Genre: Crime/Drama
Premise: A female FBI agent is dragged into an undercover operation to take down one of the biggest drug tunnels in Mexico.
About: Actor/writer Taylor Sheridan has just beefed up his resume. He first made waves with the well-received Black List script, “Comancheria,” but seems to have really come-of-age with “Sicario,” which has Prisoners director Denis Villeneuve attached and Emily Blunt in line to star.
Writer: Taylor Sheridan
Details: 105 pages (undated)

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Alert alert! Do you have a memorable title for your screenplay?

One of the funny things that happens every once in awhile at Scriptshadow is I’ll be scrolling through my database of scripts to see what I want to review next. I see the title of a script along with the writers, then do a Google search of both to learn more about the project. Sometimes, the first result will be: “REVIEW FROM SCRIPTSHADOW.”

WHAT??? I already reviewed this? I’ll go to the review, read it, and, sure enough, find out I did read and review the script. This may sound like a humorous scenario, but it’s a terrible one if you’re the screenwriter. If someone can’t remember your script from the title, it probably means you have a forgettable title.

The script in question was one I actually reviewed quite recently, called “On Your Door Step.” It was a pretty good script. But obviously, that title doesn’t lend itself to being remembered past a few weeks. In order to be memorable, you should be more specific. Take the recent surprise hit, “John Wick.” That’s a memorable title mainly because it’s highlighting a specific name. Do you know what the original title for that script was? “Scorn.”

Scorn???

Talk about a boring forgettable title. We’ve been hardwired by the studios to give our scripts the most dumbed down titles possible, not realizing that the reason they’re doing this is that the more general the title is, the more demographics it can potentially appeal to. As a writer, you have a very different purpose with your title. You need to stand out. So try a few specific titles on for size with your latest screenplay and see how they fit. It may make a big difference when you enter your script into The Scriptshadow 250 Contest.

Today’s much more memorably titled screenplay, Sicario, focuses on FBI agent, Kate Macy. Kate’s been cleaning up the streets of Phoenix with her partner, Reggie, who’s been trying to get out of the friend zone with her for years. On this particular day, the two stumble into a house for a routine kidnapping only to find dozens of dead Mexican bodies hidden in the walls.

Soon after, Kate is recruited by the mysterious Matt Graves, a guy who looks more like the drunk divorced dad at the end of the Tiki Bar than the Department of Justice agent he is. Matt tells Kate he needs her for the big time, and flies her down to the Mexican border, where he shows her just how terrifying the war has gotten.

Every single Mexican cop is controlled by the cartels, so the days of waltzing into the country and throwing their American weight around are done. These days, they have to be smarter about how they attack. Immediately, Kate senses something is off. Why the hell would they want her for all of this? She specializes in kidnappings, not inter-border war games. But Matt remains tight-lipped.

Kate soon realizes how dangerous her new job is. When she meets a good-looking guy at a bar, it turns out he’s been hired by the cartel she’s watching to assassinate her. Kate’s new status has put her on some “list,” which means going back to her old job is no longer an option. She’s in it whether she wants to be or not.

Eventually, Kate learns that this entire operation is about locating and taking down the cartel’s biggest smuggling tunnel. They do that, Matt promises, and all the drugs back in Phoenix will disappear. For once, he assures her, she has an opportunity to really do something impactful. This would be all well and good if Matt was telling her the whole truth. But it turns out he’s using Kate. For what? You’ll have to read the script to find out.

The wide-release crime-drama has gone the way of the dodo bird. The older folks who used to go to the theater to watch these films would rather stay at home and see what’s on Netflix these days. So how is Sicario getting made? I’ll tell you how. Because this is a sweet-ass script – like a bowl of Captain Crunch doused in chocolate milk. And I wasn’t expecting that at all. Most of the crime-dramas I read are “already seen it all before” boring. I’ll tell you why this one wasn’t.

When I read a script – especially when I read the first ten pages – I have this subconscious filter going on, where I’m looking for anything that’s UNIQUE. It could be a line of dialogue. It could be a line of description. It could be a scene. It could be a character. Whatever. If I read 2 or 3 things that I haven’t seen before before the 10 page mark, that’s usually a good sign.

There were three such moments in the first 10 of Sicario. First, we get this line about a character’s eyes. Now I’ve read every eyes description you can possibly think of. And they’re all usually the same. This is how Sheridan describes one of his characters: “He looks young for 35, but his eyes – seems like they lived for decades before him.” I like that. I haven’t seen that before.

This is followed by the house bust scene where our agents quickly realize that over 3 dozen men have been buried in the house’s walls. I haven’t seen that in a crime-drama before. Later in that same scene, a door is rigged with explosives, killing two men in front of Kate. Afterwards, when she goes home, we get a scene of her showering, carefully pulling off the bits of flesh and bone stuck to her from the explosion. Again, have not seen a scene like that before.

So I was pretty much in immediately.

Sheridan does a number of other things well, too. First, Matt doesn’t tell Kate exactly why she’s been recruited for this mission. This leaves her, and us, in the dark, turning the pages in hopes of finding out the answer. Things would’ve probably been boring if Matt told us exactly what we needed to know right away. One of your jobs as a writer is to hold back information every once in awhile to keep things suspenseful.  Never forget that.

Sheridan also does a nice job with Kate’s partner, Reggie. Matt doesn’t want Reggie here. He only comes along because Kate won’t cooperate without him. There’s then a ton of conflict whenever the three are around each other because Matt literally treats Reggie like a 3rd class citizen. He is an ant as far as Matt is concerned. This enrages Reggie, keeping lots of tension in the scenes whenever the three must interact.

