Genre: Drama
Premise: Follows a group of characters, with the focus on a writer trying to finish his latest novel in the midst of a complicated affair.
About: This is Paul Haggis’s latest writing-directing effort. Haggis’s film, Crash, won the Best Picture Oscar in 2004. Haggis has gone back and forth between big projects and personal projects since. His personal projects haven’t really broken out, but his big projects have done just fine (Million Dollar Baby, Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace). Haggis was known even before Crash as one of the better writers in town, so his scripts are almost always good reads. Third Person comes out this month (June 20th) and has a stellar cast that includes James Franco, Mila Kunis, Olivia Wilde, Liam Neeson, Maria Bello and Adrien Brody. It should be noted that this is an older draft and that Haggis has probably worked on it since.
Writer: Paul Haggis
Details: 121 pages – May 24, 2011 draft

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Man, just a week after I told everyone to beware of The Wall of Text, I see it on the FIRST PAGE of Third Person! BUT before all of you go hollering at me (“See Carson! There are no rules!”) we should note that Haggis is also the director of this script, and therefore the rules don’t apply. Without having to get his script past readers, he doesn’t need to keep their attention the same way you, the unknown do.

It was rather strange to see though, as the last couple of Haggis scripts I read were quite sparse. Maybe this was an early draft where Haggis was still exploring things and therefore unafraid to ramble? I don’t know. But after you get past the opening Text Wall, things start moving along a lot faster, and Third Person becomes one of the better scripts I’ve read this year.

I have a new gauge for determining screenplay quality: How many times I check the internet while reading! With Third Person, I only checked TWICE! For the average Amateur script, I probably check it at least 30 times. Maybe I’ll add the “internet check gauge” at the end of every review now. We’ll see.

Third Person follows a group of seemingly random characters. There’s 50-something Michael, a married writer who’s rented out a hotel room in London to finish his latest novel. There’s 20-something Anna, an aspiring writer who’s having an affair with Michael. She’s flown to London so Michael can read her latest short story (which she hopes to get published), with ‘fooling around’ also on the docket.

There’s 40-something Sean, a middle-income married businessman in Italy. He meets a beautiful but troubled local, Monica, who’s in desperate need of money to buy her daughter back from some bad men.

Finally, there’s Julia, an extremely attractive woman who’s had a huge fall from grace. Once married with a son, she went crazy and almost tried to kill him. She risks never seeing her son again if she can’t convince a court-appointed therapist that she’s sane.

The main story is Michael and Anna. Despite it being the most boring plot on paper, the relationship between the two is captivating. Both of these characters have trouble loving, and they push and pull at each other in such a depraved manner that you’re constantly wondering what the hell’s going to happen to them. Both characters have power over the other (him, his job, her, her sexuality) and use that power at every turn.

The Sean storyline is a weird one. Sean meets this Monica girl at a bar in Italy. She “accidentally” leaves her bag there. He finds her to return it, which is when he learns she’s trying to save her daughter and needs money to do it. Sean’s not sure if he’s being conned, but he gets the money for her anyway because he wants to believe in her, because he wants to believe in a just world. What happens next are a thousand twists and turns as we, like Sean, wonder if this woman is legit or not.

Julia’s story is the least interesting, as we’re not given enough information up front to understand why this therapist meeting is so important to her. Therefore, everything leading up to that appointment is fairly boring, as her scenes are relegated to cleaning hotel rooms at the hotel she just started working at.

kZbg3H1

I’d give Third Person an “impressive” through the first 100 pages. Michael and Anna’s relationship in particular was a blast to read. Not only was there the unpredictability of the relationship itself, but both characters were putting important writing works into the world, and the suspense of how those works were going to be received (Michael, by his publisher, and Anna, by Michael) kept me engaged. True, my love of writing played a part in that, but even without it, this was one of the better relationships I’ve read on the page in awhile. The only way I can describe it is pure… ENERGY.

Indeed, the unpredictability of those two bled into the rest of the script. Haggis is so far ahead of you as you try to predict where this will go, that after awhile you shake your head and give in. It’s what every great writer does. With whatever element you’re writing (story, character, scene), figure out what the audience’s expectation is, then use that against them. Haggis does that again and again and again here.

Where Third Person gets weird is in its final act. I don’t know if Haggis was trying to outthink himself or what, but let’s just say it begins with a HUGE F*CKING SHOCK. Something we didn’t see coming at all. I actually had to go back and re-read earlier parts of the script just to confirm that what I read was what I read (I’m sorry I can’t reveal it here – it’s too huge of a spoiler).

Personally, I don’t think Haggis set up that twist well enough for us to buy it. But it’s what happens afterwards that throws us for a loop. As the plotlines start to intersect, either they don’t intersect clearly or I completely missed some earlier setup, because all of a sudden Julia (the child-hurter) is calling Michael’s wife and I had no idea these two even knew each other. It was so out-of-left-field, I started to wonder if Julia and Anna were the same person.

Part of my reasoning was that Michael’s novel was supposedly about characters who didn’t know they were in a book (a throwaway line early on). But that didn’t explain how characters could’ve been the same people.

The thing is, the first 100 pages are so good, you almost forgive this confusion and believe it’s your fault (maybe it was?). And in the end, when I put Third Person down, I immediately wanted to discuss it with someone to figure this stuff out. That’s a good sign. Because I’ve read plenty of confusing scripts where the only thing I wanted to do afterwards was press delete.

The bigger picture here is that Third Person is a dying genre. This is a straight drama where nobody shoots anybody. Kramer vs. Kramer kind of stuff. They don’t make these movies anymore. Hollywood has a new name for them. They call them “execution dependent,” and saying those words in a studio office is the equivalent of telling the executive that you banged his wife last night. In fact, he’d probably be happier if you banged his wife.

