amateur offerings weekend

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

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

Happy reading!

TITLE: Down to the Wire
GENRE: Buddy cop/Action
LOGLINE: A maimed EOD Technician turned L.A.P.D. detective must work with a troubled young cop in order to bring down a team of cyber terrorists masquerading as Pharmacy thieves.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: Do you wish TRUE DETECTIVE was still airing on HBO? Do you fondly remember the end of the 80’s and the little gem that was Lethal Weapon? Do you crave the perfect blend of action, plot, characters, and jokes? Of course you do!

“Down to the Wire” is a 21st century take on the genre, set to revive your hopes and trigger your nostalgia. This script has been polished with a particular focus on lean, realistic dialogue. The pacing is brisk, the jokes land, and the characters are fleshed out. One of the authors recently placed in the top 15 of the Sheldon Turner Writers Store Contest. Thanks for your consideration!

TITLE: Red River Torrens
GENRE: True Crime Drama/Thriller
LOGLINE: Based on real events, Red River Torrens tells of a closeted governor who struggles to unmask a secret society of untouchable serial killers known as The Family before they destroy his city and butcher his family.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: Could I convince you to watch Dallas Buyer’s Club if Jared Leto was abducted by a network of a dozen serial killers? I certainly hope so. In all seriousness, I didn’t set out to write a gay thriller but the facts surrounding the case gave me limited options. I wrote Red River Torrens for a broad audience so I’m eager to hear from both straight and gay readers if they connected with the protagonist.

TITLE: Breaking The Chain
GENRE: Comedy Drama
LOGINE: A gambler wins millions on a crazy bet, yet is unable to
tell anyone. Instead, he resolves to secretly use the money to improve the
lives of those closest to him, and win back the love of his long-suffering
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: This is regular commenter Bifferspice’s script, which was lauded by the hard-to-please Grendl as something quite good. Others enjoyed it as well and now we’re giving it a more official spotlight!

GENRE: Action/Adventure, Fantasy
LOGLINE: At the end of the world, young loner Pete Garey and his unicorn companion, Ariel, fight to survive in the chaos of the Change, where magic rules and they battle a dark sorcerer who covets the powers of her horn.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: I have written a fantasy/adventure called “ARIEL” based on the 80’s cult classic young-adult novel by Steven R. Boyett. The script won Best Action/Adventure Screenplay in the Script Exposure Screenwriting Competition, and was chosen by Stephanie Palmer to be pitched from the stage at the AFM in November 2013. I first fell in love with this story when I was 14 years old. It really made an impression on me, (mythical creatures and post-apocalypse, whee!) and I always thought it would make a great movie. ARIEL seems to have a lingering effect on many of its fans. So, fast-forward to thirty years later: I optioned the rights and wrote the screenplay. I hope you and your readers will enjoy it too!

ARIEL is an edgy post-apocalyptic urban fantasy, an exciting road adventure, and a surprisingly funny story of courage and trust on Pete’s journey to becoming a man.

P.S. I had to laugh when I saw Friday’s newsletter and the presence of FIREWAKE on Amateur Offerings. I hope you will not be put off by the idea of TWO talking unicorn scripts – really, what are the odds?? That said, I have read FIREWAKE and the only similarity between the two is a talking unicorn character – they are very different stories.

TITLE: Pilot
GENRE: Sci-Fi/Thriller
LOGLINE: An intelligent spacecraft, crash-landed on an alien world, resurrects its failed-pilot-turned-engineer in the hopes he can repair the damage before the planet collides with a dying star, and in the process, destroying the last remnants of the human species.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: A few months ago my sci-fi script, Pilot, made it to the final round of Amateur Friday, and even got a few reads from the SS entourage. Ultimately it lost out to The Devil’s Jokebook.

Although I swore up and down that I was through with rewrites and was putting this story behind me, the responses I’d received encouraged me to go back and try again. So I took another crack at the script, resulting in some dramatic(and thrilling) changes in character origin, more vibrant scenes to replace ones now amputated, and even streamlined my storytelling voice into one much simpler and easy to follow. Going from 120 pages to 103 didn’t hurt either. Even after this top to bottom rewrite, the story maintains the same basic premise I went in with; Castaway in space.

So if you’re in the mood for some good ol’ fashioned sci-fi, please consider giving Pilot another chance for Amateur Friday. You won’t be disappointed.

  • JakeBarnes12

    Good to see “Breaking The Chain” getting a chance.

    I need to ask, Biff — are you looking to send out this logline and script to grab Hollywood attention or are you focused more on breaking into the UK-based film industry?

    • Bifferspice

      Ah, cheers Jake, thanks for the support :)

      I kind of saw this script originally as British, in that the dialogue and situation feels very British in a non-transferable way to me. But I don’t think it’s so British that it wouldn’t be watchable elsewhere, just maybe not set elsewhere. My tone was going for sort of “The Full Monty”, with the northern poor grittiness, and yet not depressing and kind of warm and uplifting. That did incredibly well internationally, despite being a very British kind of script. In terms of where i’ve sent it, i’ve only queried British agencies so far. but there’s not many of those, so i’m not sure where else to go. I’d love to get ANYONE to read it! :-D but i can’t help thinking one of my other scripts might be more likely to interest American agencies.

      • BSBurton

        Maybe try Benedict Cumberbatch’s new production company. I was in contact with them and they were rather friendly. Good luck overseas! You guys have the best music :)

        • Bifferspice

          hey cheers man, i’ll give them a look. i could settle for BD being my central character! :-)

      • JakeBarnes12

        Yeah, sounds like the right approach.

        Good luck getting picked for Friday!

  • Paul Clarke

    Only got a little bit of time. So just had a quick look. Apologies at a somewhat truncated set of reviews this week.

    My pick – DOWN TO THE WIRE

    Lethal Weapon came on TV last night and I thought I’d watch the start for a laugh. Before I knew it the credits were rolling. The trusty buddy-cop formula seldom fails. About time we saw the next generation of them. And this one sure feels like a movie. It’s got that same combination of action and wit.

    Review notes (brief):


    Trusty buddy-cop formula with an interesting lead.

    No mucking around, plenty of action and story development.

    Flew through to page 26. “Great, now I gotta go find a job.” – Love it. Just the right kind of humour to go with the action sequences.

    Would definitely read on, moving on due to lack of time.


    No title page and strange formatting where page is skewed to the right.

    I find the “Doc. George” name jars the action lines. Simply using Doc would be easier.

    P5: “Do you think you can get the him on the box?” – Does that make sense?

    P5: “…winging wogs…” – whinging?

    Read to page 10: Found the writing somewhat awkward in places and difficult to follow, although not inherently bad. Was interested in the story because it was Australian, but put off because it was politics. Moving on to check the others out. Could come back if it’s a slow week.


    Characters use each others names in dialogue a lot. Not sure if that’s supposed to be part of the humour. Just feels a bit odd.

    Love Craig, perfect asshole rival. Plus demeaning Steve makes us more sympathetic to his situation.

    I do like the way the action cuts, skipping the boring bits.

    Read through to page 20. A nice read, a good clear setup. I am a little skeptical about a 115 page comedy, but would certainly consider reading on.


    I might be a little biased. Can’t say the idea of reading about unicorns excites me in anyway.

    I like the mood created by distracting us with the human interaction before revealing the larger problem with all the cars being stopped.

    I really like the interaction between Pete and Grace. I would continue to watch them, but with her dead and a manticore released and a jump one year into the future, I’m going to check out. Well enough written, just a personal taste thing I guess.


    Also no title page.

    Not a big fan of all the italics, underlines, and bolds. Italics indicate singing. No real need for both bold and underlines (actually I don’t really see the need for either so far). Keep it simple. Page aesthetics are more important than you might think.

    Read through to page 10. Not bad, can’t remember how much of this I read the last time it was in. Feel like it’s time for some new blood.

    • MaliboJackk

      (You should be working on that contest script.)

      • Paul Clarke

        I can multitask ;)

        • BSBurton

          You enjoying the process so far? Keep all us SS folks informed

    • BSBurton

      Thanks Paul For the vote and support. Really appreciate it.

    • Bifferspice

      thanks very much for reading as far as you did. your comments are much appreciated. glad you weren’t averse to the idea of reading on :)

    • Nicholas J

      “Not a big fan of all the italics, underlines, and bolds. Italics indicate singing. No real need for both bold and underlines (actually I don’t really see the need for either so far).”

      Italics indicate singing? Since when? I suppose if you had singing in your script you could make it italicized but that doesn’t mean the two are exclusive. The bold is used for the writer’s mini slugs. The underlines are for words on the computer screen.

      I thought the writing style of PILOT was very clean. Apparently I’m the only one?

      • Rick McGovern

        Yup… extremely distracting!!

        • BSBurton

          Hard to follow and pulls the reader out. Agreed

      • Citizen M

        I had no problem with the writing style. Underlining was used to make clear it was text that appeared on equipment screens. The only paragraph in italics was a note to the reader explaining what a Handheld was.

    • jonsanhueza

      Hi Paul,
      Thanks for picking up Pilot and giving it a shot.

      Just an fyi, the underlined text was for text you would see on screen, whether it’s superimposed, title cards, text on computer screens, etc…

      The slug lines were in bold…

      and the italics were for a production note, regarding the hand-held that’s important when it comes time to shoot, but not something i wanted to reinforce every scene, since it’s used so frequently. I was debating whether or not to head it with “production note:”, or something similar. Do you think that would help?

      Thanks again – J

  • MaliboJackk

    Small issue?
    If your script pages are numbered (almost all are)
    do you really need to tell the reader at the top and bottom of each page
    that your script is CONTINUED? Do we need to be reminded that page 3
    follows page 2, that page 4 follows page 3, that page 5 follows page 4… ?

    Imagine a reader finding a spelling error on the first page. He turns the page, finds the same error. Turns every page — finds the same damn error. Could it have a similar effect on a reader?

    I saw a professional script do the same thing, you say.
    Yeah — but that was a script that professional readers actually wanted to read.

    • GoIrish

      Not sure if there’s a way to fix it, but I believe Celtx automatically adds CONTINUED to the lower right and upper left of the next page if a particular scene carries to the next page.

      • Bifferspice

        I assume this is regarding my script. I’m busted. I use celtx! :-D i will look into turning the feature off… haha!

    • Somersby

      CONTINUEDs are typicall used only when the scipt is approaching production. And it’s only used if the SCENE is continued to the next page. If, say, the scene ends at the bottom of page 20, there’s no need to have CONTINUED at the bottom of that page or on the top of page 21 (where another slug would indicate a new scene.)

      There’s no practical need to use CONTINUED in spec scripts

    • Linkthis83

      It should be a feature they can turn off.

      • MaliboJackk

        (That’s why I mentioned it.
        Should be an easy fix.)

    • Rick McGovern

      I say, who cares! ;)

      • Poe_Serling

        Hey Rick-

        As of late, I’ve been receiving quite a bit of promotional material for Robert McKee’s upcoming Spring screenwriting seminar series.

        And I couldn’t help but notice that your screenwriting acquaintance Billy Ray’s plug for the seminar:

        Billy Ray – Writer

        CAPTAIN PHILLIPS Oscar-nominated for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay

        “I don’t think I’d be a writer if I hadn’t taken the Robert McKee class. My debt to him is huge.” -Billy Ray

        • Rick McGovern

          How did you know I was friends with Billy Ray?

          But yeah, McKee is coming to LA in October, and I called him and asked if I should attend, and he said, “Yes. And that’s a BIG yes!”

          So there you go ;) I think they have one coming to New York as well.

          • Poe_Serling

            “How did you know I was friends with Billy Ray?”

            lol. You’ve mentioned it a couple of times in your previous comments… and I think you even posted a picture of you two hanging out at Bruce Joel Rubin’s house.

          • Rick McGovern

            Makes sense. You thinking of taking the three day class? I haven’t decided yet. I wonder if Billy could get me a discount lol

        • drifting in space

          If you want to learn structure, I’d say go. Billy Ray’s writing is very structured (and good). My concern is if it’s any more than just reading his book.

          • Rick McGovern

            I got the PDF…. I sure as hell wasn’t going to pay 40 bucks for something he hasn’t even updated since ’97! lol (that I could find anyway)

  • Randy Williams


    Read the darn thing cover to Fade Out. It’s fast like that.

    page 3- “…the strangest set up that I’ve ever seen” Maybe give some back story to his life here instead of something generic. For instance, “growing up over a bordello, I thought I’d seen it all how creative folks can get” Something like that.

    page 5- maybe stretch out the tension here. He comes towards her to “incapacitate” her. The audience will wonder what does that mean in this situation and how far does he go?

    pages 11, 12, 13. Back story on Joe here instead of casual chit chat might give us more a feel for this character.

    page 17- nice set up with the parking spot for this meeting!

    page 18- great line, “parking enforcement”

    page 27- what’s with all the vomit?

    page 39- Got the thought here that maybe they are too chummy too soon. Isn’t your logline something about Joe MUST work with this partner, implying some struggle?

    page 44- don’t care for all this philosophical talk, “life rarely is”. Itching to bail but pressing on.

    page 44-46. Glad I stuck around. Loved this scene in the bath. The whole sensory feel of it. Stuff directors would love.

    page 54- Boot’s divulging his suspicions about Davis’ involvement reeks of procedural TV show. I’d give hints, but keep it close to the vest. Let the audience be detective too. You’ve got time.

    page 58- Thought here it would work better if the manager actually took it lightly, just another robbery. Let the audience and Boots feel it’s much more.

    page 60- perhaps more suspense to this scene would result if we saw trouble before the shot rang out? Maybe a shot of the gun, a bullet misses. All scramble, then Micky gets it?

    page 67- Boot’s reaction in the flashback (BTW, liked the transition to it) to the mass discovered, and located in a sensitive region might be more realistic with some puzzlement on his part, like “what does that mean?” He suddenly takes it in stride and is already thinking of treatment. Doesn’t ring true to me.

    page 80- the playful banter between these two men often centers on the mundane. I look at the banter that often goes on between my best friend and me. I find it very entertaining. It is always centered on the out of the ordinary, the limits of the human condition. As with many of the jokes I’ve read so far, I think the banter overall needs upgrading.

    page 104- Draw the scene out with Mr. V going for the gun. Maybe Ken at that point has the upper hand with Boots. Use this scene to bookend the scene in the beginning with the girl. Boots is torn between two bad things, how does he handle it/

    page 110- WTF is a 2014 DB9? Are you willing to take the reader out of a story by being cool that you know what that is and I don’t?

    Your words, “perfect blend of action, plot, characters, jokes.

    My opinion…
    Action – well done. I am writing a sci-fi thriller and into the parts where there is fighting. I was inspired and learned some things reading this script.

    plot – not such a big hook. Needs perhaps more stakes. Who really loses if the criminals win?

    characters – leads are great. Crooks are bumbling, don’t seem such a threat. Visualize the story told from their point of view, would you watch it?

    jokes – need work. I smiled but never laughed out loud. You have an amputee in this and you never let us forget that. It’s gonna take a whole lotta work to get us comfortable with this, and laughing does that very quick, I think.

    • Chris Mulligan

      Thanks for the notes!

      Yeah, we could work in some subtle backstory for Joe earlier, good call.

      “What’s with all the vomit” is my favorite!

    • BSBurton

      Randy, Thank you so much for the awesome notes! You really went into great detail but more importantly you had great insight into some of the issues and better ways to handle scenarios.

      I’m glad you could learn from the action writing, that makes me feel really proud :)

      I appreciate your support and the time you put in on “Down to the Wire” to help make it better.

      Totally right about making boots choose at the end with Joe vs Ken and Mr V and the gun.

      Also agree about Davis. We were going for a twist with Ken by playing toward Davis but it seems that didn’t work out the way we wanted.

      Will be saving the notes to my laptop now!

    • Linkthis83

      Great notes, Randy.

  • Rick McGovern

    Okie Doke… let me try this lol

    (PICK IS: DOWN TO THE WIRE– after doing my nifty reviews from below)

    Going from bottom to top, so starting with Pilot.

    I agree with Paul, all those fucking underlines was like watching a checkered shirt on TV, which usually blurs and makes your eyes bleed. Get rid of em so they don’t distract from your story. They were WAY overused, and really served no purpose. Use them sparingly, if at all.

    Make a living planet. Called Mor…whatever one line. It’s not poetry lol

    I don’t like the SUPER of 57 hours of life support. Show us by him looking at his watch, or some beautiful holographic woman appears and tells him as if she’s only telling him the weather lol but I’d prefer to see it through his eyes, knowing he only has 57 hours left.

    And he doesn’t seem to be in too big of a hurry, either, for someone about to die if he doesn’t figure something out to save his ass.

    Read to page 10… not bad, some humorous exchange between him the Gerald (I still think you should still have that beautiful hologram following him around ;) (jk) Not sure if I would read on or not.


    Didn’t like the first scene… as far as the rebuttals go. They both stunk, and even in high school, they would have been much better, and probably more aggressive…

    It was also strange that they were the only ones walking after this thing ended… other people would have been freaking out around them… not a lot, because it just happened.

    I really didn’t like the looters either… not this quickly after everything stopped working. And then it just happened to be in his house… too convenient, and unlikely. And then he wakes up and she’s been killed, but he’s been left alive?… I checked out on page six… didn’t even make it to the unicorn. It doesn’t feel very thought out… and it’s not very engaging as of yet. And she’s dead before we even really get to care who she is or what she means to him… if she means anything to him. It is already long at 118 pages…. but it would be nice to see a little bit more of his world before it’s taken over by whatever happens next.

    I wouldn’t read on… :( but I do love your passion about it… something you grew up with that you loved as a kid… so of course, I’d obviously keep working on it and workshop with with writers you know… and if you don’t know any, then find em!


    Read to page nine. It started out good, and then we get to Steve’s job, and it meanders from page 6 until page 9… nothing interesting happens, and I found myself checking out. I’m sure it gets better…. so maybe cut down on the meandering (hopefully there isn’t more of it as the story goes on)… I understand trying to show his life… but for the love of God, make it interesting!! ;) They’re just asking how each other is… so I checked out… but the beginning makes me know that it probably gets back on track and will be amusing, so would possibly go back to read…

    And the continue’s didn’t bother me… I was telling my writer’s group, that we’re told “NOT TO DO SOMETHING…” and so from then on, every time we see it, it starts to stick out like a thumb you just stuck up your ass and start showing your friends… and is only distracting for that reason… like the use of (BEAT)…. I tend to play by the “rules” only because people let the “rules” get in the way of a good story…. in the perfect world, it would be about story and not the other shit.


    Have no idea what this title means… of course, you don’t even have a title page with the title… so I’m guessing this is the real title… lol

    The first line, and I’m already ready to throw the script across the room… you introduce two people, and then you throw in GEORGE… but he’s not introduced…

    Two elegantly dressed professors, TOM and DOC. GEORGE are being chased through the filthy construction site.

    And George “are” or “is”…

    Poorly constructed first line… you’ve already lost the readers faith in you. Not good.

    I can’t even get past page one… it’s like it’s being written by a foreigner who doesn’t know English… but reading your ABOUT, you obviously have good English skills… so use them…

    This is a “what the hell am I reading?” because I have no fucking idea!

    Sorry to be rough… but this is not good on any level… well, maybe the story is, but I can’t focus on the story because the descriptions are so bad, that’s it’s creating a huge wall between me and the story. It’s a rare occasion I can’t get even get past page one.

    This shows the importance of having people read your stuff before sending it to a place like this…. and if you did show it to people and they told you it was good to go, FIRE THEM!!


    Don’t mind the beginning… not sure how I feel about him tying this girl up with wire… she’s not threatening him in any way, as she’s just scared… so it doesn’t make any sense to me.

    I understand it’s done for affect, but it doesn’t work for me here… I think he would point to the bomb or something and she would either run like hell, or be quiet… as it’s obvious she doesn’t want to die, just wants his help… probably just watched her parents die.

    You can have the same affect if you just sit her beside Boots (and not sure how much I like that name either lol) and then she realized “Oh fuck, this is a serious situation, this white fool is probably gonna blow us up…” so she takes off, hitting his elbow as she does…. and BOOM she’s torn into a million fucking body parts and he’s lost his “boot” with his foot still in it… I

    think it would be a bigger struggle and conflict if it was his entire leg. Makes it harder for him… and as we know… the harder we make it for our protagonist, the more the audience will enjoy his struggle to overcome his outer and inner demons.

    But the writing is good so far.



    Is Joe drunk or “hung over” as there is a huge difference in how he carries himself… because when we see him at the precinct where he meets Travis, he’s not drunk at all…

    Ken would (even with the twist later on) mention his drinking. He probably smells of alcohol. It would be a good bonding moment… it can even happen after he defeats Joe easily, who can barely keep his balance, let alone fight with any precision. But I think it needs to be mentioned… or at least acknowledged, because there’s no way he’d be able to hide it that well… not if he’s “drunk.”

    But not bad…

    • Linkthis83

      Hey Rick! In RED RIVER TORRENS, the two characters are TOM and DOC. GEORGE. The sentence doesn’t end on DOC.

      In my notes I’m suggesting that the writer remove the period. If DOC. GEORGE is going to be that character’s name, then I think it should be DOC GEORGE.

      Besides, the period is only necessary if his name was DR. GEORGE.

      I do agree about the “wall” between the writing and the reader. It was challenging for me as well.

      • Rick McGovern

        The entire first page was a mess… couldn’t even get through it :( which is too bad, because the story could be good.

      • ElectricDreamer

        This. I fell flat on my face with that first sentence too.
        Took me a few sips of something warm to figure out the snafu.
        Bummer, I was amped by the logline.

      • Chris Mulligan

        OH!!! Was confused as hell reading that. Why not DR. GEORGE. That’d be way better.

      • Rick McGovern

        Oh, I see now. Haha I thought it was three characters. Was like, huh? It’ll read a lot better now knowing that :) though it frustrated me so much I probably won’t go back to it.

    • BSBurton

      Thanks Rick for taking the time. Appreciate the notes and analysis. I will be adding your comments to my laptop.

    • Bifferspice

      Cheers Rick, thanks for reading the first nine (breaking the chain). i get what you mean about the continued stream of people in the shop. i’m thinking of breaking those scenes up, so it gets less repetitive. appreciate your comments :)

      • Rick McGovern

        I probably would have kept reading if it wasn’t for that.

    • Nate

      I definitely agree that Boots should follow the Riggs model. It always works. Riggs’ gun In mouth scene still gets me to this day. That one scene tells us everything about him. Whilst I wouldn’t exactly make Boots suicidal, I’d make him uncaring. Being an EOD tech was his life and he just doesn’t care if he lives or dies. He’ll walk into a gunman’s line of sight but he won’t ever put the gun in his mouth.

      • BSBurton

        Great post! I appreciate the thought.

    • Ange Neale

      Hey, Rick,
      Re ‘Red River Torrens’ — I think the author’s renamed it. It showed up in January, maybe, and I read the whole thing because I live in the city where this happened, so i was familiar with the story.
      There were lots of typos and factual inaccuracies back then. He’s definitely fixed some of that, but the story had even bigger problems than mine further into it. He’s trying at least.

      • Rick McGovern

        You read it a second time? But that’s good. I didn’t read yours or any of the entries for the last one… I did read a couple of the comments (mainly from Grendl) about the men not having any names lol not sure if that was a statement or an oversight… I didn’t read it, so I don’t have any real stake, but as long as you’re being accurate (and objective), that’s all that matters…

        And I read your comment about your grandparents… pretty cool. I was a medic in the military once upon a time.

        • Ange Neale

          I read all of Torrens under its previous name, but I haven’t dug too deeply into it this time around yet. I will, though. I read enough to note the author had fixed at least some of what was noted last time — he seems serious about making it better.

          Re mine: little misunderstanding re the named characters and grendl took offence at it. With one exception (which I’ve corrected and should have earlier because I gave that character a bigger part), he was talking about incidental characters who only had one or two lines in one scene. (i.e GRIZZLED MECHANIC, KINLOSS TICKET SELLER.)

          I followed the exact same convention with a number of incidental female characters who also only had one or two lines in one scene (i.e MATRONLY WAAF CORPORAL, KINDLY NURSE) rather than giving them proper names. Giving incidentals a name to me always suggests we’ll see them again and need to remember them. I wasn’t trying to make a statement.

          Yeah, I wish I’d gotten to meet my grandad. My gran never remarried after his death. As far as I’m aware, she never even dated again. She was 38 when he suicided, and suicide carried such a stigma in those days. As I said, there were photos in her house of him before he went, and on occasion she’d speak of those times, but none from after he came home. Poor bugger had schrapnel lodged in his spine and in those days, it was effectively inoperable. Hope everybody understands now that it was never my intention to diminish the sacrifices men make in wars.

    • jonsanhueza

      Rick, thanks for giving Pilot a shot! Your notes are well-received.

  • ThomasBrownen

    I had a bit of free time this morning, so I read the first 15 pages of three of them. I’d like to see BREAKING THE CHAIN get an AF slot.

    PILOT started off odd. No title page? Hmm… it doesn’t affect the quality of the script, but it’s a red flag. And based on what I read, this script still needs some work. I was often confused about what was going on in the script. Apparently, the ship’s life support was ending soon, but I’m unsure what the main character was doing about it? Was he trying to reboot the system? Or get in an escape pod of some sort? The descriptions were somewhat confusing.

    And how is this just an issue now? The opening indicates that the ship had been there for about four years, and just now there’s an issue with the life support? Was this issue not predicted? And the main character seemed a bit casual about the whole countdown to the end of life support — even taking a shower at one point, I think. These issues might be explained later in the script and I just didn’t get to them… but in the meantime, I was slightly confused.

    DOWN TO THE WIRE was competently written, but the opening left me a bit confused too. We were introduced to Boots, who I guess was one of the main characters, then to Joe, who I think was the other main character. The writer’s in a tough spot here — trying to establish the buddy characters before they meet, and that requires some jumping back and forth between characters. Maybe the Afghanistan intro was a bit too much jumping. We start out in another continent, then jump back to the United States after a long time jump too. Just a thought… but when jumping back and forth between characters to set them up, it sometimes help to keep the time relatively consistent. I think the opening ended up doing this after the Afghan intro, but I was a bit confused. Also, the villains here (the ones breaking into the pharmacy, I think) were being set up in the intro too, and that probably made it tough to follow as the character count kept increasing.

    BREAKING THE CHAIN has the potential to be something nice, and maybe kinda charming. I’m not entire sure what the opening image was about (someone cutting magazines up…?), but maybe it’s explained later in the story. Still, the author did a good job setting up the characters and their issues. We felt bad for the main character’s gambling addiction, and there was a bit of humor to the “advice” from the older Gambling Anonymous guy about making the worst bet possible.

    The introduction to the store seemed a bit dragged out — there was an awkward conversation between a girl and a co-worker that could have been shortened a bit, I thought, and the scene felt a bit like a checklist of characters to walk in and out of the store as we met them, but it was well done. I especially liked how our main character got fired… sort of? I think a lesser writer might have made us sympathize with the main character by getting him fired right off the bat, but this story had our main character’s place of employment being sold… which may get him fired, or it may not. It keeps you wondering, and hoping that he won’t be fired. Overall, it’s easy to read and has the potential to be a nice story.

    • Chris Mulligan

      Thanks for the read, Thomas, and I’m totally taking “competent” as a compliment!
      We’ve gone back and forth on several versions of the opening & I’m always interested to see how the latest draft comes across.

      • ThomasBrownen

        Yes, “competent” was a compliment! LOL.

        • BSBurton

          Thanks for that! And thanks for reading!!! :)

    • Bifferspice

      hey Thomas, thanks so much for the vote, and the comments. I’ve come to the conclusion i need to break up the various characters that come into the shop, maybe just even reordering scenes to give viewers a change of scenery. I really appreciate your encouraging thoughts. Thanks again.

