Sometimes it's the heart that gets schooled.
HOW IT RATES
A cynical student ridicules the homeless with a fake blog until a media frenzy and a million dollar movie deal forces him to search city streets to find a homeless person to be Buck Willy.
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Reviews of Finding Buck Willy 12
by **DELETED ACCOUNT** on 01/20/2011And not for the reasons that you would think. You see, I’ve been wanting to get this one on assignment because of the slight “controversy” surrounding it. I love offensive comedy and material-- nothing really fazes me when it comes to ballsy s@@@, and I was hoping that this one would go all the way. Sadly, it was mild in regards to this, and I can’t see why some people are... And not for the reasons that you would think. You see, I’ve been wanting to get this one on assignment because of the slight “controversy” surrounding it. I love offensive comedy and material-- nothing really fazes me when it comes to ballsy s@@@, and I was hoping that this one would go all the way. Sadly, it was mild in regards to this, and I can’t see why some people are getting bent out of shape.
Anyway, below are my notes as I read. Just take them as me talking to you like a friend. I mean no harm and I understand what kind of movie you’re going for here--
The way that Derek and Paige meet at the beginning doesn’t seem creative enough, and it feels “somewhat“ forced. No offense-- and I could be wrong. But you might want to think about re-evaluating this situation and go in a different direction with it. I would say that since this is a comedy, you should look for an opportunity to exploit either the “situation” or the “characters” for maximum effect.
Page 5. The writing is pretty clean. Which is why blocky paragraphs like this stand out as a tad sloppy--
SANDY SUMMERS, a late 40s journalist with a glimpse of pretty shining through an aged faced, holds a microphone. ETHAN VANAWAY, a tall, skinny, ex-hippy shoulders a television camera emblazoned with a Channel 13 logo.
You could either break the paragraph in two, or trim some un-needed words to shorten it. The choice is yours…
Page 13. Kip says; “What do you know about this Buck Naked guy?”, when this could be funny too; “ What do you know about this Free Willy guy?”. Just a thought…
Page 15. Kip says; “Sandy!”, when it should be; “Sandy?” with a question mark
I would recommend not using transitions and other camera terms like; DISSOLVES, CUT TO and FADES. I could tell you the reasons why, but I can tell from the clean writing that you’re experienced enough to know why, so I‘ll just save my finger strength.
I’m sure you can come up with a better description than those “beats“. Don’t take the easy way out, get creative, man!
Anything the audience reads should be in “quotations”. Like this; “RASMUSSEN”. You do, in fact, do this sometimes, but not all of the time.
Now the character of Paige really has no value to the story. She’s not in most of the movie and she’s only part of a small romantic “subplot” that does not support your main plot. I think you could go many ways with this “subplot” and have it tie into the story as well. Here’s just one suggestion to help you out--
You could give her an already existing boyfriend, make him an a@@hole of some kind. He could be your bad guy (which you don’t have in the script) who tries to get in the way of Derek’s main goal. And of course, Derek could get the girl, or not-- the point is; I think you could really build some conflict with this romantic “subplot”. And conflict is appealing to human nature, and humans buy movie tickets…
And now for the “six figure” question; was FINDING BUCK WILLY funny? The answer is; yes and no. It had its moments, but they were spread out. Overall, the comedy is do-able, but it could be funnier… it takes a lot to make me laugh.
In closing, I’d just like to say that I read the comments you left the other reviewers, and I must tell you that this is NOT a turd! And it’s not all the “controversial” either. So relax, man. I know you’re thinking about leaving this one behind. I would suggest taking a breather from it, write something else, and come back to it one day if you feel the need. Yeah, this script could use some work, but once again, it’s no turd!
Good luck… read
by brrose on 01/17/2011OK, I usually lead with the positive (and there is positive) but... ...first of all, I have address the nine hundred pound gorilla in the room that hit me on the first page. Having a black character who is homeless that has the syntax of Buckwheat is going to be a tough sell. I have no doubt some will be offended by some of your characterizations. Especially when the protagonist... OK, I usually lead with the positive (and there is positive) but...
