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Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Eulogy – Feature Length Review (Available for Production) - post author KP Mackie

Ruby (98 pages in PDF format) by Dena McKinnon

When a cantankerous woman is given only months to live, the town scrambles to see who will write her Eulogy – and inherit her vast fortune.

The Eulogy surrounds its readers in a rich tapestry of characters, which envelop you like a warm blanket.

The main protagonist is Ruby Mae Morgan: wealthy spinster, and owner of Morgan Textiles factory. An isolated figure, she lives out the remainder of her years behind the perpetually locked gates of her lonely Southern mansion. Despite her riches, she has no friends. Only employees (lots of them), who test the limits of her patience daily. Ruby’s miserable personality hints at some trauma in her past… but she isn’t interested in reminiscing or telling tales. Business takes priority over the personal. Always. Even when Ruby discovers she’s… dying. But rather than give up, she goes into high gear, determined to wrap up loose ends. Especially regarding who will get her factory and take the reins. Within days of her diagnosis, the old woman announces a contest: whoever writes the best eulogy for her (while she’s still alive and able to judge) will get her full estate… and company.

Needless to say – game on! As soon as the proclamation’s made, all the factory workers scramble to life, each determined to win the prize.

Among the contenders: Violet (24). Though young, she’s already had a hard knock life. Estranged from her husband (sleazy factory manager Sherman), Violet’s been abused, kicked out of her home, and forced to live with five year old daughter Abbey in their beat-up car.

Then there’s Catfish – Miss Ruby’s gardener – who readily admits he’s in over his head. Not only is he not a writer, he’s got more pressing issues on his plate. Like watching over two grown drug-addicted daughters, and caring for seven year old granddaughter, “Tadpole”. But still, a man can dream. Especially when his precocious granddaughter’s future is at stake.

Then there’s Miss Ruby’s greedy son Brent – a man who has had little to do with his mother his entire life. At least, until he hears about her eminent demise. After which point, Brent arrives with attorney in tow: clearly not interested in reunion. But hell-bent on inheritance.

Then there’s the rest of the colorful, quirky town – all desperate to grab for the brass ring that Ruby’s dangled before their eyes. Even if they have to brown-nose, cheat and lie.

Of all the characters that march across Eulogy’s page, it’s young “Tadpole” that stands heads and tails above the rest. “Seven going on Twenty Three”, Tadpole is perhaps the only one who truly feels sorry for Miss Ruby, and sees redeeming qualities in her. As Tadpole herself states: “Miss Ruby could be right mean. But I just figure she must be feeling really bad inside. Maybe she was scared about dying. She was like one of them suckers with the hard candy on the outside and the delicious bubble gum on the inside.” Ahhh, out of the mouths of babes.

Take our word for it. Tadpole will steal your heart…

As Miss Ruby’s illness accelerates, the contest reaches crisis point. Everyone’s needy – but who will win? And will Miss Ruby find peace of mind – or take decade long secrets to her grave?

You’ll care about the characters in The Eulogy. A lot. Honest, organic portrayals, this odd assortment of personalities will capture your attention, and hold it hostage to the end. This feature length will tug at your heartstrings, and win big at the festivals. And drama doesn’t get much better than that. J

Budget: The Talent. Get the best actors money can buy. Then let the script work it’s magic!

About the Writer: Dena McKinnon has had four shorts produced. One of her shorts, The Box, directed by Sascha Zimmermann, has racked up numerous awards and was screened at Comic-Con in San Diego. Dena has optioned one feature, Doggone, a buddy script cowritten with Kevin Lenihan. Currently, Dena has one feature in production, The Last Call, with Leo-PR, and is writing on assignment for an undisclosed TV producer. Dena just finished directing her script Kill Your Demon. Check out Dena’s IMDB credits and website at DenaMcKinnon.com/.

About the Reviewer: California über reader/reviewer KP Mackie is working on a historical feature.

Read Ruby (pdf format)

Find more scripts available for production

This screenplay may not be used or reproduced for any purpose including educational purposes without the expressed written permission of the author.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Based on a True Story – Feature Length Script Review (Available for Production) - post author wonkavite

Laptop Features

Based on a True Story

A fictional film about non-fictional events that are entirely fictional.

Senses of humor vary radically. Some people think Porky’s is the height of hilarity. Remember that one, folks? Others prefer Woody Allen’s neurotic wit and TV shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm. One thing’s for sure… humor’s changed a hell of a lot over the years; with the focus veering towards over-the-top gross outs. This is the End anyone? Whatever happened to smart, character based comedy? Is there anyone out there still writing intelligent humor?

Yep. His name is Matt Dressel. The script in question is Based on a True Story. (That’s the title, folks. Not the description. The script itself is completely fictional.)

