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The fact that the two scripts I reviewed this week both took major chances got me thinking – How the hell do you take chances in a screenplay? What’s the protocol?

Before we get to that, we must first establish what “not taking a chance” looks like. Believe it or not, it’s possible to write a good movie without taking chances. Rocky’s a straight-forward underdog-rises-to-fame movie. And it’s pretty damn good. The same could be said for straight-forward flicks John Wick, Finding Nemo, and Neighbors.

But more often than not, not taking chances leads to scripts that feel safe, sterile, boring, and worst of all: PREDICTABLE. Office Christmas Party. Assassin’s Creed. Jurassic World. These are all predictable movies that didn’t take any chances.

I’ve found that chances can be broken down into two categories: Before and during. There’s the chance you take in conceiving the idea and the chances you take within the screenplay itself. We’re going to explore both today.

I should also point out that not every chance you take will be good. With chances come risk. And, to be honest, I’d say most chances don’t pan out. However, when you take a big risk and it works? It’s the difference between your script being awesome or forgettable.

In analyzing chances, I’ve noticed a trend. Good chances are unexpected but work because they feel like part of a bigger plan. Bad chances are likewise unexpected but don’t work because they were created for the wrong reasons – as gimmicks or tricks used to shock the audience. They rarely have the bigger picture in mind.

For example, in the short movie, Fool’s Day, a group of 4th graders accidentally blow up the head of their teacher. It’s a HUGE CHANCE. I mean, it had never been done in any movie before. But there was clearly a plan afterwards. The movie becomes about covering up the crime. If you look at Will Smith’s, Hancock, however, the revelation that Charlize Theron’s character is also a superhero comes out of nowhere and doesn’t fit into the rest of the story thematically or narratively. That’s a chance that was designed for the wrong reasons.

With that in mind, let’s look at 10 ways you can take chances in your writing.

1) CONCEPT

The biggest chance you can take in a script is in the concept itself because the concept affects everything that comes after it. Taking a chance with your concept means giving us something unconventional that has never been done before. Swiss Army Man, Passengers, Colossal, Being John Malkovich. Be brave, be different, be daring.

2) HEAVY TONAL SHIFTS

It’s mega-dangerous to shift tones during a screenplay because you risk looking like you’re unsure what your movie is about. It often looks sloppy. However, it does make your movie unique. The Netflix film, Okja, shifts between a serious drama, an intense action film, and a kooky comedy. Indeed, it feels unlike any other film out there.

3) PLOT REBOOTING

Plot rebooting is when the story starts off about one thing, then at some point during the script, it reboots so it’s now about something else, and maybe even reboots again so it’s about something else. Monday’s script, Courage, was a rebooter. It was about living in a future city protected from aliens. Then it was about being chased by aliens in space. Then it was about the making of a 1970s science-fiction film. I didn’t like the script but holy shit did the writer take chances.

4) MAJOR TWISTS THAT CHANGE THE STORY

One of the most well-known chances you can take as a writer is introducing a big twist after the first act. It’s when this twist changes the nature of the story itself that it’s the most impactful. Psycho (the main character is killed and replaced by the villain). Allied (the woman the hero married turns out to be a German spy). Gone Girl (the wife faked her demise to incriminate her husband). The reason this is so risky is that you’re often changing the nature of what drew the audience in in the first place. It’s like playing a song everyone loves then stopping it and saying, “But wait, I have a song that’s even better!”

5) PLAY AGAINST THE CHARACTER

This is a chance I wish more writers would take. Basically, it’s taking a character archetype we all know well – the roguish Han Solo, for example – and playing it in a completely different way. A Godfather-like mob boss who’s effeminate, for example. Or a Die-Hard like action hero who’s neurotic, which is kind of what they did in The Accountant. A wisecracking superhero (Deadpool). An underrated version of this is what they did in The Intern. That movie was set up to have DeNiro’s aging intern play the zany “ZOINKS! WHAT’S SNAPCHAT??” role. But instead the character was played more intelligently, picking up his duties quickly and being more of a fatherly presence to the employees. If your character is being played exactly like these types of characters have always been played, you’re probably boring the audience.

6) ZERO CONCERN FOR COMMERCIAL APPEAL

This is one of the biggest chances you can take, completely ignoring commercial appeal. Look no further than the Coen Brothers, who do this often. A movie about a failed folk singer who loses a cat. Fitness trainers who get mixed up in a CIA plot. A 1930s treasure-seeking musical. Just here on Scriptshadow I reviewed the now infamous Eskimo period piece script that includes an old woman giving a 12 year old boy a handjob. The great thing about not giving a shit about commercial appeal is you can write without having to worry about what audiences will think. But buyer beware. This is one of the riskiest routes you can take!

7) PUSHING BOUNDARIES

If you really want to push yourself, write about the stuff you don’t want people to know you think about. Push the boundaries of what is acceptable. We’ve seen this in movies like Deliverance and Straw Dogs, but boundary-pushing can include race, violence, murder, pedophilia, cannibalism, and plenty more. Ideally, you don’t want to push boundaries just to push them. You want it to be an organic part of your story. Check out the French film “Raw” to see the latest movie to receive a lot of press for pushing boundaries.

8) PLAYING WITH TIME


One of the most common ways to take chances is through playing with time. From Memento to Edge of Tomorrow to 500 Days of Summer to Eternal Sunshine to this weekend’s Dunkirk, playing with time rearranges the narrative in an unconventional way that almost universally leads to an unpredictable story. And since the whole purpose of taking chances is to give the viewer something they haven’t experienced before, this is a time-honored way to do so.

9) PLAY AGAINST THE GENRE

Playing against the genre is similar to playing against a character, however it affects more of the story. A recent example of this is Sausage Party, an R-rated animated film about food that gets slaughtered. Not what you expect when you walk into a cartoon! On the script side is Brian Duffield’s, “Vivian Hasn’t Been Herself Lately.” The genre is technically “Possession.” But it isn’t played like any conventional possession film. Instead, the story is an intense drama about a failing marriage, a totally unexpected choice. You can see how this would open up all sorts of unique avenues as a writer. A Western that’s actually a romantic comedy. A musical that’s actual a zombie film. Some huge chances can be taken here.

10) GOING AGAINST CONVENTION

Every time you write a fifteen minute scene, you’re taking a chance. Every time you write a script that takes place in a single location, you’re taking a chance. Every time you ignore the 3-act structure, you take a chance. Every time you make your main character an unlikable asshole, you take a chance. Every time you change theme mid-script, you take a chance. Every time you go off on a non-sequitur subplot, you take a chance. I watched Personal Shopper recently. It starts off as a supernatural drama about a girl trying to make contact with her dead brother. It later evolves into a texting thriller with a mysterious person texting our heroine throughout the second half of the movie. Later still, it turns into a murder-mystery. These convention-busting choices are available to you. But like every artistic choice, they come with the risk of people saying, “What the fuck were you thinking there?” So make sure you have a reason for making the choice.

I’ll finish by saying taking chances boils down to giving the audience the unexpected. If your entire script goes as expected, it’s probably not going to be very memorable.

Carson does feature screenplay consultations, TV Pilot Consultations, and logline consultations, which go for $25 a piece of 5 for $75. You get a 1-10 rating, a 200-word evaluation, and a rewrite of the logline. If you’re interested in any sort of consultation package, e-mail Carsonreeves1@gmail.com with the subject line: CONSULTATION. Don’t start writing a script or sending a script out blind. Let Scriptshadow help you get it in shape first!

  • Erica

    Bam!

    I look forward to Thursdays ever week for these articles! Thanks Carson, now to read it.

  • Poe_Serling

    Thanks for the latest Top Ten, Carson!

    A lot of good stuff to think about as you sit down to crank out a new
    script or in the process of writing/rewriting your current one.

    • brenkilco

      I’m confident my family friendly, necrophile romcom will appeal to everybody.

      • Scott Crawford

        The sort of story I thought I was getting when I rented “While You Were Sleeping.”

  • Cian Rowlands

    Little off topic but the ‘Bastards’ comedy script – I know Carson did a review a few years back – anyone have a copy of the script? Thanks!