Also, Sheridan doesn’t make Kate and Reggie a couple. Amateur Screenwriting Mistakes for $100, Alex? He makes them partners only, with Reggie secretly in love with Kate. Again, this creates more conflict, since we can feel Reggie’s love for Kate throughout the screenplay. As a screenwriter, one of your biggest goals is looking for areas to create conflict between your characters. Sheridan does this really well.

And he’s also a really great scene-writer. The best scenes usually come down to the writer’s use of suspense. Even if nothing I’ve mentioned so far has interested you, you need to read this script (I think it’s on scribd.com? – do a Google search) for the Border Shootout scene. This is a fucking awesome scene. In it, our team is trying to get back into the U.S. at the border, but they are 50 cars back in line. They start to realize that various cars in line are Cartel members who are about to turn them into swiss cheese. And they’re sitting ducks. What happens next is freaking awesome. That scene’s going to rock.

The only reason this script doesn’t get an “Impressive” is because Kate’s not a deep enough character. Everything happening around her is really awesome. But if you strip that away and just look at her, she’s kind of boring. This is a pitfall any writer can fall into with drama. Most of the heroes in these types of stories are reserved. The problem is, if you don’t write “reserved” just right, it can easily come across as boring. I think highlighting at least a character flaw can help this – that way you at least have the character fighting something internally. Unfortunately, I don’t think Kate had anything going on internally.

Still, this is really good writing and a worthy script to add to your reading list.

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

What I learned: Awhile back we were talking about leading. By itself, leading helps keep the story moving. But there are ways you can turbocharge it to make it even more powerful. One of those ways is to lead towards something DANGEROUS. Let me explain. You can have a character say to Kate that tomorrow night is the going-away party for the Chief. That’s technically “leading,” because the reader now has another point in the script to get to. But it’s an almost empty lead.  I mean, we know something’s coming, but it’s not that important.  Check out how Sheridan uses leading. Kate goes into Mexico with the Homeland Security Team knowing that it’s going to be dangerous because the only way back is to go through border control on the highway. It’s mentioned several times that the Border Cops are going to leave a lane open for our team so they can get back into the U.S. quickly. But, of course, we know that that lane isn’t going to be open, and that something bad is going to happen to them while they wait in line. In other words, we’re being led to a dangerous situation instead of happy one. Once you make that promise to the reader that a dangerous situation is coming, I guarantee you they will stick around for it.

  • klmn

    Haven’t read the script, but from C’s review it sounds like the author isn’t aware of the responsibilities of the various Federal law enforcement agencies. The FBI doesn’t investigate drug tunnels. That would fall to the Border Patrol or Customs and Immigration. Likewise drug investigations belongs to the DEA.

    • Dan B

      Could the FBI be involved if the operation is run by a task force? Just curious if you know. I was doing some research on this for another idea a few months ago.

      • klmn

        Possibly. If there is a RICO investigation multiple agencies could be involved.

    • drifting in space

      Know your subject matter. Amen.

    • walker

      In cases like this I think the CAA, the WME, and the UTA have jurisdiction.

      • kent

        hahahahaha

      • klmn

        Good one.

    • Nicholas J

      It’s not an FBI investigation of a drug tunnel. She’s recruited to a CIA-led task force to take down a cartel boss/drug tunnel.

      Excerpt from http://www.fbi.gov/phoenix/about-us/our-partnerships/partners

      Through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), our agents partner in regional strike forces with other federal agencies, including ICE; the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. OCDETF combines federal, state, and local investigative and prosecutorial efforts to expand and intensify the anti-drug mission. It provides the Departments of Justice, Treasury, and Homeland Security (DHS) the funding and organizational framework to collaboratively conduct complex, long-term investigations against major drug traffickers. OCDETF has expanded to address gangs involved in significant drug trafficking. We have regional strike forces in both Phoenix and Tucson.

      The more you know…

      • klmn

        Thanks for that. Still no mention of the CIA in that link. IIRC the CIA is banned by law from domestic operations.

        • Nicholas J

          I haven’t read the script, the CIA bit just came from the IMDB logline.

          It does say Department of Justice though, and in Carson’s synopsis it says the guy that recruits her is DOJ.

          Either way, I don’t think it’s a reach at all.

    • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

      I think the FBI can be called to assist on any case. They may not have jurisdiction, but the other agencies can ask for their help. I believe anyway.

  • Dan B

    Is Scribd a good resource for finding scripts? I’ve been on the site, and seen “previews” but have never signed up as I wasn’t sure if it was worth it.

    • drifting in space

      It is not. Scridx + Google search + whoring yourself out to friends is the best way.

  • carsonreeves1

    Maybe it’s because I don’t typically watch these movies, but what are the titles of all these drug tunnel movies? I’m not sure I’ve seen one.

    • LV426

      Maybe add a sci-fi twist?

      The drug tunnels are now tunnels linked up to a wormhole gateway to another world that is collapsing or has some impending catastrophe looming, forcing the the alien populace to flee to another planet.

      That planet is Earth.

      Now a group of specialists lead by a crazed ex-green beret ‘Nam vet must locate the gateway and destroy it before the Earth is flooded with alien immigrants.

      It’s Traffic meets Stargate/District 9/Alien Nation.

    • Bacon Statham

      I remember Fast and Furious 4 using them as a set piece and they were also used in the David Ayer script, Cartel (which is apparently a remake of Magnificent Seven).
      Other than that, I can’t think of any.

    • Emily Blunt fan

      There was another script called, quite simply, DRUG TUNNEL. Also, as Bacon Statham said, FF4 (and that was six years ago). And that’s not including dozens of unsold specs that were probably also written on the subject. If someone presented a straight story about drug tunnels as a spec, I think it would be have a hard time.

