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Again, I hafta agree with the above poster regarding acts (sorry!).
I think defining ACTs in a feature screenplay is "going out." I read (i can't remember from whom), that screenplays are meant to be read continuously. I understand for TV, you specify acts, but you also have to structure the TV scripts for commercials...(however, i'm not sure how HBO/Showtime shows format their scripts)
For movies, there aren't intermissions, so breaking the script up into ACTs is doing that: breaking it up.
I think when you outline your script, it's imperative to define your acts, but not say it in the script--you know what i mean?
Hey Quentin, what up? Thought I’d check this out and chime in here. Don’t know if I’m going to read the whole thing, but I did want to throw a few things out on your first 3 pages, that may help.
First of all, you’re off to a good start with a name like Quentin. I think you’re also off to a good start, based on your writing. You’ve got a solid understanding of how to put things together, how to word sentences, and how to create a nice flow. Very impressive. If you’re interested in screenwriting, I’d immediately recommend going forward with it, and learning all you can, while getting as much experience as you can.
First off, as Cornetto suggested, the title has to go immediately. I know at 16, you’ve probably never even heard of it before you IMDB’d it, but for most over 35, not only are they familiar with it, but they’ve probably seen it over and over. It was a big movie, and a forerunner of the genre, IMO. Also, yours being a comedy, this title just gives off this bad vibe, based on the original movie. OK, enough of that.
Secondly, as Brian noted, you don’t ever want to go over 4 lines of action prose…never. Just don’t do it. Break up the passage or take some stuff out. Literally, just do not do it (I didn’t see any examples through Page 3, so that’s good, but I did read the comments).
Third, as a few suggested, you definitely do not want to have anything in your spec script about “Acts”. Get rid of ‘em. No reason to be here. It doesn’t look good, no one wants or needs to see them, and they take up space…you may actually be able to shave off 1 page on your overall page count by getting these outta here.
OK, Page by page notes with some suggestions…but as I said above, you have a nice style of writing, and it reads well. This is something that IMO, cannot be taught. You either know how to do it, or you don’t. You do know how, and that’s cool!
Page 1 – Try and stay away from starting sentences with “It’s”.
“It’s a cool night, but not freezing.” – This sentence should go. You’re telling us something here that we most likely cannot see onscreen. If you show characters all bundled up, then we would see this, but otherwise, you’re just telling us something…this is a form of an “unfilmable”.
The “aka” stuff has to go. If nothing else, it’s really confusing the way it reads. I would ask Cornetto the proper way to do this, as he has a script that is part movie within a movie…within a movie. I actually am not sure what works best, but it can’t be this. It literally makes the reader stop and try to figure out what’s going on.
I wouldn’t CAP “TURNS” at the bottom of the page. No real reason for it.
Page 2 – “into” should be “onto”
“They’ve fallen twenty feet to another road.” – I think these facts would be better if they were integrated into the action. It comes off as you just matter of factly telling us this fact, as opposed to showing it.
Page 3 – “Sitting across form him is Jessica.” – Kind of a wasted line because you repeat this fact 3 sentences later, in the same passage. It’s also a very passive sentence, and you want to stay away from them, when you can…and you sure can here.
OK, here’s the deal…at the bottom of page 3, once Jessica gets out of the car, you’ll need a new slug, as it’s no longer an INT scene. You’ve also got the Director in here, and he’s sure not in the car.
But there’s a bigger deal here as well. This whole intro is played out as if it’s actually being seen. Obviously, it’s merely a finished piece of film, but then again, it’s not that either, cause they’re still filming it, and they wouldn’t be filming it all in 1 shot…especially the crash down the 20 foot hill. Not a big deal though, cause lots of movies do this, and trick us into believing we’re watching something different than we actually are. It can work this way, and you’ve set yourself up now to be able to play around with reality as well in the future.
OK, that’s it for now, bud. Hope this helps and makes sense. Keep at it…you’re a good writer for sure, man.
To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
Thank you for your comments! I didn't really know how to write the first scene because I wanted to catch the "still filming but finished project" feel to add character depth (not sure if it worked though), and I didn't know how to write the AKA without confusing people...now that I think about it I should have left it out.
I know I should go through and delete lines and simplify parts, and I will in the rewrite (if i get around to it...working on many different projects now). There are also many little mistakes I need to fix, and I made most of them because 95% of this thing was written at 12-3 in the a.m.
Dreamscale, thank you for your compliments. I really appreciate them.
The dialogue, the characters and the situations were not only believable, but highly entertaining to read. You've fleshed out the characters with what they say, as well as their little quirks that set them apart from everyone else.
