is pretty much my worst nightmare.

          I suppose it’s possible to be played straight, but I still think funny is the way to go, or else you’re pretty much just doing BURIED in a different location. But yeah, I haven’t read much of the script to judge honestly.

        • Poe_Serling

          ” It works for me to do it in a straight/horror type fashion.”

          Yeah, that’s pretty much the way King approached the same premise in one of his short stories from the book Just After Sunset.

          His take on getting trapped in a port-a-potty? A tense, terrifying, and downright claustrophobic experience.

          • Linkthis83

            I will have to check that out. There is much value in King’s short stories. I remember really liking The Long Walk (not sure if the title is right). There were also some really good ones in Everything’s Eventual.

  • Poe_Serling

    My pick this week: HOT MESS

    It’s Lindsay Lohan meets Stephen King (his novella A Very Tight Place). I appreciated the writer’s attempt at trying to combine elements of a contained thriller with an over-the-top send-up of being a celebrity.

    Now back to March Madness. ;-)

  • Linkthis83

    Just type more. Please. Just show up here every day and type. I will show up and be entertained.

    This is awesome.

  • Wes Mantooth
  • James Michael

    Hey guys, i’m the writer of ORION”S FLIGHT.

    I just wanted to say that i’m really appreciative to Carson for posting my script on this sight and giving it a chance. And thanks to anybody who took the time to read my script. Of course any CONSTRUCTIVE criticism is encouraged and looked forward too.

    thanks again

    • MaliboJackk

      Two things would help add some realism and help the reader:
      Where are we? SUPER: a location.
      What year is it? SUPER: a time reference
      Right off the bat, you’re telling us that you’re an amateur.

      Just a few quick notes:
      You suggest a “typical” prison building — but this takes place in the future.
      You suggest a Hannibal-like cell, which suggests you’re a fan boy, not a professional writer.
      On page 2, you say he puts the box in his mouth. Why? Did you mean its contents?
      Avoid confusion. Maybe it would be better to say — he hides the box in his mouth.

      In any script, the first page or two will usually determine whether you get read. You want good descriptions, you want to avoid sounding like an amateur, and you want to avoid confusion.

      Full Disclosure: It’s only one opinion.

      Kinda like the logline but wondering why the husband has to be disabled? Not sure what that adds to the concept.

      Why do you say — “CONSTRUCTIVE” criticism instead of “constructive” criticism?
      It already makes you sound defensive.
      Learn to accept criticism. And filter it as you find necessary.

      • James Michael

        Thanks for the comments Malibo. Really appreciative

        And not too sure why I did the capitals — looking back on it it does come off as a bit douche, my bad.

  • Nicholas J

    AOW is all about first impressions, at least for me. Very few people have time to read all the scripts and makes detailed notes about each one. You can usually tell just by reading the opening scenes which script will interest you, and that’s typically enough to make a vote.

    So I try to spend the same amount of time on each, whether it’s reading 5 pages or 50. Then notes are usually the big issues I had in the pages I read, focusing on the ones that stopped me from reading further. Or, if I wanted to keep reading, I make sure to say why — what about that script interested me and/or why I think the script is worth an AF slot over the others.

    Unless you’re talking about making a detailed review for a whole script, in that case I’d just check out reviews other people have done by skimming through the comments. The AF comments usually have more full length reviews, since it’s just one script, and the AOW postings have five.

  • John Bradley

    Hey, sorry I haven’t been able to participate this week, I’ve had a very busy schedule, but was checking out AW and just wanted to say I’ve read about 100 armature scripts, including California Dream and Caleb is one of my favorite writers out there. He is amazing with dialogue and characters, and has a really solid handle on all aspects of craft. I don’t have the time to read the other scripts this week, but I just wanted to show my support for a writer I’m really and genuinely a huge fan of. So, for what it’s worth, I’m really hopeful Caleb gets his shot on here!

  • Ange Neale

    Ditto! If you can’t get a gig as a writer, Mayhem, have you considered stand-up comedy?

  • Ange Neale

    Okay, I didn’t get to the others, but by its logline, Orion’s Flight sounded like the sort of movie I’d queue up on opening night for. Perhaps not yet, but maybe one day. Glad you’ve turned to AOW, James. Hopefully some of the bright lights here can help. I got to page 17.

    Btw, did you by any chance happen to grow up in Germany or something? You have an odd habit – which Eddie (I think it was) noted of capitalising the first Letter of some Nouns. Which is fine if You start the Sentence with them. Otherwise, it’s oddly disconcerting.

    Describing husband Adrian as pretty and wife Carolyn as ‘handsome, not pretty’ on page 2 certainly raised my eyebrow. Interesting choices.

    On page 4, as a former motorcycle rider, I know that sudden acceleration when one is not expecting it will throw one off backwards, not pitch one forwards. You say the jolt throws him off, and in the next sentence it hasn’t – he’s still hanging on somehow. If he’s gotten hooked on something and being dragged, that could work. Maybe future motorbikes have stabilisers to keep them upright. There also seems to be a word missing — hurtles, maybe — ‘The bike across the desert out of control.’ Paul C also noted the mix-up with brake and break.

    Page 5 – the room’s totally dark save for a futuristic wheelchair? Is it a fluorescent wheelchair that glows in the dark?

    Page 9 – not so hypnotized that they forget to scribble. Odd turn of phrase, that hypnotizing business. There are a few oddies in here.

    Then we’re in the taxi with Carolyn, but no new slugline. Then we’re out of it again. And ‘Kristy peels herself away from the men’ was funny for all the wrong reasons.

    You know what, I’ll email you back your PDF with the little bits and pieces I picked up marked on it. Your choice whether you use them or not.

    I really wanted to like ‘Orion’s Flight’, James, but it’s got a way to go. After you’ve absorbed and incorporated the helpful feedback you get here and done a new draft, obtaining the services of a pro proof-reader could really help (Carson’s off-sider, Lauren, offers that service — hint, hint!). The typos and what-not won’t bother a lot of people here, but when you start submitting it to producers and contests, you apparently need to be on top of that game. Good luck with it!

