I read your screenplay Matadora and really enjoyed it so was pleased to see this one pop into my assignment box. I usually take a very subjective approach to reviews. However, I may have to go a slightly different tack with this one as this is a film that is clearly not written with me in mind. The audience for this I think would be quite young. This is not in any way meant as an insult but it’s the type of daytime Disney channel film my 12 year old sister would watch (and enjoy!).
I liked the concept. This is my kind of fantasy. Not full-out goblins and wizards but a small change to the real world, which acts a metaphor and allows for something meaningful to be said about the world we live in. This was also one of the few screenplays I’ve read with a strong theme to it. GOOD.
The dialogue is good without being great. On occasions I felt it was a bit overwritten, you have a tendency of explaining things through dialogue that don’t need to spelt out for the audience. An early example is Pg 5 - I don’t think anything is gained from going into so much detail.
The dialogue doesn’t feel particularly authentic but it is very reminiscent of the sort of dialogue you would find in Hannah Montana, High School Musical type programmes/films and I actually think it holds up quite well when placed side to side with these types of children’s fare. I’ve been wavering between average and good for dialogue but it made me smile on occasions and though not particularly authentic it was enjoyable to read so I’m going to be kind and say GOOD.
Solid structure, which follows all the rules (perhaps a bit too rigidly). Nothing particularly unique or exciting about it but I don’t see originality in this area as a necessity so GOOD.
I thought the story, though engaging, played out a little too predictably for me. This was the same for Matadora, though that story had a few unexpected twists and flourishes which helped it rise above it’s well-trodden path. This on the other hand played out more or less how I was expecting after reading the logline and was pretty cliched so I’m going to rate the story AVERAGE.
I thought Brock and Kelly were very clichéd and one dimensional.
I thought Tad was likeable but bland. I understand he’s meant to be an average sort of kid and you want the audience to be able to relate him but I think you need to give him some sort of character. At the moment he’s averagely popular, averagely intelligent, average at just about everything. He doesn’t have any big flaws and he doesn’t have any standout qualities either. I think if you’re expecting people to want to spend and hour and a half with a character you need to make them more interesting. You can still make a character likeable and relatable while at the same time making them an individual in their own right.
Tommy is the one character that I really liked. Without Tommy the screenplay would fall flat, though thankfully she’s in almost every scene. This is an example of what I was talking about with Tad. Tommy is likable and relatable while also being very much a living, breathing individual.
Apart from Tommy I thought your characters were below average but with her I think it bumps your rating here up to AVERAGE.
It’s got its faults but it was an easy and enjoyable read. It’s unoriginal but I don’t think that’s as much of a criticism when it comes to children’s films (though it’s still a criticism). I'm pretty sure my sister would enjoy it. Overall I’d rate it GOOD.
Here are a few notes I made as I went along.
Pg 27-8 –Tommy immediately believes Tad has a tail, before even seeing!? I realise this isn’t meant to be a realist drama or anything but…
Pg 29 – Dad ‘there’s nothing wrong…inside that’s important.’ You’ve just summed up the whole theme of the film in a line of dialogue! I know this is meant for kids but you don’t have to treat them like idiots. Even a six year old will have worked out by now that this is what the film is about. Same rules apply – show don’t tell.
Pg 50 – ‘the idea of creationism is questionable at best.’ This is a politicians response, it doesn’t sound like Tommy at all. Have you toned down her response for fear of trashing creationism? Having your characters make controversial statements doesn’t in turn make your screenplay controversial.
Pg 53 – you could probably get away with just having a quick shot of these two chatting secretly MOS. It’s obvious what they’d be chatting about.
Pg 58 – ‘I think all that attitude is a defence mechanism…’ – again you don’t have to spell it all out for the audience.
Pg 72 – ‘my heart…a minute.’ – this line jarred with me. Is this the sort of thing Tad would say? If he’s so shy about dancing with Tommy would he really admit to this? It’s also very corny and there’s no need for it. The actions speak for themselves.
Pg 79 – ‘he tried to compromise my daughters virtue.’ – great line.
