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Brett, if you send me the script, I can put notes directly to the PDF. There's just way too much for me to post here.
I picked up today where I left off on p. 24. I was absolutely determined to get to p 50. I only got to page 34, and it took a really long time...and I wasn't taking notes. There are two things that slow the read. First, there are things that I find confusing to figure out and have to reread, sometimes a few times. Second, there are dull patches that combined with the first problem really make it difficult to focus.
As determined as I was, I had to stop at "work at home chicken sexers". I had no idea what a chicken sexer is and had to google it. And it is an interesting job, as it turns out. Are chicken sexers common knowledge? do most people know about them? Maybe I'm not informed enough. But I don't think I've ever had such a difficult time getting through a script. I guess the problem is on my end.
I'm not sure what's going on. Red Sun and Lie Detector are breezy reads, very effective writing. ZP was a little tougher, but mostly do to the ensemble nature and the detailed action. I think you are experimenting with developing a unique style, so we have to be patient. You're a good guy and a great member here, so I'm willing to work through this. You haven't engaged us, though, and I'm not sure how to take that. I am finding getting through this to be work, and if my remarks are not going to help, I can live with that, and I'll return to my own work. If you think my notes can be of value, please send me the PDF so I can put notes directly on it, because this will be time consuming. I consider you a friend, and it's definitely worth making the time available if you think it will help.
Sorry I haven't posted here sooner. It's been quite a 24 hours.
I had some funky neurological episode yesterday. I couldn't remember who or where I was for the scariest ten seconds of my life. Then followed it up with phantom searing pains and hallucinations. I'm still having trouble recalling things from recent weeks. I can barely remember attending the Screenwriting Expo at all.
As to the script, I thought I had put it through some serious paces. Three full rounds of coverage and five drafts, go figure. Would've been considerate of them to mention this while giving the script Considers. Oh well, at least I know what part to tackle first.
Part of it is me experimenting with my voice with a quirky subject matter. If it wasn't tricky material, I would not have been attracted to it in the first place. That being said, my voice on the page got away from me and I need to corral it. No excuses, just execute strategies which lead to solutions. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. I;ve got a month to hammer this into shape.
Thanks all for the quick looks and super fast notes. I know you guys jumped on it because you're looking after "one of your own". It;s greatly appreciated. Those words seem paltry. But it's all I have right now. Kev, if you can't utilize this PDF to attach notes, let me know. Pia, give ZP a read, this one isn't ready for your analytical skills yet. Thanks.
Hopefully, things will realign themselves after a couple days of quiet. Because, right now, I look at things I know I wrote, but can't recall writing the pages.
Warmest Regards to All, Brett
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Your health is first priority. Take care of yourself. You may have overloaded. A few days off should help a lot, Brett.
EDIT: I don't wish to start a whole coverage debate again, but there are things to consider when using that particular agency. There is some value in their reader's review. But you get what you pay for; and Brian is obviously very aware of and sensitive to his press on simplyscripts, as we know from Wonka's thread.
As Kev has already pointed out, you put so much into this forum, giving great advice to all and sundry, and coming across as a gentleman to boot. You deserve all the reads in the world, and that probably wouldnt cover your input to the boards.
I am going to read the script in full and give you my thoughts.
However, I've read a few pages and can't help but agree with the other posts upto now.
I had to read the first page 4 or 5 times to deconstruct your use of language and long sentences. It's a really difficult start and quite daunting.
There's a chunk of dialogue in-between an insert describing whats in a photo. This is the best example I can give of the initial problems of the opening.
I find it concerning that this went through three rounds of coverage and wasn't addressed. I'll pop back when I've read the script in full.
Congrats on completing another feature Brett. Hope ur feeling better. Excuse my curt writing. Thisis from my phone. I'll take a gander at this this weekend. If I get stumped along the way and stop, I'll let u know why. In the meantime you should revamp your poster for fun and put all Jeff quotes on it. Lol. James
I don't know what happened to you, but are you eating healthy? Like real food, not junky stuff and fast food?
I can see the hard work you put into the script. You probably worked too hard, if that makes sense.
I too, love the concept. I don't think it needs to be made more difficult than it actually is. Think: easy does it and I think it will go much easier. And don't worry about pleasing anyone. I think that if you're pleasing yourself, you will, by default please others because it shows through in the work.
