First of all, disclaimers: I’m not by any means a devotee of werewolves, vampires, rampaging prehistoric beasts, bloodsuckers or any of that jazz. But I thought what the hell, it’s good to get reviews from a full cross-section of readers; let’s give it a whirl. So please take my comments in the context of that knowledge.
I’m not quite sure what to make of this one. Comedy horror is a pretty tough nut to crack, and here I think you’ve made a good attempt at it. In some areas I’d score this script highly. The dialogue is nice and lean; the style suited to the characters; exposition for the most part deftly carried along through information which the characters reveal. In characterisation, you’ve done a good job with the aptly-named Milton Kipper. We immediately are drawn to his cack-handed, gormless personality and it gives a lot of scope for comedy while at the same time retaining our affection for him as a loveable buffoon. There are some wonderful comic touches in Milton’s behaviour which keep us involved in the story.
Annie is an interesting portrait of a woman with some peculiar personality traits, and Stacie is suitably enigmatic as the girl with secrets to hide. Margaret on the other hand is something of a cardboard cut-out who just seems to be evil for no apparent reason. I think you need to give her more of a backstory, dig a bit deeper into her relationship with her husband and daughter, to make her believable. At the moment, she’s just over the top. The sorority girls too could do with some nuances of personality – they’re all basically slutty slags. Give us more of a reason to at least feel a bit sorry for them.
Story and structure are the areas where I think you’ve got work to do. I’ll take them together because they seem intertwined to me.
Now you’ll have to make allowances because I’m notoriously thick when it comes to following storylines, so I’ve probably missed all sorts of clues. But the story doesn’t seem to make sense to me. Firstly I’m assuming that Stacie has been ‘experimented’ on by Professor Oval at some point in the past, when she says, ‘I hunted, I mated’. So Oval has changed her from wolf into human, just like he did with Gray. This is what gives her a telepathic connection with Gray, and also what enabled her to help Milton find the ‘blood bath’ killer. But how then does she manage to have a human mother (Margaret) and lead a normal life with friends as a university student?
Who is ‘The Figure’? Does it just exist in her dreams? Presumably not, since we see it clearly (page 11) and this is presumably the killer which has previously ‘strangled all those chicks’. This backstory is rather irritatingly only semi-revealed to us. Milton says that he’d made a promise to Stacie, but couldn’t keep it because ‘he was defenseless. I couldn’t
pull the trigger’. So what happened? Did the killer get away? Presumably not, because we’re told that the murders were solved. What does the Figure mean when he mentions something about four hundred and twenty-three days? We’re never told.
What about Stacie’s stepfather in all this? The stepfather plays a part in the story, being the object of Margaret’s scorn, and also, it would seem, he casts more than a few lustful glances in Stacie’s direction (page 38) – but we never see him. Is it possible, then, that he is The Figure of her dreams? And if he isn’t, why do you generate so much dialogue about a character who never appears?
So there just seem to be too many loose ends which don’t come together. I know that not everything will be ‘logical’ when the script is in a supernatural setting, but the basic storyline should be – in fact, must be – valid to achieve the effect you need.
As regards the pacing, it seems to me that you reveal your hand too soon. We see the first metamorphosis on page 7 and you then show the killing of the three kids in explicit detail. I reckon that for the sake of building up the tension you could show essentially the same information, but merely suggest it rather than display it. Also it doesn’t help your structure, since you’ve pretty much shot your bolt by page 10, leaving you with no effective turning-point to take you into Act 2. So yes, I’d agree with your post-script comment, and hopefully you could use this to help tie up some of those loose ends.
Although I do like the raccoon joke! But you could have that somewhere else in the script.
Your suggestion of a ‘g-spot’ I’m not so sure about. I think there are a few other unanswered questions to be dealt with before you add any more complications!
Other reading notes:
1 It seems a bit unlikely that an academic boffin like Oval would be able to track down and shoot a wolf – especially in darkness.
12 We meet Jennifer and Jason. It seems at first that these two are going to be major characters, but they disappear from the story quite early. A bit strange.
14 In human form now, Gray Wolf kneels at the water’s edge...
So he changes form at will? It’s often not very clear in the script what form Gray is currently appearing in. A little bit more detail would make a big difference.
17/18 Good set-up of Milton’s character. Also a good comic scene with Gray ‘talking’.
