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HOW IT RATES
Two black men's lives become embroiled in a web of deceit as they become pillars of the black community while masterminding a white supremacist website.
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Reviews of Blackout.com 9
by rmahler on 12/19/2008This was an interesting concept that made for a good read. I think the dialog needed work to make it more natural and you might want to think of more ways to make the script more visual and less dialog driven, but the concept itself is solid. I'm not sure that I understand what you were trying to accomplish with the ending on the bus though. Why does Jamal fake his death?... This was an interesting concept that made for a good read. I think the dialog needed work to make it more natural and you might want to think of more ways to make the script more visual and less dialog driven, but the concept itself is solid. I'm not sure that I understand what you were trying to accomplish with the ending on the bus though. Why does Jamal fake his death? What's the significance of that? Also, though I thought it was important to show the impact of the website, I thought it was way too convenient that it directly impacted Jerrod's life. It's just too coincidental. I think it might be more realistic and just as effective for a boy to die because of the website and for them to fell guilt over it. It doesn't have to be a brother for them to feel guilt, and in fact that may make a much stronger statement anyway. That they are responsible for the death of a stranger would and should haunt them. Anyway, overall this was a great and clever idea. The script itself had a few typos here and there and you need to work on your formatting for Montages and Series of Shots, but other than that it was pretty clean. Good job!
by mbannonb on 12/17/2008There is some proficiency in writing, but that is all besides the point. By that I mean I'm going to start out with my complaints. I think it's ok to start out this way because I get the sense from your writing that you know what you're doing. There is no satisfaction in this story. It tells us what we already know and at worse, reinforces stereotypes. The protagonists are... There is some proficiency in writing, but that is all besides the point.
By that I mean I'm going to start out with my complaints. I think it's ok to start out this way because I get the sense from your writing that you know what you're doing.
There is no satisfaction in this story. It tells us what we already know and at worse, reinforces stereotypes. The protagonists are completely guilty of everything people both for and against them accuse them of. As a result, it's hard to spend time with them.
Two black guys starting a racist website, getting some money from it for some good causes, and then tragedy hits and they get their comeuppance isn't going to work. I apologize for reducing your story in that way, but I think my point is valid.
The b-story, the Matthew/Stephen story, comes in a bit late. It takes over quite a bit, but the story's really not about them. It's about their impact on the protags. Thus, the time spent on them felt like it slowed things down a bit. Also, I think you're asking too much of the audience to believe that a good kid could turn into a hardened criminal from a racist website and game. I think we all understand that these things impact children, but there are always other influences.
In any case, it seems like we, the audience, are being taught lessons we already know and that are in fact meant for the protagonists or the white crackers that will never see this film. And when the protagonists learn, it doesn't end well. I just don't think that works. It's not entertaining, it's a bummer, and it's not edifying, it's a warning.
The reason I didn't remove your assignment and chose to read it is because of the logline. It piqued my curiosity. It had irony. I wanted to see what it was about and how it was possible. The logline will have the exact opposite effect on others that it had on me, but I think it will make enough people want to try it. It's like one of those Scion cars.
At the risk of being presumptuous, I would like to make a recommendation. Re-think this story as a con artist story. The protagonists as con-artists. Currently, the con aspect is only touched on a little bit, but I say go all in on it. It will make it a lot more entertaining and less heavy handed.
What I mean by a "con-artist story" is that the protags need to really "take" the members of their website. And that has to be half the point of it all, not just the money. And bring down one, big main villain they're able to catch. If the story is more about con artists taking down corrupt, racist hypocrites, it will be more fun AND you'll get to make your points about society/people/culture.
I think you have the skill to make this work, but I don't think it works in it's current form. Bear in mind, I have no produced work, so me speaking like I am is a bit off, but it is what I think.
These are all sky high comments. I'm not going in to details (character/plot points/pacing) because I think that would be putting the cart before the horse. I think you've got a good handle on setting up a scene and character and most of the fundamentals.
