Today’s GUEST ARTICLE comes from stellar long-time contributor MulesandMud, who often offers the best advice on the board. Even I get jealous of his vast knowledge at times. Since some of you have been asking what the hell treatments are and how to write them, Mules has kindly offered to write a guest article about the elusive little buggers. Hope you enjoy it!

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The standard look a screenwriter gives when told to write a treatment.

I know some of you think that loglines are the ugly babies of the screenwriting world, but a logline is an adorable toddler compared to the deformed, puberty-stricken creature that is a film treatment.

A treatment is by definition incomplete, even moreso than a screenplay. It’s a work in progress, an idea on its way to becoming a script (which in turn is on its way to becoming a movie).

That’s the reason that treatments are so much harder to find than screenplays. Most writers have no desire to show their treatments to anyone. They are almost always ungainly and imperfect documents, so seeing one is a peek behind the curtain of a writer’s process.

And as you all know, it’s not very pretty back there.

Still, whether we like treatments or not, a pro scribe needs to know how to write them, full stop. Anyone who claims to have a screenwriting career that doesn’t require treatment-writing is either lying or living a charmed life that has no relevance to the rest of us.

So, with that in mind…

WHAT IS A TREATMENT?

Like a lot of film industry jargon, the term “treatment” is intentionally ambiguous, so that important people can toss the word around without quite knowing what it means.

To understand what a treatment is, it’s helpful to understand it in the context of other story-building documents often used in the development process. Here’s a quick and not-at-all-comprehensive list:

BEAT SHEET – This is exactly what it sounds like, a list of the major story beats. That list might be just a series simple words or phrases at first, and rarely exceeds a page.

STEP OUTLINE – This is also essentially a list, only more elaborate, charting out each individual scene of your script with descriptions for each entry, often detailing things like locations, characters present, and dramatic or thematic developments.

SYNOPSIS – This is a short prose description of your story. It typically ranges from one to five pages in length. Depending on the size and the purpose of the document, it might also be called a SUMMARY or ONE-PAGER (hint: don’t call it a one-pager if it’s three pages long).

TREATMENT – This is a longer and more comprehensive prose version of your script, normally around 10 to 30 pages long; the level of detail varies accordingly. As with step outlines, longer treatments may attempt to detail each individual scene. The longest ones might also include lines of dialogue or scene headings, at which point the document is probably more of a SCRIPTMENT, a hybrid of prose and screenplay formatting.

Now, you’re likely to hear all of the above terms used vaguely or interchangeably. And to make things especially confusing, the word OUTLINE can be used to refer to any or all of the above. Don’t go crazy over the semantics, just try to be consistent about what you refer to as what.

Also, never be afraid to ask for clarification when someone requests a particular type of document from you. To paraphrase a great swordsman, they might not think it means what you think it means.

When asked to write a treatment/outline/whatever, your smartest move is to ask the asker to send you a sample treatment/outline/whatever that they’ve received in the past, to show you exactly what format they’re looking for.

Framed properly, this request won’t sound amateurish, it’ll prove you’re a pro who knows how unreliable these terms can be. Plus, it might give you a chance to see another writer’s treatment, which is always interesting.

WHEN TO WRITE A TREATMENT

Almost without exception, treatments are written early in the development process, before you start writing the actual script. If a producer asks you to write a treatment or outline for an existing script, they probably mean a synopsis (see above).

Here, we need to understand that there are two very different reasons why you might write a treatment:

1.) Because you find treatments useful for your own story development.

In this case, the treatment is a WORKING DOCUMENT, a writing tool for the eyes of you and your collaborators. This is a purely optional tool, and its value depends on each person’s individual writing process.

Personally, I tend to create all sorts of outline- and treatment-type documents before beginning a script. I’ve also been known to make look books, research binders, etc, plus unique documents tailored each project (e.g., for a TV pilot I made an elaborate family tree mapping the genealogies of my characters; for a contained horror script I used drafting software to mock up a small town police station).

Again, this is a completely optional version of a treatment, whereas the second reason makes a treatment trickier, if not impossible, to avoid.

2.) Because someone asks you for a treatment.

In this case, the treatment is a PITCH DOCUMENT, a selling tool designed to convince someone else that your story would make a great movie. Most often, a producer or exec will request one of these after a pitch meeting or development conversation.

This kind of treatment (or outline, or synopsis, etc…see above) is inevitable; sooner or later, someone will ask you for one. I’ve done a couple dozen of these over the years, both for ideas of my own and for ideas pitched to me by producers or execs. A few have gotten me paid in one way or another, but most of them haven’t. That’s the nature of the beast.

It’s important to note here that good treatments take serious time and effort.

Most folks who ask you for a treatment won’t want to pay for it, even though they realize it’s a lot to ask. In my opinion, once a tight treatment has been written, all of the hardest parts of the screenwriting process have essentially been done. You need to think long and hard about whether the project in question is worth that kind of commitment.

It may be seem worthwhile to write a treatment for a concept that a manager or producer has sent your way, even just for the sake of building a relationship. Depending on the situation, that may be true, especially for an unproven writer looking for industry access or representation.

However, make sure you don’t go in blind. Do your best to understand who you’re getting involved with, and what the realistic prospects are for the project.

HOW TO WRITE A TREATMENT

This bring us back to the distinction between a WORKING DOCUMENT and a PITCH DOCUMENT. That is, a treatment you write for yourself vs. one you write for someone else.

Though we could call both of these documents treatments, they have nearly opposite goals.

What’s the difference? In short, BULLSHIT.

When you write a working treatment, bullshit is your enemy.

Here, you need to be brutally honest with yourself. Lay your story out in graphic, unsexy detail, leaving nothing out. Identify all of its flaws. Make its weak points clearly visible. Figure out which beats you’ve left half-considered and which ones you may have overthought.

This way, when it comes time to write the script, you have solutions in mind, or at least a firm grasp of the problems. Otherwise, why bother?

On the other hand, when you write a pitch treatment, bullshit is your friend.

Let’s say a producer or exec was intrigued by your pitch, and is now asking for a treatment to see if your idea can go the distance. The document you present may decide whether or not you make a sale.

That means you need to bring the sexy in a big way.

You probably won’t know every detail of your story, but the treatment needs to read like you do. You’ll need to gloss over plot gaps or character issues, hiding any problems you haven’t solved yet (fact: no matter how much work you do, there will always be problems left to solve).

The treatment needs to be paced right, giving enough specifics to suggest that you know what you’re talking about, but not so much that it gets bogged down in a rushed list of plot and scene ingredients. Don’t try to cram everything in there: for the sake of clarity and rhythm, you’ll have to leave some things out.

These pages need to read like a movie, in some ways even more smoothly and cinematically than a screenplay does.

Most importantly, the treatment needs to nail the tone of your story. It can’t be just a list of characters and scenes. You need to get your script’s personality across. Give the thing a little sizzle, as they say.

The good news, sort of, is that you basically have to write a version of this document anyway as preparation for a good verbal pitch, which normally amounts to a 10-minute monologue in which you, the writer, introduce your concept and walk listeners through the entire story, hopefully without boring the hell out of anyone.

In most ways, a great pitch treatment reads exactly like a great verbal pitch sounds: as though someone were telling you the story a film so well that by the end it felt like you’d just watched the actual movie.

If that sounds hard, well, it is. Most treatments, even by great writers, tend to be boring reads, more functional than entertaining. In some ways, treatment writing is harder than scriptwriting, since you’re forced to accomplish a screenplay’s worth of story in just a fraction of the words.

Finally, a quick word on treatment length:

For a working treatment, the longer the better. That doesn’t mean pad the thing unnecessarily; it means make an effort to get everything relevant down on paper, without prejudice. There’s no such thing as too much information here. It’s all grist for the mill of the actual screenplay.

For a pitch treatment, less is more. Try to keep things short, around 15 pages, otherwise the treatment may get bogged down in minutiae. This may sound like less work than the longer version, but in my experience, it’s actually more work, since you usually have to write it all before you know what you can omit. Especially with complex genre plots, paring down a verbal pitch or treatment to a streamlined length can feel impossible at times.

  • walker

    I am not surprised we need treatments, it is pretty obvious screenwriting is an illness.

  • Scott Crawford

    People who write treatments are cowards.

    There, g, saved you the bother.

    • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

      Anything less than a pristine, complete script is the province of the weak.

      • Scott Crawford

        It’s almost like an online grendl comment generator:

        Feedback is for cowards.
        Rewriting is a sign of failure.
        Don’t look at the keys; that’s cheating.

