THE SCRIPTSHADOW NEWSLETTER IS OUT!And it’s a really good one. So check it out. Check your SPAM and PROMOTIONS folders if you didn’t receive it. Also, if you signed up for the newsletter and you’ve checked both “spam” and “promotions” and still haven’t been receiving my newsletters, e-mail me at carsonreeves1@gmail.com with the subject line: “NO NEWSLETTER.” My mass mailing service is trying to pin the fault on either me or you guys for not getting these e-mails and I know it’s them so the more of you I have to prove my point, the more pressured they’ll be to fix the problem.

Genre: Thriller
Premise: After a drunken one-night stand, a man finds himself being stalked by the crazy computer-savvy woman he slept with.
About: CTRL made last year’s Hit List, a list of the best SPEC screenplays of the year. It’s different from The Black List, which is a list celebrating the best screenplays (spec, assignment, whatever) of the year. The writers are repped by UTA.
Writers: Thomas Sonntag & John Sonntag
Details: 109 pages

4hb-garretthedlund230512-mdnGarrett Hedlund for Nathan?

What is the definition of a breakout spec?

We don’t have a lot of ways to answer that question. There are the scripts that sell. There are the scripts that land on The Black List. And then there are the scripts that are optioned. The thing is, every one of those avenues is imperfect.

Subpar screenplays sell for a variety of reasons. Maybe a production company is in immediate need of a type of script and they grab the first thing they find. Maybe an actor attaches himself to a script to help his friend sell it. Maybe a script even sells because someone owes someone a favor.

The Black List isn’t full proof either. The list celebrates the “most liked” scripts of the year, but how many people in Hollywood have read all 500 screenplays that officially go out? Agents are aware that if they send out a script with a good premise but bad execution, ¾ of the industry will be aware of it, increasing its chances of making the Black List based on saturation alone.

On the flip side, there are production companies deliberately trying to keep their scripts secret. These scripts may only leak out to a few people. So if you have 200 people reading a bad script and 5 people reading a good one, the bad script is going to get more Black List votes on awareness alone.

Then with options, you’re usually taking a script that isn’t there yet and betting that with a little development, you can turn it into a winner.

So every method we have for judging a screenplay’s quality is flawed in some way.

However, as tempting as it is to call the system a blind lottery, I don’t think that’s the case. The system succeeds far more than it fails. If you think more terrible scripts are selling than good scripts, you’re crazy. And I should know. I read them all.

What I like about today’s script is that you get a taste of something in that middle ground. It made the list of best specs of the year (The Hit List) but didn’t have the juice to make the much more prestigious Black List. It’s a good window into how Hollywood ranks product. So for me, it was an opportunity to see what got CTRL to the level it did, but figure out why it didn’t get further. Let’s take a look.

Nathan Everett is a P.R. manager who appears to have it all. He’s got a great job, good friends, and a smoking hot girlfriend. Of course, as we all know, the only place to go when you’re at the top is down, and Nathan’s about to fall all the way down.

After his girlfriend unexpectedly turns down his marriage proposal, Nathan goes on a business trip where he meets the real-life equivalent of the girl with the dragon tattoo, Olivia Doumanian. The next thing Nathan knows, he and Olivia are playing ‘where’s the sheets’ at her hotel room. The next morning, Nathan’s ready to get back to his life. Olivia, on the other hand, is ready to get back to Nathan.

And thus begins the most horrifying stalking debacle in the history of stalks. Olivia threatens to hack into the plane Nathan’s on and blow it up. She puts a pre-recorded unchangeable ringtone of herself screaming, “Fuck me!” on his phone. She hacks into his work e-mail and starts pulling “reply alls” to group e-mails, animatedly calling their boss a douchebag.

Realizing he can’t fight this battle alone, he contacts a government friend who tells him that Olivia used to work for the government and is very dangerous. Surprisingly, Government Guy’s less interested in helping Nathan and more focused on capturing Olivia, since she ran off from work a year ago. Since that’s the only option to get Olivia off his tail, Nathan agrees to it. But he quickly realizes that trying to cage a nutcase is easier said than done.

I love stalker scripts. I just love’em. I mean I gave an “impressive” to “The Roommate.” So this premise is right up my alley. And the first thing I noticed about CTRL was how slick it was. From the minimalist analogy-laden writing (“hair-slicked back from the leftover oil that makes him such a good cog in the system”) to the names of the characters (Harrison Coyle, Madelyn Hames, Kevin Delsin). As long as you pack SOME meat into your minimalist writing, it’s a huge advantage in a spec, since readers like to read specs quickly.