  • CJ

    Just an observation from an amateur on the outside (I don’t have any direct experience), but I’d imagine taking chances in a screenplay is even more risky than in other types of “art” (for want of a better word) because the script is one step removed from the final product. A risky novel is at least the finished product as you experience it, as is a daring photo or painting. In a script, though, something that seems weird and too risky on the page might play beautifully and ingeniously when portrayed visually in a film, but you don’t get to see that finished product yet. I guess the key is that you need a special reader/director/producer/actor to be able to get beyond the written word and imagine it in a completely different medium.

  • Justin

    This might be one of my favorite posts so far.

  • Scott Crawford

    This might be a good opportunity for another of our tried-and-trusted “test your logline” days. Particular emphasis on writers who are worried their ideas may be a little too… too.

    Post your loglines below (or not).

    • klmn

      I’ll take a shot.

      SERIES
      LOGLINE: Three talking gorillas hit the road to try to return home,
      while practicing the greatest martial art known to man or ape: kayfabe
      wrestling.

      • Scott Crawford

        You’ve got three ideas here in this logline:

        Talking gorillas.
        Kayfabe wrestling.
        That kayfabe wrestling is the greatest martial arts known to man or ape.

        The might be too much. Talking gorillas? Fine. Talking gorillas doing wrestling? OK. Kayfabe wrestling (and I’m only SLIGHTLY familiar with what that is) being a great martial art? It’s veering away from quirky into, for me, irritating.

        I would stick with:

        On the way home (to the jungle?), three talking gorillas become a sensation in the world of (kayfabe) wrestling.

        I’d also like to know what genre this is and whether its part or wholly animated.

        But thanks for showing everyone your logline, a lot of people don’t. Let’s hear it for klmn!

        • klmn

          It’s a road comedy.

          • Scott Crawford

            So the road HAS to be in there. Why are they wrestling? For money? And do they talk to humans or just to each other?

          • klmn

            One of them has been trained in wrestling at night by the janitor who cleans the lab that is using the gorilla to test cognitive skills. Of course, this gorilla won’t talk to the scientists who are trying to exploit him. But he talks to his friend, the janitor.

            The other gorillas also don’t talk to their captors. But when they escape, they put on clothes and enter the human world. Then they talk to everyone.

            They enter the world of professional wrestling after a promoter (who needs a last minute replacement for a tag-team) sees them win a bar fight. (Yes, these gorillas drink and get in bar fights. They also like fast cars and motorcycles and date women. Despite being gorillas, they’re regular guys).

            But that’s way too much to put in a logline.

          • klmn

            I don’t think it will ever be on AOW. Not after the Snow Monkey broke Carson’s heart.

            Unrequited love is a hard thing to deal with.

          • Poe_Serling

            “I don’t think it will ever be on AOW.”

            Yeah, it’s way too similar to the premise of the AOW
            script The Pinstriped Primates.

            And I can’t remember who wrote that one.

            ;-)

          • Stephjones

            I just suggested a ‘taking chances or what the fuck was I thinking” AOW to Carson. I had the two of us in mind when I submitted. :)

          • PQOTD

            Lol.

          • Stephjones

            new title?

          • klmn

            After the second episode, they’ll walk away from wrestling to hit the road again. (In the feature script, this was the end of the script).

            Of course, they’ll be getting in fights throughout the series, which will feature old time wrestling: Folding Chair Fu, airplane spins, leg locks that go on forever, with one fighter twisting a foot like a torturer and the other grimacing and pounding the floor. You get the idea – all the fun stuff.

            You remember Woody Strode from Spartacus?

            Here he is wrestling!

          • klmn

            I could give it a more classic title. THE GORILLIAD.

          • PQOTD

            You could put them in sandals and give them swords: Gorilliators.

          • Randy Williams

            “Arrival” had Abbott and Costello. Maybe call your road trip
            gorillas, Bing Crosby and Bob Hope.

          • Scott Crawford

            There’s three of them… Curly, Larry and Moe?

          • klmn

            That was part of the concept – when they’re not fighting with other people, they can fight among themselves.

        • brenkilco

          You know we’ve become jaded when the only way talking gorillas can get any attention is if they can wrestle.

        • Stephjones

          How about:

          When three talking gorillas, weary of being science projects, decide to make their way back to the jungle, their plans get way-laid after they become overnight sensations in the world of pro wrestling.

          The idea alone makes me smile. Is there a new title?

          • Scott Crawford

            Gorilla Warfare?

          • klmn

            I’m keeping Pinstriped Primates for now. Any better ideas?

      • hickeyyy

        I recall this from somewhere. Did you have this featuring on a AOW one weekend?

        • Poe_Serling

          Speaking of AOW….

          Will your Bigfoot project be stomping its way onto that
          platform in the near future?

          • hickeyyy

            Yes! I should have it done within the next month or two. After that, I’ll put on some finishing touches, and then I’ll be ready for feedback!

        • klmn

          I originally wrote it as a feature script. That script did appear on AOW, and came in second to a zombie script that was adapted from a comic book. (So, no matter what C says about taking risks, folks want the old standards).

          I rewrote it as a pilot. That’s what I’m pushing now.

      • PQOTD

        Kayfabe phonetically sounds a bit like covfefe. I wonder if that’s what he was trying to tell us…

    • Lucid Walk

      My turn.

      Premise: Haunted by the ghost of an innocent prisoner he killed on Death Row, a lethal injection executioner can only free himself of the vengeful spirit by killing those responsible for their wrongful imprisonment.

      I don’t know what the official job title is. Lethal injectionist or something?

      • Scott Crawford

        I like this one! I don’t know if there IS such a person as a lethal injection executioner, or any other kind… I thought members of the public volunteered to push the button (and there are, like, five buttons and only one of them works, so afterwards the volunteers have no idea who ACTUALLY killed the guy).

        That said, I like the idea (the irony if you must) of someone having to kill the person they SHOULD HAVE executed in order to be spared from the person they DID execute.

      • http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts Eldave1

        Close – how about:

        Haunted by the ghost of an innocent Death Row prisoner, the man who administered the lethal injection can only free himself of the prisoner’s vengeful spirit by killing those responsible for his conviction.

        • brenkilco

          Much cleaner.

        • Lucid Walk

          Thanks.

          And it’s why I said premise and not logline.

          • http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts Eldave1

            You posted under Scott’s thread of – “post your loglines below..” Can’t imagine why I thought you were working towards a logline. Oh well, time wasted on my part I guess.

        • Master John Moss

          Nice. This is a great idea.

      • brenkilco

        Assume their should be his or her.

      • andyjaxfl

        Count me as intrigued.

      • Justin

        I’m curious — what genre is this? I feel like this is one of those scripts that could go either the comedy or serious route.

        • Scott Crawford

          I guess you’re right but.. in my opinion, if a story is a COMEDY then the story idea must be funny or at least smile-worthy. If this IS a comedy, the premise would have to be phrased differently.

        • Lucid Walk

          I was thinking the drama route, but this could be a comedy

      • Midnight Luck

        It is literally “Executioner”.
        Sounds like we still live in Medieval times.

        • Master John Moss

          “Death Dealer”?

          Both sound like B-movies…

      • AstralAmerican

        I’d watch this depending on the cast!

    • Justin

      This is a logline for a script I was working on back in early 2016, but after “Logan” was announced and released, I had to scrap it because the storyline & characters were too similar. Anyone who read the treatment for it would assume that I copied “Logan” and wrote a script.

      Working Title: El Salvador.

      Logline: In the near dystopian future where the last remnants of humanity have been left to fend for itself, a young girl, with only a loyal Belgian Shepherd as a companion, treks the perilous desert in search of a whispered myth known as the City of Salvation.

      • Scott Crawford

        I need something else, just ONE more thing in that logline to make it stand out from dozens of other similar stories… I mean, it’s LITERALLY a gender-bending A BOY AND HIS DOG with Don Johnson. Are they obstacles on the road to El Salvador? Vampires? Killer cyborgs? Something else has to be there or it’s just THE ROAD with a little girl.

