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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Drama Scripts  ›  Santa Monica Boulevard Moderators: bert
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  Author    Santa Monica Boulevard  (currently 650 views)
Don
Posted: February 11th, 2018, 6:54pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Santa Monica Boulevard by Rodriguez Fruitbat - Drama - A washed up Hollywood romance actor finally gets a shot at redemption, but when his past catches up to him he must choose between shooting his comeback film and saving the woman who lifted him up. 96 pages - pdf, format

Writer interested in feedback on this work



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You will miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
- Wayne Gretzky

Revision History (2 edits; 1 reasons shown)
Don  -  April 2nd, 2018, 4:46pm
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RodriguezFruitbat
Posted: February 12th, 2018, 12:34pm Report to Moderator
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Just a quick note. This is a rewrite of a script posted here a while back named Houng. Since the title, genre, tone and premise changed I’ve posted it as a new script rather than an update. Sorry if it seems familiar.

I’d love to hear your feedback!
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Sam
Posted: February 18th, 2018, 9:07am Report to Moderator
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Hi Rodriguez,

Read it in one sitting, very easy read.
I'll start from the top. I really like your title. I'm from England but even I recognise the connotations that place has. I think hollywood and broken dreams. So good start.  

One of the hurdles I think you'll come across is that this premise has been covered by some very good films before. You have to show us something new. Reading the logline, it doesn't sound like you will but you know what? You do.
I don't think you capture the script in that logline and when you're selling a script to an industry about that industry your logline is even more more important.

I also really like your page count. That may seem trivial but it does indicate a tight script right from the start. I've tried and failed to knock 30 pages from my script because I really want it in the 90 range.

I think you've also got a really relevant film for this time. With the internet, our past is always just a click away. Every bad decision is there to ruin the future no matter how much we change. We see actors fall from grace all the time and it's a really interesting topic to examine.

One area to really add weight to the script in rewrites is by focusing on your premise. Joey is a great  protagonist but at times his actions seem to contradict his character. I didn't get the feeling that he was so hard up for money that he needed to whore himself out. Considering he was such a big actor, this felt unbelievable.  
This is a guy at a low point in his career, making a bad decision out of desperation that ultimately ruins his chances of ever getting what he (thinks) he wants.
That's great, I would watch that. But when we see him already prostituting himself, porn doesn't feel like it was a horrible, life changing choice.
I think this would work better if instead of porn, he was offered a lot of money to make a celebrity sex tape. There isn't any money in porn, it collapsed in the naughties but we have seen sex tapes make some very horrible people rich and ruin lives.
By him making ONE bad decision will carry more weight because it begs the question, can we be forgiven for one, public mistake?

We hear that he is a difficult actor and that's why he is out of work but we don't see it. I think you have a chance for a great opening. Show us him blowing his chances as an actor and then we when we see him living in poverty it would show a great contrast.

I like the choices the characters make at the end. They leave a toxic world for something more natural and real. I think you could let the audience know they have a choice by hinting at another life waiting for them. Maybe they go back to their hometown and realise what real life is like and how good it makes them feel.

I've given you some suggestions and I think its true that nearly all suggestions you get back on a script are wrong so I fully expect my ideas to be bad. But hopefully they demonstrate some of my thoughts while reading it.

Your writing is really economical and clear. Sometimes I got a little lost going into a scene like below.
P6 EXT. POLICE STATION - DAY 
“ALAN SORENSON (50’s), sweating in his cheap suit, jogs to keep up with Joey.”
Alan is jogging to keep up but we don’t know what joey is doing.
  A few notes.
P33 After the whole Weinstein thing, this scene is pretty ugly. I know joey tells her to leave but by not confronting Alan he becomes complicit in the act. It makes me not like Joey. You could still have this scene but just make Joey disgusted by it and act on it. He could pull a knife on alan and threaten him. You could turn it into a save the cat moment. 
P40 Why did joey get paid if he owes the guy money? Also, the porn industry collapsed after the internet. There isn’t any money in it now. 

P43 Is joey not American? Lindsey asked him about before he came to the USA? Also, just before this Lindsey speaks but you wrote the juicers name.

P53 haven’t seen evidence that she’s a sex addict.
P60 Has he already done the porno?

After finishing the script I couldn't understand the scene where Joey kills that guy then goes back to find it all cleaned up.

Overall, really enjoyed it. Your characters are messed up and put into difficult situations which kept me wanting to know what happened next. Every character felt real, even the minor ones like the other actors.

Please do ignore my suggestions, it's your script but hopefully they give you some ideas.

If you have any questions, let me know.

Sam






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RodriguezFruitbat
Posted: February 18th, 2018, 9:31am Report to Moderator
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Hey Sam,

Thanks for the detailed notes. You bring up a lot of great points that I agree with. Your feedback will give me a lot to think about!
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Eugene
Posted: February 21st, 2018, 8:20pm Report to Moderator
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I'm up for it. Looking forward to the read.
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RodriguezFruitbat
Posted: February 21st, 2018, 11:03pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Eugene
I'm up for it. Looking forward to the read.