    • James Michael

      Thanks for your review Andge, really appreciate that you took the time to read and provide some feedback.
      And I couldnt agree more that I need to work on my spelling, grammer, punctuation etc — I’ve noticed that that’s one of the most consitant forms of feedback i recieve.
      thanks again

  • Bifferspice

    I am a member of a well known screenplay sharing/reviewing site and remember California dream, triggered just by the character names and description. Considering it must be six months since I read it, and it was one of about thirty scrips I read in a two month period, most of which I can’t remember at all, I think that says a lot for the quality of this script. I found it well written, fresh and original. Gets my vote. Good to see it on here

  • Ange Neale

    How was the Macca’s chicken club?

  • Ange Neale

    Haven’t read ‘Hot Mess’, but from the reviews here, it sounds like this concept, stripped down to its underwear with the funniest bits left in might make a cracking-good short film that the author could almost make himself with a porta-potty, a half-decent camera and a budding actress. She could be stuck in the sh**ter, call the cops and have some fun until they come.

  • Casper Chris

    Or “Orbitals”

    Anyone remember “Orbitals”?

    Carson writes: “Readers have strong negative – often angry – reactions to scripts like this because we’re pissed that the writer actually made us spend 2 hours of our lives reading something that they scraped together in a couple of weeks between Modern Warfare and World of Warcraft sessions. “

    Good times.

    • Ange Neale

      Perhaps we should all put our collective heads together and come up with the singularly most appalling script of all time. Make it hilariously TERRIBLE. As in, if you are a new writer, this is absolutely what you SHOULD. NOT. DO. NEVER. EVER. Fill it up with all the homonyms we can think of. (I struck a wonderful one the other days – waiters serving champagne and canopies.) The incredibly cliched hand on the alarm clock. Then the second time, the hand picks it up and throws it, but it’s still attached by the power cord. Then the third time, the hand unplugs it before throwing it, but forgets to open the window first.

  • Jonas E.

    So i read most of Hot Mess and found it a brisk and rather funny read. I don’t think anyone would make this film as it would be lacking visually and too grose to spend a whole feature film in a porta-potty. However I think it’s a script a lot of people would give a read because of the wacky premise. My sugestion would be to focus on the comedy and to introduce the bad guy earlier and make him more of a fan that gradually starts to crack and less a generic bogeyman (like in Misery).

    As for California Dream I found it well writen but that it never managed to surprise me. Its a moral tale that at the same time does a lot of exploitation and as such it feels a bit out of date, moore like an eighties thriller. Also Calvin really has nothing to lose so its not really a dilema for him what to do (if he had just gotten into college, even if late in life more would be at stake). I would however consider making Gwen and Amy the protags since they have all the agency anyways. What this film would need are moore charcters trying to outsmart and backstab each other, as it is now it just becomes a bit to much slease and to little plot.

    • Jonas E.

      As for Orion’s Flight i read maybe the first 30 before stoping. Everything hapens to easy in this script. In order to hijack a space station and the worlds most “secure” prison you just take som guns and hop onto the back of the space bus? None of these has backup security systems? It should be mission imposible for the badies and that would make them scary. Now everything just shoe horns into place in a verry unsatisfying manner. I think this logline is strong but i think more than a prison and some money needs to be at stake for this to work considering the budget. What if all of the futures comunications runs through that thing and the bad guys wants to throw the world back to medieval times? Or orion is a big ass canon and they aim it at the white house?

  • ElectricDreamer

    Kudos to all the AOW candidates this week.
    Try not to lose sleep over it. Like most of us do. ;-)
    Cracking open all the scripts sans reading loglines.

    P. 2 Is this a comedy? The moustache twizzling blood lick.
    My neighbor in rural New Mexico was a survivalist.
    But he was about a mile down the same dirt road.
    That’s about as close as that family liked their neighbors.
    In my experience, survivalists are all about privacy.
    They don’t do close neighbors, they want to be off the grid.

    P. 4 Cody says he had a great day being chased by bullies?
    What kid would say that? And why not show us that CONFLICT?
    Why not have Cody run away from the bully in front of dad?
    The kid zips into the truck, bully glaring at him. Dad sighs.
    This is a screenplay. Show us some conflict, author.

    The Bobby/Cody chat reads exceptionally on-the-nose.
    Revealing inner shame about cowardice so easily comes off fake.
    Children repress negative emotions too.

    P. 7 Kids play with their smartphones in remote rural areas.
    I guess they have awesome reception somehow.
    But what kind of games would their parents let them play?
    Methinks they’d want Christian apps on them cell phones.
    Why not use that fresh beat instead of starving Africans?
    The “eat your food or we’ll send it to Africa” trope is very stale.
    Creatively speaking, it’s “low hanging fruit”. Dig deeper into your scene construction.

    Now, having a Christian family argue over phone apps would be fresh.
    The kids have Bible apps at the ready to cover up their Candy Crush addiction, etc.
    As written, the scene just lays on the page.
    But a Christian social network setting livens it up.

    P. 9 Bobby is repeating to Charlene what we just heard.
    This kind of narrative repetition sinks scripts.
    Why make the reader go through the same thing twice?
    A classic oversight I see in many amateur scripts.

    P. 10 Two whole pages on debating to bring dogs in the house.
    And I’m out. The script reads very first drafty.
    The motivations and set ups aren’t landing with me.
    I can hear the proverbial gears turning in the writer’s head.
    These set ups aren’t nimble enough to engage readers.
    But you can learn how to obfuscate and layer your story mechanics in time.

    Stopping here. I dig the idea of rival survivalists quite a bit.
    Honestly, I think that could be an interesting COMEDY.
    You can call it: SURVIVING THE JONESES.
    It’s a twist on the bickering neighbors scenario I haven’t seen before.

