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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Comedy Scripts  ›  An X-Mess Story Moderators: bert
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  Author    An X-Mess Story  (currently 899 views)
Don
Posted: November 4th, 2017, 1:45pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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An X-Mess Story by Christopher Brown - Comedy - When Santa decides to take a Christmas vacation, an overworked elf must train a likeable slob to be his replacement. 89 pages - pdf, format

Writer interested in feedback on this work



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Don
Posted: November 5th, 2017, 1:41pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Link fixed for real this time.  Please do a hard refresh (CTRL + F5) to pull the latest from the server.  

Not sure what is going on with the FTP server.  Driving me nuts.

Don



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Cacutshaw
Posted: November 5th, 2017, 2:21pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks a gazillion!
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Grandma Bear
Posted: November 5th, 2017, 3:08pm Report to Moderator
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Don't have the time to read a feature, but I love the title.  


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eldave1
Posted: November 5th, 2017, 10:15pm Report to Moderator
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Took a look at the first ten.

Killer title.

Very much like the interview aspect - like "The Office" at the North Pole.  

The opening needs to be crisper, IMO. You have:


Quoted Text
It’s a busy day in Santa’s Workshop. It is first thing in the
morning and the elves are working full tilt trying to get as
many toys constructed in a short amount of time. The front
door opens and through a flurry of snow, in walks JOHN,
Santa’s accountant. Though he is an elf, he is a average
sized man in his mid-thirties. He is dressed business casual
as opposed to the rest of his kin, in green and red outfits.
He sips on a Starbucks coffee while heading to his office.
TWINKLE, the elf in charge of the workshop floor approaches
John, happily.


So, you have a ten line action block - definitely needs to be broken up and you have info you don't need - we already know for the scene heading that it's morning in Santa's workshop - so you don't need to repeat that. I think you also need to cap ELVES and Santa's accountant as well as "the elf in charge: ares an unfilmables IMO  I would go with something like:


ELVES dressed in green and red outfits work full tilt building toys.

The front door opens and through a flurry of snow. JOHN (30s), average
size, dressed in business casual enters. He sips on a Starbucks coffee as he heads to his office.

TWINKLE  the elf approaches.



Quoted Text
JOHN
That is a speak and spell sir.
Unless you think a puppy is the
perfect replacement.


You need a comma before sir. So several other places where this needs to be fixed.

To my eye, there were way too many parenthetical. I generally don't mind them - but there were so many they became a bit of a distraction.


Quoted Text

walks SANTA (1737).


I didn't understand the above - i.e., the 1737.

Anyway - cute concept. I am sure there is a market for this. Best of luck.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Dustin
Posted: November 6th, 2017, 5:45am Report to Moderator
Of The Ancients


Action speaks louder...

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I took a look at a few pages and the impression I gathered was that it is a badly written good story. Nothing a good editor couldn't figure out. The dialogue is good, but your action blocks let you down. Lots of tells. Lots of unnecessary information that detracts from visuals.

That said, it is likely a story that can sell, so long as everything else runs OK, the action and story can be figured out better later.

Good luck.


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Cacutshaw
Posted: November 6th, 2017, 4:07pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks Angry Bear, Eldave and Dustin. This is my first attempt at making a script where nothing horrific happen (I guess with the exception of my writing )
I appreciate the input!
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eldave1
Posted: November 6th, 2017, 4:11pm Report to Moderator
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My pleasure


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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khamanna
Posted: November 6th, 2017, 4:24pm Report to Moderator
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Hey, Christopher. Sent my thoughts on your first 30 just now.
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Cacutshaw
Posted: November 6th, 2017, 4:29pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks Khamanna.

Great, thorough, notes as always! You have a very unique way of looking at stories and bring up questions I hadn't thought to ask myself. It's a pleasure to have you look at a script, so thanks again!

If you skip to the end of the script  it  might address some of your questions about why things are happening the way they do. Or create more questions

Thanks yet again for the helpful notes!
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PrussianMosby
Posted: November 9th, 2017, 9:36am Report to Moderator
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Hey John, oopsy!!!,
Christopher it is and always has been :-) , I'm sorry man,,,

Since I left out Murderer's Row for obvious reasons, I'll read into this one and give some notes…

The title is perfect, extremely attractive for a family movie imo.

The logline reads super-generic, as - seen it/heard about it many times before… Perhaps you might want to give some more individual story-pointers to your pitch there, to let them distinguish the plot from other "train a deputy Santa" stories…

P1 your specific interview concept isn't established well,
maybe repeating the "ornate chair" clears up that both elves are in same situation, being interviewed, separate, and that it's just another time

P2/p3 get some visuals in there, what's your vision of the toyroom? What could happen there, during their long conversation, that attracts the viewers' attention,,, and is there a possibility for entertainment?
As is, you mostly got mimics, gestures etc… from the characters already speaking. There should be more in the picture imo -- Elf suit is the first visual input here --

First four: I think it would be better to get a joke straight in there; giving that joke priority and rather letting the characterization of John (hating elf suits, candies etc etc) better be revealed as a sideline, behind humor and imagery. This approach would need a restructuring for sure, but I just think that what you bring across here could be equally perceived by us, if delivered in the background only, the background of something entertaining – which is in the foreground.

