SSDW-13

Alright, so the top 25 scripts in the Scriptshadow 250 Contest have been announced. And while I’m sure many of you are happy for the finalists, let’s be honest. You want to know why the hell your script didn’t make the list. I’ve already seen people complaining about the loglines. “This is it??” they’re saying, forgetting that we’re not running a contest for best logline here. If we were, yesterday’s list would be a lot different. We’re looking for the best scripts. And because of that, a lot of the best loglines fell by the wayside. Believe me, I was pulling for them. The holy grail is the great concept WITH the great execution. But those scripts are like unicorns, appearing once or twice a year.

But let’s get back to that question: Why didn’t I make it? In some cases, the answer was specific to the script. I had one script that didn’t advance because the character naming was so ridiculous, it became impossible to take the script seriously. Imagine someone named Clarkwardenfall. IN A DRAMA. Then multiply that by 20 characters. But for most of the misses, there were patterns. The same issues kept coming up. Maybe by highlighting these issues, I can help you do better in your next contest.

1) LACK OF CREATIVITY – By far, the biggest issue was a lack of creativity in the storytelling. Everyone’s writing the same scenes, the same characters, the same plot beats. Nothing fresh or creative or unexpected or unique is happening on any level. I was a million pages ahead of writers on so many of these scripts. This is why the industry values “voice” so much, since voice is the antithesis of this. Writers with voice are constantly making unexpected choices that are keeping the reader on their toes. But you don’t need to be blessed with a unique voice to thrive in this area. Creative choices can be learned. You have to a) be more aware of how original your choices are and b) hold yourself to a higher standard once you recognize low-quality choices (by digging in and coming up with something better). Be brave. Do a few things that surprise even you when you tell a story.

2) TOO MUCH CREATIVITY – There’s a type of writer who writes in the opposite manner to what I just described. They don’t see behind or in front of them, but focus only on the present, writing their stories “off-the-cuff.” Because of this, their screenplays keep the reader guessing (unlike the uncreative folks). But since the writer possesses no plan, their choices usually lead you down paths to nowhere. These writers need to learn how a story is structured (beginning, middle, and end) and they need to spend more time outlining, so that their choices contain a plan behind them. As soon as I realize you don’t have a plan or as soon as things get too scattered or unfocused, I’m out.

3) LACK OF SOPHISTICATION – In a good 20 of the scripts I read, writers tackled subject matter that was well beyond their level of sophistication. For example, a writer might have written about a tragic World War 1 story, yet the writing was simplistic, lacked detail, and didn’t possess the proper mood or tone to capture the period. If you’re going to tackle weightier subject matter, make sure you possess the writing skills to do so. If you want to get better in this area, read strong literary material, carry a curiosity for vocabulary and grammar, and practice your ass off.

4) SECOND ACT BLUES – There are still too many writers who don’t have a clue of what to do once they reach the second act. One of the scripts I read was cruising through its first act. I was like, “This might make the top 5!” And then the writer spent the first 25 pages of his second act giving us extensive background on his 12 main characters. The screenplay lost all its momentum and never recovered. The second act should be doing three things. 1) Every scene should be moving your hero closer to his goal. 2) The second act should be exploring the major lines of conflict between your key characters, and 3) The second act should be placing obstacles in front of your characters so that they have things to overcome in order to achieve their goal. The second act is the act of “conflict,” so every scene should contain conflict on some level. Even if it’s just two people in a room, there needs to be something unresolved there, something that starts off negative and poses a problem that must be solved, for one or both of the characters.

5) ROSES ARE RED, PROSES ARE DEAD – I read three scripts from writers who may have made the top 25 if they didn’t grind their scripts to a standstill with walls of text. And guys, just because you divide 50 lines of description into 3 and 4 line paragraph chunks? THAT’S STILL A WALL OF TEXT. I’ve found that these writers fall into two categories. The first is the “need to impress” category. These writers tend to be young and believe it’s their job to impress you with their word-skills. The second is the “show-off” category. These are writers who are genuinely talented writers and want to show that off, but don’t realize their scripts aren’t being read in a breakfast nook with a blanket and a hot coffee, like novels are. Screenplays are meant to be read quickly, in a high-pressure industry where people are constantly asking for the new hot thing. So fair or not, it feels like WORK if we’re reading a lot of words to describe simple things. Once your script starts feeling like work ON ANY LEVEL, you’re done.

6) LACK OF NUANCE – There were a lot of scripts where writers weren’t nuanced in their writing. So a character would be really angry one second, then really nice the next, with no insight into why their mood changed so suddenly. Or a character would wake up in the middle of the night, walk outside, and all of a sudden be fighting a bunch of bad guys. How did we get here? Where did these bad guys come from? How did this character even know to wake up and check outside in the first place? There was a TON of this, and I call it “In Your Head Writing.” “In Your Head Writing” is when you’re thinking about what makes sense TO YOU (in your head) and not someone who will be reading this for the first time. To you, you may have thought, “My angry character is done being angry, he’ll be nice now,” so you make him nice. But you never shared with us (the people outside of your head) why that transition took place. If you’re being told that your writing is confusing a lot, step outside of your head and see if your writing makes sense from a third-person’s perspective.

But the biggest thing, guys, is to keep practicing. As hard as this is to hear, you may not be ready yet. I know that sucks but you may need to work more on structure or character development or dialogue. All that stuff takes time to grasp. So keep writing, keep reading (scripts), and keep studying. I’d even add “get more feedback” to that list. How can you know if you’re writing “in your head” if you don’t have a third party giving you feedback? Now get back on the horse and write something great.

  • carsonreeves1

    Also, a good thing to do is get feedback (whether from me or a writing friend or whoever) and ask them, point blank, what you need to work on. What’s your biggest weakness? Most writers never ask this question and therefore never tackle their biggest weaknesses, doomed to make the same mistakes over and over.

    • klmn

      Good luck on your producing efforts.

      • carsonreeves1

        Good luck to all of us. The idea is to use this site to continue to break writers in and help them create content. Instead of being a place where it’s like, “Good script, good luck out in the wild,” I want it to be like, “Okay, let’s figure out how to turn this into an actual movie.”

        • klmn

          Most writers who submit scripts don’t participate in the comments.

        • Erica

          You want to turn a script into a movie, bring lots of pizza.

        • smishsmosh22

          That’s one of the things that’s always excited me about this site.

    • Dan B

      Have to say thanks for creating this contest. It was a great opportunity, and I think these top 25 will benefit greatly because of it. Hopefully they get more managers/agents interested in checking out the talent on this site as well. A rising tide lifts all boats.

      • carsonreeves1

        Let’s hope so.

    • Paul Schellens

      Expect a rush of 215 new AOW submissions.

      Including mine: Onion. About the dude who turns animal-like fending off a home invasion. And the evil Mr. Haas. Ring any bells?

      Thought it would be up your alley. But would love to get more feedback from others on an AOW weekend. Got a 5 and a 9 on the Blacklist website. So, maybe polarising.

      • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

        animalistic?

    • Jason Voegele

      Thanks again for running this contest! Despite not making it into the top 25, I definitely appreciate all the work you put into this. Any chance we can get your feedback on our scripts? Unfortunately, I don’t have any writing friends and my wife’s feedback is clearly too positive.

  • Dan B

    Regarding complaints on loglines…

    There were plenty of these that didn’t fit the bill of a “perfect logline” but they all still came off as creative concepts. And if they made the top 25, I can only assume the writing was top notch. This was a great opportunity for writers to get noticed. I hope to read as many of these as possible if they start getting posted after the contest is officially finalized.

