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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Action/Adventure Scripts  ›  Andretta Moderators: bert
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  Author    Andretta  (currently 5195 views)
Don
Posted: July 5th, 2013, 11:34am Report to Moderator
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Andretta by Sean Chipman (Mr. Blonde) - Action, Adventure - Upon arriving in the crime-ridden metropolis of Andretta, a revenge-driven vigilante puts himself in the middle of a four-sided gang war on the day the government declares their city a no man's land. 104 pages - pdf, format


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You will miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
- Wayne Gretzky

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Don  -  August 28th, 2013, 4:57pm
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Mr. Blonde
Posted: July 5th, 2013, 11:50am Report to Moderator
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Okay, before anyone decides to endure this, I should explain that there will be a lot of unresolved plotlines in here. This is part 1 of a trilogy I've designed. Just felt it was worth mentioning. Hope you enjoy it.

The best way I've been able to describe this scripts is, it's a mash-up of Escape From L.A., The Punisher (2004) and Yojimbo. Take from that what you will... Lol.



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Mr. Blonde  -  July 5th, 2013, 1:47pm
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Leegion
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As a fellow "saga" writer myself, I enjoy not knowing everything in the first part of a trilogy/franchise.  Gives you freedom to write however you want to.

I like the sound of it by the logline.  Definitely suits my reading material as I like fantasy-style action movies (not sure if this is fantasy, but Andretta sounds like a fantasy style city (even if the name is from Italy ).

Will read, cover some notes and give you my impressions.  I will start this later with a tasty beverage and snack.

Lee
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Dreamscale
Posted: July 5th, 2013, 1:03pm Report to Moderator
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I'll read it, Sean.  But not this weekend.


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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Leegion
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I got 12 pages in thus far.  Very good.  Detail is excellent yet not too overwhelming.  The action is nice, condensed and precise.  I could learn a lot from this and I am enjoying it thoroughly.

No notes thus far.  No mistakes at all.  Everything is top notch here.

Lee
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Mr. Blonde
Posted: July 5th, 2013, 7:57pm Report to Moderator
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Lee,

Glad you're liking it so far. Don't feel like you have to rush through it or anything.

Also, anyone who wants a return read, just let me know and send me a link, please, either in the thread or through a PM.


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Leegion
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I have some down time this weekend.  

Too.  Damn.  Hot.  

Will get a bit further in on this, as I am also reading several other scripts too.  
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Mr. Blonde
Posted: July 13th, 2013, 1:16pm Report to Moderator
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Lee,

Don't read any further. I don't want you to waste your time because I'm putting this through a major re-write. Just letting you know in advance. =)

-Sean


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Leegion
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Oh, okay.  Well, once the re-write is done I'll give that a read instead.

Lee
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NickSedario
Posted: July 14th, 2013, 9:07am Report to Moderator
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Whether it be in rewrite mode or not, at a glance this script is tightly written - format-wise.  I'll be interested in seeing the next version.  
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Beckett
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Hey Sean

I think i will 'endure' this . i want to learn a thing or two about rewrites if that's alright.

and judging from the comments this will be a good script to learn from anyway.
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Mr. Blonde
Posted: July 20th, 2013, 1:14pm Report to Moderator
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Beckett,

Obviously, if you want to read it, by all means. I only put that up so people could read, if they wanted, the most recent version when it is eventually ready (probably in about two or three weeks).


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NickSedario
Posted: July 28th, 2013, 10:02am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Dreamscale
I'll read it, Sean. But not this weekend.


Curious to hear your feedback on this one.  
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Mr. Blonde
Posted: July 28th, 2013, 12:07pm Report to Moderator
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You know what? I changed my mind. If you guys want to read the script as is, go for it. My rewrite was to take out dialogue. The story itself wasn't going to change very much in this initial rewrite, so you wouldn't find much of a difference in the new one versus this one. If you do read it, what I said still stands. If you have something for me to read as well, either PM me or link it to me here. Either way works. =)


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Mr. Blonde
Posted: August 28th, 2013, 8:38pm Report to Moderator
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Just putting it out there that the sort-of rewrite for Andretta is now active. I cut 13 pages out of it, mostly dialogue and some boring parts of the story. Hoping the rest of it works out for you. =)


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Leegion
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Hey man,

Was going to read this a while back, now you've uploaded the "new" version I'll take a look.

Lee
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oJOHNNYoNUTSo
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Hey Sean,

I've found a good stopping point for the night at page 40.  I wanted to save my notes until the end, but from reading your comments it sounds like your not sure about some things.  So far, I think you have a solid start and I'm looking forward to finishing it.

I want to save the overall until I finish it, but I'll throw a few notes at ya anyway.  Just jumping around the pages here, just remember, I do enjoy I what I've read so far.

-- In hindsight, I felt John & Jim need new names.  They're too common to serve their purpose.

-- I like the concept of the CITIZENS, although I wish it was grounded more in a sense of mythology.

Page 1, "A ferry makes its way to an island; the skyline as vibrant as Miami's and just as toxic."
You took the latter and implied an independent clause, with no true verb to strengthen the idea.  Maybe its just a matter of losing the semicolon and using "a" instead of "the" because it's the first reference to Miami with nothing to compare it to.

-- Dialogue was hit and miss.  Page 5, "But just the one." I liked it.  The scene with Alias and Michael could have been way better.  Plus I dig the name Alias, but he really didn't deliver the clever dialogue the scene needed.  It was plot driven banter that didn't reveal who he was as a character.  Page 21, Drake and Michael talk Plan A and B.  I suggest you use something that speaks to the same logic, but breaks out of the cliché.

Page 6, the poker hand.  The most epic bad beat in poker history.  It makes the story seem over the top.  Even a subtle loss could speak volumes.

Page 11, "Scared shirtless" it took me a second to get it.

Page 15, Jester tattoos are outstanding characterization.

Page 17, Michael: "Drake, I need help." Really?  I'm surprised Drake even entertained this notion.  He should have led him on until the final moment of a possible defeat.

Page 22, "Drake burns a hole in Michael's back as he leaves" This is the second time you used this so far.

-- Interesting. a 404 call back, hmmm....

-- As far as the writing, it's tight for the most part maybe a bit too choppy for my taste, but it helps during the action.  And at least you stay consistent about it.

Well, I'm going to pick it back up tomorrow Sean, whether you like it or not LOL.  Can't wait to see how it ends.

Later,

Johnny





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oJOHNNYoNUTSo  -  August 31st, 2013, 7:15pm
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Mr. Blonde
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Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
Hey Sean,

I've found a good stopping point for the night at page 40.  I wanted to save my notes until the end, but from reading your comments it sounds like your not sure about some things.  So far, I think you have a solid start and I'm looking forward to finishing it.


Johnny,

Well, I wouldn't say I'm unsure about things. The pace slows down in the middle of act 2 and my dialogue's a bit of a mess (better than it was, though) but the story's stayed the same.


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
-- In hindsight, I felt John & Jim need new names.  Their too common to serve their purpose.


This wasn't something I really ever grappled with. I almost wanted them to be inseparable, even by name. The only differentiating character I wanted them to have was that Jim doesn't speak. Mostly by choice.


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
-- I like the concept of the CITIZENS, although I wish it was grounded more in a sense of mythology.


Mythology in what sense?


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
Page 1, "A ferry makes its way to an island; the skyline as vibrant as Miami's and just as toxic."
You took the latter and implied an independent clause, with no true verb to strengthen the idea.  Maybe its just a matter of losing the semicolon and using "a" instead of "the" because it's the first reference to Miami with nothing to compare it to.


I always hate grammar when it comes to things like that. Rules dictate that sometimes it's a colon, sometimes a semicolon, sometimes a new sentence. Usually, I just pick one randomly. Your thoughts, though, sound right.


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
-- Dialogue was hit and miss.  Page 5, "But just the one." I liked it.  The scene with Alias and Michael could have been way better.  Plus I dig the name Alias, but he really didn't deliver the clever dialogue the scene needed.  It was plot driven banter that didn't reveal who he was as a character.  Page 21, Drake and Michael talk Plan A and B.  I suggest you use something that speaks to the same logic, but breaks out of the cliché.


Yeah, dialogue's a big issue for me. I rewrote that line so many times. I still don't think it sounds right, but I can't keep fixing it forever. I know their meeting could be better. I've tried working on my overstylized dialogue, but I just can't grasp it the way I want to. And cliche, that's my middle name. I do intend to work on it even more, though. This last rewrite was to drop the page count through dialogue cutting.


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
Page 6, the poker hand.  The most epic bad beat in poker history.  It makes the story seem over the top.  Even a subtle loss could speak volumes.


