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HOW IT RATES
When three scripts go missing that could save the company, Paul and co-workers must face a corrupt executive to find box office gold somewhere over the rainbow.
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In a world where dreams come true, there's no place like home.
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Reviews of COURIER 12 (First Draft) 8
by olufemi on 01/11/2012Believe it or not, many historians and literary analysts interpret “The Wizard of Oz” as an allegory about the economic and social conditions of America in the 1890s. The scarecrow is meant to represent state of farmers and agriculture in general. The tin man represents the rise of industrialization, especially through railroads. The Yellow Brick Road is metaphorical of... Believe it or not, many historians and literary analysts interpret “The Wizard of Oz” as an allegory about the economic and social conditions of America in the 1890s. The scarecrow is meant to represent state of farmers and agriculture in general. The tin man represents the rise of industrialization, especially through railroads. The Yellow Brick Road is metaphorical of the gold standard, while the silver slippers (the most famous film version made them ruby) represent the 16-to-1 silver ratio.
And yet, millions of people enjoy the story of “The Wizard of Oz” without knowing this. Regardless of what the characters are (arguably) meant to represent, the characters are loveable, the situations are interesting. The deeper meaning is there for those who search for it, but it’s not at all a requisite towards the movie’s enjoyment.
COURIER 12 riffs on the aforementioned movie, and it does it in exceedingly clever ways. The problem, though, is that it gets a bit too caught up in relying on making those clever references rather than being a satisfying story in its own right.
This is a remarkably smart idea, and an incredibly ambitious script, and once it’s in near-perfect condition, I imagine Spike Jonze will kill trying to get his hands on it. But it’s not there yet.
*You may want to read the script THE GOSPELS OF EIBHLIN by f-ceska, as well as its reviews. It is similar in its almost allegorical retelling of a well-known story and unconventional structure (it also shares some of the same problems). Perhaps seeing those problems in someone else’s script can help provide some insight.
Nary a misspelling throughout, which is always a relief. The use of “mini-slugs” is especially appreciated, as these really speed up the read. The narration is descriptive without being indulgent or overly-detailed, including character descriptions.
At 119 pages, the script feels a bit long. Some of this may be accounted for by the writing itself rather than the story, however. Seek opportunities to consolidate action as much as possible, removing all repetition. This will also serve to make the script a smoother/faster read. For instance:
(p. 2/3)”Zeke accidentally SLAMS the copier door on Babe’s finger.
OUCH! My finger.
Babe retracts her hand and puts finger in mouth.
Get your finger out of the way then.”
You’ve said “finger” four times. Try:
“Zeke SLAMS the copier door.
Babe retracts her hand and sucks her finger.
Well, keep out of the way, then.”
The same information is given, and it wasn’t even necessary to “show” that the copier door was slammed on Babe’s finger.
On the topic, the conspicuous absence of articles and pronouns (“a”, “the”, “his”, etc.) throughout the script as in the example above is distracting, and further slows the read. I know that many of these are some of William Aker’s “Seven Deadly Sins of Screenwriting”, but removing them isn’t as simple as hitting Ctrl+F and deleting each one. As the man says, “Losing them OR CHANGING THEM will strengthen your work.”
On page 13 of the script: “Glen presents business card. Paul reads card.”
Obviously, “his” and “the” have been removed. This reads in an awkward staccato, like a robot reading instructions. Rather than just removing articles, restructure the sentence:
“Glen presents his business card to Paul.”
“Glen presents to Paul-
ANGLE ON: BUSINESS CARD “GLEN T. GOODE, CO-CHAIRMAN, PRODUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT”
One deadly sin that definitely should be considered, though, is the use of adverbs. There’s an abundance of “-ly” words in the script; seek to replace these with stronger verbs. Rather than “walks sexily”, “saunters”. Rather than “laughs maniacally”, “cackles”.
One last note: numbers should be spelled out in dialogue.
“Courier 12” is a fantastic IDEA. It doesn’t yet have a strong CONCEPT. The choice to retell The Wizard of Oz with screenwriters is inspired. The decision to tell four simultaneous, interspersed storylines within differing genres is unique and interesting.
The script does not form a story that gives a satisfying answer besides “because it’s interesting”, and that’s not really enough. This is the same kind of logic that is used to defend the “story” in “Sucker Punch”, which I assume the writer wants to avoid…
A retelling of The Wizard of Oz is a great idea, but past that, what is the story concept that is going to pique a producer’s interest? What is the conflict-filled concept that is going to get butts in seats?
The script must elevate above its inspirations; become more than just a retelling. “Animal Farm”, “West Side Story”, “O Brother Where Art Thou”, “Clueless”, “10 Things I Hate About You”, several more; these stories have lives of their own, beyond being based on something else. A viewer/reader can enjoy any of these movies with no knowledge of their predecessors. The writer must strive to do the same with Courier 12. This will most likely be a recurring message in this review.
The story has two MAJOR problems: firstly, regardless of how interesting everything is, there’s simply too much going on to keep track of. Secondly, as mentioned, story events occur not because it makes sense for them to, but because the story is based on something else. This is a problem.
On page 13, GLEN GOODE, co-chairman of production and development, lands his HELICOPTER on the top of a skyscraper and meets with Paul. In order to GIVE HIM A PEN. Then Glen leaves.
Why does he do this? Why would someone rich and powerful enough to be in a private helicopter take time out of his presumably busy day to give one man a pen? Because Glen Goode is obviously Glenda the Good Witch, and the red pen is the ruby slippers. But this is meta-textual logic. It uses outside reasoning to force characters to take actions don’t make sense within the context of the script. In other words, it’s CONTRIVED. Characters must act true to themselves and their motivations, not in the way that the writer needs to make his story work.
This occurs frequently, from a man Paul only just meets inviting him to join him in producing Bollywood films in Mumbai, to the same man (??? it’s actually a little confusing, since Syd plays several roles) using an animatronic with glowing red eyes to hold a conversation, to a character named EMILY existing in the script solely because she’s Oz’s “Auntie Em” (Emily could easily be combined with Hank or removed entirely). Some of these situations might be more acceptable in the case of a goofy comedy script, but the metastory is presented as the “real world”; it is the one that is the MOST beholden to logic. These contrivances cause the tone of the script to be erratic. The audience is meant to feel that this is the real world, yet characters behave strangely.
The other problem with such direct recreations of scenes (especially in so well-known a movie) is that when these moments are so overt, the audience has nothing to do but wait to recognize the next reference. References just for reference’s sake is the stuff of the abysmal “Epic Movie”/”Date Movie”/”Whatever-the-Hell Movie” spoofs.
Rather than cleverly recreating/modernizing specific moments from Oz, use that movie as a template, but create situations that are true to the story you are creating. For example, rather than flying in on a helicopter, perhaps Glen works in the building already, and calls an office meeting. At the meeting (after making his entrance by descending a set of stairs), he congratulates Paul on his hard work, and presents him with a ruby pen as a token of his appreciation. Elmer stands and shouts that the pen belongs to his brother, who put in several years at the company, but was unceremoniously fired (rather than having a heart-attack, which again, is a bit too much).
Notice how this doesn’t seem out of place or unusual; it seems like a completely reasonable turn of events. Yet the sharp-eyed in the audience will spot the reference all the same.
The metastory is the most important. It is what will serve as the audience’s anchor through the switches to the other genre stories. But the metastory becomes rather unclear on page 13, when “reality blurs” and the screen fades to white.
Where are we now? In a fantasy? Paul’s dream? It’s really unclear. It’s also not clear at this point what the direction of the story is; what’s this movie about? The only direction the protagonist has been given is a vague command to “consult the Producer” (why?) and “follow the ‘Hero’s Journey’” (why?!). What does this mean? What’s at stake if he doesn’t?
Before the reader has a chance to figure any of this out, he is suddenly pulled into a completely different setting and assaulted with expository information setting up ANOTHER story. Then ANOTHER. Then YET ANOTHER.
It’s asking a lot to expect a reader to digest so much information in so little time, not the least of which is learning new names for the characters he’s met! Incidentally, I suggest using the characters’ “true” names throughout the script, rather than switching during every intra-story. It’s impossible to keep up with all four stories. On page 50, we’re brought back to the real world, and Rusty’s first line is “I still think that Paul should do it.” You can’t expect the audience to remember what he’s talking about when we’ve just come from a completely different scene.
