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I am only going to be able to get to this in pieces - so, I will post as I have thoughts. Anyway - through the first ten:
I really like the feel and vibe of this. Trevor's voice is a good one and the riches to rags story - although told often - not often told through the eyes of an eleven year old. I a, at page 10 and still want to read more so that is a very good thing.
Story thoughts on the opening ten:
Just my, BS - so take it as you will:
- The Dad didn't pay his taxes thing was bit tired for me. You were very clever in the teacher's dialogue regarding "FANG" (funny stuff) - so why not have something like the father "shorted FANG" (bet on those stocks to drop) as the cause of his ruin. Trevor could have a line along the lines of - even by grade school teacher knew better than that and she has a degree in literature...
INT. UPSCALE SCHOOL - CAFETERIA - DAY Bamboo trays, bamboo chairs. Fancy tables. Trevor, sporting designer suit, eats a fancy-looking dinner.
He’s at school during the day – this is supposed to be dinner (i.e., rather than lunch)? I would also add the designer suit description when we first meet him at the locker – gives a better sense of him right off.
There are a lot of grammar and format issues on the first ten. The ones I picked up are:
Trevor looks about, sizes up the kids that run around in the hall:
Don’t think you need a : at end of sentence.
TREVOR (V.O.) See, people are used to refer to eleven-year-old folk as “kids”. But the teenage bracket has moved.
Should be “referring”
TREVOR (V.O.) What eleven year old’s of the past used to gather through childish plays we pick up conversing with adults.
I think it should be olds – not old’s
TREVOR (V.O) Same is with teachers. They ready us for the real world.
Should be “same as with teachers”
EXT. PARK – DAY
Equipped with a playground for kids. IVANIE (5), a happy girl with orange hair and freckles, runs around like crazy.
TREVOR (5), sporting expensive suit, exits a black Mercedes. His mother looks out the car window and gives him an encouraging nod.
I’m confused – shouldn’t this be formatted as a flashback???
INT. LOCKERS - ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
At first read I thought I was back at where the script open. Maybe change the slug to
INT. LOCKERS – ROCHESTER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Also – on this and the prior slug you are missing DAY or NIGHT
EXT. RURAL HOUSE
TREVOR (7) sits on a porch watching IVANIE (7) run around like a crazy kid.
IVANIE Waaaannnaaaa play? Trevor rises, walks inside the house.
Again – this needs to be formatted as a FLASHBACK. Something like:
FLASHBACK: RURAL HOUSE – DAY:
Anyway - this does appear to need a clean-up for typos and format issues and I would spend some time doing that as you wait on getting feedback.
Story - wise - so far I like it. Will get back to your periodically during the week as I get through it.
Thank you so much for taking a look and for the wonderful notes. I should have explained what happened to Father - someone suggested it to me and I overlooked not knowing how to fix that. It's a great thought (re FANG) - absolutely loving it. And yeah - it IS lunch!
Re all the grammar - big big thanks, I know I shouldn't have so many, but I always do. It's just out of my hands, I don't see them, no matter how many times I may read it. I'll make the amends.
About the flashbacks - lately I decided not to include the word "flashback" in the heading and I've actually regretted it more times than I can count. I'll start doing that.
Anyway, big thanks...
(if you ever need a read just give me a poke. I'm always game)
Just finished reading it and it's very impressive. I liked the characters and a lot of the dialogue felt very real. Trevor seemed like a smart kid but I liked how the reader was often reminded he's also just an 11 year old. The classroom dynamic and how Trevor handled it was original and kind of surprising as well. And it was a nice touch to give him a teacher to bond with rather than a classmate (though his relationship with Ivanie was done very well too).
I was a little confused by Trevor's "plans" in winning over his class to be eventually homeschooled. As I mentioned earlier, he is shown to be a smart kid, but I really had a hard time seeing how his plan did "him" any good. Other than placating everyone around him.