    Just read your logline, author. I never got one inkling of HORROR here.
    That’s a big red flag. Lay down your genre gauntlet quickly.
    Give the reader some idea of the tale and tone they’re in for.
    As written, Prepper comes off like a slow-starting comedy.


    • ElectricDreamer

      P. 1 Why don’t you show us what makes this prison so great?
      You have inmates milling about, demonstrate the cool security here.
      Let the reader visualize what makes this jail so great.
      Don’t just slap that endorsement into a SUPER. Show us the goods.

      The Hannibal Lecter-style cell descriptive is downright awful.
      1) Don’t use awesome movies to describe your spec script.
      You’re drawing a comparison to your story you can never win.
      Now, I’m thinking how cool Hannibal is compared to your script.

      2) On top of that: you spelled his name wrong! It’s LECTER. With an E.
      Missteps like this compel me to throw your script in the trash.
      Don’t hamstring your hard work with such easily avoidable mistakes.

      P. 2 Opening with spousal snark undermines any tension from the prison.
      And the cutey joke clunked for me.

      P. 3 The guy’s married to a woman that designs motorcycles.
      But he doesn’t see how they can even function?
      What do these two have in common, other than forced banter?

      P. 4 Carolyn knows that Adrian isn’t into motorcycles.
      So she just speeds off into fun zone and ditches him? Really?
      What kind of responsible engineer does this to their noob spouse?
      You’re forcing the set up here, I’m assuming for some tragedy.
      But the circumstances read counterfeit. Rethink your device.
      Get there in the story w/o making Carolyn incompetent or cruel.

      P. 5 I’m super-confused here. Was the prison intro a NIGHTMARE too?
      There’s no indication when the dream began.
      Being vague about this only alienates your reader.
      Don’t surprise us with confusing elements, guide us through your tale.
      Have the narrative conviction to be honest with your reader.
      It’s harder work, but keeps readers turning pages.

      P. 7 Again with the snarkety-snark. It reads random.
      There’s no character dynamics driving it, just the quips.
      All it does for me is demonstrate that this couple has no chemistry.
      So many writers try to emulate Whedon & Sorkin’s dialogue.
      Why not find your own voice instead?

      P. 8 Actually, wouldn’t the artificial gravity help Adrian? Like, a lot.
      Methinks there’s precedent for this? *Googles stuff*
      Check it, we have anti-gravity treadmills now:

      Here’s the *BEST ARGUMENT* for putting ADRIAN in HARM’S WAY.
      It’s a great device because it makes medical sense!

      Imagine how much harder it will make things for Carolyn on the station.
      Now, her husband becomes her WARD in this very dangerous scenario.
      Making your protag’s mission SUPER HARD is your job, author.

      You can even make up some tech that helps Adrian achieve orbit.
      A device to temporarily withstand the G-forces while escaping the atmosphere.
      Carolyn is a DESIGNER of things…
      So why doesn’t she design things to help her own injured husband?
      That’s a wife I can get behind and ROOT FOR all day long, author.

      I’m going to stop reading here.
      There’s a lot fundamentally wrong right from the get-go for me.

      And this script needs a rethink that includes the crippled husband in space.
      He’s a constant source of stress, conflict and support for Carolyn on the station
      Adrian MUST be on that station. Nothing else makes dramatic sense.
      He’s actually a worthy successor to the Holly McClane throne!
      The wife accepting the job and using anti-gravity to help her husband.
      If you’re going to STEAL from DIE HARD, do it right.

      And then add your own spin to the device you’re stealing. Don’t be a borrower.
      Steal it outright. Then find a way to make it your own.
      My take is just one example of how you can really pay tribute to DIE HARD.
      I bet you can come up with a lot more. This is your story.
      Look forward to seeing a new draft.


    • ElectricDreamer

      MAN CAVE —
      P. 1 Your descriptions are writing checks their butts can’t cash:
      “It was the most difficult journey of their lives to get here.
      To this beautiful oasis. And they don’t want it to end.”

      I’m on board with this sentiment. So, find a way to get it to the audience.
      A voice-over is just fine. Maybe you can come up with something better.

      P. 2 Does Cheryl’s opening line have to scream: man-hating hosebeast?
      I find that a tad cheap and offensive, and I bat for the other team.

      P. 4 Lot of red flags with the ladies for me.
      All their hideousness comes from archtypes, not personality traits.
      We’ve got the Nag. The hippie-hippie flake. And the Shrew Workaholic.
      All affectations. Nothing character centric here.
      You’re leaning on stereotypes where your opening grabber should be.
      The wife strife is prime time to show the character traits of your PROTAGS.
      Use their marriages to establish the GUYS. Not just that their wives suck ass.

      P. 7 Nothing but man-hating venom from all the ladies.
      This feels more like the time to plot their murders than watch the playoffs.
      Why not just call the script — HORRIBLE WIVES?
      The stereotypes are too thick, they tend to choke the life out of comedy.

      Please use the ladies to show the GUYS’ FLAWS.
      We can organically learn about about your man cave dwellers that way.

      P. 9 The “unsupervised omlette” crack is chuckle worthy.

      P. 12 We’re still intercutting between conversations that are needlessly long.
      It’s all one-note. Why spend so much time here with the playoff debate?
      We know the story can’t go forward until this plot point resolves.
      You’re spinning your proverbial tires in the mud until that happens.
      The story isn’t moving forward or shedding light on something VERY CRUCIAL…
      Various character dynamics between the GUYS.
      Establish their relationships to each other in the early pages of your script.
      That was one thing that “This is the End” excelled at. Watch that funny film.


    • ElectricDreamer

      HOT MESS —
      P. 3 Defaulting to snark so soon deflates the thriller narrative.

      P. 7 Reads odd that a bodyguard would have that for a personal message.
      Sounds like he’s more of a boytoy than a protector.

