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Friday, January 30, 2015

How I Sold the First Screenplay I Ever Wrote – Repost from CHIPSTREET - posted by wonkavite

How I Sold the First Screenplay I Ever Wrote

You wanna write screenplays?  Seriously?  Hopefully for a living?  Well, one thing you’ve got to do is perfect your art. Write. Rewrite.  And keep plugging away… nonstop. Keep polishing your craft until it shines!

…and be open to lessons learned from those who’ve been in the trenches, and blazed the same trail that you seek.  STS is happy to be reposting a series of articles from ChipStreet.  Folks, this is a terrific website – we recommend that you check it out in more depth!  (Original article available here: http://chipstreet.com/2013/05/21/how-i-sold-the-very-first-screenplay-i-ever-wrote/)

About Chip: Chip Street is an IMDB credited indie screenwriter, director, and art director. His short films have screened at festivals, and his feature screenplays have been optioned and sold. He is a screenplay analyst, competition finalist, screenplay judge for a major industry competition, screener for an International film festival, founder of Write Club Screenplay Challenge, and a respected blogger on the art and business of screenwriting. He’s been published or cited by The BlueCat Competition Newsletter, Script Magazine, JohnAugust.com, Bleeding Cool, NoFilmSchool, ScriptTips and IndieWire.com.

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How I sold the very first screenplay I ever wrote – and how you can avoid the same fate

Originally posted on May 21, 2013 by Chip Street

I write a lot of screenplays. They say you’ll never sell your very first screenplay. Hear how I sold mine, step by step and learn why you probably shouldn’t do exactly what I did.

They say you won’t sell your first screenplay.

Or your second.

Or third, or fourth, or fifth… that it’ll take years of practice to arrive at a screenplay that’s worth reading, much less worth buying.

But I did… I sold the very first screenplay I ever wrote.

Sort of.

Here’s what I did right, and wrong …

I started wrong and badly

I started writing Rocket Summer in 2002. I’d never written a screenplay… not a short, a trailer, nothing. All my previous writing experience was Literary… short stories, poetry, a few one act plays. None of which had ever been published or produced.

That’s fine. Everyone has a first screenplay.

The first version of Rocket Summer was terrible. I know that now… filled with too many parentheticals, too much expository dialogue, and over-written left margin (description), right down to the shoes characters wore, and the colors of their shirts. Every (pause) (smile) (angry) (happy). And it was too long (partly because it had too many parentheticals, too much dialogue, and way too much description).

Again, that’s fine. Everyone’s first screenplay sucks – even if they don’t know it.

I rewrote it

So I rewrote it. The more I learned about what goes into a great screenplay, the more I realized I had to change. I cut scenes. I conflated characters. I stripped my description to the bare minimum.

That’s good. Everyone should rewrite their bad first screenplay, so they can see how their changes make things better.

I didn’t get notes

Not from anyone that mattered. Friends are okay. Family is okay. Even other aspiring screenwriters are okay. But none of them know what a real reader knows… none of them can give you the hard truth from a professional point of view that you really, really need.

That’s bad.

I rewrote it over and over and over and…

So, IN THE ABSENCE OF PROFESSIONAL FEEDBACK OR GUIDANCE, I rewrote it again. And again. And again. Not because anybody was paying me to. Not because I’d gotten great advice.

Because I couldn’t move on. I wanted to make this story perfect. I didn’t want to find another story that needed telling.

Maybe, just maybe, I was afraid that if I couldn’t get this story right, I shouldn’t waste my time on any other screenplays. That failure with Rocket Summer meant failure as a writer.

I rewrote it a dozen times or more. I wasted YEARS making changes that became more minor, more minuscule and less important, when I should have been honing my skills on new stories and growing a bigger portfolio and finding my voice and genre.

And that, likewise, is just bad.

I wrote, produced and directed a short

In the midst of all this, I co-wrote, produced and directed a short, Whatever It Takes. I even did the storyboards, and handled props and wardrobe. I had zero experience on set, and had no idea what I was doing. But I learned — fast and hard — how overly-specific description and story problems at the script stage can make it hard on the art department, the actors, and the director, to find the good story buried in the badness.