Smart, funny and low budget, BTS revolves around protagonist Bill, a screenwriter that can’t seem to get his big break. (Gee, I wonder how often that happens in real life?) Demoralized, Bill pays the bills working at a 911 crisis center, and most of his nights hanging out with incompetent actor pals Tim and Sam. (Okay, Sam’s not exactly a friend, more of an unfortunate acquaintance.) They live in Quigley Quagmire’s hotel… a depressing little 80’s reject hovel that’s only one step removed from the Roach Motel. In other words, life ain’t going well.

That is, until Bill has his brilliant idea. Hollywood likes reboots and movies based on True Stories, right? Why not stage a bank robbery themselves….and then cash in on the press with a best selling screenplay? Between Bill and his crew, they’ve got creativity, actors and props on their side. What could POSSIBLY go wrong?

How often has that question been asked? With the logical answer. Everything.

What follows is a highly intelligent – and yet goofy – romp through an escalating comedy of errors: from “Auditioning” the other bank robbers (and other theoretically important stuff, like how to handle guns and bank vaults) to the actual caper. And the inevitable complications that ensue. A master of understated comedy, Matt Dressel populates the script with colorful characters… not just the protagonists, but walk-on supporting bits as well. Not to mention rioting Nazis, pizza delivery men, and David Bowie groupies. (Don’t even try to ask. Just read the script and see.) Sound over the top? In Dressel’s hands, this script actually maintains comedy balance … peppering the script with wonderful lines like that of Crusty Detective Vic Cardigan: “I’ve been chasing (these robbers’) sorry asses for nearly 25 years of my life – ever since I was a rookie on the force.” Police officer: “They appear to be about 30 years of age, sir.” Cardigan: “Damn, they’re good.”

You know what’s really good? This script. It’s an indie breath of fresh air in a world populated by dick jokes and vomit gags. (Not that there’s anything wrong with those… in moderation.) But if you’re an up and coming director looking for a comedy with intelligence and staying power, check this one out. Fast. Before it gets away like a bank robber with the loot…

About the writer: Matthew Dressel recently wrote/produced/acted in his own web series Let’s Kill John Stamos! One of his feature films, Killing Daniel, has been optioned by Darius Films. You can catch more of Matt’s work at http://www.matthewdressel.com.

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.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Congratulations to Marnie Mitchell-Lister – Getting to Know You Optioned! - post author wonkavite

You know, like loving parents… we at STS love all our babies (read “scripts we review”) equally.

But when one particular script stands out – and gets grabbed by a lucky director that’s sure to do it justice…  Well, don’t be surprised when we jump up in the stands and cheer.  And – we’ll probably even treat that script to ice-cream cake later. That is, when all is said and done.

So please join us in congratulating Marnie Mitchell Lister on the recent optioning of “Getting to Know You”from Day One, it’s been a witty, sharp script with an evil twist.  We’ll be thrilled to see this one on screen!

In the meantime, we very much recommend you check out Marnie’s other work, all of which is available at her website Brain Fluffs.com here!

And here are a few reviews of her work to check out as well:

Honey Do (Short) – A woman confronts her lazy husband with a long list of things he’s promised to do around the house. When he doesn’t budge, she decides to do them herself.

The Creation of Oz (Short)- Sometimes, the most beautiful dreams emerge from the most modest beginnings…

Letting Go – (Short)  After a horrible accident, a young girl’s mother has a very hard time letting go.

Memories – (Feature) – A control freak struggling with her recent divorce attempts to recreate a family road trip with her bitter ex-husband to help their amnesiac daughter regain her memory. A wonderful dramedy that made the top 15% at Nicholl!

But make SURE you check out her website.  Because Marnie’s got much more!

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.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Tim Westland’s For the Love of God – Available for Viewing (but wait, there’s more)! - post author wonkavite

Awhile back, STS announced that Tim Westland’s reviewed script For the Love of God had been optioned.  As you all know, that’s the first step.

Today, we’re thrilled to announce that the script has been shot by talented director Randy Smith – it’s distributed and looking… fabulous!

So take a peek at it on Youtube here…!

In the meantime, we highly suggest you look over Tim’s other work. The man writes in a variety of genres – each intelligently nuanced, and available for production as we speak:

Shorts

Better Be Good – (Holiday Fantasy Short) – When a young boy finds Santa’s lost bag of toys in a nearby forest, his first thought is to return it. His big brother has other ideas though, which might prove life changing for both of them. https://simplyscriptsreviews.wordpress.com/2014/11/06/better-be-good-short-script-for-review-available-for-production/

Balls Out (comedy) – Legendary Surfing Pioneer, Mick “Balls Out” Shelly, hasn’t hit the waves in five decades. But an opportunity to reclaim the spotlight takes Mick and people from his past on a trip down memory lane that none are likely to forget. https://simplyscriptsreviews.wordpress.com/2015/10/23/balls-out/

Careful What You Wish For (comedy/fantasy) – Magic genies and bottles. Such things never end well.  Or DO they? https://simplyscriptsreviews.wordpress.com/2015/07/09/careful-what-you-wish-for-short-script-review-available-for-production/