    • Nate

      I think Down To The Wire’s opening could easily be fixed by cutting the Afghanistan scene and establishing the protagonist in their day to day lives, then the inciting incident is when they meet for the first time.
      Lethal Weapon introduces us to Riggs and Murtaugh in the same way, but we get a glimpse of Riggs’ skill pretty early on. In the director’s cut, he walks into a schoolyard and kills a sniper from some distance away using only a handgun. In the normal version he’s at a gun range with Murtaugh. Both scenes tell us that he’s a good shot and it ties in with his time as a sniper in Vietnam. We never needed to see him in Vietnam.
      The protagonists first meeting could be at the scene of a bomb threat. Joe, who is off duty, could be the first responder and he finds Boots disarming the bomb. Joe, who thinks he’s trying to set it off, tries to stop him so Boots says he’s a cop. Unfortunately Joe doesn’t believe him so Boots knocks him out and disarms the bomb with seconds to spare, setting him up as an EOD tech. Afterwards their Captain introduces them as partners.
      So right from their first meeting you have conflict. You’ve got two guys trying to do their job and the other guy won’t let them, so they’ll constantly be at each others throats and trying to ”help” in any way they can.
      The bike scene does provide some conflict but it feels false. Not to mention it makes Joe seem unlikable. Boots gets one over on him so Joe wants to get payback on a handicapped guy? I don’t buy it.
      The only problem with my suggestion is that it seems like Boots doesn’t want to be an EOD tech anymore (he says this to the Captain at the station) because of what happened to him and I get the feeling his arc will revolve around him overcoming that fear, so he can disarm a bomb later on in the story.
      Just a thought.

    • jonsanhueza

      Hey Thomas, thanks for your read of Pilot! Just an FYI, there is a title page, I just removed it from this posting bc I thought it unnecessary to include, and to remove my contact info. You make some good points for consideration though, thanks!

  • Randy Williams

    Need some new blood.

    I’ve read three of these already, two of them, Pilot and Red River Torrens having appeared on this site. Not thrilled with none of them although “Breaking the Chain” is exquisite writing with characters you care about but seems like a TV show to me with very little stakes and a third act that deflates somewhat.

    Ariel is another unicorn tale based on a book. I’m partial to original stuff, sorry and had my share of unicorns for awhile. Sorry, again.

    Someone give them all some love.

    My vote goes for DOWN TO THE WIRE

    • Bifferspice

      thanks for your thoughts. I see your point on the third act (as you mentioned previously) – your comments have made me come up with some possible ideas for a future draft i wouldn’t have otherwise, so many thanks for sharing them. :)

    • BSBurton

      Randy, I have to say your notes have been the most helpful of all!! Really, really appreciate your time and the way you noted specific pages and clearly stated your issues and the things you liked.

      Also thanks for reading it ALL!! That always is a bigger help. I don’t think we’re in the league of True Detective or Lethal Weapon, but you have to “sell your product” and I thought that was a way to draw attention to DTTW. :)

  • Chris Mulligan

    Morning everyone! Half of the team behind Down to the Wire here! Hopefully you’ll give it a read. You may remember my writing from the finals of Twitpitch.

    I found the feedback you guys gave me then invaluable and I think you’ll see a lot of new moves if you check out this latest script.

    • Linkthis83

      Byron has posted as well, now he is in Disqus limbo. I saw two posts from him and now they are nowhere to be found.

      C’mon Disqus, let the writer have his day!

  • Poe_Serling


    Did the newsletter go out this week or is this a standalone AOW post?

    • Chris Mulligan

      No newsletter yet from what I can tell.

    • Linkthis83

      What’s a newsletter?

      • MaliboJackk

        You can sign up for it
        over at — heycarsonwhere’smynewsletter dot com.

      • Poe_Serling

        Here’s a couple of clues from Carson’s Twitter acct. Dated: May 22

        Will also be reviewing a million dollar spec in ‘something I just invented’ called the newsletter. Sign up!

        and this

        There will be mucho discussion of Gareth and Star Wars in this ‘newfangled media publiciaton now known’ as the newsletter ( ) which will be sent out tonight or tomorrow

        Hope this helps… ;-)

  • Eddie Panta

    Ms.SS loves Unicorns, so very much.
    Starting on mine unicron script today!
    “Unicorn Vs. Pegasus”
    Magic unicorn blood will rain from the clouds

    • Guest

      i didn’t choose the unicorn life, the unicorn life chose me

      • gazrow

        LOL! :)

      • Poe_Serling

        Per Carson: ” I know you’ll be devastated to hear this but we have Memorial Day this weekend, which means Monday is a holiday. I’ll be taking the day off….”

        I just think it’s a roundabout way of saying that Carson and LJ are working on their latest weekend project UNICORN BLOOD, which will magically show up in a future AOW post.

      • BSBurton

        Who drew this?? Someone should take credit for their marvelous work

    • Guest

      i see no problem with this

  • Eddie Panta

    Someone needs to start at an INFOGRAPH on how many AOW scripts have LIGHTS FLICKERING on the first page.

    My guess would be close to 20%.

    Not that I mind.

    • Randy Williams

      Shouldn’t you be working on your unicorn script?

    • IgorWasTaken

      never mind

  • Mike.H

    Carson, you got BBQ sauce/ milky cole slaw on your left cheek per memorial day weekend festivus, please wipe.

    What does it take to qualify for COMEBACK SCRIPT?

    • Ange Neale

      I tried ‘show up and engage with reviewers even if they think your work sucks.’ Some don’t bother, which I think’s pretty rude when reviewers are mostly sincere and invest time and effort to be constructive.

  • Bifferspice

    hey Carson, thanks for the include (breaking the chain). it’s made my day! :)

    • Chris Mulligan

      Congrats & good luck, Biffer.

  • Logic Ninja

    Read the first 20. Fascinating premise. Seems like many original ideas come from combining two or more things we’ve seen before (Star Wars brought the gritty realism of a western to the cold grip of space). The dystopian/fantastic mix is a nice little palette to work from.
    A few thoughts. I’m on page 20 and I have no idea who Pete and Ariel are. If I had to describe Pete without making reference to the world he lives in, all I could say is, “He’s a guy who’s a virgin and–I think?–wishes he weren’t.” As for Ariel, all I could say is, “She’s a unicorn.”
    The biggest issues lie in the minutiae. Some dialogue rings true; some seems on-the-nose. Like, “PETE: Oh, you poor thing. Who did this to you? Who would want to hurt a unicorn?” Or, “PETE: Being a virgin has some advantages after all. Hooray.” Pete’s and Ariel’s conversation beginning on pg. 14 is blatant exposition through dialogue. They’ve clearly been together a while at this point–but they’ve NEVER had this conversation before? Ariel has NEVER given Pete any information about her past? Pete has watched her grow up, but he STILL doesn’t know she started out a baby?
    If you wanna give us this information, have Pete watch Ariel appear beside the railroad tracks, perhaps in a blaze of magical fire. He doesn’t want to scare her, so he follows her a while. Watches her get hurt and decides to help.
    Plus–and this is just my opinion, having read only so far (maybe this gets explained later)–pretty much everyone in the audience is gonna call bull on, “Guns don’t really work anymore, and neither do most machines.” Why? Have the very laws of physics been repealed?–and which machines don’t work? Does a wheel still turn? Does a lever still apply force? Do chemicals still combine and produce reactions? They better, or the human body is in trouble! And if they do, then why the heck wouldn’t something as simple as a gun work?
    I haven’t read the book, but I can tell you right now, if this isn’t explained somehow, there’s no way it’ll fly in a theater. Seems like whoever wrote the novel thought, “Wouldn’t it be sick if Middle Earth were set in dystopian New York?”–and then blatantly manipulated the world to achieve this effect.
    More problems: Pete gives a debate on the danger of depending on electricity. And the power goes out. Immediately. Yeah, no.
    Everyone is already thinking “The Day the Earth Stood Still.” No need to remind us with a line about it.
    Grace is your strongest character. While Pete mopes around after the debate like a real grouch, Grace is fun, cool, and (potentially) interesting. I lost a big chunk of my interest when she died so soon. Plus, this scene does nothing to make us sympathize with Pete, since we’re not sure yet what exactly Pete’s relationship with her looks like. Does he like her? Does she like him?
    Why do all Thugs suddenly talk like b-movie Thugs, like they’ve walked out of WOW?
    Decide what you intend to do with your ALL-CAPS and stick to it. On the one hand, we have “There is a TINKLING of breaking glass”–which is the accustomed use. On the other hand, we have “…the jumble of HOSES and WIRES” (not characters. Not SFX) and “He lifts the whistle to his lips and blows” (clear SFX, but no ALL-CAPS). Distracts from the story.
    Conclusion: interesting premise. Unfortunately, a pass.
    By the way, I think a reader could overlook almost all the above if Pete and Ariel were fascinating characters. Best of luck!

    • Citizen M

      When the lights went out after the debate I thought the judges or the girl were going to call him out for pulling a crude stunt, and he was going to protest it was a real power failure, not something he’s planned.

  • Linkthis83


    Do I love LETHAL WEAPON? Hell yes I do. Would I want to write a LETHAL WEAPON or read the script? Fuck no! I think this concept is a refreshing one for AOW and I’d like it to receive “the treatment” so it can get to where it needs. I certainly wouldn’t be the guy to do it and you will see that in my notes. I feel like I note this one “angry”. Lol. I just want it to be more than it is. And I feel it can be.


    -So I took some notes regarding the opening, then after reading further, I decided that I don’t think you need the opening scene. I also feel that since it is similar to THE HURT LOCKER, this will be used against your script. I really don’t think you need this opening scene.

    -One issue I did have with the opening scene is that the radio chatter didn’t sound like soldiers enough. It’s okay for Boots to be Boots, but I think some of the other chatter should sound a bit more professional with brief moments of personality. Boots is fine, the others are not.

    p3 = The strangest set up he’s ever seen? I don’t feel this is going to have any story relevancy at all. There’s probably no need to make it the EVEREST of IED’s (or bombs in general). Instead, have him admire their creativity when constructing such devices with limited resources.

    -a transition to an alarm clock waking him up? C’mon guys, I know you are better than this :) At least do a TERMINATOR and transition to something other than an alarm clock.

    -If you want to show the audience the type of character Boots is, then start by showing him doing push-ups in the dark. When he walks by the clock, show that it’s 5am. Initially we will think “Damn, this dude doesn’t mess around.” Plus, if you remove the opening scene, we will learn that this guy was probably a soldier (or we will think he is until we see his badge), by the push-ups and the state of his HOTEL ROOM. When he walks by the clock, we will see that the bed is made. He made his own bed in a hotel where this service is provided? He’s disciplined, or OCD. But we will get enough clues to learn his traits and you don’t have to say a word or use a flashback. Give him Tinnitus and show him taking something for it (or for whatever else he is suffering from). Maybe even have a picture of him with his unit and he’s in his EOD suit. And by showing his prosthetic, we will have a very good picture of this guy.

    p7 = Not sure how I feel about Joe’s supermarket intro. I get it, it’s a set up and just a first intro.

    p7 = Are the men wearing masks? If so, you should probably note that.

    p8 = it was confusing to me if all 3 events (Boots waking up, Joe at the supermarket, the pharmacy robbery) were taking place simultaneously. If so, you should probably state SAME in the slugline so we know. Because we have to early AM scenes listed as NIGHT, then we have the robber also listed at NIGHT.

    p8 = I don’t really feel this sparring scene adds anything.

    p11 = Did Boots really just happen to get gas across the street from the robbery or is he there purposely and we just don’t know it?

    p11 = I liked the moment regarding the chips. I could see Gibson delivering those lines.

    p13 = At this point I feel like I’m receiving a TOUR instead of being told a STORY.

    p13 = How do we know this is Sitwell’s car outside the multimillion dollar home? Also…THEY ARE IN A MULTIMILLION DOLLAR HOME? It has to belong to somebody else, right?

    p13 = “The property is gated off from the rest of the area.” = What area is it gated off from? I’m confused. The rest of the neighborhood?

    p22 = stopped (I gave you extra pages because of my decision to cut the opening scene).

    SUMMARY: Like I’ve already mentioned, I may not be the best to give feedback on this, but it won’t stop me from trying. Plus, this is the type of movie I’d love to see, but one I’d never want to write. Props to you guys for diving into this work.

    First, I’d remove the opening EOD scene. I’d then make the first scene the pharmacy robbery. That way, it’s not confusing when thrown in with the two main character intros. Plus, that opening scene makes this feel like it’s supposed to be Boots’ story, but we get equal parts Joe who is also kind of broken. I don’t think you need TWO broken leads. I’m also open to being incorrect with these notes.

    I get that these early pages are set up, but they are also where you give us a HOOK (for lack of a better word) and you create scenarios that will make us invested. As of page 22 I feel I should KNOW something substantial. Like…what are the criminals intent with the patient files (that’s the obvious thing)? These two have done ZERO detective work up to this point. Also, it’s not even their case. If you want to keep the fact that it isn’t their case, then show us JOE working the case before we learn it isn’t his. Then we will know what’s driving him currently. Maybe he’s still going through “proper channels” to make it his case again. That’s where Boots’ personality can kick in and doing it cowboy style. Just my thoughts for right now. As it is, like I said, I feel like I’ve been given the tour and shown something that gets me involved/invested.

    (the rest of my reviews are being written and will be posted momentarily)

    • Chris Mulligan

      Awesome, thanks Link!

      Appreciate the vote but I appreciate the notes even more. Lots of comments on the war scene opening, really hoping to see even more debate on that. Byron & I love it, but if we’re in the minority then it may have to get re-shuffled.

      • Linkthis83

        And I totally get why you would love it. I have the luxury of not being emotionally attached. Plus, I go into these things pretending it’s been assigned to me to improve. Because that is my approach, that is why you got the feedback you did (or why anybody gets the feedback from me they do).

        I had to do some internal assessing and I realized that I wouldn’t write this story which is why I’m probably quite harsh on it. But I would want to see a movie like this.

        • Chris Mulligan

          Don’t worry about the harshness, I like the feedback, shows you read & cared enough to critically think about our work.

          Thanks & I hope you get a chance to see a movie exactly like this one day!

        • BSBurton

          Thanks for saying that, we would watch it too :) And hopefully one day it will be seen by many

      • Randy Williams

        I liked the opening although I’d prefer it with more tension. I mentioned in my notes how it could be a good bookend to the scene towards the end where Boots could also make a decision favoring human relationships over going by the book. Again, though, both scenes I thought would need tightening up with increased tension and explosive release.

        Besides, at some point, you have to explain why he’s missing a foot.

        • BSBurton

          Great post. Appreciate your help, Randy!

      • BSBurton

        Yes, the notes were awesome

    • Bifferspice

      holy shit, those are great notes, thank you so much. you know when you get a suggestion that pretty much just sets off a “DINGALINGALING!” in your head? this did that: “Or, is it possible to have Craig and Kelly in there together. A little
      play with Craig flirting with Kelly, this distresses Arran, Steve is
      trying to degrade Craig, Kelly is actually trying to focus on Arran,
      whether i get to see what carson makes of my script or not, i’ll be taking this STRAIGHT into my next draft. as with robinson’s visit being announced. awesome stuff, mate. thanks again.

      • Linkthis83

        You are welcome. You’ve already got excellent existing elements to play with. So arranging them differently for impact is what I was trying to do.

      • Nicholas J

        I will second Link’s note here. I thought this was your flattest scene from what I read and I’m certain using his suggestion will give it the push it needs.

      • kenglo

        ” …….pretty much just sets off a “DINGALINGALING!” in your head…”

        LOL which ‘head’? Sorry, having a helluva Monday on a Tuesday. I love British films, the humor is so wry it kills me! I just could not get into any of the scripts this weekend….maybe my ribs and potato salad were on my brain….

    • BSBurton

      Thanks Link!! We appreciate the help and notes and vote!! Ill add these to my laptop :)

    • MaliboJackk

      Your comments about push-ups in the dark reminded me of Marathon Man.
      Roy Scheider did push-ups on the floor with his feet up on the bed.
      (Shows you how far you need to go to gain the audience’s attention.)

      Scheider was also the well dressed, well groomed man with all his shit together.
      Contrast that with Dustin who was a little of a slob and aimless, except for his desire to run marathons — which would come in handy later.

      • Linkthis83

        Thanks, MJ. I’m trying to get better with each moment/opportunity. :)

    • Nicholas J

      So you’re voting for DOWN TO THE WIRE over BREAKING THE CHAIN because WIRE needs more work? You have suggestions to cut out nearly half the pages you read! And you said yourself you felt like you were being given a tour, which means there are plenty of scenes where nothing happens.

      As for CHAIN you barely had any notes. You did say “great moment” “the conversation was great” “love this” “liked the writing” “liked the scene” “this is good stuff so far”. You didn’t say anything like this about WIRE, just that you liked the line about the chips. Everything else you thought needed work.

      Sorry, just feels like you’re voting for potential over already there. I thought the point was to vote for the script most likely to get a [x] worth the read or higher, not for the one that will get the best notes. Not trying to poke holes in your reviewing, it just seems a little backwards and unfair to CHAIN.

      • Linkthis83

        I thought the point was to vote for the script I want to get reviewed? As far as I’m concerned, this system is flawed anyway. I’ve seen Carson give a script [x] wasn’t for me but thinks the script deserved to be read (White Label). Also, the recent noir script (I’ve forgotten the name — MARLOWE maybe) was a well written script and didn’t suffer from amateur issues and it got the same rating as well because he thought there was too much story (or didn’t like the story).

        So yeah, just because I liked some of what was in BTC and how he had written it, doesn’t mean it’s a story I want to read either. I have the ability to appreciate concepts and the efforts/effectiveness of writers.

        In regards to DTTW, I think the concept is refreshing. It interests me. I feel like the guys are on the cusp of breaking the story. I too wrote that I may not be the best judge of that type of script. I took that into account as well. It has nothing to do with “because it needs more work.” I’m not familiar enough with these types of stories. My notes could be all wrong. It makes me want to watch LETHAL WEAPON again to see how they handled it. It’s a different animal. But yeah, it’s the story/script I’m most interested in. Isn’t that the point?

        1) Unfair?

        2) I’m only one vote anyway. If BTC is that good, it will get the AF slot (or a future AF slot).

        BTW, I do appreciate you standing up for a script/story you believe in. I have no issues with this post at all.

        • Nicholas J

          I dunno, I’ve always thought we should be voting on the best script based on what the writer(s) set out to accomplish. A finished product that could potentially be sold or get the writer representation. And obviously buddy cop action will be more exciting than character dramedy, but that doesn’t mean the quality of writing is better.

          FWIW I think both of these scripts should be on AF at some point, any other week I might’ve voted for WIRE.

          And I’m just picking on you because you’re at the top of my comments page and I knew you’d answer.

          • Linkthis83

            It’s a fair discussion to have. I was just thinking that in another AOW I might’ve picked BTC. The one I specifically thought of was the one that had GRIPPER. My vote that week was based on the fact that I had to choose one, not because I loved one over the other.

            I used to think the point was to vote for the script/story that I felt was a combination of the best story + most ready to be sent out. And then I saw that when it came to Carson’s review it also had to fit the criteria: Carson also has to love the story.

            That was my big issue with White Label back in the day. It came down to the simple fact that the story wasn’t for him, thus it got a [x] wasn’t for me. The professional readiness of that script didn’t matter.

            I think this has skewed my voting criteria. Now I will vote for scripts I want read/reviewed more than I will vote for scripts that seem closer to professionally ready. It’s an imperfect process, which is also indicative of the business itself.

          • JW

            Link, I have to agree overall and in general with your assessments here and I’ve felt for some time that the “ratings” if you want to even call them that aren’t exactly precise, nor are they all that effective, especially in terms of an “amateur” writer (however you want to define that). I’ve often felt it would be more effective to provide a double-rating, one that addresses the script in terms of how it rates in the overall scheme of amateur scripts, and then a second rating that would put it up against the professionals that exist out there in the world. The interesting thing here is that while one may say that a double rating could be confusing, I would actually find it much, much more effective in gauging writing from the perspective of where the writer is in his amateur journey versus that of the professional journey (clearly as you state, some scripts that get a ‘worth the read’ seem worse than those who get a lesser rating). This happens quite a bit when writers “win” competitions and think that they’re now “professionals”, but quickly realize when they meet with surrounding professionals that while they “won,” serious re-writes now need to take place. And, this is where I find the difference exists between the two. I think from a learning perspective, it would help writers more to see where they lie in the “amateur” sphere versus that of the “professional”.

          • Nicholas J

            Carson did a second rating for a day or two, one that rates the actual writer and one that rates the script. I thought that was great, and wish he still did that, as sometimes the script concept and the level of writing are at odds.

          • JW

            I agree. And, I think we can all agree that “ratings” as a whole are very subjective (as would be one of “writer rating”), however, rating a script against a “professional” script as someone who reads professional scripts on a consistent basis should be less subjective, in my opinion. I often wonder where the rating is coming from; from the perspective of a reader of professional scripts against those same scripts, or a reader of amateur scripts against those.

          • bex01

            But, at the end of the day, amateur scripts are going to be judged just as professional scripts are, so would that help? I mean, you’re not going to get brownie points because you have an excellent script as far as amateur standards go, but a script that still needs a ton of work when compared to professionals.

          • Linkthis83

            Yeah. I was originally excited about that and then realized the new rating wouldn’t account for my issue in the White Label scenario.

          • Linkthis83

            My stance is that I want writers to receive credit if they’ve earned it. My simple and immediate solution would be to add the rating:

            [x] Worth the read, wasn’t for me

          • Ange Neale

            Excellent suggestion, Link!

          • JW

            Agreed. I think the appropriate credit is definitely the goal for all. I’d almost like to see a rating on the script as a whole as Carson currently has it, but a secondary rating of where the script is from a professional standpoint, along the lines of Commercial or Indie would be nice:
            Market ready (A-list level)
            Market ready (Less than A-list)
            Straight to DVD / VOD ready
            1 or 2 drafts from market ready
            Not close to market ready
            Something may be ‘worth the read’ but also may be ‘1 or 2 drafts from market ready’. Which, I believe is an important distinction.

          • MaliboJackk

            Not sure I totally agree.
            Could lead to trouble. Image Carson giving “Less than A-list” to professional writers.
            Double worth the read seems to suggest that agents and producers should take a look at it and form their own opinion.

          • bex01

            I agree. Feel like an extra rating is needed in between those 2, purely because there seems to be a huge difference in the quality of scripts earning [x] wasn’t for me

          • Linkthis83

            I completely concur. Some of those scripts that aren’t for him still have redeeming value in other areas (e.g. a well written script). I’d like a rating to exist that reflects that.

          • BSBurton

            Good post Link, I agrree

          • BSBurton

            Agree, damn lol. The keyboard betrays me :)

      • Matty

        I love how grendl up-voted this comment since he (apparently) voted for my script a few weeks back because it “needed the most work.”


        For me, it’s a mix of quality and potential. But mostly quality. If I see a script of slightly lesser professional quality but TONS of potential vs. a script that’s a tad more professional but probably can’t go much further, I’ll vote for the former.

        Not saying that’s the case here, just my approach. And of course taste, etc. factors in (I rarely vote for sci-fi because I just can’t get in to heavy sci-fi stuff).

        • BSBurton

          That makes perfect senses. Thanks for the vote again Matt and congrats on your recent review by Carson and your success!

    • jonsanhueza

      Link, thanks for your comments on Pilot!

      Yes, it is a bit heady which is what I love about 2001– a comparison i made when it first posted months ago… but i didn’t want to reach that level of “wtf just happened?” that I got at the end with the floating baby and the room…

      I did spend quite a bit of time trimming the fat, so everything does set up and pay off later, and hopefully that comes across to most readers… in some cases it doesn’t pay off till much later when the end of the world comes, If it doesn’t then i guess I have more edits to make.

      And yeah, it’s 4 years after crashing.

      Thanks again!

      • Linkthis83

        You are welcome. Good luck with this project. I was intrigued, but also confused :)

  • Matty

    My vote goes to DOWN TO THE WIRE, with BREAKING THE CHAIN in second.

    • Bifferspice

      Thanks for the read, Matty. Much appreciated. :)

    • BSBurton

      Appreciate the vote Matt and have a great weekend !!

  • NajlaAnn

    My choice: PILOT

  • Nicholas J

    MY PICK: Nothing yet! Will be editing as I read.

    Where I stopped: 26
    Why I stopped: Eh.
    Throwing your script up against TRUE DETECTIVE and LETHAL WEAPON? Talk about bold. This script starts with a lot of momentum. Great opening sequence with a bomb being diffused, easy way to open with a situation. From there it’s pretty meandering. We meet the two characters and then some of the bad guys during a robbery. A lot of excess in scenes and standing still. Dialogue has no subtext. I’m not very active in the story as the characters aren’t very interesting and I don’t have to connect any dots. It’s all just right there on the page. I could read on, but nothing’s making me feel like I have to stick around and these other 4 scripts sound interesting. Not a bad read, just not as exciting as it could be.

    Where I stopped: 18
    Why I stopped: My wife came home with Jimmy John’s
    What a great writing style. Very sleek and clean, matches the script well. But this feels colder than the arctic. There is very limited humanity here. I know nothing about Calvin. The writer concentrates more on the ship and the planet and gives me very little to connect to. For example when Calvin is running out of air and dying, the writer doesn’t describe it at all, only the computer’s life support countdown. All I get from Calvin is a parenthetical (gasping) once. Then he’s dead. Things are also confusing. He’s been there four years and has like a day of oxygen. One minute he’s running through the ship like he’s dying to get out, the next he is taking a shower. Weird. It also faces inevitable comparisons to Jon Spaihts’s PASSENGERS, a similar story with way more humanity. In that one we form a strong connection with the protagonist. I didn’t get that here in the pages I read. So when I put it down for lunch and it came time to pick it back up, I wasn’t very interested in resuming the read. Again, not bad, but nothing I really latched on to.

    On the way…

    On the way…

    On the way…

    • Linkthis83

      Regarding PILOT: I too felt confused by Calvin running (feeling that now things are moving in this cool place), we’re on a ticking clock, yeah things are cooking and then…Calvin takes a shower. What? (queue record scratch)

      • Nicholas J

        Well if he makes it home he’s gotta look presentable!

        • jonsanhueza

          I guess I was just taking “what would I do” a bit close to home. If I’m about to die, I’d rather have a hot shower and meal first :)

          • Nicholas J

            That makes sense. Basically I just couldn’t track the character’s emotions and motives. Was he close to getting out but running out of time? Had he given up hope and resigned to death? It seemed like both, which was weird and inconsistent. I couldn’t tell what was going on in his head, so I wasn’t able to make a connection to him, which to me, is the most important part of your script. If I don’t care wether he makes it off the planet or not, I won’t be invested in the story of how he succeeds or fails.

          • jonsanhueza

            yeah, you basically nailed it… he was trying desperately for 4 years to fix the AI of the ship, and once he does (with a little more than a day remaining), the AI is able to tell him that the central fusion core is broken,and he would need to patch up several hundred core cells to get life support back… knowing that’s impossible, he decides to fix one core cell, and use that to further the lifespan of the frozen embryos.

            the ultimate goal is the furthering of the human species, which by the end of the script, after millions of years have gone by, he succeeds in saving a few hundred. just enough to start over.

          • Bifferspice

            just seen this. i’m not the best sci-fi reader, but i didn’t make the connections that you’ve said there. i didn’t know he’d just fixed it. i thought he’d been talking to that AI for ages. like i say, i am a dunce on this sort of thing though!

          • Linkthis83

            After reading this, this concept sounds awesome. I did not get that from the pages I read. A lot of that could be me.

          • jonsanhueza

            Thanks, the big picture of saving the human race is only implied in the beginning, so it probably wasnt obvious on the page until we see him before the crash, when its his weighing his selfish needs over the needs of the many… And then theres parallels with the alien planets story, but its all subtext, the basic story is guy crashes on planet, then ship tries to get away.

      • jonsanhueza

        What can I say, you gotta give something for the ladies in the audience.

    • astranger2

      Yes. That bold line is a paradigm example.

    • Bifferspice

      Wow Nicholas, thanks for the kind words, and the vote. Really glad it worked for you :)

      • Nicholas J

        No problem, I mean them. I’m actually currently making my way through it and it’s still very strong. Hopefully you take me to the end and I can give you notes on the whole thing, don’t let me down!

  • Linkthis83

    Can the ban wait until I finish my three unicorn projects:

    UNI-CORN: about a unicorn who goes back to school to earn her degree

    UNICORNUCOPIA: mythological creatures a-plenty

    SUNNICORN: a Islamic unicorn questions her faith, and her family, when her father forces her brother, the worm, to join the Taliban to settle a debt. Her brother is then forced to strap on a vest of explosives, is placed on a fishing hook and tossed into the sea…essentially making him a suicide bobber.