        (My feeling is there IS more in your screenplay than you’re letting on. Go ahead, put it in your logline.).

        • Justin

          Hmm… There are desert bandits… a perverted warlord-type character who takes young girls as slaves… a scavenger who kidnaps people to eat them… a pissed off aged man who befriends the little girl (who turned out to be exactly like Logan in “Logan”)… wild desert animals (dogs, wolves, etc.)… and many, many more.

          The logline was just meant to be a temporary one while I worked on the treatment, but after “Logan” came out and I realized how it’d look if I kept at it, I just abandoned the script in favor of other ones I had ideas for.

          Maybe I’ll revisit the idea some other day, because the ending is something I was really excited to write.

          • PQOTD

            Young girls as sex slaves in a desert = Mad Max: Fury Road.

      • brenkilco

        If you’re telling us humanity has been wiped out no need to describe the future as dystopian. Also the remnants have been left to fend for themselves. You can’t afford grammar errors in a logline. Also agree with Scott you need more. What wiped out humanity? What makes the desert so perilous? And what’s the consequence if she doesn’t make it to this possibly mythical sanctuary?

        • Justin

          Good points. Can’t believe I made such an easy grammatical error though… Embarrassing.

          • brenkilco

            It happen.

          • Justin

            Happens*, sir.

          • brenkilco

            Damn.

      • JasonTremblay

        I don’t get how the title fits.

        • Scott Crawford

          El Salvador = The Salvation. I no speak Spanish very well.

          • JasonTremblay

            Hmm. I thought it was the country. I’d go with The Salvation.

          • Scott Crawford

            Maybe something cleverer, like ZARDOZ (think about it) or V’GER.

            Maybe… LAND OF LORID and it turns out to be Orlando, Florida (i didn’t put a HUGE amount of effort into that one).

        • Randy Williams

          Reminds me too much of the country, then the James Wood’s movie. Nothing in the logline suggests taking chances for me. If the girl was blind and her lead dog (why Belgium and not German?) was injured and can’t walk, and she has to carry it in a backpack and the dog just barks or nibbles at her neck to help her navigate, then maybe.
          The chances taken are probably to do with what she encounters along the way and there’s no mention of that. Just changing “treks” which sounds like a vacation to “braves” or another emotional term might help there?

          • PQOTD

            German shepherds are such a trope…

      • http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts Eldave1

        About 80% done with this script.

        Title: Dark World

        Logline: In order to prove his sanity, an FBI agent must solve a series of real-life murders that are played out in Virtual Reality world that only he can see.

        • Justin

          It’s a very intriguing logline, but (like with my own), I feel like there’s just one small detail missing to make it complete. Can’t really put a finger on it, but it’s there.

      • http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts Eldave1

        Intriguing. Missing the stakes IMO and not sure that the dog needs to be in the logline (hard to tell without knowing the story) and a little more specific on the place she is leaving.

        Just spitballing:

        In the near dystopian future, the last remnants of humanity fend for themselves in a (state the place – horrible city, jungle – whatever it is). A young girl’s only hope to (state whatever the stakes are – life, escape something, whatever) is to trek a perilous desert to find a whispered myth known as the City of Salvation.

    • Erica

      This is a fun one I’ve been toying with for a while.

      Too many idea’s, not enough time.
      https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/e1e8a383055160b526d3e52a838983cbd0a95ed18945c10f39b5eebe2b8f7ab2.jpg

      • Scott Crawford

        A sci-fi Robin Hood… cool. What’s the connection between the alien horde and what the sheriff is doing? Surely the aliens are a common enemy of both. There’s a SLIGHT disconnect between the two ideas and a bit of a jar when the aliens are mentioned right near the end of the sentence.

        • Erica

          It’s a work in progress, but I believe my initial thought was to keep it as something different. The alien part would be down played by the sheriff and could even be working with.

          • Master John Moss

            If you pitched this to a studio, my guess is that they’d be intrigued but would want you to deep-six the aliens.

          • PQOTD

            The sheriff has been body-snatched?

          • Erica

            No, don’t think I wanted to go down that road. Done too many times.

        • Master John Moss

          You are correct, sir.

          Keep the idea simple! All this needs to be (wants to be!) is Robin Hood in a post-apocalyptic age. Stealing from the rich, and giving to the poor.

          • Scott Crawford

            With the point being that in a post-apocalyptic world most people ARE going to be poor. So a Robin Hood would like someone trying to make sure no one has more than their fair share of the ration.

          • Erica

            You could be right, I was trying to up the stakes or add a ticking time bomb, but sometimes keeping it simple is the best.

          • Master John Moss

            Gotcha. And you still want to, but the aliens are one element too many.

            I think the key here is the relationship between “Robin” and “The Sheriff.” Make them family (father/daughter, say), and put them on a collision course with one-another.

          • Erica

            That could work also, I think I have something like that in my notes, but I’m just trying to not pick the obvious choice or easy road. Sometime though the far out, “take a chance” doesn’t work. I was toying with the idea of adding in like a ‘zombie’ element. Instead of alien swarms, it’s ‘zombies’ but caused by something like a repeat of the black plague type thing.

          • Master John Moss

            No. Seriously, doing Robin Hood in a Mad Max setting is fantastical enough. Now you want to figure out who your characters are and how they relate to each other (the closer the better).

          • PQOTD

            Here’s a thought, Erica – go with antibiotic-resistant syphilis. Syphilis was a horrendous disease and may well be again later this century (see, for instance, http://jmvh.org/article/syphilis-its-early-history-and-treatment-until-penicillin-and-the-debate-on-its-origins/ ).

            But you can google images of the ruination it did to people – it’s absolutely zombie-like in its ability to ulcerate and destroy flesh. It’s has a particular affinity for eating away noses, cheeks and lips.

            What if the corrupt sheriff controls a vaccine that’s been developed against it and Robin goes after his stash?

          • Erica

            Interesting, I’ll have to research that more. Thank you!

          • PQOTD

            Oh, forgot to mention it can cross the placental barrier and infect fetuses, too (i.e. congenital syphilis). Infants born with it can be blind, brain-damaged, etc.

            I can’t believe we haven’t tried to do to syphilis what we’ve done with smallpox and mostly with polio, and tried to eradicate it once and for all. A really virulent, antibiotic-resistant strain would be as ruinous to economies and civilization as the Black Death was to 14th century Europe.

            In fact, it could credibly cause your global apocalypse.

          • Erica

            Yeah, I like this road better than the alien thing plus it’s not really a zombie movie but has a zombie like element.

          • PQOTD

            Yeah, its victims would be living zombies and once their symptoms become obvious, they’d suffer the enforced social isolation that lepers once used to.

            So a vaccine against it or which treated it would be the hottest new property on the planet.

            The potential plothole would be, well, syphilis is only sexually-transmitted. But it’s a bacteria, and bacteria mutate all the time.

            What if this nasty little pathogen figured out a way to transmit itself by non-sexual skin-to-skin contact, like a simple handshake or a hug? That was all smallpox needed, and it’s all bacterial skin infections like impetigo need, so a mutated strain is not inconceivable.

      • brenkilco

        If you’re keen to confront corruption, you’ll never be a first class marauder. And the horde swarms the town.

      • jelewis8

        I like the idea. What if the Sheriff is secretly in a league with the alien horde? Maybe he’s selling the village off as chattel, something that Robin discovers toward the middle of the 2nd act?

        • Erica

          Yeah, that’s sort of my thinking. Either way the Sheriff is looking out for himself only and that’s why Robin is trying to bring him down.

        • r.w. hahn

          What if the Sheriff is an alien…

      • Buddy

        Don’t want to be rude, but there already shooting a sci-fi robin hood :
        http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4532826/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_1
        Heard that the costumes looks like Washowski’s Jupiter…

        • Erica

          Guess they are gonna wish they had my script instead. I know mine will be better. ;)

      • AstralAmerican

        Dope concept! I’m there, depending on the production crew (i.e. no Michael Bay, Spielberg, or Paul S. Anderson(?)…

        • Erica

          I’m a Spielberg fan, but I think it needs to be a little more Mad Max mixed with Saving Private Ryan.