Also, it might be a good idea to show Trevor's gradual shift away from being completely self involved. I like that through pretending he eventually starts taking on the traits he's pretending to have (we all are who we pretend to be after all), but it might be nice to get a couple slips before the final act rather than him have a complete personality change all at once.
But very good work. I used to edit a number of Hallmark films, and this would definitely be up there with the better scripts I read in that time. Except for a "shit' an "ass" here and there, it would definitely be a standout in that genre.
Page 12 Trevor sits behind his desk and plays a game on his computer. He doesn’t pay attention to--
A real nit – but a tip another SSer gave me on one of my scripts. Lose the “ands” and replace them with commas. The above would read as: Trevor sits behind his desk, plays a game on his computer.
I did this throughout mine (just searched on “and” and it seemed to make the descriptions go by smoother.
The Mom’s voice and dialogue is sounding a just little old – not so much in age then in generation. She would have been born around 1975 and her dialogue sounds more like someone from a generation before that (too many, “dears”, etc). The problem is that her “voice” blends to closely with Grandma’s. I know that the voice your going for is wealthy, but to my ear it just sounds old.
Just musing – but as I am reading along I am dying to have a cranky, no nonsense, blue collar Grandpa in here somewhere that doesn’t cater to Trevor’s whining like all the other parental figures do. Would seem to have some comedic elements as well – e.g., yelling at Trevor from the shitter, etc. The antitheses of wealth and high society. – Again – just musing as I go along.
Margarita is in his class as well. She lifts her hand.
Is this the same Margarita from the opening? Caused confusion for me because I thought she was in the rich school. Maybe it’s the way you’re using Flashbacks – maybe I’m just reading it wrong.
TREVOR (V.O.) The only thing these kids and I agree on - Ivanie should have fixed her hair before coming to school. The blue streaks are not bad, but it’s not eighties anymore
Typo – missing a “the” before eighties
Children in line act like they’ve been hungry all their lives:
Period not :
Okay - still digging it - there's a little Ferris Bueller vibe here and I like that. Will get back to it.
Hey Kham, eventually, I read your script and made some notes. I'll state my overall impression, followed by my live notes that I'll split in 2 posts.
A Game Of Supers is an above average spec script imo.
In its core the script succeeds with the heartfelt, feel good interactions the story's characters communicate toward the reader.
It must be said that this world and plot is far away from high-concept. Rather I see a low-budget feel good drama here. As is, the marketability isn't high, nor is there a big target audience to be expected. For the indie market on the other hand, I could definitely imagine it to get produced and developed into a valuable piece.
That said, there are many things that would need to be rethought and reshaped.
Improvements: The first 20 pages should be completely rewritten or drastically shortened. Here our protagonist, Trevor, just isn't likable enough, nor mean enough, to translate the needed empathy an audience needs to follow with attention and understanding. I wrote a long section about how I exactly see it in the live-notes below.
Secondly, I believe you should think about to install some sideplots that happen outside the schoolworld. F.i. I can imagine the kids Ivanie, Bobby, Margarita and Trevor + others could spend a day at the lake or sth. There you could better our insight about those young people and nail their differences and differing world views, and life plans.
This also could help to strengthen one important characteristic such a screenplay and concept should offer: FUN. While the drama is there yet and the ways of Trevor trying to get along are generally charming and entertaining, for the most time "fun" is delivered by the constant VO as well as dialogue between Ivanie and Trevor.
For real, the most fun in a screenplay should be delivered by action imo. You need to work on that and give us more funny entertaining scenarios, locations, activities, those young ones in such kind of COMING OF AGE drama usually offer.
Minor improvements: The kids sometimes behave younger than they are. The classroom partly felt too transparent as if everyone (f.i. Trevor often does) can come and leave at will without any consequences.
Ivanie and Trevor could have a love relationship and with that bring more meat into the story. Examples: Trevor could help Ivanie understand her brother's suicide that she even picks at topic for the Game of supers school project. He also could help her get a better style and look. The other way round she could help him get rid of his capitalistic, materialistic attitude etc…
There's lots of potential to go more in depth.