...first of all, I have address the nine hundred pound gorilla in the room that hit me on the first page. Having a black character who is homeless that has the syntax of Buckwheat is going to be a tough sell. I have no doubt some will be offended by some of your characterizations. Especially when the protagonist (the guy we want to root for) is a spoiled young white kid who made him up to mock the black homeless community. As I said, that's gutsy, because some big obstacles were put up very early for you to overcome. I don't envision too many black actors knocking down doors to do the Buck Willy voiceovers or the Story Man role, among others.
I always ask myself what did I learn after reading a story...the theme/ the message. It is what imprints a story into my memory. Poor theme = easy to forget. I didn't feel like I learned anything here. If there is a "take home message" in your script it's too subtle because I didn't get it.
Other comments I have are predictable based upon what I have already said. I didn't understand why Paige was so impressed by his ruse. That relationship was too hot and cold- didn't seem natural. I didn't understand why the professor was so impressed by his ruse. Not sure I understood why anyone was impressed by his ruse. I think this story would have worked better if you put Derek up in the tree, threw rocks at him, then not let him back down...maybe send a few snakes up the tree after him.
I have to mention a pet peeve of mine that I see in your script. I generally don't like to see "a beat" in scripts. It is a visual medium and I envision that the action freezes in time when I see it. Interrupts flow. I want to know what the characters are doing during this "beat". Mention an expression, an action, a sigh, anything! We'll know there's "a beat".
I don't take issue with your writing or dialogue. It is solid. Your characterizations were distinct and consistent.
How could you get away with this concept?
1. If you want to stick with the homeless, I think it would need to be slapstick silly and Derek would have to be more pathetic than Buck Willy. Or Derek is actually Buck Willy based on Derek's own true adventures. Then, I would root for the protagonist.
2. Man, it would be so much easier P.C. wise if did something like make Derek this super masculine dude who writes a very popular knitting blog under a female alias. Explore his duality. It seems to me you were going for ironic humor but you can easily get there another way and keep the charm and inspiration of what you already have.
Typos: p 69 no punctuation after Skittles barks, p 70 sight of derek, not site, p 92 ads, not adds. Also there were a few times where I felt you missed commas when the subject (name) was at the end of the sentence.
If you rewrite- think hard about what inspired to spend so much time to put this together. What do you find funny about the situations you set up? Make sure you don't leave these critical elements vague in the final read. Matter of fact, I think a little more "on the nose" writing would make this script much funnier.
Best of Luck!
by saadc85 on 01/17/2011The general idea you have here, of Derek really being Buck Willy, is an interesting one. It definitely has a lot of potential, but I think the whole script in general needs to be worked on a lot. It seems that Derek is meant to be the protagonist of the movie, but I don't think the audience will care about him. In fact, I think his mom serves more of the protagonist role... The general idea you have here, of Derek really being Buck Willy, is an interesting one. It definitely has a lot of potential, but I think the whole script in general needs to be worked on a lot.
It seems that Derek is meant to be the protagonist of the movie, but I don't think the audience will care about him. In fact, I think his mom serves more of the protagonist role. Derek's mom needs Buck Willy to keep her job, and Derek needs Buck Willy to get a movie deal -- the mother is automatically the character people will relate to because her objective is more meaningful than Derek's. Screen time is divided too much between Derek and his mom when it's better to keep focus on one character instead of jumping back-and-forth.
I also think Derek should be a high-schooler instead of a college student. For some reason I feel that he acts like a carefree high school student instead of a college student. In fact, Derek is almost like the "nerd" archetype and Paige the "cheerleader," and Derek is trying to take her to Senior Prom. But if this is the point you're trying to make about Derek, you need to more clear about it. Maybe show how serious Paige, Cameron and Ashley take their studies whereas Derek is the opposite.
The character of Buck Willy also needs more backstory. He's supposed to be a homeless person that members of the community are obsessed with, but it's not stressed enough. The opening scene should be about people getting excited over Buck Willy's blog, and maybe not even hint that Derek is Buck Willy right at the beginning.
The dialogue isn't that great either, and I rarely criticize dialogue. The dialogue makes the characters seem completely outrageous and it hurts the tone of the film. In fact, only Derek's dialogue and his mom's dialogue seem normal -- and that hurts Derek even more because the scenes are being stolen by the other characters.