  • Citizen M

    This was one of the better scripts I read last year. My notes at the time:

    “Some macho action scenes featuring torture, shootouts, etc. Makes conditions in Juarez and the border areas look very bad. It’s lawless, in fact. Apart from the setpiece scenes there was a lot of dialogue that was basically padding. The story is told from Macy’s POV and since she is kept in the dark most of the time, so are we. (We learn she is only there because the CIA needs another agency present if they operate on US soil.) Some of the actions, such as the mystery man renditioned out of Juarez, don’t seem to have a relevance to the main story. Most of the charcaters remain ciphers. It’s really only Kate we get to know. Her desire to play by the rules is never motivated, so we don’t appreciate the emotions she must experience when she sees how the rules are flouted by US personnel. Nonetheless, the world pictured seems real. I don’t know if it’s really like that, but while I read it I was involved and kept turning the pages to see what happened, so from that point of view it is a success.”

    • Somersby

      Good notes. Felt much the same way.
      …That, and I don’t want to EVER visit Mexico.

  • mulesandmud

    FYI nobody go rushing to Scribd just yet – they have a script called SICARIO there, but as far as I can tell it has no relation to the one that C reviewed today.

    • LostAndConfused

      I was scratching my head when I was first reading that script lol. I was off-put by the awful formatting and was wondering what compelled Carson to keep reading it.

  • kent

    if you get it please pass along. thanks. kentLmurray at comcast dot net

  • ArabyChic

    I hate coming up with script titles. I battle with mediocrity everytime. And I lose.

    The only example is when I START with a title — and then I battle with mediocre characters and plot. But man… what a title.

  • LostAndConfused

    Drugs and cartels from the amateur scripts I read are so overdone. They’re the new Nazis, Russian, and Mafia.

  • Nicholas J

    Sounds like a cool script, but Sicario is a memorable title? By the time I hit the post button I’ll have already forgotten it.

    • klmn

      Evidently Sicario is Mexican slang for “hit man.” So it presupposes a certain knowledge.

      • Nicholas J

        The more you know!

        • klmn

          Maybe we should write our scripts in Spanglish.

      • Cuesta

        Actually is not even a slang, is a proper spanish word.

        I would’ve named this “Asesino”, not only sounds better also prevents the problem american people have pronouncing the the Spanish ‘r’.

    • Eric

      Including words most of the general audience has never seen before tends to not be the way to go.

    • Linkthis83

      Sicario? Isn’t that the last horse to win the Triple Crown?

      • Kirk Diggler

        Nah, that was Spectacular Bid. Okay, it SHOULD HAVE been Spectacular Bid, maybe the greatest thoroughbred horse name ever.

  • Poe_Serling

    “… that title doesn’t lend itself to being remembered past a few weeks. In order to be memorable, you should be more specific. Take the recent surprise hit, “John Wick.” That’s a memorable title mainly because it’s highlighting a specific name. Do you know what the original title for that script was? “Scorn.”

    The Art of Picking a Movie Title… a possible Thursday post from Carson? Perhaps in the near future. Until then…

    A couple of articles that look at the process of picking a title and its impact on the film’s box office:

    http://www.thewrap.com/movie-titles-box-office-escape-plan-free-birds-gravity-machete/

    http://articles.latimes.com/2008/may/12/business/fi-titles12

    • Levres de Sang

      I’m fascinated by titles and love that Krakatoa, East of Java was so titled because it “sounded better”. Needless to say, Krakatoa is actually WEST of Java! I’m also enamoured of those long, biographical titles that came out of the New German Cinema of the 1970s:

      The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner
      The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant
      The Marriage of Maria Braun
      The Lost Honour of Katherina Blum

      • Eddie Panta

        Fassbinder:
        Ali: Fear Eats Soul

        • walker

          Ali: Fear Eats the Soul is a great film.

          • Levres de Sang

            For me, Fassbinder is one of the few who deserves the epithet “genius”.

      • brenkilco

        The End Of The World In Our Usual Bed In A Night Full Of Rain.

        One of Lina Wertmuller’s shorter titles.

      • Poe_Serling

        From the good old ’70s:

        Werewolves on Wheels
        Necrophagus
        The Man Who Haunted Himself

        My personal favorite:

        Wham! Bam! Thank You, Spaceman!

        • brenkilco

          A favorite from the seventies The Last of Sheila. Not much of a title before you’ve seen the movie. But afterward you realize it’s an elaborate pun that actually provides a clue to the mystery. Not exactly a good title. But a very clever one.

          • Poe_Serling

            Oh yeah, I’ve seen that one. Talk about a fun and entertaining film. Screenplay by Anthony Perkins and Stephen Sondheim.

    • brenkilco

      I don’t think titles matter at all. If John Wick is such a memorable title why wasn’t John Carter? And it seems almost a law that romcoms must have interchangeable and instantly forgettable titles. A Funny Thing Happened, The thing of it is, A Day in the Life. Are these actual titles.? I don’t even know and I bet you don’t either. And if you can divorce the names from the movies who had more lame titles than Hitchcock? Torn Curtain, Rear Window. Sound like they’re about household repairs. Marnie, The Birds, North by Northwest. Please.

      • Kirk Diggler

        You forgot the all time classic “Linoleum Cracks”.

        • brenkilco

          Ah but The Mirror Cracked is a real title. An Agatha Christie picture which strangely does not feature a cracked mirror. SO WTF. I got curious enough to try to figure out what the damned title meant. Turns out the source book was actually called The Mirror Cracked From Side to Side which is a line from an interesting somewhat obscure narrative poem by Tennyson The Lady of Shallot about a cursed Arthurian noblewoman. The mirror cracks when the curse hits her. Still not sure what the hell it has to do with the plot of Christie’s book or the movie but at least now I know where the not great title comes from.

      • Poe_Serling

        “I don’t think titles matter at all.”