      P. 7 Why wouldn’t Nella want the cops to rescue her?
      The “legal issue” unfilmable doesn’t cut it.
      Who cares about pending court cases when you’re trapped in the crapper?
      Is she’s under house arrest, why aren’t the cops there now?
      As soon as that signal dies, authorities would investigate.

      Nella could also end all this by — BREAKING THE GPS TRACKER.
      Once that signal disengages, the cops will come to her last known location.
      Movie solved.

      P. 7 Nella keeps Malt liquor-sized bottles of water in her purse?
      That’s quite a handbag she’s got there.

      P. 8 A flashlight app on her cell would be more fitting for Nella.
      She has to use it sparingly, which adds TENSION to her plight.

      P. 11 The pop culture references are super clunky.
      These kinds of celebrity jokes are better suited to reality TV fodder.

      P. 14 Can’t get behind a character that’s so casual about their predicament.
      If she’s not scared or doing everything she can to get out, why should I care?

      P. 16 The pages are dragging for me.
      I think SNIPPETS of FLASHBACKS would help liven the story.
      Nella recalls enough to give us an idea of what’s going on.
      As written, the dialogue is mostly empty calories.
      I’m starving for some story morsels.

      P. 18 The sight gags are subverting the story.
      We’ve already had flaming vaginas and cockroach-filled cleavage.
      Broad slapstick and contained thrillers aren’t mixing well.

      P. 20 I’m stopping here. The concept isn’t landing with me.
      The only thing holding Nella in the chemical toilet is her pride.
      She can smash the anklet and the cops come running. She’s saved.

      The writer’s pages read a decent clip. They’ve got some talent.
      But Nella’s a dull shrew with an easily solved problem.
      Strip the empty calories out of your dialogue.
      And find a way to make your concept more compelling.
      I shouldn’t be able to think my way out of it in the opening pages.


    • ElectricDreamer

      P. 5 Is it cool again to call jail, the “pokey”?

      P. 12 Real guys don’t talk about their parents when they meet a hot girl.
      That kind of talk doesn’t get guys what they want from hot girls.

      P. 14 “bumps knuckles” a.k.a. the Fist Bump. Use the modern term.
      As written, it makes the writer sound like he’s in his fifties.
      You’re writing about hot young folks in SoCal.
      And studio executives want to think the writer’s cut from the same cloth.

      P. 14 Calvin’s continued sitcom-style clumsiness is eye-roll inducing.

      P. 15 The scenes read pretty well. But the characters aren’t popping.
      Don’t know much about anyone’s personality so far.
      Nothing interesting about the family. Militant cop dad cliche in full effect.

      P. 16 Don’t need the “Mom, can I borrow the car?” scene.
      Calvin’s 26, not sixteen getting ready for prom night.

      P. 17 Calvin reads like a nerd with no geeky interests.
      He’s got all the golly-gee klutz action, but he’s also a stone cold petty thief?
      I’m having a hard time getting a bead on Calvin, or invested in him.

      P. 19 Saw the small arms reveal coming, just in time. And you delivered.
      Best piece of scene structure so far in the script.

      P. 23 The dialogue has been a tad repetetive…
      “Eh. I drift, you know? Story of my life.
      If something strikes my fancy, I take it up.”

      We already know this about Gwen, in spades. By her action in scenes.
      Use your dialogue to advance the narrative, instead of stating the obvious.

      By far the most readable of this week’s candidates.
      It seems to have the least fundamentally wrong with it.
      But your protagonist being a blank slate isn’t going to get you read in town.
      Calvin needs some color beyond that intriguing opener.
      And I’d ditch the sitcom family. They bring nothing to the story.


  • Citizen M


    Read to page 30. Entertaining start but got too dark for me.

    83 pages is a bit light. Is there enough loo paper on the roll? Dialogue lines like “Aaah” are just padding. You wouldn’t find them in a pro screenplay, so it’s even shorter than 83 pages.

    It seems to be some sort of twisted reality show setup, not the lowbrow comedy it starts out being. Perhaps the writing should be more somber, to create the right mood. I didn’t feel at all worried for her until page 30. Maybe I should have been made to feel concerned. I thought she was just going to get very dirty to be taught a lesson, not actually life-threatened.

    There’s not enough for a feature. This is more a longish short. [x] not for me.

    • Citizen M

      MAN CAVE

      Read to page 30. Fun, but light on plot.

      The problem is, we get it. These are three henpecked guys who want to watch the big game in their buddy’s pad, but their controlling wives won’t let them. They are three miserable p*ssy-whipped specimens of American manhood. We got it the first time. There is no need to repeat the same ineffectual scenes over and over.

      Set up. They want to watch the game. Plan A. Tell their wives. Plan A fails. Develop new plan, and we should be on page 25 and second act starting. Instead, they are still busy on Plan A. This needs to lose about ten pages and get into the meat of the story earlier.

      I may want to read on. [x] worth the read, barely.

    • Citizen M


      Read to page 20. Looks promising.

      I liked the detail. As though the writer was familiar with the locations. And the teen dialogue. It seemed authentic, although I wouldn’t know, being 10,000 miles away (literally). The characters are lively, especially the females. Also, the plot moves along at a good pace. Things develop. Calvin is getting sucked into deep shit.

      I want to read further. [xx] worth the read.

    • Citizen M


      Read to page 17. Unconvincing sci-fi.

      Too many typos and awkward scene descriptions make it hard to visualize the action. Too many bickering conversations that don’t reveal character or advance the plot. Mix of futuristic and ordinary technology paints an uneven picture of the world. Bad guys taking over a facility — cliche. Nothing much new here.

      No interest in reading further. [x] not for me

    • Citizen M


      Read to page 30. Okay, but not quite there.

      Good contrast between prepper Ray and his Ma, and the Christian but wasteful family of Bobby. Guaranteed that sparks will fly at some stage, plus a sexual frisson between Ray and Amber. I only hope it doesn’t get too dark. And I must confess i want ray to come out on top. Wasteful people are ruining the planet.