Indeed, if these dramas are executed well, they’re awesome. But if they’re not, they can lose 50 million easy. And for what? Maybe 40 million upside? No studio wants to take that chance. They’d rather make a monster/alien movie that, whether it’s executed well or not, they can slap together a snazzy trailer for and get people to show up.

There are a few people left making these movies and Paul Haggis is one of them. Thank God for that because we need variety in the marketplace.

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

Number of times I checked Internet during read: 2 times

What I learned: If you’re writing a straight drama (no cops or spies), you have to make the audience talk afterwards. That’s the only way you have a shot. You don’t have explosions or special effects to bring people in the traditional way. So you need word of mouth. Haggis does that two ways here. First, there’s that huge shocking twist on page 100 that I can’t spoil (sorry!). And second, the last 20 pages are open to interpretation, which should get people trading ideas afterwards.  In other words, when you’re writing these, think about movies like “The Crying Game.”

  • Shaun Snyder

    Anyway that I can get a copy of this script, please? thesnyd1982@yahoo.com

    • Citizen M

      Sent.

  • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

    First, if anyone has this script, I would greatly appreciate it if they could send it my way. This review definitely makes me want to give it a read, if only to find out what this crazy twist is. mwilliams.691@gmail.com – I will love you forever!

    Haggis is a mixed bag of a writer/director for me.

    I never saw “Red Hot” (1993), so I can’t comment. But then he doesn’t do anything for 11 years, and busts back onto the scene with what I consider one of the best films of the 2000s as well as Clint Eastwood’s career, “Million Dollar Baby.” Not only brilliant writing (also including a twist that you will never see coming, but I suspect it’s a totally different type of twist…. one that was unfortunately semi-spoiled for me by one of the Scary Movies), but also brilliant fucking acting made it one of the most emotionally powerful films Haggis or Eastwood have ever done.

    Then, the next year, he wins an Oscar for writing “Crash” (also directed). I was 17 when I first saw “Crash” (which was a few years after it came out, when I first started screenwriting). I actually liked it a lot at the time. I tried rewatching it a few months back and just couldn’t. Cloying, emotionally manipulative in the worst way, embarrassingly bad dialogue, and ironically racist. Honestly, one of the worst films to win an Oscar for screenwriting, not to mention best fucking picture. “Brokeback Mountain” was indeed totally robbed that year, though my personal favorite film of that year was Haneke’s “Cache,” with “Brokeback” a close second. Ironically enough, “Brokeback Mountain” was a perfect example of how to do an emotional punch in the gut properly, unlike the miscalculated saccharine attempts of “Crash.”

    Then “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters from Iwo Jima,” both of which I found good, though not great. Then he was one of the writers on “Casino Royale,” which I loved.

    Then he does what I think was probably one of his most personal films to date (I have no evidence of this, it just seems like it), “In the Valley of Elah,” which personally I thought was an amazing film; a brilliant rebuke to our ingrained expectations of detective dramas and murder mysteries, as well as a not-so-subtle (which, unlike “Crash”, was fine with me in this case) message. Not to mention, one of Tommy Lee Jones’ greatest performances.

    ……and then……..

    “The Next Three Days.” All I can say about that film is that I remember nothing from that film. Not a single damn scene, not a single line, not a single moment. I don’t remember how it ended, I don’t remember any of it. It’s my go-to example of an unmemorable film.

    Overall, I’m a fan of Haggis. He’s written some brilliant stuff (Million Dollar Baby, In the Valley of Elah being my favorites). But he’s also written some less-than-impressive, and in fact sometimes offensive (“Crash”), stuff. His biggest problem seems that he lacks the ability to convey a message without shoving it down your throat. I’ll even admit that same problem permeates MDB and ITVOE, but in those cases, I was so moved and enthralled by other aspects, I didn’t care.

    In other words, I’m really looking forward to this movie and would love to read the script ;-)

    • Shaun Snyder

      I, too, loved Million Dollar Baby. It is one of the most deserving Best-Picture winners in the last several years, as well as a brilliant and criminally underrated screenplay. I would watch it again right now if it wasn’t such a downer :) Seriously, though — great movie!

      • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

        Agreed! That year had a lot of great films – “Sideways” is an equally brilliant, though entirely different, picture. Those are both two of my favorite films of that decade.

        A lot of people credit Roger Ebert for giving Million Dollar Baby the push it needed to sweep all the awards. The same for “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Argo,” more recently. Not sure how true that is, but Ebert did have a great track record of predicting the best picture winner very very early in the year before anyone really had any idea what had the best chances. RIP, the best film critic ever.

        • Shaun Snyder

          That’s true. Funnily enough, he was one of Crash’s most vocal supporters, too. To a certain extent, I’m with you on Crash, though. I may not have disliked it as much as you did, but I agree that it was a bad choice for Best Picture. My favorite movie that year was Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang — not exactly an Oscar-y movie, but awesome nonetheless.

          • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

            Yup, forgot to mention him doing that for “Crash.” And then he wrote an article afterward saying that “Crash” won over “Brokeback” (which he did like too) because it was “simply a better film.”

            I didn’t always agree with the man, but I always respected him.

        • astranger2

          Sideways is GOLD. ; )

          • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

            Yup. Payne has yet to out-do that one in my opinion. I think it’s a perfect screenplay.

        • astranger2

          Not only the best, but the most enjoyable to watch. ; )

    • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

      I should note that when I said “didn’t do anything for 11 years” I meant in feature films. He did a lot in television during that time.

