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Clone Wife by Brett Martin (electric dreamer) - Comedy, Romantic, Comedy, Fantasy - A lonely scientist gets an unexpected second chance at first love when he clones his estranged wife. 106 pages - pdf, format
Good poster. Read 14 pgs. Very good in imo. However, I think it would be better if you can skip the shopping mall scene and go directly to the tony montana place. Does this actually exist? I would visit it. lol. Anyway, back to the topic at hand, The tony montana scene expresses the same message as the shopping mall. Other people don't like Travis, don't think he's right for Renee, and that he should leave.
This reminds me a bit of a Weird Science, the movie and tv series. Not having read it all, I believe the clone woman would help Travis, or go against Travis, or go against Renee. Interesting possibilities. Can't wait to read it more. To make a prediction, I'll say you went for the 2nd option.
Read the first 15. Personally I like the title, it makes it very clear what this is about and pretty much sets the tone. Ok with a name like that it could be a horror but the likelihood is that you know otherwise. Has a commercial feel to it, as does all your work, which i like.
You must accept I am newish to this but have my comments for what they are worth.
# I found the first page a bit heavy. Eg ...delicate articulate metal forearms.... I gathered what the aims were but i had to read it deeply to get it to flow. Does that make sense? # bichon frise - sorry I didn't know this was a dog and for the next few pages I thought it was a cat, then a dog then back to a cat!! I know now. # P5 cocaine pile - sorry I have an image that I think it wrong. What is this? # when travis leaves I found this a little abrupt. Yes they don't talk, yes he doesn't like being there... I don't know something seemed missing, as if more would be said or done. # I like the name, wonders. House of wonders! P13 lugWade - what is this?
I think I am going to like this and will read more. Hope the above is ok with you.
The Elevator Belonging To Alice - Semi Final Bluecat, Runner Up Nashville Inner Journey - Page Awards Finalist - Bluecat semi final Grieving Spell - winner - London Film Awards. Third - Honolulu Ultimate Weapon - Fresh Voices - second place IMDb link... http://www.imdb.com/name/nm7062725/?ref_=tt_ov_wr
Brett, I assume you read my original post in this space. No need for me to leave it. I will update here later after I read some more.
I've reread the from scratch. The good news is that it's not really as bad as my sense was last night. The problem is that we're flooded with images, words, and information that slows the read. When you read it a second time, you understand better. And this explains why some of these issues were difficult to fix by the writer, who already has the info in his mind.
With the reread, things were moving pretty smoothly. I understood some subtle things I missed yesterday. But some more issues cropped up.
Around page 17 begins the effort to clone the dog/cat. It takes 8 pages! And not much of interest happens in those 8 pages. Actually, nothing. In film, this would not be 8 minutes, but it would still be way too long. That's where I stopped for now.
I have identified some problems though, that I think will help on rewrite.
First: we know from the logline that he is going to clone his wife. So there is no mystery to pull us through the slow parts of the script. There is no question we need to see answered. We know there will be a clone. And we actually can assume certain things from the tone. For example, we know the wife will come home, and Travis will have to deal with this somehow. There will be some ripe comedy with that. And we expect there will be a happy ending, and Travis will get with his wife. I could be wrong, but it doesn't even change my point, because the issue is that we are sure this is how it will work out...even if it doesn't. See what I'm saying?
You have to engage people's curiosity. We're not even curious about clones. Clones are old hat now. So we need something that will intrigue us. I don't know what. Maybe that's where story B comes in. If there is one, it could help to bring it in earlier. Anything to engage our curiosity.
Second: you will possibly reply to my point above by saying we are intrigued by wondering what will happen when Renee comes home. Problem is we really have not gotten to know either Renee or Travis much, or them as a couple. We don't have an attachment. We don't care if she stays in Japan and Travis lives happily ever after with the clone. And if he gets sick of that one, make another. We're not invested in their relationship, and we need to be.
I think that can be fixed with some work. And you have the space, God knows that. Because there's a whole lotta description that is not needed. There's even stuff happening that really is not needed, such as the expository dialogue with dog/cat.