Pg 85 – okay here’s what I’m thinking, and do what you want with this advice it’s your script…all the usual caveats. For me, this is where the script should end. After END MONTAGE I would personally like to see FADE OUT. Tad’s character arc has come to an end, Tad and Tommy have become friends again and Tommy has admitted her feelings for Tad. The montage scene after is great. It’s actually got quite a transcendent feel to it. In fact it would be pretty much the perfect ending. You would end on a happy note with Tad and Tommy enjoying each others company and the suggestion that a relationship might blossom in the future and yet the fact that Tad looks like he’s going to have to move away gives it a tinge of sadness. I find the best endings are like this both happy and sad at the same time. These endings are great because you get a double whammy of conflicting emotions. On the contrary a contrived happy ending may make you smile but it doesn’t resonate in the same way and if it’s too contrived (as I think yours is) it can end up making you feel a bit hollow. I found that I didn’t really care about anything else that came afterwards. The rest just seems to be trying up loose ends and it seems contrived in the way you manipulate events so that everything turns out perfectly for Tad. Stu just felt like a deus ex machina. It all seems very convenient and it’s unengaging because
i. the story is about Tad accepting himself for who he his, not whether or not he can remain at his school nor whether Brock and Kelly get their comeuppance
ii. Tad wins, not through any actions he himself takes, but through a Deus ex machina.
Pg 90 – ‘ I for one knew he was innocent…’ - No way would the Principal ever say this. It wouldn’t make him look better, it would make him look weak and incompetent expelling a boy he knew to be innocent.
This is a good script. You’re a talented writer and your scripts will do well on this site, and deservedly so. My main advice for future projects would be to try writing something a bit more unique. You’ve got the talent; why not give it a go? There are literally hundreds of writers out there who can write a high school comedy of this quality as the rules of the genre are so clearly defined and therefore so easily learned. If you want to get yourself noticed I feel you need to find your own voice somewhat. I want to see how YOU view the world not how other film’s of the same genre view it. Try to take inspiration from sources other than just films and write something that only you could write because if you can do that and it’s good (which on the basis of the two scripts of yours I’ve read I’ve no doubt it will be) then people will sit up and take notice. Scarcity adds value. Scripts like A Boy’s Tale and Matadora aren’t scarce and, though enjoyable and technically well done, will never stand you out from the crowded pack.
Thanks for read though. I did enjoy it despite my criticisms.
Review of: A Boy's Tail
reviewed by jackjohns on 02/04/2009
Review ID: 2199553
Other Reviews by jackjohns 42
A review of Voodoo Ladyby jackjohns on 09/15/2014Voodoo Lady was a screenplay which contained lots of interesting ideas and a clear message about homosexuality and homophobia which the writer wanted to get across. I enjoyed it in parts but also feel the Screenplay needs a lot of work in order to realise its potential. CHARACTERS This is the area where your script needs the most work. All the characters were pretty thin... Voodoo Lady was a screenplay which contained lots of interesting ideas and a clear message about homosexuality and homophobia which the writer wanted to get across. I enjoyed it in parts but also feel the Screenplay needs a lot of work in order to realise its potential.
This is the area where your script needs the most work. All the characters were pretty thin on characterisation. There’s wasn’t really much depth to any of them. I would suggest sitting down and writing a one page bio for each character. You won’t be able to do it with these characters but if you just keep on adding characteristics to each one until you reach a page then they will start to flesh out a bit and this will improve your story immensely when you come to do a second draft.
I would introduce the football players separately. By introducing us to all of them together, during the football match, they don’t get proper introductions and it’s therefore very hard to then keep track of who’s who when they appear later on. Alternatively, the football match could be the first time we see these characters but then make sure to introduce them again, individually with a proper character introduction that tell us something simple about their personality in a scene which demonstrates something important about their character through their actions and/or dialogue.
Man, Jack’s a real arsehole. I’m actually a big fan of flawed unsympathetic protagonists but is that really what your intention was here?
First off, he’s knows that Sally’s in love with him and he obviously knows that he’s gay. Yet, he leads poor Sally on throughout the entire script, using her, sleeping with her, playing with her emotions because…why? He thinks it might hurt his sporting chances if a couple homophobes on the football team think he’s gay. It’s unbelievably selfish and he shows no sense of remorse whatsoever.
Second, he never reported John’s beating up of the two gay guys. This means that he’s guilty of withholding key evidence and is indirectly responsible for the murder of Alex. He could and should do hard time for that shit.