Also confusing is that the first time this cutaway occurs, Paul is obviously reading the script with Babe, so we can presume what is seen is a representation of what is being read, but afterwards, the script cuts into and out of the comedy, action, and horror scripts for no apparent “real world” reason. There really needs to be a reason for every cutaway.
More effort could be spent to make each story within the story feel more like its genre. The romantic comedy ends with a man falling down stairs and cracking his skull open! The action and horror scripts both are filled to the brim with dialogue, which isn’t usual in those genres.
Consider using the clichéd tropes of each type of movie: the “meet-cute” between the soon-to-be lovers, the agent two days away from retirement drawn back in for one more assignment, the moment where the heroes assume the bad guy’s dead and turn their backs on him, only for him to rise up and kill again.
Obviously clichés are usually to be avoided, but such is not the case here. The more complex and unique each of these stories within the story are, the more distracting they are to the TRUE story. You must seek to make the audience understand these new worlds as quickly and with as little effort as possible, and that’s nearly impossible to accomplish without using pastiches.
The entire setup of the script would suggest that it’s meant to be a lampooning of formulaic movie-making; using these hackneyed conventions while poking fun would accomplish this (assuming that’s the writer’s intention).
A bit difficult to comment on, as so many characters are actually multiple characters. In general, though, the characters are well-realized and understandable, specifically Babe, Rusty, and Zeke (though I have to mention, naming the single prominent female character “Babe” probably isn’t going to win over many female viewers).
Paul’s characterization doesn’t seem to fit with how he’s initially presented. Within the first few pages, Paul appears to be a put-upon underling, a mousey outcast who is picked on and taken advantage of by his co-workers. Yet after those first 15 or so pages, Paul seems perfectly comfortable in his own skin, confident enough to tease Babe (p. 16, and 33 is especially out of character), or even stand up to Elmer (p. 59). If his arc is intended to be from “zero-to-hero”, he arcs prematurely.
In the interest of maintaining continuity and making the story easier to follow for the audience, make certain to maintain the characters’ personalities in some manner throughout ALL the stories. This script being so unique, it’s difficult to draw a comparison to something; the best I can come up with is the “Three Kings” episode of Family Guy. In the episode, three Stephen King movies were retold, but with Peter, Quagmire, etc. as the movies’ casts. In every movie, character fit exactly where you’d expect them to.
In the action segments, Babe, who we know to be a bit of a self-doubting klutz, is suddenly an agile and capable hand-to-hand combatant? She always chooses the wrong men in her life, yet in the romantic comedy, she turns down a man’s genuine offer for a place to stay?
She’s so different, she’s not recognizable.
Generally it appears that the writer has a strong grasp on characterization. I have to confess, though, it honestly became difficult to remember who’s who or who was doing what during the read; it was easy to get lost. I hate to cut this section so short, but suffice it to say, I doubt most readers will be able to overcome the difficulties in comprehension due to the structure long enough to really delve into every aspect of the script.
The first ten pages of the script are confusing. There’s a great deal going on, and it’s difficult for a reader to know what the story’s throughline will be. To be honest, it feels like it’s a lot of setup, rather than it feels like anything is actually moving the story forward. The reader is searching for the details they must grasp onto, but there are so many, it’s difficult. Elmer picks on Paul and tried to break his tape-recorder. Hank is Paul’s uncle. Hank has cookies. Emily is married to Hank. Elmer has a thing for Babe. The company is struggling with competition releasing similar films to theirs.
Is all of this *really* necessary? Is it important to the rest of the story? Because the only thing it seems needs to be established is what Syd says to Paul on page 9: “You work in the story department, you feel dejected. You’re searching for new opportunities.”
So many of these details are only in place because they are in place in Oz, and they’re unnecessary.
If the metastory is intended to follow 3-act structure, it is not always apparent where the breaks are; the inciting incident appears to be Glen’s arrival, but again, it’s not exactly clear how Paul’s life is changing as a result of it. The lack of clarity may be due to the fact that the structure of the metastory isn’t quite congruent with the intra-stories (the intra-stories’ inciting incidents occur at the metastory’s midpoint, for instance).
The biggest issue with the script’s structure, of course, is the placement of the intra-stories. Cutting to and away from stories within stories is a delicate art; there is much potential for confusion.
Stories within stories work best when the transitions only occur at important moments in either narrative, something like leaving on a cliffhanger. Doing this causes the final image to remain in the viewer’s mind, such that when that story picks up again, it is simple to catch up. Each amount of time spent in one of the intra-stories must be almost a story unto itself, or a vignette.
Consider how strong the moments were in the movie INCEPTION (which was still plenty confusing). Note how the first time we enter a layer of dream, it happens chronologically, such that it makes sense to enter it (unlike in Courier 12, where, after the first cut, the others simply come unbidden). After establishing each dreamscape, cuts between them only occur at logical stopping places within the story that is being followed. Nolan doesn’t simply jump from one to the other wantonly.
Allow the visits to the intra-stories to last as long as they need to in order to give the audience a firm direction of what should be happening next. Short, choppy scenes will only ensure your audience is lost.
Characters’ voices are distinct, and interactions flow well and are often-times quite clever. Dialogue is best when the writer is using it to show character personalities. When the dialogue is being used to move the story forward, it’s slightly more problematic; it’s during these times that dialogue most often spills into exposition. This often happens out of necessity because with so many stories, it’s vitally important to set everything up as quickly as possible. But it is a writer’s job to disguise exposition as well as possible, such that the audience isn’t aware that they are being fed information. When the audience is aware of it (such as during long speeches), they become bored.
p. 18- MOLLY: “Been living on the streets since the divorce. It’s been about a year now. We got married right out of High School. What a mistake. I became a reporter, he became a Wall Street trader….” This is all nothing but rote information. And the character is sharing it with someone she only just met. It is obviously meant for the audience’s benefit, not because the character has a compelling reason for sharing it.
Avoid the following phrases in dialogue, or anything similar:
“As you know…” (page 2) – if the person being told already knows it, there’s no reason to say it.
“Let me give you some back story…” (page 14) – a.k.a. “Let me give the audience some back story…”
Look at this exchange:
PAUL: “Well, as you know, I use a tape-recorder to dictate my coverage notes.”
HANK- “Yes. And Elmer is annoyed by it. We know.”
PAUL: “Well, he tried to break it with a stapler and threatens to take it away.”
It’s worth noting that Paul changes tense here. The way these lines are said, it comes off as just presenting information. People speak because they *want* something. *Sometimes* what they want is to convey information… but that’s boring, and not at all dramatic.
Look at this rephrasing of the above conversation:
PAUL: “Okay, so, I was just dictating my coverage notes -“
HANK: “Y’know, that annoys the hell out of Elmer.”
PAUL: “I know now! He tried to break my recorder with a stapler!”
(On the subject, I don’t know how one breaks a recorder with a stapler, and I’m not sure why the detail is necessary… “he tried to break it” would be sufficient. But maybe this is a reference I’m not getting).
Interpreting the subtext in the first version of the exchange, it’s
PAUL: “I want to convey this information.”
HANK: “I want to convey a bit more information, but also express annoyance.”
PAUL: “I want to convey more information.”
PAUL: “I want to show how reasonable a guy I am, and that this isn’t my fault.”
HANK: “I want this conversation over with (which expresses annoyance).”
PAUL: “I want to show what a dick Elmer is.”
One more thing, and it’s something I used to have trouble with as well: characters say each other’s names with regularity, which sounds stilted, especially among people who have known each other for a while.
Again I have to express how ambitious and clever a script this is. The greater the ambition, of course, the greater potential there is for criticism (hence the length of the review). As someone developing a script with a similarly cut-heavy structure, I can empathize. This is an idea worth pursuing, though, and worth however many rewrites it takes to get it right.
I suspect the reason this is being dropped as an assignment isn’t because it’s *bad*, it’s because it’s *confusing*. Make no mistake: readers are by and large a lazy bunch. It’s a big part of why 3-act structure has become so dogmatically enforced. Even pro readers are likely to shove this one to the bottom of the pile, and by the time they get to it, they may not have the energy for a fair review. You may have a hard time getting quality feedback, even outside Trigger Street.