        • Matthew Garry

          Yes, let’s burn strawman effigies of Grendl because that’s a good use of our time.

          • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

            Yeah, but it’s kinda like kicking Godzilla in the toe. We only fuck with him because he’s huge and won’t even feel it. I can only assume he’s somewhere with a giant keyboard about to breathe fire if we keep it up. ;)

          • Scott Crawford

            Anything I do is a good use of my time!

  • mulesandmud

    Hey all, I hope some people find this helpful. Treatments are a big subject, and we’re really just scratching the surface here.

    If anyone has questions, counterpoints, or stories of their own about treatments, don’t hesitate to share them. I’m curious to hear what other people know that I don’t.

    • Scott Crawford

      Do you know of any online sample treatments you can direct people towards? I know a few but really not many.

    • Paul

      That was absolutely brilliant, fascinating to see the way the terms can be used to generalise and to figure out what people are really looking for! Thanks for taking the time.

    • Matthew Garry

      Good job mules, and great idea.

      I hope to see more guest articles of yours in the future.

      • The Soul of Gary Collins

        Don’t forget Mud. While Mules excels at spatial outside the box thinking, it’s Mud that gives them cohesion and heart.

        • GoIrish

          Mud always gets treated like dirt.

          (why are you booing?)

    • Shawn Davis

      Great article, man!!!

      Shawn…..><

    • Altius

      This was a great primer. Thanks, mules. It’s an exceedingly important step in the life of a pro writer, so it’s good to see the process being discussed.

    • klmn

      Mules, did any of your treatments result in a contract?

      • mulesandmud

        I’ve had one project that actually sold on the strength of the pitch and treatment, yes. That one also had a director attached, which was key.

        In two other cases, both for small indy projects, I was paid a nominal fee to write a treatment. One of those then led to a larger script deal.

        But a contract isn’t the only way to measure progress.

        One treatment of mine didn’t go anywhere, but the work I put into it really impressed the producer. That relationship led to a higher-tier rewrite assignment further down the road.

        In the end, you don’t build a screenwriting career on the strength of your treatments, and honestly not even on the quality of your writing. Film is a collaborative medium. Your success depends on your ability to gain people’s trust and to be someone that others want to work with.

    • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

      Thanks dude, really appreciate you taking up the topic, this is very helpful (and inspiring).

    • Sean Reardon

      Thanks, M&M. This was very helpful. You consolidated a books worth of information into this great post.

    • BigDeskPictures

      Thank you, mulesandmud. Much appreciated.

    • ThomasBrownen

      Thanks for the article, mulesandmud! Your comments are great, and this article is just as good. I realized as I was reading this that my knowledge of treatments is very little, and this really helped getting me to think about them.

    • moog

      Really great information – thank you for taking the time and sharing.

    • Mazhar

      Thank you, mulesandmud. Great insight.

  • jeaux

    Thanks Mules for the great guest article.

  • SinclareRose

    Inconceivable!!

    • Erica

  • (Scott) Felip Serra

    What a nice surprise to wake up and NOT find a traffic jam worthy of Goddard’s “Weekend”. Informative as always Mules! A warm thanks to you and Carson.

    I have a question (and this is for anyone in the know) about turn-around. I know we’re talking ballpark here but say a producer want a treatment from me. How much time is expected/acceptable before it must be in his hands?

    • Scott Strybos

      A Goddard reference. Nice!
      (Probably the only Goddard reference I would have gotten.)

      • (Scott) Felip Serra

        Same here (I freaking HATE Goddard…)

        • Scott Strybos

          Goddard isn’t a favorite of mine either. But that traffic jam scene from Weekend was fun. I still remember it from film school and that was over a decade ago.

          I’m sure the shot is only a couple minutes. But panning down that long country road, along all those cars and all those people, I remember the scene being closer to ten minutes. And then to get to the end, expecting to see this horrible tableau of carnage, for there to be NOTHING!

          • Magga

            Godard is the Sex Pistols of cinema. Meaning not very polished, conceptually aggressive rather than truly thoughtful, but full of ideas that all of us are stealing without even knowing it

    • mulesandmud

      The answer to any question like this is: DON’T GUESS.

      All of these situations are extremely specific, and it’s on you to know exactly what people are expecting from you, and when.

      Some miscellaneous thoughts:

      –If a producer knows that you’re starting from scratch – i.e. taking a new idea and building it into a full feature-length treatment from it – then a few weeks is certainly acceptable. If they want something sooner, they should expect a shorter, less comprehensive document, which is usually a better way to develop these exchanges anyway. Give someone a small taste of your project, gauge their response, and then build from there.

      –Don’t get into situations where you claim to have a treatment written but really don’t, and then find yourself scrambling to slap one together over the weekend when your bluff gets called. You will invariably delivery shoddy work, and it will reflect poorly on you.

      –If you say you’re going to send something on Monday, then you better damn well send something Monday. And if for some reason you can’t (hey, it happens), you need to give the person an appropriate update on your status, preferably with a confident new delivery schedule. Being a professional means being diligent and communicative and delivering on your promises.

      –You’re allowed to take time to do something right. If someone is forcing you into an unreasonable schedule, it’s very likely because they themselves don’t know how the process works. Speak up about your realistic needs, and don’t feel pressured to send someone work that isn’t ready to be shown. Everyone always promises that they know how to read a work-in-progress, but trust me, they don’t. You only get to read something for the first time once, and that impression sticks.

      • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

        My practicing screenwriting bro always has several treatments ready to go whenever he goes to a pitch: one-pager, five-pager, then a longer treatment. He might have to revise to meet a producer’s needs, but he starts with something in-pocket.

        “If you say you’re going to send something on Monday, then you better damn well send something Monday.” A million times this. If you’re not sure when you’ll have it, don’t promise a specific deadline!

        • mulesandmud

          Even if your bro doesn’t plan to show his one-pagers or five-pagers to anyone, it’s still a huge help to write those documents. You need to know how to effectively summarize your project at multiple lengths, so that you can adapt you pitch to a given situation without mangling your own story.

          Last year I went out with a project, and spent a week in LA going door to door to different studios. Word got out a little, and for our last meeting of the week the head of a major studio asked to sit in.

          By then I’d really mastered my ten-minute version of the pitch, but one minute into my spiel the boss realized he had another meeting coming up across the lot, and asked if I could do it in five. Luckily, I’d planned for that version to; it wasn’t quite as tight as my full pitch, but at least I wasn’t groping in the dark.

          On the other hand, that one didn’t sell, so maybe I did fuck it up.

  • Scott Strybos

    OT: The Back to the Future Ride Is Officially Dead

    The last remaining Back to the Future ride in the world is closing this spring. Back to the Future: The Ride will be no more. According to Cinema Today, Universal Studios Japan in Osaka will shutter the attraction on May 31.
    I feel like turning off all the lights and playing Don McLean’s American Pie on repeat. I know it doesn’t really apply, but this was my gut reaction upon hearing the news.
    Back to the Future: The Ride trule was the best ride/theme park experience of my life.
    RIP, Hill Valley. RIP.

    • Scott Crawford

      Every time the fun fair comes to Bushey Park and a few other places there’s a Back to the Future wurlitzer or something and you think, that movie is soooo old, that ride but be soooo dangerous! But it’s still there.

      There was also the interactive cinema experience near the Olympic Park, London. Not there anymore:

      http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/624/media/images/76674000/jpg/_76674266_76674265.jpg

    • smishsmosh22

      Yeah, and, they removed the Back to the Future slot machine from my casino. This was like a year ago but I loved that machine so much. It played Huey Lewis on repeat really loud. sigh…

      • Scott Strybos

        You live close enough to a casino that you can call it my casino? I am both relieved and jealous that I don’t have a my casino.

        But I am going on eBay right now and searching for that slot machine.

        • smishsmosh22

          I live about 15 minutes away from 2 different casinos in either direction. My mom likes to go so we go quite a bit together. That machine was so amazing and fun. It played lots of clips from the movie, the car would come zooming across the screen in 3D and turn things wild etc etc… plus it paid out haha.

          • ShiroKabocha

            “plus it paid out haha”

            That’s probably why they removed it.

  • Stephjones

    Thanks, Mules! Very informative and entertaining!

  • Eddie Panta

    Great article!

