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Delta Dog by Tony Dionisio - Action, Adventure, Cop, War - A cop and his K-9 companion unintentionally hijack a billion dollar drug shipment from a ruthless cartel that will stop at nothing to get it back. 84 pages - pdf, format
Hey Tony, I started reading the script but gave up on page 6, simply because it's too gruesome and technical for me. On page 4 somebody gently sets the K-9 aside? Is it the dead dog? Or a gun? I suppose English not being my native language is not helping here. It's not like I always dislike gunshot wounds and blood, one of my favourite films is Black Hawk Down, which starts kinda non-violently. Hope other people will give u more constructive criticism, sorry about that!
Next to Tower One is the framework for a SECOND tower. Forty stories, no walls, topped with a large CONSTRUCTION CRANE. All work halted for the holidays.
I work in this idustry and you don't build 40 stories without a skin following the frame up to the heavens. The skin starts a few floors below the frame and goes with the buidling. Maybe in the movies it might work, I get that. But even Nakatomi Plaza had a skin with unfinished space.
Ok, that's a nit pick cuz I'm sure this is a plot point and CGI can do anything, other than that, I like your writing and I'm waiting for the first act to close.
p.s. you missed "eye to eye" with Spirit and Maurice.
HOWL. Maurice closes his eyes tightly, spills his guts...
MAURICE Baller stash -- millions. Moving out at three in the morning. Fuck this dog!
MARC Bullshit. No way a skell like you knows that. MAURICE I know what I heard, man. These chinks are big time.
Marc checks with Ganz. Gets the okay via a slight nod.
MAURICE Industrial strip on sixth and Grand -- at Arcadia.
That raises eyebrows. Marc passes the leash to the Officer, retrieves a MAP from the front seat of the cruiser. Begins to unfold it onto the car hood -- huddles up with Ganz...
CHECKING THE MAP...
They confirm: industrial buildings.
Then we go to the building and the whole mayor thing then we go to Marc in the recovery room?
So let me get this straight...you tell me there is a big deal going down and the cops go through all that shit with Maurice only to NOT GO? I could drive a truck, an eighteen (1 wheeler, through that hole.
I was like, did I miss a page? Did I miss the set up? What didn't I get? Three a.m. is that morning, not some other day, like Friday, but today, right?
Maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. Maybe Marc is just going to the hospital to be nice before the big bust later that night, or morning, what have you. But if he is, that's a flow breaker.
Hirano sucks as a bad guy. Why? When he talks about chess when he has Marc cornered, it's a shift. If Hirano is into chess then show it when we see him. Remember die hard 3? The aspirin and Simon Says? Made consistency. Cutting off fingers happens all the time. So make Hirano memorable.
So I read it cover to cover in one sitting, which is rare. I like your writing, maybe too cute, but at least you had fun with it. The flash backs seemed to work and reveal.
This is pure action for the most part and for all that it works but it's missing something. I'd say 20 pages but what are those pages? You have a bad guy who really seems a place holder. The Arcadia cops are stooges, which is odd. There is nothing about the Mayor after the first threat. Marc seems to stumble upon all this. Ganz is introed and dispatched quickly. Spirit does all the right things, right on que. I think you should change the title because it's not about Spirit or Delta Dog, it's about Marc. Marc doesn't have any demons, nor should he, but even John McClain had his failed marriage as a demon that needed patching. I guess I don't have a B story here, no moral. Chrissy is alive and helping, showing up from nowhere when we most need it, deus ex machina.
The action is good. Marc kills the bad guys, not in any special way, but cool ways, which is cool. Nothing really stands out as new.
Maybe I am not connected like I need to be to Marc or any of the other characters. They all play their part in classic ways but nothing is different, to make them different in some way. I don't say I LOVE THIS CHARACTER or HATE THIS CHARACTER. They seem stock. The missing limbs works, though, nice touch.
Good opener -- crisp writing compliments the urgency of the scene and worked well to hook me into reading further.
The shift to Ras Kamboni kept the mood going -- thereís a degree of authenticity to the Ďactioní that comes through without throwing a bunch of technical detail at the reader. I think itís tricky to make action work on the page -- but this kept me in the moment and I thought it continued well throughout. I will say Iím not a big fan of the asides -- bit overdone for my liking, though not something Iíd stop reading over. Could be a turn off for some -- thatís your choice, you know how it can go...