    • MaliboJackk

      The only one that seems to have a plot is #3.
      Long logline — but would be willing to read more.

      • Linkthis83

        Makes sense. It’s the one I’ve fleshed out the most so far.

    • Nicholas J

      I vote yes since I was going to throw my script titled CHILDREN OF THE UNICORN into the mix soon. It’s a slow burn horror set in rural Nebraska.

      • Linkthis83

        Love this. I was hoping somebody else would play along.

        • Randy Williams

          Don’t know whether it’s wishful thinking or I know “dancing” and
          “contained” sells, but my offering,

          “They Shoot Unicorns, Don’t They?”

        • Nicholas J

          UNIPORN FOR UNICORNS. A unicorn’s porn addiction is slowly tearing his family apart, but when a bigshot producer sees the size of his 11 inch horn and offers him the opportunity to start a new life as the next BIG unipornstar, he must make the decision between staying with his family or embracing who he is.

          • Casper Chris

            Here’s a better title:


          • BSBurton

            Is that like a 007 unicorn movie?

    • Kirk Diggler

      Don’t forget the Jackie Treehorn produced, Karl Hungus starring sequel to Logjammin’ called “Unicorn-Holing” .

      • Linkthis83

        I have to admit, I had to do some work to understand this reference. I’ve seen the movie, but completely forgot about that scene. Well done, my good man.

        • Ange Neale

          Horror script about the genetically-mutated progeny of two unicorns: “Bicorn”.

    • Casper Chris

      UNI-CORN: about a unicorn who goes back to school to earn her degree

      …in cornfield circles! Double-whammy.

      • Linkthis83

        After this suggestion, I realized I should’ve made it about a person in the U.K. who starts his own school for studying crop circles.

        And then called it UNI-CORN. Thanks for pointing out my failure to recognize a great opportunity.

  • Logline_Villain

    DOWN TO THE WIRE – First 10

    p. 1 – characters = CHARACTERS?

    soldiers = SOLDIERS?

    Link already said it – and I thought same thing when reading earlier at Starbucks before seeing his comment – HURT LOCKER…

    Is it actually SWEAT on inside of MASK or is he sweating profusely – like on his face – inside his mask?

    After you put (headset) in wrylie the first time, I think that is sufficient… same with Command and (radio)

    Boots comment on suit – are these suits any more ridiculous than the ones bomb techs wore before? IMHO – Boots/Command exchange about these Suits felt unnecessary to me…

    Captain Evans – “glances” around in EVERY direction – that basically means he did a 360, turned completely around…

    p. 2

    Suddenly, two bursts of gunfire ring out – is “suddenly” necessary… most gunfire is sudden, no?

    He enters building as Evans, exits it as Captain Evans (consistency)…

    Moreover, Captain Evans exits the building “bloodied” but immediately says CLEAR – did a bullet from outside the building impact Evans inside the building – did he kill a shooter inside the building? I’m confused…

    (to Evans) isn’t necessary as we realize Boots is talking to Captain Evans…

    Boots JOGS toward house – in that big-ass suit he’s wearing?

    Enough nitpicking on format for now – sorry if it comes across that way – but in a screenplay where every word counts and wrylies should be used with discretion, I though it worth mentioning…

    As far as Afghanistan scene, don’t feel like I learned enough about Boots’ character to justify 6 pages of an intro, an intro that unfortunately will draw Hurt Locker comparisons. I would have more empathy for Boots if I simply saw him in first shot missing a leg without the immediate backstory.

    In re: bomb sequence: Would Boots still be working on bomb in middle of gunfight? Would we learn more about Boots if he hadn’t restrained the girl? How did he know the three BLUE wires were key – as opposed to red wires, green wires, etc.? You point out that glass shards nick the bomb’s long wires but it doesn’t appear that’s of any consequence. Boots’ actions while tying girl up and trying to diffuse bomb seems somewhat sloppy – and I’m not sure of following, but his foot extended beyond blast wall – did his head as well? I’m having some difficult envisioning exactly where Boots, Girl, blast wall and bomb(s) are at in relation to each other. Five soldiers are killed in blast – do we see five of ‘em blown to smithereens in the same shot/frame?

    You raised a lot of questions for me in bomb scene – that’s the first 6 pages of your script – and basically all I got out of it is that Boot’s lost a foot (and grudgingly followed commands)… Feel like I should have learned more about Boots’ character there, and suspect you could have mined more in that regard as to how he dealt with little girl.

    Can’t lie – I’d ditch the scene and if anything use it as a later flashback where he lost his foot in order to save the little girl (15 second scene that tells me an infinite amount about his selfless character) – If said suggestion impinges upon your character arc, my bad…

    p. 7 – Link and I must have an ESP connection today as the other thing I thought during quick read through earlier was shame on the generic alarm clock scene – he’s 100% correct, YOU and we deserve something more original!

    INSERT – HOTEL DESK – Is this proper use of an insert?

    Joe Durmont intro – I’m seeing Nick Cage in Leaving Las Vegas scene of same ilk (is there another way to show me he’s an alcoholic – and I ask BECAUSE your scene immediately made me think of another movie)…

    Another use of INSERT (Blinking Security Panel) that really seems like you should just say CLOSE UP (or better yet, you don’t need either – just write, e.g., that his badge, gun and helmet top a desk.)

    Tod Stilwell – you tell us he’s an ex-Marine but there’s no way we know that from simply seeing him in the pharmacy – maybe if I saw a tattoo or something in scene, I could assume that…

    p. 8

    He downloads confidential patient files – don’t we need to see more that makes that explicitly clear?

    Larry “robs” the cash register – is “empties”, “steals from” or “takes the money from” more accurate… Word choice: to rob – take property unlawfully from (a person or place) by force or threat of force. In this scenario, there’s no force or threat of force…

    p. 9

    Joe-Ken fight is not ordered properly – you have two paragraphs that focus on what each one does but NOT in the order it occurs (as written your way is more novelistic): It should be something along the lines of: Joe strikes with a job; Ken blocks it. Joe hooks and crosses; Ken shoulder rolls to avoid them. And it makes me wonder how “fluid” and “quick” Joe’s attack was when Ken so easily thwarts it?

    p. 10-11

    Boots is a COP (I assume) and the stoner cashier knows more about local pharmacy robberies than he does? Why wouldn’t the cashier know Boots had “twenty in gas”?

    JOE is 28 is his mother SUE is 83 – that means his mother gave birth when she was 55?! Come again? That may seem like a small mistake, unless she adopted him or really gave birth at a Guinness Book of World Records age of 55 – but a careful reader will lose confidence when he/she sees something like that… ..

    Was surprised that Claire gave her phone number so readily since all we know is that Joe is an alcoholic who looks like he just got his ass kicked (which he did)…

    So far, I’ve been reminded of other movies and disappointed because of the generic alarm clock scene.

    This is one person’s opinion and you are of course welcome to take it with a grain of salt, but I suspect a professional reader would at least stumble in several of the areas that I did… be careful with your action lines: simple, clear and to the point!

    Best of luck with your project!

    • Linkthis83

      Connected indeed. I share a lot of your issues with the opening scene, but once I decided I would cut it, I chose not to include my notes on that section.

      I too wanted more from this as well. I think the potential is there. Just needs some deeper digging.

    • BSBurton

      That’s for the effort and thought you put into your notes and questions. I will be looking them over for the next few days!

      • Logline_Villain

        You are welcome, BSBurton. We all get tunnel vision when it comes to our own work; fresh sets of eyes invariably prove beneficial in that regard.

  • Bifferspice

    cheers scott, I really appreciate the vote, though i’m less than 50% likely to hold a gun to your head, and thanks very much for reading. :-)

  • Paul Clarke

    While some elements of it had (Mel’s hair) – I was expecting much worse.

    I doesn’t hold up as well as Die Hard, but now that I watch it with a greater understanding of writing I can see a lot more going on than what it may appear. Still, like you said, it is a little dated. Maybe Down to the Wire is the update.

    • BSBurton

      I like the sound of that! Mel can play the captain!! Give him a dose of his own medicine lol

    • Rick McGovern

      Part 2 was the update ;) tho I’m not sure what you guys are talking about… doesn’t look dated to me at all.

  • astranger2

    Congratulations to all the AOW winners!!!

    As writers we know how much time and hours went into each of these screenplays, how much blood, sweat and anguish.

    I’ve spent my morning processing the initial pages of each, and here are my thoughts — I tend to fall into that “paralysis by analysis” trap if not careful, so instead, I’ll mimic Fast Eddie Felson, and play it “fast and loose…”

    — Starts with a vertical opening and paints a nice world snapshot, then falls into dense description. The action lines themselves are clear and crisp, but there is so much sensual detail to absorb. A stoner’s dream – as was Kubrick’s 2001.

    — Everything is very visual. The embryonic nursery hive, and greyhound drones are stunning. Like Wall-E. But unlike Wall-E, we’re not following a lovable droid robot as the music swells, and his universe unveils… I found no human interaction to grab me. (I lean more towards Tennessee Williams than Issac Assimov… not in that way… not that
    there’s anything wrong with that… )

    — For me, the Corporeal Interface is just another HAL 9000. And the planet’s name Proteus? Seems I’ve either watched too many Star Trek episodes or one of it’s 100 derivations, but I think that particular Greek god’s name has been overexposed.

    — And Calvin? Not sure the audience will pick up that “Cat color gives funny hand problems twice” as a mnemonic. Plus, portraying him as the runt of the human litter? Your protagonist? Is this Diary of a Wimpy Kid? Not exactly Clint Eastwood here, is he?

    — Other than the arbitrary underlining, it is very well-written and formatted. It may be more of a cerebral story than I’m accustomed to. Or, I maybe just need to fire one up, I don’t know… (I don’t actually indulge… just sayin’)

    The writing is very crisp, and clear; it’s just too dry for me. But as I said, while I’m a HUGE Kubrick fan, “Pilot” was too slow for me.

  • gazrow

    My vote: 1. DOWN TO THE WIRE
    2. PILOT

    Makes a refreshing change to see a buddy-cop script make the AOW cut! The writing is clear and concise and the script looks professional and reads fast. There was plenty of action, but not to the detriment of the story. I also liked the banter between the two protagonists and think with a few minor tweaks this could be really good.

    Again the writing was good and the script looked professional. The opening page hints at a major catastrophe some four-years earlier. But I think it might have been better to have shown the “Incident” rather than just mention it? And the writer introduces a ‘ticking clock’ from the get go – which is good. However, we jump from “57 hours of remaining life-support” to “43 hours of remaining life-support” in less than a page! Which seems fast? Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of sci-fi and couldn’t really get into the story. Sorry.

    The concept sounded fun and the writing was good. But, the story itself was pretty mundane in the twelve or so pages I read. I was bored and didn’t want to hang around until Steve got his big win. Also, in the pages I read, he was really tough to root for. He has a loving wife at home who is really anxious about his gambling habit. Yet, the first thing he does when he loses his job is go and blow “a couple of hundred quid” on the horses. I get that this is his ‘fatal flaw’ but I just felt he was a selfish pr**ck and stopped reading. Sorry.

    • BSBurton

      Hey Gazrow, great to see you ranking your top 3 scripts! I’m super pumped that “Wire” made the top of the list. Also super happy you found it to be a fast read like RANDY WILLIAMS. The last thing we want to do is waste people’s time. :)

      • Randy Williams

        Please don’t capitalize my name. I look like a script. ;)

        • BSBurton

          Noted, randy williams. Will do much better from now on! Tell me about what you were working on. You said sci fi I believe? I love that genre and have quite a stories to tell in it :)

          • Randy Williams

            Contained Sci Fi Thriller. (on earth)

            Exchanging notes with one of the other members here as we work on our scripts. He’s writing a captivating crime comedy with a distinctive “voice” I can’t help but think would get praise on AOW. He’s been a great help to me as I chug along with mine.

            Hope to see both our scripts up here one day.

          • BSBurton

            Awesome man, thanks for sharing. Keep me posted on how it’s coming!

        • Linkthis83

          Coming this fall to theaters everywhere, Adam Sandler is RANDY WILLIAMS. ;)

          • BSBurton

            Lol, love it!!!

    • Bifferspice

      hey gazrow, thanks for the read. :) sorry it didn’t do it for you, but i appreciate the thoughts

      • gazrow

        Hey Biffer –

        I really wanted to like Breaking The Chain but it just wasn’t my thing. That said, the writing itself was solid and I wish you the very best of luck!

      • gazrow

        I just read the entire script and it’s much better than I gave it credit it for! I guess that’s what happens when you skim scripts! Sorry about that.

    • Nicholas J

      “I get that this is [Steve’s] ‘fatal flaw’ but I just felt he was a selfish pr**ck and stopped reading.”

      But you do realize that bet was Steve taking action to “break the chain,” as in kick his gambling habit, right? It’s a great character action, doing something he knows is wrong in order to stop doing the very thing that he’s doing! And the fact that he wins millions on that bet? It’s a double dose of irony. Great stuff! Real pro level work, IMO.

      • gazrow

        “Great stuff! Real pro level work, IMO.”

        Yeah – The writing itself is solid and the script certainly has its fans! I just couldn’t identify or empathize with a guy who loses his job and proceeds to gamble away what money he has left. Now, if he had been single and didn’t have any dependents, then I’m sure his actions wouldn’t have irked me as much at they did.

        • Nicholas J

          Except he didn’t lose his job, at least not yet, and he didn’t gamble all the money, mostly just the extra bonus that he got. And I said, it was his action to hopefully make a change toward breaking his gambling addiction, by making a losing bet. Bummer it didn’t work for you, I thought it was some great stuff.

          • gazrow

            Nicholas – I admire your passion for this script! If I get time later I’ll give it a second look and try to explain in more detail exactly why I preferred Down to the Wire. :)

          • Nicholas J

            I think you should, the dramatic irony built in to the concept is great and it’s utilized in nearly every scene once it kicks in. That alone was enough to keep me reading. I’ve no horse in this race as I have no connection to the writer and was skeptical of the hype some commenters were giving it, but I think it delivers and is worth an AF slot, if not this week, then one in the future.

          • gazrow

            Yeah – it’s a solid script! The protag isn’t the selfish pr**ck I initially accused him of being – he’s a sweetheart.

            Definitely [x] worth the read! :)

    • jonsanhueza

      Gazrow, thanks for the notes on Pilot. (And the good marks.)

  • astranger2

    — I’m not familiar with the novel, but any work should stand on its own legs regardless. (Except films like The Freshman that depend on a familiarity with the source material.)

    — Just with a scan 119 pages is too long for a fantasy script, even if every page is a turner.

    — I’ve always loved the name Ariel, and unicorns are fanciful, so I was curious to see how this played out. And while it is well-written, nothing really jumps out at me. Not the action lines, not the dialogue, not the characters – where is this fantasy world I was promised in the logline? Cars breaking down? Fallen debate heroes?

    — I think you need to build this world sooner – get me out of reality, out of the 21st Century, into the Unicorn Camelot.

    — I liked that you introduce Ariel as a young unicorn, but does she really need to say, “Bwoke” FIVE times. And “sad” like three or four? It can be cute, but five times is overkill. I think you can either heighten her “baby” dialogue, or move onto her more interesting adult

    — I’m only reading 10-20 pages of any of these, and while your story may become much more captivating later, you’ve wasted too many pages not getting me there early. I see the potential though.

    — Oh, I’d lose the Team America Kim Jong Il joke. Unless they saw the movie, they might take it as racist – even if they saw the film, they may take it that way. This isn’t a Tarantino film. It’s light-hearted fantasy. I don’t think you want it misinterpreted.

    Nice writing but too much on-the-nose dialogue. I would think a unicorn would have a much different world view. But I didn’t read past page 12. Good luck with it!

  • astranger2

    Red River Torrents

    — For my interests, a political thriller has to be something I’d either recognize, or be highly captivated with. Like last week’s entry about the Rupert Murdoch hacking scandal. That is a world-shaking story… if the creatives behind it are still alive after the first day’s shoot.

    — Still, this is about the ability to tell a story. With contained thrillers in abundance today, you could have a story about a spoiled starlet trapped in a Port-a-john. Oh, see – if nothing
    else you’ll never forget the story.

    — And while I found the writing competent, nothing really pulled me in – like the port-a-john did, unfortunately… the smell… not of your story, the Hot Mess…

    — Did love the one exchange on page 5:

    “What’s the best thing about a democracy?”
    “Everyone gets a vote.”
    “What’s the worst thing about a democracy?”
    “Everyone gets a vote.”

    Fill your pages with Mamet-type dialogue like that, and I’ll turn those pages all the way to FADE OUT.

    Good luck to you!

    • MaliboJackk

      Churchill once said
      — the biggest argument against democracy is a five minute conversation
      with an average citizen.

      • BSBurton

        If you used to watch Jay Leno’s Tonight Show, you would sure as hell agree with that statement lol

        • astranger2

          The “man on the street” segments were classic.

          • BSBurton

            Yep, they always brought the laughs. Right up there with “headlines.”

      • astranger2

        Reminds me of Remains of the Day when one of the guests proves a point by asking the butler, Stevens, a question about monetary policy — and Hopkins just looks dumb-founded. Maybe that’s why Plato lobbied for a “benevolent democracy…” ; )

  • ASAbrams

    Red River Torrens…this was already an amateur offerings selection…called The Fireseed back then…I wasn’t feeling it then when I read the first 20% and I’m still not feeling it. There’s no urgency here. Is this a rewrite? I don’t see many changes.

  • Logline_Villain


    p. 1
    How important is it that we don’t know who’s cutting the pictures? And the actions could probably be described in a clearer sense. We would almost surely know from seeing the hand whether it was a MALE or FEMALE – it’s basically a cheat to withhold key info from the reader that the viewer would have the benefit of. Given how well your GA sequence is written, I’d prefer the story started there… or that you polished this opening scene somehow. Finally, re: opening scene – I think that Steve’s dialogue would technically be (PRE-LAP) instead of (O.S.) as it appears to reference the following scene…

    p. 1-5
    Your GAMBLER’S ANONYMOUS sequence is well-done, sir. You can tell when someone has put in the requisite work to make a sequence shine. Protag is identified, his flaw evident, and you add the nice touches: Everyone knows one another in this “anonymous” meeting; Martin is the bit of comic relief; and the old man’s pearls of wisdom turn out to be his wrote spiel to all newcomers. One very small thing – the Grand National, I believe, is the world’s premier jumping race at 4 1/2 miles over 30 jumps – if Freeloader never cleared 3 jumps in a row, he probably would never be competing in the race involving Europe’s best steeplechase equines – I’d probably change it to a lesser race or come up with a better reason why he can’t win. Again, great sequence…

    p. 5
    The meat of the story is that Steve needs/wants to quit gambling for his wife. So scene where we meet wife Sarah seems like it’s too short – I think their conversation could be longer… that Steve could appear more fired up about his initial GA meeting (even if he’s lying to himself and/or her). I would have almost expected a wee bit more conflict here, too… Sarah doesn’t need to come across as a witch but we should maybe see how IMPORTANT it is to her that Steve quits gambling? Make it tough on your protag…

    p. 5-10
    Sequence that takes place at work: The shop that sells EVERYTHING, and the sequence that perhaps tries to accomplish EVERYTHING. I believe there has been some back and forth between yourself and other commenters about breaking this sequence up – couldn’t agree more. There’s a little too much chit-chat, and perhaps stay focused on 2 key points: Establishing that Craig is competition for the affections of Sarah; and that the store is in dire financial straits. The Arran-Kelly subplot can probably be pushed back a little? Not bad, but could be tightened up a bit as you are already aware…

    If you can make rest of script pop like GA sequence does, you’ll be in great shape…

    Best wishes with your script!

    • Bifferspice

      wow great notes, logline villain! much appreciated. i’ll take all that on board. i wanted to have the set piece where the box full of clippings gets discovered, so i needed that to be set up earlier. couldn’t think of a good way to do that, but thought it might work as a credit sequence, but yes, i’m not totally happy with it, especially, as you say, that the GA meeting seems a better way to hit the ground running. cheers, i think i’ll probably drop that.

  • astranger2

    My Vote: “DOWN TO THE WIRE.”

    As Carson pointed out, Buddy Cop films are always in season. “Down to the Wire” is a marvelously fast-paced and humorous take on the genre. A quick, easy and fun read.
    (I don’t think it’s in Lethal Weapon or True Detective territory – but what is? That doesn’t mean it isn’t a taut, clean action film!)

    A few things:

    — While I love the name “Boots,” it initially felt false to me. Soldiers in Afghanistan – “boots on the ground.” But I love the name and think it might be incorporated as a nickname, instead of his actual last name. (Probably just my quirk though, lol)

    — I like the soldier’s exchanges — the suits needing air holes. Gritty and funny.

    — Captain Evans is the “point man?” I’m not a military expert, but I thought the exposed point man usually of lower rank.

    — The action lines display a great feel for the imminent danger of the environment. Boots cutting the wire reminded me of the Lethal Weapons scene, in a good way – great tension.

    — A LOT of characters in the first twelve pages. I did have to flip back to remember them all, but was eventually rewarded. As you become more invested in the story they all become clear, and interesting. Because of that, I read deeper into this script.

    — Along with some others here though, I think I would skip the opening Afghan scene. Farther in to the story, it is pivotal to Boot’s recurring nightmare about losing the girl. I don’t think the story needs that, and if you do choose to retain it, I feel you need to add
    more emotion to the girl’s death. The death of a six-year old is horrific, no doubt. But as Carson pointed out in Godzilla, we need to know more about that person to be totally invested… then again if we’re too invested, the film starts out too dark… I don’t know – I’d
    start in L.A.

    A captivating read though. Great story. Definitely gets my vote!!!

    Breaking the Chain

    This is the only script I read all the way through because it was posted here some weeks ago. I did refresh my memory by reading the first ten pages again, however.

    — P1 sets up nicely from the get-go. The “I’m a gambling addict,” the tone, and action lines explain it all. The only problem I had here was Steve’s description, “… late 30s, looks older. Gruff, no-nonsense, working class.” Not because it’s not a good description, but later when we meet Sarah (although she’s “exhausted and worried”), I just kept thinking she’s too good-looking for him. Especially when Craig keeps hitting on her… but that’s really my problem. (It’s probably more because she’s such a good woman and he’s putting her through the ringer.)

    — P2 – Steve’s line about changing: “Course I want to change. I want to start wining ‘stead of blood losing” is classic. Gambling addicts never want to quit, they just want to start winning! Really funny and true.

    P 4 One of the few times in a film where the obligatory titular line of dialogue is said seamlessly by a character. The OLD GUY is great here, and you paint a vivid picture of him and the other gambling derelicts.

    Your entire story if well-written and filled with quaint humor. I’ve always loved the charm of local pubs, and their Guinness or Black and Tan humor, depending on the country.

    In another week, I would’ve voted for your entry but I found the overall GSU in Wire much more compelling. Still, a wonderfully spun tale.

    • Chris Mulligan

      Thanks for the vote & thank you even more for the solid notes. As for the six year old, we tried a couple subtle things to show Boots having that weight on him at all times, but if it didn’t land we’ll look at making it more obvious that he carries that with him every single day.

      Appreciate the read!

    • BSBurton

      First off, thanks for the notes and the vote!!

      You’re completely right about the captain not usually being the point man. There was some backstory as to why this was the case but it was cut and we left it that way. Good catch! (Although I’m not sure it would be an issue on screen, lord willing it gets there).

      Great notes about the opening. Kinda hard to get the “true north” from the love and hate of the opening but a good “Brain storm” never hurt anything. I look forward to reexamining all of our possibilities for the opening. Finding the right balance.

      Then on to the rest of the notes and suggestions :)

      I thank you for the effort you put into reviewing each script, it looks like you sacrificed a good portion of your day and we should all be GRATEFUL !!! :)

    • BSBurton

      And good call back to CARSON’S ARTICLE MENTIONING BUDDY COPS !

    • Ange Neale

      ‘Boots’ is at least stronger than ‘Shoes’ for a name. Or you could go with ‘Flip-flops’ to give him a slightly comical edge.

      • astranger2

        LOL… You must be refreshed from a good night’s sleep. (I like the “flip-flops” angle.)

      • BSBurton

        My French is rusty. I got the “I” lol.

      • Linkthis83

        I think it’s mean to call their one-footed character Boots. Boot is more accurate.

        • Nate

          I think Boot is what seasoned police officers call new officers in the LAPD so it could be applied in this case. If that’s not true then Southland has lied to me.

          • Linkthis83

            I think I remember that from END OF WATCH too.

    • Bifferspice

      wow man, thanks so much for the positive comments, and i really appreciate you having read the whole thing, too. cheers. :)

    • BSBurton

      THanks a lot for the vote and the notes. The nickname idea is very good along with the other stuff you listed! I will get on these notes very soon!!! :)

  • Rick McGovern

    WHAT?? You must be nuts!! It doesn’t hold up? lol

    It’s still one of my all time favorite movies…. though I admittedly like part two the best. And I also like it better than Die Hard… though I just bought both sets of Blu Rays of all the movies for like $37 bucks.

    So Leo doesn’t “get” how you don’t think it doesn’t hold up!

    • BSBurton

      Perfect reply. I tend to think it holds up just fine too, and I was especially pleased to see that the director’s cut of the first three films came out for a cheap price

  • Rick McGovern

    She said she optioned it… so she didn’t buy them.

    And you contact the author… or publisher (or agent) if you can’t find the author.

  • BSBurton

    No rush Zero, appreciate the read if you have time.

  • Ange Neale

    Hey, Byron – I’ll get to it, promise! Been unexpectedly busy the last 36 hours…

    • BSBurton

      Ange, I appreciate it! No rush, I know with life in general plus the time difference it can be tough.

      • Ange Neale

        Mostly ‘cos Amateur Friday turned into most of Amateur Friday night, Amateur all-day Saturday and Amateur Sunday morning…

  • Kirk Diggler

    Down to the Wire: Opening page reminds me of The Hurt Locker with the blast suit.

    P 2 – When Boots asked the Captain if he’s hit and he sternly responds that “I’m fine, let’s move”…. even thought it appears as if he’s suffered a gun shot wound…

    I feel as if I’ve seen this scene many times before. It’s a trope.

    p 5-6 – My main question about Boots defusing the bomb, is why? It’s an old boarded up house right? Why does he need to diffuse it? Especially since his unit is under attack. Why not just blow the bomb up with another bomb? The only one in imminent danger from what I can tell is Boots himself, trying to diffuse a bomb. I understand the reason for the scene, I’m just wondering if the bomb should be in a more strategic area than an abandoned house to justify what ends up happening. Just a thought.

    p 8 – Minor nit, most retailers empty cash registers into a safe at night. That’s where their big score would be, especially at a pharmacy.

    pg 11 – A pharmacy in L.A. is robbed… and it makes the news? No one died and the building wasn’t set on fire, not sure how newsworthy it would be and whether the stoner clerk would be on top of that information.

    Okay, so Joe Durmont is 28. His mother is 83. Do the math on that guys.

    I like the pay-off with the chips.

    This action line bothers me for some reason.

    “Joe helps her sit up in the bed. The old diabetic is missing both of her legs from the knees down.”

    Why not just, “Joe helps her sit up, she is missing both of her legs from the knees down.”

    …Because we know she is old, hell she was old when she gave birth to Joe. Then we see Joe administer the insulin, so that tells us she is diabetic. I think the ‘old diabetic’ line just sounded clumsy, and it is information that you clearly demonstrate. Saves you a line too.

    p 13 – I have to say that I don’t buy Claire’s note to Joe here. Not because women aren’t aggressive, more like Joe didn’t earn it from what I could see. I get that they have interacted before and maybe they have flirted previously, but it doesn’t come across in the scene at all. They barely spoke and there were no hints of chemistry. Add some sub text. Why is Claire giving him such a come on? Maybe have Joe show a little interest in her, then she gives him her number, then have him react in a way that makes him more human. He’s come off like a total knob but we don’t know why.

    P 15 – CHARLIE: We better call 911.

    Sounds like nothing a criminal would say.

    P 16-17 – The Captain Roberts conversation falls flat and heavy with exposition that doesn’t even seem necessary.

    CAPTAIN ROBERTS : Joe’s one of our up-and-comers, he made detective last May.

    This sounds like movie dialogue, not real people dialogue.