        Yeah, probably in most cases a really good film can succeed at the box office even with a so-so title.

        But I wonder…

        If Universal boss Sid Sheinberg’s idea of retitling Back to the Future to Spaceman from Pluto would’ve hampered the potential box office of that film or not. ;-)

        • brenkilco

          Sometimes but I’m willing to bet if you make a list of your twenty favorite movies the majority will have titles somewhere between vague and meaningless to anyone not already familiar with the stories.

          • Poe_Serling

            “….the majority will have titles somewhere between vague and meaningless to anyone not already familiar with the stories.”

            True.

            The other day I was talking to a friend and said “Have you ever seen The Ring?’

            Their reply: ‘Of course – I just love Michael York. It’s one of my favorite TV movies based on a Danielle Steel novel.’

          • brenkilco

            Another funny thing about titles. You can’t copyright them. The Ring, for instance, is also the title of a Hitchcock silent. Makes me wonder. What’s the most reused title in movie history?

        • Levres de Sang

          “Some movie titles just nail the spirit of the story being presented.”

          I couldn’t agree more.

      • bex01

        Speaking of rom-coms, I thought ‘The F Word’ was a much better title than ‘What If’. Maybe it was released as ‘The F Word’ in some countries?

      • Malibo Jackk

        Those are movie titles.
        Still believe its possible to sell a script that has a great title.
        (Emphasis on great. And great titles are rare,)

        One of the problems amateurs have is that they are trying to title their movie,
        instead of trying to title their script.
        (You run the risk of a reader saying — “That’s not a movie title.”
        To which you should answer — “No shit.”)

        In the absence of a great title, a good title can help a script.
        (Didn’t Carson just say he searched through the titles of the scripts?)

        • brenkilco

          What do you think is the difference between a great script title and a great movie title? And what are some great titles, ones you think might actually have made a difference in the script’s reception.

  • Lucid Walk

    Carson hasn’t done a “10 Tips From” in a while. I’ve just watched the movie “Ghost,” and it’s chalk full of tips I’d like to share (thank you if you decide to read, and sorry this has nothing to do with “Sicario”).

    1. Dramatic Irony — It’s fun when we know something the characters don’t. This movie practically swims in dramatic irony. Sam is in the room of every scene, and none of the characters (except Oda Mae) notice him. So we’re on the edge of our seats when all he can do is sit back and watch when his murderer, Willy, invades his apartment. Or when his best friend, Carl, tries seducing his girlfriend, Molly.

    2. MID-POINT/STAKES ALERT — Carl decides to believe Molly’s crazy story and locates the killer Willy. Sam follows Carl to Willy’s apartment. But when Carl arrives, it turns out THEY KNOW EACH OTHER. Carl had hired Willy to rob Sam, not kill him. Of course, things went bad and now they have to adjust their plan. Sam is devastated to learn that his best friend was responsible for his death. And even worse, Molly is in greater danger.

    3. Setups and payoffs — This script has more than I can count. We get the Train Ghost who shatters a window; he later trains Sam how to move physical objects. We get the cat who can sense Sam’s presence; Sam uses the cat into scaring Willy out of his apartment and away from Molly. We get an obese ghost who enters and manipulates Oda Mae’s body; Sam uses her to dance with Molly one last time.

    4. Conflict Alert — Oda Mae is a fantastic character. She’s the only living person who can help Sam, and yet she makes every attempt to get away from him. The movie would’ve been boring if she had gone and helped him like a good Samaritan at the start.

    That’s all I have for now. I just miss the “10 Tips From” posts, and I hope this amateur effort was enough to bring them back. If you have anymore, or some from another movie, please share.

    • LostAndConfused

      I asked him about this a while ago, and he said he’s not going to be doing them anymore.

      • Lucid Walk

        Well, that’s unfortunate. I really liked those posts. Thanks for the update

        • LostAndConfused

          Yeah :( the “10 tips from…” Are the articles I re-read all the time.

          • Eddie Panta

            I prefer Top Ten Things Not To Do lists.

          • Lucid Walk

            If I think of something, I’d be happy to post it. I don’t think this’ll be the last time I do one of these “10 Tips From”

        • Buddy

          agreed with you guys. But maybe you/we can ask him to post our 10 tips film ?
          maybe it’s just a matter of time, that’s why carson don’t do it anymore ?
          Would be cool is SS readers could post “10 tips films” from time to time, nah ??

    • Eddie Panta

      Yes, lots to learn from this script.

      Dramatic Irony: In the opening scene the characters are demolishing the apt. they’re covered in white dust from the broken plaster. They look like ghosts.

  • grendl

    So Jamie Dornan is sticking around for the next installment of the softcore S and M for Mom jeans set “Fifty darker Shades ” or whatever it’s going to be called.

    He’s kind of a problem despite all the money it’s made.

    Dakota Johnson has that girl next door, Kate Winslet in Titanic approachable pretty thing going for her ( as opposed to the Maxim hot that Mila Kunis has which kept women far from “Jupiter Ascending ” ), but for the role of Christian Grey, they really picked a run of the mill looking guy with very little humor, or screen presence.

    He doesn’t exude mystery, just cockiness which is more suited to stock brokers in the “Wolf of Wall Street”, hedge fund manager assholes without any real charm.

    I mean physically he looks like he could play Ted Bundy, but there’s an almost comical seriousness in his stare as opposed to Mickey Rourke who played another Mr. Gray in “9 and 1/2 Weeks”,

    Yeah, the movie did a lot of money, but it could have made more had it gotten better reviews and drawn the fence sitters out on subsequent week-ends. It was kind of a blown opportunity, and I don’t know how much passion Kelly Marcel had for the project ( did you talk about BDSM on those walks on the boardwalk Carson? ) but I think she’s more comfortable writing about Mary Poppins than kinky sex.

