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HOW IT RATES
A priest suffering a crisis of faith finds his spirit both renewed and tested when he encounters a runaway with supernatural powers.
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Reviews of The Fallen 16
by Point_and_shoot on 04/07/2013I am currently giving this a free-will review because: a)I am a graphic design enthusiast and liked the cover art for this screenplay while randomly browsing screenplays b)I am or hope I am a spiritual person c)It seemed like a good idea at the time The objective of this review is to: 1)See how it fits in as an original piece in comparison to other pieces on triggerstreet...
I am currently giving this a free-will review because:
a)I am a graphic design enthusiast and liked the cover art for this screenplay while randomly browsing screenplays
b)I am or hope I am a spiritual person
c)It seemed like a good idea at the time
The objective of this review is to:
1)See how it fits in as an original piece in comparison to other pieces on triggerstreet by other authors
2)See what techniques it uses to achieve its individual identity within its genre
3)See what justice it gives its chosen genre or if it has self-awareness of its genre
4)Admire the story, feel the prose of its characters, put myself in the cinema seat to imagine it
5)Ask myself if I would direct it and ponder on how or if it should be directed as a feature length
6)To infuse the general critique clap-trap then give my conclusion
First of all I would like to say well done to J.M.S for this script, and I hope that J.M.S keeps going as it was a good read and at one stage I timed myself to leave it but couldn’t because I wanted to know what happened next. Like I said the themes in this story is close to home to me.
HOW IT FITS IN AS AN ORIGINAL PIECE:
I like that religion pours almost out of every page. The lead character – the priest father Sullivan is truly the centre of this story and is almost on all pages. Therefore when he invokes the spirit of a verse in Luke or psalms I am drawn to it literally as opposed to audibly as I can actually look up the reference. He invokes the spirit of Luke and Psalms with the air of a master. So that reads authentically. Overall I would say that the Fallen as the title implies is a story about a soul losing its way.
The characters to me are the most likeable elements to this screenplay. I sense the community spirit. There feels to be a oneness to them all no matter how little their lines are like Tony or Victor.
You can sense the respect they feel for the priest and the want for better things. I like the tone in their voices and the issues they choose to air. I gather from this that the themes, words from Bible, and characters plight is no fly-by-night topic to the author and there is a sense of care and heart to be taken from this.
Most likeable character is the priest because he uses slang, understands the hood. Has his own personal burden, and burden of the people he serves. Drinks, isn’t afraid or doesn’t flinch in the face of gangs and violent threats.
I can even imagine him walking with a bit of a stylish but subtle strut in his walk.
It bears saying that at the same time I was reading this I was also reading F-ceska’s gospel of Michael (on TS), which is also about a priest that loses his way, but he has a saviour and isn’t central to the overall story. But apologies if I get some facts confused.
Breaking down what I think happens in the story:
• There is a present day interrogation after the fact of a terrible event with father Sullivan and detective holbeck
• There are flashbacks narrated by and seen through the eyes of father Sullivan that introduces and follows his bond with a mysterious boy with powers; Richard
• There is a sub-story to do with the redemption of David, how the death in his family has motivated him and what he wants to do for or with the church
The questions and themes I got from this are:
If you give humans the powers for miracles could they misuse them?
Is one special person worth more than 100 normal ones?
Belief in the paranormal
Belief in the spiritual
Chance for redemption
Ultimately pervading madness
TECHNIQUES AND STRUCTURE OF THE DRAMATIC AND IF IT COULD TRANSLATE AS A FEATURE:
In spite of me saying that there was heart with all the characters and I found them very believable and likable the overall story I feel didn’t have a central dramatic and drastic emotional 180 event that changed things, that altered perceptions that had consequences of epic proportions. If it seems I am exaggerating good, because that is what movies do with character arcs. They have epic proportions to their acts. I will explain why I felt the Fallen lacked this epic event changing things for all – factor in the following way.
Starts of as a dedicated, educated in scripture and dutiful priest. Whom is spiritually suspect, swears, drinks, has a blatant temper, seeks worldly justice, and looks for trouble,(if not aggravates it).
He ends up as misguided, split personality, swearing, dedicated to “his god’s will”, versed in scripture, dutiful, temperamental, spiritually suspect, educated, seeking worldly justice, psychopathic priest. Where was the change? What exactly did he change from metaphorically or thematically? Yes he fell, but he only fell into a mire that he was already in. I don’t think he changed within this story at all. Yes the revelation came, but that only shows two sides of the same coin.
Starts of as a confused, lost, scared little boy,
Ends up as a scared, confused, arrogant, and self-seeking brat. Not much change
David & Victor. Their arcs are good for the little time they have. And if David ends up shooting father Sullivan at the end then I would have to say that the most peripheral character of the three had the most development, and is thus kind of his story and where the priest fell he rose.
That is if he doesn’t go to prison for his actions.
Easy and fluid read. Punchy movement that ticks along nicely without distraction. Every segment felt thought out appropriately and i didn’t feel a single paragraph didn’t deserve to be there.
The scenes captured the moment and had a nice and natural pace about it. Really letting you take in the words, the descriptions of the story.
This is more a character driven than social, special effects or location driven story. I think of it as a thriller more than a horror and it would be rated probably 15 to 18.
WHAT I FOUND LACKING:
I personally don’t think screenplay as it stands would be suitable as a feature length but more as a HBO, tru-movies, low-budget or TV episode. Why? Firstly the convention of having an interrogation, and flash back with a nice linear pace without too many layers of character influences aside from father Sullivan is too narrow or flat to carry as a feature length, and rings of an episode of CSI.
I could see this working as an episode of CSI, because it is neat, compact, linear, efficient and finishes cleanly. But films whether they are 90 mins or 200 mins must have multiple layers of character dynamics. Multiple story strands.
