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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Dramedy Scripts  ›  The Last Statesman
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  Author    The Last Statesman  (currently 8188 views)
Don
Posted: August 1st, 2014, 8:00pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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The Last Statesman by David Lambertson (eldave1) - Comedy - An old, cantankerous politician facing a terminal illness has had it with the bureaucratic constraints of politics as usual. He fights back by becoming unusual.  114 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 (8 edits; 1 reasons shown)
Don  -  April 29th, 2018, 11:36am
revised draft
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eldave1
Posted: August 4th, 2014, 10:04am Report to Moderator
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A political comedy - Kind of Network meets The Candidate


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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c m hall
Posted: August 4th, 2014, 7:39pm Report to Moderator
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I'm bothered because I think this could be a much better script than it is.

There is certainly some humor in the dialogue.  And there's smooth, intelligent writing.

However, in my opinion, you need to convey the messages that you want without the tedium of actual speechmaking.  





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c m hall  -  August 4th, 2014, 7:49pm
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eldave1
Posted: August 4th, 2014, 8:53pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks for the feedback CM - much appreciated


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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rendevous
Posted: August 4th, 2014, 9:04pm Report to Moderator
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Starting your script with a series of photos isn't the best idea. This type of thing does often happen in films and pro scripts. But you have to bear in mind you're writing a spec script. If you're not, my apologies.

It would be better to introduce character(s) first so the reader would have an idea who the people in the photographs are. Otherwise their meaning is lost on the reader, who'll have forgotten them as soon as they've read it.

It's not that you can't do it the way you have. I'm just saying it might be more effective the way I've said.

Some will be able to hear the sound of the pot calling a kettle here, but I'd trim down the dialogue. It would make the funny stuff funnier. As CM said above about the messages, avoid the speech making.

Your opening scene is two guys exchaging lines for five pages. This will put a lot off. Even Mamet would struggle to get away with it.

R


Out Of Character - updated


New Used Car

Green

Right Back

The Deuce - OWC - now on STS

Other scripts here
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eldave1
Posted: August 4th, 2014, 11:46pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks R - will certainly consider these thoughts.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Guest
Posted: August 5th, 2014, 1:37am Report to Moderator
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R,

You are correct, a 5 page opener with people talking will most likely put people off - it usually bores me as well - but in this case I enjoyed it.  It's filled with such humor and more life than most similar openings.  The dialogue feels so natural it's kind of crazy.  We find out what type of guy Lowell is through his quick wit (and yes, you can show through dialogue) and it's blatantly obvious that Doctor and patient have been Doctor and patient for many, many years.  Everything was just so smooth.  If something comes off genuine and real enough, I'm more likely to give it a pass as opposed to a scene that's brutally on the fucking nose.  Of course, that's just me.

However, as we went further into the story, it felt like that "life" sort of sizzled out a bit, and I started to lose interest pretty fast.  I'm not saying that it became OTN, but it just didn't have the same oomph as the opening did.

As for Mamet, Glengarry Glenn Ross is a classic that I will bet money has many, many scenes that go over 5 pages long and they're all bad-fucking-ass.

Dave,

Just on your 5 page opening, I have faith in you as a writer.

Stick around, huh?

You can learn a lot.

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eldave1
Posted: August 5th, 2014, 10:41am Report to Moderator
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Thanks for the kind words Green any to everyone else who posted guidance. I am an older, retired fok now and took this up as something I always wanted to do when I was young - basically. I am very new to this.

This is where I am on the guidance - at least so far:

The montage opening was an effort to give the reader a sense of Lowell's 40 year career in just 4 or 5 bullets (something that would be background to the opening credits). While I think it accomplishes that, I can also see where it would be a distraction and I certainly don't want to lose someone on the very first page.

I think am a okay on 5 pages of dialogue as long as it as good dialogue. i.e., imo, one page of bad dialogue would suck and ten pages of great dialogue would be - well, great. So, I kind of took your and R's comments combined to mean this -  the length dedicated to any particular dialogue must be worth it based on the quality of the dialogue and it's contribution to the story that one is telling.   So, I'm going to go through line by line and make sure that each line contributes something that is needed in the most efficient way possible.

