amateur offerings weekend

This is your chance to discuss the week’s amateur scripts, offered originally in the Scriptshadow newsletter. The primary goal for this discussion is to find out which script(s) is the best candidate for a future Amateur Friday review. The secondary goal is to keep things positive in the comments with constructive criticism.

Below are the scripts up for review, along with the download links. Want to receive the scripts early? Head over to the Contact page, e-mail us, and “Opt In” to the newsletter.

Happy reading!

TITLE: I. A. A. I. (It’s All About Imagination)
GENRE: Multiple, but essentially a modern fantasy.
LOGLINE: A tiered story in which a professional screenwriter whose vices have ruined his family life and career, mentors a fledgling screenwriter with no imagination, only to find out both of their lives are controlled by a third writer who disguises himself as a cop.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: I think you’d enjoy this screenplay because it’s a quirky story that screenwriters could certainly relate to. It’s tiered structure gives the reader/viewer something to think about as the story unfolds and is explained. There is plenty of action, some adventure, comedy, suspense, horror etc. It’s basically a story about the creative art of writing.

GENRE: sci-fi
LOGLINE: When a young man finds the enigmatic journal of his long missing father, he sets out to find him only to discover he may be lost not in a far away place but in a far away time – and he’s not alone.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: I decided to send my script when I read what you wrote about having at least one MEMORABLE scene in a horror script (mine is sci-fi but with horror elements). I believe I have one because every person who read LOST IN TIME (not family or friends but people in the industry) was shocked by the last scene of the script and told me it was unforgettable. I hope you will think so too.

TITLE: The Savage South
GENRE: Driller (Drama/thriller)
LOGLINE: When a professional contract killer discovers he’s become the target of an assassination himself, he teams up with the would-be killer to figure out who set them up.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: Been a screenwriter for a certain number of years, written some amount of screenplays, placed in various categories of various competitions, and done other unspecific things.

But why should you read this specific script? I don’t know. Because I think it’s a decent script. Because I’m genuinely curious what kind of bashing Carson gives it. Also, this was a top 10 script in the Industry Insider Competition – Roger Avary round. No, it did not win the coveted honor of first place, but Fargo also lost best picture to The English Patient, so clearly people do make mistakes.

GENRE: Horror
LOGLINE: Murdered to advance the construction of an exclusive golf resort, a mountain man is resurrected by Death himself and urged to seek revenge as an undead killing machine. But vengeance is just the beginning…
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: I’m a lifelong horror fanatic and very much a product of the VHS generation. While moaning about the state of modern horror movies one night, someone said “You should write a better one.” So, this is what I came up with. THE HARVESTER is a high-concept, supernatural-slasher that celebrates its bloody roots with an imaginative and fresh approach. Rest assured, there are no prolonged torture sequences, haunted houses, found footage or zombies. THE HARVESTER is something else. It’s my sincere attempt at horror the way I lovingly remember it; gruesome and gory, sure, but also eccentric, cinematic and, most importantly, FUN! THE HARVESTER is a blood-soaked blast of old-school carnage with an ending so wild and explosive; it needs to be read to be believed. Hope you’ll check it out.

GENRE: Science Fiction
LOGLINE: In a near-future world shattered by an alien invasion, a lone Special Ops soldier, unaware that he’s the key to victory, stumbles on a group of disabled military vets holding their abandoned VA Hospital as the invaders lay siege.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: I’ve been writing screenplays for years; had low-level agents twice; sold options twice; almost had deals 3 times; considered quitting many times, but always came back because I realized I just liked writing, and if one never sold, I’d do it anyway. So I do something over and over and expect a different result. Insanity, right? Anyway, FOE is the script I think could restore my sanity. So, for mental health–humanitarian–reasons, I’m begging you. Help a brother out.

  • Tailmonsterfriend

    I could have sworn I’ve read FOE before a long, long time ago. Maybe it was in one of the old newsletters? I remember it being a “Pass” back then, maybe this is a new draft. Will check it out and report back.

    • Nate

      I read Uprising a few weeks ago and I loved it. The sword fight ending felt out of place but it was a fantastic script. It was the little things that made it special, such as the protagonist refusing to kneel and would squat instead. Small things that don’t really serve the story but they make you appreciate the work that went into the characters. It makes me wonder why no one has made it yet.

    • Rick McGovern

      Is this an old review? Or did you give it another chance, as it might have been a rewrite? Hopefully, it was a rewrite lol

  • IgorWasTaken

    FOE – Sci-fi is not my usual genre, but I really like the logline. Sounds like a good story. Also, simply a well-done logline.

    Unfortunately, I could not make sense of page 1. What I was supposed to be seeing. The prose seemed more poetic than visual.

    My suggestion: When you are describing simple things, things we are familiar with, then some poetry can work. But when you’re describing things or locations that are unfamiliar to us, be simple and clear.

    And so, for starters, if we are in space, tell us. Maybe BLACKNESS OF SPACE. Just, give use something.

    And, “they begin to swing past, each a thousand times the size of Everest.” The only way to see that something is huge? We have to see it relative to something that is not huge. And preferably something we know, so we know that thing’s size, and so then we can get a sense of that huge thing. Here, we have no such reference.

    Then at the bottom of page 2, you have INT. A DARKENED ROOM – NIGHT. And then on page 3, you offer INT. ROOM – which apparently is the same room as the DARKENED ROOM.

    Anyway, I lost my patience and stopped.

    Also, BTW, the quote on your insert page. In case you don’t know, that is not the usual/classic translation. It seems that some people don’t like those opening quotes. I’m fine with them. But when I read yours and saw your version of the translation, it was not a good thing. The usual translation is along the lines of: “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”

    But again, I do like the logline. So maybe you have a great story.

  • Nicholas J

    My vote goes to THE SAVAGE SOUTH followed closely by LOST IN TIME.

    Read 10 pages of each, give or take.

    Started off decent, but I would’ve liked the Death appearance at the beginning to be more mysterious. Honestly seeing Death at the top of the hill would be enough. Everything that followed was kind of over-the-top and made it less scary. And why is Sasha maybe twenty? Is she twenty or isn’t she? If the writer doesn’t even know the age of their characters I won’t feel very confident in the character work going forward. I was pretty on board with things until I reached the 6 page exposition scene that takes place in some kind of afterlife purgatory. Creative, but it brought the story to a screeching halt, and extremely early.

    Sorry, but that title needs to go. And I’ve never heard of the ‘multiple’ genre. I like the creativity here though. However, reading it seems like the writer isn’t quite clear of the story they’re trying to tell. There’s a lot of things being thrown at you all at once and I wasn’t able to latch onto anything. As soon as I made an attempt to get comfortable with a character or a scene it got taken away from me and replaced by something else. It makes for a very frustrating read. Slow it down. Give me a situation, give me a scene, give me a character. STRANGER THAN FICTION didn’t beat you over the head with all of it’s ideas right off the bat, it started like a normal story and gradually morphed into something else along the way. Give your reader an opportunity to get comfortable in your opening scenes.

    Whoa boy, lots of description here. The script suffers from something I see all the time — writers not realizing they are writing a blueprint. This isn’t a novel. You don’t need to take a page and a half to describe asteroids. The setting seems cool and the logline is intriguing, but again, I wasn’t able to latch onto anything here, but for different reasons than I.A.A.I. The over description actually made things less clear if that makes sense. I really had no idea what was happening. Stuff is happening but there is no setup to it. It seems like it could be a good opening sequence but I have no idea who is who. I want to like it, the writer just has to give me a chance to.

    Why do you sound so depressed in your Why You Should Read? It’s like you don’t give a crap about your writing. Sell me on your script, man! I laughed at the “based on an actual idea” but that’s not really suitable for a thriller. Do you really want me laughing before I even get to page one? Also, driller genre? Again, lots of description here, but things were very clear this time and somewhat economic. Good word choice, like the “rain pissing down like bullets.” Good job setting up the tone. I love the character descriptions and how you basically tell the four line rule to fuck off. Your casual descriptions make it work. And wouldn’t you know, starting off with situations makes the read so much better! I read the first seven pages in half the time it took me to read others. (Ugh at the “four days ago” though.) My one big complaint though is that it didn’t seem memorably creative. Feels kind of Coen-Brothers-Lite. What sets this script apart? What do you as a writer give me that I can’t get anywhere else? Granted I only read the opening 12, but I didn’t see much that popped out at me.

