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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Thriller Scripts  ›  Night of the Red Phantom Moderators: bert
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  Author    Night of the Red Phantom  (currently 5838 views)
Don
Posted: March 11th, 2007, 8:57am Report to Moderator
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Night of the Red Phantom by Eric Dickson - Thriller - After San Francisco Homicide Inspector Roy Carson is shot and left for dead in a back alley, he is left comatose for sixty days, then re awakens with no memory of the man who shot him. 116 pages - pdf, format


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Don  -  April 1st, 2018, 7:56pm
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TAnthony
Posted: March 26th, 2007, 7:35pm Report to Moderator
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This was a great detective story and fun read, but sometimes I felt that the story didn’t bring anything new to the table and might be a little cliché.

SPOILERS--------------------------------

Here are some notes as I read:

You seem to know a lot about crime scenes and forensics stuff. None of those scenes felt fake or forced. Good job.

I’d give more detail about the motion Kershaugh is making.

It’s good that Bedrosian isn’t a cliché officer. He has a good sense of humor.

You have a lot of telling not showing in here. Just as one example on page eight, “Bedrosian is completely blown away by the raw talent and knowledge of the rookie detective.” How is he blown away?

I didn’t like the transition where Kiershaugh and Bedrosian rushed out of the car and into the apartment. This scene also reminded me a lot of Se7en. When Kevin Spacey jumps off the balcony and is limping. Also another connection to Se7en and many other movies is an older cop and a rookie police officer working together. You didn’t put a new spin on that.

Sometimes Bedrosian comes off sounding too young. “Super pissed…” on page 24. Doesn’t sound like something he’d say.

I like the scene where Bedrosian dances around the subject when he talks to Fraker’s brother.

Kiersaugh’s hole sub-plot with Internal Affairs was cool. Good job on that.

Very impressive how you connected the killer’s clue with the crime scene.

The reporter’s dialogue passage on page 56 is too long. You need to cut out a lot of it and start as late as possible. The information from Kiersaugh and Bedrosian was really snappy like and then a lot of momentum was lost with the reporter.

Sometimes your dialogue is too blocky. Pages 64-65 is an example. You should have at least one line of description on each page, just so we know what actions the characters are making while they speak.

Was it necessary to show Kiersaugh go to the grocery store. You probably should have just cut from Kiersaugh getting out of the car then the two having the food.

The scene where Kiersaugh is in pursuit of the Red Phantom, the Phantom is firing shot after shot and no reload. Just a nit-pick, but it was just enough to bother me.

You had some nice internal conflicts going on with the officer’s failies in the first act, but the family problems pretty much disappear afterwards. I have mixed feelings on that.

Lt. McCaskey’s dialogue passages are too long. Way too much information is being dumped on a reader at that time.

You never describe what Cindy’s dead body looked like. Was she hog-tied and everything?

The scene where Ronald Paris shows up at the end really reminded me of Red Dragon. On page 118 you say “literally” twice in the action paragraphs. The sentence’s meaning wouldn’t change if you took them out. They add nothing. And I didn’t like that scene that much at all. Bedrosian having the shotgun and Jen coming back with a piece, I just didn’t like it too much. Everyone was ganging up on the baddie and instead of Ron having the upper hand they had it.

Overall – great story, but sometimes it felt like a blend of a lot of different cop movies. Young rookie cop teamed up with older cop, Uncovering conspiracy like thing, Baddie showing up at end. Just things like that, but it was good.

Good Job.


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Jack
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I would have to agree with pretty much everything you've mentioned here.  The thing is...I know when I'm copying other movies like Seven.  My problem is, I can't get away from this.  I'm so attached to my favorite movies that I can't help but "borrow" certain aspects of these films, because they were so successful and still are.  

In this day and age, with all the remakes coming out, people are running out of ideas.  I kind of like stories that have some "cliche" elements and familiarity to them, so people can relate to what they're watching.  I thought you'd pick up on the whole "Seven" vibe.  When I started thinking about the project three years ago, I thought it would be a good sequal for Mills and Sommerset.  The old cop/young cop thing is outdated, but I thought it would be a cool throwback, because we haven't actually seen a good "cop thriller" like this in years.  This is an old school, buddy cop film that will hit a chord with certain people and bore others who don't care to see this type of thing anymore.  You made a lot of good points, especially Kiersaugh and Bedrosian's family background and how this story kind of disappeared.  You simply reiterated to me what I already expected were the problem areas with this story.  I can tell you actually read this whole thing, from beginning to end, pointing out the specifics.  I appreciate it and I'll try to work on some of this.