    The tension between Boots and Joe feels forced. They don’t like each other over a handi-capped parking space. Yeah, Joe is a functional alcoholic and can’t be bothered with details at this point, but it doesn’t feel organic.

    Why not make them meet at a crime scene? You can still have Boots park in the handi-capped spot and Joe call him out for it or even write him a ticket. I just don’t think it works at the police station. You’ve got Boots telling Joe “Looks can be deceiving”… which does not in any way peek Joe’s interest. I’d be like, “What the F you talking about? Are you handi-capped or not?” If Joe is interested enough to call Boots out for parking in a handicapped spot, wouldn’t he wonder what he meant by the ‘looks/deceiving’ line?

    p 19 – BOOTS : “Any leads?”

    I immediately think of Jeff Lebowski asking the cop about his stolen car. “Leads? Yeah, sure. I’ll, uh, just check with the boys down at the crime lab. They got four more detectives working on the case. They got us working in shifts.”

    No but seriously, I don’t know what’s going on here. Is Boots a detective? If so, how did that happen? This is apparently his first day on the force and he gets paired with Joe, who is a detective. How is Boots not a beat cop? Confused by this. Are you going for realism or is this a movie world that your characters live in? (serious question)

    P 20 – BOOTS: (to Joe) “Yeah, but what’s with the attitude? Did I piss you off or something?” Boots is acting like a total prat yet he questions Joe’s attitude toward him. I don’t understand these character interactions. One second Boots insults Joe right in front of the Commissioner, the next second he chases Joe’s tail like he needs a friend.

    Read to Pg 34 – Really struggling with this one. The tone is weird. Sometimes it feels like a parody of a cop film. I haven’t read anything that reminds me of Lethal Weapon or True Detective. The two leads don’t act like real cops. If Boots is supposed to be Martin Riggs you’ve missed the mark I’m afraid.

    The coincidence at the hospital after Willie overdoses where we find out that one of the pharmacy thieves, Mickey (hell of a fight he gives Joe by the way, must have been some overdose), JUST HAPPENS to have been admitted to the same hospital. The fact that Boots INSTANTLY makes the connection between the OD victims and the people who robbed the pharmacy is not remotely believable. In a city if 500 people maybe. In a city of 18 million it’s a plot hole. Where is the detective work? There is none. Boots, first day on the job, has this preternatural ability to put 2 and 3057 together.

    It’s too contrived and strains credulity to it’s limits. There were very few genuine moments for me. Is this a light-hearted cop buddy film with bits of comedy? If so, why the heavy opening scene with dead soldiers where we’re left hanging as to whether a 5 year old girl was blown to bits? Maybe it’s just me. Maybe other people got the tone of your piece and i’m having an off night. Plenty of people seem to like it. But it is not Carson ready by a LONG stretch.

    There is one little thing that would instantly improve this. Cut the first 4 1/2 pages.

    Open like this.


    Sporadic gunfire breaks the silence.


    What about the girl?

    Incapacitate her and dismantle the bomb.

    FADE IN:


    Boots stares at the innocent girl, her eyes wet with tears.

    BOOTS (headset) Incapacitate her? She’s a kid.

    That’s a kick ass opener. And you guys wrote it. Gets you right into the story. Everything that happens prior to this scene is meaningless, it’s filler. Don’t need it.

    Then BOOM the explosion and you flash to Boots waking up….. all on the first page. It’s jarring and dramatic and tells the audience everything they need to know about what Boots is dealing with… all in 1/2 page.

    Also I’d ditch the scene with Joe’s Mom. Grinds things to a halt. Nothing interesting happened. I know I know, save the cat. Joe loves his Mom so I guess you think the reader will like Joe because he shoots her up with insulin and changes her diapers. I didn’t. Now had he showed his vulnerable side with that nurse… maybe. Either way Joe is just there. Your script says he’s 28 but he comes across like he’s 45. Maybe it was a typo?

    Anyway, good luck with it. Sorry it didn’t connect with me. It was a fairly easy read even with my tonal issues. I hope this was of some small use.

    • astranger2

      Kirk Diggler? Why does that name sound familiar? …hmmm. Isn’t that the name of the One-Armed ATA pilot from Ange’s script, “The Cloud Factory?”

      • Kirk Diggler

        Sure, if Ange goes for it.

        • astranger2

          Thought she’d already signed off on that… Oh, maybe it was for a minor character, like a grounds crewman… You just need to elevate your acting chops, and maybe she’ll assign you a more significant role. ; v )

          • Kirk Diggler

            I’m a star I’m a star I’m a star, a big bright shooting star.

          • astranger2

            LOL… I shouldn’t even bring this up, but… grendl’s initial comments about the absence of a male name seemed groundless… until you inspect the first act more carefully — its not like the WWII action takes place in English homes. It’s on a war-torn airfield. And the total absence of a male name, regardless of their relative insignificance, is… odd… (sorry, Ange)

            It’s more obtrusive for a character heading to say, “OBESE LATRINE-MAINTENANCE CORPORAL” than “MICKEY.” It’s a beautiful script, but grendl’s point is objectively valid here.

          • Kirk Diggler

            There is a way to make a valid point without impugning someone’s character in the not so veiled way he did.

            Yeah, any recurring character should be named. But there were a fair amount of one-offs in her script that did not need a name, especially if the name is never spoken out loud. Regardless, it was Ange’s choice in the matter. Why assume she has a problem with men? That was more the heart of the matter for me.

            99% of the people on this board can have a rational discussion even when they disagree. That’s why I like it here. We’re all in the same boat, somewhere down in steerage. No children allowed.

          • astranger2

            Well, that’s not the path I’m trying to take. And, I’m not trying to reignite anything here. God knows, Ange has gone through enough here with TCF. And, any time we talk about our work, we are talking about our “babies.”

            But how do we treat our babies? If a teacher tells us our kids aren’t hacking it in Algebra, do we go to the teacher, blame them for chastising our kids, and tell them the teacher was an insensitive, clueless tyrant? Or do we take the tiger mom’s role, and regardless of who is at fault, instruct our kids to become better?

            (I probably should delete that prior paragraph, but spent too much time on it now. Like Midnight always preaches, “if I had more time this would be shorter.” More time, less chardonnay…)

            If you forget who said what and focus on the point being made, you might see it differently. Everyone and their mother jumped on those comments because a certain individual made them. But if the comments alone, which I don’t feel were inflammatory, were taken dispassionately, there was much truth to them — from a screenwriting perspective. Which he/she was trying to say.

            Sometimes we coat bitter pills in sugar, ala Mary Poppins. This person occasionally lacks that finesse. Although when so inclined, they can do so beautifully… So I understand exactly your point. I’m only saying, like Joe Friday, “just the facts, ma’am.”

            And on that particular, unpopular, point — he was, without agenda, or male-bias — right.

            Wow… I am long-winded… Help me, Midnight! ; )

          • astranger2

            “99% of the people on this board can have a rational discussion even when they disagree. That’s why I like it here. We’re all in the same boat, somewhere down in steerage. No children allowed.”

            Sadly, it’s only the other 1% that have something important to say…

            (Not saying you have to be irrational, or contentious, to have insight… I include you and a handful of others in that 1%… woefully, I’m in the other 99%…)

          • Kirk Diggler

            I don’t buy that. I could name a couple dozen people who give great notes and make salient comments on Carson’s articles that don’t need to blow smoke up their own ass while they do it.

          • Ange Neale

            99th percentile here. I wish I could review as well as I can spark controversy…

          • Casper Chris

            Grendl specifically suggested that the titles for minor characters, e.g. GRIZZLED MECHANIC be replaced with names. I disagree with that and still do. For a reader who has to keep track of a lot of names, it’s nice to know which characters we need to pay special attention to (named/unnamed comes in handy here). Now,I haven’t read Ange’s script, but there’s nothing stopping Ange from having other characters refer to and address, say, GRIZZLED MECHANIC by his name in dialogue.

            And no one should ever use a character title like “OBESE LATRINE-MAINTENANCE CORPORAL”. Ever.

          • astranger2

            Okay, CC. I respect your opinions, and I probably shouldn’t be re-stirring this kettle, except for my innately perverse nature. From your previous posts about this, and this particular post I do have to interject.

            I also thought grendl’s viewpoint on this scurrilous, based solely on what seemed more a crusade than a logical opinion. But while grendl can be… “vociferous?” — he is also at times RELENTLESSLY logical.

            Obviously, your basic point is well-made. Ancillary characters need no name. A mailman, a waiter, a passenger, a — whatever, needs no name. I agree. But by your own admission, you didn’t read the script.

            Ange’s screenplay is beautifully written, but if you actually read it, do you realize there is not a male name until Page 79? You don’t find that particularly odd in a WWII script that is not on the sidelines of the conflict, but in the airfields and wars of the Second World War??

            Of course my use of Obese whatever was an exaggeration. My only point being that a “MAX” is simpler than using TURNHOUSE WATCH OFFICER, CURMUDGEONLY DRIVER, ONE-ARMED ATA PILOT, SUAVE BUSINESSMAN, ARTHRITIC NEWSAGENT… those are actual examples from the script you never read…

            I’m not trying to say Ange was at fault for ANYTHING. It’s her script, and its written BEAUTIFULLY. Not saying it’s commercial, but that’s not the point here.

            I’m only saying whatever your built-in prejudices are — and that’s the Queen’s plural “your,” including us all — grendl is right. There is an author’s perspective here.

            AND, if the screenplay is submitted on AOF with its ass to bear, it has to endure criticism. That is what any writer hopes for. And in that end, grendl pointed out a SCREENPLAY failing, in his opinion.

            Read it CC. It’s a WWII screenplay on the battlefield without a male character worthy of a name until page 79?? It’s his opinion. Is he that far off base? Maybe.

            But just read it first. Or scan it. No major males worth naming until Page 79?? I am often wrong. And I may be wrong here. But I think he’s not totally irrational in his assumptions either.

            What do you think?

            All the best. ; v )


          • Casper Chris

            But by your own admission, you didn’t read the script.

            Neither did Grendl. By his own admission.

            “I didn’t bother seeing if Ange provided an actual real male character with a name.” – Grendl

            I don’t have to read a script to make a generalized statement pertaining to the craft of screenwriting.

            btw. I have nothing against Grendl. I enjoy reading his comments and insights. As I’ve said many times. Hell, I even enjoy his occasional illogical tirade.

            “MAX” might be simpler in terms of character count, but it’s also more abstract than GRIZZLED MECHANIC and doesn’t convey an image. Hell, it doesn’t even nail the gender, which is where names usually excel ;)

            But to address your point…

            grendl is right. There is an author’s perspective here.
            Isn’t there always? I don’t remember a lot of major male characters in that award-winning lesbian romantic drama Blue Is The Warmest Color either despite its 190 minute running time. It didn’t bother me. The main character’s world revolved around women so I was okay with the film revolving around women. I believe Ange’s script is a lesbian romantic drama set against the backdrop of a war, not a war movie. Honestly, I hate pandering to the sensibilities of certain demographics more than anything. “Let’s add a female character so it appeals more to women. Let’s add a gay character to bring in the gay crowd. Let’s add a major male character so it seems less misandrous.”. etc. I’ll concede it’s good business sense sometimes, but I’m a storyteller, not a business man.

          • astranger2

            Ange is a darling, beautiful writer, and can write a beautiful novel EASILY if she wanted but thinks she has to be F. Scott Fitzgerald or will fail. TCF IS a novel if you just add quotes instead of Character headings. She has the worst kind of “ism” of all, “perfectionism.”

            If she clipped TCF and changed it as board members suggest, it could be commercially viable also. But the other “ism” she has is “martyrism.” And she’ll DIE before compromising — meaning if EVERYONE on the board gave it “10s” and EVERY studio rang her phone off the hook TOMORROW, she’d still fail. Because she doesn’t understand the process. Which is compromise, compromise, compromise, and then compromise some more until your eyes bleed… and then compromise… but get paid…

            None of this was my point. And I am a victim of both “isms” myself, and teach best what I need to learn.

            All I was saying is that grendl was making a very, very, very useful and instructive point to Ange. And I read his post, as I read all his posts, and anyone’s, as I do your’s, that have any value. (He doesn’t particularly favor mine, but, hey — I’m a person with nothing to say, but insists on saying it. Who can blame him?)

            It’s just that I hate “pack mentality.” Everyone wants to burn the Frankenstein monster. They get all in a lather. Sometimes it’s justified, most times not.

            Board members were attacking grendl’s bias against alternative lifestyles without questioning why. Look at TCF. There is ONE NAMED MALE CHARACTER in 130 pages of a WWII script.

            Is grendl a gender-biased a-hole for railing about this? Or was he railing against the market viability of a screenplay with ONE MALE character mentioned in a World War II script?

            Put down your torches, people. If you want to rant against someone, rant! But before you set him afire… can’t we at least study the facts? Or in this ADHD news society, do the facts matter at all?

          • Casper Chris

            Did you read my post? Because it doesn’t seem like you’re responding to it.

          • Stephjones

            hey astranger,

            Grendl has admitted he likes to stir things up under the guise of ” Shepherd ” and in the name of fun. ( his version of fun) it’s a mistake to make a big deal of it either way. He wasn’t railing. He was mentioning. Ange considered it to be a valid point. It is a valid point in a WW II movie.
            KD took offense only when G became offensive. Those two duked it out and presumably shook hands with bloody noses after.
            No one took the torches as far as I can see. Stop trying to create trouble where there is none.
            As far as your assertion that Ange suffers from Martyrism…I’ll let her deal with that. If she decides to bother.

          • astranger2

            Admittedly, g has fun doing the Johnny Nash thing. Sometimes i wonder if g isn’t Carson, as it does wake up the board. And while both are gifted writers, it would take some talent to consistently affect both voices.

            IF Ange feels offended in ANY way by my oomments, i would be on my knees to apologize, I think the world of her. (As i can only ascertain from posted comments anyway…)

            So maybe you all are closer friends than I am privy too, and it is all an “inside” joke I fell into. The prey, so to speak.

            My mention of the “isms” wasn’t intended to be cruel or callous. But instead was something I am most victim to. From my perspective, “martyrism” isn’t… well, it’s a failing of the honorable, and proud. Not meant to be denigrating at all…

            I didn’t realize the “inside” nature of this society, and its nuances. And, I apologize…

          • Stephjones

            Not an insider. I’m barely viable as a screenwriter but I do read posts and spin my own interpretation.
            Martyrdom is a seeking out of suffering or persecution because it feeds a psychological need.

          • astranger2

            I’m not a clinician. And, it was never my intention to disparage her. On the contrary, I was only saying from a financial aspect she has the talent to succeed either way.

            If Ange wishes I won’t respond to her. Without really studying the “isms” in depth, I know I suffer from both. Big time. It certainly wasn’t meant as an insult. If she takes it that way, I would be extremely disheartened.

            I suppose I feel if I had her talent, and that screenplay, I’d take the money and run, and live to write another day…

            My apologies… Why do I feel the need to eat a GALLON of fat-free ice cream now???

          • astranger2

            That seems like an accurate definition. So, other than starting your own religion, or being born Jewish, Catholic, or Asian… how is that psychological need fulfilled?

          • Stephjones

            Death…by fat free ice cream consumption. :)

          • astranger2

            LOL… hope the creatures in my knee save me!

          • astranger2

            I’m really not such a bad person… I’m just drawn that way.

          • Ange Neale

            Not offended at all. I’m having a Disqus hell night, astranger2, and I’m not quite sure what’s going on.
            Casper’s picked up a thread I wrote that got flagged and vanished and reappeared and I have no idea where it is now. I won’t post it again as it was long and I don’t really want to intrude on AOW — it’s their turn now.
            Could you drop me an email at neal0018 at gmail dot com? There are some points you’ve made that absolutely should be addressed because there’s a validity to them. For instance, grendl’s right about the lack of male characters but it’s a result of past edits, and taking out stuff that didn’t work as well from earlier drafts. I tinkered with then cut several female characters, too, because they were unhelpful.
            Or if you prefer, we can duck back over to the AF page and continue this there?

          • Casper Chris

            Yea well, my reply seemed to vanish too. Not sure what’s going on. Did you read what I wrote?

          • Ange Neale

            Yeah, I caught it Casper, just before it vanished.
            Somewhere in the cyber-realm, there’s a melted-down Disqus.

            My original drafts had more named male characters.
            From the feedback I’ve gotten this weekend, I’m going to dust them off, because some of what came up was there all along in that old stuff, and rather than re-invent that wheel, I’ll just fix it up and give it a big polish.

            Looking back, I shudder, though — it was god-awfully written.

          • Casper Chris

            Please don’t let all this gender talk convince you that you need to go back and add in a lot of unimportant stuff from an earlier draft just because it had “named male characters”. For the love of all that is holy. I mean, if you cut it out, it probably needed to go (considering you page count).

          • Ange Neale

            Good point.
            It was starting to resemble ‘War and Peace’. The director’s cut of ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ or ‘Lord of the Rings’.
            Not a good look for a first spec script.

          • Linkthis83

            I’m going to disagree with observation of her not understanding the process of compromise.

            The weekend Ange earned the AF spot was the second time TCF was in AOW. The very first time, her script was 150 pages and had a present day story as well (which was actually very interesting although it had its issues as well – as all scripts do).

            I’m not sure if you were aware of this, so I thought I’d include it just in case. I can’t even imagine how difficult it was for her to lop off 30 pages of writing. And like you mentioned, it’s fantastic writing.


          • astranger2

            The word compromise I suggested was not in that “loose” arrangement. But in the strict sense of bending over to the powers that be — whether that translates to placing a cheeseburger, croissant, or those awful pasty scones they eat over the pond…

          • Linkthis83

            Compromise was not the word I was focused on. It was your statement that she did not understand.

            I’m stating by the fact that she is open to the feedback and will make changes based on some it, it shows she does understand.

            And I also think that if she had an unwillingness to change, it wouldn’t mean that she doesn’t understand either. If she’s got a story she wants told her way, then I think by standing her ground she’s not refusing to understand nor do I think she is acting like a martyr.

            Also, to me, the powers that be are US, the writers. Richard Kelly wouldn’t give up his script DONNIE DARKO unless he was allowed to direct it. That was his first script ever and he held out. He wanted his story to be made into a movie HIS way.

            As I type I think I’ve landed on the following: I think it might be frustrating for you to see somebody with this much talent and a valuable story possibly being resistant to changes YOU think would get her to where she wants to go.

            I could also be misinterpreting your point here as well. I’m always open to being incorrect.

          • astranger2

            All right. You’re up, had your coffee. I’m up, and had mine. The interesting part of this all is Ange. Does she even care about the semantics we’re tossing about here? Or is this a separate “logical” discussion, TOTALLY unrelated to whatever she gives two shits about? Something to fill your morning drive? ; )

          • Ange Neale

            I’ve spent my whole weekend being incorrect, LOL!

          • Linkthis83

            I don’t even think it was about being incorrect. You just got caught up in the accusation. It makes sense. Also because a whole discussion had started around it. And some posters fail to look for the truth when they are locked on to their own point. You took more time in the matter than some of them deserved.

          • astranger2

            CC, you seem like a very good person. All I’m really saying is let’s examine the facts before we light the torches. There’s room for all ideas, which is what I think you’re saying. ; )

          • Casper Chris

            Did the thread yesterday turn into some kind of Grendl slaughter or something? Because in that case I must’ve missed it. After I made that one reply to Grendl, I didn’t return to that part of the thread. Was busy making suggestions to Ange further down the thread.

            From stephjones’ comment it sounds like there was a bit of a rumble after I left the scene. I guess that’s where all your talk about lighting torches / pack mentality etc. stem from. Haha. I’m almost tempted to go back and read now.

          • astranger2

            I’m newer here relatively. it’s actually a nice community. But you can fool yourselves sometimes. Unlike other communities you don’t ever see others. But like other communities, you get a sense. It’s all good. In most ways, business as usual. You’re cool, CC. Sometimes you get lost in the “love.” But in ANY market, it’s caveat emptor.

          • Ange Neale

            It is odd, but there is at least a partial explanation. Have addressed it elsewhere, if Disqus cooperates…

          • Ange Neale

            Yes, you really are, darling!

          • Ange Neale

            Whoa, something really weird is going on here… Is somebody flagging everything just for the hell of it?

          • Ange Neale

            I wonder what would happen to Witwoud’s objections if I changed Jenny to Kirk and had a marvellous romance between him and surgeon Allison?

          • witwoud


            If valiant Airman Diggler pranged his kite and woke up in hospital to meet beautiful Nurse Allison who is so tender and caring and sensitive and beloved by her staff, and also happens to be a baronet’s daughter, and doesn’t have a single bloody flaw, and is so perfect in every way that it’s practically sickening, and over the next hundred pages they simper and hold hands and make up nicknames and exchange flowers and roll through the English countryside in a two-seater, and … well, we’re only up to page 60, but you get the idea … then I would say to the author: “Dude, you’ve just written yourself a girlfriend. This is a romantic fantasy, not a piece of drama.”

            So no. I am many vile things, but I reject the homophobe charge.

          • Ange Neale

            I’m relieved you’re not homophobic, I never said you were vile (I rarely think such things about anyone with the possible exception of mass murderers like Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot and Mao), and she isn’t flawless. She’s a fucked-up workaholic who won’t stand up to bullies for herself.

          • witwoud

            I am vile, Ange. You’ve no idea.

            See, these flaws you keep claiming for Jenny and Allison aren’t coming through in the script at all. (Fucked-up workaholic, really?) I think you need to magnify them x10 before they’re remotely visible. And maybe choose more interesting ones, because they’re kind of bland at the moment. She’s too trusting … She won’t stand up for herself … She’s a bit insecure … she’s a workaholic … Well, okay, but they’re still a pair of angels. It’s the other characters who are truly flawed. (Crude, chauvinistic, bottom-pinching, intolerant, snobbish etc.)

            Make Jenny reckless, fun-loving, green, maybe a show-off in the cockpit. Make Allison cynical and tart. Give them some real salt. Then I could get behind your story.

            Heh, it looks like you’re getting an Amateur Saturday slot too.

          • Ange Neale

            I’ll add ‘salt’ to my list, and as for Amateur Saturday — not by choice. I’d prefer the AOW authors get a fair go.

          • witwoud

            Yeah, I’m feeling a bit guilty too. (Plus, it’s Sunday, I’ve just realised. The writer’s life, eh?)

            I’m still reading Whittell — just got to the part where the Yanks arrive :)

          • Ange Neale

            On second thoughts, no spoilers — leave you to it.

        • Ange Neale

          I did. I can flick you a copy if you like?

        • Ange Neale

          I did, although my original response to this has vanished into Disqus hell.

      • klmn

        In Boogie Nights, Mark Wahlberg’s character was named Dirk Diggler.

        • Linkthis83

          In this case, Ange asked Grendl if he would name a male character in her script and he chose KIRK DIGGLER (KD and G had a discussion on Friday :)

          • Ange Neale

            And I did it too!

        • BSBurton

          Oh, that’s right !

    • lesbiancannibal

      …Because we know she is old, hell she was old when she gave birth to Joe. Made me laugh out loud and wake the baby, thanks

    • Linkthis83

      Very good notes on this and I agree with the majority of it. I also like your approach to keeping the opening, but not keeping the opening. That was an effective compromise, in my opinion.

    • Chris Mulligan

      Solid notes, really appreciate it.

    • BSBurton

      Thanks Kirk, a lot to consider and I appreciate your time and effort! Oh, I will be taking out the “old diabetic” line. Also, joe Is adopted :). No natural birth for that old gal.

  • fragglewriter

    Read two scripts since I’m revising my crime/drama script.

    1) Down to the Wire – Read until page 34. Conflicts seemed force and the action sequences felt too familiar.

    2) Red River Torrens – Read until page 10. For some reason, I was into it until the Governor showed up and started talking about his speech. After that, I got bored.

    • BSBurton

      Sorry it didn’t do it for you fraggle, but the ending juices it up. THanks for the read anyway!

  • sotiris5000

    My vote goes to Breaking The Chain. It had that rare quality of being a script about something important and relatable (gambling addiction) that’s done in a really funny and entertaining way, so that it doesn’t get preachy or boring. It’s a comedy with meaning. Compare this to most of the Hollywood comedies that come out these days which are so shallow and feel like nothing more than extended improv scenes. The script was also heartfelt and had a maturity and depth to the way the characters and emotions were depicted which you hardly ever see in any of the amateur offerings here. Breaking The Chain by a mile.

    • Bifferspice

      wow, thanks sotiris. those comments mean a lot. i appreciate your thoughts and encouragement. :)

  • astranger2

    Belated Happy Birthday, you H.L.Mencken clone. Remember, however — and i’m not speaking of mine — if you keep bending and twisting the affections and loyalty of those that support you, those bands will eventually… snap… and break… Hope your birthday was very special though! F- the rest of them! ; v )

  • Bifferspice

    hmm, i put a reply here but it doesn’t seem to have stuck. wanted to say thanks for the vote, and for your encouraging comments when i originally posted it. i’m sure your enthusiasm meant people read it that wouldn’t have otherwise. i really appreciate your support.

  • Linkthis83

    DIE HARD always and forever.

    When I first saw FACE/OFF, I thought that was going to be the new DIE HARD. I was incorrect.

    • jridge32

      When I first saw POINT BREAK, I thought it was going to be the next TRUMAN SHOW. I too was incorrect.

      • Linkthis83

        There’s still something to be said for the fact that you knew there was going to be a TRUMAN SHOW. Don’t be too hard on yourself. We all make mistakes. Even if they are futuristic.

      • BSBurton

        What do you think about the remake moving forward?

  • Citizen M

    MY pick this week is [TBA].

    • Citizen M


      • BSBurton

        THanks for the read!

    • Citizen M


      This should be listed as a Comeback Script. It appeared on Jan 18 AOW as THE FIRESEED.

      I see it has been tinkered with a bit, but not much. Read my comments of then, particularly the one where I wrote “Please write Doc without the full stop. He’s a professor, not a doctor. Doc is his name, not his title.”

    • Citizen M


      Read about 55 pages a couple of weeks ago. From memory, it wasn’t bad, but a bit low-key. I felt it needed a little craziness to lift it out of the ordinary. I also smelled the dead hand of Political Correctness with the unemployed father. Why is it necessary to make a social comment in a piece of entertainment?

      • Bifferspice

        i appreciate the vote, Citizen M, even if it sounds like only a bit of a vote! i’ll try and add more craziness in my next draft :)

        • pmlove

          If it does have a message I can’t quite decide whether it’s more apt as a
          metaphor for the benefits of a well funded state sector or the benefits
          of trickle down economics.

    • Citizen M


      Read to page 32. Not a lot happening. No goal for Pete. He’s just wandering around aimlessly with Ariel. I would have liked a couple of scenes where he learns how different the new world is. How did he find out that the old laws no longer work but magic, like obedience spells, does? Why did the thug attack Pete? It doesn’t appear to be attempted robbery, and I see no other reason. Why does Ariel say, “Someone will always be hunting me.” What threat does she pose to anyone? What were Rus and Emilio doing on the overpass? Too many questions. Not enough answers.

      I thought all magical animal companions were ‘familiars’. What is the difference between a familiar and a buddy? I haven’t heard the word ‘buddy’ used in this context before.

    • Citizen M


      Read 30 pages. Still rather baffled as to what is going on. Calvin dies in a crashed spaceship on a barren planet. Ages pass. the planet becomes alive. In the spaceship, Calvin’s hologram mother works to resurrect him. In a flashback we see him as a cadet pilot crashing after a malfunction. Alice was his ground controller and visits him in hospital… I think this is what happened. I’m still not sure what the point of it all is. I don’t even know who the protagonist is — Calvin or the hologram of his dead mother who appears to have inhabited his reconstituted body. Color me confused.

  • Rick McGovern

    I don’t remember a Home Depot type scene toward the beginning of LW… it’s him thinking about eating a bullet. Then he does the school shooting (which was as added only for the director’s cut, and can actually see why they cut it), and then the Christmas Tree drug scene… and then he meets Roger… If I remember right.

    But I do think the LW sequel (#2) is more fun to watch, and it manages to keep the same depth as the first one. 3 and 4 were a little more hokey pokey, though I did still enjoy them, just not nearly as much as the first two.