    While THE SAVAGE SOUTH was better written, LOST IN TIME was more creative. It also starts in motion (for the most part) and has an intriguing logline. The opening page made me cringe though. Dan walks up to a woman he doesn’t know, films her without permission, gives her a cheesy bit about the art she’s looking at, and uses the worst pick up line ever — “What’s your name?” “Karen.” “I was going to say stunning.” Go on, try that one sometime, you’ll get laughed out of the bar. And after all that, Karen falls in love with Dan — INSTANTLY. Please. The dialogue and character interactions in the first ten needs plenty of work. But again, I liked the creativity here. The university tunnels make for a unique location, although aren’t that threatening. But it’s the opening, so that’s fine. Protag has a clear goal and I see a backstory lurking underneath. Some good stuff here, but it felt somewhat amateurish in the way scenes and dialogue were executed.

    Well that does it. Not sure I found a common thread amongst all the scripts, but in 3 of them, characters drank scotch in the first 10 pages. Why must movie characters always drink scotch?

    Hope these brief notes are somewhat helpful. Good luck everybody!

    • Matty

      Thanks for the notes (Savage South)!

      I do care about my writing, I was just downplaying the pitch aspect I guess. I’m not a huge fan of gloating about myself. I like the ‘work speaks for itself’ approach, but you gotta get to the point of them actually reading it I guess…. ;-)

      The “based on an actual idea” is both just something that’s funny to me, and because this was literally based on someone else’s idea (that’s what the Industry Insider Comp was). And I stole it from Mamet’s “State and Main” script….

      Thanks again for the comments!

      • fragglewriter

        Sorry you didn’t win the contest, but glad you made it in the Top 10.

        I’ll read your script after I finish writing my script for the Nicholl Fellowship. I have to finish 60 pages in 2 weeks smh.

        Also, if you would mind sharing your experience with the contest with us, that would be great.

        • Matty


          First, I highly recommend the Industry Insider Competition. Very much.

          Basic idea is (for those who don’t know): an industry professional (in my round, Roger Avary) provides a logline, and you write the first 15 pages based on that and submit. Then, a top 10 are chosen based on those first 15. Then over 12 weeks, you work to complete the script alongside a mentor and then the final drafts are turned in and one winner is selected (other than first place there are no rankings). I can’t speak for every mentor, only mine (I believe there are four), but Kay Tuxford (my mentor) was absolutely fantastic. It was great working with her.

          It’s hands down the most interactive competition out there. Most of them, you submit your full script and that’s it… just wait for the results. This one you have a very small investment (15 pages), and then if you make the top 10, you’ve already “won” in many ways. In the end, even if you aren’t first place, you come out with a solid spec script that you can do whatever you want with. And a great experience… this was the first time I had outlined so thoroughly on a script, and honestly I don’t ever want to do a script without a thorough outline. And I mean thorough – it was like 15 page outline and character bios, backstories, etc. It really resulted in a stronger first draft than I’ve written before… many of my other scripts have had to undergo extreme rewriting to get to where the second draft of this was.

          Anyway, I highly highly recommend the contest. Like I said, small investment to begin with (write 15 pages, pay the $50 fee or whatever it is) and then you either make it or you don’t. If you do, the experience ahead is worth far more than $50.

        • Rick McGovern

          You have 60 pages to finish a first draft? Can I ask why you would turn in a first draft to a contest? Or even a second draft?

          Most need be molded and shaped and fixed… most professional writers would never turn in a first draft to a studio (though I suppose if it’s just a one draft and you’re done, maybe. Because some have turned in some horrible scripts)… but most first drafts that say first drafts, aren’t really first drafts… they’re just the first draft the studios get to see. Probably anyway. lol

          I was just wondering.

          • fragglewriter

            It’s not a first draft as I have made revisions to the first half so that it flows into the second half. i know how the story ends, but need to fix it before reaching the end.

            I understand that most professional never turn in a first draft, but maybe starting with my next script, I will just puke it out and then begin the draft process.

            Also, I’ve read most professional scripts, and unless they are written in a writing style that you admire, they are easily forgotten. I’m more for the story then how well someone can poetically write how blood splatters or someone receiving an ass-kicking (prose), IMO.

      • Nicholas J

        I guess I didn’t realize what the competition was, so yeah, I can see why it’s in there.

      • John Bradley

        Still in my busy mode, but am really rooting for a Matty script to get a AW shot! You’re a very knowledgable guy!

    • astranger2

      I thought the scotch thing a quirky coincidence too… funny…

  • IgorWasTaken

    THE SAVAGE SOUTH – Another intriguing logline. But a bit confusing. It says, “he teams up with the would-be killer to figure out who set them up.” So, you’re saying the guy who is paid to kill the first guy is also somehow “set up”?

    Anyway, I gave it a look.

    OK, I suppose this is simply a matter of personal taste. But for me, and especially for this genre: “Based on an actual idea” on the title page? That was bad. Really bad. You have to know it’s a GROAN line. Do you really want the reader to groan as he/she turns to page 1?

    OTOH, I suppose the “attitude” of that line does sort of match the tone of the writing on page 1. Now, I can go with that attitude if the writing is clear and to the point. The writing is clear. I can see what is being described. But it is not so much “to the point”.

    “Headlights swell into view as a car approaches from down the street.” That’s a nice line. I mean, the first half of it is. You don’t need “from down the street.”

    It just seems to me that the “voice” of the writing here, the attitude, requires crisp descriptions. There is some of that.

    “Keys rattle. Door opens.” Great.

    If that style was consistent, that could work well. But for example, let’s say, yes, we should know that Kessler tosses his jacket on the bed. Fine. But I don’t think we also need to know that he first “Takes off his jacket.” Or that he also “Loosens his tie.”

    As for repeatedly telling us that there’s a HALLWAY? I don’t get that. The need for it.

    On page 3, when we hear music and then FADE IN:. What’s the first thing you want us to see?

    Well, the first thing mentioned after the slugline is: “White walls. Plain carpet. Bland curtains. Clinical.”

    Is that it? Camera opens on a white wall and carpet and curtains? Somehow, I don’t think so.

    And so, whatever you do want us to see first? THAT should be what’s described first. Not after every slugline. But after a slugline that follows FADE IN? I think so.

    Anyway, and yes, this is probably coming off as harsh, but I stopped on page 4 after I saw 1/2 page with 4 mini-slugs just to show us Hollis in the shower, shaving, feeding his fish, and laying out his clothes. 4 slugs and a half-page for that. That kind of detail worked in Stranger Than Fiction, but I don’t think you need it here.

    • Matty

      Thanks for the notes!

  • James Michael

    Driller (drama/thriller) great name for it. I see this taking off

    • Matty

      I thought we needed a new version of dramedy for other genres ;-)

    • BSBurton

      Good thought James! What are you working on, just curious. I’m reworking a comedy. Should finish up at about 91 pages (my shortest yet).

      • James Michael

        An action/adventure on my side. Just started – still trying to think of a cooler was to abbreviate action/adventure though

        • BSBurton

          Acture? lol. Have no idea. You hail from the U.S.?

  • Rick McGovern

    Haven’t read in a long time. Read each until I got bored… or wanted to move on.

    The Savage South would be my first choice. Lost in Time would be my second.

    FOE — I have to agree… what in the hell is going on in the first three pages? Try and speak english instead of in riddles or clever words to describe something lol ;) it’ll help the reader… and you’ll have a much better chance of someone making it past page 1. And I don’t think vastness has a sound… central points, red companion? What? I read until we actually had human dialogue… but I would have checked out after page 1.

    But as a veteran in the military (I was a medic — worked mainly delivering babies and helping with pre-natal care, though I did do Mother/Baby as well, feeling women’s fundus’s haha such a funny word, but had to make sure these mothers weren’t bleeding from the inside out) I do like the idea.

    THE HARVEST — The beginning was so cartoony I couldn’t take it seriously. Sorry. Page 2 and I was on to the next.

    IAAI — Didn’t like the novelistic VO… OR:

    ARTHUR Listen, Richard, I’ve been your agent for sixteen years. Long enough to become good friends.

    No bueno dialogue: Show us, don’t have the character tell us who they are… and if you do, try to do it in a way that’s its not obvious that you’re having him actually talking to the audience letting us know who he is. His surroundings, his office, put the clues there…

    Wasn’t much here for me to grasp onto.

    Sorry if my notes suck! lol as I’m the worst note giver in the history of note givers… and it’s also only based on a page or two, as I couldn’t get past page 2 on any of them.

    The other two, I could nit-pick, but, eh… I made it to page 10 on Matt’s, and page 5 on Lost in Time… they both stick out way above the rest.

