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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

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

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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




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.

8 Comments so far


June 1st, 2014 at 7:03 pm

Thanks Janet! I really appreciate the review and so many of the kind words contained within.


Jake Tyler
June 4th, 2014 at 9:10 pm

Mr. Dressel, I loved your script! I was entertained the whole time, and laughed out loud quite a bit! I would love to see this turned into a feature film, you really deserve to get this made! As a aspiring screenwriter, I know how difficult it is to write not only a feature screenplay, but a great one as well! If we could get in contact, I would really appreciate some pointers and updates on the status of this film! Congrats’


June 4th, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Thanks for letting me know you liked the script, Jake! Glad it made you laugh (the ultimate goal). If you ever want to reach out to me, my e-mail is


June 17th, 2014 at 3:16 am

Didn’t get pass the first 10 pages, but was hooked all along. I saw a movie in the script, and I didn’t have any trouble understanding what you meant. It was a fast read, I couldn’t believe I was on page 10 already, considering that I’m a slow reader. I’m really impressed. I do hope it gets produced in future.


August 17th, 2014 at 3:15 pm

Matthew: really liked the premise and most of the dialogue – funny stuff. I would offer a couple of general observations.

I don’t know why you need the real bank robbers before Tim and Bill rob the bank. I’m not sure it is ever clear anyway how your heroes knew that they were going to rob the bank in the first place. I would nuke that aspect of the story. I think I would have the end of the story (where they are in the studios office trying to sell their script as the opening as well (rather than the real robbery) and have the flashback start after that.

There are several areas where the script is very dated not knowing what year in took place in. e.g., video stores don’t exist anymore, no one has a VCR player now, movies are watched on DVD or on streaming internet. No mention of smart phoness, IPADS, and other devices that these guys would use if it was current. Actors recruited through flyers rather than through Craigslist, Facebook, etc. So – the script either needs to be modernized or your need to clearly set it back in time. If you use the first suggestion (start at the movie producers office) than that could be ‘CURRENT DATE” and the flashback would be to an earlier time period.

I did not like the sequence of store robberies – seemed totally out of context with what Bill and Tim were planning – a harmless venture. They would not engage in or tolerate real crime. The script if funny because Bill and Tim are hapless and funny. In my view, they stop being so when real crime is involved.

Quigly – funny character but I would interweave him somewhere in the plot with a more important role – i.e., he should play some important element in some plot point. Maybe he accidentally discards a letter that Tim and Bill left for the police that explains this was a a stunt if they got caught. Anyway – something intergral.

Small thought – I think Reservoir Dog guy would have been a funny character to bring into the bank scene – maybe they hire him in a role where he is to play a bleeding ban patron – but much like with his audition – he screws that up.

Overall – very nice job. Lot of funny lines and a great hook.


Cindy L. Keller
June 7th, 2016 at 3:47 pm

I’ll be reading this one tonight after work. 🙂
Can’t wait because of all the positive comments.


Cindy L. Keller
June 7th, 2016 at 11:33 pm

This was a pretty quick read that had me smiling pretty much through the whole thing.
I don’t see a problem with the video store. They’re still around, and I read that there are people who are actually looking for VHS tapes, but if you choose to do a rewrite you may want to make some updates in some of the details or you could just leave it as it is and super the year into the script.

First rule: Only those with guns can speak.
Can we have a gun if we want to say something?

There were a lot of funny lines of dialogue. Thank you for that.

Yes, these guys were some funny characters that kept me entertained.
Nice 🙂
Very well written, too.


KP Mackie
June 21st, 2016 at 1:09 am

What a hoot! Someone smart needs to film this!
Christian Bale, David Bowie, and Rick Moranis. Really funny material.

Snappy, entertaining dialogue. One of my favorites:
“But most importantly, for your children. (pause) …which are like your loved ones…only smaller.”

This script is colorful, and so much going on that was entertaining that I zipped through it in no time.
Thoroughly enjoyable! 🙂

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