amateur offerings weekend

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

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

Happy reading!

GENRE: Sci-fi/Disaster
LOGLINE: When the human race is forced to evacuate earth for the moon, it leaves behind a crusty old engineer who finds new purpose in the company of a mute nine-year-old girl.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: I’ve had a dozen different writers read this script and give excellent, detailed notes on it–which of course called for a complete rewrite. A month later, this beauty’s been retooled, buffed and polished; she purrs like a tigress, 95 pages of lean muscle, just itching for baptism in the fiery crucible of the AOW. Hm, was that a mixed metaphor? …Nah.

Other interesting facts? At one point the protagonist is trapped in a bunker while an earthquake rips it apart, while performing invasive surgery on himself, WHILE conversing with a hallucinatory version of his former girlfriend.

And by the end of this script, I hope you’ll have fallen in love with a bitter, grouchy, hateful, suicidal old man. Who doesn’t save any cats. Thanks for reading, and enjoy!

TITLE: Barabbas
GENRE: Historical Action
LOGLINE: In 30 A.D., a charismatic stonemason bent on revenge leads a band of guerrilla rebels against the Roman occupation of his homeland.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: This is the story that led up to the biggest trade in human record. It is Braveheart meets Gladiator, with characters on a collision course that splits history in two. Come for the battle, the intrigue, and the epic. Stay for the sacrifice, the betrayals, and the passion that drives a man to darkness.

As co-writers, we work from 3,000 miles apart. Yes, we have two of the WASPiest names imaginable. No, they’re not pen names. We’ve been polishing this script to a trim, accelerative tale that strengthens, weaves, and deepens with each choice our characters make. The ending is the most difficult we’ve ever worked on, but the feedback on the resolution has been powerful. We have to earn the effect we want a story to have, and with this script we aim to challenge, to provoke, but most of all…to entertain.

GENRE: Mystery, Bio-Pic, True Story
LOGLINE: When brilliant-but-forgotten inventor Nikola Tesla dies mysteriously at the height of World War 2, a couple of FBI Agents race to discover the whereabouts of his final creation – a devastating and world-changing death ray – before it falls into the hands of the Nazis, and along the way put together the clues that reveal the deepest mystery behind Tesla’s life: what drove him to madness.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: Tesla’s life was fascinating. He came from nothing and rose to the height of his profession, battling it out with Thomas Edison and JP Morgan, becoming friends with Mark Twain and George Westinghouse, and electrifying the world…only to die penniless and alone after seeming to lose his mind. He’s also a man relatively few people know about when compared to his peers. If you like mysteries without easy answers, smart and ruthlessly powerful men pioneering the future, and/or underdogs who never stop going for their dreams, you can find something for you in this story.

TITLE: Finishing Last
GENRE: Comedy romance
LOGLINE: A third generation car salesman attempts to transform his nice guy personality to save career and in doing so finds himself attracted to a quirky woman who loathes the new him.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: It’s a feel good comedy romance, which has the following:
No sex… well maybe a small amount. In fact, I’d hardly call it sex, more like a reference to it. No gratuitous violence… I don’t think a kick in the nuts is gratuitous? Maybe mild violence at the most. No bad language… Okay a few F-words, but you’d have to be a saint to be offended by that.

I don’t think I’m selling this very well?

It’s a low budget… no, that just makes it sound cheap. It’s a story of unrequited love… that sounds better… and written for the sole purpose of having an amusing story that couples could go and see together. It does not pretend to be anything but a humorous love story with some oddball characters… I’m rambling now. I’m really not selling this. I’ve been told it has some charm… God; it just comes over as being smug.

Anyway, I think you might like it.

TITLE: Reeds in Winter
GENRE: Historical Adventure/Love Story
LOGLINE: Forced to leave the family he loves, a man who misused his wealth to move his family across the country with the infamous Donner Party must do whatever it takes to rescue them from freezing, starvation and cannibalism.
WHY YOU SHOULD READ: If I were to say I wrote a script about the Donner Party, I think I could feel your eyes roll to the back of your head. While the backdrop of my story includes the Donners, they are not the main focus. There were many families who traveled on that infamous journey, and one family, the Reeds, overcame very tragic events and survived intact. I worked hard to keep the bits that I felt would make a great movie, and, if you’re interested in history, look them up because that shit really happened. The story made me think about what lengths I’d go through to ensure the safety of my family. I don’t know if I could ever do what James Reed had to do, and I hope I never find out.

  • Ange Neale

    I’ve gotten to p. 43 of ‘Broken’, which is a bit futher than I thought I might’ve gotten. One problem, for me, is with contained movies: they can also stifle one’s interest. Walls, while sure they keep budgets down, aren’t very visually. Which means it’s up to the people contained within to keep one’s audience entertained.

    SPOILER ALERT: Here, we have a grouchy old guy and a mute 6 year old girl. As far as I’ve read, he’s the only one who talks, and because she’s just a child, the only other person he talks to is his (departed or deceased?) ex-girlfriend / ex-wife when he’s stoned on his pain meds.

    There’s a threat from Mother Earth, which we can hear and feel as the contained environment is thrown about, but him taking out two pouches of food at a time, and shots of the depleting stash of pouches to signify the passage of time will grind your momentum to a halt (pp. 24, 34 & 36; on p. 34, it’s implied there will be four separate shots of this, then another 3 shots on p. 36).

    To the science in this Sci-Fi / Disaster script. It’s a concern. Your biggest science plausibility problem will come in the year in which you’ve set this script: 2023. That’s only 9 years away.

    The US has mothballed its space shuttle fleet and no human has been to the moon since Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt of Apollo17 in December 1972. The Chinese have aspirations but haven’t sent a crew beyond low Earth orbit yet. But on p. 10, the moon’s visage is so visibly altered by human habitations that it can accomodate 93% of the human population (p. 10) and the changes can be seen from Earth.

    Earth’s current population is just over 7 billion; best projections put it at between 9 and 10 billiion by mid-century. Yet you say 7% or some 800 million wiill be left behind (p. 11), which puts the population at just over 11 billion. By 2023? It’s not possible.

    Even if you left it at 7.8 billion and the year 2023, could we credibly establish habitations and life support to accomodate even a billion on the moon by 2023? Kidding, right? Maybe — MAYBE — we could support and send the luckiest couple of million for their brilliance, youth and ability to keep a kernel of humanity alive. But more than that within 9 years?

    But the part of the story that really did me in was the Polynesian supervolcano on p.22. Polynesia is the middle part of the Pacific to the east and south of Fiji (Fijians are Melanesian): Tonga, Nuie, the Samoas, Kiribati, Hawaii, etc. Technically that includes New Zealand. While New Zealand does have volcanoes that can erupt explosively and have proven themselves capable of ejecting thousands of cubic kilometres of material (i.e. Taupo), the rest of Polynesia does not have such volcanoes.

    Mid-oceanic volcanoes are basaltic, like Iceland’s — it’s dark, sluggish, ropey and gooey lava, not great gas-filled pyroclastic eruptions such as the Pacific Ring of Fire volcanoes (NZ, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, Alaska, Mt St Helens, Mexico, Chile, Antarctica.

    If you want this part of your script to be credible, write it as an Indonesian supervolcano the size of the Toba eruption ~ 74,000 years ago, or the Yellowstone supervolcano going off.

    But even an eruption that big wll not throw material into Low Earth Orbit (i.e. 160km+) to threaten the satellites there, let alone threaten the comms sats gaggle that orbits geosynchronously at almost 36,000 kilometres. Eruptions that big can throw a stack of dust and debris up to 50 or potentially even 60 kms high (and the dust will certainly cool Earth enough to fail harvests for a year or two), but the stacks collapse when the thrust from the eruption below becomes insufficient to support and lift the mass of material above.

    To fix the rest (i.e. the demographics and our ability to construct habitats on the moon for billions), you need to project at least another 50 years — much later this century, or stick with sooner and drastically downsize to a ‘Noah’s Ark’ population.

    Other bits and pieces: p. 1 — will they still be using paper even in 2023? Also p. 1, ‘40%’ — numbers in dialogue should usually be written, i.e. ‘forty percent’.

    Mind out for unfilmables — there’s a few (p. 13 — ‘the day the world ends’ in an action line, p. 16 — the mob realizing he has an underground shelter, and p. 21 — ‘you can tell he’s thinking whenever he clicks his pen’, for instance). Double period p. 23. Otherwise, pretty clean for typos and homophones.

    Good luck!

    • Paul Clarke

      Love the science lesson Ange!

      Better know your volcanoes people.

      Haven’t read it, but didn’t Wall-E already do this story? Good luck writing something better than that.

      • Ange Neale

        Um, sheesh… Kinda got into it, didn’t I? Such a party pooper.

        For the author, the plausibility stuff’s fairly easily fixed — he/she just needs to push the time frame out by 50 or so years when hopefully the technology will exist to permit a mass migration, and move the volcanoes around.

        • Linkthis83

          Party crasher indeed. I’m willing to bet that with all the population numbers you cited, the majority of those who would attend this film wouldn’t know such things aren’t plausible and others wouldn’t care. Which includes me :)

          If some guy wants a volcano to be somewhere, then that’s the fun of creating fictional stories. Also, we don’t actually know everything yet, so something could surprise us.

          Such as if there were certain core/plate activities that started taking place that started creating this volcano that isn’t plausible. And because of this occurrence, it affects how we start preparing for it. I’m not suggesting the technology could speed up fast enough to support it, but the way Congress acts would certainly make preservation a priority. Especially for the population that’s deemed “worthy.”

          I like believing stories are possible. And if they are only rooted in what is truly, scientifically plausible, it takes the fun out of creating scenarios we’d never see because science says so. Well, science is basically evidence of what we THINK we know as of right now. Until we learn more :) That’s my own created definition of science. Since scientists have been proving other scientists wrong since they began studying the world around them.

          • Ange Neale

            “…[S]cience is basically evidence of what we THINK we know as of right now. Until we learn more :)” — sure, science has always been about observe, theorize, test, observe, finesse or discard previous theory. It’s religion that demands to be taken on faith.

            Maybe our definitions are a mis-match, too, between what’s science fiction and what’s fantasy? For me, ‘Star Wars’ is fantasy, not sci-fi, but ‘Star Trek’ is definitely sci-fi, because keeping up with scientific developments seemed to be important to Gene Roddenberry.

            For me, if someone’s going to write about a volcano capable of destroying life as we know it, why not use one that already exists and really would force us to evacuate Earth, rather than making one up? Knowing that a supervolcano like the Yellowstone caldera really could go off again at fairly short notice adds to the stakes and urgency.

            Polynesia’s thousands of kilometres from Austin. If Ninja was to use Yellowstone, for example, for Americans, that’s much more relatable than some itty-bitty island out in the middle of the ocean thousands of miles away.

            Enjoyed the take on ‘Volcano’ — thanks for that link, Mike!

          • witwoud

            OT — This might amuse you, Ange. The other day I was up on the Suffolk Coast, messing around with sailing dinghies, when suddenly a familiar-looking plane appeared in the sky on the other side of the river. I was shielding my eyes and saying ‘I can’t believe it … looks like a Spitfire.’ Whereupon the boatman — barely looking up — said, ‘Definitely a Spitfire. That’s Carolyn. She often takes it up on days like this.’

            Turns out she’s a local lady — now in her 70s — whose husband had bought and restored a WWII Spitfire. Just as he’d got it flying again, he was killed in a car crash. So she learned how to fly it herself, and in the summer when the weather’s fine goes cruising up and down the coast and around the marshes. It’s one of about thirty Spitfires still flying, and she’s said to be the only female pilot. Anyway, as you’d expect, I pounced upon this opportunity to show off my newly-acquired knowledge of women in Spitfires. Don’t you just love it when that happens? :-)

          • Ange Neale

            What a terrific story, Witwoud!
            I’m greener than the Hulk with envy. Sure do love it when that happens.
            It would’ve been absolutely criminal to let an opportunity to wallop a ‘six’ over the fence and into the 18th row slide tamely through to the ‘keeper! Glad you put on a good show!

            You’ve got me thinking now, too…
            There was a BBC doco that Ewen McGregor and his brother, Colin, made some years ago (70th anniversary perhaps?) about the life of Battle of Britain pilots. It featured Spitfires.
            Colin is (or was at the time) an RAF fighter pilot.
            I have a very vague recollection that the Spit Colin flew might’ve been owned by a woman — what’re the chances it was this same lady?
            And Ewen got to take a ride off the south coast in an even rarer tandem Spit. There’s a bit of it on youtube at — and the look on his face…
            Even just seeing one ‘on patrol’ over the coast would be such a blast.

            There were rumours that there were a bunch of Castle Bromwich-manufactured Spits possibly still in their shipping crates buried in Burma somewhere. I don’t know what came of that, but if I ever win the Lotto megadraw, I might have to take a trip to Burma to join the hunt…

          • witwoud

            I think Ewan might have been riding in Carolyn Grace’s plane. After the war they turned it into a training plane by adding a second cockpit.

            I stood on the riverbank watching this Spitfire and wishing I had one too, but later I read that it burns £500 of fuel per hour if you’re cruising, and £1000 if you’re going full-throttle. Given which, there’s a lot to be said for dinghy-sailing as a hobby.

          • Ange Neale

            Think you’re right about her aircraft – can’t be that many converted tandem cockpit Spits still operational along the south coast, surely.
            OMG re fuel — I guess if it has an original Rolls Royce Merlin v12 under the cowling, that’d make sense about the consumption. Not very environmentally-friendly.
            Dinghies — big tick for cost, but, hey, if you had 1000 quid to burn, what a way to do it, eh? Put in a request for Father’s Day, Witwoud.
            Thanks for that! Good story to start the week on.