A Line in the Sand (Hard Political SF/Drama) – Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive. https://simplyscriptsreviews.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/a-line-in-the-sand-short-script-review-available-for-production/

TV Series

Loose Screws (TV Pilot/Drama/Thriller with writer John Robbins) – A successful psychiatrist finds himself losing his grip on reality – and turns to an old patient – a girl with a mysterious mathematical talent, that he used and betrayed years ago. https://simplyscriptsreviews.wordpress.com/2015/01/01/loose-screws-featured-television-pilot-review-available-for-option/

Features

Hunted/Stitched (Feature Horror with writer Rod Thompson) – After accidentally shooting a girl in the mysterious Ozark mountains, five hunting buddies must battle for their lives and their souls when a backwoods hillbilly taxidermist invokes ancient supernatural powers to bring his monstrous patchwork creations to life to exact his revenge.  Note to Directors who focus on contest winners… Stitched has been wowing the big ones.  Quite well! https://simplyscriptsreviews.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/hunted-feature-length-script-review-available-for-production/

About Tim himself: Tim Westland, co-writer of the acclaimed graphic novel Chasing the Dead, received first place for Balls Out in the NNYM 15 page contest. An outstanding writer with an eye for the details, his IMDB page can be found here. And he can be reached here (when not subsumed in writing throes): timwestland “AT” hotmail

Thursday, November 26, 2015

No BullScript Consulting – Danny Manus Script Review (Red Light) - post author wonkavite

Recently, we reviewed Chris Shamburger’s horrific new slasher, Red Light. 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 – for your Thanksgiving-reading pleasure – please find Danny’s scoresheet for Red Light. (Please note: for this posting, we’ve broken with tradition and redacted the actual coverage notes.) TRUST US: Danny’s notes – as always – were insightful and detailed; an invaluable read.  But we’re allergic to spoilers here at STS. So we’re keeping THAT under our Turkey table today!

But a Strong Consider from No Bullscript?  You better damned well grab this gem while you can! 🙂 Contact writer Chris at cshamburger “AT” live dot com for a copy of the script!

**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.

No-Bullscript-Web-Banner-160x85-Final

NO BULLSCRIPT ANALYSIS

 Title: Red Light

Type of Material: Screenplay

Author:  Chris Shamburger

Number of Pages: 102

Circa:  Present

Location:  Arizona

Genre:  Slasher/Horror

Coverage Date:   11/19/15

Budget Range: Low

LOGLINE: When three teens challenge a local ghost story by running a red light, they find themselves the next targets of a seemingly supernatural entity bent on revenge but the truth behind the legend may be even more deadly.

NO BULLSCRIPT 20 POINT GRADING SHEET AND RECOMMENDATION:

PROJECT: STRONG CONSIDER 

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    

About the writer: Chris Shamburger was a finalist (Top 10) in the 2013 Shriekfest Film Festival for his recently-produced script, Hiccups. He has been a semi-finalist twice and has also been published in Twisted Dreams Magazineand Horror in Words. Chris lives in Marietta, GA with his partner and their Chow-mix rescue, Walter. Aside from writing, Chris has been teaching pre-kindergarten for the past six years. You can find him on IMDb here:  | Comments Off on No BullScript Consulting – Danny Manus Script Review (Red Light)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Danny Manus No Bullscript Analysis – Thistles - post author 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

 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

No BullScript Consulting – Danny Manus Script Review (Offline) - post author wonkavite

Recently, STS reviewed Gary Rowland’s ultra limited location horror, Offline. (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 Offline. 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 Offline: Gary Rowlands cut his teeth writing sketch comedy and was a commissioned writer on the hugely popular Spitting Image broadcast on national television in the UK. He has since branched out into writing features and is actively seeking representation. He can be contacted at gazrow at hotmail dot com.

NO BULLSCRIPT ANALYSIS

 

Title: Offline

Type of Material: Screenplay

Author: Gary Rowlands

Number of Pages: 89

Circa: Present

Location: Bedroom

Genre:   Supernatural Horror/Thriller

Coverage Date: 4/14/15

Budget Range: Low

LOGLINE: When a young, bed-ridden hacker with a tormented past meets a girl online who turns out to be dead, he realizes nothing is as it seems and the girl’s murderer may lie closer to home – and she may not be the only victim.

Warning: Spoiler Alerts!

COMMENTS: Gary, thank you for submitting your script “Offline” 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.

Overall, I think this is a nicely written, easy to read, and potentially commercial script. It’s Rear Window-esque with a Psycho and supernatural Sixth Sense twist. It can certainly be produced for a very low budget with basically 1 location and a handful of characters, and you set up a nice creepy tone immediately and it remains consistent throughout. You’ve got a couple nice twists in the story and there are some strong visuals and moments, though I do think there are a few issues that need to be addressed still.