Take care,
Eric        
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JD_OK
Posted: March 29th, 2007, 3:06am Report to Moderator
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Things like this have no place in description. This is a tell. Audience can not see this."THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME.  A true classic of the silent film genre, based on the short story by Richard Connell."

I'm guessing you are capitalizing words to indicate where the camera should be looking at? Well this method is not used in spec today. I know it was in a book that is out dated, along with capping sounds. I did some checking with professionals and this is not used anymore. Just food for thought.

As you already know. you descriptions are too overly written, go into too much detail, and need to be tightened. On things that push ur story forward, not calling for a shot. i.e ( The sun sets to the east) then jumpin to a new scene.

"One of them is SAUL (50s) the movie house owner." this is another tell. How does the audience know HE is the owner? Show how he is the owner, picture or something along those lines or in dialogue.

And another "A tell tale sign of his gross inexperience." I'll stop pointing these out. Should be able to findwhere these are and remove'em if you choose to ( I recommend)

Continued on bottom of pages are not needed... goes without saying.

"Sgt" Do you mean just Serg here for sergeant? I think you Sgt incorrectly here.

Clearly this long hair guy with blood sticks out of his name so the whole dialog bet about usual freaks isn't needed. Should just start with him tellin him about this particular costumer. Since he clearly was struck odd about his"scumness"

No need to keep on saying rookie this and veteran that. Once you established who is who.. do not be redundant.

Day and Night only on slugs.

I dont buy  the captain of police station tellin his detective "shut the fuck up" .

I really question also the whole relevance of this scene. What is the real point of him tellin the cap about the girl, beside exposition and then about his partner. If was me I would just start with the partner thing and thin lead into a snidbit of info he has gathered. All in all scene needs shortening.

Becuz 1st 15 pages is nothing but expostion... explaining this.. nothing is really happening yet.

pg 23, now you are saying this guy tried to kill couple cops for nothing. That doesnt make sense. Why would e try and run this just for slappin around his sister. You need give better reason here for his wanting to flee... the measures he takes doesnt add up to shootin a cop for.

pg 24I really dont see why even tho u give a explanation for him still being angry. The guy who shoot him is dead. He said he happy he is dead and he is alive...juust feels to me its forced so u can o this scene

page 32- This whole scene with the fight with wife seems so forced. A man who just cheated death comes home angry and fights with his wife.He would be extra loving to her, I would think.  To me doesnt make sense. I understand why you created this scene, for more exposition back story.. but it doesnt work. It falls cliche

On this note, your structure is way off. Act one should have ended by p25, definately by p30. Where the turns of events take place.

I think act one need major clean up to get the ball rolling better. Its draggin for me, only real excitin for the apt shoot out. Dont get my wrong you have good dialog, but 2 much in alot of places...almost sounding alike with chracters. Less is more. And definately your descriptions need overhaul. They read like im reading a book and not a spec screenplay.

More to come...


Newton's Cradle - action/fantasy, 10th draft 109pgs pdf

IN QUEUE - Comedy - Coming soon!


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Jack
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I've checked on a few things you've mentioned by asking another professional in the field.  True, he agreed with you that CONTINUED isn't really used anymore, except for old school writers who follow the older standard.  He also said a phone conversation should read KIERSAUGH'S VOICE other than KIERSAUGH (V.O.) because it isn't a voice over.  It's his actual voice.  

Anyway, sorry to sound like such a jerk before.

Eric      

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Jack  -  March 30th, 2007, 2:19pm
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James McClung
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Quoted from Jack
CONTINUED on the top and bottom of ongoing scenes is "still" proper format, no matter what the local yahoo says, not a thing of the past.  As well as capping all sounds.  r  

The proof is in the work of other "produced" professionals in the business.  If it's good enough for them, it's good for me too.  Everyone has a different take on what proper format is.  I just follow the standard set in most produced scripts and published instrucional books on scriptwriting.      