    Congrats, and good luck! ;)

    • BSBurton

      Glad to see you commenting Rick. How’s the motorcycle?

      • Rick McGovern

        Better than my truck which broke down Friday. Needs a new timing belt. Good thing I just got paid my $2500 check. Would rather have spent the $500 on something else lol oh well.

  • jw

    Somewhat at a loss here… most are referring to Foe being “novelistic” in style. Are we just not going to pay attention to the fact that the entire formatting is completely off and looks more like a Coen Bros script? All for style, but not like this…

    • BSBurton

      Lol, good point. How long till your name turns RED?

  • Kirk Diggler

    Read 25 pages of The Savage South. A nice set up here. Writing wise, nothing to nitpick. The dialogue is far stronger than most AOW offerings. There are a fair amount of characters introduced but no real confusion as to who is who and what they are doing. There is a nice confidence to the writing, seems to be more of a character piece than a thriller but i guess that’s why he included the drama part. The assassination was well handled, though I would have liked to have seen Kessler faced with a glitch or two. It seemed a little too easy.

    There is a little mystery established with Kessler’s incarcerated father and the anger that Kessler has toward him. Gives the impression that something dark is driving Kessler’ actions, which is nice character motivation.

    The subplot with sad sack Eddie is bit cliche…. losing his son’s birthday money in a card game, but it’s more important how his misfortune plays out in the rest of the story.

    The story has verisimilitude, which i thinks matters a lot with this type of script.

    In the mood for an expensive Scotch now…

    Would definitely read on to see how it develops. Nice work.

    • Kirk Diggler

      Lost in Time –


      “Of a typical NYC tiny apartment. The Manhattan skyline is visible through the window.”

      Maybe they’re in Brooklyn or New Jersey? How else would they see the Manhattan skyline? More to the point, a typical tiny Manhattan apartment wouldn’t have a living room (it would just be ONE ROOM) and the view would be of whatever building is standing in the way. Just saying.

      CHRIS: “You know I don’t like surprises.”

      A well worn line if there ever was one.

      Why make Olivia the one who is grossed out by the bugs? She is the one who is gung ho about going on the adventure, then at first sight of cockroaches and worms she is about to vomit. Why not make the guy who’s built like a linebacker the one who is scared of insects? It might be funnier, and you wouldn’t have weakened your female lead by buying into a trope.

      “Chris waves his flashlight, trying in vain to penetrate the deep gloom.”

      “Olivia takes out her cell phone, its pale light almost, swallowed in the darkness.”

      Either the flashlight works or it doesn’t. Is the darkness of the tunnel resistant to light somehow?

      Pg 13-15

      A lot of Chris’ dialogue feels very wikipedia-ish. It’s just a lot of walking and talking but nothing interesting is happening. Throw some ducks in the pool or something.

      Olivia was scared of cockroaches but not whatever made bloody scratch marks on the pit wall? So she dives right in…

      There is too much dialogue of one character posing a question to another character. Just over the course of 4 or 5 pages, this is what Olivia gives us.

      Olivia : Who left these? ……What are you looking for?……. Do you mind telling me what the hell is going on?……… What?……….. Who?………..What happened to your father?……….. What was in it? ……… What is this?…….. You think your father got lost there and never found his way back? ………So where do you think he is?……… You really believe your father went back in time?…… What is he talking about?……..
      Different, how?………Where are we?……….Why would there be a mirror here?…….. Who would place a human being in such a place?

      Your female character exists merely to make Chris look like he has all the answers and she has none.

      “An eerie GAS MASK covers the soldier’s face. His clothes are sputtered with stains of BLOOD.”

      Not sure how a gas mask is “eerie”.

      “There is something sinister about the photo. A dark, forbidding presence that makes the skin crawl.”

      This 2nd action line tells me the writer is not confident the first action line got the job done. A writer shouldn’t tell us HOW to feel, they should MAKE us feel.

      When Chris hears the voice on the walkie talkie and is convinced that it is his father’s voice, even though he hasn’t seen or heard his father in twenty years, I wondered why Chris would ASSUME this. This dialogue follows.

      MATT: This is crazy. You only heard your father’s voice on video recordings,
      it could be anyone…

      CHRIS: It’s him, I’m sure of it.

      MATT: But how can that be? He was gone more than 20 years ago, why would he ask for help now?

      CHRIS: Maybe it is now for him, if he’s somehow stuck in another time.

      MATT: If that’s true, then how can we hear him in our time?

      Chris turns a determined gaze to Matt.

      CHRIS: I don’t know, but I’m gonna find out.

      The writer himself is acknowledging how unlikely it is that Chris would KNOW it was his father’s voice on the walkie talkie, and uses the character of Matt to voice this concern. There is nothing that has happened that would make Chris think his father was “out of time”. Just because they mentioned Tesla earlier, doesn’t mean they would make this bizarre leap forward. Your main character is making assumptions in order to tip off the audience/reader as to what exactly is going on, or possibly going on. It’s a little lazy.

      The writer is using perfunctory dialogue to move the story from Point A to Point B. The dialogue doesn’t serve the characters, it just serves wherever the story needs to go. Hence, Chris KNOWS it’s his Dad’s voice on the Walkie Talkie.

      I think part of the problem is that we jump into the premise almost immediately. There is the old video clip of Chris’ dad and mom, then we are literally off into the tunnels. Because there was very little set up, we don’t know who Chris is personality wise. We need a little more characterization. Matt is built like a linebacker and is just there to be the best friend. Why does Matt risk his life for Chris? Olivia is obsessed with Tesla. I assume later in the story she will have encyclopedic knowledge of Tesla and will be able to rattle off facts and figures when the story calls for it. But for now, she is just there to ask questions. It’s a device we all use, but it’s overused here. It’s her only function in the first 20 pages.

      The story has promise, and the writing is rather tight, it’s easy on the eyes. But the dialogue needs punching up, the characters need fattening up. Good luck.

      • davidgrant37

        Thanks for taking the time to read my script and for the great notes, I really appreciate it!

      • Linkthis83

        That’s funny that you singled out the Olivia thing too with the worms and cockroaches.

        • BSBurton

          Who wouldn’t? lol. Everyone be sure to congratulate Link on getting married this weekend! ;)

          • Linkthis83

            Don’t anybody bother. It’s not true. Mr. Burton is just having some fun. Damn kids.

        • Kirk D

          yes I didn’t read your comment, must have been in moderation or something. we literally made the exact same suggestion. we even used the same word …..gung ho…. now that’s really weird. but hey when you’re right you’re right.

    • Matty

      Thanks for these notes! Glad you like it so far!

    • drifting in space

      Always in the mood for scotch.

  • Rick McGovern

    I understood why… it was just a little too novelistic for me. I’m not sure if people talk like that. Maybe scholars? Eh. I don’t know lol

    But as the saying goes… if you only hear it from one person, it’s opinion, if you start hearing it from others, it’s probably something worth addressing ;)

  • Poe_Serling

    My pick this week: THE HARVESTER.

    At first, I was just going to read the first ten of this one… then I hit the first act… and before too long I zipped through to the very END.

    What I liked: The writer promised a throwback horror story, and I feel he delivered the goods.

    >>Style/Format – Solid. It got the job done.

    >>Plot – I enjoyed the creativity of the dual storyline that bounced between the action at the country club and the mysterious dark place.

    >>Dialogue – the banter among the young characters had a certain ring and old school tone to it.

    >>Monster – the Harvester fit the mold of the those creatures of revenge of that particular era such as Pumpkinhead and company.

    >>Other nice touch – the knowing nod to Ingmar Bergman.

    Minor suggestion: I think the opening could be ramped up a bit to make the appearance of Death even more memorable.

    Overall: For me, it was a nostalgic and entertaining trip back to the time when VHS ruled the home entertainment landscape.

    Thanks, Nick, for sharing your work and your obvious love for the horror genre.

    • Nick Morris

      Wow. You read the whole thing! I seriously can’t express how much I appreciate that. Thanks so much!

      • Rick McGovern

        You have a fan!! :)

        • Nick Morris


  • Rick McGovern

    That’s why it’s important to grab people right off the bat. That doesn’t mean explosions and car chases and gun fights. It means meeting people on an emotional level… drawing them into a world that they can’t turn away from.

    They say the first ten, fifteen pages are the most important. I don’t know if I totally agree with that, as some scripts I can’t even get past page 1 or 2.

    Every page has a job, and that’s to get the reader to want to read the next page… and if you’re doing that, then you’re doing your job as a writer. Easier said than done, of course, or else we’d all be millionaire writers!!

    • Nicholas J

      Well said.