There is a strong supernatural feel to the whole story, from page one, and that continues throughout. However, I’m still not quite sure what supernatural entity is possessing his computer which types out messages to him and makes it go on and off randomly, etc. Or what entity makes the vase and nightstand levitates. His phone is possessed, his computer is possessed – but this story isn’t about the devil possessing technology. I think it COULD be – especially with the title being Offline – but it’s not really about a Hacker who caused deaths, and now possessed technology is taking revenge. If the supernatural elements were more directly tied to technology (especially since he’s a hacker), that might make it stand out even more. But I’m not totally sure what Dave killing all those women has to do with his hacking or technology or Satan.

The biggest issue for me, is that I knew pretty quickly that Dave was probably dead and that this was some Sixth Sense situation. I suspected it by page 20 and was pretty sure on page 24 as soon as he starts talking to Nichola. There are just too many obvious clues and hints along the way, and there are too many other logistic issues for it to be anything else. So while the MOM being dead already is a nice twist, and the hero turning out to actually have been the killer is interesting, I knew he was dead almost the whole time. I also knew there was a dead body in the closet, which I think is pretty obvious as soon as the fly comes out of there on page 27. And because of that, I think the story gets a bit predictable and repetitive and we’re just waiting for the reveal I knew was coming.

Lucy and Nichola’s characters are obviously evil and not really human because logistically, what they are doing and saying just don’t quite ring true. I knew Lucy was likely Lucifer from the start. What they are asking David to do doesn’t make sense unless they are something much different than they appear, and the random and awkward way they just appear doesn’t feel real or plausible. How would Lucy get in? His mother doesn’t notice? And if she is the cop on the case, wouldn’t she be on TV or seem more professional? If Lucy is a cop and Nichola is a psychic, would Dave really need to tell her that some serial killers take trophies? Wouldn’t they know that? I know that, and I’m not a cop or psychic.

With Nichola, I don’t get how Dave just picks up the phone and she’s already on the line (seemingly). She never gave him a number to call. I think Nichola feels so over the top and desperate and clearly out for her own reasons – and without any proof she is who she says she is – that I don’t know why Dave believes her. I didn’t believe her from the get go. I think that much like Ruth, they have to feel more convincing at the start. Nichola starts feeling childish and too obvious, especially on pg 44, and it made me wonder why Dave keeps believing her or talking to her. Then Nichola tells him “We’ll take you with us” on pg 44 and that makes it very clear to me that Nichola and Lucy are going back to hell and are going to take him with them because he was already dead.

The second thing that made me very quickly think Dave was already dead (or dying) is how he simply turns on the computer or just picks up the phone – and Clare and Nichola are instantly there. He doesn’t go to a website or any specific place or program where a girl would even BE on camera to talk to him. She’s just magically there. And I’m not sure how/why the computer dies and then suddenly comes back to life. It all feels very suspect. You tell us on pg 14 that “Clare’s offline” – but what program is he looking for her on? Skype? Instant Messenger? Gmail chat? A website? Women don’t just appear when you turn on your computer. And if she’s offline, then she must be from a specific program he’s looking at. The lack of specifics makes us not believe.

With David, I like the way you set him up and describe his room with the Star Wars figures as it helps him seem the young innocent, though with the big rat he sees in the room it paints a picture of David and his mother living in a dilapidated shithole. It’s a great visual and it does make us wonder if he’s having delusions or not, but it makes us think he lives in a hovel.

David’s backstory with his father’s suicide could be sad and impactful, but I am not sure what a child could steal from a Church that would lead to their father killing themselves over it. I mean, he could kill a Priest and I don’t think it would make a child’s father kill himself over it unless it’s set up that the father was incredibly religious. David’s crime didn’t feel important enough to force his father to do that. Yes, he stole money from the Church that was set for a mission, but it’s really his mother who is the bad guy. If there is a strong religious connection in this family, I think that needs to be set up and clear.

One of my biggest issues with Dave is that I have a hard time believing he’s a good hacker. His Google searches are incredibly vague and simple (“shyness” “psychics” etc.), and he’s not doing much on the computer before this whole thing happens and I would think he’d be all over it trying to hack something, find something, do something, etc. The Star Wars figures might make him seem a little nerdy but it doesn’t make him feel like a hacker. He doesn’t show off he has those skills until he suddenly needs them, and I would suggest you set that up earlier by showing him trying to do some serious hacking online – maybe even trying to find out who hit him or something that can connect later. Also, I’m not sure why he needs to look up “haunted house” on Wikipedia – does he really not know what one is? I’m pretty sure it’s self-explanatory.