Also, I would have to disagree with you on my over use of descriptions.  Heavy description is what sells in this business.  Eye catching scripts that stand out from the rest of the stack.  A hum drum script will leave the reader snoring and uninterested.   Just pick up a copy of Chinatown, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Godfather, etc.  Very heavy and rich in description.  

I do, however, need to break up my action to, at most, four lines.


I figured I'd mention this now so I can focus my review on your plot and characters.

Heavy description is NOT what sells in the business. The scripts you've mentioned all had big names attached to them not to mention are rich in story elements. That's why they sold. The producers don't care about descriptions, formatting, etc. if they're paying professional screenwriters to write scripts, especially if they've got big names attached to them that increase the chances of the final product being a smash hit. They're going to read them anyway.

This is not the case when it comes to ameatur screenwriters. Overwritten descriptions makes reading long, tedious, and worst of all, can take the reader out of the story and it's the story that's going to make the script sell in the end. That's why descriptions need to be kept, for the most part, cut and dry. Write only what needs to be seen and forget the rest, pretty much.

With that said, it's a really bad idea to go by what the professionals write. They can get away with whatever they want. Stick to the spec script guidelines, focus on your plot and characters, and forget about what the professionals are doing.



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JD_OK
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Quoted from Jack
CONTINUED on the top and bottom of ongoing scenes is "still" proper format, no matter what the local yahoo says, not a thing of the past.  As well as capping all sounds.  r  

The proof is in the work of other "produced" professionals in the business.  If it's good enough for them, it's good for me too.  Everyone has a different take on what proper format is.  I just follow the standard set in most produced scripts and published instrucional books on scriptwriting.      

Also, I would have to disagree with you on my over use of descriptions.  Heavy description is what sells in this business.  Eye catching scripts that stand out from the rest of the stack.  A hum drum script will leave the reader snoring and uninterested.   Just pick up a copy of Chinatown, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Godfather, etc.  Very heavy and rich in description.  



To answer your comment regarding produced scripts u have read. THOSE are not SPEC scripts, also those movies you mentioned are written by KNOWN writers and or directoring the movie also. They can write what they want and get away with it.

If you are trying to sell a SPEC a-list production company, you have to obey the rules closely. Also about the yahoo comment. I'm not picking any kind of fight.. its just a harmless debate and my opinion. I assume you have never paid $400-600 to have your script critiqued by real professional or you would already know what I've been saying. If not I recommend doing so, it is a great help.

Books are written, but things constantly change in screenwriting. So over time things in books arent done.

All that said, I like what Im reading so far..but it needs work.

pg 33. And you think it is okay to call for a shot in a SPEC script? "WE FOLLOW one of them passing a desk. "

"We�ve all seen this before...but where?  This is A big rookie mistake. Why are you asking a question in description? Audience can NOt see this.


"KIERSAUGH�S VOICE " what this? you never heard of (V.O.)? should be like this
KIERSAUGH (V.O.)
(over phone)

43/44 why not just flash back of his phone call to show us and or just play the voice mail.. no need to have the wife tell us.
When where and how did they leave in Keir's car and arrive here in the shot up taxi WHICH IS EVIDENCE... this is really odd for them to drive a shot up murdered car back to scene of the crime.

Nice setup with the taxi. but i dont buy them leavin his house and suddenly arriving at the crime scene in the evidence taxi. Its like we missed something in between here.

page 54. I'm liking this but alot of this I dont like how , again THEY JUST RECIEVED these numbers and next scene Keir  HAS ALL this already sorted out and information on people with the dates...too quick and convient. the setup is good, but poorly executed.

pg 56 Since one does one guy cmmit 2 murders on the same day he gets a name? Usually have to be a serial killer to be named... just some food for thought. Yea he names himself.. but why read what he has stated to the PUBLIC? there was no demand for it to be read or people die or something.....

They is alll way tooooo much attention with press conferences and letters to the times... he has on killed two people with a gun... no physco crazy way or anything to spark hysteria....


pg 63.. can we loose the cops and donuts... it is soooo played out


bottom page 81 he gets the call far from where he is. next page he is there. Unbelievable timeframe on this.