Getting real production experience, at any level, will open your eyes to the relationship between what you write and how that turns into a movie. And how, really, at the point of production, your anguished choice between “sits” and “sat” doesn’t really matter.

This is good.

I worked on a feature

I parlayed that experience into a gig working under a production designer friend. I art directed a feature length film, Fat Rose and Squeaky.

I worked my ass off, 12 hours a day, six days a week.

I watched how lighting worked. I watched how directors work. I chatted with the scripty, and wardrobe, and observed everything and anyone I could. My learning curve was a straight line pointing up and to the right.

I did whatever anyone asked me to do, and I did it with a smile.

Because half of working in movies is being reliable. The other half is being a team player.

The third half is building relationships.

And that’s all good.

I said yes

Somewhere along the line my production designer friend had mentioned to the producer that I had a script.

The producer asked for the script.

I gladly handed it over.

Right now, some of you are saying “See! It’s who you know! You got your script to a producer because you had an inside track!”

And you’re kind of right.

I paved my own inside track

But understand this: I paved that inside track.

I said yes to producing that short, even though I didn’t know what I was doing.

I said yes to the art direction job, even though it was way over my head.

I said yes whenever anyone needed anything from me.

I said yes to whatever I needed to do to make that little film look as fantastic as I possibly could.

I made my friend look good to the producer, so the producer trusted him when he recommended my script.

And this is good.

I didn’t bug the producer

The producer was busy putting his movie to bed, setting up distribution, and all the other stuff a producer does.

And he didn’t get back to me right away.

I didn’t follow up, I didn’t ask if he’d read my screenplay yet.

I waited patiently.

And that’s good.

I let go of my story

The producer eventually got back to me.

And here’s what he said.

“I love your story. But I think I can sell it better if the kids are younger, and it’s aimed at a tween audience. Can you make them 13 instead of 19?”

I said yes again.

I worked for free

I don’t always recommend this part, but I agreed to rewrite the screenplay with younger kids (and all that it entailed, from concerned parents to figuring out transportation issues when they can’t drive).

Before the option was signed.

But he liked what he saw, and he optioned the screenplay for a year.

I did more free rewrites while under option, to appease his various potential investors.

And he extended the option another 6 months.

Then I said NO … and worse

For whatever reason, he let the option run out.

When he finally offered to buy the screenplay, he wanted to pay me less than the option agreement had stipulated; the economy had tanked, and he couldn’t raise the budget he wanted to raise. But he still wanted my screenplay.

By then I’d gotten exhausted with the free rewrites, and felt like my story deserved better.

I thought that maybe, if I’d stuck to my original story vision, we’d have had better luck.

So I said no.

In fact, I also let him know how irritated I’d gotten with the constant edits, and kind of burned my bridge.

This is bad.

Even if I’d wanted to hang on to the screenplay, there was no reason to burn the bridge. Because, as I’d learned earlier, maintaining good professional relationships leads to trust and referrals.

But I did it anyway.

I killed my momentum

But nothing happened with Rocket Summer. Lots of people looked at it, but nobody wanted to option it. It had become too specific to that one producer’s vision, and I didn’t have the energy to continue to work on it any more.

So instead of a sale, I had a stale property that I wasn’t motivated or inspired by any more.

And that’s bad.

I wrote more screenplays

I finally got around to writing more screenplays, along with doing more production work.

Grampa Was A Superhero was optioned via InkTip, and in development for two years (I’ve got it back now).

Faeries was a finalist in the Shriekfest Screenplay Competition, and is now under option and in development.

I learned a lot more about writing, and built more relationships.

This is good.

I said yes again

One day, years later, that same producer called me.

He asked if Rocket Summer was still available, and explained that he’d since had success funding, producing, and distributing a number of small titles, and was confident that he could finally pull Rocket Summer together.

We had a frank conversation, and healed our wounds, and talked about how the story had been on his mind all these years, and how badly he wanted to make it the way it should be made.

If I would just make one change.

Make all the boy characters girls, and all the girl characters boys. Because he was sure a female tween hero would be an easier sell.

Crazy, right?

I said yes.