      My reservations are there is not enough description to picture the scene. I couldn’t figure out the spatial relationships between ray’s place and Bobby’s trailer home. Nor where they stay. It seems to be on the edge of the woods not in the suburbs. I’d like a bit more detail. Also more graphic descriptions of the scenes of looting they see.

      Might read further. [x] worth the read.

      My vote this week goes to CALIFORNIA DREAM with PREPPER and MAN CAVE as honorable mentions.

  • Stephjones

    Love this idea! Best of luck with it!
    So, I had an idea for: Hot Water.
    Have her adrift in “kind of” a boat. Most yachts nowadays have life rafts which are stored in large canisters, some which are the approx size and shape of a 50 gal drum. You pull a cord and the liferaft inflates and ejects from the canister. Have Nella miss out on the actual life raft and end up adrift in half of the canister?
    I have a funny story about this very thing. I live on a sailboat in St. Thomas. One day my husband and I saw a guy adrift in half a life raft canister. He was drifting out to sea. We look at each other…” to the rescue!” We hop in our dinghy and race towards him. When the guy spots us, he frantically waves us over. When we reach him he holds up a cigarette and says: Thank God you guys showed up. Got a light?

    • MaliboJackk

      What is dinner like?
      Seafood every night?

  • Gilx

    I have to go with CALIFORNIA DREAM.

    This one reeled me in the furthest, and I read up to page 55. A few pages prior to that, I’d started to feel that while the author had a certain skill for dialogue, the script was coasting on it perhaps too long. When something momentous finally occurs, a katana fight in a drug dealer’s apartment, it felt generic, and I stopped. Perhaps it kicks into gear later on, but if so, it’s a bit too late for me. All I can offer, however, is encouragement for the author to use his gift of gab in a slightly more structured story. In doing so, there could be no stopping him! Cheers.

  • Casper Chris

    I vote for

    This writer can write. Which is the first step — but a very important one. His characters feel real and his dialogue sings.

    I’m only 20 pages in right now and while it’s been fairly “slow burn” thus far, I’m invested in the characters. Enough to continue. Whether the story as a whole delivers… we’ll see.

    I cracked most of the other scripts open as well. Except Man Cave.

  • charliesb

    That my friend is gold. Can I steal that?

  • MaliboJackk

    Homophone alert! Homophone alert!

    plane-jane = plain-Jane

    • Casper Chris

      Yea, caught that one early too. But to be fair, it’s pretty clean overall.

  • Harold Felter

    I vote for California Dream by Caleb Yeaton. I’ve read almost all the scripts featured here (on and off sites), and I must say that CD is one of the freshest, most original works that I’ve ever come across. This script is for you, baby!!!

    • Kirk Diggler

      Man, the sand baggers are out in droves tonight. Here, let me add to the praise.

      I think California Dream was so good I’m positive the writer shits gold nuggets in his spare time. And the good thing is, since everyone agrees it’s the….

      “freshest, most original work that most of us have ever come across”….

      ..the writer should sell this thing by Monday morning and will no longer have to shit out gold nuggets in order to make a living.

      • Harold Felter

        When I read it, I was doing back-fips. It’s like Wild Things, noir style!

  • charliesb


    This is one of those instances where the writers “voice” will either help them or harm them. Unfortunately it didn’t work for me. The writing was too flippant and snarky to allow me to focus on the story. It was like reading a collection of Gawker comments, interspersed with dialogue. Not for me sadly, because I’m a fan of the “contained thriller”.


    I only made it through the first 5 pages, couldn’t connect, nothing was pulling me in.


    It’s a quick easy read, but it just seems like more of the same. Guys wanna hang out and be guys, and their beautiful but harpy wives “just don’t understand”. We’ve seen this story quite a few times before and nothing in the first ten pages is funny enough for me to want to keep reading.

    What if you turned this around and had it be the women who are trying to sneak out to watch the game? Play with your stereotypes instead of playing into them. Maybe the women like to keep up the appearance of work, shopping, gossip, but are secretly running their own fantasy teams, getting drunk and eating all manner of fried foods, while the men watch the kids and try to catch glimpses of replays on Sportsdesk at the local McDonalds playground.

    I skimmed through the next 5-10 pages to see if something would make me laugh out loud. Watch your “on the nose” dialogue. People usually don’t say “I’m so uptight lately”.

    Also just a suggestion, but more texting. Guy’s with wives and kids trying to meet up would be texting. Plus it will add another layer of humour if every conversation Rob, Kyle, & Troy are having with their families coincide with text conversations with each other. Autocorrect alone could add a ton of humour.


    Sometimes the easiest way to say something is the best way, especially in a script that takes place in the future and deals with concepts that need to be explained. I felt like some of the description was a bit clunky, and I was really confused about the passage of time.

    In the first scene, it’s not clear that the ‘tic tac’ was pushed into the same cell that Julius is in until he gets up to grab it. In the scene in Carolyn’s house (when she wakes up) I have no idea how much time has passed since her husband ‘headed for the Rocky Horizon’.

    In films that have hostage situations it’s important that you set up a connection between us and either the terrorists or the hostages. I think you spent too much time on the tech and not enough time making us care about the characters you introduced. I only made it page 11, before I forgot what the story was even about.


    I read the first 15 of this. The log line had me intrigued, though some of what I read in the comments turned me off. First off, it’s a really fast read, I read through those first 15 like it was nothing. Clean and straight forward descriptions and dialogue made it easy to breeze through.

    The story has a “The Purge” feel to it. Somewhat odd and off putting, a smidge of social commentary wrapped in a hard to believe premise. I really like the opening with Amber and Ray, it was creepy and unsettling. But right after that scene some of the dialogue became repetitive and or expository. But honestly I felt the same way about “The Purge” (which I couldn’t even finish), and that now has a sequel.

    MY CHOICE: I’m picking PREPPER, because (based on the first 15) out of everything chosen this week I think with some feedback, edits and changes this could actually make it to film. It’s not my cup of tea, but I think there is an audience for it.