The dynamics of the characters' interactions were also really well-done. You really seemed to get inside their heads.
The plot and characters were strong, but there were a few things absent that I would have liked to see:
1. First, although Alex and Jessica were well-defined, some of the supporting characters could use some more screen time. I was hoping you would give the audience some more examples of Alex's interactions with Sandy and Kali. I know Sandy saw Alex as an inconvenience, and then the last we see of her is when she leaves for work one day. Does she care about Alex deep down underneath it all? This sort of affects the conclusion, but I'll come to that later.
2. Kali was one of my favorite characters. Her attitude, energy and enthusiasm, combined with her rigid efficiency about "stalking" Jessica had me laughing out loud. However, I wanted to see her in some more scenes. If she was such a big fan of Jessica Allen, wouldn't she have wanted to sit down and interrogate Alex once she saw that they were dating? She seems like the type that would try to include herself on his dating life to make sure he was living up to the expectations she would have assumed Jessica had.
3. Ruby and Marcie were so much fun to read about. I see Ruby as a Glen Close type of woman who puts her ambition above everything and isn't afraid to step on a few people as long as her goals are achieved. Marcie seems like the opposite: lacking in ambition, but a decent person who truly cares about others. The two balanced each other out so well, that I think they should have a few more conversations; there's lots of potential there.
4. I saw a parallel between Alex & Jessica's growing relationship and Jeff & Sandy. Was that intentional, or...?
5. I have to agree with Brian M in that the conclusion happened too quickly. It makes perfect sense that Alex and Jessica would take their breakup hard, and the tulip scene was sweet. I also would have liked to see Alex receive some words of encouragement from a pitying Sandy as well as a heart to heart with Kali. She mentioned Jessica's stress points that are triggered by "pure happiness." For some reason, I saw Alex sitting in Kali's room with huge, blown-up pictures of him & Jessica on their dates. Kali goes to each one and scientifically proves that Jessica experienced pure happiness with Alex, thus giving him the encouragement to go to Germany after her.
6. The folder full of Jessica's personal information is never resolved. I think Jessica deserves an explanation for that.
7. For that matter, Alex and Jessica's relationship progressed too quickly. Maybe you could include them going on a second date where Jessica tries something new that she would not normally do, which makes Alex see her in way that makes her more human and less "superstar."
Keep up the great work! Like I said, this was an awesome script to read, and I think you have definite talent. If you're interested, give my script "Jabberwocky" a read and review. I'm curious to hear your opinion on it.
Page 1: Lose the “Act One”. The “Fade in:” goes on the right hand side. “It’s a cool night…not freezing.” Don’t write things we can’t see …this space will be much better used with description of more visual elements. “(starting to tear up)” Avoid directing the actors unless it is absolutely vital to the story. Whether or not Jessica starts to cry at any given time is up to the actor and director, not you.
Page 2: You have an excellent writing style in your description. Very succinct.
Page 3: This is sorta up to you but on a television series, it would be the 1st AD that would make the announcement that you currently have the director making. On the other hand, it’s nice to not add another character.
Page 4: The opening description of Charlene is a little awkward; a major factor in this is word repetition (“beautiful” and “eyes” twice each).
Page 6: “We’ve been together since…” Really obvious exposition here. “(suddenly hostile)” Again, this isn’t good. Not only will it bother people who will potentially be working with the script, but it in fact affects my reading as well – I may be imagining it in a different way. Trust in your dialogue to tell the story you want it to tell, because so far, it definitely does. Your wrylies are by and large redundant.
Page 8: “He also lives…pants in the relationship.” Big no-no. Lose this. And again, your dialogue tells us exactly what the description does a second later!
Page 9: Lose “His talent agent.” Last time I’m gonna comment on this, but I recommend removing all description from the script which contains things that cannot be seen in the shot.
Page 11: Your description is good, so you almost get away with it, but this chunk of description is just too big.
Page 12: I’d describe a little bit what we’re looking at during Ruby’s monologue.
Page 13: “Wrap” not “rap”. I believe you did this earlier too.
Page 15: The conversation with Ruby is overlong. Not badly written, just overlong. I bet if you use your lines a little more efficiently you can drop almost a page off this sequence. This scene would be more successful if we knew that Jessica was a brat beforehand. All this would take is a very short sequence in the opening scene where we see her acting like a diva. Our culture is so used to the image of the spoiled diva that even a tiny little moment can set it up for this scene. Jessica’s status quo has to be established before Ruby shakes it up a bit.
Page 16: In the last five or so pages your description has gotten a little more awkward. It all needs to be as tight as that first scene.