My other major issue with David and his connection with Clare is that they never speak for more than 30 seconds, and every single conversation they have ends abruptly with David slamming his computer shut and just ending the conversation. It seems very rude and immature, and I’m pretty sure that you only get to do that to a woman once – maybe twice – until they never speak to you again. Yet she never seems to care. But the even bigger issue with him doing this, is that it stops them from ever REALLY creating a connection or chemistry that’s more than just instant physical attraction. And for US to connect with them and feel a connection, I think we need to see them talk a bit more and a bit deeper. Then you wouldn’t have to tell us that the chemistry between them is palpable because we’ll see it on screen.

While Dave’s willingness to sacrifice himself for Clare is sweet, and perhaps that’s part of him subconsciously seeking redemption for his crimes, it feels forced. They don’t seem to have a deep enough connection for him to do this, plus – he KNOWS she’s already dead! Why would he sacrifice his life so that a dead girl doesn’t find out she’s dead? It just doesn’t quite make sense. It would be one thing if he was sacrificing his own life to save her from dying, but just finding out she’s dead? I’m not sure those are big enough stakes.

A small note, but the way David tries to find out who Clare is seems to be a bit silly. He doesn’t know anything about her or where she lives, but he’s going to search through online yearbooks of every high school in the state? He doesn’t even know what state she’s in. If he was a real hacker, wouldn’t he be able to take a screen capture of her face and run it through some face recognition software or google images software to find a match? If she WAS killed or kidnapped, her face would have been all over the news and pretty easy to find on Google, wouldn’t it? It just feels like there’s a SMARTER way to find her and who she is online than looking at ever yearbook in the unnamed state.

Clare’s a nice girl but we know she’s dead by page 15. It’s a solid moment, but again he reacts to seeing her scars by just slamming his computer shut. The fact she’s a ghost is fine, and it makes sense with the witching hour being when she comes online (though you don’t have to keep telling us it’s the witching hour – we know!).

Ruth is an interesting character because her introduction is as the doting, caring mother who seems to genuinely love and care about her son. But it very quickly becomes unclear what type of relationship they have – even by the second time we see her – and then with each subsequent time she comes in, she seems more and more cold and insane. I appreciate that she’s bipolar and she makes a great red herring for the killer, though perhaps too obvious to actually BE the killer. I think perhaps she changes a bit too quickly – by page 10 she’s already psychotic. I would suggest stretching out a bit longer her downward spiral into psychotic behavior and her mental illness so that it takes a little longer for her to reach that point.

The ending is exciting and visual and I like how Dave’s story ends, however, it’s not clear who hit him in the first place and killed him. Was it Clare’s mother? Was it someone involved in the story or just some random person at the wrong place at the right time? I think you need to find a way to tie everything together and perhaps the way to do that is to reveal who killed him. I keep wondering why Nichola and Lucy need to put him through all of this stuff with Ruth and Clare and everything else instead of just taking his soul and sending him to hell from the start.

Turning to the dialogue, I think it’s nicely written but it’s not very subtle, and with supernatural/paranormal mysteries and thrillers like this, subtlety is important so that the audience doesn’t suspect what’s going on by page 10. I think that even though David is 18, his actions and words feel a bit young, as does Lucy and Nichola’s and that’s part of the reason I knew exactly what they were from the start. So, I think that while it’s great to place those little breadcrumbs in the dialogue so that when we look back, we recognize all the little nuances and hints that make us realize the truth, if they’re giving it away then they ruin the mystery.

Pg 61 – You can cut the INT. BEDROOM scene heading because we’re already there.

Pg 68 – Why are the clocks in military time and not regular time? Shouldn’t it be 11:45?

Pg 70 – Can cut the Scene heading at bottom – we’re still in the same location.

Pg 71 – For me, the maggot scene is really gross. Not just the maggots, but the puking all over himself, etc. It’s visual for sure, but it’s a visual that would make me gag.

Pg 72 – I thought Ruth smashed the computer. It’s ok again? I’m also not sure why he thinks he can amputate a leg with basic scissors? I’m not quite sure what that would do anyway, but it’s a dumb idea to try and cut your leg off with scissors.

Pg 82 – Why is Clare calling out MOM?

Pg 87 – I get the visual, but I’m not sure why the disgusting bugs are needed in this supernatural thriller.

Overall, I think the concept and premise is commercial and visual and works for a low budget horror/thriller with a recognizable Rear Window/Sixth Sense hook, but for me I think some of the major elements of the mystery are too obvious. It has to be much less obvious that Dave is dead, it has to be less obvious that Nichola and Lucy are evil and not who they say, and it has to be less obvious there’s a dead body in the closet. There are logistic issues and some character issues that I think need to be addressed with Dave and Ruth. It needs to come together a bit better and use the supernatural elements to stand out more and make it LESS obvious that Dave is dead instead of more obvious. It’s got potential and these types of projects are always getting made, especially since this could probably be produced for $100-250K. So stick with it! Keep writing! And best of luck! Thanks again Gary for submitting your script “Offline” to Simply Scripts, and congratulations on being the featured script of the month!

