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**Author's Note** This is the revised edition. I want to thank all of the commentors above for your help! Your advice was definitely helpful in the revision. Also, the 1. at the top of page one is not a page number. It's a step, and I can't seem to get rid of it. If anyone has Script It! and knows the secret please drop me a line. Regards, Steve
I didn't get a chance to read this before you made your revisions but the first ten pages provided an entertaining read. Always a good thing.
If I had to make a suggestion I would say don't bother using POV in a spec script. It's not unforgivable but usually you don't want to include camera directions in spec. Just focus on storytelling.
Example: Instead of "Doug - POV" use "Doug watches out the window. Sees May drive off with her friends."
No biggie though.
I will give you some more feedback once I read a bit further. I'm guessing you're taking a Vacation/Great Outdoors approach based on your logline and the first ten pages. So far it's humorous. Good sign.
"That's the trailer right there." - Tropic Thunder
Hey Steve - not sure if you're still around, but this was an interesting piece. Didn't read it all, just looked at some of the technical aspects. You've clearly got some of this on top, so it made me wonder how long you've been writing? Dialogue comes off well, so you seem to have a good hand there.
Also read fairly quick - action lines were fairly short, and felt well fitted.
I had some issues with your visuals, though:
DOUG (42), ... cooks eggs. ... flips an egg errantly into the air, snatches it with his hand. -- are you sure he catches it with his hand? I don't quite figure that. -- 2nd, Doug is bopping, so I'd have: Doug, bopping at the stove ... etc.
He picks up each cat one by one and puts them on the floor. -- this is really 'novel' writing, not screen-writing. It's a minor, but you lose visual impact: A cat JUMPS onto the countertop. Then another, and yet another. -- you wrote they got on like that, so you need to write him taking them off like that - or just one as an example.
MAY (18), beautiful, carefully applies lipstick in the mirror.
JUNE (40), attractive, professional attire, brushes her hair. She finds a gray and yanks it out. Scrunches her face.
-- The latter is the the more visual. But is she too, looking in a mirror?
Regarding the inter-cut - people sometimes have different opinions, but you've associated the inter-cut with the characters - my understanding is that you inter-cut locations.
Like I say - I didn't read all of this, but it's got a good feel to it - are you still revising it?
Hey guys, Corey, thanks for the advice on the POV. I was a little hesitant while writing that, and wasn't sure if it was needed. It happens later in the script with binoculars, so I'll go back to that as well.
SiColl007, Sorry, don't know your name. Yes, Doug does catch the egg with his hand. I should've had him saying, "Ow, ow, ow, ow!" Appreciate the feedback on the character descriptions, too. It def makes sense. One commentor mentioned the intercut and suggested I do it like this, no mention about different locales, so I probably leave that the way it is. And thanks for the compliments! I'm fairly new to screenwriting, but SS has really helped bring me along. I'm currently working on something else, so not revising right now. Gonna wait it out, take some notes. Thanks for yours! If you have anything up you'd like me to have a look at, just let me know! Steve
First off, since others have already pointed out the format miscues, I'll avoid that part, except that I have to say I'm not sure why you have a couple of instances of back-to-back dialogue blocks by the same character. Why break them apart instead of keeping it as one dialogue block? I assume maybe in your edit(s) you eliminated other dialogues that separated the two from the same character and neglected to form them into one?
As for the story, you have some cute moments and some descent funny lines--but nothing that made me laugh out loud. That's not necessarily a bad thing since a lot of comedies I've seen lately are more cute than laugh-out-loud funny. They can still work into a successful story--if you give the reader/audience member something to latch onto. The intro, as mentioned before showed the family in a mundane situation for far too long--this can work if you make the making of breakfast more strange or funny than it currently is
In that regard I can't agree more with the poster who mentioned a lack of conflict. You have a long setup of the family with some fairly funny episodes and lines, but nothing really grabbed me about it, gave me a reason to anticipate something interesting was to come. Having Doug lament that he may be losing his girl is decent, but not enough. You may want to explore possibly having Doug trying to sabotage his daughter's decidsion to move away, and--somehow--this family trip might be his ploy to somehow convince her that she would be better served atttending a college closer to home. And in the end, after hilarity and epiphanies ensue, Doug realizes his girl should go where she wants. Just throwing that out there.