Yeah, I know. This idea started as a comic book so I had all the situations as entirely over the top. The hand kind of stayed. It could really be changed to anything, but I took eight pages out of that single scene alone. I should also note that I ripped that off from a real bad beat I saw live at the World Series of Poker Main Event: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmfWPCSnw8U


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
Page 15, Jester tattoos are outstanding characterization.


Yeah, I cut out the dialogue explanation. I liked it, but it felt out of character.


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
Page 17, Michael: "Drake, I need help." Really?  I'm surprised Drake even entertained this notion.  He should have led him on until the final moment of a possible defeat.


He should have and did in the original version, but back when this script was 138, this scene went on much longer. I should make it better, though.


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
Page 22, "Drake burns a hole in Michael's back as he leaves" This is the second time you used this so far.


I like ripping off my own descriptions. What can I say? Truth be told, I'm not very good with similies, metaphors, things of that nature so I stick with what works.


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
-- As far as the writing, it's tight for the most part maybe a bit too choppy for my taste, but it helps during the action.  And at least you stay consistent about it.


I went from one extreme to the other. My overwriting when it come to prose has become choppy, staccato sentences with no real flow. It should work better in the last 40 pages or so which is just three action sequences on top of each other.


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
Well, I'm going to pick it back up tomorrow Sean, whether you like it or not LOL.  Can't wait to see how it ends.


I just hope the ending doesn't disappoint. You're at the second meeting with Alias so the story's about to make a shift. You'll get a really good idea in the next 15 pages about whether or not you're going to like this by the time it's over.

But, like it or not, I appreciate the read. =)

-Sean


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oJOHNNYoNUTSo
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Quoted from Mr. Blonde

You're at the second meeting with Alias so the story's about to make a shift. You'll get a really good idea in the next 15 pages about whether or not you're going to like this by the time it's over.


I'm mixed about it all.  Congrats for putting in some serious work and completing a feature draft, I mean it.  I know how much passion and work went into this, but it needs some work.

First off, "Andretta" is the title.  I feel strongly the city should have been just as much a character in this, it could have provided more impact on the ending.  Bring it to life.

Another thing I wanted to mention is the writing.  Towards the end of page 79, I/E. ASTON MARTIN, you used clear writing and attached verbs to a subject.  It was effective.  Then you quickly reverted back to your style.

I'm not dissing the style, but as I read it, I'm picturing how it looks on film, quick snappy actions.  So how much better would it stand out if you focused it on specific sequences?  It felt like the whole story was made up of snappy shots and became excessive.  Just my opinion.

-- Alias and Michael meet in the exact same place?  I didn't care for their second encounter either.  "That's just one of those numbers that doesn't sound real when someone says it."  Your dialogue reveals weak points in characterization.

-- The Trisha/Michael dynamic is strong.  I'll get to this later.

-- I felt John Qs flashback wasn't needed, the visuals didn't move the story forward and he's already talking about it.  The dialogue itself is fine here and if you think about it, how much would this cost to throw this scene on film?

-- The mythology of the citizens was revealed through John Q, so I would have like to have seen more motive come to life toward the end.

-- I don't think money would have been conflict with John Q/Drake.  Don't you think Drake would have taken it as a compliment if John Q tried to rip him off.  Damn, I'm surprised Drake didn't try to hire this guy.

-- A Bicycle deck of cards.  Does the brand have impact here?  It slowed the read down, because I was searching my mind for the importance.

-- I did enjoy the scene with Landon and his dialogue.  Good job!  But --

-- Why on earth did Alias shoot him?!?  I'm already not onboard with his character, and he shoots him.  Michael deserved that kill, he totally earned it!  And to give it to Alias (for not a good reason at all) didn't deliver the goods, and Trisha/Michael relationship was taken away.

-- Jimmy Lenox?  This was the biggest letdown for me, because I thought Michael's flashbacks really moved the story forward.  I think I have an idea where your going with this though.

-- Alias: "Couldn't let you destroy yourself"  

-- I did like the end sequence, very strong visuals.  But the dialogue between Drake/Michael felt out of place.  I'm wondering how Drake knew these things from being absent through Michael's character points.

-- Defiantly sounds like a part 2 is coming.

Overall, there are some very strong elements and very weak ones.  I think characters are the most critical element that needs focus.  Plotholes in the story are cosmetic and easy to fix, but characters are another animal.

I think the characters should talk in subtext, reacting from who they are rather than what's going on.  You might have to dig deep on the main ones, especially with more to come.  Good luck Sean!  A good first draft, it has potential.

Johnny







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Mr. Blonde
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Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
I'm mixed about it all.  Congrats for putting in some serious work and completing a feature draft, I mean it.  I know how much passion and work went into this, but it needs some work.


Sounds very similar to the original reviews for Christmas Story. Apparently, that's going to be the story of my writing life. =)


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
First off, "Andretta" is the title.  I feel strongly the city should have been just as much a character in this, it could have provided more impact on the ending.  Bring it to life.


I had to cut some things for the sake of the script. Originally, we met the owner of Wild Cherries, Kat DiRossi, but she was cut in favor of introducing her in the second one. Same with revealing who Jester really is.


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
Another thing I wanted to mention is the writing.  Towards the end of page 79, I/E. ASTON MARTIN, you used clear writing and attached verbs to a subject.  It was effective.  Then you quickly reverted back to your style.


I'm really not good at writing visuals for a sustained period. I try to find good verbs and adjectives, but it always sounds forced when I re-read it.


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
I'm not dissing the style, but as I read it, I'm picturing how it looks on film, quick snappy actions.  So how much better would it stand out if you focused it on specific sequences?  It felt like the whole story was made up of snappy shots and became excessive.  Just my opinion.


Which is ironic because in this, like Christmas Story, I imagined several long takes. But I try not to direct on the page and just write what you see. Haven't found the happy medium.


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
-- Alias and Michael meet in the exact same place?  I didn't care for their second encounter either.  "That's just one of those numbers that doesn't sound real when someone says it."  Your dialogue reveals weak points in characterization.


Well, they met there in the sense of him breaking into Michael's apartment again. My dialogue and characters are weak. That's just been a perennial mis-step for me. Trying to get better but it seems like I'm regressing.


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
-- The Trisha/Michael dynamic is strong.  I'll get to this later.


You got back to it very indirectly but I'm glad I found something that worked. If that worked, that implies to me that my dialogue for everyone else needs to be fixed much more than theirs.


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
-- I felt John Qs flashback wasn't needed, the visuals didn't move the story forward and he's already talking about it.  The dialogue itself is fine here and if you think about it, how much would this cost to throw this scene on film?


The visuals didn't move it forward, but I assure you that particular scene was very important. It'll have a very big effect on "Andretta 2". I wanted to cut the dialogue back on that, but also didn't want to risk losing people.


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
-- The mythology of the citizens was revealed through John Q, so I would have like to have seen more motive come to life toward the end.


What particular kind of motive would you have liked to have seen? Motive for the Citizens or motive for John Q? Much as I didn't want to have this theme, it kind of developed throughout the story: Drake is the have, the Citizens are the have nots.


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
-- I don't think money would have been conflict with John Q/Drake.  Don't you think Drake would have taken it as a compliment if John Q tried to rip him off.  Damn, I'm surprised Drake didn't try to hire this guy.


Drake's not the kind to take it as a compliment, as least how I imagined him. I always thought of him as someone who looks for any way to try and destroy you. However, if you see it differently, that means I didn't portray it properly. As for the last part, that was in the dialogue. John Q was Drake's second-in command before he tried ripping him off.


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
-- A Bicycle deck of cards.  Does the brand have impact here?  It slowed the read down, because I was searching my mind for the importance.


No particular significance. It can go.


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
-- I did enjoy the scene with Landon and his dialogue.  Good job!  But --


Very surprised to hear that. I thought for sure everyone (at this point, you're everyone) would hate it.


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
-- Why on earth did Alias shoot him?!?  I'm already not onboard with his character, and he shoots him.  Michael deserved that kill, he totally earned it!  And to give it to Alias (for not a good reason at all) didn't deliver the goods, and Trisha/Michael relationship was taken away.


Michael ruined his life by "killing" Jimmy Lennox. It didn't allow him to move on and he spent his life trying to "earn back favor" with his dead family by being a non-lethal vigilante. Alias knew this about him and knew that Jimmy Lennox wasn't dead and that Michael could go on to have a normal life if he spared Landon. Alias, on the other hand, has no problem with killing people as part of his job. Michael didn't need to avenge Trisha as he's going to be blaming himself for getting her killed later on.


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
-- Jimmy Lenox?  This was the biggest letdown for me, because I thought Michael's flashbacks really moved the story forward.  I think I have an idea where your going with this though.


