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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Original Script Sunday for August 30th - posted by Don

Over on the Unproduced Scripts page are 35 original scripts for your reading pleasure.

– Don

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Danny Manus No Bullscript Analysis – Thistles - posted by wonkavite

Recently, STS reviewed Mark Lyons’ very raw, and very real dramatic script, Thistles.  (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 Thistles. 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 writer of Thistles: Mark Lyons is a screenwriter from Youngstown, Ohio. He’s written several scripts, most notably ‘Best Film’ award winner “God’s Empty Acre”, which was filmed as ‘Girl(s)’, at the 2013 Winter Shorts Film Festival and Best Drama at the 2013 World Independent Film Expo. He has also written the feature “Thistles” which was a Quarter-Finalist in the 2013 Bluecat Screenwriting Competition and the short “Ginger” which was a Finalist at the 2013 Shriekfest Film Festival. He can be reached at markielyons “AT” yahoo

NO BULLSCRIPT ANALYSIS

Title: Thistles

Type of Material: Screenplay

Author: Mark Lyons

Number of Pages: 92

Circa: Present

Location: Ohio/Urban City

Genre: Drama

Coverage Date: 8/12/15

Budget Range: Low

LOGLINE: A junior high school student’s crush on her teacher leads to seduction, murder and brutal and shocking consequences that neither of them could have anticipated.

COMMENTS: Mark, thank you for submitting your script “Thistles” 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.

I’m going to be as blunt in the notes as you are in the writing of this script. I’ve read many thousands of scripts and this is easily one of the most disturbing, twisted, upsetting, and brutal scripts I’ve ever read. And I love films like Hard Candy, Kids, Bully, Precious, etc. that tackle disturbing topics in interestingly dramatic or artistic ways. But if Precious met A Serbian Film, this script might be the result. And while a disturbing and unsettling tone is set up early on, with the young girls talking about what they’d do to grown men on pg 9, it really goes so far over the edge in the third act that there’s no going back. I could list maybe 3 scripts I’ve ever read that viscerally made me want to gag, and this is one of them. It’s nicely written overall, but very simply, there are just some things no producer would touch or want to film. And your third act fits that bill.

The story of a disillusioned urban teen’s seduction of her alcoholic yet very caring and supportive (white) teacher is already pushing the envelope, but in a good way. That concept can work if done well. An African American Lolita meets Precious. And you have a few very intriguing plot points and shocking twists pushing the story forward, including the death of Sazha’s brother at the hands of her teacher because of the assumed affair going on. When Sazha finally seduces him in his inebriated state and gets what she wants, I actually assumed she was going to turn on him and use that to destroy him to get vengeance for her brother…but this story takes a very different direction.

It’s a morally complex story, and I do appreciate that. It gives us enough twists and turns that the reader and audience is constantly being challenged to be at odds with our own thoughts and expectations. That can be very powerful. But for me, it just. Goes. Too. Far.

Structurally, you have a very interestingly told story. Each major plot twist really pushes the story in a new direction. An unexpected direction. You have major moments that really stand out (some for good reasons, some not), and you have a solid inciting incident, end of your first act, turning points, a hell of a midpoint, and then a build in your third act (which I’ll discuss in a moment). The opening of the script made me wonder what year this movie takes place in because the use of VHS makes it seem pretty dated, and even the school and the English lesson and the pop-it’s the kids throw at him feel a bit dated.

Crandall is set up as this pitiful character with a sad backstory who clearly has his demons but wants to do the right thing. And his story is really a tragedy, with his suicide at the midpoint being another shocking and pretty unexpected moment that jars the reader and makes us continually wonder – where could this story be going next? Crandall is somewhat of the protagonist of the story despite his actions or interactions with Sazha. We do pity him and feel for him, and even forgive his illegal transgressions, which makes us question ourselves. But once he’s gone, the script becomes something else.

Crandall is an interesting character in that he invites his 12 year old student to his home for tutoring, but then rebuffs her. But then gives in, but then feels guilty. And then with Crandall’s letters/notebook that Sazha finds, I at first thought that he had written letters to ALL the students he had molested and that he really was a bad guy and she was discovering this while reading the letters and realizing that she’s not as special as she thought she was. But in the end, they turn out to be really sweet, kind, redeeming letters to his students that show how good of a guy he was.

A small note with Crandall, but you introduce him twice on page 4. His physical description at the bottom of the page should come at the top when you tell us about his receding hairline.

Turrell sees what he assumes is Crandall taking advantage of Sazha through the window, but he doesn’t go right over there and kick his ass or do anything. He waits until a couple days later to actually kill him. Why?

