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Lake Moose by Steve Clark - Comedy - A father with separation issues must send his daughter to college in California, but not before he takes his family on one last great vacation. 100 pages - pdf, format
Don't know what the 1 is at the top of your first page. Generally the first page isn't numbered.
Your opening slug is a problem. A bit too specific for a slug and if it needs to take place in Chicago, stick it in a SUPER. Usually you'll want to stick to DAY or NIGHT in your slug times unless absolutely vital to the story.
EXT. SUBURBS - DAY
That's what I'd write. Nice and simple.
Your opening paragraph has some passive writing. Instead of "Sprinklers are watering", just write, "sprinklers water."
"DOUG, the FATHER, mid 40's..." The father part isn't necessary in my opinion.
More passive writing. You don't want, "is doing" but rather "does" as far as action goes. I would also stay away from any copywrited music. At least in this stage of your screenplay.
Your use of an INTERCUT isn't correct as it's supposed to avoid the repeated sluglines that would crop up in situations where it would be used. I suggest refraining from using these kinds of tricks and just stick to telling the story. If you did want to use it, it would look something like:
Brian plays guitar.
Doug cooks breakfast.
INTERCUT ON DOUG AND BRIAN
DOUG Brian! Brian!
and so on and so forth until-
I'll stop there for now. Passive writing seems to be the biggest issue with your writing. An easy fix though. Best of luck, hoped this helped.
Its a greta place to learn just remember to read and review back.
I just have a few minutes - let's see
no page one, on page one - normally, starts on page 2 with slug lines - the scene headings - i like to order it top down, so Chicago - Suburbs (stolen from RJ above) - nb only chicago if important 7am - how do we know? does it matter what time - only provide details if they are essential no need to mention the houses as we are in a street - i've assumed that how you do your first para has a big impact on the reader, this reads a little awkward. I assume all you are trying to say is that we are in suburbia, that it is sunny (important?)
two level - not required, house should be fine avoid the ing words - now it is not a case of don't ever use them just use them when it is best to do. Here, Doug cooks eggs, fries eggs, whatever, also he is in the kitchen yet your slug line didn't tell me that - thats where it should be, so
INT. DOUG'S HOUSE - KITCHEN - MORNING (some don't like morning and prefer just day, i don't mind)
DOUG, 40's, studiously cooks eggs.
NOTE if you are outside someones house that you will enter, then say so in the first slug line eh EXT. SUBURBIA - DOUG"S HOUSE - MORNING
Radio - music - only state the music if core, otherwise the RADIO PlAYs or don't even mention it.
INT. MAY'S BEDROOM
now this doesn't have a time, which is fine, but as we haven't ever been there before, or met the character, maybe wise to have a full slug so we guess its the same time - doesn't have to have this,
Not putting on lipstick, puts on lipstick, or applies lipstick - how she do this maybe be revealing.
NOTE - when we first meet your characters, what they are doing should say something very specific about them, reveal character and don't lose a second to do so. So why is Doug cooking eggs - important? If so, how does he do it, is he random, incompetent, an expert, awkward - tell us something. Same with May - does she just put it on, or is she cautious, checks the door first, slaps it on, etc etc
Ok interaction with Mother - normal family stuff, but did this tell me anything about JUNE other than she is a mother and knows where the hair clips are? Note ; later she is appears to be a business woman, maybe she wouldn't know because she's not around, says ask your father - that would be telling
Brian - ok, he's playing the guitar, thats something. but why was the sound not on before when the radio was playing. Could it have started up whilst we were with Doug, exposing tension, anger, acceptance?
sounds off screen - yes use O.S FOOTSTEPS, thunder, trot, run etc down the stairs.
you can sue MINI SLUGS for moving transitions, so
they are in the kitchen
Dough carries a bag into the--
--puffing as he goes.
p6 you have a slug line without any action line, always need something, simple description of the building, which we then enter with the next title.