Try that if you're having trouble and see how it works.
Wade gravitates closer to the property line, he holds the hose waist high while he gawks at Renee’s ass. - I think this scene needs to be setup better. Tell us that Renee and Travis are outside before you intro Wade. I didn't even know they were out there before this line. What are THEY doing?
TRAVIS Three weeks.
TRAVIS Honey, do some victory doughnuts. - This should be one dialogue box. Makes it confusing.
I think Renee should've told travis she was leaving the next day when she pushed the wedding picture back through the door. I did like that scene though. Felt real...
I think we need more of a reason for Travis to hate algernon. Expecially a bichon which are supposed to be some of the most docile breed. At least thats what Phil told me when I read Mafia Dogs. I'll take his word for it.
Okay, I made it to page 25 today. Thats where I'm stopping for now. I do think the experiment went on a little long. Took up a good deal of your opening. There's a lot of writing I don't like, but you've heard enough of that.
I would rather see Travis on the verge of a breakthrough before Renee leaves. He begs her to stay. Also, He never talks to her on the phone after she leaves. I felt that odd. You fly through 30 days of experiment. Might want to interject a conversation in there. Maybe she's having a blast in Japan and that motivates him even more?
All in all, so far I thought it was a bit slow, but I'll definitely hit up the next 25 pages soon. Want to see where this goes...
Hi Brett, hope all is well since we haven't heard from you in a bit. I got to page 43 and I'm gonna stop there. What i was hoping for here was a great motivating factor pushing Travis to clone his "not dead" wife. If she had died, I would believe it. Then this wouldn't be comedy would it?
The whole blackout and dream sequence thing really threw me for a loop. He just wakes up and she's there. Did like the welfare check during the dream and Guy being there.
Little things put me off like when CLONE WIFE becomes ICE CREAM WIFE on her dialogue boxes. Thats the writer having a bit too much fun IMO. If you're an established pro, go for it. I've seen stuff like that in pro scripts. It annoys the shit out of me. It's like the writers saying "Look how much fun I'm having writing my screenplay and making a fine living at it. Too bad you losers still gotta stick to the rules... Ta ta."
Your first act di drive me to read on, but when you skipped over the reason he cloned his wife at the turn of act two, thats where you lost me. I really think that needs to be explained right then and there. If you get a chance, PM me on what the reasoning is or what really happened.
I was hoping that after Travis' succesful cloning of Algernon, he was gonna take his research to people with money to fund his projects. I thought he would be more excited about his discovery. Then come up with some cockamaimmy reason he needs his wife. Maybe he has to convince a highly religious, family oriented Senator to approve his project at a dinner party. A party he'd better not attend without his wife. Then all hell could break loose as clone wife screws up everything.
Sorry, now I'm completely changing your story, just how my mind works. I wish you best with it. If you give it a major overhaul you can always hit me up for another look.
Read upto page 40. Here’s some notes I made. I’ll try not to repeat what other members have brought up, unless necessary.
P1 – Opening Slug. Man Cave Lab. I don’t know what this is or what I am supposed to be visualizing. This might be my ignorace, but it’s just not clear to me.
P.2 I don’t know what a 'pong clock' is to be honest. Your writing style gives me a hint to what the tone of the piece is, but the visual elemants are not complimenting it. In fact they are confusing me.
P4 – “mugs professoriate”. I think I know what you are going for with such phrasing, but the fact I have to think about it slows down the read.
P.5 – I’ve mentioned Montana Tony’s already. It could be a cute nod, but if your going to go there the details really need to be spot on. It’s not that big a deal, but references to other movies often take me out of the story at hand and make me think about the movie being referenced. I watch a lot of low budget horror flics, and I see constant references to other movies. Most of the time, the movies being referenced are superior. It only serves to make want to put that movie on my DVD player rather than the one I am currently watching. I’m in the minority with this opinion, though.
P9. The food descriptions, then they “marvel at the culinary mutants”. This just didn’t work for me at all. Stuff like this is taking up a lot of space and I’m not getting the humour.
At this point, if I hadnt read the logline and seen the poster I would be struggling to grasp what kind of movie this actually is. After being blinded by the science in the opening scene, I’m now being tested by all the fancy food.
