amateur offerings weekend

This is your chance to discuss the week’s amateur scripts, offered originally in the Scriptshadow newsletter (although the newsletter hasn’t gone out this week – we’re working tirelessly on it – it might have to wait until Thursday). The primary goal for this discussion is to find out which script(s) is the best candidate for a future Amateur Friday review. This week is a bit different – we have a couple ‘comeback’ scripts from writers who are determined to show off new and improved work! If you’ve been featured on AOW before and want another chance, email carsonreeves3@gmail.com explaining what changes you’ve made and why you deserve a second chance! :)

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Happy reading!

TITLE: Static Town
GENRE: Comedy, Coming of Age
LOGLINE: Fed up with the overuse of social media, a teenager purposely causes a power outage in his town in hopes to win over the new girl at his school.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: A little blurb: I miss the John Hughes days of teen films. Here’s a poster I threw together. http://imgur.com/gvgoefV

TITLE: THE WALK-ONS
GENRE: Comedy, Sports
LOGLINE: A disgraced high school baseball coach is hired by a local college that’s lost all it’s players, and must build a team entirely of walk-ons, including a group of hard partying players he coached in high school.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: First off, I want to say that I love sports movies, and yet it’s a genre that has been hurting for over a decade. This script is about the growing lack of interest in baseball, while at the same time rediscovering how the sport can make a great setting for a movie. I myself never watch more than a few pitches before looking for the remote, yet anytime one of the baseball classics come on, Major League, A League of Their Own, The Natural, Moneyball, I HAVE TO WATCH. Whether you love baseball, once loved baseball, or never played but enjoy a good comedy script, THE WALK-ONS is for you.

TITLE: Primal
GENRE: Horror
LOGLINE: After survivors of a recent hurricane relocate to a quiet Louisiana bayou town, a creature goes on a nightly rampage of terror and carnage. Convinced it is the legendary werewolf known as loup garou, an intrepid teen vows to discover the beast’s true identity and destroy it.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: This script is my take on the classic monster movie. The story moves quickly, is filled with colorful characters and contains a truly badass werewolf. It’s placed well in a couple smaller contests and now I want to see how it fares in the AOW thunderdome.

~ COMEBACK SCRIPT ~
TITLE: Facade
GENRE: Drama, Noir, Mystery
LOGLINE: Set in the idyllic 1950′s American suburbs, an unknowing police detective investigates the murder of a teenage boy but slowly realizes that not everything or everyone is as they appear.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: There are some pretty great characters and moments and twists and turns, in an old-fashion noir style. There’s a strong theme running through it as well. I like to think of it as “Laura” meets “Ordinary People” with a dash of “Chinatown.” Overall, I’m proud of what I accomplished, especially since I began this project when I was 15, but I know there are a lot of things I could improve. I ultimately just want some good feedback and suggestions, and to know what Carson thinks of it. I’ve never been a finalist at Nicholls or Page or Bluecat, or any other prestigious screenplay competition, nor do I have a Master’s in Screenwriting at NYU. I don’t have any compelling stories about how my script was optioned by a major studio only to have them turn their back on it at the last minute, bringing all my dreams to crushing end. All I can really say is that I have a lot of passion and pride about this, and it’s a pretty darn good script. Give it a shot!

~ COMEBACK SCRIPT ~
TITLE: The Cloud Factory
GENRE: WW2 romantic drama, coming-of-age, LGBT.
LOGLINE: After a near-fatal crash-landing, an American pilot falls for her aristocratic physician, forcing her to confront her sexuality and gender prejudice of class-divided WW2 Britain.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: It’s shamelessly greedy, I know, to try for a second bite at the AOW cherry when so many others are still vying for their first. But I got so much terrific advice from the first bite, and TCF’s evolved as a result. This is partly a ‘Thank you; I heard you.’

Back on July 18th, 2013, Carson warned about the six types of scripts least likely to get you noticed. These included the coming-of-age script and the straight drama. Needless to say, I didn’t get that memo until ‘way too late and rolled two types into one script. Mulesandmud commented recently about a producer asking him why he’d ruin his career writing a female protagonist. I didn’t get that memo, either, and I’ve included two of ‘em. In poker parlance, I’m going ‘all in.’ No guts, no glory. But mostly I’ve just tried to write what I’m passionate about. In this case, a young woman’s coming-of-age / coming-out story set against the backdrop of WW2 and her work as a ferry pilot. Fictional protags, but lots of real historical details, events, and a few characters based on real people to heighten authenticity. I humbly invite you to again be the judges, and thank you in advance for your feedback.

  • Andrew Parker

    I’ll post my reviews shortly. But since it’s partially “Comeback Week”, I thought I’d throw another script out there as well.

    I wrote the AOW script “Rigged” — about Bobby Riggs — that was reviewed in January. I learned a lot from that (hit the dramatic beats harder!). So here’s my newest script, which I wrote just for fun.

    Title: Misfire

    Genre: Comedy

    Logline: Fledgling screenwriter Ben Decker must do everything in his power to prevent the collapse of his first produced movie, a western titled “Janice Got a Gun”.

    Why You Should Read: Based very loosely on real events. Readers/screenwriters should be able to easily empathize with and root for the protagonist. Quick and easy read.

    Link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2M7ejjC3BpPNjI3amN0eXE3UFE/edit?usp=sharing

    • Andrew Parker

      STATIC TOWN —

      Initial Impressions Before Reading: Like the title and logline. Will be curious to see how a blackout helps him get the girl. 82 pages is probably too short for a feature comedy, but we’ll see. No need to have copyright on the title page.

      Random Opening Thoughts: Wyatt Donnelly is a bold name choice, unless this really is a sequel to “Weird Science”. Interesting subversion of expectations by having him be relatively technology savvy and already with the hot girl at start.

      Overall: There are some funny moments and you do hit a bit on the satirical idea that everyone at the school freaks out without power. The dialogue is pretty good. I think this narratively plateaus a bit early. “Easy A”, for example, has things build and build and build and til there’s only one thing Olive can do to rectify the situation at the very end. In “Static Town”, things are kinda low key after the party scene until the end. And for high concept feature comedy these days, low key seems frowned upon. Always have each scene build upon the last and problems compound.

      Overall, this was pretty good though. Nice to see a comedy that touches on theme rather than just going for cheap laughs. Good luck on your next project.

      • Andrew Parker

        THE WALK-ONS –

        Initial Impressions Before Reading: I agree with your sentiment that sports movies have had a tough time getting made lately. Three of the four baseball movies you mentioned were based on true stories — “Major League” being the exception. The forthcoming “Million Dollar Arm” is even based on a true story. So you’ve set the bar high for yourself, but I like the moxy.

        Random Opening Thoughts: Nice opening set piece. Your dialogue occasionally gets too bulky — each person should only speak 2-3 sentences at a time before the next character speaks, generally. This is particularly true in comedies — see “500 Days of Summer” for example. I like that you just jump right into the story. Pretty clear and easy to follow plot line and your action writing is clear and concise.

        Overall: There are some funny lines and I did want to root for Vince. Some of the verisimilitude strains once in a while — eg the principal saying Vince can keep his job if he helps move the mother’s stuff while the principal fishes. I liked that you were holding out on why he resigned from coaching, but thought maybe you should you hold that for a big later reveal rather than divulge on page 23.

        I think the biggest hurdle you’ll face is no agents or managers are interested in sports stories not based on real people. Something like the movie “The Replacements” would have a tough time getting made these days. To that end, I know this will sound crazy, but maybe the characters are too grounded. When you compare Vince to say Walter Matthau in “Bad News Bears”, Vince seems completely normal and competent in comparison. The players all have relatively grounded qualities to them that could be heightened a bit.

        Overall, your writing is solid. But as you surmise, subject matter is a tough one. You did what you could with it, and that should be applauded.

        • Andrew Parker

          PRIMAL –

          Initial Impressions Before Reading: Nice title and logline. It got me to google “loup garou”, which is good. I like that it takes place in a very specific location.

          Random Opening Thoughts: Nice teaser. Action lines are clear and concise. Dialogue is very naturalistic. Not a ton going on early on, but maybe it’s a slow burner. I like the Fromski character, he stands out while some of the other characters don’t explode off the page quite as much. Later, I like the vivid description of Annie’s transformation into the werewolf.

          Overall: I’m impressed. This doesn’t revolutionize the genre, but it’s a nicely written story that’s done professionally throughout. It hits all the beats of the genre with aplomb. My only suggestion might be to give a bit more characterization to the characters — I occasionally found myself having trouble differentiating them, since their dialogue was similar. This is definitely the leading contender for AOW winner so far.

          • Andrew Parker

            FACADE –

            Initial Impressions Before Reading: i like the title. Logline is a bit opaque — what is an “unknowing detective”?

            Random Opening Thoughts: The dialogue in the beginning feels a little stilted. I know you’re going for noir, but it sometimes feels like an SNL parody of noir. The story momentum stalls out with the extended flashback of Nathan.

            Overall: I kinda checked out a little early on this one. The writing style is good but the substance feels a tad thin. I didn’t care enough about the case and characters didn’t quite pop off the page. As Carson I’m sure would ask, what is the reason this has to take place in the 1950s instead of today? If it is for the noir feel, you have to undercut the conventions somehow because there isn’t a huge clamoring for production companies wanting 1950s drama screenplays. That being said, what made old time noir great was the unique detectives — be it certain mannerisms or styles of talking or attitudes. This feels a bit too much like homage without adding anything extra. Once again, the writing itself wasn’t too bad, just needed a little something extra to get over the handicap of doing a 1950s set drama.

          • MaliboJackk

            The “unknowing detective” strongly suggests that the author does not know how to describe his own protag. This, in itself, could cause people to lose confidence in the script.

            Otherwise, I love the logline. But I fear our disappointment will come when we learn the meaning of — “not everything or everyone is as they appear.”

          • Andrew Parker

            THE CLOUD FACTORY –

            Initial Impressions Before Reading: Title and logline are good and clear. Period drama isn’t really my thing, but I secretly liked “The English Patient” (shh….)

            Random Opening Thoughts: Action lines and dialogue seem pretty good from the beginning. Feels very naturalistic. Obviously some solid research went into this.

            Overall: It’s good. I’m sure others might say it’s too long, and I can’t argue with that. My other complaint might be that most of the action happens in the ward and surrounding offices, that it ends up feeling a bit stagnant. Like there isn’t always the requisite amount of drama to keep interest in the script moving forward. That being said, I appreciated not reaching too deep into the melodrama bag of tricks. Overall, I think it shows a good skill for writing, a subject matter that could be a movie (though you’ll need some serious leg work to find financing), a solid first act. Maybe just some cutting and pruning and throwing in some more twists and turns in act two to keep the reader engaged. The dialogue is good, but maybe there’s just too much of it?

          • Ange Neale

            Thanks so much for the read, Andrew, and for your positive impressions!
            You’re right — I need a bit more fizz and oomph in the second act, especially between Jenny and Allison.
            Next draft, I’ll try to make Allison a bit more uptight and resistant, I think.
            Agood 10 pages should still come out, but it’s going in the right direction.
            Last AOW was so valuable for getting it into better shape, and feedback like this was a huge help, so thank you again.

          • rocksuddhi

            Thanks Andrew for your comments! I did try to give it a more classic feel, and perhaps I didn’t quite pull it off. To answer your question, the story taking place int he 50′s, yes, is to add to the atmosphere – if it took place in present time, the feel would be a lot different. Also, with all the technology they have now, the crime performed in this script would never be able to be done today, so it also acted as bit of a shortcut for me.

            About the logline, and I made another comment on this as well, but because it is ultimately about a detective solving a crime, it’s hard to infuse enough interesting info without even hinting at something to come. The ‘unknowing detective’ isn’t meant to say the character is clueless or naive, but since the whole theme of the script is about how people put on a false mask to hide who they really are, I wanted that to come into play with the detective where he would, at times, be “fooled” by people’s false pretenses.

            Once again thanks for your comments, they are much appreciated.

          • BSBurton

            Wow, you put some work into AF this weekend! I enjoyed reading your notes, you have some really good points. And I have the English Patient on the DVR, I guess with your secret recommendation ill watch it today.

    • pmlove

      Read the first few, good stuff, easy feels well honed. Reminds me a little of that Blacklist script ‘If they move, Kill em’ (or something similar).

    • pmlove

      Were you involved in the loosely real events depicted here?

      • Andrew Parker

        No. I just loosely used the facts reported in the news as a general outline of events.

    • pmlove

      Hey – ended up reading the whole thing. You’ve definitely got the writing chops.

      I think I have similar issues to If They Move… Kill ‘Em – there’s ultimately not enough plot here to sustain a film. The dialogue is breezy and the characters memorable (although all are one-dimensional caricatures). I think you can work harder on the characterisation, certainly – all the criticisms that actors are self-involved or into hippy-dippy la-la quirky are fairly well worn.

      Also, the Zooey come-on felt out of leftfield.

      It’s a good writing sample but you need to find some extra plot to bulk out the middle (the tyre slashing mystery didn’t seem to tie in to the central plot, for example), that ultimately tie in to the ending, which felt a bit ‘let’s do a quick wrap up now – you call him, you call her and we’re done’. It didn’t feel very earned or foreshadowed.

      Best of luck – you’re definitely a competent writer (especially as you seem to churn these out quick-smart).

      • Andrew Parker

        Thanks, pmlove. Good, solid points. Most of the other notes I’ve gotten have echoed your points — too much caricature. That will sink a comedy fast these days. I appreciate your time and thoughts.

  • Illimani Ferreira

    I had the opportunity to read The Cloud Factory a while ago and I must say that it’s a very poignant story that deserves to be on screens. Good luck, Angela.

    • Ange Neale

      I did put up a reply a while ago, but Disqus has apparently eaten it, Illimani.
      I remember your thoughtful review from TSL. I copied and pasted every review from the first AOW and from TSL into a Word doc to address a lot of what was mentioned.
      The ending’s the big thing I’m still wrestling with: go pathos-rich and tragic, or try for happier? This version’s the happiest possible outcome, and we’ll see how it goes.
      Thanks for your kind wishes!

      • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

        What’s your TSL username? Were you a member back when I was on there (I haven’t been active in about two years)?

        • Ange Neale

          It’s neal0018, Matty. I joined up in February this year.
          Just last night, I took down an earlier draft from today’s SS version, but I think the reviews are still there until Tuesday.

      • pmlove

        Hi Ange – if you go happy ending (I think you wrote this ‘tested better’?), then the mid-section needs a few more obstacles (and some sort of obvious ending – this feels like an ending where they should die, they just don’t). But if you go for the tragic, then it allows you to get away with more of the scenes where Jenny and Allison just get along well if there’s an associated sense of impending doom.

        If you want happy, I’d go for something like ‘Made in Dagenham’.

        • Ange Neale

          Hey, Peter,
          I haven’t seen ‘Made in Dagenham’, but I’ll definitely track it down. And it had Bob Hoskins in it! He was such a good actor.
          Yeah, brutally offing my protags mostly appalled the people who’d make up the core audience demographic: women and LGBTs, with few exceptions.
          Grendl noted a few weeks back, too, that if you kill protags your audience really likes they tend to hate you for it, although others disagree.
          I didn’t love Baz Lehrmann’s version of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ any less because Shakespeare hadn’t given them a ‘happy ever after.’
          So I figured if I ever get in a room with an interested producer, I’ll pitch both endings and they can put it to focus groups.
          Others have noted here, too, second act could do with more oomph.
          I’ve considered making Allison a much tougher nut to crack from the start, given her guilt-ridden backstory. Might see how that works.