    • Kirk Diggler

      It’s too bad you didn’t make it to page 40, so you could see what chain-sawing a dog and butchering a boy might look like.

      • charliesb

        Ya after reading the rest of the comments, it’s looks PREPPER went down hill pretty fast, not that it was on the highest hill to begin with. Butchering dogs and children is definitely not my thing. Of course there seems to be a market for things I find pretty offensive, but even then, the writing needs work.

  • Citizen M

    Is one Jeez not enough for them?

  • Citizen M

    Maybe the NRA will put up the cash for HOT SHOT.

    • ebola

      Or atop a wi-fi antenna = HOT SPOT.

  • Citizen M

    A big enough coronal mass ejection, as described in the script, could knock out the whole grid. See Carrington Event.

  • Casper Chris

    Okay, I finished California Dream and I gotta say: Bravo Caleb.

    Is it great art? No. Is it super original? No. But I feel this is the story Caleb set out to tell and I think he did that to a T. The story is essentially a cautionary tale, an adolescent Bonnie & Clyde with an extra bunny thrown in (and a twist). The dialogue is top-notch and I never for a second doubted the world or the characters. Someone could pick up this script and shoot it as is. It’s a movie.

    The only thing I didn’t like was Taryn’s little monologue at the end, ruminating on her wayward generation. Felt a little on-the-nose and hamfisted. But up until that point, Caleb had me completely along for the ride, even a little dewy-eyed there at the end. And I loved the final scene in the Diner.

    [x] Worth The Read

  • Kirk Diggler

    Read about 40 pages of California Dream. Skimmed some more.

    The dialogue keeps it going along for awhile. That’s the main strength, the writer has an ear for the way certain people talk. His female characters all trend in the same direction, barely legal hedonists. Wasn’t much difference between Gwen, Amy, Taryn.

    Calvin is one of those protagonist that stuff happens to, and he sorta goes along for the ride. At least in the early going, he’s rather aimless. Which affects the story just a bit. It’s not a compelling, “I need to see what happens next”, because what happens next is rather predictable, right down to the crime spree montage.

    Still it does seem to be the best written of the bunch.

    I only skimmed over Orion’s Flight. It didn’t grab me. Some of the dialogue was a little flat, and it was often in rather large chunks. Never a good sign for me. Means I have to muddle my way through lots of exposition. Just don’t have the energy. Sorry.

    The Aliens meets Die Hard is never a good pitch, I’ve seen those films, enjoyed them, I don’t need to read an amateur version of it.

    So my vote is for California Dream, but I don’t think Carson will give it a worth the read. But it should be reviewed, I’m curious what Carson thinks of the dialogue and whether it’s possible to have good dialogue with only so-so characters.

  • pedows

    CALIFORNIA DREAM is my choice. Great dialogue and interesting characters. Some of the best written sex scenes I’ve read. Kudos to the writer!

  • andyjaxfl

    Was there a newsletter?

    • Casper Chris

      No. I think it’s turned into a monthly.

  • Montana Gillis

    Read a little then skimmed through 60 70 pages of Preppers. First advice: Have the inciting event (civilization collapsing) happen right away and then reveal your characters through their actions. Second: read a lot of porn books so your descriptions of sex can have a fighting chance of believability. Third: The subject matter is disgusting/disturbing and beyond twisted. This would never be made into a movie.

  • David Hayes

    Cali Dream was a great modern noir, which was highly rated on TriggerStreet. I loved it.

  • lonestarr357

    Reading the first 25 pages or so…

    HOT MESS – Distinctive voice, interesting lead character…though I wouldn’t really call this sellable. Yeah, it’s a contained…shall I say ‘thriller’?, but inside a port-a-john. Already an uphill climb, but add the acquired taste lead and… Still, not bad.

  • Patrick

    Hey all, writer here of Man Cave. Or The Man Cave. See what I did there? I added a “The.” Not sure it matters. Some might say the “The” would be extraneous. Others might say it would add impact to both Man and Cave.

    Thanks for all who checked it out. Appreciate it.

  • bex01

    Read a few pages of California Dream and I’m enjoying it so far. Well written, good dialogue… hopefully it keeps it up! Will read on

    PS I hate disqus. Having issues!

  • Midnight Luck

    I think Carson needs to get out the Twister game and spin the wheel again. Spin the chamber again and pick another 5 totally random scripts.

    These all seemed to have totally jumped the starting pistol. They needed to be edited, checked by friends, others, ANYONE. Why do so many writers rush out with their work? Why does everyone think their FIRST script is gold and needs no work? Enough to send it to a site which puts it in front of so many people, when, invariably, they aren’t ready. I get that so many writers want THIS to be the help that affects their screenplay an/or their writing. They may say this, but not one could say, in truth, they don’t have fantasies or visions that maybe their script will be seen as genius, catch the eye of someone with money and power, win the Amateur Friday spot, and zip off to fame and fortune. But to even have a tiny sliver of a CHANCE, they need to nail their spelling, format, style, story, characters, and all the rest. THEN get a thousand eyes on it. Everyone seems to be putting the Cart before the Horse.

    First – started reading PREPPER, got to pg. 3 and was already skimming. So many issues with many aspects of the story and writing. Now, after the fact, I know more about what the story is, and thankfully, am glad I didn’t read on. The writer should really look at honing his craft, and learn that all the characters need to have some form of a redeeming quality, or something that allows people to connect with them. Felt like a very first effort, or a trial in just wanting to SHOCK people in order to get noticed. That might happen, but I do not believe what it will bring the author is anything good yet, or at this point. Needs a lot of work.