This film only seemed to have one strand which was central but it didn’t interact, gather, with other strands to make it muliti-layered. Detective Holbeck was just there to solve a crime and even though his daughter was cured, that was it.
QUESTIONS THE SCREENPLAY DIDNT ASK ME
Does this screenplay identify itself apart from or fit in with other films in it’s genre? I said that I thought of this as a pyschothriller and not a fullblown horror. But in saying that which films in genre cannons would be companions to this?
Children of Corn?
It’s anyone’s guess. But does the author try to subvert the – the child with special powers – story we have become accustomed to? With the reveal at the end I would say the answer is; yes, there somewhat of a detour as to the ‘how’ of the kid’s special powers. How it plays out, how he uses it, and how it is linked with Fr Sullivan and how it is Fr Sullivan.
But there is no subversion as to the why. We don’t know where these powers come from, other than they are God’s gift or Satan’s curse. There is no historical witch hunts that are necessary for these sorts of situations in movies.
There is no discourse or conversations on the history of historical figures who had powers and what they meant to society or what they did; think Rasputin for starters.
There is no investigation from secular people like Holbeck or science as to the source of these powers. The reaction and awe didn’t read as if witnesses saw something supernatural that is gripping the suburbs and demands government
intervention, media hysteria, local mob hunts, or childish folk tales.
And it is this ‘why’ of Richards powers the lack of why or where the source is from and what it means that I think lessens the depth of the story as a film, doesn’t give it its due dimensions and tally that with the lack of main character arcs of development within the story and lack of the central character interacting with other strands and then you have a story for TV, and not for cinema as it stands.
1)Should we audience not know all about Richards powers so quickly?
2)When Richard agrees to help Fr Sullivan should the cures Fr Sullivan perform start small with a small audience then escalate to bigger miracles with the whole town involved therefore having momentum and building the suspense, and encouraging an element of surprise?
3)Despite swearing and walking with gang members should Fr Sullivan have self-imposed personal rules that he follows and that he is eventually forced to push or ‘cross the line’ at some point? Some sacred rule to him a bit like Batman in Dark Knight that if he crosses it it would mean the end of himself and the world at large. If this is present at the moment could it be more emphasised? Or what can we say is the line Fr Sullivan crossed apart from the ending when he lost his sanity? Should there be more talk of the fall of spiritual man, Adam from all ages to expand Fr Sullivans personal dilemma to the world at large?
4)Should he have prayed more on the abilities of Richard before suggesting he helps him in his crusade?
5)Should there have been a ‘ghost-buster’ or otherworldly knowledge debunker (or a retired clergyman) of sorts who is versed in the Bible but suspects the Fr Sullivans /Richards healing from the get go, and therefore telling us the audience how he/she perceives this is satans work, and what he/she must do to stop it? And talks about the fall of man, Adam, Genesis etc?
6)Should Fr Sullivan/Richard have had rival with special powers to challenge them or do what they arent?
7)Should the entire or main flashback device been so subjective and only through Fr Sullivans eyes? Would it have helped to have David narrate/flashback as well? Therefore adding depth, mystery, objectivity and doubt as to the person of Fr Sullivan from the off?
8)Should the town have rioted at some point? Either for or against the Fr’s custody?
9)Was the ending a bit abrupt after the revelation?
10)Should Detective Holbeck have had more time in the screenplay to deal with his own religious convictions?
So I would ask J.M.S to consider these final questions, and see how or if they could impact the story towards a more multi-dimensional tale if he/she agrees it needs one.
How does J.M.S see this as a feature for the screen?
What films would JMS pertain to The Fallen?
by sugarpie on 12/01/2011The first thing I have to admit is that this sat around in my assignment folder awhile. The “Priest losing faith” thing is kind of cliché and I didn’t think that this would be a very good story. The second thing I have to admit is I was wrong. While there are elements in this story that are cliché, (for instance I knew that the priest would have a problem with alcohol... The first thing I have to admit is that this sat around in my assignment folder awhile. The “Priest losing faith” thing is kind of cliché and I didn’t think that this would be a very good story.
The second thing I have to admit is I was wrong.
While there are elements in this story that are cliché, (for instance I knew that the priest would have a problem with alcohol before I ever opened the document) I enjoyed reading it and finished it pretty quickly.
The interrogation scene was a good hook. The characters feel real throughout. I really like the father’s character. There were a few lines of dialogue that didn’t quite fit the first time I read them, but after reading the (Great!) twist at the end I realized the dialogue made sense. Richard’s dialogue gets kinda thick toward the end, but it fits with his crazy so it works. The story moves at a nice pace.
What I like best is that the paranormal stuff doesn’t overshadow the real life aspects of the story. Often with stories like these we get into a whole other world with demons and exorcisms and the supernatural elements take over the story. You managed to keep your world grittily realistic and the whole time I was reading it I felt like I could empathize with the characters and their feelings and frustrations were in focus as much as the supernatural action. This is what really set this story apart from other priest movies for me. And you kept us in the urban environment instead of taking us down those big halls of the Vatican that always pop up in this genre.
The biggest criticism from me is that your action description seems choppy, mostly because you write a lot of single line action descriptions. Here’s an example from page 17.
Sullivan storms down the aisle; daggers in his eyes.
He grabs a Bible out of the pew and looks at it for a beat.
Sullivan squeezes and attempts to twist the Bible.
Out of frustration he throws the Bible across church and
marches toward the altar.
On his way he throws Bibles and other objects at the altar.