Sincerely hope you can get some use out of this review, and I look forward to your continued efforts. read
by ProfRedSweater on 01/09/2012This is a free-will review of “Courier-12”, an ambitious script that combines concurrent fantasy storylines with the world of screenwriting. A kind of “Wizard of Oz” meets “Adaptation” perhaps. Unfortunately the tone of the film isn’t established early enough, and the multiple genre cutting, while an interesting technique, doesn’t feel justified and many times distracts and... This is a free-will review of “Courier-12”, an ambitious script that combines concurrent fantasy storylines with the world of screenwriting. A kind of “Wizard of Oz” meets “Adaptation” perhaps. Unfortunately the tone of the film isn’t established early enough, and the multiple genre cutting, while an interesting technique, doesn’t feel justified and many times distracts and confuses from the overall story.
In the end I’m left less with that “Wizard of Oz”/”Adaptation” feel and more of a “Wet Hot American Summer” it-all-devolves-and-everyone-goes-crazy kind of comedy. But unfortunately I can’t tell for sure if this film is supposed to be a farce or not because of the early tonal set up, and that it’s not even listed as a comedy on TS.
The plot is roughly that Paul is unhappy with his job writing script coverage and wants more, he butts heads with an executive, but it looks like he’ll advance, until instead he’s transferred. He’s given one last chance for success if he can recover the lost scripts and get them to the producer. The progression of this story is intercut with the stories of the lost scripts, that follow in parallel with our story (except in their genre).
My first big question is, why are these genre stories intercut? They all hit the same points, but I don’t think we’re getting any additional information from those fantasy situations. What’s more, I’m not sure the justification for cutting to them. If Paul was set up as some dreamer who gets lost in the scripts he reads and imagines himself as something more, then I could see that being a cool premise to justify cutting to all these stories. But right now I don’t know why these fantasy scenes are happening. What’s more the repetition gives us nothing, except showing us how the story would play out in other genres.
Justifying these moments is important, so I’m going to offer a suggestion, and feel free to disregard it. Make Paul a dreamer and then don’t tell all the stories from beginning to end every step of the way. Instead cut to whatever genre justifies the mood at the time. Is Elmer particularly menacing? Cut to that part of the story being told as a horror. Are they stealing files from his office? Cut to an action film. This could lead to a very smart script. You should be able to handle all the information necessary for each cutaway immediately when you go to it since you’re working with stereotypes of the genre and an audience should be able to follow you. What’s more you can still do the setup of the beginning and a payoff in the end so these stories will have their own arcs. Additionally, I think there could be some cool reveals in reality when later it’s revealed what really happened when they broke into the office (though not from showing it, just by being referenced later). Plus there’s plenty of opportunities for laughter when those genres have to break their stories to fit in with what really happens. Like when Babe kisses a guard in the action genre.
The next big concern with the concept is tone. It isn’t listed as a comedy on TS, and I couldn’t tell how much of it was supposed to be ha-ha jokes or nodding wink at screenwriting jokes. There obviously is some comedy there, but are each of the genre cut-aways supposed to be lampooning the genres? Zeke references them as “pretty stock scripts”, and I think the others might call their scripts that as well. If these are supposed to be a crazy farcical stories I think they really need to push that boundary early on and let us know that we’re supposed to be laughing along with these. I’d also suggest grounding the reality that Paul lives in a little bit more. That’s probably my favorite story, but there are some instances that just seem over the top (the helicopter and the pen, the producer speaking through an animatronic, the ending of the company is gone, now it’s back, everyone has what they want!).
It still can be funny, but perhaps not as much out there. Creating contrast between the tone of reality and the genres would really help the script. Anyway, as of now I’m not completely sure how farcical the story is meant to be when we start reading. It’s fine to intensify that humor, but let the audience in on the joke early enough so that they can come along on that ride.
What’s strange is for the first 5-10 pages I found the dialogue a little too generic, but after that it really kicked off into specifics and I can say that all the characters had their own voice and were distinct.
Something you may want to consider on rewrites though is to trim down some of the long blocks of dialogue and also watch for redundancies. I noted some of them below, but here’s a generic example of the latter, Alan: “I’m hungry” Dave: “Are you?” Alan: “I think I’ll get lunch”. Obviously not from your script, but that could all just be one line from Alan.
My big issue with dialogue though traces back to the concept of tone. I couldn’t tell if the fantasy sections were supposed to be honest attempts at stories in those genres, or cliché interpretations of what most of those scripts are about. I think the latter, but if these are all meant as digs at the genres then I think it needs to go further. Like really have plot points in the horror scripts that are over the top. The killer comes back to life multiple times in the horror film. Make the gadgetry in the action film even more over the top. And the rom-com one is a little dark (brick to the head?), maybe it should be fluffier? Make sure there’s at least one strong note of this early on in each genre even. It’s too hard to mix up mocking bad genre writing and actual bad genre writing. Uh, if these are supposed to be good genre writings, my apology at the last comment. They’re just too much on the nose.
Everyone has their role set up nicely in the first 15 pages, although I think Zeke’s flaw isn’t pronounced enough early on (I didn’t get he was cowardly until the rom-com). The bigger problem is that I don’t think the characters really earned their rewards in the end. I’d say especially Rusty, perhaps I’m missing something, but keeping lookout doesn’t seem that important. As a farce it’s probably okay, but I’d like to see that worked better and really hit home with for their character arcs.
Paul also seems to go missing from the main story for a long time when Babe/Rusty/Zeke steal the files from Elmer’s office. It feels weird to have the main character off-screen from page 60 to 96, and incorporating him into this process more might be better. He is present in the genre stories during this time though, so that may be ok. But still something to be aware of.
Other issue though, Hank and Emily seem to go missing after the first act only to reappear at the very end, I may have missed some role of theirs in the genre stories, but this feels odd. They seemed like an important part of the character to start. I’m not sure what the answer is to that. Maybe combining Glen/Hank? It would require some rewrites then. But it’s strange to be invested in a character only to have them vanish.
I really felt like the genre stories cut too much from one to another, especially in the middle around page 60 or so. It take a while to reacclimate to the worlds and so it ends up leaving the reader disjointed and at times a little confused. I’ve already suggested make these genre stories to capturing the emotional moments of the script, and I think that without the repetition of each story point being told four times we should be fine. If you don’t decide to go this way, I’d suggest avoiding such rapid cuts and possibly including extra description to really set the moments and give the audience a moment to breath.
Another thought. If you cut out the repetition it might still be nice to cut from genre to genre within a story point. Like action as Babe/Paul rush to do something and then cut to the horror story as Elmer emerges, then when they escape doing a clever cut to something romantic. But cut smartly to avoid it feeling too disjointed.
There were some big twists at the end, mainly Elmer getting the heart attack and the company going under. I think foreshadowing Elmer’s health problems might be nice, maybe just have him take a pill. Not sure though.
The twists in the genre stories got quite crazy and while that’s okay for a farce, I think the story may be better served by keeping the genre stories more within their chosen genre. For instance, Charleston falling to his death in the rom-com? That’s pretty crazy, I don’t think I’d ever see that in a rom-com. If it is supposed to be a wtf moment though, and the comedy is supposed to get more and more extreme at the end that may be ok. But along those same lines, I think the action and rom-com mix together too much. Action can have comedy, that’s fine, but the rom-com is perhaps the most off-base. It has a guy getting hit in the head with a brick. That’s pretty severe. As a rom-com it could probably do with more romance between Goddard/Molly. When they kiss now it feels completely unearned. Going more fluffy with this story would be nice, really play with the genre.
The logic of the film also suffers at time. In the genre stories the storylines don’t really seem to line up. Specifically I think of the rom-com story and the attorney at the end. It seems like Goddard/Molly/Attorney all start operating in some alternative universe of crazy. But there’s also a strong lack of logic lacking from the reality world. A lot of that is just in the way film production works, but that may be intentional. Alternatively, the advancement of characters to positions their completely unqualified for works for a farce, but I almost want the ending to then be THREE MONTHS LATER – They’re all bankrupt again. Cause that’s unforeseen but believable and kind of justified. The “we’re all super successful at film production” feels a little like the screenwriter saying “f-you I’m a genius”, and it breaks the fourth wall a bit too much in a way that could cause resentment among readers, since it doesn’t seem to have a wink to it, that the rest of the script seems to have that (I think).