    And I actually like Die Hard With a Vengeance the best out of the franchise. And then 1, then 2. And probably a tie with the last two, which are only Die Hard movies in name. Actually, you may be able to make the same case for #3 as well, even though they did tie in the villain with the first Die Hard.

    But they are a different style and brand of movie (at least the first two, as they weren’t buddy cop movies) than LW, and so I personally don’t compare the two two franchises together).

    Though I suppose all the following Die Hard’s after 2 became buddy movies.

  • James Inez

    Lots of good scripts this week, but my pick is for Ariel. It is very visual and seems like a fun adventure.

  • SinclareRose

    Carson suggests, per the newsletter, that we should read a book a month.
    Anyone up for an SS Book Club????

    • Linkthis83

      I want to say yes, but I don’t want to over extend myself either. I’m super busy as is. I wish more people (any people) had jumped on this. That way I could be a drifter though the club :)

      • SinclareRose

        Ahh well, Linkthis83. If I remember, maybe I’ll mention it again in a month or so.

  • Casper Chris

    Grendl wrote:

    So when a female pilot has a broken wing on her plane she’s going to say, “hey Grizzled Mechanic. GM, can you fix this.”

    That’s really authentic. Really good world building. Do you know how important mechanics are to airplane flight?

    That’s not what I said. I said the main character could address the GRIZZLED MECHANIC by his name in dialogue, as in “hey Mike”, not “hey grizzled mechanic”. But don’t put the name in the character header if it’s just a minor character we meet for 30 seconds who has little story importance. That’s what I’m saying.

    I think I’ll take James Camerons approach over yours, how about that Casper.

    Drake in Aliens was not an unimportant minor character. Here’s a number from Aliens though:
    Med Tech
    Insurance Man
    ECA Representative
    Cocooned Woman

    Are you going to rant about the societal importance of doctors and med techs now? Oh the injustice!

    • pmlove

      Sometimes it’s easier to let sleeping grendls lie.

      • Casper Chris

        Actually it’s hard for me not to respond. But I should probably stop reading his in-moderation posts so as to avoid the temptation altogether. I will do that from now on. Meanwhile Disqus should consider delaying reply notification until the reply has gone through moderation.

        • Kirk Diggler

          It’s just a little boy in a Halloween mask.

  • pmlove

    My vote: Breaking The Chain.

    I think it is a perfectly light-hearted British comedy, the exact sort of thing that my Mum would love, a sort of Kinky Boots vibe.

    Major comment is that for a script focusing on addiction, both the lead and Martin almost flip a switch after the set-up and almost never struggle with their addictions again.

    But the best thing about this script is that almost EVERY character has an arc.

    • Bifferspice

      thanks for the vote, pmlove :-) i agree with you about that. i have a whole extra section i’m planning to put in the next draft, where steve gets martin to spy on sarah/craig, and he tails them to a bar, and gets plastered while doing so, and it all goes horribly wrong. along with a couple of hangovers thrown in here and there, it will hopefully that will keep martin’s presence all the way to the end more strongly than it currently does. thanks again for the read :) your mum has excellent taste! haha!

  • klmn

    I’ve taken a look at all of them and my choice is Down To The Wire. Based on a partial read, It’s well written, yet I think the authors could benefit from the amateur friday experience in polishing it.

    • BSBurton

      Thanks for your vote KLMN, would love for Carson to give us a review. Gotta some great notes so far and support.

  • Casper Chris

    For me it’s between Breaking The Chain and Down To The Wire.

    I’ve read the entire of the former and it’s solid albeit a bit low-key and pedestrian story-wise (arguably more a fault of the genre than the writer) But I really liked the characterization and dialogue. Kept me reading.

    I’ll have to read some more of the latter before I cast my vote.

    • pmlove

      Breaking the Chain is definitely low key but I really believe there is an audience for it, so whilst it lacks is pure GSU, stakes I don’t believe this is an issue. It’s a feel good film. That’s it. But I mean it as a compliment because there aren’t many that don’t descend into Rom-Com.

      This is a vague critique but I think one of the things that need tweaking is an injection of local humour. I don’t really know what what Peterborough is like (despite being a Midlander) and I still don’t after reading it. Looking at Full Monty, Kinky Boots, anything by Ken Loach and they are all set where they are set for a reason and this is reflected in the humour, trappings and story. BTC feels a little generic in this respect.

      • Casper Chris

        Breaking the Chain is definitely low key but I really believe there is an audience for it, so whilst it lacks is pure GSU, stakes I don’t believe this is an issue. It’s a feel good film. That’s it.

        Yea, it’s outside my usual wheelhouse genre-wise, but it feels solid for what it is. I really loved the characterization. I feel maybe the climax/ending could’ve used a bit more “oomph”. Some way, somehow. It felt like it was building toward something grander. I understand the moral of the story and all, but it was almost too neat and clear-cut. I know I know… it usually is with these kind of stories…

      • Bifferspice

        ooh, it’s not set in peterborough! i’m going to prove your point, by admitting i don’t know the town it’s set in, but in my head it’s in the north, some gentle lancastrian town, but i agree i haven’t got much to justify it. i’ll have a think on that. thanks for the thought, it probably would give the script more of a ‘feel’.

        • pmlove

          Ah OK, apologies! I thought there was a thing with a paper at the start – that was the version from a couple of weeks ago though.

          • Bifferspice

            ah, i see. that’s just steve’s scrapbook of previous lottery winners. you’re right though, it is misleading – i hadn’t thought of that before. hmm, i’ll sort that in the next draft (adding to the million notes i’m getting from you lot – haha!) :)

    • BSBurton

      Thanks Casper, appreciate the consideration!

  • Stephjones

    Breaking the chain gets my vote. My sort of movie. Someone contact Working Title, please.

    • Bifferspice

      ah cheers Steph :) anyone got their phone number? haha!

      • mulesandmud

        +44 20 7307 3000

  • ElectricDreamer

    Hats off to all the AOW candidates this weekend!
    I see Byron and Bifferspice made the grade, sweet.
    Always encouraging to see contributors score some attention.


    Your opening line doesn’t make any sense.
    You describe two professors, TOM AND DOC, then a PERIOD. Who’s GEORGE?
    Wait, I think I figured it out… “Doc” is an incorrect abbreviation.
    Try DR. GEORGE, please. Your opening line should not confound the reader.
    What a confusing start to a script. Huge red flag right away.
    Too bad, the logline sounds intriguing.

    P. 1 You’re sending mixed messages with your prose choices…
    The logline sounds like a serious true story, but then I see — TOADIES.
    No offense, but vernacular like that belongs in old comic books and serials.
    Is this a serious true story or Radar Men of the Moon?

    Niggles like that will undermine reader confidence.

    P. 1 You can also eliminate one of the two river slugs.
    You’re showing us a chase, give us some pacing by dropping a slug.

    P. 1 Poised to beat thugs with an umbrella. Reads more comical to me.
    Or something out of The Avengers. No, not the Marvel one.

    P. 2 No need to repeat twice that the Commissioner still has a ski mask on.
    You already established that on page one.
    Since it’s continuous, it’s understood the disguise is still intact.

    P. 3 “a banner READS”

    P. 6 Signing autographs at a murder scene. That reads like a comedy to me.

    P. 6 So, The Commissioner is the chief of police?
    I thought it was a nickname for the Lead Toadie.
    I’m not so sure you want to give away that big reveal so easily.
    Seems to me that a dramatic build up to that twist would be much more fun.

    P. 6 Why detail the murder and then spend zero time at the crime scene.
    The chat that takes place there isn’t even about the murder.

    P. 8 The police haven’t questioned the witness, but he’s on TV?
    Law enforcement does not let that happen in a murder case.
    They would keep the press away until they conducted their interview.
    Allowing the press to bombard the witness can cloud testimony.
    Any competent cop knows this. Standard operating procedure.

    P. 8 I like the Commissioner’s joke. Wish I didn’t know he was the bad guy.
    So far, at least his character appears to be competent.
    It’s fun to get me to like a character, then reveal they are a villain.

    P. 10 If Doc George was such a MENTOR, why isn’t Don seriously UPSET?
    He took the news well, ans hasn’t shown any emotions about it either.
    Don isn’t reacting like someone whose mentor just got murdered.
    He should be enraged, not using the act to boost his PR!
    Don comes off like a total jerk, and I’m stopping here.

    Confusing prose undermines your tale. Tonal mistakes alienate me.
    BTW, the left margin appears to be at least half an inch too long.
    Which likely means the script is actually under 90 pages.
    Reset your margins to industry standard in Final Draft.
    True stories are cool, but the start to this one need a rethink.


    • ElectricDreamer

      PILOT —
      P. 3 If there’s thousands of coffins in this ship, it must be huge.
      Rework your opening description of Herald XII to reflect that.
      As written, it’s just a metallic object.

      P. 5 “fusion core reactor TO be initiated”

      P. 6 They have hot showers on a busted ship after four years?
      Since it crashed and Calvin was super filthy, I assumed there was no water.
      That’s some killer plumbing. I understand it’s all about survival right now.
      But if I knew something about the mission, I might get more invested.

      P. 7 Just laying the groundwork right now? Four years later.
      The whole scenario doesn’t sit right with me…
      It’s been four years. Things are looking dire. And Calvin’s still pretty chill.
      What’s he been doing all this time, growing trees with Bruce Dern?

      He’s got these chips to fix. Something else about a system reboot.
      Then it’s off to a shuttle for a haphazard escape plan.
      I’m sure it makes sense to the author, but I’m not getting it from the page.

      P. 9 Now we’re building a nuclear reactor?
      If Calvin is deliberately blowing off his Fate, then be clearer about it.
      Right now, I’m not even sure he’s human. That made lead to a cool reveal.
      But as I read, it only serves to alienate me from your story.
      Because I can’t stop thinking aloud… What’s up with this protag?

      P. 10 I wish I knew Calvin’s job or any details to get me invested.
      I don’t know the mission, the man, or the goal other than survival.
      And like GRAVITY, you need CLEAR MINI-TASKS to fuel the adventure.
      But here I feel like I’m left out in the cold.

      I read the logline. I didn’t know about the dying star collision.
      Why don’t you use that DISTANCE to measure time instead of a bland countdown.
      If I knew about that impending doom, it would heighten the tension.

      Maybe a VOICEOVER from Calvin would go a long way to clear things up.
      As written, I couldn’t find a way into your story.


      • jonsanhueza

        Thanks for the great notes! I think there’s a bit of confusion with other readers as well as to the condition of the ship… it’s taken Calvin 4 years to fix the CPU by hand (the ship’s AI, which controls everything else), so he can’t turn on the hot water, or have the ship produce more oxygen, or pretty much anything else without it. which is also why all the embryos in cold storage are dying, because there’s not enough power in their reserves to keep them all alive. I felt like after a few years of working, eating, sleeping, working, eating, sleeping… it would become tedious and mechanical, which is how i tried to paint it. But as I said, you make some valid points. Thanks!

    • ElectricDreamer

      ARIEL —
      First off this must be said, major props for optioning a book!
      And it has about a hundred positive reviews on Amazon.
      You’re ahead of the Spec Pack with an IP backing your script!

      P. 2 When a cute girl flirts, playahs don’t care about debates.
      Pete comes off a little self-absorbed here. And it’s just rude.
      Emo teens are quick way to land a hot date with my recycle bin.

      P. 3 Star Wars & The Karate Kid meta-refs in the first two pages.
      I’d prefer if you spent your opening pages on your original story.
      Please endear me to her with human behavior. Not her iMDb-fu.

      P. 3 Pete making the nuclear joke spoils some genuine tension.
      Rethink this if you want me to take your protag and world seriously.

      P. 3 So solly? I don’t even have any Asian friends and I find that offensive.
      Pete is racist. Did he really think girls get hot for racist humor?

      P. 4 Three classic movies refs in the opening four pages.
      Please don’t remind me how great those movies are while I’m reading you.
      It draws a comparison that a spec script can never win.

      P. 4 I find it hard to believe that looters hit the burbs that fast.
      It’s only been two hours. All the plunderings going on downtown.

      P. 6 From the Karate Kid sight gags to a random dirt nap in three pares.
      A leap like that really undermines the credibility of the melodrama.

      Lose the movie refs and racist humor. They’re just sitcom affectations.
      Give me a HUMAN BEAT between these two kids that will get me hooked.
      The wasted real estate upfront doesn’t give me much hope for the rest.

      P. 8 Like Juliette Binoche in Godzilla. Grace’s death does nothing for me.
      I don’t know a thing about her other than she’s into movies.
      And it’s just puzzling to me why Peter wasn’t killed too.

      A mere two hours after the lights go out, this happens in suburbia?
      Sorry author, I just don’t buy it. Nothing logical about it.
      I’ll accept manticores. But your apocalypse isn’t ringing true to me.

      P. 10 The mantra-like repetition of Uni’s dialogue isn’t cute for me.
      Why make a mythical creature sound like a valley girl on Oxy.
      It’s these wide tonal shifts that distance me from your narrative.

      I’m stopping here.
      I’d like to take this scenario seriously, but the tonal choices prevent that.
      Great thinking on optioning a book. But the YAF craze has wound down.
      Tweens and mythology was already run into the ground via Percy Jackson.
      Maybe if Maleficent is a hit, unicorns might come back into style.


    • ElectricDreamer

      P. 1 Boots as a surname doesn’t do it for me. Reminds of of kitty-cats.
      The one with black socks that hates you and vomits in your loafers.
      Consider something a little more masculine for your protag.

      P. 1 Not sure how I feel about Boots whining over the suits.
      They do keep him alive and all. The general complaining rings false to me.
      Typically, soldiers don’t whine about the gear that saves them.

      P. 1 Why would a Captain take point? He’s the ranking officer.
      That’s just bad military strategy. Uncle Sam would not approve.

      P. 3 Why are long wires so strange? That’s in the Hurt Locker.
      It’s a long wire that gets revealed before a big blast.
      Be more specific as to the exotic nature of the demolitions.

      P. 4 Bomb disposal guys don’t drag explosives around.
      That’s a serious breach of protocol. No one does that with live explosives.
      That would require some explanation for me to believe.

      P. 5 A glass shard severing a wire that’s laying on the ground.
      I don’t buy that extraordinary coincidence. Reads like a complex set up.

      P. 5 Your hero manhandling a traumatized kid like that is disturbing.
      No protag worth their salt would follow that order.
      Just stay between her and the bomb. Protect the innocent. Not jump them.

      P. 6 Too many coincidences, everything hinging on that nicked wire.
      Show a hostile that Boots has to take out. To protect the kid.
      Let a grenade throwing baddie complicate things, not high coincidence.
      That boiler plate scenario at least paints Boots a decent guy.

      P. 6 The ankle reveal was an effective surprise.

      P. 7 Putting, “The detective’s chiseled exterior” first reads confusing.
      I don’t know Joe’s a detective until I read the next sentence.
      Stopped the flow for me, consider revising it.

      P. 8 Is the pharmacy near the supermarket?
      Or are these two scenes unrelated. Are they in the same building maybe.
      Lots of chain supermarkets have full service pharmacies in them.
      If so, then why doesn’t Joe react to the crime.
      The staging of this could use some clarity.
      Especially, since it’s the other big intro for your dual protags.

      P. 10 The potato chip ad reminded of Last Action Hero meta-style humor.
      Sitcom style stoner humor reads tonally sideways here.
      We just butchered an innocent girl a couple minutes ago.

      Big Question: What does Boots prosthetic look like.
      You gave us the stump to trump the alarm clock cliche, that worked.
      But you didn’t pay off the prosthetic. We need to see that.
      If I’m going to be looking at the handicap in a movie, give it to me asap.
      You need to explain to me, that so my imagination doesn’t assume the worst.

      I’m stopping here. There’s a lot of things that aren’t coming together.
      Boots doesn’t engage me, and his name doesn’t help.
      Going from innocent kid death to stoner yuck-yucks clashes hard for me.

      These intros feel much more like BACKSTORY than ACTIVE NARRATIVE.
      We can find out a bunch of this stuff on the fly with the duo together.
      Find a dynamic way to intro your characters while kick-starting the story.
      I feel you need that kind of urgency in a high stakes action flick.


      That being said, I’ll gladly read the next big swing the writers take at this.
      Byron knows how to find me. Hang in there and keep rewriting, pal.

      • BSBurton

        Thanks for the notes and thought you put into the script. I appreciate it!! Gonna add them to my folder now.

    • ElectricDreamer

      BREAKING THE CHAIN — (re-reading from a few weeks ago)
      P. 1 put a SPACE between the colon and the quote.
      That way, the word, “clippings:” goes back where it should.
      As written, the spacing in your opener looks wonky and you’ve got an orphan
      No orphans on the opening space! So sayeth the Space Nazi. ;-)

      P. 5 The title recall scene clicks nicely.

      P. 9 Re-reading this, it occurred to me you could DOUBLE DOWN on the tension.
      Why not have Craig and Kelly in the store at the same time?
      Steve tries to manipulate things to get Arran and Kelly together.
      That’s why Steve takes on the tampon harassment.
      Then Craig comes in all cool while Steve’s overloaded with tampons.
      All the while Brady is fussing and fretting. Reminds me of Shop Around the Corner.
      If you’re not an Ernst Lubitsch fan, you should be at least check him out.

      Now, Steve’s got to deal with Heir Douchebag, encouraging Arran and tampons.
      That kind of snafu due to Steve trying to be helpful endears me to him more.
      I think there’s some fun chemistry mixing these elements. Think about it.

      P. 9 Wanker alarm. Laugher.

      P. 14 COLIN needs some CAPS for his character intro.

      P. 16 Still firmly believe Frank’s scene must come before Sarah’s.
      Steve would go to his Da first. He knows what this feels like.
      Re-ordering these two scenes will heighten the drama…
      “What am I gonna tell her, Da? What did you tell mum?”
      Something like that is a fun set up for a self-depricating wisecrack.
      A biting joke is better than wallowing in melodrama.

      P. 18 Makes more cinema sense to go from Sarah’s reaction back to work.
      Da. Sarah. Work. Then the Accumulator is a more genuine path for Steve.
      And it increases your already pretty nimble narrative flow.

      P. 18 Kinda wish I saw Steve pep talk Sarah before the show.
      He’s trying to be extra supportive, take the spotlight off himself.
      Just a short backstage tidbit before the show. Craig’s lurking there too!
      A few tweaks to stir the pot and throw more jealousy rocks at Steve!

      P. 19 Or at the very least, add CRAIG to the AFTER PARTY.
      That might even be better to just do that. Either way, turn up the heat.

      Stopping at page 25. I have bomb defusing cops still to read.
      I’m fond of this tale. There’s not much more to say.
      Your story oft reminds me of what I liked most about Grendl’s Nessie script.

      Consider the three scene suggestions I made.
      I think they can further streamline and already pretty stout Act One.
      We need more conflict for Steve. And its name is CRAIG.


      • Bifferspice

        wow, these are great notes, man. thanks very much for taking the time to do this. i really appreciate it. link also mentioned having craig&kelly in the shop at the same time. makes so much sense, i’m kicking myself i never thought of it. great stuff and yes, more craig elsewhere too. you’re right about the need for more conflict. i’m going to work that afterparty thing to have everyone there, with more craig! cheers dude :)

  • Kirk Diggler

    I vote for Breaking the Chains.

    Read the first 35 pages a few weeks back. Picked it up again today.

    Nice use of dramatic irony vis–à–vis the character of Martin. Thought it was quite clever the way you introduced his character.

    I like Steve. Could see a Steve Coogan type playing him.

    Brady referring to Martin as “Mr Martin” was funny. These characters are all easy to visualize.

    This is funny stuff.

    Arran breaks into a beaming smile. Martin hands him a letter.

    MARTIN: “I hope you find this satisfactory.”

    Arran opens the letter, and looks at the content.

    ARRAN: ‘Fucking hell!’

    Martin laughs.

    ARRAN (CONT.) ‘Christ. Sorry.’

    MARTIN: ‘Can I take that as acceptance of our new terms?’

    Made me laugh to read it.

    I think you should have ended that scene with Steve walking into the office with a sly look on his face. The Martin/Steve convo is rather exposition heavy, they’re just discussing things that we have already witnessed or talking about things that should happen off camera or with the characters themselves.

    That would be my one real complaint with this script so far. Getting out of scenes sooner and cutting the chaff. You have a flair for dialogue but some edits here and there would help move things along and cut down the running length. 105 pages tops.

    The Steve/Sarah dinner scene.

    SARAH: I guess it doesn’t hurt, occasionally. Just to dream a little.

    STEVE: Let’s dream. Let’s be millionaires for the night.

    Again, the irony, great stuff.

    Enjoyed the bar scene with Aaron. The follow-up with the call girl and Steve is good, shows Steve really becoming a manipulator in a ‘road paved to hell with good intentions’ sort of way.

    Follow that with finding out that Sarah will now be starring in a play opposite Craig, a guy that makes Steve vulnerable, and you start to see the wheels come off of Steve’s plan.

    And then Arran’s reaction to Michelle is perfect.

    I’m stopping on page 77. Time to check out the new X-Men. I will finish and post the rest of my notes later. Well done Biffer, as a writer, you are ahead of the game. I hope Carson takes a look at this, as I feel the indie style drama-comedy spec market is often over-looked. With a little spit and polish (and some edits here and there) I could easily see this as a charming little film. Nice work.

    • Bifferspice

      wow man, that’s some great notes, thanks very much :) i actually checked out steve coogan’s production company with the same thought, but they don’t take unsolicited submissions, so i’ll have to crack this ‘agent’ thing first. easier said than done!

      i agree i need to come out of scenes earlier. i love your suggestion of not showing the steve/martin chat at the business centre – i guess it showed i was struggling to come up with something for them to talk about there!

      thanks again for the supportive notes, kirk :)

      • Kirk Diggler

        Finished reading the script. Enjoyed it very much.

        Liked the brief scene back at Gamblers Anon. Shows how Steve ca even ruin that. Short, funny to the point.

        The scene that follows is longer than it needs to be, even though it’s only 1 1/2 pages. She’s going out to a posh bar with the cast. You’ve already established that Steve doesn’t like or trust Craig. Steve is a little obvious here, hemming and hawing about how much he ‘trusts’ her.

        A suggestion here. Don’t have Sarah be the one to tell Steve. Even if she is that sort of gal. Maybe Steve walks in on her phone conversation and overhears her making plans to go out. He can then ask her about it. That it way it implants the seed in Steve’s mind that she wasn’t going to tell him. Rather than him reassuring her how much he trusts her, Steve is thinking she was going to meet Craig at a bar and not say anything. I think it works for what you have happen at the bar. Besides, it didn’t take much for Sarah to say to him later that ‘maybe we are not meant for each other’ or whatever the line was. Perhaps there are seeds of doubt in her mind too, and she has this new found confidence because she is starring in a play and she’s going out on the town with cast and crew.

        Oh, btw, I admit I was slightly confused when Sarah mentioned going to the bar . “We’re all going for a drink tomorrow night.” I assumed at the time she was inviting Steve along and took that assumption into the bar scene, and just figured that Steve preferred to hang out with Arran but Sarah knew he was there. It wasn’t til later that i realized Sarah hadn’t invited him.

        The scene at Robinson can also be shorter. I felt you were losing a wee bit of momentum with these scenes instead of building to your climax. I like the fact that you show Frank on the job and Steve greeting him proudly. The other beat with Arran not being impressed at seeing Kelly any more also works, but that’s it. Those are the 2 important ideas to get across. You almost accomplish the Arran beat without a word of dialogue by having him a little disconnected from Kelly. But the stuff with Brady and Martin brings the scene length past 2 pages, i feel u can do it in half that if you cut their bit, which seemed superfluous.

        Which brings me to my real point of contention, Ray’s Bar. It was one of the few times during reading your script where i really started to wander, despite some important stuff happening. It’s 7 pages.

        I would have Steve/Arran discussing Michelle as they walk in the bar, replacing the bit about Arran saying “I thought you didn’t like this place”, because it isn’t germane to what you want to get across. And you can ditch Arran spotting Sarah, just have Steve do a quick glance around the bar to spot Sarah and then head off in the other direction. We know what’s Steve is up to, don’t need Arran to point it to us. Cuts more dialogue.

        I honestly think the whole bit with the redhead call-girl can just go. It didn’t work for me and it feels like a repeated beat anyway. Especially since you have Michelle showing up again and that seem a lot more important. Once Arran turns down the redhead, they literally almost have the same conversation they had earlier about Michelle. Probably why i felt it was dragging.

        When Craig comes over to talk to them, he derides Steve by saying “Steve! I thought it was you. I didn’t know this was your sort of ’place’?” This is a repeat of what Arran was implying when they walked in BUT…….it works SOOOOOO much better coming from Craig. Which is why I suggested re-arranging the conversation, get to Steve/Arran talking about Michelle as they walk in, then Craig can hit Steve with the ‘you don’t belong here’ vibe…. this way things are fresher not repeating the same thoughts over and over.

        The stuff that happens when they join parties is good, Arran’s joke is good about Craig wearing sun glasses. What i didn’t really like is the way the Michelle thing played out. I know why you did, Steve needs to have all his actions have repercussions ….. however,… when we see Arran at the playhouse later with Kelly on his arm i totally didn’t buy it. Not at all. He just shows up with her all of a sudden. It doesn’t work for me because if anything, Arran’s confidence would be shot after finding out that the whole Michelle affair was bought and paid for. This I think would make him sink furhter away from any chance with Kelly. Plus Arran is awful forgiving of Steve when he finds out about the money. The male ego is tricky thing, I believe there would be lingering resentment there.

        So a polite suggestion. Instead of the redhead showing at the bar, have Kelly arrive. She of course recognizes Steve and Arran and says hello. But Arran is still gutted over Michelle and pays her little mind. When Michelle shows up, naturally he wants to go to her….Steve is alarmed over this. Have Kelly excuse herself to the restroom, have Arran start walking toward Michelle only Steve stops him. For the obvious reason but also this could be a chance for Steve to tell Arran that Kelly is the girl he always wanted. He can make one of those grandiose movie speeches about true love and don’t have any regrets, ‘she’s right in front of her, talk to her goddamnit or you may one day regret not doing it!’ That sorta thing…. only when Steve says this to Arran, it’s clear he’s thinking about Sarah.

        And you can leave it open ended where we just see them have a hint of a conversation…. he doesn’t go for michelle…. and then Steve makes an ass of himself in his jealous rage over Craig. It works better when we see Arran/kelly later.

        My opinion…. don’t have Steve confess the hooker thing to Arran. Let it be the one little white he holds on to for the sake of hurt feelings. Besides, you have him be completely honest toward Sarah at the end of the the play and it worked great for me. No one is completely honest about everything. Plus I didnt like when Steve mentioned the hookers to Sarah.

        I felt everything after the Ray’s Bar scene worked well, it built nicely and i noticed I was turning the pages faster to get to the end…no small accomplishment on your part. And I really liked the whole Romeo/Juliet symbolism, how things can fall apart when people who love each other aren’t completely truthful or fail to communicate properly, Nice touch.

        • Bifferspice

          wow, Kirk. those notes have blown me away. thank you so much. i have to say, i thought the ray’s bar bit was too long, but important and necessary, and i couldn’t see any ways of cutting it. note to self: there’s always a way. it had never even occurred to me that some of his secrets wouldn’t get out, and yet the way you describe this, it really works. i can see it working out as you have it there. i’m going to think about it all some more, but i really think you have solved a couple of major flaws, there. thank you again, so much for the time and effort you put into that.

  • Bluedust

    I read Down to the Wire up to about page 30. I love me some action buddy cop stuff. The opening scene drags on for too long, IMO. Six pages and it didn’t really have much to do with the actual plot. It was just backstory for Boots. Is there any reason Boots is a soldier and not a cop at this point in his life? Just seems like you could have put him on the LAPD bomb squad the first time we see him. Better still, maybe the bomb that maims him could somehow be tied into the case that Boots and Joe are investigating. As it reads now, it’s six pages of war story which instantly switches to troubled cop story. There’s a reason Shane Black didn’t start Lethal Weapon with Riggs in Vietnam. He realized the forward moving narrative was more important than any character backstory, so we start out with the intriguing scene of the girl jumping off the balcony. And we’re instantly hooked.