I read something in the screenwriter’s bible about how each paragraph should convey a single action or emotion you want to focus on, here you have five lines that could easily be combined into a short paragraph since they convey the same basic message of the character-he’s pissed. Considering the passage only covers the father’s trip from the entry of the church to the altar of the church I think a single paragraph would read smother. In my mind I start a new mini scene with each paragraph I read and all the single line descriptions are causing the movie in my head to be very choppy and jarring. You have a lot of major scenes you could apply this to like the intro fire and the car that almost hits the little girl.
Your description of settings is good and your character descriptions were okay but they got a little repetitive, especially for the Father and the Detective - tremble and smoke, tremble and smoke. Maybe you can vary those a little.
I like the Detective’s Dialogue but it doesn’t make sense to me that he would be so disbelieving of the healing stories since he had had a previous supernatural experience with the orphan girl. After going through something like that he should be a little bit more receptive.
My last suggestion might sound radical but I think it would make your script stand out a little more. I would change the Father’s name and ethnicity, you never call him white but with a name like Sullivan that’s what I assumed. There are lots of Father Sullivans, I typed it into google image and got close to five million hits, almost all of them old white guys. I typed in Father Fuentes and got about five hundred thousand hits- and most of those were of Daisy Fuentes the model. Type Father Jackson and all you get is Michael’s dad. See where I’m going with this?
In this case I think making your main character a minority will make him stand out more which is always a good thing. And I admit it bothered me a tiny bit that the old white guy was the beacon of change in a falling down community of mostly minorities. I know it’s not like he was the only good guy ( and in the end he wasn’t even good) but having the main character be white, in a sea of minorities, is a cliché I’m tired of seeing.
Thanks for submitting your script. I enjoyed reading it.
by FatherAl on 10/25/2011The Fallen tells the story of a Priest taking in a runaway who just may be the son of God. Overall I liked the script. Nice concept and structure to it, easy and quick to read. Wanted a little more resolution in the end - how/why is Sullivan chosen; although I like that he escapes into the night, wounded potentially to die or potentially to repeat everything. Concept -... The Fallen tells the story of a Priest taking in a runaway who just may be the son of God.
Overall I liked the script. Nice concept and structure to it, easy and quick to read. Wanted a little more resolution in the end - how/why is Sullivan chosen; although I like that he escapes into the night, wounded potentially to die or potentially to repeat everything.
Concept - Liked the concept, kept me guessing. May be a little to close to Fight Club in the end, but overall I liked it.
Characters - I thought they were pretty well drawn, and believable characters. Could potentially given us a bit more depth on them. For example Sullivan's drinnking. Why was he drinking so much? Did that contribute to the pyschological problems.
Also, with Hollenbeck - why did he so quickly decide Sullivan was a fraud? Could have fleshed that out a bit more.
Orphan Girl felt a little bit like the Exorcist girl.
But oveall good bunch of characters.
Dialogue - this is the one area I think you could work on. Differentiating the characters in how they speak in particular, but also a bit tighter on the launguage and more subtext.
Story - Liked the story, kept me wanting to read on and find out more.
Thought the police interrogation intercut with the flashbacks worked very well. As I mentioend ending may be a little like Fight Club, but overall really liked it.
Structure - structurally it was pretty well done. Wasn't quite sure where Act II ended and Act III begun and thought the tension could have been ramped up a bit.
Some minor commments:
In the first interrogation scene thought Sullivan went from pretty confident to almost crying very quickly.
Car in air - this came as a shock. Could maybe build the tension with something a little smaller first, get people wondering what is happening and curious?
Sullivan hitting Richard felt out of character. Once maybe, but repeatedly felt a little out of character.
Would the Church Superiors not get involved? Miracles like this would have the higher echelons visiting, maybe a chance for some further conflict there.
Some of the writing - most of the action is written in one sentence paragraphs. Although this aids reading quickly, it loses its impact a bit and maybe could have some 2-3 line paragraphs to vary pace and have more impact.
Overall a good script (the best I've read on Triggerstreet for sure) and feels like a well thought out story well told. read
by DontStealMyScript on 10/24/2011OVERVIEW A priest struggles to keep his church members in a poor East L.A. neighborhood, when a young boy shows up with the divine power of healing. The boy is shy and doesn't want anyone to know his ability, so Sullivan pretends to heal people while Richard sits at the back of the church. Thanks for sharing your work. This was a mixed bag for me. The premise was engaging... OVERVIEW
A priest struggles to keep his church members in a poor East L.A. neighborhood, when a young boy shows up with the divine power of healing. The boy is shy and doesn't want anyone to know his ability, so Sullivan pretends to heal people while Richard sits at the back of the church.
Thanks for sharing your work. This was a mixed bag for me. The premise was engaging and Richard was sufficiently mysterious. But the twist at the end threw me into a tailspin. I'm still trying to wrap my head around all the implications of the reveal.
But first, some of the easier things that you can fix. Your structure needs some work. The first plot turn doesn't set up the problem that the protagonist has to solve. Sullivan's problem is finding a way to restore the faith of people in his neighborhood. Yet the first plot turn, when Richard lifts the car in the air, actually solves that problem instead of identifying it. Kind of jumbled up, isn't it. Maybe I'm misinterpreting what Sullivan's goal is, but I don't think so. This needs to be fixed. Next, there is no midpoint turn that I could find, so the 2nd Act just tends to drag on and on. And the end of Act II occurs with only 15 pages left to resolve the your protagonist's problem. I believe that if you outline your plot using the Three Act structure, it will help give you ideas to how better organize your story.
Now, let's talk about your characters. There's a lot left to be desired in them. Sullivan is the only one who has any depth, and I'd say that there's even room for improvement in him. If you don't give us interesting, multi-dimensional characters to follow when, we can quickly lose interest in what's happening on the screen. Find ways to make your most important characters, like Richard and David, more human and realistic. As they are written now, their main purpose in your story is to hit the same beat over and over again. Find a way to let them come alive in your work.