          • pmlove

            Thinking about it, another option would be to leave Allison as comfortable with her sexuality, then Jenny is torn between love and the WAAF.

            Early on, make it clear the WAAF is under threat. Jenny is the ambassador though and press favourite. Jenny makes a mistake due to being ‘distracted’ by the new love. Then, as they fall in love, there is always the background tension of the WAAF falling into disrepute risking Jenny’s dreams and the credibility of female pilots. Allison, however, isn’t bothered about the success of the WAAF (or women’s rights in general) and just wants to support Jenny with her family’s wealth.

            Then there is some crucial mission that needs WAAF support to win the war, higher ups are threatening to pull the plug.

            Then Jenny must choose – Allison or the WAAF (and, of course, get both).

            This isn’t a million miles from what you have already – basically take Made in Dagenham structure, switch out the husband for Allison and Equal Pay for the WAAF/war effort.

            Just a thought.

            Re: deaths, I love a good killing – I think audiences must be getting more tolerant nowadays given certain TV narratives’ tendencies to off main characters.

          • Ange Neale

            Oh, like Sybil and Matthew in Downton? They came out of nowhere.
            Btw, Jenny’s with the Air Transport Auxiliary — they were civvies, so civilian laws applied, and female homosexuality was never illegal.
            Historically, the women’s section copped a lot of criticism (mostly driven by envy and / or chauvinism), but because the ATA’s male pilots thought it beneath them to have to ferry slow Tiger Moths around the country and because the female pilots didn’t refuse or complain even in winter, there was no real question of the women’s section ever being disbanded.
            As production ramped up through 1940, someone had to move them, especially once the Battle of Britain began and the factories became strategic targets.
            The WAAFs, though, they were an interesting outfit, too. Their director actually put an official policy in place about same-sex relationships.
            Effectively, if a couple were discreet, provided it didn’t breach the officer / enlisted divide, the relationship was allowed to continue.
            Indiscretion resulted in postings to opposite ends of Britain, and court-martial or discharge only as a last resort.
            I don’t know if anyone’s ever researched how often the last resorts were taken.
            Prosecuting the war was the overarching objective.
            The witchhunts came later, once the war was over.

          • pmlove

            OK, think I was mixing up WAAF & ATA above – apologies.

            Yeah, was just a thought. Good luck with the lit review!

          • Ange Neale

            No worries over WAAF & ATA – easy to mix them up. I muddied the water for everyone when I dumped Jenny into a military hospital. I did actually explain that in an earlier draft, but it got cut and I never re-explained it. My bad!
            (Lit review is a very daunting thing – so much hangs on getting it right. Thanks.)

          • pmlove

            And – no idea about Downton, never seen it. I meant more a la Game of Thrones / Breaking Bad etc.

          • Ange Neale

            Oh, yeah – GoT loves killing ‘em off, doesn’t it?

          • Citizen M

            Historical tidbit: male homosexuality was illegal in Britain at that time, but not female homosexuality. The reason is that Queen Victoria, who was a pretty sexual lady, didn’t believe there could be such people as female homosexuals, so wouldn’t sign such legislation into law.

          • Ange Neale

            Lucky for lesbians she didn’t get out much!

  • rocksuddhi

    Rock here, “Façade” writer. First off, I want to thank Carson and “Miss SS” for giving this script another go for AF, much appreciated! And to fellow SS readers, I really hope you all take a stab at it (not literally, I hope). I won’t say it’s the best script out there right now, but I’m confident there are many great qualities about it and there’s a lot to like. I’m curious to know what you all think. Any feedback and suggestions (and votes, of course!) are greatly appreciated – you can also send me an email (on the PDF) if you want to discuss it in greater detail.

    A few notes first – there are a few major story edits since the last time this was featured over a year ago in an attempt to make it more twisty and turny. One criticism I received before was that a flashback towards the beginning dragged a bit, but I struggled to figure out a way to fix that without messing up what occurs later. Instead of treating the flashbacks as just pure exposition in this script, I view them as part of the actual story – it’s not just additional fluff, it’s essential to the core of the story. All I can say is that I put everything there for a reason, whether it’s to establish characters or set up important events to come in a credible way. However, I’m open to any critiques and/or suggestions!

    Anyways I’ll try to check in frequently and respond to comments. Thanks again, and hope you all enjoy!

    • pmlove

      Rule one: Go in confident. All the caveats etc will make people wary!

      • MaliboJackk

        Would agree if he were pitching to an agent or studio.
        But here you need to be open to comments.
        Doesn’t mean you have to agree with them.

    • Ange Neale

      Hi Rock,
      If you were only 15 when you first started writing this, how old (young) are you now?

      • rocksuddhi

        Ange, I’m 20 now.

        • Ange Neale

          Kudos to you, Rock!
          Oscar Wilde once wrote (among many other things), “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
          Too many of my first 50 years were spent looking down, not up.
          Delighted to see you’re not doing that.

  • pmlove

    Curious about how ‘comeback scripts’ will work. Appreciate some worthy close runners-up may deserve a second look but two in one week seems a bit much, especially if there is other material out there.

  • Wheatman

    STATIC TOWN

    I read up to page 22, and I plan to
    read more when the opportunity arises. This script has quite a few things going
    for it.

    1. The protagonist is likeable, realistic, and not annoying. In so
    many of the amateur screenplays I read, the main character isn’t relatable and
    I don’t want to follow his/her story. Wyatt is solid though. I can totally
    relate to his struggle with technology, which brings me to:

    2. The material is relevant. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest,
    Vines—I could go on for days. It’s out of control. No one talks face to face
    anymore and it’s maddening. I’m not sure where the script goes after this
    set-up, but if it heads where I’m thinking it does, then this could be a
    wake-up call to the younger generation.

    3. The dialogue is on point. They don’t necessarily talk like adults.
    They don’t talk like Diablo Cody impersonations. I like it.

    Other thoughts:

    -I like Wyatt, but I’m not a fan of the “already had her” line on page 4. If he’s truly a romantic, I don’t think
    he’d phrase that as harshly. It rubbed the wrong way and it would be right at
    the beginning of the movie. Just my two cents.

    -p. 4 “The truth is, no one actually
    talked to each other anymore. Our world had been invaded.” There are tense
    issues here.

    -p. 22 “The pole falls, sending the
    wires snapping and a electric flashes all down the lines. Sparks omitting at
    each pole.”

    Delete the “a,” and make it “electricity flashes.” Also, sparks “emitting,” not
    “omitting.”

    -Lastly, while I like this beginning,
    I wonder whether it takes enough risks. This is a very “small” movie, and I
    don’t mean that in a bad way. But I do wonder if the material hits you hard
    enough, that a reader or producer or director would say, “I want to make this
    movie!” I enjoyed reading the first 22 minutes, but I’m not sure I envisioned
    anything that’s necessarily trailer-worthy yet.

    Overall, good job. I’m kind of a
    comedy guy, so this and The Walk-Ons will be my main focuses this weekend.

    • Wheatman

      My friends are playing Betrayal at House on the Hill, which I have not even begun to understand at all, so here are a few more notes while I wait to join in:

      p. 27 ”I don’t know what it is, but these exorcises have always brought out my
      inner introvert.” Exercises, not exorcises.

      Also on p, 27, the teacher calling the girl a slut seems tonally inconsistent and dives into cheesy territory.

      p. 29 ”There’s no signal, let’s mingle!” You’re aware this doesn’t rhyme, right?

      I don’t think you need to note (Jokingly) as often as you do. They’re teenagers, inherently sarcastic. Not necessary.

      p. 33 “Eighteen sounds right.” Do you mean “eighteenth?” Or is this Dale being out of it/high?

      I’ve noticed over the past ten pages or so, your comma use
      has been sporadic and, for the most part, incorrect. Latest examples being:

      “I’m not buying your cookies dear.” And “Happy anniversary Grandma.” Little
      things, I know, but they impact my reading.

      p. 35 “This is like a scene out of rebel without a cause.” I’m starting to get disappointed now. “…like a scene out of Rebel Without a Cause.” Formatting and technical things are really starting to take me out of this and it saddens me.

      p. 36 “The great ‘who’s slow cooker is it?’ debate is still riding strong?” Whose, not who’s. Proofread, proofread, proofread.

      At this point, I’m pretty far in (about 15 minutes further) and not much has changed.

      • cjob3

        Yeah agree about the “slut” line. Seems mean-spirited and tonally jarring. And yeah, the (Joking) thing isn’t needed. For some reason it bothers me that those descriptors are capitalized. I feel like they’re usually not.
        It was weird to me he didn’t like those “exercises” – the whole time the hero complains about people engrossed in their tech- but now it sounds like he doesn’t like social interaction either. Makes him feel a bit like a malcontent.
        Is knocking over the telephone poles *thee* blackout of the story? I was expecting something bigger from the logline.

        • Wheatman

          Sadly, knocking over the telephone poles is the sole catalyst for the blackout/loss of technology. I’m not sure I can even suspend my disbelief to imagine telephone poles falling over like dominoes. I don’t think the physics are sound. The car would just be destroyed, and I bet the pole would be perfectly fine. Even if it did fall, and hit another pole, I doubt the second one would collapse. Bummers.

          Bouncing my crappy ideas off a wall:
          1. Maybe the stoner friend gains access to a terrible virus and causes Facebook and Twitter to go down? …nah.
          2. Maybe the entire plot takes place over the course of one night when the power goes out? I refuse to believe it would take days to get power restored.
          3. Maybe the new girl in town isn’t on Facebook. She opens the main character’s eyes that it’s possible to live without an Internet identity. Wyatt and the girl go on a mission to rid the town of technology one little piece at a time.
          4. Maybe after hitting the telephone pole, he goes into a weird coma world where people don’t rely on technology or the Internet. Wizard of Oz-ish, but it would allow for more absurdity.

          • cjob3

            Some good suggestions there. I almost feel like it needs a big catalyst. Like he and his mean girlfriend get in a fight and she posts an embarrassing video of him and he takes out the internet in a moment of desperation. Something like that.
            I was expecting it to be something more intricate than knocking down a telephone pole. Like if someone he knew had access to a cell phone tower or the town’s internet provider (I don’t know the technicals) and he took it down from the inside out. Yeah, just knocking down a pole I wouldn’t think would do that much damage that easily and for that long.
            I hope the author isn’t too discouraged by these thoughts. It’s a great premise, and I think he’s on the right track.

    • BSBurton

      You’re so right about tech going out of control. It’s a shame really. I’m curious, how much of a leg up do you think audiences should give movies with a message vs movies that are just there to entertain?

      • Wheatman

        I think the main goal of any film/screenplay should be to entertain. If a message can be seamlessly worked in, that’s great and will probably increase the longevity of the film’s relevance. Audiences go to movies based on the actors and the enticement of the trailer, which has to prove that it’s going to be entertaining.

        Except for Oscar nominees, I think few say, “I want to see Static Town because it has a strong message about youth culture.” They would say, “I want to see Static Town because is has Josh Hutcherson in it.” Actually, I don’t know if people go to movies because of Josh Hutcherson.

        • BSBurton

          They probably don’t. Thanks for replying back. I agree. Lately, a lot of trailers have steered me away from movies that are pretty good. Like “Rush”, good movie but it had a horrible trailer. Made it look like generic love story with Hemsworth and Olivia Wilde

  • fragglewriter

    I’ve read a few pages, so here goes:

    The Walk-Ons: Read until page 5. Too much talking and got bored cause nothing happened. Decided to read until page 7. I didn’t read one joke. Advice: cut down the talking just a bit.

    Static Town: Read until page 7. Cut down blocks of description. By page 7, and it slowed down so much. Also, is it necessary to include the party house scene? I’m just thinking that has been done so much before. Read until page 13, still no good. Can we move this story a little bit faster. Maybe cut out the house party scene and merge the parents fighting into the scene before Wyatt leaves for school. That way, he doesn’t have to go back home, and can sit on the lawn, where the new girl sees him? Just a thought.

    The Cloud Factory: Read until page 6. The introduction of so many characters and airplanes threw me out of the story, which was depressing as the log line sounds so interesting. I think I might have to revisit in the future when my brain isn’t so scrambled.

    Facade: Read until page 6. Can you start these scenes later? I don’t think the first two pages are necessary. Start with the detective going to the murder scene, and then pick up the story. If you want backstory of the kid, you can do that later by visiting the parents’ home (if you haven;t done so).

    • Ange Neale

      Thanks, fraggle, for having a go at TCF!

  • Ange Neale

    Hi Grimjin,
    Ange here, author of ‘The Cloud Factory’. The logline’s courtesy of Matthew Garry — he came up with a much-improved version and we crunched it down to 28 words between us.

    The “mish-mash” of genres — that’s all me, though.

    Although the two protagonists are fictional, the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), some of the characters and many of the events that happen around and to them were indeed real.

    Although it seems frankly incredible to us now, in January 1940 when the women’s section of the ATA was established, the editor of ‘Aeroplane’ magazine, CG Grey, really did publish an editorial in which he wrote:

    “We quite agree… that there are millions of women who could do useful jobs in war. But the trouble is so many insist on wanting to do jobs which they are quite incapable of doing. The menace is the woman who thinks that she ought to be flying a high-speed bomber when she has not the intelligence to scrub the floor of a hospital properly, or wants to nose around as an Air Raid Warden and yet can’t cook her husband’s dinner. There are men like that, so there is no need to charge us with anti-feminism. One of the most difficult types of man with whom one has to deal is that which has a certain amount of ability, too much self-confidence, an overload of conceit, a dislike of taking orders and not enough experience to balance one against the other by his own will. The combination is perhaps even more common amongst women than men. And is one of the commonest causes of crashes, in aeroplanes and other ways.”

    Althought there were a lot of men who didn’t think like that (and indeed stuck their necks out to help the ATA’s women pilots prove themselves), one of the hardest things I found in writing this script was getting my mindset back into that sort of cultural climate and striking a balance so the sexism didn’t dominate.

    I’ve made sure that many of the male characters weren’t just tolerant but accepting to try not to come across as preachy or artificial. The last thing I want to do is bash men over the head for the cluelessness of generations past.

  • cjob3

    I’m interested in the concept of Static Town- very timely. I’m confused about the last line of this exchange however:

    DALE
    We all hate the texting game, but we all play it.

    WYATT
    I don’t.

    DALE
    Really? So you actually expect me
    to believe that last night when I
    texted you to hangout you had
    accidentally had a nap for five
    hours?

    Wyatt shrugs, busted.

    • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

      I believe that means Wyatt ignored Dale’s text for five hours to avoid hanging out.

  • Ange Neale

    A very big, humble “thank you” to Carson and Lauren for throwing ‘The Cloud Factory’ back into AOW. I really appreciate it, and it’s a much better script for the constructive critiques I got in March.

    • mulesandmud

      Ange, am curious if you’ve seen Hayao Miyazaki’s ‘The Wind Rises’, another sweeping WW2 romance about an aspiring airplane designer, and one of the more interesting films of last year. If so, what did you think of it, and has it informed your work on ‘The Cloud Factory’ at all?