This was an idea that had been part of the comic since I developed the idea back in 2006. It's something that worked better in there than it does here. But, it'll matter later. Like most things.


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
-- Alias: "Couldn't let you destroy yourself"  


It's true, though. Everyone's trying to redeem themselves and each fails miserably.


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
-- I did like the end sequence, very strong visuals.  But the dialogue between Drake/Michael felt out of place.  I'm wondering how Drake knew these things from being absent through Michael's character points.


By end sequence, are you talking from the prison on or just the Crimson Dragon/helicopter/drone part? You're right about the dialogue, though. In fact, you haven't said one thing regarding the dialogue that I disagree with. Says bad things about it.


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
-- Defiantly sounds like a part 2 is coming.


And 3.


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
Overall, there are some very strong elements and very weak ones.  I think characters are the most critical element that needs focus.  Plotholes in the story are cosmetic and easy to fix, but characters are another animal.


I'm curious which actual plot holes I had, although we're in agreement that characters are kind of a disaster in themselves for me. Never been good with them. Need to work on it.


Quoted from oJOHNNYoNUTSo
I think the characters should talk in subtext, reacting from who they are rather than what's going on.  You might have to dig deep on the main ones, especially with more to come.  Good luck Sean!  A good first draft, it has potential.

Johnny


You're asking for quite a tall order with that one, Johnny. But, I'll do my best to improve.

Thank you for reading (and completing) part 1 of the Andretta trilogy. =)

-Sean



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Mr. Blonde  -  August 31st, 2013, 6:23pm
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Sean,

Apologies for the delay in getting around to read this. A band comissioned the treatment of a music video I produced for them, and so I've been busy with meetings and casting regarding that.

But anyway, onto Andretta.

Firstly, I loved this dystopian, lawless world which you created. It reminded me of Hobo with a Shotgun, a film which I did not enjoy particularly, but I did love the setting of it nonetheless. That being said, I would have liked Andretta to have played slightly more of a role in the story, given that: A) the title of the script is the city, and; B) I thought the world you created was great, so I would have liked some more scenes to have been set in locations more unique to this city, as opposed to locations which we could find anywhere. In the brilliant Norweigen film Oslo, August 31st, Oslo is as much a character in the story as the characters themselves, with scenes being set in locations unique to the city. I would have loved to have seen this a bit more here.

Now this was fast, entertaining read, given the high levels of action throughout. I definitely wasn't bored! And there were some really cool scenes and visuals here as well (breaking Webster out being my favourite). Furthermore, the script reminded me of some the action films I grew up loving (I see you mentioned that Escape from LA was a big inspiration, which is how I actually pictured this), and so I really wanted to love it. However, a few pretty big issues for me unfortunately reduced my overall enjoyment of the read.

The main issue I had with this script was Michael's character and his lack of clarity throughout. I mean, I had no idea what the hell Michael's plan was, and what he was doing, until page 44, when the whole idea to break Webster out is initiated. What was Michael's plan before this? He buys all these guns, gets close to Drake, but then shoots someone who is trying to attack Drake... errr, what? I thought he wanted Drake dead? This lack of clarity completely left me scratching my head, man. I would personally get to the whole Webster thing a lot quicker, and have that as the main story, so we constantly know what Michael's agenda is.

But in addition to this, I would make his earlier actions a lot clearer as well. Clarify what his goals are in returning to the city. Is he planning to go and kill Drake? I also thought that his motivations needed some work as well. So his pregnant wife is killed (which I didn't think needed the flashbacks, personally, because I gussed this backstory as soon as he was on the ferry with the poloroid, plus Trisha makes numerous references to his family, etc.), and he returns to Andretta to become a vigilante... although, only kind of a vigilante because we're not sure what his initial plans are. Where was his wife murdered? Was that in Andretta? If so, then why does he move to a motel? If not, then why does he move back to Andretta to become a vigilante? Why not just fight crime where his wife was killed, as this is likely to have a greater effect on the criminals who killed his wife.

Drake is also represented inconsistently throughout. You have the scenes with him going to work on the citizens with his blowtorch, where you are obviously trying to make him come across as a real nasty piece of work, but at the same time you have people describing him as "a spoiled rich kid with delusions of superiority", which seems inconsistent with his actions. In addition, he lets Michael, who he has never met before, start working for him without carrying out any background checks, or anything? I mean, Michael could be a Citizen for all Drake knows, with this as some big ploy to get close to Drake and then kill him. Furthermore, for someone who was represented as being such an evil bastard, his death was pretty unheroic as well. I think it may have worked slightly better if the guy doing the torturing was Landon, the reason why I explain in more detail in the page specific notes below...

I did also have some issues with your writing style. I have no problem with fragmented action lines during high octane scenes of action (and as a result, I thought you wrote these scenes very well). However, I found that when this style of writing was used in scenes devoid of any violence/ action, the scenes read awkwardly and rather disjointed. However, this is obviously just my personal preference to these kind of things.


Below are some page-specific notes I made whilst reading:

Page 1- I’ve never been a fan of these “X amount of time before” openers as I rarely see them used in a satisfactory way, and instead they come off as cliche. The only way that I feel these openers work is if they set up some kind of interesting scene which the audience is always knowing will happen, but then the narrative pulls the rug from under the audience and go in a completely different route than what was expected. One of the best examples of this is the pilot of Breaking Bad. When we first meet Walter White, he's driving in the desert, half naked with a bunch of dead bodies behind him with police sirens getting nearer and nearer. We then cut back to a few weeks previously. This firstly fooled me into thinking that the show was going to take place over the course of a few weeks, and that this scene would occur at the finale of the show with Walter getting arrested after a deal goes bad. However, the end of the pilot completely flips these expectations on its head. However, I don't feel that your opener was as effective because it was far too straightforward. See if you can think of a way to make something unexpected happen when we catch up chronologically otherwise, for me at least, this opener reeks of being a gimmick.

Page 1- Not sure you need to reintroduce Michael as a character in the photo.

Page 3- I find it weird that Michael whispers to Douglas. Now I get why you’ve done this: so that whatever he has requested is a surprise. But can’t Michael just hand Douglas a piece of paper with the request written on it? Because I think Michael whispering to Douglas in an empty, closed shop would look awkward on screen.

Page 4- “Michael realizes he didn’t give them his name.” I think this line would work better if Guinevere asked Michael his name, but Michael says something like “that’s not important”. Because this action line would be hard to translate onto the screen... the audience will see that Michael is unnerved, but it may not be explicit what has unnerved him.

Page 9- “Pushes pushes the shotgun away.” Double pushes.

Page 10- For me, the two scuffles in such quick succession were a bit much. I’m not sure you need two scenes back-to-back with Michael displaying his bad-ass-ness?

Page 16- I’m confused. At the gunman was waiting for Michael to move... but now his crosshair focuses on Michael and he shoots?

Page 18- What happened to the gangbangers who were descending upon the building? How did John and Jim get there beforehand?

Page 32- Nice callback with the room 404. I was wondering about the relevance of that.

Page 33- And nice “ugly ass scar” comment. I chuckled.

Page 36- I would seriously reconsider having a character called John  and John Q, as I can see that getting very confusing.

Page 57- For someone who was described as being like a myth previously, it sure was easy for Michael and Q to get an audience with Devlin...

Page 58- Michael: “At midnight tonight, Drake will no longer be a U.S. citizen. Neither will his accountant. His accounts will be permanently frozen.” Why will his accounts be frozen just because he’s not a U.S. Citizen? And couldn’t Drake just put his money into a bank account in another country?

I’m really not buying Devlin’s actions here, man. How does he know that these two don’t work for Drake? He could be giving money and weapons to his enemy. And worst still, Michael and Q could be some kind of hitmen working for Drake who kill Devlin as soon as he gives them the weapons.

Page 76- How did Alias get in the prison?

Page 81- I personally think it would have been better if you had an established antagonist attack Michael and Trisha. I mean, who the hell is Landon? He does actually seem like quite a cool character though, so I would recommend keeping him here, but just introduce him earlier. Maybe have him torturing someone for  Drake, or something. Because at the minute, Michael defeating him doesn’t feel too satisfying, as I’ve never seen Landon before.

So Michael is now talking to himself...? I mean, how is Michael communicating to Alias? Because you haven’t specified, and I’m imagining them communicating through some weird kind of telepathy... which I’m not too taken with in the slightest. But if it is through some kind of headset, then this needs clarifying.

Page 85- This reads awkwardly: “Douglas expected the last person he’d see to be Michael.”

Page 96- Did Drake know Michael before the past 36 hours? Because this line “You were always too much of a wild card” sounds odd if he had only known him for such a short amount of time.