This feels a lot like The Exorcist meets The Usual Suspects. That's okay, but you have to make sure you don't borrow too much from these movies that your audience will make comparisons to them. The twist at the end, in particular, feels too much like Usual Suspects. Is there a way you can change it to make if feel more original?
Goals - To give people in the neighborhood faith.
Urgency - Membership continues to dwindle at his church.
Stakes - Not clear.
My notes from the read are below:
1 - CHARACTERS
Protagonist - Sullivan
Sullivan - priest who's arrested at the fire and threatened with a charge of murder. He's likeable and reminds me of the priest from 'The Exorcist'.
Detective Hollenbeck - interrogates Sullivan.
Victor - an 18 year old who was a member at Sullivan's church.
Carlos - a church member who is leaving for a job in another state.
Richard - homeless white kid whom Sullivan lets sleep in the attic of the church.
David - Victor's older brother. He appears in a lot of scenes, yet he's strictly one-dimensional. Since he is a fixture at the church, I'd look for ways to add depth to him and use him more than just a functional character. And show us more conflict between him and Sullivan to add tension and interest.
Gloria - Victor's mother.
2 - STRUCTURE
a) Opening Sequence
The fire, the dead bodies, the sirens, all catch our attention and make us want to know more. Now let's see where you take us.
Not bad, but Sullivan comes across as too familiar. The drinking, quoting scripture, etc. Been done before. Can you find a way to make him more original?
c) Thematic Dialogue
d) Inciting Incident
Page 15 when victor is killed during a drive-by shooting.
e) Turn Point 1
Page 30, when Richard lifts the speeding car over the little girl.
f) Midpoint turn
g) Turn Point 2
Page 80 when Sullivan cries and runs to his chambers.
Sullivan/Richard takes on the police in the interrogation room.
Sullivan/Richard plans to clean up Los Angeles by killing a lot of people.
3 - PLOT
It's not clear how Sullivan gets a black eye. Did he do it ransacking the church? Did he get into a fight. Whatever happened, it needs to be made clearer.
On page 24 we see Richard has the ability to heal the sick. So what is he?
Hollenbeck thinks he saw a demon possess a little girl. So, now we get a feel for what this movie is about. So much has been done is this area: The Exorcist, Emily Rose, Constantine, etc. Let's see how you make your execution unique.
On page 58 and it seems that David likes to hug Sullivan a lot. What they heck is going on with that?
Also, the cameras, the crowds. It's making Sullivan more unlikeable. If that's your intent, it's working. At the beginning of your story, you didn't paint him as the type of character who'd do something like this. So either he's made a big change - which would feel kinda forced because in real life people change little if any - or you need to show more hesitation and uncertainty on his part regarding what he's doing. As you've written it now, he's all-in without looking at his cards.
So far, there doesn't appear to be an antagonist in this story. There's not even an internal struggle that appears to keep Sullivan from obtaining his goal. This lack of conflict is ruining your screenplay because it makes for a less interesting story. sure, Hollenbeck gives him a hard time in the interrogation, but most of the story is in flashbacks. And in those, even Hollenbeck comes to support Sullivan.
Page 71, Richard kills a bunch of gang members, but we don't understand his motivation. You need to take more time to setup why he behaves the way he does. Otherwise, it's just a cool scene with no emotional connection with your audience.
4 - WHAT WORKED
5 - WHAT DIDN'T WORK
I'm on page 45 and it seems that Sullivan is a little to quick to set up an arrangement where Richard does the healing and he takes the credit. First, it makes him look like not such a great guy. A priest who's life is dedicated to the church might be more concerned with Richard's well-being than with his 'saving' his church from apathy. Richard said he didn't want to do it, but Sullivan, in a selfish act, wouldn't take no for an answer. Secondly, if it is going to go down that way, it seems that Sullivan goes way out on a limb because he doesn't know for sure is Richard's healing will work again and from that distance. One possible way that you might deal with both these problems is to, after Sullivan sees that Richard can heal himself, have him accidentally discover that Richard can also heal other people - even from a distance. You can have this unplanned healing, maybe in a bar or something, restore the faith in that individual. If you use this, or something similar, you sit it up so that Sullivan has proof that Richard can heal others and he less a little less self-centered because he doesn't get the idea for taking credit for healing until after he sees how it touches the person who was helped by Richard's 'unplanned' healing. Just an idea to help you make Sullivan keep his halo a little shinier.
To some extent, the sequence that ends on page 49 feels a bit contrived. A man just happens to be raping a woman outside and when she scream, Richard just happens to hear her. I'd find a more organic way to illustrate Richard's willingness to kill in cold blood.
On page 50, when Sullivan strikes Richard, it seems so out of place. He is, after all, a priest. I can't see him doing that so it feels like your fingers are typing on the keyboard here. I get pulled out of the story slightly because of it.
Page 56, when Hollenbeck says he needs closure to the case to keep the commander happy, it feels contrived. The case is less than 24 hours old, why would the commander be pressuring him to close it?
Page 56, when Hollenbeck threatens to 'take him out' if he's using fake healing to scam money from people is a weak beat. What's Hollenbeck's motivation to make such a threat? And what suggestion is there that Sullivan is taking people's money. It's a vague, hollow threat based on a weak motivation. Maybe you could change it or leave it out altogether.
Page 68. Richard spends most of his time hiding and spying on people. It gets old after a while and make him feel like a purely functional character. Show us more about who he is, even if that mean we'll dislike him. Right now he's a mystery, so I don't know how to feel about him.