Again, his reasons for withholding this evidence are entirely selfish (John’s a good football player and he thought his team would be more likely to win their games if he protected John). Jack’s actions here also don’t make much sense considering a) how much he hates John b) the moral imperative AND c) the $10,000 reward. Even without the reward I would have been shocked if Jack didn’t turn him in…but $10,000!? Does Jack really care that much about his soccer game/Is John really that good that Jack would turn down $10,000? I understand that the soccer is very important to Jack but John’s only 1 player out of 11…and $10,000 to do the right thing!? It’s a no brainer!
On the plus side, I did like Jack’s courage in standing up to John on other occasions.
Early on in the script Jules suggests that Jack take Sally to the masked ball and even sleep with her despite knowing that Sally loves Jack and Jack is gay.
pg 60 - I was pleased here that Jules finally says what seems to be obvious ‘Jack, don’t …she’ll be devastated.’ The problem is that this completely contradicts her position earlier.
pg 66 - Jules has now switched back to trying to make Sally fall deeper in love with Jack. This character is completely inconsistent.
John was very one note. He plays football and hates gays. That’s really all there is too him and his constant and predictable gay bashing became boring very quickly. Obviously he should be homophobic and unsympathetic but that doesn’t mean you can’t also add some deeper layers to the character.
I actually really like the idea of being able to control people’s dreams. It’s a bit like ‘Inception’ - planting an idea in someones head - though obviously used very differently here. Although I don’t understand why Jules did it; I like the idea of implanting a dream in a girl that will make her fall for you. There’s been a least a couple of girls I’ve known who, having previously shown little interest in me suddenly became attracted to me after a dream they’d had involving me. Also, I remember reading somewhere that if there’s a girl that you are attracted to it’s a good idea to text/call them just before they go to sleep because if they’re thinking about you when they fall asleep, then they will probably dream about you and that will create some sort of extra emotional bond. Not sure how much truth there is to that but it seems vaugely plausible and either way would be a good idea to explore, if you were to consider to go non-fantastical with this dream implanting idea.
And perhaps you should consider having Jules and Jack influencing John and Sally’s dreams in a way that is non-fantastical. A couple of reasons;
i. It would be more difficult (you should always make things as difficult as possible for your protagonists) and therefore more interesting. It would also force you to be more inventive as you figure out ingenious ways for the two to implant these ideas in John and Sally’s subconscious in such a way that they end up having those dreams.
ii. It would seem less out of place in a Drama which is otherwise completely non fantastical.
If you do decide to keep this fantasy element I would definitely set this up much earlier in the script. Certainly in the first act and preferably somewhere in the first 15 pages. There is an unwritten contract storytellers have with the audience which involves setting up the Storyworld at the beginning. You set up the rules of the Storyworld at the beginning and if that Storyworld involves fantastical elements then the audience will agree to suspend their disbelief for the duration of the story, as long as it the writer/storyworld sticks to the initial laws set out at the beginning (however fantastical those might be). By not setting up anything fantastical in the opening Act, the audience is likely to be less inclined to suspend their disbelief when a fantastical element gets dropped in later (as late as pg 58 in your script).
To use a soccer analogy - both teams at the start of a game know that they are playing soccer and they hopefully know the rules. However, imagine if in the 58th minute one of the players picks the ball up and throws it into the oppositions net. Now imagine that the referee awards a goal saying ‘oh yeah, no one mentioned it at the start but actually in this particular game from the 58th minute onwards you are allowed to use your hands.’ The opposition would be livid and rightly so. Any deviation from the standard rules needs to be agreed upon at the start.
Some further notes;
pg 3 - ‘If [I] can’t get through this opening.’
pg 3-6 - There’s huge amounts of clunky exposition in these pages. You need to find a more natural way of imparting this information.
pg 3 - ‘You’re really gonna…big city.’
pg 3 - ‘I’m doing my psychology…no magic powers.’
pg 4 - ‘the women in our family have been…mystics, matchmakers and fortune tellers.’
pg6 - ‘Give your twin a hug from me.’
pg 6 - You’ve called Jules Jill here.
pg 15 - ‘you don’t seem [too] happy.’
pg 16 - I’m not sure why Jules would suggest that Jack take Sally to the masked ball. Considering Sally is in love with him and he’s gay, it seems pretty cruel to lead Sally along like that.
pg 17 - ‘you know that guys have already [ ] come out while playing.’
pg 17 - Again, seems harsh to use Sally and play with her emotions by suggesting Jack sleep with her. I thought Jules was meant to be her friend.
pg 34 - ‘we’ll [see] what she says.’
pg 47 - Why does Jack head back?