NO BULLSCRIPT 20 POINT GRADING SHEET AND RECOMMENDATION:

PROJECT: CONSIDER

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, December 15, 2014

No BullScript Consulting – Danny Manus Script Review (Lowlife) - post author wonkavite

In November, we reviewed Kosta Kondilopoulos’ Lowlife. 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 Lowlife. 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.

******

No-Bullscript-Web-Banner-160x85-Final

NO BULLSCRIPT ANALYSIS

 

Title:  Lowlife

Type of Material: Screenplay

Author:  Kosta K.

Number of Pages:  94

Submitted To:  Simply Scripts

Circa:  Present

Location:  Any City, USA

Genre: Thriller/Noir

Coverage Date:  12/1/14

Budget Range: Low-Medium

________________________________________________________________________

LOGLINE: Trying to protect his friend, a criminal is forced back into bed with a dirty cop and the Russian Mob after a job gone wrong but this time he may lose everything he has left.

COMMENTS:  Kosta, thank you for submitting your script, “Lowlife” to Simply Scripts. The following notes and comments will go through what works well and what still needs to be worked on or changed in order to make this a more viable and commercial script.

Overall, this is a solid script and story, and a pretty fast and easy read. There are a couple strong action scenes, nice visuals, and you’ve crafted a likeable anti-hero that we root for even though we’re not sure why. The killer with a conscience story has worked many times before, and can certainly work again, but the story and tone needs to feel really original to stand out. And while this is a nice read, I think the biggest issue is the originality and making it truly stand out. Right now, I’m not sure what really makes Lowlife, and Ritchie’s character, seem much different than Ray Donovan on Showtime or films like Jack Reacher or Drive. In fact a couple scenes feel very similar to those films.

The script could use a stronger specific hook to it. I like the noir feel, but I would suggest going even more noir with it and that would make the voice seem even stronger. The writing is strong, but I think it could feel a bit more mysterious and suspenseful – a bit sleeker or sexier – and perhaps the scope of the story could feel a bit bigger. For me, the porn angle seems a bit comedic and it doesn’t seem important enough or dark enough for these mobsters, dirty cops, and killers to all turn on each other. One mobster gets the hotter girls for their videos, so the dirty cop wants him dead? It sounds a bit too petty for stone-cold killers and “business” men. It’s more original than drugs or weapons, but it adds a more comedic slant to the danger instead of a noir or action feel.

The twist or reveal that Pete is a Detective and the dirty cop they’ve been talking about, is unclear. We are never told when we meet him in Trent’s office that he is a cop, and we don’t even know it for sure when he is at Dimitri’s house after Gwen’s murder. We’re actually not told this until later in the second act, and I think this could be revealed and made clear much earlier in the script. On page 45, Nikki and Ritchie talk about “that cop” and on pg 46 Ritchie asks if she knows who “HE” is and she says “some dirty cop,” but we still don’t know for sure it’s PETE they are talking about until Pete says it on page 61. And Pete is never around any other cops, he’s never dressed as a cop, he’s never seen as a cop. I think it could be even creepier to see that character in his police uniform at some point, and it could make for a visual and more shocking reveal of whom he is.

Structurally, I think you have some wonderful turning points in the second act that keep the story going, first with Nikki killing Gwen and it being Pete who finds her phone and calls them; and then on page 71 when they get double-crossed at the party. Your midpoint is exciting, but the action scene with Mike, Franky and Rocco isn’t really connected to the story – it’s just a random fight sequence. But as far as “filler” scenes go, it’s a fun and exciting one.

I’m not sure where the first act actually ends though and the opening scene seems a bit muted and I’m not sure it’s totally necessary. You could start the script in the rain in the dark alley as the car pulls up. Without dialogue or interaction, I’m not sure what the opening scene with the sleeping girlfriend really gets you, or what it tells us. The threat Sammy makes against her only means something if we really feel a connection between them, and from the opening scene the blonde could be a wife, girlfriend, or just some one night stand he’s watching in the morning. The relationship could be defined a bit better in that first scene to show how important the girlfriend character is to Ritchie.

It’s unclear if the girlfriend is pregnant in the opening scene. Perhaps if you’re going to open with the girlfriend, showing her as pregnant and maybe seeing Richie touch her stomach or just look at it, without any dialogue in the scene still, would set up a much deeper and clearer connection. It would also set up a bit more of a clear time frame as we don’t know how long ago she gave birth, was killed, or when he killed Sammy. Plus setting up that she’s pregnant will make us wonder if it’s the baby in the hospital, or the girlfriend or someone totally different and make us wonder what happened to her. Then perhaps the dialogue in the hospital scene could be even stronger on page 4. Something like “Any update?” “Still fighting.”

We learn that the girlfriend died by being run over by a car – seemingly on purpose. Who was this blast from the past and was it the guy Ritchie killed? Hard to believe that Ritchie didn’t get vengeance for this “accident.” Or if there could be some greater connection between her death, the man responsible, and all the mob guys and killers he’s working for/with?