I am obviously getting derailed as the script goes on. I think CM is right in that Lowell becomes too "speechy" as the story moves forward - I think along the way I am losing Lowell's true voice. I am also thinking that it may bog down because I am introducing too many conflicts in the story. It could be that a man facing death is enough and that the other conflicts (i.e., the Governor race, The battle with Supervisor McKinney, the pending removal from office) are just too much for one story. Not positive - but I can certainly see that the story slows down. I will definitely look for changes.

I will definitely stay around here Green - came across this site by accident and think it is terrific. Again - thanks for the thoughts.
  


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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DS
Posted: August 5th, 2014, 6:55pm Report to Moderator
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Hi Dave. Just read this - my thoughts/notes:

P9: INT: CLOSED SESSION CONFERENCE ROOM- LATER THAT DAY Use just "LATER"

P26: T: HAL'S PUB DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - NIGHT  Downtown los angeles is unneccessary. And you are missing an in in front of the t.


P30: LOWELL
Well, for one, you're breasts are
too large. Ever think about that?

Your*

P32: Will you please put take it off and
put on a nice suit.


I reckon the put before take is a typo.

P34: A dot missing after "There are
many other gaps in the program"

P40: People in the audience start making there way to the doors. Their*

P47: Baker and the Governor discussing Lowell's latest behavior -
plan a trip to LA

? Did you accidentally leave a note in there?

An MRI doesn't take 30 minutes.

P49: All of these parentheticals seem superfluous. The (to)'s are obvious enough based on the dialogue.

P50: Mistake in slug line. - is straight after EXT.

INT: INSIDE RESTAURANT - DAY is also wrong. There is no need for "inside". You have also mentioned it as DOWNTOWN RESTAURANT already. Don't change the name of locations in slug lines, otherwise the reader will get confused.

P51: Superfluous parenthetical again. The dialogue makes it clear enough.

P56: You're instead of your in Supervisor Jordan's first dialogue on the page. "DO" should be "Do".

P68: EXT: CITY TERRACE PARK, LOS ANGELES - DAY Is Los Angeles really necessary here?

The block of text here could also be divided into multiple lines to make a smoother read.

P71:
KAREN
Put you're belt on.


Your*

Isn't INT: BACK HALLWAY LEADING TO THE BOARD HEARING ROOM - DAY
what you earlier referenced as INT. INFRONT OF THE BOARD HEARING ROOM

Once again blocks of text here that could be divided into multiple lines.

P72: INT: LA COUNTY BOARD HEARING ROOM - DAY This was earlier referenced as

P73: You have voice from intercom, into the intercom and from the intercom. Just mention it once and keep going with the (O.S).

P74: A malignant tumor*?

P79: INT: LOBBY OUTSIDE SUPERVISOR MCKINNEY OFFICE - DAY MCKINNEY'S*

P84: You should be using something in the likes of ON TV SCREEN:/INSERT TV SCREEN: here instead of INT: CNN NEWS STUDIO - NIGHT
. And instead of this INT: STEVEN BAKER'S RESIDENCE - NIGHT
afterwards just use BACK TO SCENE.

P85: A doorbell is heard* You have an extra a.

ATTENDANT changes to GOVERNOR's ATTENDANT. Never change a character name in a script.

P87: BAKER
Jason, anything that you're office
would do at this point would surely
be seen as favoritism.
Your*

P88: TESS
Robert, you we're saying.


Were*

P90: EXT: OUTSIDE COMMUNITY CENTER - DAY Don't need the outside. EXT. already establishes that.

P91: INT: SUPERVISOR JACKSON'S OFFICE- DAY Missing a space.

P93: KAREN
Yes, but there not all standing
here in this room at the moment.
Besides, why would you need a
signer?

They're*

P97: The (to Lowell) is superfluous here.


P102: INT: HALL OUTSIDE OF HEARING ROOM
I think this is the third name that hall is getting in slug lines.