  • rodneybr23

    My script unfortunately didn’t make the Top 25. I would love to get some feedback though. I’ve gotten a few read requests for it as well, but so far nothing has come of them. The script is a comedy called “Sarah’s Getting Married”. Here is the logline: When a devoted father, jailed for a crime he didn’t commit, learns of
    his daughter’s pending nuptials, he is forced to team up with her
    convict ex-boyfriend to break out of prison and evade the authorities on
    a wild road trip to Mexico in order to walk her down the aisle.

    If anybody is interested in taking a look at it, email me at rodneybr23@gmail.com

    • JakeBarnes12

      Hi, Rodney,

      Cut out “and evade the authorities on a wild road trip to Mexico in order” and you have a pretty solid logline.

      “Sarah’s Getting Married” is too bland. You want something that suggests the father’s plight.

      How about “Get Me To the Church On Time”; you know, from the old song. It references the wedding and the urgency.

      Good luck with the project.

      • brenkilco

        Actually that old song is about the lack of urgency. The reluctant groom is planning to drink himself into a stupor so he’s requesting his friends get him to the church on time.

        • JakeBarnes12

          Regardless, the title works well with the logline.

          • brenkilco

            How about ‘Shotgun Wedding’

      • rodneybr23

        Thanks for the feedback.

    • witwoud

      I like this idea.

    • Scott Strybos

      You should change “accused” to “conivcted”. If he was just accused he wouldn’t be in jail. He is in jail because he was convicted.

      • rodneybr23

        Good tip. Thanks.

    • wlubake

      There’s some trimming and clean-up to be done here:

      Upon learning of his daughter’s pending nuptials, a devoted (but imprisoned) father must team up with her convict ex-boyfriend to break out of prison and get to her wedding in time to walk her down the aisle.

      Why I cut things:

      1. “jailed for a crime he didn’t commit” – unless he is trying to prove his innocence as part of your logline, this detail doesn’t drive the story. You can build sympathy for your protag in the script. No need to do it in the logline.

      2. “he is forced” – is he really forced? Must may seem like a synonym, but “he is forced” is more reactionary and less proactive.

      3. “evade the authorities” – assumed with a prison break

      4. “wild road trip to Mexico” – the odd-couple nature of the pairing suggests at the fun and games of the journey. No need to hit us over the head with it.

    • smishsmosh22

      That sounds good Rodney! Is it a comedy? Boy there’s a lot of movies about crossing the Mexican border in development eh? Must be a hot thing right now haha.

  • Poe_Serling

    Quick ?, Carson…

    Since you plow through so many scripts on a yearly/monthly/weekly/daily basis, do you find that a solid logline = a solid story?

    [ ] More often than not
    [ ] About half the time
    [ ] Sometimes
    [ ] Rarely

  • Daivon Stuckey

    I had gotten so much feedback on my script that I’m honestly wracking my brain on what I need to fix. I’m not saying it’s perfect, but any stretch. Just that I want it to be as good as it can be, and after all the positive comments I had gotten from so many people, I’m willing to admit I’m pretty disappointed.

    Still, congrats to everyone who won. I’m sure you all deserved it!

    • ximan

      Whatever you do, DON’T GIVE UP. I honestly think you should submit to Nicholl (deadline is April 14th). This is a very prestigious contest with only a $60 entry fee (a little more if you want feedback). Plus you’ll find out where you placed by September! :)

      Listen. As an artist, at some point, you have to trust your gut and not someone else’s opinion. Once you know your script is good AND you’ve received positive, objective feedback, your job as a writer is done. Your new job is to find the right reader! :)

      Good luck, my friend. I’m rooting for you! :)

    • ripleyy

      Sometimes it takes a while for a script to find its form. Often times the solution is simple. Annoyingly, a lot of scripts take a few years to find the balance that makes it work but in the end, you will know what your story needs. And you shouldn’t feel disheartened. If anything, this should give you a creative boost to succeed and prove to yourself that you’re just as good as everybody else.

    • klmn

      With the Nicholl, you can get comments from two readers for $40 (on top of the entry fee). Pretty good deal.

    • smishsmosh22

      Have you considered paying for coverage from some professional readers?

  • Dallas Cobb

    Congratulations to everyone involved in the 250; you should all feel honored to have been a part of this inagural and groundbreaking experiment for Mr. Scriptshadow. This was a lot of fun, even though I didn’t even enter! All the best to the top 25 finalists, and I wish you the best on your producing endeavors, Carson. Diggin’ the vibe I’m getting from the site again.

    Here’s hoping everything comes back to form now that the top 25 finalists have been announced. Everything has been too rambunctious and accessible lately; it’s almost like the integrity and novelty of getting noticed and reviewed by such an extensive community (and Carson himself) has diminished. It seems as though patience has been lost. Everyone wants instant reviews and success. I know we’ve all been at this for so long, but we’re still learning and still cultivating our skills, so that when its time to step from behind our computers and from behind the security of this website into the real world, we’ll be ready. With Carson back, it’ll be a great journey following the ramifications of the 250 and it’ll be refreshing to see how the AOW submissions change from here on out – whether they become more focused, more passionate, etc. Either way, the future doesn’t seem so bleak.

    Not to be too exploitative, but it’d be an interesting article if Carson provided a list of his best and worst loglines from the 250 contest, considering he said that some of the 25 made it based on execution as opposed to their loglines.

  • klmn

    #4 might be my script. I don’t have 12 main characters, but it is an ensemble script.

    There are two main characters.

    Maybe it will show up on AOW.

  • Eric Boyd

    So much for my intense Holocaust thriller: The Courageous Heart of Clarkwardenfall Spunkervillelipshits.

  • brenkilco

    For those licking their wounds remember that once we get down to the final five- assuming we get to read them- the tables will be somewhat turned and this will in part become a referendum on Carson’s taste, analytical skills, and notions of quality. His contest. His rep. In this grand endeavor he’s both the final judge and a guy leading with his chin. Buckle up.

  • GoIrish

    I also would like to thank Carson “Dasher of Dreams of Forty Year-Old Men Who Are Using the Very Last Fiber of Their Being Trying Not to Succumb to Their Inevitable, Unforgiving, and Embarrassing Mid-Life Crisis” Reeves for this contest (gosh, bloggers can come up with the strangest nicknames for themselves sometimes).

    OT: Has anyone tried using animation software like Synfig to create their own movie? If so, how was your experience?

  • Nick Morris

    OT: STAR WARS – ROGUE ONE teaser trailer is here!

    • Eric Boyd

      At 1:18 is that Emperor Palpatine?

      • Nick Morris

        God, I hope so. I know Vader’s gonna be in it – and more brutal than ever I hear…
        :)

      • Scott Crawford

        Bit fast moving for Palpy?

        Is the guy in white Tarkin? Not wearing the same uniform as in Revenge of the Sith/A New Hope.

        • Eric Boyd

          All I know is the guy in white is Ben Mendelsohn’s character. Some people think it could be Grand Admiral Thrawn from the novels, but he’s supposed to have blue skin, but the novels aren’t “canon” so they can change whatever they want.

          • Nick Morris

            I don’t think it’s Thrawn. Or at least I hope not. I know a lot of the fanboys get off on those Timothy Zahn novels from the early ’90s, but I never really understood the appeal.

        • Nick Morris

          “Bit fast moving for Palpy?”

          Right. Plus, Palpatine kneels before no one.

          • Eric Boyd

            It’s totally Palpy, and I bet the blue thing in front of him is what he gets tossed into at the end of Jedi. Maybe it’s the Kyber Crystal that powers the Death Star. Plus, I don’t think he’s kneeling or moving at all. I think that’s just the camera panning.