  • Nick Morris

    “I’ve heard this “It’ll be on my own terms”
    philosophy before. Swap it for something else. Maybe she responds, “Yeah, I
    know. You want one?””
    I like this. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! Good to know exactly where it lost you but I hope you do find time to read further. I’ll definitely be checking out The Weirdness. Cheers!

    • BSBurton

      You did a good job, I’m not in love with Horror (last I saw was John Carpenter’s The Thing if that even counts), but I can appreciate the hard work and execution of your script.

      • Nick Morris

        Thank you, sir. And Carpenter’s The Thing DEFINITELY counts!

  • Randy Williams


    I come across this again.

    With this script I’m thinking, as I did recently with the “Beauty and the Beasts” script on AOW.

    Do I vote for a writer who is far out on the pier with his line in the water, while most of us are still buying bait?

    Secondly, how do I feel any sympathy for someone who kills an innocent room service waiter at the beginning of this story? Doesn’t help I USED to be a room service waiter. LOL.

    I read to page 38. I’d like to finish it. Probably will. The relationship with Hollis and Eddie promises some potency.

    In those 38 pages there isn’t much of Hollis as far as really sketching him out., however. He doesn’t get much dialogue. It really sparked when he and Eddie were together, like I mentioned. If you’re fishing for suggestions, I’d suggest having them meet sooner.

    Evocative visuals. I know the New Orleans area well, lived there several years, have family there. There’s something missing though with the characters, I felt.

    My aunt and uncle lost their home in a hurricane in the late 60’s when a levee broke. Their whole street rebuilt their homes exactly as they had been before the storm. The same street was flooded when Katrina struck. The water didn’t recede as fast as the first time. The devastation so bad, the houses and street didn’t look anything like they remembered. There was no memory in front of them to build back on. It was futile. The whole street abandoned the idea of rebuilding and moved on to other areas. Memories for them are like ornaments you take out on holidays. Not to fuss over the rest of the year and if they break, well, buy some new ones unless you’re broke. Community is everything. Who is on the phone here and now. I say all this because at the beginning the assassination target I presume of Hollis, states something about go ahead drink my liquor, I’ve only been saving it for five years. I think about what my aunt and uncle would say in that situation. Five years, I think wouldn’t be on their mind as time spoken of in the past rarely is. They’d say something like, leave some for the crime scene detectives. I’m not a good sight for sore eyes alive. Something community oriented.
    There is lots of dialogue in here about the past and what people thought, did, people thinking about the past, in this script. Some memorable lines, no doubt, but I’d concentrate on the characters talking about the here and now. Again, if you’re fishing for suggestions.

    Should get lots of love here. Surely doesn’t need any help from me.

    • Matty

      Thanks for the thoughts!!

      • Rick McGovern

        I thought you changed him killing the poor room service dude lol

    • Rick McGovern

      Yeah, I didn’t like he killed the innocent bystanders either… especially because this is really how we’re meeting him for the first time… even though we had those two previous scenes with him before the hotel.

    • BSBurton

      IF you used to work as a room service waiter, I don’t doubt the scene would rub you wrong lol. I bet it would be fun to work in one with a casino.

  • davidgrant37

    Thank you for taking the time to read the script and for the awesome notes! As for the poem, I let my love of poetry get the better of me…:)

  • davidgrant37

    Thanks for the comments, much appreciated. And the “this better not be about Tesla!” was really funny!

    • Randy Williams

      Yes, very entertaining post from Tailmonster! Maybe you better shop this script in Serbia.

  • Randy Williams


    This was a sloooow read, I thought the description too dense. Yet, two of the BEST first scenes I’ve read on here!!!! The snowy mountain road scene and the Greyhound bus scene.

    Then — for me, it kind of veers off that snowy mountain road and the dog lands in a ditch it has a hard time getting out of.

    page 7 – I think it needs a bit more leisurely approach to revealing that David’s dead. Maybe have the meeting about to begin or already in session. David notices some little things. Something in his coffee, perhaps. Someone asks him if he’s ok. Maybe we think that first scene was a day dream he was just having. A bird hits the window, something. Then the businessman goes into his blank stare.
    As well, as revealing the identify of the grim reaper. We should be able to maybe guess who he is before David does. As it’s written, the reaper just out and out identifies himself with little buildup. Where’s the Eureka moment, actors love to play?

    page 12 – personally I hate these contract with the devil kind of stories. I’d cut the contract. What purpose does it serve? David has motivation anyway, doesn’t he?

    Golf has become more of a common man’s game. Is there another type of development that you could have in this story? There is just something not current about using golf as a class divider.

    page 13 – loved how the reaper explains David’s body has been buried for 20 years and may be rough going to use at first. MILK THIS. I can see the trailer and some physical comedy here. With some gory details, too! Embalmer didn’t do such a good job with that (fill in the blank) now did he? as it falls off.

    page 15, loved the relationship building here. Sweet, sexy.

    page 16. I would have preferrred that Jay just look at her legs and not mention anything about the scalpel. Would really endear me to him more. As it is, though. LOVE Sasha and Jay.

    page 17. Don’t think this chat about the foster parents is useful.

    page 18. Ok, I’m losing interest. Continues through pages 20, still more. Boring job talk, procedure. It’s losing steam fast!

    I like Sasha focused, why is she contemplating a job already. Make it something she has to do or sees as a way to get something. Have Jay’s job be a threat to them ever seeing each other again. Conflict is rapidly diminishing here. And we need to get back to David as soon as possible.

    I bailed at page 25.

    I think you’re a movie writer. I feel there’s this thing in you that wants to entertain me, not show me how well you write.

    An editor could find the thrust here and make an entertaining movie, I think. Veering off the road but veering toward my vote.

    • Nick Morris

      Great observations all around, Randy. Some things, like Sasha’s job, are explained later on. But I’m definitely hearing you and the others with regard to the leisurely pace of the first act and will focus on moving things along more quickly. Really appreciate the insights! Thanks so much.

    • Nick Morris

      Love the page 7 ideas too, btw!

  • Nicholas J

    But, see, here’s the thing. I’m not going to read your script just because you, faceless stranger, say it’s good. You have to prove it to me in the writing. No exceptions. And I’m sorry to say, but IMO, you didn’t do that.

    Yes, it’s super confusing. I know it isn’t to you, but you wrote it. I’d be worried if it was. You have 4 main characters, but do very little to differentiate them. 3 of them are screenwriters. You also swap characters in and out of scenes and have them wear disguises. Two of the screenwriters also have wife characters. You have voice overs and flashbacks. Different realities and characters controlling their environments. I stopped reading at the mailman wielding an automatic weapon.

    And that’s only in the first 10 pages.

    Yet nothing really happens.

    You have to sell your script on every page. Give me a reason to read on. Prove you can write a scene. Two characters in the same scene. One wants something, the other wants something different. It plays out through action and dialogue. The end result is funny, thrilling, surprising, or at least adds to the conflict. Repeat.

    That’s dramatizing. That’s writing. I’m sorry, but I don’t believe I saw that once in the 10 pages I read. So why would I read on?

  • Nick Morris

    No sweat. Thanks for looking!

  • Randy Williams


    The first page is almost incomprehensible. After that it was an easy read for me. I got into it, read until page 32.

    Why not start on page 4 with the attack on the VA hospital? That was clear and for me, beautifully written, really put me there and found it entertaining.

    Very effective use of SOUND description. Reminded me I need to use sound more.

    I tell you what my big problem with this script is. This may sound cold but it’s not my opinion. I’ve heard it. — While we’re reading, after the initial descriptions, we forget these are men with amputated limbs.

    Moviegoers will not watch Lieutenant Dan for two hours.

  • Randy Williams


    Yes, very quirky. Put a smile on my face. Laughed in a few places. Got to page 11 when he mentions snail mail query letters. That just reflected how it all seemed so dated. Even Allan and Susan, page 5, who are supposed to be in their twenties sounds like a middle-aged couple.

    The best thing it has going for it, in my opinion is the tone. Consistent in what I read and very endearing which is perfect for fantasy, I think.