This who chase and get away scene is cliche... just like seven. young cop chases, almost killed but not. Never see thebad girl at this point. Hit in the head just like brad pitt for the drop on him. To the police cornering their own to get down.

Up to this point its decent, but could be so much better if ur descriptions were tighter. Once you fix this, story would fly much faster... you could easily shave off fifthteen, twenty pages by cleaning over dialogue and description.

Just alot of things conviently fall into place too well, i cant fully explain but alot of stuff just happens. Once a reader questions ur world... You loose the reader. Major example is with the sudden jump from inside driving keir car to taxi cab mirror piece scene.

I will have this completed tomorrow evening. As u can see I tend to offer alot of feedback when I see things wrong from my point of view so its takes me awhile to finish a script, but I hope u are able t take alot of what I say to mind ( if not maybe just afew).

20 pages to go and interested on how u play it out. There is a real story here, just needs reworking so far.

more to come


Newton's Cradle - action/fantasy, 10th draft 109pgs pdf

IN QUEUE - Comedy - Coming soon!



Revision History (5 edits; 1 reasons shown)
JD_OK  -  April 1st, 2007, 10:54pm
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Mr.Z
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Quoted from Jack
Also, I would have to disagree with you on my over use of descriptions.  Heavy description is what sells in this business.  Eye catching scripts that stand out from the rest of the stack.  A hum drum script will leave the reader snoring and uninterested.   Just pick up a copy of Chinatown, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Godfather, etc.  Very heavy and rich in description.  


http://www.screenwritersutopia.com/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=2710


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Jack
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I'm doing some serious re-writes as I speak, making formatting changes, taking what you've said into consideration.  I just don't know what to think anymore.  

I used to intern at a known Beverly Hills literary agency and watched as several "mediocre" scripts got picked up and represented.  The movie "TWISTED" was one of these scripts.  The story and dialogue were as cliche' as you can possibly get, down right BAD...but it was specifically rich in action and description, unlike the other scripts in the office at that time.  It simply STOOD OUT from the others, because the boss lady saw talent and potential with this writer.  The writer was unrepped and seemed to break all kinds of formatting rules, but the interns and the boss thought it was gold, so she picked it up.  I think this has always had an affect on me and my writing.  

You're right about P.O.V. having no place in a spec, so I've fixed this.  I've also changed other places in the script that read like camera direction, such as
TAXI CAB - ON WINDSHIELD AND HOOD, stuff like that.

I'd like to bring the letter to the LA TIMES a bit earlier into the story, maybe five pages or so.  This marks the end of Act 1 and this scene is on page 35 or 37, I believe.  I'd like to get it down to page 30.  I'm working on this.

As far as Kiersaugh and his girl having a fight...I wanted a scene where you saw Kiersaugh's insecurity about him being a lab rat for forensics and having a "tough cop" girlfriend on the streets.  He didn't tell his girl he got shot, because he was embarrassed.  He was too eager to nail Fraker's brother, and almost got himself killed because he's a rookie and doesn't know what he's doing.  This is why he's angry and isn't talking to Jen.  He resents her being tougher than him.  He's weasled his way into homicide by testifying against a bad cop, because he wants to prove his manhood and be real L.A.P.D. like his girl and his girl's entire family.  This is Kiersaugh's weakness in the story.  He's insecure about himself and how he comes off.  

What I'd like to do is work on Jen coming back into the story later on, continuing this idea of him "proving himself" to her.  This should be the driving motivation of this character.  This might not be so clear in this one scene.  (I also think the ending should be changed to reinforce this idea of Kiersaugh proving his manhood versus doing what's right.)  

I apologize if I came off a certain way.  My opinions about proper "spec" format has been heavily affected by my experience in production offices.   What I've read in books as proper spec format and what I've actually seen writers get away with in the industry aren't always the same.  What you're saying is all true, but isn't always how it actually is.

I'm doing my best to take what you've said into consideration and making the proper changes.

Take care,
Eric    
      
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bert
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Quoted from Jack
Anyway, sorry to sound like such a jerk before.


I didn't think you sounded like a jerk.  I found your viewpoint somewhat refreshing.

In fact, reading this little anecdote filled me with hope and joy...


Quoted from Your little anecdote
I used to intern at a known Beverly Hills literary agency and watched as several "mediocre" scripts got picked up and represented.