    There were several scenes (the sparring with Ken, the trailer park) that didn’t feel necessary. By page 30, I wasn’t sure what was going on here. These guys are robbing pharmacies and downloading lists of patients. That didn’t exactly compel me to keep reading. And I didn’t buy Boots making the connection between the ODs in the hospital and the recent string of robberies. Not in a town like LA where every single emergency room gets slammed with ODs every single day.

    So, I’d work on coming up with a quick and nasty opening scene that grabs us by the windpipe and really sets the tone for this tale. Then concentrate on the volatile chemistry between Joe and Boots. Make them even more opposite and conflicting than they are now. And, I think your antags need to much more threatening. Remember in Lethal Weapon when we first meet McAllister and Mr. Joshua? The arm burning scene? “You guys are out there like fucking Pluto, man!” Right away we know… these are some serious dudes.

  • ASAbrams

    I vote for “Breaking the Chain”–so far I’ve read 80 pages and I actually enjoy reading it and look forward to reading more. I like the characters. They are all flawed, yet likable and relatable.

    “Down to the Wire” took too long getting to the point for me. Also, I wasn’t very invested in that cyber terrorist plot. I’m also not sure who the main character is. In any case, I didn’t feel very involved with the guy who got his foot blown off or the junkie cop.

    “Red River Torrens” is too low key. I can’t grasp how the stakes affect the characters in the story, if at all. Moreover, the writing style kind of irked me. There was too much summarizing of the character’s action. For example, when the toadies beat the guys at the river, the action pretty much said just that. How did they hit them? What were the men being beat up doing during this? I don’t know; it doesn’t say. There were many instances of the passive voice, too.

    “Pilot” feels too distant to me. I don’t ever feel like I’m getting in the main character’s head. And a lot of the first part of the plot is dedicated to the reconstruction of the main character, which put even more distance between me and him. I mean, he died and now he’s probably coming back as something other than human. It’s hard to relate to that. Finally, we learn about him through mostly flashback. More distance. I needed the present story to move and be driven by the main character’s actions, not some random alien phenomena.

    Didn’t read ARIEL. The logline didn’t entice me.

    • Bifferspice

      hey thanks, ASAbrams! great to hear you’re enjoying it (hope the last 30 didn’t kill it for you!) appreciate the vote and comments. :)

    • jonsanhueza

      Asa, thanks for giving Pilot a read!

  • Andrew Parker

    I read the first half of “Down to the Wire”. The writing is quite capable and the dialogue is often short/realistic, which I appreciate.

    I think a development exec would pass on it though because it doesn’t know what it wants to be. If it wants to be “Lethal Weapon”, if needs more jokes and action set pieces with our two leads. If it wants to be “True Detective”, it needs more darkness and atmosphere.

    By straddling the line between the two, I think this ends up in a bit of no man’s land with no intended audience. Once again, the actual action lines and dialogue are quite good, but it would be a very difficult sell to get this made.

  • mulesandmud

    I’ve only read BREAKING THE CHAIN, but I read it all the way through. Congratulations, Bifferspace. It’s a charming and well-considered piece of work.

    I’m late to the party and you’ve been fairly buried in comments already, Biff, so I’ll just make one strong note:

    Steve needs more reason to keep his big win a secret from Sarah on that first night (page 30 in the draft I read). Enough of a reason so that we can take it as an article of faith that at that moment no good would come from telling his wife this amazing, life-changing news.

    At present, Sarah simply rolls over in bed and asks Steve if he gambled that night. Sure, she asks firmly, but it’s still well within the range of the kind of grilling Steve’s used to. For him to chicken out and not tell her the truth with so little pressure on him is just too weak. I suspect he’s confessed much worse to her in the past, yet their marriage has somehow survived.

    Maybe Sarah needs to be more emotional, at a breaking point that puts a real scare into Steve right then and there. Or maybe there’s some other solution. All I know for sure is that page 30 is the emotional keystone of your whole story. Everything that happens afterwards rests squarely on the shoulders of that scene, and so even though you’re not quite aiming for strict realism with this script, grounding that moment a bit more will help make every scene that follows feel deeper and more true.

    Best of luck with it.

    • Kirk Diggler

      Excellent point.

    • Bifferspice

      cheers man, another excellent point (so much good advice in this community!) it was such a nightmare trying to make sarah nice enough that people want them to be together, and yet hard enough that you believe she’ll leave him. it’s a real emotional tightrope!! i think i ended up making her a bit nothingy just trying not to go too far in any one direction. you’re definitely right that we need to believe his motivation or it’s all sunk right there. i’ll have a think about it. cheers dude, it’s a great point.

      • Linkthis83

        Hey man, after reading Mules’ post, I agree with him. It also made me curious of how I would solve this problem if I were in it. So I decided I needed to read more and read up to around page 40 or so. Here are my thoughts (not fully formed either):

        Mules’ is right about that scene with Sarah. Based on your reply to him, you are also right. In the logline, it says she is long suffering, but when the story starts, we haven’t witnessed this suffering. And they actually get along well enough to make it look like if he said, “I won three mil…” that she could find a way to forgive him.

        I think even if you make her more emotional in the scene on page 30 that it will still feel a tad forced/false. It needs set up. This situation needs historical context for us the reader/audience to empathize with BOTH characters in this situation.

        My solution: Sarah’s emotional state can’t initially come from her. Steve is the protag and thus we will be identifying the emotional core of this story through him (and the characters his choices affect). I don’t want to take away an opportunity for a female actress to deliver a solid interpretation of this situation, but it has to INITIALLY come from Steve.

        If we see Steve’s interpretation of what Sarah is going through, and see the weight it is putting on him, then we will believe and identify with Sarah when she takes her stance (vigorously and heartbreakingly).

        I think the place to do this would be the GA meeting you open on. Don’t just reveal that he’s there because of his wife, but allow him to tell what the toll of his decisions are taking on their relationship. And then have him tell/show the weight of the last time he placed a bet and the ultimatum she gave him. That’ll set up how BOTH characters feel when we see them together in future scenes.

        An issue I had as I was thinking about your story/setup is: Who else knows that Steve is a gambler, having relationship troubles because of that gambling, and also knows he’s going to GA?

        If it’s well known to the people surrounding Steve that he is this guy, it’s going to be fairly obvious that Steve is possibly the anonymous guy. Especially with the way he was behaving the day the newspaper article came out (this also may be addressed later in the script – if so my apologies).

        If it’s not addressed, here would also be my solution (if it were to apply):

        When we meet Steve, he’s already sworn off gambling. Hasn’t placed a bet in three weeks. He regales the GA group with his story, but the urge to gamble is building up. Only, he can’t because of his wife, but also because he doesn’t have the available funds to do so either. He meets with the guy who tells him to “break the chain.” Steve comes into the extra money because of the situation at work, decides to use it to save himself and his marriage. When this anonymous winner is announced, now it’s less likely people will suspect Steve because he hasn’t been gambling for 3 weeks now.

        Sorry for all this, btw. It was gnawing at me to find ways to solve my issues with the story and thought it might be helpful if I shared. Hopefully Mules will see this and weigh in as well, since he was quite tapped into the story’s early main issue.

        • Bifferspice

          wow this is great – i’m getting a full on writers group session with you guys! haha! thanks so much, yes, what you’re saying makes sense. are you suggesting i start with the GA meeting still, and use flashbacks as Steve tells his story? or have him just tell it, with no flashbacks and we stay in the room – i worry that might go on too long. i was thinking of starting with him letting her down, and then she gives her ultimatum, at her most angry. maybe she actually says she’s leaving him, and he only persuades her to stay by agreeing to go to GA and hand over his wages every week, etc. then he, and we, have the ultimatum ringing in his ears as the bet comes in twenty (screen) minutes later, and his decision is more obvious. especially if we make sure she is not as angry about the money as about the lack of trust and the state of their marriage. how she feels like he’s a little boy in constant need of being looked after. then, by the end (he’s made a success of the shop and become more responsible by then), she stays with him because he has grown up, not because he’s rich.

          • Linkthis83

            Not via flashback at all. And I don’t think you have to be long winded. I think the key is conveying that Steve truly does care and wants to be in this relationship, but he’s also battling his urge.

            i also didn’t say this would be easy to do :) Haha.

            Ummm, it is for sure challenging. Like I said, I think the most important thing is to give us the necessary info and showing Steve’s current emotional state. Also, he is validating Sarah’s stance in doing that. You have to be effective, impactful, and economical I think. I could also be oh so very wrong. Lol.

            And it might be naive of me, but I also think that if Sarah eventually got to a place where she could understand why Steve made the choice to place that bet, it gives him some credibility. However, it could also be revisionist history even though the audience knows it’s not.

            I completely get that the relationship surviving is based on the true elements of a relationship, and not the money. I don’t know how it ends, but maybe she should understand why he made the last bet (to save their marriage and try to end the marriage) but she can’t be okay with him having made that choice and he loses her anyway. Her view, if he really did it for their relationship, he would’ve asked her if he should attempt to break the chain. That way they’d be doing it together. As it is, he still did it on his own. That’s how I’d end it for sure :)

            I think the issue with starting with her ultimatum is that we have no context for this relationship. Sure we can fill in the understanding pieces when we get more info, but I don’t think it’s as effective. Could be completely wrong.

          • Bifferspice

            no it’s a valid worry. first impressions count, and if our first impression of sarah is a crazy shouting harridan, and their relationship as a big ball of lies and mistrust, then we don’t have much invested in her or them. it’s been my biggest problem all along, haha! anyway, i totally get what you’re saying. i’m going to have to think about it a while longer. thanks again, man. really can’t believe how much time and effort you and so many others have given to helping the script improve. ’tis truly awesome.

          • Ange Neale

            Careful, Bifferspice, lest accusations of sexism get hurled about if you don’t make one of your male characters a crazy shouting harridan, too – LOL.

          • Linkthis83

            My key point overall, and I think the true solution to your problem, is to set up Sarah through Steve. We will make the emotional connection to Steve, and based on how he talks about Sarah, we will understand her side of things and connect with her as well. It’s not so much the fear of losing her, as it is hurting her (I think).

          • mulesandmud

            Biff, you’re right that making Sarah into too much of a shrew, justified or not, will lose the audience’s support of both her and the marriage.

            Sarah’s emotional range isn’t limited to just mad or not mad, though. She can above all be SAD that the marriage is failing despite both of their best intentions, all because Steve can’t get his addiction under control, and more importantly, that he won’t be honest with her. Readers can and should sympathize with her over this, and we should be shaking our heads at Steve because, lovable though he is, the bastard just can’t walk the line. Maybe page 30 is where that sadness finally bubbles up into outright anger, in a way that we can all understand.

            Most importantly, as you suggest above, the relationship’s real problem isn’t Steve’s gambling, but his dishonestly, and in lots of ways your story is above Steve climbing out of one hole by digging himself another. He’s trying to stop gambling, but gambling is a red herring that points us to the story’s real truth – that relationships live and die by trust. Sarah should be our moral compass that points to that truth.

          • mulesandmud

            It’s worth considering to meet Sarah in the process of leaving Steve, with one foot already out the door and Steve scrambling to get her to stay. There’s still love between them, but as far as the marriage is concerned, they’re holding on by a thread.

        • mulesandmud

          These points are all great, Link. Especially that you emphasize how palpable the gambling issue should be in their history. In some ways, that page 30 scene is more of the symptom than the disease – the real task is to feel the weight that gambling has put on their marriage in the scenes leading up to that, so that when Sarah reaches her tipping point, we see her side of it clearly, which in turn will let us understand Steve’s choice even more.

          Biff has done some of this already, of course, but it’s tricky business. He needs to do everything we’re talking about without tipping the scales into outright melodrama, and ideally while even making some of it funny. I think the general plot mechanics of that first act are actually quite strong; most of the right scenes are in the right places.

          Will add more directly to the discussion you’re having with Biff above. It’s a great writing conversation; kudos to both of you for making the dialogue so productive.

      • Stephjones

        I liked your characterization of Sarah and how much Steve seems to love her and wants to make her happy. What if, instead of him lying to her when she asks if he gambled have him unable to answer. His mouth opens to speak but the words don’t come. As audience I would be screaming for him to tell her! But he doesn’t. So she assumes the worst. instead of anger and frustration she responds with tearful silence.. A silence of such finality and sadness it terrifies him more than anything else she could do. But he still feels damned either way he chooses so he remains silent.

        • Ange Neale

          Ooh, powerful suggestion, Steph. Sometimes the void created by witholding words can resonate so much more dramatically than an abundance of them.

        • Bifferspice

          ooh i like that, steph :) i can picture the tension in the moment (though not from anyone who read the logline haha!) where he could avoid all the trouble, and yet hopefully i can make it believable why he doesn’t.

          • Stephjones

            Links idea of more set up could help. Maybe show that they both have very different attitudes about money. Steve is motivated as provider, his self esteem impacted by the thought of failure. Sarah could care less about money. Didn’t marry him to be provided for only to share their lives in a way which resonated for the 2 of them. Steve agrees with her in theory but in practice he thinks they can have that life AFTER he gets them well off. Since Sarah doesn’t care that much about money Steve fears his winning might not offset the fact he has disappointed her yet again. this moment becomes his first inkling that money doesn’t ensure happiness.

  • Malibo Jackk


    What’s the trick to writing a gripping story?

    Find a way to get around linear thinking. Stories, even ones with jumbled
    timelines and time periods, are linear. They start, stuff happens, they
    end. When working out a story, I try to stay away from traditional
    outlines. Trying to sit down and begin by listing the scenes in order
    seems overwhelming. My answer is to use notecards that I spread out on
    the floor. Ideas for scenes go on a card and initially aren’t required
    to work in concert with other scenes. This process ends up creating
    connections and story lines that might not have been discovered
    otherwise. You never know where a card might land on your floor.

    – Jeff Nichols (writer/director of Mud)

    • Kirk Diggler

      The notecard thing is interesting. It’s amazing what re-arranging the order of a few scenes can do to improve forward momentum.

      • Malibo Jackk

        Or create something like Pulp Fiction.

      • astranger2

        I think Final Draft has notecard capability.

        • Kirk Diggler

          I’ve noticed it has a lot of functions I rarely make use of. I’ll check it out.

          • astranger2

            One useful function you may/may not know about. I needed to change a character’s name for an entire script and did it manually for 110 pages. Took forever obviously. Called Writer’s Store — what a moron I am.

            If you hit Command “F” or Control “F”it’ll replace it throughout the script, even the action lines. Can save you a lot of time and anguish.

          • Kirk Diggler

            I’ve had a need for this more than once.

    • BSBurton

      Awesome post, thanks Malibo !

  • BSBurton

    Thanks Ange, I replied to this once but it seems to have been “eaten” by disqus.

  • Craig Mack

    OFF TOPIC: Looking for advice — I want to start a scene underwater in a fish tank — not revealing we are in a fish tank….. then pulling back to reveal we are in an office.

    This shouldn’t be this hard… I’m driving myself nuts.


    • ElectricDreamer


      Something happens in the water, then reveal the glass and OFFICE


      A fish tank centers the decor of the villain’s opulent office.

      • Craig Mack

        Can I have “EXT. UNDERWATER” since its not really EXT? That would be the easiest way to ‘dupe’ the reader — but I’m not sure I should go for that.

        • ElectricDreamer

          UNDERWATER – DAY

          A fish swims around. He passes a — mini-treasure chest?

          INT. OFFICE – DAY

          The AQUARIUM sits behind a large mahogany desk.

    • Malibo Jackk

      IN WATER

      Two fish are copulating. The water begins to slosh about…

      We pull back to reveal a fish tank sitting on the desk of the


      … and the boss copulating his secretary.

      • kenglo

        I’m trying to picture the fish copulating……LMAO!

      • Citizen M

        “Pull back” is a camera direction and thus a no-no if you are picky about these matters, but it’s the best way to say it and I’ve often seen it used in scripts.

        I’d say “Pull back to reveal the fish are in a fish tank…”

        The other way of doing it is to look through the tank at something blurry in the background, then focus on the blurry object and find it is [whatever]. But this is getting too camera direction-y IMO.

        “RACK FOCUS to reveal [whatever] behind the tank.”

        • Ange Neale

          Baz Luhrmann did ‘Romeo and Juliet’ spotting each other through a fish tank.

        • Craig Mack

          Yeah– I was trying to avoid camera direction here… But it does seem like the ‘cleanest’ way to write it… CLOSE ON — PULL BACK TO REVEAL… The rack focus is actually what I’m picturing in my head — but I agree probably too much.

          • Citizen M

            Just go for it. A small amount of camera direction won’t hurt. Examples:

            THE FIFTH ESTATE

            CLOSE ON a hand holding down the SHIFT KEY. RACK FOCUS to
            the other hand, clicking a MOUSE over and over.

            CUT TO –


            You see that ole boy battin rocks?
            WE RACK FOCUS to a one of The Basterds not in the circle.

      • astranger2

        That’s why WC Fields didn’t drink water — “fish fuck in it.”

    • Bluedust

      You could use aquarium decorations to make people think they’re looking at an actual setting, such as ancient Greek ruins, Japanese pagoda, etc. Check out any pet supply store website and you’ll see dozens of ornaments. Or you could just use aquarium plants to fool people into thinking it’s a forest or jungle. Then camera pulls back to reveal you’re in some plain old office.

      • Craig Mack


        There will definitely be a fake ‘sunken ship’ in the scene…. something a little off about it.

        • Randy Williams

          Maybe open with a pencil’s refracted image submerged halfway in water.

          OFFICE BOSS (O.S)
          Mack, anything to get out of working?

          MACK, 23, handsome, smart, pulls the pencil out of an aquarium’s water, dejected.

          His attention is drawn to a sunken ship decoration gathering yucky algae at the aquarium’s bottom.

          Like our Gobies, no good place to hide.

          • Craig Mack

            I can’t argue with my intro! Handsome/smart… I’m the whole package!

        • mulesandmud

          The sunken ship is great. You might want to start there. Consider the more unconventional option of a misleading mini-slug, which guides people’s eye without any camera directions:

          A SUNKEN SHIP

          Underwater, half buried in sand. Something’s a little off about it.

          A goldfish drifts past, impossibly large. This isn’t the bottom of the ocean at all.

          INT. OFFICE – DAY

          A fish tank runs the length of one wall, the little sunken ship as its centerpiece.

    • Paul Clarke

      Damn, that’s the exact shot I started my last screenplay with (except in a house, not an office)

      I’m definitely not telling you how to do it.

      • Paul Clarke

        I changed my mind. Actually couldn’t remember. Went back and had a look. This is what I found:

        FADE IN:


        A rare PEARL SCALE – LION’S HEAD hybrid flutters about. The Rolls Royce of the goldfish world — and doesn’t he know it.

        An inquisitive, unshaven FACE peers into the bowl. Distorted by its spherical shape.


        Studying the fish is MIKE TINDALL (42), rugged and unkempt in overalls and tool-belt — A true plumber through and through. Right down to the exposed butt crack.

        He taps the fish bowl with his finger. No reaction.

        • Craig Mack

          Wow – thanks. I like the ‘distorted face bit’ as the reveal. I was trying to avoid another slugline like INT. FISH BOWL…. But I might have too.

        • Malibo Jackk

          I would have the fish studying the grotesque face.
          It’s tail fin gently wagging. Watching as — the face forms a
          cheshire cat grin.

          (But this is why my scripts get rejected.)

  • Chris Mulligan

    Interesting point, Ange. Thank you for that.

  • Chris Mulligan

    Thanks, Nicholas. We tried to make it relevant through internal conflict w/in Boots. Not sure if there’s a way for external in this piece, but it’s worth exploring.

    Appreciate the notes!

  • Kirk Diggler

    Nope. Not once.

  • Ange Neale

    Oh, cool, Byron. Thanks for that.
    Actually, that’s really encouraging, isn’t it, when you think about it? That people can leave something cavernous like a dumpster on the street and the Taliban are enough under control that they DON’T take advantage.

    • BSBurton

      Exactly, the region deserves a little break after the “hell decade” it’s been through

  • Ange Neale

    Oh, bum… Good point. I did use masculine pronouns for them, I think.
    I hope. I intended for them to be men.
    Link, I’m going to email you the character list I printed off for my truly appalling, completely on-the-nose, blatant exposition-rich rough draft from almost exactly one year ago.
    As I hollowed out the page count last year (‘way before I’d even heard of SS), and cut, truncated & condensed characters who didn’t service a romantic dramaless story as per advice professional advice I sought, I disproportionately removed more male characters than female.
    It wasn’t a conscious decision, otherwise I wouldn’t have written them in the first place.
    Jenny’s pilot colleagues and Allison’s workmates were predominantly more female than male, and they were the ones who tended to be useful to the story, They mostly stayed, tipping the balance.

    • Linkthis83

      Well, I read part of that draft you had sent into AOW the first time, so I know this whole character thing is based on a lack of information and an accusation of an “agenda.” It’s amazing what a little useful info and some context can do for the truth :)

      • Ange Neale

        If someone had told me this time last year that this scriptwriting business could be on a par with having all of one’s wisdom teeth extracted at once without anesthetic or pain medication, I think I might’ve decided to take up knitting instead.

  • Ange Neale

    Grendl, would you mind dropping me an email at neal0018 at gmail dot com when you get a chance?
    I’d like to email you in reply a character list from a year ago. TCF’s changed so much since then, but I’d like to assure you that I didn’t deliberately hollow the male characters out. I hollowed out scenes and sequences that didn’t service a romantic drama(less) story, and a disproportionate number of male characters went with it, skewing the balance.
    At first, I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about, but now you’ve pointed it out and I’ve had a chance to look at it critically from that aspect, it’s blindingly obvious. My bad.

  • Ange Neale


  • bex01

    Looks like a good lot this week! Excited to
    get started. There’s been a lot of horror lately… and congrats to those writers
    but horror is so not my thing! Wish it was, but I refrain from commenting
    because I don’t feel like I’m a good judge of horror scripts… so looking
    forward to sinking my teeth into these.

    My vote for the week is Breaking the Chain.

    A lot of people here really seem to love
    the script. I read the whole thing and I have to say, I was a bit disappointed,
    but that may only be because it has already received such high praise, so I was
    pretty much going in expecting something unbelievably undeniably ultraliciously
    stupendous. And while I found the story to be quite nice, it was very low-key,
    and didn’t quite grab me like it seemed to others. That said, I liked it the best out of this lot.
    Be good to hear what Carson thinks of it. I’ve already reviewed it on Trigger
    Street so I’m gonna be lazy and copy and paste if anyone is interested in reading:

    Breaking the Chain

    First up, I think you have a very competently written story here. Good
    structure, all the characters’ stories tie in, no unnecessary characters, and a
    great concept.

    Here’s some of my thoughts on what the script is missing:

    – Steve’s battle with gambling. When the script begins, Steve is already in
    Gambler’s Anonymous, and doing something about his gambling. I really liked the
    opening scene, it made me laugh, but because he’s already on the path to fixing
    his problem, we never really see the effects it has on him and his life with
    Sarah. Sarah acts as though the gambling has greatly affected her and her life
    with Steve, but we never actually see that, so she sort of seems like she’s
    over-reacting. Even though we can imagine how bad it got, I think we really
    need to see it on screen.

    In addition to this, it feels like Steve is ‘cured’ of his gambling problems
    way too easily! I like the idea that he comes to the realisation that there are
    more important things in life (when he is so busy trying to make everyone else
    happy that he just seems to ‘forget’ to gamble), but I think it needs to be
    much stronger than simply forgetting to gamble. He needs more of a struggle.

    – Martin. I loved Martin’s character when he stumbles into the GA meeting
    announcing he is an alcoholic. Likewise, I loved him when he was chatting to
    Steve before his job interview. He’s a great character. But after he gets the
    job, he seems to completely change. He’s suddenly great at this business job,
    all about work, and basically loses his CHARACTER that we fell in love with –
    the adorable drunk. I’m not saying he shouldn’t improve, he definitely should,
    but it happened wayyy too quickly. And all of a sudden he wasn’t interesting
    any more.

    – Martin’s job interview. Something felt a bit off about this. I understand
    what you were trying to do, but Steve has all these people come in who are
    clearly MORE than qualified for the position. And if he genuinely wants the
    store to do well (which I’m sure he does), he would pick someone who could
    clearly handle the work. Even if he didn’t understand everything they said.
    Martin comes in, he’s a drunk who has no references, why does Steve hire him?
    Because he doesn’t use big words? No. There needs to be something more. It’s OK
    for Steve to take a chance on Martin, but he needs more of a reason why. And he
    shouldn’t be so eager about hiring a drunk, especially after their little chat
    pre-meeting. And make it less obvious that Steve doesn’t understand all the
    technical nonsense – maybe he’s just not willing to admit it, but we can tell
    even though he doesn’t say it.

    – Arron. Please please please don’t let Arron swear as much as he does!! When
    we first meet Arron, he comes across as the really sweet, shy guy. We like this
    guy, and we really want him to get together with the girl (I’ve forgotten her
    name – is it Katie? Let’s call her Katie). But then he gets a bit “fuck
    this, fuck that”, more than any other character in the script, and it just
    seemed so out of character for him?? He’s no longer sweet, shy and loveable…
    he’s a bit of a dick, really. And I honestly didn’t care if he got together
    with Katie in the end. Please don’t do this to him! We should feel sorry for
    Arron. And I also think there needs to be a bit more going on between Arron and
    Katie during Act 2 – just some interaction of some sort, I felt like we didn’t
    get to know Katie at all. And I know she is just a minor role, but I think we
    need to know a bit more about her. And especially see some of that chemistry
    between Arron and Katie, even before they get together.

    – Here’s a quick thought that may not work at all – but what if Steve wasn’t so
    altruistic right from the start? What if he won all this money, was overjoyed,
    as you would be, and started off buying stuff for HIM. Buying the sort of
    things that he always wanted. And having to hide all that from his wife. This
    could be a great opportunity for some funny scenes, and could also be a bit of
    fun. Steve can live out all our fantasies of what we would do if we won the
    lotto – actually, the more I think about it, the more I think you NEED to have
    this in. Like in Groundhog Day – Bill Murray goes and eats all the pastries and
    cakes he possibly can, he uses what is happening to him to seduce a girl, he is
    involved in a car chase evading the police… he does crazy things that uses
    the film’s concept to its greatest potential. That’s what you need to do here –
    this guy wins 3 million pounds! That’s huge! He needs to have some fun with it.
    (Another example – Pretty Woman, when she gets to go on the shopping spree. Man
    are we all jealous! All the women, anyway)

    – Finally, I found that overall, the script felt just a bit – well – vanilla.
    It sort of coasted along a bit, was a pleasant read, nothing glaringly wrong
    about it, but didn’t really grab me in any way, either. I think the characters
    need a bit more rounding out – it’s a great start, but I think you can go even
    further in making them more three dimensional. Showing Steve’s real issues with
    gambling will help this. Concentrating on the characters will spice up the
    script a bit more. Also, I think it needs to be funnier. It says in the genre
    section that this is a drama/comedy… but I don’t feel like it’s really
    either. Not dramatic enough to be drama, not funny enough to be comedy. It’s
    too pleasant. Personally, I think you should really embrace the comedy side of
    things. This is a great concept for a comedy. You just need to punch up the
    humour a bit. There was a little bit of it there, but there needs to be more.

    Good luck with the script and thanks for the read! Got through it fairly
    quickly. Hopefully at least some of my notes turn out to be helpful!

    • Bifferspice

      bex, i’ve been meaning to reply on triggerstreet to thank you for such a fantastic review. you make a lot of great comments, and it’s so nice that you’d give up so much of your time to go so in depth! i’ve been thinking about the comments you’ve made, and rolling them around in my head!

      yes, i agree we need to see steve at rock bottom, and i’m going to tie that into sarah’s acting somehow, as many people’s notes seem to be that she needs a stronger opening, and i agree with that. if i can have that in the first couple of minutes, and drop the “cutting things out for the scrapbook” it would have more impact at GA, i think, when he’s saying it’s still not a problem.

      martin is definitely going to feature more in the second half (he seems to be everyone’s favourite character!) and i’ve got a pretty good sequence which he screws up by getting hammered again, so that doesn’t end up just tailing off.

      you’re definitely right about arran’s swearing – i’ll cut that right down, keep him sweet and innocent (although my original plan was to turn him into such a bitter guy lusting after the disappeared michelle that he has become a hard drinking cynical guy who suddenly gets any woman he wants, and doesn’t even notice. was going to have him turning up with a different woman on his arm every time steve sees him, and all the time he just doesn’t care, cos he’s so cut up. then he ends up asking kelly out like it’s just another date, but they’re so right together, he realises the michelle thing was just lust, and this is love. problem is, that’s a movie in itself! don’t know if i can fit it in! (or if it’s right to do so – think it may lose sympathy for arran if he’s seen to be promiscuous and lose his innocence.

      anyway, i’m waffling on, but only cos your comments really got me thinking, and i really appreciate it. thanks again, bex, hope i can do the same for you sometime :)

      • bex01

        My pleasure! Glad I could be of some help! And good job getting the script this far already. The structure’s really strong, and I’d love to see where you go next with it. Haha I’m not surprised Martin seems to be everyone’s favourite character! He’s really loveable. Glad he’s going to feature more in the next draft.

