I liked this. It was a fun read. I didn't take any notes regarding the structure, because I never ran across anything that begged comment. From what I know, which isn't terribly much, there seems to be a number of things contested as to what is proper and what isn't. I mean in terms of exactly how you reference an intercut, when a scene heading is mandatory as opposed to a slug, etc. I'm still too green in these areas to make statements on that type of thing unless they are really distracting or obvious. They weren't.
Another thing I'm not real clear on is the story arc. I can't really find a defining moment with Ned where we go from act 1 to 2 and 2 to 3. These types of things stump me in my own writing, and I sometimes think we get too concerned with trying to make those definitions overly sharp and appearing in the script in specific time frames, etc.
Bottom line here is that I enjoyed the story, found it a quick and fun read, and nothing jumped out at me as a big problem. I'm sorry for that, because I know you would like some advice on improving it, and in that regard I let you down.
The one thing that did kinda make me wonder in a few spots was the seeming changes in Ned's demeanor, but looking back on them, I wonder if they are just do to him being 'slow' but not stupid. Anyway, I had fun reading it. Best of luck.
Review of: i WanT tO kiLL
reviewed by gapoz on 09/19/2009
Review ID: 2690483
Other Reviews by gapoz 918
A review of Starry Nightby gapoz on 10/05/2012I see from your BIO that this is your first screenplay. Pretty damn impressive for a first effort. You obviously spent some time learning the craft along the way instead of just puking up something on the paper. That's a step ahead of many first efforts. On top of that, I think you have a nice style and voice and an imaginative story here. This is not a novel, and you obviously... I see from your BIO that this is your first screenplay. Pretty damn impressive for a first effort. You obviously spent some time learning the craft along the way instead of just puking up something on the paper. That's a step ahead of many first efforts. On top of that, I think you have a nice style and voice and an imaginative story here.
This is not a novel, and you obviously know that. You write in a clear, concise, active fashion. Most first efforts (or even 4th and 5th) exhibit a tendency to be too descriptive, but you seem to have put a lot of effort into being succinct. Good on you. There are some scattered mistakes in terms of grammar, an extra word here and there, an apostrophe where not needed, that kind of thing. Not enough to be distracting, but something you will want to do a full word by word check on at some point. The format itself looks a touch off in terms of top/bottom margins, and I did run across some strange bolding on occasion. You will want to correct that.
You use CONTINUOUS quite a bit when it is improper. Contrary to what many people think, it is not generally used to indicate that the time is unbroken, but rather to indicate the camera is unbroken, ie, it is following the subject. There is a lot of debate on this, but frankly, having worked with production companies, I can tell you with some confidence that you can simply avoid its use entirely and never get in trouble with it. Sticking with a simple DAY or NIGHT in scene headings works every time, and if needed, use an action line to specify any additional requirements time wise.
You open in 1986, according to your scene heading. There is no way for the viewer to know this, and additionally, since you later come to present day, you create age problems, because you don't have any idea when this will actually be made, or viewed. To overcome these problems, I would suggest using a SUPER: "18 Years Ago" (or whatever) at the opening scene, and then a SUPER: "Present Day" when you need it. This approach not only makes it clear what the time is to the viewer, but also maintains the time span effectively.
I like the insert of the crayon drawing. It indicates you have a good sense of using visuals to establish character, rather than just 'telling'. Good on you.
You can do better with the introduction of your primary characters. Terms such as handsome are frivolous. Everyone in movies is handsome unless otherwise noted. This is the one area where you are allowed to be a bit more verbose. Use this opportunity to give us some emotional description of the character. That will be useful in attracting actors to the role. Try and do this in as visual a style as you can.
p.4 The dialogue here between Jeff and Jill seems pedestrian, and some of it can be cut. Try and get to the meat of things as quickly as possible and then move on. I have a little problem understanding why Jeff is hiding this important part of his past from Jill, even to the point of pretending he doesn't even know anyone named Ashley. If you want to make this work as a point that triggers Jill's later anger and distrust, I think you need to work harder. Matt really paints himself into a corner here with this out and out lie. I don't understand why he would hide it, and certainly don't know why he would make some future confession so difficult by taking this route that gives him no way out. I think instead, some hint here that he is hiding something ultimately wo0rks better, though I really think you need to build a stronger reason for him hiding this at all. It was years ago. He's an adult now, and though he would obviously have suffered guilt over the years, that's part of what made him the person she fell in love with. I understand the point of this as a plot device. I just don't think it's particularly effective as is.