The main storyline itself work fine, with me at least. The whole point about Nick and Mrs Granger does work. It's just a bit repetitive partly and could be cut to the point. Better replace some of it with some out of school scenes, fun scenes other sideplots…
Imo you have a real good foundation here but you must use its potential more effective. The differences between Cali and Rochester must literally jump from the screen. The plot superficially beauty vs responsibly authenticity must be dramatized.
Clearing up the suicide (Ivanie's brother) from an emotional side, could be a great trigger to explain Trevor's change and understanding for this new world and show him the value of those peoples.
By now his change is too sudden.
All in all I think I like Trevor. I just would have wanted to get some more personality of him. See him change by doing, going out, breezing his new surroundings. There's not just school and education for a twelve year old.
I can't judge the language so well because I'm an ESL myself. That said generally I enjoyed the taken back descriptions and short sentences. Reading this script felt like old school, classic screenwriting. And I thank you for that. It felt refreshing to be not bombarded with shiny zero substance style as it seems to get state of art more and more.
Some word choice could be better f.i. "sees" but that's a minor thing… Many typos to be fixed soon.
I made some advice here that are optional but at this point I want to be clear about one point – the first twenty pages I'm sure must be reworked. His problems are too marginal for an audience and with that serve no true empathy. Whatever you do, I hope you take my advice regarding this point seriously. Because it's really the one point the reader might bail on the script and so will never get to the fine sensitivity this script has to offer then.
This story needs one or two further drafts to shine. Can't believe you pulled this out from the OWC hero entry.
Dialogues were top, sharp, and intelligent. Some repetitive parts like Nick coming over and over with same text or Trevor's inner cinema about being fucked up in Rochester were too frequent.
As said try to replace those with sideplots and new topics that work with action, movement, experiences we share with the characters.
Well done, Khamanna. I haven't problems getting through this at all. It's presented with noticeable care. It's on you how deep you wanna go now. Would definitely read other stuff from you in the future.
Clear up what age Trevor was in other school – clarity here
If it's only months before then still please mark that fact somehow like f.i. in the slugline FIVE MONTHS BEFORE or sth. – this could even save you the FLASHBACK note and instead make clear both, his age hasn't changed a lot and also that it generally happens before…
I liked the changes/additions within Classroom scene.
I'd call his mother DIANE, not Mother
P 6 mark flashback in slug Just be clear. You left scene with the word Ivanie,,, then you continue with the girl. The reader has no clue that it's a flashback until you mention his age (5). It's unnecessary to change our interpretation of what we see in hindsight.
EXT. CAR – DAY
Not a good slugline. It could be anywhere. Better be directly clear it's in front of his super school – cause that's the context that makes the conflict, isn't it??
P8 it's still a bit slow, can't remember my foregone notes exactly but there's a small problem I feel now: Trevor is shown as a very spoiled kid without a multilayered, say complex, personality. From an audience sight on things: this might be too boring to follow for so long… and serves no true empathy for the character…
It's not a big problem yet and should only be seriously regarded and balanced in a later draft when you truly nail your exposition to the point then.
Top of P9 Where are they while watching the movers??
Don't leave out where our visual subject, Trevor, is exactly located in the picture.
As his mother talks to Trevor, he hears:
^^ Here you should add some style to make clear what you want us to experience.
" As his mother talks to him, Trevor hears a mishmash except for few keywords that ring to his ears like sirens in a library… ;; or something.
The vision you got here is very cool, so I feel the presentation should mirror that charm when you give us such a special moment.
FARTHER – FATHER
Would give him a name as well
Call it mansion all along if it's that what it is
Okay, I like the transition then, especially the quickness, to the here and now, him meeting Ivanie…
Bottom p11 Best dialogue so far
GRANDMA DORIS or sth.