The story and dialogue were as cliche' as you can possibly get..but it was specifically rich in action and description, unlike the other scripts in the office at that time.  It simply STOOD OUT from the others, because the boss lady saw talent and potential with this writer.  The writer was unrepped and seemed to break all kinds of formatting rules, but the interns and the boss thought it was gold, so she picked it up.


...not because I write bad scripts, mind you, but just knowing there are actually people out there who still appreciate something with a little extra flourish.

There are a few writers around here that frequently find themselves on the wrong end of the "how much is too much" debate.

So thanks for sharing.  When I finally find the time to get back into reading features, if you are still around, I reckon I might take a look at one of yours.


Hey, it's my tiny, little IMDb!
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I think all advice in this thread is valid, however... if a script can get your attention right away, I do believe readers/agents and such will continue to read on.

I don't think anyone is going to toss a script where they are truly intrigued by the story, but the formatting is somewhat off.

I read BLACK SNAKE MOAN last weekend, best damn script I've read in a looooooooong time and I read a lot (maybe I connected because I live in the south), but it sure was far from "correct" spec format. Someone told me some time ago that he wouldn't bother reading a script like that...

Well the guy who wrote the script is living the dream. The other guy isn't.....
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tonkatough
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Hey Dickson. Just letting you know I have read 53 pages of your script. The format is excellent the structure is solid. I'm not a fan of crime genre so I didn't really get into the story or find it interesting, but this is a personal thing.

One thing I do dig is the dialouge and big personality you have given to Bedrosian.

Bedrosian is an awesome, tough nut character. His attitude gives your whole script an attitude that makes your script come alive. he is such a big character that everyone else is lost in his shadow. Cole slaw is forgetable and just serves as a vehicle to annoy Bedrosian and lets him vent more of his attitude.

I notice your over use of action has become the main focus of this thread already.

Your writing style reminds me a bit of mine as I too like to lay the action details on a bit thick as well. The first couple pages was a little to thick, way, way to much detail. (Introduction of the crime scene) I just skipped parts and still got the jist of what was going on. But by page 5 your action quickly fell into a rythem and was easy to read. It was also great and gave your story a visual style.

A lot of people will criticise  action such as: blah is repulsed by the naked granny thinks it is yuck! straight off the rule is if you can't see it on screen then don't write it. But I don't think it hurts to put in little sentence that explain something abstract like characters emotions. I think they're good as an aid to help the actor who would read the script. sort of a sugestion.

Your extra action give a very clear solid visual for your story. Just makes it more rich.

But I have to ask with a spec script are you just wasting your time over writing action? After all, it all comes down to the director and he might compromise your detail or it just might not be available to use.  This is why I am guessing a lot of purest writers stick by spec should be bare minimum, story only.

I think what you doing is cool and will keep reading as promised.    


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JD_OK
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sorry for delay. i usually party fri and sat, so im drunk by the time i have time to read.

end OF MY REVIEW***************************** spoilers

pg 85 if capt knows evans is dead... y does he ask questions about it b4 statin he is dead. he should just say it soon as they mention Evans'
pg 90. bedro sounds out of character delivering this overly long exposition. Two pages worth.. all while driving like a maniac (which u stated bottom pg 89) to top of 92 kiro takes time to look at file and stares at a photo.

How did those reporter get to ron paris's house so fast only when the police just learned of the house.

what good is the mystery of the killer or we never scene him b4 hand? Like in seven which u ge of ur story from, u see him as the reporter early in the story, who brad yells at.

Jen yells out blow his fuckin head off. He doesnt wear a gn in hisboxers or has a gun pointed at paris.. why does she say this.

Dunno, who scene with paris talkin and stuff to gun battle just wasnt excitin to me... Maybe cuz I didnt relly connet to the characters. You setup conflict with them, but i dont think it was executed properly.

Whole scenario with jen/ unstable relation, just feel flat. So did' berdo with his daughter.

You have a story here, but it needs fleshing out.

Too many times things take place we dont see happens. Alot of it things found out and they jus say they did blah blah and have more exposition.

We should find things out when they do, character discovery.