With Clyde, he seems like a very supportive friend but we don’t meet him until the AA meeting and suddenly he and Crandall are talking about school and the kids and curriculum. We need to see him at the school first to set up that he even works there. And it’s not clear that he’s the Principal until later.

One of my favorite and most emotionally tense scenes in the whole script is when Crandall gets on the bus that Cora is driving after Turrell’s murder, and she realizes who he is and confronts him. It’s a very cool way for them to cross paths, and it’s a powerful moment and a strong scene. However, I don’t believe that a woman who could do what she does in the third act to a baby and her own pregnant mother, wouldn’t at least PUNCH Crandall and go crazy on him in this scene. It’s also a little odd that Cora doesn’t know who he is as soon as she sees him. Doesn’t she know what the killer looks like and who he is? Doesn’t she know that Sazha’s teacher IS the killer? Doesn’t Crandall know that Cora is the mother? Wouldn’t this have all been on the news or at least around the neighborhood? They live directly across the street from each other!

Similarly, it’s unclear if Cora knows that Crandall is dead or killed himself in the third act because she seems to not address this on page 76 when Sazha tells him who the father is. She connects the dots to him being Turrell’s killer, but she seems to care more about the fact that her daughter is sleeping with a grown white man than her son’s killer.

It’s almost always a good thing when a script and a story can get a visceral and emotional reaction from readers…but if you take it too far, you will lose them and then the connection is over. The sex on page 52 you could probably shoot around and if the actress is over 16 and just looks younger, it could be okay. But not what happens on page 74 and continues thru to the end. For me, the fine line between cinematically disturbing and edgy and unfilmable is crossed and then goes even further, and I could no longer tell who would watch this movie.

And it’s not just the action that Cora takes at the start of this sequence, which would be enough to turn a viewer off. It’s really the quadruple-beat of; the hardcore beating of a pregnant 13 year old, the incest reveal of her brother raping her, the stabbing of a premature baby as it’s coming out of her vagina by her own grandmother, and then seeing the actual aborted birth and taking PIECES of the chopped up baby and putting it in a box and carrying it around? There is very little that truly disturbs me while I’m reading – but these 13 pages were almost unreadable because of its truly graphic nature.

There are a number of strong themes and societal issues that this story tackles in truly disturbing albeit original ways. Obviously abortion, teen pregnancy, teachers sleeping with students, the lack of education and the growing amount of violence and sexuality in urban cities, parenting, etc. But thematic films or message movies that are too on the nose or too graphic will not find an audience (at least not a large enough one) because people go to the movies to be entertained first and foremost. The abortion protests are very in your face and I’m not sure why Cora is SO hardcore against it. Clearly she does a 180 in her feelings, but it’s so out of character for her and SO extreme, that it doesn’t feel very believable. She was vehemently against safe, medically-induced Planned Parenthood abortions in the first trimester, but has no problem stabbing an 8 month old premature baby in the head as its being born with a wooden stake and mutilating her daughter on the kitchen floor? I just don’t buy it no matter how mad she gets.

The urban market is growing and there are a number of producers, directors and actors looking for projects that connect with many of the messages and themes confronted within this story. And actresses love to play dirty, ugly and mean. But I honestly don’t know an actress who would want to play the role of Cora. There are some things actresses just won’t do and I worry this is one of them.

Turning to the dialogue, I think it feels genuine to the characters and the world, and there are a number of well-written lines throughout. The writing is strong, and it’s obviously very visceral and impactful on the page. Taking that ability and bringing it to a more commercial concept I think would really make your voice stand out.

I do have a few additional page/line notes:

Pg 20 – Crandall’s dialogue at the bottom is awkwardly worded and doesn’t quite make sense.

Pg 34 – Maybe you don’t have to tell us that it’s Turrell on page 33 that jumps out and that Crandall kills until the next page when Sazha comes in and sees the body and runs towards it and THAT is the moment we realize it’s Turrell’s and that’s why he’s there. I think that might create a stronger moment and reveal.

Pg 66 – Why doesn’t the OB Nurse advise her to abort?

Pg 67 – The egg, making sure not to break the yolk is nice symbolism. It does not go unnoticed.

Pg 69 – It’s unclear how far long Sazha is by now. You have to track that. And she’s not set up as being big boned, so I didn’t know how it wasn’t obvious and showing.

Pg 87 – Patton’s dialogue is pretty racist at the bottom.

Pg 91 – Smithers has some serious self-control. I would have looked.