Name them all. They are real. Movers are simply Movers, for sure, but those characters are important to your protagonist. They are not trivial.
P15 … of the Trevor’s desk. It falls.
"TREVOR It’s like he’s six."
He says that towards whom??
P16 "sees" – you use this verb frequently. imo it's a verb you should avoid. Use a search function if you like to and replace all of them with synonyms to represent a more varied diction.
"Bobby tips Trevor’s tray over… A teacher behind them, grabs the boys by the collars."
Asked myself: Shouldn't there be more confrontation, perhaps an actual fight??
P20 TREVOR’S FORMER SCHOOL
Do you mean he envisions something the girls could possibly say – but they actual haven't said it in reality?
If so, I like the idea of it that his pride and ego come out as he imagined how the girls would react and that they would see him as loser. I don't know: On the other side it could also be just another flashback of a conversation between two girls that actually took place that he had listened to once - what would be seen as an odd coincidence in this whole context to me.
Just, again, mark it better; describe it better in slug or expositional descriptions before the transition. There should be completely unambiguous clarity. Sometimes there's too much doubt about what you're going for, or/and additionally, sometimes, I barely understand contexts that should be clear live on screen, in hindsight -- and not while and when things actually happen.
P22 LONG SIDENOTE
The plot is interesting to follow but I'm still not sure if the protag is any empathic.
I mean, okay, he was taken out of his paradise school and got the bully behind his neck now but who cares, you know???
Poor/normal people wouldn't feel for him so much, because we all got our problems? So does Trevor.
So the question is: For entertainment factor, shouldn't he fall deeper within those 22 pages so that we can emotionally follow how it must be to him? Like: More conflict. More lost to him.
The only attractive thing about Trevor by now is that he got some charm bound to his smart but arrogant mindset. Mostly this charm felt delivered by the VO and not by his actual actions. At least that's my experience so far.
Just consider: To whom is Trevor actually good within those 20+ pages?? None, I believe. Not his mother, grandma, Ivanie... …. Really only some slight words toward Mrs Granger come to mind.
Again I got the feeling that he either must suffer much harder OR you should accelerate that whole exposition tremendously, so that we get earlier to the CHANGE I expect he's going through, the CHANGE I actually expect this whole story is about, dramaturgic and character-wise.
A third option would be, making him a bigger prick from the start what would actually widen the journey of his change from bad to good, and of course, serving more empathy all along.
Point is: he's too mediocre by now, he's an eloquent assh***, for sure, but too half-clever, half-everything. The script's conflict holds too much on the "general" burden of being a rich kid or something. That's not so attractive to follow. Quicker or meaner, raise his bad sights -- or otherwise compress and shorten his overall way to the new school where true confrontation starts and he wins over us!!!!
END OF LONG SIDENOTE
Raised conflict between 23/24 best part so far, great dialogues here
Boy finally shows some heart…
P26 again Please give a name to his family members. There must be a simple search and replace function within your writing software. Easy fix.
"turn eleven" Did I miss something? Isn't he already eleven???
"outloud" "out loud"
P27 "Will I return to California at least?"
I wasn't sure about that whole "place" topic until now, and wondered before why you weren't specific about that. Imo something earlier you should emphasize the fact he lived in California.
I like the new raised conflict "pretending game". It's entertaining and I wanted something like that to happen.
Generally, the whole conflict starts to accelerate and finally deliver more and more story and direct confrontation.
SHORT SIDENOTE END
Yeah, even more action and movement happens now. This is getting much better, Kham. You really should consider my thoughts about the first 20 pages. Something isn't right there. NOW I can feel Trevor becoming a much more interesting character by eventually getting active and motivated. He even shows some "true" qualities like, having a vivid fantasy how to proceed, being patiently and persistent when facing a problem.
P36 I saw this issue a few times before: Behind a slugline, I wouldn't directly begin with dialogue. Serve us some orientation first. I perceive it as too hasty to start before any picture is on screen. Many other writers would even consider it "wrong formatting". An easy fix if you like.