Having said that, you do a lot of "BOOM! The door slams" type stuff in the scene description. It reads weird. It might be clearer if you described the action and then the result. eg. The door slams - BOOM! Or... The door SLAMS!
There are also a few format errors, dialogue and scene desc merging. You'll notice on a re-write.
One final detail note - p. 13 "Got me scared to answer the phone in my own house." - not immediately clear it is from bill collectors. But really, is it meant to engender sympathy? She's sitting around watching tv. She either needs to be really busy looking for a job or have a really good reason to not be looking for one if we are to have sympathy for her.
Alright, good luck. I hoped this helped. read
by bha26 on 12/17/2008Okay, you've got one hell a logline there. The kind that I imagine could get this thing read, so for concept you are way ahead of the game. Kind of was disappointed when i glanced up and saw that this was a drama because I thought this could have been a great concept for a biting satirical piece, but that's not what you want to write? Fine. Besides for a first time writer... Okay, you've got one hell a logline there. The kind that I imagine could get this thing read, so for concept you are way ahead of the game. Kind of was disappointed when i glanced up and saw that this was a drama because I thought this could have been a great concept for a biting satirical piece, but that's not what you want to write? Fine. Besides for a first time writer that it is probably too big of a task to be able to pull off. Hell, look what satirizing race did to Dave Chapelle and he's a comic genius. Moving on...
First off on the technical stuff. The main problem I see here is that this feels overwritten as it is. Both in dialogue and in your action lines, but more so in the action lines. I know it's not a hard and fast rule but the general rule of thumb is four lines for every action. Max. I think if you force yourself to never go beyond that you'll find that your writing really improves. Sparse language. Use sentence fragments when you can. And no unfilmables. For instance(and this is just one example) you mention that he smells of dial. we can't see that. All we need is a line like-Freshly out of the shower, he takes a seat on the couch.
As far as the dialogue goes, I don't think it's bad and at times it's pretty good, but again overwritten and a little too on the nose. It's fixable though. In your next draft, if anything try to underwrite this and as a challenge try to get this to 95 pages. I think if you cut off a lot of the fat everything else will improve drastically.
Now onto the story. Okay, like I said, great concept, but i think you had a misfire by having them profit at all from the site. Maybe one of them dabbled a bit once it got started but I think doing it for political reasons would have not only made them more likable, but would have brought some focus into their plans. I like the charity aspect of it, but there plan should have been to eventually really pull one over on all the racists. You kind of hinted at that but we never see them really work to achieve that goal. Overall they entered the world of the hate sites a little too lackadaisically and then in what felt rushed, they became almost an overnight sensation. Would have liked to see a little bit more of the planning that went into pulling it off and the doubts about if they were really doing the right thing. Again, you have a lot of this stuff on the surface, but that first act just needs a little more focus.
Now as far as them becoming the pillars of the community with the NAACP, I liked the idea behind this, but again, the scenes that preceded it felt a little forced so I didn't really buy them reaching that level of success so soon. It would have been better if there plan all along was to get in good with the group for the sole purpose of taking these sites down.(one small gripe though is that I'm pretty sure that the NAACP is already pretty in the game as far as monitoring these hate sites).
I really liked where you took the story with the the Matthew and Jerrod storyline. It set up a lot of key moral dilemma and works well as the catalyst for the second half of your script, but one thing bothered me here. I had no problem with Matthew using the N-word the first time around. Makes sense that he would do that but what seemed forced was his continued racism against Jerrod. Why can't he just be pissed at him because of the girl and not say "stick to your own kind". People would just assume that is was race related because of the earlier incident but I'm not really buying that a generally good kid would turn that overtly racist that fast. If you really want him to become that, then maybe show a scene of him continuing to monitor the hate site.
Another logic stretch was the way they got outed to the media. I was fine with the picture being taken but damn if there wouldn't have to be some more evidence than that for the this to turn into the media firestorm. The media is terrified of the subject of race and would tread very lightly until they have 100% evidence that they were behind the site. I did think you did an effective job however after they were outed of showing a realistic depiction of the firestorm it would create. Except one thing...