    In college, before your write a thesis, the professor may ask you for a single page presentation document, an intro to your thesis, this is to see if your topic is “worthy” of a thesis, to see if you’ve done your research.
    And just like with screenwriting, the professor, instead of the producer, will warn you not to do a certain topic because they’ve read it a dozen times before.

    Everyone should have a treatment before they open any type of screenwriting software.
    The catch-22 is that you don’t know the value of a treatment unless you have a lot of experience writing within the screenplay format.

    In the beginning, you kind of go back and forth between the two, testing the treatment, and or the outline. But you won’t really be able to express yourself or your experience, within a treatment until you’ve written a crappy screenplay first.

    I never create an outline until I write a treatment.
    The outline is born out of the treatment.
    Most times, the treatment will tell me if my idea is worth writing.
    You never find the failures in the outline until you start on the script.
    A treatment allows you to type freely, to let the story grow organically.
    In a treatment, you’re able to speak directly to the point of the scene.
    In a treatment you can highlight your knowledge on a topic, or the research you’ve done, w/o all the lengthy exposition, or at least present it in a fun way.
    There are treatments that aren’t meant for other ppl to read.
    There are treatments that are written for ppl you don’t know.
    Then, there are treatments that specifically speak to a project that has already been flushed out.
    A treatment for a producer gives them a quick snap-shot of just how epic the script will be, the number of characters, locations, etc is easy to decipher.

  • Dallas Cobb

    If guest articles always read like this, then we definitely need more guest articles. Great job, mulesandmud.

    Since dropping out of film school four years ago, I’ve neglected writing the treatment altogether, because I would never stick to what I developed and I would just get caught in all the muddle. This article hasn’t convinced me to jump back into the practice altogether, but it has convinced me to maybe not neglect “the treatment” as much as I have.

  • shewrites

    Well done, thank you, Mules!

  • ChadStuart

    Anyone remember “scriptments”? Cameron popularized the term. He would write a 50 page document with some pieces formatted like a screenplay, and others like a treatment.

    I actually do something similar since most my scripts are built on top of each other. I’ll start with a summary, add to it. Change it. Add more. Start building scenes on it, and then eventually a script on top of it. I don’t save individual drafts, because I’m always building on top of the last.

    • andyjaxfl

      His original Avatar scriptment was 100 or so pages. When that leaked onto the interweb in the late 90s, it was like finding a 20 pound gold brick in my backyard.

  • mulesandmud

    Actually, I’ll credit that to my manager, who first taught me that move, but more than likely he got it from Wordplayer (which I link to in another reply).

    Also, in Rossio’s case, he’s not actually looking for a sample, he’s hoping to mind trick his way out of writing the treatment entirely. For an amateur or young pro, that’s not gonna happen; the best we can hope for is to see an effective sample.

  • 95Forty Productions

    What an awesome article! It’s a huge help and I will most certainly return to this over and over again.

    Thanks!

  • Scott Crawford

    Some treatments here:

    http://www.simplyscripts.com/treatments.html

    John August’s outlines here:

    http://johnaugust.com/library

    Here’s a sequel to Casablanca that didn’t get produced. Note how the writer leaves gaps to be filled in as more is decided:

    http://www.vincasa.com/indexcasasequel.html

    email me mr.scottcrawford@hotmail.com if you really, really want more.

    • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

      I wonder whether the bracketed inserts in that ET treatment were there originally, or if they were added later, maybe for a screenwriting class.

      http://www.scifiscripts.com/scripts/et.txt

      Either way, that thing is hot as shit, hard to imagine anyone could visualize that wholesale. No wonder Steve said that’s the best first draft script he ever read.

  • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

    Thanks to both of you, great article.

    “In most ways, a great pitch treatment reads exactly like a great verbal pitch sounds: as though someone were telling you the story a film so well that by the end it felt like you’d just watched the actual movie.”

    This is what I’m aimed at. I’m from the South, where people tell stories, and I’ve really come to appreciate the rolling, increasing tempo of a well-said story. Honestly, I think unless and until you can “tell” your story in an engaging way, whether verbally or on the page, you really can’t master its rhythm. Ideally, I want to crash-land my outlining project into a super tight treatment, one that looks like I wrote it off the top of my head (because it just flows).

    I’ve only seen a few done by professional, most notably the Cameron ones, and this one, by Steven Spielberg for Poltergeist:

    http://www.imsdb.com/scripts/Night-Time-(The-Poltergeist-Treatment).html

    If I had to guess, I would think that’s a working treatment, because it’s a mess, but it does show how Speilberg was able to coalesce his ideas and (radically) improve upon them for the movie.

    • Dallas Cobb

      “I’m from the South, where people tell stories, and I’ve really come to appreciate the rolling, increasing tempo of a well-said story. Honestly, I think unless and until you can “tell” your story in an engaging way, whether verbally or on the page, you really can’t master its rhythm.”

      Brilliantly said.

      • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

        Thank you! I should also say that moving from an outline to that “storytellin'” treatment is the Grand Canyon I have to jump in my creative process. Still trying to figure out how to best construct my mental rocket car to get over it.

        I think the trick may be in the re-telling/re-writing, that most well-wrought stories are the product of being told lots of times.

        • Dallas Cobb

          I agree that “stories are the products of being told lots of times” which always becomes such a crutch for me.

          When I become ignited by a new idea, I feverishly try and develop the entire thing in a short amount of time so I can jump into writing the script and getting everything out on paper. But then when it comes to writing the script, I always get stumped – and I wonder if its maybe because my story hasn’t been given enough time to cultivate.

          Different writers, different processes for all I guess.

          • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

            I too was working from the “fevered development” model, but found that I was rushing past structure, or at least starting with under-developed structures. I would also lock myself into my initial idea and couldn’t then back out to see the big picture again.

            Now, I’m forcing myself to outline until I’m blue in the face as my first step, but my goal is to take that super developed outline, throw it out the window, and then draft my fevered version. I think I can capture that same “fresh idea” vibe, but now it will be built on a viable skeleton.

          • Dallas Cobb

            This is my problem. I focus waaaaaaaay too much on the structure when it comes to developing, and probably not enough time on characters. Your advice about a super developed outline and THEN a fevered version sounds like it could work, so I might have to give it a try.

            As much as I love it, writing is exhausting. Thanks for the reply, Colonel!

          • Scott Crawford

            Ways to make a simple story more interesting, starting with the most acceptable:

            1. Add a twist, a 180 degree diversion of what the reader thinks is going to happen.

            2. Add a complication, not a huge twist as such, but a speedbump – every time things are going right for the hero, have something go wrong; if he’s climbing a ladder have him slip.

            3. Add extra characters and/or subplot – if it’s only A-plot, you’re giving the reader too much chance to predict what’s going to happen. A B-story or another character with their own agenda complicates things.

            4. End the story unexpectedly soon, only to then begin a new (though connected) story – having the villain captured by the heroes has been done maybe a few too many times recently but other variations might be killing the monster only for a bigger monster to come along, marrying the woman you’ve just met only to encounter problems in the marriage. If the outcome is obvious, get to the obvious ending, then you have the rest of the screenplay to surprise people.

            5. Add an epilogue – an extended scene of comedy or action at the end of a story, even after the main story has been resolved – maybe even change location, like the end of Speed.

            6. Prologue – instead of starting right into the A-story, introduce the hero or the villain in another story, like Indiana Jones or James Bond.

            7. Add another scene, character, whatever, anything that isn’t dull but might throw people off. People have SO MANY stories, they know how most of them will turn out. So anything you can to surprise, delay, expand, it’s gotta be good.

  • Scott Crawford

    There are closer up pictures but it gives you an idea of scale. You could see it for while from outside John Lewis in the Westfield mall and it really was spectacular, right down to the vintage cars.

    £50 a ticket though.

  • Poe_Serling

    Only 50 or so comments so far… After yesterday’s pitch frenzy, it feels like order has been restored to the SS universe.

    And a big thanks to Mules for his time and effort in serving up a deep dish slice on How to Write a Treatment.

    • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

      I thought yesterday was one of the best days I’ve seen on the site. So many great ideas and useful input being exchanged–not very orderly, but I was buzzing with some of the concepts all day long.

      • Scott Crawford

        A couple of weeks ago, Carson (rightly) grumbled about the poor showing of ideas on AOW. We saw yesterday, and remember a while back the ironic logline contest, people often HAVE good ideas, they just need a bit of encouragement.