Over all decent draft. Next draft can be better for sure. Fixing structure, contrianvce, info discovery, mystery, format, tighting dialog and descriptions


Newton's Cradle - action/fantasy, 10th draft 109pgs pdf

IN QUEUE - Comedy - Coming soon!


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Hey Eric,

I've got my first batch of notes here for you...

- This opening scene is a little dull for my taste. Stories like this need a grabber. Perhaps you could start with a scene with the cabbie and his fare. Maybe end it with the guy pulling out his gun. Something along those lines. Maybe you have a better idea. In any case, you need something to hook your reader/viewer.

pg. 3 – “41” should be written out. In fact, all numbers in the dialogue need to be.

- The cops take too long to nail Fraker. I think they’d know the guy as soon as they saw him. They shouldn’t spend so much time waiting to see what he does. You could trim some of the dialogue in this scene as well.

pg. 18 – “That wasn’t so bad.” Awful nonchalant on Kiersaugh’s part, don’t you think? He’s a rookie. If anything, he’d be on his toes expecting the worst. I’d omit this line.

pg. 19 – “Keirsaugh charges down the steps with authority, eager to catch his first suspect and make a name for himself.” I’ve noticed way too many of these kinds of lines so far. You can’t describe the inner workings of a character’s mind in your action paragraphs. As soon as it gets translated onscreen, it’s lost. It’s showing, not telling. Character development should be shown through a character’s actions and the ways they express themselves. You can’t just write it like you would anything else that happens.

- How could Keirsaugh possibly take his eyes off the suspect even for a second, rookie or not? I don’t buy this at all. You need a more feasible reason for the suspect to get a hold of a gun or, if not, for Keirsaugh to look away.

pg. 23 – “If that bullet went half an ass hair to the left, they’d be loading you into that wagon...” Underlines shouldn’t appear in dialogue. It’s the actor’s job to decide which words are emphasized. This pops up several times later. Keep an eye out for this stuff.

pg. 31 – For the sake of realism only: I doubt a veteran like Bedrosian would let a jelly donut spill all over police paperwork. I think he’d be more professional.

pg. 39 – You’re missing the time of day in your slug.

pg. 42 – You have a large gap between the end of the Rosterman scene and the one following it. Fix it.

- This package with the Zodiac sign is a major plot point yet you’ve waited until page 49 to introduce it. This is far too late. This should’ve shown up at page 40 at the latest and even that’s pushing it. Between pages 25 and 35 would be your best bet. I wouldn’t give you a hard time about this if you hadn’t written in your logline that this script is about a Zodiac copycat. This is your main plot and you’re introducing it almost an hour into your story (I’m going by the page-per-minute rule BTW).

- Kiersaugh isn’t giving Bobby much reason to talk by accusing him of murder nor is he asking him any questions about the Zodiac copycat, the whole reason Bobby was brought in in the first place. He seems to have some reason for doing this but I can’t tell what it is as of now.

pg. 59 – This seat belt gag is unnecessary. If it’s supposed to be funny, this isn’t the place for it. It feels awkward instead. I’d lose it.

pg. 69 – I don’t think it’s obvious this stuff is blood. I don’t even think blood stays red for this long (unless it’s fresh) and even so, there’s no way of telling it isn’t something else. Perhaps one of the characters should mention it.

More later...


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tonkatough
Posted: April 3rd, 2007, 3:08am Report to Moderator
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Okay I've finished your script.

Other then what I have mentioned there is nothing more I can add. The dialouge was great gave each of your two main cops a distinct voice and attitude and while you detail is little over written, it is still visually rich and hope in the next draft you don't go over board with shaving off to much action as i would hate to see you lose the style of your script. It sets it apart from a lot of the scripts here.

I can't really offer much in the way of story structure as I am not a fan of the crime genre and I am not a police officer so I found all the running around doing detective work not very appealing or interesting. But I am sure people who are fans of this genre will get a kick out of it.

The only thing I can agree with in the  above reviews is that there in some parts there are way to much exposition. The worst offender was cole saw telling his partner about how he break up with girlfriend. You showed scene in begining with cole saw and girl have a blue. then the story line is dropped and he talks about break up later on.  If you not going to follow through with the scene or make it into a worth while subplot, you might as well just dump the whole lot. Focus on the main central problem that is tracking down the red phantom and ignore everything outside of this, including their love life.    


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