        • Linkthis83

          If BROKEN ever gets made, I hope you do a guest post with this guy when breaking it down :) It’s all in fun, Ange.

          • Citizen M

            Volcano has my favorite tagline:

            THE COAST IS TOAST!

    • Stephjones

      You call yourself an underachiever until you were 50? Plausibility issues, Ange.
      That brain of yours would have exploded. Extinction of life as we know it. :)

      • Ange Neale

        Seriously, I was an underachiever. Wasted my life bookkeeping, mostly for small businesses. The only benefit of having a boring job was I read prolifically to keep insanity at bay.

        You’re staying put for a day or two more, Steph? Let us know when you’re moving on and where you’re heading to. It makes good sense that someone knows where you’re heading and when you should be there.

    • Malibo Jackk

      Why are you writing a WWII story?

      • Ange Neale

        A question I’ve asked myself once or twice, Malibo.
        I’ve always been interested in all sorts of stuff, from A for ancient history and astronomy through to Z for zoology.
        It’s really useful to know a little bit about lots of things, because there’s always something to start a decent conversation with people from any walk of life.
        And it’s partly a function of middle age — I’ve been around long enough to accumulate much intellectual flotsam.

        • Malibo Jackk

          I see some Jules Verne in you.

          • Ange Neale

            Wow — thank you! That is indeed a complement.
            Humbling, but a complement.
            Now if I could just write a quarter as well as he did…

        • Somersby

          After reading your post, I couldn’t help but listen to Dylan’s “Black Diamond Bay” agian. If you haven’t heard it, check it out. It’s not only wonderful storytelling… it’s about a volcano eruption.

          Probably not a bad idea to view the lyrics as you liisten if you’re unfamiliar

          I think you’ll enjoy.

          • Ange Neale

            Thank you for this, Somersby. I’d never heard it before, and they’re terrific lyrics! Dylan’s such a good story teller, isn’t he?!

    • BSBurton

      lot of hot air! lol J/k. I love reading your responses and thoughts. When u visiting the states, Ange?

      • Ange Neale

        Excellent question, Byron. I hope the second half of next year to do some research but it depends in part on approvals and grants. (Or if some producer calls me up and says. ‘We want to talk about this drama-less, conflict-less script of yours…’, well, heck, I’m there as soon as I can get a visa.) We’ll find time for coffee?

        • BSBurton

          Absolutely, and massages at some sketchy joint beside the café

          • Ange Neale

            Massages? Or looking-up porn, lol…?

          • BSBurton

            massages, I don’t need to look up porn. It finds me hahaha

    • Logic Ninja

      Hi! BROKEN writer here! Thanks for the great notes! On the timeline issue, yeah, that needs to be fixed. In the original draft I went into huge detail on the system by which we could conceivably do it in three years if we had to; there were massive economic shifts, industrial shifts, and a largely unchallenged worldwide effort (for instance, the entire automobile industry of the planet because invested in shuttle and base construction)–but without the details, that seven-year figure is a bit of a leap. Way too much of a leap. Fifty might well be the number to shoot for. That might even have some interesting generational effects. Hm.
      As for the volcanoes….dang. Fixing that pronto! Thanks for the expertise (shoulda done a little…or a lot…more research in that area).

      • BSBurton

        Ninja, look at you making AOW!!! I will give yours a read cause I think you gave me some good thoughts a while back!!! Congrats

        • Logic Ninja

          Thank ya kindly! Hope you enjoy!

      • Ange Neale

        Yeah, Ninja – 50 years’ll do it, and that’ll solve your population numbers, too — ~11 billion around 2073 will very easily be plausible. Scarily big and unsustainable without a new revolution in agricultural production to feed them all, but plausible. God knows what they’ll all be eating on the moon though, or where they’ll get enough potable water from.

        Can see your point about re-tooling auto factories to producing shuttles and prefabricating habitats. Aircraft factories, washing machine factories… But building launch facilities to move billions of people, plus all their bare essentials, plus enough food to sustain them until the lunar colonies are self-sufficient — not do-able in that short a time frame. Safer to push it out.

        Actually, they could be growing food in skyscrapers (entirely plausible), although the moon has nights that are two weeks long. They’ll have to go traditional fission nuclear energy to keep the lights on or hopefully have perfected fusion by then. Obviously, there’ll be no fracking for gas, no wind, no hydro, no coal-mining, and if they wanted to go solar, they’d need to cover the entire surface in panels.

        It’s really interesting thinking about the logistics of how to make that happen. Anyway, good luck with it! While I’m not nearly as au fait with the script analysis as everyone else, I love a good sci-fi read, so after you’ve assimilated and incorporated all the terrific feedback you get here, if you want me to have another crack at it, neal0018 at gmail dot com, okay?

        • Logic Ninja

          Will do, and thanks very much again!!

  • Malibo Jackk

    GENRE: Sci-fi/Disaster
    LOGLINE: When the human race is forced to evacuate
    earth for the moon, it leaves behind a crusty old engineer who finds new
    purpose in the company of a mute nine-year-old girl.

    Can’t help but think that the story the audience wants to hear
    — is about the people settling on the moon.

    • BSBurton

      good point, how much you charge for the advice lol

  • Malibo Jackk

    TITLE: Barabbas
    GENRE: Historical Action
    LOGLINE: In 30 A.D., a charismatic stonemason bent on
    revenge leads a band of guerrilla rebels against the Roman occupation of
    his homeland.

    Bible epics are in demand.
    Carson is probably reading the Bible as we speak.

    • Ange Neale

      And when it says people get stoned, it’s considerably more unpleasant than in our century.

      • klmn

        • Ange Neale

          Much more laid back than ‘Copperhead Road’.

  • Malibo Jackk

    TITLE: Finishing Last
    GENRE: Comedy romance
    WHY YOU SHOULD READ: It’s a feel good comedy romance, which has the following:
    No sex…

    OK, moving on.

    It’s a low budget…

    Wait… did someone say low budget?

  • Malibo Jackk

    TITLE: Reeds in Winter
    GENRE: Historical Adventure/Love Story
    LOGLINE: Forced to leave the family he loves, a man…

    Wait. Here’s how to sell this one:

  • pmlove

    Finishing Last

    Not for me. The dialogue feels too constructed to work, the jokes shoe horned in without feeling naturalistic. The other problem is it is confused from a character perspective – we’re told that Ford is ‘too nice’, in itself slightly on the nose and presumably this is setting up his character flaw.

    But the dialogue presents a sarcastic man who is more interested in making jokes than his job. And if he doesn’t care about his job, why should I and why are we here?

  • Matty

    Totally OT, I just woke up not long ago so haven’t even had a chance to even look at these loglines more or less the scripts, but wanted to share these links with my fellow writer/filmmaker buddies.

    (First two are primarily pertinent to filmmakers, last one is great for writers – nofilmschool is a great site in general that everyone should follow IMO)
    (list of deadline-upcoming filmmaker grants for both documentary and narrative films, as well as a few screenwriting competition/programs)
    (amazing video interviews with some of the greatest directors ever – including Scorsese, Spielberg, Lynch, and Lumet – offering their advice on filmmaking)
    (free eBook that expands on and analyzes Pixar’s “22 Rules of Storytelling”)

    in case you haven’t read Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling yet, here they are. The eBook is 75 pages of analysis of these broad and simple rules:

    • JakeBarnes12

      Thanks for sharing, Matty. Great stuff.

  • Citizen M

    If the scripts are half as good as the “Why you should read”s, this will be a vintage week.

    • BSBurton

      totally agree!

    • Citizen M


      Read 32 pages. Well written but rather bleak. I don’t see where this is going. Robert stuck in a bunker home-schooling a child who can’t speak doesn’t sound very entertaining. Robert talking to a hallucination isn’t either. Since everything on earth seems to have been destroyed I don’t see that there can be any developments.

      • Logic Ninja

        Thanks for reading! I’m sensing I didn’t make enough of a promise to the reader in the first act–do you think this might be the core of the issue, or was the story itself just not your cup of tea? Thanks again!

        • Citizen M

          For me, the problem is a science fail. The way the disaster is described, with precise timing known years in advance, can only mean meteorite impact. And four big impacts would mean they are stuck in the bunker forever since there would be nothing left at ground level.

          In fact I understand it’s volcanoes, and they go on a journey through a ruined landscape to an experimental shuttle. It didn’t seem like a realistic possibility when reading.

          Other details, like a company bunker built to accommodate only one person, and communications and computers conveniently working when everything is destroyed, not to mentioned millions in a colony on the moon as discussed elsewhere, tell me the writer is making up the science to suit his story as he goes along.

          Basically, the physical facts are not sufficiently grounded in reality for me to take the story at all seriously as a drama with people facing real obstacles. Nor is it funny or entertaining, so there’s no reason to read further.

    • Citizen M


      Got to page 19 when it failed the internet test. The characters didn’t seem to have any life in them. They seemed to be acting out a script and talking in formal speech, as though they were aware their words were being written down for posterity. I didn’t get the feeling events were being driven by human passions.

      Danger sign — a high character count. I make it 14 named characters already.

    • Citizen M


      Read 9 pages. Jumps around too much to follow.
      Anyone who reads all 134 pages deserves a medal.

    • Citizen M


      Read to page 16. Promising concept, but just not funny enough. I laughed once, when they pretended Nina’s old car was likely to explode.

      There’s a scene missing. We don’t see the actual sale and Nina signing on the dotted line.

      Note to comedy writers: I analysed the script of The Heat, regarded by many as a below-par comedy. There were 2-3 jokes per page, many character based, and a bit of physical comedy. Only 2 or 3 no-joke pages in first 25. That’s the standard you have to aim at.

      • shewrites

        Hi Citizen M, would you kindly send me the script for The Heat? Thank you!o.Hodge at outlook dot com

        • Citizen M

          Sent to o.hodge hope that’s correct.

          • shewrites

            Got it. Thank you much!

    • Citizen M


      Read 17 pages. Wanted to read more but had to stop. Shaping up nicely. The characters and conflicts are coming out through action. There’s plenty happening already and we know the best is yet to come. My pick this week.

      Most scenes are 2 – 3 pages long. The river crossing was 6 pages. I’d cut a couple of pages there.

      We first meet Hastings at FT SACRAMENTO. Next he’s at FT BRIDGER WY (Wyoming?). How and why did he get from one to the other, and what is their relation? We need a bit of explanation.

      • gonzorama

        Thanks Citizen! The author of “Reeds in Winter” here. If it wasn’t cleat from the beginning, Hastings was gathering a group at Sutter’s Fort to head east and help emigrants make the journey westward. That’s why he’s at Ft. Bridger months later.

        Let me know if you think the script doesn’t set that up properly.

        And, thanks again for the comment!

        • Citizen M

          I didn’t realize there was a time gap. The way I read it, the Donner party was crossing the river as Hastings was giving his speech.

  • Randy Williams

    AOW is back! Wowsy!

    Careful early voters. You wouldn’t want to be labeled as a “friend of the writer” or accused of trying to influence late comers with your arguments.

    Lay back, let them wake up. Enjoy your head start in other ways. I’m letting my cereal get soggy.

    • BSBurton

      Good point, Randy. Lest the beast come out of its cave..

    • Ange Neale

      Carson must be feeling better — he wasn’t well last weekend.

    • Linkthis83

      It’s a lot more “business as usual” when there isn’t already a script favorite going into the weekend which negates the need to read/note anything else since voting for any other script would either be asinine or cheating. Totally glossing over the fact that already having a favorite script is actually unfair to the other scripts in that particular round that particular weekend (he said unnecessarily :)

  • BSBurton

    Wow, all these entries look awesome! Congrats to the writers. I’m working today but look forward to checking in periodically.

  • NajlaAnn

    My choice: REEDS IN WINTER

  • Ange Neale

    Got to p. 11 of ‘BARABBAS’. Tidy, quick read, well-written, and I know they lived in feckless and cruel times, but… Oh, my word, there’s such a lot of callously slaughtered and sacrificed animals. PETA and the Humane Society are really gonna love you guys. Not for me, but good luck with it and congrats on AOW!

    • Altius

      Thanks, Ange. Page 11 – and you just reached the end of the animal deaths! I’m a huge animal person, so for me, the callous killing of them is a pretty harsh indicator of the bad guys ;) Appreciate you giving it a read!

      • Ange Neale

        In that case, I’ll dive back in a bit later, Altius. Cheers!

  • Ange Neale

    Just starting ‘REEDS IN WINTER’.
    P. 2 — what’s a ‘frontier nerd’?
    Pp. 4 and 5 — character’s name is DONNER, but spelt DONNOR in the 2nd last character line on p. 4 and the 1st, 3rd and 4th on p. 5.

    • gonzorama

      Thanks, Ange. Great input. I don’t know why the page settings are so wonky. I opened a new template with US settings and that’s what came out. I’ll research it and see if I can can fix it. I wasn’t trying to cheat, but I did add six pages in the last re-write.

      Please let me know if you find anything else that takes you out of the story!

  • Randy Williams

    Congrats to all the entries. Well done on grabbing the attention!