Why I said yes

Firstly, after ten years, it was time to let this story go. I have many more screenplays, stories, and books to write, and Rocket Summer had sublet space in my head (and co-opted my creative energy) for long enough.

Plus, although I’d since added multiple options and a number of other production credits to my resume, it’s important to have a sale.

And lastly, saying YES, in my experience, leads to more good things than saying NO.

So I rewrote the story one last time. He gave me a great deal of creative freedom.

And I sold the very first screenplay I ever wrote.

It wasn’t really my first screenplay

So here’s the thing.

Technically, although I can say I sold the first screenplay I ever wrote, I’d rewritten it so many times that it was no longer really the first screenplay I ever wrote.

I’d done all that “write a second, third, and fourth screenplay” business, ALL ON THE SAME SCREENPLAY.

It took me ten years and two dozen rewrites to sell my first screenplay, the equivalent of writing a half dozen or more screenplays, and I only had one screenplay to show for it.

I could have quite a few more screenplays in my portfolio now, had I done things differently.

And maybe, just maybe, I’d have sold a different screenplay years earlier, had I done things differently, and not let Rocket Summer become an obsession.

I’m happy I sold Rocket Summer. The producers are awesome people, they really love the story, and I hope you get to see it sometime soon.

But I might do things differently if I had it to do again.

Where things are now

After all that, the producer, Stan Harris, sadly passed away in a terrible motorcycle accident just months later.

But his producing partners are still committed to the project, and are working on raising the funds.

We’re hopeful for a 2015 production start.

In the meantime, as I’d negotiated retaining the Literary rights, I’ve written a novelization of Rocket Summer which is now selling well on Amazon, BN, and elsewhere.

So what should you get from all this?

You do not have time to write everything you want to write. Life is always shorter than you want it to be. If you have many stories in you, don’t hesitate. Pick one, and get started.

Know when to quit. Don’t let one screenplay take over your life. You really do need lots of them, both to become a better writer, and to prove to others that you’re capable of doing it more than once. And there truly is a point of diminishing return on your investment of time. Put it away, and come back to it another time. Do not leave your other stories untried.

You’re not as good as you think you are yet. You will be blind to your screenplay’s shortcomings. That’s a fact. Your friends and family will not be honest with you. And other wannabe screenwriters know as little as you do. So when you think it’s as good as you can make it, show it to someone else who actually knows what they’re talking about so they can show you how it’s not. You will be a better writer for it.

Worry about writing more, and writing better will come. You can’t write more good stuff if you don’t write more.

Pave your own inside track. Yes, it’s who you know. But you determine who you know, and how good those relationships are. If you don’t have the connections you need, find a way to make them. You can start with:

Always have your yes ready. Say yes to opportunity, say yes to things that challenge you, say yes to people who need your help. Even if you’re not sure what you have to offer. It will make you a better person, and probably a better writer.

Screenwriting is not filmmaking. Your screenplay is just a piece of a complicated process. Get any production experience you can. It will make you a better writer, and help you with paving your inside track. And it’s a crapload of fun.

 

 

 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Brian Butterworth’s Bedroom – Short Script Review (Available for Production) - posted by wonkavite

Laptop-Shorts

Brian Butterworth’s Bedroom

Brian Butterworth wants to see the eclipse. But his mom has to work, and he’s got to find a way to see it by himself.

One of the great things about childhood is its sense of wonder. That everything is possible, with fantastical playmates around each corner. There’s something to be said for scripts that bring back that fleeting feeling… if only for a little while.

Though sickly, Brian Butterworth hasn’t lost his sense of wonder. As the script opens, 8 year old Brian lies in bed, staring up at glow in the dark ceiling stars. A solar eclipse is on the way. And starstruck Brian can’t wait. Something (a pet?) patters across the floor – but hides when Brian’s mom enters the room.

She’s got awful news. She has to work; the family’s finances depend on it. So she can’t bring Brian to the eclipse. He’ll have to wait for the next one (however many decades that would be.) Though disappointed, Brian doesn’t complain. He’s a good boy, after all. And he has his unseen companion to keep him company.

The next day finds Brian lying in a field. He watches the eclipse with his unnamed pet… awestruck by the rare sight. That night, Brian’s mother visits his room. She offers to take Brian out to the garden to look at the stars. It’s least she can do.