    Second – HOT MESS, got to pg. 8, and that was after two efforts. Hate the Protagonist (if that is what you can call her) and could give a shit about her predicament, or anything about her personally. Selfish, vain, plastic, stupid, and empty. Obviously it is what the writer wants her to come across as, maybe as a way to have her arc by the end to something better, but it doesn’t work. She is just plain unlikable and boring, I hope she drowns in the brown crap at the bottom of the Port-a-potty. Writer needs to find a way to help us CONNECT with her, and give us a reason to actually care about the story you are beginning to tell. I cannot find the reason to keep going with this.

    Third – CALIFORNIA DREAM – got to pg. 22 after 2 tries. Best of the bunch, but only because it was plainly uninteresting. It was bland and vanilla. I am not interested in the characters at all. It (once again, as in most Amateur scripts) seems to be written by a guy in his 20’s who has had somewhere between Zero and One successful romances, lives with his parents, and thinks moving home is the worst tragedy that can befall anyone. I know most people in America haven’t had real tragedy fall on them, especially in their 20’s, but this just felt average, and uninspired, same old, same old we have seen again and again. It wants to be alternative, but it is an impression of what someone thinks alternative is, based on movies they have seen. Dig Deeper.

    Fourth – MAN CAVE – got to pg. 5 (with much effort). Where to even begin. Again, this seems like someone who imagines what someone else imagines a group of guys might act like, if they had only seen a bunch of macho movies about guys being guys or got their entire understanding of guys from a Beer commercial or a WWF fight. Just on-the-nose interactions between guys and guys, guys and significant others. I mean, come on. If they hate women so much, why the hell are they with them? if they hate their lives, why are they in them? if they don’t want kids, why did they have them? If the most important thing in life is to go off and have a weekend in a dark room with a bunch of guys i wonder what is so important about this story. I would consider these guys empty vessels, not worth a movie based on them, and definitely not worth spending any of my time on. The stakes in this are non existent. The story reads like a retelling of The HANGOVER mixed with a Cock Fight.

    Fifth – ORIONS FLIGHT – got to pg. 12. Hmmm. I am not sure what to say about this one. At pg. 12 we have had a Penitentiary opening, a Hannibal like prison cell, a motorcycle ride, a woman who is a man, a man who is a Pretty woman but now in a wheelchair, a woman who isn’t present but is very into fitness, some sort of meeting about a Space Shuttle, where for some reason she wants the man, who wants the woman to give a speech to investors, but there is ANOTHER woman who gives the speech, or a speech, but then we are again talking about who is going to give this speech? I feel like by page 12 we need to have some sort of idea what we are going toward, have an inkling it might be about something. I don’t think it has the focus in the right place. I think it needs to find a way to open the script with a scene of importance, perspective, and value to what is happening. I think the scene where they crash on high speed bikes is not needed. Can open with him in a wheelchair and it would be the same. Unless the scene showed what he was, BEFORE he lost whatever he lost.

    I find just about all the Amateur scripts we read exhausting. It seems they are just about all FIRST SCRIPTS, many of which have never been proofed, nor have they been pre-read by other readers to help with logic or spelling, or any other issues. Seriously, I cannot believe so many people are so sure that if they send their dashed-off script to ScriptShadow and Carson that it will dazzle and astound him and everyone else, and they will be seen as a genius, that the story will go down in history as a masterpiece, and they will sell it for millions. In the meantime their stories fail to elicit the wonder, get chewed up by readers, some get covered in AmFri and come out with a Negative review, and they are tossed out and forgotten. Now I know that this last part is just how the world works, that even great writers can be missed and tossed in the pile, misjudged, wrongfully damned, or just preemptively judged before the story and the writer were ready for their chance in the spotlight. Come on Writers, DIG DEEPER! We will all be behind you.

    Patience. Is. A. Virtue. As is Diligence.

    • Casper Chris

      re: California Dream

      I think if you dug a little deeper (read further), you’d find that his moving home is just the beginning of his tragedy. When you write (or read) about someone in their 20s, you gotta put yourselves in that person’s shoes. And the things that concern our protagonist here are the things that would concern most people his age, whether or not they seem trivial to you. I think it’s actually a point of the script to start with a “tragedy” that is not really a tragedy, and then unravel from there. It makes the ending more poweful.

      I agree that the lack of originality is the biggest strike against this script. On the other hand, it helps ground the story in reality. I think that may sometimes work in favor of a cautionary tale like this. It feels like we’re watching life, rather than watching a movie.

      Also, I thought the script felt fairly polished. More so than most AF selections. Didn’t feel like a first draft at all.

      • Midnight Luck

        I did get further in it than the rest. if I had to choose one, had to, it would be this one, because, like I was saying, it didn’t have the typical kind of mistakes, the really blatant errors, but sadly it was just so uninteresting to me. it was so vanilla that it lost any chance. Being capable is a good start, but isn’t good enough in the end. to me.

    • Kirk Diggler

      Your description of Orion’s Flight was more entertaining then just about anything I read this weekend.

      It’s a catch-22. People need feedback to know if their script is any good, but the people they often get feedback from are either not qualified to comment or or afraid to tell their friend, son, daughter, brother or significant other that their script sucks or needs a lot of work. This is not the place to come if your script isn’t ready but sometimes writers need a humbling experience in order to work to get better.

      • Midnight Luck

        thanks for the props.

        yeah, if you only have close family and friends to read your work it does get difficult to get good feedback. you can always find writers groups in most small to large towns. bouncing things off people helps. And while screenwriting is a whole other beast, the basic ideas behind good writing still apply, so novel writers can grasp good screenwriting. If anyone has ever seen a play they get the idea of how a script is structured.

        All that being said, my main point has most to do with throwing your script out to a world where people who may be looking at it really aren’t interested in seeing a complete amateurs work, or someones first time trial.

        My first time checking into screenwriting was a Community College class, it was the best place to have other writers see beginners. I wish that kind of experience for everyone. I lucked out and got a teacher who was a writer for LA Law and other big time TV shows, I know that doesn’t happen often, but still, anything can happen, and having peers in your same, newbie, inexperienced timezone helps a lot. Everyone is on a similar playing field.

        talking with people on the internet and getting faceless peoples thought on your script is quite a different thing than having eyeballs looking at you. There are good and bad to both, but if people haven’t had the class experience, they need to check into it, and do it early on if you can. An Eye opening experience, without having to have that experience when it really matters, in front of an audience who might hold your future in their hands, is worth every penny.