The format as a whole is pretty solid. I don’t think all of the camera directions (ANGLE ON/WIDER SHOT) are completely necessary, but I’m not against the use of them on principle so that’s ok. I like the way the genre switches are handled with the “(ACTION)” in the sluglines, very clear and makes sense.
One more suggestion, please list this script as a comedy under the TS info. Forget the other genres even. Also try to rewrite the description to reveal the humor. I think the script still needs to set up the tone itself early on, but this will help the reader know what they’re getting into. Also, when the movie gets made a trailer would let you know the tone ahead of time early, so it’s kinda/sorta similar to giving your audience a heads up in that aspect.
Here are some notes I took while reading:
1: Could go either way on this, but “Worried” is probably not needed since the line of dialogue afterwards lets us know that. The line may flow better without it.
1: Not sure about the Hank’s Office formatting. I think you may not need the second “HANK’S OFFICE” tag, and that might just confuse it.
1: The line of description for hank in the office is a little terse as it’s missing articles (a, the, etc). I get that as a style, but generally I think that terseness is more useful when describing action or quick paced moments. Adding in a few articles would help ease us into the story more.
2: Hank and Emily are the same voice in this opening scene. Not just in how they speak, but they also could just be one character. Instead of cutting a character though I suggest giving one of them (Emily I suggest) more personality and a different target. Make her funny, make her aggressive, have her direct the lines at Hank. Any one of these will really punch up the scene.
2: Once again don’t need “Dissapointed”, Paul hanging his head lets you know that already, but gives more of an attachment to the audience because they’re picturing it in their head as opposed to being told what to think of it.
2: Sluglines are quite formatted right. They should be “INT. OFFICE – COPY ROOM – DAY” (or something similar), I noticed this on page4 as well, so consider this a global comment to check the slug lines.
3: “I don’t have time to talk, Paul. I gotta…” This line is a little too generic, I’d love more specifics too, like “Sorry, no time-o to talk-o, Monkeys in Space 3 is due in twenty.” Although probably not that exactly. Even if this isn’t a comedy (not sure yet) it’s good to have specifics.
3: Paul’s reaction of “No!” seems a little extreme, but what’s more is that Babe’s two lines here are essentially the same. You should cut one to avoid it feeling repetitive.
4: Better more specific line here from Zeke about confetti. And then he throws it away. Good way to show character.
4: Instead of saying “Frustration” think of an action that shows frustration. Even if it’s just a frown, furrow of the brow, or a rolling of the eyes. (or hopefully something even better).
4: Hmm, didn’t quite get that Zeke was freaked out here. Maybe also have him clutch his chest or something to sell it.
4: A personal preference, but I think too much action is chunked into some of these paragraphs. Like the last one on this page. If it was a new paragraph with “Babe rushes in…” then Zeke’s action would be set up better and we’d get to feel each moment.
5: Cookie thing is real specific, not sure if it means anything, but I like it!
6: Uh, why does Emily say “hearing voices” twice. Either typo or line not flowing right.
7: Not sure why he gives the tape player either. Not quite buying it.
7: Instead of “Elmer stops at Babe’s cubicle to flirt” (which cannot be portrayed by an actor). How about “Elmer leans on Babe’s cubicle wall seductively.” Or something like that, just an action. The “to flirt” gives away the reveal of the dialogue.
10: A weird thought. Aren’t most people who write coverage screenwriters themselves? So the idea of him writing his own script shouldn’t be that crazy?
10: Heh, I like the desperation of “you know any?”
11: Syd is really strange, I guess it works…
11: I didn’t remember he had a meeting at all, so if you can stress that more in the first 10 pages (wherever it’s mentioned) then that might hit home more. Right now it seems a little out of the blue.
12: “Spec”? I’m not sure if this is a genre in the same sense. Unless you mean, and one script that we don’t pay to be written for us. Which would make sense, although less so to a general audience.
12: Still by page 12 we’ve set up out main character (Paul) his antagonist (Elmer) a possible mentor (Syd), possible love interested (Babe), friends (Zeke, maybe Rusty – kinda Hank/Emily) the protagonist’s struggle (dissatisfaction with job, wanting more) and the stakes (find scripts that perform or lose your job).
14: Not a fan of this conversation. It’s way too on the nose and spit out. I think this information can be conveyed, but the helipad long discussion is a bit too much.
16: His mentioning to “Follow the Hero’s Journey” might be a tad on the nose. I guess it depends where this script goes, I have a slight issue that it’s directed too much at screenwriters with a bunch of inside jokes for them. Will think about that as it develops.
16: Babe’s line can be trimmed here for more punch, also mention that she needs help on the script, it sounds like she wants help on the date here.
19: HA! “invitation to get raped” that surprised me, I hope I was meant to laugh.
23: “Does it order take out?” This line could be better. It’s a little “eh”. Unless the point is that Agent Black is not funny, but kind of lame.
25: Why is Paul writing coverage for all these people? I get with Babe (if he’s interested in her), but not sure on Rusty.
30: I’m really not sure about the tone of these fantasy sections, are they intentionally mocking the scripts? It’s this weird border where I can’t tell if they’re honest going for the genre, or knowingly winking at how they always work. I assume the latter.
30: Wait, why does Paul take home the script here? Zeke never even asks him to do it, so that’s very strange…
31: Confused on their jobs. If they write coverage they’d have a pile of scripts at once, coverage doesn’t mean you dedicate to one script only, but they probably read each one and write notes in a few hours. So when they say “bring the scripts they’re working on” do they mean the huge pile of scripts? Maybe this will all be answered.
31: “The Guild” I’m really torn, nothing like this would happen in real life, and I guess I’m just a little off-balance on where to put the script. I’m going to try and detach myself from the reality and instead assume it’s just a hyper-realized world for comedy.
34: Wait, if the buzzer needs maintenance then how did he hear them?
39: Huh, that kiss was out of the blue. Not sure what to make of it.
45: Nice wizard of oz moment, not sure about the road here, but I’ll comment on that in my big notes.
47: “I’m need proof” typo
55: If Rodney is going to have a role, I think I’d like to see him introduced earlier than in the background for the scene in Elmer’s office. Just a thought.
55: Heh, nice that wizzer pisses himself. A good payoff.
60: The tape recorder falls out twice? And Elmer doesn’t realize it’s recording, this is all too convenient and takes me out of the film.
61; How can he be agent green? Or how can we just know that now, we already saw of picture of him earlier when he sent his threat to PRISM right?
63: This is a very repetitive conversation, but I can’t tell if it’s supposed to be cookie cutter formula. Maybe it doesn’t go enough over the top to establish that?
64: Ahh, sort of a nice twist about the sexual harassment on the tape. I didn’t think about that, even when he was saying it, and it was set up nice earlier.
64: Ok, not sure about this, but if the pictures she’s taking is supposed to indicate that her husband is cheating on her, then I don’t think that works. The divorce was filed a long time ago, and she even said it had been a year. Actually she said she was already divorced which is then conflicted later by the guy demanding she sign the papers.
65: This cutting from fantasy to fantasy is too much, too fast. There’s no time to breath or even re-orientate ourselves to the surroundings. Ends up being muddled and a big confusing at times.
68: Might be funny to add in some clumsiness to this seduction.
86: A hail mary that’s unbeatable? That’s kind of a contradiction, hail mary’s are last ditch efforts that have a low percentage of success.
89: Heh, like the jar of eyes.
90: Comedy Elmer dies by falling off a building? That’s not very rom-com. I think this is a problem with the rom-com/action scripts, they kind of mush together and aren’t distinct enough in their genre.
95: Why does Babe ask Paul not to mention the sexual harassment tape any more?
96: The three one-liners as Elmer is grabbed is too much. Maybe two would be ok, but three feels like making the rounds.
96: How did the Guard get the script?
97: If there’s a joke with the keys it’s missing. Molly gets everything she wanted (yay) and has the keys. Why would they need to go to the Attorney? She’s a widow now and owns everything. Unless Goddard is supposed to be dumb here, but that’s completely out of character.
102: We’re at a nice point at the end here when events are twisting when we thought they were ending, I’m imagining what this means to the real world. I’m not sure I entirely got the twist for the Action genre, or not that I didn’t get it, but I didn’t see it set up properly and so it didn’t feel justified.