  • fragglewriter

    Great tips. I didn’t get a chance to read all of the loglines from the winning scripts, but congrats to those who made it.

    I would have to say feedback is great when you can give an honest, maybe even a brutal view/opinion, of the story and not the writer. I have read more than a couple of Amateur Friday scripts and reviews where posters were being nice to the writer who was selected based on their rapport on this blog, instead of the script, which I think hinders the writer.

  • Discussion

    OT: On an interesting side-note to yesterday’s article, has anyone noticed the ratio of male to female writers in the top 25? I could be wrong, but as far as I can tell there are only three female writers: Ellis, Elizabet and Caroline.

    I’m absolutely NOT accusing Carson of only picking male writers. Quite the opposite in fact. Male, female, black, white, green, purple or Martian, I don’t think Carson would give a flying fuck who wrote a script as long as it was good.

    But as always, there ratio of men always seems to be much higher than women. So the question is why? People always argue that there are just as many women as many trying to break into the industry (as writers or any capacity), but, I have my doubts personally.

    I have no hard data to back it up, but I believe the reason there are more male screenwriters is because there actually are more male screenwriters.

    Do men ever get jobs over women because of sexism? Absolutely. I don’t doubt that for a second, in this industry and every industry. But I still get the sense that there are more males attempting to break in.

    Am I right? Am I wrong? What do you guys think?

    (It would be interesting to know how many female writers submitted scripts compared to how many male writers submitted scripts)

    • GoIrish

      Yesterday Carson said the ratio was 9 to 1 for the contest.

      • Discussion

        Oh, I missed that. That’s interesting. I wonder why so few female writers applied?

        • smishsmosh22

          I was too busy buying tampons. kidding….. I have a huge stock. But seriously, yes, I mentioned this yesterday, I was surprised only 3 female writers made the top 25. I know there are TONS of female writers out there but as I mentioned in a comment yesterday, I think they just hang out on other blogs more than this one. I could be wrong, yes I know, but i think Carson attracts male bees more than females. No wait, bad analogy. Or is it a metaphor. Oh god delete this post. And I want to be a writer? Here’s a pretty rainbow.

          • gonzorama

            I thought rainbows came from unicorn farts.

          • smishsmosh22

            Spongebob ate a unicorn.

          • Scott Strybos

            I would say what you laid down was a metaphor.

    • Guest

      It’s the same reason why you won’t see that many women in STEM fields.
      This kind of discussion is the norm over in the SJW/feminism/ feminism opposed, and such communities.

    • klmn

      I don’t think diversity was one of Carson’s judging criteria. The Black List website has a number of diversity programs you can apply to, if you have a script uploaded there.

      • Discussion

        It wasn’t.

        I clearly stated that.

        And I’m male, thanks.

    • Malibo Jackk

      Carson tried to explain that the ratio of entrants was 9 male to 1 female.
      (But everyone knows women write 9 times better than men.)

    • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

      “black, white, green, purple”

      There a funny routine by some African American comedian talking about, “Why is it whenever white people list off the races by color, they always throw ‘purple’ in there? Who do you know that’s purple!?”

  • Scott Crawford

    Big problem, I think, particularly looking at AOW scripts that don’t make the cut for example, is when people choose stories that they think will be very interesting to others, or they think sound pretty cool, but which they have, maybe not NO interest, but not enough interest to put in all their effort.

    Look at M. Night Shyamalan. No, really, look at him. I’ve made this point before and I’ll make it again. His first two movies, Praying with Anger and Wide Awake, felt like low-budget movies a filmmaker should make as their first movies, but they both flopped.

    Despondent, Night looked around his office and saw posters for Jaws, Star Wars, Raiders and said to himself “Why aren’t I writing those movies?”

    So he wrote a genre movie, a ghost story, but he wrote it in a different way, from a different point of view. He made it his own take. And yet, I suspect, whenever he was in trouble writing his script, he could think to himself “this is the sort of film that I would go and see if I was paying to go and see a movie.”

    Look the response yesterday to Liberty Island… from ME! And a few others. People like that sort of story, Die Hard on the Statue of Liberty. Good title too. Maybe not the most original idea, but I suspect that idea means more to the writer than some stories mean to other writers.

    One last thing, I’ve noticed for a while there been an OBSESSION with irony in loglines. It may be true that a logline should contain irony, or that it really helps if it does, but if the only thing in your logline is irony, and if you took the irony out then there’s nothing of interest… people don’t go to movies to spot the irony. They’ll appreciate it if it’s there, but it’s not what gets people fired up.

    You need to get people fired up.

    • brenkilco

      Irony is a very elastic word-made even more elastic by people’s loose understanding. Wouldn’t get hung up on the concept when it comes to loglines. If possible, I think loglines should contain a suggestion of second act complications which typically constitute a reversal of sorts and thus contain an element of irony.

      • wlubake

        I hold Alanis Morissette personally responsible for setting back society’s understanding of irony.

        • brenkilco

          I believe the aviophobic dying in the plane crash is the only example in the whole damn song that comes anywhere near qualifying.

          It’s like rrrrrrrain on your wedding day. No, it’s nothing like that, dumb ass.

        • Midnight Luck

          I love her, and love the song, but yeah, she needed to understand the meaning before writing a song titled “Ironic”. She does actually get it right on one or two of her examples though, i believe.

    • BoSoxBoy

      I agree with the premise of your comment, but I think we get too wrapped up in familiarity. Liberty Island, for instance – Die Hard on the Statue of Liberty. That was exactly my first impression, as it likely was with most. I can’t help but think I’d be watching the film for two hours and constantly be comparing it to Die Hard. That wouldn’t be a fun night out for me. The White House, Golden Gate Bridge, Big Ben, Washington Monument, Statue of Liberty…been done so many times.

      • klmn

        There’s also a Die Hard With Monsters in the mix. It will be interesting to see what advances.

      • Scott Crawford

        Sure, but it’s not JUST the idea. Liberty Island must have been pretty well executed to have made top 25.

        A good example would be Alison’s Dude Where’s My Ferret? script. A ferret script?! But Alison’s enthusiasm for ferrets shines through.

        On the other hand there have been amateur western scripts where it’s clear the writer doesn’t watch many westerns, hasn’t done the research, isn’t really that enthusiastic about the wild west.

        • BoSoxBoy

          Agree, but a Die Hard-like story where the protag is a NYC cop? Too close for me. Change that NYC cop to a hayseed small town cop from Mississippi in the big city on vacation – now you’ve got my attention.

          • Thaddeus Arnold

            There was a great idea here years ago about Teddy Roosevelt battling terrorists. That’s a film I’d like to see, especially since he was such a badass.

          • wlubake

            That was a Twit-Pitch finalist.

        • smishsmosh22

          I also really like sloths.

          • klmn

            Now if you have a sloth battling terrorists on the Statue of Liberty, then you’ve really got something.

            And the best thing – they move so slow that one shot could last the whole movie.

          • smishsmosh22

            Great opportunity for a oner.

          • Citizen M

            DIE SLOW
            It’s Die Hard upside down in a tree.

          • smishsmosh22

            heheh

          • smishsmosh22

            did you know sloths move so slowly that moss and algae grow on them? And lots of bugs live on that moss. I should write a movie from the POV of one of those bugs.

      • Randy Williams

        It’s the familiarity of the setting that appealed to me, to make it one of the three I most wanted to read of the 25.
        If Carson picked it, then the setting most probably has been used in unique and interesting ways.

        It’s like I suggested to Scott to place his first family couple concept in the White House but let us see that structure from a different angle. A place where there are ample clever components that can assist in escaping from an assassin.