        There are some scripts or potential scripts yesterday I would actually LOVE to see on AOW and even on Amateur Friday: Secret Santa, The Fat Pact, that one about packet switching. And also Eric Boyd’s contest entry, I hope it does well, but even if it doesn’t win, he should finish it and enter it into AOW.

        • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

          The idea about people racing to recover a crashed alien spaceship on the moon, too. Pure gold. Apollo 13 meets the Abyss.

          • Scott Crawford

            Must’ve missed that one. Sounds good.

          • Scott Strybos

            This reminds me of one of the Transformer’s movies? I never got around to seeing the actual film but I have to admit I really liked the teaser trailer. Could have been a great movie if it weren’t part of the Hasbro franchise.

          • Scott Crawford

            It’s on Netflix, but not my top priority. I watched this one yesterday – it was great. I recommend to people who are writing comedy because – even if it’s not your type of comedy – not a moment is wasted. There’s a joke going on all the time:

          • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

            I loved it to no end.

          • AstralAmerican

            Oh my god, so awful. And I’m actually a Pee Wee fan, including owning the first season of the TV show. But this abomination was him trying waaay too hard to find that gold again from Big Adventure which was pure genius.

            But hey, comic book fanboys hated B vs S and I loved it. What a world…

          • Marija ZombiGirl

            The best of the bunch, I thought. High concept. Original. So much to visualize!

          • hickeyyy

            Whoa, I didn’t see that one and I love it. Who posted that?

        • Eric Boyd

          Thanks for the shout out. All the wonderful exchange form yesterday has encouraged me to continue writing it, even if I don’t advance in the contest.

          • Scott Crawford

            I’m thinking – I don’t want to jinx it, and obviously everyone hopes you’ll win – but Disciple Program didn’t win, and that guy’s still working.

          • Eric Boyd

            True. In fact several of the finalist who didn’t end up wining end up on the Black List, but it all starts with those 15 pages. I’ve still got 30 days to get them as close to bulletproof as I can.

          • Magga

            What’s happening with him? Is the movie done or is he writing something else?

          • Marija ZombiGirl

            TDP is still in pre production, I believe. And Tyler just had two more specs optioned – may not be sales but still pretty cool.

      • Poe_Serling

        I agree. Though I must admit, I felt I spent half my time wading through the sea of comments to find those loglines/ideas/etc. that I might have missed on the first several laps around the track. ;-)

        • Scott Crawford

          On those days, to be perfectly honest, it helps to be in their first. I couldn’t wade through them all after a while. But I read all the replies to my one, I tried to comment on the ideas/scripts I thought were really strong.

          • Poe_Serling

            Your particular thread accounted for about 10% of all the comments yesterday. I give that an [X] impressive!

          • smishsmosh22

            yeah page one was ALL Scott! HAHHAHA. Thanks for mentioning The Fat Pact! I would love to see it on Amateur Offerings someday too. Randy and I are talking about co-writing it, maybe bringing on more people to help.

          • Scott Crawford

            I know it was EMBARRASSING! You shrink my post and it says press for more comments!

            I’m not going to credit myself, I’m going to say that people had a LOT of ideas about who, where, why. Fascinating stuff about how if you end up in Oregon or Canada no bugger can find you because it’s so uninhabited.

          • smishsmosh22

            oh, you can collapse posts… oh. yeah. i knew that. *punches wall*

          • Scott Crawford

            Come on, Alison, that’s how you get through them! Collapse the post, you’ll sometimes find it’s a few dozen ACTUAL posts, the rest are just replies to those posts.

          • smishsmosh22

            I was totally going to say “man, too bad we can’t collapse posts” and then I saw your comment and was like FUCK. How could I be so stupid haha. Yes I will be doing that from now on, especially when I’ve already read the comments a million times.. Oh the scrolling… yesterday was too much!

          • Magga

            How do you do that?

          • Marija ZombiGirl

            Collapsing posts? Place the cursor over the post and you will see a minus sign and a flag on the right. Press the minus and you can then collapse post (when the post is collapsed, the minus becomes a plus that you press to uncollapse).
            Here is a screenshot of your post as an example ;)

          • Frankie Hollywood

            Not sure I’d come to Oregon, pretty sure Damien was here today.

        • ShiroKabocha

          Still going through them :) (merely because I keep seeing new comments that were invisible to me last time I checked)

    • brenkilco

      Order has been restored but at what cost. Dozens of commenters remain missing after the collapse of that massive logline pile.

  • http://the-movie-nerd.com themovienerd

    THIS!!!

    1000x this. If you hope to be working in Hollywood, print this out, bookmark it, save it and come back to it early and often. This skill, the ability to outline/write a treatment and know these term, is AS important as writing a great screenplay. THIS is how this business works.

    Thanks MulesandMud!!! This is awesome!!!

  • smishsmosh22

    I’m actually mentally drained from the flurry of activity yesterday. I’m going fishing. Peace out.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/pub/brett-martin/52/702/72 ElectricDreamer

    Major kudos to Mules for sharing his experience here. I can tell you first hand, he’s spot on about the Bullshit meter in Pitch Document scenarios.

    After my paid assignment project imploded, I was asked by the producers/investors to come up with a new idea in the spirit of the defunct biopic. It was the only way I could keep the advance and pay my rent, so I agreed. I came up with a concept everyone got excited about, then I had to create a five page Pitch Document for the new feature. And here’s where the Bullshit really saved my bacon…

    I put together a Step Outline that highlighted turning points in the story. I painted a picture of an emotional journey instead of listing bullet points for act breaks. I used my word-fu to ROMANCE the money men into SEEING THE MOVIE on the page. As I wrote the script, I realized how much flowery crap I had to retool. The producers just approved my draft. This weekend, hopefully I can romance the money men again. Stellar article, Mules!

    • Scott Crawford

      This! This!

      The English language is collapsing and I can only say THIS!

      Another American expression, but one I really like:

      You do you.

      And that’s what you’re saying, ED, that was mules is saying, it’s what I’m saying. Do it but do it your own way. Get it done but put your DNA in it.

      You do you, and I’ll do me, and we’ll all do well.

    • klmn

      Are you sure you want to post this before you get paid?

  • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

    I was asking for it the other day, so Mules may have stepped up.

  • Omar Samir

    Good read, as an amateur writing for fun, I had no idea half of this stuff even existed. I’ll definitely keep that in mind… Hopefully to fool some poor guy into hiring me one day.
    But that’s not why I’m here today. I’m here to fool you poor guys into reading something that I wrote and is completely irrelevant and has nothing to do with this.
    Since it’s a week day, traffic here is down and I can shameless parade my work in peace.
    https://www.sendspace.com/file/5eqgld
    So, of course I’d love some feedback. Just anything.
    Kind words are nice, but I want the harsh truth. The last time I got roasted, I came out of it better than ever and made something of which I was truly proud.
    So, read it, love it or hate it, eat me up and spit me out or applaud my efforts.
    I’ll take it all.

    • klmn

      Logline? WYSR?

      You’ve got to sell the folks here on reading.

      • Omar Samir

        Logline (I’m not good at these): “The Pilot follows four friends in a hectic day as they cross paths with two different gangs and get caught in the crossfire. It all culminates in a half-improvised plan on which hinges their jobs or even their lives.”
        Why You Should Read: Well, a few months ago, a very early draft of this was featured on the Amateur Offerings.. It was the special help one, and I was roasted. People pointed out all the flaws, and so I gave it a complete overhaul. So, it’s a script written by me and pushed by you guys. So, in a way, you all had a hand in this.
        Although I still have no idea how to make a good logline without being too vague or too long.

    • GoIrish

      Some suggestions:
      p. 1
      – I don’t think I’d start with “It’s a crime scene.” The bodies and the police kind of sets that up.
      – With the first 3 sentences, we get police hanging tape around bodies, police drawing chalk around bodies, and EMTs taking bodies away. It felt a little unclear to me – some bodies are staying and some are being taken away??? I don’t think they put tape around bodies – maybe they’re placing tape around the room??
      – “He slowly walks between everyone, with bags under his eyes,
      his eyes look distracted.” – first, this is a run-on sentence. Second, this is my personal take, I would be cautious with over-using eye descriptions. You make two eye references here and one in the next sentence – “caressing the scene with his eyes.” To me, that description seems like overwriting.
      – “not looking any more rested than he was in the previous scene” – language like this takes the reader out of the story. You’re reminding us that this is a script.
      p. 2
      – “the sound of a screeching tire echoes through the wind.” – do you literally mean there was an “echo”? Maybe “the sound of a screeching tire pierces the air”??
      – “The car struggles to speed up after the drift, it slightly bounces, like it’s choking.” Run-on sentence
      – “The passenger, NATHAN, late twenties with crazy hair, sits backwards,” – is he sitting backwards or just looking backwards? Aside from sitting on your knees, I think it’s nearly impossible to sit backwards in a car. If he’s on his knees, tell us that.
      – “And in the back seat, is COSCO” – delete the comma
      – “stuffs PISTOLS and a Grenade” – capitalized all of “PISTOLS” but only first letter of “Grenade”

      Read to p. 11 – one thing I think you might want to focus on more is the tone. Part of this felt like a comedy; part felt like drama. I’m not sure what you were trying to go for. The dialogue isn’t horrible, but I think it needs to be sharper/funnier/wittier.