    • astranger2

      Great comments, Matty. I agree about “Crash,” — with its star-studded ensemble cast, and its “progressive” racial agenda, not the earth-shattering social commentary it cut itself out to be. Then again, as a writer/director Haggis almost secured a triple crown of Oscar awards. Financially, and artistically, if the Oscars count in the public’s mind for anything, he scored a LIFETIME award for future financial funding, not that he needed that going in, but…

      In the film industry, he’s Norm in Cheers, everyone will always know and respect his name. Of course his following films like Million Dollar Baby and the Bond films didn’t hurt his rep either… ; )

      Crash IS a disturbingly emotionally manipulative film… much like the orchestrated “What would you do?” with the pompously pious John Quinones… Very insightful, and thoughtful commentary, Matty… props.

      • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

        Thank you :-)

        And yeah, you can’t doubt that “Crash” was the best thing that could’ve happened for Haggis’s career. A $1.2 million (if I remember correctly) indie film makes tons of money and wins Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, right on the heels of another film he penned scooping up four Oscars including Best Picture (Million Dollar Baby).

        After that, well, nobody was gonna question him. Even with all the backlash against “Crash” at the time.

      • Sherif001

        Please shoot it over to
        s.r.alabede@gmail.com

    • Citizen M

      Script sent.

      • kent

        Please, please, please. KentLmurray at comcast dot net.

        • N.A.

          last request if not too late…hquattlebaum at gmail
          thx

      • gazrow

        Would really appreciate it if you could send it my way. :)

        gazrow at hotmail dot com

        • Kirk Diggler

          Hey Gaz, if you receive can you forward it to me. You have my email. Thanks in advance.

          • gazrow

            Will send it as soon as I hopefully receive it?! :)

          • pmlove

            Hi Gaz, if I could jump on the gravy train – think Citizen probably got tired of emailing it out…

          • gazrow

            Haven’t received it as yet – but will be happy to send it your way as soon as I do. :)

          • Sherif001

            Can you please forward it to here;
            s.r.alabede@gmail.com

        • Malibo Jackk

          Might have to jump on board
          if it comes your way.
          Thanks

          malibujackk at gmail dot com

          • gazrow

            Soon as I get it I’ll pay it forward! :)

          • Logline_Villain

            Sent to you, Jackk, Sullivan & Jarman – assume you can forward to Kirk D. Enjoy…

          • gazrow

            Thanks! Much appreciated!

          • Citizen M

            Oparmar, Adam, Kent, Gazrow, Jason, Jansen, Fraggle. Coming your way.

          • bex01

            Uhhh… sorry to add to the list… but Carson’s really talked up this big twist!

            Any chance a kind soul could send it through to:
            babelfish79@gmail.com

          • Logline_Villain

            Just saw request… done!

      • Jarman Alexander

        If I’m in time to get some of that good-will, J.Jarman.Alexander at gmail dot com

      • Sullivan

        Me too please! jasondiggy at hotmail dot com

      • http://www.rocheejeffrey.com Rochée Jeffrey

        I’d love a copy as well. rocheejeffrey@gmail.com

        • Logline_Villain

          In case Citizen is on break, sent…

  • Ryan Sasinowski

    Hmm. Sounds interesting enough.

  • Andrew Parker

    Since Carson won’t spoil it, you can read this film critic’s review for the big reveal: http://www.criticsnotebook.com/2014/05/third-person-movie-review-paul-haggis-liam-neeson-mila-kunis-adrien-brody-james-franco.html

    I’m not a big fan of these movies where the main story engine is “how are these disparate stories connected?”. Or authors writing thinly veiled Roman a clefs with the books playing out as the B story of the movie. Both feel a bit overdone at this point.

    That being said, Haggis is very strong with dialogue. The read feels effortless. His characters say a lot without using extraneous words.

    But he really does have to get away from “intertwining stories” and “one shocking reveal”, lest he M Night himself.

    • Mike.H

      clicked the link and saw the short reveal of the spoiler… seems “meh” on first initial reaction.

  • astranger2

    LOL. Carson, it was a spit-up coffee moment when you mentioned the “internet check gauge.” When I’m reading something I often compulsively check multiple emails or other sites when reading ANYTHING. The “internet check gauge” is a highly credible barometer…

    Another part of your article was as poignantly insightful as it was distressfully sad… that a “drama” script would have the caveat of being “execution dependent” … and while hilarious that a studio exec would rather know you’d have drilled his wife the night prior than hear your film was “execution dependent” — is a highly sobering thought.

    Your point is intelligently made, that if you are fortunate enough to write a brilliant “drama,” and have it actually produced, and it is executed well, the upside is still capped. Because the audience size is smaller than for other high-ticket genre like pure comedies, action, and high CGI sci-fis and such.

    With a brilliant drama script that’s “well-executed” — your upside capture isn’t even a fraction of a mediocre CGI production like Pacific Rim. Or even a weak comedy like Identity Thief.

    Oh, well… I’ve always wanted a career at StarSux as a barista anyway… ; P

    Great article, regardless… Always on point… Thank you.

    • carsonreeves1

      It’s such a great way to judge a script! I wish I’d thought of it sooner. :)

      • astranger2

        It could possibly be be the next generation of SS ratings:

        [ ] what the hell did I just read — checked the internet 21-30 times!
        [ ] wasn’t for me — checked the internet 10-20 times!
        [xx] worth the read — only checked the internet 2-9 times!
        [ ] impressive — only checked the internet ONCE!
        [ ] genius — wow, never even thought of checking it!!!