23 ELI I forgot to tell you about the others, didn’t I?
27 I like the comedy with the sign of the cross.
34 The bondage between Annie and Phillip is a quirky little touch. I think you could usefully find a bigger role for Phillip later the script.
75 INT. STACIE’S BEDROOM – NIGHT It was day a minute ago; now it’s night?
81 That was a stupid thing to say. I hope someone isn’t really-
VOICE (on phone, blood curdling)AAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!! MILTON Shit.
I do like that one.
85 He plays Russian roulette with Oval. Now this doesn’t quite ring true. Firstly it’s a jump out of character for Milton. We lose that loveable buffoon image and suddenly he’s not so likeable. Secondly, Oval would never hold out that long – he’d be crapping himself from the word go. I think you need to come up with something a bit less stark.
102 She nestles into him as he lays his head back down. So what happens to Gray? Apparently he dies, but I only know that from your notes at the end.
104 The Bloodbath Killer disappears. I know, I’m thick, but I don’t really follow what’s supposed to be happening here.
Typos, spelling, boring stuff...
14 ...jumps back immediatEly. ?? You seem to have an errant E on your keyboard.
19 Mornin’, Ely! Ely stares straight ahead, bug-eyed.
Ely’s spelling seems to interchange throughout the script.
25 These prints aren’t the right shape...
28 Finish busing those tables... busing??
40 Margaret merely...
45 If she’s what you want...
50 Maybe he’s an epiclectic. ??? Epileptic?
70 putting her through the wringer...
78 Ely addresses the crowd.
78 PAN to reveal five bloodied wolf carcasses... We haven’t seen them before. Omit ‘the’.
82 ... nearly hurls at the sight.
87 ... having no idea what to do.
94 I think you owe her an answer.
100 STACIE (sternly)Damn it, Milton.
Anyway that’s all I’ve got. I do think you’ve got a very appealing comic style, and good luck with any re-writes.
Review of: HUMANIMAL (2nd rev)
reviewed by Rfordyce on 10/16/2011
Review ID: 3981004
Other Reviews by Rfordyce 127
A review of Space Vacationby Rfordyce on 11/16/2014Hi Russell, thanks again for your notes on FF, and sorry it’s taken so long to complete this. I’m not one of the speediest operators when it comes to reviews. I’m also tinged with sadness as it’s probably the last one I’ll be doing on TS. Boo Hoo... Space Vacation’s best feature, I believe, is a strong concept which lends itself to many possibilities. You’ve gone for a... Hi Russell, thanks again for your notes on FF, and sorry it’s taken so long to complete this. I’m not one of the speediest operators when it comes to reviews. I’m also tinged with sadness as it’s probably the last one I’ll be doing on TS. Boo Hoo...
Space Vacation’s best feature, I believe, is a strong concept which lends itself to many possibilities. You’ve gone for a family comedy drama with lots of scope for Star Wars-type set design and cinematography, and I believe that’s a market which could be actively looking for scripts like this. There’s the core of a good storyline here as well, although I think you’ve got a bit of work to do there. Overall I think this is a good effort. As your notes suggest, you’re happy for people to ‘rip this one apart’ so I’m sure you’ll take my notes as constructive criticism, as they’re intended, and not feel that they’re overly negative. Being a freewill, I felt it was OK to take a look at the other reviews and I see that many of them are earmarking the same issues I've noted, so I hope you’ll see that as useful commentary.
The main points I’d focus on are structure and storyline. Structure-wise, I feel that the natural break into Act 2 should be the point at which Brad accepts the offer of a space vacation, and the interaction between humans and aliens truly begins. In this draft that happens quite late. But I believe a lot of the first Act could be easily trimmed and it shouldn’t be a major problem to bring that turning-point in around page 25. The final Act should commence at the point where Sticky Fingers and his mob, having discovered that they’ve been double-crossed, go gunning for Henry and the Walshes. That sets up the story for an exciting action-led finale. That leaves Act 2 covering the adventures of the Walshes in the theme-park, with the mid-point possibly being the discovery that they are HUMANS and need to be hunted down mercilessly.
As regards storyline issues, I’ve covered these individually in the Reading Notes which follow. Maybe with some of these I’ve missed clues, taken a wrong meaning, or simply been a bit thick, so please make allowances.