Also, just as a suggestion, I would consider changing names. Jeff and Jill are too close, and too many primary characters with short 4 letter names makes it harder to distinguish.
p.17 I'm not understanding why Stanley could get into trouble for taking pictures. He's a photographer isn't he? Fact is these papparazzi types, while a nuisance, have the legal right to do so, so I think you have to explain somehow how he goes over the line. Moreover, even if for some reason he could get into trouble, it makes no sense that he would tell Lisa that. Why would he willingly tell her she is in a position to blackmail him. Needs some work to be plausible. I was unable to find any instances where a photographer had been convicted of stalking simply for following someone and taking pictures.
Jimmy and Stanley got muddled in my mind throughout the work. I think they are too similar in too many ways. Jimmy is an ex-con on probation. Stanley has been in trouble. Both are fixated on Jill in various ways. Both serve as red herrings. I think your story can be made much cleaner by consolidating these characters.
General impressions and suggestions.
Reduce character count. Get rid of Jimmy or Stanley.
More focus on Jeff. This is his story right? Drive the story primarily from his perspective to give it greater focus and more depth to Jeff. Make us better understand and emphasize with him. I can't even remember what he does... Do we know his job and anything about him outside of his relationship with Jill? Make his goal clear and focus everything in the story around his pursuit of that goal. Same with Lisa. She can be made stronger in terms of her motivations. If she is going to go to the lengths of murder here, you need to make us believe she would, and make us understand why.
Read your dialogue out loud. Mommy and daddy? hmmm. While you are succinct in your descriptions, there is room to cut dialogue. Make sure you know the purpose of every scene, and get rid of anything that doesn't serve that purpose.
Overall, I much enjoyed the read, and I think you demonstrate a commitment to the craft and exhibit skill and talent. This is a breezy and fun read, and with some hard work and sharp focus, can be made an excellent script. As a first effort, it's quite good. Best of luck.
A review of BORDERLANDSby gapoz on 10/03/2012Hey Damp. I was pleased to get the chance to return the favor with a freewill. I'm sorry it can't be a credited review that allowed me to give you a solid start. As you may or may not know, I have gotten a bit of a reputation as being a tough love style reviewer. I don't know if that's deserved or not, but I do try to be as honest as I can and give advice based on what I've... Hey Damp. I was pleased to get the chance to return the favor with a freewill. I'm sorry it can't be a credited review that allowed me to give you a solid start. As you may or may not know, I have gotten a bit of a reputation as being a tough love style reviewer. I don't know if that's deserved or not, but I do try to be as honest as I can and give advice based on what I've learned, always with the hope that it may serve to make the writer, and their script, better.
Let me start with that honesty. There is a lot here that can be improved, in all aspects. I suggest you look at that as an advantage, because it means moving forward provides you great opportunities to grow stronger.
TSL has such a wide and varied group in terms of knowledge and preference, that my guess is your reviews will be all over the place. Those that focus on the story, characters, and feel of the story, will likely give you good marks. Those who want to attack the technical merits will find valid targets. That's not a bad place to be, because the mechanics are something easy to improve on.
Imagination and creativity are basic gifts (IMHO) that you either have, or don't. I think you do, and therefore becoming a great storyteller (and scriptwriter) is within your grasp, because all the rest is a simple matter of learning, experimenting, and practicing.
I get the sense, from your postings, etc, that you are not greatly confident in your ability, and that putting your efforts out here was very difficult for you. It's a big step, but taken with the right attitude, a serious opportunity to refine your skills. My biggest and most important piece of advice would be to NEVER LET ANYONE KEEP YOU FROM WRITING AND SHARING. Write for yourself, and then share yourself with others. To hell with those that don't appreciate your gift.
What you have here is a small group of survivors after an apocalypse of sorts, struggling to find safety, and confronted by both a band of jerks, and the government. Not completely original, but truth is, there is nothing original. Everything is just a, hopefully, new perspective of the basic emotions and situations that we all write about. A good story is one we can emotionally attach ourselves to.