      • Omar Samir

        Thanks for the feedback. I’m glad it was easier to read this time around, without any huge problems that might kill the whole thing.
        The first time around, everyone practically killed themselves by page 8 and spat in my face.
        I’d say it gets better at the end, but that’s not a very good incentive now, is it?

        • GoIrish

          Another thing I think you should ask yourself in those is – what hasn’t the reader seen before? The first scene shows a detective walking into the crime scene. In the second scene, the coroner tells the detective to check with forensics. Those are pretty straight forward scenes. Try to think of how you can present those scenes in new ways. In Fletch, for instance, the doctor asks Fletch to participate in the autopsy. Try to think how you can present those scenes differently.

  • mulesandmud

    I did offer actually, based largely on The Colonel’s request.

    Most of this I already had from notes on a lecture I gave about pitching, so I figured we could generate some discussion on treatments while Carson spent the week finishing his homework.

    Also, while I realize some people benefit a lot from Carson’s mini-contests, I didn’t want the whole week to become a parade of loglines with hundreds of commenters dog-piling each other and then scrambling to be on top.

    And we all get a little jealous sometimes, no? If we learn to use it right and keep it in check, it can be a healthy source of creative fuel, I’ve found.

    For anyone who hasn’t read it, I hugely recommend Anne Lamott’s BIRD BY BIRD, one of the absolute best books about writing and being a writer. Wise and searingly honest. The chapter about jealousy is worth the cover price all by itself.

  • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

    Totally OT, but I’m happy to report that SS and AOW had a determinative, real-world effect on my horror screenplay Lurkers. My understanding of the Blacklist is that they have a “type,” and aren’t usually kind to extreme genre pieces, so I wasn’t too shocked to get rated 4 and 5 when I first submitted.

    After all the fantastic SS AOW comments and some pretty serious revising, I re-submitted and got a 7! From the Blacklist. For a movie where monsters stomp on people’s heads and rip their arms off and shit. That’s pretty fucking encouraging.

    THANKS SCRIPTSHADOW!

    • smishsmosh22

      Wowwwwww congrats!

      • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

        Thanks Smish! It’s the first time I’ve gotten above water, so to speak, so it’s pretty thrilling. Now, back to work on the next one.

    • jw

      I still struggle to really fully understand The Blacklist website. If you don’t get on the first page you can go months and months without views or anything, and yet the people running the site will tell you that isn’t the case. You hit that first page and you’re golden for however long you’re on there, but rarely is it that long because everything is recycled over a timeline. To get there you have to be in the top 4 of those submitted within a month or quarter or such, and then at times sliced and diced to a granular level based upon the categories your script falls into. It’s enough to make your head spin.

      Second, 35% of scripts get a 7, 16% get 8 and 4% get 9, if what I saw on their site is accurate, thus, more than half of the scripts submitted get a 7 or an 8? I could only hope that their graphs are just total POSs, but this site really seems odd when you get down into the weeds of it. Basically, nobody gets a 1, 2 or 3, very few people get 4’s and very few people get 10’s, which technically means you’re really looking at a 5-point scale, starting at 5 and ending at 9.

      Numbers can really fuck with people’s heads and it’s not cool!

      • Kirk Diggler

        The Blacklist is great of you enjoy giving people your money in exchange for unrealized dreams.

        • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

          Well, in fairness, it’s a pretty good deal on the feedback, and could at least lead to the possibility of someone who matters reading your screenplay.

          Definitely like playing a slot machine–you’re most likely going to lose your money–but at least you get something mildly substantive in return.

          • jw

            100% in agreement. If it wasn’t for the decent cost of the feedback (and the astronomical cost most other places charge) I’d never even think twice about it.

          • smishsmosh22

            was your 7 rating from a paid reader? I’m new to the Blacklist as well, never used it. How many reads did you get? Is it possible to get reads without paying anything other than the monthly fee?

          • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

            Yes. Two reads. And sure, the “pros” can read and review you at any time, irrespective of you paying anything. The trick, it would seem, is to buy a read or two, post up scores good enough to get you on the front page (where people can easily find your script), then hope others willing to review will get into it. I’ve had friends who scored multiple free reviews.

            The chances of it going anywhere are a long shot, obviously, but I’d have to say the advice you get is quite good, and very pointed. Also, where else are you going to host your screenplay where industry people might maybe see it? Some exposure is definitely more exciting than none — since my screenplay moved up today, I’ve had four reads. Could be four crackpots, who knows, but it’s four more than it gets on my hard drive, lol.

            Until the day I can afford Carson to fix my shit, it’s a pretty good deal.

          • smishsmosh22

            yeah if I had a finished script I’d probably put it up there too. you never know. I guess I could put Dude but it’s gonna go through some revisions, should probably do that first….

          • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

            There’s something magical about putting up your script and reading it on the site using the site reader–you will instantly see 20 typos, haha. I had to re-up about 20 times before I was happy.

        • wlubake

          I can do that at a strip club just fine.

    • Mayhem Jones

      Holy SH*T that’s amazing, dude!!!!

  • Scott Crawford

    Wow, I’m bland AND weird. That’s cool!

    • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

      It’s your blandness that’s always impressed me most. ;)

    • wlubake

      I quite like Miracle Whip. Perhaps a compliment?

      That said, as a kid we were having salads at dinner. I see that Miracle Whip is noted as a “salad dressing” and plop a spoonful on top of my tossed salad. It as a mistake not repeated. Inedible.

      • Scott Crawford

        Oh, SALAD CREAM. I love salad cream, probably more than mayo, don’t know why I don’t have it more often.

        I used to have it a lot as a kid, with beetroot, baby potatoes, quiche, etc.

        Yum!

        • ShiroKabocha

          Your new avatar makes me hungry…

          Thanks to you I now want a sandwich when I should be going to bed.

          You’re evil.

  • Omar Samir

    What… In the unholy name of FUCK… Did I just read?
    Holy shit.

    • Scott Crawford

      You fairly new here, Omar. Umm, this is what we’ve had to put up with for some time. He’s the Katie Hopkins of this website (a reference for people from England, I don’t know all the international equivalents), a professional contrarian who prides in offending people. Attention is not the same as love, as Adam Hills put it.

      Anyway, I should writing my script.

      • BigDeskPictures

        OT: Scott, our friend, Ronnie Corbett, passed away yesterday. So sad.

    • carsonreeves1

      Somewhere between drinks 16 and 17.

  • http://apairoftools.wordpress.com/ Sebastian Cornet

    No, it’s one and the same.

  • Omar Samir

    Man, you just made me feel bad about existing.
    I’m having a quarter life crisis.

  • Kirk Diggler

    Regarding the question of whether to take the blue pill or the red pill;

    It appears you took all of them.

    • Scott Crawford

      • Erica

        Great, now I need to watch the Matrix again (just not Matrix 3)

  • BoSoxBoy

    “You should be thanking me…”

  • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

    Oh boy, here we go again.

    You’re trippin, dude. You’re earning real world results with your scripts, and you’re one of the most insightful commenters here — I don’t get why you’re so combative with Carson. This site obviously affords you some opportunity, too, or you wouldn’t post here.

    I think if you’d slow it down with seemingly unprovoked rants like these, you would earn all the respect you’re due. You could be writing guest spots like this too, if you’d lose the vitriol.

    All of that said, even if I hadn’t benefited greatly by visiting this site, I’d still think you’re being a lil’ bitch by calling out Carson’s person and dissing his business.

    • Casper Chris

      Why did you upvote grendl’s comment? It doesn’t deserve a single upvote IMO. You ought to go back and downvote it. As penance.

      • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

        Yeah, well, it’s kinda punk rock, which I appreciate it, and I love a contrarian. Plus he’s got a whole “Bukowski at his meanest” thing going.