    Some page notes and general impressions. Read the whole thing.

    p.1-3 – the first few lines of the script and I’m hung up on the view of Austin in 2023. It’s not described so I’m left wondering. The doctor is described as “young” and he’s 35. I don’t think “young” is needed. This goes for Robert described as “old” and 68. 68 is old and the “young” girl, 6. 6 is young.
    Maybe just describe the drawings and let us deduct that she is “talented beyond her years” It’s a mystery box that you shouldn’t help me see inside so soon.

    p. 5- “every bone in my body might shatter” This is intriguing. Maybe instead of the discussion with Max, you might start sooner with a scene where Max is testing a subject trying not to have the bones shatter and the bones do shatter on this subject. Maybe it’s revealed in the process that the subject is a robot but it feels the pain because someone on the team is a sadist. EDIT: after finishing the script, I thought where’s the bad characters? Everyone is too nice.

    p. 9 – Emma refers to Dr. Robertson. Isn’t it Dr. Claire?

    p. 10- Emma slams the door. Do you want a spiritual entity to be able to move physical objects? May not have bearing on plot, just asking.

    p. 13- LOL. I was honestly picturing someone like Clint Eastwood playing Robert. Can’t see him in a silk nightgown,though.

    p.15- “tosses the $800 toy away” Is it important we know how much it costs? And this is not visual. Inside Cramer’s car as they travel amongst the rioters might be a good time to use the explanatory media info over the radio with much more interesting visuals against it than how it is presented previously.

    p.16-18- nice, I was there.
    “Miss” for a little girl?

    p.20- nice switch! I was expecting him to give her a pill.

    p.21- Would he not use the informal with a child? Usted, Sie, Vous is used with adults.

    p.22- Why not have him attempt to send the girl back up the elevator and then he changes his mind? Keep us guessing.

    p.27-31. Liked this conversation here. Liked we’ve got a goal here. Visually, I feel it’s too long for just a couple lying in bed in the dark, however. Break it up, perhaps with Georgia getting out of bed, seeing him talking to himself or maybe getting into trouble somewhere.

    p. 33- need some humor about now. Picturing Eastwood again, I can see some onery witticism from Robert about “working two hours a day”

    p. 34- Polaroids? Isn’t he too young for that? Polaroids went out about the time he would be a small child or before.

    p. 35- Is there another goal he could have while in the bunker? Their routine, brushing his teeth, etc, gets stale.

    p. 38- like Robert sewing here.

    p. 40- throw a bone to the conspiracy theorists, make Denver the new capitol.

    p.43- these instructions Robert is giving her here in their emergency measures. Maybe have Robert’s lessons earlier reflect these measures. The elephant’s trunk can be a certain length for instance, which is the length she needs to move, etc. So, we can say, Aha!, he was preparing her all along.

    p. 47- Emma’s appearance I expected. Go against expectation. Maybe Robert calls for her. She doesn’t appear. Georgia is confused. He can say all those things, but Emma’s promise should be in the air for us. Something we want to see later if it’s been kept. Just thought her appearance took some of the intensity out of a good scene. She could, however, make her presence known in a small way. For instance Robert in sewing himself up, reaches for some thread, it’s a color that Emma always wears. EDIT: never see or mention Emma again. Did I miss something?

    p. 57- The description of the desolate earth is rather bland. Dark and grey. This could be any morning in Seattle. Robert’s first words on seeing all this should be a trailer moment. As it is, it’s just, uh, now what?

    p. 61- 77- I’m getting antsy here. They are back where they started in a similar bunker and “what are you drawing?” I need a monster, a secret agenda on Robert’s part that makes me say, OMG, that’s what he was planning. A twist of some sort.

    p. 77- love the “Disney ride” voice with Georgia. How it prepares them for the voyage. Brilliant!

    Overall, the technical aspects of this world totally beamed with confidence. I felt I was in good hands. Robert is an intriguing character, part “House” part Eastwood. It’s hard to identify with Georgia since she doesn’t speak at all and she’s so young. You need to rely more on her drawings and her reactions. She needs a doll perhaps to communicate with in her own way that might show more of what’s going on in her head when she’s not with Robert?

    Once they got out of the first bunker, things needed to ramp up more. It was just another survival episode although some of the action sequences, I thought, were brilliantly etched.
    Ending was a let down for me. Emma plays no real part. Robert didn’t leave much of a legacy. Was the girl that important? Something is missing for me.

    • Logic Ninja

      Thank you so much for reading! These are great notes, I’m definitely going to put these into practice immediately. I REALLY like your idea about Robert being unable to call up Emma after breaking his leg, because that scene is a bit predictable. How ’bout this:
      Robert is unable to call up Emma. This makes him desperate and angry, and spurs his decision to take Georgia to the ship. His anger causes their relationship to reach a breaking point; he snaps at her while she tries to retrieve their supplies, brings her to tears–and therefore the catharsis at the end is much more powerful (which might alleviate some of your concern about the end being a letdown).
      Then, when Robert finally makes the decision to pilot the ship himself, Emma’s waiting for him in the cockpit. Might have to be careful to prevent cheesiness. Any thoughts?
      Thanks again!

      • Randy Williams

        I like it the way it is. Robert foresees the need to exit the bunker and prepares for it. As I suggested, he does so with Georgia in mind, as a father would prepare a child to go forth in the world.

        My overall suggestion would be to give Robert an agenda for taking space in that bunker. Just because Max pushes him to do so, doesn’t do it for me personally. In the beginning, he seemed rather resigned to meet his fate on earth and after all, it’s a remedy to the pain he suffers.

        Give him a goal he seeks to achieve within that bunker. My suggestion would be to tie it in with his hallucinations with Emma. She is forcing him to do something. Georgia throws a wrench in that plan by appearing, but over time, he comes to realize he couldn’t do what Emma wants without her.

        Then, after they exit that bunker and they’re at the base, things need to ramp up, an exterior force threatens to crash everything for him. Georgia is in the way now, and he must choose between her and pleasing Emma.
        He chooses Georgia.

        The twist at the end could be Emma is actually alive on the moon, and Georgia’s mother. Unknown to Robert, Georgia is his daughter forced in that escape bunker by a wily Grant, Emma’s current man. After all, Georgia couldn’t tell him, she can’t talk, but she can draw. Maybe that race car has a name.

  • witwoud

    Congratulations to all finalists. I read fifteen pages of each.

    BROKEN — Intriguing logline, but there’s just too much here that I can’t swallow. It’s 2023, and already we have the technology to resettle millions of people on the moon? But not the technology to deal with this undefined threat, whatever it is? Also, a lot of the details jar, such as the office workers watching the clock and leaping up at five o’clock to catch the shuttle to the moon, because the world is going to end at seven o’clock the following morning. (I mean, surely they’d have been allowed the afternoon off, at least?) Nothing here is ringing true. It’s also strangely uncinematic. People having conversations in offices, people printing things off their computers, people arguing about pills. Sorry — pass.

    BARABBAS — By way of contrast, a good, dramatic, cinematic opening. It manages to introduce four characters very quickly and clearly. Lots of blood and guts in the first fifteen pages. A clear second-place vote.

    SORCERER — Don’t know what to make of this. It’s certainly unusual. But eleven time shifts in fifteen pages? That’s just way too much for me. Also, on a purely subjective note, Tesla is the kind of figure who either intrigues you or doesn’t. You probably have to be a mystery fan to begin with, to get into this. Good luck though — obviously lots of thought and research has gone into it.

    FINISHING LAST — This is one of those comedies that breezes along cheerfully while paying scant attention to … well, anything, really. Plausibility. Depth. Subtlety. Characterisation. Drama. Showing-Rather-Than-Telling. Particularly the latter. For instance, I think we need to SEE a lot more of Ford being too nice to sell any cars, rather than have his boss declare it on page two.

    REEDS IN WINTER — My vote!! — Good, dramatic writing. The scene with the wagon crossing the river on top of the raft really made me sit up and pay attention. I might even have nibbled a fingernail, though I won’t swear to it. Very good ‘action’ writing with lots of convincing little details, like the 12-year-old girl hanging onto the brake, and the mother wading into the river holding a rope, and the father shouting out orders. (I know this is accurate, because it’s exactly like going sailing with my family.) It’s a good strong scene in its own right and a foretaste of dangers to come. Great stuff.

  • TomG

    Read to pg15, very interested in the topic, will continue depending on world cup games (sorry, just being honest). The opening feels like it jumps around too much (and that you’re already aware of this). If this is a biopic, why not start with the drama of Tesla’s
    squalid death and the potentially scattered papers detailing the weapon. Perhaps have him delirious with a companion who will act as our narrator and start jumping around in time from here. At the end we come back to him and understand his ‘ravings’ as he dies. I’m assuming today’s audience doesn’t fear a deathray so the major drama needs to come from
    his life. Otherwise I really enjoyed the precocious scenes and research. Connecting them to Tesla’s deathbed ravings (or some other emotionally connective strategy) would help unify all the jumps. Hope to keep reading…

    • Will_Alexander

      Thank you for reading and for the excellent suggestion. That is something I will think a lot about. The opening has gone through several iterations and has proven quite challenging. This could help unlock it. Thanks, again, and I hope you will finish it and have further thoughts to share.

  • bruckey

    One day we’ll all say we were the first to read that amateur script that just grossed 200 million !


    tearing my hair out looking for ‘The High Lonesome’ by Richard Donner and Brian Helegland.
    if anyone who has it is in a good mood…

    • Citizen M


      • Marija ZombiGirl

        Hey Citizen :)
        Would you forward a copy to me as well, please ?
        Helgeland & Donner, wow… I just saw it was reviewed on here by Roger some time ago and got an Impressive. I love westerns so I’m curious :)
        marija (dot) nielsen (at) gmail
        Thanx !

  • Casper Chris

    Read almost 30 pages of Barabbas.

    Pretty solid. Easy to read and quite enjoyable. Admittedly many of the elements seem like they’ve been lifted from Braveheart and given a new paint job. The thug Roman soldier reminded me of the thug English soldier in Braveheart. The Egyptian assassin reminded me of the Irish guy in Braveheart. The ambush scene reminded me of the ambush scene in Braveheart (albeit with a different twist). The initial reluctance of the protagonist to revolt etc. Based on what I read, this script is the epitome of “same but different”. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. And at least the writers were upfront about their inspirations ;) Unfortunately the script had neither the brilliant dialogue of Gladiator, nor the strong personality and wit of Braveheart.

    A few niggles:

    “plunges the spear through the soldier’s back back.”

    “from the day your fought at the temple”

    And I thought “learn your lesson” (p16) should be “learn your place”.

    • Altius

      Hey Casper, thanks for the feedback. I’m part of the duo behind Barabbas.

      It’s been interesting to hear the comparisons to Braveheart, as my partner and I didn’t reference Braveheart really at all during the conception of the story. People kept noting the similarities, though, so we’ve just rolled with it when describing the script! It’s very helpful to understand how others perceive those similarities, though, good or bad. At least where we really diverge is the ending!

      Again, your thoughts are much appreciated.

  • Linkthis83

    As always, your reading comprehension is off, and your ego is bountiful.

    I supported BTC getting a review (me + you = same page).

    Grendl has the best compass? Sounds like something Grendl would say. But what was the criteria for supporting that? Other people’s opinions aligned with his (at that specific time – let’s not discuss when there’s are different from his — because his will still be superior — even in minority — thus, it is futile to disagree with him — ahhh, futility and Grendl. A repeated scenario — a tale as old as time)

    And the finale, glossing over the point again. That’s so one sided of you. In other words, spot on character trait.

    If your post above had any relevancy, you’d have seen me stomping all over AF about how unfair it was for BTC to get reviewed. But it was only you who did that.

    When in reality, the OTHER WRITERS of scripts that weekend should’ve been storming the castle. But you fought your good, noble fight. And you emerged victorious. You led the charge that made all the difference. Who cares about all the votes and support it got without you. In fact, this script got its day in defiance of you (according to my sources, which is you). One day I shall tell this tale and Grendl’s “Win one for the Biffer.” And as you’d so rightly point out, I will tell it terribly and oh so amateurishly.


    Worst of the worst.

  • Linkthis83

    Grendl replied with stuff that is so “rabbit hole” that I’m not going to participate.

    G: “I will present DNA evidence shortly.”

    Hey g, how about you let today be about today’s scripts.

  • S_P_1
    • JakeBarnes12

      All good stuff.

      Thanks for sharing, SP.

      • S_P_1

        My main goal now when I read a amateur script is to “DISCOVER WHAT THE SCRIPT IS SAYING, NOT WHAT IT REMINDS ME OF..”

        • S_P_1

          Also cut down on the reductiveness and reality testing.

  • Linkthis83

    G-man, what you are saying is that my vote is for sale. And it’s not. I covered that last week. That’s the point of this whole thing. The rest is irrelevant.


    And where you are missing your hypocrisy is here: You’re saying I had a favorite script going into the weekend, and thus that wasn’t fair to BTC. However, you had a favorite script going into the weekend and didn’t give any of the others a shot.

    However, I assessed the scripts and provided REAL feedback and a REAL vote. That’s what matters. YOU DID NOT. Keep after me. Keep wasting your time on this. My vote and my conscience are clear :)

  • Malibo Jackk

    What’s the logline?
    Maybe we can help.

  • S_P_1

    I have a Tracking Board membership as well as a few others. I don’t recall you as being one of them. How exactly do you know what is being posted? Do you know how many scripts get mentioned in one day on that site? Carson ranked his script [x]wasn’t for me. Based on your insistence that Bifferspice script be selected for AOW and AF. What if Bifferspice wasn’t quite ready to officially have his script viewed in public. Now the public account for his script will be Carson’s ranking. No official agency in the film industry in going to read the individual opinions of the board members. Through your efforts you got his script in the limelight and in the slush pile of [x]wasn’t for me. Marlowe was submitted by the author. My promotion came AFTER the author voluntarily submitted his script. No finger can come back and say I undermined the author by prematurely promoting his script. Think about that next time you proceed without the author’s consent.

  • Randy Williams


    Bible stories are a hard sell for me. That book has influenced people who’ve caused great gashing pain in my life and some close to me. But I gave this a chance.

    By page 11, unfortunately, I was sick of the animal sacrifice and couldn’t continue. I hold animals in much higher regard than people.

    Shame, because the writing was clean, characters interesting, although dialogue often felt stilted.
    It also reads like a straightforward sunday school tale. Maybe find a POV to tell the story from.

