When I first got to LA, I was warned about the parking police. People told me very specifically, “Don’t fuck with parking out here.” I laughed at them. “Parking?”, I said, “How bad can it be?” I’m from Chicago, where you can actually park on a fire hydrant and they won’t ticket you. Even if a nearby building burns down. But I would learn very quickly that things are different out here. My first experience came when I parked in Westwood, threw a few coins in the meter, and ran in to get some Fatburger. I came out 23 minutes and 48 seconds later, exactly 12 seconds before my meter was to expire. A parking cop was waiting by the meter, counting down the seconds. As I went to get in my car, smiling happily, I offered a “Just beat it.” The parking cop got down to zero and wrote the ticket right there. I was laughing because I thought it was a joke. It was no joke. I assure you, it was no joke.
A month later I was spending my week’s earnings on a lunch in Beverly Hills when I noticed some commotion outside. It was a tow truck loading up a car. MY CAR! I ran outside and asked what the hell they were doing! What could possibly be wrong?? The basic response I got was that my car was too dirty. Beverly Hills does not like dirty cars parked on their streets. Although the actual ticket listed some extremely minor technicality, this was definitely the reason my car was towed.
And the wonderful thing about Los Angeles is they have this system in place by which they multiply your ticket exponentially if you don’t pay within a certain time. It starts off as 40 bucks. But by two weeks it’s 80. 2 weeks later it’s like 300 dollars or something. Yes, I learned very quickly that you DON’T FUCK WITH PARKING IN LA.
So why am I bringing this up? Because there’s another type of parking you should be aware of. Mike Le, a tremendous writer and all around entrepenaur, writes a hilarious web-comic strip about his experiences in the business. It’s called “Don’t Forget To Validate Your Parking” and I don’t know anyone who’s read it who hasn’t loved it. Mike’s one of the smartest funniest guys I know and you’re going to want to get in on the ground floor here so you can cooly claim you knew him when. Mike is also working on a spec script with one of the best hooks I’ve heard in a long time and I hope to review it on the site when he’s finished. Go check out “Don’t Forget To Validate Your Parking” in the meantime and laugh your ass off.
Synopsis: A man with a dark past must exact revenge on his brother’s killer.
About: Sold for 650k against 1.1 mil. To star Leonardo DiCaprio. Ridley Scott to direct. The writer sold the script all the way from Pennsylvania. But don’t be fooled. Inglelsby spent 2 years at the prestigious American Film Institute (great school btw).
Writer: Brad Ingelsby
No. 4 of 5 on our Top-Selling Scripts of 2008 List. Because you stingy script-horders won’t send me “The Long Run” (AHEM! AHEM!) it looks like this will be our last drama of the week. Enjoy (aka I hate you).
I was really dreading this one. I already tried to read it once and it didn’t go well. By page 13 I was actually considering watching The Bachelor instead. That’s never a good sign because I only mildly occasionally watch The Bachelor. It’s usually by accident if I’m flipping through the channels and happen to leave it on ABC at 8pm on Mondays. It’s always by chance though. Believe me, I could care less about the show. But I will say this: Jason really screwed over Melissa. I’ll leave it at that.
And I don’t think Molly is emotionally available enough for Jason and I worry how that’s going to affect Ty. Okay I’m done. I just wanted to be on the record about that.
The (S)Low Dweller was purchased when none other than Jack Dawson (known by some as the celebrity-eschewing Leonardo DiCaprio) became interested in the material. Scripts that are bought for actors are always interesting because an actor doesn’t look at the whole story when he’s looking at a script. He tends to look exclusively at the character. This is all fine and dandy but a story has to work as a whole and sometimes these vanity projects stink of Oscar bait. Check out “Seven Pounds” if you don’t believe me. But it’s a good thing for Inglesby that DiCaprio became interested. Because if he hadn’t, I’m almost certain we’d have never heard of The Low Dweller.