  • jw

    My pick is going to be for Savage South for very selfish reasons. Matty, I don’t know how this happened, but you and I wrote a scene (series of scenes in this case) that is so eerily similar that one may think we are the same person. Mine was a tad different and didn’t have sprays, but wow, as I was reading that scene I couldn’t believe it. My advice to you is 2 fold – 1. dialogue – because you’re writing this somewhat of a “mystery” I think your dialogue should match. Keep it mysterious. Ensure the subtext is there. In the opening when the two men are speaking, say it without saying it. “You here to kill me?” Dance around this. Men don’t break into other men’s homes not to do something, so we are already aware of that. Give us something else. And, you don’t have to give us who Kessler is in a solid block of text from Hollis. Let it bleed out (for lack of a better analogy). 2. surprise us – my opening, while similar to yours has my guy moving through the hotel, he leaves, everything looks like it went as planned and then we, as the audience, are blindsided by something we never could have imagined and it takes the story in an entirely different direction. This is just spit-balling, but have something go wrong, don’t have everything as perfect as it is. Have him do something that doesn’t necessarily work and then he has to improvise, but here is where we see his skill. Here is where we see why he’s so bad-ass. The spray doesn’t work (he uses it too much in my opinion anyway). But, he goes to use the spray and nothing comes out, so he has to do something else. Just a few thoughts… I like your style here though.

    • Rick McGovern

      I actually like the idea of things not going as planned… because seriously, when do things go as planned in real life? No matter how meticulous we are, no matter how prepared and well planned, a screwdriver seems to somehow fly into the cog…

      • HRV

        That’s part of screenwriting — making things tough for your characters.

      • Matty

        I definitely understand the note of something going wrong, but I decided against it because I wanted a juxtaposition between a very smooth assassination in the beginning to the second one that goes very wrong. Plus, it’s very typical (not that typical is good, but you get what I mean) of a film opening with the protagonist doing their job and pulling it off without a hitch (Leon The Professional, recently that Stallone movie in prison that I forget the name of, basically any heist film, etc.).

        Otherwise, I would normally completely agree that the more you can throw at your protagonist the better. I just opted not to open like that :-)

    • BSBurton

      Good notes and good thoughts. What was your script called? I’m curious.

      • jw

        The Followed

  • Wheatman

    FOE notes:
    I don’t like the overuse of ellipses– they pulled me out of the images instead of enhancing them.

    I didn’t struggle with your descriptions as much as I thought I would based off of the other comments, but I think they should be simplified. I shouldn’t have to reread things a couple times to get a basic image in my head. A ship (?). Some asteroids. Boom. Coming to Earth. Got it.

    Pages 4-9: I tried man, I really tried. I remember back in elementary school, my teacher wanted us to write down every step it takes to make a PB & J. Some kids had three steps. Some had five or six. Some had more than ten. I imagine you would’ve had more than ten. I kept having to reread things (I know, how dare I use my brain!) and think about logistics. Maybe this is just not my type of script, but I thought this was way overwritten. I know there are some good ideas (and visuals) buried in here, but the verbiage is hindering my brain and imagination.

    By the time I got to page 11, I was confused and a bit frustrated.

  • Linkthis83

    So I posted notes and stuff, but I still don’t see them showing up yet. I know they will, but I at least want my rankings on here:

    4) I.A.A.I.
    5) FOE

    If my notes don’t show up in the next hour I will copy and paste them again.

    • Nick Morris

      No way! There’s a real Prosperity Falls? Cool. Death is a key character but that first scene is actually his most active one in terms of brutality, so I went all out. But you’ve given me lots of cool ideas and some things to think about with regards to its structure and other ways to disburse that opening-scene information. This is exactly why I submitted it to AOW. Awesome stuff! Thank you.

      • Linkthis83

        That was a typo mistake on my part. I left out the n’t of couldn’t. So sorry. Hope that doesn’t break your spirits :)

        Well, then I understand you going all out. But now it feels kind of bummerish if that’s all we get of that version of the Death character. But it’s your story, you handle it how you feel is best.

        • Nick Morris

          Yeah, the titular “Harvester” character is actually Death’s creation and he causes most of the chaos with Death acting as more of a puppet-master.

          • Linkthis83

            I do like this concept. Also getting Poe’s endorsement gives it even more weight.

            I wish I was able to have read more. Trying to write my own stuff and keep up with doing notes is now almost near impossible. Keep after it though.

          • Nick Morris

            Totally understand. Thanks for checking it out and for the awesome notes!

    • Matty

      I guess people are just fans of scotch and over-easy eggs….

      I know I always get my eggs over-easy, and I’ve definitely drunk my share of scotch ;-)

    • pmlove

      Hey Link, would you mind sharing the first 15 of the Industry Insider top 15 – I just cannot get the link to work on the site.

      lovepeterm at

      If you get the time. Cheers.

    • Kirk Diggler

      Hey Link, let me know if you have the time or interest to take a look at a 1st Act I’ve co-written with a SS regular. It’s 25 pages and it’s based on the Randall Wallace logline from the Industry Insider contest. We just want to get some eyes on it. Completely understand if you are busy.

      • Linkthis83

        sent you an email :)

      • gazrow

        Hey Kirk, I’d be happy to give you some feedback if you’d like? – gazrow at hotmail dot com

  • MaliboJackk

    Thought some might find this interesting.
    It’s Eric Heisserer talking about the second or third studio draft
    — because the studio readers and execs wont get the subtext
    (until they actually watch the movie).

    “Your new job: Spell out all the things you so artfully seeded through innuendo and subtle suggestion. Now you’re writing things in ALL CAPS and talking about how this is THE TURNING POINT FOR YOUR CHARACTER because she realizes SHE MUST BETRAY HER FRIEND to SAVE HER FAMILY. If you learned how to write from a certain LOST
    writer, you’ll be doing this already, along with statements like HOLY SHIT, this is the MOST HEARTBREAKING MOMENT WE’VE EVER SEEN.

    Reading the draft back to yourself makes your teeth hurt. This isn’t representative of your writing, it’s more like a transcript of some frat boy describing your script to his buddies. And yet this draft goes over like gangbusters at the studio. You are called and thanked by the studio, and then the producer. Once a director/movie star/both get on board, it’s all systems go for this project.”

    • IgorWasTaken

      Nice. BTW, here’s the link to the whole Heisserer blog article:

      • astranger2

        Great article. Thanks for posting.

    • astranger2

      Thanks for posting. His comments about the final draft, and how with all the other collaborations and notes, has no resemblance to the first:

      “Invariably, this is the draft that is leaked to the Internet. With just your name on it. Your writing is excoriated online by fans. They point out everything you already know is problematic with this draft, plus a few other problems. One or two clever commenters will wonder aloud why you didn’t do this or that with the characters… choices you made in your first draft.”

      • MaliboJackk

        Not sure of the subtext.
        (He talking about us??)

        • astranger2

          I think he is… lol. But like the Louie article someone posted about all the crap you go through with all the talking heads making a pilot, he was more lamenting all the input you receive from the revolving door of different studio heads, director, actors, etc. involved. And that he loved the first draft — “because right now it has just your voice; your singular intended tone.”

          He’s most fearful the script will be, in studio vernacular, a “flying fish.” A fish that can’t swim, and a bird that can’t fly… It’s a great article. With that quote I think he’s just saying that in writing the script he has over 1200 pages of script, has poured over an infinite number of ideas, personal rewrites, as well as those of studio enlisted script doctors — and the final mess with only his name on it, isn’t truly representative of his choices, voice, or tone.

          Yet, that’s how he’s inevitably judged. He does end it, however, by saying that’s the process of how he ended up being a professional writer.

  • BSBurton

    I VOTE “SOUTH” ….. plus my thoughts.

    It’s funny (and potentially a problem) that so many readers have different interpretations of scenes based on how they visualize the writing. Some people can catch the subtle things while others are at a loss. Some people are riveted by long paragraphs of description while others roll their eyes and lose interest.

    Because of this, the “True” centering quality of a script to me is dialogue. It carves the characters out of stone, connects us to them, it’s vital. Dialogue can lift an average story up or smother a great premise.

    Without trying too hard, “The Savage South” delivers crisp, clear, and quality dialogue. It had a great flow and that’s the reason I chose it for my vote!!!

  • Randy Williams

    How far in I go? How ever far it takes. Isn’t it how it works?
    Seriously, if you mean how far I keep reading, it depends on several things. Huge logic problems, tonal shifts, subject matter has little appeal, even the desire to stop reading something I think is good and get my thoughts down about it.
    NONE of these are good things in my view. Not how I want my writing to be reacted to. Even the last one. I want them to finish it.
    I don’t think anyone’s pitting the screenplays against each other, are they? You’ve made it into the room. That’s a gigantic feat. Congrats and enjoy.
    I get what you’re saying about Allan and his wife, especially in view of the logline. (I try not to read the loglines first) Still, “Don’t retrieve that, y’hear?” somehow denotes lack of imagination and “Will you freaking not take that out of the garbage can?” does not?