        I’m guessing after LIberty Island, we’ll never look at the statue of liberty and liberty island the same way again.

      • klmn

        Saboteur also featured Lady Liberty. IIRC, the movie wrapped up there, but it’s been a long time since I saw it.

        Carson has written that he doesn’t watch black and white movies.

        • brenkilco

          And the guy taking the plunge is Norman Lloyd, still going at a hundred. Had at least one movie role in the last couple of years.

          • klmn

            I have to admit I’ve got a thing for Lady Liberty. And she carries a torch for me.

            When we first met, it was in a smoky bar. I was sitting alone, drinking tequila when she walked in…

          • BigDeskPictures

            … ,vivaciously sashayed across the room in her long robe toward my table. Upon her arrival, she proceeded to place a cancer stick in-between her salacious lips. The same lips i would cut my right arm off for a taste, even if for a fleeting moment. “A light?” she requested. “A light? You’re the one carrying a torch,” I countered. Needless to say, she was not amused.

      • Howie428

        I agree. It feels like quite a limited location and it’s a tough one because it’s not the 90s anymore and people would be troubled by abuse of an icon. Hopefully this script has taken some of the original choices Carson mentioned and found ways around these issues.

    • Midnight Luck

      I agree with you, and I agree with BoSoxBoy and Howie428.

      Sad thing is, there will NEVER be another DIEHARD. So everything that comes after it will be “DieHard in a Whatever”, and so will be a lesser version of the original. Look at White House Down and London is Falling. They might hold a certain kind of interest to a certain viewer, but none of them will hold the fun and excitement and interest of DieHard.
      DieHard was so well written, so well made and was a first in its unique use of subject matter and contained space all mixed with fantastic action and thriller aspects.

      Because of its uniqueness and because of its amazingly skilled creation, and perfectly orchestrated outcome, none of the others to follow could possibly match it.
      Even something like SPEED which is, and was always referred to as “DieHard on a Bus”, while being an awesome movie in its own right, was still always referred to as a secondary movie. It is and always will be “DieHard on a Bus”. As will SPEED 2, which was them trying to make a DieHard on a Bus into a “DieHard on a Boat”. Never will they match what the original was, and always will they be referred to as a secondary thing to the original.

      So, while yes, I enjoyed the shit out of SPEED as well, most of the other secondary movies have been less than inspired, less than anything, and always a secondary version of that amazing original DIEHARD.

      Which leads me to DieHard on the Statue of Liberty, or as the script is known: LIBERTY ISLAND.

      I will agree, a Good Title, but not great. An interesting idea, maybe, but not great. A movie making and B.O. good idea, but not great. They will most likely make this one, or another version of it. It will most likely make good bank, many people will most likely enjoy it. But it will (apologies to the writer) most likely be forgotten quickly.

      It will probably get the writer more work, and a good paycheck and a door into the industry. And that is fantastic. That is what the writer wanted, and therefore it is a success story!
      Awesome.
      I’m happy for the writer. Happy for people who will enjoy the script and the movie.

      Anymore, for me though, I’m tired of the rehashing story ideas like this one. I don’t see much unique or interesting about the idea, so I will pass on reading it, and if it makes it to the theater I will pass on seeing it.
      Eventually, I will likely watch it and rent it on Redbox for the reason of, solidarity with the writer, and to give my $2 bucks to them and help with their success.

      For me though, it doesn’t have enough to excite me to go see it in the theater.

      • wlubake

        I’ve always thought of Die Hard as “Under Siege 2: Dark Territory in an office building”.

        • Midnight Luck

          It has been a long time since I’ve seen Under Siege and I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen the second one. So they’re both DieHard on a train?

          I remember it, but not well. Just that pony-tailed martial arts dude kicking ass is all I remember in my brain. Nothing about the story.

          • wlubake

            Under Siege was a boat. Under Siege 2 was a train.

          • Midnight Luck

            Oh, so I DID see 2! Wow, I wonder why? I never saw the first one. Odd.

          • wlubake

            You should circle back on the original for a fun villainous turn by Tommy Lee Jones.

          • Midnight Luck

            Maybe I will. I remember it being on a train, but again dont remember anything about the story. I like Jones so .maybe I’ll give it a go.

      • K David

        Here’s my Die Hard spin. Die Hard set on the set of the original Die Hard movie. I’m going to call it Die Hard.

        • wlubake

          Yes! Die Hard at a movie studio. Bruce Willis has to take down the terrorists, but he’s not tough like John McClain. He’s a pampered Hollywood star.

        • Midnight Luck

          Funny. could work. DieHard within DieHard.

        • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

          I’m going to write a movie about a sexy seductress who kills old men in the bedroom.

          I’m going to call it Die Hard.

          • brenkilco

            You may be flattering the victims. Alternate title Viagression.

        • cjob3

          Or how ’bout Die, Die Hard, Die!

      • Scott Serradell

        I always wanted to see Die Hard in a police station. A swan song for John McClane trying to escape a group of corrupt cops.

        • Midnight Luck

          That was ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 (’76 or ’05)

          • Scott Serradell

            Oh crap. I thought I was being so clever. I will have to check that out.

          • Midnight Luck

            Everything seems to have already been done it seems. It is 2009 after all.

            Oh shit, I just realized it’s 2016!

          • Scott Strybos

            The Ethan Hawke ’05 version is a favorite film of mine. It has great action; one particular scene will haunt me until the day I die.

          • Midnight Luck

            I loved the movie as well, very smart well done film. I haven’t seen the original, but i would be surprised if i liked it as much as the ’05 one, but you never know.

      • brenkilco

        Die Hard on a small island adjacent to a major city dominated by a landmark structure, administered by the federal government as a park and tourist attraction. That would be The Rock.

        And with the importance of the foreign market wouldn’t it have been better to do Die Hard on The Eiffel Tower or Die Hard at The Taj Mahal?

    • Poe_Serling

      Good post, Scott.

      M. Night, the Statue of Liberty, and Obsession with Irony… there’s a movie ready to happen.

      Unlike most people nowadays, I’m still curious what M. Night has up his cinematic sleeve. But I’m the first to admit that even his most successful films(The Sixth Sense, Signs, The Village) seem to be inspired by The Twilight Zone.

      And oh, this comment below from you:

      “On the other hand there have been amateur western scripts where it’s
      clear the writer doesn’t watch many westerns, hasn’t done the research,
      isn’t really that enthusiastic about the wild west.”

      I hope you’re not calling out klmn and his Western… that’s a range war you can’t win. ;-)

      • klmn

        I didn’t enter my Western here. I put it up on the Black List – no reads yet, and I entered Nicholl. So I have to wait.

        And I did a lot of research, and a ton of rewriting. Maybe I’ve finally got it right.

        • Poe_Serling

          I know it wasn’t your Western script – I was just kidding around with you guys.

          Good luck with it in both the Nicholl contest and the Black List posting.

      • Scott Crawford

        Actually, I was thinking of when William Goldman wrote Butch and Sundance as a movie rather than a book because he didn’t want to do all the research for a western BOOK – how cowboys cook their beans, how much a prostitute costs for a night. Those are the most important things.

    • ShiroKabocha

      I really don’t understand why anyone would devote so much time and effort towards creating stories and characters they don’t feel passionate about. I know I only write what I personally want to see on the big screen some day, and what no one else is writing… that’s why I actually have to bust my ass working on them myself… (I need better comedies, more fantasy, and a lot more interesting and nuanced female characters !)