    • http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts Eldave1

      About 80% done with this script.

      Title: Dark World

      Logline: In order to prove his sanity, an FBI agent must solve a series of real-life murders that are played out in Virtual Reality world that only he can see.

      • Scott Crawford

        Shades of VIRTUOSITY… I’m sure it’s not the same, though. Must he solve these murders to prove his sanity or is he performing a public duty in solving too? It sounds from the logline as if solving them is only matters to HIM.

        • http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts Eldave1

          The 40,000 foot view

          – Agent Adams receives a Virtual Reality headset as a gift from a secret Santa. It’s pre-loaded with a VR APP – “Dark World
          – Tries it out at home – witnesses what he thinks is a game at first – it involves the murder of a girl.
          – Turns out the girl matches the description of a girl on a real missing person’s report – he gets the photo – holy shit – same girl.
          – He has other agents look at the APP – they see nothing (unknown to our hero, the VR Headset was embedded with retinal scanning technology so it is designed to only activate the APP when he looks into the headset.
          – His fellow agents/boss – thinks he losing his mind. And when the real girl’s body shows up at a location that our hero described, they also get suspicious that he’s involved.
          – Another missing person report – our hero goes back to the headset again, sees their murder. Tensions grow.

          – Rinse and repeat

          • Scott Crawford

            That’s a LOT better. Somehow we’ve got to fit all that into a logline.

            “After being given a virtual reality headset that allows him (and he alone) to witness an actual murder, a FBI agent must use the clues to solve a real-life crime as his colleagues think he is going insane.”

            Now that’s WAY too long and clunky for a logger but we’re getting there.

            “FBI agent must convince his colleagues that the murder that only he can see on a virtual reality game is for real.”

            Does that cover it? Is that the same story?

          • http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts Eldave1

            Great thoughts – going to use them an craft something that encompasses those thoughts – thanks much

    • Randy Williams

      I think I take chances with my stories but I know I try to juggle too many chancey elements within a script. I need to focus down to one and exploit that to the max.
      My latest is a Sci-fi Western with music. Okay, that’s a few elements right there in the genre that are off the grid, but I had more in mind for the story itself but got some feedback before I started writing it and whittled the story elements down to concentrate on one.

    • hickeyyy

      How’s this for pushing boundaries?

      Title: Rita Mortis (considering Regina or Rina)
      After the man of her dreams passes away, a necrophiliac only has 48 hours before her beloved is cremated and she loses her chance with him forever.

      • Scott Crawford

        Truthfully, I think that’s fine. It’s not as if you’re throwing necrophillia into a story unexpectedly, people will know what they’re getting.

        https://tribzap2it.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/bates-motel-vera-farmiga-freddie-highmore-season-4.jpg

        You know, that Ukrainian is SO pretty I just might— no, no, really I wouldn’t.

      • jelewis8

        Or you could flip the title to work a bit better: Roger Mortis (you’d have to have the corpse named Roger, but that’s easy enough). Otherwise, it’s got dark comic possibilities.

        • Scott Crawford

          I like FROZEN VAG.

          As a title.

          • jelewis8

            Who wouldn’t?

          • hickeyyy

            FROZEN DICK seems to be more appropriate though.

          • Scott Crawford

            DEAD SEXY
            HOT AND COLD
            ICE COLD IN ALICE

          • Citizen M

            NICE BUT ICE
            COLD COMFORT
            or if it’s a guy…
            RIGID BUT FRIGID

          • PQOTD

            Better.

          • ShiroKabocha

            Ice cold in Alice is brilliant, lol.

          • Randy Williams

            I don’t get it. What’s a vag?

          • Citizen M

            A v’jj.

          • Scott Crawford

            Not a term I throw around, except as a joke here:

            http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=vag

          • Randy Williams

            oooooh. I was reading it with a hard “g”
            Maybe next time, provide a visual aid?

          • Scott Crawford

            https://i.ytimg.com/vi/oMF0YcGcoCk/maxresdefault.jpg

            P.S. Talk about a SITCOM taking a chance. People who only know Raymond from British breakfast TV will never have seen this one.

          • Stephjones

            I love Everybody Loves Raymond. The supporting characters MAKE this show.

          • PQOTD

            Hmm. No, not really.

        • PQOTD

          Drop-dead gorgeous?

    • wlubake

      Here’s an old one of mine that pushes some boundaries:

      KILLING CHLOE. When an animal rights activist learns her billionaire mother intends to leave the family fortune to her pet dog, putting the future of the family foundation at risk, she must eliminate the dog before her mother’s imminent death to ensure her inheritance and the foundation’s survival. (Comedy)

      • Scott Crawford

        I like that one.

        Yeah, I had a think about it… nothing wrong with that. If you want to write it, I would. Right now.

      • jelewis8

        This is a great example of irony, and it seems like you have a lot of possibilities, lots of directions it could go.

      • Randy Williams

        Hard to get behind a protag like that and the logline suggests it’s an easy out for her, just kill the dog. What if she purposely leaves the dog with an notorious animal abuser (think Michael Vick) that her foundation has chased for years and finally got him incarcerated. He’s a changed man, now, and wouldn’t harm a flea now. But she reads the testimony from his court case and knows the triggers that make him turn abusive and she uses them to push him in that direction that might harm the dog? Then, we would have someone to root for. And give a message about animal cruelty. Because for me, it’s all about people’s ability to handle their frustrations, their lack of power.

        And spay and neuter while we’re at it.

        • wlubake

          Yes and no. As I have it outlined, she and her mother are not on speaking terms, so its not like she can just walk into her house and kill the dog. Also, you can’t make it obvious that you’ve killed the dog, or else you’ll get passed over in the will. Finally, the dog has a full-time caretaker (the true villain in this story) who is protecting her. So there are obstacles. It’s not as simple as throwing a bone with rat poison over the fence.

          It is definitely a protag with an unsympathetic goal. But she (i) has been mistreated by her mother for years (sympathetic), (ii) does great things with her time like saving animals (sympathetic), and (iii) does not come to this conclusion lightly.

          Kind of an inside baseball moment, but the opening scene of the movie is actually our protag being presented with an award for contributing to the repopulation of the Himalayan Snow Leopard. It lets us see what important work she does and how tirelessly she works at it. But for fun, she literally “Saved the Cat.”

          • jelewis8

            If it’s played for laughs, the concept still works really well. The dog could even be a “mean” dog, to help push the protag’s buttons. And you don’t have to end up killing the dog (though you could if you want to really push it). You could have a whole swath of victims as the protag tries and fails to kill the dog but accidentally knocks off all these other people. Play it kind of like The Man Who Knew Too Little.

          • wlubake

            Like the inverse of A Fish Called Wanda.

          • jelewis8

            Good one, yes.

      • Stephjones

        sounds interesting.

    • jelewis8

      Here’s one I’ve been working on but can’t seem to get right.

      After a murder victim disappears from a crime scene, police question the only witness and begin to suspect she might have imagined the whole thing.

      • Scott Crawford

        See… I like the first part because I’ve not seen that before, at least if multiple people had seen the dead body. But the idea that someone witnesses a murder and is not believed is an episode of MONK. Specifically, this one:

        http://monk.wikia.com/wiki/Mr._Monk_Is_Up_All_Night

        • jelewis8

          Ah, but in this case, the crime scene is literally evidence-free and the witness is found with corn syrup on her hands instead of blood.

        • Randy Williams

          I love the idea of multiple people having seen the dead body. But just like witness testimony may vary to the description of a perp. This time the authorities are dealing with several interpretations of what the victim looked like and how they looked to have died. Maybe the protag is the only one they feel may be reliable.

      • wlubake

        My suggestions:

        1. Make the murder personal. Random stranger victim holds less water than child/spouse. Think if in Flightplan Jodie Foster is looking for some random kid who had been next to her, instead of her child.

        2. We need stakes. Perhaps the witness is running for public office and this becomes a fiasco that puts his/her credibility at risk. Whether someone is losing their mind or not has some stakes, but not big ones.