    Or maybe she was handcuffed by those who wanted the sex watered down for the masses. Or maybe she was just taking a very lucrative job.

    The overall complaint by critics was that it was very tame. Maybe the producers think the masses need their bondage with a spoon full of sugar, I don’t know. Its the kind of project that gets made by people who realize how bad E.L. James book really was despite it’s popularity and did the best with what they had. For making a leather purse out of a sows ear, Ms. Marcel should be commended.

    Still there is the question of what one does for the sequel. The built in fan base will of course turn out in droves opening week-end once again no doubt, but do you stick with the same cast, especially since Mr. Dornan was shouldering a lot of the blame for his wooden acting.

    I haven’t seen the film , just the trailers and have to say there’s just nothing that charismatic about him in that role. It would be like casting Orlando Bloom in the same role. Does Dornan seem like the most interesting man in the world? No. Does he seem like the smartest guy in the room? No. If a script suggests him as either, can actual personal appearance and mannerisms compensate for that deficiency. No.

    So I would recast the role of Christian Grey. Someone with less of a stalker stare, someone who wouldn’t be better cast as the Mad Monk Rasputin. I know few A listers would come near the part for fear of career ruin, so it would have to be someone in the B pool or lower down the ladder.

    Big screen charisma is hard to find. That’s why when they do stumble on someone who has it, like Harrison Ford in his hay day, they drove the Brinks truck up to his door. Its nothing a writer can put on a page. An actor cannot manifest it. He must be born with it.

    That’s why Brendan Frasier was such weak sauce in the “Mummy” movies, He was a pale comparison to Harrison Ford, had a weak chin, a baby face, a teenage boy’s voice. He wasn’t a man in other words, in terms of traditional Alpha screen males like Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart or Kirk Douglas.

    Harrison was.

    I’m not sure the casting of Chris Pratt as Indiana Jones is the greatest idea other than monetarily, which of course sounds oxymoronic to those in the industry. If it makes money it must be right, right?

    But Pratt again has a boyish quality, humor, but not the Alpha angle Harrison Ford had. There’s something about Ford, like Brando, like Dean that was enigmatic. Pratt was fun to watch in “Guardians” but there was so many other things going on with the talking raccoons and trees, and exploding universe, it’s hard to tell if he’ll be able to pull off being the real focal point of a blockbuster movie.

    I have nothing against Jamie Doornan, and don’t blame him for taking the role that breaks him into the business, but he seemed miscast from the start for this franchise. Abs do not equate to onscreen charisma, and the women who swoon at six packs and read romance novels aren’t going to be the sharpest tools in the shed anyway.

    Men are the ones who are more swayed by visual. By body parts. Women of course like good looking men ( not too good looking ), especially when Leo DiCaprio is giving up his life for the pretty yet accessible and slightly plump Kate Winslett. You think if they cast Kim Basinger in that role they would have flocked to the theatre in droves to see “Titanic” fifty times. Not on your life.

    Now there is the matter of continuity. Can you change the titular character for a second installment of a franchise? I don’t know. But the chemistry between Dakota and Doornan was clearly lacking in the first film. And actually you need only watch the trailer to see that lack of spark.

    And for those of you who read this post, the ones who complain about all my posts, I have something to say.

    I don’t give a flying fuck whether or not you agree with anything I post here. I don’t care if you object to the manner or tone in which I post. There’s nothing you can write to change what I post, and how I post. I am not one of those people who cowers to mob pressure, or caters who arbitrary political correctness which seems to change on a daily basis.

    If you don’t like my posts why are you reading them? Are you masochists? Maybe you should audition for the role of Anastasia Steele if that’s the case. Because reading someone who you don’t like day after day means you’re a masochist.

    Maybe you should explore that somewhere other than this message board. Because people will start to wonder about you.

    Its like that joke in “Annie Hall” about the two old ladies complaining about the food in a restaurant, the punchline being “and such small portions.”

    So I’ve gone off topic and made up my own today. That’s how I roll. You don’t get just the Dr. Jekyll with me, you get Mr. Hyde, most of the time. If you have been around more than a year here and don’t know that by now, then you’re an idiot.

    That’s right, I said it, an idiot.

    This board doesn’t belong to you. No one has to cater their form of expression to your delicate sensibilities. And there are those who value freedom of speech much more than niceness and your Miss Manners decorum.

    This country was founded on those who fought and died for my right of free speech, not for your right to silence it because you’re offended by a post you shouldn’t be reading in the first place, because you’re well aware of who wrote it.

    That is all.

    • Andrew Parker

      Re: Kelly Marcel

      It’s ironic that her breakthrough script was about PL Travers, a controlling author reluctant to give up any control in the adaptation of her book to screen. EL James is basically a modern PL Travers, and by all accounts the movie doesn’t deviate too much from the book and includes a lot of exact dialogue. The watered down sex was probably necessary to make people feel comfortable in a movie theater.

      That being said, I’m sure Kelly is happy to cash the check and move on to her next project, one she actually cares about. We should all be so lucky one day…

      • brenkilco

        EL James is basically a modern PL Travers.

        Yeah, when the spoonful of sugar didn’t work Poppins pulled out the cuffs.

    • Matthew Garry

      I’m not sure the the government is involved here unless Carson has a whole shadowy side we don’t know about, so it really doesn’t have anything to do with “free speech”.

      But regardless, leaning on “free speech” for an Internet comment is saying that the best argument in favour of your post is that it isn’t actually illegal to post it in spite of its content. Surely it should have more merit to it than simply not being illegal?

    • drifting in space

      Got it.

    • Nicholas J

      Mickey Rourke for Christian Grey.

      • klmn

        Yes, with the Sin City makeup.