The Elevator Most Belonging To Alice - Semi Final Bluecat, Runner Up Nashville Inner Journey - Page Awards Finalist - Bluecat semi final Grieving Spell - winner - London Film Awards. Third - Honolulu Ultimate Weapon - Fresh Voices - second place IMDb link... http://www.imdb.com/name/nm7062725/?ref_=tt_ov_wr
Steve, I read the first five pages to get a feel for your script while I had a few minutes. I had a lot of the same comments as above.
Some additional things just to keep in mind. First, besides removing the page number on the first page, you have "continued" on the top of each page. That needs to go as well. Continued is used for the most part for TV screenplays and not for movies. One weird one on page 5 had "continued: (2)". Not even sure what that meant.
You're missing a period at the end of "Hi Mr. Bristol" on page 3 when the Girls speak.
A way to eliminate all your passive writing is to basically go through all your action sequences and any place you have a word that ends in -ING (running, playing, singing, etc.), try to find a way to rewrite that sentence so that the -ING is eliminated. One thing I've also learned is to try and eliminate the word "AND" in any of your action sequences wherever possible.
Also, on your second slug line on page one, you have: INT. TWO LEVEL HOUSE - MORNING - CONTINUOUS
No need to include "morning" if you are using "continuous" as it is implied from the continuous that it is still morning. So just INT. TWO LEVEL HOUSE - CONTINUOUS. I agree also that you could drop the Two Level from the description.
These are just some suggestions that can be easily corrected. I think you have the genesis of an idea and I'll try to read further when I have more time, but thought I would at least share these thoughts with you.
An utterly mediocre writer who somehow still falls bass ackwards into getting some of his scripts produced.
hard to tell what you have here (story wise) because here there are many problems early on - almost all of it technical.
As mentioned, way too much passive writing. Drop "is" and "are" and that will help. Here's a better way of writing your opening scene:
EXT. SUBURBIA - MORNING
Early. Gorgeous day. Sprinklers water the manicured yards. A jogger runs down the tree-lined street.
Your second slug doesn't need "two level." Again a better way to write this:
The house bustles with activity. DOUG, mid 40's, makes eggs in the kitchen. Coffee brews. The radio PLAYS.
Drop the song titles unless you have permission from the artist or they are absolutely essential to your story.
Page six has all kinds of problems. HISPANICS should be in caps. It's overkill on the descriptions of the cooking equipment. "VERY OLD should be underlined if you're placing emphasis on the word, not capped.
The descirption of Nurse Ratched is way over the top. We all know where that comes from. No need to beat us over the head with it.
Hope this helps. I'll be glad to keep reading but decided to stop there. I try not to place too much weight on the mechanics of a screenplay unless they're really lacking, and yours needs some work. The good news is it's an easy fix.
The most important issue is whether you have a good story. For people to determine the quality of the story, they have to be able to read it. Don't let basic screenplay structure detour from that. IMO, you spend a lot of time in the first 5-6 pages focusing on issues that slow the story down.
Get to the conflict in a hurry or you'll lose your reader.
Just read the first 41 pages. Your dialogue's pretty good. Here's the problem: you have virtually no conflict in this script at 40 pages. There's some funny stuff going on but all that's happened is May has been accepted to this school and Doug has electrocuted a quartet at her graduation party.
I assume, by the logline, that the script's big conflict is yet to come. You spend so much time with this group of Doug's workers and the graduation party.
What does the quartet have to do with the second half of the story? What does Doug's work have to do with it? I don't know because I'm not finished but if it's not relevant then you've wasted and LOST your audience by not introducing the conflict until half through the script.