I don’t know how many of you watch Entourage, but The Low Dweller reminds me of those two hicks that E represents – the ones that ended up selling their script for a million dollars? This is a small town movie about small time people. We meet SLIM somewhere in rural Indiana (is there anywhere in Indiana that’s not rural?), his clothes stained with fresh blood, his mind still blank from alcohol. We find out later he’s killed a man but we don’t know who or why. After four years in jail, he’s released back into a world that’s forgotten him.
He reconnects with his brother and the rest of the people he left behind – all of whom he seems to have strained relationships with. The Low Dweller is heavy. I’m serious. There isn’t a single smile in the script. I’m getting depressed just thinking about it. When his brother is killed for skipping out on a gambling debt, Slim grabs a couple of old buddies and heads out on the road for a little revenge (if only he’d called Dan Minter!). The man he’s going after, SAM, is a really bad guy who, for some reason, likes to wear a fedora. During this time Slim tries to mend the relationships he destroyed during his “troubled” past.
The writing here is very good but the film feels like it’s lost in cliches. Small town with shady characters. Guy owes a gambling debt. Collectors are tired of waiting to get paid so they kill him. His brother (with a dark past) comes after the killer. I’m not saying you have to have a completely original idea to write a good screenplay. But it helps.
Basically The Low Dweller is a revenge movie and it takes way too long to get to the revenge part. The first 20 pages could’ve been condensed into 3. If you want to read a great movie about revenge, look no further than my Top 25 List and download The Brigands Of Rattleborge . Now that’s a revenge movie. This is Revenge Light, and I fail to see what caught DiCaprio’s interest here besides another opportunity to use a southern accent.
The script makes a late comeback (with a revenge for the revenge) but the final shot falls short. This felt like an amalgam of a few films: Fargo, No Country For Old Men, and History Of Violence. I like all of those movies but the problem with The Low Dweller is that it doesn’t do anything nearly as well as any of them. This sounds terrible but The Low Dweller is kind of like the ugly non-smiling stepchild here.
But if you liked any of those movies, you might as well check out The Low Dweller. Who knows? Maybe DiCaprio saw something in it that I didn’t and it’ll turn into a great movie. It definitely has its admirers as I think it was pretty high on The Black List. Just bring something to entertain yourself during the read – like a gameboy – cause it’s sloooooooooooo-oooooooooow.
[ ] trash
[x] barely kept my interest
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What I learned from The Low Dweller: If you’re going to write a revenge movie, you have two jobs. Make sure we like the person who gets killed and inspires the revenge and make sure we detest the killer (so that we’ll want to see him killed). Fail on either of these fronts and your revenge movie doesn’t work. If you have a somewhat mean guy killing an annoying victim, where’s our incentive for the hero to get revenge?
Synopsis: The most badass dude on the planet must find a kidnapped billionaire before it’s too late.
About: Sold for 500k against 1 mil.
Writer: Chad Kultgen (I originally posted the write as “Zane Smith”. This was incorrect)
Welcome to Huge Spec Sales of 2008 Week. Let’s get started with Dan Minter shall we?
Do I even need to review this? The title is “Dan Minter: Badass For Hire”. I could probably end this review right now and you’d know exactly what you were getting. And believe me, I’m tempted to. But I’m contracturally obligated (to myself) to keep writing so here we go. The script starts off with Dan Minter (think ‘the ultimate badass guy’s guy’) taking out an entire drug cartel. His weapon of choice? Kicking people in the balls. Dan Minter really likes kicking people in the balls. Dan Minter is the ultimate weapon. He could beat a tag team of James Bond, Neo, Superman, and Andre The Giant in a wrestling match. He eats metal. He never makes love to the same woman twice. He shaves his pubic hair with a machete. Did I mention Dan Minter is a badass? Cause he is. And however many times I’m telling you? It’ll still be 1/20 as many times as they tell you in the script.
Dan Minter’s job becomes personal when his old Special Forces Commander, WINTHROP, now the president of a multi-billion dollar company, is kidnapped. He partners up with VICTORIA, Winthrop’s daughter, and the two blaze a trail trying to find him, constantly bumping heads with the insufferably clueless FBI.
Dan Minter is funny. I mean, there’s no denying that. Early on, he’s in an elevator with a bunch of uptight corporate business types when all of a sudden someone farts. Instead of allowing it to go unclaimed, Minter stops the elevator and refuses to start it again until the person who did it fesses up. It’s equal parts head-shaking and gut-busting.
