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Don
Posted: July 31st, 2014, 8:44pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Pecking Order by Howard Jensen (colkurtz8 ) - Short, Drama - A gangland power struggle offers an underling a chance to make his mark (19 pages) - pdf, format


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Don  -  August 2nd, 2014, 11:45am
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rendevous
Posted: August 1st, 2014, 4:06am Report to Moderator
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Col,

Read this and liked it a lot. I won't talk about it a lot as it's easy to ruin for others. Spoiler alerts should be compulsory for those that need them.

Anyways, suffice to say it works well. As much I like ideas like this they do tend my head hurt a bit. I think it would be much easier to absorb on screen than on the page. Or it could just be me.

R



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Dustin
Posted: August 1st, 2014, 4:41am Report to Moderator
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Typo in the logline though... should be underling. I'll get to this later today.
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AnthonyCawood
Posted: August 1st, 2014, 5:17am Report to Moderator
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Hi Howard

Owe you a read or two! So I captured my thoughts as I went along, all just my opinion of course. At the end I get to what I thought of the script itself

- I think there's an over use of elipses (14 on first page) and mybe not used in quite the right way as the two normal/standard uses are to show missing text in a quatation or to show a trailing off in speech. E.g.
Telly glances at Crispy who feels his gaze...They lock eyes momentarily...Crispy nods with more conviction this time.
I think these should be replaced with '.' or ',' depending on how you want them to run together.
This is something my earlier scripts are also littered with

- I get the sense this is set in the USA but some of the language used is very English so I'd consider replacing to keep it feeling consistent. E.g. Boot to Trunk, Polythene to Plastic, Off License to Liquor Store, Skivvies to Lackeys (unless it's the other way round and it is supposed to be set in the UK?)

- The scene with the car jacking reads a little confused (or confused me - which is easy), I think becuase there's two vehicles in the scene and it implies they appear behind the van, but then she steps aside and seems to reveal the first car jacker. So is she also behind the van now, or is the car jacker behind her?

- Do you mean mini bar, or small bar as per Goodfellas? As a mini bar is normally just a small fridge.

- So when are you going to bring in that lovely lady of yours around? - I think the 'around' is a hangover from an earlier edit.

- I think the line 'platoon without a Lieutenant' should use a different rank, a Lieutenant is normally a lower rank and in this context Telly is kind of the Lieutenant already.

- I think Telly's dialogue on page 7 is a little over long and expositional - we know what happened with Philly from the previous scene so not sure we need detils of the other examples.

- I'm not sure the scene of killing the henchmen playing poker is necessary, perhaps Philly's offer to Crispy is that he taes over... otherwise what does Crispy get out of killing Telly?

As mentioned, from a script point of view, I think this needs to be written entirely with a US voice (or entirely UK) otherwise readers may get confused, which you don't want if you re looking for someone to make this.

I'd consider trying to locate this somehere too, as at times there felt like elements familiar from Italian gangster type approaches, then not. Personally I think it would work better with gritty urban from somehwere not normally associated with gangsters..

But, overall I liked this, moved at a decent pace and a couple of twists keep you slighty off kilter and not 100% confident that you've figured it out. It's nicely visual too and I could see this as the intro to a longer film on what Crispy does next.

Good job

Anthony




Anthony Cawood - Award winning screenwriter
Available Short screenplays - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/short-scripts
Available Feature screenplays - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/feature-film-scripts/
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IMDB Link - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm6495672/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1
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colkurtz8
Posted: August 1st, 2014, 5:18am Report to Moderator
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Thanks Ren for the kind words.



Quoted from Dustin
Typo in the logline though... should be underling. I'll get to this later today.


- Well spotted, I noticed it too and have already PM'd the powers that be. Rookie mistake on my part.


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DS
Posted: August 1st, 2014, 7:11am Report to Moderator
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Hi Col. Just read this - my thoughts:

Your writing chops can definitely be seen reading this. You've set a perfect tense mob atmosphere to glue you to the script. The dialogue is great. All the reveals had very good timing to move the story forward.

I found all of the characters interesting and well-written. Good job.

But the ending kind of kills it for me. Alright, Crispy kills Telly, his girlfriend and his entire gang. Why? What's he getting out of it? Even if you just took the "he snapped" approach with him there should be something in the script to confirm this. Right now, it just falls flat on what is otherwise a really really good script.

A few small errors I noticed in the script:

P3:
CARJACKER #1
Yep, two dickhead's who should've
kept drivin'!

Dickheads not dickhead's.

P5: ROCCO (mid 40s) the heavy, thick necked, broad shouldered.