107: Completely lost with the comedy genre here. So the lawyer stole the money, gotcha, uh, but then he gave them money… but not all of it I assume. I’m guessing he gave the money out of some guilt, but then why tell them where he was going. And then they seem happy that they got all this money, but then they’re going to go kick his ass? Really confusing.
108: Wha, the President just flees? This seems pretty silly, I assume that’s the point, but I guess I was still expecting it to be somewhat grounded in the genre.
109: Another situation where all 3 people just spout off a response. Would have much more impact if it was just one.
110: I don’t feel like any of the characters really earned these promotions… but maybe that’s the point?
115: Heh, that’s a funny twist at the end and then a twist back. This has to be a farce. I just wish that was clearer earlier.
Overall “Courier-12” is a tough script to get my head around, I think I may have missed out because it wasn’t categorized as a comedy and there wasn’t enough jokes early on to let me know what I was getting on board with, or just how tongue in cheek the genre stories were supposed to be. Fixing that would help a lot. However, the intercutting of the genre stories also serves now more as repetition as opposed to revealing new information, and I think the script needs to do something about that as well. With these two changes I think a “Wet Hot American Summer” devolution-style script could come about, and that could be something quite cool. Hopefully this review was helpful, best of luck with rewrites! read
by harriet nyborg on 01/09/2012Hi Brian! Courier 12. 119 pages of adventure mystery suspense scifi fantasy looking me dead in the eye. First instinct: 119 pages seems like an endeavor, but with all those genres I figure you needed some space. Also, you seem to be getting hammered in the rankings. I haven’t read any of the reviews yet, but I’m just gonna say writer to writer that I agree with you that... Hi Brian! Courier 12. 119 pages of adventure mystery suspense scifi fantasy looking me dead in the eye. First instinct: 119 pages seems like an endeavor, but with all those genres I figure you needed some space. Also, you seem to be getting hammered in the rankings. I haven’t read any of the reviews yet, but I’m just gonna say writer to writer that I agree with you that your genius clearly has yet to be properly appreciated, and I plead you don’t take the first five people to review your script on triggerstreet as a proper sample group and get discouraged. Right right?
Okey dokey, let’s get crackin’. Oh, wait, let me set my font… there. That’s better. (I wonder if the tstreet format will pick up my font shift. Hmmm. Oh well, onward!)
Eavesdropping, Elmer, or just
hearing voices, hearing voices?- pg 6
passes Babe. She smiles mischievously.
ANGLE ON: PAUL
as he smiles back, then looks puzzled when out of sight. – aside from the cap error, I don’t think you should call your shots.
Okay, I’m on 13 somewhere and I’m on to you (Syd tipped me out – it’s almost word for word sometimes) so I know this is probably a good place to stop and talk about the setup – before he goes through that door.
Just some random impressions: there were times, perhaps in some of the ways people acted and reacted, the things they said, the way babe rebuffed elmer for example, not that she did it but the WAY she did it – I got the impression this could be in a different decade. 50’s even. But then there are little things – harassment laws and pop culture stuff – that tip you off. I think part of that might have to do with dialogue which is SOMETIMES, not always, but sometimes a little stiff and expository. Especially in the office scenes before we get to the wizard. Even when they are talking, and you are not cueing off his lines in the original, that should be an important dialogue, and it read as kind of ‘this is who my character is’ to me.
Before the wizard scene, hence before I saw your concept, I wasa little worried. Now that I see what you’re doing, I know my reasons still matter. Your supporting characters – who are gonna be pretty major, presumably, are A) sometimes not likable – like Zeke and Rusty (I just got the Rusty thing now. I’ll slobber all over your concept in a second) and B) for the time you spent on them they are pretty one note. The beginning – little about it felt natural to me. Just the manner of things, and that’s lame to say, I know. The way he was brushed off by Hank in the beginning felt odd. That’s a good wxample of when people just spoke in exposition too. The tape recorder issue felt trite. There are no stakes involved in it.
Then your concept kicks in and then he comes back to the office and really it’s the LAST five pages or so, and not anything that came before it, that has me REALLY happy right now because this was unexpected and everyone loves wizard of oz. So now I get to play the game of going back and figuring out who is who and people will REALLY appreciate a retelling of this IF IF IF you can do it in a good way and like I said I can’t wait to read on.
Just some things and remember I’m only on 13: It’s vague to me where elmer stands in the company. If he is so high up why does he have an office right next to Paul? Paul’s conflict is weak. You boxed yourself in – EVERYONE knows Dorothy’s arc – she dreams of bigger things, gets lost, discovers there’s no place like home. Paul and his job and not belonging – The thing is this – LA ain’t Kansas. And Paul is an adult and not a 12 y/o girl. He chose this life – this industry. Everyone knows this game is cutthroat. He’s not as sympathetic. Dorothy was trapped on that farm. She never had a say in it. Paul, as a grown up, should call his own shots. Your dual issues you set up for him are contradictory: 1) He doesn’t like his job and doesn’t feel like he belongs there. 2) He’s going to lose his job if he doesn’t come up with the big script. ?? Do you see that? He’s about to open that door and everything is going to burst into technocolor and I, your humble audience member, am unclear about what his problem with. Does he want to stay and can’t? Does he want to go and isn’t able to? You set up the earthquake but then he just kind of hazed out. Use the quake, no? It’s PERFECT!
RODNEY HESTON – your punniness is a good asset.
34: Okay so Act 1 ended and I never said anything. Just for me – I tend to find it smoother when you just write what you want to say in your action, as opposed to straining to make it the most economical. FOR ME it calls less attention to yourself to say something like ‘A ball is on the desk’ as opposed to Ball on desk. You kind of go in and out of it. Just a thought. Straightens hat,
clears throat. – see I’m a few pages later, but you did it again.
Oh whimsy! Yeah, I said whimsy. Problem? Your good ideas and concepts don’t stop. It was very clever the way you introed everyone in their scripts. Overall, you are going about this differently than I would, and I still think you’ll have to redo your set up, but this has been fun. And for 119 it’s reading pretty fast once it got going.
43: No sure how well the stories are playing for me this time. The surrender Dorothy thing was neat – but you know these three sidebars don’t have anything to do with them going to see the producer. Maybe if something were happening to your characters in the meantime, btu they play as fun but ultimately needless cutways now.
Just took a short break to think about things. Still on 43. This is ostensibly a retelling of and old tale, but reallyt this is about writing – more specifically someone writing who is at our stage – and hence, given the level of imagination and whatnot that this took, I can’t help but think this has an echo of an autobiographical undertone. With that in mind, I’ll point out you’re failing the courage section – as you chose to point out this was your ‘first draft’ right in the title. I feel like if you want to mention it in the notes or whatever that’s fine, but in this instance it strikes me as you kind of pre-apologizing for yourself. Right? Read’s like ‘Courier 12 (sorry)’. F Dat! This is COURIER 12 and you’re lucky I’m showing it to you! You with me? Okay, that doesn’t count towards your 100 words – I just thought of it during my smoke break.
Now that we’re seeing the producer for the first time it strikes me: Where’s toto? You know, the recorder I was gonna say seemed superfluous, but the recorder is Toto, isn’t it? Totally forgot about him! But Elmer wanted to take it away at the beginning so it makes sense. Wonder how you will unfold that.
Missed parallel: In Oz, scarecrow, for example is always the one making the decisions. He has a brain all along and throughout he demonstrates it. He just doesn’t realize it. He’s always saying, ‘Of course I’m not very smart, but it seems to me…’ and then he’ll say the smartest and most reasonable thing ever. You’re not doing that w/ your side characters. Maybe Babe should come up with a plan for a way Paul can steal back the scripts, for example. Even in the comedy story – which is Babes, Goddard (Paul)makes all the decisions.