Conclusion

Whilst I highly enjoyed the world you created and the action set-pieces in this, the lack of clarity with Michael's character meant I had a hard time completely getting into the story, as I was constantly scratching my head trying to work out his goals and motivations. If you work on clearing these up a bit, making them more explicit and clear, this will be a much more satisfying read. But this definitely has lots of potential, man. If you work on the characters more, this will definitely be a strong action script indeed.

All the best with it.


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Mr. Blonde
Posted: October 5th, 2013, 8:32pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Toby_E
Sean,

Apologies for the delay in getting around to read this. A band comissioned the treatment of a music video I produced for them, and so I've been busy with meetings and casting regarding that.


That's no problem. You took out the time to read it so as far as I'm concerned, you could have taken as long as you wanted.


Quoted from Toby_E
Firstly, I loved this dystopian, lawless world which you created. It reminded me of Hobo with a Shotgun, a film which I did not enjoy particularly, but I did love the setting of it nonetheless. That being said, I would have liked Andretta to have played slightly more of a role in the story, given that: A) the title of the script is the city, and; B) I thought the world you created was great, so I would have liked some more scenes to have been set in locations more unique to this city, as opposed to locations which we could find anywhere. In the brilliant Norweigen film Oslo, August 31st, Oslo is as much a character in the story as the characters themselves, with scenes being set in locations unique to the city. I would have loved to have seen this a bit more here.


Funny you picked the word "lawless". It's original inspiration(s) were westerns. If you notice the three I chose to define it, two are westerns and the other is by John Carpenter who loves westerns. You're the second person who's told me that (out of two) [in regards to the city not being a central role]. Unique locations are interesting, just thinking about what you mean. I mean, obviously apartments, casinos, prisons, strip clubs, none of those are particularly original. But, just for example, can you give me an idea of what you mean, in that sense?


Quoted from Toby_E
Now this was fast, entertaining read, given the high levels of action throughout. I definitely wasn't bored! And there were some really cool scenes and visuals here as well (breaking Webster out being my favourite). Furthermore, the script reminded me of some the action films I grew up loving (I see you mentioned that Escape from LA was a big inspiration, which is how I actually pictured this), and so I really wanted to love it. However, a few pretty big issues for me unfortunately reduced my overall enjoyment of the read.


I thought for sure you (being a general term, not you, specifically) would've been bored to tears around the page 45-60 mark. I tried making it more interesting, but it didn't go the way I'd hoped. So, that's one vote for the prison sequence. You sound positive when saying it reminds you of action films you like, but does that imply that it's derivative and I should try being a little more original?


Quoted from Toby_E
The main issue I had with this script was Michael's character and his lack of clarity throughout. I mean, I had no idea what the hell Michael's plan was, and what he was doing, until page 44, when the whole idea to break Webster out is initiated. What was Michael's plan before this? He buys all these guns, gets close to Drake, but then shoots someone who is trying to attack Drake... errr, what? I thought he wanted Drake dead? This lack of clarity completely left me scratching my head, man. I would personally get to the whole Webster thing a lot quicker, and have that as the main story, so we constantly know what Michael's agenda is.


Yeah, Michael was a troubling character to write. I had to get over finding out how to handle a vigilante who doesn't actually believe in killing. At the same time, he's on a mission to take out someone (Drake) whom he's never met. Originally that was his plan, and I had it as this thing where Drake knew more about Michael than he did about Drake. I tried to throw little hints in there (along with one big spiel when I realized it may have been too abstract) that explained that Michael had taken on almost an urban legend-type of appeal, as he's become a highly successful, rather accomplished, vigilante. That's why everyone knows him even before he meets them (Alias, John Q, Drake, etc). You bring up a good point, a change I'm definitely going to make. Originally, the poker scene went on for over eight pages. Now, it goes on less than two. But, I know how to add more tension to it and it wasn't something that occurred to me until I saw that in your review. I really wanted the thing with Webster to be near the midpoint because that's the remaining obstacle for him to take down Drake in a non-lethal manner. He's going to empower Devlin by removing Drake from the equation (Pointless side note: one of my working titles for Andretta was The Drake Equation). It didn't take and I didn't think about it for very long.


Quoted from Toby_E
But in addition to this, I would make his earlier actions a lot clearer as well. Clarify what his goals are in returning to the city. Is he planning to go and kill Drake? I also thought that his motivations needed some work as well. So his pregnant wife is killed (which I didn't think needed the flashbacks, personally, because I gussed this backstory as soon as he was on the ferry with the poloroid, plus Trisha makes numerous references to his family, etc.), and he returns to Andretta to become a vigilante... although, only kind of a vigilante because we're not sure what his initial plans are. Where was his wife murdered? Was that in Andretta? If so, then why does he move to a motel? If not, then why does he move back to Andretta to become a vigilante? Why not just fight crime where his wife was killed, as this is likely to have a greater effect on the criminals who killed his wife.


He's not returning to the city. He's going there for the first time for a new target: Drake. The flashbacks (I hate them) were details I couldn't get across properly in another way. His obsession with 404, his sister (see: remaining family) was also killed, his belief that Jimmy Lennox actually died), etc. Much as I hate to keep comparing it to The Punisher, Michael doesn't stay in one place. He moves from area to area, taking down these criminals wherever he can find them.


Quoted from Toby_E
Drake is also represented inconsistently throughout. You have the scenes with him going to work on the citizens with his blowtorch, where you are obviously trying to make him come across as a real nasty piece of work, but at the same time you have people describing him as "a spoiled rich kid with delusions of superiority", which seems inconsistent with his actions. In addition, he lets Michael, who he has never met before, start working for him without carrying out any background checks, or anything? I mean, Michael could be a Citizen for all Drake knows, with this as some big ploy to get close to Drake and then kill him. Furthermore, for someone who was represented as being such an evil bastard, his death was pretty unheroic as well. I think it may have worked slightly better if the guy doing the torturing was Landon, the reason why I explain in more detail in the page specific notes below...


That's one of the things I changed from the comic book. Originally, Drake was overly-emotional and on the verge of a nervous breakdown, but he had a strong sociopathic side. So, I changed it for the script. He's not a tough guy. The guys he torched, they were first taken down by John & Jim (and, in one case, by Michael) and Drake went to work because he had the upper hand. He didn't earn it and wasn't afraid because there was no threat. He knows who Michael is (the file on his desk when Michael first shows up at the Crimson Dragon) and was fully prepared for him. I kind of wanted that similarity in the main villains. Neither one gets their hands dirty anymore. Drake did, to get to the top, but he's gone soft. Devlin bought his way up and has been protected by a bunch of soldiers for as long as he can remember.


Quoted from Toby_E
I did also have some issues with your writing style. I have no problem with fragmented action lines during high octane scenes of action (and as a result, I thought you wrote these scenes very well). However, I found that when this style of writing was used in scenes devoid of any violence/ action, the scenes read awkwardly and rather disjointed. However, this is obviously just my personal preference to these kind of things.


Well, that's also the second time I've heard this. The trouble is, my old writing style was insanely overwritten. I went to the opposite end of the spectrum (by creating a Frankenstein-like style) and wrote in very disjoined sentences. The reason why it stuck for this is that, when this idea originally came to me, it was a comic book. It had a six-issue arc and how I wrote the script was how each panel looked in my mind.


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Mr. Blonde
Posted: October 5th, 2013, 8:32pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Toby_E
However, I don't feel that your opener was as effective because it was far too straightforward. See if you can think of a way to make something unexpected happen when we catch up chronologically otherwise, for me at least, this opener reeks of being a gimmick.


I toyed with one other opening scene before I decided on the grenade. The other one opened after Michael blew up the guard tower during the prison break where they're still waiting for the boat to arrive and he gets shot in the throat. The problem (one of many) I had with starting there was that him almost dying is nearly resolved less than five minutes later. The grenade, at least, had the more interesting (in my opinion) question of "How are any of them going to survive that?" as opposed to "How does he survive?"


Quoted from Toby_E
Page 3- I find it weird that Michael whispers to Douglas. Now I get why you’ve done this: so that whatever he has requested is a surprise. But can’t Michael just hand Douglas a piece of paper with the request written on it? Because I think Michael whispering to Douglas in an empty, closed shop would look awkward on screen.


I've heard that before and you're right. Another thing I carried over from the comic. Originally, Douglas wasn't a Citizen. He was ultra paranoid about being recorded so he required Michael to whisper whenever he spoke. That'll be changed.


Quoted from Toby_E
Page 4- “Michael realizes he didn’t give them his name.” I think this line would work better if Guinevere asked Michael his name, but Michael says something like “that’s not important”. Because this action line would be hard to translate onto the screen... the audience will see that Michael is unnerved, but it may not be explicit what has unnerved him.