"The" indicates that there should be something after the adjectives. It reads awkwardly right now. Remove "the" or add something behind the adjectives.

P16: You use polythene on page 1 and page 19, plastic on page 16. Could use some continuity there.

- DS
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colkurtz8
Posted: August 1st, 2014, 9:40am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from AnthonyCawood
- I think there's an over use of elipses (14 on first page) and mybe not used in quite the right way as the two normal/standard uses are to show missing text in a quatation or to show a trailing off in speech. E.g.
Telly glances at Crispy who feels his gaze...They lock eyes momentarily...Crispy nods with more conviction this time.
I think these should be replaced with '.' or ',' depending on how you want them to run together.
This is something my earlier scripts are also littered with


- I've always used them in the "traditional sense" in dialogue to convey pacing and phrasing but have increasingly over time incorporated them into the prose to break up action without having to go on to a new line. To me they make sense and help the flow of the read while conserving space. I've seen them used in scripta from the black list of un-established writers to produced screenplays and adopted the approach. Just a style thing anyway, each to their own.


Quoted from AnthonyCawood
- I get the sense this is set in the USA but some of the language used is very English so I'd consider replacing to keep it feeling consistent. E.g. Boot to Trunk, Polythene to Plastic, Off License to Liquor Store, Skivvies to Lackeys (unless it's the other way round and it is supposed to be set in the UK?)


- I'm Irish so I use what would be called UK English but the script's specific location is left open, I don't make any geographical references. This is something I avoid in the majority of my stuff unless the location is important to the story. If not, I don't want to be restrict to a certain place. Obviously, my vernacular is going to come through in the dialogue at times and there is definitely an American gangster feel as that's where the gangster genre originated from so these kind of characters will always have that vibe, it comes with the territory.

The relationship of Telly and Crispy is inspired by The Sopranos (I wrote this right after I binged watched it, couldn't help myself )  but I tried to maintain a neutrality in regards the setting and not explicitly say one or the other. It exists in its own halfway world Anyway, If someone wanted to produce it in either country, a few tweaks would solve it.


Quoted from AnthonyCawood
- The scene with the car jacking reads a little confused (or confused me - which is easy), I think becuase there's two vehicles in the scene and it implies they appear behind the van, but then she steps aside and seems to reveal the first car jacker. So is she also behind the van now, or is the car jacker behind her?


- She is talking to the Driver through his window when they pull up. The prose says he rolls down his window. As the masked men emerge from the bushes behind the van and flank either side, she moves aside (as in moves away from the window) so the Carjacker can point the gun at the Driver.


Quoted from AnthonyCawood
- Do you mean mini bar, or small bar as per Goodfellas? As a mini bar is normally just a small fridge.


- I meant in the Goodfellas sense. You're right, a mini bar can mean just a fridge, like in a hotel room but it can also refer to the Goodfellas kind.


Quoted from AnthonyCawood
- So when are you going to bring in that lovely lady of yours around? - I think the 'around' is a hangover from an earlier edit.


- Not sure what you mean, it reads ok to me.


Quoted from AnthonyCawood
- I think the line 'platoon without a Lieutenant' should use a different rank, a Lieutenant is normally a lower rank and in this context Telly is kind of the Lieutenant already.


- I actually looked this up and Lieutenant is the rank that leads a platoon. In this context that means Pete.


Quoted from AnthonyCawood
- I think Telly's dialogue on page 7 is a little over long and expositional - we know what happened with Philly from the previous scene so not sure we need detils of the other examples.


- Fair point and you're not the first to say this. My reasoning is that Telly is a dominating figure, he likes the power, the sound of his own voice, this is his soapbox. He's relishes it. Also, its a big call to knock off your own boss so there is an element of Telly being in sell mode too. He needs to convince the guys this is right thing to do, their only option at this point so he embellishes. Its almost a routine, like he has it memorized for this occasion.


Quoted from AnthonyCawood
- I'm not sure the scene of killing the henchmen playing poker is necessary, perhaps Philly's offer to Crispy is that he taes over... otherwise what does Crispy get out of killing Telly?


- I disagree, Philly wants to wipe out Telly's crew and the unspoken arrangement is that Crispy will join Philly's once this all done. I purposely had Telly's cronies undermine Crispy to give the impression that Crispy hasn't really been accepted by them...except for Telly of course who has taken him under his wing, a mentor figure. This fuels the cronies' (particularly Fergus who I imagined to be  like Paulie from The Sopranos) jealousy of him also.

Telly is really the only reason why Crispy has associated himself with this crew so when he finds out about the betrayal its severs any attachment he would've had. I needed to make it believable that Crispy would readily double cross them. Also, if Crispy just took out Telly do you really think the others would stand by and let him assume power? No way, they had to go too.