Regarding story, the biggest hurdle for me was trying to envision the means by which we got to this sad world you've created. The Occupy Movement goes violent and leads to a total breakdown in society. Given the reality, I'm left wondering how this occurs. How does this group of citizens fight against the government successfully to the point of this devastation. How do they manage to bring down society and fight against the machine. I realize this isn't the point of your story, but it does set up the environment of the story, and so needs to be believable. IMO, you can address this directly by pulling in elements of the machine to play against them, such as high ranking sympathizers within the military, that give access to weaponry, etc.. Or, you can skip this, and simply start after this revolution, explaining it (and the father relationship) through some flashbacks or VO.
Characters. This is the strongest part of your writing I think. The characters aren't superheroes. They are damaged, flawed, and real. Each is individual and distinctive. I especially liked the children. There are a few inconsistencies in character, but easily correctable. The biggest example I can remember is with Chuck. My mind kept wandering back to why he was at the brothel. If he didn't know the place and just dropped in, that would be fine. But they all knew him, like he was a long time customer, and that kept picking at my mind... Why? What would he go there for?
Writing. You suffer a little from over descriptive and/or repetitive or unfilmable, but your 'voice' and 'style' is marvelous, so again, this is something you can fix easily. Just as an example that addresses these observations, the last paragraph from page 5 and first of page 6.
"Elizabeth trudges down a country road, heavy duty boots on
her feet, her pack noticeably lighter. She wears an all
weather hat tied with string, ragged gloves on her hands, her
baseball bat swinging from a sling on her hip.
She pauses and pulls a map and compass out of her old jacket.
She consults the map and the compass and following the road
to a cross roads, where she turns to face west."
"Elizabeth trudges along in heavy boots, ragged gloves, weathered hat strapped down. A baseball bat swings at her side.
She stops at a crossroad, checks map and compass, turns west."
Now, let's look at what was taken out, and why.
"Trudges down a country road."
Not needed because the scene heading tells us where she is.
"on her feet... on her hands.."
Not needed because obvious.
"pack noticeably lighter"
No basis for this. We never saw the pack before.
Making her stop at the crossroads makes this scene easier, and is more likely the spot where she would check directions.
The end result here is that we trim, thereby improving the pace (and the read).
I have always found it tremendously useful to paint the entire scene in my mind before describing it, or adding action. This allows you to write the important details and 'watch' your scene unfold as you write the actions.
Structure. I thought the structure was fine. Good job. I am not a 'beat sheet' nazi, so others may complain. I judge structure more by the pace and tension ebb and flow, and found this to be quite good in that regard.
In summary, here's my advice, applicable to whatever degree you find it useful, to all your screenplay writing projects.
1: Know the purpose of every scene. Know what it is meant to convey, how it moves the story forward, advances the plot, and/or develops the characters. Then be sure it does that, and nothing more. Can the 'point' of the scene be merged with another scene instead? If so, do it. More cost effective. If you can't answer these questions, get rid of the scene altogether.
2: Read every character through the story. With most software, you can isolate a specific character and just follow their dialogue. This is a great way to spot anything that is 'out of character', or conversely, to spot weaknesses in their arc that need to be further fleshed out.
3: Check your dialogue. Read it out loud. This is the best way to get rid of superfluous dialogue and get it sounding natural. Can you tell who is speaking without checking the name? Good. I think you do a good job with dialogue, but there are a few spots where it is repetitive. Often times writers do this because they want to emphasize a point, or be sure the audience 'gets it', but it is better to trust the audience, and augment with action rather than repeating a point verbally.
4: Check your actions and descriptive lines. Be sure every single word is required, and pay particular attention to 'seeing' these actions in your mind so that you 'paint' these images in the readers mind in the proper and believable sequence. This is a mistake many writers make, and I found it no more in your work than is average, but it is an area where we all can improve. The human mind creates images as we read, and when something is out of place, the mind scrambles to 'redraw' the scene or image, thus slowing down the story. Be sure the description of your scene setup, that paints the image in the reader's mind, contains everything that will be used when you start putting action in.