You don't think they'll make the connection? I'm sure some people don't get it, but it's hard to tell. Depends on the potential director and actor.


Quoted from Toby_E
Page 9- “Pushes pushes the shotgun away.” Double pushes.


Good catch. After looking through, I saw other mistakes, too, that I need to fix.


Quoted from Toby_E
Page 10- For me, the two scuffles in such quick succession were a bit much. I’m not sure you need two scenes back-to-back with Michael displaying his bad-ass-ness?


I agree, in a sense. I wanted to keep them different because one was meant to show his "bad-ass-ness" (the fist fight) whereas the shootout was more about introducing the war between Drake and the Citizens and Michael's introduction to it.


Quoted from Toby_E
Page 16- I’m confused. At the gunman was waiting for Michael to move... but now his crosshair focuses on Michael and he shoots?


He wasn't aiming at Michael. Alias' shooting ability is so honed, he was waiting for Michael to turn because he could destroy the chair with a single shot and allow Michael to get loose. He was helping Michael.


Quoted from Toby_E
Page 18- What happened to the gangbangers who were descending upon the building? How did John and Jim get there beforehand?


I had a small scene with him being led through the hallway by John & Jim with the gangbangers on each side. The problem is, it felt too much like the scene in Training Day where Alonzo leads Jake up to Smiley's house. So, I deleted it and replaced it with Drake sending a text after getting off the phone with Michael.


Quoted from Toby_E
Page 32- Nice callback with the room 404. I was wondering about the relevance of that.


Michael blames himself for his wife's, sister's and child's deaths. That's how he punishes himself.


Quoted from Toby_E
Page 36- I would seriously reconsider having a character called John  and John Q, as I can see that getting very confusing.


Second time I've heard that. It's one of those things I know people are going to want changed, but I don't think I ever will. I circumvented it (slightly) by giving John Q a real name (Jackie Barrón, which Michael refers to him as).


Quoted from Toby_E
Page 57- For someone who was described as being like a myth previously, it sure was easy for Michael and Q to get an audience with Devlin...


It was a myth meeting a myth. Devlin's curiosity was piqued, to say the least.


Quoted from Toby_E
Page 58- Michael: “At midnight tonight, Drake will no longer be a U.S. citizen. Neither will his accountant. His accounts will be permanently frozen.” Why will his accounts be frozen just because he’s not a U.S. Citizen? And couldn’t Drake just put his money into a bank account in another country?


The first part, I did a little bit of research on and an area that's not occupied (legally) by anybody, has zero status in the U.S. In that case, Drake's accounts are frozen. As for your second part (I probably needed to make this clearer), Alias explained to Michael that even Drake doesn't know the code to his bank accounts. The only one who does is Webster and that's why he's at Silver Shore in the first place.


Quoted from Toby_E
I’m really not buying Devlin’s actions here, man. How does he know that these two don’t work for Drake? He could be giving money and weapons to his enemy. And worst still, Michael and Q could be some kind of hitmen working for Drake who kill Devlin as soon as he gives them the weapons.


Devlin knows who Michael is, just as Drake did. He's also aware, after living in Andretta for so long, who the Citizens are and who their leader is, especially since he had a nasty falling out with Drake.


Quoted from Toby_E
Page 76- How did Alias get in the prison?


He didn't. He came on the boat with Gavin and Gentry.


Quoted from Toby_E
Page 81- I personally think it would have been better if you had an established antagonist attack Michael and Trisha. I mean, who the hell is Landon? He does actually seem like quite a cool character though, so I would recommend keeping him here, but just introduce him earlier. Maybe have him torturing someone for  Drake, or something. Because at the minute, Michael defeating him doesn’t feel too satisfying, as I’ve never seen Landon before.


I wanted him to be the "heavy hitter from out of town" but you're right. I probably do have to introduce him earlier (at some point. Not sure when) but I liked the idea of him literally living in California instead of actually being in Andretta. I'll probably have to change it in subsequent drafts, though.


Quoted from Toby_E
So Michael is now talking to himself...? I mean, how is Michael communicating to Alias? Because you haven’t specified, and I’m imagining them communicating through some weird kind of telepathy... which I’m not too taken with in the slightest. But if it is through some kind of headset, then this needs clarifying.


In the first draft, I used a <> cue on dialogue after noting that that was how they communicated via headset. I got advice that dropping it was a good idea and just using V.O. in its place.


Quoted from Toby_E
Page 85- This reads awkwardly: “Douglas expected the last person he’d see to be Michael.”


Consider it fixed.


Quoted from Toby_E
Page 96- Did Drake know Michael before the past 36 hours? Because this line “You were always too much of a wild card” sounds odd if he had only known him for such a short amount of time.


Yes, he knew him. That file on his desk in the beginning was him researching Michael.


Quoted from Toby_E
Whilst I highly enjoyed the world you created and the action set-pieces in this, the lack of clarity with Michael's character meant I had a hard time completely getting into the story, as I was constantly scratching my head trying to work out his goals and motivations. If you work on clearing these up a bit, making them more explicit and clear, this will be a much more satisfying read. But this definitely has lots of potential, man. If you work on the characters more, this will definitely be a strong action script indeed.


So, world and set pieces are a plus, character is a minus. That's pretty much what I've gotten so far so it's good that you're in line with my previous advice. Thank you for the very thorough read and the helpful notes, Toby. Very much appreciated.

-Sean


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Toby_E
Posted: October 6th, 2013, 3:08pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Sean,

No worries at all, bud. Glad you were able to take something of use from my ramblings!


Quoted from Mr. Blonde
You're the second person who's told me that (out of two) [in regards to the city not being a central role]. Unique locations are interesting, just thinking about what you mean. I mean, obviously apartments, casinos, prisons, strip clubs, none of those are particularly original. But, just for example, can you give me an idea of what you mean, in that sense?


Of course I can, man A great example which comes to mind where the location is a character is the Venice of Don't Look Now. The unique setting was crucial to giving the film that sinister undercurrent which runs throughout, something which would not have been anywhere near as effective had the film been set in a more traditional city, devoid of narrow, shadow filled streets (the Coen brothers are brilliant at using location as another character... think Fargo, No Country, True Grit, etc.). And personally, that is what I felt this script was missing. Given that the title of the script is the city in which it is set, I was expecting Andretta to be featured more in the story as this kind of city unique for its lawlessness. But at the minute, this could have been set in a number of different urban cities. So what would I recommend? Well, I treat Andretta like any other character, outlining what makes her (I'll refer to Andretta as 'her' for the remainder of this point, because the name sounds like it would belong to a girl rather than a boy) unique. From this, you should be able to come up with some really cool, unique settings which can play a part in your story. For example, could you imagine how nuts it would be if a story was set here:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2139914/A-rare-insight-Kowloon-Walled-City.html

There is no way that location would not play a huge part in any story set there.


Quoted from Mr. Blonde
So, that's one vote for the prison sequence. You sound positive when saying it reminds you of action films you like, but does that imply that it's derivative and I should try being a little more original?


The only two scenes which felt unoriginal for me was the scene with Landon on the bridge and the shootout on the roof versus the helicopter. Now, it was more the setting of these which felt unorginal, versus the scenes themselves.


Quoted from Mr. Blonde

I wanted him to be the "heavy hitter from out of town" but you're right. I probably do have to introduce him earlier (at some point. Not sure when) but I liked the idea of him literally living in California instead of actually being in Andretta. I'll probably have to change it in subsequent drafts, though.


I really like that idea. I would just have Drake bring him in to sort out Michael earlier, is all. Because I feel the tension will be much higher if we know what Landon is capable of, and know that he has been after Michael for a while, which will also mean that it will be far more satisfying when he gets killed.

If you need me to clarify anything else, just ask

All the best,

Toby.


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Mr. Blonde
Posted: October 7th, 2013, 9:39am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Toby_E
From this, you should be able to come up with some really cool, unique settings which can play a part in your story. For example, could you imagine how nuts it would be if a story was set here:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2139914/A-rare-insight-Kowloon-Walled-City.html

There is no way that location would not play a huge part in any story set there.


I wish I were imaginative enough to think up something like that. Where my biggest problem stems from is that I like almost no fat in my scripts. I don't mean prose-wise (I'm not good enough to clean that up and make it look pretty) but rather scenes that don't advance the plot. I heard that every scene should do one of three things (all three if you're that talented); move the plot forward, reveal character or reinforce the theme. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the last two and focus strictly on plot. Probably why my characters are never any good.


Quoted from Toby_E
I really like that idea. I would just have Drake bring him in to sort out Michael earlier, is all. Because I feel the tension will be much higher if we know what Landon is capable of, and know that he has been after Michael for a while, which will also mean that it will be far more satisfying when he gets killed.