I also think I understand some of what has caused the problem here with the writing. When, as new writers, we start writing, we tend to overwrite, use asides, too much dialogue. We learn how to strip that down to the bare bones, become ultra efficient. Then, we start trying to build some writing back, develop a style. I think this is part of that process, and it's only your third feature, so everyone should be patient.
Ok, I have work to do. Getting behind schedule. I will be back to this and post here as an edit.
Same with the lugwade. Never heard of it, but can figure out from the context what it is. But hopefully there aren't too many times I have to figure out.
First off, thanks for the lightning fast looks at the script, super appreciated!
I'll get into the critiques themselves later. But, there's one thing I should address right now. I made a GINORMOUS TYPO mistake in this draft due to a character name change. WADE used to be a GAGE. I forget to spell check after I did the CTRL + F name swap deal. So, "luggage" on p. 13 became "lugWade" and I missed it. There are two others I found later on, "engage" became "enWade".
Hope this helps.
LATEST NEWS CineVita Films is producing a short based on my new feature!
Hey Brett, I see you have a new script up and already have coverage and a poster. You move fast my friend.
I started reading this morning and got up to Page 15 (seems like Page 15 is a popular place to stop and hang out!). My Page by Page notes are attached, and meant to help, point out mistakes, and give you my personal opinions of what works and doesn’t work for me. Please keep in mind, that many of my comments involve pet peeves of mine that others have no problem with. I am also not a Rom Com kind of guy, although I have sat through many hundreds. Although I don’t personally like the genre, there are countless Rom Coms I do enjoy for what they are, and I think I know what makes one work and what makes one fail.
So, basically take my comments for what you see they are worth…nothing more and nothing less. EDIT – Looking back over this, I’m actually a little worried about even posting, as there a lot of negatives brought up. But, I know you want this to be all it can, and hopefully a few of my points will make sense. If not, just chalk it up to coming from a non Rom Com kind of guy!
Let’s dive in…
Page 1 – Opening Slug – By using “MAN CAVE LAB”, you’re obviously going for humor on the written page, which won’t show up in a filmed version…and there’s nothing wrong with that at all. But, IMO, by using the term “MAN CAVE”, you’re implying something about whoever’s man cave this is, and having read to Page 15, I can easily say that Travis is not the type of guy where man cave applies. Obviously no big deal, but for me, it’s a misfire right out of the gate.
Opening passage – Again, for me, this opening passage is a misfire, as it’s very long winded, and causes me to more than pause to take in what you want me to. “Tinker Thinker”, “Rodin”, and “tinker toys” all make this a difficult opening for me, and the fact that it’s a 3 line, single sentence, doesn’t help.
I am not a fan of spiders and it’s common knowledge that many aren’t. You write about this critter in an almost cartoonish, animated way, which I see as a problem, and something just not needed for a light hearted Rom Com.
You intro Travis as being in his “40s”. I understand everyone has their own opinion about character introductions, and I’ve had several “discussions” with board members, even recently about this, but I want to let you know my thoughts on it, as I feel it’s important. I totally understand that on film, it’s impossible to know how old a character is. To add to the difficulty, most movies cast actors that are not the same age as the character is supposed to be in the script (one of my biggest pet peeves, especially when teenage characters are played by actors in their late 20’s, which just makes no sense to me). But here’s the deal…40’s by definition means age 40-49, which is a pretty wide gap. Does it matter which age he is? Probably not, depending on backstory and exact details provided in the script (I don’t know at this point). But you as the writer are the creator of these characters. You create every detail about them, including their backstories and life outside the actual script. Therefore, you are the only one who knows how old each character is. Because you know this and based your script around it (hopefully), you should come right out and give an exact age for every main character (or at least a smaller range, like “early 40’s”, “mid 40’s”, or “late 40’s”). If a character is only in a scene or 2 and it doesn’t matter at all what his age really is, then fine, use a wide range, as it doesn’t impact the story in any way. But for all your main characters, IMO, it is important to give them an age and make sure you stick to that throughout in how they act, and what they say.
I agree with Kevin regarding the heavy V.O. that is so prevalent on this opening page. For me, it doesn’t work at all, and makes for a slow read right out of the gate. IMO, even if he was actually talking to himself, it would be better than using a V.O.