        • Ange Neale

          Hey, Midnight,
          wondering if you might take a look at just the first 2 pages of mine? Interested to hear what you’d say. neal0018 at gmail dot com. Thx!

          • Midnight Luck

            which one is yours?

          • Ange Neale

            It was up a few weeks ago and has had a big haircut and been re-drafted as a result. (The Cloud Factory.) Whole first 7 pages and last 5 – gone, but much else, too – it was long.

          • Ange Neale

            Hmm, first reply’s disappeared. Take two. Went up weeks ago (The Cloud Factory). As a result of feedback, it got a big haircut and re-draft (first 7 and last 5 – gone, for instance).

          • Midnight Luck

            I remember the name, but I don’t seem to have it. There was a week where I didn’t get to download everyones scripts. Maybe it was that week, unless you titled the .pdf something like cfss.pdf or something. then i might not be able to find it easily.

  • Ange Neale

    Or a giant — I don’t know what Americans call them — Aussies call them an esky — an insulated cooler chest thing that you can stick your important stuff like beer and unimportant refrigerated stuff like milk and fruit in to take on picnics and out on the water for a day’s fishing. I was thinking Hot Box or Hot Chest but people with puerile senses of humor might get the wrong idea.

  • Ange Neale

    Feign hearing impairment, Mayhem, and ask them which sort? Gruyere, Edam, Camembert, Brie, English Stilton…

  • Midnight Luck

    ahh, burn.

    make them unlikable for a reason, and yeah, it might be interesting.

  • Midnight Luck

    I know, it actually made me smile. But you never know, things like that can be taken either way.

    RE: Vanilla.

    So here we go. Straight, no chaser.

    I hate to do this to you, but I am going to reference Buried, being as it is the closest approximation to your story I can think of. In Buried we have a guy with a cell phone who has a threat of not only suffocating in this tiny space, but suffocating because dirt starts filling his box. A cell phone with very little battery, him trying to figure out where he is. Discussions with people who can track him down (CIA i think) based on tracing his phone. Then planes start bombing all around him, making dirt fill faster, his phone dies, basically shit hits the fan. But through all this, there is from the beginning a sense of dread as his ticking time bomb or a clock winds down. Will he make it in time, can he solve the puzzle and get people to where he is, will his phone last, on and on. Urgency, Urgency, Urgency.

    With HOT MESS, you have in the first eight pages a girl talking to herself who thinks she is in a cell, but it is a Porta-potty, talks incessantly to herself about banal stuff, yells at people who aren’t there (at least as far as we can tell). I mean, to begin with, if you have ever been in a Porta-Potty you know they jiggle and wobble and lean as you move in them, because they are made of either plastic or fiberglass. No one would ever mistake it for a cell. Even in the dark there are enough signals that it isn’t a concrete cell. Anyhow, then there is this incessant referencing of US Weekly magazine stars, Pop stars and otherwise. While it may seem to you it is funny or cute, it comes across as lazy and eye rolling. So much of it seems like it is being written as stream of consciousness free hand writing. Whatever pops into the head is put down on paper. Take for instance a simple example: She “throws garbage into the open hole”. Ok. What garbage? in this tiny space, where on earth did some garbage come from? Then this garbage turns into beer bottles? why? she decided to get drunk in a place you take a crap? and chucks them down the toilet? why? I see no reason for any of this. And why does she say “AAAA” so many times? Need some variety. Need to show us the things you keep telling us about her personality in the text. Show not tell. Basically, the whole beginning feels like it was all this stream-of-conciousness writing with very little forethought. It doesn’t actually feel like it has any importance, or sense of urgency. Yes she is trapped in some kind of reinforced john, but all that comes out of her mouth is banal stuff. What is happening in the beginning of the first 10 pages could all be cut and we really won’t lose anything. As someone else said, all we know about her is she has a big rack. We need to understand her, and even if we don’t like her, we need something to connect us to her so we care. Care enough to see her change throughout the story.

    So many people don’t seem to understand that the first ten pages are like prime real estate on Maui. Those first ten pages need to do so much, and not a single sentence can be just thrown in. So, what are you really wanting to do or say with these intro pages? and does the script do this as you have it?

    From here, I don’t think it does.

    Really need to analyze the choices you make, and why the pieces are there in the story, and why they are placed the way they are.

  • Matthew Garry

    With no newsletter and a swamped weekend I was mainly relegated to reading the comments from the sideline this AOW. From the comments it was almost as if I inadvertently avoided disaster.

    So I was quite surprised when I easily and enjoyably zipped through “HOT MESS”, “Man Cave” and “California Dream”, and made it a fair way into “Orion’s Flight”. I found all of them decent and honest entries that had been put out at the right time for some critical feedback.

    HOT MESS was strange and off-beat. As a complete story I found it lacking, maybe because the contained nature doesn’t allow for much to happen, but it definitely had some great moments.

    MAN CAVE was well crafted, with an eye on pacing, structure, and character arcs. It even featured a somewhat surprise ending. The characters were a little one dimensional and flat, so nothing unexpected happened making it drag from time to time.

    CALIFORNIA DREAM was well written even though it became a little repetitive. But again I can see why the writer felt like this was a good moment to put it out for review and get some feedback on which parts of the story work and which parts could do with some polishing.

    Overall, it certainly wasn’t the worst AOW I’ve ever read.

  • hickeyyy

    Unfortunately I was on vacation this week so I didn’t have time to check out AOW. Actually, it is not unfortunate at all. I’m very happy about it! I’m basing my vote on logline alone this week, so I’m going for Orion’s Flight.

    Hopefully the writers got some good notes from other readers!