P103: INT: INSIDE THE HOSPITAL ROOM - DAY
Remove the inside. Also hospital room/intensive care room don't really sound right. Intensive care unit and hospital ward.

P105: This scene would in my opinion work much better with an INSERT TV:/ON TV:.



Things I noticed throughout the script:

Continuity on slug lines. It is important for all slug lines to describe locations. Those locations need to have the same name throughout the script. The purpose for this is for the production crew to know exactly how many scenes happen in said location. Most screenwriting programs do this for you. Once you type INT./EXT. you can choose a scene that you've already used in the script. Also i'm not sure why you used a : behind int/ext, it should be a dot.

Parentheticals. I noticed quite a few that would work better as action lines. You also have (filter/on phone) formatted differently throughout the script. Sometimes it's behind the character name, sometimes it's as a parenthetical. I suggest having it as a parenthetical and (O.S) behind the character.

Characters having governor/supervisor in the dialogue. I think it would really contribute to an easier read here if they were just referenced as McKinney/Jordan etc.


Now to the story:

To start off, I'm also inclined to say that I wasn't fond of that starting montage of newspaper headlines in the beginning. I don't think it's necessary to establish his politician/cop career(s) right from the first page. All the important information is referenced in dialogue afterwards and I think it works better if we slowly get to know these things about Lowell.

I disagree with R here, I think the opening dialogue fits here. Especially because it is well written and establishes a very interesting doctor/patient relationship that you don't really see on the screen. The entire script has a lot of dialogue and I don't see that as a problem. You see it in a lot of political-themed stuff (Boss/Aaron Sorkin's series).

I liked the tone of the script you set. Good POV on today's media and politics.

I found Lowell's actions quite believable. I liked how there was more to it than just the tumor for his erratic behaviour. He let out his disappointment in the system, probably wanted to do something special.. for that kid who died/the community knowing that he might just as well not make it. Knowing that he has a tumor that is affecting his rationalism already he gets disappointed in the atmosphere of politics around him, wants to do something, make a mark. If his character wasn't too OTT at times this could be very well be described as a drama.


Quoted from "eldave1"
It could be that a man facing death is enough and that the other conflicts (i.e., the Governor race, The battle with Supervisor McKinney, the pending removal from office) are just too much for one story.


No. In my opinion all of these things work well in your script. They're plots that all tie together nicely while giving the reader a variety of plot conclusions to look forward to.

What I didn't like: Tess. She was just too much of a wifey, constantly worried about Lowell. Her nagging was OTT for me. How the character spoke was annoying and felt overacted theater-ish. I could almost picture her emoting with her hands staring at the ceiling during some of her dialogue. Let's take this for example:

TESS (CONT’D)
My goodness, you're smoking! What
on earth has gotten into you?
LOWELL
Don't fret about it. We're both too
old to get a long term illness.
TESS
(waving her hand at the
smoke as she sits down)
But oh, it smells so.
Lowell exhales forcefully watching the plume waft into the
night.
TESS (CONT’D)
What's wrong? What's swirling in
that head of yours?
LOWELL
Nothing, just feeling a bit odd

There just wasn't much else than the worrying/nagging to her character. I especially disliked her "Language, Lowell!" moments.

You have something promising here. Good luck with future drafts and welcome to the boards.
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eldave1
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Wow DS! Thanks a million for the detailed review on the typos - can't thank you enough - amazing how many times I can read something over and over and not notice the errors.

Your take on Tess is interesting. That's the first time I heard that and I think you're right - she needs to be a bit more grizzled. In fact, it might be more interesting if she was tougher than Lowell.

Looks like 2 out of 3 dislike the montage - it's nuked.

Thanks again.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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eldave1
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Updated draft - made the recent BlueCat top ten percent but I fear it is doomed as I found MANY errors - oh well.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Dustin
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Action speaks louder than dialogue.

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Just read the first 5. Very impressive dialogue and a very believable doctor, for me it was anyway, not like I'm an expert. Loved the last line of dialogue where he looks at the clock and says 'Tick Tock.' He knows his time is ticking by. I like that type of character, rather than the mopy woe-is-me stuff. I've warmed to him straight away.