I also liked how the script started. One thing I’ve been noticing lately is that writers are so focused on setting their story up, that they follow formula too closely. The first act is the most formulaic of all the acts so this is an easy trap to fall into.

Your job is to look for little ways to surprise the reader in the first act. So for example, as we were going along here, we got the typical scene where Nathan takes over a meeting and wows them with his pitch. We set up the work problem that needs to be solved. And then he asks his girlfriend to marry him. I thought, “Here we go. She’s going to say yes and everything is going to be perfect in his life before the evil stalker girl enters and ruins it.” But I was wrong. His girlfriend says “No.”

And that may seem like a minor thing. But little surprises count. Remember, formula works. It’s the reason it’s used over and over again. But one of your jobs as a writer is to HIDE the fact that you’re using a formula. And an unexpected surprise can do that.

Now I can’t tell you exactly why this script didn’t get to that next level in Hollywood’s eyes, but I can take a guess. CTRL’s biggest issue, in my opinion, is a lack of subtlety. One of the great things about Fatal Attraction was how Glenn Close’s Alex Forrest character BUILDS. One of the most memorable moments in that film (and in film history) was the rabbit-boiling scene. But the reason that moment was so memorable was because we built up to it.

Before that, Alex seemed like a normal, if slightly obsessed, woman. It took her buttons being repeatedly pressed to get her to a place of “PURE PSYCHO I’M BOILING YOUR RABBIT MOTHERF&%$ER.” With Olivia, we get that moment almost immediately. She starts screaming on a plane that she’s going to take it down the night after they have sex.

And things only got crazier from there. After the government got involved, Olivia shot Nathan with a tranquilizer gun then snuck him back to her place where she tied him up. It was too much. There were a few more fun surprises later on, but things just got too crazy too quickly.

You have to give props to the Sonntags for not giving us a Fatal Attraction clone, but there had to be a way to build this story more gradually. I mean the idea is genius. This is an area of people’s lives that they’re getting more and more sensitive about – the fear of having their privacy breached. And this character personifies that. But the reason Fatal Attraction is the go-to movie in this genre is because it FEELS realistic. It feels like it could happen to you. This stopped feeling like it could happen to me after the plane scene.

With that said, I can see why the script got attention. This is definitely a movie idea. And that’s the thing you have to remember. It’s much easier to get a great concept with average execution made than it is an average concept with great execution made. That’s because the potential audience for your film CANNOT SEE THE EXECUTION ON A BILLBOARD. They can only see the concept. So always keep that in mind.

If I hear they made this script more realistic, I’ll be buying a ticket. But in its current state, this one wasn’t for me.

[ ] what the hell did I just read?
[x] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: A step-ladder to becoming a professional screenwriter:

1) Make it to the second round of a major contest.
2) Make it to the semi-finals of a major contest.
3) Win (or place Top 5 in) a major contest.
4) Get a manager.
5) Make the Hit List.
6) Option a script.
7) Get an agent.
8) Make the Black List.
9) Get hired for a professional assignment.
10) Sell a script.
11) Get one of your scripts produced.

In an industry where it’s very hard to judge where you stand, this is a nice rough guide as far as milestones to try and hit. There will be some you skip and some you hit simultaneously. But if you’re looking for a general progress meter, this is a path many writers take.

  • S.C.

    How to become a professional screenwriter… like you say in the newsletter, Carson…

    … write more than one script.

    First script makes quarter-finals of one contest.
    Second script makes semi-finals of second contest.
    Third script wins a contest, gets you a manger, maybe makes Hit List.
    Fourth script makes Black List.
    Third or fourth script gets sold, gets you assignment work.

    So, from a cold start, you’re probably gonna need to write four scripts before you can become a professional.

    • Gregory Mandarano

      Sixth script gets you elected President of Screenwriting.

      • S.C.

        If only!

        • carsonreeves1

          Screenwriting should be like air travel. You get “miles” for every script you write. With enough miles, you can buy yourself a script sale.

          • Gregory Mandarano

            Speaking of sixth scripts script shadowers:

            If any of you are looking for something to read today, I’ve completed the last draft of my TV pilot Dead Star, a fantasy drama comparable to Game of Thrones, and also have completed the accompanying series bible.

