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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Comedy Scripts  ›  Black Men Can't Swim Moderators: bert
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  Author    Black Men Can't Swim  (currently 1857 views)
Posted: March 14th, 2011, 10:26pm Report to Moderator

So, what are you writing?

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Black Men Can't Swim by Simon Colligan (SiColl007) - Comedy - Five mates at a bar, one of them raises and age old question; with sensibilities dulled they make a bet…  77 pages - pdf, format

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Posted: March 19th, 2011, 6:08am Report to Moderator


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Story is ok. It may work in British indie comedy setting, not american. I mean a british street accent might make it funnier. Well written though.


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Posted: March 22nd, 2011, 2:27am Report to Moderator
Been around a while

Onen Hag Oll

Newquay, Cornwall, England
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Firstly I shall start with the good... I have never wanted to read a script as much as I wanted to read yours. Just from your title. I was hooked.

The tagline reeled me in. 'Five mates at a bar discussing the age old question'. Controversial comedy. My favourite.

I made it to page four. I'm gutted.

However, I shall tell you a few of my problems. And please don't hate me. I'm just trying to help. I mean, we're all striving for perfection, right?

You take us into a BURGER JOINT with your scene heading. That's fine. But then you instantly confuse.

YOU, the writer, are meant to get ME, the reader, to picture the scene as it's happening. Exchange 'ME' for 'PROFESSIONAL READER'. Now read the opening two lines.

'The guys'... What guys?

'The table'... What table?

'It's all in full swing'... What is?

'Ice has been broken'... So am I meant to be picturing broken ice like I am in my head right now?

'the boys'... Wait, where did these boys come from?

'are in full stride'... So these boys are walking?

I hope you see what I'm getting at. That's just the first two lines and Ive torn them appart. Not to mention I'm still trying to work out if I'm in an actual BURGER JOINT, say Burger King. Or is BURGER JOINT the name of a bar maybe? It seems a little lively, what with all the swinging, broken ice, guys, boys and striding. Those two lines should have been to set the scene. Show me, with your words, where I am. Instead, my brain hurts.

Then you go and 'introduce' your characters. All five of them. At once. By the time I  read the last name I'd forgotten the first name. I remembered at least one of them was fat though.

Do you hate your characters? Make me like them. All I know is there's two fat black guys, a medium black guy, an average, casual white guy, and my personal favourite... 'Gamble, another white guy'. Just some guy. Just there cos you needed another character. That's how it seems.

Also I thought this was going to be a controversial comedy. African-American seems very PC. But I'm white so maybe that's racist of me.

Basically make me want to like them. After your introduction of them, who cares?...

Dud, 27, medium build African-American.

Gamble, 28, another white guy.

They are 'characters'. Give them character. Please.

Also why hurt my brain by giving me five characters all at once. Introduce me to three of them. Then get the fourth to come back from the toilet. Then add the fifth coming in from outside. A lot easier to get to grips with.

Then you make them talk.

They all sound the same.

Each character should have a clear, defining voice. Make one call the others dude. Take the 'G' off the end of all of one characters 'ING' words. Somethin'. Anythin'. You need five separate voices. Define them. Give someone an accent. ''New Yoik''. See?

Next you go and put me in a locker room with the same characters talking about the same conversation we just heard. Why did we move location to finish what could have been finished at the burger joint?

My brain is melting. I could go on. But I won't.

Maybe you see what I'm saying. Maybe you don't. My point is it needs serious work and you are the only one who can do it.

Good luck.

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Posted: March 25th, 2011, 5:05am Report to Moderator
Old Timer

Let The Sky Fall

Various, exotic.
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Hi Arty  thanks for the feedback - this was a first draft, so I appreciate the thought you have put in.

I can see you point, but I guess I was coming from a slightly different angle - yes, it has to be read, but ultimately it has to be filmed, and I'm thinking, if ten people tried to film this, what would they come up with - re the initial scene. I'm being brief, because all I'm doing is getting the picture across - the details I can leave to however is doing the filming (leave stuff for the director to do etc), so it's just a pen picture. And I know films do start with four or five guys in a burger bar or equivalent, so how (in brief) do you get that information across?

Second.. I'm not convinced that four pages is enough - I've read fifty pages into some dire scripts: my understanding is that you should really do ten pages to give you a fair view. So yes, you may not have got an idea of the guys' character, but then the names should detail that somewhat, although I can accept that the character differentiation may need some level of emphasis so that they stand out nice and clear - but then in some films, it takes a little time for character traits to develop somewhat.

So like I say, 1st draft, and I will look at it again with your point in mind. Thanks for looking.
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