The comedy, like I said, is okay, but nothing pants-splitting. Your dialogue is pretty good though your overuse of onomatopoeias (maybe not the most precise word to describe this?) got a little annoying, like when a character says "uggh" or "whoo" or "awhh" or "oohh" or something to that effect. Also, sometimes you bury the punchline, as in, too much dialogue to respond to the setup of a joke, like when June mentions Doug's mistake at their daughter's camp, he responds with: "That was five years ago. Besides, I was cleared of those charges." It would be much funnier, and convey the same idea if you trimmed it to just: "I was cleared of those charges."
Once you clear up small things like that and tighten up the bigger issues of format and conflict, I think you'll have a "cute" funny movie that could be very heart-warming. I'm thinking in terms of the "Vacation" franchise, though after re-watching the first movie of that franchise earlier this spring for the first time in decades, I didn't enjoy it like I did when I was a teenager in the 80s--too cornball, not really that funny. Your beginning has somewhat similar beats, and with the advantage of looking over what has worked and what hasn't in similar movies from the past (ie, "Vacation") I think you could have something very enjoyable here, even if it's more cute than funny.
Just my opinion. Do with it what you will and good luck with your story.
Eoin, Thanks for taking a look. That's a brilliant suggestion--about starting out on vacation. I know that my opening is too long, but I think I might have thought of a way to cut it down and make it more entertaining. Thanks! Manowar, Thanks so much for your detailed notes and for going as far as you did. I agree. Not really laugh out loud, but rather more cute. Hopefully there are some humorous scenes! Maybe you just didn't get to them yet. Problem is, it takes a while for this story to get going. Close to page 30 is when they finally end up at the resort, and that's kinda long for the story to take off. Later in the story she falls for a shady rich kid named Kyle. He is more the antagonist, but he needs to enter the story way earlier than I have him. The conflict of Doug losing his daughter is the main issue, which is further accentuated when she meets this Kyle fella. I think I need to focus more on him because Doug's feelings don't seem to make a good antagonist. However, I do like your suggestion regarding Doug's attempt at sabotage. That makes sense as well. Appreciate all the feedback, guys. Thanks! Steve
Steven, I haven't read this, but I did read the feedback - yeah, I know...I seem to be doing this backwards...sorry.
I do want to comment on the feedback regarding POV's. As I always say, a POV is definitely not necessary, but if done correctly and for a reason, there's nothing wrong with a few here and there.
When writing a POV, make sure you include only what is seen in the POV, nothing else. Also, always make sure to correctly begin and end your POV, so it's clear exactly what you intend to show onscreen. A POV can really add to the visuals, but only when it makes a definite difference in "the view" being seen.
To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
Dreamscale (Phil?) Yeah, the POV's been a thorn in my side. It appears on pg 2 or 3, and the more it gets mentioned, the more unnecessary it seems. I don't know. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Thanks for the input!
Shawn, Jeez! Your dialogue example of Doug and Princess had me on the floor. The example was not wasted, as I totally see your point about running with a site gag. -Doug catches the egg simply because he didn't want it to end up on the floor. Don't know if it visualizes funny, but... -the cats were mentioned by someone else, too. Needs to be clearer, I think. This def has some pacing issues. Many people have mentioned that. I have a few ideas to correct that, or to make the breakfast scene a bit more interesting. Thanks again, Steve
Sorry for the delay. I was givin another department to oversee in my company and it has pretty much sucked all of my time up. I’m gonna give you some broad strokes here on some of the things I noticed here.
First off, you have a good hand for comedy. It’s the toughest genre to write hands down and you either have it or you don’t. You have it!
My primary bitch is the same I mentioned in my first review. You need to massage the joke out a bit and have some fun with it.
It’s easy to write what you see in your head, and to the writer it sounds funny but writing it so that another reader thinks it’s funny is a big challenge. Take your time, draw it out and make the scenes you have pop. That means trimming the scenes tha don’t have to do with the story.
Another little thing I noticed was some of your scene positions were a bit off.
Example- EXT. LAKE MOOSE - DAY
May's on her skis in the water. Kyle sits with the BOAT DRIVER (20). KYLE Here we go, May. The boat takes off. May lifts up. She's water skiing. Wobbly at first, but otherwise okay.