            I put a ton of effort into researching bibles, since I knew next to nothing about them going in, and I feel that mine will accurately represent a solid guideline for any other writers looking to put together a bible. Mine clocks in at 19 pages, but it’s an adaptation and needs the real estate, plus it has two posters. Most pitches would have a smaller bible, while shows being put into production might have a much larger bible to help steer the writers involved in the right direction.

            Here’s the link for the script and the bible:

            http://www.sendspace.com/filegroup/Uxgn5rteY6j95nggkXdGGw

            And here’s the log lines I used for the project. I should be getting my first Blacklist evaluation within a week or so.

            Series Logline

            In a world recovering from an ancient Doom, a peace summit held for two opposing Kingdoms becomes the focal point for the Return of Magic. Intrigue, betrayal, and murder surround the bearers of elemental crystals as they search for an end to a mysterious pestilence, while a noble lord’s quest to the North Pole unleashes a plague which endangers not just the planet, but reality itself.

            Pilot Logline

            Facing war between two medieval Kingdoms, a young lord and a mysterious stranger with God-like strength must oversee a desperate peace summit, while far to the North, a man being stalked by wolves is driven to insanity as he confronts a danger which threatens to destroy the world.

          • S.C.

            Had a look at the series bible – very impressive! The fantasy stuff is maybe too much for me, I’ll let others comment on that, but it’s definitely the level of detail you need to sell the concept. Well done!

          • Randy Williams

            Just took a cursory glance at the bible. Wow, looks like a lot of work went into that! Good luck with it all.
            Just my opinion, however, but the quality and impact of the posters does not match the integrity of the written portion. I think you can find or do better.

          • Gregory Mandarano

            Well it’s the cover of the published book. Does that count?

            The most important thing about the poster is that it gives a visual representation of the solar system, which helps put things in perspective.

            I could look into increasing the quality of the image, but visual arts aren’t my strong suit, and the image was created as a courtesy for me.

          • Randy Williams

            Still, the quality is lacking in my view when everything we know and read of you speaks quality. You can find a better artist in my opinion. They want exposure as much as you do.

          • Gregory Mandarano

            The most important question is – do you think the image does such a disservice that I might get a better evaluation or response from readers if I removed them? Keep in mind a blacklist evaluator would read the script first and bible second, while a potential producer might read the act breaks and skim the bible before returning to the script.

          • Gregory Mandarano

            What about say keep the first one as a visual aid, and get rid of the last page? I was kind of going for a book end. I mean shit, it’s just a mock-up. It can’t HURT can it?

          • Randy Williams

            The writing has to speak for itself. I’m in no position to speak of how artwork including playing with title fonts moves a reader.
            My objection is that the artwork lacks a finesse that is usually apparent in television advertisements for shows in my view.

          • Gregory Mandarano

            Well now I’m going to obsess over your comments. I’d love to have some second opinions on the artwork, and what I should do.

          • Randy Williams

            Don’t do that. I’m just sharing an opinion.
            How about doing away with the pink lettering? Gives me a story for a sixteen year old girl vibe.
            Read a bit of your story. Maybe a male central character, handsome of course, and a female central character, beautiful of course, as the focal point. Lightning and fire off your crystals. Within the flame and bolt, we catch glimpses of the planets and dead star?

          • Gregory Mandarano

            Would that I had the power to make such a vivid poster myself.

            Here’s my favorite movie poster.

          • Randy Williams

            “Gone with the Wind” but different. Thats what i think you need to do.

          • Gregory Mandarano

            Such nice things to say! Thanks!

          • S_P_1

            Honestly if I would have been able to read the bible before the pilot my issues would have been more on preference versus story technicalities. You should seriously consider suggesting your professional queries read the bible first.

            Good job on crafting your bible. The similarities to the format structure I used is ironic. Also in setting up your universe you used a very similar restraint I used in my sci-fi feature.

            As far as your cover page image, it’s a mixed media composition. Most classic sci-fi / fantasy cover art work is either oil / airbrush / acrylic. The font is cool the color choice doesn’t belong in any regard.

            Overall you have a wealth of back story and mythology to sustain a tv series.

            Good luck.

    • carsonreeves1

      A lot of people say the 6th-7th script is when you really start “getting it.”

      • Marija ZombiGirl

        Confirming that. I’m on #4 alone right now, #6 if you count my two co-writtten scripts, and that’s the feeling I’m getting whenever I do something that now comes intuitively to me whereas before, it only came after a period of thinking. Feels pretty good, too :)

      • JakeBarnes12

        Yup. For me it was the seventh.