The stuff about the picture needs some attention, IMO. You’ve given intense detail here that I bet isn’t remotely necessary. But, if you indeed want to “show” this detail, you should focus in on the picture with a Mini Slug or “insert”. As it is, it just reads so clunky, long winded, and overwritten. Also, you’re missing “head” between “her” and “out”.
Page 2 – Again, the spider stuff on the top of the page doesn’t fit into the tone of this script in any way. You will turn off many as well as freak them out as well, if this is filmed even remotely closely to what you’re intending with your prose.
“The sounds of an unseen door closing upstairs. Claws click across a hard floor to greet the arrival.
Travis watches a desktop Pong clock play with itself. 7:17.” – Both of these passages are problematic for me. The first really doesn’t say anything and what it does say is unimportant, IMO. The 2nd one is just weird…detail that’s unnecessary. Why do we care what time it is? It doesn’t even come into play at all. Why a “Pong clock”? What is a Pong clock? The “play with itself” line is humorous on paper, but again, it doesn’t translate to film.
OK, the first 4 passages after the “LATER” Mini Slug all have issues, IMO. All are extremely overwritten, with too much completely unnecessary detail. They’re also oddly phrased, making them all difficult to take in. I don’t want to quote each line and give details, but if you’re wondering, just ask, and I’ll do it.
Also, keep in mind that the time element in your opening Slug is “NIGHT”. You have a Mini of “LATER”, but it’s still night, in theory (or at least should be, based on your Slugs). The use of “twilight” and “dusk” are very confusing, as both refer to a time between day and night, which makes no sense since we’re already in a “NIGHT” time element. Needs to be addressed and changed.
I see where people are getting confused about Algernon, the “Bichon Frise”. If nothing else, you should give him a color, so we can visualize him a bit better.
Page 3 – Travis’ dialogue line at the top of the page is interesting to me, because I think it’s a gauge on how people will feel about this. If they find this line funny, they’ll probably enjoy the script. If they don’t, they probably won’t. Sorry to say, but I’m in the latter camp so far…I don’t find it funny, and I’m having trouble getting through this up to this point.
Hmmm, the last scene was “DAY”, and now it’s “DUSK”.
“Wade REID” – “Wade” also needs to be all CAPPED. Wade’s description is, again, difficult for me. I understand why you’re using the words you are, but for me, it’s annoying and a turn off.
“Wade gravitates closer to the property line, he holds the hose waist high while he gawks at Renee’s ass.” – Wooo, WTF? First of all, this is a run-on sentence, that reads very awkwardly. Kind of out of place wording “Renee’s ass”, but the bigger issue is that Renee has not been intro’d as being in this scene.
“The water stream goes soft, Wade looks at the flaccid hose.” – same thing here…rather humorous on paper, with the word “flaccid” and the obvious connotation, but I highly doubt it would transfer to film this way.
And again, all of a sudden, Travis is also in the scene, without being properly intro’d. You understand what I’m saying? To make matters worse, it seems to me that this entire scene is taking place in Wade’s front yard, not the Wonders’. I mean, Travis is turning off Wade’s water at the spigot, right? That would be attached to Wade’s house. This entire scene needs immediate attention.
The next scene doesn’t work for me either, sorry to say. It’s not funny to me, and reads very clunky.
Page 4 – Opening Slug – You’ve got this as an EXT scene, but the dog is sitting inside the house, looking out the bay window, correct? I understand what you’re going for, but is this correct as written? I don’t think so.
Next Slug – “EXT. HIGH SCHOOL” – to me isn’t accurate again, but no big deal. I also personally don’t like the V.O. dialogue, or the cliché assumption that these 2 have lived in the exact same town where they grew up their entire life, but I’m sure it may be just me.
The following dialogue exchange seems to come out of nowhere, as Travis’ outfit hasn’t been discussed or even referenced for a few pages. I also don’t know if this joke will be clear or understood by anyone. And, why wouldn’t Travis even know where they’re going? The scene doesn’t work for me again, sorry to say.