When she helps Brian out of bed, a surprising secret is revealed; one that raises a million questions. For childhood holds many mysteries. Some which need not be explained.

A unique tale that audiences will remember for a long time, BB is a sweet story with just two characters – and just the right dose of magic.

About the writer: Born and raised in England, Sally Meyer has had three screenplays filmed. Her personal website is Poppypro.com, IMDB Credits available here.

Pages: 4

Budget: Minimal.  A bedroom and a field are all you need. (And a tiny bit of post for the eclipse.)

READ THE SCRIPT HERE – AND DON’T FORGET TO COMMENT!!

FOR YET MORE SCRIPTS AVAILABLE FOR PRODUCTION:

PLEASE SEARCH SIMPLYSCRIPTS.COM 

OR THE BLOG VERSION OF STS HERE.

All screenplays are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved. The screenplays may not be used without the expressed written permission of the author.

Monday, January 26, 2015

April – Official Trailer #2 – From California Balloon Films - posted by Don

A young man from the future arrives in present day intent on unravelling the mystery of his mother’s suicide. A shut-in from a dystopian future, he falls in with a group of friends as they embark on a night of fun, violence, adventure, and romance through the streets and alleys of the city.

From Writer/Director Chris Shalom, the writer of the award-winning horror / thriller ‘TRUTH’

California Balloon Films is a Canadian independent production and distribution company whose goal is to create smart, sometimes silly, and (somewhat) polished genre films that tell important stories.

They believe strongly in the democratizing power of the internet, and have built their free-to-watch distribution model on the idea that easy distribution for our company should mean easy consumption for our viewers. View Callifornia Balloons entire film library.

Like them on Facebook
Check out their Official Site

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Original Script Sunday for January 25th - posted by Don

Over on the Unproduced Scripts page we have 45 original, unproduced scripts for your reading pleasure.

– Don

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Despair is as Simple as a Phone Call filmed as Pro Kopf – Watch the full movie - posted by Don

In 2007, Michel wrote a screenplay that was subsequently picked up, filmed and sent out on the festival circuit as Pro Kopf. The full short is now available to watch online via Vimeo.

Read the original screenplay Despair Is As Simple As A Phone Call (5 pages in pdf format) by Michel J. Duthin

One great moment of solitude or “Happiness is as simple as a phone call” antithesis. (short, drama)


PRO KOPF (short film) from Sascha Zimmermann on Vimeo.


Martin is an executive working away from home who makes a phone call home at a very bad time. Martin’s call to his wife is picked up by the maid who is put in a difficult position due to an indiscretion by Martin’s wife with another man. Once the truth is out Martin has one thing on his mind, murder and he’s willing to pay. But will the maid do what he wants and kill the cheating wife and her lover?

Discuss on the discussion board.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

No BullScript Consulting – Danny Manus Script Review (Loose Screws) - posted by wonkavite

Earlier this month, STS reviewed Tim Westland and John Robbin’s TV Pilot Loose Screws. (Script available here.) As readers of Shootin’ the Shorts are aware, our goal at STS is to find new and promising writers, and provide them with the platform they need to get their work seen (then hopefully optioned, and produced!)

One of our not-so-secret weapons in this quest is Danny Manus of No BullScript Consulting. Having worked as a development executive in Hollywood, Danny is an in-demand script consultant, named by Creative Screenwriting Magazine at one of the “Top 15” consultants in their “Cream of the Crop” list.   Partnered with STS, Danny provides wonderfully detailed and helpful notes for the monthly STS feature script.  This coverage is provided free to the writer, and can be posted our site or kept confidential – at the writer’s discretion. But wait – there’s more!  Any script that gets a coveted “recommend” from tough but eminently fair Danny will be featured in his monthly newsletter and may also receive further exposure to his production contacts…

Below, please find Danny’s notes/coverage for Loose Screws. Read, learn, comment…. and don’t forget to submit your best work for possible review!

**To submit a script, please visit STS at the page listed HERE. Danny can also be contacted directly via the No BullScript Consulting website at http://www.nobullscript.net/contact/. Or on Twitter @DannyManus.