      Or are people going for perfunctory concepts and characters simply in the hope of “cashing in” ? It still seems to me like a lot of hours and effort put into something that is in no way a guarantee. Seriously, you’d be much better off putting the same time at a fast food counter. Less effort too actually.

      • Midnight Luck

        Because there are many, many people looking for a quick paycheck. And screenwriting is probably one of the top “anyone can do that and make a million dollars so I’ll do it and strike it rich. Easy peasey” kind of fields there ever was. So yeah, tons of people come in and think it they just write a movie like that one they saw last week, no problem, laugh all the way to the bank.
        Sorry it isn’t that easy. (Maybe?)

        • ShiroKabocha

          I guess you’re right. They’re probably just vomiting pages in a few hours. I’m just too damn slow with my own writing, I sometimes forget the process can be quite fast.

    • cjob3

      Since we’re still pitching Die Hard ideas, I wanted to see yesterday what you think of this one…

      It’s Die Hard on a Reality Show! Basically terrorists seize a live-broadcast reality game show. The show would be a mish-mosh of Big Brother and Survivor. Contestants live together, but are then called out to do ‘Challenges.’ The show is set on some tropical island and there are many physical challenges set up throughout. Like obstacle courses, tests of strength, etc., each harder than the last.
      We follow our hero, a contestant who loses on the very first challenge. (Maybe do to his Achilles heel, whatever it may be.) He’ll be flown back home. “I’m glad actually…” he tells the camera, “This was harder than I thought.”

      Back at the house, a Jersey Shore-ish douche contestant is talking to the confessional. We watch in horror as a black clad figure creeps up from behind and slits their throat. The control room freaks out. WTF?! Just then– BOOM! Explosion. Terrorists storm the room and take over the broadcast. Perhaps this will get Americas attention, as it’s the country’s most watched show. The head bad guy explains to the live TV camera: “The rules will remain the same. Each week, one contestant will be eliminated…”

      Meanwhile, our hero was being flown off the island via helicopter when BOOM! The terrorist’s explosion rocked the chopper and they went down. Our hero’s alive but now must fight his way past terrorists as well as the various game show obstacles that inhabit…. DIE HARD ISLAND! orwhateverwecallit.

      • Midnight Luck

        It is called MONEY MONSTER.
        Though to be fair it is a live TV broadcast of a Money Manager who is trapped live on TV with a guy with a bomb. Someone who lost a ton of money in the whole collapse. Not necessarily a “terrorist” (though maybe), and not exactly “Reality TV” (though still live, and it is sort of).

        But it is very close. Trapped on live TV in a production house, with a madman with his finger on the button to blow them all up.

        Julia Roberts, George Clooney, opens May 13th, 2016.

        Just an FYI

        • cjob3

          Kind of, I guess. I pictured more action set-pieces involving the terrorist and the obstacles of the game show. That’s the meat of it.

          Money Monster to me seems like Mad City. Wasn’t that something to do with a crazy guy threatening on Live TV?

          • Midnight Luck

            I think I saw that one, I believe it was in a bank heist, and the twist was it was all shown live on TV
            So MM is a live show and the twist is it’s about one of those loud mouth asshole money managers TV shows and about the financial collapse.

  • Thaddeus Arnold

    So Carson, did you read every script submitted or did you accept and reject based on the logline?

  • Midnight Luck

    So you didn’t answer the final question to why many of us didn’t make it, including me.
    And I have found both the reason and the answer to this burning question:

    #9 ENTER the F*cking contest you dolt!

    I have spent so much time wondering why my name wasn’t in there, trying to figure out where it all went wrong, why others were chosen, and why it is all so unfair: hoping for months my name would be chosen, and it just kept not happening.

    Finally, the other day, while breaking shit in my house (meditating), it finally came to me.

    I didn’t enter the contest!

    So, while weeping in my coffee (tea) and bulldozer stuffing my face in donuts (vegan oatmeal), I came up with the answer, the solution to this problem:

    And the solution has two ways to it, a fork if you will in this difficult road, the Hard way and the Easy way.

    It took a long time for me, but now, here it is
    :
    Just enter the damn contest next time!

    Then it is done and you can move right along with your life.

    Or you can chose the other way.

    The difficult way.
    If you chose that fork, if you go that way and you don’t enter the contest again next year, you spend another year wondering and watching as everyone ponders and questions, examines and theorizes about why and who and what and will they? and the agony of it all, as you sit off to the side, trying to put the pieces together.

    This way seems rough, and I believe I have already been through it and never want to do that again.

    So, I think I will try the easy way. Thing is, I don’t like the easy way in life, and I fight it tooth and nail, I make a big deal over it, I get angry and nasty and brutal, and I throw things and piss everyone off around me as I try to find a way to make life and choices as difficult as possible (I stew quietly inside).

    Because hey, nothing good comes from the easy way right?

    Next time, I am saving myself a ton of angst and worry and sadness, and I’m just taking the easy route:

    I’m entering the damn thing.

    • Erica

      Yup, can’t win a lottery if you don’t by a ticket. Of course buy a lottery ticket is way easier then writing a script.

      Lately I’ve been asking myself, if I did win the lottery, and I mean a good chunk, would I use some of my money to make my own movie? Sometimes the answer I get back is, sure, if I want to through away money while having a good time.

      • Midnight Luck

        Hey, if you won that money, I can think of nothing better to do with it than make your own movie, hire people, friends you know, pay people who are good at what they do in the film world and might be needing the money, and all the while HAVE A BLAST and end up making something you will be proud of having made, for the rest of your life.

        Even if I won $500,000, even if I won $1 billion, it wouldn’t make a difference, I would make a movie with it.
        If I won the billion I would set up a non-profit for Amateur Filmmakers and Screenwriters to help people do what they want to do, without having to go into massive credit card debt or all the other crazy things people do. For every (1) Kevin Smith there are thousands of (?) nobodies we never hear from and end up struggling to pay that money off, possibly for the rest of their lives.

        Anyhow, that is what I’d do with it.
        And everyone on here who is in to it, would be welcome to come along.

        • Mayhem Jones

          What’s wrong with you do-gooders!? If I won the lottery, I’d pre-order 5 Tesla Roadsters (coming out in 2019!) then buy that insane glass mansion in Beverly Hills Meek Mill trashed two months ago. I’m pretty sure feng shui-ing the crap outta that place will cost several million, alone. OK OK, MAYBE if there’s some left over I can do an amateur filmmaker fund…………MAYBE. (haha)

          • Midnight Luck

            Hey, I’m not saying I wouldn’t have fun splurging, but it would come more in the way of buying small islands, or AN island with a bunch of awesome beach front property and views for all my closest friends and compatriots. Along with traveling to every single place I’ve ever wanted to go.
            I’ve had enough “THINGS” and Shit in my life, and I’m done with it. I don’t need more shit taking up space in a storage unit or parked in the driveway. I’ve owned a Mustang Convertible, and it was fun and awesome, but I highly doubt a Tesla will be anything different than just a shiny bobble in the driveway that I forget about quickly.

            EXPERIENCE, that is the shit! (ok, so maybe i’d rent a Tesla, or drive one for the experience of that. But I don’t want or need to have one in the driveway or spend the $150,000 on a car. Hey, that’s just me. Go enjoy yourself and trick the shit out of and splurge on whatever you want)

          • smishsmosh22

            the first thing I’m buying when I get rich is a 79 Trans Am, my dream car. (NO not the new reboot version!)

          • Midnight Luck

            Have fun! I used to, when I was young, LOVE the Firebird. That bird on the hood was just the coolest.