But you know what? I can’t possibly do Mr. Minter justice without giving you some of his idiotic yet genius diaogue. Here’s an exchange between Minter and the man who’s getting in the way of his investigation, FBI head CARTER NIBBS. DAN MINTNER: Well Carter, before your FBI goons get their hands shoved up their own asses and then shoved in their mouths I want to tell you a little story. It goes like this: There was a kid who wanted a puppy for his birthday. So his parents went to the local shelter and got him a pit bull with a scar over his left eye. They locked the pitbull in the bathroom until morning. They were gonna surprise the kid. Turns out the surprise was all theirs when that pitbull broke through the bathroom door with psychotic rage from being locked up and exacted his revenge on the parents. Mauled ‘em to death right in front of the kid, then winked at him with that scarred eye and ran away into the night. So what was the kid to do? The only thing he could do. He ran out into the night, looking for that dog, waiting for the day he could get his own revenge. After 10 long years on the street that kid never found the dog, but he became the toughest son of a bitch on planet Earth. – CARTER NIBBS: Is this going anywhere? -DAN MINTNER: I was the kid. – CARTER: No shit. So what? – DAN MINTNER: So, when I turned 18 I joined the army. Turns out I was so tough from my years on the streets that I got recruited for special ops training. Also turns out that my commanding officer was like a father to me, more of a father than my real one ever was because he was dead for most of my life. It further turns out that after a few tours in Desert Storm, my CO and I both came back to the states. I found out I could make a living by renting out my services to various clients. And my CO started a little company that turned into a multi-billion
dollar corporation. His name is Charles Winthrop. – CARTER: And? – DAN MINTNER: And I’m gonna find whoever took him and make them pay. – CARTER: Just like you made that pitbull
pay? – DAN MINTNER: I was a kid, asshole. I had no chance of finding that dog. But this time it’s the dog who has no chance.
I mean what more do I need to say? That’s pretty much it right there. Sure, once the novelty wears off, Minter’s jokes aren’t as funny as they were on page 1, but who cares? I know Dan Minter doesn’t. I don’t anticipate the female demographic flocking to this script any time soon but if you’re a man and you really like being a man and you want to celebrate your man-ness, Dan Minter: Badass For Hire might be a good place to start.
[ ] trash
[ ] barely kept my interest
[x] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What I learned from Dan Minter: That sometimes you gotta kick people in the balls. That and you the writer have to have fun when you’re writing comedy. It’s clear that Smith is having a blast and as a result, we the reader have a blast along with him. I’ve seen a lot of comedies where the writing is very careful, very calculated, and it never works. Of course you have to have structure to your comedy but if you’re not laughing along with it, chances are we aren’t either.
So this week is going to be fun. I’m going to review five of the top selling specs from 2008, starting with the lowest and ending with the highest on Friday. That particular script went for 2 million against 3 million. As I would’ve said back in third grade: Dayum! (actually I only have to go back to last year for the most recent dayum) Now it just so happens I’ve already reviewed some big sellers from 2008. Iron Jack sold for 1.25 against 2 million. That review can be found here. A script link can be found here. The Treehouse Gang, which I just reviewed last week, was sold for 750k against 1.5. You can find that review here. And finally Hereafter, which was purchased by Spielberg and Eastwood for low seven figures can be found here. Script review here.
Two new spec scripts I’m looking for that sold this week: “Danny Graves’ Man Cave” and “The Highest Bid“. And more importantly, “The Long Run” which sold last year. This is one of the 2008 big sellers and I’d like to include it in my week of reviews, if only because it balances out the genres (which right now stand at 4 comedies and 1 drama). If you have’em, please send’em. And if you’re new to the site, please check out the “Scripts I’m Looking For” list to the right. Those are toughies, but some of you have come through in a big way, finding me things I never thought I’d get my hands on. I’m more thankful than you know.
