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I'm about 30 pages in on this - is the writer here for feedback?
I like the characters. Could be a good teen comedy in the vein of CAN'T BUY ME LOVE. You've ticked all the boxes off including the overweight sarcastic friend and the Mary Stuart Masterson character from SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL.
We spend an awfully long time getting the setup though. It's page 30 and nothing has 'happened' except the crew talking about how they're going to film the next BLAIR WITCH or PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, and yet they really don't have a cohesive idea, despite crew leader Ethan's constant claims that he's 'born to do this.'
We do have the ticking clock I suppose - get the film made and get famous before Ethan's sellout-director father condemns him to the business world.
Should be interesting to see where this goes - I assume they're going to succeed, however given their disorganization to this point, I think it might be funnier to see them hit it big with a so bad it's good Ed Wood type project.
I think your two differentiators here would be the characterization and dialogue which is pretty good, and the way their experiments will look on film. The gore practice sessions combined with the teen comedy elements is a good framework. Should look interesting on film.
Wondering if the ages of these characters are appropriate? Seems like something that 15-16 year-olds would do, not 18-21 year olds. Would be tough to make this a period piece since you'd lose all the movie comparisons that have happened since.
Yes, I definitely love feedback. I did try to tick the boxes as you say, I wanted this movie to celebrate both the teen comedy tropes and the b-horror genre.
Yes, plot-wise the inciting incident is the ticking time clock ultimatum, and then act 2 begins when they knuckle down and start trying to make the film. I think I could try to tighten up the first act more if you feel it's moving to slow.
I hope you do finish the script, I'd love to hear your thoughts. If not, thanks for the feedback!
Overall I liked it. As I said I think you hit upon a good formula in that its equal parts teen comedy and horror film. Actually probably more teen comedy ABOUT a horror film than it is a 50/50 split. And I won't spoil it, but I did like your 'solution' for a zombie flick that no one's ever seen before...
Some random comments and minor quibbles - MINI-SPOLIERS ahead:
I think you lost some focus at the beginning of the 2nd act. We come off a slow first act that can probably be tightened up, and instead of hitting the ground running we got more banter, and IMO some unnecessary conflict where Ethan trusts Kansy to write the script, and he drops the ball. For me - one, Ethan's excuse that he 'can't do everything' is lame. He keeps telling everyone he's a great filmmaker - what was he doing instead of writing the script? And it seems against Kansy's nature to drop the ball like that, when he's pretty together in every other situation. I also don't get the relevance of zombie-Ethan at graduation. Look at these conflicts and ask yourself if you're wasting pages?
I'm sure the cutting back and forth from MOVIE FOOTAGE to DOCUMENTARY to REALITY will look cool on film, and I know it's necessary, however it does get confusing for the reader. In fact on pages 35-36, when they hit the 'zombie', I read it as happening outside of the film experience. I know Sam explains it later in a sentence to Courtney however it wasn't clear, at least to me, that she was telling her that it was part of the film. So I read the rest of the film with the red herring of some sort of wounded monster out in the woods, waiting to pounce, and it made all the zombie attacks much more scary, because to me it could have been real and not part of the movie. Though I did think it was strange that none of the teens ever mentioned it again. Without the specter of a real attack in the reader's head, there's much less gravity, and it becomes even more teen comedy than it does horror, and the movie stunts could lean toward dull after a while. And if it's part of the movie, as I think you have it written, who was it and how did they safely film an actual hit-and-run without a stuntman? To my knowledge there were no other actors up there at the time.
Watch your motivations. Why are Bryan, Courtney and Johanna willing to do this again? Bryan explains away the entire 90 minute conflict of CAN'T BUY ME LOVE in one sentence to Dustin about how everyone used to hang around in middle school. If that's true then why does the Berlin Wall of class systems between the jocks and cheerleaders and the film geeks even exist in the first place? And Bryan goes from resisting Ethan by explaining that Dustin's BBQ's are off the hook to agreeing to go when he suddenly realizes that the party is dry. Too Deus ex machina.
Concentrate on your relationships. CBML and THE BREAKFAST CLUB mixed geeks and cool kids who fostered real connections. You start to make one between Bryan and Kansy and then you stop. There's a moment in THE HANGOVER where Bradley Cooper's character as the slick-talking, good-looking one, looks at Zach Galifianakis' character for a few seconds, and you just know that despite all of Alan's craziness, Phil considers him a friend. It's great acting by BC, but it's also great writing. Go for this in your bonds between Bryan-Kansy , Sam-Courtney, and, eventually, Ethan-Sam.