    • gazrow

      “physically he looks like he could play Ted Bundy”

      Funny you should say that. Jamie Dornan played a serial killer in the BBC’s excellent ‘The Fall’ – he was creepy as hell and fit the role perfectly.

      I haven’t seen ‘Fifty Shades Of Grey’ nor do I intend to, but I do think Dornan was superb as a mass murderer and look forward to seeing more of him in the future.

      • LV426

        “The Fall” was good stuff. Season two is out now. I need to watch it, except there’s too many films and shows I’m still catching up.

    • mulesandmud

    • Eric

      Freedom of speech actually extends to the people who told you to shut up too. Glorious, isn’t it?

    • kenglo

      “But Pratt again has a boyish quality, humor, but not the Alpha angle
      Harrison Ford had. There’s something about Ford, like Brando, like Dean
      that was enigmatic. Pratt was fun to watch in “Guardians” but there was
      so many other things going on with the talking raccoons and trees, and
      exploding universe, it’s hard to tell if he’ll be able to pull off being
      the real focal point of a blockbuster movie.”

      I thought Pratt was actually the weakest part of the film…did nothing for me…kind of like early Bradley Cooper films….just didn’t get him. As he’s (Cooper) evolved and grown as an actor, he’s gotten to be more ‘watchable’…to me anyway.

      • Dan B

        I’ll defend Pratt here. He’s great in the first 10 minutes. He’s a little more flat after that, but the whole beginning sequence once he lands – starts playing “come and get your love” through his escape said everything about his character while being incredibly fun.

    • filmklassik

      “He was a pale comparison to Harrison Ford, had a weak chin, a baby face, a teenage boy’s voice. He wasn’t a man in other words, in terms of traditional Alpha screen males like Errol Flynn, Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart or Kirk Douglas.”

      Well, there are plenty of terrific actors out there, but I agree that this particular TYPE of actor is a dying breed.

      I think it has something to do with the softness of our culture. Take a moment and consider the times those guys were living in before they became movie stars.

      On the other hand, we — the proud members of the Baby Boom Generation, Generation X, Generation Y, and the wet-behind-the-ears Millennials — have all benefited from seven solid decades of relative peace and prosperity.

      Yes, we did have Vietnam (58 thousand Americans dead)… Iraq and Afghanistan (7 thousand dead)… 9/11 (3 thousand dead)… not to mention economic downturns and important existential crisis such as the struggle for Civil Rights… but nothing to test our mettle like a decade-long DEPRESSION (one with virtually no economic safety net) and a goddamn SECOND WORLD WAR (where 16 million Americans served, and 405,000 lost their lives).

      In other words, we’ve had a pretty cushy time of it — which certainly beats the alternative — but I believe this generation’s particular stripe of Leading Man seems to reflect that cushiness.

      Hence, the rise of the Man Child.

      • kenglo

        :”Well, there are plenty of terrific actors out there, but I agree that this particular type of actor is a dying breed.”

        LOl my daughter was telling me about her friend who was trying to break up with his girlfriend, suggesting they see other people, and she said, “No.”

        And that was the end of the discussion.

  • brenkilco

    He looks young for 35, but his eyes – seems like they lived for decades before him

    Sorry, don’t agree this is a good line. Yeah, we all know what the writer means. Young guy with an aged soul, corrupt, witness to things no one should ever see, etc. But what the hell is this actually saying? That the physical eyes sat around a lab for years before they got implanted in this guy’s head? That they’ve got cataracts? You’re not really talking about his eyes. You’re talking about the character’s attitude. It’s metaphor, a bit of synecdoche. And you don’t make it work by dissociating the orbs from the person staring through them. The expression in the eyes is that of a man decades older than the character. He is spiritually decades older or more decayed than his years. The eyes are just eyes.

    • drifting in space

      Eye transplants. It’s a twist in the 3rd act.

    • Dan B

      I feel like I see this a lot. If the description is clever it increases your chance to “cheat.” On screen, how on earth are you going show aged eyes????

      • brenkilco

        For the extreme eye closeups you substitute Hal Holbrook.

    • Howie428

      I agree with you on this. For me that line is a spin on the character description trope of saying they have “old eyes”, or “eyes that have seen too much”, or “weary eyes”, etc. Whenever I see one of these it just makes me think, so they have eyes then. Good luck to the casting director!

      Most of the time this kind of description is a way of saying, this is a deep character so take a moment and push the camera in on their eyes to show us the deepness! Of course that technique works well on screen because we connect with eyes more than with anything else, so we should probably write that for all our main characters.

      • Eddie Panta

        Eyes, it’s all in the eyes. Half the film is about them.
        That’s why E.T. and BUZZ LIGHTYEAR are so popular.

        • drifting in space

          That’s what I look like watching his movies.

  • Somersby

    Did a search for this script and came up empty. Anyone willing to share, I’ll be you debt. Thx.
    b.b.callow[at]gmail.com

    • Altius

      Sent.

      • Brandon Matthews

        @disqus_1lpCCDlBFv:disqus would u mind sending to me? brandoncmatthews @ gmail dot com.

        Thanks

        • Altius

          Sent. Welcome.

  • tgraham22

    would love to read it. please send to tgraham2222@gmail.com

  • AMinus

    Would really love to read this one. Anyone willing to share? Please.
    aminus12@hotmail.com

    • kenglo

      Sent

      • Bacon Statham

        Could I get in on that please?
        rooster82@hotmail.co.uk

        • kenglo

          sent to both

      • andyjaxfl

        can you send me a copy? amuller33 at gmail

        Thank you!

      • AMinus

        Thanks! Really appreciate it.

  • Meta5

    Weinstein bought Dracula 2000 because of its title despite the fact the script “stinks”.

    http://blogs.amctv.com/movie-blog/2007/10/dracula-2000-wh/

    • klmn

      He should take a look at my titles.