pg 56 - 10 thousand dollars seems a hell of a lot for a GBH case like this one.
pg 95 - ‘I think I’m…nice big fire.’ This line sounds like a parody on par with ‘I think I’ll walk home tonight through that abandoned amusement park constructed atop that old indian burial ground.’
pg 98 - ‘John tries to stand [too] quickly.’
pg 99 - ‘Do you think you are going to [be] called for…’
pg 121 - Wait? They just killed someone and the police aren’t even going to bring them in to the station?
pg 122 - Why didn’t the boyfriend report the attack immediately?
pg 122 - I’d originally thought that Jack didn’t report John through cowardice (which didn’t seem to fit with his character at all. I think you need make this soccer related reason clearer earlier on (or preferably find a better reason that doesn’t make Jack come off as such a self-centred prick). At least Jack finally acknowledges he was in the wrong here. Not sure why everyone else dismisses it though. That was a terrible thing that Jack did - it shouldn’t just be brushed off like that.
pg 124 - I can’t believe Jack’s still with Sally at the end? Wouldn’t it be more interesting for Sally to discover that Jack is gay and that he’s been lying to her this whole time. Scripts thrive on conflict and that would be a great source of conflict between the two. It would also have been interesting to see Jack actually come out and witness the problems that would cause.
As I’ve said before, this Screenplay has lots of good ideas and deals with interesting and important subject matter. In your next draft the main things I would advise focusing on are your characters and your fantastical element. The dream idea is a good one and if you can find a way to implement it successfully in your script then great. Otherwise, another option would be to make this script a straight up drama and save the voodoo dream idea for another script which is more obviously set in a world of fantasy and a story that allows you to explore this idea more fully.
Hope some of that’s been helpful and good luck with all your writing endeavors,
A review of The Tale of Lefty and Fortunaby jackjohns on 09/11/2014The Tale of Lefty and Fortuna is a very accomplished screenplay with a great concept, excellent pacing with lots of turning point, distinct and engaging characters and dialogue that flows off the page. There really isn’t a lot wrong with this screenplay so my criticisms are all relatively minor when put against the things that this script got right. Here are my notes; The... The Tale of Lefty and Fortuna is a very accomplished screenplay with a great concept, excellent pacing with lots of turning point, distinct and engaging characters and dialogue that flows off the page. There really isn’t a lot wrong with this screenplay so my criticisms are all relatively minor when put against the things that this script got right.
Here are my notes;
The title’s not great. Even just calling it ‘Lefty’ would be an improvement…or perhaps ‘Lucky Lefty’ or even ‘Fortuna.’ Luck seems to play a big part thematically in this script and so alluding to that in the title would work well.
For some reason I bought Joe’s first murder, whereas the second felt forced. It also felt less of a shock second time around purely because it was less unexpected.
A bit of variety in the two murders might help. Maybe Joe hasn’t got his gun on him one of the times so has to bludgeon with a blunt object instead. Joe’s first murder scene is clearly meant to set up his character but perhaps it would be better if Joe’s hot-headed nature is shown in a different, less extreme way initially so that Rusty’s murder feels more like escalation (dramatically speaking) rather than repetition.
Also, I know that Joe’s not the brightest spark in the box but having just finished tidying up and mulling over the possible consequences of one killing is he really going to be immediately so keen to give himself and Peter another huge headache? In the first killing I assume that Joe killed the guy impulsively without really considering the consequences of his actions. With those consequences still so fresh in his mind (particularly given how much Peter drills the possible ramifications that could occur) it’s harder to believe that he would murder again so quickly and with so little provocation.
I also think that in this scene you should build the tension and antipathy between Joe and Rusty more before either Rusty or Joe snaps. At the moment it seems to simmer around the mild irritation mark for most of the scene only to very suddenly jumping to extremes on both sides. I felt this jump to extremes needed more justification. Joe making a racist remark, for example, would go some way to explaining why Rusty suddenly gets so angry and why Joe has taken such an instant dislike to Rusty.
Joe killing Rusty is obviously a key scene and has the potential to be a great scene along the lines of the Coin Toss Scene in ‘No Country For Old Men’ or the Spider Scene in ‘Goodfellas’ but at the moment it lacks the tension of the first and the shock value of the second.