About the writers of Loose Screws:

Tim Westland – an award winning screenwriter, 2014 Page International Quarter Finalist and co-author of the acclaimed comic book series/graphic novel “Chasing The Dead”.  Tim is currently writing the adaptation of the novel, “Quantum Lens“, by New York Times Best Selling author Douglas E. Richards.

John Robbins – a 2014 Page Quarter Finalist, John resides in San Diego and can be reached at jpjrb1 “AT” gmail, or via website: http://www.johnnyrobbins.com.

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NO BULLSCRIPT ANALYSIS

 

Title: Loose Screws

Type of Material:  60 Min TV Pilot

Authors: Tim Westland & John Robbins

Number of Pages: 55

Circa: 2012/1999

Location:  NYC

Genre: Drama

Coverage Date: 1/10/14

Budget Range:  Low

 

LOGLINE: When a successful psychiatrist finds himself losing his grip on reality and hunted by a clandestine group in search of his numerically coded journal, he must turn to an old patient – a girl with a mysterious mathematical talent – that he betrayed years ago.

COMMENTS:  Tim and John, thank you for submitting your TV Pilot “Loose Screws” to Simply Scripts. In the subsequent pages, I will go through the things that work well and what still needs to be worked on, developed, or changed to make this a more viable and commercial script and series.

A great TV series pilot has to do a number of specific things;  it needs to create an interesting world and pull us into that world, it has to set up characters that are not only special, original, have great chemistry and have a specific goal and dilemma, but that we are going to want to follow week after week and care about; it has to set up an overarching plot and theme to the show and to the specific pilot; and it has to set up the conflict and types of conflict that are going to drive the show. Plus, it has to be original and visual and have a strong hook that audiences will be able to understand. And most of all – it has to make it clear what audiences would expect from the series going forward. We have to know that there is somewhere for the series to go that isn’t the same episode week after week so it doesn’t feel like it will get stale quickly.

I think your script does a few of these quite well, but is lacking a bit in others. It certainly feels pretty original and I really like the concept of a psychologist who is himself going crazy. And you definitely raise a ton of questions and mysteries as to what’s really going on and what everyone wants and what this story is really about. But there aren’t too many answers. I’m not totally sure where the story is going – not that we should know everything from the pilot. But I would love to know a bit more about the scope of the story and the world you’re setting up.

The mysteries and questions seem to increase as the pilot progresses. First, it’s what is wrong with William? Then it’s who/what is this clandestine group of “psychologists” who are searching for this journal, then it’s what the code means and why they want it, etc. It’s great to create questions that we will figure out over the course of the series, but we also need at least ONE important answer in the pilot for us to be enticed enough to seek out more answers.

The concept of these numbers seemingly affecting people (at least William and Miriam) in such drastic ways, and the fact that some clandestine group with a dry cleaners torture room is going to great lengths to recover this number-coded journal, sets up that it’s important. But I don’t know anything about the larger over-arching story yet.

We never get to see what William has written on the postcard – we just know it’s some numbers. But are the specific numbers important? They seemed to be a clear code that Miriam was able to decipher and it made something clear to her. So, it feels like WE should see or know the numbers as well even if we don’t know what they mean yet.

Structurally, the script works and you have nice act end points, though the opening seems a bit short for a drama. These days, cold opens seem to be quite long and give us a bit more set up to the show or the episode. I think the cold open could give us a bit more insight, foreshadowing or something a bit more compelling that clues us into the world and what this show is about. And in a pilot especially, the cold open needs to give us more – either more on the overarching series or more about the story contained in the pilot. I’m not sure the WHOLE open needs to be set in the past. Perhaps you could set some of it in the past and then cut to the present so that we know that the story/series actually takes place in 2012 and not 1999, and that it’s not about Miriam and William when they are younger. That might help set up a bit more of the world and story if we saw some of the present day in the cold open.