Having read this through I guess my main thoughts lie with the tone and trying to figure out what it is youíre aiming for. Given the log I was expecting a little more on the relationship between Marc, damaged ex Navy Seal and his K-9, with the opening scenes putting me in mind of a tight, somewhat gritty actioner.
Though following the discovery of the second shipment it felt like a lot of that got sidelined in favour of gung-ho set pieces; more in the Expendables/Steven Segal vein. Spirit felt more like a Ďtoolí of the trade rather than Marcís canine partner -- and I canít say I sensed the bond between them that the idea seemed to suggest. To me it feels like a wasted angle -- though again, Iím not sure itís the story youíre looking to tell.
This isnít directed as a criticism, just curious as to how seriously you want the story to be taken? There were moments I found myself questioning the plotting/logic -- but then I might be missing the point. Look forward to hearing your thoughts.
My short scripts can be found here on my new & improved budget website:
Thanks for taking the time to do the reviews. I'm really happy about you guys making it all the way through. Short and economical was what I was going for. There's gotta be a little room for entertaining a reader in screenwriting, no?
Going back and adjusting stuff as mentioned. I needed to put this down for a few days.
I did have a lot of fun with it. Actually, I wrote THE END pretty quickly, kinda bummed me out.. But, I'll go with suggestions and try to add some things.
Kinda sorry you guys didn't mention the bar scene. I thought that was some of my best work. If filmed correctly, that can make a support type actor into a star. The story of the legendary Slack is actually true -- met the guy -- heard the stories from multiple people. Great shit.
I don't take too much seriously if it impedes my fun. But, I do work hard, research, try to entertain. My next story is this x2.
Jimmy Slack sounds like the kind of character deserving of his own story...
The bar scene gives Kelly and Marc that chance to connect; other than that it serves as more of an aside -- not a bad scene, just lost in the mix. Guidoís a stooge and Ganz isnít around long enough to leave much of an impression. Perhaps give him more room to breathe? More of a character to bounce off of Marc which lends more weight to the betrayal.
Notes as I read:
Youíve two angles to come at Marc with and yet you play them almost simultaneously. Feels like youíre rushing plot to get at the action.
Why does Hirano risk kidnapping Kelly before heís played his hand with Ganz? Heíd have no choice but to kill her as she could identify himÖ A risky move for a guy who puts so much stock in chess.
Why does Ganz reveal his deceit so soon? Why alert Marc to his presence only to give the game away? Feels like you could work more from this angle.
In the final showdown why, if he doesnít intend on complying with Hirano, does Marc give up his guns/body armour if only to keep the knife and baton? Could he not stow them while holding onto the elevator? I guess the idea here is for Marc to go up against Feng hand to fake hand -- though I canít quite grasp the logic behind ditching his firepower.
Never quite figured who was taking the pictures outside the bar -- or for what reason. Leverage to get at Kelly? Though Ganz would know how to get at her through Judy and I assumed thatís how they got to her? Marc taking off with the drugs hasnít happened yetÖ What am I missing here?
The false leg reveal felt too abrupt for me. Presumably that loss would form a part of who Marc is; yet itís not something visible in his character. Thereís no apparent trauma -- yet thatís what the flashbacks seemed to be building towards. It didnít feel like the dead Alsatian linked us back to the Spirit and Marc relationship, and the Christine angle is a red herring. All we really gain from the missing limb is a quick (albeit satisfying) payoff in killing Hirano.
Iíd weigh the benefits of introducing it earlier. Give Marc something to work with as a character. It could feed back into his role as part of a K-9 unit -- in some ways Spirit acts as his Ďlegsí for him. Could be heís not even happy about it -- perhaps relegated to this duty because of how the higher ups perceive his impairment..? Gives you a degree of conflict to work with -- maybe he hates this damn dog because of it...
You could potentially show us the leg early on; give us time to forget and then bring it back in that last scene. Marcís Ďletting goí of his trauma/demons etc.
Anyways, an entertaining read -- a bit too fast and loose to take much from but at 76 pages youíve room to work with. Look forward to checking out the next one.
My short scripts can be found here on my new & improved budget website:
Great points. Honor that you pulled that much analysis from the story.