      • Ange Neale

        Yikes, mules, I’ve never heard of it!
        And now I’m having an ‘Oh, shit, will mine be considered plagiarism?’ moment.
        I kind of buried myself in researching, writing and re-writing this last year. I’m just gonna duck away and google it, and I’ll get back to you in a bit.

        • mulesandmud

          Don’t worry, you’re fine. The lead is a man, it takes place in Japan, and it’s animated. Also, his film focuses thematically on the responsibilities of an artist, and the idealism of dreams versus the hard truths of reality.

          If you don’t know Miyazaki, then I must recommend him as one of the greatest living storytellers, period. Western audiences get a little confused because they equate animation with children’s cartoons. Miyazaki stands in a category by himself.

      • Ange Neale

        Darn it, Disqus has eaten another reply, mules.

        I haven’t heard of it, no. I’ve just googled it — it’s grossed $132million or so? For a Japanese animated flick with subtitles?
        Apparently it was shown in my city October last year at a film festival.
        I definitely didn’t see it (I didn’t go at all, actually) and I was already well into drafting TCF by then.

        (I always copy draft backups to my uni email address, so I can prove what drafts I’ve done and on what date. I also probably still have the downloads I did stored somewhere from when I was investigating Purdue University and their engineering program Amelia Earhart advised on. That was where that whole sub-plot came from. I have drafts going back at least as far as May 2013, but earlier outlines on Word going back to January 2013.)

        As for 2012, I was completely immersed in my Honors thesis, on the hefty subject of what to do with the world’s growing stockpile of high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel. Developments around Fukushima were on my radar, but Japanese cinema didn’t make the top 500.

        • mulesandmud

          Deep breaths, my friend, you’re not in trouble here, copyright or otherwise. His movie is based on true events and a book from 1937.

          Actually, I think Miyazaki’s film is profoundly influenced by Fukushima in some ways. A large part of the story deals with the aftermath of the Great Canto Earthquake, and the parallels are clear.

          Relax and give it a watch; every Miyazaki film is a master’s class in storytelling. Carson had a great thought the other day that the real test of your story concept is whether you’d go see a movie like that. Time to put your money where your script is!

          • Ange Neale

            Oh, that’s a relief, mules – not plagiarism. I’ve always been scrupulous about it.

            That’s two fims I’ve had mentioned to me today that I need to go find at the local Blockbuster. I will, too. I do try to follow up good materials to learn from. Anyway, I’ve got to rush off – got a seminar soon.

            Catch y’all on the flip side!

      • Citizen M

        Reach For The Sky (1956) is the quintessential WW2 movie about someone becoming a pilot under difficult circumstances.

        If you don’t know the story, it’s based on the book by Paul Brickhill and it’s about Douglas Bader, who had his legs cut off in an aircraft crash but persisted until they let him fly fighters again, and became a leading figure in the wartime RAF.

        • Ange Neale

          Yeah, Bader was an extraordinary guy.
          I read somewhere his only real fear was that he’d have to bale out over water.
          His metal legs would drag him straight to the bottom.

    • Linkthis83

      Hey Ange, sorry I wasn’t around this weekend to give it another go. Congrats on being a comeback script and “good on ya” for putting forth the effort for another AOW. Good luck!

      • Ange Neale

        Thanks, Link! Really appreciate it.
        And it’s okay, really — I’ve gotten plenty to think about.
        Homework for tonight is to copy & paste it all into a Word doc and think about what to do with the ending. And the middle. And possibly the beginning, as well. I must be mad…

  • rocksuddhi

    Grimjin,
    Thanks for your thoughts on Facade’s logline. I actually agree and have struggled with composing a great logline because it is a mystery, and ultimately it is about a detective solving a case – the unique aspects of the story are things that are revealed as the plot unfolds, which, as you can probably understand, are things I don’t really want to put in the logline. So I’m trying to find a right balance between providing enough interesting information without giving away anything or even subtly hinting at a major twist or spoiler. Thanks for your thoughts again.

  • cjob3

    To be fair, Huges did Weird Science, which was pretty absurdist. And the main character in that was also name Wyatt.

  • Paul Clarke

    “Mulesandmud commented recently about a producer asking him why he’d ruin his career writing a female protagonist.”

    The producer who was so against writing a female protagonist is an idiot.

    Sexism aside, it’s simply good economics. Supply and demand. Half the potential audience is female, and they are way under-represented at the box office. Therefore when a film comes out aimed at adult females it does well, even if it’s a steaming pile of crap (see the recent success of The Other Woman). The choice is between a bunch of superhero movies, and kids films, plus one female oriented comedy – the choice is easy.

    Not to mention there’s been plenty of successful male-oriented films with female protags, from Aliens to Silence of the lambs. To the Underworld and Resident Evil franchises.

    • Ange Neale

      Thank you for that, Paul, and I completely agree, especially re economics.
      I’m trying for something more along the intellectual lines of ‘The English Patient’, ‘Atonement’, ‘Philomena’, than ‘The Other Woman’. Cross fingers it’s getting there.

    • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

      Also not to mention, we all know who chooses the movie on date night…..

      • Ange Neale

        Hopefully I’ve written something that men actually wouldn’t mind too much getting dragged along to, Matty.

        • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

          Cloud Factory, right? Definitely a good concept, I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t appeal to both genders. And definitely well written (only read 10 pages so far, I should note).

          • Ange Neale

            Yes, right, and thank you for the compliment!

          • BSBurton

            I liked what I read of it too. Just a very busy weekend for me.

          • Ange Neale

            Thank you, BSBurton!

      • Paul Clarke

        Titanic killed at the box office for that reason.

      • David Sarnecki

        Pushover.

      • John Bradley

        That’s why I’m seeing Divergent tonight=(

    • mulesandmud

      That idiotic comment, unfortunately, is a fairly common Hollywood posture at this point. It doesn’t mean that female protags shouldn’t be written, or that they won’t sell, but it’s a testament to the insane level of risk-aversion at the studios these days (as filtered through the usual layer of time-tested misogyny). Even ‘Underworld’ was made more than ten years ago now, and as agents and executives love to say, the studio climate has changed a lot since then. I suspect that if someone tried to make ‘Underworld’ today, they’d say it wasn’t safe enough. Crazy, I know.

      In my case specifically, while pitching a sci-fi adaptation, I pointed out that what appeared to be a very masculine story would actually work better with woman (a major character in the book) at the helm. Sufficed to say, I did not get the gig.

      The good news is, studios don’t make all the movies (or even most of them nowadays). A script like Ange’s shouldn’t even bother trying to sell to those guys. She should be getting read by actors and directors, preferably those whose companies have their own financing, or else by indy producers with a history of championing similar projects.

      Then later, once she gets ‘The Cloud Factory’ made somewhere else, the studios will look at it as a sample that shows how talented she is, and they’ll call her in for a weird passive-aggressive meeting where they say things like “We LOVE what you did with that script, but we don’t do that kind of thing here.”, and then Ange will have to decide if she can play the game by their rules, or if she’d rather just stick to generating her own projects and staying outside the studio system.

      • Ange Neale

        Ah, you make me laugh, mules!
        The “weird passive-aggressive meeting” sounds like it would send my bullshitometer into the red zone.
        Is forming a frank and fearless working relationship with an indy producer or director whose sincerity I don’t doubt and whose intellect I admire an option, or am I just wishful thinking?

        • mulesandmud

          ‘Frank and fearless’ might take some time, but there are definitely smart people out there looking for like minds and trying hard to do good work. There are execs with great taste too, but they’re largely at the mercy on an industry that has gone hopelessly corporate to fend off the new media death spiral.

          You’ve got the right idea, though: find people you can trust and hitch your wagon to their star, while they do the same to yours. Trust requires patience, though. In an industry where no one says no and most people are trained liars (actors/writers/lawyers), true sincerity only reveals itself in the long game.

          • Ange Neale

            That’s encouraging advice, mules. I’m usually an optimist.
            I don’t mind a long game, and I don’t think the movies are dead, although the bloody corporate types seem to be doing their darndest to kill them: death by cliche.

    • BSBurton

      Great post, I think that we may be getting the worst version of this Very soon though. Have you heard of “The Expandebelles?” It’s the female version of the Stallone action series dud.

      • Linkthis83

        How can it be a series dud if they are making their third? ;) I’m all in for The Expendabelles. Sounds awesome and sexy. Lol.

        • Kirk Diggler

          Sounds better than looking at the leathery veins of Stallone.

          Gina Carano> Stallone, Arnold, Bruce

    • Cuesta

      No, it’s not simple and about economics, it’s about relatability. About culture.

      Culture creates defaults states of mind, in western ones is white male. So portraying a lead with anything non white male will have an extra tough time to relate.

      As an example you can change the topic from women, to black people, or gays/lesbians and it works the same. Why there’s no a gay Marvel superheroe in a film? And, why are they making an Ant Man film and Black Widow doesn’t have her own movie? Because culture. Different levels of acceptance.

      But, we can go beyond culture and economics- to demographics. An example, rom-coms don’t appeal to males the same way action stuff. And vice versa. That explains Michael Bay and The Other Woman at the same time.

      And we can go even further to explain all the previous stuff- with traits, an example: males have a hard time with leading females, various reasons:

      - Listening, because, neurologically, males dislike, a lot, high pitched voices. Therefore they prefer to listen a male than a female. Look at two of the most popular female actress in action stuff, Angelina Jolie and Scarlett Johannson, deep voices.

      - Crying, most women are writed to cry at some point of the film, and that depresses males big time. This doesn’t happen with females. Biologically speaking.

      - Sex, males can’t focus on action and sex at the same time, again neurologically. Perhaps that’s why Michael Bay had a Victoria Secret model or Megan Fox to distract males when there were no explosions on screen.

      - Violence, males equal female violence to child violence. Unless they share a previous background of knowledge or aesthetics, like in sports. I mean, you can put women in the UFC octagon because males are used to see males fight the same, but they have a much tougher time with a film. Ask a producer, they will probably say Underworld works because Matrix aesthetics. And Resident Evil and Hunger Games because established IPs.

      And many more, I think I made my point.
      I also think is possible to skip this difficulties, but you need a more precise product.

      • astranger2

        Interesting point about Angelina’s and Scarlett’s voices.

  • Randy Williams

    STATIC TOWN

    Easy read. Wyatt was an interesting character. I probably read more than I would have because of that. The subject matter, the addiction to social media, especially Facebook seems dated in my view. The jokes were most often attempts by characters to be clever. I never laughed out loud until page 27, with the “blackout” joke. This was a joke that came out of their situation where there was tension, and not from people just trying to be clever. I did love the telephone pole domino scene but at 38 pages, sensing so much was filler without a clear goal, some hook, some stakes, I lost interest and bailed.

    • BSBurton

      Randy, great notes. I’m always impressed when people take the time and effort to go through all the scripts instead of just the one that sticks out to them.

  • Randy Williams

    THE WALK-ONS

    Read to page 21.

    Not a big baseball fan but I am often hooked viewing a baseball game on TV by the intensity of the players and coaches in that chain of brief moments of time. I kind of wished I felt that intensity from Vince in this but I didn’t. I never really got a feel or a like for him as a character. He was often shortchanged as well with the jokes. Some of the more interesting lines were given to other characters in those pages. The flashback made it even more difficult for me to get to know him.

    I laughed out loud on the first page with the “Red Roof” line but felt the comedy was lacking for me after that. The meeting with Christy on campus lacked energy, awkwardness, tension, biting humor, total cross purposes, something. It should be a trailer moment.

    I bailed at page 21 with the Dominican family members of the players portrayed as jewel thieves. Devout baseball fans and contributors to the game as the Dominicans are –deserve better.

  • Randy Williams

    PRIMAL

    Read to page 52.

    One of the more frustrating scripts I’ve read on here. Alternating between brilliance and boredom.

    By page 3, I’m invested in those characters, loved how the father worries about his son there. Nice work.

    page 5 – maybe some crabs actually crackling through the rib cage?

    I didn’t like that you killed the dog. Why not have the female deputy save a badly injured dog? She brings it later to Chris to take care of. She and Swagger can have it out about what’s behind the killing while Chris tends to the dog?

    Need more background on what the supposed bear can do, what may be prompting it to attack like this. Maybe I missed that.

    Fromski’s introduction into town is one of the dull moments. He should really grab us as a character, a trailer moment. Just not there.

    I think there are too many new people coming to town at the same time. My suggestion would be to make Annie Fromski’s daughter but Chris doesn’t know it. They click and Troy in that wolf costume scene reveals the truth telling Chris that she’s just with him to help her father with the story and THAT’s why he breaks the guitar. So you have a storyline there, will they get back together?

    The momentum just seems nonexistent. There should be at least two strong goals. Fromski should have one that he pursues causing trouble and the authorities their goal. Both at cross purposes. Chris should be in the middle of it with the added hurt of the thing with Annie. I was honestly confused with the red herrings and distracted with the drunk dad. I think someone using the killings to murder someone they have a grudge with is something to look into if it’s not in here. That happened with Hurricane Katrina.

    Really strong effort, I thought. My vote leaning towards this script so far.

  • Randy Williams

    FACADE

    Read to page 30.

    For me, it was like watching an old Perry Mason show which I guess is a compliment. Some really great lines, nice period work. However none of the characters, for me, rose to that level of intensity and appeal of Mason and the other characters in that show. They are all too held here by their purpose in each scene instead of having lives of their own.

    Read till page 30 hoping for a reveal that would keep me reading, wasn’t there for me.

    • rocksuddhi

      Hi Randy, thanks for reading! If you find the will to continue, you might find some interesting character reveals :) The theme I was aiming for is that people put on a fake mask to conceal who they really are, so this facade gradually gets peeled away as the script progresses. Thanks again for you comments.

  • Randy Williams

    THE CLOUD FACTORY

    Read this before.

    Endearing characters. Laughed more in the first ten pages than with most comedies on AOW. Writer has a talent for dialogue.

    This should have been in production already as a miniseries.

    Just not my thing.

    • Ange Neale

      No worries, Randy!
      Thanks for having a crack at it anyway.

  • Kirk Diggler

    Static Town : 2nd line of Opening VO – “In a generation where looking like you are having fun is more actually having any, I do okay.”

    Maybe open with this instead of the longer winded first paragraph. This rather nails it.

    There are lots of conversations that do little to push the story forward. The Wyatt-Dale-Geordie lunch conversation is just that, a conversation that teenagers might have. Same when Wyatt meets Sophie in the park, another conversation that isn’t used for any real purpose other than they need to meet and get to know each other. But there are no plot points being pushed. It’s just, hey how are ya, where ya from? blah blah. Needs to be more than just that in my opinion.

    The conversation between Wyatt and Dale on pg 17-18, in which he is stating the theme, his desire to live in a world without social media, is just completely without nuance. And naturally only a few pages later his desire for this is realized.

    There is some good stuff here tho. Like this, after Wyatt causes the power outage, “If Pandora’s box was an app, I had just downloaded it, opened it, and shared it with all of my contacts.” But the first 20 pages are there just to bide time until the power outage. I think that is part of the problem, the outage is the hook but it can’t be the story. Wyatt needs to have character goals that he needs to meet with or without the power outage, and when the outage hits, if he just embraces it and says “look, this is great, i got what I wanted, social media is down!” …. well, what are his obstacles?