Why do they just stay silent? Bad things are happening all around them. Racial tensions are on fire, there at least partially to blame and they do nothing? They even keep the website up? And for money? This is the biggest logic jump I have in the whole thing. They should be devastated by guilt. Jamal seems to be, but it almost doesn't seem to faze Shawn and then the next moment, he's ready to kill himself? Again, I just had some problems with their character motivations in those final pages. Shawn especially. Jamal's actions and subsequent suicide made sense but not Shawn's.
But for a first screenplay, this is pretty good. You have your concept, I think for the most part, you have a compelling story. Just work on your character motivations a bit. The dialogue will improve once these guys are making more logical decisions and just don't overwrite. You're on your way and I wish you the best of luck with it. read
by andrewpalmer on 12/10/2008I think that the concept of the story was interesting. However, it was hard for me to get into the story because I didn't feel any compassion for the characters. It wasn't because of the dialog, which seemed good for the most part, although at times a little on-the-nose. It was more because the characters seemed to be driven by the plot, rather then the core of their desires... I think that the concept of the story was interesting. However, it was hard for me to get into the story because I didn't feel any compassion for the characters. It wasn't because of the dialog, which seemed good for the most part, although at times a little on-the-nose. It was more because the characters seemed to be driven by the plot, rather then the core of their desires. I didn't really understand why Jamal and Shawn were friends in the first place, all they did was argue. I think it could really help if you develop the central characters more in the beginning. They never seemed THAT desparite to me that they would do something like they did. I also got lost half way through with the subplots. How did these two poor guys know and start writing proposals for the leader of the naacp? There should be more behind the story of how they come together. The fight made sense at the end (even though I thought the cause seemed unrealisitic -just taking one hit from a backpack), to become the catalyst for the characters ultimate demise, but I think there should be more story behind the secondary characters. Additionally, the hubris seemed unjustified.
The good thing is, the screenplay is only 111 pages, so you have a lot of room to grow and still keep it at a resonable length.
I think this story has a lot of potential, but it would help if you spent more time on the deep down desires of the characters.
It's only my opinion, but I'm just trying to help. read
by ydnar600 on 12/09/2008Some DETAILED thoughts follow as I had them while reading to give you an idea of what I was thinking and reacting to as I went along in your script: p1 Good opening p2. lose the ellipses in your action description. There's no reason for them. The mirror reveals Shawn adjust his designer tie. ...awkward sentence, not sure it's grammatically correct. Maybe use "adjusting"... Some DETAILED thoughts follow as I had them while reading to give you an idea of what I was thinking and reacting to as I went along in your script:
p1 Good opening
p2. lose the ellipses in your action description. There's no reason for them.
The mirror reveals Shawn adjust his designer tie.
...awkward sentence, not sure it's grammatically correct. Maybe use "adjusting" to make it flow better.
you got SULLLY with three L's
p4 He's way "too" calm...
p5 Probably no need to capitalize every word here.
p7 and elsewhere - not a fan of inter-sentence ellipses. I think intra-sentence ellipses are okay. I see this alot, it's a bad habit...so says I...;]
p12 Hello to you to ma..."too"...watch out for the diff between to and too. Last time I'll mention it.
p13 Jamal begins to help her.
...try, unless absolutely necessary, to not have an action that starts or begins. "Jamal helps her." If a train "starts" or "begins" to roll down the track then that might be necessary, otherwise no.
p16 Okay, at this point, I'm dialed in to the hook...so good job so far of laying the foundation and motivations...that's textbook!
p18 Knowledge of what, Mr. Wright?
...don't forget punctuation.
p22 Separate the separate elements of your Series of Shots more consistently OR put each instance on its own line. Right now, it's not much for the clarity.