"Youíve two angles to come at Marc with and yet you play them almost simultaneously. Feels like youíre rushing plot to get at the action. "
Ah ha. Simply because of earlier critique from my other stories not getting into it soon enough. It was foremost on my mind every page.
Die Hard didn't fire a shot until page 21. That's a long time to go, don't you think? I wanted the prot. in my story on the run by that point. I had already fired plenty of shots, so that wasn't a problem.
"Why does Hirano risk kidnapping Kelly before heís played his hand with Ganz? Heíd have no choice but to kill her as she could identify himÖ A risky move for a guy who puts so much stock in chess."
He was watching Ganz first, happened to see Marc with Kelly. Took this info to get leverage after Marc steals the truck. I guess I'll have to clean this up.
"In the final showdown why, if he doesnít intend on complying with Hirano, does Marc give up his guns/body armour if only to keep the knife and baton? Could he not stow them while holding onto the elevator? I guess the idea here is for Marc to go up against Feng hand to fake hand -- though I canít quite grasp the logic behind ditching his firepower."
It was the deal he made with Hirano and also made him more vulnerable/dependent on Spirit. He was going to mail it in at that point to save Kelly. I'll show that more.
"Why does Ganz reveal his deceit so soon? Why alert Marc to his presence only to give the game away?"
He's impatient/reckless. He also knew the Mercs had arrived and the gig was up. Marc was no one to him -- an outsider. K-9 guys work separately from others.
"The false leg reveal felt too abrupt for me. Presumably that loss would form a part of who Marc is; yet itís not something visible in his character. Thereís no apparent trauma -- yet thatís what the flashbacks seemed to be building towards. It didnít feel like the dead Alsatian linked us back to the Spirit and Marc relationship, and the Christine angle is a red herring. All we really gain from the missing limb is a quick (albeit satisfying) payoff in killing Hirano."
I had to put something in there you never seen before. Just like a chick in a nightgown in a roof crane reaching to another building to crush a helicopter. It is a popcorn movie.
The whole tribute is to look back and see a guy with one leg on top of his game/beat the bad guys/get the girl same as someone with both legs. Hirano knew about his leg. He didn't take him seriously enough.
I think in the end I created a character that arc'd by not giving up on himself. He certainly arc's more than John McLain did. Like I mentioned, 21 pages of John and his wife--kinda wouldn't fly this day and age. Hans didn't have much backstory. Kinda hard to fit it all in 1 script no matter how many pages. Hirano doesn't do it for the money, he is megalomaniac. I need to show that more too.
So...read this between two sittings, splitting at page 48/49.
Overall, I enjoyed it. With some work on character and structure, I could definitely see this being a summer flick starring one of the up-coming male stars like Chris Evans.
I'm going to start with the big thing that is not working here: you seem to be missing half of the first act, and that leads to a multitude of smaller issues that, mostly, seem to stem from the missing half of act 1. The second half of the script (or really the last third) is clearly not as well-written as the rest, leading me to believe you have spent a great deal more time on the first two thirds of the script. That's not the end of the world, but you do need to do a general clean-up pass, fixing some grammar and spelling errors, and cleaning up a lot of the cheesy stuff that didn't get purged yet.
But, before getting into more details, let me tell you what I definitely did like. Your writing style is VERY good, and the "author commentary" is usually pretty fun (though some of the lines are cheesy in the second half), and it's clear that your writing really starts to shine once you've done a good number of editing passes on it. Also, the premise is very good, making the lack of characterization all the more disappointing actually (more on that later). And finally, you are very good at writing action. Period. Like the rest of your writing, it does clearly need a lot of editing to shine (who's doesn't?), but the promise is there.
Now, because of the lack of one half of act 1, we miss a great deal of characterization, particularly defining the relationship between Marc and Spirit, the chemistry between Marc and Kelly (this is also hurt by another detail I'll get into in a bit), and the "spirit" of our bad guy, Hirano (pardon the pun).
I definitely think we need a lot more definition of Marc's relationship with Spirit, and that, overall, is what I missed most in the script. It's made all the more obvious after the opening scenes paint a great picture, but then we don't get to see that picture refined over the rest of the script.
Additionally, the relationship between Marc and Chrissy is pretty well-defined initially, but you spend too much time on it and the flashbacks without making Chrissy a full-blown main character. We also need the flashbacks to be over sometime in Act 2. As a result, she feels like an after-thought. That might hurt, but it is true.