        I don’t agree with what he’s obviously, based on my other posts, but I’ve give him tiny props for spirit.

  • Erica

    Pretty sure this would be Carson’s reply…

  • Erica

    It’s funny, I’ve just spent most of the day working on my new script. Lot accomplished today and I haven’t even thought of opening Final Draft yet. Too many questions need to be answered before I even go there.

    My style has always been to map out, outline, point-form and notes and sometimes treatment or versions of treatments and index cards. A movie I wrote 21 years ago and is now being released on DVD started with a treatment and outline. Of course that was done in the 90’s, go figure.

    To many people these days I believe get into screenwriting for the wrong reasons. They watch a movie or show, think they could do better, google it, write something quick and then sit back and wait for the big Hollywood payday they are so entitled too.

  • Dallas Cobb

    OT: Landis’ new script sounds interesting. How original is this concept? I’ve always wanted to write something set underwater, but always struggled with not having enough knowledge to pull it off. I wonder if Max pulled it off? What does Bradley Cooper’s casting mean for the film?
    http://www.vulture.com/2016/03/bradley-cooper-attached-to-deeper-script.html#

    I don’t even know if it’s available, but if anybody has the script, I would love to read a draft.

    dcobb5201@gmail.com

    • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

      Sounds an awful lot like the Abyss, underwater creatures and all that.

      • Dallas Cobb

        Maybe I’m losing my touch on what’s original and what isn’t anymore LOL differences of course could come in many other elements aside from concept, but still…

        • Scott Crawford

          Problem I’m struggling with right now, but there’s always millions of combinations you can have. I mean, remember Warlords of Atlantis? That was underwater, ‘cept it was in a CAVE underwater.

          Leviathan?
          Deep Six?

          So far all we know about Deeper is it takes place underwater and has supernatural elements.

          I don’t have the script right yet but I can send you a copy if someone sends it to me.

          • Dallas Cobb

            That’s very true. I’m interested in this script for its thriller aspect, seeing as how I am in the middle of writing a thriller myself. Landis also seems to be one of the only writers keeping the “spec” alive, but I’m way more involved in television than I am film to know whether I’m off base or not.

          • Scott Crawford

            Line between TV and film blurring. What’s the difference between season 2 of Daredevil and the Landis-co-written Bright (both by Netflix)?

            Only a few million dollars; they both cost around $90 million.

            But a season of a TV show lasts almost a day, while a movie is over in two hours.

            Then again, Landis is directing Dirk Gently for TV.

            Blurred.

          • Dallas Cobb

            This raises a quick and interesting question.

            Have you ever felt restricted writing because you didn’t know how plausible it would be to create? Unfortunately, nothing I write would ever be produced anywhere CLOSE to 90 million, and I wonder if that’s because I’m limiting myself on scope? Or story? Or both?

            I’m not saying every movie deserves a $90 million budget to make it worthwhile. I’m just saying, out of the buffet of ideas I currently have in various stages of development, none of them classify as BIG BUDGET. So i pose the question I pose.

          • Scott Crawford

            It’s complicated, but if Bright was a studio-released film then it would only cost $60 million. That’s because Netflix is having to pay the stars, director, producers EXTRA money because they won’t get residuals.

            I think you SHOULD write as BIG as you can. I often have that problem. Setpieces should overflowing with things happening – let someone else decide if they can’t afford it.

            I think – personal opinion – but some writers think they MUST write low-budget to begin with, and it doesn’t really work that way. You write whatever you want to write, it’ll probably never get made, but it’ll advance you further.

      • Marija ZombiGirl

        Also sounds an awful lot like Duffield’s UNDERWATER from the 2015 Hit List.

        • Frankie Hollywood

          And I wrote this 4 months ago during the Black List live presentation:
          “Resurface” sounds exactly like B. Duffield’s Underwater. ???”

          RESURFACE, by Pete Bridges

          An underwater earthquake decimates a research crew working at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, leaving two survivors with limited resources to ascend 35,000 feet and reach the surface before their life support runs out.

          Ideas come in 3s? It’s almost like studios enjoy having similar concepts so they can see who can get it done first and who can do it better.

  • Paul Schellens

    This kind of post would get your username and ip address permanently banned from most online forums.

  • The Soul of Gary Collins

    It’s almost as if they have a hive mind; finishing each others sentences and what not. In that sense Sebastian is correct, they are one and the same.

  • Elloie

    I’m going over my treatment for my current screenplay (I actually started this a few days ago, but this has been VERY helpful still), and it really just occurred to me for the first time to count how many characters I have. It’s based off a true story, so I didn’t think about it before. Putting it down, I have six major characters (including the antagonist), and seven side characters. So 13 principle roles in all. And I should add, the script is a drama based on a true-story.

    Is 13 too much for that? Just right?

    I already merged one of the principle supporting characters in the “real” story in with another, and cut two out all together. There’s a few other side characters who I could cut, though I don’t want to.

    I know its all going to become clearer as I get further into writing it, but just thought I’d ask as well right now.

  • smishsmosh22

    pretty sure John Brown’s Body was winning last time I checked.

  • Poe_Serling

    As Dallas C has already mentioned in this post, the Max Landis spec is making the rounds with Bradley Cooper attached to star.

    DEEPER

    “A disgraced astronaut embarks on a mission to reach the bottom of a newly discovered oceanic trench, theorized to be the lowest point on planet Earth. He encounters an increasing level of danger, and soon finds himself in a psychological (and physical) fight against supernatural forces.”

    It got me thinking of some of my favorite B-horror films with an underwater element or two:

    >>Deep Rising – It’s monstrous sea creatures vs. the hijackers of a cruise ship. Plenty of action with a memorable comedic turn by Kevin J. O’Conner (he turns up in most of the films directed by Stephen ‘The Mummy’ Sommers).

    >>It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955) – Giant squid action courtesy of Ray ‘Dynamation’ Harryhausen.

    >>Below – the ghost on the sub flick. Directed and co-written by David Twohy. I’ve been singing the praises of this one forever and a day.

    >>Lake Placid – set on a not-so-quiet lake in Maine. More of a light comedy but it still has its share of scary moments. Brendan Gleeson shines as the local yokel sheriff looking for a reason to use his ‘Big’ gun.

    • brenkilco

      Small trivia challenge. Believe John Wayne only died five times onscreen. Shot in Shootist and Sands of Iwo Jima. Blown up/incinerated in Fighting Seabees. But in two other movies he met his demise under water and in the same bizarre way. How?

      Hint: The answer is in your post.

      • Poe_Serling

        That’s a good trivia challenge for me. I really haven’t watched all that many JW films other than the essentials like The Searchers, The Quiet Man, True Grit, The Alamo, Red River, Rio Bravo, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence, etc.

        My guess (based solely on your hint)… something with tentacles.

        • brenkilco

          Yes in both Reap The Wild Wind and Wake of the Red Witch ship’s captain Duke gets drowned by an invertebrate. Surprisingly, the primary appeal of the desert southwest for Wayne was the relative scarcity of giant squid.

          • klmn

            You know he had a WWII surplus minesweeper he converted into a yacht.

            http://www.powerandmotoryacht.com/megayachts/american-legend

          • Poe_Serling

            If you ever find yourself zipping down Interstate 80 in Iowa … make sure you watch for the exit that takes you straight to JW’s hometown and museum.

          • klmn

            Thanks. I must have driven past it and not realized it.

      • BoSoxBoy

        The Duke also bought it in The Cowboys. I think Bruce Dern shot him in the back, the varmint.

        • brenkilco

          Yes, right.

    • BoSoxBoy

      “Disgraced” is so overused. I can see a disgraced cop, a disgraced politician, a disgraced actor, a disgraced athlete….

      But a disgraced astronaut? There’s less than 150 in the entire nation. They’re among the most intelligent, morally outstanding, and heroic people in existence. They’re vetted inside and out, literally, before being accepted into the NASA Astronaut Corps.

      So whatever this astronaut does to end up “disgraced”, I’m probably not buying what they’re selling.

      • klmn

        Don’t you remember the woman astronaut who drove cross-country wearing a diaper, planning to kidnap her boyfriend’s girlfriend?

        • BigDeskPictures

          I think they’re making a movie about her.

        • BoSoxBoy

          Oh man, how could I forget that. Space diapers! Now I’m disgraced Uhg.

        • smishsmosh22

          Pale Blue Dot! But Space Diapers would be SUCH A RAD TITLE YOU GUYS….