I’m not sure how even, or congruous maybe is a better word, these side stories are with the original material. They provide an outlet for these inside jokes, sure. I liked them the first time you did them. But they seem ambiguous in effect to me (I’m still not sure what you are trying to do in them that is different than what’s going on in your main story) and also they seem to take time away from the main adventure itself. You know, the WHOLE yellow brick road thing you skipped over completely. That’s the meat of the first part of act II in the original and you did the side stories instead and then bang they were at the producer’s gate. I know that’s what she does on the road – meet those guys, but with Oz the whole point was the journey itself was the thing. Dorothy needed to go a long physical way as one means of learning there is no place like home. And she DID face hardship on that road. It wasn;t all just meeting people. The witch attacked at one point. Elmer has been pretty passive, outside of stealing the scripts. He doesn’t have the menace of the Witch- throwing fireballs and making crazy threats and trying to hurt Dorothy and her friends. He just watches from afar. Also they encounter magic creatures. Like the apple trees. Can you figure out something to do with that that pertains to the writing field? Some strange and unexpected creature you may meet and have to outsmart or get past somehow? I know something ELSE that happens on that road that you can make a very obvious parallel to and you are skipping right now as well: the poppy scene. One of your target audiences is writers, and if you can find a mild or tongue in cheek way of exploiting the drug angle of it for one scene – saying something clever or illustrating something that a writer would only know – that may resonate.
With the whole part of this where it is supposed to be about writing, I don’t feel like you’ve connected yet. It’s not linked strongly enough into your Oz theme. I think part of that, ironically, is these side stories.
I on’t get why they would be given scripts to do coverage on that have, it turns out, already been selected for production, but it’s a dream so whatever.
You obviously know that I’m gonna tell you that Toto discovers the true wizard and Dorothy kills the witch. That’s not the way you have it. Your tape recorder toto doesn’t pay out for me. Harrumph!
Impressions: The second half becomes very imbalanced In that the time you spend on your main story is dwarfed by the three side stories. The fact that the dream angle on this is left ambiguous at the end – there is never a wake up – makes me wonder what I have seen. Is the end a continution of the dream? If so, the real conflicts in Paul’s life never get resolved. Is it real? Was it all real? That seems … inexplicable. I think you should put in a wake up scene to clarify things.
Have I told you I love your concept? I love your concept. Now obviously I would have taken it another way. If one writer had a good idea for a story (not a story, mind you, but an idea for one), and then tells it to another writer that writer is gonna say, ‘That’s a GREAT idea! You need to do it like X Y Z.’ And of course once writer 1 hears the first part of X he knows writer 2 is all wrong and he was thinking a whole different thing. So really one of the only ways I know to critique a good idea is to just tell you what I would have done instead and risk sounding like an ass.
I would have set it up all differently. While the story and concept keep me intrigued, the characters you set up don’t really do anything for me outside of representing other characters I love. Make them their own people. SO: I’ll try to keep it somewhat along the lines of what you are going for.
Paul is a reader in the same type of office. He secretly aspires to be a writer, as everyone on his level has their own loftier ambitions, but for the time being is stuck in this frustrating job – evaluating other people’s scripts.
It opens with him hearing a pitch from a writer he has called in after reading a very promising script. Babe. The script is remarkable, and in the right hands would be a surefire hit. It just needs some touching up from Paul’s more experienced hand.
Babe, while a Babe, is flaky, in a charming way. Annoyingly, as Paul asks her how she thought up all the profound symbolism in her script, she seems to not even realize it is there, and claims she only wrote a much more superficial story with no deeper meaning that Paul feel oozes from it. He’s left wondering how such a flighty seeming gal wrote such a wonderful script. No worries. It’s his golden ticket.
Paul brings the script to his intimidating Boss’ office. He is imperious. Tosses aside Paul’s notes and derides him for thinking that Paul’s word on a script would mean anything to Elmer. (Would have to think of a good personal ax to grind. Elmer employs Paul for his opinion technically. There would need to be a good reason, a personal one, why elmer has it in for paul in particular). Asks him mockingly if it’s any better than that other silly script he heard he was working on. Why didn’t he bring that script if he thought he was good enough? Elmer demands paul leave him witrh the script and be gone. Paul meekly asks that he be bale to take a copy of the script with him and is shouted out of the office.
Coworker Rusty enters to confirm their writing date for this evening as Paul sulks in break room. Paul expresses doubt in a project they are working on. Rusty’s contributions are good, but his are all crap. Rusty tries to encourage him. Look at all the heartless crap they put out there! Paul’s writing has feeling and a deeper meaning. Rusty wishes he could write like that. He makes him promise to keep the date later. Paul reluctantly agrees. And anyway, even if Paul does write crap, rusty points out in leaving, crap sells in LA.
From behind, Zeke, a soda machine repair guy, has overheard the conversation. Older, bushy beard. Tells Paul not to doubt himself. If he had it all to do over again, he wouldn’t undo the decisions he got wrong, he would make sure he made the choices that he never made. He doesn’t know where it would have gotten him, but he sure as heck would have more than a soda machine repair guy.
Paul takes a walk. Wizard scene. I like what you did w/ Yoda and everything.
Tells wizard he wants so badly to be a successful writer but sometimes he just doesn’t believe in himself. It seems so far way – out of reach. He’s just not good enough. Hogwash! Wizard consoles him and you got this scene. Maybe put an early tremor, but work it in as a means for Paul to buy into whatever the wizard is selling him. A ‘how did you do that?’ kind of moment.
Next day there is an unexpected staff meeting. Buzz about a tremor the night before and what are they all there for. Elmer presides and brings all to attention. Announces he has found the next script the company will produce. It’s Paul’s script. Elmer gives him no credit. He is furious. He protests, calls him out. Elmer fires him, calls security to remove him from the building. If necessary he calls after them, remove him from the entire city of los angeles!
As they drag Paul kicking and screaming down the hall, a larger tremor hits. All are thrown. Paul gets konked. We’re rolling.
So off the top of my head, that’s my act I. I don’t think the recorder paid out as you had it. I don’t think Hank and zemily have a huge role to play here either. Probably can get rid of them and have the same essential story. Nepotism… you would have to think of something else. Also neither one of us has a toto, to our detriment.
Anyway, then I would use the journey along the road, yeah he meets the people, Babe wants and editor, Rusty to live a life with some heart and have an adventure (work on that) and Zeke the courage to make decisions. All things associated with a writer creating his story and negotiating it’s way through to production. That’s what the trip through Oz would be about. The road would be maybe symbolic of the writing of the script and then the oz and witch part afterwards the trials of getting it made, OR you could even make it not that profound and just keep it episodic – like with the trees and the poppies that I was talking about above.
Elmer would have to be more of a constant menace. Also, you would have to be oretty clever throughout to pull it off well. Maybe the wizard can send them after Elmer to free ‘the copyrights’. That way Paul can scream from his gates ‘Elmer, I demand you release the copyrights to me!’ In the end, instead of no place like home, paul could learn to believe 'I'm good enough for LA! I'm good enough for LA!'
I liked the side stories the first time they came up and then they ended up eating the whole spec. I honestly think you are better off without them, as entertaining as they are ion some places, or perhaps finding a way to do it with ONE story, in my scenario, perhaps the one that Paul and Rusty are struggling to write.
I’m not sure how much that helps you. I more gave you a radical suggestion and said ‘that’s what I would do’. Hmmm. Okay, I’ll say this: That two star rating is bullshite and your genius is INDEED thus far unappreciated. If they only had a brain. But I know why it’s down there: this is pretty muddled towards the end. Lacks focus. Tell Paul’s story. WOO is dorothy’s story from beginning to end. Tell Paul’s story. Stop with all these other stories. Is your main character interesting enough? Then tell me his story!
It’s such a good idea, I would hate for you to leave it half done. Don’t waste it. That’s about all I got. read
by bradthebloke on 01/05/2012i thought the writing was well thought out and hardly any grammatical errors. where i got lost was what was the deal with the multiple stories taking place at the same time as Paul's story? i'm guessing those were the scripts that were stolen with pauls being the spec script at the end. I just felt the side stories were rather tedious to get to and took away from your main... i thought the writing was well thought out and hardly any grammatical errors. where i got lost was what was the deal with the multiple stories taking place at the same time as Paul's story? i'm guessing those were the scripts that were stolen with pauls being the spec script at the end. I just felt the side stories were rather tedious to get to and took away from your main story with Paul and company. im grading it fairly though as im under the impression I missed something? I dont know how others are reviewing this but I would lose the outer stories and put more development into paul and company. good luck read
by George8085 on 12/30/2011I have to say there was a dramatic improvement in the writer’s dialogue and action descriptions from the prior script. Great job on that. I liked the dialogue and it gave most of the characters a voice of their own. There was also a lot of good humor without the writer trying to over do it to get a laugh. Well done. *Please change the title! This story deserves something more... I have to say there was a dramatic improvement in the writer’s dialogue and action descriptions from the prior script. Great job on that. I liked the dialogue and it gave most of the characters a voice of their own. There was also a lot of good humor without the writer trying to over do it to get a laugh. Well done.