Damn…Brett, I’m sorry, but I’m just having issues with an awful lot here. This next scene also doesn’t compute for me as written. The sentence starting with “Travis crosses…” is another run-on and awkwardly worded. We’re outside in a parking lot and you then insert some kind of Mini Slug of a book shop, and call it “OLD BIDDIE’S”? Are we actually going inside this shop, or what? Based on the writing, we’re not, as later, we’re back with Renee and Travis, so I’m just totally confused with what I’m supposed to be picturing. Then, you intro an actual book on display and even CAP Guy’s name, as if he’s being intro’d here. I cannot for the life of me picture this scene as written at all.
GENERAL NOTE – You know clichéd asides are a pet peeve of mine and they’re starting to run rampant. I despise these, but obviously many don’t and even like them.
Page 5, 6, 7 - OK, we’re inside the restaurant, and again, it’s going to be a love/hate relationship with the humor on display. It ain’t working for me, sorry to say. I can’t seem to make this dialogue work or even make sense, but again, maybe it’s just me.
Page 8 - I don’t quite understand the dishes on display here, and for me, it’s not funny again. I guess you’re trying to tie in Renee’s upcoming move to Japan with Stig’s Italian restaurant food, but again, is anyone going to get this…or appreciate it? It’s a lot of detail being given for something with limited potential, IMO.
Page 9 – So it’s revealed that Renee has accepted a promotion in Japan and hasn’t even told her husband. It’s a classic movie cliché that has never worked for me, and here it comes across as the same – I don’t buy it and don’t appreciate it. Travis and Renee’s relationship hasn’t seemed at all bad up to this point…not even in a comedic way bad. This comes across very oddly to me.
Back to the man cave – again, Brett, the writing on display to me, is overdone with unnecessary detail, making it read long and dull. Even your choice of words seems odd, like you’re purposely trying to write this as more than it is – “creamy confines”, “the extraction”, “fishy treat”, “to the Bichon Fris”, “discerning precision”. Some may appreciate this, but I for one do not at all.
Page 10, 11 – Although in an odd way, I like this little story here and feel it is definitely something that we see in this kind of movie, I also dislike it, as it’s obvious exposition, just a guy talking to a dog, and it goes on for a page and a half!
Page 11, 12 – The scenes with Travis and Renee are OK, but again, for me, too long, and nothing is really said that makes any difference or even defines their characters or where they are in their relationship. I also loathe unnecessary intercuts.
Last scene on Page 12 – Again, way too much completely unnecessary detail. I used to love Breakout, but do you really think most will have a clue what it is…or why it’s here? I don’t get it.
As I've already stated, I like the poster. I'd have to agree Rick's comment about the title. Straight away, it reminds me of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. I'm not saying I have a better one, or there is a better one, but you may want to kick a few more titles around and see if there's a better fit.
The premise is a nice one and a very sellable one.
I'd also have to agree with Kevin about the VO. Way too much for a Rom Com, way too much for a narrator on Discovery Channel almost! You need to put the VO on a low cal diet. This sequence would be better shown on screen (keeping budget constraints in mind) with a sprinkling of VO.
The opening is very quirky in tone.
The garden hose gag is chickle worthy but run of mill territory for this kind of comedy. I thinks it needs something else that shows a little more of Travis' character.
There's way too much going on in the restaurant. I don't know if I want to eat or concentrate on the story! I think you need to pare back the description here and stick to the real core of the story at this point, the cracks in the relationship between Travis and Renee. Conflict.
Just to chip in a bit, and I will delete these posts further down to clear space in the thread: I am not against the VO used, just the way it was executed with all that chemistry club stuff. If that could be reduced it could work fine.
Although, Jeff's suggestion of Travis talking to himself, or to the dog, as he does later, could really, really work well for what you want to do. It fits the archetype, a science geeky guy, who works out of his house, talking to himself in his lab or study. That could work fine, and would be a small change. I would go with that, I think.
Page 13 – OK, so now it’s clear that several days (at least) have passed since Renee left. I find it odd that we didn’t get any conversation between the 2 of them whatsoever. Transitioning to Reid’s house also feels odd.