Other Reading Notes:
1 I’m not sure you need the opening sequence at all. It seems disconnected from the rest of the story. I can understand that its main purpose is to set up the impending Inspection at Nopadopal’s, but frankly (see following notes) I think it would be much easier simply to have Nopadopal announcing this as a given in the conference scene. You could then begin the script with the Walshes, bringing in the Halloween theme and Joey’s skill on space-games, etc.
1 The opening scenes simply mention ‘alien humanoids’, and ‘space vehicles’. A little description just to sharpen up the visual impact would be useful.
1 ...as they look on slack-jawed...
You use the word ‘slack-jawed’ frequently in the script. Try to vary it a bit (I find that a good thesaurus is extemely useful!)
10 The room reaches a crescendo as the audience breaks into a raucous, muttering and mumbling amongst themselves.
This is a repetition of the previous description line – I presume you’ve done a cut and paste in error.
10 It has come to my attention that we will soon be receiving an inspection and audit from the Interstellar Committee.
I know I’m being picky here, but there are a couple of points about the ‘inspection and audit’ that need to be made:
(a) presumably the tip-off that an inspection is imminent has come from the theme park owner whom we saw in the first scene – and has been rewarded ‘big time’ as was implied. So if word got back to the Committee that Nopadopal had been tipped off, it would mean trouble for him. So he’d be unlikely to broadcast this in such an open manner.
(b) ‘Each and every one of you will be given an employee and customer satisfaction appraisal that must be completed’.
The way this is worded, it sounds as if they’ll be given a form which they must complete – in which case they’d simply give themselves high scores all round! I’m sure that’s not what you intend. Maybe just word it something like: ‘Each and every one of you will undergo a performance appraisal’. I’m confused about the appraisal process in any case. Do employees simply need a 100% appraisal from one customer / family? Who actually carries out the appraisals?
15 Smoke billows from the hull of Henry’s Supervisor Shuttle.
Should this not be vice-versa? It’s the Tourist Shuttle which is faulty, isn’t it?
15 Inciting incident is bang on cue – Henry loses holidaymakers to the Black Hole.
18 It’s not clear to me why Nopadopal doesn’t simply fire Henry on the spot. He falls asleep at a crucial company meeting, and then proceeds to lose four people in the Black Hole through negligence. Given that Nopadopal’s a dictator, why would he keep Henry employed? Also, the fact that the family have signed a waiver begs a few questions – why would they do that, unless tourist trips to the Black Hole are inherently dangerous? If so, why does the Inspectorate allow them in the first place?... etc, etc.
One way or another, Henry doesn’t really come across as a likeable protagonist. I think you need to change him in some way – either make him more of a comic-style buffoon, or else make him a bit darker so that when he develops into a close friend of the Walshes towards the end, it provides a strong arc for him and gives a counter-point to Brad’s arc.
19 How the heck am I meant to get an appraisal when I’m banned from any interaction with any on site vacationers?
When was this ban announced? And if there is a ban, why is Nopadopal happy to allow interaction later on (p. 56) when the Walsh family appears?
20 It’s not clear why HUMANS are NOT ALLOWED. This is a pivotal element in your story, and needs more explanation. Perhaps humans have shown themselves in the past to be untrustworthy or inferior in some way to the other aliens who visit the theme park. This in itself offers up many possibilities for your story.
24 Good introduction to Joey.
30 The Cocky Neighbour scene is good and provides a nice grounding for Brad’s motivation to take the family on holiday. But correspondingly it needs some resolution towards the end: it would be really good to show them in the final scenes, perhaps having had a disastrous holiday and coming back with their tail between their legs.
36 Structurally, I think this should be the turning point into Act 2: Brad encounters aliens in the form of Henry, and gets sucked into the ‘Space Vacation’. But it’s too late – it needs to appear around page 25.
37 EXT. WALSH RESIDENCE - LIVING ROOM – NIGHT
Given how excited Brad was in the morning, it seems strange that we’re now into evening and Brad hasn’t even tried Directory Services for the number yet.
45 They have to keep the necklaces on all the time, but there’s no indication of how Brad manages to enforce this – he’s just told to ‘make something up’.
72 Lucy’s reaction to the news that the theme park is in space doesn’t ring true. She’s spent most of the time so far appearing anxious and distrustful about it, and yet when it’s confirmed she can’t wait to start the party!
