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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.
**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
Hey Steve, I like to read your scripts because they are so easy to read! I got halfway through this script so far. On page 5 the cat VOMITS. Just a practical thing - who's going to ensure that a cat vomits during the filming? Ah, okay, they'll just shoot a pile of some disgusting stuff. Page 8 - how can it look like Doug is getting butt fucked by Princess? Is she wearing a strap-on dildo or what? What about that CRACK? Is it Doug's back again? If yes, then it's not obvious enough. Page 15 - A young man, 16, wearing a football jacket sits at the table. Tears stream down his red face. He lets out a faint squeak. Who is he? Where did he come from? Why is he letting out a faint squeak? Page 33 - Swayze's missing an arm -I would put 'Swayze is' missing an arm, especially because 'Grey's nose is extremely large' in the same sentence. Page 40 - I love the scene with MRS. ALTENBURG! Page 51 - I think you've gone a tiny bit too far with Cum Stain. I suggest replacing. Dunno what with , sorry!
I though your use of intercut was actually very good!
Thanks for digging this up! You're funny. Peeps are gonna see your post and wonder WTF with this script.
Truth be told, this is an old draft and a couple things you commented on do not apply anymore. As far as Doug and Princess, it's supposed to appear as if Doug is being anally violated when in fact she's really trying to crack his back. Just wanted to clear that up.
I'm glad you like it so far. Lake Moose is the first script I ever posted here on SS -- and actually the first script I ever wrote. I still think it has potential and, hopefully soon, I'll post an even funnier and more streamlined version.
Thanks Dustin. You're right. Had some interest in this way back when, but you know how that goes. However, the bones are there -- just needs a good rewrite. My writing style has changed a lot in three years so it'd be fun and challenging to give this one some teeth.
Hey Steve, now I've read the second half. I loved this on page 74 - MRS. ALTENBURG is in the pool. She looks up just in time to see Doug falling on top of her. She SCREAMS. Doug SCREAMS. typo INT. BRISTOL'S ROOM - EARLY EVENING The same with EXT. THE MORGAN'S BUNGALOW - LATER - DAY page 87 - typo again - Morgan's are on dance floor page 92 - KYLE You're not my father. DOUG That's right, I'm not. But I'm your daddy! I don't get this dialogue at all. What does Doug mean?
Overall, this script reminds me of 'Dumb and Dumber'. Half of the fun is feeling embarrassed on the characters' behalf! I agree with everybody who said the story is not tight enough, there seems to be too many side-stories and characters that you don't need. Good luck with the rewrite and finding the producer!
Thanks for the second half (full) read. Much appreciated! The rewrite's gonna look a bit different. Something's I kept, some out the window. The main goal is to condense this, make it funnier and give it more purpose. Basically, something someone wants to see on the screen.
I only read the first around 28 pages, but reading these other comments I very much agree that it takes too long to get set up. Think about what's act one, what's act two, and what's act three in your script. Act one should be the first quarter of the script. At its current length, that would be 25 pages, but we are still very much in act one, I believe, on page 28. Other than this, just little problems that others pointed out, such as no numbering the first page, and don't add a cat just for one joke. I love the humor of it, and I think this could be great when you re-write it.
Thanks for reading an commenting. I agree with what you said. Definitely need to tighten this up. There is actually a rewrite I started a while back so it's on its way. BTW -- I love the cat joke and it's staying!
Ahm, I give you a review here and perhaps come back with some more thoughts when first impression is completely settled, or when you ask for something specifically.
I think you know what to fix concerning format, since it's a script you wrote in 2013 and from your more recent works I never saw such issues before.
Super fast read for me, 100 pages, 2 hours only; don't think I've been quicker through a script here before.
Man, even as an ESL kid, I just understand your way of writing screenplays, actually I'm a fan. Your style is so well balanced; half sentences, staccato, and full prose - I just like all of that. The best thing I notice is that you never use one adjective too many. Really sparse and to the point while nailing dramatic and descriptive harmony.Then I'm a foreign speaker, although, well, I know what's an adjective and somehow I can still compare you with other screenwriters, so... compliment.
There was one definite feeling with regards to story yet- I liked the play from the mid of 50 to the end much more than the first half.
What you need to do, IMO, is, cut dialogue.
You got the perfect length now to really trim it into perfect shape; I thought about cutting something like 20 p, and bringing in 10 fresh rethought ones that help structure and help building clearer sequences and themes - with that more orientation, especially in case of more precise characterization and dramatic coherence.