    When I watched The Passion of the Christ, I felt it was told through Satan’s POV. All that shadow and angst. Maybe tell this from a Roman’s POV. Find the angle and then make those characters move about in it.

    • Altius

      Hey Randy, thank you for the read. I mentioned this below to Ange as well, that page 11 is indeed the end of the animal deaths. I’m a huge animal person, and cruelty against them is an excruciating offense in my eyes. For us, it’s used to clearly delineate our bad guys in a shocking way. That said, it does quite literally end 11 pages in, whether that sways your further reading or not!

      As for the Biblical nature, it starts within the highly religious world of ancient Israel with all of its law, hierarchy, and legalism. It soon devolves :)

      Appreciate your feedback, especially given that the origin is out of the norm for your preferences!

      • Randy Williams

        Thanks for clarifying. I’ll give it another read.

      • Casper Chris

        “Hey Randy, thank you for the read. I mentioned this below to Ange as well, that page 11 is indeed the end of the animal deaths”

        Having read this confident reassurance of yours earlier, I nearly spit out my coffee when on page 48, I read:

        David butchers a deer while Benjamin looks on.

        YOU LIED!!!!

        • Altius

          Pardon: ONSCREEN animal deaths ;)

          That deer was dead offscreen, they just needed its meat!

          • Casper Chris

            Maybe you could write ‘David dresses a deer while Benjamin looks on’ then as ‘butcher’ can mean ‘kill’ or ‘slaughter’.

            Or ‘David uses a knife to dress a deer carcass’…

    • Short Life

      You need to learn how to forgive, to move on; then watch what it does for your writing. Life’s short.

  • carsonreeves1

    I see some people are cutting out on Barabbas early. This was my inclination as well (and I told the writers as such – these stories are such hard sells for the average reader). But it keeps getting better. And it has an un-traditionally shocking ending if you don’t know who Barabbas is.

    • Casper Chris

      Hey Carson. May I ask, if you’ve already read and reviewed Barabbas and Reeds In Winter (paid coverage I presume?), why are they here? Not trying to be an ass, just wondering…

  • pmlove

    Looks the same as everything else to me.

    • Ange Neale

      And me, for what I read of it.

  • Ange Neale

    Flag-rantly, Pablo — LOL!

  • Kirk Diggler

    Okay, that Kato Kaelin line was funny.

    But really, can we just put this to bed? Link can vote for any script he wants and justify it any way he wants. Grendl can do the same.

    What’s the problem? Everybody has a bias one way or another. I’m biased against certain genres. It is what it is.

    Both BTC and DTTW got reviewed. They both got their shot, fair and square.

    “It’s over Johnny”.

    Rambo: “Nothing is over! Nothing!

  • Kirk Diggler

    You make it sound like it’s tough.

    • pmlove

      I don’t know, I’ve got lots of scripts apart from the ones I’ve had on AOW. All of them, in fact. Wasn’t tough at all.

  • Ange Neale

    I’ll definitely be having a crack at it later, Will, and thanks for the heads-up on formatting.

  • ElectricDreamer

    Congrats to all the latest AOW candidates.
    So nifty to see all the analytical love for Biffer, he deserves it!
    And I’m convinced this gold standard will only draw more talent to the site.

    Honorable Mention: BARABBAS.

    BROKEN —
    I see Logic Ninja’s incisive comments on the boards a lot lately.
    Always a pleasure to crack open script by active contributors to the site.

    P. 1 Not sure about Gordon Sanders. Is that a building or company?

    P. 2 Consider having Dr. Clair be clearer about the pass.
    “With this pass, you can go see your son, understand?”
    As written, I can’t figure out what your protag is actually rejecting.
    And I’m guessing that it’s a dramatically important beat.

    P. 5 Instead of talking heads in houses and offices, be more cinematic.
    You’ve deliberately shied away from saying why the evacuation is needed.
    If you want the reader to empathize, tell us what’s happening to Earth.
    That’s a better place to start than a conversation without context.

    P. 7 If I knew more about Robert’s great service, I’d get on board with him.
    I’m looking for a way to connect with your very closed off protag.
    You’ve shown me what he doesn’t want. Now give me something he likes.

    P. 8 I have a hard time believing the behavior of these employees.
    The world’s about to end, and no one’s even raised an eyebrow so far.
    Why aren’t these people connecting with their families?
    Making sure all their loved ones are cared for. Why aren’t people worried?
    I’m trying to find some emotional truth here I can latch onto.

    P. 9 Why is Emma taking Robert’s decision so personally?
    She’s just some random employee, I don’t understand her behavior here.

    P. 11 I’m frustrated with how much you’re obfuscating the disaster.
    I feel like the writer’s going out of their way to hide an obvious fact.
    We know everyone has to leave so your story can start.
    Doesn’t make sense to hide the BIG DRAMATIC reason why humans must evacuate.

    P. 16 This scene feels more like a dramatic starting point for your tale.
    Consider jettisoning most of the backstory you’ve got so far.
    Your tale’s almost 20% gone before the first OUNCE of CONFLICT happens.
    And that’s not going to fly in an extinction level event story.


    • ElectricDreamer

      P. 3 The frontier nerd crack caught me off guard.
      Maybe the poor freckled ginger wears spectacles or something.

      P. 3 So Hastings is a vain prick with no scientific basis for his theory.
      I hope there’s going to be some likable characters later.
      Even though they’d have to be as dumb as bricks to trek with this guy.

      P. 4 Donner versus Donnor. This event is the guts of your plot.
      You should fix this so readers don’t assume the worst about your script.

      P. 5 The margins look way off here.
      I run into this a lot with scripts that have page count issues.
      Stretched margins drop the page count by about 15%.
      But if you read enough screenplays, you spot this ploy pretty quick.
      Reset your software to default settings.

      P. 6 The dialogue reads slow. Too much description upstaging chats.
      Every two lines of dialogue there’s a telegraphed smile or something.
      It really prevents me from getting into your story.
      I’m not interested in you telling me when you think a character should smile.

      P. 7 I don’t buy a 12 year old censoring the younger kids like that.
      And the expository dump reads a bit forced.

      P. 10 As the party journeys, I was hoping we’d get some character color.
      It would help me get invested in your story, if I knew them better.

      But most of the dialogue is dedicated to talking about how to keep moving.
      Without any personal data interweaved, you’re going to lose readers fast.

      P. 11 Did we just forget about Margaret?

      P. 12 Yup. This would have been a great moment to humanize that couple.
      The hard hubbie could get all soft. Or the meek wife hauls off on him.
      It’s a nice beat, consider exploiting it much better.
      Other than MAN versus NATURE, there’s little fireworks on the page.

      P. 14 When did we get to Wyoming?
      Seems like we jumped forward a few days or more.

      P. 17 Going to stop here. Hastings is obviously dense.
      Anyone who wants to follow this guy deserves what they get.
      I’d be much more sympathetic to the party if Hastings was at least COMPETENT.
      But since he’s obviously a thick blowhard, I don’t connect with his followers.

      Consider checking out a nifty character piece in the same vein: MEEKS CUTOFF.
      It might give you some ideas on how optimize your narrative.


      • gonzorama

        Thanks, E-D, for taking the time to whip up these notes. I understand that my script will not appeal to everyone. But I value your notes and the will be added to my list of things to look at during my next re-write.

        Hastings was a blowhard. Leading the Donner Party to their deathtrap virtually ended his leadership status. He wanted to be Governor, but that never happened. People followed him because they thought there was a chance to shave 300 miles off of a 2000 mile journey. Desperate people will let themselves believe anything.

        Thanks again!

    • ElectricDreamer


      P. 3 Sitcom tropes. A carsick car salesman. Save that for a SNL skit.
      Give us something a little more human than that to anchor your story.
      That brand of humor isn’t going to sustain a feature script for too long.

      P. 3 Eastern area sounds too vague. Research your sales terminology.
      Learn the setting you’ve chosen to set your story in.
      It will give the reader confidence in your skills and keep them reading.

      P. 8 The girls come off pretty unappealing. They complain a lot.
      Rag on each others’ taste in movies and cats.
      Where are the character relationships?
      More importantly: How do these women RELATE to each other?
      Less prop slapstick, more character beats are needed here

      P. 9 Ford slapping himself in the face, then prat falling out of frame.
      That’s pretty much the beat from Innerspace with Martin Short.
      And it was pretty thin back in the 80s. But Joe Dante was a master of cheese.
      You must do better in today’s competitive market to get noticed.

      P. 10 Nut allergy sight gags. That doesn’t even fly in Adam Sandler flicks.
      Unless someone’s nuts have a massive nut allergy. Hmmm.
      But all these tacked-on gimmicks prevent me from getting to know Ford much.
      He needs to be less of a sight gag shmuck for me to root for him.

      P. 11 A movie poster shop sounds way too old school.
      We just had an indie car salesman flick too: Small Time.

      That film dealt with a father who hated seeing his son become like him.
      Character interaction is what you need here. Not nut allergies and fat cats.

      P. 13 Blake’s erection revelation got a chuckle out of me.
      At least he is ENJOYING himself. A positive trait that readers dig.
      Wish more of your characters expressed their DESIRES and JOYS.

      P. 15 I’m parting ways here. Too many movie refs and yuck-yucks for me.
      It’s a movie-themed party with a girl that runs a movie poster store.
      The MEET CUTE is pretty much DEAD in Hollywood. You need a hooky concept.
      Unless you can RE-INVENT that worn out genre, it’s a big uphill battle.


    • ElectricDreamer

      BARABBAS —
      P. 5 A page and a half of shepherd bullying is way too much.
      I recommend more efficient terrorizing by the hungry Romans.

      P. 9 I feel like Barabbas should have a change of heart about goats here.
      They landed him some cred with Taya… “Goats are blessed creatures.”
      If you’re going to have farmland slapstick, pay off your set ups.

      P. 11 Barabbas feels a bit muddled on the page. He taunts the Romans.
      But doesn’t think he should fight against them? Flat start.
      I know in the Bible he’s a serial killer, or worse.
      So, trying to make him a little softer diffuses my interest in your protag.

      Consider this: Barabbas could be the PEACEMAKER in your PROLOGUE.

      He stops a fight when the Romans BULLY poor Nathaniel.
      I’m super-interested in watching a Peacemaker driven to fight.
      A guy who can obviously fight but CHOOSES to be peaceful.
      Until Fate drives him into the conflict that powers your story.
      That guy, I want to know his story. It’s a far more dynamic arc.

      P. 13 More unclear action from your protag…
      He goes right to being aggressive over the Romans at the temple.
      That’s a very sabre-rattling way to go, so quickly and in public too.
      He should be CONCERNED about keeping the peace for his people.
      Once there, the PEACEMAKER should be tested by THRESHOLD GUARDIANS.

      P. 15 Barabbas as a protag isn’t clicking for me at all.
      He comes off as rash here, quick to battle over some coins.
      Seriously consider the Peacemaker proposal.
      Don’t be married to the content your legend’s based upon.

      Let RISING CONFLICT eat away at his peaceful demeanor. A clear dramatic arc.
      As written, Barabbas comes off more like a passive aggressive troublemaker.
      I see him as a man keeping a cork in the rising tensions of his people.
      The reluctant leader who wants peace but who’s driven to battle, always works.

      The writers are talented enough to pull off a protag trajectory rethink.
      Give Barabbas an even sweeter beat with Benjamin. ENDEAR us to your protag.
      Benjamin flexes his little kid muscles. Barabbas flexes back, kid smiles.
      Boom. Instant love for Barabbas. He wants to entertain a child.
      Who isn’t going to like that child-entertaining muscle-bound peacemaker?

      Or… Go the opposite route: Make Barabbas essentially like CONAN.
      Make him a HEDONIST WARRIOR that arcs through the rest of your story.
      Either dramatic path would give your protag the clarity he needs.


      • Altius

        Hey ElectricDreamer, thank you for your thorough consideration and such thoughtful feedback. Point by point I really appreciate these, and will definitely be discussing them with my writing partner.

        Is page 15 as far as you read?

        • ElectricDreamer

          Yes, that’s where I stopped. Hope the AOW process proves useful.
          I would definitely like to read the next big swing you take at this.

          soleil dot rouge13 at gmail dot com

      • BSBurton

        You put a lot of effort into your reviews. Good work and good pick, Brett!

    • ElectricDreamer

      P. 2 Did they really mount AA guns on the bridge like that? Sweet!
      Unless they didn’t and you’re going for an alternate reality NYC?
      That’s plausible, considering Tesla’s Death Ray was a bust in theory.

      P. 3 Think I’d rather start with Spanel than the domestic scenes.
      They are choreography heavy and bog down the read.

      P. 3 You don’t have to cap Foxworth every time we see it in print.

      P. 4 Do you have the Old Man REPEAT his closing line on purpose here?
      Not sure I get why you’d do that. Almost reads like a typo.

      P. 7 I’m a Tesla fan and this even a bit thick to follow.
      Jumping around so much. Despite your lean writing keeping it tight.

      The death ray was one of Tesla’s LEAST interesting ideas/inventions.
      Threatening big industry with free electricity sounds more cinematic.
      Even the Tesla device in The Prestige is more dramatic.
      The mechanical resonators that are mini earthquake machines. Tentpole stuff.
      But death ray paperowrk isn’t scratching my tentpole itch.

      P. 8 I really liked Spanel’s declaration earlier.
      So, let’s see some friggin Nazis already.
      Where are the bad guys that are driving this plot?
      How are their actions affecting the federal agents we’re following?
      Give me some cause and effect intrigue to keep me reading.

      P. 9 The investigators creating a mystery line rang false to me.
      The writer tried to sell it, but it sounds like arbitrary contradiction.
      That kind of investigator would suck eggs at his chosen occupation.