The ending is wrapped up way too conveniently. Nothing wrong with everything working out at the end, but it comes out of nowhere. It seems that you started rushing to the ending and that's no good. read
by **DELETED ACCOUNT** on 01/17/2011Hi Brian, Started nicely, with Derek writing his blog and the imaginary sequence with Skittles. It laid the foundations for a nicely told story. I did think the weakest part of the story was the Derek/Paige romance angle, or lack of it. I think it needs more to avoid feeling tacked on. Perhaps a couple more scenes with Derek chasing Paige and getting nowhere. Or an evolution... Hi Brian,
Started nicely, with Derek writing his blog and the imaginary sequence with Skittles.
It laid the foundations for a nicely told story.
I did think the weakest part of the story was the Derek/Paige romance angle, or lack of it. I think it needs more to avoid feeling tacked on. Perhaps a couple more scenes with Derek chasing Paige and getting nowhere. Or an evolution in their relationship, where Paige gradually begins to appreciate Derek. As it is, one second she's clearly not interested, next she's agreeing to break all her rules and go on a date. It feels a bit abrupt.
Derek himself was a good character, but he only seems to act out of self interest, even when he comes clean and confesses that he's Buck Willy. It was difficult to root for him.
He needs more heart. An epiphany, where he truly understands the plight of the homeless, and then does something unselfish and out of character. This act of redemption could be the trigger for more interest from Paige.
Although it was funny, I don't think you'll get away with showing the 'murder' of a chicken on screen. Better to have it happen off screen and show the character's reactions.
Overall, an enjoyable read.
P.24 Cameron: ...not unless your famous.. s/b you're.
P.59 Derek: You guys reak! Is that reek?
P.65 decrepid building.. Decrepit? (I'm in the UK, so I'm using UK spelling. Is it the same in the US? I don't know)
P.71 On Sandy's desk, from your description of 'balls on a string', if I'm thinking what you were thinking, I think it's called a Newton's cradle.
by Johnstone82 on 01/07/2011Armed with a quirky, original story, “Finding Buck Willy” follows a college student through an urban adventure to find a homeless man to play Buck Willy. While I like some of your comedic timing in this script, I feel there are some character and structural aspects that should be addressed in further revisions. To begin, this script has a very goofy tone; however, an overabundance... Armed with a quirky, original story, “Finding Buck Willy” follows a college student through an urban adventure to find a homeless man to play Buck Willy.
While I like some of your comedic timing in this script, I feel there are some character and structural aspects that should be addressed in further revisions. To begin, this script has a very goofy tone; however, an overabundance in goofiness (all the characters seem to have this trait) results in an unbalanced script. I suggest you balance this out with having some of your characters more “grounded” or realistic.
That brings me to character. As readers, we need to want Derek to win, to find Buck Willy, to get famous, and hook up with Paige. The problem is Derek has no redeeming qualities: he is a cynical, apathetic student that impersonates a homeless man for kicks. Now, all that aside, I’m not suggesting you make Derek a saint. But we need at least one redeeming quality to surface in the first act, something that makes us root for him regardless of everything else that follows.
Structurally, I believe your strongest act is the second. Derek continues to overcome obstacles in his journey to find Story Man. Ashley and Cameron serve for good comedic effect. However, I feel that your first act needs tightening. There is a lot of back and forth that is funny, but you might want to reconsider extraneous material. The main problem I have with the third act is it feels almost like a deus ex machina. Sandy’s problem seems to get solved for her and, on top of that, she gets promoted. And somehow Derek’s professor is fine with his student impersonating the homeless--so fine, in fact, that it makes up for his quiz. Additionally, I’m not sure what Paige sees in him in the end.
I hope this helps you in further revisions and that this review does not come off as overly harsh. Thanks for the opportunity to read this and good luck! read
by **DELETED ACCOUNT** on 01/02/2011I enjoyed your action / description lines, they are clear, concise, and quickly convey images. As a believer in the Syd Field, 3 Act structure, Finding Buck Willy hits it in all the right places with Turning Points making for an enjoyable read. When scripts are structured as this is, the reader can sit back and trust the writer, making it easy to connect with the protagonist... I enjoyed your action / description lines, they are clear, concise, and quickly convey images. As a believer in the Syd Field, 3 Act structure, Finding Buck Willy hits it in all the right places with Turning Points making for an enjoyable read. When scripts are structured as this is, the reader can sit back and trust the writer, making it easy to connect with the protagonist and central story. I also liked the set up of Sandy needing a "big story" (the stakes are raised in a primal way) and she's a fledgling anchor working at a third rate news network. Derek is a likable protagonist, and this reader kept turning the pages to follow him through his journey as he is faced with conflict on various levels to achieve his goal.