This also leads to another fairly big gaping hole in the script. What's the B-Story?? You have a love story going on, but that story isn't able to be fleshed out at all, since Marc is pinned in Arcadia, and Kelly is incapacitated as a character for most of the movie. There is also the flashbacks. Basically, you have to decide to make one of these the B-Story and be sure to explore your movie's theme during it. If it were me, I would make the love story the B-Story and save Kelly getting captured for the All is Lost point or sometime in the middle of Act 3. Then I would use the flashbacks during act 1 and 2 as theme-reinforcing moments, and maybe save one for the end of Act 3.
Speaking of theme btw, I'm assuming the theme is something along the lines of "friendship always pays off" but it is never entirely clear.
I didn't go too into the depths of the individual words, but these general guidelines should hopefully help you get a grip around your own beast of a script and identify the weaknesses. I think you are definitely at least 25 pages short of truly covering the story, but I can easily see this story hitting upwards of 120 pages. But, based on what I read, you have a great unique writing style, and the story is there; it just needs to be dug out a bit.
Great work, and please finish this and get it made so I can watch it in theaters lol! Hope this was helpful!
Thx for the detailed review, Millan. A lot to chew on and change/repair. I like your eye for detail. 1st post on SS? Have you been around here long with other aliases or did you just find the site? Either way, input appreciated and I will rip into this soon enough when I return to it.
Thx for the praise regarding my action writing. Honored to have it noticed.
That was my first post. I'm really digging my teeth into this whole screenwriting/directing thing, and this seemed like a solid community!
Another note, perhaps you should have the flashbacks end, for the most part, by the end of Act 2, but then bring in Chrissy to save Marc's life (paying him back) right when we break from act 2 to 3. This would not only be epic in terms of payoffs (the audience has this suspicion that Chrissy may die in the flashbacks and turning that is huge, emotionally, for the audience), but it would also give you another great character to play with in your finale.
And one more note on the finale (Act 3). The second half where those multiple threads of action were all unfolding simultaneously was compelling and thrilling, but it takes too long to get there and it feels like the confrontation with the robot arm guy (forgot his name) just lingers a bit too long. A bonus to the point in the last paragraph is that the sniper moment when Chrissy saves Marc's life will be less Deus-Ex-Machina-esque, and again the payoff for the audience will really sink in.
Table Read - very cool - haven't had that experience before. I did read the first 10 since I had not looked at this before. Not sure you are interested in anymore feedback - but thought I would share what hit my brain anyway. As a note, I think the writing is very impressive overall so these really are just nits.
... so he can apply pressure to the bloody neck of Police Officer KELLY CAINE, 27.
Like I said nits - but when I first read the line I did not know if Kelly was male of female. Some indication given the gender neutral name would help.
The road is wide open -- a teenage-boyís wet dream. Full speed through red lights... seconds seem like minutes.
Marc exits, slides across the hood -- Dukes of Hazzard style -- arrives at the passenger door..
In the abstract, the above descriptions are vivid and would generally applaud the style of writing. But for me, they were also tension breakers. I am following the life and death struggle with Kelly and somehow - a teenagers wet dream - broke the tension for me. Same with the Dukes of Hazzard reference. In a comedy - they would be perfect. I don't now, maybe it's just me.
Navy SEAL, JAY PETERS, 25, laying on his back, SCREAMING in agony -- looks down, sees Marc Laar stuffing bloody GUTS back into his shredded torso-cavity.
I warned you these were nits - don't think you need the Laars here - you already into'd him.
Yep, itís one of those gruesome war scenes.
Again - a tension breaker for me with the "yep"
Yet another soldier, must be the troopís MEDIC, shoves Marc out of his way, applies a trauma pack, good luck with that.
Not need to say must be the MEDIC - I think it reads better if it is simply a MEDIC shoves Marc out of the way. And - hate to say it - but the "good luck with that" was another tension breaker for me.
E7 Set up a fatal funnel until air support arrives. No one gets in. Engage the enemy at will! (to himself) Officially, we arenít even supposed to be here.
I would lose the "officially" in the talk to himself. Made it seem a little unnatural and OTN.
Again - your writing is solid and crisp and this could simply be my point of view - but the biggest issue for me with the early pages was that the tone of some of the descriptions took me out of the drama and tension you were building.
Best of luck with the read - that should be a blast.