        3. I also think you need your protag (witness) to be the subject of your sentence: “The sole witness to a brutal murder struggles to defend her account when the evidence starts to disappear, including the body.” Still not a logline, but it puts the emphasis on the protag where it needs to be.

        • jelewis8

          Good suggestions. The witness is the victim’s gf. Upping stakes is a yes. Going to rethink. Thanks!

        • jelewis8

          It’s still a bit clunky, but it’s getting there, maybe:

          After the brutal murder of her boyfriend a woman fears the killer is after her next and struggles to defend her account when all evidence to the crime disappears before the police arrive.

          • wlubake

            When the evidence to support her account of her boyfriend’s murder disappears, a woman must prove her sanity and unravel the mystery before becoming the killer’s next victim.

    • Master John Moss

      ‘Everybody Loves the D’ (Comedy) Fed up with not being able to find a job he likes, a young man decides to make money on an adult cam site with the help of his best friend’s mom, Denise.

      • wlubake

        As currently drafted, I feel like this lacks drama. Some social push-back were it to get out, but there are not really any obstacles or goals clearly stated. This is more scenario than logline.

        • Master John Moss

          Right. It needs something.

          • wlubake

            How about rather than a young man unable to find a job, it is a married father of 3 who lost his job?

          • Master John Moss

            And he has to convince his socially-conservative wife to let him do this with their neighbour, Denise?

          • wlubake

            Or hide it from her and his kids. It adds suspense. As he gets more popular and the money starts rolling in, his risk of being discovered increases. Think Walter White hiding his business from the family.

            Also, for some reason I like the idea that he has an oddly shaped unit, which adds to his popularity. The title “Banana Dick” jumps out at me, or something similar. It would also make it much easier for his wife to recognize his videos as being him, should she come across one.

          • Master John Moss

            Cool. Fun ideas. I think his extended family and past career should be especially conservative, and he’s hoping to get back into his past vocation.

      • Randy Williams

        Chaturmom?

        • Master John Moss

          Pretty much.

      • Stephjones

        I like this, thought I’d play around with it a bit:

        “Everybody Loves Heavy D”

        Fed up with being broke, an ineffectual life-coach uses his client, an overweight mom, in a porn shoot. But when the video goes viral and the money rolls in, the woman hires a personal trainer to help her lose weight.

        • Master John Moss

          Porn shoots are less timely than camming from home. I’d want the movie to be current.

          • Stephjones

            Had to google it. Interesting. Have the broke guy still live with his parents and have the mom not wanting to cam from her own home because of kids. Have them unable to rent a spot because of $$. That could create lots of comedic opportunities.

          • Master John Moss

            Had to google what? Webcams?

          • Stephjones

            Percentage of guys still living at home with their parents who are into camming.

          • Master John Moss

            Oh. Viewing cams or performing?

        • Citizen M

          Interesting concept. Comedy with a bite (heh).

          There should be some escalation: diet pills, personal trainer, liposuction. Each time he has to head off the danger or else he loses his meal ticket.

          Basically, it’s about fat acceptance. He has to get her to love herself as she is. Meantime, he sharpens his life skills training and gets a big fat clientele. She becomes a porn star and gets validation.

    • Master John Moss

      ‘Money is the Root of All Good’ (Comedy) In an attempt to raise money for a surgical procedure that would save their new puppy, a brother and sister gain nationwide attention when they compete against one another with duelling lemonade stands.

      • Scott Crawford

        When life gives you lemons…

      • Randy Williams

        If the brother and sister are the Osmonds. I’m there.

      • wlubake

        The stakes feel a little small. This goes really dark, but how about two kids with terminal illnesses battling an online campaign to win a make-a-wish opportunity?

        God. What the fuck is wrong with me?

        • Master John Moss

          Hahaha!! It’s so wrong, it’s right!!

          But, I guess, the Make-A-Wish opportunity would have to be something only one of them could do. Not sure what that would be…

          Honestly, that idea is SO edgy no fucking way would that script go unnoticed. Produced?? Hell, no!!

          • PQOTD

            Just a suggestion: how about sky-diving but one of the kids is blind?

            Or climbing a mountain but one’s in a wheelchair?

          • Master John Moss

            I think in order for this angle to work, they would both have to want something where there’s only one seat and there’s no getting around it. Either one of them goes or neither of them do.

            Like a trip to the The Moon.

          • PQOTD

            Qantas used to do joy flights to Antarctica. Much easier than the Moon.

  • Linkthis83

    OT: For those who may be interested, last Friday’s script writer, and Scriptshadow alum, Nick Morris, was on the podcast this week. Since we did the interview the same day he got reviewed, it made for a fantastic conversation:

    http://eclipsethescript.com/013-little-girl-interview-nick-morris/

    • Poe_Serling

      And he even took ‘a chance’ by featuring such a young protag
      in his project.

      • Scott Crawford

        I challenged him on the idea a while back and he DEFENDED his choices, in a nice way, no harsh words. But that’s important and I, speaking for myself, sometimes will point out things.. PARTLY to see if people can defend those choices. Partly. If you CAN, then I know that they’ve got a stronger screenplay than most, a stronger attachment to it.

        • Nick Morris

          Thanks for saying so, Scott! I knew it wouldn’t be for everyone but I also don’t mind discussing my choices with anyone that’s interested enough to inquire. I really appreciate that, actually!

      • Nick Morris

        Well, it was definitely a chance. ;)

    • Randy Williams

      Love all these podcasts that put voices to Scriptshadow stars. Nick seemed like
      such a down to earth person, smart and funny, that would be a real pleasure to work with. His writing has been selling itself. He sold himself this weekend.

      • Linkthis83

        I’ve got another one lined up for Ep 015 – This individual has a movie they wrote available on Netflix right now.

      • Nick Morris

        Thanks so much for listening and for the kind words, brother! It was so damn fun. :)

    • Justin

      Can’t wait to check it out! I’m sorry I haven’t been able to listen to the previous ones. I’ve just been so damn excited to get my script done that I’ve neglected nearly every other part of my life.

      • Linkthis83

        You’ve got your priorities in the correct order, so no need to apologize. Next week’s guest talks about how important it is for you to respect your writing time and stay disciplined to it.

    • Nick Morris

      Hey, guys! Sorry. The wife and I have been on a little roadtrip/vacation for the past week so I’m just seeing this now! :)

      Thanks so much to Mike for asking me to be on the show and to you guys for listening and continuing to be supportive. I had a blast and we chatted for quite a long time “off the air” as well.

      Keep up the great work, dude. And I can’t wait to hear more of you guys sharing your journeys with us on ETS!

  • bkizzle74

    Perfect timing on this article. My latest script, my first in years, I took a bunch of chances. I just found out a couple days ago that it made the quarterfinals of the Page awards. Hopefully that means it isn’t a mess. However, taking those chances, and trying to layer it with twists, have made coming up with a logline a nightmare.

    Current logline: After returning from imprisonment on an alien world, a disabled war veteran suffering from PTSD commits suicide then investigates why he’s been resurrected.

    Any feedback on it would be great. Thanks!

    • Wijnand Krabman

      like the logline!

    • Mayhem Jones

      Congrats for PAGE QF!

    • wlubake

      Is this a one time resurrection, or does he keep killing himself and coming back?

    • Master John Moss

      ‘RoboCop’ meets ‘Starship Troopers’? Sign me the fuck up!

  • Mayhem Jones

    Boundary-pushing can include race, violence, murder, pedophilia, cannibalism, and plenty more.

    Oh my God. YASSSSSSS! Thanks Carson!!! Now I don’t feel like such a skeevy dipsh*t for starting a script about a deranged cannibal!

    • klmn

      Hey, write what you know.

      I was wondering how you got the name “Mayhem.”

      • Mayhem Jones

        I tried to explain the script concept to my Mother — she immediately threw me out of the room.

        • Mayhem Jones

          “OUT! OUT! GET OUT OF HERE WITH THAT IDEA!”
          “But Mother–”
          “OUT!!!”

          • Midnight Luck

            I assume you ate her then

            damn mother’s, never understand

          • klmn

            Cannibalism is okay, as long as you eat all races equally.