Overall, the script is well-written and visually written, and the first half of the script is disturbing in an intriguing and dramatic way with nice unexpected twists. It presents timely themes and issues and in morally complex ways. But the last 20 pages just go so far over the edge that I’m not sure who could or would want to watch that on film. It’s so brutally and disgustingly graphic that even if this script were perfectly written, I couldn’t send this to executives because I don’t think they will enjoy the read. And I could only imagine the phone calls I’d get. As a writing sample, I worry that you will turn more execs off than impress them. Plus, you have a slutty black 12 year old, a creepy white adult, and some truly dark and depressing storylines, so I’m not sure what the demographic is for the movie. There are some really strong moments in this script and I can appreciate your writing style, but it’s not a commercial concept the way it plays out and I don’t know any producers who would make this. I’d give a CONSIDER to the writing, but the last 20 pages would make it a PASS for me. But keep writing! And best of luck! Thanks again Mark for submitting your script “Thistles” to Simply Scripts, and congratulations on being the featured script of the month!

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

 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Original Script Sunday for August 16th - posted by Don

Over on the Unproduced Scripts page are 19 original scripts for your reading pleasure.

-Don

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Congratulations to Dustin Bowcott – Evicted Optioned!! - posted by wonkavite

Recently, STS ran a review of Evicted – a short n’ gritty crime ditty penned by Dustin Bowcott.

We’re happy to announce Evicted‘s already found a home – optioned to LA based producer Glyn Turner. Please join us in congratulating Dustin!

And for those directors who lost out, hear us out – there’s more where that came from.  For instance, this sweet/nostalgic SF tale:

Time for Love An elderly lady discovers an old flame in her shed

Check it out for your next project, while you can!

About the writer: Dustin Bowcott is a self employed microbe retailer and father of four boys. He has enjoyed writing since the day he read his first novel. For Dustin, writing is something he has to do, when not writing, he’s thinking about writing and will absorb himself into multiple projects at one time. When he gets tired of writing one thing he moves onto another and has been known to work on three different stories in one day, writing for sometimes 12 hours straight and, on occasion, even longer. Dustin can turn his hand to any genre and has just finished first draft of a new children’s novel. Dustin is a BBC Writer’s Room finalist and a Shore Scripts finalist both in 2014. He is a produced and optioned writer, and has recently turned his hand to production, having produced his first short film with another in the pipeline that should be completed this year. Want to see what else he has in store? Give him a shout-out at dustin7375 “AT” gmail.

 

 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Quality Control – Short Script Review (Available for Production) - posted by David M Troop

Quality Control

A clone has to prove to an observer that he deserves a second chance in order to avoid incineration.

Science Fiction – it’s such a complicated bag, full of staggering subcategories. Fantasy swordplay ala Star Wars. Swash-buckling action via Guardians of the Galaxy.

But the analysis of social conflicts – that’s what makes SF special. Ask any hardcore Science Fiction fan – the true beauty of the genre is the ability to examine hard-hitting social issues – spotlit by futuristic light. Along with the pleasures of Star Trek, are true classics such as these:

Soylent Green -a police detective discovers the government’s secret ingredient, designed to feed a world ravaged by the greenhouse effect, and overpopulation.

Planet of the Apes – an astronaut crash lands on a mysterious planet dominated by primates – the theory of evolution turned upside down.

Minority Report – Tom Cruise solves homicides via a special police unit – who negate the concept of free will, and arrest murderers before they commit crimes.

Then there’s screenwriter Ammar Salmi’s Quality Control – depicting a futuristic society where clones are routinely grown – almost like slaves. At least, if they’re allowed to live…

Witness if you will, Clone 36. A “man” who’s been accused of a crime. Confined to a cell, and deemed chattel, our protagonist’s future dangles in the hands of Dave – a faceless pencil-pusher who would rather terminate the offending Clone… just to save himself needless paperwork.

As the script opens, the three hour observation breezes by. Will Clone 36 convince Dave of his innocence? Or suffer an animal’s brutal fate?

Heavy on the drama, but feather light on FX, Quality Control is limited location – and a sterling choice for directors with an intelligent bent. Like the best of breed in SF, QC is a thought provoking treatise about the dangers of the legal system. And the potential violation of human rights.

Pages: 5

Budget:  Low.  One special effect done in post: overlays of charts and data on screen.

About the Guest Reviewer: David M Troop resumed writing in 2011 after a twenty-five year hiatus.  Since then, he has written about 50 short scripts, two of which have been produced.   Dave would like to make it three.  He is a regular, award-winning contributor to MoviePoet.com.  Born on the mean streets of Reading, PA, Dave now resides in Schuylkill Haven with his wife Jodi and their two lazy dogs Max and Mattie.