      • Kirk Diggler

        Sean Connery said the same thing on Celebrity Jeopardy once, except he used the word ‘titties’.

        • GoIrish

          I’ll take the “penis mightier” for $500.

          • Midnight Luck

            Sounds like an SNL skit they used to do. Can’t remember who used to play Sean Connery, but he was a great curmudgeonly character.

          • GoIrish

            I think it was Darrell Hammond. He had some other amusing ones – “the rapist”/”therapist”, “whore ads”/”who reads.” I thought Celebrity Jeopardy was one of the funnier skits they did.

          • Midnight Luck

            Those are hilarious. I remember now.

          • Meta5

            “Anal bum cover” for $300.

      • Dan B

        Dd you guys watch SNL40? Le Tits Now!!!! “I’m sorry that was Let it Snow”

    • LV426

      Looks like this mentality didn’t help much for “I, Frankenstein” either.

  • kenglo

    Heck, I read the first page and I was into it….

  • kenglo

    Oh wow – it clicked! Something to think about when you are writing your Script Shadow 250 story –

    “Stories entertain when they give the audience a fresh model of life empowered with an affective meaning. To retreat behind the notion that the audience simply wants to dump its troubles at the door and escape reality is a cowardly abandonment of the artist’s responsibility. Story isn’t a flight from reality but a vehicle that carries us on our search for reality, our best effort to make sense out of the anarchy of existence.”

    Robert McKee

    Happy Writing!!

    • Malibo Jackk

      I’m going to suggest a rather sloppy answer.

      Have always wondered what would happen if you were in a studio meeting — and you quoted something from McKee? Would they run out and hire McKee? Or just throw you out of the room?

      There is nothing wrong with being inspired. I’m just not sure it’s the right bullshit.

      “Story isn’t a flight from reality but a vehicle that carries us on our
      search for reality, our best effort to make sense out of the anarchy of
      existence.”

      That’s a powerful statement. But it is strongly countered by this:
      Right now there are not one but — three events going on in the world that could trigger World War 111. And our military is overstretched. Putin knows this. ISIS knows this. And Iran knows this.

      No one really cares. They’re looking for emotion. That’s why they watch football games. That’s why tabloids sell. That’s why murder headlines the newspapers.

      And that’s why people go to movies.

      (It’s just an opinion.)

      • kenglo

        First, the discovery of a world we do not know. No matter how intimate or epic, contemporary or historical, concrete or fantasized, the world of an eminent artist always strikes leaves, we step wide-eyed into an untouched society, a cliche-tree zone where the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

        Second, once inside this alien world, we find ourselves. Deep within
        these characters and their conflicts we discover our own humanity.

        We do not wish to escape life but to find life, to use our minds in fresh,
        experimental ways, to flex our emotions, to enjoy, to learn, to add depth to
        our days.

        Just because I quote the guy doesn’t mean I blindly follow. It just made sense to me, and I wanted to share. Geez, first a grendl attack, now a ken attack? What’s up with ya’ll today? I got a new job, am buying a house, have a three month old grandson, a wife of 32 years….three beautiful daughters….you can’t get me mad today….not authorized….

        • Malibo Jackk

          Love me, love my dog.
          It’s an opinion. Not an attack.

          The great thing about screenwriting is that it exists — even though the pros themselves often differ about how to approach the craft.

          • kenglo

            grendl will always be okay, like water running off of a duck, he’s a survivor….

            One last quote – a writing quote –

            “We read to know we are not alone.”
            William Nicholson

            I think the same applies to film, thus the words from McKee…obnoxious, straightforward, hard nosed….but the dude makes sense…not grendl, McKee….

          • Malibo Jackk

            I have an interesting story about that (McKee).
            But I’ll mention it at another time.

  • Kirk Diggler

    OT but relevant. If any SS readers plan on entering SS 250, what genre do you think will give you the best shot to win?

    I wrote two pages yesterday of a non-contained horror film. Yes, 2 whole pages. Horror isn’t my favorite genre but it’s an idea I’ve had for quite some time so i figure I’d give a horror spec script a shot (though lots of humor in it).

    Anyone wish to share what genre they are writing their SS 250 entry in?

    • drifting in space

      Not sure which would give you the best shot of winning, but probably something obscure, French, and involving lesbians.

      Which mine contains, but it will be an epic historical type story. Like Braveheart and Gladiator.

      Except it’s going to fail brilliantly.

      • Kirk Diggler

        Moan of Arc?

        • drifting in space

          I didn’t have a title but now I do.

          Are we co-writers now? Shit.

          • Kirk Diggler

            Magic can happen at any time.

          • klmn

            Don’t forget to sever an arm or two.

          • Buddy

            I’m french, so maybe I can help for the french things ? :)

    • charliesb

      Carson loves Sci-Fi, so I think anyone with a great scifi concept will do well. Horror is cheap to produce and can make a lot of money, but I think it’s gotta be something different to really stand out. Something not too complicated or out there. I also think comedy is another good one, we haven’t has a huge breakout comedy hit for a while now.

      I’m going back and forth between two scripts right now, one is a romantic comedy (a genre I’ve never written before and am completely terrified about writing) and the other a darker action movie with an ensemble cast that is the type of film I usually gravitate towards. After I finish outlining, one will probably have to fall to the wayside. My money is on the romantic comedy.

      • Kirk Diggler

        Romantic comedy, that’s a tough nut to crack. I’ve tried my hand at it. Everything tried tends to be ‘well worn territory’, so it needs something different to stand out from every other bad Katherine Heigl movie out there. Good luck.

        • charliesb

          I know right? And worse I don’t think I’m particularly funny. But an idea came to me, and won’t go away, I figure if I get it down on paper, it will either turn into a script or I’ll be able to set it aside and move on.