73 The reveal that Henry has double-crossed Sticky Fingers also seems unlikely. Not the fact of his having done it; but the manner of it. Given all the space-age technology at their disposal, you’d assume that the transfer of credits, cash or whatever is now used as currency would be instantaneous and 100% reliable. The idea that it’s still like waiting several days for a cheque to be processed seems preposterous.
76 INT. COCKPIT OF HENRY’S SUPERVISOR SHUTTLE
Brad studies the hologram...
Brad’s separated from Lucy and Joey? Surely they’d all ride together? On the same topic, I can’t see why there’s a need for the Supervisor to be in a separate Shuttle. Seems an unnecessary complication.
85 As Sticky Fingers rips the necklaces off Lucy’s and Joey’s necks, their voices start changing.
What does this mean, exactly? I thought the purpose of the Voice Modulators is to enable humans to disguise themselves as aliens and yet be able to talk to aliens without knowing their language. But after they’re removed, it seems to make no real difference.
91 OK, so at this stage one might expect an explanation from the Judge of why humans are banned, but there’s none forthcoming. Also, for what is supposedly a heinous offence, the punishment is a bit of an anti-climax: they’re simply sent back to Earth and told not to do it again.
I’m not keen on the ending. It’s very inconclusive. While I realise you’re playing for a sequel, I think you’ll have a better chance of optioning the script with a neat ending. You can then discuss a sequel if it gets to that stage.
Also, I’d try to trim the script to 100 pages or less, which should be quite possible.
Typos, punctuation, grammar and boring stuff:
1 What’s this ‘we’ business?
2 Standing at the bar, CRABACUS, a crab-shaped humanoid, motions...
10 ... in one fell swoop commands...
29 On the level, you said.
32 ... before hitting the gas pedal.
37 Can you try again?
40 Just seems strange, that’s all.
54 Didn’t know you were scared of heights!
65 Lucy shakes her head, not impressed...
73 As the line of cars slows to a stop...
76 The lane of lights retreats into the distance, weaving its way towards an asteroid field. OR
The lanes of light retreat into the distance, weaving their way towards an asteroid field.
78 POWER FAILURE IMMINENT.
84 It’s no shame, not making the grade.
92 JOEY Ah, Mom. I was hoping to stay a
93 As Crabacus adjusts the gag around Park Security Officer’s mouth, Henry (in disguise) pops his head...
94 ...while Henry and Brad, still wearing their disguises, sit up front.
94 What about Dad?
100 Crabacus points at a pedal.
102 INT. COCKPIT OF GRAXSON’S SPACECRAFT
That’s all from me, Russell. Good luck with it. I’ll probably see you over at Talentville! read
A review of The Devil's Lullaby (PDF 2nd draft)by Rfordyce on 08/22/2014‘The Devil’s Lullaby’ is a very busy script. I mean busy, as in there’s lots of stuff happening. I’m not a horror fan myself, but I gamely worked my way through the first twenty pages, reinforcing my prejudices (which I freely admit) against slasher movies and wondering why anyone could be remotely interested in tongues being extracted without the owner’s consent, and severed... ‘The Devil’s Lullaby’ is a very busy script. I mean busy, as in there’s lots of stuff happening. I’m not a horror fan myself, but I gamely worked my way through the first twenty pages, reinforcing my prejudices (which I freely admit) against slasher movies and wondering why anyone could be remotely interested in tongues being extracted without the owner’s consent, and severed hearts dancing in glass jars.
However, as I got further into the story, it seems that you’ve got some nice themes going on here. The scenes with Father Murphy in particular give more depth to your story, and I do like the ambiguous ending. Your visual presentation is striking, and I like the twists and turns which keep us guessing right up to the end. I’m sure many will enjoy your script for the gore fest it promises and delivers. But I think there are a number of points you should consider for a re-write. It’s only my personal opinion, of course, so please feel free to ignore it, and apologies for anything I may have missed or misunderstood along the way.
Firstly, I think that you start at a sprint when you’re trying to run a mile. Michael’s actions on page 4, pulling out Bobby’s tongue, have a yuck factor – OK, I’m in a slasher movie here - (and why is Michael not immediately arrested and put behind bars?) - but to my mind they also raise the stakes too quickly. To trump that, you’ll have to produce too much gore in too short a time period. Much better to make the audience wait for it. You know they want it. They know they want it. But don’t be too free with your favours; build up the tension. Don’t show a scene with blood until page 20. Make them wait; they’ll enjoy it all the more.