Another minor issue is how similar Joe’s character seems to the Joe Pesci character in Goodfellas. Maybe fleshing Joe’s character out with characteristics that distinguish him from that character would help this.
pg 26 - We’ll get our story straight.
pg 30 - In the opening scene Lefty listens to tapes. At the time I assumed this was simply meant to demonstrate how old his truck was but now we have the Police Officer using VCR. I'm guessing this story is therefore set in the early nineties?
Ah, okay… Johnson just pulled out a smartphone so clearly it is set in the present day. Perhaps the VCR is meant to demonstrate underfunding in the Police Department?
pg 53 - the police never speculate on why Lefty would shoot Rusty when he’s just won the lottery. Maybe they do but conclude that Rusty probably tried to take the ticket from Lefty. I think a conversation along those lines would be helpful.
pg 82 - nice to see Lefty’s pitching skills finally coming into play.
pg 88 - so Lefty did remember!
pg 91 - I'm not clear on what their plan is here. How are they going to cash that without getting arrested.
Okay, it’s clear they didn’t have a plan. I think it would be better if they did have a plan, though, (even a shit one) as their motives are a bit wishy washy at the moment.
Some final thoughts;
Your action lines are excellent
You have a large cast of characters but you handled this very well with good introductions of each and distinctive characteristics. Perhaps you could flesh out the character of Fortuna though as she's such an important character but didn't have the depth of someone like Lefty.
I'm not sure about the character of Javier. He didn’t seem to add much to the Screenplay and seemed the only character who was superfluous to requirements.
I also thought the character of Melinda could have done with being introduced earlier as she just seems to appear out of nowhere in service of the plot. Maybe give her a scene that fleshes out her character a little more so that her death is more powerful.
Other than that, an excellent job. Good luck with it,
A review of Critics' Choiceby jackjohns on 09/21/2013This was a very entertaining screenplay which held my interest throughout and had an excellent twist at the end. It's almost great but at the moment there are a few flaws which hold it back. Nothing particularly serious though and with another draft I think this script will be ready. Here are notes I made as I was reading. Among other things, I thought it would be useful to... This was a very entertaining screenplay which held my interest throughout and had an excellent twist at the end. It's almost great but at the moment there are a few flaws which hold it back. Nothing particularly serious though and with another draft I think this script will be ready.
Here are notes I made as I was reading. Among other things, I thought it would be useful to note down my guesses as to your characters intentions and twists later on in the plot so that you get an idea of which parts I saw coming and which were a surprise. I will add that I enjoyed playing detective and it's a credit to your script that I was engaged enough to be so active as a reader.
pg 1 - I like bold scene headings. I started doing that, for a while, ages ago. I should take up the habit again.
pg 1 - I would advise against giving actors names in your screenplay. If an actor other than the one you've listed reads the script then it's going to put them off. You don't want them thinking their second choice (at best). I like Victor's description otherwise though.
pg 5 - I like the bit with the scrabble letters. Not sure what it means but it intrigues me.
pg 6 - We already know how Jarrod feels about the film here so I can't help feeling that rather than having him being so needlessly blunt there's an opportunity for some subtler, subtext infused dialogue. Maybe he tries to avoid the subject completely and it just sits there, a big elephant in the room, while they engage in awkward small talk. Or perhaps he uses subtext to rib Victor in subtler ways.
pg 7 - this conversation is packed with exposition. Your dialogue sounds natural and is enjoyable to read but in this scene you're laying everything out so plainly for the audience. There's nothing for us to work out for ourselves and there's no ebb and flow. There's no arc to the scene. They start off with the blunt accusations and continue on the same level throughout. Perhaps it would be better to begin with attempts at faux politeness and small talk and then gradually build the tension up until it reaches boiling point. Individual scenes need an arc to them. You start at one place and end at another.
pg 7 - is that a second titanic metaphor from Jarrod? That's at least one too many if it is, though I wasn't entirely sure with the first on pg 6 'you're sinking faster than one ship her maiden voyage' as you seemed to have missed out a word or two.
As I say, the dialogue sounds good just cut the fat. There's so much of these two just repeating the same things. E.g. The fact that Scott gives Victor bad review(s) is mentioned;
pg 1 - 'One shit review…only Scott's.'
pg 2 - 'Mr Gottstein…Scott's review in today's Times?'
pg 2 - 'Scott's never given my films the credit they deserve.'
pg 3 - 'Scott seems intent on destroying anything we make.'
pg 6 - 'Your premiere--unfortunate…'
pg 6 - 'Yet still can't make a good film.'
pg 7 - 'That's why you sink my films.'
pg 7 - 'Your films are like…Iceberg.'
pg 7 - 'You're saying your reviews…'
pg 8 - '(condescending) ah what cinematic masterpieces.'
pg 8 - 'You've panned every film I've ever made --not one good review.'