Thanks Eugene,

I haven't done a pass since Sam's notes, but I do plan to soon. Can't wait to see what you have to say.
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Eugene
Posted: February 23rd, 2018, 3:23pm Report to Moderator
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REVIEW OF SUNSET BOULEVARD


Reading this kind of felt like I was starting on page 13 instead of page 1. By that I mean, I felt like I was missing important backstory that I did not have.

You make clear that Joey was a Hollywood somebody but more in words than in visuals. You never really show the reader who this guy was or what kind of success he was enjoying. By the time the story opens he’s already in the gutter and we only get a few brief flashbacks — kissing the fan, seeing Amanda — to see what he used to be.

Similarly, we don’t see what caused him to fall so hard so fast. What happened in his life, in his career to destroy what he had? He keeps bemoaning his lot but we don’t ever see it or see what is preventing him from regaining it.

I was thinking back to the opening scenes of Leaving Las Vegas. When we see Ben in the bar begging for money from his old friends, we can see the type of life he used to have and we can see that it was Ben’s alcoholism that destroyed it as well. I was kind of hoping for that kind of scene in this script and never quite found it.

Most importantly, there really isn’t an inciting incident in this script that guides Joey’s behavior and sets him on the path to porn. That entire angle, which is the bedrock of your plot, doesn’t occur until page 39 and whatever it is that is going to drive Joey in that direction needs to happen a whole lot earlier.

I also kind of felt like there was no development in Joey’s relationship with Lindsey. It seems like it only takes one page for her to become the love of his life and I wasn’t sure why. When she is first introduced on the street and in NA she is hard, bitter and a ball breaker and then on the very next pages she’s a kitten. The transition was too abrupt for my tastes.

This just felt to me like a collection of scenes that didn’t all have a common thread holding them together. You are very big on story and a little too lacking in plot. I could see this opening with a shot of Joey staring at an Emmy or something so we think he’s this big successful star and then pulling back to see he’s in a pawnshop or something because this is all he has left to sell. Something that shows Joey hitting rock bottom.

And I think, overall, if you established early in the script that working in porn is this absolute last resort that Joey is desperately trying to avoid, that would work better throughout.  

So that’s all the criticism. On the plus side, I really like Joey and Lindsey as characters. I liked the way Alan is this mix of enabler, asshole, sweetheart and deadbeat all at the same time.

These are some notes I had while I was reading — I was wondering why, if Joey thought Andre was dead, he didn’t just take the money after hiding the body. It kind of works out later, but it stuck out at the time.

The line, “the first time I saw the lights on Sunset Boulevard, I thought I had reached heaven” is just glorious. It’s such a beautiful way to open the thing and the kind of line that sells tickets.

There is no need to have both Alan and Lindsey explain her accident. Once is enough.

Lindsey’s attitude is one of self pity which turns off the reader. And I think its unnecessary. She suffered a huge physical trauma. Nobody would begrudge her addiction and I would think her anger would be directed outward toward life, not inward at herself. Also, here’s a little known fact — Oxycontin was originally developed for post surgical amputees. That would explain her addiction — pain for the amputations and then she couldn’t stop. Makes her more relatable.

And a couple of typos — I think you meant Joey flips off the tourists, not flicks them off, and I think on page 43 you wanted Lindsey speaking, not Joey.

Hope these notes help you focus in on the next draft.
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RodriguezFruitbat
Posted: February 23rd, 2018, 3:38pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Eugene

Hope these notes help you focus in on the next draft.


Absolutely, your feedback is very much appreciated.

I'm still not sure whether it's worth fixing this script or letting it die, but if I take another crack at it these notes will help a lot!
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Eugene
Posted: February 23rd, 2018, 4:32pm Report to Moderator
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I don't know why you would even question that, you should absolutely keep working on this. But I think you should consider whether you want this to be the story of Joey's redemption or the story of him failing to redeem himself and commit to one or the other all the way.

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RodriguezFruitbat
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Quoted from Eugene
I don't know why you would even question that, you should absolutely keep working on this.



Thanks for the encouragement Eugene. With limited time it's a tough choice between working on something new or continuing to work on old scripts...

I've taken another pass at it based on the feedback I've received (uploaded). I definitely think it helps, but I also think I can do more to absorb your feedback. I'll have to let it rest a bit then look at it with fresh eyes later.  

Thanks again!
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Dustin
Posted: March 6th, 2018, 3:23am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from RodriguezFruitbat



I've taken another pass at it based on the feedback I've received (uploaded). I definitely think it helps, but I also think I can do more to absorb your feedback. I'll have to let it rest a bit then look at it with fresh eyes later.  

Thanks again!


Is Eugene going to produce this script? Unless a producer tells you that you should absolutely keep working on this script and then pays you to do it, then it's probably best to work on something else.
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colkurtz8
Posted: March 27th, 2018, 7:17am Report to Moderator
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Rodriguez

There is a lot to like with this one. Your writing is clear and concise, an easy read. You obviously know your way around a script. I liked the character of Joey, always easy to empathize with someone who’s all washed up, has a sense of humour about himself and shows some degree of self awareness.