Also, in the coming days I’ll be extending my Script Analysis Service onto Scriptshadow. Keep an eye out for it because the first five people to sign up will get 50% off. My notes are awesome and my price is extremely competitive, so take advantage! :)
For all you Twitterers, my Scriptshadow Twittering has begun. Jump onboard. Scriptshadow.
And hey, if you have a suggestion for the site or just want to say hi, drop me a line at Carsonreeves1@gmail.com. A lot of you already have and I appreciate the feedback.
Genre: Sci-fi Dark Comedy
Synopsis: A spacecraft transporting thousands of people to a distant planet has a malfunction in one of its sleep chambers. As a result, a single passenger is awakened 90 years before anyone else. Faced with the prospect of growing old and dying alone, he wakes up a second passenger who he’s fallen in love with.
About: Considered one of the best screenplays of 2007, this script was put on the fast track once Keanu Reeves attached himself to star.
Writer: Jon Spaihts
One of the first things I ask people who read a lot is, “Have you read anything good lately?” The one title that keeps coming back over and over again is “Passengers”. And I can see why. It’s an entirely unique premise. It’s a sci-fi film that’s also a comedy. It’s dark in ways that movies like this never are. It takes chances. It’s interesting. It’s different.
So then why didn’t I like it?
Upon hearing so many people hype this script up, I actually went back and reread it, figuring I’d missed something. But even that second time around, I couldn’t get over one major hole in the story: This would never happen.
A giant ship is flying to another world to colonize it. Makes sense. People are put in sleep chambers for the 100+ year trip. Makes sense. One of those sleep chambers malfunctions. Makes sense. There isn’t a system in place in case this happens??? …….. Sorry, doesn’t make sense. I don’t care how you spin it. It’s a huge hole. Because the whole movie hinges on you believing that Keannu Reeve’s character, Jim, is in this situation.
What about cycling tech support people in and out of 10 year sleep periods so there were always men maintaining the ship? What about robots with the capability of waking crew up? Why wouldn’t a system be put in place?
Okay, enough of Grouch Patrol. When Jim realizes there’s no way to go back to sleep, he fears he’ll end up living the rest of his life alone in this vast vacant ship. He does make a friend in Arthur The Robotic Bartender. But you can only take conversations with a robot so far – or at least I’m told – and Jim cannot escape his loneliness.
The only thing that keeps him going is the divinely beautiful Aurora, one of the other passengers still in her chamber. Jim begins quite possibly the biggest stalking case in history as he spends every waking hour watching Aurora sleep. This leads to querying the central computer and finding out everything about her. It’s a seriously unhealthy relationship. After months and months, Jim gets an idea. A terrible idea. What if he opened Aurora’s chamber? Knowing that she’ll never be able to go back to sleep. Knowing that she will grow old here with him and die….. It’s the ultimate act of selfishness. Does he do it?
Of course he fucking does it. You can only have a single character wandering around in a movie for so long (unless you’re Tom Hanks).
So he releases Aurora on false pretenses, telling her her chamber malfunctioned. And because he’s spent months and months researching her, he’s able to be every thing she wants in a man. Not having any competition helps as well. Eventually though, Aurora finds out the truth, and the only two people left in the world become enemies. Jim is even more alone now than when Aurora was asleep.
The final act deals with a ship malfunction that threatens to kill everyone and Jim and Aurora are forced to work together. It’s not a bad ending but like I said, I just wasn’t into it.
This is one of the few instances where even though I’m giving Passengers a bad review, I encourage you to check it out yourself. It appears I’m waaaaay in the minority here and there’s a good chance you’ll like this. Here’s the link….
[ ] trash
[x] barely kept my interest
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius
What I learned from Passengers: I think it’s important that you approach all of your stories with a sense of logic. Ask yourself, “Does this make sense?” “Would this really happen?” A lot of times writers don’t challenge their ideas because they fall in love with them. Crossover genres like Passengers are particularly susceptible because there’s always one genre the writer cares less about. He/she simply assumes you won’t give a shit (and you can argue that he’s right – since this script is so universally loved). But I still believe you turn off a portion of your audience by not tending to the details and I think it will cost Passengers a lot of sci-fi fans. Don’t ever underestimate your audience.