Thanks so much for taking the time Anthony really appreciate your thoughts, you've give me a few things to consider when I go looking at this again.

Regards

Col.


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colkurtz8
Posted: August 1st, 2014, 9:59am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from DS
Your writing chops can definitely be seen reading this. You've set a perfect tense mob atmosphere to glue you to the script. The dialogue is great. All the reveals had very good timing to move the story forward.


- Thank you, glad it worked in that regard.


Quoted from DS
But the ending kind of kills it for me. Alright, Crispy kills Telly, his girlfriend and his entire gang. Why? What's he getting out of it? Even if you just took the "he snapped" approach with him there should be something in the script to confirm this. Right now, it just falls flat on what is otherwise a really really good script.


- You'll notice in the scenes between Crispy and the cronies, when Telly isn't around, that they are constantly trying to undermine Crispy, especially Fergus. I wanted to show that Crispy hasn't been ingratiated into the crew, except for Telly of course. I imagine the other guys are jealous of Crispy's closeness to Telly, they're like "who the fu?k is this guy" So there is no love lost between, they'll use any opportunity (suitably when Telly isn't around) to cut him down to size, put him in his place.

So when Crispy finds out that Telly (the primary reason why Crispy is attached to the crew) has betrayed him, there is nothing really keeping him around, you know. That key bond he shared with the second command is irrevocably damaged. This is why he goes along with the double cross. What does he get out of it? I imagine, but didn't feel it needed to be stated outright, that Crispy would be absorbed into Philly's crew and be looked after for his cooperation.

I'm glad you highlighted this point though as I was very aware of it, That's why I had that underlying condescension and belittlement in the scenes between Crispy, Fergus, Tweezers and Rocco before Telly arrives.


Quoted from DS
P3:
CARJACKER #1
Yep, two dickhead's who should've
kept drivin'!

Dickheads not dickhead's.


- Good catch, cheers.


Quoted from DS
P5: ROCCO (mid 40s) the heavy, thick necked, broad shouldered.

"The" indicates that there should be something after the adjectives. It reads awkwardly right now. Remove "the" or add something behind the adjectives.


- I see what you mean but I meant "heavy" as a noun not an adjective. As in the "tough guy", the "muscle", the Luca Brasi of the crew


Quoted from DS
P16: You use polythene on page 1 and page 19, plastic on page 16. Could use some continuity there.


- You're right, good catch.

Thank for the comments, Marko, I hope the motivation for Crispy's double-cross went some way to explaining where I was coming from.

Regards

Col.


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AnthonyCawood
Posted: August 1st, 2014, 10:11am Report to Moderator
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My pleasure Howard

And what I meant for 'So when are you going to bring in that lovely lady of yours around?'

Is that I think it should either be 'So when are you going to bring in that lovely lady of yours?'
or
'So when are you going to bring that lovely lady of yours around?'

Either the 'around' or the 'in' don't need to be in the sentence.

Re Lieutenant - yep agree, I think it's the fact that Lieutenant is also used specifically in Mafia movies/slang and I think is a lower rank than implied - see http://uk.askmen.com/money/mafioso_150/176_mafia.html
no biggie though of course.

Good script though.

Cheers

Anthony


Anthony Cawood - Award winning screenwriter
Available Short screenplays - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/short-scripts
Available Feature screenplays - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/feature-film-scripts/
Screenwriting articles - http://www.anthonycawood.co.uk/articles
IMDB Link - http://www.imdb.com/name/nm6495672/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1
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Dustin
Posted: August 1st, 2014, 10:12am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from colkurtz8

- I see what you mean but I meant "heavy" as a noun not an adjective. As in the "tough guy", the "muscle", the Luca Brasi of the crew.


To make this more clear, I'd suggest an extra comma: ROCCO (mid 40s), the heavy, thick necked, broad shouldered.

Or even clearer: ROCCO (mid 40s) - the heavy - thick neck, broad shoulders.
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rendevous
Posted: August 1st, 2014, 10:23am Report to Moderator
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Not sure there is a problem saying polythene on one page then plastic on another.

Polythene is plastic. They're interchangeable. Except in certain circumstances. It's often better in scripts to vary the words, lest it becomes repetive. However, there can be problems. And you need exactly right word. Not sure that is case here. But there are examples...

Such as my latest obsession, an early scene in the Twin Peaks....


Quoted from Pete from Eraserhead on the phone
She's deeaaad. Wrapped in plaasstic.


Polythene wouldn't have worked as well. Just my tuppence.