You had a Montage earlier but didn't use the same beginning and ending convention you use here. How you have it here is technically correct.
p23 I'm trying to get
like you, look at this place, standing
...run-on sentence...re-word or re-punctuate
re: For Sale sign
...might be better to put this in an action line or (pointing at the sign) in parentheticals
p25 Put it on big mouths tab.
p27 business men...businessmen
p28 could Jamal's crisis of conscience be a little early in the story here?
bottom of page 28, I don't believe you can have a scene without an action line.
p29 hors devours...incorrect spelling and i'm too lazy to remember
p33 …What's is this?
p34 Okay, I'm on page 34 and I'm not really sensing an end to your first act. By ending, I mean a point of no return for your main character(s) or maybe Jamal's mirror moment was what you intended.
p35 this tart language is kinda out of the blue
p36 Jamal, resumes flipping through some files as Shawn continues
....no need for that comma
p37 Shawn now faces Jamal who's is
...punctuation. At this point I'm gonna stop pointing it out. Work the punctuation correctly.
p38 ...two chairs facing the chapter Mr. Neal.
...I don't understand this sentence.
Jamal passes the Mr. Neal...did you do some crazy search and replace thing?
p44 Unless this bit with the mother and Stephen's little brother is going somewhere, I'd cut this back a bit. Right now I'm not sensing how any of this relates to the main narrative as a subplot other than his need to do a 12 page paper and impress Tameka. If that's how it relates, then be more economical with it.
walks hand and hand...hand in hand
seven forty five...is that a Mercedes?
p45 Stephen enters to find Matthew sleep...asleep
Try SLAM or BAM...do doors actually boom?
p48 MS. WRIGHT
Just go wait outside.
...no need for this particular parenthetical since she's still talking to him in the sequence of dialogue.
p50 Corporate Man dialogue format is incorrect.
WHITE FEMALE or MILF?
p57 peaks out...peeks
p65 In front of here...her (you gotta proofread, dude)
p66 a couple of things here: 1) i'm not sure if enough time has passed that just because Matthew played a racist game on a computer, it would follow that he would go all Columbine and be slack-faced and devoid of emotion...that's a stretch in the short time you have allotted in the story. 2) This conversation between Tameka and Stephen needs to use the INTERCUT convention while they're on the phone. As it reads now, it looks like they're in the same room.
p67 this bit at the end of page 67 is good. For those of us paying attention, it's now becoming clear how the story, the characters and their actions are beginning to fold back on themselves in a strong dramatic fashion.
Uh, did you--
...did she what? I'm not getting what she's about to ask Tameka here? Did you order? Did you steal my car?
p84 ...make sure your standing...
...you're...know the diff btw the possessive your and the contraction you're (you are). I HATE that shit!
p87 The chapter Mr. Neal massages...
...here that is again
Jamal's reaction with Angela's phone recording is probably not necessary here. We get this point from the scene preceding.
p88 you got some action/description here as dialogue
This moment with the black male might be seen as a twist to some but is kinda obvious to me as one from African-American culture. Not a criticism, but stories and moments like this play out differently depending on whose prism you're looking thru.
p92 please lose the all-caps
p93 too many reporters and too much dialogue from them. Find a more economical way of presenting this information. We get that they're distraught and there's a media circus, you're bogging your narrative down right here...not to mention bloating your page count.
p95 Though you've brought the thread of Jerrod back into things (and i was just wondering what happened to him), he AND the Matthew subplot needs to be interwoven somewhere earlier than this in my opinion. Some mention or acknowledgment by Jamal that Jerrod's situation is his fault. And I hope that there's some resolution to Stephen's thread...finish strong, man...bring it!
...okay, check that, here it is!
you've got more action/description mixed with dialogue...gotta watch out for that.
p98 Shawn roughly picks himself up off the gravel and attempts
to clean the grime of the ground off of his once crisp
...while this is nice description, it's over-long. It might be better to say simply: "Shawn picks himself up off the concrete." This, among other things is why your story is at 111 pages. Descriptions are nice...but there's a balance.