Yeah, I probably do have to do that. I'm not sure when because Drake thinks he's untouchable so why bring him in before John & Jim have failed? That question posed, you're right, I'm the writer. I need to be able to problem-solve things like this.

-Sean


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Grandma Bear
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Sean, I finished your script. Unfortunately I had to read it over an extended period which is not ideal. I was only able to read about 10 pages/day.

Over all, I think you have a pretty good early draft. It does need some work though IMHO. My biggest issue with this was that the plot was too busy. Which is kind of funny since you told me about my plot, that it was too thin. Maybe we both need to be somewhere in the middle of our scripts?    I’m working on the rewrite for $2M Cash and to help me along and keep inspired, I was reading Bill Martell’s Secrets Of Action Screenwriting. There is one chapter in the book about multiple villains. You might want to read it. It basically says that it’s the villains that bring the story via conflict. Without the villains, there are no stories. He also writes that with multiple villains, you end up with multiple stories and that weakens each story and villain. He goes on in detail about this, but that sort of explains how I felt about Andretta. There were too many villains. I didn’t feel that any of the villains were especially threatening. Not even Drake who was supposed to be the main antagonist. It also muddled the story for me. I was never really sure what exactly this was about and who was doing what. I think this would work better if you got rid of at least one of the others and developed Drake a little more. Make us experience him more and really feel his threat to Michael and the people of Andretta.

I thought there were a few too many flashbacks. That might just be taste thing, but I’m not crazy about them and IMO, should only be used when absolutely necessary.

My other issue was Michael’s relationship with Trisha. It felt all wrong to me. And, IMO, you shouldn’t have her die.There’s more on that below.

All in all, I think this was a good effort. Your writing was fine. The action was very well done.The story okay, but too busy at this time. Needs to be simplified. Characters were okay, but there were too many to really get to know any of them. Dialogue was okay too, but occasionally felt strained. Like the characters were trying too hard to be cool. That’s just my opinion though. I know how you feel about my dialogue.  

Following are thoughts I had while reading. Occasionally people take those as negative. They are not. Just questions and thoughts.

P. 1     11:14, Interesting choice of time to start.  

           What  does “a skyline as vibrant as Miami’s and just as toxic” mean? What’s so toxic about Miami’s skyline?

P. 8     Sawed off shotgun…

P. 9     Typo - Pushes pushes

P. 10    Apartment or hotel room?

            Thoughts after the first ten pages:
            I’m clueless as to who Michael is. He’s on a ferry burning a photo of him and his wife, then he’s at some casino where his gym bag is revealed to be full of cash. He plays a high stakes game with Drake then there’s a shootout and Drake offers Michael a job. Then he’s on to a rundown hourly rates hotel where he has a scuffle with the scuzzy guy at the front desk. He also takes the guy’s shotgun then he threatens a thug and does a Save The Cat thing by “saving” a 14 year old girl. This is all fine, but so far, I don’t have a feel for what this is about. Who’s the antag? Who is Michael? I guess I’ll find out as I read along.

P. 14    “Jester punches Michael. Shakes out the cobwebs. Spits blood on the carpet.” Who’s spitting blood? Jester or Michael?

P. 17    Because you don’t say NIGHT or DAY in your minis I forgot when this was happening. I went back and it seems it’s supposed to be day and yet Drake complains of Michael waking him up at this ungodly hour. Then the next scene is with Drake, John and Jim at his office. Again, no reference to time…

P. 19    Again you write “Guinevere escorts Michael inside. Takes a seat.” I’m no English expert, but this isn’t right since it implies that it is Guinevere that takes a seat after she has escorted Michael inside. It gets confusing when reading, because the reader thinks it’s the wrong person doing the action. IMHO.

            At page 21, I’m still not 100% sure what this is about. I know Michael is supposed to be our hero, but other than that it’s a little foggy. I thought Drake would be the bad guy, but Michael ended up calling him for help and now he’s going to work for him. I also have no clue who Selwyn was or what that was about. I admit that I read the first ten pages and then was unable to continue for a week so I might have lost something there in between.

           I’m having a bit of a problem with Michael taking Trisha out to a five star restaurant. She’s 14, right? She’s also working as a prostitute. If Michael wanted to really be a good guy, he’d go talk to her parents right away and if that is useless, he should contact child protective services. Why is he taking her to a fancy restaurant? A grown man taking a 14 year old girl to a restaurant would look really really creepy. I don’t know any man that would do that without feeling like the rest of the world would think he was a dirty old man. Especially when they clearly are not related.

P. 30   Michael, our hero has to ask a Maitre d’ which way is south???? Seriously? That won’t do. A man who can’t figure out which way is south is never going to be a hero in any story. That’s sort of pathetic, IMHO. Would Superman ask which way is south?  

           Also, do they still have phone booths? I don’t think I’ve seen one in a very long time. Maybe in big cities? I know where I live, they even got rid of the roadside assistance phones along the interstate because no one uses them anymore. Everyone has cell phones.

           A suggestion I have here about Trisha and Michael since their relationship comes off all wrong. Why not have Trisha become sort of infatuated with Michael since he saved her back at the hotel. Maybe she looks up to him like father figure type even. She follows him around. Tries to get his attention. Maybe even flirt with him. Then have Michael feel really uncomfortable about it, but he knows he’s got to help her too since she doesn’t have anyone else. That way you get rid of the creepy vibe going on right now.  

P. 31   Why is Michael kneeling in the phone booth?

           I felt the flashback didn’t quite work here. Not that it’s bad or anything, I just couldn’t figure out why you decided to put it in this particular spot. Also would have been nice to add - PRESENT in the following slug.

P. 33   John loads ammo crates into the Yukon. Where are they? Where did the ammo crates come from?

           Typo - Where are we doing with these….

P. 34   In your slug it says BROTHEL ROOFTOP. Why not call it WILD CHERRIES ROOFTOP? I thought we were at yet another place.

           What quartet? Did I miss something?

P. 35   INT. TENEMENT - BASEMENT  The five listen in silence… What five? You need to tell us who’s in a scene, not make us go back and add them up or make us read on in hope that will eventually be clear.

           Two people named John? I supposed it’s okay, but why, when there are a million names to chose from?

P. 36   Typo - You stay right when you are

P. 37   Remember to show us, not tell us. John Q says Michael lives up to his reputation as relentless. IMHO, because I could’ve missed something, but I haven’t seen Michael being relentless so far. Therefore, that statement doesn’t seem to fit.

P. 39   Why did Michael punch Tweaker? As far as I could tell, he had done nothing wrong. That just makes Michael look like an ass, which is not good for our hero.

P. 40   Michael is now being tended to by another man who’s cleaning up his wounds with a q-tip and ointment….  I guess I’m old school. I want my bad ass heroes to clean themselves up. You know, stitch up a knife wound with a big needle and some fishing line, dig a bullet out with a knife, put their eyeball back in its socket.  

           This Alias guy sort of reminds me of Octavio.  

P. 49   Why does he not take her to the police or child protective services? The parents need to go to jail and she needs to live with a decent family and go to school not run around with Michael, IMO.

P. 52   Do staff sergeants go on black ops?

P. 55   John Q says Michael is a hero and vigilante. IMHO, we haven’t really seen him do much of that yet.

           Also, why would John Q and his men go to their enemy Drake’s casino to get Michael so they can get him to work for them against Drake? Why not catch him or intercept him somewhere besides inside their enemy’s nest?

P. 61   Typo, Michael says, It would probably be easier without it.

           Not hugely important, I guess, but you write that they try to hear each other over the whir of the helicopter’s propeller. I think whir is the wrong word here. I believe whir is more of a buzzing or vibrating sound.

P. 63   I thought you said there were three helicopters with searchlights encircling the prison. How does Michael manage to bungee jump down in the middle without being seen?

P. 67   Kind of a weasel move of Michael to make Isaac kill the guards so he doesn’t have to…

P. 68   I think Michael is the one that should say thank you…

P. 70+ We got some good action going on here and I’m happy to finally see Michael do something hero like. Watch out for how many times you use the word rushes though.

P. 76   Why is Webster taking off his belt slowly? Aren’t they in a hurry to save him?

P. 79   Trisha doesn’t sound like a 14 year old at all. She sounds like an adult. I know she’s been through a lot, but that still doesn’t make her speak like a mature woman. IMO.

           I never understood why Alias would give Michael an Aston Martin. What’s the purpose for that other than it looks cool? Pretty pricey gift to give someone for no reason.

P. 81   I’ve got some issues on this page. First off, I don’t think Trisha should come off as so confident with the gun. She’s not a trained marksman. She’s a 14 year old little girl. Why not show her struggling with it? Maybe she doesn’t know exactly how it works? Maybe her hands shake tremendously? Maybe she struggles with the thought of actually shooting at someone,even if bad? This is a perfect spot to play on emotions here.