BOAT DRIVER Hey, dude, she's hot. Where'd you meet her?
Here you have two scenes taking place within the same scene. This could really do with a MINI-SLUG.
EXT. LAKE MOOSE - DAY
May's waits on her skis in the water.
BOAT Kyle sits with the BOAT DRIVER (20). KYLE Here we go, May.
LAKE The boat takes off. May lifts up. She's water skiing. Wobbly at first, but otherwise okay.
BOAT The boat driver looks to Kyle. BOAT DRIVER Hey, dude, she's hot. Where'd you meet her?
See what I mean. It separates the scene to make sense of the surroundings.
Then there are little narrative things like-
THE INSTRUCTOR suddenly turns. Narrow eyes throw daggers at Wayne.
I’m not sure why it’s formatted this way, but it doesn’t seem right.
The instructor suddenly turns. Narrow eyes throw daggers at Wayne.
Works just fine
Also to insert an image-
Brian's shirt: a bent over demon, flames shooting from its asshole.
You’ll want to format like…
They look at Brian’s shirt.
INSERT IMAGE: A bent over demon, flames shooting from its asshole.
BACK TO SCENE:
I know I already mentioned it but here is another (among many) examples of where you need to pull out the scene to make it funny(er)
THIS IS WHAT YOU HAVE-
Doug on a water board attempting tricks. SHARP turn. Saturates a family in a row boat. Apologizes. Inadvertantly ski's up a ramp and becomes airborne. Two TEENS on shore watch in amazement. TEEN #1 Whoa, look at that dude! Doug FLIES through the air. Loses control. SMASHES face first in the water. DEAD MAN'S FLOAT. Boat pulls up. Life preserver CLOCKS him in the head.
So much potential here- Just work it a bit.
Doug stumbles through some horribly attempted tricks attesting to the fact he doesn’t know what he’s doing. He cuts deep into the water hooking around and pummels a nearby family on shore with a wall of water.
Not paying attention, he looks over to the family.
DOUG Hey…Sorry bout that.
Only to go straight up a ramp at 50 miles an hour. Flailing like a one winged turkey, he squeals-
Two TEENS on shore watch in amazement. TEEN #1 Fuckin grown ups.
Like a meteor entering the atmosphere, Doug slams into the water, ricocheting across it like a rock on a pond.
All is calm-
Until he slowly surfaces like a face down floater.
That’s a bad example but you see what I mean. Comedy is VERY visual.
Anyway, those were some of the things I wanted to bring up. The story is sound, the writing is very good and if you revisit this and play with those scenes and let the absurdity come out, you will have something very special here.
It already has good bones my friend.
Best of luck and again sorry for the delay. Thanks for letting me give it a read.
Shawn, Thanks for your notes. No prob with the delay. We all have lives that we must attend to.
With every new comment I gain further insight into structure, storytelling, etc. A reminder of how much I need to learn. But like you said, the "bones" are already there, it's just the flesh around it that needs some work! Totally understand and appreciate that.
For any other writers around here, and i've seen a few, who have taken criticism a little too hard, the best advice you can get is to read other's scripts. Read and learn. It really is THE best advice.
Anyway, Lake Moose was written around one central joke, Shawn. That was May's graduation party where Doug belly flopped into the pool and electrocuted his brother -- in an earlier draft it was a Barbershop Quartet! The rest of the story had to fall around that scene. It could be why other commentors here took issue with the pacing, and the lack of an inciting incident. Needless to say, it was not written in the conventional way most of us are accustomed to, but...
I digress. There are some ideas to improve flow, pacing, etc. that I have thought of. Those will def make it into the next draft. As will your "pulling out the joke" advice. I mean, after all, it is a comedy. It needs to read a bit more like one!
Thanks again! And if anyone round here wants a read-for-read, just let me know. I'd be happy to oblige.
Hey Steve, new to SS and Moose Lake was one of the first I wanted to read. What can I add that hasn't already been pointed out. My only thought is have you ever considered calling it LAKE MOOSE? That may be part of the "comedy" letting people know that what they are about to see is a comedy. Not too many lakes are presented that way. Can't imagine calling Lake Michigan...Michigan Lake. Not a big deal at all, just seeing how you fee about that? Really enjoyed it though! Chuck