      P. 14 You’ve got a pretty good start to a TESLA BIO here so far.
      But this script isn’t a race against time to stop some stinking Nazis.
      Your tone so far is more akin to a meditative tale than action yarn.

      I know you’re touching on big beats in Tesla’s life and linking them.
      But only because I’ve studies his life in fair detail.
      To non-Tesla fans, your narrative choices could be overwhelming.

      P. 15 I’m going to stop here. The writer can turn a confident phrase.
      And their sense of cinematic scope is catnip to directors.
      But again this feels more like a straight-up bio drama.
      We’re introducing Edison instead of Death Ray stealing Nazis.
      You can’t dangle that adventure tale and not follow up on it at all.
      But I believe the writer has the talent to solve this genre identity crisis.


  • pmlove


    This is a very efficient script. Neat and tidy. I just get the feeling it’s stuck in Goldilocks Level 2 (if I may assume this is now in common parlance). I’m on p18 at the moment and will make an effort to read more tomorrow but thus far the writer’s hand is too visible.

    Take the Roman Thug scene, for example, which feels like it has input to meet the ‘save the cat’ criteria. I think the reason for this is that the victim is removed (thus far) from the story, a pure stranger so there is no motivation for Barrabas to help out, apart from pure ‘Good Samaritan’ nature. If it was more personal, it might feel more natural.

    Or the Barrabas fighting for the temple – again, I can imagine it on screen it just feels boilerplate. Maybe it’s approaching it from a lazy western perspective but I don’t feel his motivation, so again it just feels that ‘he’s a likeable protagonist’, rather than a living, breathing bear of a man.

    But it’s definitely an easy read.

    • Altius

      Hey pmlove, I have no idea what being stuck in Goldilocks Level 2 is! I think the term is pretty funny, though. Could you explain?

      • pmlove

        Hey Altius – apologies if it’s confusing! It’s a reference to this:

        It sounds like you have a good end to your script though, so definitely willing to plough on – maybe it is Level 3 after all!

        • Altius

          Ahh, yes, now I remember. Thank you for your thoughts. Will definitely think about your points, and if you read further and have other comments, please do tell us!

  • Kirk Diggler

    Read 20 pages of Finishing Last. There are some laughs here and there, but the story seemed to meander a bit. It shouldn’t take 20 pages to establish that Ford is a bit of a pushover. The hypnotist bit was funny.

    This is one of those scripts were the hero lacks a goal, at least in the first twenty it’s not there. The idea of your main character becoming more assertive is decent enough, but the stakes are really low so far. He’s car salesman. It’s not like Blake has fired him for low sales. In fact, Ford sells a car to Nina before he gets hypnotized. Which makes me think the hypnotism was just there for a comedy bit and doesn’t play in the story? Unsure.

    There were a lot of female characters, who all seemed a little interchangeable, other than Nina. If i had a clear idea of just what it is Ford wants it might be a little easier to get invested in his character. He needs a little urgency, we need a reason to care about him.

  • Randy Williams


    Where’s the writer’s name? Could you make one up? Only adds to that impression that movie stories just appear out of thin air.

    There’s a flourish to the writing, here. Obviously an ease with the language.
    Others have commented on the many transitions. Actually, they didn’t bother me so much. I imagined where a director might hold for several moments at the end of a scene. It’s not all quick takes because we read so fast.

    Read to page 30 and I was thinking. This is so distant, though. I’m not getting a real feel for any character especially Tesla. If at all, it was when he was a child and I wanted to linger longer there.

    It felt, for me, like one of those well-produced documentaries with reenactments. Not at all boring but neither ripping at my emotions.

  • Randy Williams


    Read the first 30.

    This is a cheerful, harmless little comedy. It has heart too. Laughed 4 times out loud in those 30 pages. My biggest laugh was the line, “I cannot afford to pay for it, but the man with the nut face said my lovely old car would kill me” Don’t know why that killed me.

    When I have time, I’d like to read more. I think it lacks some goal by page 30 but it’s inviting enough to continue on. Almost tempted to vote for this since it’s rare to see a comedy reviewed on Fridays.

    Got one more to attempt, though.

  • Linkthis83

    Congrats to all those selected for AOW this week! One accomplishment down, another to go. I don’t have much free time this weekend but still wanted to participate, if even just a little. I’m tired and not going to be diving in like I usually do (although, this is probably the state of mind MOST of the READERS are usually in – we’ll see if one of these stories grabs me).

    After doing these for a while now, I’ve decided to approach these scripts just by reading the title and the genre. I don’t read the logline or the WYSR until after I’ve stopped reading. I feel by doing it this way, the writing/story/concept has its best chance of reaching me without any other manufactured expectations. With that being said…

    My vote = BARABBAS

    P14 = “…must’ve been fucked by swine.” = This is when you should use the F word for the first time. You don’t need the other three before here. I feel it’s more impactful with the path the story is taking.

    P15 = stopped

    SUMMARY: Truthfully, my first pick would’ve been THE SORCERER, but your story is both interesting and more accessible. If this were out at the theaters, I’d go see it based on what I’ve read thus far. I’m not familiar enough with the Bible for this story to negatively influence me in any way. So that works in your favor. I wouldn’t say there was anything that you truly had me invested in, however, NONE of the scripts accomplished that this
    weekend. Congrats and good luck.


    P1 = “Every invention in all of history has been someone’s effort to make his world just a little less cruel.” = This statement tripped me up, to be honest. It made me think “Really?
    Even those who invented torture devices?” I know this isn’t helpful, but it’s such a bold statement that it cause me to think about it. I do concede that it is the character who utters these words who believes this statement.

    P2 = The guy who is named Cornels is also Ivy League? = based on your other replies, this is true. It’s just one of those life coincidences I guess. Reading that sentence made my think about Cornell University which is an Ivy League school of course and it took me out of the story (for just a moment – I’m not typically this nit picky).

    P10 = stopped

    SUMMARY: Dear writer, would you mind if I’m unapologetically blunt (and I’m sure I will apologize at the end)? I’m going to assume that you said “Sure!” Okay, here goes: Dude, I’m so fucking pissed at you right now. I’m interested as fuck so far, but confused as shit. You’re story/concept, that I think I know, that your logline and WYSR confirmed, is one that I’d run out and see at the theater in a fucking heartbeat. And yet, I’m not voting for you. It makes me so mad. (a little calmer now) I just feel these pages, that contain the
    start of something oh so great, aren’t effective, and especially don’t make this concept accessible (not enough anyway). Now, I do have the ability to reason and look at things from a different perspective, and when I do that and put myself in my shoes, I could totally see you (or myself) cursing at this material. Trying to dig and grind to find the best, most interesting, most intriguing entry into this story. And I feel you don’t have it and it pisses me off. I’m not really mad at you. I’m truly not. But I sure as shit hope I’m in the minority here. I really would go see this as a movie. I sure as shit hope you get it there! (And I’m sorry for the rant and the curse words)


    P1 = I’m not typically a formatting complainer, but I’m going to dabble a bit here. I don’t feel you should be capitalizing the following; Lawyer, Immigrants (this was in dialogue), Ribbons, Metals (should be Medals). Either they should be ALL CAPS if you are highlighting them, or all lower case.

    P2 = frontier nerd? Do they even know what a nerd is? Do I know what frontier nerd is?
    For a moment, I thought this was possibly re-enactment taking place and we had been fooled (remember, I didn’t read the logline or WYSR first). Perhaps a better, more appropriate description of this character.

    P3 = Need to give Virginia the proper formatted first intro = VIRGINIA – Like you did JACK RABBIT (just having a little fun here)

    P4 = No need to tell us in the action line about Margaret’s headaches as it comes up in the conversation a few lines down between her and Reed (and I’m assuming will play out in the story).

    P17 = stopped

    SUMMARY: Once we got to the river crossing, I was into that scene. Like Witwoud, I think it was done really well. I also agree with Citizen M in making it shorter. There were a few logistic things that bothered me I think, but also assumed that as the story progresses,
    would be made clear. For instance, Hastings starts in California, talking about his shortcut, that we learn he hasn’t found yet. Then, we see him in Wyoming (I don’t really care why, how he’s there). Part of me wonders if he found the new shortcut to get there. And Donner (I think) has the book by Hastings talking about two paths. Does that mean he did find the shortcut and was able to get a book out that made it to the East. Or did he lie about the new path and still was able to get a new book out to the East? Anyway, I’m interested in the concept of a family that was part of the Donner party scenario and the tale of a family that experienced it. It’s like ALIVE for the frontier. I did find your logline confusing as
    well. I don’t usually give any feedback on those because I know they suck and that they’re the Devil.


    P12 = There’s a miscommunication/misunderstanding joke of “nuts
    on the face” (or nut cream) begging to be made here.

    P13 = I feel you need a CUT TO included here to pull off the joke going from Nina’s dangerous car to receiving the keys to her new ride. I’m giving you the benefit of the
    doubt and believing that you were thinking of this joke visually and just forgot to add the necessary formatting to pull it off. Without it, it causes confusion. I had to re-read it and thought “Where’s the sale?”

    P14 = stopped

    SUMMARY: There’s just not enough here. It feels like it could almost be something though. I feel I get its intent and I did find it potentially charming. I could even picture Simon Pegg playing the car salesman. I could see all of it but it just wasn’t convincing enough. Not enough to get me on board. I don’t believe that this type of story has to have a tone of jokes, but it does need opportunities for us to invest. And I know that set up is necessary in these early pages, and I try to be mindful of that, but I’m also looking for a writer/story to bring me in and say “you’re gonna love this.”


    P1 = INT. GORDON SANDERS, ROBERT’S OFFICE = not going to lie, and if it makes me look stupid, well, then so be it, but this very first slug line confused me. I didn’t know
    where I was. Without reading on, I decided that it was a building or a company named Gordon Sanders and that we were in Robert’s office. I would suggest:

    P1 = you should make launch pass = LAUNCH PASS

    P1 = I was confused at who pulled the launch pass from their pocket. I thought it was Robert because I was told he was a man. I didn’t get a gender for the Dr. which I automatically assumed was female – probably because of the name Dr. Clair.

    P15 = stopped

    SUMMARY: Simply put, I haven’t bought in. It has nothing to do with science either. It has
    everything to do with = within the fifteen pages I read, nothing got me interested or involved or invested. I can’t say for certain, but I believe it’s due to the post I made the other day about MYSTERIES. I talked about a common complaint I have regarding AOW is that scripts present VAGUE stories and the writer feels that these are MYSTERIES that will make us curious. What’s going on with the earth? Why are the Cramer’s relevant? Why does Max do Robert a solid if they don’t really care for each other? Who is the woman and why is she all lit up? Is she real? Why are 100 engineers watching a video about
    what is happening? Aren’t they the ones who built this stuff? Don’t they know
    what’s happening? Why are they so businesslike and then at quittin time they are all overly human? Has society changed that much in such a short time? If the story is about Robert and the mute girl, why do we start with everything else?

    I could be totally wrong and this approach could be awesome and effective and it could be me who isn’t getting it or allowing you to do your thing. I mean, why not just start
    over black, give us the scenario of the world as it is in a few lines. “It’s 20__, Earth is in the process of becoming uninhabitable. Worldwide joint efforts have made the Moon a place of refuge. Though, not all were so lucky…” And then we start in the bunker with Robert and the little mute girl. We will think she’s his granddaughter. We will learn she is not. That’s something worth learning over time, I think. I could be completely wrong
    though. I don’t know enough about your story to give more help. And I feel that’s
    because I wasn’t invested and that I don’t have enough details. Congrats on getting picked though and good luck. The concept of fleeing to the moon is a good one. I like it anyway.

    • gonzorama

      Link – thanks for the feedback for REEDS. As I compare your notes to the script I see the formatting is all over the place. Comes from years of typing up chyron graphics for local commercials: We Always Cap The First Letter To Make Things Easier To Read. Old habits are hard to break! But I’ll go back and clean it up.

      And it looks like I should drop the word “nerd” as part of the character description. I want to show that Hastings wants a weakling next to him so he looks more powerful.

      The questions you’ve asked about Hastings’ new trail are answered as you read. If you ever get the urge to keep going I’d enjoy reading what you have to say about it.

      Thanks again!

      • Linkthis83

        You are welcome, gonzorama. Personally, I don’t care about that formatting stuff, but I’m sure that there are some readers that do. You’ve got a great concept/story here and it would be a shame if some of this stuff were to take away from it being appreciated. Again, I truly don’t think readers care as much as others might say, but those are risks I don’t mind taking at all. I’d never advise you to take them :)

        Maybe this character is “frontier challenged”? Lol. I’m kidding. I don’t think it will be too hard for you to come up with another way to describe this character.

        You’ve got a valuable concept, so I hope it opens some doors for you.

        • gonzorama

          Thanks, Link. Frontier challenged cracks me up! I’ve changed “nerd” to”weak chin, wire-framed spectacles” so hopefully that paints a better picture and is less confusing.

          I still don’t know what’s going on with the formatting but I’m working on it. I thought Final Draft was supposed to do all that for you! I guess nothing’s that easy.

          Thanks again!

  • Linkthis83

    Hey Will. This comment was too funny. After reading the opening pages of these scripts, I’ve realized that my vote is definitely up for sale.

    It costs precisely 15 pages of some sort of combo of awesome/story/concept/writing/investing/clarity/interest/etc.

  • Ange Neale

    Thank you, Will, for considering my tender sensibilities :).

    I don’t know if it was Tesla who was involved in coming up with executions using electricity, but there’s a gruesome story in itself. How on Earth that’s not considered ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ is beyond me.