Some of us on Triggerstreet don't like to be bored with page notes, but I took some:
The dialogue miscues on page 36 are humorous.
(19) VO introduction of Kelsey (film producer) although I don't like the use of parentheticals, you should have one here (female voice) I was reading the Kelsey VO's as a mans voice (Kelsey Grammer-ish) until a page or so later when you reveal it's a she. Page (7) Same thing with Jaxon VO before revealing what kind of voice says, "no apple" throw in a parenthetical (boys voice)
(71) Warehouse scene with Jinks and Derek was a bit confusing, but maybe it's just me.
(78 - 79) I'm in between on this one—I like Ms Mags quoting classic rock songs, but these songs are so hardwired into all of us that the songs started running through my head—taking me out of the dialogue between Derek and his goal to convince Story Man to pretend to be Buck Willy. Minor stuff here.
(85) Rethink the part where Kip approaches Derek watching from the side of the stage, or at least have Kip just say something like, "what are you doing here?" It's awkward the way it is with Kip not recognising who Derek is and then, "your a good son to support her like this." This is awkward and seemed unnatural... to me anyway.
Overall, This is a well-structured script, an original idea, and good story with turning points in all the right places. And I like your use of Suspense Sentences in your dialogue.
by **DELETED ACCOUNT** on 12/30/2010Interesting premise. Reminds me of a young adult novel I read a long time ago, where two high schoolers start writing inane, ridiculous poems under the guise of an old, wise poet. When the poetry becomes a hit, however, they must find an old, curmudgeonly grandfather to play the part. Seems unnatural that Derek would invite Paige out within just a few seconds of meeting Paige... Interesting premise. Reminds me of a young adult novel I read a long time ago, where two high schoolers start writing inane, ridiculous poems under the guise of an old, wise poet. When the poetry becomes a hit, however, they must find an old, curmudgeonly grandfather to play the part.
Seems unnatural that Derek would invite Paige out within just a few seconds of meeting Paige. I would either give them a little more time to meet each other (like thirty seconds of dialogue) or have them already know each other a bit. The cliched girl doesn't know guy, but guy knows girl because he sits behind her in class is.... well.... cliché. There's a reason it's used so much (because it works), but personally, it bothers me to see such unoriginal character introductions.
Same with the sidekick best friend meeting the protag in the school hallway to serve little purpose more than to be a sounding board. Sorry to be so cynical, but I feel like I've seen this scene too many times.
Why did you include iPhone? Does it have to be an iPhone? If not, take this out. Specific products take a lot of money and lawyering to actually get in the movie, and just annoy producers. Just writing that he's texting is good enough.
Hmm, for some reason I don't like hearing the news cast about the blogger on page ten. We've barely been introduced to this blog, and already it's national news. I want to know why Derek started writing the blog. Why does he pretend to be a homeless man? How did it grow in popularity? Is it funny? Sad? Touching? Etc. These are all kep plot points that we should be able to follow as they happen. I'd say it would be nice to start with Derek writing his blog. Then we have some sort of inciting incident that causes him to start writing a blog as a homeless man, and then the blog taking off in popularity could be the start of act II, around page 30.
Sorry to just suggest a new outline after only reading ten pages, but this isn't working for me.
13 - Finding out that Sandy needs something (a big news story) is good at this point of the story. However, having her already find out that the solution to this is the Buck Willy story this early is too quick. Most SPs I read on Triggerstreet take too long to get into the action and find out what the characters need and how they will get it. This one seems to be the opposite, moving too quickly. There's nothing wrong with a fast-paced story, but this seems poorly planned.
p. 18 - Same problem. Derek is being asked to write an essay about his own blog. This is great stuff, but it belongs in Act II. Yes, we want to learn things about the characters as we go, but we need to know something about him first. We're thrown into the middle of this story and have no idea why we're here or why the characters are here.
25 - Movie producers are already interested??? Holy smokes, this world moves quickly, as do you.
The fortune teller and Buck Willy VO stuff is good.