          • smishsmosh22

            ya you probably saw my current car is an 88 firebird, it’s white with a red bird on the hood. It gets lots of looks and thumbs ups haha. But when I have the 79, and it will be mine OH YES IT WILL BE MINE, my life will be complete. I will know I have truly made it. Also, I’ll have a maid.

          • Midnight Luck

            OH YES IT WILL BE YOURS!
            I believe you. and it will happen.

          • Erica

            My first car was a firebird. Don’t remember the year of it though. It was blue. Oh The black Trans Am…

        • Thaddeus Arnold

          If I won a billion, I’m not spending my own money to make my film. The only person who spent that kind of money to make his own blockbusters was George Lucas. I’m spending other people’s money! That’s the Hollywood way!!

          • Midnight Luck

            See my response to Smish above, ^^^, it IS other people’s money when you win the lottery. Seriously. Nobody has any concept of how much money that really is. You will struggle to spend it, you will struggle to figure out where to put it and where to save it, where to invest it. Do you really want to be another asshole investing in Oil futures?
            I don’t.
            But that’s me.
            I’m making a fucking crazy movie with my Billion. Maybe I’ll make 400 of them!

          • smishsmosh22

            sorry, if we’re talking about a billion, that’s a different story. I would have tons left to live a comfortable life even if the move flopped so why not :)

          • Thaddeus Arnold

            Spending other people’s money. That’s how Hollywood does it. That’s how America does it… And it’s worked out pretty good so far

        • smishsmosh22

          I would consider spending some of my own money on a low budget feature just to have it as a calling card (I’ve only directed shorts) but I would never spend big money to make my own feature. I mean I guess if you can accept that you will probably NEVER make that money back, sure, go for it. But I’d rather gamble with other people’s money. haha.

          • Midnight Luck

            You win the lottery, think of it this way: IT IS OTHER PEOPLE’S MONEY!
            So go bananas and make a freaking crazy movie, what do you care? You have a shitton of money, and you can make all your friends’ day by paying them to be a part of the fun!
            I’d spend a few million on making a fun as shit movie! Hell yes I would.
            With that kind of money, I’d possibly spend $30 million or more on it.

          • Scott Strybos

            I had the dream of being a hyphenate. A writer-director. But after directing shorts in school, a couple after, and after volunteering on set for friends and strangers, I came to the conclusion that I do not like being behind the camera, nor do I like being on set.

            If I won the lottery, I would leave my job and use the money not to make a film but to rent an office. An office a fair distance from my house, but not too far, just out of my neighbourhood. Someplace with a view. Where I could go every morning and spend the day writing. Improving my craft. No distractions. Treating it like a full-time job.

          • smishsmosh22

            I’m the opposite I guess, directing is my passion and always will be. Being on set is the happiest moments of my life. But after years of hiring other writers to execute my ideas for me, I decided to take matters into my own hands and finally LEARN HOW TO WRITE. This might be the first year I don’t make a movie as I’m just writing writing writing …. but yeah, with a billion dollars, I think you could afford a REAL nice office space Scott… :)

          • Scott Serradell

            I liked Scott’s modesty: An office with a view. But, yes, maybe a little indulgence thrown in… Perhaps a helicopter to take him to and from said office?

          • Scott Strybos

            An office with a helipad and a helicopter to ferry me back-and-forth is a tad unrealistic, considering my condo doesn’t have a helipad where I could be picked up.

          • Erica

            I love the writing, then shooting (although when your out there some days it’s like uggg, why me, why…). The the editing to bring it all together and put smiles on peoples faces (or scared the crap out of them).

          • Scott Serradell

            I wholeheartedly agree! Having worked on the production side (television and film) in my 20’s, yes, it was exciting but you realize quickly you must possess a certain brand of ego to make it all work for you. That’s simply not who I am and it was something of a relief to understand that. I’m much better at lobbing grenades from behind a keyboard than charging the front lines…

        • Scott Serradell

          If I won that kind of money I’d pay Aaron Sorkin to write my script.

          • Midnight Luck

            Hah! yeah. I get what you are saying.
            But why not do your own thing as well?

          • Scott Serradell

            I think it’s just the twisted satisfaction of him having to call me “Sir!”

            Joking aside: Had a blank check I’d find some remote castle in Scotland and have the writer’s retreat to end all writer’s retreats. Like John Hammond, I’d spare no expense (but no dinosaurs…)

          • Thaddeus Arnold

            Spending other people’s money. That’s how Hollywood does it. That’s how America does it… And it’s worked out pretty good so far.

        • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

          If I won that kind of money I’d be dead in six weeks.

          • Midnight Luck

            Yikes!
            Not sure what that means you’d do with it, most people would be happy about it, at least for a while and buy or do things they couldn’t before.
            But maybe the biggest thrill for some would be to use it to start your own Cartel, bringing in drugs from South America and playing “chicken” with border patrol. Maybe people want to start making meth and don’t believe they’ll blow themselves up.
            Or maybe they want to buy a Lamborghini and jump it from tall building to tall building in Dubai, ala FF7 or something.
            Or maybe they’d just eat as much McDonald’s and Pepsi as they could til their heart exploded.

            We are all on different journeys.

        • Erica

          Well with a billion I would make what ever I wanted with my friends, you know like Adam Sandler does.

          Yup a tree fort is where I would do my writing from.

          • Midnight Luck

            ha! awesome.

      • Thaddeus Arnold

        A lottery is about luck. This is more about talent. Lotteries don’t go to the person who most deserves to win.

        • Midnight Luck

          too true.

        • Erica

          I think you missed the point of that. No matter how much luck you still can’t win a lottery without the ticket. Same holds true with a script, it’s skill and luck that will get the script into the right hands.

          • Thaddeus Arnold

            I didn’t miss the point. I respectfully objected to the analogy.

      • smishsmosh22

        Actually you can win the lottery without buying a ticket, if your parents buy a ticket and THEY win the lottery. Because according to MY parents, if that happens, they will gladly give me some money. (stock response every time I asked for money.)

        • Midnight Luck

          exactly. true.

        • Erica

          Aww, but someone still has to buy the ticket, no? And if your parents win, it still doesn’t mean you won. It means you have potential for money now. Of course my parents would run off to some tropical detestation and say when you grow up, you will get your share.

          • The Old Man

            But there’s a movie there. When your parents win the lottery and blow you off, you know what you have to do to get your inheritance.

          • Midnight Luck

            yes, when they win the lottery and now you think you can just sit back and glide and they’ll fund your life, but instead find out your parents secretly hate you and give you nothing, well, what do you do? I guess there’s one obvious answer….

    • Thaddeus Arnold

      I didn’t enter because I decided that my script, besides not being good enough, was not likely to be selected because of it’s tone (comedy/fantasy) or possible budget. Since this contest was about selecting one winner and possibly producing one screenplay, I resigned myself to not being chosen.

      • Midnight Luck

        But there are also 10 people becoming a part of a group working and writing together. To me, THAT is the real prize!

        • Thaddeus Arnold

          Excellent point! I wasn’t up to speed on that part of it but that is certainly valuable and is a win even if you don’t get top prize.

          Stop making me regret my decision!

          • Midnight Luck

            Sorry, you and me both.

    • klmn

      I won’t enter next time. Missed deadlines suck.

      AOW has value, and it’s quick. But for Carson to weed through several thousand entries and pick 250 to read? That’s just insane.

      • Midnight Luck

        Yeah, I fucking HATE missed deadlines more than anything. Nothing can crush your soul quite like it.

  • http://www.linkedin.com/pub/brett-martin/52/702/72 ElectricDreamer

    OT: My New Short Reviewed on Screenwriting Blog

    Great list of tips, Carson! Since Star Wars: TFA dropped on BluRay and the Rogue One teaser debuted, it’s a great time to have a Star Wars-related short reviewed on a blog.