Too many phone conversations.
p103 consider this: since the tenor of this scene in the hospital room has been tread in an earlier scene, maybe end the scene when Angela and Jamal walk in. I think the audience knows they're gonna pull the plug. And I think there's something unwholesome about the doctor calling security and that whole thing. Not working for me.
p108 knuckles lose color
...would a black man's knuckles actually do that? I'm just sayin...
alright, i got a problem with Jamal's suicide only in the sense that, it being an ultimately selfish act, though I understand his motivation for doing so, why would he put his mother in the position of having to mourn two sons on the same day? There may be no way around this but it seems that he would be more apt to find another way out.
p109 nice callback with the Tools of incompetence
p110 He runs into the arms of his awaiting mother and brother.
....awkwardly worded. Lose "awaiting".
p111 hmmm...if that's who I think it is (and i guess he found another way out), then you should go back to page 59 and specify DOG TAG in all caps cuz I totally forgot that element.
The hat clad man could still be described as being black but you probably thought the dog tags would sell the moment. I'm not sure if it does. Maybe one more mention of the dog tags. It's been 50 pages since we saw that element.
Alright, overall this was not a quick read but only because, as your bio states, you're a first-time screenwriter. Let me say up front that as a first outing, this was fascinating and as soon as i was assigned it, I hoped it would be so. So kudos for this first effort.
I've said alot already and I'm gonna say some more:
Concept: In my mind, every time i go to one of those racist sites, I think in the back of my mind what it would be like to dupe a bunch of racist dumbasses in the way you're detailed here. So I dig the concept. I really don't think others will and here's why. I don't know if you're African-American but I am. I wrote a script with racial themes awhile back where most everyone on Triggerstreet who reviewed it said it was well-written, but HATED it. Out of 3000 scripts it was 2800 or so. Your audience for this is limited. If the fine reviewers at Triggerstreet were a more diverse cross-section, then you would get more varied responses. Since this is not the case, and it's our "fault" (if you know what i mean) this is not the case, then everyone will probably hate this script and accuse you of being racist and they won't be able to overcome their sense of cognitive dissonance they will undoubtedly feel from reading Blackoutdotcom. I know I had some dissonance myself...but that's the story.
Dialogue: I didn't actually buy the dialogue much of the time. Even though Jamal and Shawn are educated, I guess, they both sounded the same. And their dialogue didn't flow for me. And maybe you patterned their patters after some people you know...in that case, nevermind. Try to work on giving each character a distinct voice...pretty difficult thing to do. Some of your dialogue was far too long. A lesson learned is to take 8 lines of dialogue and say the exact same thing in 4 lines or less.
Characters: I think all the characters work. There's the dichotomy between Jamal and Shawn and what their goals are and in opposition to each other. I didn't really find the resolution of their arc satisfying as the ending was quite the bummer but that's okay. Jamal's arc was facilitated by Jerrod's eventual death. Shawn's by his house and the part he played in this whole thing. So the complexity is there for sure. I don't think we spent enough time with Jerrod to really know him and though we spent a bit more with Matthew, as I stated earlier, his turn to the whiteside was too abrupt for me and I think the ending of his arc was too open-ended. Had he learned his lesson? Or would Stephen teach it to him?
Story: This seems to be a character study interwoven with some plot-heavy elements. I'm not sure I recognize or have resonance with the world these characters inhabit. Something about the racists making me think it was set in the south even though it wasn't. If this was set in Connecticut (Connecticut River) try to make more mention of this and set the scene. We, down South, don't associate soul-food restaurants with New England. I think you did a good job with your central narrative as, for an audience, we know what's going on even if the characters themselves don't know at the time and it was a treat to see how it played out. I was actually engaged to keep reading which is a very difficult thing to do. Not sure what the underlying theme was. Stories dealing with racism are a tough sell. Holding up that particular mirror is not something most want anything to do with. I think you got thru it without being too heavyhanded though...for the most part. Racism does run the gamut between subtle and grotesque. I don't have any idea who killed Shawn at this point...and I'm too lazy to go back and check.