P37 Script is still getting better, more drama, more character, more action. I also like how you build conflict between the characters.
Here's something that I had problems before with:
"Mrs. Granger walks to the board…"
I imagined this scene to be outside on a schoolyard. Then there's a board suddenly and I think WHAT??
I scroll back to the scene heading to assure myself. Yes, it is outside. So, it must be a kind of movable board or something. Question is, why don't describe it properly. Watch out for a note I made above --- in front of Trevor's house --- when I wasn't sure where the characters are positioned OR --- at the parking car ---, where I wasn't sure that they are still in front of the school. Keyword is: direction. Be clear from the start where somebody is and what he does (with what, which is where) toward whom who is where. << Lol, complicated sentence of mine. I hope you understand what I mean .
It really interrupts the reading experience if stuff must be thought over in hindsight and being reinterpreted again, or confirmed through scrolling up, rereading etc….
It's not a catastrophe in this regard but I definitely would advise you to reread all from a "reader's perspective" once and regard the pure information and how pictures truly transmit moment after moment. BTW It's a very common writer's problem imo and just needs some work to fix, the kind of unpopular work we all know well.
P39 "Nick walks in kid’s direction" in the kids direction
INSERT A SCENE: …
I'd use a usual slugline
P45 "He sees Nick that" He sees Nick who
P47 "Trevor trips on it" Trips over it
P51 I just noticed that during all those classroom scenes only the main characters interact and speak. You could add two or three subs that give some atmosphere and personality to the "entire class" here and there (really just a TINY bit I mean) and with that things would appear more natural with regards to the day by day class-life.
P53 "Not exactly to be liked by them but be like them."
In general there are many sensitive choices like that within the characters overall interactions. That truly gives the impression you care and serve complex, versatile, especially surprising and fresh.
P57 MRS GRANGER suddenly named DIANE in dialogue heading
P59 turns her back twice
"He looks around, sees condemnation on kid’s face." … on the kids' faces???
p63 nice turning point about Dad
p67 Did the psychologist just stepped into the classroom??? reread notes I made about direction/orientation problem
p69 so he's actually willing to live separated from his parents for that school? That's a huge sacrifice that I'm not sure I entirely buy
P73 "… out of pure kindness of my heart."
That's too cheesy and feels unlikely
"I made him do that(,) remember" comma
… Margarita(,) he’ll… comma
SHORT SIDENOTE Just thought about if that saving kittens etc. isn't inappropriate thought in case of their general age. Consider their age here and come up with something a 12 year old really would think about. SHORT SIDENOTE
p76 "several table away" Tables
P78 As written Bobby and Margarita return in a second You could need a LATER here to give a believable timeframe in case of their conversation within the classroom.
P80 I thought if that isn't the moment showing Ivanie and Trevor got something going. Doesn't this screenplay need their romance??
" NICK No one wants to talk to me these days. I’m kind of hoping you do."
Nice example of the wit and unexpected interactions I addressed somewhere above. Really good.
P84 "… sit in teachers chair" in the teacher's chair
p87 " KIDS (sotto) Mrs. Granger is getting married."
Thanks for the read, and I'm really glad you liked it. You said a lot of dialog seems real - some of it probably not, but I go over it every day revising constantly. I hope I spot the bad dialog eventually. Thanks for pointing out the third act to me - I did feel something was wrong there, thanks for the additional push. I'm going to finish yours today and send over the notes.
I don't think I thought some of the dialogue probably didn't seem real, just I had a difficult time understanding Trevor's motivations at some points. The dialogue and VO were great, it probably just needs a couple extra lines explaining how his plans will benefit him in his "selfish" phase. Like how he believes that getting his teacher and ex-boyfriend together will make the class like him, for example. Is it because he looks down on his classmates, or he genuinely thinks that they are rooting for the teacher and Nick to get together? However, the dialogue itself is spot on. No need to go on a search