*Please change the title! This story deserves something more compelling. And imagine if a literary agent or studio head has decided to read a script and is flipping through countless scripts. Do you think he/she would stop and gape at “Courier 12” and be like, “I need to know more about the exciting world of fonts!*
Pg 1: “Reads screenplay at desk/ sits at small table in corner/Hank puts down screenplay” Sounds like caveman lingo. You’re missing the letter “a” in these sentences. This happens throughout the script as words like the, her, an, etc are ignored.
Pg 4: I’m liking the clumsy Babe character. Cut down on her mishaps a little though so it doesn’t come off too cartoonish.
Pg 8: Elmer seems to be stunned a lot. I think embarrassed would suffice.
*Syd: like this character. Quirky and kind of mysterious*
*Nice concise descriptions. Great improvement from the last script*
*I would cut out the scene where Paul imagines Elmer like a demon. This is reality, it takes away from the fantasy movies coming up that show Elmer in a evil light.*
Pg 14: Consider breaking up the large block of dialogue by Glen. And on a side note I think Alvin Trench is alive and well given the crappy movies that are out there now. And why would Elmer suddenly appear? Is he psychic??
The scene with Glenn almost seemed like a fantasy to me. It seems way over the top, him swooping down in a helicopter only to tell Paul to basically keep his head up. Didn’t really seem like that scene was necessary, even if it did give some backstory to Elmer. With such a powerful ally, Paul doesn’t come off as such a sympathetic character anymore. Honestly, you could delete this entire scene and get into the story quicker and cut down on the number of pages the script currently is.
Pg 18: In the fantasy comedy, you introduce the character as Goddard then have him in the dialogue as Paul.
Also cut down on Molly’s dialogue, its too on the nose and reveals everything. Strangers don’t usually tell each other their life story in their first meeting. As they start their adventure together, that’s when she should start revealing more and more info to him as the script progresses which would also represent her getting more comfortable with him and starting to trust him. She’s too trusting of him, especially since he’s a man, and the last man she dealt with totally screwed her.
Pg 32: Ha, too funny on the Rodney Heston description.
Pg 34: Refer to security guard as Syd in dialogue since that’s what we know him has.
Pg 36: Why doesn’t Paul recognize Syd at this point??
*MAJOR ISSUE: the aliases the main characters have in the fantasy movies makes it hard to remember who is who in the spy, horror, and rom com scenes*
Pg 53: A little too much dialogue between both agents.
Pg 55: “Whizzer pisses himself” Now that’s funny
Pg 58: Lots of dialogue that can be cut down.
(Remember as the story reaches the midpoint, the story should start speeding up. Imagine the midpoint being the top of a hill, and the second half of the story going back down the hill)
Pg 64: Nice description of the psycho
Pg 73: Nice suspense
Pg 74: Some funny stuff here with the kiss
*Babe no longer seems clumsy after Act I. It just disappeared*
Ha, ha. Cool ending.
This is a very ambitious script and creative. I think my biggest issue though is that the real world felt as much fantasy as the movie world in the script at times. The antagonists (Elmer and his friends) seem to pop up out of nowhere and always be one step ahead of the protagonists but they were just regular people.
Question: What is the purpose of the comedy movie as it relates to Babe? IF Babe had some kind of relationship issues in her real life, the issues with her ex in the rom com would play out better and seem more real, where the audience could get emotionally invested in the “fake movie” as well as in the real movie. That way the audience would root for the alter egos as much as they would for the real protagonists instead of sitting through an interlude of what they know is fantasy and therefore wouldn’t care as much. I can’t tell what her flaw is beforehand besides that she’s clumsy. With Zeke it was easy, lacks courage. Perfect for the horror script.
Out of all the fantasy movies in the script, the agent one was the least interesting and tended to drag down the flow of things. It would also be soley responsible for making this script very high budget and subsequently difficult to make. And it also is the only one that doesn’t involve all the other characters in team work fashion throughout which makes it a little inconsistent with the theme. The horror and comedy were quite entertaining though.
One last suggestion: You can cut this script down by several pages and actually get into the story quicker from the get go by doing so.
You did a great job constructing this story and I know it couldn’t have been easy. You showed a good range bouncing between different genres and incorporating them together. With another rewrite to work on a few minor issues, this would be an enjoyable movie that I would love to see. It has a feel good ending but also a lot of entertainment and action. The office protagonists seemed natural and everyday, something the audience could relate to. You’ve definitely learned a lot since the last script and stepped your game up!
by Revale on 12/16/2011To start, this is a free will review so the little red minus mark only means it doesn't count towards my credits or use any of yours. I have to say, I enjoyed this greatly, but I have never felt so stunned and amused as I did when I figured out what you were doing with this. It's f**king brilliant, but we'll get to that later. Okay, here we go. Page 1. Format looks good... To start, this is a free will review so the little red minus mark only means it doesn't count towards my credits or use any of yours.
I have to say, I enjoyed this greatly, but I have never felt so stunned and amused as I did when I figured out what you were doing with this. It's f**king brilliant, but we'll get to that later.
Okay, here we go.
Page 1. Format looks good. Plenty of white space. Love to start a read off like this.
You have a good intro of the characters. But... I would personally like a little more set up before plunging into the story. For instance, Paul inspects his tape recorder for damage but the description doesn't go into why he needs to. On page 2 we learn that Elmer has broken in but on page 1, the camera needs to know how to show this. Was his desk drawer open, papers scattered, etc... Just give us a little more here. That said, I really like what you do have.
Also, perhaps in the slug line, instead of just OFFICE, you could give us the name of the company. INT. GOODE AGENCY - PAUL'S CUBICLE - DAY
I'm loving that you stay in present tense here and throughout the entire script. You're actually a ringer, aren't you, brought in to mess with us novices?
Page 2-3. Good descriptions of the characters. I'm seeing them clearly and the accident with the copier was a great reveal of how messed up these people are.
Page 4. High comedic value with Babe's clumsiness, shelves tettering, and people slipping on scripts. Very well done. Getting to know these guys without being told who they are with exposition.
Ist five pages: Good intro into your story. Hooked me right in to wanting to know where this band of misfits are going.
Page 6. Liked the subtle reveal about Paul being Hank's nephew
1st ten pages: We've met everyone and understand their world. You've put in a good catalyst to propel the story forward when Paul meets Syd Campbell. Structure firmly in place. Reads very well so far. I want to know what happens next and that's the purpose of the first ten.
Page 11. Your dialogue is crisp and sparse. You understand there's no need to load it down unnecessarily. A good thing! Also, it's definitely not on the nose. Really good job.
Page 12. Love Elmer becoming momentarily demonic in Paul's eyes.
Page 14. Glen Goode's speech is too long. I think you could break it in two by inserting an action line. Like: Paul opens the door, but Glen ignores it and continues to talk.
Page 17. I got what you're going for when Paul says "Set me up." But for the sake of clarity and the occasional stupid reader, you might want to have Babe introduce the script by giving her a line after Paul says that. BABE: "It's set in a park..." Then put in the Slug line for the Comedy movie.
Page 23-24. I liked the Rom Com story but the action one wasn't as much fun. Maybe should have more action.
Page 27-30. Liked the horror script too. Well done.
Page 31. Good end to Act I with Paul getting benched.
Page 34-35. Nice little twist with Syd playing these various parts. Really good touch. I'm starting to feel like I'm in a Robert Altman film.
Page 40-41. You should manually move all of Colonel King's dialogue at the bottom of page 40 onto page 41. What you've done is technically correct but it reads better if it's not broken like this.
Page 46. OMG. I feel like I'm reading a psychotic version of the Wizard of Oz and I like it! This is awesome. Your imagery and the plot twists are great.
Page 50. LOL. Sally's line: Probably because we're in Texas. I have to say again that you really have a gift for dialogue. So clever and biting.
Page 51. Okay, I'm starting to think you should handle the switches to the scripts like you would a flashback. (COMEDY SCRIPT) EXT. APARTMENT BUILDING-ALLEY - DAY It would reduce confusion on where we're at in the script.