        And that approach with Arran would be interesting – definitely a solid arc. But I don’t know… I kinda still want him to stay the sweet, shy guy. I think it would really fit in with the other characters you’ve created. But I look forward to seeing what you do with him…

        Anyway, good luck with the next draft! And good luck for the Amateur Friday spot, I hope you get reviewed. And hopefully I can get some notes from the SS community too someday… when I get my act together and actually finish a draft.

      • Kirk Diggler

        Hey Biff…. I like what you said about Arran’s possible arc… I think it could be a funny bit. If you are more economical in other areas of your script you can find a way to do this with Arran. Quite a solid idea.

        • Bifferspice

          cheers kirk. so much to think about – it’s terrifying! haha!

    • Linkthis83

      Fantastic feedback.

  • bex01

    Down to the Wire

    I read the entire script ‘cause I love a good buddy
    cop piece and found it to be an easy read. I’ve noticed a bunch of
    comments about removing the opening scene… I’m not entirely sure I agree. I
    quite liked the scene, definitely think it needs to be trimmed a little, wasn’t
    quite convinced with Boots seizing the little girl (it felt very strange when
    the girl didn’t actually appear to be a threat – maybe she needs to be clearly
    getting in the way of his work or something); but all in all I didn’t mind the
    war opening. I liked getting a bit of a peek into Boots’ back story. I think if
    it’s going to stay, though, it needs to be referenced a little more throughout
    the script. It has to influence decisions Boots makes, it has to clearly affect
    him psychologically on whatever work he is doing after that. And it should be
    referenced in the climax, too. There was a little bit of this throughout, but I
    think it needs to be punched up a bit.

    Looking at the script overall, I have to
    say that my biggest issue was plot/logic. When Boots makes the connection with
    the OD at the hospital… that was a bit of a stretch. Also, the fact that there
    seem to be several cops desperate to get on this case… but it’s just a robbery
    case, isn’t it? Why do Joe/Boots care if they’re put on a robbery? Shouldn’t
    they be chasing a bigger case, maybe a homicide or something? I know that’s
    probably a bit cliché, but there’s a reason why. I don’t think a pharmacy
    robbery is big enough for Joe/Boots to be chasing.

    In addition to that, I wasn’t sure about
    the whole ‘identity fraud’ angle. Again, this didn’t feel ‘big’ enough.
    Particularly with a cartel involved at the end? We really didn’t get a sense of
    stakes here. Oh no, people’s addresses could be given out… yeah, I realise
    identity fraud is a real issue, but it’s just not dramatic enough for an action
    film. I expected it to lead into something… they needed a particular patient’s
    details or something… then we’d find out what everything was leading to… but
    this didn’t happen. It didn’t lead to anything bigger.

    Which brings me onto the villains. I never
    really feared the villains. They felt very generic to me. Having named four (I
    think) of them early on in the robbery, I thought we would get to know them a
    bit better, but this never happened. Not to mention (spoiler) Stidwell gets
    shot before the climax, so he isn’t our main villain in the end anyway. And
    when Mr. V comes along, we know nothing about him, you haven’t had any time to
    build him up, so we don’t fear him at all. We’re told he’s a big scary cartel
    guy, but we don’t see it. I never doubted our characters would get away.

    Lastly, I think you need to increase the
    conflict between Boots and Joe. There was a little bit of it when they first
    met, but that was really only over a disabled parking space, which isn’t all
    that interesting, and then they started getting along way too quickly. Make it
    gradual. And even when they do start to get along, make sure their different
    outlooks on life/work still create rifts between them. They have to be really
    opposite. And we need to be reminded of this throughout. What is the age
    difference between the two? I can’t remember now… maybe making a big age gap
    between them could be a way to organically inject some conflict and difference
    of opinions.

    I also wanted to add re Joe’s alcoholism –
    this felt really generic. I’m not saying get rid of it, I’m glad he has demons,
    but you need to add more to it. Why is Joe an alcoholic? (I’m trying to
    remember – was this answered? Maybe it was and I missed it. Sometimes I
    daydream). But he needs to have more of a journey, rather than just waking up
    one day and deciding he wants to get better. What causes him to deal with the
    alcoholism? (Again – was this explained? Man I seem to be drawing a blank with
    this storyline. Might be because these questions aren’t answered, might be
    because my memory is horrendous). Nevertheless, I feel the alcoholic storyline
    needs work throughout the script. Make it less generic! Make it into something
    we don’t feel like we’ve seen a thousand times. One thing I did like though –
    was that the younger cop was the alcoholic, not the older one. This feels a bit
    different, good work.

    All in all I love buddy cop films, it was a
    quick read, could definitely turn into something great but it needs some big
    tweaks to get there! Well done to the writers!

    • BSBurton

      Thanks Bex, your notes are really awesome! I appreciate the read and your long detailed response to it! I’ll be saving these and digging in soon :)

    • BSBurton

      Seriously, thanks a million !!! I hope i can keep you updated on it. My email is b r o n b u r t o n at yahoo . c o m if anymore thoughts hit you

    • BSBurton


      I just addressed almost all our your issues and thoughts in the new draft. Also, by cutting mom and booze out, it went from 112 page draft to a 96 page draft :).

      Shoot me and email at b r o n b u r t o n at y a h o o . c o m and I’ll send the new draft if you’re willing to give it a read.

      Thanks again for the notes and time! It means a lot.

  • Ange Neale

    Disqus has been completely weird and somebody was moderating a whole bunch of stuff, too, further muddying the waters…

  • Ange Neale

    Earlier, rampant drafts from a year ago that almost nobody saw were more like, ahem, 165 pages. Steep learning curve in those days…

  • BSBurton

    Christopher, this is a piece of entertainment not a documentary. I took some creative license with the scenario. I’d love to hear your take on “Inglorious Bastards.”

    • Rick McGovern

      We should still write for the audience that knows about military operations… as it is an annoyance seeing things not done correctly when you’re writing about something that they do for a living… if you can… and it wouldn’t change the story much, either… except you’d be getting it right ;) I was only a medic in the military, but if they were showing something on screen that I had done or am doing for a living, I’d like to see them get it more right than wrong…

      Of course, part of this is just playing Devil’s Advocate haha

    • drifting in space

      There were no scenes in that movie that depicted real life circumstances. From the get-go you are told they are a specialized group that don’t necessarily follow the rules. And even then, they were actually based on a group close to the same idea.

      And the scenes with Christoph Waltz were more or less realistic, given the scenario.

      But I agree, you get to have some freedom with it. But you will run into criticism like the above. ESPECIALLY with the folks that do that for a living. Inglorious is a bit different because the times were different and a lot of those folks are likely dead anyway.

      Plus, it’s my favorite movie so SHUT YO MOUTH!!! :) Just kidding, love ya Byron.

  • ElectricDreamer

    OT: Looking for Contained Thrillers to Read

    I’m turning to the SS faithful to track down some cool amateur scripts.
    Gearing up to spend some time with contained thrillers.
    Specifically, I want to read about : Parent/child relationships.

    If anyone has a script like that they’d wish to share, please drop me a line.
    And in return, I’ll gladly give you some AOW-style notes for your trouble. Thanks!

    soleil dot rouge13 at gmail dot com

    • Poe_Serling

      Hey Electric-

      Don’t have any suggestions for any cool amateur scripts, but you might want to check out this 2008 British horror film set at a secluded home during the holidays. it’s an extremely dark tale, and it features a host of different parent/child relationships.

      • Malibo Jackk

        Hey Poe
        Ran across the trailer for NOTHING LEFT TO FEAR — thought it looked cool.

        Shows I know nothing about this business:
        Budget $3,000,000.
        Opening Weekend $7,886
        Total Domestic Gross $7,886
        Rated two stars.
        (Terrible poster btw)

        • Poe_Serling

          Nothing Left to Fear… wow, this one was way off my radar. And you’re right – the poster really lacks a punch. Those controlling the purse strings should’ve spent some of that 3 million budget on a more eye-catching image to promote the film.

          >>Though I do recall now that former Guns N’ Roses band member Slash started a production company called Slasher Films to produce horror flicks… this must’ve been one of their first efforts.

          • Malibo Jackk

            Think I might borrow a copy from the library.
            See if I can find out where it went wrong.

    • TomG

      I skimmed a few recently on Trigger street in the last few weeks that meet a lot of your criteria, I think one is from a recent AOW winner: “Alone”, “Forms of Life”, “House of Gates”, “Scared Straight”. You can either search by title or find them in latest submissions. Mostly horror/thriller. Hope you find something you like.

  • Wheatman

    My vote goes to Breaking the Chain. You got me to read the whole thing, which is a rarity around here. I don’t think I have any notes that haven’t already been mentioned, but…

    1. Your characters. They spoke realistic, charming, and smile-enducing dialogue. I don’t think I laughed out loud at anything, but it was all very light and on the precipice of being funny. I would like to watch these people.
    2. The gambling problem. While I agree with others that he seems cured too easily, I liked your twists on it.
    3. Martin. I know I already mentioned characters, but every time he showed up my enjoyment level increased. I agree with bex01’s notes about his progression though.

    1. While I enjoyed this, and thought it was the standout of the bunch, it was a bit vanilla. How would this be marketed? What would the buzz be? I think it would depend on big name actors to make BTC a draw and that’s kind of risky for a spec script.
    2. The third act. Things wrap up a little too nicely, and I was hoping for more challenges. Amp up the conflict a bit, maybe? That’s a generic statement, but this has been so heavily commented on that I feel like I’m repeating everything.

    But thank you for the fun read. I started out with yours. That might’ve been a mistake because it was difficult to power through the others after observing your quality.

    • Casper Chris

      1. While I enjoyed this, and thought it was the standout of the bunch, it was a bit vanilla. How would this be marketed? What would the buzz be? I think it would depend on big name actors to make BTC a draw and that’s kind of risky for a spec script.
      2. The third act. Things wrap up a little too nicely, and I was hoping for more challenges. Amp up the conflict a bit, maybe? That’s a generic statement, but this has been so heavily commented on that I feel like I’m repeating everything.

      Yup, that was exactly my two contentions as well (as mentioned further down).

      It would be interesting to read an updated draft based on all the suggestions Biffer has received here.

    • Bifferspice

      wow, thanks wheatman, that’s some really encouraging comments there :) your list of weaknesses there are all perfectly valid, and I am hard at work trying to come up with solutions for them! haha! i think they’re all solveable, and by following some of the other suggestions about things to cut, or combine, i will hopefully make enough space available to muddy the water a bit. i certainly feel the aftershow showdown needs to be increased in drama, which might help with your 2nd problem. the first is a difficult one. i see it as similar in tone to the full monty, which, while featuring some reasonably famous actors in the UK, probably didn’t have anyone particularly famous internationally. but it had that combination of gritty northern poverty and lighthearted warmth, it didn’t dwell on tough living, but it didn’t shy away from it and have everyone living in luxury either. i think that is how i would see it marketed, but that may be aiming a bit high, haha! thanks again for your comments :)

  • BSBurton

    Wow, what a great weekend! Thanks everyone for the votes and reads. I’m glad so many liked it and had such great thoughts and analysis! I’m glad we could offer something a bit different to the AOW!!! Thanks again! :)

  • Bifferspice

    Just thought I’d put my thoughts out there on the other scripts:

    DOWN TO THE WIRE: this zipped along, and the writers have
    clearly worked at keeping the pace (both in terms of stuff happening, and in
    terms of the reader zipping through white space) light and easy. It was fun throughout, the characters all had good moments and lines, and I did feel I wanted to find out what the plot
    behind the crimes was, and who the cops were that were in on it.
    Loads of comments going on about the first scene. I did think hurt locker, I have to say, but it was a strong piece of writing. I wonder if you can keep it, and keep going back to it.
    just tiny hints here and there. You could even not show he’s missing a foot until he shows joe, so we’re as confused as joe is. Anyway, the dialogue was mostly very good. It fell into action film cliché on occasion, but so have the very best action films ever made, so maybe they’re meant to! Anyway, I thought the chase of the OD suspect through the hospital was the best piece of writing in the script, and in all the scripts I read this week. I could
    really see it on screen, and it was a sharp piece of writing about what could
    be a very difficult thing to describe. Great job.

    RED RIVER TORRENS: I liked the sound of this, but I’m afraid to say I really struggled with the writing. Lots of unfilmables (Two elegantly dressed professors – how the hell are we meant to know they’re professors? And how old are they? I have no idea what I’m meant
    to be looking at), lots of things don’t make sense:

    “The Toadies leave.
    Doc. George breathes a sigh of relief.

    As Tom lowers the umbrella it accidentally inflates.
    The Toadies pounce beating the couple senseless”

    how did they pounce? They’ve left!
    lots of things mentioned in passing that made me think I’ve missed something, so I’d go back to check it out

    “They throw Tom into the river, shattering the reflection, and close in on Doc.George”

    shattering the reflection of what? Was it important? If it was just scenery, it felt pretty redundant. The water’s gonna get messed up if you throw someone in it).

    “Paralyzed with fear, Tom floats helplessly in the river.”

    Wouldn’t he sink? Do people just float effortlessly if they’re not swimming? How do people drown? I struggled on the action,
    it was lots of sentences, but nothing JOINING them, to make it easy to follow. Character
    A does this. B does that. C does this. A does this. It makes it very hard to
    pay attention to where everyone is. Check out the hospital chase in Down to the
    Wire. It seemed so clear where everyone was, what was going on, and it had a
    pace to it. It’s not easy to do. Sorry, I’m afraid I couldn’t get far enough in
    this to really get to grips with the plot.

    this was great. I mean, I’d say it’s completely unfilmable. I have no idea who this is aimed at. At all. I mean, I’m the last person to talk about aiming for demographics, and I’m a firm believer in writing what you’re passionate about (and your passion for this shines through loud and clear), but who would watch it? Kids can’t. there’s arrows in the eye, death by intruders, and suicide, all in the first few pages, as well as characters getting hit on
    for sex. But then you have unicorns saying “bwoke” about their poorly leg, so
    people looking for sex and violence are gonna feel a bit weird getting their
    kicks out of this film!
    Anyway, I don’t really care about demographics, which is why I’ve not had a single read
    request from an agency yet, so that’s enough of that. What is good is the
    writing. You can really write, and I zipped through the script far longer than
    I meant to (ended up reading the first 50, with no bother at all!) so kudos for
    that. And for not writing something generic. Whatever the hell this is, it’s not generic! Haha! Well done, I thought it was a really interesting read, and I will probably go back and finish it.

    I’m really not much of a sci-fi fan at all, and yet I still zipped along on this for quite a while. I found the writing quick and fluid, and CLEAR, which is one of the biggest problems generally, in the sci-fi scripts I’ve read. It’s hard to make the reader grasp your world, but you did good. The plot lost me a bit once the guy had died (though I loved that – didn’t see it coming – I assumed he’d be saved in the nick of time). I’m afraid I tuned out before finding out what happened to him, but that’s more just to do with me and sci-fi, not your
    script, which I thought read very professionally. Something that slick must have taken a lot of work, so kudos for it. It comes across.

    • Chris Mulligan

      Thanks for the read, Biffer. Working on finishing your entry now, i’ll get you notes shortly.


    • jonsanhueza

      Biffer, thanks for the positive note on Pilot. And yes, it pretty much took over my life for a while :) If you want the ultra quick version let me know and I’ll fill you in on the rest.

    • BSBurton


      I was Browsing this old post looking for an email address and reread your notes. Thanks for the compliments and also you had very good insights! I just wrote a new draft, cut from 112 to 96 pages. Also I streamlined the plot and improved the dialogue overall with added conflict.

      Have you been working on “Chain” after Carson’s review or are you pleased with that draft? Feel free to shoot me an email b r o n b u r t o n at y a h o o . c o m and we can exchange notes on our newest drafts!

      Thanks again, Byron

  • grendl

    Bex should be a Halloween costume. His insights were that fucking scary.

    I mean a lot of others gave great comments, but he really hit the scripts weaknesses well.

    Steve forgetting to gamble struck me as one of the biggest problems. Quitting addiction cold turkey is quite difficult, and even heroin addicts are weaned off it with methadone.

    The chain of addiction might go from gambling to altruism, to random acts of kindness which eventually blow up in his face.

    One can be generous to a fault and when he sees what good his money can do, he can over do it, and it fact does. But I don’t know if you see his kindness as an addiction in need of solving.

    There is a great short story on Derek Haas Popcorn fiction site written by Tim Herlihy that captures the problem of someone trying to change to a good person and how much people take advantage of that.

    I think “Breaking the Chain” has to have Martin test the bounds of his kindness and patience beyond belief. Everyone he’s kind to should, to the point where it borders on ridiculous. I like that his co worker dumped the hooker he bought for him, that was fucking hilarious, comedic gold.

    More of those kinds of things would help make the third act really pop. Martin deciding to take the company public. Something like that.

    Anyways, I hope all get their shot on AF, but I think this one is a few suggestions short of being industry ready, so I’d like to see it get its day in the spotlight. Don’t hold my endorsement against it, because that would be pretty unfair to its writer.

    • Linkthis83

      Agree about Bex + insights.

    • Bifferspice

      cheers Grendl. It’s funny, I don’t see Steve as an addict in that it’s the gambling he loves. it’s just an act of desperation, the only way he can see of getting out of stacking shelves in a shop until the day he drops. it’s not the actual gambling thing that gets him. once he makes his money, then he feels no need to gamble. again, kind of ironic that his gambling has been ‘fixed’, and he can’t tell sarah for fear that she wouldn’t believe him and leave him. (i think that’s a valid fear, too, because even if she loves steve, if she thought he would still gamble, then she’d surely be scared of their fortune dwindling away. what proven gambler, who still bets when given ultimatums, can be trusted not to piss away the millions of pounds from your own bank account. if i were her, and in possession of that money and that partner, i would give serious consideration to taking my half and getting the hell out of dodge!

      i think maybe i just need to find a way of getting that across. i tried, in that opening speech in GA, he tries to say that, just not too on the nose. maybe i need to have him say it to martin or something, maybe when i increase martin’s recurrences of alcohol abuse.

      because i totally agree that martin needs more signs of ongoing addiction. it, and he, fizzles out after i’ve used him to set up steve’s nefarious activities with the shop and the theatre. as i say, i have a nice big set piece where steve recruits martin to spy on sarah/craig, and he tails them to a bar, and screws it all up cos he gets hammered.

      i also had an idea that he tries to add links to local farmers by helping set up a farmers fair in town, telling brady and co how important it is that they make a good impression, and ends up getting drunk on rough cider and streaking through the town square and jumping in the fountain or something. so that, mostly, he’s hard working and good at what he does, and yet he sometimes goes completely off the rails. kind of same as when he was in london.

      do you think these additions would help?

    • mulesandmud

      Best film about gambling that I know, and a personal favorite, is Altman’s ‘California Split’. Really nails the emotional rollercoaster ride that comes with leaving your life to chance, and doesn’t shy from the compulsive and self-destructive mechanisms that people use to distract themselves from everyday life.

  • Linkthis83

    Were the notes I gave thus far useful? :) Your story, and the book, got me curious. I went to Amazon to see if I could read the first chapter and to learn more about the story in general.

    Based on your other comments, it sounds like you’ve gotten quite a bit a feedback on your script so far…which is nice.

    When it comes to giving feedback on book adaptations, I’m below amateur. I haven’t done anything regarding this. However, not knowing things has yet to stop me from at least throwing out ideas:

    1) Obviously the first thing is deciding what to focus on from the book that you want to tell in the script. For example, when Scott Frank adapted OUT OF SIGHT, he focused on the criminal in the screenplay even though the book was about the woman Federal Marshal.

    2) I think STRUCTURE is going to be your next key. I know that you chose to tell this in a linear fashion, however, that may not have been the best choice because it feels like too much time passes too quickly. We don’t have the opportunity to get invested in the world before it becomes a completely different world. And we immediately lose Grace in this process. Like I said in my notes, it feels like we are zooming by major moments.

    So it might be better to start us in the world and only show us some of the old world if it’s necessary. You can choose to do flashbacks or you can choose to show us through Pete’s telling/dealing with the memories of the world he used to know. So you don’t use flashbacks, but his actions/emotions/words/etc.

    3) I wouldn’t worry too much about some of the p.c. criticisms. You make an excellent point. Some people are conditioned now to have those concerns. However, there is a chance that it will take readers out of your story, then you should decide if keeping that comment/joke is really worth it.

    I do think you should lose some of the modern day references. Or, reduce their number to like 1. They are fun, but they also date, and potentially alienate, those who may not get them.

    4) By reading chapter one, I see that you stayed very close to the book and its dialogue. This is one of those moments, for me, where you have to decide “What is the best way to bring my audience into this strange world AND have them want to stay once they are here.” I think addressing 1-3 above will help, but it will be something crucial, in my opinion (and I could always be wrong :)

    One of my first thoughts were “Why not have the boy meet the Ariel in some other way? Something more memorable, story specific, and impactful?” Upon reading the book, I see that is exactly how the author did it.

    Here’s a point I should’ve probably highlighted first: You are in the spec script world right now. We don’t have the same luxuries as current working and professional writers. We don’t have the luxury of the slow build. Some work. Sure as shit they do work. However, those are told very well and exhibit confidence that the writer knows what he/she is doing. So we give more latitude. I did not get that feeling with these opening pages, but I was intrigued by the world (I’m also partial to apocalypse stories – especially the ones where people are surviving in the aftermath).

    So if you don’t have the luxury of taking your time because it is a spec, then I think you need to find an early scene that is interesting, has some conflict, and gives us the opportunity to invest. You’ll have gotten us interested/invested, we won’t even realize it, and we will be more likely to hang around to see how things play out — no matter how strange.

    People think they know what they want, and most of the times they do. But once you hook them, they won’t give a crap what world their in as long as you are taking them on a journey.

    There was a spec script a while back on here called AESOP THE COURAGEOUS for AOW. I groaned at the thought of reading it and…I loved the pages I read. I was hooked. I didn’t have the time to read the whole thing, but those first 20 pages had me invested. You might want to check that out as well.

    Sorry for being super long winded. If I read further in your script, I will jot some notes down and email you at the addy on the title page.

  • Linkthis83

    Also: In my long winded reply, I didn’t mean to imply that I’m providing you with insights and knowledge that you didn’t already possess.

    It was me working out what my strategy would be if I were in this situation.

    My apologies for the lack of tact in that reply.

  • Zero

    I gotcha, Exponent5. I guess since the source material isn’t as well known as the Hunger Games series, one would get mixed expectations.

    I dealt with the swearing issue in Firewake too. The very first drafts even had an f-word, but I quickly edited those out. I got it down to three ‘damn’s and a bunch of ‘frag’s, which afaik isn’t really a curse. But even that amount was remarked upon negatively in AOW.

    I think it’s just the presence of so much violence all at once that is surprising – the vomit, his bloody face, her lifeless body. If one of those elements were cut, or if the script were to start out with Pete bathing, then it would be easier to digest. I mean, the pre-apocalypse time is so short, one might as well just start it after, and give a bit of exposition.

  • Matty

    Yeah, oddly Ebert (RIP – that man was probably the single most influential person in the film world for me, I learned so much from him, read every review he wrote) didn’t like the original Die Hard very much (two stars if I recall correctly), but really like Die Hard 2 (3.5 stars).

    On the other hand, he LOVED Lethal Weapon (four stars). And he liked Lethal Weapon 2 & 3, just not quite as much.

    Looking back on them – both of which I’ve rewatched in the past six months (Die Hard and LW that is), I definitely prefer Lethal Weapon. Though when I rewatched it, I noticed it had a slightly odd structure, in that the main villain is introduced pretty late in the script (and actually the main “plot” if you will – it’s really the midpoint shift and it works just fine). Also, the third act is really short. And the climactic fight is kind of weird when you think about it.

    Still though, great flick. Die Hard is too. More action films should take their cues from the first act of Die Hard, which is basically entirely devoid of “action” and is rather an effective set-up of the characters and conflict…. something that modern action films seem to forget.

  • Logic Ninja

    Hey Exponent5, great point! I was actually thinking of McCarthy when I wrote a few of the above comments. I do think there’s a trick to NOT giving the reader information–which is, you can’t have any inherent contradictions in the world as you present it. Everything must be coherent without further explanation; nothing can jump out at the reader as a problem which ought to be explained. In THE ROAD, our hero doesn’t run into any aspects of the world which seem self-contradictory without further explanation (like machines that don’t work, even though the human body does). Therefore we, the audience, don’t feel cheated out of an explanation we were never looking for in the first place. Unfortunately, since ARIEL is adapted from a book, you can’t tinker with the world much; but I think there’s an easy fix: have one of your characters try to wrestle with the problem himself, and guess at the solution. Make his guess plausible, something like (totally a suggestion; you’ll come up with something way better):
    PETE (VO)

  • Midnight Luck

    “The whole world can be divided into those who write and those who do not write.” -Kierkegaard

    • astranger2

      That’s kind of a Soren spot with me… probably my favorite philosopher… ; v )

      • Midnight Luck

        me as well…

        • astranger2

          I was looking for a certain quote, as I didn’t want to slaughter it, and found this: “When you label me, you diminish me.” I love that quote, but always thought Nietzche said it. (Some translations use “negate.)

          Eh, as existentialists, they probably BOTH said it. But I would think you’d love that line also, as people are so judgmental — and he fought against that. His “truth is subjective” essay is a phenomenal piece too..

          … kind of nice being on the board when it’s quiet like this… after it was blowing up all weekend. It’s like driving down the 101 or 405 freeway in L.A. at 4AM. So peaceful, and serene, compared to the bumper-to-bumper fist-shaking activity of rush hour… lol

          • Midnight Luck

            i only drive through L.A. between Midnight and 4am, it is nice. I know I am weird, but I have better things to do than wait in traffic for 5 hours.

            and I feel just the same. People seem unable to labeled me, and if someone tries, well, let’s just say it doesn’t end up well. I refuse to be labeled or put in a box. I don’t understand everyone wanting to be just like everyone else, to do exactly what everyone else does, to like what everyone else does, so they can be accepted. I just like being me.

            I really like, and agree with, negate as well.

          • astranger2

            Well, people just want to categorize someone so they don’t have to think about it anymore. Most don’t desire the complexity of really understanding another person. It’s like an Algebra problem to them. It makes their head hurt.

            I doubt with you, however, M, people automatically label you very quickly. Uniqueness seems to ooze from your persona. As in your writing, you have a distinctive and charming voice.

            Some people will fire off four or five questions in machine-gun style right when they meet you. Where you from? What’s your ethnicity? What’s your line of work? Put you in that butterfly box, clip your wings, and paste a label over that glass slot.

            I was reading a Mamet article where he was saying his father always told him never to ask a person’s line of work right away. That he thought it was rude, and a way of categorizing a person immediately by income and social status. Mamet’s a pretty interesting interview…

            As far as being “negated,” I sometimes think of a song (Tom Waite?) where a guy in a bar gets upset because someone drinking a beer, and minding their own business was “sitting there denying my existence…”

            The eeriest time EVER driving the 405 in L.A. was at 7pm at night coming from Marina Del Rey into the SF Valley… after the Rodney King verdict. At 7pm on the 405 there was literally ONE or TWO vehicles… It was Rod Serling eerie to have no cars on the 405 “parking lot” at what is usually peak rush hour…

          • Midnight Luck

            Now that made me laugh. I believe people today actually do believe you have somehow slighted them if you don’t pay attention to them. Even if they have never met you. They CRAVE attention and recognition so much you can crush them just by not caring they are there, or noticing them. I would love to know what that song is. Can’t you imagine one of those horrible alien like creatures called a Kardashian being outright Offended if someone didn’t notice them, or have some oversized response to seeing them? To have the audacity to be lost in their own world with a beer at a bar and have no care and not even recognize them? Well, that would be me. I could give a shit about most famous people, especially ones like that. What do they add to the world? Zero. I appreciate people who have creativity and value as human beings. People who better conversation or art or mood or a sunset. Not the empty vessels of vacant celebrity.