          • klmn

            Tagline: She got her panties in a wad and put on her diaper.

          • smishsmosh22

            I upvoted this but actually it makes no sense haha

      • Magga

        Presidents are the most thoroughly vetted people in the world, and regardless of political views, people tend to agree that some borderline lunatics have occupied the office through the centuries, and absolute psychopaths have gotten close

        • BoSoxBoy

          Anyone can run for President, as we’re reminded daily. No psychiatric test, nothing. I believe astronauts are vetted at a much higher level than Presidents.

          • brenkilco

            The most famous astronaut alive is probably Buzz Aldrin. And he was an alcoholic who suffered from crippling depression.

          • BoSoxBoy

            True, but I believe those problems occurred following his Apollo 11 mission to the Moon. He was also a fighter pilot during the Korean War, which maybe had a delayed effect as well.

            I agree that astronauts are not immune to personal problems, but “disgraced astronaut” to me spells he f’d up on the job as an astronaut. Hard to see that one given the extreme level of seriousness and professionalism with these people, but I guess we’ll see when the script is available.

    • andyjaxfl

      Below is a movie I recommend often to folks who still believe the stigma that anything released DTV is garbage.

    • hickeyyy

      I’d add Sphere to that list!

      • Caivu

        Pretty good movie, terrible adaptation.

  • Paul Schellens

    The one thing this article was missing was an outrageous or controversial statement to get people arguing.

  • conceptual

    OT: What was everyone’s favorite concepts from yesterday?

    (You can’t vote for your own)

    • brittany

      Personally, I really loved Eric’s idea about the serial killer who preys on pregnant women to steal their unborn children.

      • Eric

        Hey! Thanks :) Didn’t see that coming.

    • ShiroKabocha

      -creakycranky’s horror / thriller loglines, particularly “Blindspot”

      -UrbaneGhoul’s horror “The Invaded”

      -logline’s supernatural thriller logline

      -Dan’s comedy, “Maine, Canada”

      -smishsmosh22’s family adventure “Lazer Sloth”

      All have great potential and contain elements that make me want to watch the finished product on the silver screen.

    • Scott Crawford

      Secret Santa – Santa recruited by the CIA.

      Full notice – if cjob3 doesn’t write this, I WILL. And I’ll even steal the title (though Secret Agent Claus might be more of a sell).

    • witwoud

      Mine!

      Oh … sorry. Didn’t read that bit.

      Creakycranky’s BLINDSPOT, then. It’s the goosebumpiest premise I’ve read in a long while.

    • scriptfeels

      Dreamwalker, about the girl who escapes her daily life to enter a dreamworld to then deal with problems there. I cant remember who posted it, but my support goes to them.

      I rewatched spirited away and now want more movies in the same vein.

      xoxo

    • smishsmosh22

      I liked Steph’s the best, I think it was called Let’s Be Famous. I think it’s a really clever idea for a movie and I can totally see it in my head.

  • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

    I don’t know anything about that, but even if true, still pretty wack to come into his house and call him out.

  • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

    Totally agree, 100%.

  • Standoff

    OT: new movie Standoff, written by Adam Alleca. Is this based on his script “Home” that was once reviewed on this site?

    • Scott Crawford

      No, there are some similarities in the contained setting – maybe Adam cannibalized some of the ideas from Home since it hasn’t been made – but it’s a different story.

      • Eric Boyd

        Adam has a movie scheduled to come out in September called Delirium that I think is a rewritten version of Home. At least the logline from IMDB sounds just like it with a few details changed.

        “A man recently released from a mental institute inherits a mansion after his parents die. After a series of disturbing events, he comes to believe it is haunted. ”

        It stars Topher Grace.

  • Midnight Luck

    Thanks Mules, this is really awesome stuff!

  • Citizen M

    Grendl, you are like the little girl who, when she was good was very, very good, but when she was bad she was horrid.

    FWIW I fully agree with Carson’s policy of strict moderation of your posts. I used to post on the old misc.writing.screenplays newsgroup. It was mostly amateur, but also had industry professionals contributing. Then a couple of voluble angry people started posting and the newsgroup quickly went downhill as posters of quality stayed away.

    I’m afraid you have that same combative, accusatory tone that is entertaining for a while but ultimately damaging over the long run.

    May I suggest you start your own blog or twitter feed instead of riding on Carson’s coat-tails?

  • Marija ZombiGirl

    Great article, Mules, well done in explaining the different formats and/or contents of what many writers actively try to avoid. I don’t know if I’m alone in this but I actually love writing treatments so much that they usually evolve into 25-30 page scriptments. I find that they are a great help for writing the first draft of the script because they’re so detailed that all you have to do is squeeze out the essence and get it down in scene form. It’s easier to keep track of the protag and especially the “this happens therefore that happens which in turn leads to this”.

    • mulesandmud

      I also enjoy writing treatments, in some ways more than scripts, because story structure is very important to me and unless you’re doing something very formal, e.g. PULP FICTION or MEMENTO, that framework is often hard to see in a finished script.

      My process changes depending on the project, but in most cases I build gradually from one page to a few pages to a treatment to a script, with all of these awkward in-between stages where the butterfly is trying to climb out of the cocoon. The feature I’m writing now is 76 pages long so far, but more than half of it is still treatment.

      As the beast gets bigger, I often go back and write up separate beat sheets or step outlines to give remind me of the structure, and also to see what changes I’ve made along the way.

      And of course, there are always changes. Part of the reason to craft a great plan is so that you can deviate from it with confidence, like a musician who knows a song so well that she can improvise without hesitation.

  • Bacon Statham

    I’m gonna say something that I believe everyone here has thought at least once. I understand that it might offend people, but I feel like someone has to say this. If I get moderated or told to be nice for this then so be it. It needs to be said.

    You sir are a cunt and despite the fact you can actually offer some really invaluable advice every now and then, you really have no place here.

    • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

      LOL at the start of that second paragraph. Great build up and then POW!

  • smishsmosh22

    Hmm…

    • Scott Strybos

      Is that a baby sloth? (It doesn’t look like a ferret, which, considering the poster, would be my first guess.)

      • smishsmosh22

        It is!

      • smishsmosh22

        did u see my post about my script Lazer Sloth the other day? it’s another script I’m working on, for kids, and I posted a few pages.

        • Scott Strybos

          I didn’t. I think I was only able to read about half of these posts.

          • smishsmosh22

            Not surprising! Well IF you are looking for something to read today, I would love your notes, but no worries if you’re busy or it’s not your thing. I will copy and paste here:

            Title: Lazer Sloth
            Genre: Family / Sci-Fi / Adventure
            Logline: When an abandoned baby sloth with alien DNA mysteriously appears in the small town of Happy Valley, a trio of misfit kids must work together to protect it from an evil UFO Cultist and return the strange creature to its mother at the local zoo.

            WYSR: Because baby sloths are the cutest thing in the world?

            Download link first 14 pgs: https://www.sendspace.com/file

            This is pretty rough but since the point of today’s exercise is to stop people from pursuing bad ideas, may as well put it all out there. The sci-fi element is a new development so the script pages unfortunately don’t reflect this yet.. but my idea so far is that certain baby animals have alien DNA and will be abducted on the same day (when they turn 90 days old) and the evil UFO Cultist dude plans to collect all the alien animals and join them when they are beamed up to the mothership.

            This is for kids and would be live action.

          • GoIrish

            We’re overdue for something of the nature and quality of ET. So good choice with subject matter. The obvious issue is trying to avoid being too derivative (within first 15 pages I didn’t see any concerns). Two minor points – I don’t think a 16 year old would target a 10 year old. The age gap seems too big. Secondly, I don’t think a 9 year old would reference the SPCA. (Kids dialogue can be tough!)

          • smishsmosh22

            Good notes, thank you! Love E.T. I know this won’t compare by a long shot but films about kids saving animals are right up my alley. The alien DNA bit will be the biggest challenge as it’s not my usual thing but we’ll see how it goes….

          • GoIrish

            One other thing I wanted to mention – it’s kind of standard fare, but it might be nice to see the actual break-in at the beginning. Make it a little more lively.

          • smishsmosh22

            Yes, I thought about that. I think I originally left it out 1) to build a little mystery, and 2) to avoid any interior ZOO shots for budget reasons. But I will ponder this, if it’s a better opening/visual.

          • GoIrish

            Budget, right…so I’m guessing a Comanche stealth helicopter break-in scene is a non-starter???