    Slightly OT, but there was an horrendous doco aired in Australia 3 years ago about the plight of cattle exported from here to some (not all, thankfully) Indonesian slaughterhouses. It caused a diplomatic ruckus and huge debate here about the morality of live animal exports. If you’ve ever harbored doubts about whether animals understand what’s happening to them, once you see those that are inhumanely slaughtered without stunning first, you won’t doubt that ever again.
    It’s at . Requires a strong stomach.

    • Citizen M

      Have you seen “Electrocuting an elephant” on YouTube? Pretty gruesome. But it was Edison, not Tesla.

      • Ange Neale

        Good grief, just watched it, CitM. Electrocution is how the Japanese kill whales. Sometimes it takes ages for them to die.
        We can be a monstrous species.

        • Marija ZombiGirl

          Indeed. Sometimes, it feels like humans are the worst thing that ever happened to planet Earth…

        • astranger2

          Wow… can be, or are? After watching that ABC Indonesian slaughter house clip, Blackfish, or The Cove documentary about dolphin herding…

          But mankind is indiscriminate in its “monstrosity;” we will willingly look the other way as our own species is slaughtered. (GM’s recently exposed decisions about calculated losses, among so many other historical evidence, reminds us of that almost daily.)

          That was the opening problem I had with Sorcerer:

          “Every invention in all of history has been someone’s effort to make his world just a little less cruel.”

          I had to process that initial quote before even proceeding into the script. It hit me in the forehead like a cattle prod. I find Einstein’s quote more appropriate:

          “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”

          If this is as historically accurate as stated — I find this Tesla quote incredibly naive.

          • Will_Alexander

            Just for clarity, it’s not a Tesla quote. It’s not Tesla speaking at the beginning.

            And that opening line is meant as a challenge, a declaration. It gets explored from several angles in the script.

          • astranger2

            Ah, a misreading on my part. My apologies. I read the first ten pages of all of them, and obviously too quickly. The comments were a V.O. while initially watching a 37-year old Tesla. Was the Old Man the man in back with his hat pulled low?

            I like historical period pieces like this, and Tesla is so topical now. I enjoyed the mood your description and dialogue conveyed. There was a lot going on, and I probably should’ve slowed my roll while reading your’s…

            The opening statement is jarring — but so patently false as to be mystifying. I think someone else mentioned the Iron Maiden, or other man-made inventions of horror. (I’m sure your story explores this… )

            There are some nice reads in the AOW, and it wouldn’t surprise me if your script came out on top. Good luck!

          • Will_Alexander

            Thanks for the read, and thoughts. The Old Man is Tesla’s former assistant, speaking 52 years after the opening scene. The Man with the hat pulled low is Thomas Edison, which isn’t revealed until much later (but I will be changing that to go ahead and reveal him in the opening if I keep that scene).

  • brenkilco

    Read the first twenty pages of Barrabus. The background seems solid. I’m curious to see where it goes. Well, actually we more or less know where it goes, but I’m curious to see how the writers get there. Three points.

    It may seem minor and the events depicted may be realistic but scenes of animal slaughter and sacrifice are a tremendous turnoff to most people. I’d find another way to show the cruelty of the Romans. And I’d have the priest character ministering and not butchering when we first meet him.

    Second, what I’ll refer to as Ben Hur pictures, of which there are more than a few, movies that deal indirectly with the life of Christ, all have problems with depicting Jesus. Your “this is some wine the carpenter’s kid brought” reference is close to cringeworthy. I know you have to shoehorn in references to Christ somehow, but you need to keep it as subtle an oblique as possible.

    Third, and this is the big one, the dialogue. Movies set in ancient times are dialogue minefields. How exactly are these people supposed to talk? How formal, how colloquial, how literate should the dialogue be? The writers here have apparently chosen to go old school. But to be blunt it doesn’t even rise to the level of the Spartacus tv show, and those scripts often come across as campy and anachronistic. This kind of stuff is damn hard. Don’t think so. Pop in the disc of Ben Hur if you have it. Ignore the Chariot Race and play a couple of the dialogue scenes. In particular I’d recommend the scene where Hugh Griffith and Steven Boyd set the odds for the race. And the confrontation scene between Charton Heston and the actor playing Pontius Pilate after the race. The dialogue is stiff and formal by modern standards. But it’s also extremely polished, literate and evocative. Gore Vidal was no slouch. If the dialogue is going to be formal it needs to aspire to this kind of quality.

    I’ll save my other comments for Amateur Friday. Despite the digs this script is still my choice.

    • Altius

      Hahah, that’s pretty low to not hit Spartacus TV….thanks for the feedback! I will have to track down Ben-Hur. It’s been ages since I’ve watched it, but that’s a great suggestion.

      And yeah, the first reference to the person of Jesus is a terrible line to walk: realistic and yet obvious to someone who wouldn’t otherwise catch a reference that doesn’t use his name directly. We didn’t achieve it in a pretty way. Definitely that’s a space to improve this.

      • Citizen M

        IMDb has lots of quotes from Ben-Hur.

      • brenkilco

        Will definitely keep reading. Assume you have seen the dreary Cinecitta epic from the sixties with Anthony Quinn, but I’m wondering if you, or for that matter anybody in the last fifty years, have read the novel it was based on. Can’t say I have but I do know the guy who wrote it eventually won the Nobel Prize for literature. Since the events in the movie pretty much all occur post crucifixion, you might find some stuff you can use without cribbing.

        • Altius

          Strange story: though I’ve never seen the 60s Anthony Quinn version, I’m working right now with a producer on another project, and the first thing he ever worked on was that Barabbas film. Going waaaay back. He was tremendously amused at the coincidence when he heard about this script.

          I actually have read the novel! From a Swedish author, as I remember. It was also really bleak, and as most Barabbas stories have been, about his life AFTER. We wanted to explore the exploits and crimes that landed him in that perilous, historic position. We didn’t find an account of it anywhere, so decided that would definitely be our angle.

          Keep us posted on what you think of Barabbas’ journey to that infamous platform :)

  • Randy Williams


    Read up to page 60.

    p 2- 3. I thought it would be more interesting to open from the frontier nerd’s point of view and let him explain the background to the movement west that the other blowhards did.

    p 20- Margaret’s secret about sore feet stopped the read for me. Didn’t find it at all stimulating.

    p 23. Liked the conversation with the ladies here. Could take place in a campground today.

    p. 24- really thought Margaret was going to hitch up the oxen to the wagon and show those ladies just how fast that cart can go!

    p. 24- thinking here, it’s all a little saccharine. Margaret’s ” and loving every minute” makes me cringe. I know you’re probably hyping their optimism but it’s excessive in my opinion.

    p 28- nice foreshadowing here.

    p 33- yearning for more description of the landscape.

    p 35- animals dying of thirst. How do we know? What’s the visuals?

    p 39- I’m here for the trip but this slow burn I can take in a novel, but wondering at this point if it’s on a big screen, would my mind be wandering?

    p 40- like this thing about burying the wagon and stuff. I knew they discarded things. You can still find things along the trails they used, didn’t know they buried stuff, though.

    p 47- kind of tired hearing a character say, “we’d be in California by now if we hadn’t taken this damn shortcut”

    p 58- I’m at what should be a very emotional moment. Reed is leaving his family here. I’m not feeling anything. Where’s the lump in my throat, the tear in my eye? It’s 58 pages in and I don’t care whether anyone here lives or dies, honestly. As much as I was totally involved in their physical journey, the emotional journey in reading their story has been as dry as the desert I’ve left them in.

    • gonzorama

      Thanks for reading, Randy. And thank you very much for the notes. I want to know what doesn’t work for some readers as well as what does work.

      I appreciate the time you just gave me!

  • Citizen M

    I’m sorry. On reading it, I thought it was a lazy attempt to gain sympathy for the character. I nearly added that unless Tesla himself electrocuted the child you should leave it out.

    But if it is factual and relevant I guess you have to use it.

    Pity about all the fictional dead wives and children swamping the script world with fake sentiment. They are starting to irritate me beyond endurance. I think I’ll keep a printed script next to the laptop just so I have something to throw when I come across one.

  • Malibo Jackk

    Love the opening. And the first 10 or so pages.
    Starts Very Promising. Love it!

    The audience seems to be promised a death ray
    and the threats of WWII.
    But — what they get is Tesla as a boy and Citizen Kane.

    astranger2 mentioned the other day that George C. Scott didn’t like the
    great opening of PATTON because he feared it would make the rest of the movie FLAT.
    That’s what we’re talking about here.

    You don’t want to offer the audience something AMAZING
    and then tell them — but my screenplay is about something else.
    You have to give the audience what they want. You have to keep your promise.
    And you can’t keep them waiting around.

    • Will_Alexander

      Thank you so much for the look and the notes.

      My own full disclosure: I never intended to write a caper about the FBI fighting the Nazis, it’s just that this is the investigation that got the FBI interested in Tesla and I thought it was a great way to get into a story of who Tesla was. The more I learned about the investigation, the more clear it became that it was interesting, dramatic and necessary enough to become a major part of the story.

      So, what it is is a bio-pic of Tesla with the framing device of the FBI’s investigation into his work after his death. Maybe I just need to start with the bio-pic aspect before introducing the investigation aspect, in order to keep faith with the audience?

      What I’m seeing is that the opening isn’t really working, even for people who LIKE it.

      In the script’s defense, and for others who might crack it open, the death ray plans and WW2 and all those things don’t just show up at the beginning and the end, they are very important to the overall story and lead to their own revelations that relate directly to Tesla’s work.

      The overall structure of the script is more-or-less 3 to 7 pages of the investigation that bring up questions taking us back to 10-15 pages of Tesla’s life. We bounce back and forth.

      Thanks, again.

      • IgorWasTaken

        I think I get what you’re going for. And it makes sense.

        A suggestion: Keep in mind that this is not your movie; it’s your script. And especially for spec scripts from new guys, people read them with expectations that are more rigid than when they read a pro writer’s script.

        For example, they expect that the first named character is the protag.

        Of course, we can write a script where the protag doesn’t show up until page 5. But we should understand and accept the (likely) fact that, as the reader turns to page 5, he/she is thinking that the character named on page 1 is the protag.

        So on page 5, we not only have to intro the character who is our protag; we also have to disabuse the reader that the page-1 character is the protag.

        And so I’m suggesting that you might want to write your script in a different order, and maybe even with a different scene or two, so that it works better for the reader.

        And I’ve seen this in pro scripts. I mean, I can’t prove it. But I’ve read pro scripts that have opening scenes that do not make it to the screen. Sure, maybe they were cut just because they were cut. But sometimes my hunch is that even the writer didn’t want those opening scenes to be in the film; they just put them there for the reader.

      • IgorWasTaken

        Also, Will – If there’s a way to do it, I think your opening scene should have “important men in suits” reacting in a holy-shit way to something about Tesla.

        Maybe it’s that same scene, but those men are also in the room. And maybe we later discover they are Edison guys. But since it’s men in suits who screwed/did not appreciate Tesla, I don’t think it’s enough to have just some generic audience going “Wow!”

        Also, on page 1, I don’t think on the page that we’re getting the impact of the arc.

        Maybe start over black, with that SOUND. And then, maybe even skip the traditional FADE IN. Instead maybe go to:

        The sound stops. Then, as it comes back again…


        Cuts across the screen.

        • Will_Alexander

          Thanks, Igor. Edison himself is actually in the room in the first scene, though it’s only revealed that it’s him later. His reaction is more one of amusement, which hopefully makes sense in context.

          • IgorWasTaken

            Well, if that guy in Scene 1 is Edison, I don’t know why do don’t say it. Edison’s image is kinda familiar to most Americans, and so you could say, “… Then we see his face – the face of young Thomas Edison.” IOW, I don’t think that’s a real cheat.

            And since we all think we know Thomas Edison, and that he’s the light-bulb guy, it would give the reader a hook: This story is about Tesla and Edison. Now even if that is not fully correct, it’s good enough for page 1. It’s a placeholder, at least. And I think readers want at least a placeholder, ASAP.

          • Will_Alexander

            Very good point. If that scene remains the opening scene, I’m definitely going to go ahead and point out that the Man is Edison.

            And yeah, a big part of the story is Tesla vs Edison.

          • IgorWasTaken

            FWIW, I think the current opening scene can work. It can work well.

            But, ditch the V.O. We can get this theme later. Or condense it to a short quote, on an insert before page 1.

            (BTW, I agree with a comment I read that has a problem with “Every invention in all of history has been someone’s effort to make his world just a little less cruel.” Even if that’s true, and even if you can get us to believe it eventually in the story, I think it’s gonna stop a lot of readers – and not in a good way.)

            Instead, have random people in the audience say things. Yeh, some just look clearly freaked out. But others say a few words.

            A 20-something woman says to her boyfriend, “This guy, he must be some kind of genius.” Her boyfriend says, “Looks to me like he’s crazy.” Someone else says, “Why did we come here?” And then, someone – “Who is this guy?”

            OK, maybe that last one is too obvious, but otherwise I think stuff like that will do more for getting your story started with the reader.

  • Citizen M

    I googled George Scherff, Tesla’s assistant, and was fascinated to discover that his son, George Scherff Jr, is now better known as GHW Bush, 41st president of the USA.

    How people can seriously believe this stuff is beyond me.

    (I am the one reader rubbed the wrong way. See my reply elsewhere.)

    • Will_Alexander

      Yes, a TON of weird and crazy conspiracy stuff surrounds Tesla. None of that is what my script is about. I’ve tried very hard to get at the real story, and in doing so show how these types of mythologies could spring up around a man – if he’s brilliant, prolific, vilified, and mysterious enough.

  • Citizen M

    I also noticed the sluglines on Broken. The more usual format would be


    At the bunker there was a signboard referring to DEICHMANN SANDERS ENGINEERING CORP. I wondered whether it was a significant detail or the writer forgot to change to GORDON SANDERS.