At 99 pages you probably need to trim about 10 pages. I think you have some superfluous conversation where all the characters do is continue to snipe at and insult each other. Some of it is humorous, however at some point you have to tone it down, and let them really SPEAK to each other, and have them serve the story. Also you can tighten your descriptions and save some space - for example, on page 45 you take 3 lines to describe the state trooper pulling up. You can get that down to two. No widows and orphans - that will save you space to do other things.
And I think Ethan needs to be written better. Amidst the mega-happy ending, it's clear that he's a pretty shitty filmmaker who pulled an industrial-sized rabbit out of his ass, with a lot of help from his friends. So maybe along the way he becomes not so hyper-focused, and he decides he's doing this as much for his friends as he is for himself? And maybe, as you do allude to, he knows he's a businessman and it's not so bad? It would be a good message to send and it would really give your film some gravitas. The opposite message is to expect to pull rabbits out of your ass at the last minute every time and build a career on it. Or, if you have him and his friends going on to movie fame and fortune, maybe show a montage of them getting really serious about their art, or paying their dues as P.A.s.
I did like this, and I think if you rewrite the crap out of it and scrutinize every word and motivation, you can have something. Good luck with it! If I think of anything else I'll post it.
No problem RF (I can't even with that name), write us some characters we will fall in love with. And if I may be so bold, don't wait for people to ask, dive in and pay it forward and start reviewing things that appeal to you?
I do try to make time to read and review, but not nearly as much as I should. I often feel compelled to read the full script before making notes, but I know that's not necessary. I'll try to make it a habit to comment more.
First my overall thoughts, then I'll paste the page by page notes I took as I read.
I can see why this screenplay got some recognition. You really are a strong and creative writer. The dialogue was excellent. There where moments where I was actually laughing out loud.
The story is good and the second act is great. You really made me care about the characters. Kudos.
Unfortunately the first act was underwhelming. I didn't really know where the story was going. The stakes didn't seem big enough initially. When things finally got going, I was all in. It just took me a few dozen pages to get there.
Also I didn't know what I was getting when I started. I think the title is part of the problem. Cleavage doesn't mean anything and doesn't speak to the story, as far as I can tell.
Because you're doing so much (with various styles) I really think your title needs to be more descriptive.
Just my thoughts obviously. Now here are my page by page notes.
1. He considers the knife in his hands, then opens a door to the garage. Leans in, drops the knife and picks up a hatchet.
The considers part of the lounge strikes me as awkward. He looks at would probably be cleaner.
3. “Second Chances 3: No More Chances” Lol
4. (Documentary) Wow mixing so many styles is interesting -- possibly dangerous
6. There is just a ton going on.
7. Rusty Trombone - lol. Isn't that the name for some horrifying sexual act? Can't remember.
7. Half assed flirty shit
8. Like a prostitute. Lol. My screenplay has a similar back and forth about a smile but you're line is much better lol.
8. Tastes like ass. Also very funny
13. I like how we're learning more about Ethan through the conversation with his father.
17. The internet is a very dark place. Really great. From the joke's set up early, to this line, really knocks it it of park.
17. Now it's also clear what the point is (Ethan needs to prove that he hha a future making movies). Felt a tad late but it's clear.
21. Johanna bends down, drops her pants. Courtney glares over her at Samantha, whose eyes are locked on Johanna’s bare
Over her what at Samantha? Missing word.
22. Okay, this is very important. Start from the beginning and give us every detail. For the documentary.
22. Overall the dialogue is very strong.
24. I don't know what a snowball fog is but I feel like i have idea from the joke...
Try gargling it before you swallow.
24. So far... I've gotten used to the reality, documentary, film... Dialogue is funny. The goal is clear (we have to make a kickass movie in a week). My big knock would be that the stakes feel very low to me. Ethan asking Johanna is supposed to have all this build up but it really didn't. Nothing really seems pressing or dire. With that said the writing has kept me interested. If it wasn't as funny, I'd be zoning out.
38. Don’t talk about Warner. Lol.
38. So the story is picking up and pulling me in. I'm actually really getting invested in the characters. I reallu want to read more to see where this goes. I didn't necessarily feel that way in the beginning.
Ethan is alone, putting his equipment away. Not a nit but it might be better to say....
Ethan is alone as he puts his equipment away.
I don't know, but I find I usually take flak whenever I use an "ING" verb.
40. I don't know why but the monkeys have just become hilarious to me but they are. Maybe it's the "monkey reaction shots" that did it.
41. chucks it over the fence.
You’re great about call backs and constructing these repeatable funny moments.
47. I don't make the rules. lol
48. As a human. Lol
58. Dude, this is priceless. He’s going to use his socks.
I'm embarrassed by how hard I was laughing at this.
62. I'm loving the way you're putting everything together here. This is seamless. Imo. The whole scene with Johanna and Ethan was solid.
They had another great scene on pg. 64
74. That one is holding a beer cup.
More good stuff.