    • brenkilco

      The only problem is that a 105 page sloth script equals 210 minutes of screen time.

      • smishsmosh22

        lol

  • jw

    Therein lies the conundrum of the site itself. Do those of us who don’t have 52 industry contacts and people who can go to the site and rate our script high get drowned out by those who do? For fuck’s sake, people who are repped can post stuff, so you know those of us who aren’t start off in the missionary position to begin with.

    Actually, I have had ratings by “pros” from those just reading my stuff. The oddity being that those ratings tend to be higher than the reader ratings. The way “The Colonel” outlines how best to approach the site is actually pretty spot-on. Never purchase more than 2 reviews at a time because getting that 5 is going to immediately pull you out of the top spot and trust me, just for shits and giggles I left my stuff up for an extended period of time when it wasn’t rated high enough to get in the top spot and I can tell you that quite literally it’ll go NOWHERE. No matter what the fucks running that site say.

    Here’s how I’d tell anyone to approach it:

    Rating:
    5 – You’ve got some major work to do as you’re rated in the bottom.
    6 – You’re slightly better than the bottom feeders
    7 – You’re middle of the road, but don’t get cocky
    8 – You’re really getting there now and could potentially pull something off
    9 – You MAY be ready to start throwing punches in Hollywood bars!

    Honestly, haven’t figured out if it’s a total scam or not. They claim to have “successes” pretty much in the same way that contests like Script Pipeline still promote Evan Daugherty 10 years later because no one since has even come close to that kind of success, and frankly Evan didn’t even win with the script that actually thrust him into the limelight, which then really tells you something there!

    Good luck with the lottery! We’re all playing!

    • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

      Agreed with all that, though I got a five and a seven, and the weighted average was enough to get me on the featured page.

      • jw

        Some of the time, true. Largely depends on the recent ratings that have taken place, which could be low (or high). I’ve found that a general rule of thumb is that if you’re scoring below 6.5, you’re less likely to be in that top spot, but if you can hit an average of 7 or above you are HIGHLY likely to be on that first page. If you can get 7.5 to 8, you may even take home the top spot. That is, of course, with monthly ratings. What you rank overall could actually be much lower.

  • Frankie Hollywood

    Idris says:

    • smishsmosh22

      I wrote a few scenes. Improved a few old ones. I feel good.

  • Kirk Diggler
    • Jack F.

      I want you back.

  • Jack F.

    Thanks, mules. Your advice is rarely less than invaluable. I remember the kick in the ass you gave me on AF and I believe my script is now better for it.

  • Poe_Serling

    No post today….

    It has to be an April Fools’ Day Prank, right? ;-)

    • klmn

      I think Carson just tweeted about the 250. The tweet starts, “How to know when a script is bad…

      • Poe_Serling

        Or it could be just another part of his elaborate April Fools’ joke on all of us. ;-)

    • Levres de Sang

      Your post inspired me to come up with the following…

      Title: 04-01
      Genre: Contained Psychological Slasher

      Logline: Twelve years after a notorious manslaughter case, a lonely woman discovers the deaths of her fellow jury members all took place on April Fools Day. Today is 03-31…

      ** Wouldn’t be too surprised if something similar hadn’t already been done. :/

      • Poe_Serling

        You’re right – ‘Wouldn’t be too surprised if something similar hadn’t already been done.’

        This one is somewhat in the same ball park….

        The TV-movie Summoned (2013) – starring Cuba Gooding Jr.

        • Scott Crawford

          On a lighter note, there was the episode of Monk called “Mr. Monk and the Twelth Man.”

    • Paul Schellens

      AF carried over to next week I imagine, so unlikely to be AOW offerings tomorrow…

      The 250 announcement will make it worth it though.

      • Poe_Serling

        Next Wednesday (SS contest announcement day) will definitely blow the roof off the comment section.

        >>Happy campers – 25
        >>Close, but no cigar crowd – 225
        >>Everybody else in the bleachers (total number – who knows) expressing their excitement or disappointment in Carson’s top script picks.

        Should be fun. ;-)

        • klmn

          It will be fun for those who win.

          I’m hedging my bets – I just bought Dr. Kevorkian’s suicide machine on Ebay.

        • brenkilco

          A bit sobering too, I bet. I hope something or somethings first rate emerge from all this. I mean genuinely first rate. Not just a rough script with a poster worthy premise or a salable hook. If not, we’ll all be left to ponder whether the community’s dearth of ability or Carson’s lack of taste is to blame. Fortunately, perhaps, for all the egos involved there won’t be any sure way to know the answer.

          • Poe_Serling

            It’s always surprising to me what projects get produced beyond the studios/major networks/cable channels pipeline (meaning companies with deep money pockets) of their typical fare…

            If you skim through the libraries of Netflix, Hulu, etc., there’re hundreds of films that barely make a ripple artistically or financially on the overall movie front.

            Not many hidden gems out there.

            Personally, I’d rate most of them less than so-so in entertainment value (and as most know my standard isn’t that high). But somehow these off-the-radar projects still found funding and got made.

            Perhaps kickstarter, tax writeoffs for doctors, rich uncles, etc.

          • brenkilco

            The business model for some of those back catalog Netflix titles sort of mystifies me too. ‘Robin Hood: The Ghost of Sherwood’ Featuring a zombie band of merry men. I mean, how and why, and did somebody make money off this?

  • Levres de Sang

    Very late in saying so, but really enjoyed mules’ article yesterday. I also appreciated his answering questions in comments. Some insightful stuff there, too. As ever, mules makes no bones about what is expected at the professional level. It’s great to have him around!

  • smishsmosh22

    which were still very much appreciated!

  • smishsmosh22

    I’d watch that…

  • smishsmosh22

    I think it’s a pretty good logline, but I just wanted to tell you it reminded me of a new Will Ferrel movie that’s in the works called Border Guards: “A pair of Americans try to prevent Mexican immigrants from entering the country, accidentally find the tables turned on themselves when they try to return to the U.S. without any identification.”

  • Dallas Cobb

    I’m constantly researching, but I feel as though I can only research so far. I always encounter barriers to my research. I’m in a magazine writing class, and I find it so difficult to interview real ‘experts’ for some of the articles I’ve had to write. I feel like I just am not in the best position to gather all the authentic and genuine research that I need/want for my ideas to be fully developed.

  • SteveAltes

    OT: Hey guys… my wife is an acting coach looking to refresh her scene study files with some great movie scenes from the last 10 years or so. Anybody have recommendations? Thank you!

    • Frankie Hollywood

      Gotta go for a classic. If your wife can get them to successfully do this scene, when the time comes they’ll be ready for ANY scene (pun intended). And have her make the men fake it too — equal opportunity acting coach.

      “You don’t think that I could tell the difference?

    • brenkilco

      Scenes wholly dependent on performance and good writing seem to get more and more rare. Anyway a couple of examples off the top of my head:

      The confrontation between Chigurh and Carson in No Country For Old Men

      The final meeting between Smiley and Hayden in Tinker Tailor.

      The golf game between Hughes and Hepburn in The Aviator

      The bar conversation between Pitt and Fassbender in The Counselor or the outdoor restaurant scene between the two of them later on. Actually Counselor is chock full of fabulously written conversations and for my money is probably the most underrated movie of the last ten years.

    • Lucid Walk

      The closing argument from The Verdict, where Paul Newman tells the jury, “you are the law.”

      • brenkilco

        Nice scene but that was thirty years ago. Not ten.

  • smishsmosh22

    Anybody wanna be twitter friends? @thealisonparker

  • brenkilco

    Framed for ? and trapped inside Mexico, a U.S. border patrol agent must now use his knowledge to illegally cross the border; with only hours? to deliver the drug that can save his dying son.

    Antivenom is a more common usage than antivenin. And in either case the reader would want to know what bit the kid. Maybe best to keep it general for the logline.

  • Paul Schellens

    I want to write a movie about a banjo player.


    http://youtu.be/e4Ao-iNPPUc

    • smishsmosh22

      I want to write a movie about a chainsaw drone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Viwwetf0gU

    • walker

      I know you are joking, but the greatest banjo player ever was Earl Scruggs (1924-2012). He would be a decent subject for a biopic, but I suggest you look into his music and career in any case.

      • brenkilco

        Tough to beat Foggy Mountain Breakdown.

        • walker

          I also recommend Bela Fleck.

    • klmn

      Is it Hillbilly Day?

      Well, okay.