I will throw another structural suggestion out there that I like even more. What if you actually opened the show in 2012 with the Parkinson scene on pg 5 and had your First Act actually be the Cold Open. And then start the new first act with the flashback in 1999 and introduce Charlie, Miriam and that whole scene then. We will have already heard Miriam’s name in his delusion, so we will make a connection. And this way, we will already have the world set up, it would set up the major series dilemma of William’s mental illness right from the start as well as what’s interesting about William’s character, and I think it would be more interesting to then go back and see a bit of how he got there or who he used to be and a bit more of the hook once we have a better grasp of the show.  Plus, as a viewer, I think the scene of William’s delusion and freak out is a much stronger scene that will grab people and keep them watching. So having it happen in minute 7 instead of minute 15, means viewers stick around.

The Parkinson storyline with his lie about being molested is fun, though I’m not sure if he’s important to the series or just being used as an interesting scene to set up William in the present day and his high-powered clientele. I didn’t quite get his reference about his father on pg 7 – “He was one of a handful of short straws on the 89th.” I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean.

The concept of a psychologist to the rich and powerful who holds all these important secrets to some of the country’s most powerful people who is slowly losing his own mind is interesting because he becomes a total liability for a great many people who could probably have him killed or would have reason to shut him up. But that doesn’t seem to be the issue here. The issue is that he’s broken some numeric code that means something important to a group of people. But why now? He seemingly discovered or broke this code with Miriam over 10 years ago – so why are people after it now?

What I think is missing in the pilot is some dynamic or relationship that we care about and can really invest in that we can see developing over the course of the series. Look at Bates Motel, Breaking Bad, House of Cards, Touch, Fargo – they were all based around a specific relationship and dynamic and how it changes with each obstacle, goal, action, reaction, etc. And I feel like that is what could make us invest a bit more in the characters and story. Is this show about William and Miriam? William and Kendorski? Is there a core relationship/dynamic that is driving the series?

William is a complex character and seems to fall under the incredibly popular tag of “anti-hero.” It seems a dramatic series can’t succeed these days without one. He is an adulterer, he unethically slept with a much younger patient (though it’s not clear if he waited until after she was legal) and his secretary, and he did something seemingly controversial years ago and is now paying for it with a debilitating mental disease. He has a clear dilemma, he has obstacles, and his visions are very intriguing and compelling, but I am not sure what William’s goal is for the episode or the series. I’m not sure what he actually needs to do in the series.

I think there are some compelling supporting characters, especially Miriam. But it’s not clear how long it has been before page 34 since she has seen William. It’s pretty easy for him to find her and he’s pretty mean to her right off the bat regarding her talent. And she seems pretty paranoid, which made me wonder if she’s been followed all her life or what she is so scared of. And when she and William end up sleeping together again, I’m not sure why he would bring her back to his house when he knows his wife could either be there or come home at any time, not to mention Sean. Feels odd that he would do this.

There are a couple characters I didn’t quite “get,” and I think Kendorski is the biggest one. His personality is a bit all over the place. One second, he’s an esteemed elder-seeming doctor and the next he’s ordering his wife to stop acting like a damn bitch, roll over and take care of daddy. One second he’s William’s best friend for 20 years, and the next he’s throwing him out and threatening him and seemingly cold and uncaring. I don’t know why he seems so heartless on page 32 when he throws William out. I think it makes it too obvious in this scene that he really wants the journals, when there seem to be other options or more subtle ways to get them. He turns on his best friend in an instant for seemingly no reason. I just couldn’t quite wrap my head around who this character is. Cyrus is a fun character and a bit of comic relief like Mike in Breaking Bad, but the scenes with him and Cyrus are so secretive, that I often had no idea what they were talking about.

William’s son Sean is an interesting supporting character. His storyline certainly seems a bit twisted and sexual, in a good way, and I like that he’s in conflict with his parents, but it’s not clear why he seems to hate his father (and mother). There certainly seems to be some depth there more than just teenage angst, but I’m not sure what the dynamic is or why he’s SO viciously angry at them, especially William. The reveal that he enjoyed being whipped by the S&M lady/prostitute is intriguing, and it’s a strong end to the third act, though I’m not sure I get how it’s related to the story. The one thing I’m not sure I believed was that 19 year-old sexpot Monique would be with 16 year-old Sean.

The Homeless Family that William sees in his delusions are handled well in the visions and they are interesting, but when he tells the backstory of his mother giving the money to a homeless family, I wondered if that was the family. And if so, why they would haunt his thoughts so often. I was expecting a bit more connection there.