        The numbers alone mean nothing, however.

        Like a guy hitting on the seventh chick with the same lame pick-up line and wondering why he’s still striking out, it all depends on how open you are to learning from past mistakes.

        • S.C.

          Yes, it’s more like a level thing, you know, moving to the next level. My point – and I think Carson’s too – is you need to write multiple scripts, not just endlessly rewrite the same one.

          Three months ’til 250 deadline; plenty of time to write a new script if your last one didn’t quite cut the mustard.

          • JakeBarnes12

            Definitely.

            Moving on to a new script means learning new things from new challenges.

      • ximan

        7th here too. Placed top 15% Nicholl.

      • Linkthis83

        The Sixth Script-Sense: sounds like a future article.

      • ripleyy

        I can more or less confirm. I think I started getting the hang of it after my 10th script.

  • carsonreeves1

    That’s a good point re: Daredevil. I hadn’t thought of that. Although it is in a longer form medium. I think when you go to the theater, you expect to have fun for those two hours. You’re a little more likely to enjoy dark stuff at home in a relaxed setting.

  • S.C.

    Sent!

  • Gregory Mandarano

    Newsletters are like flowers. They bloom in the spring.

  • S.C.

    Isn’t The Fantastic Four supposed to be funny, more light-hearted?

    Looks more like The Dark Knight…. cheer up!!!

    • carsonreeves1

      I’m getting more and more freaked out that Josh Trank is directing a Star Wars movie.

      • andyjaxfl

        Trank’s alleged professional issues aside, he really hasn’t done anything to suggest he’d be a good fit for a Star Wars film. Then again, I supposed neither did Gareth Edwards and that teaser footage of Rogue One was pretty intriguing.

    • BellBlaq

      The 2005 version was too goofy and this one’s a little too serious. I guess it’s hard to find the balance.

      • S.C.

        Here’s your “balance”!

        • andyjaxfl

          Holy God I had no idea this was available online. Best Monday afternoon ever.

  • Randy Williams

    I think there should be an adjustment to your “step-ladder” list.

    1) Make it on Amateur Offerings Weekend.
    2) Make it on Amateur Friday.
    3) Make Carson do the happy dance.

    • S.C.

      Getting picked for Amateur Friday is like reaching quarter-finals of a contest (top 5%, say).

      Getting a WORTH THE READ on Amateur Friday is like reaching the semis of a contest.

      Getting an IMPRESSIVE would be like winning a contest (although it happens less then once a year).

      • carsonreeves1

        I’d say getting picked for Amateur Friday is more like top 20% since in many cases I haven’t read anything inside the script.

        • Poe_Serling

          Carson-

          I’ve always been curious – how many scripts per week are sent you way for AOW?

          Or is that a SS trade secret?

          • carsonreeves1

            It varies a lot. Sometimes it can be 20, sometimes 50. There have been weeks where it’s gotten over 100.

          • Poe_Serling

            Overall, not bad odds for getting a script on AOW.

            As of late, I feel that securing one of the five spots on AOW is the equivalent of striking SS gold, especially in terms of receiving feedback from your screenwriting peers.

            Also, I just think members of the SS community have more time and energy to devote to reading/analyzing scripts on the weekend when compared to a workday Friday for AF.

          • klmn

            What proportion do you recognize from other weeks?

            Or – to put it another way – what proportion do you think are new?

    • carsonreeves1

      Yup, this is the secret industry short-cut. :)

  • mulesandmud

    Always nice to hear Carson say that a script would benefit from being more grounded and down to earth. Easy to lose sight of that in some of these conversations.

    Contrast this with one of his more surreal quotes from a while back: “Everything is big and flashy so you have to come up with a big flashy concept to stand out.”

    Of course, the two ideas are not mutually exclusive. Both are true in their own way. A great concept is one that can be painted in broad strokes that make it clearly visible even from a distance, but a great script is one that excels in its details and holds up even when viewed under a microscope.

    One of the quotes I’ve got tacked to my computer screen is from F. Scott Fitzgerald: “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.”

    People often attack critics for saying one thing one day, then what seems like the opposite the next. More often than not, both are true. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between hypocrisy and the complexities of the real world.

    The writing game is a mess of contradictions, and it’s up to each of us to reconcile them in our own mind. Larger than life vs. grounded in reality. Subtlety vs clarity. Art vs professionalism. Unique voice vs rigid industry standards. And so on.