    A little more urgency would help. The story meanders because, again, there is nothing for Wyatt to do except be himself the first 20 pages. No discernible character goals, he’s just talking about girls with his friends, going to parties, seems moderately popular. Even his presumed love interest Sophie, keeps falling into his lap. At the park she happens upon him, in the computer class, she approaches him, at the party, same.

    Where is the conflict? And really, what changes before and after the power outage? Not much from what i read. Sure, there is a scene here or there of some girl complaining about how many ‘followers’ she’s losing… pretty low stakes. And it has zero affect on Wyatt. Or anyone else. They throw a ‘blackout’ party, but how is that different from any other party that teens throw every weekend? That’s why Wyatt needs a strong purpose independent of the hook of the outage, and he doesn’t. GSU can be applied to any kind of story, and re-writing this with that in mind might help make this more interesting.

    Thanks for sharing, good luck with it.

    • Kirk Diggler

      Opens rather strangely, with a riot in a hotel. Cut to a dean’s office at a college, where the Dean and Athletic Director have a long conversation about…. the merits (or not) of college baseball. Which ends on pg 5 with the A.D. vowing that he knows a baseball coach willing to work for peanuts…. where we then cut to our protagonist working at a high school as a gym teacher… where he has an exposition heavy conversation with the Principal, which serves to tell us that Vince the protag, is a bit of a ne’er do well. Then the A.D. shows up with a job offer. Naturally, Vince turns the A.D. down, because he ain’t quite that desperate yet. So Vince goes home, has a conversation with a nosy neighbor, who mentions his estranged wife Christine (no way is she coming back), who just happens to work at the same college that he has the job offer from. Which he readily accepts by pg 12.

      The set up is rudimentary. Very familiar tropes for these types of films.

      There are a few funny lines during the try-outs. The “if you have to jump you probably shouldn’t swing” line and the “Al Roker could score from 3rd base” line.

      A 4 page flashback is never a good idea.

      I feel like i know where this is going. A down on his luck coach managing a bunch of players who never lived up to their potential (all disparate personalities) learn to come together in a way that by sheer force of them winning ballgames allows the hero to re-connect with his love interest. Shocked if i’m wrong.

      Also, there is no way this needs to be 120 pgs.

      Thanks for sharing, good luck with it.

    • BSBurton

      Whoa, awesome notes! The author should be very pleased about the level of detail and thought you put into it. Great stuff, Kirk

    • IgorWasTaken

      Kirk Diggler wrote: “Static Town : 2nd line of Opening VO – ‘In a generation where looking like you are having fun is more important than actually having any, I do okay.’

      Maybe open with this instead of the longer winded first paragraph. This rather nails it.

      Kirk, that is an excellent, excellent note.

      Then, just before that, there just needs some bullet-style QUICK SHOTS action lines to describe highlights of his Facebook page. IOW, the action tells us a few specific things that we see. So, we see some comment about the town’s population. We see how many friends he has.

      To Kevin – Not only is Kirk’s note just a better way to start IMO, because that line you gave to Wyatt does nail it; if you tell us specifics of Wyatt’s FB page, it’s like a FREE PASS for a mini-exposition dump.

      Also, and I know everyone has his own way to do this, but I’d suggest you start with a description of something specific that we see, not just “The FB page of…” Like this -

      OVER BLACK: [the name of some song that helps us get Wyatt, or just describe a type of song] as we –

      FADE IN:

      On [some specific picture] of WYATT DONNELLY (17) on a computer screen.

      This is Wyatt’s FB page.

      QUICK SHOTS –

      – Post, “Mrs. Azu had a baby today, so now 5011 people live here.”

      Etc.

      Kirk, again, IMO your note on this would make a big difference at a critical place in the script (any script) – the top of page 1.

    • cjob3

      You make a good point about the before and after effect. Maybe there shouldn’t be a party in the opening – only after the blackout. That way we see the effect the blackout is having. People are getting together vs. connecting online. As is, they have parties either way, only the theme of the party has changed.

  • Nicholas J

    My vote goes to THE WALK-ONS. On the surface it’s not the best, but in terms of storytelling it’s surprisingly decent and better than the other entries this week. I can’t see it winning the slot, but I think it deserves the shot. Wildcard, bitches!

    This week I sat down with the intention of reading a script all the way through should it hold my interest, so with that in mind…

    STATIC
    Stopped at page 15. A lot of dialogue and nothing is happening. Was mildly entertaining, but the lack of any real scenes killed it for me. Take page 5 for instance. Any time when people are just talking about other people and events, it’s not a scene. Or on 11-14. Sophie walks up to Wyatt and they just talk about stuff. There’s no goal, no conflict, no situation, therefore no drama. At those page numbers things should be moving, not sitting there like a dead fish. As a side note, why do so many amateur screenwriters try to compare their work to John Hughes? I’d advise against referencing one of the most iconic screenwriters ever when talking about your script.

    FACADE
    Stopped at page 21. It’s all very by the books and there was nothing that stood out. Very surface level dialogue and the writer doesn’t know how to properly create scenes. I’m intrigued by the case a little, but the lack of creativity in the early pages doesn’t promise me that the story will take me anywhere exciting.

    PRIMAL
    Stopped at page 14. There are SO MANY amateur monster movie scripts out there, you really have to do something different to stand out, and from what I read, this script is pretty generic. The opening scene in this one is just a hunter getting killed by an unseen creature in the woods, and it’s very brief and by the numbers. Nothing too exciting. The trailer park angle is alright, but that’s really all I saw that was unique. But hey, at least it doesn’t take place in Alaska where a 1,000 year old creature emerges from the ice. I can see this one winning the AF slot with all the horror fans on here, but I can’t see it getting anything above a “wasn’t for me.” The writing is somewhat there, so I may revisit it tomorrow and would be willing to change my vote if it gets better.

    THE CLOUD FACTORY
    Stopped at page 21. I passed on this the first AOW it was posted, but this version is a definite improvement. I think I bailed out after only a few pages last time. This was still a slog though, the writing is still very dense and not a lot happens. By being so specific and detailed with everything, it’s hard to know what part I should be focusing on. By trying to be so clear, you are actually being less clear. The potential is there, but the writer just needs more time to learn the craft of screenwriting better. Turning a scene, what to include/leave out in action lines, dramatizing every scene, etc. Hate to pass on it again, because you seem super nice Ange and I enjoy your comments, but sorry, just isn’t there yet for me.

    THE WALK-ONS
    Stopped at page 12, but only because I need to go to bed. I have a feeling this one will get passed on by everyone because of the horribly long and on the nose dialogue, but it’s surprisingly the best storytelling on display this week. It’s simple, has GSU, and NEARLY EVERY SCENE TURNS. By page 12 we have some character setup, a plot underway, and a clear direction of where things are headed. Hell, it’s also somewhat unique. Can’t say I’ve ever seen a script open the way this one did. This script gets my vote.

    • Ange Neale

      Hey, thanks for making it further than last time, Nicholas J!
      I did try to lighten it up.
      Your comment last time (“denser than a neutron star”) was both funny and a challenge to me to make it more readable.

      • BSBurton

        Ange, it’s great that you’ve whipped the script into shape! I’m curious, how many readers do you send it to before you re-posted to SS? I like to go through my writers group, then a family member for a strict grammar read. I have a friend (who has a manager) who hasn’t really gotten anything going. His philosophy is to never gets an outside opinion. He just writes it, then sends it off.

        • Ange Neale

          Can’t help but wonder if your friend isn’t getting traction because he’s not getting feedback from the sorts of people who would actually have to put cash on the counter to see a movie made from his work.

          His manager would see it for free. Would your friend pay to see what he writes? I know I’d pay to see what I’m writing.

          I mean, I know my script’s not everyone’s cup of tea, and if it ever got made, maybe one in twenty of the people who saw Spidey 2 would be interested in it, hopefully half of the ‘Philomena’ demographic, a few art-house types and a bunch of big, ol’ lezzos. Realistically, whether it would break even is a toss-up.

          As for where I go for feedback…

          There may be a writer’s group in the city where I live, but I’ve never
          actually sought local writers out. I tend to avoid meetings like the
          plague if I can.

          I got terrific feedback from the first AOW. A few of the SS faithful have kept in contact and helped with advice. I also put it up on TSL (I think I got another 7 or 8 reviews to go toward this draft) plus a contact in England made some invaluable suggestions, too.

          I submitted it for 2 B/L paid reads (got hung, drawn and quartered for pretty much everything except the title), but they make it clear their job is to identify scripts that they think their industry contacts would be interested in producing.

          A WW2 romantic drama between two women that’ll cost more than a six-pack of beers and a pizza isn’t on anyone’s wish-list to make because they don’t think it’ll make any money and there aren’t any toys or franchise sequels in it.

          So, how many reviewers have contributed to varying degrees to this draft? Maybe thirty, I’d guess, give or take.

          • BSBurton

            So the black list is a rough place? I’ve heard a variety of things as far ranging as it’s rigged to it’s somewhat helpful.

            My friend is very self-conscious. He started in graphic novels and that’s how he got into contact with his current manager. I think he hurts himself by not searching for feedback but that’s his choice.

            What is TSL?

            And that’s awesome that you’ve put so much work into the script. It’s definitely got a lot of potential, it’s all about linkin up with the right producers.

          • Ange Neale

            TSL is Trigger Street Labs.

            I think it’s Kevin Spacey’s prodco — someone here may know for sure.
            Basically it’s a review exchange. You do reviews of others’s work and get credits, which are exchanged for others doing reviews of your work: short stories; short films and feature-length scripts.

          • BSBurton

            Thanks, I have heard of it (even watched the dentist PIrate short spacey did a while back, too funny) but wasn’t ‘hip’ with the abbreviation hahaha.

          • cjob3

            BlackList is odd. I have a sitcom up there at the moment and I got a 3 out of 10 from my first review. (2 out of 10 for dialogue!) Then that same script just got an 8. (a 9 out of 10 for dialogue!) It was almost exactly the same script. (I may have added about three new lines.) So is that helpful? Not really. Who to believe? (Though in between I got a couple 6s and a 7 so I’ll assume the 3 guy was crazy.)
            But yeah, tough crowd. But at least it’s expensive!

          • Ange Neale

            Hey, congrats on the 8 / 9, cjob3, although bummer on the 3. That’s gotta make a big dent in your overall average.

          • BSBurton

            That’s crazy shit, and your last statement made me bust a gut hahaha. Thanks for the info, I’ll take it under advisement. Anyway you could get in contact with the good reviewer and ask him to smack the other guys around? lol

          • cjob3

            Just to be fair to the Blacklist – when they see a discrepancy that big, between a 3 and an 8, they offer you a third tie-breaker review for half price.

          • BSBurton

            How often does that happen I wonder? So how much were the 2 reviews plus hosting?

          • cjob3

            It seems to happen a lot. Then again, comedy is always subjective. Sitcoms are $30 per review. Hosting is $25 a month. Since it can take up to 3 weeks to get a review – it’s easy to buy two months. If you’re going to post a script – it’s best to buy two or three reviews at a time. I bought one at a time because I’m cheap- but it winds up costing more in the long run.

          • BSBurton

            Thanks, I sure appreciate the inside track. I wonder how much money that site generates in profit.

    • BSBurton

      Nick, you put in a lot of Effort to help these writers and you have some great points. That’s really awesome, man. You have my respect.

      • Nicholas J

        Thanks but my reasons are completely selfish: to improve my own writing! ;)

        • BSBurton

          I hear that! What’s the best tip you picked up in the last month?

          • Nicholas J

            Dramatizing your setups. Too many people get notes saying their opening is flat and then go on to say, “Yeah but that’s all setup for things that happen later!” Cool, every story needs setups, but you need to know how to dramatize them or else I’m bailing.

            Like maybe you want to setup that your protag’s boss is a dick. So you have the protag and his friend talk about how the boss is a dick. Okay, I now get that he’s a dick, but that’s not dramatized and is therefore boring and flat. You’re not doing your job.

            Instead, SHOW me how the boss is a dick. Maybe your protag was up all night the night before trying to get his newborn son to stop crying. He’s exhausted and can barely hold his eyes open. He goes to the break room at work to get a cup of coffee before his super important interview for a promotion. He pours a cup, and that’s the last of the coffee in the break room. Boss comes over, demands that your protag give up his coffee for him, knowing full well that protag is exhausted and up for a promotion in 5 minutes. There’s some conflict, and the boss eventually wins out, stealing the coffee from the tired protag.

            Now, in less than a page you’ve setup that the boss is a dick among other things such as the newborn son, the protag gives up easily, the promotion, his exhaustion (he falls asleep in the interview and doesn’t get the promotion) and you’ve dramatized it. It even has GSU. GOAL = get coffee, STAKES = or else be tired and unable to perform well at the interview, URGENCY = the interview starts in 5 minutes!

            Dramatize your setups.

          • BSBurton

            Yes, I think crisp, lean dialogue is the product “Showing and not telling” in your script. I do hate flat openings and I also hate over the top dramatic dialogue that no one would say. Just heightening the drama for the sake of it. That’s not cool either.

    • rocksuddhi

      Thanks Nicholas, for taking a look and for your comments. At first, it may seem like a typical murder mystery, but as it gradually unfolds, I believe there are many unique aspects revealed. After all, the whole purpose/theme is to show that nothing is really as it initially appears! Anyways, thanks again!

  • witwoud

    Congrats to all writers. I read about 20pp of each:

    My vote: STATIC TOWN — Okay, this reeks of Ferris Bueller, especially the philosophical voiceover. But what the hell. It’s funny and likeable and has a nice ‘airy’ feel to it. I like the characters and I like how — John Hughes-style — it keeps the tone generally sunny, which is quite rare these days. These kids talk like kids might actually talk: ie, they are funny and ironic, but not every line is a ‘sass’ or a ‘zinger’, something that stales very quickly. The wit comes from them, not the screenwriter. On the downside, perhaps a bit repetitive in its theme of how everyone’s plugged in? Too early to tell. Good effort, though.

    THE WALK-ONS — A bizarre opening and then a two-page, on-the-nose conversation in which the characters outline the plot for our benefit. Sorry, this is very amateur.

    PRIMAL — Nice and slow in the best sense. This is how horror films should start. Creates a good sense of place and the people who inhabit it. I believed in these bayou-dwellers. Even the minor characters are estabished quite clearly with their different idiolects. Lots of micro-stories set up, if that’s the right phrase. Pretty decent, this. Definite second-place vote.

    FACADE — A respectable effort, but it all feels obvious. The dialogue is obvious. The characters are obvious. Even the title and logline are obvious: an idyllic 1950s American suburb is a ‘facade’ harbouring dark secrets — who’d have thought?

    THE CLOUD FACTORY — This may have been tightened up since last time, but I still feel I’m reading a great wodge of research plus 21st-century gender politics rather than anything resembling an actual story.

    • Ange Neale

      Thanks for having another go at ‘The Cloud Factory’, witwoud.
      Appreciate it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
      A great deal of research did go into it, yes, but completely overlooking the chauvinism the women pilots had to contend with at the time (as well as practical considerations such as the Luftwaffe threat, Britain’s fickle weather and occasional mechanical failures) would’ve sold them short.
      See my direct quote elsewhere from CG Grey and ‘Aeroplane’ magazine.
      It was published in January, 1940.
      Things got so bad, the ATA’s (male) leadership had to debunk the lies in the press — 1940 politics, not 21st century.