        Works for me… ; )

  • Mike.H

    i’m a fan of Paul Haggis’s. Please send a copy Yokejc100 at yahoo dot com.

    • Citizen M

      Sent it.

      • JakeBarnes12

        Yo, Citizen.

        Can I bum a read?

        (That doesn’t mean what you think it does).

        cardinallemoine74@yahoo.com

        • Citizen M

          Assk and you shall receive.

          • JakeBarnes12

            Thanks, Cit. You’re a good ‘un.

          • JW

            I’ll ask as well: jwright226 at hotmail

          • Citizen M

            Done.

          • Somersby

            …Then add me to the askers list, please.
            anvil[at] total [dot] net
            Thx in advance.

  • Citizen M

    I read it a couple of years ago and wasn’t impressed. My notes at the time:

    LOGLINE: Three stories intertwine as couples in hotels London, New York and Italy deal with deception, relationships, and loss of a child.

    VERDICT: Melodramatic and slightly too clever for its own good. “Crash” lite, for Haggis fans only.

    SYNOPSIS: Michael, separated from his wife after the death of a child, is an author polishing a story in a fancy hotel in London. Sexy Anna, also a writer, comes to see him and continue their affair. Meanwhile, single Julia in New York starts work as a chambermaid in a hotel. Her son was taken away because of her alleged criminal neglect and placed with her ex-husband, a successful artist. In Rome, Sean, a ripper-off of designer fashions and married to Julia’s attorney, misses his flight and by chance gets mixed up with Monica, an attractive gypsy woman. In all three relationships, a theft sets off a chain of events. [spoilers redacted] . As the parallels between the stories multiply, we start wondering what is real and what is not.

    • Bluedust

      Citizen, could you send me over a copy? Thanks in advance. Risingseeker@yahoo. com

      • Citizen M

        Done.

    • fragglewriter

      Citzen, can you just tell me the spoilers? fragglewriter at yahoo dot com

  • JakeBarnes12

    “With Third Person, I only checked TWICE! For the average Amateur script, I probably check it at least 30 times.”

    Sounds like you be “degrading” the amateur writer, Carson. You should treat every script like it’s fresh from the printer of a Sorkin or Tarantino and drive to a remote mountain retreat to contemplate its wonders in monastic isolation.

    But seriously. Might be a little onerous for you, Carson, but it could be helpful to our Friday Hopefuls for you to note not just the frequency of your internet checking, but on what page of the script.

    Then again, since that works out to your checking out every three pages of a 90-page amateur script then I’m guessing even the three-page stretches include resisting the temptation to check the internet and dragging yourself through pages with another internet check as the carrot to keep you going. In that scenario, we’re realistically talking about your being bored for pretty much the whole read.

    If we take that as the norm, then maybe easier if we just assume that the heap of Friday “not for me’s” induce chronic ennui, so it would only be useful to note lower frequency of check outs on better scripts. So, for example, maybe a decent script has a solid twenty-page stretch, but then the start of Act II sends you back to Facebook, etc.

    That could be useful for the more competent writer to know.

    • SinclareRose

      I just chalked it up to, “Squirrel!” JakeBarnes12.

  • Casper Chris

    Where did AOW go this week?

    • Randy Williams

      How many times did you “check the internet” to see if it was there?

      Aha!!

      Lesson hammered home.

      Sly one, that Scriptshadow. Slays me.

    • Linkthis83

      Carson is behind on his AF reviews so the possible solutions to catch up were doing two in one week or taking a weekend off. Not shocked at no AOW, but still disappointed.

      The aspect of no newsletter was probably more troubling for the writers of BTC and DTTW.

      • Kirk Diggler

        Maybe the vote count went ….. down to the wire. Or it was off the chain…. or something….

        • Linkthis83

          Perhaps. Maybe the vote tallies were being PILOTed by ARIEL the unicorn and crashed into the RED RIVER TORRENS’ docks.

        • Linkthis83

          BTW, I know it was a three day weekend, but the comment total for AOW was 496 (as of right now). True, 9.2% of that was me, but it’s still a lot :)

          • Kirk Diggler

            Yeah. Almost 500 comments is good. Of course a lot of it was white noise and dissonance.

      • klmn

        Carson should atone for the missing newsletter by reviewing both BTC and DTTW.

        • Linkthis83

          Agreed.

    • IgorWasTaken

      INT. THE COLOSSEUM – DAY

      In a caged area beneath the Colosseum: A small pride of lions.

      SUPER: “ROME – 107 A.D.”

         LEADER OF THE LIONS
      Hello…?! Anyone? We’re the lions,
      over here!

      A GROUNDSKEEPER comes to the cage.

         LEADER OF THE LIONS
      Hey, so what’s the deal? Like, no
      Christians this week?
       

      • Ange Neale

        I thought it was a very funny joke, too.

  • ripleyy

    The massive twist is that James Franco can act.

  • Randy Williams

    The tagline on the “Third Person” poster reads,

    “Life can change at the turn of a page”

    What century does this take place in?

    It’s “at the SCROLL of a page”

    (I had to check the internet for the spelling of “scroll”)

  • mulesandmud

    Once again, Carson drops us squarely into the mind of the Hollywood gatekeeper.

    The web check counter is an interesting metric for boredom, but let’s not be TOO proud of this new discovery. I like to think that we can learn from script reader ADD without actually celebrating the problem.

    The tricky part of this game is to acknowledge the lowest common denominator while not becoming part of it.

    Maybe Carson should offer a ‘wifi on’ and ‘wifi off’ option for his paid notes.

  • JakeBarnes12

    35 pages in. I’m all for execution-dependent scripts. So far this is a “nothing’s happening” script.