Structure: not gonna delve too much into inciting incident/act breaks and the like here as I think the flow of the story work as is. You just need to focus it. Make sure every scene has relevance. Take time to ask yourself if you can say or do the same thing in half the space. Your action/description should rarely go over 4 lines and you had many instances where it was longer. This increases page count. I, too, like good descriptions but as i said earlier, there's a balance. Too many phone conversations...completely uninteresting in most cases...find another way to present this narratively as it completely stops the momentum. The climax/payoff was good and a bummer. MANY misspells and punctuation issues...fix those. Instances of action/description embedded in dialogue. Though the story is not too long, I think the story is a bit long pagewise simply due to some of the things I just mentioned. Ideally, with those changes and a better focus in successive drafts, you should be at 100 pages. A budget for this would be in the low range.
Keep it up, Ruben! Though the responses to this are very likely going to be "there's so much racism in your story...whaaa-whaaa!", don't be deterred. It's when you get responses like that that you realize you just may be onto something. Good job! read
by goaliedad on 12/09/2008First off, congratulations on such a good effort for your first screenplay. And to tackle the subject matter of race... quite the dive into the deep end, my friend. In general, I think you have the shape of something special with this story. I say 'shape' because I feel like this one is a sculpture that has tremendous aesthetic potential, but needs more passes of the sculpter's... First off, congratulations on such a good effort for your first screenplay. And to tackle the subject matter of race... quite the dive into the deep end, my friend.
In general, I think you have the shape of something special with this story. I say 'shape' because I feel like this one is a sculpture that has tremendous aesthetic potential, but needs more passes of the sculpter's hands. A wee bit rough on the edges right now. As with most early attempts at this challenging literary medium, you've gotten fat with the words. Both in dialogue and scene description. I'm sure you've poured through a lot of screenwriting "how to" books and probably the best suggestion they all seem to make is to read your dialogue out loud. Please do this with yours. By opening your ears, you'll open your eyes. 'On the nose dialogue' will leap out at you. NEVER, I MEAN NEVER, have a character say EXACTLY what he is thinking... yes, you are guilty, as are most of us... reading dialogue out loud will hammer this home. Dialogue should hint at subtext, then SHOW US the real meaning, don't have the character just say it.
Same with scene description, take it down to its essence. We don't need a lot of detail, ie, 'doors squeaking' (unless it is needed for the story)... study EVERY WORD of your decriptions. Lean it up.
Now for the story. BY far this is your strongest gift. And believe me, this is typically the most difficult, yet most important, aspect of screenwriting. You have a GOOD STORY HERE. But again, I think it needs some focus. ACT ONE desparately needs a strong inciting incident. You establish good characters with Jamal and Shawn, and a good setup with their website scheme. But then... ACT ONE just keeps on a ticking... nothing there to spin things in a new direction to rock Jamal and Shawn's world. To give them that dramatic need or goal to tackle. This really doesn't happen until page 55 when Matthew pushes Jerrod. AH HA! There it 'tis. A real turning point! THIS NEEDS TO HAPPEN SOONER. Lean up your setup and get to this around page 30! This is the meat of your story. I know, HUGE CHANGE, but please think about this. Really look at what goes on from your setup (page 1 to 50). What is keeping us engaged with these characters? Not a lot.
NOW THE GOOD NEWS. From page 55 on, this story takes off and soars. Really good stuff starts to happen because now you have CONFLICT, TENSION, OBSTACLES... our heroes get busted, Jerrod dies, the restaurant goes downhill... all this emotion swirling about makes for good storytelling - GET TO IT SOONER!
The ending is satisfying, although a bit melodramatic. I would suggest showing Shawn's murder directly and not through FLASHBACK. Flashback's tend to drag down a story, you especially don't want this during ACT THREE when the roller coaster is whipping about. I would also clean up the muddle with Jamal - just show him in the final scene - maybe even re-think this scene. It's what we all will leave the theatre with.