Glenda Jackson... is that intentional? I can't get her image out of my mind now. Well, at least she's an actress.

Really enjoying this so much I sailed into page 12. It was actually this sentence that has taken me out for a while to write this: Tess exits into the bedroom.

I know what you mean. It's awkward though. She could just walk in there, or maybe something else that describes her mood. She's probably a little old for sashaying, but perhaps she 'steps' or even, 'saunters'.


Jordan puts his cup of coffee to his nose and smells it. Finding no odor, he takes a sip. -- Very funny.

Page 30 and I'm assuming this is the journey into the second act now. I absolutely love Lowell. Very honest, forthright... an excellent character and I really like this script.

LOWELL Yes, sadly it seems I have Tourette's Syndrome. -- LOL.

Page 53... and I'm still thoroughly enjoying Lowell. I haven't read any reviews on this, but aside from perhaps a minor edit this is a very well told story. Not sure why anyone wouldn't like it.

LOWELL
Yes, thank you, George. Must of just been some ear wax
or something. Madam Chair, I have a question for Counsel
related to your motion.

Have just been, not, of just been.

I felt genuine distress when Tess went down. So unexpected. Very clever thing to do. All the time worrying about Lowell's health, and his wife suffers a minor stroke. I think it works really well.


LOWELL
And it's time. Time for me to be with your Mom, take care of her.
Someone's gotta keep the nurses in line. Make sure they're all
doing their job.

I love, Lowell.

Oh, wow. I expected everything to tie up nice and neatly... but Lowell dies, Jason lost the Governor race and McKinney won? I don't feel it is finished, or perhaps it is finished in the wrong manner. I'm totally shocked at your, very sudden, choice of ending. That final page is terrible. Not because of how it is written, but just your choices. I can't agree. There isn't any need to do that. Lowell can die, that's OK. I was kinda expecting that he would once he won. But McKinney cannot win too. That's bad... it leaves a really bad taste. The witness centre thing is all well and good and to be expected, even Lowell dying is OK. But we should get to see that. We've been with Lowell all the way through and then we don't get to see him die? Even just a deathbed scene would cut it. Maybe he gets to see his son win the Governor race on votes just before he passes.

Everything up to page 112 is pretty much perfect. Page 113, seems like you just stuck on an ending because you got bored of writing it or rushed to finish. It's an excellent story deserving of a proper ending. I don't think that it would hold this script back though as a director interested in making this would simply ask for a rewrite. That's the thing in this game... rewriting all the time isn't going to get you anywhere, people are either interested in making it or they're not. Doesn't matter how great the script is, they have to feel it is something they can see themselves making. I think I've written about 15 features so far. I do spend more time writing that trying to sell though. Waiting 2 months to hear back doesn't help either.

This script is ready to go, but it would be nice to have real ending on it.

Hope this helps.
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eldave1
Posted: June 21st, 2015, 2:19pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Dustin
Just read the first 5. Very impressive dialogue and a very believable doctor, for me it was anyway, not like I'm an expert. Loved the last line of dialogue where he looks at the clock and says 'Tick Tock.' He knows his time is ticking by. I like that type of character, rather than the mopy woe-is-me stuff. I've warmed to him straight away.

Glenda Jackson... is that intentional? I can't get her image out of my mind now. Well, at least she's an actress.

Really enjoying this so much I sailed into page 12. It was actually this sentence that has taken me out for a while to write this: Tess exits into the bedroom.

I know what you mean. It's awkward though. She could just walk in there, or maybe something else that describes her mood. She's probably a little old for sashaying, but perhaps she 'steps' or even, 'saunters'.


Jordan puts his cup of coffee to his nose and smells it. Finding no odor, he takes a sip. -- Very funny.

Page 30 and I'm assuming this is the journey into the second act now. I absolutely love Lowell. Very honest, forthright... an excellent character and I really like this script.

LOWELL Yes, sadly it seems I have Tourette's Syndrome. -- LOL.

Page 53... and I'm still thoroughly enjoying Lowell. I haven't read any reviews on this, but aside from perhaps a minor edit this is a very well told story. Not sure why anyone wouldn't like it.