Turning to the dialogue, I think it’s purposefully and intriguingly vague at times, and there are some really strong lines throughout. However, there could be a couple more moments of clarity for the audience.

One of the biggest dialogue notes I have while reading this is that everyone treats each other with such utter contempt. Everyone is just straight-up mean to everyone else, and I am not sure why. William to Miriam – mean.  Kendorski to William – mean. Miriam to Kendorski – mean. Janet to William – mean. Sean to William – mean. Cyrus to Kendorski – mean. Monique and Sean – mean.  Everyone in the script seems to dislike and distrust everyone else in the script and I’m not sure why, but it doesn’t help when you’re trying to create a dynamic between your characters. Creating anti-heroes is fine, but SOMEONE has to be likeable and like someone else.

There are a few random lines and moments that seem to come out of nowhere and they create a few too many “huh?” moments. For example, on page 21, William says “I doubt any amount of financial aid would help her.” But no one has mentioned anything about financial aid, money, or helping Miriam. And it’s odd that he brings up how his wife’s laugh reminds him of his patient. Is this the first time she’s ever laughed? Why does it remind him of the laugh now? The whole conversation here feels random.

On page 41, Kendorski is arguing with his wife and listening to the dog barking and suddenly says “Wait a minute. What if Bill was MY therapist?” This comes out of nowhere and has no connection to anything being discussed. There needs to be a stronger context or set up here.

A couple additional specific scene/page notes –

Pg 11 – I’m not sure who William is referring to when he says “You sound like them.” Who is them – patients?

Pg 24 – I think you can cut this Convenient Store scene. I’m not sure what its purpose is. Can cut right to Chinatown.

Pg 28 – I’m not sure why they beat Kendorski up when he’s agreed to their demands.

Pg 43 – Would tweak line to “One that I’VE put together over and over…”

Pg 52 – Kendorski sounds even more evil here with “Don’t make me do this.” But I’m not sure to what he’s referring because right after that he just walks out and leaves without a word. It’s a bit of an awkward moment here.

Pg 54 – Kendorski peeing his pants feels like it’s supposed to be funny, but I’m not sure that it is. He’s more enamored about the fact that he did it than he is mad or scared.

I think overall you have an intriguing set up but the concept feels more geared to a limited series, kind of like Twin Peaks or Fargo or Under the Dome, where it’s a more limited 10-episode run that tells a whole story, but there could be more to it if it does well and could be extended. I’m not sure it totally feels like a 22 or even 13-episode series to me because I can’t really picture what the week to week of this show would be, at least not past about 10 episodes or where it could go from the pilot. Being totally honest, I would certainly watch a second episode to see how it develops and get a bit more information, but I’m not all in yet from the pilot.

It has some traces of other series like the Keifer Sutherland show Touch (where a mute kid held the code to the world basically), Bates Motel, and Black Box. Maybe a bit of Boss as well, where the lead suffers from a debilitating disease that affects his cognitive ability, but with a more esoteric and mysterious antagonistic force.

A small but important note – the title Loose Screws I think needs to change as it connotes a pretty comedic story and series, and this is not a comedy at all. Or even a lighthearted dramedy. I think it sets up a context that the story doesn’t support. Also, the title of the episode is “Miriam,” which makes me think she’s just one of the many patients we’re going to meet that play into this story, but this isn’t a patient of the week type story and the only 2 patients who seem to matter are her and Charlie. So, while it’s a very easily fixable and small note, I’m not sure Miriam is really what this pilot episode is about.

Overall, I think you have an intriguing and original concept and there are some cool mysteries and questions you’ve set up. There’s some nice voice in the writing and a solid anti-hero, and I think there is some potential here but I think there are some issues that still need to be addressed. I think it needs to be a little clearer what the story is about, what the scope of the world is, where the series could go week to week, and why we should care about these characters when they don’t even seem to care about each other. Stick with it! Keep writing! And best of luck!  Thanks again Tim and John for submitting your script “Loose Screws” to Simply Scripts, and congratulations on being the featured script of the month and our first TV series.