Again, VERY nice work on your first effort - keep hammering on this one. Chip away, sand it, polish it, step away, go back to it, chip away some more, and by golly, there it is. A finished work of art. read
by aclawrence on 12/07/2008I have a creeping sensation that I have either seen or read something similar to this, but if I am imagining things (which is highly likely) then the concept is a winner. It’s high concept black comedy all the way (pun unintentional). The problem, of course, is that you haven’t written a black comedy. You’ve written a drama. I’d strongly recommend you think about this because... I have a creeping sensation that I have either seen or read something similar to this, but if I am imagining things (which is highly likely) then the concept is a winner. It’s high concept black comedy all the way (pun unintentional).
The problem, of course, is that you haven’t written a black comedy. You’ve written a drama.
I’d strongly recommend you think about this because I believe that by going down the more serious road you have failed to mine the true potential of this idea, and lessoned its appeal.
Think about it. Two black guys run a successful white supremacy web site to make a little cash. Is that comedy or drama? What if those same two black guys, to avoid the wrath of their domineering girlfriends, go on an anti-racism crusade against their own website? Is the concept getting funnier or more serious? What if the NCAAP, local politicians and media jump on board the crusade because it serves their own vested interests? Is it sounding like the stuff of farce to you?
If it were me, I would do straight comedy revolving Jamal and Shawn down the spine of this script. Then use a more serious tale involving the kids as the heart. The contrast between the two could result in an incredibly powerful script.
Whatever you do though, please don’t do a drama with jokes. It’s a cop out.
I’m not sure what the underlying message would be, but that is something you should figure out for yourself. Maybe it’s a cynical look at the exploitation of racism for profit. From what I’ve heard of The Nazi low riders, for example, most of it is really about drugs and organized crime, not promoting any ‘white cause’. The latter is merely a promotional tool to recruit members.
To illustrate some of the comedic potential of this idea:
- On page 16 you show Jamal with pamphlets etc but think about how he got the non web ones. How much fun would it be showing him do the research?
- How would people react if he then had that material in public?
Anyway, this is getting long, so let me turn this to what you did write. Keep in mind the following is written without regard to the above, though there is some cross over.
My main advice would be for you to study structure. The concept is solid. There is a heap of story here. The characters could do with some work, but are passable. It’s structure that lets you down (which is true for 90% of new writers apparently so don’t be discouraged).
I suggest you focus on one character as the protagonist and follow that character consistently through the script. As it stands the story shifts from one character to another. You change POV. It’s a little confusing.
At first I thought Jamal was the protagonist. Later I thought it was Stephen because he was the most active, and had the clearest goal (even if it was supplied rather late). In contrast, Jamal and Shawn don’t really do much. Often you hint at their action, then jump to their results. They need to be more active.
- The opening while dramatic; is hardly original. “What happened to fat lips and black eyes?” doesn’t work coming from an emergency room doctor. He would have seen it all before. Unless you set up that he is new. Personally I’d axe this scene. It does work better the second time it is played, later in the script.
- The first scene with Shawn doesn’t tell us anything. Tell us something or get rid of it.
- I would rework the whole setup, probably around Jamal. Hint at his character problem. Show the solution (the website). Then elaborate on the problem and push him to the point where he has not choice but to embrace the solution. Jamal needs to be pushed to despair before he accepts Shawn’s idea. He needs to hit rock bottom, with no other alternative.
- Probably would have intro’d Jay with Jamal before the bills. Maybe as the intro. If you could hook a racist bit in there even better.
- Really loved Shawn’s indignation at blackout being compared to the KKK.
- The logic behind the boys decision to start up the anti-racism campaign is pretty weak. It could work in a comedy (the domineering girlfriend) but in a drama? Might be better if they get ropped into it by the NCAAP.
- The dialogue ranges from the cliché on page 61 “He’s a strong one”, “could have taken out an average adult” etc to the melodramatic on page 65 “when did get so bad that kids aren’t safe at school”. Other passages didn’t ring true, such as on page 50 when Ms Wright uses the phrase “piss a black person off” in front of Matthew. That said some of it is quite good. You just need to go through and edit out the stuff that draws attention to itself. Edit. Edit. Edit.