Secondly, I think you’ve got too much storyline which you don’t really need. And that’s the opposite of most scripts I’ve read. Most of them have too little going on and they’re trying to string the story out. With yours there’s too much going on and I’m trying to figure out what the hell is happening to whom. There are too many characters and events which are an integral part of the story, but which we never see on screen. We only hear about them through dialogue, which is always a second-hand method. Rule of thumb is, if a character or event is important to the story, they / it should have some screen time, so that the viewer is invested in the process. Let’s just list some of the examples where that doesn’t happen:
• Helen, the daughter who is crucial to McBride’s motivation – and also to the whole story - is never seen on screen, apart from one perfunctory glimpse on a TV report.
• McBride’s parents, who refused to look after Helen. There’s a throwaway line which suggests they disowned her because she was born out of wedlock, but otherwise we know nothing about them.
• Victor, McBride’s brother, who apparently committed suicide. But we don’t see it. And that’s all we know.
• Michael’s father, who murdered Helen. Because McBride had killed one of his children. But none of this is shown on screen, although we’re told that both Michael’s parents have been murdered.
• McBride’s wife, who died in childbirth. We only know of her through dialogue.
• Brian’s father, who’s never really identified in the script, but must have been Jenn’s partner at one time.
• Jeffrey – inmate 1245 – who killed McBride, but didn’t know why. We never see him on screen.
Bottom line is, I spent so much time trying to figure out who these characters were, their relationships to each other, that I lost track of your core story. Which is a great pity, because I think your theme here, the father – daughter relationship, is a strong one. It’s the core of innumerable movies, and it could work here as well.
I don’t think all these characters are necessary to your story. The step-brother / step-sister relationships are particularly confusing, and I’m not sure why you need to have them. Get rid of characters like Victor – to me he serves no useful purpose, other than to be a false trail for detectives to follow – and concentrate more on building up the suspense involving a few key players.
OTHER READING NOTES:
1 EXT. WOODED AREA - SPELL SITE – NIGHT
Screenplays are all about giving the reader a cinematic experience (visuals, sound) by using prose (text, paper / computer screen). Rule Number One therefore is, ‘Describe only what is seen and heard on screen’. So I wouldn’t put ‘Spell Site’ in the slug. It’s anticipating something which hasn’t happened yet, therefore pulls the reader out of the story immediately. And in any case, what does a ‘spell site’ look like?
1 Some description of McBride’s appearance would be useful – how is he dressed? – what expression does his face convey? Etc.
1 ...a circle with a horrific design...
In what way is it horrific? Satanic? Or just really badly designed?
1 I’ve been told by numerous screenwriting gurus that your first scene shouldn’t be a dream sequence. I don’t believe them. Bur even allowing for that, the description is given in a very haphazard fashion. Is Janet in the middle of the circle? Or just nearby? What does ‘the hearts gain tempo’ mean, exactly? The children aren’t mentioned until Donald suddenly sees them – so have they been hidden from the viewer as well?
2 INT. DONALD’S HOME - DONALD’S BEDROOM – NIGHT
The slug’s rather clunky; you could just write
INT. DONALD’S BEDROOM – NIGHT
This applies throughout the script.
6 Jade hymns ...
A hymn is a song of praise to God. I’ve never seen it used as a verb before. Do you mean ‘hums?’
6 ... the Devil’s Lullaby.
At this point you haven’t yet introduced the idea of a devil’s lullaby. How would the reader know what you mean?
7 EXT. DONALD’S HOME – NIGHT
Brian walks away. Jade’s dad, Donald, calls for him.
You need to put more thought into your sluglines and description; don’t make life difficult for your reader. Firstly, you’d be better using CONTINUOUS rather than NIGHT; this would tell the reader that the scene follows directly from the previous one. Next, where is Donald? Standing in the doorway? Waiting to ambush Brian in the garden? Calling from an upstairs window?
12 It would be better to format the lullaby in rhyming lines. It would make it much easier to read. So:
Hey little kitty, please come and stay.
I need your help to take my pain away.
Don’t be shy, please come and play.
I just want you to have a fun day.
You’re my beauty, and my power.
I want you to blossom into a beautiful flower. Etc.
23 BEGIN FLASHBACK:
It’s not really a flashback, it’s the DVD playing. You could simply write ON SCREEN.