Page 14 – I also find these scenes incredibly odd. How in the world could Travis get his pool table from hi basement into Reid’s yard? I know this is a comedy, but this is beyond ridiculous, IMO.
Page 15 – Hmmm, again, “odd” seems to be the word of the moment for me. You transition to the “pool table” in a CONTINUOUS time element, but I don’t understand what it is that’s supposedly happening here. If anything, just use a Mini Slug here to donate that attention is going to the pool table.
“Algernon stands on a pillow, he circles and shivers.” – Hmmm…Algernon is standing on the pillow, yet in the same awkwardly phrased run-on sentence, he is also circling? That doesn’t make sense.
Page 16 – OK, last time I’ll bring this up, but check this out – “Travis steps in an open pizza box on the floor, he slides right past the swinging doggy door.” – Another run-on sentence. By using “, he”, it’s incorrect and reads oddly. Just get rid of “he” and you’re fine. Do this everywhere you’ve worded a sentence like this. Not only will you save a useless word, it will read so much better as well.
“swamp of scientific minutia” – Is it just me, or are you purposely phrasing things so oddly like this, throughout the script? This thing is reading like a novel in many places, based on the colorful phrasings and overwritten detail. I’d seriously suggest toning all this stuff down, to the point that it’s no longer here at all.
“GENETIC CHAMBER”? Huh? Have we seen this yet? Do we know it exists? Did I miss something?
Page 17 – OK, as I said before, I’m having serious trouble figuring out who Travis is and what he’s like. As far as I can tell, whether or not Algernon is his “perfect” dog, he’s all he’s got at this point and this cartoonish grin/laugh/cackle makes him out to be some kind of cartoonish mad scientist now.
MONTAGE – Well, let’s just say I’m not a huge fan of montages such as these.
MOLECULZILLA – No clue what’s going on here now. No clue what this thing is..or why it’s here. No clue what the intent is of this thing “speaking” or what we’re supposed to be seeing with the “comic strip word bubbles”. I’m at a loss…completely.
Page 18 – Serious time element problems going on. If days are passing, you need to show us with some sort of Slugs, probably Mini’s. Again, I’m just very lost here.
“A canine voyeur, Algernon, retreats through the doggy door.” – Brett, here’s a perfect example of what’s wrong here. Why would you choose to word this sentence like you did? It’s just “odd”.
Page 19 – Wow...your new scene in the driveway has some interesting writing going on, to say the least.
“Work boots clunk onto the pavement, jeans stuffed into them. The name tag on the work shirt reads…“ – So, this is obviously some serious, heavy directing going on. And don’t get me wrong, in the right place, for the right reason, I’m totally cool with a little directing here and there, but what possible purpose does this serve? None. It takes up a heap of space for no reason and just reads “odd” again. I’m so confused with both the writing choices you’re making, as well as what the Hell is going on and how this would transfer positively to film…I don’t think it will…at all, sorry to say.
Humor is obviously extremely subjective, and I’ve been accused before of not having the same sense of humor that most seem to, but this entire scene with the delivery guy is not even remotely humorous. Sorry to keep saying this, but it’s just odd to me.
Page 20 – “A glistening Mexican treat drops into the dog bowl. Algernon eats, abandoning his discreet feline tendencies.” – Oh boy, here we go again. WTF? “glistening Mexican treat”? “abandoning his discreet feline tendencies”? Brett, I’m almost at a loss for words here. It will be interesting to see what others have to say. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m seriously getting to the point of giving up here.
So, we’re in a new scene again, back in the man cave, and Travis is eating a burrito, the Moleculzilla thing is speaking through pop up bubbles, and some books are shown and tossed into the trash. Then, we get this – “Elaborate digital molecule patterns fill the screen…” – So…what screen is this? I must be missing something completely, cause then, after another 2 days have apparently passed, based on the dialogue bubble things, we get a Mini Slug of “COMPUTER SCREEN”. ARGH!!
OK, that’s it. I’m sorry, Brett, but I can’t go on. I have no idea what’s supposed to be happening, and for the last 9 pages or so, we’ve basically been in the man cave with Travis by himself with this Moleculzilla thing doing God knows what.