    It takes practice to keep those scales balanced, and it only gets harder the further along you get, since more and more weight threatens to tip you one way or another.

    Also, in case anyone’s curious, here are some other quotes I keep in sight these days (it’s a rotation, and changes pretty often):

    “The real hell of life is that everyone has their reasons.”
    -Jean Renoir
    (As relevant to dealing with industry politics as it is for crafting characters.)

    “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”
    -Audre Lorde
    (Especially valuable for more independent-minded projects.)

    “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”
    -Thomas Mann
    (Mentioned this one recently. Best pep talk I know.)

    • carsonreeves1

      It depends on the script. For big summer movies, you gotta go big. This one definitely needed to be toned down.

      • Gregory Mandarano

        From what I gather, the intensity level of the hook climaxed too early. The concept needs some foreplay so that you don’t go off the rails and lose that suspension of disbelief before you even get started. If I included a scene where the stalker was threatening terrorist actions as the FIRST MOVE after a one night stand, I would make damn sure that it was the setup to a pay-off which either establishes just how bat shit crazy she REALLY is, or how logical and precise she is in making sure her mark is as paralyzed with fear as quickly as possible.

        • carsonreeves1

          “Foreplay” is a very nice way of putting it. I might have to use that in a future article.

      • JakeBarnes12

        The script did a Pacino.

        • carsonreeves1

          Heat “BIG ASS” Pacino.

          • S.C.

            MICHAEL MANN DOES A GEORGE LUCAS!

            Spot the difference.

            Blue-ray cuts the line “Ferocious, ain’t I?”

    • klmn

      I like these from Satchel Paige.

      “Avoid fried foods, they angry up the blood.”

      “Kinda jangle around when you walk. It keeps the juices flowing.”

      “Don’t look back. Something might be gainin’ on you.”

      There are more on this site, but I’ve seen some of them attributed to other people, so caveat emptor – or something like that.

      http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/s/satchel_paige.html

      • S.C.

        “Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing that a tomato doesn’t belong in a fruit salad.” – Miles Kington

    • Fish Tank Festival

      I have the F. Scott Fitzgerald quote too! Somewhere in my stack.

  • martin_basrawy

    In terms of sending query letters, how does someone (who’s not in California, doesn’t have any contacts, and hasn’t won any contests) get started on that? Like, how do you even find out the email addresses of producers and agents, etc.?

    • S.C.

      Finding the e-mail addresses isn’t difficult – you can find them on The Tracking Board, for example. Would they want a letter from you (or me), that’s different. Without having won (or placed high) in a contest, you’ve not got a lot going for you (or me, so no offence). That’s why I think sites like Scriptshadow and others are so invaluable to us “out-of-towners”.

    • Poe_Serling

      The two sources that I recommend:

      http://www.writersstore.com/hollywood-screenwriting-directory/

      Not very expensive, but becomes dated rather quickly as creative executives jump ship, get let go, etc.

      http://www.getstudiosystem.com/

      A bit pricey, but is updated daily with creative executive hires/moves, development deals, and so on.

    • Frankie Hollywood

      Can’t remember how I came across these (maybe the GITS newsletter), but they’re pretty comprehensive — and FREE.

      They also list Online Submissions (Managers only).

      AGENTS: http://www.scriptsandscribes.com/agency-list-2/

      MANAGERS: http://www.scriptsandscribes.com/manager-list/

      • martin_basrawy

        Frankie Hollywood, how current are those lists? I’d assume managers/producers move around a lot.

        • Frankie Hollywood

          Oh, man…good question. And one I’m completely unprepared to answer (correctly). They make multiple posts on a daily basis, so I’d think they’d be on top of things.

          Could go directly to the source to find out: ask@scriptsandscribes.com

    • bluedenham

      Do not, DO NOT send a script out until you have received a “recommend” or at least a “consider” from a respected script consultant/reviewer, and/or placed high in a respected screenplay competition.

      • S.C.

        I would concur with that. For the record, I think Carson is a respected script consultant, and a WORTH THE READ would be equivalent of CONSIDER and IMPRESSIVE (maybe even GENIUS!) would be a RECOMMEND.

        Eight or above on Black List too, I guess.

        • Casper Chris

          What about double WTR?

          • S.C.

            I’ve never done coverage, but I think there’s a CONSIDER-slash-RECOMMEND used if the writer is on the fence.

            Also there’s CONSIDER THE SCRIPT vs. CONSIDER THE WRITER known as a DOUBLE CONSIDER. But that gets too complicated.