    It’s the old thing. Curiosity only takes you through a few pages. You don’t know what a character desperately wants, or you don’t care whether they get it, means there’s no drama.

    I’m finding Sean and Monica the most interesting but that’s mainly because I love Rome. Anemic AC in the hotel rooms? Yeah. But you can’t get a cold beer in Rome? Gimme a break.

    I know too many literary novelists to find Michael interesting. They’re all assholes. Educated, so good dinner company, but assholes. And the older writer with the younger woman. Never seen that before.

    Julia doesn’t even register, and the expo was pretty clumsy: “You try sitting in an office while your ‘co-workers’ are whispering about how you tried to kill your son.” Not buying that. People who do shit like that don’t put it into words. They always talk around it.

    Guess I’ll keep reading, but ONLY because you promised a big shock on p. 100, Carson.

    • fragglewriter

      Please provide spoilers

  • IgorWasTaken

    Logline: After a 24-year-old devout Mormon writes a poignant screenplay about his two-year religious mission on the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, a studio executive makes him an impressive mid-six-figure offer, but only if he’ll bang the executive’s wife.

    Title: Missionary-Position.tv

    (Note: Disqus auto-makes that title into a link because it ends in dot-tv. Don’t click the link; it’ll take you to Oakland – i.e., there’s no there there. But the dot-tv part of the title is part of the joke, as it were – if you know what TLD that is.)

  • flipflopfury

    Citizen M, if you’re still around… I’d appreciate a copy. Gracias. thesmithsonian at me dot com

    • Citizen M

      Sent off.

      • thedudespeaketh

        Citizen, can I please have a copy?

      • thedudespeaketh

        Citizen, if you can, would really appreciate it. I’m at charliebrownfilm@yahoo.com

        • Logline_Villain

          As Citizen may be on break, sent…

      • Ellie Vallejo

        may i get a copy?? liticaphobia@gmail.com

  • Wheatman

    OT, kind of: I saw Chef this weekend. I remember Carson gave it a favorable review a while back, but I have to spread the word on this film. I hate sentimentality, unbelievably happy endings, and…well…optimism in general. Having said that, Chef is wonderful.

    I kept waiting for things to dive off the deep end, the situation to turn sour, friends to backstab, etc. And it never happened. I felt uncomfortable, because I loved each character so much that I didn’t want anything unfortunate to happy to them. I haven’t been able to say that about a film I’ve seen in theaters in a longgg time.It kept subverting my expectations at every corner, but not in the usual “things just keep getting worse” way. It’s charming, uplifting, and yet escapes cheese at every turn.

    This is definitely an “execution dependent” project, and if it hadn’t been Favreau’s, it never would’ve been made. But it was, and I think there are lots of lessons to be learned from it as far as writing a “happy” movie. Too much depressing junk out there. It’s a shame that this will struggle to break $10 mil, but Maleficent made that in five hours.

    • bex01

      For me it was the food porn and salsa music that made it!

  • fragglewriter

    I’m not a fan of the writer’s work. I thought Crash was highly disappointing and the two bonds movies boring.

    It seems the last 20 pages of the script, even though the twist came out of nowhere, was the highlight of the script. I’m not sure how Liam & Olivia’s characters can so interesting when the script has two other stores interwoven into the subplot.

  • Poe_Serling

    Hey Carson-

    Since there’s no newsletter this week, I was just curious if Black Autumn is slated for the AF slot… or is it another project?

    I always think it makes for a more rewarding AF for everyone if we have heads-up on which script nabbed the spot.

    • pmlove

      Same goes for any other script reviews – if we have time to scrabble around and find them before then we can have comments on the script rather than just endless script requests (guilty as charged).

    • Malibo Jackk

      (He’s thinking it over.)

  • Midnight Luck

    Loved Osage. One of the best movies this year, if not THE best. I feel sad for the world that no longer appreciates good movies. CGI does not make a good movie, neither do explosions, dumb jokes , ride alongs, spandex, or vampires.

    Drama isn’t a dirty word.

    • cbatower

      Disagree. Osage lacked any semblance of subtlety. The wall-to-wall reveals and shouting matches just felt cartoonish in a piece which clearly aimed to dissect the American way of life. Simply put, there was way too much going on to ring true.

  • JakeBarnes12

    Just finished it.

    Well done, Paul Haggis.

    Takes a real writer to do a good slow burn. This thing kept building, raising the emotional stakes.

    Put this in the hands of good actors who can communicate emotion, this could really be a good movie, and one with real emotional resonance that is reinforced, not cheapened, by its “twist.”

    We should be reading professional scripts every day.

    • Linkthis83

      I’m sure Paul is relieved to receive your endorsement. Especially after your assessment of the first 35 and all it did wrong.

      It’s refreshing to see you learn something from a professional script. And since amateur scripts are so damaging to your sensitive delicacies, I’m surprised you bother with them at all.

      Craig Mazin didn’t tell me to say any of that. Though your comment yesterday was funny. You basically implied that I should take my guidance from you and not Craig Mazin. I disagree. I’m sure that’s an amateur mistake, but I can live with it.

      And I caught your petty snipe at me again today. There’s no need to be coy, Jake. You don’t treat amateur writers like they are worthy of your respect. Unless they’ve written a script that you can align your ego with. Then you kiss their ass.

      I find it counterintuitive that one who knows the hardships of the craft would treat others with similar aspirations with such disrespect and dismissiveness. Especially when they don’t agree with your opinion. You already know how SOME will react. I feel those who have what it takes to make it in this business exhibit traits of humility, respect and empathy. For they know what it takes to even churn out one screenplay.