30 His heart isn’t missing. What about the hearts of the parents?
Not that I know of.
This is a strange reply - it would be very obvious if their hearts were missing!
Victor committed suicide years ago.
Seems unlikely that Owen (a policeman) wouldn’t already know that.
Yeah, how’s that P.I. stuff working out for you?
I presume that means Private Investigator.
51 Janet, now in her twenties, opens the door...
Janet is now five years older – also, she’s never been named in dialogue. Would the audience know who she is?
You got the tests back yet? What tests?
Typos, grammar, punctuation + boring stuff:
1 ... the hearts inside the jars.
8 ... get a few things straightened out...
30 The lullaby is possessed! Run!
31 The other officers look on, confused.
35 God’s Right Hand? (possibly use italics)
36 JADE Diamond Stud?
38 Alice looks at him, confused.
48 Donald’s eyes light with shock.
54 Why doesn’t he take over the world, or kill us, or
like you said, make us suffer?
54 I know you’re looking for redemption, Donald.
58 Brian chuckles and walks...
59 It’s so clean you can eat off it.
67 Jade looks on, afraid.
69 Their parents called it in.
82 He takes heavy breaths...
94 He gets off him and walks back to Jade.
I hope these notes are useful. Good luck with it. read
A review of HyperGraphiaby Rfordyce on 08/10/2014‘Hypergraphia’ is a very professional screenplay and I enjoyed it immensely. I don’t think the concept is entirely new, but this has a very surreal mood and a storyline which buzzes around your head like a swarm of bees. I love Martin’s fragile grasp of reality, his erudite speech patterns and his erratic thought processes. Just to savour his wordplay and autistic tendency... ‘Hypergraphia’ is a very professional screenplay and I enjoyed it immensely. I don’t think the concept is entirely new, but this has a very surreal mood and a storyline which buzzes around your head like a swarm of bees. I love Martin’s fragile grasp of reality, his erudite speech patterns and his erratic thought processes. Just to savour his wordplay and autistic tendency (surely he must be at least partly autistic?) would in itself be worth the trouble of reading this script. But it has so much more to offer than that. It’s a film noir, it’s a detective whodunnit, it’s a psychological thriller, but most of all it’s a script which has the potential to become a box-office success.
The characters are all distinctive and well-drawn. Each has their own recognisable voice. The story rattles forward at a fairly frenetic pace and grabs our attention throughout, but information is only revealed gradually to pile extra layer upon layer of mystery. Good job.
I think it would be presumptive to say that I completely understand the outcome of this convoluted storyline, but it might be in order to accept it for what it is – a product of Martin’s fragile mental state. I think I’m right in saying that we never actually see any on-screen killings, except in the final bust-up when Martin kills Richardson and is in turn shot by the Redheaded woman – so that scene is presumably a product of his own fevered imagination, since we then immediately see him talking to the Three Men in the final scene. An ending like that would normally give rise to loud howls of protest from the ‘It Was All Just A Dream’ huddle of critics who maintain that it’s the death-knell of any script. Whatever, schmatever – I think this script is entertaining enough to survive that criticism. It’s a statement that our life can’t be viewed through the single lens of our own consciousness – our life impinges on other people and we have to look through their lenses as well.
Anyway, enough of the psychobabble. I’m never comfortable with that (British, you see). There are elements in the script which could be improved. As much as I love Martin’s unique poetic dialogue, I think you rather over-egg the pudding with it sometimes. It feels like you enjoy writing the dialogue so much that you sometimes neglect other aspects of the script. At 118 pages some of it could be gently trimmed, and you could use the space gained to build up the film noir tone. I’m thinking of instances like the scene on page 69, although the same comments could apply to many other parts of the story:
“Martin aggressively shakes the desk in front of him, startling Dr. Maravich and causing her lamp to fall to the floor.”
This scene should be a big atmospheric moment, where you leave the audience wondering about the true state of Martin’s mind. Use the lamp to greater effect. Imagine shadows falling around their faces, their movements. Imagine creepy music playing on screen. Give it a bit more edge. So you could have something like:
INT. PSYCHIATRIST’S OFFICE - NIGHT
A single desk lamp illuminates the room. Dr Maravitch watches Martin pacing back and forth.
And what do you think is the most logical explanation for that?
Half of Martin’s face is in shadow. He hesitates, shrugs his shoulders.