Page 17: You can’t just walk onto the set and start shooting. I’d recommend transitioning to later in the day before they shoot because the way you have it would never happen.
Page 20: Commercials, even bad ones, take a full day, and often more, to shoot. Therefore the director would need to have only agreed to…well, twelve hours would make the most sense. Also, if the director walks off, the crew can and will just keep shooting. This would likely still never happen, but if you want this scene, you need the 1st AD to call a wrap on it. Lose the in-depth description of the game and gameplay.
Page 21: I’d lose the “rape” joke, personally. People can get a little touchy about that word, and so far, it’s the only offensive thing in the script other than one use of the word “bitch” (which was well used, by the way. The rape thing isn’t).
Page 23: It doesn’t particularly stand out that Sandy “wears the pants” at this point. The fact that Jeff can make jokes like he does seems to preclude the possibility of a power imbalance. It’s only been one day, and Sandy’s already frustrated with him staying? She can’t possibly be frustrated about him eating their food…he’s only had three meals there! Actually, considering he’s been on set, which was likely a ten to twelve hour day, he probably hasn’t had any meals there!
Page 24: I’m a little unclear on Sandy’s motives for wanting Alex to have a girlfriend. Is it purely that she wants him out of the house? Again, I’m not buying that she would be that frustrated after one day; a day, in fact, that he’s been working for most of.
Page 32: I’m gonna stop reading.
You’re a good writer.
By that I mean that you have a solid grasp of what is interesting and fun to read, and how to translate that into script form.
In script, character is king. Story is important – but story is driven by character. Here’s my problem with this script: I don’t know the characters, so I don’t believe their choices.
I understand vaguely what kind of guy Alex is, and I understand somewhat what kind of woman Jessica is. But there is no sense with these characters of a strong, defined personality which guides their actions. Therefore, when Alex leaps over a railing and punches a security guard and tackles Jessica’s boyfriend after only meeting her once – I can’t understand why this is so important to him. I can’t understand why he would do it. Likewise there is no drama in Jessica’s story because I don’t understand her motivations – when she makes the choice to try to be a better person, is that a big choice? It seems like it should be – we also don’t see her try very hard – but we never get the sense that it is. It seems like a very big part of her character as to why she can’t get out of her relationship with Ethan, but it’s only touched on in two lines.
Here’s my suggestion: figure out exactly what your characters want, and what your characters need. Their want is their goal – in this case, Jessica’s goal seems to be to get back on top after losing her job, and Alex’s seems to be to get Jessica – these are things that they want. Their needs are…what? What is this story trying to tell us?
Alex and Jessica start their stories with something fundamentally wrong with their lives. This is good. Their status quo is somewhat comfortable, but they yearn for more. But what is impeding them from getting it? What about their character will have to change, what realization will they have to have, before they are able to mature and develop to the point where they create that change for themselves? This is drama. Our protagonist goes on a quest and overcomes a fatal inner flaw to achieve his or her goal. I see that starting to come out in your story, but it needs to be pushed a lot further.
I recommend that you set up Alex’s fatal flaw in the scene where his girlfriend breaks up with him. From the start the audience will know what has to change.
Likewise, I recommend you show us that Jessica is a diva during her “first” scene on the TV show set. From the start the audience will know what has to change.
So you’ve done well for yourself. You’ve set up two clashing personalities. But these personalities need to be very defined, much more than they are now, and they need to create the drama in the story. If Alex is going to leap over that railing and punch a security guard, we need to see why this situation appeals so strongly to him. It can’t just be because he has a crush on Jessica – that’s lame. We need to be able to see deeper, to see that this is a moment where Alex finally says, I will stand up for myself, I will not let life pass me by, etc. We need to see how he hasn’t done that before, how Jessica brings it out in him, but how it is an inner change where Alex consciously decides to change a part of himself.
So I don’t quite know what these two character’s stories are yet. What do they need to learn, and at the end of the script, what will they learn? And by telling this story, what will you teach the audience?
Congratulations on a coherent, often well-written first script, and I hope you post lots more for us soon. I will gladly give a rewrite of this a read. Thanks for the read!
I was thinking about one other thing. Are TV stars like Jessica -- and here I mean actors working on projects of the same level of quality, which from what we see isn't very high -- really treated as such celebrities, with massively expensive birthdays and significant red carpet attention?
I don't know the answer to that question, I'm just wondering.
You have a lot of stuff about the TV/film world in here and not all of it rings true. If you have the chance I'd recommend having someone who knows the industry well take a look over it to advise you on the realism of certain sequences.