You don't explain how Richard has these powers. I know you have the answer in your head, so share it with us so we can make better sense of your story. And finally on page 86 we find out he's a fallen angel. But there are only 10 minutes left in your movie, so we gave up trying to figure all this out a long time ago.
6 - THEME
7 - DIALOGUE
Page 4, Father Sullivan uses the word 'Detective' three times and it sounds repetitive.
Page 64 'I can’t remember the last time I had a home cooked meal.' seems so overused. Can you find another line that gets this across?
8 - SETUPS / PAYOFFS
Richard tells Sullivan that someday he'll turn his back on him. / Sullivan tries to kill him.
David grabs a gun and runs outside during the climax. / No payoff.
9 - TWISTS
Richard and Sullivan are the same person.
10 - CINEMATIC SCENES
When Richard raises the car in the air to save the little girl.
When Richard handles Jose's gang.
11 - DETAILED COMMENTS
- p. 5 If this is a flashback, which I'm sure it is, you need to indicate that.
- p. 24 'O.K.' sb 'okay'
- p. 63 Since you rely on flashbacks so often as Sullivan recounts the story, you might also find PRELAP useful.
12 - EASE OF READ
It was an easy to read script.
13 - LOG LINE
a) Actual: A priest suffering a crisis of faith finds his spirit renewed and tested when he encounters a runaway.
This is actually pretty good. I know that the T.S. limit makes it hard to get everything you want to say about your script in there.
b) Recommended: No changes.
14 - TELEGRAPHS
15 - PAGE COUNT
16 - OVERALL
So, I believe this is a good start, but needs a lot of work. A lot of it feels familiar, but hopefully, you can find a way to put your own unique spin on this genre. Good luck keep writing!
by jkeats26 on 09/04/2011*** Contains Spoilers *** There are certainly a number of directions you may chose to take this, but, in any case, the script could do with some further character development. Specifically, I would like to see Victor get a bit more play by working out his relationships with David, his brother, and Father Sullivan. His death triggers Sullivan’s decent into madness (or makes... *** Contains Spoilers ***
There are certainly a number of directions you may chose to take this, but, in any case, the script could do with some further character development. Specifically, I would like to see Victor get a bit more play by working out his relationships with David, his brother, and Father Sullivan. His death triggers Sullivan’s decent into madness (or makes him more susceptible to Richard’s (the devil’s) influence) and also leads David to come back to the church as an altar boy. Victor, from what little we see of him, seems like a good kid, but we need more of him in the script so that we understand why his death is such a tragedy and why things eventually fall apart because of his senseless killing.
Structurally speaking, I think the script is there, but we probably need to meet Richard earlier on and see a miracle fairly soon after he is introduced. Starting with the results, carnage of the fire works for me, generally, but I feel as though the initial scene between Father Sullivan and Detective Hollenbeck falls flat. The dialogue doesn’t quite hold up and probably needs an edit. As the story builds, Father Sullivan and Hollenbeck’s dialogue does get stronger and more interesting, but if I were someone who could buy/green light your project I don’t think I would have made it through that initial interrogation scene to meet Richard and get into story.
The last note/suggestion I have: perhaps you should shift the focus to Richard and make him more central to the script. By building his character and making the connections between him and Father Sullivan abundant and apparent, the big reveal at the end would become more effective and organic. Richard already has a major role, but bringing his pathos and anger to the fore would help the development of Father Sullivan’s character as well and benefit the script immensely.
I do think this script is rather promising. I can see this young, disturbed kid making his way through the sprawl and urban decay of Los Angeles, sneaking around in the dark in constant moral crisis, healing the sick and punishing the wicked. Visually, this could go in a number of interesting directions, so, keep working on it and good luck.
Best regards, read
by WAH3 on 06/22/2011A good story, but the many unmarked flashbacks make it a bit confusing to the reader. Suggest you use BEGIN FLASHBACK on P5 and END FLASHBACK on P30. The reader can figure it out, but it distracts from the story when you need to stop and think about where you are. Same comment for the other areas where that happens. I think you need to firm up the ending. David follows him... A good story, but the many unmarked flashbacks make it a bit confusing to the reader. Suggest you use BEGIN FLASHBACK on P5 and END FLASHBACK on P30. The reader can figure it out, but it distracts from the story when you need to stop and think about where you are. Same comment for the other areas where that happens.
I think you need to firm up the ending. David follows him with a gun. Since nothing seems to kill him, what could David do with a gun? Maybe go with the hear attack thing to parallel the earlier Hollenbeck flashback?
I enjoyed it. Good luck!
Some specific comments:
Opening line is long. Suggest “…threatens the night. Clouds of smoke…”
Several times you use “for a beat” in description lines. For example, on P9 you could accomplish the same thing on the last line by: Sullivan glances over his shoulder as he walks down the street. Flows better for the reader.
On P20 Gloria pops into the conversation. I checked a couple of times to see who that was but couldn’t find her intro. I might have just missed it.
P30 – last line should be (V.O.) instead of (O.S.) since he’s telling this story and not really talking in the scene. (That’s voice over)
P39 – Should be “…if it looks like I performed…” and in the following dialog it should be SULLIVAN (CONT’D).
P43 – Contraption sounded a little out of place. Maybe “…wish to be free from this prison.” would work better.
P63 – “…police officer passes…”
P66 – Couldn’t understand why Richard was scared. Nothing before or after scared him. I think he should be watching from the distance like he did everywhere else.
by **DELETED ACCOUNT** on 06/22/2011I liked this script. It reminded me of a cross between 'Carrie', 'Fire Starter', and 'Usual Suspects' at the end. Your script had a nice flow to it, and I enjoyed the characters as well, although, to be honest I didn't find the priest that likable from the start. The twist at the end was nice, but done before. I wondered where you could have gone with this if there really was... I liked this script. It reminded me of a cross between 'Carrie', 'Fire Starter', and 'Usual Suspects' at the end.