Okay, I'm going to stop there because I've just realised how many more quotes I'm going to have to type out just in the next two pages i.e. even more than the last couple.
You could do the same exercise with dialogue that informs us that Victor's movies haven't been making money (and you'd probably get about the same). Cut it down.
pg 8 - I'm pretty certain with the way Victor talks that he's going to murder Jarrod. This suddenly all feels very similar to 'The Player.' And you're quotes at the start don't help with this similarity.
pg 11 - having said that you have set up an interesting plot here with the bet, and Victor's (possibly) murderous intent. I'm hooked.
pg 14 - I was wondering how you pronounced Tesse. Glad she explained it for me.
pg 24 - I like that Jarrod's suspicious. I hope something comes out of these.
pg 25 - I'm not sure a newspaper would make themselves impossible to contact, especially for a high profile critic. Surely they'd want to leave themselves open for people to be able to phone in with stories.
pg 25 - Ah, I've a feeling Jarrod's plot is going to echo your plot. Very meta. And now I'm thinking perhaps Victor is going to be framed for murder by Jarrod. Maybe poor Tesse gets it? Intriguing…
pg 29 - I'm not clear on who Dan is? He's not an investor as they've already got the budget and he's not lead actor. Maybe director?
pg 32 - I'm detecting a bit of House of Cards in this script. With Victor as the Frank character and Tesse as the Zoe...
pg 33 - Cut 'Well, when you're determined enough.' We know Tesse's determined (probably ruthless). You don't need her effectively turning to the audience and saying, 'in case those of you in the back row don't get it, this is what I'm about.' This goes for rest of the script too. Plenty of similar lines by Victor commenting on his own ruthless nature. You need to trust that the audience/reader is going to be smart enough to pick up on subtler hints and work things out for themselves.
pg 46 - another scene of Jarrod and Victor which goes on too long. Why not end the scene with Jarrod's line 'Answer me this: Who's more important, the man who builds the piano or the man who plays it.' Jarrod wins the argument here and it's a great line but you then feel the need to carry on the scene to spell out the exact meaning of the phrase (trust me we can work it out for ourselves) and to drag out the argument way past it's sell by date.
pg 48 - I can't work out what Victor's plan is here. Why is he trying to get the lead actors embroiled in controversy? I can only think of two consequences;
i. They have to get new actors for the film (can't see how that helps his aim).
ii. The film gets a lot of free press (this visibility would surely help with an academy award).
Another thing is that these are actors, not politicians. Hamilton's affair is obviously going to affect his private life but not sure, in this day an age, it would harm his career and it would probably help the film. And while it might be embarrassing to be caught sniffing coke it's hardly that damaging when you're an actor.
pg 49 - I'm from England so you probably know better than me but is the US really this homophobic still!? I find it quite hard to believe that blokes would feel insecure about watching a film with a gay actor but I know that it is still very religious over there so maybe this is the case.
I think that Travolta/Cruise gay joke is getting a bit tired by now.
pg 52 - 'Actually, it's a story I'm writing.' Wow this is getting meta. A story within a film within a film.' I like it!
pg 72 - I very much like the fact that we don't know Tesse's intentions. She's clearly planning something and I'm guessing she will come out victorious but as to what she's planning I'm not sure. if I had to guess at this point I'd say she murders one of them and frames the other…though to what end I'm not sure.
pg 84 - Okay, so Victor kills Jarrod. I'm not entirely sure whether this was always his intention or not. Victor has implied on a number of occasions previously that he was intending to kill Jarrod but then what was the plan with the lead actors and hateful director about? Maybe Victor only decided to kill Jarrod once Jarrod threatened him. The problem with this is that it makes all of Victor's plans earlier (which I still don't completely understand) seemingly irrelevant. I'm going to hold off judgement for now as it may all come together in the final 15 pages but at the moment I'm thinking I would rather have seen the result of Victor's original plan rather than simply have him kill Jarrod off.