Not much else to say about the rest of this. It loses some of its luster when you basically have a 70 page ACT II starting right at the beginning of the screenplay. I lost a little bit of interest in it when it's formatted like this.
Decent ending. I was hoping for a little bit more. I'm not sure what, but maybe something a little more cinematic.
Now, I'm no slave to the outline or to Blake Snyder's beat sheet or Campbell's Hero's Journey. I think many writers obey these formats too religiously. However, that's not saying that they should be thrown out completely. They do make sense, and they do make for good storytelling, as a rough guideline. This is one case where it would benefit you to take a look at the aforementioned references and consider re-outlining your story a bit. You're a good writer, and most everything moves effortlessly and smoothly. it's a relatively easy read but things just aren't in the right places. We need to know a bit about these characters first, and understand why they are doing the things they're doing. Why does the blog exist? This is something that needs to be fleshed out by page 15. If you fail to do this, we have no interest in the story and we're lost.
I would highly recommend taking a look at a beat sheet or Campbell's works and considering switching some stuff around here.
Good work and best of luck with it!
by William Mandell on 12/25/2010Just by reading this draft it is obvious that you have education and or history related to screenwriting. It was certainly a clean fast read. Structurally, things seemed to be in the right place and I really liked the way you interwove the plot over everyone looking for this fictitious Buck Willy. Very well written script. As for the concept, for some reason or another,... Just by reading this draft it is obvious that you have education and or history related to screenwriting. It was certainly a clean fast read. Structurally, things seemed to be in the right place and I really liked the way you interwove the plot over everyone looking for this fictitious Buck Willy. Very well written script.
As for the concept, for some reason or another, it didn't resonate that well for me, and I can't explain why. I'm sure that this is with no doubt a popular script on TS and certainly has a lot of potential. Just for some reason, I think only having to do with my tastes, it wasn't something that I became excited about. As though something is missing. If I had to guess, it just feels like the script needs more tension. The stakes of failure don't feel like they are that high. Sure, Sandy's job is at stake, but we kind of know that the jig is going to be up at some point, and what is the predicted result of that going to be? I mean, what's the worst thing that can really happen if people discover that Derek is actually Buck Willy? I think that's what the problem with this is. You need to find a way to make it a catastrophe for people to discover that Derek is Buck Willy. Right now it feels like a mild inconvenience.
But I really like your characterization and the dialog. Everything was executed top notch. Overall this was a very well written script.
by bullwinkleman on 12/24/2010The first thing that I will note about this screenplay is that the grasp the writer has over the technical aspect of writing is extremely evident. A very fast and easy read, well done. However, I don't see that same mastery when it comes to the story itself. My main complaint is that it comes off a bit shallow. For most of the story, Derek's goal is motivated simply by the... The first thing that I will note about this screenplay is that the grasp the writer has over the technical aspect of writing is extremely evident. A very fast and easy read, well done.
However, I don't see that same mastery when it comes to the story itself. My main complaint is that it comes off a bit shallow. For most of the story, Derek's goal is motivated simply by the possibility of a movie deal.
It's vaguely implied that he might also be doing it to impress Paige, but she doesn't really factor into the story. He could also be doing it to save his mom's job. But, until he asks Story Man if he will 'help save a single mom's job', we have no evidence that he even cared about that.
There is simply nothing at stake in Derek's life. If he's found out, his life just goes back to normal. If you want his mom losing her job to be his motivation, then you need to prove to us that he cares about it, and that it will affect him. His motivation needs to be this giant train we can see chasing him down the tracks.
I also think you need to answer the question of why? Why was he motivated to write down Story Man's stories? Saying he was bored or just seeking a creative outlet isn't going to cut it.
You raise some interesting topics with the idea of having the homeless being able to get their voices heard by a mass audience. I would like to see that theme developed more. What broader implications does this have?
Overall, I did enjoy my read. You have a great grasp of how to write a screenplay, I just want to see you push the story you already have and make it worthy of being filmed. read
by Shawn Essler on 12/20/2010Brian, FINDING BUCK WILLY is a good start to writing a high concept comedy. You have your leads and supporting characters all fitting into place well enough. However, what my biggest beef with this script was that it didn't feel like a complete story. It seemed more like a first act to something bigger. The concept of a college kid posing as a homeless man online is a modern... Brian,
FINDING BUCK WILLY is a good start to writing a high concept comedy. You have your leads and supporting characters all fitting into place well enough. However, what my biggest beef with this script was that it didn't feel like a complete story. It seemed more like a first act to something bigger.