            /this rant

            I wish I could have been there for the King riots, for that 7pm drive down the 405 with no one around. That is my kind of bliss. I actually WISH for a world like I AM LEGEND, where the remnants of civilization are still there, but there is only me left. Or like CASTAWAY, where I know the rest of the world is going on out there, but I can just relax and take in the beautiful island and blue sea, alone. Society is insane anymore. There are too many people. Too many cars, too many fights over stupid shit, too many rich people, too many poor people, too many abusive people, too many greedy people, just too many people. I like being alone in the middle of faceless throngs of people. Sitting on a concrete step as hundreds of people rush by to get to a meeting or work or some stupid appointment, or rushing to make a buck, and know that I have nowhere to be, but right here, right now. I own my own life. I only do something If I want to be doing it.

            People are addicted to everything now. Making money, exercising, work, internet, coffee, food, sugar, phone, drugs, drink, smoking, whatever. In the end, 90% of it is either because they are bored, or unhappy.

            It is amazing how much nicer the world is when you just unplug. People actually pay thousands of dollars to go on retreats where all you do is turn in your tech gear, have no wifi service and unplug. what? people don’t have to ability to do it themselves. I laugh. People get so attached to the strangest things. They are powerless to change the simplest things.

            Speaking of Algebra, I find understanding people to be more like Geometry, where the rules are kind of just made up. There are no absolutes, the rules in place are outside the visible lines or realities so you have to make leaps of faith. I never understand people, and they don’t understand me. People are so odd I just don’t seem to be able to get them. Ironically, I was really good at Geometry. I believe it was because I was good at thinking outside the box, and daydreaming. I had a good imagination. So, where does that leave me? I have no idea. Life is bizarre, and as we get older, it just gets weirder. I believe by the time we are about to die it becomes such chaos our atoms and cells just cannot stay together anymore, the chaos finally wins and we stop functioning.

            I have absolutely no capacity for small talk. If i am at a party or go into a convention or meeting or group situation, where small talk is not only expected, but demanded, I cannot do it. I talk deep and tend toward darker subjects. I have no idea how to just shoot the shit, shoot the breeze, or gossip. I don’t understand it. Why would anyone talk about the weather? We all know what the weather was doing when we walked in, what is there to talk about? Needless to say, I tend to be left alone in the room rather quickly. People gravitate to those other vanilla people who don’t make them think, feel, or have to question anything, including life. Me, I tend to make people consider Death. A lot. That isn’t exactly a killer party topic. Oh well. It’s just me. I like being surprised by the people who actually do want to talk about it. They fascinate me.

            ok, I am in a decidedly weird mood right now.
            have no idea why I am talking about –
            it isn’t too late, there must be an electrical storm about to start. It is almost June and I am in the Southwest. When these Monsoons sweep in, you can FEEL the wicked electricity in the atmosphere, and it does something to my brain. Energizes it. or scrambles it.

          • astranger2

            Wow, Disqus is like the Kraken. It just swallowed a fifteen minute post.

          • astranger2

            One thing I hate about Disqus, as soon as I mimic my previous post, the other post will appear. So although there were some gems in there, lol, I’ll give you the Reader’s Digest version. Which is usually better anyway.

            If my post doesn’t reappear, not that you’ll be breathless awaiting it, I will recreate it as some of your thoughts are akin to my own, and I may as well rant on to a kindred spirit that can appreciate them.

            Especially those Woody Allen type feelings from Annie Hall about books like The Denial of Death… and monsoon season, and Richard Matheson (Incredible Shrinking Man, I Am Legend, many Twilight Zone episodes and the most prolific author there except for Rod Serling) and other topics I had typed my heart on before the Disquis Kraken swallowed it whole…

            There were a few inane thoughts about Iscoceles triangles and such also… and chaos theory, and inanity that can rock and change the world!!!

            But most importantly, I addressed, since you’ve mentioned it several times now — your incorrect titling of Cast Away. I’ve had this discussion with others, and it’s not a pedantic point, but a plot pivotal one. It’s not Castaway, because life has Cast Tom Hanks Away… Thrown him out with the debris, with only his “little buddy” Wilson, to accompany him.

            I love Cast Away. And I understand your feelings about I AM LEGEND, and THE OMEGA MAN — if not for this plague-inflicted zombie like creatures… I don’t know if I could sleep at night…

            Ciao, M…

            Thanks for the chat… ; v )

            I’ll try to see if I can find the song title. I thought it was Tom Waits. I thought it was from the same song that included the lyrics, “I was so horny I attacked the crack of dawn…”

          • astranger2

            On a tangential note — have you ever read “The Collector,” by John Fowles? My butterfly reference jarred that thought free…

          • Linkthis83

            Enjoyed this post.

            Agree about being able to take a casual stroll the world with out having to be concerned about anybody else (also like 28 DAYS LATER – a la your I AM LEGEND reference.

            I too loathe small talk, yet silence seems to make others uncomfortable. As does talking about REAL things.

            For me, the word that sums up all the things you mentioned = bullshit.

            Oh how I wish there was so much less bullshit :)

          • Midnight Luck

            yes and yes.

            Talking about real things always stops the conversation in my world with others.

            Silence has caused others to think I am either a serial killer or aloof and full of myself, when in actuality I just don’t see the need to incessantly blather on about nothing all the time, as others seem to.

            I worked this late night terrible job once and there were always gaggles of hispanic women sitting together as they worked, I don’t know if it is a cultural thing or not, but they NEVER stopped talking.
            From the moment I sat down to the moment I clocked out they talked non stop. With 4-5 of them together it was deafening. I found it so odd, and all I wanted to say to them was: “take a breath, you are going to pass out, and all you are doing is repeating each other”.

            Literally there wasn’t a break in their talking, ever. It just went on and on and on, yet no one “SAID” anything. It was all banal verbose chatter. “oh he didn’, oh yeah he did. Suz’ is gonna get wha’ comin’ to her, yeah she is.”

            And, total and utter bullshit was all that came out of their mouths.
            Guys are even worse, the Bullshit is just rampant.

            Just on and on. If someone can drive you insane just talking, these girls and women almost did me.

            I wore earplugs.

            barely helped.

        • astranger2

          Here’s a nice one:
          “At the bottom of enmity between strangers lies indifference.”
          Soren Kierkegaard

  • Midnight Luck


    I am not exactly sure why, but something about it really reminded me of a Nick Hornby book I read called A LONG WAY DOWN, which is actually about to be released as a movie.

    it has Pierce Brosnan, Toni Collette, Aaron Paul and Imogen Poots

    They play four suicidal people who meet on top of a London skyscraper on New Year’s Eve.

    I read it quite a few years ago. It was a really great book. I was in eternal recovery and for some reason a weird story about a bunch of people who all happen to accidentally meet on top of a building because they are all going to kill themselves really spoke to me. If anyone liked About A Boy or HIGH FIDELITY (of course), I think you should read the book, and well, definitely go see the movie. I will be there for sure.

    Check it out Biffer if you haven’t before. Maybe you will be able to explain to me why I thought of it when reading your script, I can’t seem to figure it myself.

    • Bifferspice

      ah thanks for the vote, Midnight Luck :-) I have read that, but yes, I can’t picture what linked it to my script. I guess i could cope with having my work linked to nick hornby’s. :-D i love his writing. especially high fidelity, which i think is absolutely terrific, a work of genius. it had such an effect on me. i don’t think i’ve ever seen being a bloke put on a page so honestly, in all its fond patheticness. haha!

      • Midnight Luck

        Yeah, I knew it was a tall order. If I can’t figure out why your story reminds me of it, I am sure it will be even more difficult for you to figure out. No one knows how anyone else’s brain works. But, it was worth a shot in the dark.

        Good job, and here’s hopin’ you get the AmFri spot.

    • Stephjones

      Two of my favorite movies so will defo check out Hornby’s latest. I think maybe the irreverent style of humor might have struck a chord. The Brits get it right for me most of the time, no matter what the subject matter.

  • IgorWasTaken

    I like “Breaking the Chain”. The logline, the premise, the opening 3 pages.

    But, the next 30 pages should be cut by 30-50%. What now happens on page 32 should happen on page 22. Maybe even page 15.

    Consider this: Anyone who reads your logline knows where this is going (I mean that in a good way). Then the question is – OK, then what happens? You’re making us wait too long to know the answer to that, and seems to me that, in this script, the answer is the story. IOW, after he knows he’s rich, and after we get a sense of how tough it will be to keep the secret from his wife… that is when the story begins.

    I’d like to see him know he’s won on page 12 (or 15). And for the scene when he goes to collect, and Colin says he wants to get pictures for the press, I’d like to see that on page 15. Or page 22 or so at the latest.

    And I read to page 40 and I think cutting things back that way is quite doable. I don’t mean by that that the writing is bad. Just that there’s just too much there.

    • Bifferspice

      i’d missed this post! cheers IgorWasTaken, thanks very much for reading. I will be looking to shorten quite a lot to get all the ideas in that are trying to get into the next draft, so I would imagine that, while it may not be shortened quite as much as you’re suggesting, that it should zip along quite a lot quicker. Thanks for the feedback, I hope you’re right about getting the Carson treatment :)

      • IgorWasTaken

        You are welcome.

        OK, I am not the most careful reader sometimes, but seems to me your protag wins multiple “impossible” bets. If I got that right, then here is my question:

        Why does he have to win more than one “impossible” bet?

        I ask because I LOVE the setup that happens at the GA meeting – the way that other guy punks him. And I bought into it. Sure, that moment (on the page) could be better, but still – it’s a great plot thing. Very clever.

        And so, if “readers” in general will buy that moment as I did, then seems to me you only need ONE bet. By which I mean, not some trifecta; but just one straight-up bet. Like the bet on that football game. (Or, if a trifecta, then make it VERY simple.)

        OTOH, if I misread what you have on the page, and in fact there is only one bet (but I missed that), then ignore this post.

        Also, as I mentioned, I only read to page 40, so if this eventually becomes some sort of fantasy – and that is why you need multiple “impossible” wins – then that’s another reason to ignore this post of mine.

        • Bifferspice

          in the UK it’s called an accumulator. that is one bet, but on multiple events. it needs ALL the events to win, but the odds are multiplied. If any fail, then you get nothing. This is necessary, because there wouldn’t be enough odds on any one bet, such as the football game, where he could get the kind of money that becomes life-altering, without putting a stupid amount of money on in the first place.

          thanks again for your comments! :)

          • IgorWasTaken

            OK, I got it now – has to be the accumulator.

            That said, since your story is really about what happens AFTER he wins, consider if we need to see any of the PROCESS of him winning; and how much of him placing the bets. If you had a story in which the winning happens in Act III, then the will he win/ won’t he win part is important. But when it happens in Act I? And we know it’s gonna happen…?

            IOW, do you need to offer that suspense of him winning – versus simply letting us know he won? Do you need the long scene (at all?) when the horse race happens. I suppose there is some second-level setup in that scene – i.e., characters, plot, for later. But can you move those parts somewhere else?

            Just for example: We see him placing the bets. People are shaking their heads at him… Then a series of quick shots, the next day, headlines – long-shot horse wins; football team makes amazing comeback, etc. Then cut right to the betting shop and your protag walks in the door. Or CUT TO his wide-eyed face. We hear a V.O from the betting-shop guy, “Wow. This has never happened before. Wow.” Pull back, we see he’s inside the betting shop.

            Now, maybe this isn’t the right tone for yours, but Guy Ritchie did stuff like that really well in Lock, Stock; and in Snatch. Concentrated info about the long odds (or, supposed easy odds) of some event going one way, BUT with most of the scenes’ focus on what it means to the character(s); CUT TO: After the event; it went the other way.

            For example: Keep that opening scene, but he resists taking that punked advice. Then we see him with his wife – really set up that situation. And then he goes BACK to the GA meeting; he is so determined to save his marriage; to never bet again, but it’s so difficult. Then that same GA guy gives him that same punked advice. This time your protag takes it…

            Then, condensed action and dialogue, and… 3 pages later, he’s won the accumulator.

            Anyway, one guy’s opinion.

          • Kirk Diggler

            Regarding why the betting scenes needs to be shown and why I thought they worked well.

            Dramatic irony.

            I agree there is room to trim in the first 30-35 pgs, I just think getting rid of the scenes of him winning the bet would weaken it overall.

          • IgorWasTaken

            Fair enough. And I did realize, after I made my posts, that if the tone here is along the lines of “The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain”, then it’s going to be a slower pace. Still, something has gotta give, somewhere in those opening pages.

            As for dramatic irony, I might have bought into that more if, for example, the scene that runs from page 20-26 – during the horse race – was played for that purpose. For example: I know we’re not supposed to “direct”, but if much more of that dialogue was designated “O.S.” “What odds was it again?” and the rest.

            And instead of “Elaine looks at her ticket.” Make it, “Steve winces, as if holding in a fart, as he sees Elaine eye her ticket, confused.” Then cut her dialogue; Steve just jumps in – “That’s forty-to-one, Mum.”

          • Kirk Diggler

            Well… let’s not got that far…. “The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain”…. man that was slow burn. I agree the early pacing needs to improve. I particularly enjoyed the scene art the house with Steve’s parents as they are watching (a horse race I think?). But yeah, in the opening 35, less is more.

            As an aside, as a child growing up with a Welsh mother, I frequently went hiking on ‘Garth’ mountain, the “hill” in the aforementioned film. It felt more like a hill to me, even as a kid.

          • IgorWasTaken

            Wow. THE hill…? It’s like I’m psychotic psychic!

          • Kirk Diggler

            Both? Sounds like a movie right there.

            Re: the film, it’s a work of fiction, but the book it was based on was written by a man who lived near Garth and used it as inspiration.

  • mulesandmud

    The Player is definitely a contender. Altman was uneven all through his career, but kept hitting peaks right up until the end. ‘Cookie’s Fortune’, ‘Gosford Park’, and ‘The Company’ all rate damn high my Altman rankings.

    A critic (can’t remember who) once said it’s almost impossible to teach young filmmakers to do whatever it is that makes Altman films so special. That authenticity and respect for minor characters is so much more than just a loving attention to detail – Altman had a way of keeping the reins loose enough to let the film take on a life of its own. He let the material breathe in the best sense of the phrase.

    It’s a damn hard thing to achieve that kind of calculated looseness on the page, especially in the modern industry climate. Hell, it was pretty much impossible then; Ring Larder told Altman he’d ruined his script when he first saw a cut of MASH, and stuck to that story even after he won the screenplay oscar for it that year.

  • jonsanhueza

    Carson, thanks so much for giving my script, Pilot, another moment in the sunlight!

    To the SS readers: I’m hoping for some more brutally honest feedback… Thanks in advance!

  • Bifferspice

    grendl, this is an imposition, but i wonder if you fancy sending me an email. i have another script i’ve done, another character piece, that i’d love your advice on. i’d love the opportunity to repay the favour too, if there’s any scripts you’re currently working on. no worries if not. as i say, it’s an imposition! :)

    this goes for anyone else that’s given me such great notes, as well. this community’s been amazing, actually. anyone who wants to get in touch, swap scripts, etc, i’d be really chuffed to repay the favours you’ve all given me. :)

  • Bifferspice

    just wanted to say thanks to everyone for all the feedback, and to offer the same if any of you want my notes, such as they are, for anything you’re working on at present. i’ve been chuffed to bits with all the thought you’ve all put in to my script, it’s really something that so many people have all helped out. makes me feel all warm and fuzzy. not good for my usual cynical nature, i tell you. i almost smiled today! anyway, the offer’s there if any of you want to get in touch. the email’s on the script.

  • Exponent5

    You wrote: “From the perspective of those who will be reading this script and making decisions based on its potential, I’d urge you to being open to possibly changing some stuff…. I sincerely believe you’ve got to take this existing material and make it more.”

    While I am definitely open to changing some things, I am not of the mind that I need to make it “more.” Some idea of mine may be just the thing that unwittingly turns off a potential buyer. So, I’m content to let it stand or fall on its merits, and leave that part to the development process. While I don’t feel like I am subservient to the source material, I also don’t feel any ego-based need to put my own stamp all over it.

    Here’s a good example: ARIEL has a dragon in it. I’ve had coverage notes from different places, and most every reader loves the dragon scene. One BL reviewer loved it and said it is “an expertly set up and well paid off sequence.” But, another BL reviewer thought I should lose the dragon sequence altogether as it “doesn’t move the plot forward.”
    I say, so what? It is an AMAZING set piece! Every fan of the book in line for a ticket can’t wait to see the dragon! If I’m going to see a movie about a unicorn, I’m thrilled there is a dragon. I mean, it’s a freaking DRAGON – dragons are cool and fun!
    I guess adaptations are a tricky thing, so I just have to follow my gut. Thanks so much for the well wishes and the quotes!

    • Linkthis83

      Every quote I sent you was my vast knowledge of adaptations.

      I’ve realized that overall my issue is merely with the current way we are brought into the story. Since I haven’t read past page 16 yet, this is the sole focus of my concern. That is all.

      I think following your gut is a great option. And I’m sure as shit going to brag to people about this conversation when this thing hits theaters in 2016.

  • jonsanhueza

    Hey Scott, thanks for giving Pilot a shot!

  • jonsanhueza

    I started with Down to the Wire (Trying to get through each one before Friday, so it’s not my pick for AOW, just my thoughts…)

    Overall I think the story has promise, but with a few reservations…

    – The beginning seems unfocused. We don’t need the scene in Kabul, since it’s only setting up backstory. I’d start off with the first heist and go from there, introducing your main characters. We didn’t get Riggs in any war scenes, and show his wife dying. That was all just backstory that we discover along the way, because it’s unnecessary to the main plot of the cops vs. bad guys. Once the two main characters meet, the story seems to flow better. If I were to throw my producer hat on, I would DEFINITELY cut the Kabul scene, because the rest of the entire movie can be shot in just about any major American city (with minimal adjustments)– which ever one provides the best tax incentive. Why would I want to do an expensive company move to somewhere near or in the Middle East if I don’t have to, for footage that isn’t necessary to telling the story?

    – There’s also periodic choices throughout that took me out of the story– such as going to the surveillance recording’s audio. They don’t usually record audio with security cameras, just video, as far as I know.

    – What does it matter that Davis is wearing an expensive watch? They should be following specific facts as leads, not circumstantial hunches– which later turn out to be true. How can the audience respect and follow them as brilliant detectives and not just plain lucky?

    – Having the captain always furious seems like the biggest cliche, which they poke fun of in Last Action Hero… which was about 1000 years ago. And they ended up reversing that cliche in So I married an axe murderer… so at this point, I don’t know how you approach the character other than try to make him as real as possible, which means character details. The captain here doesn’t do much except never leave his office and yell a lot. Give him a hobby, a flaw, something. Maybe he’s got a prosthetic arm, which is why he desperately wanted Boots to come into his precinct to help him out… something to make him feel different.

    – That brings me to… Why does the captain care if a pill popping woman-beater is complaining? He’s not getting a phone call from the Mayor. Everybody complain’s about cops not following regulations, but what does he care if it’s this d-bag? The phone call shouldn’t even reach him.

    – if Davis and Ken are covering up for the thieves, why didn’t the security video get destroyed? They could’ve rolled in under the guise of performing an investigation, taken the copies and tossed them in a fire… why leave loose ends?

    – Why would boots show joe his foot? the choice seems odd. It should be a source of embarrassment, or spite for Boots. I get that it’s playing off of Riggs’ showing off his scars in LW3, but that’s different. Scars are cool. Missing body parts are tragic.

    – occasionally you introduce characters by their occupation, which we wouldn’t know from watching on screen. (such as George (45) an ex-military sniper.) You should be using their essence to describe them. Their demeanor/appearance/vibe.

    – when Boots jumps on his bike for the big chase scene, the first thing that popped in my mind was: I didn’t remember him fixing his tire… nor do we ever find out it was Joe that deflated it. At least not that I can recall.

    – not sure what the flashback to the VA hospital is supposed to inform us of. its information that we already know/could safely assume since going into it, we know he lost his foot, and in the bathtub scene we heard the dr. say “it’s an aneurysm”. Might want to just cut it if it doesn’t alter our perception of the character or facts.

    – many of the scenes don’t have enough conflict, just people talking and agreeing, for instance, before they go on stake out boots meets joe’s mother, and joe tells her that he can’t make breakfast. what if boots flipped on him and prodded him to have breakfast with her, because it’s his mother and she doesn’t have much time left… even the mother’s response is “okay, whatever”. And not just this scene, but I remember reading at least a dozen that didn’t have any kind of conflict.

    – when they’re (boots and joe’s mother) exercising, it doesn’t say exactly how they are exercising.

    – when ken tells joe his gun his empty, why doesn’t joe pick his gun back up and shoot ken in the face?

    – how does a cop/ex-war vet earn enough money to lease an aston martin? even with a handicap sympathy… they don’t give those cars away. We don’t exactly pay our military personnel on par with the job they do, and we’re even more neglectful of our vets. (latest in the news of d*baggery is some have been dying because they couldn’t get medical attention fast enough)… unless Boots came into some other form of money that I’m not thinking of…

    – We also never find out the end game of the criminals. They are collecting people’s medical information but to what end? where’s the info going? Once they realize that every robbed pharmacy has a penetration, they should be able to contact all those people and get them to freeze their credit, change passwords, etc… or at least work to resolve the issue, but it’s left to the pharmacy manager to fix, and then never spoken of again… Also not sure what the need is for thieves to physically break into a place in order to hijack the data, when it could have probably been easier and more effective to just hire hackers to do it remotely, and thereby removing the breadcrumbs so to speak of knowing each and every pharmacy that now knows it’s been penetrated.

    In the end, it was an easy and clear read, and I did enjoy the banter between Joe and Boots. But there are some moments that you have which push the story along that raise some questions. That being said, the cop action comedy is a genre that shouldn’t have too much of a problem of finding a home, so I think you’re on the right track with it.

    Thanks for posting!


    • Kirk Diggler

      “Why would I want to do an expensive company move to somewhere near or in the Middle East if I don’t have to, for footage that isn’t necessary to telling the story?”

      If you had a proper producer’s hat on you’d realize they wouldn’t have to shoot in the Middle East to re-create Afghanistan. Just about anywhere in the Southwest would suffice.

  • jonsanhueza

    BREAKING THE CHAIN thoughts:

    Overall an easy and smooth writing style. I felt though that the story lacked some major conflict that was built into the log line. And I didn’t feel the authenticity of the character’s plight.

    The problem is that if he turned to everyone he knew and told him that he won 3 million dollars, nothing bad would happen. Everyone likes the guy, for good reason, because he’s a nice likable guy. That works in real life, but in the movie world, nice likable guys are boring… unless there’s something unique about them that makes them interesting (like Forrest Gump’s unique perspective of the world, and his innocent naivety).

    We never get Sarah’s ultimatum– it happens off screen before the film begins. His winning doesn’t seem as much of a conflict as a result. We should see the big loss of their life savings, and the big fight in the beginning, not start off at a gambler’s anonymous meeting where there’s introductions and zero conflict.

    If he DID tell Sarah right away, I have a feeling the conversation would go something like this:

    Steve – Sarah, I have something to tell you.

    Sarah – What is it?

    Steve – I know I said I would never gamble again but–

    Sarah – Goddamnit Steve! Again!? I swore to you, I’d leave! Did you think I was ly–

    Steve – I won three million dollars.

    (sound of panties hitting floor)

    Fade out.

    — Not exactly a story there.

    There were also a few implausibilities through the script…

    — If he could pay to get Sarah cast, couldn’t he also pay to get craig replaced right away? Why does he wait so long to fire a guy that KNEW was trying to sleep with his wife? It shouldn’t have been an after thought for him. People in general are selfish (especially addicts), so he should be thinking all times “what can i do with my money and power right now?”

    — Buying his friend a hooker is the first place that i think anybody goes when trying to help out their buddy who is shy with the ladies. I feel like it’s been done before a million times, and when it does happen here, you don’t play with it enough. Nothing funny, or dark, or interesting happens as a result. Arran flirts with the hooker, goes home with her, comes back more confident, then gets upset that she’s a hooker, and their friendship is temporarily fractured… It was just going through the motions without going someplace new.

    — Why does he care about the shop? He can take care of his friends without it. Again, it just doesn’t seem like his whole life is on the line if anyone finds out.

    — Doesn’t he have enough money to clean the park? To let his dad retire? To take his wife on a trip to Barbados right freaking now?

    — After all that secrecy, why does he tell Arran? There was no immediate need to spill his guts. He just kinda does it because it’s gotten towards the end of the script and he has to come clean eventually… there needs to be a force to make him spill the truth. It cannot just happen. And IF the force of him spilling the truth (he’s a millionaire) is that he’s going to lose his wife to another man, then F**k her! He can afford a new one.

    — All that build up and we never see the play? Never see how horrifically bad Nigel would be as Romeo? Why not? That could be the source of some really great laughs (kinda needed after his dad died)– and why rehire Craig? He still doesn’t like the guy who he KNOWS is trying to sleep with his wife. If he wants to make his wife happy about not sharing the stage with a terrible actor (Nigel) then, why not go hire Ewan McGregor (or someone equally famous/appealing/maybe younger since Romeo is like 17 I think)?

    — Sarah was just about to tell Steve that she’s leaving him for Craig, so NOW he tells her that he’s a millionaire? How could he ever possibly know that she wants him for anything other than his money? Again, F**k Sarah! Time to trade her in for a new model.

    — And telling her that he got her the lead cannot be good for her self esteem. I think that would make her more pissed than anything else he’s done.

    — Another issue that makes it feel unauthentic is everything seems to work out exactly as planned… When he buys the shop, it should sink, not flourish. When he gets his dad the job, he(his dad) should be miserable, not happy for it. When he gets his wife the part in the play, she should be the world’s worst actress, not brilliant. The essence of a “genie out of the bottle” script is that he gets what he wants (winning 3 mil) but then everything goes to hell as a result. Here, everything got pretty much better, but then people got mildly pissy… I feel like you can take it to a darker place in order for us to think that Steve’s world is crashing down around him.

    You should also look into reading about real people that won it big in the lottery or from estates of their parents… Money tends to invite misery, not happiness (for those who are unexperienced in managing the lifestyle, which Steve most certainly qualifies) They get family members out of the woodwork asking for handouts. Friends, associates, con artists. Then they realize a year later they have to pay taxes on it, and they don’t account for it! There should be more conflict directly associated with winning it big than there presently is in the script.

    Going back to Steve’s character, he is just kind of a boring do-gooder. A nice guy, who’s only flaw (gambling addiction), doesn’t really play a part in the script because after he wins, he never gambles. If you want to make him more interesting, make him like the Dustin Hoffman character in “Hero”. Make him a loser, a deadbeat dad, who is in the middle of a messy divorce with seven kids that hate him and a bunch of fake friends he doesn’t really like, and a girlfriend on the side who is only with him because she can treat him like shit, but he’ll always be there for her as a doormat. Then he gets taken to court for not paying child support, and the judge decrees that he must give over 90% of everything he earns until his 7 kids reach 18 (and the youngest is 6 months) — THEN he wins it big! But if he tells anyone, it will be gone in an instant. And he really wants to take care of his kids, but he doesn’t want to fork over 90% to his soon to be ex wife, who is banging someone else now… That’s a story I want to see because I don’t know how it will play out. He could hire someone else (like Andy Garcia’s character in “Hero”) to pose as the winner, and do things through him, but he needs to hire an idiot, because a smart guy will figure out how to rip him off, so that becomes the source of his downfall… And then he still has to gamble from time to time, and he starts to lose everything, and if he doesn’t stop, his kids will have nothing… I don’t know, just a thought. I just felt like there was not enough of a flaw in your flawed character. Not enough to make him interesting anyway, and not enough for a great actor to want to play him.

    Anyway, enough rambling. I hope you find some of this useful. The writing style was solid so I think you have promise as a writer, but it’s just your story and character choices that I didn’t like.

    Good luck on the next draft!