            Discrimination is not Kosher.

          • PQOTD

            Mmm, this Italian tastes like fava beans and a nice chianti…

    • Stephjones

      I have a female cannibal in my latest comedy. I don’t think I’m a skeevy dipshit but feedback from one reader said I was politically incorrect because the woman was a Haitian. I tend to push back against the whole PC dialogue. The woman was starving because she was ship-wrecked. She had risked her life in a bid for freedom, something Haitians do all the time because of their shitty living conditions. To be PC I have to change her into a white character? She was meant to contrast the spoiled, ineptitude of my white characters. The fact that she wants to eat the fat one doesn’t make her a bad person. I ain’t gonna change it.

      • Scott Crawford

        It’s very difficult because I think I’m right in remembering that you know that part of the world very well, and that would come across in an INTERVIEW, but people looking at it or anything else without knowing who you are and they’ll say how can you write this stuff? Tough.

        • Stephjones

          I try to explain it in the story and her plan is thwarted. The fat guy lives another day.

          • PQOTD

            Oh, it’s a guy… *sighs in relief*

      • jelewis8

        Don’t change a thing unless it suits the story. If you change it due to political pressure, you’ve already compromised the artistic value of it. Stay true to the art, and don’t let the culture dictate what you can or cannot write.

      • PQOTD

        *measures waistline and calculates BMI*

        Okay, I’m officially terrified…

  • http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts Eldave1

    Solid article

  • Lucid Walk

    Tarantino is a master at taking chances.

    Pulp Fiction — killing off Vincent, who I assumed was the protagonist if the film had one
    Kill Bill — turning a flashback into an anime
    Inglorious Basterds — killing Hitler
    Django Unchained — using a Tupac song during a Western shootout

    • klmn

      Killing Hitler is no chance. I mean, who wouldn’t want to?

      • wlubake

        Goebbels?

  • huckabees

    OT: I went to a VALERIAN preview last night.

    Oh boy.

    If you liked THE FIFTH ELEMENT (I didn’t), you might have a good time with all those colorful, eyeball-numbing visuals.

    But the dialogue / relationship dynamic between DeHaan and Delevingne was absolutely cringeworthy.

    If you plan to watch it, bring enough booze with you. And don’t forget to skip your ADD meds that day.

    • wlubake

      I think DeHaan has something. Great in Chronicle. Great in Place Beyond the Pines. He needs to find better material.

      I don’t get Delevingne getting roles. Haven’t believed her in anything she’s been in.

      • Scott Crawford

        When Dave Bautista was cast in Guardians, he took ACTING lessons. Paid off. You can see him next in Blade Runner 2. Delevigne hasn’t done that.

        Some actors don’t have to go to acting SCHOOL… Jessica Chastain didn’t, Kelly Reilly didn’t, John Malkovich didn’t. But they’ve done lots of stage work. Stage work teaches you acting. She should do more stage work. But she won’t.

      • Buddy

        DeHaan feels to “internal” for this kind of blockbuster, you expect more someone lighty and funny

    • Master John Moss

      I HATED ‘Lucy.’ Hard pass.

      • Buddy

        Lucy wasn’t his best one for sure…

  • Midnight Luck

    Good article Carson.
    Love discussion like this.

    What truly makes something “Chance Taking”?

    In the end, it is just doing something wholly unexpected.
    And pulling it off effectively.

    Surprising the audience. The more of a surprise, the more response you get.
    The more you land the unexpected well, the more beloved your work will be.

    People love to have the unexpected happen (in films, books, tv, novels…..not so much in real life, but hey, isn’t that the whole reason we tell stories? Do what we cannot do, or don’t really want to happen in real life, but we can enjoy in fictional form as we dream in celluloid? Yep)

    • Scott Crawford

      People like to be surprised, but I would say not tricked. People got and see films, PAY to see films, expecting certain things. If they get that AND something unexpected that they ALSO like, then that’s fine. But bait and switch is not fine. No trickery.

      • wlubake

        You mean like: “I went to see Steven Seagal kick ass, and I get a Kurt Russell film! WTF?”

        • Scott Crawford

          If you’re GERMAN and you went to see the wonderful EXECUTIVE DECISION, you might have been pissed off because you thought you were going to see a Seagal film and then he’s hardly in it. That’s because the Germans put Seagal on the poster.

          Elsewhere, people thought it was quite cool… I mean, how are they going to do this now Seagal is dead.

          • wlubake

            Not German. In the US he got poster billing and heavy play in the trailer. You definitely expected a Segal movie (shared with Russell). It’s been years since I’ve seen it, and found it somewhat forgettable but for Segal’s death. Just one of the biggest “bait and switch” movies I can remember.

          • Avatar

            I wonder what Germans, Russians and South Africans think when they watch American movies – they are often the sinister villains.

          • Citizen M

            I’m South African and watched Lethal Weapon 2 on TCM last week, where the main villains were South African.

            Mostly, I was laughing at their pathetic attempts to speak with a South African accent.

        • Midnight Luck

          My favorite part of the film.
          LOVED IT!

        • Avatar

          Or I went to a Michael Bay movie and it turned out to be good and had a coherent plot.

      • Avatar

        (spoilers) Yeah, I hate being tricked like in 47 meters down where it all turned out to be a hallucination (saving her sister)…. I heard the audience groan audibly. On the flip side, I liked the Sixth Sense twist because it was right there right under my nose the whole time and I didn’t even realize it – it elevated what I thought was kind of a boring movie to brilliant.

  • Master John Moss

    How NOT to take chances as a studio: make another ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ movie as Warner Bros. was announced to be doing.

  • Brainiac138

    Personal Shopper was so good. I hope once it’s on Netflix it gets the bigger audience it deserves.

    • Avatar

      Netflix has been getting a lot of A list actors and directors to make films for them – are they paying them an s load of money? How are they getting those guys to do a movie on a streaming service?

      • Brainiac138

        Well in the case of Personal Shopper, it was an indie film that IFC distributed theatrically. However, IFC films generally make it to Netflix eventually. And Netflix is really attractive for one reason: artistic freedom. Showrunners, directors, actors all appreciate an environment where they are free to take chances and are just expected to get the project done, not take countless notes and reshoots.

  • Levres de Sang

    Great article. Definitely one for the file.

    Have to say I don’t think 2 and 9 are roads I’d choose to go down. The former (heavy tonal shifts) is the kind of thing we’ve encountered a fair bit on AOW and in my experience it always comes across as though the writer is not in control of their material. The latter (playing against genre) is where you risk the audience / reader feeling duped: “Hey, I just invested an hour / ten bucks and this ain’t what it said on the tin!” Personally, I felt this way after shelling out to see that highly acclaimed European ‘vampire’ pic that’s really a coming of age story about the effects of bullying. Don’t get me wrong: great writers are able to play around within a genre (because they know it inside out); but they also know they’re largely preaching to the converted and (by extension) don’t wish to disappoint their core audience.

    • Scott Crawford

      I’m always trying to do 1), come up with new ideas that people haven’t seen before (and badgering people to do the same in their loglines), then never ACTUALLY getting anything done ’cause there’s such a HUGE difference between a logline and a storyline that works.

      Meanwhile, some younger writer does a more straightforward story, perhaps a reworking of something we’ve already seen before (see LAST Thursday’s article) and… boom!… six-figure sale.

      • Levres de Sang

        Two things occur to me:

        1. As much as I prize originality, it’s worth bearing in mind that audiences need something recognizable within an idea. If it’s too far from their frame of reference then it’s far less likely to capture their imagination (as contradictory as that sounds!) I guess it’s like Carson was saying last Thursday: it’s all about finding those original tweaks on existing scenarios.

        2. Strikes me that you’re more of an ideas / concepts man. Maybe, then, you should consider trying to form a writing partnership? Just a thought.

        • Avatar

          I’ve noticed that even with these scripts that take chances that they’re still fundamentally sound. Pulp Fiction plays with time, but each of those stories show fundamentals that most of the gurus preach. The Baby Driver director was excited about his use of music, but I think it came down to great fundamental storytelling and interesting characters. Both filmmakers made sure that the story logic fit together.