    • HRV

      I realized after I sent it that I forgot the “T”. I was asking how far you read before you stopped? Good point on the trash line. That’s the kind of feedback one should get on this forum. Too much of it sounds like bashing rather than constructive criticism. A lot of work goes into making our “babies”, so it’s tough to watch others mercilessly spank them. Especially when we’ve had people read and really like them.

  • Nick Morris

    Just wanted to say thanks to everyone that took the time to check out THE HARVESTER this weekend and for all of the amazing feedback! I was pretty nervous about submitting but I’m so glad that I did. The experience has been incredible and the fresh perspectives have given me lots of new ideas to incorporate.
    And a MASSIVE thank-you to all that voted for my script, particularly Poe_Serling for reading THE HARVESTER in its entirety and for the inspiring comments. I’m not sure if you’re the only one to pick up on the Bergman nod, but of everyone that’s read this thing, you’re the first to point it out!
    Again, thanks for this. You guys rock!

  • Linkthis83

    WYSR = Why you should read.

    I like when writers have bold and unique concepts so I like what you are trying to do here. If I get any time to read more, I most definitely will. And I will hit you up at the email address on the title page.

    I’m not making any promises though. Writing and work have left barely any time at all for anything else.

  • ElectricDreamer

    Congrats to all the AOW candidates this Easter weekend!

    Very Honorable Mention: THE SAVAGE SOUTH.

    Both are effective reads and have faults worthy of exploration in an AF review.
    But I’m going with the story that had the much STRONGER VISUALS.

    RECURRING THEME OF THE WEEK: Way too many SHREWS and SLUTS on the page.
    Hard to find a decent female character in most amateur scripts.

    Also far too much PLOT MECHANICS over HUMAN BEHAVIOR in stories.
    Not enough characters BEHAVING on the page.
    Most are being assembly-lined through contrived story elements.
    And that makes the read a slog for everyone.

    If you’re going to use an ACRONYM for your title, spell it out too.
    What your story is actually called is NOWHERE on the title page.

    P. 3 Got some overwritten descriptions here.
    We don’t need to know exactly how many feet the car’s bumper is damaged.
    Just say something like… The truck t-bones the sedan.

    P. 4 Arthur the on the nose Agent is incredibly on the nose.
    Don’t have him tell us they’ve been good friends for 16 years.
    Craft a scene that SHOWS us that friendship. Don’t telegraph it.

    P. 5 Are the meal items really that critical to your story?
    If not, then don’t waste space with superfluous detail.
    All that accomplishes is keeping the reader at arm’s length from your tale.

    P. 7 The flipping out over porn trope is woefully overused.
    I didn’t believe Scarlett Johannson for second in Don Jon with that crap.
    And it doesn’t work for me here either.
    If a guy’s messing with porn, it means he’s likely NOT fooling around.
    Infidelity would be a real problem. This just feel like a plot problem.

    P. 8 Barbara is a SUPER SHREW. Why would anyone marry her?

    P. 9 Think you gave one of Babe’s lines to Barbara.

    P. 10 I like the TRANSITION from the roses to the flower bed.

    P. 11 The gang banger gag comes off trite and racist.
    Why not have the mailman fight off unemployed mailmen?
    A turf war between federal employment reads much more FANTASTICAL.
    While changing clips, he can deliver some letters.

    P. 12 Mark and Susan sound much older than the 20s on the page.

    P. 15 Jenny sounds like an eight year-old.
    Nothing like the Hollywood teenager she’s supposed to be.

    I’m going to stop here. The concept’s not grabbing me.
    Seen variations on this as recent as last year with RUBY SPARKS.
    And yes, there’s also STRANGER THAN FICTION, which was a fine film.

    Here you’ve chosen to use PLOT DEVICES to set up your characters.
    I would’ve hung in there longer if HUMAN BEHAVIOR was more in play.
    Readers learn more through decision-making than plot cliches.
    But all the shrews, sluts and playboys tuned me out to your tale.
    Characters aren’t living and behaving here, they’re just playing out the plot.


    • ElectricDreamer

      Using the same logline from the Dec. 2011 SS contest.
      Doesn’t bode well that the author hasn’t revised one word of it in three years.

      P. 1 I didn’t grasp your asteroid reveal at all.
      You see it clearly in your head, but I’m not following you.
      Be as plain as you can with a complex description. It helps the reader.

      P. 2 Leaving the asteroid hit to the imagination might be better.
      Let the mystery help pull the reader through the opening pages.

      P. 3 How can Everest x 1,000-sized asteroids harmlessly pass by Earth?
      That even defies Michael Bay logic.

      P. 7 Four whole pages dedicated to searching a building is too much.
      I’m sure you can refine that and still maintain suspense.

      P. 10 Attacker’s dialogue reads clunky.
      I’m going to stop here, sorry author.
      But your premise comes off more comedic to me than anything else.

      The idea of wheelchair-bound warriors seems more suited to slapstick.
      Yanking a guy onto your lap so you can slit his throat looks silly to me.
      I can see one arm moving the chair and another trying to flail and punch.
      What cool action star will want to play this role?


    • ElectricDreamer

      Opening sentence is quite a mouthful. Consider refining it.

      P. 2 Jeff’s intro didn’t land with me. Came off more contradictory than cohesive.
      I get wanting to find something cook within two abstracts.
      But there’s got to be a better way to go here.

      P. 7 The pacing’s pretty good. But the hemlock reference lost me.

      Scenes a little too reminiscent of “Heat” for me.
      Pretty much mirrored DeNiro’s hotel infiltration/escape.
      Consider finding a way to distinguish your scenes from a classic.

      P. 19 The story flows along pretty well. Logical progression of scenes.
      I’d trim Mary Ellen’s line, cut everything after be a good father.
      That says it all, we don’t need to hear her motivations. We see them.

      P. 26 I’m stopping here, but interested enough to continue.
      I like the tone and pacing, but the dialogue’s a bit one note.
      It sounds good, but everyone kinda sounds the same to me.
      Find a way to distinguish their voices.

      The biggest problem for me is that I’ve seen all this stuff before.
      The writer’s talented, but you’re treading very close to Elmore Leonard territory.
      Season five of Justified is all about Detroit and the Dixie Mafia.


    • ElectricDreamer

      P. 2 Very wordy action passages. Trim the fat off these sentences.
      I dig that you’re going for it with the whole Death thing.

      P. 3 I like the REVEAL of the diner. Hints of stories yet to come.

      P. 4 Don’t need the “umm’s”. Actors do that naturally if they feel it.
      Too staged for a spec script, ease up on that kind of micro-managing.

      P. 6 Didn’t take long to whip up some sympathy for Sasha.
      Dunno if I would’ve pulled out that pic with man-candy sitting there.

      P. 7 Strange place to end the scene. Why leave Jay hanging?

      P. 12 Whipping out the contract feels a little too old school.
      Perhaps Bergman pulls out a LAPTOP that has a contract on it.
      Even in Hell, everything’s computerized now.
      When your protag takes the deal, he can e-sign the contract in blood. LOL.

      P. 13 David signs too quick. He should be asking questions.
      Show the reader he has a CONSCIENCE by what questions he asks.
      Displaying concern for loved ones and innocents ENDEARS us to David.
      He should be more SEDUCED and TEMPTED here. Make this more cinematic.
      The poor guy should feel TORTURED before he signs. It will fuel his rage later.

      P. 16 Young people don’t say things like, “fresh start”.
      Sounds too middle-aged. Reword that so readers don’t think the author’s old.

      P. 17 Sasha comes off a little too “open book” at times.
      And foster parent backstory reads superfluous.
      Sasha saying she won’t miss them kinda says it all.

      P. 19 Assuming Roman’s a baddie here.
      So, why not have him declare his personality right here?
      Instead of ranting about how he built this place…
      Why not have him explain to Alex about — SACRIFICES.
      “If you want your dream, you have to be prepared to make SACRIFICES.”
      You have a nice set up here, now hit it out of the park.
      This is a good opportunity to GALVANIZE a VILLAIN here.

      Didn’t like the number thirteen joke.
      I believe this scene would pop if Roman threw down on his evil mantra.

      P. 27 Stopping here because I’ve got one more script to read.
      I like the way your story unfolds. The basic structure works.
      There’s plenty of dialogue niggles and general refinement needed.
      But I want to know what happens next. Nice job, author.


      • Nick Morris

        Thanks for this. Great stuff here! I particularly like your ideas for David on p.13 and the “sacrifice” angle for Roman on p.19 is brilliant. Will definitely use your suggestions to punch that scene up. Appreciate your insights and your vote! Cheers, brother.