This isn’t working for me in any way. The humor is not remotely funny. There’s nothing happening that I can remotely relate to, and I’m just completely lost.
I’m sorry, and I apologize if this comes off as harsh. I really do want to help, but I don’t see how I’m going to be able to without losing what little sanity I have left.
I do wish you the best with this and all your other projects. Take care.
To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
I like the poster. It gives me the feeling of what you want from this script and so I have to say that I honestly think you need to work on the "less is more" aspect.
I found the opening terribly hard to read and I'll give examples.
All of this:
The Tinker Thinker, a scaled replica of Rodin’s famous sculpture made with Tinkertoys, presides over a sea of scientific data spread across a billiards table.
TRAVIS WONDERS (40s), benign features wrapped in a bathrobe, rests his chin on his fist as he watches a spider spin a web.
TRAVIS (V.O.) Most molecules form a single bond. The spider anchors the web between a quartet of delicate articulated metal forearms inside a chest high chamber.
TRAVIS (V.O.) Some can form more than one type of relationship with each other. And a new stability grows from the union.
The chamber connects to a piecemeal supercomputer littered with drawings of molecule clusters on post-it notes.
A graduation certificate from Yale for Biomedical Sciences and Genetics hangs on the wall. Travis Wonders, Ph.D.
TRAVIS (V.O.) Molecular resonance occurs when two or more molecules form a bond that can be linked in multiple ways.
A wall photo. A teenaged Travis wears corduroy pants, flannel button front shirt and a wool cap with ear flaps. He stands next to a red AMC Matador, a hulk of a 70’s sedan.
TRAVIS (V.O.) Both relationship structures are valid. But, the scientific truth is a blend of the two bonds.
A grinning blonde teen pokes her out of the Matador’s driver side. She waves a gloved hand at the camera. Wool knit pom poms dangle from the winter glove.
TRAVIS (V.O.) Resonance describes the bond. It does not physically manifest. If I could get molecules to do that, then I could save my marriage.
**For me, after I "studied" the first page and felt like I needed a magnifying glass, I boiled it down to:
A scientific dude is in his Macho-Nerd study. (Is it an actual cave?) I imagined it was, but I'm not so sure now. Now I'm thinking I was stupid. Billiard table? I just didn't get it.
If you physically try and read all that out loud, you'll see what I mean.
But again, this scientific dude is in his Macho-Nerd-Study and he wants to save his marriage. He wants to save his marriage. That's what the story's about. Ok, I get that, but it's bogged down and trapped inside of Tinkertoys, and spiders and I don't know what else.
And I would personally like to see the two main characters in real life and not just photographs with some dude who I have no sympathy for yet as a character, giving me a long spiel that I can't understand.
As I carried on, it didn't get any better:
I couldn't establish really where I was in this world.
Writing that was thick like this:
OLD BIDDIES BOOK SHOP - FRONT WINDOW
MINERVA, ELOISE and ROSE (all 80s) glare at Travis, like the witches of Macbeth hovering over their cauldron.
The trio of octogenarians in matching work smocks stand around a book display illuminated by green floor lights.
The book. Guy’s Guide to Extraterrestrial Nutrition Bliss. “Hometown pride takes self help literature by storm!”
GUY (40s), Old Spice swagger in a turtleneck and corduroy blazer, mugs professoriate on the book cover.
***didn't help me. I have no idea what an Old Spice swagger is. I don't know why emphasis on him right now at all at this stage in the game.
I feel like this is all over the place.
What is the importance of the above mentioned book? Especially since I have no familiarity with the world or the characters and it's overloading my brain.
Even a word like octogenarian is killing the read for me. It's not the word itself, but on top of everything else.
Guys introduction doesn't work for me at all. I think that you have some kind of excellent image in your head, but I just don't know what it means.
Read pages 10 - 25. Without repeating what as already been pointed out, I have to concur that you have gone from flirting with vivid descriptions right into serious heavy petting with novelistic prose. The action descriptions are creative, but redundant for a script. Think Bruce Lee, lean and mean. I think you need to go back to your outline and beat sheet and see what the you want out of this story. You have a great concept, you just need to find the right way of executing it.