After the double-cross when Dimitri takes Ritchie and Nikki, the third act brings us plenty of fun action and revenge and is pretty non-stop to the end. I love how Nikki’s death seems to reignite the killer in Ritchie and make him realize that being a nice guy wasn’t getting him anywhere and everyone must die, save one – Heather the innocent porn star – to prove he only kills guilty people. And I really like your last beat where we think Ritchie might be leaving the bag of money in the Church but then last second realizes that’s not who he is and goes back and takes the bag back. I think that’s a great moment that nicely defines that Ritchie knows he has nothing left to live for, so he might as well be the person he has always been.

The one bit I didn’t quite understand or believe is why Ritchie would go to such lengths to destroy all the evidence and not get caught, but then wear bloody dirty clothes with evidence all over them to the hospital. As a professional killer who has cleaned up crime scenes before, this doesn’t sound like something he would do. He would probably throw his shirt into the fire at the cabin. I like that the cops let him go because they all hated the dirty Pete, though perhaps it’s a bit of a stretch since Ritchie did kill like 6 people. But if the cop told him that the reason is because exposing Pete and everything he was into would reverse dozens of cases, put criminals back on the street, and destroy the reputation of the police force – then there’s more of a rational reason to let Ritchie go.

Projects like these usually get made when a big enough actor wants to play the lead role. Anti-heroes have been a growing trend in TV and film, and those types of protagonists usually are attractive to actors because it allows them to play different layers and emotions. And Ritchie feels like he has SO much churning inside of him right under the surface, but very seldom does any of it come out. I like that Ritchie has something innocent driving him as motivation – his dying baby – and I like that he has a rough backstory that he’s been to prison for 5 years and refuses to go back. It gives him a bit more of a moral compass and shows that he has compassion and a fear, but I’m not sure what Ritchie’s goal is in the story.

He goes on these little jobs given to him by other people and he wants to clean up after Nikki to clear her from Gwen’s murder, but there’s no clear case or goal or THING that Ritchie needs to accomplish by the end except survive. I would think that with his deeper need of getting redemption or vengeance for what happened to his girlfriend and Sammy, and with everything that’s happened to him, he’d have his own personal mission but there isn’t one set up. And then that goal or mission would be ruined by what he has to do to save Nikki and by working with Pete again.

Ritchie’s connection with Nikki is likable and they have a nice chemistry, but we never get much depth or backstory about them. There is a line that intimates they possibly used to sleep together or date, but we never get any real information about them or their connection. She’s a likable character who brings energy and levity to the script, and her death is definitely the emotional strong point of the story – perhaps the one true emotional moment in the script for the audience. I kept waiting for her to pop up and still be alive.

However, she does sometimes feel like this little neurotic Chihuahua constantly yapping in Ritchie’s ear. She tells other people she’s not his girlfriend, she’s not his friend, and she’s not his partner. So what is she? Where did he find her? Why does he keep her around? I actually think it’s pretty funny that after being told by Mike that she’s about to get beaten and raped in front of her boyfriend, her only response is “he’s not my boyfriend.” It makes her seem like a tough girl, but we already know she’s not really because of what happened with Gwen and how freaked out she is.

It’s clear Ritchie has this history with Pete and this anger or guilt over what he did to Sammy in the opening scene because of Pete, but other than knowing they “used to run together,” we don’t know anything about Ritchie’s relationship with Sammy or why this affected him so greatly. Did he have to shoot his best friend? After Sammy, has Ritchie been searching for some sort of redemption? Because he’s still doing the same things he was doing when he killed Sammy, so I’m not sure exactly how he’s trying to change.

Overall, the dialogue is pretty strong. You have nice moments of levity, the description is sparse and clear and easy to visualize, and your characters do have personality that comes through their dialogue. I think the biggest note in terms of dialogue is that it doesn’t always feel as NOIR-ish as it could, especially in Ritchie’s voice. His cadence and the speed of his dialogue and his delivery should basically set the tone of the script. It’s a solid thriller, but to make it stand out, I think giving it more of a noir slant could help.

Just a few specific page notes –

Pg 36 – Typo – It should be BOBBY who says the line, “He doesn’t get through that door again” instead of Richie.

Pg 40 – Can cut the scene heading at bottom as it’s the same location she’s already in.

Pg 43 – We don’t know immediately that Dimitri is the husband, as we’ve never seen him before.

Pg 54 – This scene with the 3 against one (and even Ritchie’s line about it) is pretty reminiscent of the Jack Reacher scene outside the diner.

Pg 55 – “I’m the one who got the fucking brain facial” is a great line.

Overall, it’s an enjoyable and fast read with a castable lead character. It’s a perfectly serviceable script. I think the biggest issue is just making the story and tone stand out against so many other thrillers about killers with a conscience. Stick with it! Keep writing! And best of luck! Thanks again Kosta for submitting your script Lowlife” to Simply Scripts, and congratulations on being the featured script of the month.