Martin aggressively thumps the desk. The LAMP falls to the floor and goes out. Darkness.
A few seconds of SILENCE, and then:
Martin switches the lamp back on.
I don’t think that I should see you anymore.
Don’t just have the lamp falling; make it go out. Plunge the room into darkness; play around with it.
The continuous alliteration in your dialogue sometimes drifts into your description lines as well, e.g. –
A frumpy, flimsy British man…
Lee lazily greets…
There’s nothing wrong with this in principle but it may distract the reader’s attention from focusing on the actual content of the words. Unless you think it’s necessary, I’d remove it.
Other reading notes:
1 No title page!?
1 A little more description would be good, e.g. – is there a desk? What does Martin look like? And as regards the Three Men, I know you’re playing for mystery and tension, and I think your decision not to name them, to keep them faceless, is a good one. But a few more clues would be helpful. At the very least, describe what will be seen on screen. Does it suggest a police station? A psychiatric unit? A meeting hall?
3 INT. PSYCHIATRIST’S OFFICE - DAY Martin sits across from Dr. Maravich.
Might be better to use LATER to emphasise that it’s a different scene from the one before.
6 Show me the fucking baby.
Nice nod to ‘Jerry McGuire.’
7 MARTIN This is the last book in the series, Jerry.
On a slightly pedantic note, it seems unlikely that movie producers would be waiting to see the finished product if it’s a series of books. If they like the first books enough, the movie would get made anyway. Maybe make it that the producer has seen extracts from an uncompleted book, and is eagerly awaiting the finished product.
16 I assume that at this point, and other instances throughout the script, we go into freeze-frame or something of that ilk. It would be good to show this in your formatting, e.g. –
...and sees DETECTIVE RICH RICHARDSON, a hard-nosed, middle-aged man.
May I help you?
Yes, I’m –
DETECTIVE RICHARDSON IN FREEZE-FRAME:
This is Detective Rich Richardson................................................. Never mind that. I’m rambling.
BACK TO SCENE
...Detective Rich Richardson. I want…
21 It gives me an opportunity to say gazoontite. It’s my third favourite word in the English language.
‘Gesundheit’ is actually a German expression so I assumed you were playing ironic in some way here. Maybe you want to check it out.
44 You’ve really got me on the ropes, here. HA! HA!
47 Detective Richardson hands Martin an urn.
A bit unlikely – where was he hiding it?
53 Your visit the other day threw me for a loop.
It’s a lot longer than ‘the other day.’ Martin had time to grow a substantial beard!
66 It’s your handwriting. And it’s dated two years ago.
We need some clearer evidence of this – a written date on the manuscript, for instance.
83 Just a small stylistic point you should watch out for: you tend to repeat characters’ names too much in blocks of description, e.g. – “Martin dashes across the room ... Martin immediately goes to the fan fiction site... Martin begins to read it aloud...” Try to vary the style so that it doesn’t become repetitive.
I go see Gary.
Several new characters are introduced late in the script – a practice normally frowned on by screenwriter scribblers. I don’t have a problem with it here, because the story is strong enough to carry it, but just thought I’d mention it.
90 I like the scene with the biker and the monkey – very surreal.
The bribe accepted by the DMV worker seems a little unlikely – I assume it’s a highly regulated organisation. See if you can come up with a better idea.
103 Suddenly Martin hears cop SIRENS.
Would the police have sirens blaring if they were on a secretive mission? Might be more effective if they simply appear without warning.
115 Martin frees his hands, reaches for his gun, points it at Detective Richardson...
The suspension of disbelief is broken here. There’s been no mention of the gun. Richardson would surely have searched him. And yet it’s suddenly there in Martin’s hands at the critical moment. I’m sure you can come up with a better narrative.
Typos, grammar, etc:
18 Hypergraphia, a disorder...
18 ... picks up a book off Martin’s bookshelf.
20 Yes, Mary Pickett.
47 Detective Richardson hands Martin an urn.
58 ... and fumbles it on to the floor.
63 ... If you ever need anything taxidermied,..
81 Martin sits in a dark room...
115 Detective Richardson stops singing; he cocks the hammer...
Thanks for this enjoyable read. A few more polishes, and I think you could have a winner here. Best of luck with it!
Copyright © 2001-2014 Trigger Street Labs. All Rights Reserved.