In summary. You got skillz and talent, and what is presented here is a good solid story with a nice concept to work from. The story elements and the journey are interesting, and the world is populated with believable people. Keep working with this and it can be polished into a real jewel. More importantly, your own gifts, skills, and talents can be substantially built upon as you rework this effort. I look forward to watching your progress! read
A review of The Illusion of Safeby gapoz on 09/30/2012Hey Steph. I got right on this, determined to give you a timely, and hopefully helpful review. My reputation seems to have evolved into being a 'tough love' sort, that some like and some don't, but I'll be as honest as I can because I already know you have talent and experience, so trust you will use what seems useful to you. As expected, this is a professional quality presentation... Hey Steph. I got right on this, determined to give you a timely, and hopefully helpful review. My reputation seems to have evolved into being a 'tough love' sort, that some like and some don't, but I'll be as honest as I can because I already know you have talent and experience, so trust you will use what seems useful to you.
As expected, this is a professional quality presentation in terms of format. Action and description is concise, while still being descriptive. Your style and voice is apparent. It demonstrates a confidence in your ability, and rightfully so.
The story opens with a females panties at half mast, so you hooked me in the first action line. Cheater.
Your first line of dialogue.
Hold still. You want this fucking duck up your quack?"
And you called me a show off?
Top of page 3: 'happens' = happen.
I only point that out because if you're anything like me, there's always a couple little things you become blind to after 20 reads.
I like Sunny. Reminds me of me.
"defcon five fidget mode" Nice :)
"INSOUCIANT" - Made me go look it up to be sure I knew what it meant. I was right. Yay me.
p.4 "Should I have texted?" - sigh. like a still shot of today's youth. Nicely done.
Love the easy dialogue between Katie and Kyle. Builds a solid picture of their relationship, establishes facts I'm certain will come into play, and is totally believable. Good job.
p.12 "Snuff juice trickles out of the corner of her mouth." Made coffee come outta my nose.
p.15 Katie's 'bad feeling' seems too telling, if that makes sense. It practically screams that the trip is trouble, when the previous set up already was doing a good job foreshadowing. I think a simple look of concern after she says "Don't go" and Kyle laughs, would put a fine point on this without hammering it. Then drop the "No, I mean it..." line and the "Sis. Please stop." from Kyle's response. Then Kyle's response starts with "This job..." as a reaction to her look of concern. Just a thought.
"Her strain is visible to all but the Husband and Wife." I wasn't aware that anyone other than the 3 of them were in the office.
p.39 Katie giving Zeep a new hat, with straps!, was cool :)
p.40 Again, a minor suggestion, so feel free to ignore, but when Zeep pats her hand, I'd get rid of the 'there, there...". Then when she cries in earnest and he holds her and pats her back, I would again get rid of the 'there, there' and just use "You're a brave girl". I think this would give it more visual import.
p.45 top. Kyles dialogue to, or sparked by, the sharks, didn't ring natural to me, and I think misses a chance to be more visually emotional. I would consider replacing 'Please, stop' with a worried groan, and the "Go away. Go away. Somebody, please, help" with a frantic scanning of the water, a desperate plea in his eyes to see someone, something, out there. The pounding on the board is good, and coupled with a worried search of the horizon would have a solid emotional impact. Again, just before the dolphin saves his ass, I would increase the tension and replace his dialogue with action, maybe THUMPING a shark on its snout as it passes, almost losing his balance and falling in, etc. I think raising the tension here adds impact to the joy the dolphin brings.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you! You beautiful, magical, magnificent beings!"
I like this, but for some reason, my brain changed it to:
"Thank you, you magical, magnificent son of a fish!"
p.49-50 With the fire exchange, I think this is a place where dialogue, even a simple emphatic NO! would play better than simply shaking her head.
p.52 I'll have to remember that nipple trick the next time my wife is depressed... Wonder what that will get me :)
p.56 Bit confused as to why Katie has been wearing a brace she hasn't needed. Habit? Part of her plan?
p.61 "She's my final duck. Time to start a new life." Nicely done.
Just a rest for a moment. Katie has found Kyle now, and it would seem all is well, except that Zeep is gone and the focus here must obviously change to whatever mysterious plans he had from the start.. ok, onward we go.
p.70 Just finished finding out Zeep's story, at least in part. The question that arises to me is the timing of all this. Zeep loses his leg and is rescued by Marcus's ship and they find some of this treasure Zeep had. Now Zeep, worried about them putting 2 and 2 together, a logical concern, is in somewhat of a race. What I don't get, is how Zeep wins this race. If he lost his leg and had to not only recover from that, but be fitted with an artificial leg, and train with it, etc.. then I don't get how the 'bad' guys hadn't already been back and snagged the treasure.