      And to take these cheap, cowardly shots at other posters is all the more why your imaginary stock carries no weight with me at all. If you want to be a professional, start acting the freaking part. You don’t want to hear amateurs balk at your criticisms, don’t give them. Although, the reality is that you want those balks so you puff up your writer’s chest and break those cold, hard realities of the business to them.

      The natural reply to this would be to point a finger at me. So point away. I can handle it. and to show that I don’t believe myself to be greater than I am, I will dip into some ego fun:

      So Jake posted this to me: “Craig Mazin didn’t say it so it isn’t true, huh, Mikey?”

      Holy crap! My very first screenwriting stalker and it’s Batman!!!!! I cannot wait to tweet about this. So effing cool.

      • gazrow

        This is a great post in my humble and extremely amateur opinion! :)

        • Ange Neale

          In the next piece of hopelessly amateurish crap I write, I’ll name a character in your honor. Although that might not necessarily be seen as a compliment, the intention will be there!

          • gazrow

            Ha! That would be a huge honor Ange! I know you to be a very talented writer! :)

          • Ange Neale

            Mmm, purring, darling, and doing the thing our puddy-tat does with the face-rubbing against solid objects. Might have to find a spot for a ‘Gazrow’, too.

          • Linkthis83

            You’re naming a character after me? I’m confused. You replied to Gazrow about the naming. Lol.

            And if Linkthis83 doesn’t work, “Assclown” has a nice ring to it :)

          • Ange Neale

            I’ve recently gotten out of bed (late night and it’s a morning thing) so I’m not completely awake yet.
            You deserve it, too, Mike, and a dreadful oversight on my part. I’m not sure about the robot though.

          • Linkthis83

            No worries. And I appreciate the honor. Very cool :) Unless you are too tired to realize what you’ve committed to. I allow to back out once your faculties have returned.

          • Ange Neale

            I just hope I can make it half as funny as it deserves to be.

          • gazrow

            Come on dude. We’re a team. “Assclowns” is much better!

          • Linkthis83

            Future comedy script? It’s a great title

          • gazrow

            Yep!

            Logline: Two amateur screenwriters get stuck in a time loop and battle constantly against their amateur hating nemesis who does everything in his power to stop them becoming the professional Assclowns they aspire to be.

            I know. I know. It’s a work-in-progress! :)

          • Ange Neale

            Write. Die. Repeat.

          • Linkthis83

            You know we have to name the two main characters ASSCLOWN #1 and ASSCLOWN #2, right? :) I’m hoping the antagonist can be a caped individual prone to nocturnal justice (after making that statement, I just realized that if I was a criminal in Gotham, I’d commit all my crimes during the day).

          • gazrow

            “I’m hoping the antagonist can be a caped individual prone to nocturnal justice (after making that statement, I just realized that if I was a criminal in Gotham, I’d commit all my crimes during the day).”

            Exactly. Because our particular antagonist, much like a vampire, seeks to suck the spirit out of every amateur he encounters, so he usually only comes out at night.

            But wait! Wasn’t their a Gotham based villain called Two Face? That’s eerily similar to our guy. Guess we could give him lots of silly made-up names to attacks us. Or does that sound a bit childish and pathetic?!

          • Linkthis83

            We are already in the land of childish and pathetic. I wanted to try something original, but “Self Important Man” didn’t really sound cool. Unless we call him SIM. I like that.

            I yield. We can sort out the details off-site :)

          • gazrow

            Agreed! :)

          • Ange Neale

            SIM’s good!

          • Ange Neale

            Antagonist’s name: Anti-Assclown #1, or possibly Counter-Assclown #1?
            Entirely possible the coffee mightn’t have kicked in yet.

          • Ange Neale

            Until someone catches on and creates a caped crusader capable of dishing out diurnal justice.

            Oh, wait — Superman never closes.

      • JakeBarnes12

        The focus of today’s thread is the Paul Haggis script, Mike. We’ve been lucky to have a copy circulating so we can actually have an intelligent exchange of views on its merits.

        You have absolutely nothing to contribute to the discussion because you haven’t read it, so show some restraint for a change and stop interrupting with your dumb remarks.

        • Linkthis83

          You backhanded amateur writers yesterday (and we all know who you were talking about that’s more recent). Then you took a shot at me, that I handled quite well.

          You then chose to bring that comment into today’s thread — and you say it’s all about the pro script today? You don’t want to own your role, that’s fine. I didn’t expect you to. But you don’t get to take shots and be the noble hero.

          • JakeBarnes12

            Rolling your eyes at the moron who hasn’t read the script but is dang sure he disagrees with your notes is heroic?

            You must meet a lot of heroes, Mikey.

  • Malibo Jackk

    Logline sounds interesting.
    You might be headed down the right path.

  • mulesandmud

    For those who wonder whether they should spend the time and energy slogging through yet another rewrite:

    “Paul is usually a very fast writer,” says Michael Nozik, Haggis’s HWY 61 producing partner, “But with THIRD PERSON it is fair to say, he had a creative obsession to get it right. I must have read and given notes on no less than twenty different drafts before he arrived at the draft two years later that we sent out to cast. It’s a bold and risky story, so the script had to be right.”

    “I must have written fifty drafts,” says Haggis. “I just kept getting it wrong and starting over, for two and a half years, six to eight hours a day, six days a week, until I finally thought it was more or less right. I got plenty of notes from Michael and Moran and our other co-producer Deborah Rennard; some I took, some I would try and later jettison, some I would reject—but I knew that if there was a note, there was a reason—so I just kept at it. And of course I kept tinkering with the script, rewriting through production and editing—in fact right up until we recorded the score.”