  • Citizen M

    STATIC TOWN (don’t like the title)

    Read 25 pages. Promising concept, weak execution. The story and characters are not big enough for a feature film. This is more like a TV episode.

    The problem is a passive protagonist. He just drifts. He doesn’t even make a plan to take out the power supply and win the girl like the logline says. He bashes into the telephone pole on a whim. He has no plan, not by page 25 anyway.

    There needs to be a bigger story, some project or mission for our guy. I’d say hitting the pole needs to come around page 12. To me, it’s the inciting incident. As for looting the grocery store. Really? After a few hours of power cuts? I hope Putin doesn’t read this. He’d invade tomorrow.

    • Citizen M

      THE WALK-ONS

      Read 25 pages. Quite promising. The story is shaping up nicely and there’s an interesting crowd of characters with plenty of history between them.

      Only problem is the dialogue. It starts with a three page piece of exposition, and there’s more exposition later. Banter between the guys is okay, but the exposition-y dialogue definitely needs attention. Would like to read on, though.

    • Citizen M

      PRIMAL

      Read 25 pages. Okay, but needs to move up a gear or two. Not scary enough for a horror movie. No tension or suspense. Too much time setting up the characters. We haven’t even got the “nightly rampage of terror and carnage” yet.

      Compress the first 25 pages into 15 or so, to get the story up and running faster, and I think there are definite possibilities. There are some interesting characters and it’s an unusual location. Keep rewriting. I think it will be worth it.

    • Randy Williams

      LOL @ I hope Putin doesn’t read this. He’d invade tomorrow.

      He’s already breached the South Florida coast. Every other condo is owned by a Russian.

    • BSBurton

      Great point about the protagonist taking action. I 100%
      Agree. Also, kudos for digging into multiple
      Scripts

    • cjob3

      Right. It sounded like intentional sabotage in the logline but it’s spur of the moment in the script. Therefore, the story sounds much bigger in the logline than in is in the script.

    • Citizen M

      FACADE.

      I can repeat my comments of last year:
      Dreadfully slow. 25 pages in and we’re still setting up. Nathan was bullied. Okay, we got it in two pages, we don’t need twelve. By this time the detective should have unearthed his first clue, not still taking statements. The dialogue is very stilted and unnatural. I wasn’t sure what was going on in the opening scene between Grayson and the PI, or what relevance it had.
      Verdict: Needs a large pair of scissors and a page one rewrite.

      The big problem is repetition. The same thing is stated over and over. For example, the fact that Nathan is bruised is repeated seven times. Donald tells Barbara six or seven times to not be so hard on Nathan, to let him be. In the first 25 pages! We got it the first time. Say it once and let’s move the story forwards.

      • rocksuddhi

        Thanks again Citizen M :) Sometimes I don’t realize I had repeated the same thing multiple times, even if stated in a different way. I’ll have to trim down on that. One big thing I’ve been struggling with is how to convey all the info I need to in that flashback while jumping right into the story – I’ve done that to some extent by having them find the body at the beginning (in early early drafts, that was much later on), but the flashback still seems to slow things down, but if I remove it, subsequent events wouldn’t make sense. I’ve thought about sprinkling mini flashbacks throughout (like Saving Mr. Banks, though in a different way of course), but the detective gets his leads from questioning the parents to begin with, and it’s all info that helps him out later on. It’s something I’m still thinking about. Thanks again for you comments.

      • Citizen M

        THE CLOUD FACTORY

        Read 30 of the 130 pages. Still slow and novelistic, although more happens than in the previous draft.

        Given that this is a “female interest” sort of movie, perhaps there needs to be more about Jenny’s feelings and her attempts to make friends and fit in with a very different social system than the one she is used to. There’s a lot of detail, which reflects the author’s research, but is more appropriate in a book than in a script.

        I found it interesting but heavy going with all the detail. I’d like more of a plot. What does Jenny want and what happens if she doesn’t get it? There’s not enough GSU. I’d also like to see more period atmosphere. I don’t feel that we’re in wartime Britain. The physical details are there, like the old aircraft and rail warrants and stuff, but not the spirit and attitudes of the people. I’d like to see more typical pommie characters and humour.

        • Ange Neale

          Thanks for your thoughts, CitizenM.
          The big problem with adding anything in at this point is page count.
          If anything else goes in, it’ll have to be at the expense of something else, and I’m at the point now that if I pull a thread here, I’ve got to be careful that something else doesn’t unravel further down.

          Because the focus is on two institutions / organizations (the ATA and its pilots, and the WAAF hospital at Uxbridge), there’s really not the opportunities to show more typical pommie characters unless they’re in uniform.
          There are a few: the newspaper agent and the delivery van driver, the Kinloss rail ticket seller.
          But there have been any number of movies and tv series that showcase their experiences of WW2.
          The perspective that’s been most ignored and that I most wanted to try to capture is that of women who were in the services.

          Most people don’t even know that the Queen joined the ATS when she was old enough. Apparently, her parents were horrified at the thought of her driving Army trucks.

          Yet if you believed the movies, you’d think the only women who ever did anything for the whole 6 years were nurses and prostitutes.

  • astranger2

    The Cloud Factory

    Started here as for me had the most intriguing logline.

    Wow. Wrong one to start with late at night. 131 pages? It could be the greatest screenplay in the history of cinema, but most readers I know pass out just viewing the page number. Anything over 110 makes them actively look for a reason to bail.

    I only read the first twenty pages. It’s beautifully written. I enjoyed reading it. Because it is novelistic. In a wonderful, and rich way. Unlike others on the board, I loved reading this. But, much of the writing doesn’t translate to the screen.

    When characters are described as looking as if they were “pallid after a Scottish winter,” I thought it a marvelous metaphor. But, readers HATE novelistic descriptions. I just received a schooling about that very thing. They don’t want to know how shimmering the sea is — they just want to know if there’s a body of water there, or if there’s a body IN the water, and is it saline or fresh. For production purposes… will the body float?

    I LOVE the dialogue. And I’ll read on because the dialogue is rich, and humorous — because I favor dry humor. Maybe because I was raised in Arizona. Regardless, my feeling is that the writer needs to cut their cherished adjectives and adverbs and condense these pages. Or write novels…

    You’re a beautifully talented writer. But don’t waste your talents in the action lines,,,

    • Ange Neale

      Thanks, astranger2!
      I’d tried to be less novelistic but dismally failed apparently.
      Some of what’s in the action / description lines I included for tone.
      Earlier this year on Scott Meyer’s GITS blog, he had a piece on Bruckheimer and Simpson saying they can’t shoot xyz, but they can shoot tone.
      Disappointing that the distinction eludes pro readers.
      As for the rest, a confession and note to self: stop listening to Rachmaninoff’s piano concerto number 3 while writing and try something less grandiose, like the Wiggles. Hot potato, hot potato…
      Especially grateful for the comments re dialogue and humor — hopeless Anglophile.
      Can’t help myself now…

      • astranger2

        Just to clarify, I didn’t find your script dense or difficult to read. For me, it read beautifully. So my opinion on its being “novelistic” were only in the context of what I’ve read about the craft. But the tone it conveys is marvelous. So, as others here have suggested maybe it’s just a matter of getting it into the right hands. Not your typical reader. Someone who appreciates language — as you do.

        I read Nebraska the other day and found it a horrible read. About as Dick and Jane and “run, spot, run” as you can get.

        I’ll finish it after reading some of the other offerings as it is enjoyable.I also thank you for the Rowan Atkinson clip. He’s always been a favorite of mine. Even before his memorable moment in Four Weddings…

        • Ange Neale

          Oh, that was hilarious wasn’t it? The Holy Goat…

    • BSBurton

      Great post. And props for Arizona!

  • Wheatman

    So just because this is topical at the moment, I want to address the usage of academic ranks in films. I could be the one in the wrong, but I feel like most films and screenplays use Dean when they really mean President or Chancellor. There is even a joke in Neighbors about how they went to visit Dean Phoebe (or whatever) and Rose Byrne’s character is confused about why her first name is Dean. She explains that in Australia they have Chancellors and not Deans.

    While that last bit is kind of true, these writers don’t understand that the President is the position they’re searching for. They’d probably be the one handling fraternity behavioral issues. They’d be the ones overseeing and weighing in on the budgets of the baseball team (The Walk-Ons). Deans usually oversee an academic college (Dean of the College of LAS, for example). Some schools use the title of Dean of Student Services, but even then, I think, they still have the President, who would be handling the administrative issues, not academic.

    Also, I’m reading the beginning of The Walk-Ons, and the new hire AD and the Dean haven’t previously discussed that they’re getting rid of the baseball team? It sounds like the baseball team is the main draw of the athletic department, and its legacy is probably what lured this new AD in. He shows up and now the Dean is eliminating the team/slashing the budget? I think most people in that position would walk out the door right then and there. “Hired to be AD at Kentucky? Well, on your first day at the job I’m slashing the basketball budget!”

    Sorry if this sounds b*****. Nothing personal. It’s Mother’s Day, which means family time. Yay…

    • Ange Neale

      Wow, that’s slightly weird about Rose Byrne’s character, because we do have both Deans and Chancellors — at least my uni does and it’s pretty typical of an Australian university.
      The heads of faculties are all Deans, and the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor are the university head honchos.

  • Matthew Garry

    STATIC TOWN

    was full of good dialogue and characters. “Ferris Bueller” has already been mentioned somewhere else in the comments. In spite of that it lacked direction. A lot of the scenes worked on their own, but all together they gave more of a “a day in the life of” feel than that of a solid story.

    I liked the subject of a social media driven world, but I felt a bit hit-over-the-head
    by it. I think that would have worked better as a background theme than a central one.

    If the plot would have been tighter, and probably a bit longer, it could make for a stronger script.

    PRIMAL

    was a slow starter for me, but it got better later on. Still, the thing I missed most was narrative momentum: that mysterious force that compels a reader to turn the pages against their will.

    The main mystery, once introduced, did the job of driving the main plot, but there
    was very little scene-to-scene glue.

    There were enough decent usual suspects to keep the mystery going, and the end twist was satisfying, if somewhat too sudden for my tastes.

    What I believe would ramp up the desirability of “Primal” is to shift the tone from
    horror to something more surreal and sinister. A fair number of characters are
    already strange, but right now they’re strange in a normal world; I would have
    enjoyed it more if had been the other way around.

    I also never really felt wet, damp, miserable, and contained throughout, even though the setting would naturally invite me to feel that way, so that might be a missed opportunity.

    I think combining a bayou/trailerpark setting with a creature/werewolf is a fantastic idea, but the execution wasn’t quite there yet for me.

    You could go and see “Southern Comfort” for inspiration on how to depict being miserable and hunted in the wetlands (in case you haven’t done so already).

    FACADE

    never really left the page for me. The central mystery was enough to get me to the end, and the reveal of the initial murder worked well, but I was still left wondering who shot the PI, the fast moving car, and the clown.

    Plot, characters, dialogue: most things had a straightforward edge to them. Everything was more or less “typical”. 50′s men act like 50′s men, 50′s women like 50′s women, priests like priests, coroners like coroners, etc.

    A lot of a script can be straightforward: if every character and setting is solely written to be extravagant or different, things get messy quickly. But there should always be some distinct elements that make it stand out and make people sit up straight in their chairs.

    THE WALK-ONS

    I read to page 21. It was too much of a sports movie for me. I’ve actually enjoyed
    baseball scripts before (“42″, “winning isn’t anything”), but these managed to capture my interest with things that were not baseball related: the sport was just a backdrop for the important events. Walk-ons was too specific for me to easily follow along and get in to the story.

    THE CLOUD FACTORY

    Being biased I’ll refrain from giving comments.

    But I’d like to say that *if* you tried reading it the first time around but couldn’t get through it, *and* you took the time to write in the comments why you put it down, chances are very good your original objections have been addressed in the current draft (including completely dropping the bookends and taking care of the large pagecount), so you might want to give it another try if you liked the concept but weren’t convinced by the execution back then.

    • rocksuddhi

      Thanks Matthew for your comments, and for actually reading to the end! Much appreciated! I guess it’s a difficult balance between homage and parody which could be something I have to refine. My aim for this story was to make it all ‘seem’ standard and ideal as the facade slowly gets peeled back and we see what these people are really like. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed it, and hope I could toss you around a bit with the mystery :-) Thanks again.

    • Ange Neale

      Matt,
      one of the things I really like about you is that you have integrity.
      It’s a rare quality, and you’re right to decline to review.
      Thank you.

  • Kirk Diggler

    I passed on The Cloud Factory the first time around, mainly because of it’s length. Thought I’d give it a go this time around. Read 25 pages so far, will probably read more as time permits. I think the writer has some real talent here. I know a lot of complaints have centered around prose-like descriptions leading to dense action lines. Well guess what, the story is visual and full of period detail, and apparently extremely well researched. It seems more and more readers want an “easy read”, something that doesn’t look too daunting on the page, lest their minds actually have to make an investment in the story and characters.

    Well guess what, sometimes it’s worth it. The story centers on Jenny, a young American pilot in the Royal Air Force. We meet her along with 3 other female flyers. I rather liked Elaine, the scene in which she explains to Jenny that she was hit on is a good one. Jenny doesn’t even realize that she was hit on by a woman, I like the NUANCE. It’s not over-written and plays out naturally.

    Another scene that works quite well is the one where we discover Jenny is left behind because the RAF would rather a one-armed male pilot fly an airplane than a two-armed fully capable woman. It’s done with very little dialogue. The female characters don’t sit there and have a long dialogue spelling it out for the audience, the writer does it visually with subtlety. And the women come off as likable , simply noting the irony through a glance, not a long dialogue bemoaning the sexism of it all.

    A real standout scene is when Jenny crashes in her defective plane. There is barely a word spoken. It’s mostly action description. And it’s really tense and well done. Again, most amateurs would overplay their hand here, having the pilot screaming to him/herself or would have felt it necessary for the pilot to be in radio contact so we can have a running description from the pilot of what’s happening while it’s happening. But here, the writer trusts that the visuals are strong enough to create suspense, and it does.

    And when there is dialogue, it’s good. Serves the characters well IMO. Here is a good example, after Jenny is in the emergency room chatting up the doctor Alison.

    ALLISON
    Do you remember what happened?

    JENNY
    Miles Falcon. Tried to save her.

    ALLISON
    You’re very forgiving. It tried awfully hard to kill you.

    JENNY
    Not her fault. Neglected.

    It shows Jenny, given a faulty airplane to fly, refusing to be angry at her plight. With very little said, it reveals A LOT about her character.

    Hopefully I will get a chance to read on, I hope others at least give it a chance.

    • Ange Neale

      Thanks for getting TCF, Kirk, and, more importantly, for really getting subtle.
      Too many writers / directors / producers assume audience members are complete idiots and feel they have to hit us over the head with information.
      The audience that needs that much hand-holding is not the one I’m aiming at.

      The one-armed men flying fighters was true, by the way, as was the bit about two of them physically fighting over which arm it’s better to lose if you’re a pilot.
      Which is completely hilarious, when you think about it.

      I appreciate you wanting to read on, and hope you find the rest just as rewarding.

