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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Action/Adventure Scripts  ›  Out of Time Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: February 1st, 2015, 12:23pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Out of Time by Richard Russell - Action, Adventure - When a future tyrant threatens the world, a beautiful woman goes back in time to give birth to a man who will invent time travel. 107 pages - pdf, format


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GregT
Posted: February 3rd, 2015, 4:39pm Report to Moderator
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Richard,

I see you've been doing a lot of reading lately so I thought it only right to give your feature a go. I'm 45 pages in at the moment. Here are my thoughts thus far:

The Good - Your writing is straight-forward and clear. No issues there. The pages I read went by quickly. The issues I have with the script involve the content, which leads me onto...

The Bad - The biggest thing that made me want to stop reading (and which also compelled me to read on, to see if it got better) was the lack of conflict. The impetus for the plot comes from one of the characters walking up to the main character (whose goal is to time travel) and ASKING him if he fancies some time travel. Can you imagine if, in The Terminator, someone walked up to Sarah Connor and asked her if she felt like saving the world? Yes, I would accept that this might be integral to your plans for the story, where Tempera is the wise teacher, leading our hero through it all, but then by page 45 she's still doing the same thing, and there's still been no conflict for our protag. (Aside the Rasha interactions, but unless you add to those in the rest of the script, I would say that they read like afterthoughts.)

Joshua speaks like a frat-boy, not the world's greatest genius. He asks obvious questions about his father's medical condition that everyone except him, the world's greatest genius, seems to know.

Personally, I think you spend far far too long with Joshua's interactions with Rasha and Tim. The functions that they serve in your story aren't worth the time spent on them. And also, those scenes are pretty stock. Frat boys calling each other bro and professing their love for each other, those cute, quirky little conversations before sex with Rasha.

Also, in terms of the logic of the story, why would there be this urgency for Joshua to build the thing he has to build, when it seems quite clear that Tempera already has one? (I'm aware that this might be explained later, and I promise to rectify anything I've said here when I finish reading.)

Too many standing and talking scenes. Very little movement in the first 45 pages. The closest thing to visual storytelling was the writing of equations on the blackboard.

Other than that, possible overuse of clock/time symbolism. How many times did Joshua and Tim say the likes of 'Just in time', or 'Time flies' etc? Felt like too much. (There's a Spanish time travel film called Timecrimes, and they use one of those knowing terms only once, and even that is noticeable.)

I'll finish the script before the night's out. So far, I'd say that you're not far off having a fairly mainstream action/sci-fi script on your hands. You have some of the beats required for such a film, but as it stands I think you still need some real conflict for Joshua.

All the best

Greg

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GregT
Posted: February 3rd, 2015, 6:08pm Report to Moderator
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Finished.

Long story short, I think this needs a lot of work.

Most of the story is told via people standing and talking. Even to the final pages you still have people standing around explaining things. In the last ten pages, just as things are supposed to be at boiling point, you have Joshua make a stop at a gunstore, for what turns out to be nothing but a stock gunstore scene. A basic, ordinary, stock gunstore scene right in the middle of what is supposed to be your climax.

With the aid of a time machine, there's really no excuse for having these stock scenes in here. Instead of Joshua disappearing to go buy a gun, you could have him simply disappear then reappear a moment later, armed with whatever he needs, trained in new skills... In a time machine, you basically have a skeleton key to doing absolutely anything. To have things like the gunstore scene is a sin, within this context.

Same goes for the interrogation scene. You opt for a basic roughing-up scene, when the presence of a time machine could make that scene a million times more inventive. Remember Looper? They grab the young version of their target and cut off body-parts, causing the older version of the target to lose body-parts also. Again, to not utilize your time machine here just seems short-sighted.

You do a whole lot of telling, but not much showing. The best examples of showing something came in the first few pages, when Tempera gets pregnant, gives birth etc. You didn't explain anything there, and those scenes were better for it, there was mystery.

One other thing that troubled me is, why does Joshua's story even exist? You say that Alexi is an all-powerful tyrant, who wipes anyone he doesn't like out of history. Well, why wouldn't he immediately wipe out his NEMESIS? The same nemesis who he went to school with? The same nemesis who bettered him and embarrassed him all throughout school and college? When Alexi does meet Joshua later on, he acts like this is all a surprise to him. Why wouldn't he have foreseen this? Also, why wouldn't Alexi come back at any point during their school and college years and just kill the young Joshua? He went to school with him, he basically knows Joshua's location for a 20 year period, yet he spends time scurrying around trying to find ways to kill his mother. The same goes for Joshua, he tries to find Alexi's mother when the young Alexi is within his reach at all times. If I've missed something here, please let me know.

Time travel stories are always going to be hard to tell. Even for an experienced writer. Screenwriting techniques need to be at max power for the amount of expostion and plot intricacy that time travel films require.

I don't think you're too far away. And I commend you for finishing it. Your plot work was not bad at all, some nice touches about the mother working on the bomb, the moral choice there. There were a few clever little moments like that. I think you've got the outline of an interesting film here, but only an outline. It really needs to be coloured in.

All the best

Greg
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