    • Malibo Jackk

      So which draft is this?

      • mulesandmud

        Hey man, I’m good for cutting and pasting, but not much more than that.

      • Citizen M

        Let’s try and work this out. 2 1/2 years. Fifty drafts. Writing starts after “Next Three Days” wraps December 2009. Shooting “Third Person” starts October 2012. 32 months between movies. (vide Wikipedia)

        This draft May 2011. This would be about Draft 27 out of 50, pro rata. The basic story outline is the same, according to the Wikipedia summary. So presumably Haggis is tinkering with motivation, shading and deepening character, filling in details of settings, fine-tuning dialogue, etc.

        At a thumbsuck this draft is about 80% of the final movie.

  • pmlove

    I think American Hustle is a ‘love the one you see first’. I loved the film. Started the script and groaned as soon as ‘Operation’ appeared.

    PS: Did you ever find out the end to 37D?

    • Citizen M

      What is 37D?

      A Google search turned up some interesting images, but i don’t think they are what you were referring to.

      • pmlove

        Ha! 37th Dimension. Think you wrote about the ending… I read it recently and couldn’t figure it just checking if you’d cracked the code.

        • Citizen M

          Nope. I remain baffled. No idea how he pulled it off.

  • pmlove

    Not grendl, matty or Paul Clarke. Sorry about that. But here’s what I got:

    I read up to about p12, so I can’t make any larger structural comments etc. But to paraphrase grendl, you have to grab them from page 1.

    NIT PICKS:

    Keep the writing simple. Sometimes you offer extra information without the basics and it’s confusing. A couple of examples:

    ‘The mess focused on one specific creation, rather than several dozen.’

    ‘All one color. Disorienting. Size impossible to determine.’

    Just tell us what the colour is. RED. That’s all I need.

    Then THE VEST, with no explanation. This is the bit that needs some!

    STORY

    It feels like you’ve tried to cram in so much that we don’t get any time to breathe. I know Carson often says to cram in as much story as possible and it definitely feels like that here. But here it is at the expense of character, pacing and interest.

    A small moment in the opening scene – the Dad disappears, then we get a couple of lines of Emery looking for him and then he reappears. It’s too quick to have any tension and is rushed over with a ‘Day becomes night’.

    EXPOSITION

    There’s a lot going on here and I missed most of it. Keep it simple. And mix it with a little action. Here the characters just sit around and talk for 5 pages. The dialogue isn’t bad I just have no idea what they are talking about.

    Stick with Emery. He’s the protagonist. Spend some more time with him to start with. Start with him doing something ‘typically Emery’. We need to get to know him before we speed over to Rooks and Knights and other chess pieces.

    Check out the Fifth Element. It’s a good example of mixing a lot of exposition with some character work. It also builds the exposition in simple blocks and throws in some action at the end of each exposition scene.

    But, crucially, when you meet Bruce the first time, he’s a bum taxi driver and we spend some time in his crappy apartment.

    Give the script some breathing space. At the moment it’s too much, too soon.

    • Malibo Jackk

      “The dialogue isn’t bad I just have no idea what they are talking about.”

      Love that.

      • pmlove

        “Your notes aren’t bad, I just have no idea what they mean.”

    • Ange Neale

      LOVE ‘The Fifth Element'; “Anybody else wanna negotiate?”

  • Gilx

    Carson, did you check the internet to research something that was referenced in the script? Or was it always out of boredom…? (And does that distinction matter?)

  • leitskev

    First act of American Hustle is not very gripping, but it gets much more interesting.

  • Cfrancis1

    Dang. I really want to see this! While I love me some giant monster/giant robot/alien/comic book/action movies, I really miss adult cinema. I feel like all the good drama is on TV. And while that’s great, I think there’s still room for great drama on the big screen. Compelling short form stories.

  • witwoud

    A couple of thoughts about your loggie:

    It feels rather flat and conceptual. ‘A man fights obstacles’ doesn’t pique my interest at all, because I’d expect any protagonist to do that. Can you be more specific?

    The second half is awkwardly worded with the repeated ‘father.’ How about something like this:

    A man must defeat an evil space-squid in the hope of rescuing his father who, after using the time machine they jointly created, is trapped deep within the folds of Time itself.

    (Dunno if that’s any better, just a thought.)

    Thirdly, I have to say that a man being reunited with his father doesn’t do it for me — not in this sort of film, anyway. With his child, or his family, or his soulmate, sure. But a grown man rescuing his father? It doesn’t get my juices flowing.

    That’s all. Good luck!

  • Kirk Diggler

    He works pretty hard for someone who takes the short bus. ;-)

  • Kirk Diggler

    This is a decent template for loglines.

    On the verge of (current stasis) a (flawed protagonist) (breaks into Act 2), but when (the mid-point) happens, he/she must learn (the theme) before (All is lost)

    • Ange Neale

      Yeah, this is good!

  • Linkthis83

    I too love FIFTH ELEMENT (LEON is _______ — great film).

    Kirk’s template is similar to the thing that was shared with me that I send out:

    http://www.scriptmag.com/features/visual-mindscape-the-kinetic-log-line?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

    • Malibo Jackk

      Hey Link
      I can’t remember
      Did you put everything together in one download?

      • Linkthis83

        It’s probably more accurate to call it:

        LINK’S LINKS ON SCREENWRITING

  • S_P_1

    Off Topic Questions

    Have any other stage32 members participated in the pitch process? I saw one pitch slot I forget the executive but he was charging $300 for an 8 minute pitch!!!