  • JakeBarnes12

    Hey, Ange,

    I read the first thirty.

    I think you need to develop two elements that I don’t see much of at present.

    1. Focus
    2. Drama

    Yes, descriptions are good, if at times overly detailed, and the dialogue reads as authentic, but it doesn’t mean a thing in a screenplay if the STORY feels flat and wanders.

    No one sitting through the turgid “Monuments Men” gave a shit that the uniforms were accurate or that the real life people did indeed split up to pursue a bunch of different goals. All they cared about was that the movie was dramatically flat and had little narrative focus.

    You need to find the spine or throughline of this story and focus on that and that alone.

    This is about a woman who wants to fly planes in defense of her country and faces major opposition to that goal.

    THAT is your story. Anything else can and should be cut.

    Wait a second, you say. Her love affair is also crucial.

    Yes, I agree. But it’s dramatically weak to have it developing on a parallel track.

    You want the love affair to DIRECTLY IMPACT the primary goal.

    So Jenny will do anything to pilot combat planes. And she’s facing major opposition, as focused in ONE character, her commanding officer. But with struggle she makes some progress.

    Only now she meets Allison. And as the story progresses she realizes with horror that her feelings towards Allison are going to jeopardize her struggle to pilot planes, since if their love is discovered, Jenny will be kicked out of the air force.

    So her desire to pilot planes and her desire to be with Allison come into DIRECT opposition.

    Ultimately Jenny must make a difficult choice.

    With that spine, every scene should be loaded with conflict. This isn’t an academic paper. If it comes down to historical accuracy and dramatic intensity, drama wins every time.

    I’ve only read the first thirty and skimmed some more, so maybe some of this happens later,
    but I’d suggest everything should focus on that SPINE.

    Hope some of this helps.

    • hickeyyy

      You put into words my thought on this exactly. Nice work!

      • Ange Neale

        Well, Jake’s wandered off on a bit of a tangent without having all of the facts, and you should read my reply as to why before you rush to judgement.

        The way he’d like to play it will serve one and only one purpose, which is to ensure that it would become so expensive to produce and such a high-risk venture that the chances of it ever being sold and made into a real movie would be effectively ZERO.

        • JakeBarnes12

          “Although she doesn’t talk about it until more than 40 pages in, there are a number of hints that what she wants is…”

          Ange, you have a story with great potential, so I’d suggest you consider working with a professional script consultant who can help you with structure and in general to make your script as good as it can be.

          On a site like this you have, as of this writing, five upvotes to this comment from no doubt well-meaning people who are agreeing with your cost argument, which is fine, but who haven’t taken the time to point out to you the fundamental mistake of burying what the character wants over forty pages into the script.

          Hints, indeed.

          Characters in screenwriting can have conscious and unconscious desires (sometimes called wants and needs). While the unconscious desire should be unknown to the character (and sometimes, or at least up to a point, to the audience) conscious desires (wants) should be made explicit very early to the audience.

          Otherwise, Ange, we don’t know what the story is really about.

          Again, look at how the talented Kelly Marcel does this in “Saving Mr. Banks.” From the VERY FIRST SCENE with the adult Travers we know exactly what she wants (and by the way, this is learned through CONFLICT, not expository conversation), but her unconscious desire (beautifully visualized through the mystery of her hatred of pears) only emerges as the story progresses.

          None of us wake up one day and just do this. It takes years of work.

          • Ange Neale

            Jake, I’ve deliberately left replying a day so we don’t get into any flame wars or other unhelpful exchanges.

            While it’s true that it’s more than 40 pages before Jenny overtly discusses the subject of college, as well as the other clues mentioned above, it’s very clearly shown on page 14 that we see her at a postbox with 5 letters addressed to US college admissions offices.

            She doesn’t post them at that point because she sees the Hurricane overhead and she’s not ready to give up hope yet.

            Then on page 15, the two middle-aged, one-armed pilots fight, she finds out that they can fly fighters but not her because she’s female.

            That was true — young, fit, strong women with two arms couldn’t in June, 1940. That policy didn’t change until July, 1941.

            Jenny asks her senior colleague Margie if she thinks the RAF will ever let them try to prove they can ferry the fighters and Margie’s reply is ‘Not if they can avoid it.’

            Jenny dashes back to the postbox and WE SEE HER POSTING her college applications.

            I’ve shown it, not told it, and I don’t see how I can possibly make it any clearer that if she’s going to be treated like a second-class citizen, she’d rather go home to college.

            Btw, there’s conflict and tension littered throughout the whole script, but maybe it’s too subtle to recognise some of it for what it is.

            Just in that scene alone: 1/ Margie’s attitude to Jenny is that she’s the new girl who’s yet to prove herself and she’s not going to cut Jenny any slack; 2/ the two one-armed pilots’ simmering argument erupts into a fist-fight; and 3/ Jenny’s hopes of flying fighters are dashed because the chauvinists in the RAF who dictate policy won’t even let her TRY to prove she can do it (i.e. what they want does conflict with what Jenny wants; I do understand the concept of conflict).

            I get that you can’t see my concept as it is up on a poster, and I’m okay with that.

            I have had feedback from a British script consultancy (one which has first-look deals with a major lit agency and one of the big Hollywood studios, not a little prodco).

            Their feedback stated as plainly as I did above that production costs of the flying sequences coupled with the GLBT protagonist and sexuality theme IS the problem as far as they’re concerned.

            They pointed out that ‘Brokeback Mountain’ was made for $14m. ‘Red Tails’ cost $58m.

            The first made a profit, mostly because of its artistic merit; the second didn’t — and only got a green-light in the first place because it was one of George Lucas’s pet projects and he had pockets deep enough to fund it.

            The biopic on Amelia Earhart was also a box office bomb. It cost $40m and grossed half that.

            If I can’t write a script that costs maybe $10m plus fees for a couple of decent actresses and a competent director, it’s NEVER going to get seriously considered.

            Yes, I have thought about having Jenny chased by the Luftwaffe the length and breadth of England in a Spitfire.

            I’d love to have done that as my ending. But such a sequence alone would add millions to the budget.

            It’s just. Not. Possible.

            Jake, I’ve had more than a year to consider all of these issues.

            I have, and in greater depth than anyone could ever conceivably achieve in 48 hours.

            If I had $50M in the bank like George Lucas can get hold of, I’d produce it myself in a heartbeat. But I don’t.

    • Ange Neale

      Jake, wow, there’s a lot to address here, and some of what you’re expecting unfolds further down in the story. Some of it’s also pretty subtle.

      Jenny’s American, not British. Her British colleagues consider her to be American. She’s not fighting for her country at all. (p2 the Donald Duck voice, then the upper Mid-West / Wisconsin accent in the description line near the bottom, p3 her nickname’s Bubbler which from memory is a drinking fountain in Wisconsin, Minnesota and parts of Pennsylvania, p6 she tells Irene she’s new to Britain…)

      Jenny’s not in the air force. She’s a civilian, so she can’t be kicked out for anything except negligence, underperformance, etc. Consensual sex between women was never illegal in Britain. (p27 Sarah reminds Allison that Jenny’s a civilian. Allison is in the Royal Air Force — she’d know that Jenny’s a civilian.)

      She works as a pilot, but her real passion is for aeronautical engineering.
      (p7 when she’s discussing Rolls Royce Merlin engines with the mechanic, p11 when she’s sketching a futuristic fighter aircraft in her journal, p14 when she’s identifying by engine sound alone which aircraft is taking off, p17 when she considers taking the broken-down aircraft apart herself to check it’s airworthy, p35 when Elaine brings her an engineering textbook to hospital for her to read and when Allison sees the sketches in her journal of both the futuristic fighter and jet engine cutaways, p44 when she evades Allison’s question about why she didn’t go to college to study engineering, p58 when she tells Allison the truth — that her Grampa wanted her home working on the farm so he threw her scholarship applications in the trash…)

      She wants to fly the fighters because she wants to design and build high- performance aircraft.

      Imagine trying to design a Ferrari if you’ve only ever driven a Model T — that’s her predicament.

      On her discharge from hospital, she arrives home to find scholarship offers to Bryn Mawr and Purdue (which really did have an aeronautical engineering program that Amelia Earhart advised on before she died and which reserved scholarships specifically for women).

      So now what Jenny really wants — to study back home and become an engineer — conflicts with what she needs, which is to stay in England to be with Allison.

      Or to use your phrase, “the love affair [does] DIRECTLY IMPACT the primary goal.”

      The spine or throughline IS Jenny’s discovery of her sexuality and her romance with Allison, and there’s a really good reason for that, and it comes back to something Paul Clark mentioned today: economics.

      There is simply no way in Hades that this script would find funding as an action / adventure movie with a lesbian protagonist, especially when she doesn’t fly combat, she just picks up an aircraft from here and delivers it to there.

      It’s got an uphill battle to find an interested prodco and funding as it is.

      The only way it will ever get funded is if the A story is the romantic drama (which takes place exclusively on the ground and is therefore much cheaper to make), and the B story is Jenny’s job as a pilot (which includes the inciting incident that gets them together and which will add considerably to the budget).

      It’ll never get made the other way around. It would simply be too big a risk for investors to take.

      It’s also because you’re trying to read it as an action / adventure script that you’re finding it “flat.”

      It was never meant to be that. It’s a character-driven romantic drama.

      Both protagonists have internal motivations and conflicts, and external motivations and conflicts.

      In order to be together, both have to overcome their own demons, plus deal with their jobs and the war, plus discrimination on the basis of gender and sexuality.

      Now, if I strip all those away and “focus” on one thing, and one thing only, the obvious thing a producer with even half a brain is going to say is, “There’s these two women who fall in love during WW2 but nobody has any problem with it? Nobody objects to a lesbian romance in 1940? Are you shitting me?”

      You wrote:

      “So her desire to pilot planes and her desire to be with Allison come into DIRECT opposition.

      Ultimately Jenny must make a difficult choice.”

      The difficult choice Jenny has to make is fight for her career and Allison, or flight home, but I’m not going to spoil it for those who want to read through.

      • JakeBarnes12

        I’d like to float a couple of ideas, Ange:

        First, I don’t think it’s a sound strategy to choose what I would consider a visually and dramatically weaker idea (woman’s goal is to go to college to design planes), rather than something we’ve never seen before (WWII-era woman wants to become a fighter pilot) because you think a producer WILL spend money on the weaker idea but not on the more expensive stronger one.

        I understand your concern that gay characters might reduce the commercial appeal but I would suggest ALWAYS going for the more direct and immediate goal. So in this case she wants to be a fighter pilot to beat the Nazis, rather than one which is much more indirect and harder to visualize; she wants to fly fighter planes so she can go to college so she can design better fighter planes so that presumably someone else can fight the Nazis or, since she’ll be done with her studies years from now, someone else can fight some new undefined threat.

        I’m not seeing that poster.

        In terms of historical authenticity, the Soviets had female fighter pilots taking on male German pilots.The US trained women as fighter pilots though they did not see action. While the British did not allow women into combat, they were trained to fly Spitfires, Lancasters, etc.

        This is where I’d suggest you set aside your exhaustive historical research and use it as a jumping off point. What if Jenny is flying a Spitfire from Point A to B when the Germans attack? She gets involved in a fight, shows incredible skills, but when she lands she’s severely disciplined for her actions, whole program might be shut down, etc, etc.

        Underdogs are so common in good stores because they work.

        Heck, your opening image is fantastic — women flying planes. It was frankly very disappointing for me to find out pages later that this gets watered down to a woman wants to go to college to study how to design planes.

        Okay. I’ve made my pitch. You can’t say I didn’t try. :)

        The second, more important point, is that I’m afraid I found your pages flat not because I’m looking for a different type of story, but because in my estimation those pages are loaded with extraneous details, events, and characters, rather than being structured round a clearly advancing dramatic first act.

        So what do I mean by drama?

        For drama to exist in a scene and engage the reader/audience, we should know what the character wants in that scene, we should want the character to achieve that goal, and the character should be struggling against oppositional forces, the more direct the better.

        Whoa. That sounds really prescriptive and restricting. Plus, you gotta set up the situations and the characters first, right? Time later for all that conflict, no?

        To be honest, this is something I struggled with in my early scripts and I see other inexperienced screenwriters struggling with it all the time.

        Understanding the concept of dramatic scenes is very easy. Recognizing when we haven’t achieved it in our own work can be difficult.

        I’d suggest that you work through each scene and ask yourself what the person driving that scene wants, what stands in their way, and if they get it or not. Or does the scene just provide information or events that are not DIRECTLY related to the protagonist working towards her goal?

        I’d also suggest checking out a script that is a masterclass in focus, clarity, and drama; Kelly Marcel’s “Saving Mr. Banks.”

        Notice how quickly and economically Marcel sets up the conflict between Travers and Disney and how almost every scene involves people wanting to do conflicting things to achieve conflicting goals.

        Marcel as a professional can take a mass of research on an historical event and finds the psychological and dramatic core of the story.

        Lots to learn for all of us from that script.

        Best of luck with the project, Ange.

  • Craig Mack

    Read two thus far — nice day on the porch in Boston;

    The Cloud Factory:

    This is a great story, well researched and written. Dialogue
    is authentic throughout. My main problem with this script is I could see it
    better as a; A) miniseries, or B) novel. As a spec script — it could be tough
    to push through the door. — Ange, have
    you given thought to writing this as a novel? The prose are there.

    Primal:

    I started this last night and finished this morning. I really
    like this script. It is a ‘slow burn’
    getting to the action (nice midpoint), but it builds well. It reminds me of
    Scream meets Hatchet… right down to the reporter.

    The ‘whodunnit’ aspect of it was nice, albeit predictable. You played it out well. Only so many characters it could have been… We know your not going with the DRIFTER or Heisenberg.

    The father/son relationship was spot on… I enjoyed it. I
    would revisit the scene with him grieving at his wife’s grave- — the dialogue
    seemed a bit ‘on the nose’. Especially
    given his state at the beginning of the screenplay.

    You hit a lot of horror beats on the head — kudos for that.

    • Ange Neale

      I’m so glad you liked TCF, Craig.
      There’s supposed to be a tv series on the ATA’s women pilots (a UK & New Zealand co-production, of what length I don’t know), but it seems to have been stuck in development hell since about 2011.
      I’ve never tried to write a novel before (well, perhaps I have, just on screenwriting software!), and I really haven’t the time at the moment to properly master a whole new format.
      Graphic novel briefly occurred to me, too, but a lesbian-themed graphic novel that got made into a film last year proved somewhat controversial; pass.
      I can find time to tweak TCF a bit, but significant re-writes are beyond me for a while now.
      I understand the risks with trying to promote it as a spec script.
      It’s the elephant in the room, of course; those who have the money to fund the more expensive parts of it will be made skittish by the subject matter, and those who aren’t daunted by the subject matter mightn’t have the money to do the rest well.
      I haven’t really gotten serious about sending out query emails or letters yet, so after I’ve incorporated the feedback from this AOW, I’ll make some time for a concerted effort to do that around late June – early July.
      Thanks for the thumbs-up!

  • ElectricDreamer

    Big shout out to all the AOW candidates this week!

    AOW WINNER: ?????

    FACADE –
    P. 3 “Yellow crime tape” didn’t come into use until decades later.