77. Setting an intentional fire seems like a major escalation that doesn't necessarily feel right in my mind.
91. You did a good job making me care about the characters. I intrinsically knew the camera would get damaged at some point but I was still holding my breath as it happened. Great job with the descriptions there.
97. Cleavage. Don't love the title for the fake movie or the real one.
97. I exposed myself for you, rescued the lost ending and found a producer. The whole time all you thought about was Johanna. Do you really think you can just get the girl in the end without earning it?.... Then you are an idiot. All you ever needed to do was take a chance and kiss me.
Way too in the nose and too sappy for my liking. He should just kiss her. Read very wonky to me.
98. Am I supposed to know who Harry Plinkett is. Didn't get that final scene. Is it just a random youtube review?
So I re-read the first 30 pages and then speed-read the rest. I see you've taken some suggestions on motivations - did I tell you that I copyrighted the phrase 'industrial sized rabbit out of your ass'? (0:
I still have some of the same concerns. One, the first act is really dialogue-heavy and it's still a long time before we get to the actual filming.
Two, this would be really hard for this limited crew to film safely, especially as you ratchet up the explosions, with one high school kid - Kansy - in charge of it all. And I see you made it more clear that the zombie hit by the car is part of the film, but again then I ask - who is it and how did they film it safely?
Just my opinion but I would love to see you find a way to have them hit an actual creature. This way every other kill the audience witnesses could be real... until it's revealed to be one of the cast. Then somehow at the end when they're reviewing film, Ethan can say he thought it was Kansy and vice versa and then presto, monster walking the woods sequel... (0:
Three, and please don't take this the wrong way - the film doesn't have enough heart. By this I mean the crew only know each other in a group setting and they communicate through rapid fire dialogue. Per my comments above, you start to make real connections with some of these people and then you stop. It was better this go-round, however then you have the cool kids abandon the film nerds when the cops come in to arrest everyone. IMO that undermines the connections you made to that point. Very anti-Breakfast Club... but who knows, maybe it would work that way?
Again I do like this - perhaps because I see the usual teen characters and they're done pretty well and some of the dialogue is pretty funny. However I'm looking for more... bottom? If that makes any sense.
I cut another couple of pages out to tighten up the first act more. It hard killing some of my favourite moments, but you're not the only one to give that feedback so it's totally worth it. I'm trying to clean out anything that is not essential or can be expressed elsewhere.
I've also continued to tone back the tension between characters based on feedback from you and others. This was tougher, because I originally thought some of the crude jabs they used to have actually spoke to a deeper friendship where they could be brutally honest without fear of offending each other. I liked the extra conflict in each scene. I do think removing it does let some of the external conflict play a bit more and show the bond between characters now clearly. Some day when I'm further away from it and a better writer I'll read both versions and see. I'm sure the new version is better.
Intro: Maybe you could make the opening zombie scene more original/funny, so that you pull the viewers in more.
Pg 28 ’The slutty teenager’ That was funny.
Pg 76: ‘They’ not ‘thy’. I don’t think ‘I got an A in biology’ is a sufficient explanation. I think it’s strange that every zombie had the same part of the brain that didn’t die.
Pg 78: ‘Every tree and every rock is covered are blood and carnage.’ - Rewrite
85: You need a space before ‘his’.
I thought this was a great story, it has a real sense of fun and occasion, it builds well and there are tensions and doubts where the reader really cares about what happens. I thought this was put together really well. Exposing breasts to kill zombies was an outrageous and funny idea, and I like how Ethan was so thoughtful and serious when he came up with it. All your protagonist characters are distinct and likeable and there is a lot of character development throughout the script.
Ethan is clearly very clever, so maybe he could say more intelligent things (like the bit about zombies representing human fears) to give him an even more distinctive personality. If you did that, it would make it easier to believe he got the job his dad wanted him to get, with so little preparation. Ethan’s disregard for the police makes him seem antisocial, but his dialogue rarely shows this. Maybe add some more subtle hints, every now and then. Doing so in a way that is likeable sounds like a challenge, but I don’t think it would be impossible. I personally didn’t dislike him when he broke the law, to me that made him edgy and exciting. It’s good that he is so driven, but maybe give him more flaws, so the audience doesn’t get jealous. Maybe you could make it harder to get his camera equipment, so you build more tension.
A lot of the dialogue was predictable, you say things like ‘this is going to be awesome’ many times. I know you’re writing dialogue for young people, but maybe you could be a little deeper every now and then. Maybe the start dragged on a bit. The ending review was funny, but you might want to explain how such experts thought the film would be really successful. Were other reviews positive, or did the experts make a rare mistake, and if so, how?
I would give this maybe 8/10, I really enjoyed it.