Your script had a nice flow to it, and I enjoyed the characters as well, although, to be honest I didn't find the priest that likable from the start.
The twist at the end was nice, but done before.
I wondered where you could have gone with this if there really was a boy named Richard.
Your writing is very good and the formatting was fine, but I think you should put a flashback slug of some sort when your jumping from the interrogation scenes to the priests story.
Also, it would be nice to get some idea how the priest obtained his powers. There was the detective's story about the little girl at the orphanage, how does this tie in? Could you tie it in?
*spoiler* All in all, a real good effort, I enjoyed the Richard character a lot (even though it's the priest). I like the visuals, and the creepiness you added to certain scenes.
Personally, it's just my opinion, but I would look into maybe not having the twist at the end, and have the Richard character a real character, show his background, maybe relating to that orphanage or something along those lines. Just a thought.
Best of luck! read
by KenArthur on 04/27/2011Interesting ingredients here. A one cup of Fight Club (Norton’s psychological dissociation and projection of Tyler Durden here played out by Sullivan and his projection, Richard), add a dash of demonic possession of sorts, throw in two cups of paranormal abilities such as Samantha Stevens-like ability to move objects around with mind power; mix with some miracles such healing... Interesting ingredients here. A one cup of Fight Club (Norton’s psychological dissociation and projection of Tyler Durden here played out by Sullivan and his projection, Richard), add a dash of demonic possession of sorts, throw in two cups of paranormal abilities such as Samantha Stevens-like ability to move objects around with mind power; mix with some miracles such healing the blind, the lame, etc. Add one detective.
I did want to see what was going to happen and where this was all leading. So it kept me moving the pages and did not feel like some of the death marches I have been on trying to get through SPs assigned to me.
You did good in staying away from excessive prose and description, and the dialogue was sparse in a lot of places, good white space in other words and that also made it a fast, easy read.
I did not make a lengthy list of grammatical errors, which there were a few throughout, some periods missing off sentences, etc.
I want to talk about the CAPITALIZATION of SPEAKING ROLES. Here, and I may be wrong, I understand that speaking roles are capitalized. And so, if there are cheerleaders doing pom poms, they would NOT be first introduced in the script capitalized CHEERLEADERS. Nor would GANG MEMBERS unless below you have dialogue such as:
So in your script, the GANG MEMBERS, ALTAR SERVERS, etc. should not be capitalized.
Also, you have Sullivan first appear in the script by introducing him as MAN IN BLACK . Later you refer to him as SUSPECT and then FATHER SULLIVAN and then SUSPECT/SULLIVAN and then SULLIVAN.
I see what you are trying to do (i.e., from the audience’s perspective, when they first see Sullivan, they don’t know his name, they just see a man in black). HOWEVER: this is not standard or acceptable to the purists and various readers of scripts. Rather, I believe they would recommend you introduce him right off as FATHER SULLIVAN and keep it at that. No MAN IN BLACK, SUSPECT, etc.
The dialogue in the initial scene in the interrogation room could use some re-work, especially after one reads the entire script and then goes back to re-read the initial scene. And I would suggest the opening be re-thought after reading the whole script. Instead of Hollenbeck telling him he’s got 100 bodies on the street, and talk about “what could have caused this type of damage,” etc. when we don’t see the damage, when we don’t see the bodies on the street? I think it would be a striking and compelling opening to show the carnage right off.
I didn’t understand Hollenbeck’s question, “His too?” after he sees blood on Sullivan’s shirt. Is it a typo?
Here we go again with the capitalization of a TEEN AGED BOY who I think you will give us him name and it will then be capitalized. The TEEN AGED BOY who has been seen and speaking now becomes TEENAGED BOY/RICHARD, and later, RICHARD. Again, all you need from the beginning is RICHARD.
I want to talk about the scene with Sullivan throwing the bibles in the church. The scene is caused because Father Sullivan learns Victor has been shot and killed in an accidental drive by shooting.
The priest completely freaks out and throws bibles all over, asking God how he could allow this to happen. It took me out of the story a bit because I kept thinking how priest and Fathers and ministers of all faiths are well versed in helping so many others handle tragedy; that tragedy is unavoidable and they are good at helping people deal with their grief, etc. They are to go-to guys when it comes to tragedy, the frickin’ religious gurus. But here, this Father Sullivan, freaks out. It’s not even his child. He certainly must have had to help many in LA deal with tragedy, it is pervasive there to be sure. I don’t know why this would throw him for such a loop.
And throwing all those bibles is in too great a variance with Sullivan’s dialogue so soon after when he later says prayers are appreciated and that God has a plan for us all. He had no cathartic moment in between. And this initial struggle is what eventually results in his schizoid dissocative personalities, I think? Right? What else would be the crisis that splits him two? But this triggering doesn’t, to me at least, have the gravitas to provoke such a severe psychological split. Not to mention the supernatural powers he gains.
So, if he’s demon-possessed, then it’s even more unclear as to why he would heal people over and over, and go along. Demon possession seems to me to be pretty hard core and I wouldn’t think the demon possessed would have much time or inclination to pray, to heal people, to help people, to care about right vs. wrong. And if it is demon-possession it is too loosely integrated into the story, in my opinion.
I understand that in your story you can't show how the demon possession occurs (if he's demon possessed), because if you do, then you wou;ldn't be able to hold the Sulivan is Richard card to the twist. So this is a tough one to resolve.
So, without belaboring the point, you may want to change from Victor’s death being the trigger, to something more deeply personal.