    P. 3 The kicked the bucket line hurts my ears. You can do much better.
    Unless you were trying to be sarcastic there?

    P. 4 A murder just occurred, but your describing flower beds.
    I doubt it’s important to the plot knowing the family’s landscaping habits.

    P. 4 You’re REHASHING the opener here. Seen the family photos already.

    P. 5 Child murder was not common in the 50s.
    Detectives wouldn’t treat a grieving mother like that back then.
    Grayson is way out of line with his bluntness.
    I feel like the script’s not been researched too well.

    P. 7 Reads unnatural that hubbie says “give it a rest” to his grieving wife.
    Or is he being a jerk here? I can’t nail down the tone of your scenes.

    P. 8 All Barbara thinks about is being a good hostess?
    She puts domesticity above grieving for her son.
    I can’t get on board with this woman. She reads like a Stepford Wife.

    P. 9 Donald is hitting on a strange woman at his SON’S FUNERAL?!?
    I think Nathan’s better off dead, than living with these folks.

    P. 10 The detectives are CRASHING the WAKE RECEPTION?!?
    No police officer would do that under normal circumstances.

    P. 11 And the cops did that for no special reason.
    Just to “get down to business”. Doesn’t ring true for me.

    I’m finished. There’s far too much plot being pushed across the page.
    But there’s little to no character development going on with that.
    Characters aren’t BEHAVING, they’re just acting out the PLOT.
    Ask yourself author: What are the most dynamic scenes to tell my story?
    I’m sure your imagination can far outstrip the scene choices here.

    PASS.

    • ElectricDreamer

      THE CLOUD FACTORY –
      P. 1 Jenny’s “adjusted her stick and rudder” twice on the same page.
      Change up your prose to keep the read fresh.

      P. 2 The girls take a powder on the RUNWAY. That’s a bold image.
      Some might find it borderline satirical. Or about to burst into song.
      Oh, if only Mel Brooks could make: Blazing Biplanes. ;-)

      P. 4 The autograph session, feels like another borderline musical opener.
      I know you want to portray the girls as stars, but it’s a lot to swallow.
      It really kinda feels like something that BAZ LUHRMANN would get into.
      And maybe that’s not such a bad direction to take your tale.
      Much more marketable too. You can SMUGGLE tons of FACTS into that genre.
      The “flight of fancy” approach would be more appealing to a younger audience.
      Baz will draft Hugh Jackman to be their crusty Aussie instructor! ;-)

      P. 8 I wish your prose flowed as well as your dialogue.

      P. 13 Jenny is without a doubt a fun character.
      I can’t wait for her story to BEGIN.

      P. 15 Sorry, but the two one-armed guys fighting made me LAUGH.
      I know you follow it up with some exposition, but that’s HILARIOUS.
      Sure you don’t mean it that way, but I fear that’s how it will look on screen.

      P. 18 Is there SMOKE in the cockpit?
      Give us a some kind of VISUAL CUE here to indicate she’s being contaminated.

      P. 19 Did Jenny just vomit in her own face at high speed?
      That belongs in JACKASS, not a film with a serious narrative.
      Between that, the one-arm smackdown and all the glitzy girls…
      I’m slowly becoming convinced there’s a comedic element at play here.
      Not sure if you mean that, but it does cause me to question your tone. A lot.

      P. 25 I’m stopping here, miles of script to go before I sleep.
      The prose definitely has been refined some, but needs more attention.
      It’s been a whole lot of backstory so far, when does Jenny’s adventure start?
      She’s plucky and alt lifestyle, but I don’t know much more about her personality.

      I feel like if your PROTAG was based on a real person, the story would pop.
      Surround your lead with fictional characters (a la Dallas Buyers Club).
      Find a book about that real person, then option it.
      I think it’s the best way to get producers interested in your WWII take.
      You’ve got a fresh angle into a familiar world event, keep refining it.

      WEAK CONSIDER.

      • Ange Neale

        P1 — point taken.
        P2 — hmm, I don’t recall the girls were fixing their make-up on the runway. I thought I used dispersal area (Merriam-Webster definition: an area adjacent to an airfield runway connected to the runway by taxi strips and used for parking airplanes in widely separated positions to protect them from enemy air attacks). I’ll check that. Didn’t mean to give that impression. I meant the aircraft equivalent of the parking lot.
        P4 — based on anecdotes from the autobiographies of a couple of the women pilots themselves. They were looked upon as celebrities by many younger women, who thought their jobs were terribly glamorous and exciting (and incredibly well paid).
        P8 — I will investigate my non-flowing prose, and thank you for the compliment about the dialogue.
        P13 — very funny.

        P15 — the two one-armed pilots fighting was a true story. It’s meant to be hilarious. It was completely absurd and half their colleagues felt the same way. Being uptight and British, the rest probably thought it was merely undignified.
        P18 — minor problem with carbon monoxide: it’s colorless, odorless, tasteless and utterly lethal in large-enough doses. The first woman ATA pilot to die was killed in June, 1940, along with her RAF instructor on a training flight. Carbon monoxide got them. They were probably already unconscious when they hit the ground at 100+ knots. As I’ve described the view blurring, that’s what someone chronically intoxicated would see as it futzes with your brain. Her reactions are the clue: Jenny switching off the engine and frantically getting the canopy open tells us there’s a serious problem; when she’s with Allison she mentions the carbon monoxide.
        P19 — carbon monoxide causes headache, nausea, confusion, blurred vision, vomiting, etc, all the way through to fainting, coma and death. As she vomited, she had one hand holding the canopy open, one hand on the stick to steer, and she’s harnessed into the seat. She can’t lean far and the wind’s rushing in on her face at close to 100 knots. Because she was in a closed-cockpit aircraft (i.e. it has a canopy), she wouldn’t have goggles on to protect her eyes. She throws up, it’s gonna go everywhere, mostly back in her face. There’s nothing wrong with my tone. Trust me on this: I’ve thought it through pretty thoroughly.

        P25 — Jenny’s adventure started early on when Irene hit on her in Glasgow — p3 or 4 I think it is, and her sexuality’s raised as an issue. She meets the love of her life as a result of the carbon monoxide-induced crash.

        Thanks for the suggestion about optioning a book, but I don’t have time to start over with a whole new story. I’m just gonna muddle along with this one for the moment and take my chances.
        Thanks for your review!

    • rocksuddhi

      Thanks so much Electricdreamer for taking a look, and I appreciate your comments. I’m not sure what you mean by acting out the plot… almost everything they do is to show what kind of character they are, for example Barbara’s excessive cleaning, preparing food despite her son’s death, etc. is important to her character – she’s a cold person more preoccupied about appearing perfect on the outside. Thanks for your notes by the way. There’s a lot of interesting action in the later two-thirds of the script, but I’ve been struggling to find a way to bring some of that into the beginning while still getting across important information needed to support those later events.

      • ElectricDreamer

        I felt like I only knew your characters by how they related to a child’s death.
        Mainly ust reactions to the plot you created for them.

        But if that tragedy wasn’t part of their lives, what kind of people would they be?

        And I didn’t get a sense of other parts of their respective personalities.
        I wanted to know more about them, beyond what the plot throws at them.
        Hope that clears it up and the notes provide some help with your project.

        • rocksuddhi

          Thanks, it did! There’s a flashback that occurs shortly after where you stopped reading that hopefully provides a good window into their lives pre-tragedy. But you’ve given me some things to think about, thanks!

    • ElectricDreamer

      THE WALK-ONS –
      P. 1 Could use an opening slug for the ELEVATOR.
      INT. HOTEL – ELEVATOR – NIGHT would work just fine.

      P. 1 It’s a bad call to open your script with a line from another movie.

      P. 2 Not sure what “criminal damaging” is. Do you mean property damage?

      P. 2 Stucky/Dickey names so close that happen to be a sex joke. Hmmm.
      Methinks this is a gag to be later exploited.

      P. 3 Your VERTICAL MARGINS look wonky. As if they’ve been stretched.
      Typically, that happens when someone is trying to artificially lower the page count.
      Or it’s just a software glitch of some kind.
      Whichever is true, it means, this comedy script is longer than 120 pages.
      Very lengthy for a comedy, some would use that fact to RED FLAG your script.

      P. 4 Wouldn’t Will already know about the NCAA sanctions?
      ESPN was saying the program was being alienated eight months ago.
      Why is it a shock to Will now? I’m sure an Athletic Director watches ESPN.
      Will should be storming into the office saying, “Is it true? Are we through?”
      Seems a much more logical and visceral approach given the publicity.

      P. 5 You make it Will’s PERSONAL GOAL to keep baseball alive.
      I know a supporting character’s goal before we even meet the Protag.
      For a moment, I thought Will as the protag, since we get his goal.

      P. 5 I think I’d prefer meeting your protag before the plot reveal.
      Let us find out all this information when he does.
      That way, we bond with the protag as the inciting incident unfolds.

      P. 6 Why did Vince lose his coaching job at the high school?
      Maybe if I knew the circumstances, I might EMPATHIZE with your protag.

      P. 7 Vince’s inciting incident plays flat, because we know all the data.
      When the reader has too much foreknowledge, they tend to tune out.

      P. 9 Following up WILL with a new guy named BILL is not a good call.
      Too confusing to read down the page. Differentiate your character names.
      For a minute there, I thought WILL followed Vince home.
      Thought Will would reveal his PERSONAL REASON for baseball love.
      I assume that’s going to help sway Vince’s decision to take the job?

      P. 9 Maybe Bill would ask about how Christine is doing.
      But starting with a very uncomfortable question is tactless.
      And Bill seems like a considerate guy. He immediately apologizes.
      So, why not just ask a considerate question?
      It’s tiny missteps like this that eventually add up to a contrived script.

      P. 10 Feels a bit weird to know Bill and Will better than Vince.
      Will has a secret WISH/GOAL for baseball. Bill laments his life choices some.
      But all I know about Vince is what the plot does to him.
      It’s the INTERNAL STUFF you’re giving supporting characters that Vince needs.
      I EMPATHIZE more with them than I do your PRTOAG.

      P. 10 So Vince’s ex just happens to work at the same college?
      Not sure I’m on board with that plot convenience.
      And wouldn’t Will know this fact and use it to get Vince on board…
      “Vince, show Christine you can do this job and she’ll take you back!”
      Will should be using this right away to LURE Vince into the job.

      P. 11 The domestic chores with the Principal isn’t funny to me.
      Not even remotely realistic that a wife would let her hubbie behave this way.
      If I bailed on taking Nana to the retirement home, I’d be out on the curb!

      Consider having the Principal give Vince CRAP JOBS at the school.
      Help us EMPATHIZE for Vince this way. Make him a reluctant CROSSING GUARD.
      Kids tease him. Maybe one feels bad for him. Stuff like that can be fun.
      And have as much fun with your premise as you possibly can.

      I’m stopping here. Hope these notes help you MAXIMIZE your set up.
      You have a decent premise worth fleshing out.

      PASS.

    • ElectricDreamer

      STATIC TOWN –
      P. 3 Usually there’s a DOCKING STATION for a smartphone.
      You set the phone in the cradle and it locks in place.

      P. 5 Unclear why Wyatt would want to abandon social networking.
      It seems to have done OK by him, he’s got the girl already.
      I dug your voiceover, why not CEMENT your PREMISE right here?

      P. 8 So Wyatt CHEATS with Jennie while she’s with a jock?
      Hmmm, pretty skeevy for a John Hughes flick.

      P. 9 Slutty emoticon was funny.

      P. 10 I already get that homelife’s meh for Wyatt.
      But you sandwich it with stuff out of TV commercials for Calgon bubble bath.
      Reconsider spending an entire page sledgehammering that message home.
      Find a more PERSONAL way for Wyatt to feel isolated.
      That way, I’m more likely to SYMPATHIZE with him.

      Why make the parents such a drab cliche? Why not make them happy?
      It’s funnier if they’re happy in their seeming misery together.
      And Wyatt just doesn’t get that. Why? Because he’s a teenager.
      A la, a fairly typical middle class John Hughes family on film.
      Put away the melodrama sledgehammer, please.

      P. 14 Shouldn’t someone be STOMPING on Wyatt’s happiness here?
      That would also help me empathize with your protag better.

      P. 15 Make things harder for your protag here.
      Have Sophie come back and CATCH HIM in the ACT!
      Give us some TENSION in your scenes.
      She forgot something at her desk. Then have Wyatt save it somehow.
      Throw more rocks at your protag. We’ll like him much better that way.

      As written, Wyatt CHEATS to get an EDGE on nailing Sophie.
      And he gets away with it. Much like a VILLAIN would.
      This is on top of sleeping around with Jennie.
      Do you want Wyatt to come off like a slimeball here?

      P. 18 very unclear as to why Wyatt wants to go cold turkey on social media.
      He just used Facebook to gain an advantage with Sophie.
      So, why not keep using it to get closer to the girl you want?

      Maybe some of that earlier snappy voiceover could help out here.
      But I can’t figure out why Wyatt would want to go this route.

      P. 21 Upon close inspection, it seems the FORMAT has been messed with.
      You’ve got an *extra carriage return* before each new scene slug.
      Which means — this script is actually SHORTER than 83 pages. Ouch.
      Check your software settings, reset to standard industry format.

      I’m bowing out here. The writer has talent. The pages moved well.
      But the premise didn’t connect with me.
      Work on making Wyatt a protag worth investing in. Hope the notes help.

      WEAK CONSIDER.

  • hickeyyy

    MY VOTE: Primal, followed by Cloud Factory.

    STATIC TOWN. Read 12 pages. Would not continue.

    I understand what you’re trying to get across and I like it. I think your idea is slightly stronger than your writing, which isn’t a bad thing, but I think you need to focus more on plot here. There aren’t any hints yet that Wyatt intends on cutting the power to the town. After reading some of the notes here, I also see the Wyatt seems to accidentally cut the power. I don’t like that at all. Make your protagonist actively try to change things. He should do this intentionally, or it feels like whatever else happens with him is just luck.

    THE WALK ONS. Read 9 pages. Would not continue.

    I won’t lie; I am a sucker for a good sports movie. This, however, doesn’t really strike me. I’m at nearly 10 pages and everything is on-the-nose exposition. I like the premise but not the execution. Good luck!

    PRIMAL. Read 13 pages. Would continue.

    This is well-written and fun. You instantly like the main character because of the abuse from everyone in the park around him. I love the setting of this. I think this could be a fun monster movie, but the beginning bit is a bit cliche. A lone hunter slaughtered by the monster? I think you could take a more unique path to get us acquainted with the beast. Do something we haven’t seen before and we’ll appreciate it all the more. Another note: stroking the picture of his dead mother? Cliche as the opening scene. You can do it better, I promise.

    FACADE. Read 8 pages. Would not continue.

    I like noir, really. This however didn’t give me a nostalgic feeling at all. It seemed all very on the nose and felt like you were trying to make references to older films. The problem is I’ve seen those films. I don’t know what else to say other than take the genre and make it your own.

    THE CLOUD FACTORY. Read 10 pages Might continue.

    I think you have a very, very well-written script here. You know your characters and you know the time period. The problem is that it is, as you may suspect from all the other comments, over-written. You have a lot going on the page. I already found myself skimming on the 2nd page. That’s never good. You are an awesome writer though, so all is not lost, you just need to get to the point. Another option? A novel! I think you have the skill for it.