The concept of a college kid posing as a homeless man online is a modern variation of an ages-old tale. That much is good (and there's your high concept in place). However, what the story delves into is just a matter of Derek trying to find a guy to fill in the character's place so he can get a movie check.
The biggest problem I have with that is that the stakes aren't high enough. If Derek fails to find Story Man before Kelsey arrives, he doesn't lose anything. Sandy, his mother does, making her more of a protagonist than Derek. All Derek is after is money, which is fine, but that's all he gets in the end (yes, attached to a job, but still...), but what did he learn? Nothing. He's the same kid at the end that he is in the beginning.
Not to mention, if Derek didn't find Story Man, what would stop him from simply confessing his ruse to Kelsey? Heck, Buck Willy had become a brand name. They didn't need an actual person. They could have made the movie with an actor playing the part, and if anyone questioned why no one interviewed the real Buck Willy, the film company could just say that he doesn't like being taped or photographed.
You had a great opportunity here to use Internet and television media as blurring the line between fiction and reality. That is the story I wanted to see from this script. What if there wasn't a Story Man? What if Derek is making these stories up on his own? Now comes the media attention. What does Derek do? What if someone stepped forward, without Derek's knowledge and claimed himself as Buck Willy? How far will Internet users and media corporations go to keep this story alive when they all know it's a sham?
That's what I mean big having more at stake. Your scope is too small. You bury the conflict in side quests without have a clear cut goal or theme. Take Paige, for instance. She's set up as Derek's object of desire, yet he doesn't even desire her that much. She's simply there to be eye candy, and the only reason he got the girl is by being the same jerk he always was. If that's all he had to do to land a date with Paige, than how come he hadn't already?
You also have a lot of talky, do nothing scenes, including set-ups with no payoffs. Take this scene, for instance:
INT. COLLEGE CLASSROOM - DAY
A large auditorium lecture hall. Students scatter throughout the seats. Derek sits behind Paige, his phone vibrates. He checks out the caller ID.
TOM TENLEY, 60s, a small professor type with a sweater vest and bow tie stands in the front of the class.
So make sure you read the first four chapters of Steinbeck over the weekend.
Derek’s phone buzzes again. Paige glares back at him.
Derek Summers, can I have a word?
Paige stands. Derek stares.
Important phone call?
Derek snaps out of it. His phone buzzes again.
Professor wants to talk to you.
Tom looks directly at Derek.
Derek, can I have a word?
Paige walks away.
Derek grabs his stuff and approaches the front.
I’m sorry about my phone, my mom’s in the hospital...
I’m sorry to hear that. Is she going to be okay?
Yeah, it’s not super serious.
Don’t worry about the phone thing while she’s in there.
Tom pulls a test answer booklet from his briefcase.
Your last quiz, however...
Tom peels open the cover. Filling the white lined sheets is what appears to be a comic book: characters with thought bubbles.
You were supposed to write an essay.
Tom glances at the booklet.
It’s beautiful work. Creative. But it’s not an essay.
These quizzes count for a third of your grade, Derek. I can tell you’re reading.
Tom flips to another page.
I mean, you’ve got Thoreau and a giant bean doing battle with worms,
INSERT COMIC: A MAN AND GIANT BEAN PUNCHING A GIANT WORM
And an angry pack of woodchucks.
INSERT COMIC: SAME MAN AND BEAN SURROUNDED BY GIANT FANGED WOODCHUCKS
But I can’t accept this.
Can I make it up?
Tom stuffs the booklet back in his briefcase.
I’ve heard word about a blog. Normally I view blogs as garbage fluff pieces or spoiled whiners, but apparently this one has some unique insights, it’s written by a homeless man.
Derek’s eyes shift, uncomfortable.
You want to make up this quiz? Write a three page essay on the modern day homeless experience in America, using this guy’s blog for reference.
What do you mean modern day homeless experience?
Here’s a guy forced to eat his best friend’s dog for survival, yet he can walk into any public library and access the internet to write a blog, check his email, et cetera.