I wonder do we need some more about how he got into his current situation though. Yes, we can imagine excess, booze, drugs had something to do with it but it appears this guy was very popular at one point and is still fairly young, meaning he must of went very wrong very quickly. Could there be a flashback to a pivotal moment when a line was crossed, a demarcation point where he went from star to has-been. It could serve as a motivator when Joey has his back against the wall while giving the audience a glimpse into how he got where he is without merely delivering it through expositional dialogue.  

Like any story about Hollywood there is a fair amount of disgust and allure in equal measure, that’s what makes it what it is. We click our tongue and shake our heads at the shenanigans that go on there yet can’t look away.

Although I did enjoy the Joey character he did feel a bit familiar, like we’ve seen him or versions of him at least before (Birdman being a recent example) but that’s fine, there is nothing new under the sun and you gave him enough laughs and heart to see us through.

The Lindsay character on the other hand had a very distinctive voice. Her back-story and current affliction was certainly less conventional. It says more about me I know but I wondered why Joey took such an interest in her. Yes, he probably sees a fellow damaged person that he could confide in and possibly heal with but the guy is still attractive, young and semi famous so to go for a girl with her disability set my cynical, possible shallow brain a whirring. I was waiting for some ulterior motive to emerge. Was he doing it purely out of pity? Or for good publicity, as in “Look, he must be a nice guy, he’s going out with a cripple”. But no, it seems it was a genuine relationship and that’s sweet, unexpected.

Her relapse at the restaurant (both their relapses really) was an unanticipated turn that I didn’t see coming. It worked well and provides necessary conflict between them but I wished there was more acknowledgement from her that she, in the end, made her own choices to fall off the wagon. I think if she shouldered some of the responsibility it would endear us to her character a bit more. As Nancy Reagan would have us preach “Just say no”.

Because, to be fair, outside of her disability, which is a short cut to sympathy in itself, she is difficult to like. Now, I vehemently disagree with the idea that a character must be likeable, you just need to be compelled to follow them, I’m more thinking in regards why would Joey fall for her the way he does if she is being a combative bitch all the time and unable to own up to her own shortcomings.

Still their relationship overall depicted well and I felt for them...once I got past my own hang-ups and suspicions

Someone above mentioned feeling uncomfortable about the scene in Alan’s office with the aspiring actress given the Weinstein case and yeah, I see where they are coming from but this is Hollywood, right? This stuff goes on as supported by said case. My criticism is more to do with it being too blunt and cliché because it is so prevalent in these type of stories. I guess if you are going to keep it in there, you should have Joey display more disgust at it rather than brush it off as something commonplace, or more vitally, acceptable, par for the course. You don’t need to draw too bold a line under it as it will only seem like pandering, just an expression of gesture to tell us that Joey doesn’t approve.

The mysterious clean up of Andre and his house was exactly that, mysterious. It had a very Patrick Bateman’s murder apartment in American Psycho feel to it. In the latter it ties in with the theme of surfaces and maintaining a polished exterior at all costs, here it just goes unexplained. We know he is in the employ of Dom but that still doesn’t explain why there was no fallout from that or more importantly, who killed him. Was it Joey in a drugged stupor? I doubt it so who was it? Again, I thought it was going to factor in later, some other force from the sordid underbelly of tinsel town out to get him but it never features again. Like a loose end Chandler would’ve left hanging a la The Big Sleep.

I know you tried to portray Paulo as your classic all smiles no substance Hollywood type but he actually seemed like a decent individual who is a genuine fan of Joey, sees his potential, wants to help him/exploit that but Joey is a bit of an asshole in return. I know you want Joey to make that moral choice of Lindsay over resurging his career but his treatment of Poulo is pretty shitty. I mean, its not the latter’s fault that he made some questionable decisions, implicated Lindsay in them and now has to go rescue her in the middle of a shoot. Either make Paulo more of a prick or not have Joey be such a one.

So while I enjoyed the wry humour and Joey’s calamitous life situation, when the story does get going it actually gets quite dark and depraved. I wonder does this marrying of comedy and rather tragic, hard R drama fit? Having to resort to porn against your will is pretty barrel scraping but I see how it provides an interesting dilemma for your protagonist when his career suddenly looks to be on the upswing again.

Still, building to a scene where a legless girl, sedated to the point of unconsciousness, is about to be gangbanged by 15 dudes is pretty bleak, as bleak as you can get some would say. Yes, the situation is averted but the intention is there, it could’ve gone to that place...so when it resolves itself in a somewhat farcical romp around west L.A. complete with said semi naked dudes, it does jar. Are we in a Mel Brooks film here or A Serbian Film?

The leaving behind of the corrupted big city for the simple purification of the desert does feel a bit cliché too, pretty sure we’ve seen it before, many times. However, my big question was, how did a crummy agent like Alan have this place? I guess he did hoard his money from when Joey was a thing. Which again, begs the question, WTF did Joey do to precipitate such a swift fall from grace?

Anyway, I do have to give you kudos of the unconventional relationship at the heart of this, it has some heart, some laughs, some bite but is hindered by an uneven tone and unfocused plotting, in my opinion.

Col.


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