R


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colkurtz8
Posted: August 1st, 2014, 10:49am Report to Moderator
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Anthony

Ah, I see. I actually checked the line and never saw "in", hence the confusion. I'll stick with "around". Thanks for the heads up.

I see what you mean about using the Lieutenant term too and the mix up it might cause. The fact that Telly says platoon though indicates that he is using it in a military context. Point taken all the same.

Thanks Dustin for the suggestion, I'll look at it.

Ren

I do like consistency of terms as well so I changed it as per Marko's suggestion.

And yes, anything from Jack Nance's mouth, either in Twin Peaks or Eraserhead or Wild at Heart for that matter (not so much Blue "I'm Paul" Velvet) is always said with the right amount of broiling anxiety!


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DS
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@Col: I gave this more thought and I changed my mind. Technically Philly did warn Crispy that they're "resourceful" if he doesn't join in. And he was clearly pissed at Telly and co. for how they've treated him. That is motivation enough. The ambiguous ending seems to actually work well here. The reader/viewer can come up with happens next theirselves. Does Crispy go to work with Philly? Has Philly just used Crispy and is going to whack him now? Has Crispy realised what the criminal world is like and decides to quit?

I seem to have overlooked a few things during my first read causing me to come to a different conclusion. So here's me rectifying it with a full on positive review.



@R: I agree 100%. In dialogue calling things with different names is always a welcome thing to make a certain sentence sound better or to show that different characters really do call different things by different names.

Here I meant the action lines. And my gripe was that technically, polyethylene isn't completely synonymous with plastic. It's just the most commonly used type of plastic.

Kind of like a scene:

John hands Jack a cigar.

Jack reaches into his pocket for a lighter. A smile, he lights the cigaret.

Similar, but not necessarily the same thing and gets confusing if you're the reader, or worse... the props guy.
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colkurtz8
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Quoted from DS
I gave this more thought and I changed my mind. Technically Philly did warn Crispy that they're "resourceful" if he doesn't join in. And he was clearly pissed at Telly and co. for how they've treated him. That is motivation enough. The ambiguous ending seems to actually work well here. The reader/viewer can come up with happens next theirselves. Does Crispy go to work with Philly? Has Philly just used Crispy and is going to whack him now? Has Crispy realised what the criminal world is like and decides to quit?


- Cool, yeah there is a degree of open-endedness about what will happen to Crispy now. He's does his part so he could walk away, disillusioned with supposed gang loyalty and that way of life. Or he could go in with Philly as the underworld is all he knows. He's accumulated a fair chunk of good will by helping him rub out Telly and Co. so that will be an option for him.


Quoted from DS
Here I meant the action lines. And my gripe was that technically, polyethylene isn't completely synonymous with plastic. It's just the most commonly used type of plastic.


- I agree with uniformity and consistency in that regard too. Its just one less reason for a reader to flag it. If you keep it the same, they can't take issue with it. Although, like everything, there will be exceptions.

Thanks for your response.

Col.


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JimiLamp
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Col,

Overall I thought you did a really nice job with this. Enjoyed the read and liked how the seconded have ramped up. Set-up was pretty solid too.

There were a few grammar and continuity issues and I think most were pointed out.

The few issues I had:

I thought overall you did a good job with the dialogue on this. I think in a few spots the subtlety of the language changes. On page 7, Telly has his monologue about taking Pete out. Overall I liked it. But think It could be cut a bit. Telly has a very matter a fact way of speaking. I like that. But other guys, like Fergus seem to have that Italian Swagger. Mixed with some of the description, using words like boot for trunk. I understood it fine in relation to the scene but rarely hear that term. Overall not a huge deal. But if you pin it down a bit I think it may help. I like that you don't specify location. But I feel like you're going for the Italian/American mob for the most part here?

I really liked the scene with Telly and Marion in the motel. For some reason it stood out to me. I really got a sense of Telly outside of the bar and the guys. Got that cold calculating vibe. Awesome scene.

One thing I spotted on p 8. Pete is killed and lying wide eyed with a clean EXIT WOUND. Do you mean ENTRY WOUND. Exit wounds are not usually clean. And lying wide eyed would imply he is on his back so you wouldn't see the exit wound.

Thought you did a nice job with that last few pages bringing this to a close. Writing some of those flashbacks and jump around scenes can get confusing but it read well, made sense. Didn't fully see all that coming so nice job with that. Good ending.

Taking a shot at the crime/mafia genre ain't an easy task so kudos on making it pretty authentic and fresh.

I think a few tweaks and this is a really solid script. Solid already.

Nice job.


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