        • ElectricDreamer

          You’re very welcome, Nick.
          Good scripts inspire readers to have good ideas.
          I’d be happy to look at the next big swing you take at the script.

          soleil dot rouge13 at gmail dot com.

          • Nick Morris

            That’s awesome! Thanks so much. I’ll send it your way after revisions.

          • ElectricDreamer

            Please do. Sorry you didn’t get the AF review.
            Hope the AOW notes you got helped out.

          • Nick Morris

            Thanks! Your notes have been particularly helpful during my revisions and I’ll definitely get the new draft off to you soon! Great to see THE SAVAGE SOUTH nail a “[xx] worth the read”, too.

  • Eddie Panta

    I haven’t had a lot of time to read these scripts which is unfortunate since this looks like a promising week for AOW. I see a lot of good work in the first three I’ve read: Lost in time, Savage South, and Harvester. I’m intrigued by all three stories. I hope my comments will be helpful. With the Holiday weekend I haven’t had time to read the posts here, so I apologize if my comments are redundant. But if you have three ppl saying the same thing, it usually means you have something to revisit.

    THE SAVAGE SOUTH ( after 16 pages)

    This one has a double opener, which I like, but I prefer it to be more abstract, vague. If you’re going to do another FADE IN on page 3, on a character Intro. I don’t need detailed specifics about that characters or any other character prior, just the action please.. I prefer it when these “cold opens” are more vague and dream like, but that’s my preference.

    I noticed there wasn’t a specific time jump after cutting to BLACK on pg 3. Not sure how that works script to screen when later it says: FOUR DAY AGO ( but not a big deal )

    On page 3 with the character intro scene of HOLLIS, a hit-man, I would highly recommend staying away from anything like a “slapping the alarm clock scene”. I’m not one for hard, steadfast unbreakable script rules, but this is one that I’ve never seen work in an amateur screenplay. It just never seems necessary, and too many ppl do it. I don’t think hitmen need alarm clocks, they just wake up, ready to kill, sleeping with one eye open.

    On page 4, ( at home with the hitman ) HOLLIS is milling about the house, the scene headings here are too heavy handed, we’re getting bounced around the house, in too many directions. He’s feeding the fish and getting dressed like some ordinary guy. I don’t feel like it’s an action script. But the description does say Drama/Thriller, so I’m still with you…

    Page 4-5 ( the hit job ) HOLLIS is at the hotel, for some reason he doesn’t seem well prepared. I’m not sure why he just doesn’t have the “mist device” on him. I didn’t need to really see it before he actually uses it. Frankly, I didn’t need to see him arrive at the hotel or have an establishing shot of it at all.
    Hollis should already have a hotel staff uniform. why not show up dressed the part.
    Attacking a hotel staff member just for his uniform would be unnecessarily risky, especially with all the cameras. .
    I didn’t need to see Hollis dressing in the elevator. You should be on the TARGET ( the FBI agents ) OR ARNETT with an INT. PENTHOUSE,. You’re only on page. 6 so you can still jump to a new character. ( you’re doing it anyway on pg 10, so why not here).
    Hollis can come off the elevator already dressed. If you want to establish the HOTEL, then establish the TARGET, or the potential target. HOLLIS should just appear. I don’t need all the details of him coming and going. If what he is doing, and why, is a mystery to the audience, then the details of exactly how he does it can remain a mystery as well. Establishing the target with relieve that exposition that occurs later on.
    I’m a big fan of intercutting exposition with action.

    On page 6. There’s been a lot of detailed and tactile movement with HOLLIS up until this point. But now when there is a fight with him and two FBI agents. The action becomes broad, vague. This threw me off. After this, the scene is the hotel room wit the Arnett kill is well done, moves fast, and the dialogue has the perfect amount of exposition.

    Page 8-9, Hollis the hitman with his sister, Ann the MD is an interesting decision. His character isn’t typical.

    The JIMMY’S bar scene really threw me. This is a dense page 10 for not being on action or characters we’ve met. Although the character descriptions are very life-like, I just don’t believe a poker game would ever play out like this. I’m not impressed with GAVIN nor the fact they he’s brow-beating some pathetic chump. I’m not scared of these guys.

    Hollis in the Jail visiting his father. Hollis’ dialogue sounds like he’s a little boy. Again, I’m just not scared of this guy.

    On page 15, After a lot of detailed scenes with Gavin, Eddie, a guy at the pharmacy, and Jeff sr. When KESSLER, the cop from the cold open is reintroduced, its done with one sentence.

    The script seems to be battling between being plot driven or character driven. Editing out a lot of the character details would help combine plot and character so they move in lock-step. I think they’re are some easy edits that could be done to help focus the readers attention on what is really important. I get the feeling that this could be taken down to 110 pages.

  • Linkthis83


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  • RafaelSilvaeSouza

    Great selection this week. I’ve read 30 pages of each, and I struggled picking a favorite from the bunch. Nice job, writers!

    I.A.A.I. is very Kaufman. Lost In Time is a bit clunky, very setup-y, and the dialogue is not really good, but the idea is good and it kept me intrigued. The Savage South is the most professional. Excellent writing in there. The Harvester knows what kind of movie it wants to be, and does a great job at being it. It’s fast and fun. And finally, Foe, that despite the confusing beginning, has a Mad Max vibe that got me.

    Firstly, I wanted to vote for the best written, The Savage South, but in the end it’s not really my type of story, and the fact that the killer kills people by “misting” them didn’t exactly get me excited. So I asked myself, if I could only read ONE screenplay in its entirety, which one would it be? I was surprised that I would give Lost In Time a chance. What can I say? It’s the one that I want to know what happens. And the one that could benefit a lot from the feedback from the writers in here.

    So my vote goes to LOST IN TIME.

    • Nick Morris

      Thanks for having a look at THE HARVESTER and for your impressions! Cheers.

    • Matty

      Thanks for the kind words about Savage South and taking the time to read!

  • Eddie Panta

    What THE HARVESTER tells two parallel stories simultaneously. This approach is actually part-n-parcel of the whole 80’s horror throwback vibe that the script is going for. The writer manages to subvert our expectations in terms of David, the lead.. This is probably one of the most important elements for a contemporary horror script. I wish the Sasha character was more subversive, but I haven’t finished reading yet.

    The idea behind Harvester is sort of a perverse twist on the Highway to Heaven TV show ( yes, i watched a few episodes) Instead of a guardian angel its a guardian devil or grim reaper.

    Cold Open Horror Sequence:

    The first three pages were fairly dense. The writer gets a little bogged down attempting to contrast the weather with the gruesome violence. .It’s not an easy thing to deal with, especially in the action sequences.You don’t want to completely ignore the surroundings, but it’s difficult because it slows down the read and sentences easily get clunky.

    There are two spots on page one that tell us and show us. We’re told that the “something” lying in the road is MARIA’S BODY. Then dialogue screams. MARIA!!!

    The dialogue alone would work.

    In the next paragraph. David is thrashing about inside the wrecked car, his gaze is suddenly drawn upward… “What he sees can only be described as the embodiment of DEATH.” The next paragraph gives us the description of what DEATH looks like, so apparently it can be described. So you don’t need the line when you tell us what’s there, just show us, which the next line accomplishes.

    I wasn’t sure how much I could visualize “swirling black energy” at NIGHT – maybe the headlights still need to be on. instead of: “rhythmic four-ways flashing a amber glow over the scene”…( of an accident?)
    On my first read it does appear the Death caused the accident. It could be made more clear that the SLOW-PLOW drove them off road.

    Bottom 7-8

    When BERGMAN ( Death ) enters the boardroom. I’d punch up the dialogue sooner.

    He should say “Hello David” after he closes the door on pg. 7. Sounds like a nitpick but breaking up these paragraphs will make the scene flow. Especially since this is a 7 page long scene. This would be more realistic and hit the beats of DAVID’s realization, making the descriptions seem more like David’s watching rather than a pitstop in the story for character description.

    I’m enjoying all the nuances of the boardroom scene w/ Bergman pouring a drink etc… There’s a good sense of tension in real time. The characters feel grounded. However, this scene has got to be trimmed down to 5 pages max. It felt like 10mins. movietime. I think some details like where Bergman puts out his cigarette could go. The VISUALS a la board meeting was a nice touch. I thought ROMAN could keel over on his own, in the midst of Bergman’s exposition, with a hair piece that falls off.