          Second, I felt very disappointed that she died. After all this time we have invested in her and feeling sympathy for her, she’s now gone?  I think you need a better ending for her.

P. 83   Why would Michael put a pillow in front of his gun when he threatens Jimmy? He’s already shot him in the gut? No one heard the first shot?

P. 92   Alias doesn’t want to shoot down the helicopter because he doesn’t know where it will crash. Michael tells him to take the shot anyway, Maybe just me being nit-picky, but that sounds kind of reckless of him. What if a bunch of innocent people die? Somehow that doesn’t seem very hero like.

P. 93   I’m confused. Why is Michael aiming at the chopper’s windshield? Isn’t John Q and Webster in it? Is he trying to get them killed as well?



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Mr. Blonde
Posted: January 21st, 2014, 1:14am Report to Moderator
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Well, I remember you saying you were reading it and lo and behold, here it is. Thank you very much and let me see if I can alleviate some issues while acquiescing to others (like my choice of thesaurus words there? Lol). Lots of helpful notes in here, whereas there were also some un-helpful notes (how dare you disagree with other criticisms? Lol). As always, very much appreciated, Pia. =)


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Sean, I finished your script. Unfortunately I had to read it over an extended period which is not ideal. I was only able to read about 10 pages/day.


Hey, the fact you read it at all is good enough for me.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Over all, I think you have a pretty good early draft. It does need some work though IMHO. My biggest issue with this was that the plot was too busy. Which is kind of funny since you told me about my plot, that it was too thin. Maybe we both need to be somewhere in the middle of our scripts?    I’m working on the rewrite for $2M Cash and to help me along and keep inspired, I was reading Bill Martell’s Secrets Of Action Screenwriting. There is one chapter in the book about multiple villains. You might want to read it. It basically says that it’s the villains that bring the story via conflict. Without the villains, there are no stories. He also writes that with multiple villains, you end up with multiple stories and that weakens each story and villain. He goes on in detail about this, but that sort of explains how I felt about Andretta. There were too many villains. I didn’t feel that any of the villains were especially threatening. Not even Drake who was supposed to be the main antagonist. It also muddled the story for me. I was never really sure what exactly this was about and who was doing what. I think this would work better if you got rid of at least one of the others and developed Drake a little more. Make us experience him more and really feel his threat to Michael and the people of Andretta.


We can agree with that right off the bat. Uh oh. Busy plot? So, I guess the 20-page subplot I'm adding for Drake in the new version is a no-no? I know, there has to be some happy medium in the middle. I unnecessarily overplot the simplest of scripts (simple robbery and a revenge movie. Not a good start). Yeah, that's been one of my issues, I've noticed. I tend to write less-than-stellar characters who can't hold their own on screen, so I try and use multiple protagonists and multiple antagonists to off-set that. I don't seem to be doing a very good job. Drake will become more threatening in the new draft, though, that I can promise. The drug I mentioned (the junkie who saw "the Jade Devil"), I've turned Drake into an addict. The drug's effects are the equivalent to a bad acid trip mixed with the addictiveness of heroin. So, the way I look at it is that the drug makes you crave nightmares. For example, I have this image during the final rooftop shootout that Drake will be on the drug at the time and he imagines the world as being on fire while he sees the helicopter as a dragon. Just some images I'm playing with right now. I don't think I'm going to get rid of the villains I have, but Drake and Landon will be expanded. John & Jim, Jester and Selwyn will stay about the same. Hanson and Devlin will also be expanded.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
I thought there were a few too many flashbacks. That might just be taste thing, but I’m not crazy about them and IMO, should only be used when absolutely necessary.


I would agree. I'm not a big fan of them, either, but I think I have to rely on them as a crutch with this one. I'm slightly changing Michael's past and it virtually requires expository flashbacks, but they'll be less extraneous than they are now.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
My other issue was Michael’s relationship with Trisha. It felt all wrong to me. And, IMO, you shouldn’t have her die.There’s more on that below.


Uh-oh. Mixed signals. I've heard the opposite about Michael and Trisha before. What do you mean she shouldn't die? People don't get happy endings in my stories. Lol. =)


Quoted from Grandma Bear
All in all, I think this was a good effort. Your writing was fine. The action was very well done.The story okay, but too busy at this time. Needs to be simplified. Characters were okay, but there were too many to really get to know any of them. Dialogue was okay too, but occasionally felt strained. Like the characters were trying too hard to be cool. That’s just my opinion though. I know how you feel about my dialogue.  


There's that word, the word no one ever wants to see: "good". I must make this better than good. I'm aiming for "fine". Simplified story? Come on, this script was simple. A vigilante seeks the man responsible for his family's death... while getting involved with an underground resistance who wants their fascist leader murdered while seizing control from the city's shadowy leader who only hasn't taken over as a result of trying to acquire the man who knows how to get hold of all the city's money but they have to rush because the city's going to be cut off from the mainland... Okay, I see your point. Strained dialogue. What else is new? Yeah, we aren't big on each other's dialogue. That's okay, though. We both know where we stand with the other. =)


Quoted from Grandma Bear
P. 1     11:14, Interesting choice of time to start.  


Inside joke.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
What  does “a skyline as vibrant as Miami’s and just as toxic” mean? What’s so toxic about Miami’s skyline?


Mostly referring to the high crime level without being so OTN.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
P. 8     Sawed off shotgun…


Going to have to disagree. They're both accurate.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
I’m clueless as to who Michael is. He’s on a ferry burning a photo of him and his wife, then he’s at some casino where his gym bag is revealed to be full of cash. He plays a high stakes game with Drake then there’s a shootout and Drake offers Michael a job. Then he’s on to a rundown hourly rates hotel where he has a scuffle with the scuzzy guy at the front desk. He also takes the guy’s shotgun then he threatens a thug and does a Save The Cat thing by “saving” a 14 year old girl. This is all fine, but so far, I don’t have a feel for what this is about. Who’s the antag? Who is Michael? I guess I’ll find out as I read along.


Fair enough. I didn't really do a good job of explaining who Michael is in the beginning. But, I will say that I didn't want it to be clear who he was in the beginning. That's very bad form, but the guy is an icon, he's part of the Zeitgeist and I didn't want that to come out immediately. Mostly, I just wanted to hint that Drake knew who he was and that he was coming. As for the STC thing, that didn't even occur to me until you said that. Originally, Trisha was written as a heroin addict, but there's virtually no arc you can write for that, whereas Trisha, as she is now, can learn to trust someone else, which is what I was hoping to go for.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
P. 14    “Jester punches Michael. Shakes out the cobwebs. Spits blood on the carpet.” Who’s spitting blood? Jester or Michael?


I was really hoping it would be the guy getting punched. Then again, it would be a funny trait if Jester could just spontaneously spit blood.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
P. 17    Because you don’t say NIGHT or DAY in your minis I forgot when this was happening. I went back and it seems it’s supposed to be day and yet Drake complains of Michael waking him up at this ungodly hour. Then the next scene is with Drake, John and Jim at his office. Again, no reference to time…


I tried to avoid them and save space because the entire story takes place in one day. I made reference to night when it actually happened, but the majority of the script was supposed to take place during the day.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
P. 19    Again you write “Guinevere escorts Michael inside. Takes a seat.” I’m no English expert, but this isn’t right since it implies that it is Guinevere that takes a seat after she has escorted Michael inside. It gets confusing when reading, because the reader thinks it’s the wrong person doing the action. IMHO.


True, I should drop that missing pronoun thing. This was when I was going through my assimilate-writing-styles-from-everyone-else-and-see-what-works phase.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
At page 21, I’m still not 100% sure what this is about. I know Michael is supposed to be our hero, but other than that it’s a little foggy. I thought Drake would be the bad guy, but Michael ended up calling him for help and now he’s going to work for him. I also have no clue who Selwyn was or what that was about. I admit that I read the first ten pages and then was unable to continue for a week so I might have lost something there in between.


Hopefully, it was cleared up after, but maybe not. Short version: Michael wanted to get close enough to Drake to kill him, without John & Jim being around. He thought that was his best chance. Selwyn is the boss of the guy who propositioned Trisha and Michael beat up.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
I’m having a bit of a problem with Michael taking Trisha out to a five star restaurant. She’s 14, right? She’s also working as a prostitute. If Michael wanted to really be a good guy, he’d go talk to her parents right away and if that is useless, he should contact child protective services. Why is he taking her to a fancy restaurant? A grown man taking a 14 year old girl to a restaurant would look really really creepy. I don’t know any man that would do that without feeling like the rest of the world would think he was a dirty old man. Especially when they clearly are not related.