How is he so sure Jose is guilty and throws him to the ground and says he’s dead to him? He didn’t see Jose pull the trigger. He doesn’t know if Jose was at the scene of the drive by.
OK, so we are at the point in the script just before any supernatural shenanigans take place.
Father Sullivan is bowing his head and praying. My king, my God.
Just after he prays, he sees is black eye is gone, he smiles and goes to bed. Later this is not mentioned. Did he think it was a miracle from God? Just smiling and going to bed does not seem like the proper reaction to a visible miracle in the mirror.
He keeps noticing the teen age boy Richard, who is evidently homeless and scared of being seen for fear his awful parents would show up and get him. We go supernatural from here on.
Bright lights emanate from Richard’s hands and he heals the homeless man.
Richard holds out his hand and the car that is about to hit Tamara is lifted up and over the girl.
On p. 30, when we returned to Detective Hollenbeck and Sullivan in the interrogation room, I suddenly remembered that there WAS a scene in the beginning with them, and I was like, oh, back to them in the future.
So your structure goes from an interrogation scene featuring Hollenbeck and Sullivan, set in the present, back and forth to scenes featuring them in the past as you weave the story. It’s an OK technique, difficult to really pull off if I had to try it, but I don’t think you need it at all. After finishing the script and reflecting back, I think it broke the momentum in places and was a bit herky jerky. I think a straight linear script would be tighter, quicker, and more dynamic. You still arrive at the same ending. And it could be because I thought the dialogue in the interrogation scenes was not particularly good at all. I’ll point out some specifics below.
They don’t have a body that fits the kids description. “This kid’s like a fuckin’ ghost.” I think you can get rid of that dialogue.
Detective: What happened next? Sullivan: “I was in the presence of the divinity.” Thumbs down here on that reply and on a lot of this dialogue between Sullivan and Hollenbeck in the interrogation room.
p. 33 the detective mentions the biggest slaughter the city has ever seen. This should have been brought up way way earlier. We should have seen this!
Flashback when Hollenbeck and his partner encountered a demonic child. OK, so here I don’t think you need this flashback or anything about Hollenbeck ever seeing anything supernatural. Why is it needed? What did it do for the story? Very nothing, really.
The dialogue between Hollenbeck and Sullivan around about if he thinks Richard is the devil. Going to have to again point out the dialogue problems between these two in this room.
Richard slits his wrists and heals himself.
Sullivan: “Do you know what good your could do for this community?” The community. Every time Sullivan mentioned “the community” I cringed. Can’t say why really except it just sounded not right. And here when he says it, I mean, a guy who can heal people can do a lot for humanity, not just this one community.
If the news of his powers gets out, Richard’s afraid his parents will come looking for him. Not a big enough reason really. And I think this needs to be important and integral to the whole Sullivan/Richard symbiosis. So I would suggest thinking this over.
Sullivan suggests Richard perform the miracles covertly from the back of the church and people will think it’s Sullivan? Well the demon-possessed would never go for it. And well, I don't know about all this healing stuff is being presented in the script.
Lord, despite the atrocities we’ve
faced, our belief in you has never
wavered. We ask that you watch
over this congregation and most
notably, Maria Rodriguez, who has
been confined to a wheelchair since
her youth. Grant her the wish to
be free from this contraption.
Show us a miracle, Lord.
If I was God and I heard this prayer given in this dialogue I would NOT answer it.
Richard heals several people.
Then throws a man into the path of a truck to kill him (the man was trying to rape a woman).
Sullivan slaps Richard around. Not believable!!! Needs to be re-worked. Threw me out of the story . Slapping him repeatedly? A teen age boy?
This dialogue below needs revised and trimmed, maybe deleted.
And if I go up to take a look?
Trust me, that is the last thing
you want to do. Promise me you’ll
never go up there.
Does it have to do with what’s
going on in the church?
I can’t tell you, David. Please
promise you won’t go into the
Two detectives are here to see you.
I don’t know.
Remember what I said.
David’s eyes veer to the attic before walking away.
You need to get right into the scene below without what you wrote.
INT. CHURCH - CONTINUOUS
Hollenbeck and Tara look around the church. Sullivan enters.
Good morning, gentleman. I’m Father
Sullivan. What can I do for you?
I’m Hollenbeck and this is my
partner Detective Tara. I need to
ask you a few questions about your
whereabouts last night.
Yes, of course.
He motions for the men to sit in a nearby pew.
I would delete all that get right into them asking him a question. You don’t need these introductions bogging it down.
This was an over the top reaction from Hollenbeck:
How dare you use God and wild
claims to get people to your
church. If I find you are taking
money and abusing your power, I’ll
take you out.
Then Hollenback wants the Father tailed.
We find out Hollenbeck’s son has leukemia.
Richard/Sullivan heal’s Hollenbeck’s son.
Why did the writer choose to have Hollenbeck’s son have leukemia and have him get healed. I wonder as I read if this will be answered and how it drives the story forward. (P.s. After I finished reading it, I think this is another element you don’t need, the son with leukemia. No pay off. No extra umph for the scenes and dialogue devoted to it.)
I think perhaps you’d be better off showing the detective as a hard no nonsense son of a bitch who doesn’t go for superstitious and supernatural nonsense.
Everywhere I look, crimes are being
committed on these streets. God
shouldn’t save these people. They
need to suffer.
My opinion here is that there was nothing with enough gravitas to suddenly shift
Richard/Sullivan to go on the mass killing spree and come to the conclusion in the dialogue just above about how everyone needs to suffer and die. I could not understand what prompted this change when they had been healing very innocent and poor people and concerned about getting people back to God, etc.
But suddenly, no, they flip flop and think everyone needs to suffer and die.
Hence the scenes of hundreds of bodies and mass carnage that was alluded to in the initial interrogation scene.