    • Jaco

      Finding email addys is pretty easy – IMDB pro is another resource in addition to those shared by others. Also – though it takes a little work – you can find a lot of emails searching with google.

      In my experience – while it can help with blind querying to have some sort of endorsement (contest placement, 8s on the Black List) – it isn’t necessary – not at all. If you have a compelling logline and concept – sometimes that’s all you need – at least to get a read request.

      In the past, I’ve generally just sent an email out with only the title, genre and logline and a sentence asking the person to contact me if interested. It’s worked for me. Others, of course, might like sending more info.

      Another option is to use a paid service that will get your script in front of managers/agents/producers – like the Black List or Virtual Pitchfest. I’m sure there are others.

      Good luck.

      • S.C.

        Of course the other advantage of doing well in a contest or here or on Black List is that you get feedback; you can improve your writing AND you know which scripts to go forward with and which to hold back.

        Writer Bill Birch (The One-Finger Salute, Shazaam) points out that your networking is like having a gun with only six bullets and you don’t want to waste them. So once you’ve got a personal “in” with a producer, say, you want to send him your best script and not waste your “shot”.

        • tyrabanksy

          That’s been my motto. Unfortunately I think I’ve waited so long that when I finally have something decent to send any of my contacts, they’re gonna be like, “Who? Oh.. that drunk girl? When the hell’d I give her my email?”

    • Fish Tank Festival

      As someone with a ton of query experience and excellent results, I have to say I strongly disagree w/ most of the advice you’ve received today here on SS — w/ the exception of Jaco.

      IMDBpro and THE TRACKING BOARD are excellent resources and blind queries are a non-issue. If you’re letter is clear and concise and professional with a great logline, getting in the hands of reputable managers/prodco’s (even an agent), etc. is the easier part of the battle. I would often follow up — and have even — GASP — offered a new draft (which I don’t recommend, however, didn’t really count against me).

      –About me: I have varying contest results, however, two previous options from blind queries and even made an exceptional reputable contact, where I always submit my work and receive FREE feedback/notes.

      Just my experience, yours may differ.

  • carsonreeves1

    I like The Tracking Board but we’re just spooning, not banging.

    • Nicholas J

      Who’s the big spoon and who’s the little spoon?

      • carsonreeves1

        As long as nobody sticks a fork in it, it doesn’t matter.

        • Nicholas J

          It’s legal where I’m from!

          (Wait, what are we talking about again?)

    • klmn

      Would you still like to lose an arm to make spooning easier?

      (Any surgeon/wannabe screenwriters out there, shoot Carson an email).

  • Citizen M

    I read CTRL a few months ago. FWIW here are my notes:

    MY LOGLINE: A young executive must outwit a crazy female coder who falls for him and then stalks him electronically, trying to control his life and destroy his relationship using her hacking skills.

    COMMENT: Well written and a quick read. The pacing was good and built up to a big climax. Generally predictable, although there were a few unexpected twists and turns along the way. Some story threads went unexploited, like motorbike racing and Claire’s parents. The script is probably one rewrite short of ready. Olivia was an interesting character and suitably kooky. The rest of the characters were rather one-dimensional. My main problem was I did not believe Olivia could actually carry out all the hacking exploits the script requires. I would prefer less technology and more psychological manipulation.

    [x] worth the read.

    • carsonreeves1

      Oh yeah, what was the motorbike stuff all about? That was weird. It kept getting mentioned but never entered the story.

  • Mike.H

    Another great Newsletter!

    I’d like to read CTRL — and also BOUNTY script with Will Smith. Please send both to MAY1MSG at gmail dot com. Thanks!

    • S.C.

      Sent CTRL! Nix on BOUNTY, sorry.

  • carsonreeves1

    I’m 5 episodes in. I like it but I have a question for those who love it. Aren’t the non-stop fighting-in-alleys-with-predictable-fight-choreography fights boring to you?

    I’m not a big fight choreography guy but these fights look the same as every standard movie I’ve ever seen (except for the lifted Oldboy fight). Am I missing something?

    • G.S.

      Actually, the hallway fight scene when he was saving the kid actually felt fresh to me. First, it was a single camera as opposed to the quick-cut/shaky-cam that follows every arm swing we’ve been getting with Bourne-clone fights.

      Second, they broke up the action by having them disappear into rooms in the hall, leaving us with only the sound of the fight continuing. Those two things gave the effect of being more of a first-hand witness to the action rather than the more “cinematic” coverage we’ve gotten in other action flicks.