- Post office scenes: were Stephen and Jamal there at the same time? You describe Jamal as a black male. And then he follows the black male to the restaurant. You should be referencing Jamal. The important thing is that we the audience recognize him. The way you’ve written it is confusing.
- Stephen would need more than pictures of Jamal coming out of the post office to build a story. His next step might be to run checks with the corporations act – find out who the directors of the website were etc. Cross check with drivers license to reconfirm their colour etc.
- It’s worth noting the kids don’t really fight because of the website. It was over the girl. Suggest you spend a bit more time on the link.
- The ending feels a bit like melodrama to me. I don’t really get why Jamal killed himself. Or why Shawn was killed. That could just my bias towards comedy speaking though.
- Not sure who killed Shawn. If it was white power people than I suggest you set them up earlier in the story and have a thread following them.
Bottom line: I liked what you did without being in raptures. However, if you go down the comedy route, and execute properly, at the very least you could end up with a very funny show script. read
by gerawolf on 12/06/2008Two friends, Shawn and Jamal, decide to create a white supremist website, noting that such sites make a lot of money. The fact that they are both black does not present much of an obstacle, as they decide to donate some of the proceeds to charity (the NAACP). However, when the site becomes more popular than even they dared to dream, they run into problems, and the story ends... Two friends, Shawn and Jamal, decide to create a white supremist website, noting that such sites make a lot of money. The fact that they are both black does not present much of an obstacle, as they decide to donate some of the proceeds to charity (the NAACP). However, when the site becomes more popular than even they dared to dream, they run into problems, and the story ends in tragedy.
This is a thoughtful and at times compelling screenplay. The plot is clearly organized. The theme--how twisted motives can result in twisted outcomes--is nicely explored.
I think the characterizations of Jamal and Shawn could be more clearly described. Why would they both commit suicide at the end? There has to be some suicidal or depressive features in their personalities that lead to this.
Stories of double suicides aren't going to be popular with Hollywood producers so the story has to be doubly compelling.
But congratulations on trying to tackle a difficult subject. read
by videogeek on 12/02/2008This was a pretty interesting read. Not too bad for your first screenplay. There were some things I noticed but that's not unusual for anyone. When I first began reading Blackout, I thought it was a dark comedy. I've looked the beginning over again and I'm not sure why I get that feeling. But if you want to make this a serious drama take that into consideration in the... This was a pretty interesting read. Not too bad for your first screenplay. There were some things I noticed but that's not unusual for anyone.
When I first began reading Blackout, I thought it was a dark comedy. I've looked the beginning over again and I'm not sure why I get that feeling. But if you want to make this a serious drama take that into consideration in the first 20 pages or so. I suppose I thought it was a comedy by the way Jamal and Shawn were talking about setting up the website. Anyway...
on page 6, you write that Jamal smells like Dial soap. But since you can't film that, you should take it out.
On page 12, there is no spacing on one of Shawn's lines. I also noticed that sometimes throughout your script, you have two periods and no space between sentences.
On page 16, you have a MONTAGE. That would read better if were a list of shots and each having it's own paragraph.
Page 19 needs a new scene header outside the library before they enter.
When Matthew uses the 'N' word in school, his mother is shocked that he even knew what it meant. But in this day and age, by the time a kid's in middle school, haven't they heard it on TV, movies, video games, youtube? I found it somewhat naive of the mother to think her son didn't know the meaning of the word. But she should still lay down the law and punish him.
And maybe they should be something else in addition to the website that led him to beat up Jerrod? Something more than just that girl talking to Jerrod.
I noticed you used a lot of CAPS in the dialogue, but I've been told to not do that.
One last thing. What did the 'STATE' have to do with Jerrod's coma and pulling the plug? That would be up to family and the doctors. Ultimately the family.
Anyway, good job on your first screenplay. Hope this helps in a rewrite. read
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