Derek swallows a gulp of nervousness.
Get me that essay by Monday and I’ll see what I can do about that quiz.
His name is Buck Willy.
An essay Derek. No comic books.
That's an awfully long scene that gives very little in the way of exposition, character development or humor. It's just there. Every scene has to push the story forward. And you have quite a lot of those scenes. Heck, if you really need this scene in there, trim, trim, trim. Read this, and tell me if you lost anything from my cuts:
INT. LECTURE HALL - DAY
Students listen to the lecture. Derek watches with little interest. PROFESSOR TENLEY, 60s, speaks to the class.
So read the first four chapters of Steinbeck over the weekend.
The class departs.
Mr. Summers, may I have a word?
Derek hangs his head down. He approaches Tenley.
Your last assignment...
Tenley lays out Derek's "assignment". Instead of text, the pages contain comic book drawings.
It’s beautiful work. Creative. But you were supposed to write an essay.
Derek opens his mouth, yet nothing comes out. Tenley points at the drawings.
I mean, I can tell you’re reading the assignments. You’ve got Thoreau and a giant bean doing battle with worms, and an angry pack of woodchucks.
But I can’t accept this.
Can I make it up?
Tom stuffs the booklet back in his briefcase.
I’ve heard word about a blog. One with some unique insights, written by a homeless man.
Derek shifts, uncomfortable.
Write a three page essay on the modern day homeless experience in America, using this guy’s blog for reference.
An essay Derek. No comic books.
With an objective eye, look at my edit and ask if that scene lost anything from the cuts I made. Yes, Paige got cut out, but you already had established that Derek has a crush on her, and she wasn't interested. The scene is about Derek getting the assignment to write about Buck Willy. And that's what my version did. No need for excess babble. Get in, get out, no messing about. Scenes are supposed to start late and end early.
As I said, Sandy seemed to be the protagonist, especially in the first half of the script. However, as it unfolds, she ends up becoming more filler material than anything. Something to stretch the script to the 90 page mark. I didn't see the need for her in this script. That said, I think you could do some amazing things with the character. I would start by putting her at odds with Derek. Her goal must be a direct conflict with Derek's.
Cameron seemed a little pointless. Mostly just a best friend character to give the protagonist someone to give exposition to. Cameron does little to push the story forward, and is around more for simple buffoonery. I would spice him up, make him a character that people really enjoy.
Don't use "Good Morning America". You haven't secured any rights, nor gotten Robin Roberts and Juju Chang's agreement to appear in your movie. Just use a generic national news broadcast to fill in.
Why did Derek not know that his blog was a national sensation? He has access to the numbers. And, if he did just find out during the course of your script, you missed an essential scene: Derek's reaction to the fact that he has created something that popular. As is, the only reaction you get from Derek is, simply put, "Hey, a movie producer wants to give me thousands of dollars for my fake blog. Quick, I better cover up my tracks." You owed me, and any reader of this script, more than that. Something bigger, with more conflict and more genuine emotion.
Gte to the action quicker. Your inciting incident, when Derek listens to Kelsey's message, happens on page 20. Your First Act doesn't end (the moment when Derek decides to get someone to play Buck Willie, happens on page 29. Your inciting incident should be between pages 10-15, and the First Act should end by page 25 at the latest. This is a comedy. It should be between 90-95 pages, with an abbreviated First Act. Get the action started and get to the laughs.
So, those were my impressions of FINDING BUCK WILLY. A noble effort; I'm not knocking your ability as a writer. I guess I just didn't get the story I wanted from this script. But, don't worry, you'll find your path with a few more rewrites.
All the best,
- Shawn read
- Writer: Brian Howell
- Uploaded by: reuel51
- Length: 100 pages
- Genre: comedy
- If you opt to remove this as an assigned script, would you be so kind as to inform me why? I won't be offended or harass you at all. I'm trying to get feedback in any way possible. If by chance my logline or writing style or anything similar throws you off immediately, I would appreciate a comment on my script page, my personal page, or even an email. Thank you all very kindly!
- Bio: Studied screenwriting under Paul Larsen at the University of Utah. Graduated in 2005 with a BA in Film Studies. After taking about 5 years off from writing, I started writing screenplays again in 2010. And now I'm looking to break-in, just like the rest of you... :)
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