    • Kirk Diggler

      I agree Cloud Factory could definitely work as a novel.

    • Ange Neale

      Thanks hickeyyy,
      A novel… Oh, boy. Sadly, I just don’t have time to play with that format at the moment. Maybe sometime in the future, but not just yet.
      Just had a slightly hilarious thought: what if I were to write a novel and then some producer wanted me to turn it into a screenplay?
      That could work!

      Only in Follywood does it make sense not to buy a script on spec, then buy it once it’s been turned into something else so it can then be converted back into a script.
      They’re all mad.

  • Stephjones

    My vote is for The Cloud Factory. This seems a different sort of story than the usual fare on SS. most folks seem to agree that Ange is talented and we can all see she is very determined to get it right. Maybe a review from Carson, in addition to everyone else’s thoughts, will give Ange what she needs to get it where it needs to be.
    I’ve read a couple of versions of this. It gets significantly better each time she gets feedback. Not to say that the other AOW’s are less deserving, only that this is the story I personally would love to see getting those extra notes.

    • Ange Neale

      Thank you, Steph.
      I’ve greatly appreciated your encouragement, humor and constructive feedback.

  • IgorWasTaken

    A smallest of notes about The Cloud Factory – I don’t think you want or need “with fictional protagonists” on the title page. (And, drop the period/full stop.) I can appreciate your desire for full disclosure, but I think that last part is clunky. After all, even if the protagonists were real, chances are some story lines would be fictional anyway.

  • astranger2

    My vote goes to “The Cloud Factory.”

    Static Town
    has some nice dialogue. I liked the angle there might be teenagers out
    there also fed up with the inherently anti-social aspects of “social” media.
    But as others have pointed out, while the conversations are interesting they
    don’t drive the story forward in a compelling way.

    The idea, however, of social media’s daily pressure on us – especially the
    emotionally vulnerable young — to isolate and distance us from one another is
    a live wire you should continue to explore. IMHO. Lots of emotional insecurities to be mined there. You’ve hit on some. Good luck.

    TheWalk-Ons
    is fun, and there are good comedic moments – but I’ve probably seen
    too many of these type of sports comedies. Nice writing (read 20 pages), but
    seems too much like a Yogism – “it’s déjà vu all over again.” Maybe if it had
    Kathy Ireland and was about football… Or maybe just had Kathy Ireland…

    Primal
    keeps your interest, and builds well, but since I’m not a horror genre person,
    a werewolf without any uniquely terrifying properties – at least in the pages I
    read – didn’t really grip me. I did enjoy the flavor of your characters. Nice. Liked the ambience you paint. Doesn’t have the urgency of The Devil’s Hammer though — which moves like a brush fire.

    Façade
    is well written, but doesn’t really move. I only read the first twenty, so as
    you’ve suggested to other readers, maybe I didn’t dig far enough in. But, like
    Ordinary People, which I never fully appreciated, it doesn’t grab my attention.
    Not sure based on the premise the ante can be raised that much regardless.

    And if the mother is supposed to be cold, and hiding behind a “domestic mask” you
    have to be wary — others here have noted when writing about “cool” protags
    like Eastwood’s Man-with-no-name, you have to be careful your “cool” or “cold”
    just doesn’t translate as colorless.

    So, my vote goes to The Cloud Factory as there is a richness of character and plot here I’d
    be interested in seeing discussed further. Of course, I also may be one of the few that
    loved The Remains of the Day, and found it fraught with tension. (My sister thought “Remains” was as suspenseful as “almost sneezing.”)

    Congratulations to the winners!!! Regardless of who’s selected, you are all deserving, and have put in some fine work!

    • rocksuddhi

      Thanks for your notes astranger! Much appreciated. As you probably know, one thing I’ve struggled with is how to get things going right from the start, something I’ll most likely have to continue thinking about. I genuinely feel, though, there is a lot to like, especially in the latter half of the script, it’s just getting there that’s the problem for most readers. Thanks again!

      • astranger2

        There’s the gauntlet then, thrown at your stallion’s hooves. Make the beginning enticing enough for the reader. Make the appetizer force them to the entree. Guess I’ve mixed metaphors. — My niece goes to NYU. She’s a writer for Tasting Table…

    • Ange Neale

      I thought I’d posted a ‘thank you’ for your review and vote, astranger2, but I’ve had a weekend of Disqus-wrestling.
      I, too, loved ‘The Remains of the Day’.
      You’re exactly the audience I’m trying to aim for — you like complex and really subtle.

      • astranger2

        Yes, you were very busy… lol. Some of my viewing pleasures aren’t so subtle. I’m a big Ab-Fab fan too. ; v )

        • Ange Neale

          I’m hearin’ ya!

          EDIE
          This is a sort-of… This is a… Like a corpse in an open, oaken, oblong coffin. Silky.
          (beat)
          It’s a dead body, Pats.

          PATSY
          Yeah, but is it art, Edie?

      • Nicholas J

        Brokeback Mountain is complex and subtle as well, but its scenes turn on a dime and the story moves so fast it causes a sonic boom. Learn how to make complex and subtle entertaining and The Cloud Factory will get the attention it deserves.

        Seriously. Your knowledge of the subject matter and care for your writing could really take this script places, but I think you should listen to some of the negative feedback more instead of discarding it as people not appreciating the story. Not all negative notes are good, but they’re not all bad either.

        Just my one cent.

        • Ange Neale

          Hi Nicholas,
          sorry, I wasn’t trying to avoid you. I got the email that copied me your message but I haven’t had time to get back to you until now.

          Please understand I’m not at all averse to receiving negative feedback. On the contrary. But if I tried to satisfy every criticism or desire to see the focus shift to a different aspect, right now, I’d have ‘War and Peace’ on my hands and the page length would be completely outrageous.

          I’ve heard (courtesy of a Blacklist reader) that there was too much melodrama; on TSL, I had feedback that there wasn’t enough; and here, another reviewer was glad I didn’t go overboard. How do I reconcile all of those? Ultimately, I have to trust my gut and own what ends up on the page.

          I’ve been getting negative criticism for months, and if I had a fragile ego and an inclination to drink, I’d be a hopeless alcoholic by now. I don’t, and I’m not.
          Every time someone identifies a problem (and I really appreciate that they do!), if it’s something I can fix, I do try to.
          That’s why TCF’s in so much better shape today than it was three or even two months ago.
          But I don’t necessarily agree that all of the negative feedback is entirely justified. Some of it feels a bit nitpicky.

          For instance, I’m trying to learn how to write leaner without gutting it, but I’ll never get away with:

          Jenny pilots the aircraft toward the BARRAGE BALLOONS.

          Jenny realises there’s a PROBLEM.

          She switches the engine OFF and opens the CANOPY.

          Jenny CRASHES her AIRCRAFT.

          An air crash such as the inciting incident I described is easily a tense 1.5 to 2-minute sequence. It needs to take up a proportionate number of pages, otherwise it’s a cheat.
          It needs goals (take action to fly the aircraft and get it back to the airfield to land), stakes (Jenny’s life is at stake) and urgency (with the engine switched off, gravity’s taken over and there’s no putting off landing that aircraft).
          Sure, I could dramatically cut my page count by writing as above, but I’d rather come in at 131 honest pages than 120 dodgy ones.

          Some of the problem for those who object to my “novelistic” style may be that those writers who choose to litter CAPS throughout or underline will naturally draw the reader’s eye to them, so what else is in the action line blurs into white noise.

          I defend my style because my script report says that the average length of the action lines is 1.95, with a maximum of 4 in the draft I’m working on now. (There is a single 5-line paragraph in the AOW version you’ve read this weekend — I’ve since truncated it to get it back to 4.)

          In ‘Brokeback’, right on page 1, there’s a 7-line paragraph. There’s a 5-liner on page 2. Page 3 has even more great blocks of black: there are 2 7-line paragraphs, and on page 4, there’s a 6, 2x 4s and one that just squeaks into being a 5.
          While that’s not typical of ‘Brokeback’, there are numerous other occurrences of big blocks of text throughout it which TCF simply doesn’t have. And then there’s this, from page 1:

          “To the east, the first faint flush of light.

          “Across the plain, perhaps yet some twenty miles away, a sprinkle of lights like fallen stars on the vast dark plain.”

          Cinematic, yes, but “lights like fallen stars” is novelistic too, surely?

          JakeBarnes12 mentioned ‘Saving Mr. Banks’. Page 1 – a 7-line paragraph. Page 2 – a 5-liner. On page 2, Ms Marcel wrote:

          “Her office is a canvas of a life well travelled. Buddha
          smiles from every corner, framed poetry and letters adorn the
          walls alongside pictures of Pamela throughout the years with
          men we will not come to know and everywhere, china hens sit
          on shelves, their wings clasped to their chests, brooding.”

          To me, this also reads as both cinematic and novelistic. How come TCF’s “novelistic” and “over-written”, but these lines are laudable? Why did she not just write, “Framed poems and photos; Buddhas and china hens on shelves”? Just 10 words that still describe what we see on screen.

          That’s rhetorical, btw; I know the answer. The short version sucks all of the heart and soul out of something she’s so beautifully written.

          As I said earlier, I’m not averse to negative feedback. But negative for the sake of negative isn’t constructive. It’s simply criticism.

  • Poe_Serling

    “I feel an undeniable resurgence of classic, old-school horror coming on and I’m so ready for it.”

    Count me in too.

    Last night I had the opportunity to watch a really great one-hour interview with John Carpenter on El Rey Network. Just a ton of fun as he shared numerous stories about the making of all his films.

    http://www.austinchronicle.com/daily/screens/2014-05-10/john-carpenter-lit-up-by-el-rey/

    Check out the interview if you get the chance (even if you don’t get the El Rey Network, it will probably show up on you tube in the near future)… and trust me – you won’t be disappointed! ;-)

    • Nick Morris

      Oh, hell yes. I don’t get El Rey, but I’ll definitely be on the lookout for this. Thanks, Poe!

  • MaliboJackk

    OT
    “A charming story full of humor and warmth . . . But what could easily fall
    into the realms of predictability succeeds through wonderful and
    diverse characterization, a strong sense of humor in both the
    description and dialogue and most of all refusing to dwell in the
    sentimentality of the subject matter.”

    – a Nicholl Fellowship reader talking about the joy of reading a good script.

    • astranger2

      Your script?

      • MaliboJackk

        No.
        It’s an interesting contrast. The type of encouragement writers want to hear. (They love us for our scripts. And there’s no mention of any faults.)

        Was thinking about posting the worst review I ever got for comparison.
        The reviewer thought it was awful. Could have sworn it was my good buddy JB joking with me. Same script got high marks and scored in competitions.

        Back in the day when John Travolta couldn’t get a script, he said –
        ‘You know, I really wasn’t that good before and I’m really not that bad today.’

        Kinda feel the same way about reviews.

        • astranger2

          Yeah, it’s amazing. I once submitted a teleplay where two different show writers reviewed it. I guess they did it independently, because there would be scenes one writer LOVED, and the other writer would respond, “cliche, dull, and too on the nose.” Or something. Makes you very suspect of the process if you’re not careful…

          You should post the worst review. Bet it be a fun read.

  • astranger2

    Yeah, Stevens was a real trip, lol…

    Everything in that film, including the humor, is so magnified by its relative understatement. So many poignant and sad moments.

    I always thought “Remains” theme almost identical to “The Beast in the Jungle” by Henry James — letting something that precious slip through your fingers. (I always liked Reeves — nice part in Deathtrap. Not as good as Sleuth, but what is?)

    If “Remains” weren’t a best-selling novel, I’d have loved to been in the room watching a writer pitch it to a producer — not sure why it was never made it into a video game?

  • shaneblackfan

    Logline test. What if these scripts landed at a reader’s desk?

    Static Town
    “Fed up with the overuse of social media, a teenager purposely causes a power outage in his town in hopes to win over the new girl at his school.”

    I do not understand this logline. How does causing a power outage enable the protag to carry out a plan of action to win over the new girl?
    ——

    THE WALK-ONS
    “A disgraced high school baseball coach is hired by a local college that’s lost all it’s players, and must build a team entirely of walk-ons, including a group of hard partying players he coached in high school.”

    ITS not IT’S. If you can’t get that right, then it leads me to think that the script will be full of grammatical errors. I see some potential here, but the logline doesn’t convey it very well. Disgraced conjures up too many possibilities. Be specific about this.

    —-
    Primal
    ” After survivors of a recent hurricane relocate to a quiet Louisiana bayou town, a creature goes on a nightly rampage of terror and carnage. Convinced it is the legendary werewolf known as loup garou, an intrepid teen vows to discover the beast’s true identity and destroy it.”

    It’d be more interesting if the creature appeared in the aftermath of the hurricane. I guess this is like Silver Bullet. I like the basic idea of this. I’d read it.

    —–
    Facade
    “Set in the idyllic 1950′s American suburbs, an unknowing police detective investigates the murder of a teenage boy but slowly realizes that not everything or everyone is as they appear.”

    What’s an unknowing police detective? And the logline is so broad and unexciting. You are basically describing a ton of films here. What’s unique about yours?

    —–

    The Cloud Factory
    “After a near-fatal crash-landing, an American pilot falls for her aristocratic physician, forcing her to confront her sexuality and gender prejudice of class-divided WW2 Britain.”

    I’m confused about this one. What’s a near-fatal crash-land got to do with the rest of the logline? And based on what you have written, the physician should be the protag, not the American, because the stakes of being outed in that world is much more engaging, plus the conflict possibilities are plenty. Focus on the girl and her story.

    —————————

    Primal is the only one I’d consider reading.

    • MaliboJackk

      Not going to disagree with the points your making but–
      I think producers will be more understanding. It’s the assistants who are terrified of forwarding a bad script.

      (and yes I’m kidding about the use of “your”)

  • Ange Neale

    Hi Shane,

    Re ‘The Cloud Factory’: the pilot’s been badly-injured in the crash-landing and the (female) physician treats her during a lengthy stay in hospital.

    • shaneblackfan

      Okay, but all the conflict, struggle and drama seems to be with the physician, right? So the logline should be rewritten to reflect that – It’s the nurse’s story, not the pilot.

      I haven’t read the script, the story might be the American’s but the logline doesn’t reflect that.

      I’d probably do something like this:
      An aristocratic physician is forced to confront her sexuality and gender prejudice of the class-divided WW2 Britain when she falls for her American patient.

      But even then I don’t sense any stakes or goals in your story.

  • Dan J Caslaw

    Casting a vote for The Cloud Factory

    • Ange Neale

      Much appreciated, Dan!

  • astranger2

    I fall into that same trap sometimes. I guess it comes under the “kill your darlings” category. You do write some nice dialogue — just need to attach it to the spine of your story and keep it moving forward.

    I really feel you could explore the gripping isolation social media casts over all of us, but especially the young, with cyber-bullying, and other predatory online behavior. Or often as your protagonist felt, not so much predatory as just emotionally numbing.

    It’s nothing new technology creates schisms in our human interaction.
    I remember in “Inherit the Wind” about the Scopes Monkey Trial, the attorney portraying Clarence Darrow says something like, “telephones will make communication easier, but we’ll lose the pleasure of a neighborly visit.” And, “man will learn to fly, but the birds will lose their wonder.”

    Eh, of course I found “Remains of the Day” fascinating. Nice work though!

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