P5 "he is wearing"
There's a lot of "is this, is that"
Reads not active to me; better stay live with an active language… just my personal taste of course
You also lose a lot of speed.

far too many wrylies also hinder the flow…

p5/6 how the premise unfolds: "Santa goes to Hawaii" is super slow.  

P7 here are the first "clear" attempts on humor, I like that; you also end this scene with a nice question: who'd be the replacement… story gets a direction, nice

P9, 10 and 11 there you actually do far better in every case,
the characters start to reveal themselves through action, it's faster, active, and more entertaining, the story is moving…

Then you get back to long dialogue back and forth and it all slows down again.

Getting a balance between dialogue and action, more movement in the picture, is an absolute necessity that I miss so far.

Not overly positive of me, I know, but what do I know :) I just see a lot of hiccups in the script at the moment. Specifically when you write a plot for kids, give it more colors, quirks and actions in place of those overlong dialogues. Better try to compress things and work with the shortest possible punchlines, and go, go, go with the plot, gain speed and fun.

On the other side, the positive one, I definitely believe in the concept. Your title alone (again: perfect choice) and all these genre-typical characters: nerdy guy who becomes Santa, Santa says f*** off and goes to Hawaii, good elf/ bad elf – that all sounds very well founded. Cut everything that hinders the flow and acceleration of plot, better strenghen visual movement, produce short and clear concepts of jokes and punchlines -> rest should go imo, especially conversation-wise...

Hope my notes give some new input.

Btw, Which draft is this?

All best




@ re Dave, "SANTA (1737)", I believe it's meant that he actually is one thousand seven hundred years old; at least it's how interpreted that reference





Revision History (6 edits; 1 reasons shown)
PrussianMosby  -  November 9th, 2017, 11:34am
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eldave1
Posted: November 9th, 2017, 12:33pm Report to Moderator
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@ re Dave, "SANTA (1737)", I believe it's meant that he actually is one thousand seven hundred years old; at least it's how interpreted that reference[quote][/quote]

Ah - get it now - I would leave the age out since we all know that Santa is timeless


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Cacutshaw
Posted: November 9th, 2017, 1:54pm Report to Moderator
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Oops. Forgot to mention eldave that the 1737 is a hilarious joke about Santa's age! Where are they gonna find an actor who's 1737 years old, I ask you? And the old adage that jokes are even funnier when you explain them is proven true once again!

Thanks a ton for your notes PrussianMosby. This really is only the second draft. I wrote the first one when I was editing Hallmark Christmas movies and was a little dismayed that none of them were embracing the goofy charm of Christmas. So the first draft was much more a "Hallmark" film that added the fun elements of Christmas to a  love story (eg. It was more sentimental about Patty and her father's relationship, Heather and Rick's "will they or won't they" was the big event at the end rather than battling Castle and Jimmy Knuckles) and I hated it. So I went back and tried to make it sillier and I liked it a lot more.

I like dialogue driven comedy a lot and that was my intent with a lot of the scenes. John being dry like Blackadder (though not near as evil though I do have his say he has a "cunning plan" at one point) and Rick being a lovable goof that John had to put up with (not quite a Baldrick). However, if the dialogue isn't coming off as funny that is a big concern. Maybe time to rethink that.

On the next rewrite I'll definitely have to give the action blocks a lot of work and maybe get a bit more visual with the comedy.

Thanks again. Awesome feedback all!


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PrussianMosby
Posted: November 9th, 2017, 2:38pm Report to Moderator
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Re dialogue: Well, I need to clear up it's not that it's not funny (the Shaq joke and some others definitely landed).

In fact I'm actually convinced in such kind of flick there should be many dialogue-driven scenes. Probably my issue is that I for my taste want to get to know the character through their actions first, and also learn the dramatic situation they're in, "before" I follow attentively and engaged what they talk, how they talk, and observe every nuance they babble so that they can make me smile and feel with them, laugh about them.

We haven't indentified with them enough yet imo. I can remember so many times when an elf enters this glorious toy factory from several movies. They then shouldn't mainly stay face to face and talk within your very first sequence, what it feels like here. Elf suit yes no candy no yes no… Christmas good no.

More show so to say… how can they show, fast and direct. When we're familiar with them it's easier to connect with conversations.


But that's just my opinion, perhaps I'm wrong.



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Cacutshaw
Posted: November 9th, 2017, 4:17pm Report to Moderator
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Yeah, I thought that may be a problem.

I wanted to throw the audience into an average workday at the Toy Factory, like The Office, and then reveal things about the characters as the movie goes on. Like the audience realizes John loves making children happy when he smiles at the screaming kids in the lineup to see Santa or that Rick isn't such a moron when it comes to the ones he cares about.

Maybe if I don't "jump" right into the "Santa's on Vacation" storyline and stick with what is actually an average workday for John, it might help the audience connect with him before he goes into panic and stress mode.

Thanks! You notes will definitely be worked into the rewrite!
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