    I’m chuffed and thrilled to have a new short script featured on the awesome Simply Scripts blog, Shooting the Shorts. So many scripts have been optioned and produced, thanks to the hard work of Janet Goodman-Clarke and Don Boose. So, if you’re a Star Wars fan, please check out my latest tale available for production: THE LAST NERD.

    http://www.simplyscripts.com/2016/04/07/the-last-nerd-short-script-review-available-for-production/

    • Midnight Luck

      I had to look up what “chuffed” meant. sounded kinda dirty. but now I have a new word.

      Congrats!
      And I will go take a look at it.

    • Eric Boyd

      Good stuff. Nice to see that even in the post apocalyptic future, J.J’s still remaking episode IV and blowing up Death Stars :)

  • Aaron Brooks

    Wow, wasn’t expecting that. Humbled to be on the list. Thank you to Carson, for all your hard work. And for taking a chance on a totally unmarketable script like Lies, Blackmail and Other Egregious Behaviour.

    Was wondering, even if your script doesn’t make the top 5, will there be a chance to hear your thoughts on it? Maybe a quick email?

    All the best,

    Brooks

  • BoSoxBoy

    When I first signed onto SS this morning, before my coffee, before my eyes adjusted – I thought the first two words in the headline were “Sex Tips”. Then I saw “Help You Advance Further”. Zowie, finally some practical tips that have nothing to do with writing! The bolded paragraph headers intrigued even more…lack of this, too much of that, something about roses.

    Alas, I was disappointed to read on…

    • Citizen M

      At my age, it’s the second act blues that are most distressing.

      • brenkilco

        Better than a premature climax.

  • JustinB

    “One of the scripts I read was cruising through its first act. I was
    like, “This might make the top 5!” And then the writer spent the first
    25 pages of his second act giving us extensive background on his 12 main
    characters. The screenplay lost all its momentum and never recovered.”

    Pretty sure this is me lol, and if it’s not, it definitely describes my script. I say this because I get the exact same note from almost everyone who reads it. “Your first act is amazing! And then all of a sudden there’s a bunch of new characters and a clusterfuck of subplots.”

    Anyhow, congrats to the finalists — very interesting and diverse loglines. I’m thrilled to have broken the top 250, so many thanks to Carson for reading. This is my first post on the site by the way (long-time lurker though). I’m a New York-based writer and would love to connect with other writers, swap scripts, give notes, etc. My thing is comedy/drama leaning toward the indie spectrum.

    And here’s my logline if anyone’s interested: A former reality TV bad girl faces unexpected consequences when she returns home to conservative South Carolina for her sister’s wedding the same time her raucous TV show premieres for all her uptight relatives to see.

    I’m considering a 5th rewrite of this script, but I also don’t wanna be “rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic” as they say. Let me know if you’d like to send me your script or read mine, would love to give/take notes!

  • Thaddeus Arnold

    No, but 250 screenplays is another thing. I can’t imagine every submission was read, not even just the first 10 pages. Had to be a few hundred submissions.

    • klmn

      I think it must be several thousand entries. I’m surprised Carson hasn’t mentioned the number.

      • Midnight Luck

        That is what I’ve said over and over, it has to have been easily several thousand. A FREE contest with a good reward?
        But people keep referring to the 250 scripts read. Yes he read those completely he said, but before he chose the top 250 he whittled them down from ALL the entries. And with like 6000+ followers on Twitter, I would bet he had easily 1000 if not double or triple that entries. It wasn’t just 250.
        I believe the Mass of them he read until they lost him, he didn’t necessarily read the full scripts then.

        • Thaddeus Arnold

          I asked because the article today led off mentioning people’s criticisms regarding the loglinse of the scripts chosen. If a “bad” logline didn’t eliminate a script from getting a read I was wondering what, if anything, did. Surely he didn’t read every script submitted.

          • Midnight Luck

            I think the beginning was approached like many “readers” would. If the logline was terrible it was dumped.
            At one point he did say he would read EVERY ONE of them, at least the beginning though, beyond a logline, but he would stop when it didn’t work or lost him. So if it was 1 page or 98 pages, he would give it until he couldn’t anymore.
            He did say he was reading the 250 chosen scripts which made it passed that initial vetting stage. So, there were 250 scripts read from cover to cover, and maybe more.

            That is what I have teased out of the limited info I have gathered. And I am not, at all, in the know. So it could’ve been different for sure.

  • Guest

    But you will find a lot of women in “gender studies” courses, and nursing and stuff like that.
    I don’t think there is a shortage of women writers, but maybe female screenwriters… just maybe.

  • Citizen M

    Excellent list, Carson.

    3) Lack of sophistication. I’d call this “not doing your research”. As a sci-fi fan, it particularly irks me when writers seem to have no idea of the laws of physics and no appreciation for what is and is not possible. By convention, certain impossible things are allowed, like warp drive and artificial gravity, but that doesn’t mean you can change the laws of nature whenever it’s convenient for you.

    6) Lack of nuance. I’d all this “motivating the action” or maybe “setups and payoff”. A couple of examples from My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, where the cast tries hard but the humor falls flat.

    In one scene, Toula is helping her elderly father walk along the sidewalk. Her glasses fall off and she shouts to her father to stop and he looks around and steps on the glasses. Maybe a 6-yr-old would find that funny. But the scene could be justified if it became a running gag that she couldn’t see well without her glasses and it led to all sorts of funny situations, or she had to go to the optician and an important plot point developed from that. But there was nothing. It was just an isolated scene. (Okay, later on she finds a pair of older glasses and puts them on. Maybe we were supposed to crack up laughing that she’s wearing old-fashioned frames. But that was a 2-second scene. If a character later on had kept ragging her about her ugly glasses it might have been justified. Except she never wears the old frames again.)

    In a later scene Toula’s crazy aunt advises her to go on a date with her husband to repair their relationship. Huh? Their relationship was never shown to be troubled in the first place. It’s a bizarre out-of-the-blue development. And the date isn’t funny. It’s a cheesy bit of romantic slop.

    Lots of other problems as well. But if your first movie made $368M I guess they’ll take a chance on a sequel no matter how bad the script looks..

    • ShiroKabocha

      3) Lack of sophistication. I’d call this “not doing your research”.
      6) Lack of nuance. I’d all this “motivating the action” or maybe “setups and payoff”.

      This and this :)

    • klmn

      I’d like to see Carson review these scripts – he’s already read them, possibly taken notes, so it should be less work than reading new scripts.

  • http://soundcloud.com/the-colonel-mc The Colonel

    Love it. Plus they could case a bunch of former A-listers on the cheap (because they’re old).

  • Levres de Sang

    Thinking a bit more about the top 25, I’m now intrigued to read THIS CLOSE. It got a bit lost in the shuffle yesterday, but for a drama it’s actually kind of high concept. Just felt it deserved a mention…

    Logline: Jeremy Pearl intends to shoot up his high school and take his own life. He comes ‘this close’ to proceeding, but the plot is thwarted before he can act. Seven years later, after coming out of prison a repentant man, Jeremy returns to his hometown to try to make a normal life for himself.

    • klmn

      The King Alfred script sounds interesting, like the writer really did his research.

      • brenkilco

        There was actually a big budget film bio in the late sixties that bombed. Nearly scotched the careers of its lead actor David Hemmings and its director. Really primitive medieval tales- we’re talking four hundred years before Braveheart- would not seem to be box office. Still curious to read

        • klmn

          I expect it would take a pretty big budget. Would a studio take a risk that big on a new writer?