      Third, the hero took more than a few blows. One of the defining features of Daredevil as a superhero is that he can take a beating, and very often absorbs a LOT of punishment. At best, other superhero-type fights only seriously wound the hero as they push us to a climax. DD has it sprinkled widely enough as to make it part of the character and the reality of his world.

      • carsonreeves1

        But isn’t he just a blind slimmer version of Batman? He even has the gruff voice when he turns into superhero mode. And I don’t know why they make him blind when he doesn’t seem affected by it at all. I’m so confused!!

        • Bacon Statham

          He’s not really affected like you’d expect a blind person would be. Whilst his sight has been dulled, his other senses are heightened to the point where they all become one and because of that, he can still see through a sort of radar sense. Whilst his other senses are heightened, they’re also quite sensitive. Loud noises and strong smells will weaken his senses. So if someone exploited that they could kick his arse quite easily.
          I think the character was created just to add more variety into comic books. He was pretty much the first disabled superhero.

          • G.S.

            One thing I wish they would have done more clearly and earlier on, is establish the extent of his abilities. I think the character was born out of the idea of how the remaining senses of blind people tend to become heightened to compensate, and how to the rest of us, this can appear like a “super power” of sorts.

            DD is the amped up version of this idea – elevating his remaining senses to such a point as to give him a different form of “vision”. I actually liked how the Ben Affleck version showed that effect, but sadly, I imagine they ditched it to stay as far away from that movie as possible.

            In the grand scheme, though, Carson’s right that he’s a sort of Batman character. Except that he DOES actually have a superpower (albeit not as flashy as super strength or the like) and no money for gadgets.

          • Bacon Statham

            I quite like the Ben Affleck version at times. There’s some little things in it that I only started to appreciate years later. The soundproof chamber he sleeps in for instance. It didn’t make much sense to me at the time, but it wasn’t until after really thinking about it, it did actually make sense.

  • G.S.

    I think it’s a false premise to make it an either/or question on fun vs dark tones – particularly for comic-based properties. There are certainly prevailing tones for particular comics that SHOULD be maintained for a successful adaptation. As stated, Batman is generally a darker character and should be portrayed as such.

    To me, the issue is more the directorial tone that is causing people to turn on Batman v Superman. I don’t think anyone would call Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy a “fun” superhero movie in the same vein as Guardians of the Galaxy, but Batman’s adventures were presented in such a way that we had fun WITH it. Even cinematography plays into that feeling. While plenty of Dark Knight scenes were at night, they didn’t feel like it was at night, in a cave, on the dark side of a planet with no stars nearby like it seems was the case for every scene in the BvS trailer.

    Daredevil shows there’s room for darkness. Guardians shows there’s room for absurd fun. I imagine Deadpool is going to show the unholy union of those two things to add even more dimensions. So while I’m in general agreement with BvS trailer critics, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that dark comic movies are dead.

    • carsonreeves1

      It’s such a fine line and you’re so right. Somehow, Nolan makes his dark movies fun on some level. I don’t think Snyder knows how to do that.

      • Bacon Statham

        Nolan manages to inject humour into situations where you wouldn’t quite expect it ”All those push-ups and you can’t even lift a bloody log!”.
        Snyder, on the other hand, I don’t think I laughed or smiled once during Man of Steel.

    • Bacon Statham

      I think Zach Snyder is a poor choice to direct any superhero film. There’s dark and then there’s grim. That’s what Man of Steel was. There was nothing to look forward to. The only film of his I’ve ever really liked was Dawn of the Dead. That was quite light-hearted and fun up until the baby scene.

      BvS was always handicapped from the start because of the odd mix of tones. You’ve got Batman who should always be portrayed as dark and you’ve got Superman who should always be portrayed as light-hearted. His films should be more akin to Captain America. Fun, but serious. I think it’s a good idea to put two of the most recognisable superheroes up against each other, I just don’t think it would ever really work.

      The only scene in the trailer that made me sit up and take notice was when Bruce Wayne stares at the Batsuit and you’ve got Alfred giving his speech. That scene looks like it’s been ripped directly from a Batman film.

      • S_P_1

        The skew towards realism is why superhero movies have muted color palettes. Comic book Superman has never had a bleak colored costume. He’s always had bright bold colors.

  • S.C.

    Good luck on Nicholl!

    Just my feeling, but there are so many “screenwriters” out there that it’s difficult to filter the serious from the not-so-serious.