NO BULLSCRIPT 20 POINT GRADING SHEET AND RECOMMENDATION:

PROJECT: CONSIDER

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                           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    

         

 

 

 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Memories – Feature Length Script Review (Available for Production) - post author wonkavite

Welcome to the next STS feature length showcase!  A sweet and wryly amusing family comedy, Memories has already garnered accolades: including Quarterfinalist in 2014 Scriptapalooza, 2nd round Austin, and Finalist status – along with an award for “Best Ensemble Comedy Screenplay” – at the Broad Humor Film Festival. Now all it needs is an indie forever home….  Could it be with you? 🙂

***********

Memories

Screenwriting – it’s an art that requires multiple layers of skill.

Sure, the fundamentals remain constant: an interesting premise. Structure. Character development – at least, to some extent.

But each genre throws fresh variables into the works – areas where writers must specialize. Wanna write for Michael Bay? The action damned well better leap off the page. If horror’s your poison of choice, your atmospheric visuals best be spit-shined… creeping your readers out of their skins.

Then there’s dramedy. In a world over-saturated with non-stop thrillers and FX blockbusters, dramedy’s an underappreciated genre. When done right, dramedy creates twice the work… demanding a writer create a compelling premise, empathetic characters – and make the audience laugh, as well?

That’s one heck of a balancing act – one that requires a feather-light touch to get right.

Fortunately, that’s one recipe Marnie Lister Mitchell’s got down pat: throw in a colorful ensemble – and a plot/bowl deep enough to keep them contained. Powder with good natured humor (organic only – no forced jokes, please.) Then bake carefully. Letting the story rise as it may…

In the case of Memories, the script rises on Abby Mahoney (50s). Though a successful photographer, Abby’s personal life’s in disarray. Her only daughter Juliana just started college. And then there’s her divorce from husband Mack, for whom she still carries a flame. Not a pleasant state of affairs… especially for a self-confessed control freak. Having found a new life (and exotic younger girlfriend Sierra) on an Arizona Indian retreat, Mack’s been pestering Abby to sell the house. Things just can’t get worse…

…until they do. While skipping class with her new boyfriend, Juliana sustains a major head injury. Abby and Mack spend a strained night in the hospital, waiting for their daughter to revive. When Juliana wakes, their delight fades – she looks at them as strangers. Juliana’s got amnesia. Indefinitely.

Mack sets up camp at a nearby hotel with Sierra – accompanied by her Native American father (and mystic guru) Jake. Abby brings Juliana back home, hoping the surroundings will jog her memory. But Abby’s pressure only makes the girl uncomfortable; driving her even further away. Juliana hits it off with Sierra – someone closer to her age. Despite Abby’s urgings, the only thing Juliana finds familiar is a faded photo from the Grand Canyon, taken during a family vacation a decade ago. An inspired Abby hits upon a plan: rent an RV and drive cross-country. It’s a chance to visit family, and reignite Juliana’s memories (and maybe her romance with Mack as well.)

…but there’s a kink in the plans. Juliana insists on Sierra coming along. And where Sierra goes, Jake does as well.

And so the group hits the road. As the miles roll by, the story enfolds: crammed into Winnebago sized spaces – not to mention public bathrooms. Will Abby win back Mack? Or push him (and Juliana) further away? Are the photos of a faded past worth saving… and were they real anyway? Unlike recent road trip tales like Tammy, Memories aims for subtlety; blending the clash of personalities, goals and expectations organically – mixed with gentle humor and a cast of colorful characters.

As any cook worth their “salt” can tell you, a recipe is more than just ingredients that one throws into a bowl and shakes. It’s a writer’s talent that blends the components together – creating wildly varying results.   (For anyone who doubts that statement – let them watch a double-header of Tootsie vs. Jack and Jill. Or Madea vs. Doubtfire) And so it is with Memories. A family road trip. Amnesia. The emotional agony of divorce. All such themes have been seen in other films. But when pulled together by a seasoned character writer (such as Ms. Lister) the result is something to be savored. Like a delicate dramedy souffle.

In the Indie world, budget isn’t king. But characters and characterization are. Easily shot in a handful of locations, Memories is chock-full of the things that give Indie dramedies their unique style and flavor – quirky characters. Genuine humor. And a story that will make you smile.

About the writer: An award winning writer AND photographer, Marnie Mitchell-Lister’s website is available at brainfluffs.com. Marnie’s had 5 shorts produced (so far) and placed Semi-final with her features in Bluecat.

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.

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May 27, 2018

    Red on Yellow by John Staats writing as Sir Vival

    Two Amazonian tribesmen encounter a mysterious beast destroying their forest.
    Discuss it on the Forum

    *Randomizer code provided by Cornetto.

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