  • BoSoxBoy

    “…an old woman giving a 12 year old boy a handjob.”

    Talk about burying the lead.

    • Scott Crawford

      I call it a Turkey Jerky.

    • Avatar

      That should be featured in the trailer the same way the Sloth was in Zootopia.

  • brenkilco

    When it comes to playing with time or plot rebooting or throwing in story altering surprises or reversals in the middle of the narrative I’d offer a word of warning. If a writer is going to play games with basic story structure and maybe dynamite that structure altogether he’d better be damned sure that the unique structure he has chosen to employ is going to be equally satisfying. Because for every Psycho, or Memento or Pulp Fiction there are scads of other experimental and even mainstream movies where the framework collapses like it’s termite infested. Cool ideas are a dime a dozen. Cool stories are a lot harder to pull off.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpjCroELCew Carmelo Framboise

    A very important article.

    Charlie Kauffman does a lot of these.

    • Avatar

      My favorite was having Nicolas Cage play a twin, one a hack that writes every commercial fluff that sells, then a miserable neurotic twin that doesn’t.

  • huckabees

    Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
    – Scott Adams

    • Scott Crawford

      Where does Valerian fit in? Is it creativity that needed someone to say “Keep this and lose that?”

      • huckabees

        I think Besson lost himself in his intricate world-building and neglected his main characters too much. I couldn’t connect with them, didn’t care about them. They seemed too artificial, and their banter felt dated and on the nose. The script could have used a few more dialogue passes.

        And the pacing was awkward. For example, the introduction of Rihanna as an ally character to DeHaan was way too long. The scene was tailored to showcase her talents but the story was put on hold in the meantime. Just seemed very self-indulgent and didn’t serve the overall rhythm.

  • jbird669

    Appreciate this post, Carson.

  • Scott Crawford

    OT: F. Scott Frazier is the latest to try and adapt TELL NO ONE to the big screen.

    http://deadline.com/2017/07/tell-no-one-movie-harlan-coben-f-scott-frazier-universal-1202132168/

    You can read Carson’s review of an earlier draft HERE:

    http://scriptshadow.net/titan-week-tell-no-one-2/

    IMPRESSIVE!!!… so why rewrite it?

    On a completely separate issue, here’s a picture of Frazier:

    https://pmcdeadline2.files.wordpress.com/2017/07/universal-f-scott-frazier.jpg?w=446&h=299&crop=1

    Funnily it’s not how I pictured him. Seems like a nice, friendly guy.

    • Buddy

      Have you seen the original french movie ?
      Was pretty cool, but the ending was really long and boring.
      Not sure Frazier is the best guy to do this job…

      • Kirk Diggler

        That’s because they had to explain everything…. if you’re explaining you’re losing.

  • BoSoxBoy

    HBO’s supposed yet-to-be-filmed new series CONFEDERATE checks most of the take chances boxes.
    “…chronicles the events leading to the Third American Civil War. The series takes place in an alternate timeline, where the southern states have successfully seceded from the Union, giving rise to a nation in which slavery remains legal and has evolved into a modern institution.”

    The word “controversial” comes to mind.

  • Citizen M

    LOG was probably the chance-takingest script we’ve seen on SS.

    For a sequel, how about Log falling in love with a termite? That’s irony.

    • Scott Crawford

      Love bites.
      Love eats you inside.
      Love’s rotten.

      Practically writes itself.

      • Citizen M

        WOODEN HEART

    • Randy Williams

      Log is great but I thought Byron Burton’s cop actioner, (don’t remember the name right now, it was on AOW and maybe AF) took a big chance with making the protagonist handicapped. It added another dimension of humanity and challenge to one of my all time favorite AOW scripts.

  • r.w. hahn

    AID ME ADAM

    When a successful Defense Attorney loses everything because of a crack addiction, he turns his life around to become a popular TV attorney only to come across a case that plunges him back into the drug world he fought so hard to escape.

    • Scott Crawford

      Mmmm…. TV show or feature?

      • r.w. hahn

        Feature. Hadn’t thought of it being a series but that would work also

        • Scott Crawford

          Up to you. My first thought was Midnight Caller… ’cause I’m that old, I mean I know it’s nothing like that. But the idea of someone from a REAL background but an entertainment personality, it’s an irresistible premise. But for a feature it really needs to seem like a one-off, like the events are all linked… if they’re not, that’s how you get an episodic movie.

          For example, I had an idea about a woman who inherits her husband’s private military company (mercenaries) and takes over the running of it. But what she’s really interested in is finding who in the company killed her husband. That COULD work as a TV show too, with the find-the-killer goal spread out over several seasons.

          But if it WAS a feature, the killer or killers would be be caught and/or killed by the end of the feature.

          So HERE you want to link becoming a TV attorney with what beings him back to the drug world, Maybe the story he tells to make himself popular and get his own show is less than the truth and the people in the drug world are threatening to expose him?

          • r.w. hahn

            Great thoughts. Thank you Scott.

    • wlubake

      So is he an actor now (popular TV attorney)? Because I’m not aware of any TV attorneys actually doing law stuff on TV.

      • r.w. hahn

        Locally here we have a couple of news show that have a segment with an attorney that people call in for them to help them with a problem. The attorney does the work pro bono and they try to help solve the legal situation. Help Me Howard is one of them.

    • Randy Williams

      Sounds dated and a TV series to me which doesn’t imply it’s taking too many chances, unless the case that plunges him back into the drug world is really out there. You’re a really good writer, though. I’d read anything you wrote.

      • r.w. hahn

        Thank you so much Randy. I really appreciate your comment. Yes the case would be out there and he gets caught up in the very life that destroyed him in the first place, only this time it is broadcast on prime time TV where he cannot hide.

    • Master John Moss

      Change it from case to CLIENT. (Sexy client!) That makes it personal.

      • Scott Crawford

        Yeah, that would work. That makes it a FEATURE (a one-off).

      • r.w. hahn

        Yes I like that even better.

    • Jarrean

      This would be one of those same but different ideas. See below:

      Money Monster

      Financial TV host Lee Gates and his producer Patty are put in an extreme situation when an irate investor takes over their studio.

      The George Clooney/Julia Roberts starrer. I say go for it.

      • r.w. hahn

        Good call Jarrean. Thanks!

  • wlubake

    So he’s embracing this second chance? OK. Is he just looking for understanding of why this happened? What is the goal? What does he accomplish if he succeeds? What are the stakes if he doesn’t?

  • jelewis8

    Congrats on the QF! That must feel great.
    I’m confused about the “investigation” part–are people not telling him why he was resurrected? Is his resurrection medical-based or does he just suddenly wake up and is like, WTF?

  • cjob3

    If you want to read a screenplay that literally takes chances, check out 2009’s “Taking Chance.” Technically it only really takes one chance, the body of Chance Phelps, but boy does it pay off. You see, this Chance was killed and is being taken home for a funeral by a Lt Col Michael Strobl played by Kevin Bacon.

    Although the main character only takes one literal chance in story, other, more metaphoric chances are taken by the writer. For example, another chance “Taking Chance” takes is in naming its title character “Chance.” The screenplay is based on true events, and although this characters’ real name was “Michael” is was changed to “Chance” so that the movie could be called “Taking Chance.” And boy does it pay off.

    In closing, I know this movie may not be for everyone, but if you’re looking for a film that isn’t afraid to take a chance, take a chance on “Taking Chance.”

    • Scott Crawford

      NATASHA: What kind of a name is Chance ?
      CHANCE: Well, my mama took one.

      Hard Target, 1993.

  • LostAndConfused

    OT: Has anyone seen the Korean movie Train To Busan? It’s on Netflix. Saw it this morning. The best thriller I’ve seen in ages. I don’t know if it took any chances, none of the characters really stood out, the story takes a worn out genre (zombie apocalypse) and does nothing new with it, but once shit hits the fan I couldn’t stop watching it, and by the end of it I was tearing up. This movie doesn’t take chances but it embraced its well worn tropes and found new ways to make it exciting.