  • JakeBarnes12

    When grendl finishes frothing at the mouth over his keyboard he takes off his plastic wolf mask to take a swig of warm Coors Lite and underneath the mask sweats…

    …Paul Giamatti.

    Seriously. Imagining Paul Giamatti’s voice makes grend’s little hissy fits even funnier.


  • Casper Chris

    Or you’ve drawn him far too well ;) Tesla wasn’t exactly the most personable fellow.

    • Will_Alexander

      This is a good point. But many folks who knew Tesla personally loved him very much and found him to be quite warm. He was complicated. Even if he were just an OCD recluse, I should still be able to establish a connection. Sorkin did it with Zuckerberg.

      I just want to show him in a way that makes him as fascinating to others as he is to me.

      • Casper Chris

        Yea, definitely a very fascinating man with a substantial contribution. I’ve always been very fascinated by Beethoven and Michelangelo and they weren’t exactly social butterflies either.

        Btw. haven’t had a chance to crack your script open so my comment wasn’t based on anything I read.

  • Linkthis83

    You are welcome, Will. And I want you to succeed at this. I’d love to see this become a story to see in the theater. Of course, I have no idea if the rest of the script/story delivers, but the concept itself deserves to be developed and made into a film (in my opinion). I wish you much luck in this endeavor. You have one of those “things” that get bought and made.

  • gonzorama

    Thanks, SBF. Yeah, loglines suck. I want to pique interest in the story while not giving everything away. James Reed kills someone and is forced to leave the group. It’s a major spoiler if it’s in the logline.

    Still hoping to make it better, though!


  • S_P_1

    You can’t have it both ways. Either Carson’s script ranking system has value or its meaningless.

    I don’t have higher level access on Tracking Board. I have no idea if script coverage was written or not. I do know Carson’s review is publicly available.

    I recognize the value of this website and his connections. You must have the same impression or you wouldn’t actively post on this website.

  • Casper Chris

    Okay, read a bit more of Barabbas (on page 45 now), but so far, I stand by what I said earlier about it lacking the personality and wit of Braveheart and the brilliant dialogue of Gladiator. I feel there’s a solid foundation here, but it needs more edge and character. The writers need to step up their game. As writers trying to break in, we cannot be content with being “in the same ballpark but two leagues below” the likes of Gladiator and Braveheart. We should aim to surpass them.

    Here’s a typical action paragraph from Barabbas:

    Barabbas leads the charge. The rest of the stonemasons pour down on the patrol. Slashing, spearing, hacking. Barabbas fights like a barbarian, fearsome and brutal. Ammon slices
    through soldiers with precision. David is quick and athletic.

    Here’s a ditto from Braveheart:

    He [Wallace] dodges obstacles in the narrow streets — chickens, carts, barrels. Soldiers pop up; the first he gallops straight over; the next he whacks forehand, like a polo player; the next
    chops down on his left side; every time he swings the broadsword, a man dies.

    Notice the difference? Writers of Barabbas goes with the obvious, the first choice, and so they have their hero “fight like a barbarian, fearsome and brutal”. Compare that with Randall Wallace’s “whacks [him] forehand, like a polo player… every time he swings the broadsword a man dies.”. Reading Wallace’s description, you actually get pumped. You get the same feeling as you would watching the action on screen and that’s our job as writers. Because reading action on the page can be incredibly dull compared to watching it on screen UNLESS the writer adds some writerly flair.

    Another strength of Braveheart is its humor. The writers of Barabbas do not attempt a lot of humor and when they do, it’s often weak. The best attempt I saw thus far was at page 44 with the following exchange:

    Not with Queen Cleopatra. She had Rome by the balls.

    Ammon looks at Taya, sheepish.

    I am sorry.

    No, no. It’s only a pity that her grip was not enough to put a squeeze on those Roman balls.

    The men laugh in shock. Taya grins.

    It’s a decent attempt, but I feel the writers could’ve done more with it. It’s like they’re not trying hard enough and it vexes me greatly. Read Taya’s “punchline” out loud and tell me the delivery doesn’t lack punch? It’s simply not good enough.

    Let’s take it up a notch shall we? You’ve just established the arrival of food supplies so it makes sense that some of them would be eating as they sit around the fire. Why not have Taya eat plumes? Now, let’s reenvision the exchange in light of this subtle addition:


    Not with Queen Cleopatra. She had Rome by the balls.

    Ammon looks at Taya, sheepish.

    I am sorry.

    No, no. It’s just… she was much too gentle with those balls.
    (grabs another plume)
    Had it been I…

    Taya squashes the plume in a tight fist, juice dripping between her fingers.

    The men laugh in shock. Taya grins.

    Improvement? I’d say yes. But this was my first attempt. Literally the first thing that popped into my head. I’m sure you can do better, if you actually push yourself a little. You HAVE to push yourself. This might seem like small details, but these things add up.

    I mentioned the brilliance of the dialogue in Gladiator. Again, that brilliance is in the detail. I suggest the writers of Barabbas go read this Gladiator beat sheet and pay attention to the highlighted dialogue:

    Then ask themselves how many instances of memorable dialogue they have in their own script? Be honest. So far, in the 45 pages I’ve read, I have not come across one single truly memorable line or exchange of dialogue. Look at that Gladiator beat sheet, look at the excerpts. It’s laden with memorable dialogue. And that dialogue is memorable, not because we’ve seen the movie. It’s memorable right there on the page. And that’s the only part of our writing that will actually make it to the screen, word-for-word (if we’re lucky that is), so this is where we need to shine. This is where we need to bring our A-game. I don’t think the writers of Barabbas are bad writers, but they’ve brought a C-game. Now, a big part of the reason why much of the dialogue in Gladiator feels so dynamic and lively (as opposed to generic and dull) is because the situations are ripe with conflict and clashing personalities. It’s certainly much easier to write great dialogue when the dialogue derives its potency from a situation. Still, you can tell that the writer is pushing himself. Exalting his lines from the rank of “passable” to the rank of “memorable” at every given opportunity. THIS is your competition. At the very least, you need to match this.

    This rant is not meant as a slight against the writers of Barabbas. I see a lot of potential in the script, hence my frustration. Like I said, there’s a solid foundation here. The writers just aren’t pushing themselves nearly hard enough. Too often they seem content to settle for a generic first choice and so the whole thing ends up feeling generic and stilted with little flair and personality. Sure, the dialogue and action lines move us surely from one plot point to the next, but they don’t dazzle and excite. They should do both.

    • Altius

      Thank you, Casper, both for the investment and the challenges. We’re definitely here with a script that could use improvement. This kind of feedback is really valuable to us in the process. It does make me frustrated with myself, itching to do better and raise the game. The overhaul that comes from this feedback session is going to level us up. We’re ready and hungry to do the work needed.

      • Casper Chris

        Good luck! Still a little curious about that ending though :-) Apparently, Carson really liked it.

    • Jim

      “Barabbas leads the charge. The rest of the stonemasons pour down on the patrol. Slashing, spearing, hacking. Barabbas fights like a barbarian, fearsome and brutal. Ammon slices through soldiers with precision. David is quick and athletic.

      Here’s a ditto from Braveheart:

      He [Wallace] dodges obstacles in the narrow streets — chickens, carts, barrels. Soldiers pop up; the first he gallops straight over; the next he whacks forehand, like a polo player; the next chops down on his left side; every time he swings the broadsword, a man dies.”

      Here is the BIG issue pertaining to the difference between the two that amateur writers make a mistake of time and time again: the first has no focus and lacks clarity. It starts out with Barabbas leading the charge. Then “the rest”. Then back to Barabbas. Then Ammon. Then David.

      That’s four, count them FOUR subjects of a relatively short paragraph with a change back to the original as well. The scene from Braveheart is just that: a scene! It’s a series of shots focused on one character. The amateur one is schizophrenic and all over the place.

      This is why I’m a fan of sparse writing wherever possible, relegating one line or short paragraph to a single “shot”. It helps keep the writing not only visual, but with causation: who’s leading the shot – or, in terms of writing, driving it?

    • lesbiancannibal

      This is great but one thing I’d say is… Come on man, aim to surpass Gladiator and Braveheart.

      The reason why Gladiator’s dialogue etc is so good is not because the writers tried harder etc it because it’s by John Logan – ten years as a playwright, then Any Given Sunday, and before that a lifetime of studying Shakespeare, Ibsen etc

      Here’s his screenwriting Bafta lecture:

      So I agree with you, sort of, it’s good to aim for that standard but it’s not as easy as just trying harder. What I’m saying is you don’t just sit down and come up with the line “At my signal, unleash hell.”

      Two weeks before filming began they brought in William Nicholson for re-writes, including the ending.

      Also my main problem with Barabbas, like Killer Rabbits, is “Welease Bawabus!”

      But still, I’ve up voted you, because this is great insightful advice.

      I’m confused.

      We should want and aim to be like John Logan.. but it’s fucking difficult.

      • Malibo Jackk

        W. Nicholson BAFTA speech is also interesting.
        He’s the one who made the movie work.

        • lesbiancannibal

          yep, loved the stuff he said about the emotional engine of the scene with Commodus and Aurelius, that was an eye-opener. Must listen to it again.

      • Casper Chris

        Aim to surpass”

        You know the adage, “Aim for the stars. Even if you miss, you’ll land on the moon.”… if you aim for “similar to Gladiator, but two classes below”, you’re already dead in the water.

        Besides, you think writing is easy for anyone? Ask Stephen King if writing is easy.

        If you think great lines of dialogue just fall into Logan’s lap because of his ten years of experience as a playwright, you’re mistaken. Good writers know not to settle. They push themselves.

        Also notice how many of the great lines of Gladiator are not in their second draft?

        For instance the brilliant, foreshadowing retort by senator Gaius (“well, with an army behind you, you could be extremely political.”). The writer(s) had to push harder to come up with that. If it was so easy, it would’ve been there in the first draft. It wasn’t.

        • lesbiancannibal

          No, i’m not saying they just fall into his lap, that’s the point.

          I’m saying comparing an amateur script to a script by Franzoni, then Logan, then Nicholson, (then, obviously, completely ad-libbed by Russell Crowe) – all trying their best – is a little harsh.

          Saying that, I’ve done the same. You’re right. That’s the standard we need to aim for. And as I said, it’s great advice. Just wanted to put a little background context into the skill of that writing.

          And also Gladiator is one of the best films of all time.

          • Casper Chris

            They made that comparison themselves. Read their “Why You Should Read.”

            Franzoni, Logan, Nicholson, Russel… yea, life’s not fair…. but that’s reality. That’s your competition.

            I might as well repost this blurb from Carson’s newsletter:

            After Cohen and O’Brien finish a script, they call in a bunch of comedians, comedy writers and comedy actors, and they all sit around a table and pitch alternate jokes for every joke in the script! That means, for every single joke, you have 20 professionals pitching multiple variations of the jokes, with the best jokes winning. That’s why just slapping a comedy script together isn’t going to cut it. You’re competing against people who are having joke contests for every single joke in their movie! And the contestants are all comedians! So when you write that comedy, guys, don’t stop at whatever joke you come up with. Scrutinize it. Play with it. See if there’s a better joke out there. You have to labor over that thing if you want to compete with these people.


          • lesbiancannibal

            ah ok, they have done that themselves I see, fair enough

        • Altius

          Hey Casper, I think you might be ascribing something to us that just isn’t the case: satisfaction. You seem to believe that we’re not interested in pushing ourselves. We wouldn’t be opening this up to mass critique if we didn’t want to improve, to learn, to challenge ourselves, to grow. Though we’ve written separately, this script is our first collaboration, and we definitively KNOW it can and must get better. “Good writers know not to settle. They push themselves.” Yes. So we’re going to stick around and push ourselves.

          • Casper Chris

            Hey Altius.

            I’m not trying to ascribe anything to you. It’s just that, personally, I would never submit something I wasn’t extremely satisfied with to Amateur Friday. It might be that AOW/AF has become more of a workshop lately, I don’t know…

            Your script is actually better than a lot of other scripts I see on here, so please don’t take it the wrong way. Maybe that “good writers know not to settle” came out wrong. I didn’t mean to imply that you’re not good writers because you are.

            On another note, perhaps you can answer the question I posed to Carson below: Have you already received coverage from Carson? Because apparently he has already read the script (and he liked it!).

          • Altius

            Yeah, Carson did read it a while back. I’m not sure he’s seen this version, though. Have you ever gotten coverage from him? If so, worth it/useful?

            I do appreciate your high standards, seriously. I’m not content with just “better than a lot of scripts.” This mass feedback has been quite the experience. Have you submitted to AoW before?

          • Casper Chris

            No, I haven’t used Carson’s coverage services. Maybe I’ll give it a shot at some point in the future. Although he’s not exactly cheap…

            Haven’t submitted to AOW myself no.

          • Altius

            Throw your hat into the ring sometime! Even just this reading/voting part of AoW is pretty stressful, to be honest, but really challenging to hear so many different POVs at once.

          • Casper Chris

            Yea, I can imagine. I don’t know if you’re in pole position right now (haven’t counted the votes), but I can see you’re getting a fair bit of support. Exciting.

            And yea, I can understand if you’re itching to tear into one of my scripts haha ;) I have a feeling you’ll get your chance if you stick around. Hopefully I practice what I preach!

        • IgorWasTaken

          About “aim for the stars”…

          The comedian Mort Sahl said: “Wernher von Braun. He aimed for the stars, but sometimes he hit England.”

  • Altius

    A sincere thanks for all of this thoughtful feedback. You’ve given us a lot to consider going back into the script. Especially appreciated are your points about what DOES work. Comments about what needs to improve are certainly very useful, but it’s also good to know what’s working, what’s compelling, what’s emotionally connecting, etc. Really appreciated!