Insider, Thanks so much for the comments. The early scenes of Doug's workplace and the barbershop quartet have no bearing down the line except to introduce you to Doug and what he does for a living. The conflict, I am hoping, is clear that it is Doug's feeling of losing his daughter that he needs to overcome. Yet by the time they reach Lake Moose, another conflict arrives that is basically a continuation of the old one: losing his daughter. Am currently cleaning things up to make it more readable. And thanks to guys like you, the fixes I need to make are more apparent. Thanks, Steve
Read the script and there's some problems. First, let me say you have some good stuff going on here and th dialogue (at times) is funny and well written. That said, you really need to restructure this thing because you take way too long to get where you're going.
1. Pg 1-5: are used to intro May's family. That's fine, but you can probably do this in 2-3 pages. Not sure why you focus so much on the cats as they do nothing to move the script forward.
2. Pg 5-11: you spend 6 pages at this nursing home where Doug works, and there's little payoff to it. None of these people are important to the SP other than Doug. The only reason it's in here is to setup the party scene where they get electrocuted.
Pages of a SP are at a premium, especially the first act. Spend too much time on this sort of stuff and people will not read it.
3. Pg 15 is good because you you get to the point - May gets accepted.
4. You then spend another 15-20 pages on this party, which really has no bearing on the remainder of the script. For this to work, these guys have to all be at Moose lake or it's pointless. You spend all this time early on Nurse Ratched and then she's gone. Same with Coldfoot....same with Princess...
5. A couple things you're doing wrong from a technical standpoint - A SCENE FROM THE BRIAN DEPALMA PLAYBOOK???????? What does that mean? Why is it in the SP?
You're also using SUPERs in Slug Lines. Don't do that.
Okay, we're halfway into the script before they get to the lodge. It's almost like the relationship between May and Kyle is an after thought. You really spend very little time on it. I liked the Dirty Dancing references at first but as I read it really became apparent that May and Kyle were kind of borrowed from Baby and Robby.
Furthermore, why would such a smart girl like May fall so quickly for a creep like Kyle? It's very predictable and there's very little payoff. If you're going to keep it, I'd develope it more. personally, I'd drop it and find a better payoff. Out of nowhere this guy's just beating the hell out of May. Don't like it.
Where you succeed big is the relationship between Brian and Wayne. It's funny and well-thought out. The band member names had me LOL! Really, really good stuff. Also, the Morgan Freeman things was really funny as well but I thought you lost a chance to develope some funny subpolts with's Kyle's parents.
Overall, you have a partial story here. You need to get this family to the lodge at least 20 pages earlier. At least. Maybe sooner. You need more conflict at the lodge and if you're going to spend all this time on this quartet, they better somehow show up at the lodge.
Hope this helps. Wouldn't be hard to fix this story. BTW, sorry for any typos. I'm really keyboard challenged until my new one comes in.
Insider, Thanks for taking the time to read the whole thing! You definitely raise some very valid points, and I'll take a further look into moving it along faster. I know that it takes a while for them to get to the lodge, so that was always a concern. Some things you said I disagree with, but I didn't come here for sugar coating. I came here for honesty, which has been extremely helpful. Thanks so much. Steve Ps. If I cut the kitchen scene and the party scene then where are the laughs in the first act?
The kitchen scene was one of the least funny scenes, IMO. Cut it to a page or two. Get your characters introduced.
Chomp off 5-7 pages of the party scene. However, that still doesn't solve the issue as o why these people take up so much of the first half of the script and disappear.
Doug's peers at work seemed to be obsessed with him. I thought you would take off with that and you didn't. Nurse Ratched kept referring to Mr. Blass, who I thought had some potential as a character.
You can't just have these people in the script for comedy and then drop them. All scenes in a script have to move the story forward. You have a dance at the end of the movie. You have this quartet...you have Brian and Wayne, who are both in bands...why not have this huge cluster meet at the dance at the lodge? Maybe it's a dysfunctional battle of the bands or something. Then it makes sense.
No problem Steve. You ever want to bounce some ideas off me just let me know. My opinion is just that. Others may see it differently. I would be curious for another reader to chime in on this one. It'd be interesting to see what they had to say.