    • Buddy

      Is taking chances now means been a “netflix movie” ?
      Netflix is specializing in buying/producing weird movies nah ?

      • Scott Crawford

        There’s a business reason behind it that I don’t fully understand (anyone?) but it’s to do with not having to spend so much on advertising. They buy up films that would probably not get a big enough audience in a theatrical run to justify a big marketing campaign.

      • LostAndConfused

        I guess so?

      • Justin

        Train to Busan came out separate from a Netflix, I believe. But yeah, Netflix is growing to monopolize (not really) on original content.

    • scriptfeels

      I thought it was overrated. I did enjoy the scenes when they had to move through the train cars with zombies filling each compartment. It didnt have an emotional impact on me though. But if you enjoy zombie films its worth the watch, i wouldn’t call it impressive though

  • Malibo Jackk

    Posted for no reason.

    • klmn

      Hellpig could whup him.

    • Justin

      Watch it. I gave it a 10/10 on IMDB… not that anyone gives a shit about my rating. This Korean director has a fascinating way of blending comedy with serious tones, which is hard to pull off.

    • Omoizele Okoawo

      It’s like A Hundred And One Dalmatians remixed for Millenials. It’s interesting.

  • Malibo Jackk

    Just ran across 2 horror trailers.
    BEHIND THE SIGHTINGS – original & found footage
    (a wish-I-had-thought-of-it movie)
    FRAY – a cabin in the woods / slender man movie
    (not original, but looks interesting)

    Not sure how much money they’ll make
    but these were both obviously worthy of a movie.
    And scripts that
    could have been workshopped on AOW.

  • Avatar

    I think many amateurs manage to do all of the above, sometimes even without realizing it.

    • PQOTD

      Lol, and then get pilloried for it to boot!

      • Avatar

        Yeah, double standard.

  • Midnight Luck

    I’m sure everyone saw it already, not sure about this at all, but isn’t this the trailer to the movie of Max Landis’ script:

    BRIGHT

    • Justin

      Does it look like a Suicide Squad 2.0 to anyone else?

      • Midnight Luck

        That’s exactly what I thought. I thought the pixie or blonde in it was Margot Robbie. Too many people and things look so much like Suicide Squad. Along with the presentation.

        We really don’t need more SQ.

        • Justin

          Yes, we do not.

          Maybe this is David Ayer’s attempt as what Suicide Squad could have been, before the studio fucked him over.

          Anyway, David is one of my favorite directors of all time, so I’ll watch it regardless.

          • Midnight Luck

            Sadly, this doesn’t look very good to me. I do not trust Max Landis at all.
            I saw his CHRONICLE, and while it seemed most everyone loved it, I hated it. I saw AMERICAN ULTRA, and oof, what a terrible movie. I’ve stayed away from all his other work, and won’t be seeing this either.

            Looks like a mash up of other related movies, yet not done very well or convincingly.

            I loved David Ayer for TRAINING DAY and END OF WATCH, but this looks worse than S SQUAD, to me.

    • scriptfeels

      I enjoyed the script, but not enjoying the dark tone and style of the trailer with the meh vfx

  • Randy Williams

    The story seems to take chances. I like the kidnapped as coyote part.
    The logline is confusing. Kidnapping isnt such a good way to win back custody of someone. The guard is a coyote for whom? The son? The mother? She has him at gunpoint to lead her across the border?
    Finally, I would hope that the Feds would consider any border guard as important as the Secretary’s nephew, but yeah, that’s family connection is
    used a lot in movies to ramp up the stakes.

  • Randy Williams

    Refugee City is the only one, in my opinion that takes chances and doesn’t either remind me of another movie or seem generic in every way. Put it up for AOW!

  • Justin

    Linkin Park was my first music experience ever. I bummed out so hard when I heard the news… It’s like one of my heroes died (not to sound so overdramatic).

  • Randy Williams

    Wow. Thanks for the link. Horrible news.
    I’ve known a few suicides and one kid, 16, who basically destroyed his life by kidnapping a driver and executing him in a dark field for his car.
    In all the cases, there was another person that was very influential to the suicide victim and was controlling them, either in life or from the grave.

  • Malibo Jackk

    (Most likely has nothing to do with life.
    Drugs have a way altering receptors.
    Only the rope can make them happy.)

  • scriptfeels

    Great article today! As a script reader it seems that if something is different enough it can be very memorable. So each of these have value to seperate your script from the norm.O

    ot: has anyone here read any of the nicholl’s reccomended reading? What from the list would you reccomend? To me it seemed like if I read all of these books I would gain an in depth knowledge about screenwriting. I’m going to start “developing story ideas” to help solidify my concepts/preproduction and outlining
    http://www.oscars.org/nicholl/screenwriting-resources#field-tabbed-content-tabs3

    i also want to check out eric’s book 150, but my amazon account isnt working :(

    • Malibo Jackk

      Nichol provides general advise.
      If that’s what you’re after – read everything.

      But let’s say you wanted to write a thriller.
      You might want to watch ARLINGTON ROAD.
      Then read the script.

  • Omoizele Okoawo

    Gone Girl wasn’t a risk, it was a best selling novel.

  • http://insideechenrysbrain.typepad.com/inside_the_brain_of_ec_he/ E.C. Henry

    Carson. How’s this for taking chances. At today “prep” pitch at the writers conference I’m at, I STARTED by pitch by rising to my feet and yelling, “It’s super colossal!” then I blew an New’s Year’s Eve blowout, noisemaker. You should have seen one older gentlemen’s face at the table. Jaw agape, white faced; WTF?!?!

    Won’t be around much the next couple of days, boyz. Time to try to take some of this writing I’ve been doing to the bank. Going “super colossal” tomorrow, should be interesting to see how agents and editors respond to that. Can’t wait!

    • klmn

      Good idea. I think we should all start typing in CAPITAL LETTERS, JUST TO GET ATTENTION. YAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

  • PQOTD

    Can’t see that anyone else has mentioned it yet, but 48 years ago today, Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin walked on the moon after President Kennedy had set the challenge to do so in 1962: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuW4oGKzVKc

    If anyone hasn’t seen it, Tom Hanks produced a wonderful documentary series called ‘From the Earth to the Moon’ some years ago.

    Here’s a teaser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A709Aezr46s

    • brenkilco

      And now we’re sixteen years post 2001 and where’s my massive moon city and my flying rovers and my Pan Am shuttle and my space station with the Howard johnson’s? Hell, where are Pan Am and Howard Johnson?

      And to be cold eyed about it, with most politicians today seemingly ready to turn the Kennedy Space Center into the world’s larges Ikea, one has to ask- unifying cool factor aside- could all that money have been better spent?

      • Scott Crawford

        It’s probably that we – well, YOU – didn’t spend enough money. Also mistakes like the space shuttle. Should’ve been a spacecraft carried aloft on top of another aircraft, like a mothership. Also, what’s wrong with disposable spacecraft? Would’ve been cheaper to launch lots of Gemini-type spacecraft than the space shuttle with its billion-dollar launch cost and slow turnaround.

        Also, why use rockets to go into space? Fire satellites out if cannon. Or if you have to take the rocket up as high as you canon another aircraft and YHEN fire it into space.

        But it’s the human factor. Humans can’t survive being fired out of a gun so we have to have rockets. If the mothership crashed, we’d lose TWO aircraft instead of just one (not 100% on that logic but that’s what they say).

        And it wasn’t just Clarke and Kubrick who got it wrong. Many people thought we’d have space colonies by now. But Sir Patrick Moore reckoned we wouldn’t go to the Moon until the 80s. The desire to beats the Sovs rushed us there and we haven’t been back since.

        • klmn

          “…The desire to beats the Sovs rushed us there and we haven’t been back since.”

          That’s what you think. We just aren’t publicizing it.

    • klmn

      Yeah, but they didn’t bring back any green cheese.

      Selfish bastards ate it all themselves.

  • Midnight Luck

    Ugh. My heart hurts

  • jelewis8

    Huh. That could be extremely interesting, if done right. Sounds a bit like the Edge of Tomorrow death/wakeup/investigation stuff.