LOWELL
Yes, thank you, George. Must of just been some ear wax
or something. Madam Chair, I have a question for Counsel
related to your motion.

Have just been, not, of just been.

I felt genuine distress when Tess went down. So unexpected. Very clever thing to do. All the time worrying about Lowell's health, and his wife suffers a minor stroke. I think it works really well.


LOWELL
And it's time. Time for me to be with your Mom, take care of her.
Someone's gotta keep the nurses in line. Make sure they're all
doing their job.

I love, Lowell.

Oh, wow. I expected everything to tie up nice and neatly... but Lowell dies, Jason lost the Governor race and McKinney won? I don't feel it is finished, or perhaps it is finished in the wrong manner. I'm totally shocked at your, very sudden, choice of ending. That final page is terrible. Not because of how it is written, but just your choices. I can't agree. There isn't any need to do that. Lowell can die, that's OK. I was kinda expecting that he would once he won. But McKinney cannot win too. That's bad... it leaves a really bad taste. The witness centre thing is all well and good and to be expected, even Lowell dying is OK. But we should get to see that. We've been with Lowell all the way through and then we don't get to see him die? Even just a deathbed scene would cut it. Maybe he gets to see his son win the Governor race on votes just before he passes.

Everything up to page 112 is pretty much perfect. Page 113, seems like you just stuck on an ending because you got bored of writing it or rushed to finish. It's an excellent story deserving of a proper ending. I don't think that it would hold this script back though as a director interested in making this would simply ask for a rewrite. That's the thing in this game... rewriting all the time isn't going to get you anywhere, people are either interested in making it or they're not. Doesn't matter how great the script is, they have to feel it is something they can see themselves making. I think I've written about 15 features so far. I do spend more time writing that trying to sell though. Waiting 2 months to hear back doesn't help either.

This script is ready to go, but it would be nice to have real ending on it.

Hope this helps.


Dustin  - thanks for the review - very much appreciated and encouraging.  In terms of some of  the specific comments:

Glenda Jackson wasn't intentional. Didn't even think about it (but now I do I may change the character name.

"Tess exits into the bedroom" - Good catch - it is awkward because she is exiting into  a room rather than entering it.  I think I'll handle the action from Lowell's POV.  Something like:

Lowell watches as Tess returns to the bedroom......

"Have just been, not, of just been."  -- Good catch - thanks

On the Ending

Very interesting comments. My wife (and muse) said almost the same thing when she first read it - (I think her exact comment was - how dare you make them all losers

In terms of the specific ending here, it was an attempt not to be predictable rather than to have the right ending.  But I think you are right here - it does kind of drop off a cliff. I am going to write an alternative something akin to - SIX MONTHS LATER -  The winning governor is actually pushing a weakened but still very sarcastic and  ornery Lowell in a wheelchair pass the Witness Center - Cut back to Karen now in the Supervisor's role in the hearing room - cut back to Lowell and Jason at the Witness Center - once last sarcastic exchange before and a request for a smoke before Jason takes him back to Tess.

Thanks again - very helpful.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Dustin
Posted: June 22nd, 2015, 3:57am Report to Moderator
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Action speaks louder than dialogue.

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Yeah, I understand what you mean about predictability, but sometimes that's just the way it has to go as that is the story's natural flow. I think the only thing wrong is that McKinney wins when you made him out to be the bad guy. The ending also seemed very abrupt. If Lowell is to die then it needs to be milked. He's such a powerful force throughout the script that if he is to die, I feel we deserve to see it after being invested with the character for so long.
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vancety
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Just read the first scene. Very refreshing and believable dialog. Maybe, just maybe the scene was a bit to long. In this case I felt like Tom Lazarus describes in Secrets of Film Writing:
"One-and-a-half-page scenes are great.
Two-pages scenes are good.
Tree-pages scenes are right on.
Four page scenes are suspect.
Five pages scenes are to long...."

I still liked the dialog on page 4 for but somehow I got inpatient. Was in need of some action...
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