I was unsure in the end, if Sullivan was demon-possessed when his eyes went red, or how he got his powers when he did.
Structure-wise, as I said earlier, I do not think you need the interrogation scenes at all and that a linear story would be an improvement. Your structure did not conform in my mind to the classic three act form with which I am familiar. Victor’s death (p.15) was the turning point into act 2? Seems early. Or was there another turning point going into Act 2? Because on p. 30 we revert back from the past to the interrogation room, but still the same questions keep being hashed and details come out in drips and drabs to the tune of that not-so-spectacular interrogation room dialogue. Hmm. The third act seemed to me a continuation of the second act until the very very end.
And the ending. Poo poo.
If you decide to revise this structurally, you may want to have the turning point into the third act to be when Hollenbeck knows that it’s Sullivan and that he’s psychotic and goes after him with a series of escalating confrontations classic of an exciting third act, which involves a protagonist and an antagonist culminating in a frickin’ massively awesome final shitstorm. You have a lot of elements going for you here for a hell of a third act.
I think you woosed out at the end!!!
Hope this helps in some way. Keep it up! Every time I finish a script I feel like I just cleaned the Aegean Stables for a hundred years. Best of luck and when you revise it I will be eager to review it.
Peace and Love,
Ken Arthur read
by OliRichards on 04/25/2011I liked this. I thought the pace was spot on, it sped through building up tension. There was a nice twist at the end and the dialog was natural. So overall really good. Here are the points that didn't quite work for me. On p.50 when Sullivan got really annoyed at Richard it didn’t feel right. I'd have thought he’d be more wary/scared/still in awe. After all, he still... I liked this. I thought the pace was spot on, it sped through building up tension. There was a nice twist at the end and the dialog was natural. So overall really good. Here are the points that didn't quite work for me.
On p.50 when Sullivan got really annoyed at Richard it didn’t feel right. I'd have thought he’d be more wary/scared/still in awe. After all, he still barely knew the kid. It makes more sense at the end when the twist is revealed, but at the time felt odd.
On p.53 I couldn't work out why Sullivan is hiding Richard so much? David is bound to find out pretty quickly, surely it would be better to try and integrate Richard into church life at that point, before Sullivan realized just how dangerous he is. Again it makes sense after the twist is revealed, but did jar a bit at the time. I wonder if you could make Richard more afraid of meeting people, giving Sullivan more of a reason to try and hide him. You do this to some extent, but it could be played up more.
Hollenbeck had his son cured. This would be a BIG deal. As such, it seems Hollenbeck is too quick to try and bring Sullivan down. I'd have thought he'd at least be a bit more complex in his emotions - hugely grateful and wanting to help him while at the same time desperate to stop the killing. I think you could do more with his character.
The ending. You've obviously thought about this a lot as everyone does. For me the cliff hanger of David hiding with a gun didn't quite work - i would imagine, given Sullivan's powers, David would simply fail. After all he hasn't used holy water or anything. Perhaps this is setting up the sequel? I'd have preferred something like David shooting Sullivan. We think Sullivan dies. Then he gets up. He turns around. We think he's going to kill David. Instead he laughs, puts his arm round David, and says he's got a lot to learn. Ends with them strolling down the burnt out street.
Anyway just my thoughts as I read, as I say, overall I thoroughly enjoyed it. read
by wanderingmbhorn on 04/24/2011I read this a number of years ago and walked away supremely impressed with few critiques. Honestly, this draft seems almost exactly the same as the draft I read, as I don't recognize much that has changed since I reviewed this a year or so ago. Apologies in advance, but this will be one of the shorter reviews I'll ever write, because there isn't much I can improve with this... I read this a number of years ago and walked away supremely impressed with few critiques. Honestly, this draft seems almost exactly the same as the draft I read, as I don't recognize much that has changed since I reviewed this a year or so ago. Apologies in advance, but this will be one of the shorter reviews I'll ever write, because there isn't much I can improve with this screenplay, often I fell into simply reading for enjoyment instead of critical reading, a great sign that you've got a contest-ready script.
In the second read, I really got to appreciate the intricacies of the piece even more. I got a feel for all of the little hints you drop throughout of the impending twist, very nicely done. Similar to Donnie Darko, this is even better second read through, as it allows you to pick up on small details you miss the first time through. Sadly though, the ending was ruined for me, haha.
I also truly appreciate your characterization. While some of the gangbangers simply fill archtypes, Father Sullivan and Richard are anything but. Both are realistic, three-dimensional portrayals and bring the script to life. One area that I think you can look to improve, however, is dialogue. It is currently quick and serviceable, good as is. However, at times, it can become expository. It's not often enough to truly be a problem, but you can likely tweak this by not having characters announce their intentions or actions, as it can become repetitive. Instead, try to address these issues in a subtler fashion. Again, this is a nit-pick on my end, your dialogue definitely can stand on its own as is.
I only have two other real critiques here, and their both nit-picks, so apologies in advance. On page 51, I feel Father Sullivan shouldn't be so quick to forgive Richard, let's see him struggle with the decision, be wary of his young savior. We know doubt has to be creeping into his mind prior to his decision to abandon hope of the prodigy, let's see some of it.
Also, your ending leaves a number of different things up in the air and, personally, I think closure is the route to go. That said, this is a stylistic choice on your part and I'm not going to penalize you for it.
Overall, this remains one of the best screenplays I've ever read on Triggerstreet, when it showed up in my assignments, I jumped at the chance to read it again. Frankly, I'm glad that little was changed from my last read, this was amazing then and is amazing now. Reading like a twist between Fight Club and The Usual Suspects, you've got something special on your hands.
Good luck and keep writing! read
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