    I’d also remove some of the parentheticals to help lower the page count. After a 40 page read, I would guess this should be a 95 page horror screenplay. The scenes seem to have very carefully arranged beginnings, middles, and ends. The pacing of the scenes were too similar. Try to come into the scene later, and leave earlier. Characters don’t need to say Good Bye. We don’t need to see them exit.

    Jay’s dialogue with Sasha after they leave the diner feels rather abrupt. Jay comes on too strong and asks her about the scalpel, the cutting, in a way that deflates the tragedy of it.
    Their journey feels expected and a bit forced. Sasha is a too forthcoming with information.

    I thought that Jay and Sasha could meet, later at the GOLF COURSE, both arriving independently. At the golf course, Sasha seems to be getting what she wants a too easily. The whole idea of this taking place on a golf course is an odd choice but it seems to be working for the script.

    The idea of DAVID being a reluctant hero/villain is a great and unexpected choice. Bergman in the cabin plays out wonderfully. Always a good idea to take your lead down another notch. As a reader I’m definitely sympathetic to David’s character. Another good decision was to keep the Harvester as a separate manifestation of David.

    After, Bergman forces David / The harvester to go on a killing spree, the action picks up again, but we’ve lost touch with Sasha and it’s page 40. I’m not really sure why Roman and Alex are taking up this much space. I think the story needs a hardcore earth bound villain for the Harvester to go after. It should stick with being a story about revenge.
    I look forward to reading more.

    • Nick Morris

      Thank you for the thorough analysis and identifying the redundancies. This is very helpful and I’m liking a lot of your suggestions. Awesome stuff and I really hope you do decide to read on. Thanks, brother!

  • Matthew Garry

    My vote for this week: HARVESTER

    The writer has a natural flair for screenwriting prose. It’s clear, concise, and correct. It steers clear of voice or style over substance.

    The story itself is good for what it set out to be. The thing I found missing was a replacement for the suspense. Even though the killer was supernatural, his origin and drive were fully addressed in the story, leaving nothing to the imagination.

    The absence of suspense created some gaps in the momentum of the story. I’d suggest making it funnier. There’s some humour throughout with Bergman, but I think emphasising such scenes would work. You’d end up with a bizarre brutal slasher/comedy blend, but given the story and characters that might just turn out to be that magic combination that works even though it shouldn’t.

    Even though it’s not my genre, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and at the end I had to admit to myself that yes, I was wondering what Bergman and Sasha were going to do next: I was invested.

    If this had been a pilot, I would have wanted to know what would happen in episode 2. In fact, if the spec fails to gain traction, I would consider rewriting it as a pilot (which would give some opportunity to cut or cut short some of the gorier scenes, which I found to be overly drawn out at some points).

    • Nick Morris

      Thanks, Matthew! I’m thrilled that you finished it too and that it gets your vote. As you’ve no doubt guessed, the story in my head stretches beyond the limits of a single film and, given the current popularity of horror-themed TV shows, I’ve been thinking a lot about reworking it into a series. More breathing room would certainly allow me to reveal plot points more gradually and amp up the suspense factor too. So it’s really awesome to know that you felt invested in it, even if horror isn’t your thing. Cheers to you, sir!

  • Gilx

    I enjoyed The Savage South the most this week. It held me till around page 84 when it started to feel thin. By the time the dad dies in prison I felt there should have been another layer of intrigue going on with the whole mystery regarding why these two guys had been set up to kill one another. Almost any additional clue or Macguffin by that point might have fired the booster rocket I needed to carry me to the end, but it wasn’t quite there. (Unless I missed something…I am reading these intermittently at work.) Despite some clunkiness at the beginning, seeing Hollis drag Eddie around was entertaining enough to keep me interested in them for quite some time. Felt a distant cousin to some great mismatched “buddy” movies like 48hours at times. For whatever reason, I heard Hollis deliver some of his smart-ass lines as played by a younger Jeff Bridges with an attitude. Whether or not that’s appropriate, the fact that I did imagine an actor playing him usually means the script is going to stay open in front of me for a while. Nice job.

    • Matty

      Thanks! I love that you mentioned a young Jeff Bridges. He’s probably my favorite living actor. I didn’t write it with him in mind or anything, but it’s awesome you envisioned that.

  • bex01

    Had to rush through the first 10 or so of each… hoping to go back and read a bit more and give some notes. But wanted to get in with my vote – The Savage South!

  • JeffreyStackhouse

    me, too. I gave a bunch 15 pages, gave 3 a full read. Morris has a great sense of over-the-top while still making it work. Somebody offer this man a golf course to shoot on!

    • Nick Morris

      That would be sweet, lol. Thank you!

  • Kirk Diggler

    Hey Randy, just wondering if you have the time or interest in taking a look at the first 25 pages I’ve co-written with a SS regular? It’s based on the old Randall Wallace industry insider logline contest. We have the first act done and we are trying to get some eyes on it for general feedback.

  • Evan

    I have read The Harvester, Lost in Time and I.A.A.I., in their entirety, I’m not sure if
    I will get to the others, but if I do, I will post some feedback. My vote so far would be for Lost in Time as it has a quick pace and a strong ending.

    The Harvester
    Has a strong ending and I thought the way the new employee party was tied in around the AGM and the Harvesters arrival worked out well. All the powers to be came together against Sasha and really made her have to fight for her survival.

    My biggest complaint though is that before this the protagonist is rather inactive. It takes till page 78 until the Harvester attacks the kids and then goes face to face with Sasha. Before that Sasha is looking for answers about her father, but she really only asks the people at the diner in the first 10 pages and then asks Roman somewhere around page 50 or 60, so she really isn’t that active. And she doesn’t really face any obstacles along her way, she just talks to people and deals with some pigheaded boys. I would suggest having her face the Harvester earlier or set up Roman as more villainous toward Sasha. Get something in there that really pushes Sasha to take more action.

    Lost in Time
    I liked that the set up of the underground facility paid off later in the script and allowed a full look at it’s history and the ending (as you promised) does stick with you so I must commend you on that. The issue that stood out to me was with the description of how the device works. It is explained that it randomly affects people which is why some became mindless zombies, some became physically deformed and some received no affect. I
    recommend changing this because random never plays well with audiences as they are always looking for an explanation. As well, if it randomly affects people, then why does it “randomly” always not cause any new problems as the characters use the device on the 2 later occasions?

    I think the idea is interesting but I don’t think it goes far enough. If the protagonist needs to learn to use his imagination I think he needs to open it to more possibilities. The things he thinks of are pretty tame (Mark outdoes him throughout the entire story). I think if you
    are going with this premise you have to commit entirely. Go big and really let your imagination loose.

    Another thing that bothered me was the women. They are what I would call “clearly written
    by a man” and I understand that since the story is about imagination, the characters are imagining their perfect woman, but it also makes them all come off as womanizers. Allan doesn’t even care that his wife was changed into a new person; didn’t he have any feelings toward his wife? It didn’t make me want to cheer for him.

    I hope that helps all 3 of you, I can elaborate more if you need.

    • Nick Morris

      Thanks so much for reading THE HARVESTER in its entirety! I understand what you mean about Sasha and how she’s kind of just along for the ride. I think my approach to her character was probably inspired, at least in terms of her activity, by the old-school slashers I grew up on. She’s sort of Laurie Strode-like in that we follow her and see a lot from her perspective, but she’s totally unsuspecting of what’s to come and really just going about her day. The real thrust of the story comes from the actions of the monster (and his master) and the knowledge that, sooner or later, their paths must cross. Thanks again for reading and for your comments!

      • Evan

        I think that too many slashers suffer from having a weak build up because the characters just aren’t as interesting as the villain. But I think you can rise above this with your story and really give Sasha an interesting build up. This way the audience wont be waiting for the Harvester to show up, but the Harvester showing up will just be the icing on the cake. I’d suggests looking into the hazing of the new staff as a way to bring some obstacles to Sasha life and to add more horror into her day.

        • Nick Morris

          Thanks for that. I’ll definitely look at this during revisions. Cheers!

          • Evan

            It was an awesome read and I wish you the best of luck!

          • Nick Morris

            Muchas gracias!

    • davidgrant37

      Thanks so much for reading LOST IN TIME in its entirety and voting for it, I really appreciate it! You are absolutely right about the audience’s need for clear rules, I just thought it makes sense the machine will be unpredictable as the trime-travel was an unintentional side effect (since originally it was supposed to be a cloaking device).

      • Evan

        I’m fine with it being unpredictable as you said, the device is experimental and untested, but I think it needs to be unpredictable for all of the times the device is used. Otherwise it doesn’t really seem unpredictable.