I imagined this city as being one of those Old West towns, but without a sheriff. Just a lawless no-man's-land. There is no DCF in this city. As for her parents, it's one of those things where, if you have a 14-year old prostitute, odds are the parents are aware (at best) and condone it (at worst). That's why I didn't want him to go to them yet. You're thinking in real world logic. Besides, isn't a 5-star restaurant better than a shitty diner? =)


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Also, do they still have phone booths? I don’t think I’ve seen one in a very long time. Maybe in big cities? I know where I live, they even got rid of the roadside assistance phones along the interstate because no one uses them anymore. Everyone has cell phones.


I keep a notebook, where, in one half, I list everything I like that can be used in my scripts. In the other half, things I will never use in my scripts (without a good reason). I love phone booths and will use one whenever I get the opportunity. Just like most of the characters have muscle cars, but not all of them are. Partly, I use it as a way to not have a definite timeline in which my scripts are set (remember Drake's office phone? Why does he have one if he's also got a cell phone? Because I love those black office phones. Same as the Aston Martin versus the Boss 429 chase later in the script).


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Mr. Blonde
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Quoted from Grandma Bear
A suggestion I have here about Trisha and Michael since their relationship comes off all wrong. Why not have Trisha become sort of infatuated with Michael since he saved her back at the hotel. Maybe she looks up to him like father figure type even. She follows him around. Tries to get his attention. Maybe even flirt with him. Then have Michael feel really uncomfortable about it, but he knows he’s got to help her too since she doesn’t have anyone else. That way you get rid of the creepy vibe going on right now.


Come on, Pia, you're saying it's less creepy if she becomes infatuated with him than with neither of them infatuated with each other? Lol. I don't know, though, wouldn't doing that make her seem weaker? Part of the reason why he grows the attachment to her in the first place is because Cassie was pregnant with a girl, so he looks at her as more of a daughter-type than anything else.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
I felt the flashback didn’t quite work here. Not that it’s bad or anything, I just couldn’t figure out why you decided to put it in this particular spot. Also would have been nice to add - PRESENT in the following slug.


The timing was mostly to off-set the next scene. In the flashback, he and Cassie had officially escaped from Andretta for a normal life, then, in the next scene, he's about to let Drake get his claws into him, just like Trisha said he shouldn't have.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
P. 33   John loads ammo crates into the Yukon. Where are they? Where did the ammo crates come from?


True, that was a cut I made (there was way too much backstory in this script). Drake allows the owner of Wild Cherries to independently operate her business in return for a cut. As a result, he leases weapons out of the back. I didn't think it was necessary to go into all of that because knowing my dialogue, that scene would've been like moving through quicksand.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
P. 34   In your slug it says BROTHEL ROOFTOP. Why not call it WILD CHERRIES ROOFTOP? I thought we were at yet another place.


Because it's not Wild Cherries. They'd driven long away from there. We are at another place.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
What quartet? Did I miss something?


Referring to John, Jim and the two Citizens.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
P. 35   INT. TENEMENT - BASEMENT  The five listen in silence… What five? You need to tell us who’s in a scene, not make us go back and add them up or make us read on in hope that will eventually be clear.


I figured since it was the same five people in there, but you're right. Clarity should be most important. That'll be fixed.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Two people named John? I supposed it’s okay, but why, when there are a million names to chose from?


Another inside joke. But, that's also why I gave John Q a regular name (Jackie Barron), which Michael prefers to call him by.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
P. 37   Remember to show us, not tell us. John Q says Michael lives up to his reputation as relentless. IMHO, because I could’ve missed something, but I haven’t seen Michael being relentless so far. Therefore, that statement doesn’t seem to fit.


You don't think of using a grenade to escape a hostage situation is relentless? But, I was trying to set things up in dialogue that we hadn't seen yet (the flashback where he kills Jimmy Lennox).


Quoted from Grandma Bear
P. 40   Michael is now being tended to by another man who’s cleaning up his wounds with a q-tip and ointment….  I guess I’m old school. I want my bad ass heroes to clean themselves up. You know, stitch up a knife wound with a big needle and some fishing line, dig a bullet out with a knife, put their eyeball back in its socket.  


I know, but Michael's not John Matrix, you know... He does have time to bleed. I'll see if I can de-pussify him a little bit, but not too much. He's not the ultimate badass.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
This Alias guy sort of reminds me of Octavio.  


Re-reading some of it, it's true. He kind of is. Must fix! Lol.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
P. 49   Why does he not take her to the police or child protective services? The parents need to go to jail and she needs to live with a decent family and go to school not run around with Michael, IMO.


No police, no DCF. No "services".


Quoted from Grandma Bear
P. 52   Do staff sergeants go on black ops?


Well, I doubt they'd wait until they have Colonels who are in their mid-40s to go into high pressure missions.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
P. 55   John Q says Michael is a hero and vigilante. IMHO, we haven’t really seen him do much of that yet.


Not talking in the present. John Q knows Michael's past. Backstory notes: Michael's vigilanteeism is what led John Q to do what he does now.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Also, why would John Q and his men go to their enemy Drake’s casino to get Michael so they can get him to work for them against Drake? Why not catch him or intercept him somewhere besides inside their enemy’s nest?


That was bad writing by me. Back in 2006, when this was still a comic book, the first scene I wrote was the Citizens storming Drake's casino. Originally, they were thieves who were coming to steal from Drake. Anyway, it was to make a statement. John Q's big on theatrics.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
P. 63   I thought you said there were three helicopters with searchlights encircling the prison. How does Michael manage to bungee jump down in the middle without being seen?


Guards don't patrol the exterior. This sequence wouldn't work if they did. I know, I know, more bad writing.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
P. 67   Kind of a weasel move of Michael to make Isaac kill the guards so he doesn’t have to…


Notice how Michael hadn't killed anyone in the script yet? He can't. Isaac was willing to.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
P. 70+ We got some good action going on here and I’m happy to finally see Michael do something hero like. Watch out for how many times you use the word rushes though.


Yay! Something that doesn't suck! Lol. I know, once I find a word I like, I tend to stick with it. My least favorite part of rewriting is going thesaurus hunting.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
P. 79   Trisha doesn’t sound like a 14 year old at all. She sounds like an adult. I know she’s been through a lot, but that still doesn’t make her speak like a mature woman. IMO.


I'll take that as a slight win, though. This is the first time you mentioned it, which means it was the first time it was so jarring it deserved mention. Getting through three-quarters of the script is a good start for me, but I'll be on the lookout.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
I never understood why Alias would give Michael an Aston Martin. What’s the purpose for that other than it looks cool? Pretty pricey gift to give someone for no reason.


What's Alias going to do with it? It's not exactly subtle and he likes subtlety. And, yes, it was because it looks cool and is very fast.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
P. 81   I’ve got some issues on this page. First off, I don’t think Trisha should come off as so confident with the gun. She’s not a trained marksman. She’s a 14 year old little girl. Why not show her struggling with it? Maybe she doesn’t know exactly how it works? Maybe her hands shake tremendously? Maybe she struggles with the thought of actually shooting at someone,even if bad? This is a perfect spot to play on emotions here.


Ah, mixed signals! I'm getting the sense I should transfer Trisha's toughness to Michael here? God, I don't know what to do. I'm pretty sure I did a better job with Trisha than I did with Michael (I was pretty sure of that the second I was done with the first draft), but I'm wondering about making her hesitate. As written, does that seem like her style? Is it one of those things where you think she'd be better written if the take the more coy route with her?


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Second, I felt very disappointed that she died. After all this time we have invested in her and feeling sympathy for her, she’s now gone?  I think you need a better ending for her.


Not changing that one. If she lives, the movie's over. Michael leaves Andretta with her. No way in hell is that one happening. Lol. =)


Quoted from Grandma Bear
P. 83   Why would Michael put a pillow in front of his gun when he threatens Jimmy? He’s already shot him in the gut? No one heard the first shot?


He didn't care about the sound. He just didn't want to get blood on himself.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
P. 92   Alias doesn’t want to shoot down the helicopter because he doesn’t know where it will crash. Michael tells him to take the shot anyway, Maybe just me being nit-picky, but that sounds kind of reckless of him. What if a bunch of innocent people die? Somehow that doesn’t seem very hero like.


The area was virtually abandoned. I can't remember, but I think I described the Crimson Dragon Casino as being in "lockdown". In other words, the only people around were the people on that rooftop.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
P. 93   I’m confused. Why is Michael aiming at the chopper’s windshield? Isn’t John Q and Webster in it? Is he trying to get them killed as well?


Different helicopter in a different location. The one Alias was aiming at was the attack chopper that John was flying.


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