  • andyjaxfl

    I love a good “clanking swords” movie so my vote goes for Barabbas. The Anthony Quinn version from the 1960s is pretty tremendous.

  • Ange Neale

    Oh, thanks for that, Will. I’m still trying to get to yours — definitely my cup of tea — history and sci-fi, and we’ve got 4 this weekend! OMG — spoilt for choices…

  • Malibo Jackk

    OK… My vote goes to…
    The envelope please.
    Sweaty hands tear at the sheathe.
    Fingers dip inside and pull out a card.
    There’s a moment of tense silence…


    Russel Crowe steps to the podium.
    Claims he ad-libbed the whole script.

    • Will_Alexander

      Thank you, Malibo!

      I’m assuming the upvotes for your comment also count as votes for my script. I can’t see how they could possibly mean anything else.



      Okay, seriously, can I ask how far you got into the script and why you put it down? Boredom, confusion, had to put out a fire, etc.?

      • Malibo Jackk

        Need to find some time.
        Maybe later tonight.

        • astranger2

          ; v )

      • astranger2

        As I’ve previously stated, I’ve only read the first ten pages of all entries. And, I, sincerely, found they all captured my interest. So much so, I didn’t feel without a more in-depth read, I could fairly vote on any one entry.

        I do know, prior to your resume, that your script entailed a much more intensive study in writing your story. It might be ENORMOUSLY frustrating to someone who attacked this with infinite hours of historical and scientific research, that a quad-sexual cannibalistic alien mallard or bi-mallard duck, was on the same AOW as you… (embellishment…)

        An accurate historic biopic of this nature is a pure investment in literary sadomasochism… and anyone that writes something of this nature, has SUPER analytically, taken this intricate Swiss clock apart, and apart, and apart… over, and over, and over… again…

        It’s part Swiss clock, and part baby — what a beloved Frankenstein, but beloved, monstrosity it is…

        … what do we take out? How can we remove? It’s… well… it’s… perfect…

        Amateur readers give a glance at your work and say bovine remarks like, ” I can’t get past the first quote: ‘Every invention in all of history has been someone’s effort to make his world just a little less cruel.”

        It’s a detailed, and complex script. I did say with all sincerity, while I’d given it a fast read, there was a lot going on to draw me in…

        I still hate the opening quote — without reading beyond for the subtext — but, it’s just one man’s opinion.. however, I think, for the most part, I’m gonna be in that larger percentage of your target audience…

        All the best…

        • Will_Alexander

          Thank you. I do want to say that it is not frustrating to be up against (and losing to) ANY genre or script. That’s the market. If you can tell a better story that you’ve completely made up than I can with a year’s worth of research, then you win. People don’t go to the movies for history lessons.

          I did all the research because I want it to disappear into the story like the air in a breeze. You don’t see it, you just feel it. And for that, is has to be everywhere and invisible at the same time.

          On the opening line: you may not like The Departed, but I love it. One of the opening lines is (and I’m quoting from memory but this is close), “If I’ve got one thing against the black chappies, it’s this: nobody gives it to you; you have to TAKE it.”

          It’s Nicholson. He’s implying that African-Americans never fought for their rights in this country, and just waited around until white folks decided to give them to them. Nothing could be more ignorant or farther from the truth.

          But it tells you a lot about that character and the story we’re beginning. It’s a challenge, it’s a lie, and it’s the absolute truth for the character speaking.

          Or the opening of The Imitation Game: “You will listen closely, and you will not judge me.” Of course we’re going to judge him. But he really believes he can keep us from doing so just by telling us not to because, as he also says, “I am in control.”

          I’m trying to get into a reader’s head, get under their skin, with the opening line. And it’s phrased very carefully: “…someone’s effort to make HIS world just a little less cruel.” It’s not THE world, or OUR world, it’s the inventor’s. An inventor creates something to make his/her own existence more tolerable, even if the creation is meant to harm others. Insane people and sociopaths can invent things, too.

          I hope none of this sounds like I don’t truly appreciate your thoughts. I absolutely do. Thank you.

          • astranger2

            You have a very healthy approach to your work. I like the idea you do all the heavy research prior so that you disappear into your story “like air in a breeze.”

            The other two opening film quotes are very powerful in setting the tone for their respective films. And your quote catches one’s attention right away. If nothing else, it immediately provokes one’s thoughts.

            You’ve obviously weighed the merits of this opening, and have had many other readers voice their opinions, and decided in the context of your story to retain it. I wish you well with it.

      • Malibo Jackk

        Read up until we encountered Nick at age 5.
        Was like listening to a neighbor tell a vivid story about stolen plans for a death ray and saying — Would you like to see home movies of my kid?
        (Scanned a few pages after that.)

        Think Carson should give the script a shot.
        If we can’t get behind someone who has put in the time, the effort, the research and demonstrates the talent — then what is SCRIPTSHADOW for??

        • Will_Alexander

          Thank you. Really. I think it’s starting to look like it could work better if I just start with Tesla, more like a standard bio-pic, and THEN flash-forward to intro the FBI thread. Maybe that could avoid making a false promise to the audience.

          In my head, this issue is kind of like someone reading The Social Network and coming away from it saying, “I thought I was gonna read a story about the founding of Facebook, not a story about a couple of depositions.” The depositions are there, and necessary, but serve mainly to frame the real story about the founding of Facebook. That’s essentially how I want my FBI investigation to frame Tesla’s life.

          And The Social Network doesn’t start with the depositions.

    • astranger2

      ; )

  • Will_Alexander

    All right, only because you brought it up and I would love for you to read the rest and give me your further thoughts (and it doesn’t look like I’m gonna get reviewed on Friday…):

    THE SORCERER has not been optioned but it has gotten me meetings with Charles Roven (The Dark Knight Trilogy, American Hustle) and Langley Park (Gangster Squad), and it was one of (I believe) five finalists for The Sundance Institute’s Alfred P. Sloan grant for film projects with a focus on science (didn’t win, obviously).

    I’m certainly not established but I do have an adaptation of a novel under option with an independent company with a director and the lead actors attached (still trying to land a couple more actors before putting together the money).

    So, if these facts give you any more confidence about the rest of the script, please do take a look and tell me what you think. The script has done SOME good for me thus far, but what I really want (of course) is to get the thing made, and it just isn’t ready, yet. I’m still trying to get it there.


  • bex01

    Just wanted to get my vote in for this week – Barabbas!

    Really enjoying it so far. I did have a bit of an issue with the animal sacrifices early on in the script like a few others did… I think you might be able to get away with the Roman killing the sheep as you are establishing him as a villain… but the sacrifices on p.11 were unnecessary. You can imply it, if you must, without showing it. Anyway I plan to finish this script so I will post some better notes when I have! And on the first few pages of the other entires. But right now the day job is calling.

  • Will_Alexander

    Thank you. I really am curious about your thoughts if you end up finishing it.

  • Casper Chris

    Man, The Sorcerer is tough to get into. A barrage of time jumps, voice-overs, high-brow characters and plot points I’m already familiar with from watching documentaries on Tesla (and which aren’t all that exciting in and of themselves). I’m tuning out on page 25. I’m sure there’s a logic behind it and maybe it gets better, but it feels all over the map. Reading Barabbas was a breeze compared to this.

    I wonder how all those different voice-overs (of people we haven’t been introduced to yet) are going to feel on screen, especially amid all the jumping around in time? Confusing is my guess…

    What’s worse, there was no character to really latch onto. They all felt like cogs in a machine.

    • Will_Alexander

      Thanks for looking at it, Casper. All fair points. I think with a narrative this complex, it’ll be best for me to put my ‘voice’ and stylistic choices aside (like the VOs that precede the intros to certain characters) to keep everything as simple and clear as possible.

      I do think those things work well on screen, but they muddy the waters on the page, especially with something complex like this.

      And I have to admit that I don’t particularly want reading my scripts to be “a breeze.” All the scripts I love are challenging (The Departed, Zodiac, Social Network, Tripoli, The Prestige) and force me to read slowly and backtrack and try to keep up. The breezy stuff never stays with me, personally.

      The story I’m TRYING to tell is one about a man who will remain a mystery, and perhaps get more mysterious the more you look into his life. It’s basically, “What was driving the man who invented our way of life? And does that say anything about our way of life?”

      If cruelty is the thing you want to fight most in the world, and it ends up crushing you, what might you do to lash out? What does this say about human nature and what might lie ahead for us?

      The biggest sin you point out, I think, is the lack of character to latch onto, and the feeling that they’re cogs in a machine. Unforgivable, and something I will definitely work on.

      Thank you.

      • Casper Chris

        The biggest sin you point out, I think, is the lack of character to latch onto, and the feeling that they’re cogs in a machine.

        Indeed. That was ultimate deal-breaker for me. But all the jumping around in time and space plays into it…

        I haven’t read The Departed, Zodiac, Social Network or Tripoli.

        But reading The Prestige was a breeze. It has a tour-de-force opening that pulls you in like no other. It’s visual, exciting, fascinating, scary, magical… and the story progresses logically in a straight-forward and easy-to-follow manner with engaging characters and intriguing scenes. We’re immediately swept up in this world of magicians and their magic.

        • Will_Alexander

          I’m not looking for an argument, but the opening of The Prestige is aggressively NOT straight-forward. It progresses logically, in retrospect, and may have been easy for you to follow, but it starts with a moment from the late middle, with a VO from a character who has not yet been introduced, goes to the end (though we don’t know it’s the end, featuring a character we see but hear talking in a different scene from the middle, cuts to a DIFFERENT scene from the middle with the VO continuing (without it being clear yet to the viewer – only the reader – that the old man we saw in the previous scene is the one talking), introduces a main character in a disguise without naming him, intercuts the scene from the end again with the VO continuing, then drops us into a courtroom scene from who-knows-when…all in the first five pages. And it turns out all of this is from near the END of the story.

          Then the other main character is introduced in the middle of his journey, not at the beginning or at the end.

          And all of this adds to the effect of the movie. It’s meant to keep you off-balance, to confront you with something you’ll have to pay close attention to, and to not be comfortable with.

          The rest of what you’re saying, I can’t argue with.

          • Casper Chris

            It’s been a while since I read the The Prestige but…

            The opening is a straight-forward (and fascinating) explanation of the anatomy of a magic trick, informed by intriguing and relevant imagery that sets the tone and introduces us to the main characters of the story. The fact that there is MORE TO IT is of no concern to the reader at this point in the story.

            The court scene follows logically from what precedes it and introduces us to a central character (Cutter). We’ve just watched a man (Algier) drown in a water tank and now the prosecutor is questioning Cutter about the incident. There is nothing jarring or confusing about it. In fact, the scene mirrors our own curiosity and desire to know what happened. To say we’re intrigued is an understatement.

            After that we have an introduction to another central character (Borden) who’s been imprisoned. Again, his imprisonment follows logically from what we’ve just watched. He’s approached with an offer and the way he responds to this offer tells us a lot about him. Alone, Borden opens Angier’s journal and begins to read…

            Then we have an introduction to Algier, our third central character…


            It’s all rather logical and the scenes flow naturally into each other.

            During the same page span (10 pages), you go from 1893 to 1943 to 1945 back to 1943 back to 1945 to 1885 and then to 1861 (5 separate years),

            So in ten pages we go through this mind-numbing progression:

            And I did not find the transitions were set up so as to make them smooth and easy-to-follow. Rather I found them to be abrupt and jarring.

            Oh and having one opening voice-over from a character who’s not been introduced yet is common practice. I use it in my latest script.

  • Casper Chris

    Based on what I read, Reeds In Winter is probably the best written of the bunch (kudos to Greg!)

    But my vote is for:

    The material simply appeals to me more and I think it has potential. The writers just need to punch things up and make Barabbas more of a person and less of a caricature.

  • Gilx

    Barabbas was the one to keep me reading all the way to the end. I think it was risky to run your story parallel to the “greatest story ever told” as some would call it. I don’t think you took full advantage of that, however, although it did serve to keep the reader engaged at times. I know there may be historical accuracies to consider, but purely from a story perspective, it felt like the script leaned on the fact that it was happening in unison with the story of Jesus, rather than making something greater out of that situation. Scaro is apparently touched by Christ at the end, “paralyzed with confusion” and Barabbas ends his journey somewhat the same way. I think something stronger is called for. Barabbas is practically the opposite of The Man and his teachings. They never resonate with him, because of the life he’s had, and he becomes a sort of a stand-in for the realities of mankind’s struggle with his own dual nature, unable to attain that higher self, as it were. So I would have liked to see that tragedy played out on your last page. Perhaps by Barabbas sensing the change in Scaro, only after killing him, perhaps while watching him die, and being filed with the forgiveness of The Man (Christ) but only too late? Or something. This was a Bad Lieutenant ending, but I think the script needed more of a Bladerunner ending. Just my two cents, and apologies for the oversimplification. The writing is clear and chugs along with a minimum of unnecessary confusion, and the characters mostly work. There is a tonal issue with modern day epithets being uttered amid “biblical” speech patterns (or what 1950’s and 60’s movies considered biblical speech) and it just didn’t work. That’s not to say that you should take out the cursing, but perhaps even the dialogue out some more between the two tones. Overall, I enjoyed the trip. Thanks!

  • S_P_1

    My vote Barabbas.

  • Will_Alexander

    Thank you, Patrick. About a year of research, including tracking down Agent Foxworth’s niece. Learning about him and his final days definitely inspired me to get the FBI investigation angle into it, which does set it apart from any other telling. The details of the investigation and Foxworth’s final flight have never been published anywhere before. I am hoping that will be the unique hook that might put it above other scripts.