About the Author: Born and raised in Bir El Ater, Algeria, Ammar Salmi majored in computer science at USTHB university. He found interest in screenwriting when he was 19 – falling in love with it only two years after reading “The usual suspect” script. Ever since, he’s been learning, reading, and writing (his words). Though not produced yet, Ammar’s gearing up for his first feature, and can’t wait to see what the writing future has in store!  Interested in QC? Reach out to Ammar via realxwriter “AT” gmail. 

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, August 9, 2015

Original Script Sunday for August 9th - posted by Don

Over on the Unproduced Scripts page are twenty two original scripts for our reading pleasure.

– Don

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Sex and Death – Short Script Review (Optioned!) - posted by LC

Sex and Death

An aging rock star gets a visit from her ex-lover: the Grim Reaper.

Ever since Satan tempted Eve to take that first bite of forbidden fruit, human beings have had to face up to their own mortality – and the spectre of The Grim Reaper.

On the plus side, what better lead character than The Grim Reaper? The quintessential villain, arch nemesis, antagonist, (apart from perhaps, the Devil himself) is perfect material for the medium of film.

Look at for example: Metropolis. It depicts one of the most terrifying dream sequences ever committed to celluloid. Futuristic rich kid Freder, in a church full of mourners, turns to confront the skeletal figure of Death. Statues start moving, weird bone-flutes play, and several jarring jump cuts bring the reaper lurching to life, swinging his scythe at the screen.

The other most iconic and subsequent prototype for Death is the chalk-faced Grim Reaper in The Seventh Seal. Symbolic and menacing, Ingmar Bergman’s Middle-ages meditation on religion, philosophy and history is a visual masterpiece brought to life through Bengt Ekerot’s chilling and haunting performance.

Sylvie Dahl’s Sex And Death introduces us to Janice, a down and out rockstar and former front woman for a punk band. She is lying face down on the sofa in her apartment  “surrounded by a half empty bottle of whiskey … and empty vials of prescription drugs on the floor.”  In her semi conscious state, she reaches for the whiskey bottle when –

Suddenly, in the corner of the room, Janice spots The Grim Reaper – not entirely surprised apparently… Likewise, ‘Reaper’, who laconically removes his robe and places his scythe on a chair, appears as if he’s just come in from buying the groceries.

In Sex And Death, The Grim Reaper presents as the archetypal rock-god –  “an Angel Of Death, and, a naked man of supernatural beauty. “ He is beautiful, dangerous, seductive, but also armed with the gift of the gab and a very droll sense of humor.

He compliments Janice:

REAPER
Your last record rocks.

Even approves of her trendy, artistic living space:

REAPER
…Nice place.

All seems to be going swimmingly well, very polite, very civil. That is, until we learn these two have a bit of a history.  During their first meeting Janice was able to cheat death, but this time around the circumstances are different and she might just have pushed things to the point of no return.

Can Janice outwit death and turn the tables a second time, or is her number finally up?

With its gothic tone, no holds barred approach to adult content, examination of the Freudian themes of love, sex, and death, and a denouement you won’t see coming, well…

All we have to say is: Filmmakers, stop dilly-dallying around. The sands of the hourglass run out for all of us, and Sex And Death demands to be immortalized.

Pages: 3

Budget: Very low. A decent Grim Reaper costume, and great actors can complete this show.

About the reviewer: Libby Chambers has been writing all her life. Over her career, she’s worked in the Features Department for ABC TV as a Program Assistant, trained as a FAD, and served professionally as a freelance web-content editor and proofreader. She lives with her husband (also a screenwriter) in Sydney, Australia, and describes him as being both a good and a bad influence on her writing. You can contact Libby at libbych “AT” hotmail

About the writer: I’m a one time advertising copywriter who has fallen in love with screenwriting. I’ve written a handful of features, one has been produced as a Role Playing Game (RPG) and made its debut at CarnageCon. I enjoy writing short scripts since it’s a fun exercise for sharpening my skills; so far one of my shorts has been produced as a student film project, and I welcome the opportunity to have more of my work produced via participation on SimplyScripts. Sylvia can be reached at sylviedahl “AT” AOL.

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, August 2, 2015

Original Script Sunday for August 2nd - posted by Don

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

Don

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The 7 Week Challenge is one week in… Read the 1st ten pages - posted by Don

Hi,

The 7 Week Challenge in one week in. You can start reading them on the discussion board. Click the name of the script to open that scripts thread, then click the name to open the script (pdf format). If you still wish to participate, check out the theme and genre.

This is a challenge, not a contest. There is no cost to enter, there are no prizes.

– Don

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