    Doing well in a contest (or even getting a good response on Scriptshadow, Black List . com, etc.) would separate your query letter to a manager from the thousands of others he gets.

    I’ll let more qualified people talk about networking.

    V. important… must have at least one script with a flashy, attention-grabbing logline. If your screenplay sounds just like every other logline that people send in, no matter how well executed it is, you’re going to struggle.

    Ten years ago, out of desperation, I sent a logline for my script to dozens of producers, managers, etc. Astonishingly, I did get a request for the script from a fairly high-profile manager (he’s even more successful now). Nothing came up of it, but that’s because my writing wasn’t so hot (then, I hope it’s better now).

    The logline I think got his attention. But the script has to be good too.

    • martin_basrawy

      I see. Thanks for the info, S.C.
      If you don’t mind me asking, S.C., have you ever submitted to AOW or the Black List? Plan on submitting to SS 250? I just finished one script and am outlining another in hopes of submitting both to SS 250.

      • S.C.

        Yes, I’m working hard on trying to get something to submit to both AOW and 250. I haven’t written as much in the last ten years as I should have – my disastrous experience in Los Angeles in 2005 scarred me – but now it’s all PDFs and online contests… it’s a whole new world and it’s really reinvigorated me.

        That and getting medical help for my mental health problems. I’d urge everyone to do that too.

  • S.C.

    Sent!

    • jendecott

      Thank you!

      -Jim

  • Casper Chris

    yea, great newsletter.

  • RZ

    1) Make it to the second round of a major contest.
    2) Make it to the semi-finals of a major contest.
    3) Win (or place Top 5 in) a major contest.
    4) Get a manager.
    5) Make the Hit List.
    6) Option a script.
    7) Get an agent.
    8) Make the Black List.
    9) Get hired for a professional assignment.
    10) Sell a script.
    11) Get one of your scripts produced.

    Interesting list, however lots of exceptions to the order. For example, I got a manager before I ever placed in a major contest. Once I got the manager, then I started placing. But I also didn’t place in plenty of contests with scripts my manager(s) were excited to go out with. Also, I think if you run the numbers, the number of scripts getting produced are generally not coming from either contest winners or List-makers, be it Black, Hit, Blood, etc. Though certainly plenty of options and assignments do go to List-makers.

  • ff

    Sounds boring and forgettable.

  • Linkthis83

    WAY OT: So I’m in Texas…just finished up working…and I was driving back to my hotel Sunday evening when I saw this…and realized that I might actually be looking at The Nothing (from TNES):

    • Poe_Serling

      Your pic would make for a great opening shot in a horror flick. What’s the red object on the far right?

      • Frankie Hollywood

        “What’s the red object on the far right?”

        Pretty sure one of the Gates to Hell just opened.

      • Linkthis83

        Just a construction sign. I’m always telling people that I see settings for horror movies all the time. One day I will post a picture that I refer to as The Hills Have Eyes.

        • romer6

          Please, please, what happened next? I´ve got to know!

          • Linkthis83

            The image contains: a bridge out sign riddled with bullet holes, the bridge (just not accessible), shotgun shells, a dead dog, “jesus loves you”, a metal cross, “damnation follows”, and it’s really really out there.

          • romer6

            I´m sold. When will it hit the theaters?

          • Linkthis83

            July 1977 :) Make sure to see it!

          • romer6

            I´ll be alive! :D

    • Kirk Diggler

      Take Shelter…. said Michael Shannon.

    • charliesb

      “MOOOOOON CHIILLLLDDDD!!!”

      Amazing shot!

      Reminds me of the couple who had their wedding photos taken during a forest fire. http://petapixel.com/2014/06/10/striking-wedding-photos-shot-massive-wildfire-backdrop-go-viral/

      • Linkthis83

        Those are awesome. I would’ve done the same thing if I were them.

    • Marija ZombiGirl

      That is one amazing picture, Link o.O
      I hope you don’t mind if I keep it in my Mother Nature file (inspiration and wallpaper) :)

  • klmn

    I don’t want a step ladder. I want a rocketbelt.

  • romer6

    I was watching Fatal Atraction the other day for the first time in years, and early in the movie Alex calls Dan and invites him for dinner. He says he can´t go because he has to take care of the dog to what she replies: “Bring the dog! I love animals and I´m a very good cook!” or something like it. Only later I realized it was hint of what was to come, the rabbit in the boiling pot. Brilliant stuff.