NO BULLSCRIPT 20 POINT GRADING SHEET AND RECOMMENDATION:

PROJECT: CONSIDER W/RESERVATIONS 

Elements Excellent Solid Needs Work Poor
Concept/Premise X
Story X
Structure X
Conflict/Drama X
Consistent Tone X
Pacing X
Stakes X
Climax X
Resolution/Ending X
Overall Characters X
Protagonist X
Antagonist X
Dialogue X
Transitions X
Format, Spelling, Grammar, Pg Count X
Well Defined Theme X
Commercial Appeal/Hook X
Overall Originality X
Production Value X
International Appeal X

Monday, January 19, 2015

Bump in the Night – Short Script Review (Available for Production!) - posted by wonkavite

Bump in the Night

A foul mouthed drug addict decides that burglary can get him his next fix, but he picks the wrong house and the wrong couple to mess with.

Our culture has such a schizophrenic view of old people. On one hand, we infantilize them. Awwwww, they’re so cute and polite. Innocent beings brimming with wisdom, and memories of days gone by. Then we discard ‘em like yesterday’s trash. Old folks’ facilities. Left to fend for themselves in broken down homes. Especially after the children move away. They’re vulnerable to falling; breaking that oh-so vulnerable hip. Not to mention violent home invasions by ruthless predators…

Meet Alexander and Agnes, 60s. A sweet couple living out their golden years in a comfy suburban neighborhood. We meet them in bed. They’re cuddled together – fast asleep. At least until they hear a noise.

It’s an intruder. Baz – a strung-out teen junkie in search of a score. Alexander and Agnes slip out of bed, and tiptoe quiet as mice downstairs.

Baz grabs Agnes’ purse, and turns to go. But his path is blocked by Alexander, wielding a baseball bat. He tells the old codger to F* off, but Alexander’s not deterred. For a mortal battle’s about to ensue. An epic fight for the ages.

Low budget and high entertainment, Bump in the Night has loads in its favor. Colorful characters. A wicked sense of humor. Twists. There’s even a moral hidden deep down in here: don’t assume that old people are helpless. They were once young bastards, too….

About the writer: Anthony Cawood is an aspiring screenwriter from the UK with a number of scripts in various stages of production, two of which have just wrapped shooting. His script, A Certain Romance, recently won in the Nashville Film Festival Screenwriting Competition (short script category). You can find out more at http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk.

Pages: 10

Budget: Pretty low. A handful of actors. A bar, and a house. That’s about as easy as it gets!

READ THE SCRIPT HERE – AND DON’T FORGET TO COMMENT!!

FOR YET MORE SCRIPTS AVAILABLE FOR PRODUCTION:

PLEASE SEARCH SIMPLYSCRIPTS.COM 

OR THE BLOG VERSION OF STS HERE.

All screenplays are copyrighted to their respective authors. All rights reserved. The screenplays may not be used without the expressed written permission of the author.

 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Original Script Sunday for January 18th - posted by Don

Over on the Unproduced Scripts page are 55 original scripts for your reading pleasure.

– Don

Saturday, January 17, 2015

We take you away from your regularly scheduled programming… Velia – Thank You! - posted by Don

This is an update and a big thank you to all the folks who are supporting getting the game Velia noticed in the gaming community.

Velia is a PC-based action, adventure, platformer. An earlier version of Velia was a 2013 Scholastic Art & Writing Award Gold Medalist and a 2013 AMD Game Changer Award Gold Medalist.

Thank you to those who voted “Yes” to get Velia Greenlite on Steam. Voting is still ongoing, so if you are a member of the Steam community, please take a moment to vote “Yes” to get Velia on Steam.

Also, thank you to all of you who Liked Velia on Facebook

There is a free demo of the game available at Shademare.com/Velia. And, if you like the demo, you can purchase the full version with six worlds, hundreds of twisted and demented minions and many monsterous bosses.

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November 25, 2017

    Up And Away by Jami

    Young Clark Kent runs away from home and goes on a journey to find himself and learn more about his adopted country and what it means to be an immigrant in modern day America; meanwhile, his parents, Martha Clark and Jonathan Kent, do all they can to bring him home. 26 pages
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