What you've done with this is a great device. Parallel plots being intercut with real time is brilliant. I think it works beautifully, but I fear some readers on TS might balk. I also think that Hollywood readers with more sophistication would not, so consider your target audience.
Good midpoint when Elmer threatens Paul and his true plans are revealed.
Page 66. Love the term: SCARE-CORPSE. Good writing.
Page 69. LOL when Whizzer whizes into the bushes with the doorman.
Page 72. Again, such clever dialogue. "Jerry: We don't even know Leo." You're killing
Page 74-75. These scenes are hysterical. This is so damn good.
Page 95-96 - Good reveal when Elmer learns he's going down. And I really liked him having a heart attack. Nice touch.
Am really liking the impassiveness of all the characters Syd plays. Good mirror images of his own attitude.
Page 112. Asshole!!!! And I say that with love. "Wizard of Lawns" indeed. You couldn't resist, could you? Flying pigs, scarecrows, man with an ax, Aunty Em(ily), the fake Syd bursting into flame while the real one hides behind a curtain. And the heartfelt advice that told them the truths about themselves that everyone else knew. God, you're far too clever for your own good. You have done a rewrite of The Wizard of OZ and one that is so damned good and different that you can get away with it.
I am LMAO. You have managed the impossible. You sucked me completely into this and I didn't have a clue how you were going to manipulate me with this brilliant work.
Here, I usually comment on the different aspects of the screenplay but it seems pointless. You, sir, are far more clever and a much better writer than me. Perhaps now you could tell us who you really are and what you're doing on TriggerStreet.
by alexherrin on 12/15/2011These notes are written in a stream of consciousness from beginning to end. I go back to edit and add notes. ------------------------ I actually got caught up reading and forgot to take notes on the first 10 pages. Even though nothing is really happening, there is a feeling that something is going to happen soon. The delicacies of the dialogue, action, and screen direction... These notes are written in a stream of consciousness from beginning to end. I go back to edit and add notes.
I actually got caught up reading and forgot to take notes on the first 10 pages. Even though nothing is really happening, there is a feeling that something is going to happen soon. The delicacies of the dialogue, action, and screen direction do that well. There is a subtlety to the script that serves it well.
I instantly like Syd, an intriguing character. I want to see more of him. He seems eccentric, sauve even, with an aura of mystery.
Paul is okay for now, a little timid, but we all have flaws, which makes him relateable.
Script has taken on a dream feeling, interesting path, we'll see where this goes. My mind reamins open.
Okay, I've decided the dialogue kicks ass. Its punchy, witty, and right on cue. Good stuff.
I'm liking the concept so far. Paul portrays the hero in each of these scripts, interesting. Makes for an entertaining read.
Aagain, got caught up reading. This is good and bad. Its good because I am enveloped in the writing and story, but bad because the reason I stopped is because it's beginning to feel a little gimmicky. It is still relatively charming and hasn't gone off the deep end yet, which is good. Because of the likeability of the characters and plot, I'm willing to let this one swim a little further out.
"Let’s see if we can find some adventure" - I though Paul was just trying to get the promotion, now all of a sudden he is out for adventure? He seems a little too eager to go along with the strange happenings around him.
Molly and Goddard is a nice story, I like the kiss, surprisingly it has emotion. Credits to the writing for developing characterse in such a short time.
Progression is good so far. Smooth transitions between the different scripts. For the most part, the characters are driving the action. Well crafted.
Around page 50 or so, the wheels start to come off the wagon. With four different stories going on, it's getting very hard to follow, and I am getting frustrated. I'm not even trying to understand what is going on in every scene, instead just hoping it will all make sense soon, and I am still getting the big picture.
*Can't remember what Whizzer and FC are doing.
So they just let Paul go? Because he left the pen at home? That seemed a bit too easy.
FC and Whizzer are trying to get evidence of Charleston cheating?
It is quite convenient that the tape recorder falls out of Elmer's pocket at that very location after recording that very bit of dialogue, possibly too convenient. For Paul to foresee something like that happening is pretty hard to believe.
Again, in the midsts all of plots, I have gotten completely lost in what's going on with the Rom-Com story. I don't know why Molly is handcuffed to a bench, but I'm willing to roll with it.
The suspense of the horror film is not there. It is broken up and doesn't have adequate time to build, so that story kind of fizzes.
I do like how things that are happening in the different stories effect each other, i.e. the stun gun/electricity. That lets me know that everything isn't random and there is some reason to this madness. Other than that, this seems like a writer attempting to flex his story muscles, adding more and more elements to see how much he can lift.
I am confused as to how these three scripts, the romcom, action, and horror, are so special. Aren't these just the three scripts that they happened to be working on at the time? How are these medicore stories supposed to save the company?
"I'm looking for a bludgeoning instrument." - I don't think in that situation someone would be able to call on such exact and descriptive vocabulary for a stick, if you know what I mean.
"I'll email you with my choice." - Change that to something more colloquial please, and not so awkward.
"That was awesome, Zeke. You’re the man! That was like Mission Impossible shit."
- Eh, I could go either way with this. One on hand its cheezy, but on another hand, cheezy isn't always bad. This could be a really funny line so make the most of it.
By page 60 or so, the smooth transitions between stories of before have faded, and now I am struggling to see how it changes between scenes. There is always a vague connection, but never really an explanation of how the change is made. It just mysteriously happens. This is dissapointing and makes the script very hard to get into. Characters bounce around too much, making it very hard for me to invest in them emotionally.
Rock paper scissors is too much.
I can't emphasize enough how you can't just cut between stories with no connecting event or explanation. It completely disengages the reader.
Because of all the differents stories going on, it feels like Paul and his crew busting Elmer happens all of a sudden, taking all of the drama out of it.
This script ended with no connection to the three scripts. What was the point of telling the story of the three scripts in development? There were essentially four different movies here. It is unclear what the concept is of this film, because nothing ever developed. There were just four people running around trying to get scripts from an executive who was corrupt, but they were being led by a magical man who promised them jobs, nevermind, it's too much to even try and work through. read
by sugarpie on 11/16/2011I have to warn you, this is going to hurt. I'm sorry, but I'm being honest and hope it will help you improve youre work. First of all, I have to say that reading about people who read scripts and hearing all the phrases like "Hero's Jouney, Coverage, Rom-com, and the all important producers and guilds," was really annoying, it's so familiar that it was boring. Now, imagine... I have to warn you, this is going to hurt.
I'm sorry, but I'm being honest and hope it will help you improve youre work.
First of all, I have to say that reading about people who read scripts and hearing all the phrases like "Hero's Jouney, Coverage, Rom-com, and the all important producers and guilds," was really annoying, it's so familiar that it was boring.
Now, imagine you are one of those people working in the reading department and you hate your job and come across a script about all the things that are bad about the job.
Yep, they are going to burn your script.
With the acutally characters, did you seriously name your hot female character BABE? Why not rename her Barbie? I lost all respect I might have had for her before she had a sentence of dialogue.
Then she and almost all of the other characters were bumbling morons, walking into things, and knocking over shelves. The only excuse for that would be booze in the water cooler. A very talented directer and group of writers like the ones who work on scrubs, might be able to pull those scnes off and make them funny, but if you don't get an excelent teamthey come out lame.
When Glenn was introduced it wasn't a big enough deal, we need more than a buisness card and Hellicopter to show us who and how important he is. Maybe have someone say something like GLEN from UPSTAIRS wants to see you. I didn't read any emotion in paul when he got the invite either, he should have been excited, right?
It was kind of anti climatic that all the save the day moments from glenn came without us seeing him or hearing him, "Oh heres a phone call, glen says get your scripts togeather, here's an email, I'm not transferred". It's not exciting to watch people read emails.
Most of the dialouge felt flat the only character that sounded real was zeke, who I immediatly pictured as jonah hill.
I'm not a producer, or an analyst and I can't say I know what anyone in the buisness wants. But I really don't see anything salvagable in this script, except the theme
If was e into a movie, it would be a bad movie.
Your them is Guy hates his job, follows his true passion, works out for everybody. That can be rewritten into something better, but I think you should start from scratch.
Again, not trying to be mean or hurtful.
Keep writing. read
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