Okay what to cut in dialogue (all an IMO of course) - Any time when characters speak:
1. check if you need the sentence to make us understand character (or make us laugh), or move the story forward
2. if the characters need to say things that are boring, and sometimes they do, then better use the absolutely shortest way of articulation.
3. There were many dialogue blocks which easily could be ONE instead of two or three. Try to compress everything to its essence -- and check out how often a character repeats another ones speech in almost exact wording f.i. as an affirmation of what's been said <-unneccesary)
4. To prevent long boring explanations try to find a way to use gestures and physical interactions which make things clear in the same way.
I give you one example that was jumping off the page and made me experience this issue entirely (by the way I have exact same problems in my stuff all the time in early drafts, it's naturally)
What does happen there: May shows her scholarship confirmation to her mother. "Oh my God/We're so proud of you/ I worked hard/Yes you did/ Can't believe it etc. much more..."
I think that's the perfect example. Point is: If you can show us all of that in two or three blocks only -- you're going into dramatic super mode, accelerating the story, bringing us to jokes, punch lines and REAL STORY sooner; you wouldn't lose any impact.
( sometimes you do that with scenes too: I remember May in her room, preparing her gown and cap then entering the kitchen... – why couldn't she sit there already with them)
The problem I have now with judging the script is, that once you'd accomplish all those cuttings, I feel it would be a completely different story. The characters would be deeper because we see them acting much more and the conflict also could flow, serve the needed orientation about what story we're actually watching-
With that in mind I should be really carefully with any advice --
I tended to feel the whole vacation would needed to be more specific and have more themes, just like: There seem to be a lot of older people in the resort and I thought if this shouldn't be somehow a bigger theme – that it's like a disappointment for the family, at first, when they arrive, then it all turns out to be upside down. Having subthemes like "old-people can party too." (I know that you're starting something like that already; sex theme etc.)
But again: I cannot really say the above because when you move us quicker forward, have clearer sequences and dramatic points connected to the characters needs, THEN PERHAPS THIS WHOLE RESORT IS ALREADY PERFECTLY DRAWN OUT.
87 to 90 pages and there's just massive conflict.
Another point: The title is Lake Moose and it's far too late that this subject appears first time.
First act indeed is the weakest part IMO.
I needed so much time to understand the characters because they just say things as people say things. The problem is that I need that bigger than life character in comedy. They shouldn't be normal, you know; or the script should be about a bigger than life normal character "About Schmidt" or something.
June for example. She was the complete stereotype of mom running the business at home. Later she develops a bit more. With Brian you did better from the start.
So, let's see what I think the script is about. The main conflict is a father-daughter relationship. I like that pretty much. It's sad but truth somehow, that I cannot remember a lot of those central female conflicts in a fun/holiday script. Your opportunity, I think. Combined with a great setting, that you have here, and interesting sub-characters (give it up for Wayne), that you also have here, it could work imo.
I don't like the set up. F.i. I remember the father fears his daughter makes a bad move and goes to Africa. This comes back as a payoff when he jumps into the pool -- and it works 100%. All of that should be expanded, deeper imo. What makes him fear all that exactly (you have a flashback and a lot of backstory; Friday the 13 joke etc.)
What could be a sequence that shows HOW you set up the whole dramatic conflict?
On the other side, in third act you got the whole dramatic structure right.
It felt like the whole heart is beautifully exposed there BUT WHERE WAS THE PROBLEM, the true ignition, catalyst. I believe that the plot should be quite clear on display when set up, and especially, the plot should escalate at plot point 1.
I found everything funny and charming, that said; but once you get your structure right, I think you're able to multiply the comedic features and those absurd/eccentric jokes that go along anyway.
Except for those things I mentioned here, I enjoyed it. The garden party. Dinner with the Morgan's. The binocular scene. The swimming pool squirell jump, the showdown worked as well.
I'm excited about your rewrite since I know you work with a lot of care. Will be interesting how you reflect on your script and how you develop it further.
@ Perhaps think about the title. I don't think it represents the comedic chaos you deal with so well yet. I believe the most interesting point in this vacation flick is that there's a family disaster but the main conflict is about a girl. Think about how to make the title freaky and same time delivering the message that you deal with a female lead in this scenario. We haven't seen that in a vacation movie before (so often). And isn't that the exact point of same but different... somehow?