P11 -- “[ ] please check this box if you want to save our marriage”. This is brilliant. The best line in the script so far. A simple visual trick that tugs the heartstrings. More of this, please!
P.17 – there’s a montage. I remember when you did a really long series of shots in Zombie Playground. I didn’t like that there and I don’t like this montage, either. It’s a personal issue but considering the detail in the script thus far I’m not sure why you would employ this technique now.
General note: Please forgive me if I missed something. But the dog acting like a cat isnt really working for me. I just don’t get the humour.
P26 – 30. Stig pops round for dinner. This lasted four pages and not sure how it moves us forward.
The clone wife dream sequence does have some interesting visual elemant. But then the real clone wife is introduced really abruptly. For me, this should be your “Bride of Frankenstein” reveal moment. With all the bells and whistles that comes with such a reveal. It should be dramatic. Like when Kelly Le Broc reveals herself in ‘Weird Science”.
Took a read through the first 54 pages for now. Gotta go make dinner and I'll finish reading it tonight. I'll just give you a quick overview of my thoughts so far.
Wow, was the beginning tough to get through. Extremely tough. Tons and tons of needless description that, if this were written as a novel, might work. Might work. But since this is a script, a lot of it is unnecessary, making it almost a chore to read and visualize at the same time. I'm trying to concentrate on what the scene looks like and what's going on and you're talking about Mussolini being proud. Totally took my concentration away. A lot of times that happened. And the octogenarians? I thought they were part of some Halloween display stirring a pot of boiling potion or something.
Most of the humor in the story is in your descriptions, which means the humor isn't going to translate very well to film. Remember, in a comedy, your characters have to be funny. Not you. Look for the comedy in your characters, not on the written page.
There is a good story working here, and the pace is picking up for me now, but I don't think it's necessarily been pulled off so far. It has the feel of that movie with Ben Stiller and Jack Black in it. 'Greed'. Or 'Envy', maybe. I forget the name of it.
It has some good moments in it so far, but a lot of it is just exposition and I'm waiting to get to the heart of the great storyline you have.
You did cut down on the extremely heavy descriptions towards the end. Somewhat. There were still some extreme examples I can site here and there that seem to be a little ridiculous.
For instance, talking about the Star Trek away team on a hostile planet that you referenced while they were walking into a restaurant. That got me thinking about Star Trek instead of concentrating more on your story and the dinner going on.
There's just a little too much weird stuff going on and it's detracting from the main storyline I think you should stick with. It kind of seems like you wrote this in hopes Tim Burton might want to take a crack at filming this one. And I don't think that style is working for this type of story.
Guy is never used to his potential as an antagonist and he seems like a waste of space. And he's annoying. He never even propelled the story forward. He just sat there and ogled Clone Wife, then returned later in the story for some reason just to make some joke about cloning Renee also. He never ante'd up the stakes for Travis. In fact, he and Wade seemed like the same character.
And the pregnancy was really confusing. Clone wife's been around for a couple days, then all of a sudden, Renee comes back and Clone Wife all of a sudden has a big belly. Did I miss a huge time jump somewhere or a '9 months later' SUPER? I hope I wasn't focusing too much on Star Trek still or thinking about the witches in Macbeth you were talking about earlier and I missed it.
At the core, there's a good story here, but it seems like you might have hid it in a bunch of weird special effects and strange going's on. We never really get to delve into Travis, Renee, or Clone Wife as characters, really.
Your story really doesn't get going until he actually clones Renee. That's when my interest kicked in. Everything else before that, when you were supposed to be setting up Travis and Renee's relationship, it just seemed you were setting up for weird things to happen.
You still had great moments between the characters, and you do have the makings of a story that could make an impact, but I think you have to delve into and focus on the story more, and not just the peculiar inventions in the story, or a clever way to describe your scenes that kind of only lost and confused me, or took me totally off track. I found myself having to go back and reread things over and over to just get the jist of it.
Like I said, there are brilliant flashes of something that could be a great story here, but it's a little too cooky as it is now, and my mind's focusing on the cooky things instead of the story.
Thanks for all the notes with well wishes, they're appreciated. I should return to work by the end of the week. It is mostly stress related. 80 hour work weeks since April. It was causing arterial inflammation in my brain. Which can cause temp memory loss and crippling migraines. Most people tend work less when self employed at home. I never know when to quit.
Have a good week guys!
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