Not sure exactly what Kyle is recovering from, or how much time has passed here, and I think that's important, considering the treasure hunt. Was Kyle actually injured, or just exhaustion?
p.73 "Abandon ship!" funny.
p.79 "You're wrong. Time is not money. Time is life." Awesome line! Showoff :)
p.80 Bingo. Back brace question answered. Disregard previous comment on same.
p.86 "stokes" = strokes... unless of course this crazy new Katie set the duck on fire...
p.92 Check Katies dialogue. There is an unneeded 'is'.
Alrighty then. How can I help you make this better... I dunno. Truthfully, I always hated challenges that forced you to work certain things in, but I can see the value in them. Hell, I set my own challenges with Zombody to love.
Your notes indicate the requirements were:
" the story had to revolve around some sort of illusion, had to have a ticking clock element, the protag had to arc 180 degrees and the elements of: a herb, an unusual animal or sidekick, and an object you could fit in your palm had to be woven into the story in a significant way"
I don't think the inclusions hurt the story, so that's the most important thing. The 'elements' were certainly woven into the story in a significant way, but did they strengthen the story? That's harder to say, since we don't know what your own creativity and imagination might have incorporated in their stead. The whole duck thing actually fit in quite nicely I think, and you filled the bill with unusual sidekick both in Zeep, and to a lesser degree, with the zany chick Katie worked with in the start. After reading your 'requirements', I couldn't help but wonder if little miss zany was originally going to serve the purpose of being the unusual sidekick, given how detailed she was.
Structurally, I found this interesting. It followed the promise of the log line, but not without fooling the reader/viewer. It was easy to lose track of Katie's 'true' theme, goal, or challenge, which is summarized beautifully when Katie says 'time is not money. time is life'. There are other places where the theme, which to me was 'there is no promise of safety in life' was stated more directly, but emotionally, I think Katie's noted line was the most powerful in the script. In the telling of the story, the reader/viewer is taken to a false ending, mistakenly coming to believe that the rescue of her brother is the ultimate goal, and then discovering it's not, eventually understanding that it serves as the experience, or catalyst, that ultimately allows her to make that change, even after her relapse into false security.
One area I think can be tightened, is something that I suffer from as well, and in fact you gently pointed out to me. That is the occasional heavy handedness of making sure we 'get the point'. This is a subtle problem, and one that is always difficult to balance. The importance of making sure your audience understands what you need/want them too, but allowing them the sense of 'discovering' it on their own, and feeling good about themselves for getting it. I have touched on this in a few specifics in the notes above. But this is a minor issue here, and one that can easily fall to the other side of the fence if attacked with too much gusto. That's a very real problem as well, since we, as writers, know our story so intimately and oft times can't understand when a reader doesn't get it.
I found the characters themselves to be well defined, personable, and unique. Job well done in that regard. Dialogue was crisp, realistic, and expressive of character, except in a few spots where I think opportunities to say less and show it instead, were missed.
I think the tone was consistent throughout. The only jarring changes were when Zeep sucked her breast, which was a surprising but effective action, and then in the end when she changes and trashes her apartment. I think maybe a slight toning down there might be helpful, as the point is certainly made before she wrecks the whole place.
I think too, in this reconciliation with Zeep scene, you can draw more emotion here. She loves him. We all know that at this point. She knows it. He knows it. She was hurt, and as women will do, she wants to make sure he gets how badly she was hurt, and pays for it to some extent, but I think you can draw deeper here and make this more emotional, rather than just a 'timed' event, if that makes any sense. It kind of comes across as a 'how many times does he have to apologize before she accepts' kind of feeling, and I think with your talent, you can 'live this out' better internally and get more emotion and depth here. This is a standoff, when it could be a real fight. What if Zeep points out to her that she suffers from her own 'kool-aid', that she went right back into her shell of false security, that she exhibited the same weaknesses he did, made the same mistakes, and like him, finally saw the light. You have it in you to make this a very powerful scene.
Lastly, regards writing ability, style, and mechanics, you hit on all cylinders. This is an easy read with only a couple small errors, and it is filled with your voice, one that is tuned well for this type of story. It was a pleasure to read, and I hope you can find something useful in this review. If I can ever be of assistance to you, I am at your service. read
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