          And ya, the world definitely does not need anymore Heigel romantic comedies. I’m thinking more Moonstruck/Groundhog day, though I can’t picture who my lead actress would be. Everyone seems either too old or too young, or not a big enough name to pull it off. :/

          • Kirk Diggler

            I like that you think of Groundhog Day as a romantic comedy. I suppose I’ve never thought of it that way, but ultimately, that’s what it is. Andi McDowell also did Green Card which was a pretty decent romcom too.

          • Midnight Luck

            I think Anna Kendrick could be the next good romantic comedy actress. She is hilarious, nice and just plain fun to watch.

          • Dan B

            Do you think some of the up an comers are avoiding it though? Bradley Cooper seemed primed to be that guy but he’s taken a different approach. Also Kendrick seems to be knee deep in mumblecore

          • Midnight Luck

            She just released a musical-romance. not sure how she would be considered mumble core.
            Also she is doing PITCH PERFECT 2, which is a pretty mainstream movie, being that PP1 was so successful.

            I know Bradley Cooper looked like he could’ve gone down that path after Silver Linings, but he seems instead to have decided to take chances on movies that will make a “Statement”, and seems to have been very successful in his choices.

            I do believe everyone is staying away from Rom Com, as the public doesn’t seem interested in them, they haven’t been profitable, or blockbusters for a very long time, and no one is breaking out because of them like they used to.

            So yeah, I think most everyone is staying away.

            I think 500 DAYS OF SUMMER was one of the last. Even though both actors already had quite a bit of success before it, and were known, that movie did put them on the map.

            Yet everyone still considers that movie a fluke, and no one wants to be in, or make a straight Rom Com nowadays.

            But one day it will, everything cycles.

          • charliesb

            The last one I saw was probably more a Romantic Dramedy than Comedy called THE ONE I LOVE. I thought it was fantastic. If you look at Netflix you’ll see tons of low budget or made for TV rom coms. I think the public is interested and waiting… and waiting.

            All it’ll take is one great script, a bit of stunt casting and a little bit of luck…

          • charliesb

            Cooper isn’t avoiding them. He’s in that disaster Aloha, and has another coming up called Honeymoon with Harry. i think Cooper is hoping to be the male Sandra Bullock where he can take on comedies that appeal to the greater public and keep his star shiny and still do more “statement” pieces to get acclaim.

        • Dan B

          There’s slot of garbage rom coms, but I think that’s because many lack a premise that guarantee conflict. Like the Proposal worked because of the hook and conflict caused by their dishonesty. Same for How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. In every scene there’s conflict . Also in every scene there’s that tension build up because the audience and one of the characters know what’s goin on, while the other is oblivious. I tried writing a comedy which was on AOW here, and one of the main problems was that the rom com part Iof the story was just flat because it lacked the conflict.

      • klmn

        Carson also loves contained thrillers. Whether that would give you the best shot to win, I can’t say.

      • Midnight Luck

        If you can crack the Rom-Com nut, that would be fantastic. Maybe you could resurrect it from the dead.
        I think there was a time in the 80’s-90’s where the Rom-Com was a very wanted property because stars were being made (primarily Female) and people were making the movies blockbusters. That was the Julia Roberts, Meg Ryan, even Sandra Bullock phase.

        Now it has lost so much favor, that no one will touch it with a ten foot pole, unless it is a “wacky-comedy” (see THE WEDDING RINGER, or THE OTHER WOMAN (though not technically a Rom-Com, unless it is considered a Wom-Com)).
        Problem is, NO ONE is going to them. It seems to have just died from the public favor.
        There were a few times it looked like it might come back. BRIDGET JONES’ DIARY, LOVE ACTUALLY. But they didn’t stick.

        So, now, I would say getting a Rom-Com picked up would be more difficult than a Western. Yet if someone did, their name would go down in history. Shaking things up and making a successful Rom-Com would be so enlightening.

    • andyjaxfl

      I’m going for the clanking swords genre myself.

    • Malibo Jackk

      Thriller/Chiller.

  • scriptfeels

    i love this website.

  • klmn

    Gritty romantic comedy? You mean like sand in the KY jelly?

  • Levres de Sang

    Ah yes, those Argento and giallo titles were amazing!

    Four Flies on Grey Velvet
    The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion

    And the list does indeed go on…

    • brenkilco

      There’s a seventies movie I’d always wanted to see just because of its crazy title “Unman, Wittering and Zigo.” Finally caught it on Youtube. A not bad Lord of the Flies type thriller set at an english boarding school. The title it turns out is the last three names on a student attendance roll.

  • davejc

    You confused mystery with suspense. It’s not a big deal. But it kinda is :)

  • no name

    Emily Blunt fan is awesome for doing all this emailing. Thanks for your generosity!

  • Cfrancis1

    Oh, giallos always had the best titles! Blood and Black Lace, Suspiria, Twitch of the Death Nerve! Just cool-ass titles!

  • AMinus

    Thanks!

  • LV426

    Thanks for the positive vibes.

    I’m thinking it would be a relatively easy genre flick to make on a sensible budget. Tunnels can be relit and reused, so no need for tons of extraneous and elaborate sets. We’d be on the Canadian border, so easily filmable using Canadian talent and crew which is pretty standard and cost effective. Plus, bad ass Mountie sidekicks helping round up aliens. It’s also topical with the immigration issue.

    If not a feature, then maybe a SyFy original series.

    Possible title: INFINITE BORDER

  • andyjaxfl

    sorry for the delay but I sent it this morning.

  • drifting in space

    I don’t know if anyone mentioned this, but the eyes line is ripped straight out of American Beauty.

    • august4

      Totally different line…