          And if the writer did a good job of recreating the dialect, I doubt if I could understand it. And if it’s written in modern English, it would sound a little off.

    • BMCHB

      That’s one I think would work as a TV series along the lines of Rectify or The Family.

    • Malibo Jackk

      With a movie logline, you’re supposed to read the logline and say — I get it.
      Not sure I get it. Is “try to make a normal life for himself” a movie?

      (Only referring to the logline. The script might be amazing.)

    • ripleyy

      I really liked that one, even if it feels like it could thrive pretty well on the Blacklist. Definitely has that small town, America feel to it.

    • Midnight Luck

      It reminds me of THE LIFE BEFORE HER EYES, which was a phenomenal film with Evan Rachel Wood and Uma Thurman and Eva Amurri (Susan Sarandon’s daughter).
      No one saw it, but they should’ve.

      • Levres de Sang

        Afraid you’ll have to add me to the list of people who missed it… but I’ll make a note of it now! Great title, too.

  • Levres de Sang

    Thanks for a great article today, Carson — as well as the insight into your thought process while reading multiple scripts. The following more than likely accounted for my own effort:

    “…scripts aren’t being read in a breakfast nook with a blanket and a hot coffee, like novels are. Screenplays are meant to be read quickly, in a high-pressure industry where people are constantly asking for the new hot thing.”

    Either way, I’d certainly welcome another article on pace one of these Thursdays… (In the meantime, I’ll be heading back to your classic “Slow Burn” article!)

    • brenkilco

      His #5 objection may have snared more than one of us. Not sure my notions of effective descriptive prose and his coincide. But it’s his sandbox.

      “Once your script starts feeling like work ON ANY LEVEL, you’re done.” I understand this but for some reason I can’t quite articulate I find it troubling.

      • Levres de Sang

        “… but for some reason I can’t quite articulate I find it troubling.”

        Maybe it feels similar to that anecdote about Casablanca-with-names-changed being rejected by modern execs. A realization that yesterday’s art is exactly that.

        • brenkilco

          Probably so. And yet the script of Casablanca, which I looked at not that long ago, is a neat, precise, wholly enjoyable read; notwithstanding the lack of dashes, half sentences, pumped up purple prose, capitalized sound effects, mini slugs or words designed to drag the eye down the page. Well, to me at least. I’m sure Carson’s eyes would have glazed over.

          Curious. Did you submit your Euro-vamp script?

          • Levres de Sang

            You’re right about Casablanca. I also looked at the script recently (to see how it handled something or other) and was surprised by the terseness of its action lines.

            Let us Touch the Sun did make the 250, but my pitch aimed more towards the Runners-up slots as I realized the appeal of a European arthouse flick would be limited to say the least.

            Seem to recall that you also had a script in the fray?

          • brenkilco

            Yes, a period thriller that I think was reasonably well constructed but possibly a bit too wordy for our host.

        • Poe_Serling

          Excellent point, Lev.

          SS Script Contest

          With the weeding out and picking the scripts for both the Top 250 and the Top 25…

          Carson has been up a one-man show.

          He’s also mentioned on numerous occasions that most of his movie watching consists of films from ’80s and beyond. So, it isn’t much of a surprise (at least to me) that Carson’s taste in projects are heavily influenced by the templates of story, pacing, etc. from the last couple of decades.

          (And as an aspiring producer it’s important for him to stay in the ‘what’s hot now’ loop of Hollywood).

          Personally, I enjoy the new and old stuff. I’ve come to really appreciate the change of pace that many older films have to offer to the viewer.

          • Levres de Sang

            And those are also excellent points about story pacing and Carson needing to “stay in the ‘what’s hot now’ loop of Hollywood”.

            I think you’re striking a perfect balance between new and old, whereas I’m almost exclusively watching older stuff (i.e. pre-1980). With that in mind…

            O.T. My latest recommendations:

            Madness of the Heart (1949): A wonderfully atmospheric British take on the Rebecca trope starring Margaret Lockwood and Kathleen Byron.

            Mad Love (1935): Directed by Karl Freund with Peter Lorre at his crazed best as an obsessive surgeon who grafts the hands of a murderer onto the husband of the woman he loves. The atmosphere is super creepy and may well have influenced Franju’s Eyes Without A Face.

      • klmn

        It sounds like Carson chose some scripts and rejected others based on how they read, rather than how they’d film.

        • brenkilco

          Yes, how they read. Not necessarily how well they read. But the proof is in the pudding. And if the finalists turn out to be solidly crafted works I will be the first to acknowledge our host’s judgment. Just have to wait and see.

          • klmn

            Some of the scripts sound very visual. Like you said, we’ll wait and see.

  • Tom

    I keep seeing mention of this “writers’ group” that the winners form, and so I finally looked up the wording in the original announcement:

    “In addition to that first prize, we’re also looking for a handful of writers to join the Grey Matter writers group (which I’ll be involved in as well). We want to build a collective of writers who we can mentor, but who can also help mentor each other as they move up and into the industry.”

    This could be a REALLY cool experience for those writers!

    … but the vagueness of the description has me concerned for them as well.

    I can see this playing out one of two ways.

    1. Each writer develops his/her own material, but can lean on the group for support and notes. Meanwhile, the Lawrence Grey team provides mentorship, helping to craft the pitch and providing notes throughout the process. In exchange, Grey Matter gets, perhaps, a one year shopping agreement on the script, and if they can’t move it anywhere, the rights revert back to the writer in full.

    This would be cool. Seems like a good learning experience for the writers.

    However… A pernicious producer tactic has been seeping into the industry, and I can see this “great opportunity” taking more of a “spec farm” route:

    2. The Grey Matter team presents the writers with in-house ideas. Maybe it’s just a log line, or a newspaper article, or even a full one-sheet. The writers come up with their “take” on the material. After the writer spends months working on the script, no matter what happens to it, Grey Matter still owns the original idea. This means that the writer will never be able to shop this to anyone other than Grey Matter. And if Grey Matter loses interest? That script (and the time invested in it) is dead.

    In which case, I would caution those writers that IT’S A TRAP!

    This advice extends not just to the winners, but to everyone else out there: DO NOT WRITE SOMEONE ELSE’S IDEA FOR FREE!!!!

    Projects take long, circuitous routes toward their destinations. When you write someone else’s idea, you’ve locked yourself to one path. 9 times out of 10, a path leads nowhere. The best way to advance in this industry is to be nimble enough to be able to send your script down 10 different paths. When you write a producer’s idea for free, you’ve shut down all those other options, and will most frequently have nothing to show for it but wasted time.

    Producers will try to cajole you into believing that working for them for free is a great opportunity. But in reality, they’ve spent about 2 hours coming up with the idea. You’ll be spending 6 months (or more) writing it. It’s a great deal for them; they get a free script.

    It’s a horrible deal for the writer.

    Hopefully Carson will clear up the actual format and function of this writers’ group, but until then, allow me to reiterate for the benefit of anyone who finds themselves sitting across from a producer who’s pitching them ideas: DO NOT WRITE SOMEONE ELSE’S IDEA FOR FREE.

    • klmn

      Greg wrote Carson’s submarine idea, and it only cost him $80 k.

    • pmlove

      Whatever happened to Space Invaders?

      • Tom

        It’s served me well. It got me a lot of meetings and indirectly contributed to a payday.

        But every time it starts moving forward, it dies. And every time it’s dead, it resuscitates. Nothing too exciting.

  • Dan B

    Die Hard: From Prostate Cancer

    • Midnight Luck

      Die Harder: Erectile Dysfunctions