I also think that this is an incredibly risky move from Victor. I would expect Victor to be cleverer than this. He has been talking to Tesse, a girl he's known for a very short time and knows very little about, in a way that suggests he hates Jarrod so much he would be willing to kill him. In fact pretty much everyone knows that Victor hates Jarrod and presumably they're mostly aware of how ruthless and uncompromising Victor is. The whole ruse about Jarrod committing suicide over being accused of plagiarism (especially considering the accuser has absolutely no evidence whatsoever) I really can't see fooling anyone. Even without the added spanner of Tesse, there's no way Victor could possibly hope to get away with this.
pg 87 - Aha, so that's the deal with the scrabble letters. Very good. I like something ambiguous which is paid off later on. Tesse not even working there was one twist I definitely did not see coming.
pg 93 - So did Tesse infiltrate the studio with the intention of setting Victor up? This doesn't quite add up considering Victor seemingly picked her at random to be his spy. Maybe it should have been Tesse who offers to help Victor in the first place.
pg 92 - My guess is that Tesse is Victor's love child.
pg 95 - Yup, I was right. Great twist. Guessed it a few pages early but didn't even occur to me as a possibility before that. It's particularly good as it explains a question I posed earlier i.e. what are Tesse's motivations. This explains them in a way that's completely satisfying.
pg 95-97 - I think technically these should be (V.O.) as (O.S.) is used for when someone is speaking in the scene but they just happen to away from where the camera is looking or on the other side of the telephone. I also think you should cut down on these lines. A few of them are good but you've got 28 lines here echoing lines that have been said before and that is overdoing it somewhat.
I like the ending where we get to see events from Tesse's point of view.
The concept's a good one and, as I say, had me hooked from page 10.
I've read so many scripts where the protagonist is a bland, 'whiter than white' character. It's so refreshing to read a script with a protagonist who's a complete, ruthless bastard (I'm talking about Victor here, though I guess there's an argument to be made that Tesse's your real protag). I liked that every character had their own agenda and that Tesse's motivations were kept hidden until the end. I think the characters of Pete and Darby need better introductions and perhaps could do with being fleshed out a bit more. I forgot who both were and had to go back and read their opening scenes again. I never really got a handle on their characters in the same way that I did with Victor, Jarrod and Tesse. Maybe make them a bit more quirky and draw them with broader brushstrokes then you would with your three main players just so they stick in the mind a bit clearer.
You've got a great story here but there are a few problems which you need to iron out. As I say in my notes once we know the twist it seems like too much of a random coincidence that Victor chooses Tesse in the beginning and also too much of a coincidence that Victor just happened to have placed this bet with Jarrod and have such murderous intent. What were Tesse's intentions when she infiltrates the studio? As far as I could tell once inside the studio the only thing that Tesse orchestrated was buying and placing the cameras. Everything else was Victor's doing. I wonder if it wouldn't make more sense for Tessa to murder Jarrod and frame Victor for it. Of course if you did go this route you'd have to disguise the fact that it was Tesse who killed Jarrod and make us think that it was Victor.
Wait a second….I've just realised that it was Tesse who put the note on Victor's door and therefore she did actively play a large part in convincing Victor that he needed to kill Jarrod. Okay, that does makes more sense. The problems in the previous paragraph aren't nearly so big now that I think about it. I still think though that Tesse should be the one who offers up her service to Victor initially.
I still don't understand though what Victor's intention was with smearing the lead actors and director before the films even been made? These actions were confusing and also had no impact on the story whatsoever because Jarrod gets killed before the result of Victor's plan is realised.
Mostly very good. Your story rattled along, gathering pace as it went. It set up questions early on which had satisfying answers later. The structure of the script as a whole was excellent but I think your individual scene structure could do with some work. You do have the habit of letting scenes drag on far longer than is necessary. The maxim of 'get in at the last possible moment and get out at the first' would be a good one to keep in mind when you do another draft. I mentioned one instance in my notes but there were loads of examples where if you could improve a scene hugely by simply chopping off the last few lines and finishing the scene earlier.
Your dialogue is both one of the best things about this script and one of it's biggest flaws. You've clear got a good ear for dialogue, it flowed off the page and was enjoyable to read …but there was too much repetition. I do think a script like this can get away with being more dialogue heavy than most as part of the fun of a story like this is the clever banter and power games that back and forth between the characters. You just need to make sure that we're not being bludgeoned by variations on the same statements being said over and over again in different ways.
Anyway, all in all a very good Screenplay which, with one more draft to tighten things up, could end up being an excellent one.
Good luck with it,
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