    Has anyone collaborated on a script with a person out of state (country, continent, ect.)? How exactly did you coordinate on writing the script? What software did you use?

    Has anyone used Adobe Story? I’m highly skeptical of cloud storage but the features I see seem to greatly outweigh Final Draft 8.

    I’m content with FD8. The problem is a potential writing partner I may work with doesn’t have FD8. He literally lives on another continent. And he no longer has the option to buy FD8 because FD9 is out. He would be able to open a FD8 fdx file but I wouldn’t be able to open a FD9 file if he altered the FD8 file. I know the simple solution is upgrade FD8 to FD9. But currently FD8 is stable and hasn’t crashed once on me. I’ve read user opinions on how FD9 is not stable.

    As feature rich as Adobe Story is I can’t justify paying a monthly subscription fee in perpetuity. Also I write in spurts so if I have writers block for a month do I still pay just to review my previous work.

    Opinions, Comments, Welcomed.

    • Kirk Diggler

      Collaborating with someone in a different country. I use FD8. They use something else, maybe Celtx? I get PDF’s and just transcribe the PDF’s into the master document, which I maintain in FD8.

      Coordinating the script: …is a challenge.

      • S_P_1

        I thought PDF files were locked. Are you saying you copy and paste, or are you saying you’re altering the actual PDF?

        • Kirk Diggler

          I transcribe. Read the PDF and manually type it in. But if a scene in the PDF is only a couple pages it doesn’t take long.

          I’ve tried copy and paste from a PDF to a FD8, but it creates some unusual stuff within the FD8 document so I’d avoid that.

      • IgorWasTaken

        If CELTX exports in txt format, that would be easier for sending back and forth. Txt imports in FD8 – not perfectly, but OK.

    • IgorWasTaken

      Are you SURE that FD9 files won’t open in FD8?

      Also, your friend could buy http://www.fadeinpro.com/ for $50. It imports FD stuff perfectly. It also exports to fdx, though I don’t know if that is “100% perfect”.

      Another alternative, you can get new, legit (I think they’re legit) copies of FD8 on ebay.

      • S_P_1

        That does seem like a inexpensive reasonable alternative. Yeah I was web searching on my own for FD8 and it seems the only place is ebay.

        I was reading the FD8 manual on Collabwriter and how it specifically says only users of the same version can use this feature. That’s a forced upgrade for users of previous versions. So I’m assuming FD8 won’t be able to open FD9 files.

        I really don’t want to use Celtix. I’m not entirely sure what his financial situation is.

        The logistics of long distance collaborating is taxing.

        • IgorWasTaken

          So I’m assuming FD8 won’t be able to open FD9 files.”

          I believe your assumption is wrong. FD7 >> FD 8 changed the internal file formatting.

          But – while I am not 100% sure – I am rather sure that FD8 and FD9 fdx files play well together. Your friend could download a trial version of FD9 just to make sure. And/or contact the FD company.

          One nice thing about some of these software packages: You can do a “file compare.” And so if someone sends you a copy of your version that he/she made changes to, you can use the “file compare” function, it will process both versions, and the differences show up in blue and red.

  • Sherif001

    Please shoot it over if you have it.
    s.r.alabede@gmail.com

  • astranger2

    “Third Person” is truly a richly fascinating read. But if it went through 50 different drafts, and this is only in the “20s,” who knows how far removed this version is from the final one.

    So many plot points, twists, and reveals may have undergone drastic changes. And the last twenty pages do have a quantum leap, or should I say drop, in story quality.

    One of Carson’s articles pointed out, however, that in earlier versions of the Sixth Sense, the Bruce Willis protagonist wasn’t one of the “I see dead people” characters, which later became a pivotal reveal. And what catapulted the film, and M. Knight into the Hollywood elite… at that time…

    It remains his signature film, and that reveal was what drove the water cooler word-of-mouth buzz about Sixth Sense. How successful would it have been if Willis were not one of the “dead?” It was the dramatic irony that drove the film.

    Other SSers have voiced (sounds menacing) their opinion that this doesn’t read like a straight drama. There are a number of Rod Serling-type twists and undercurrents that don’t quite mesh in the “real” world…

    But as the article mentioned, Haggis needn’t worry about a reader’s approval. And, for me anyway, with all the rich, thick action passages, “un-filmables,” camera and actor directions, and internal character thoughts — it read more like a detailed “notes-to self” read a director wrote for their own benefit as a guide for filming later.

    The third act seemed as if Haggis scrambled some over-the-top thoughts just to get them on “paper,” to be sorted out later, through progressive drafts.

    It will be very interesting to see/read the final film, and see how he meshed all these strange elements together. As it is, it is far from a straight drama as written in this older version.

    For me, while the dialogue is rich and captivating, there are some glaring holes in the script that are most likely addressed in revisions. Haggis probably was just keeping his cards held close to his vest.

    An entertaining and quality read regardless… now we’ll just have to wait and see…

  • Jason Gray

    Having watched Third Person recently, I felt it was a fascinating depiction of how writers transform real experience into prose. Aspects of Liam Neeson’s character and the people he’s in direct contact with are all over the characters in the other segments. Haggis apparently wrote 50 drafts of this screenplay – the most he’s ever done for one project – and continued rewriting through production and post.

    • Ellie Vallejo

      hey can you email me the spoilers/ending to the movie, its not playing in my city, theres no way to watch it on my computer, and i dont have the screenplay so its driving me crazy!! thank you liticaphobia@gmail.com

  • Ellie Vallejo

    can somebody please send me a copy?? thank you liticaphobia@gmail.com @MartinBk:disqus