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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Comedy Scripts  ›  Planet What? Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: January 25th, 2018, 7:10pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Planet What? by Doug Pike - Comedy, Sci Fi -A crew of four, dense, incompatible astronauts crash land, far in the future--but on what planet? 95 pages

contests:Finalist 17th Annual FilmMakers International Screenwriting Awards

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Don  -  April 29th, 2019, 3:45pm
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Nolan
Posted: February 20th, 2018, 5:27pm Report to Moderator
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Doug,

I've been meaning to read this for a while and finally got a chance today.  

Gotta say, I love the off-beat, spoof kind of comedy.  The main characters were all great!  I had some good chuckles at the dialogue.

Despite that, there are a few things I would point out though, because why else do we as writers post scripts here

Out of the four main characters I really thought that Dick was going to be the main guy we'd be following, just based on how you opened up with his family and wife.  But it really never happened that way.  There didn't seem to be much of a point with his family being in the opening scenes, in my opinion.  And, they were never mentioned again until much later in the story when his wife ends up in the same place he was, and then poof!  She's gone again, never to be seen.  

The other groups of astronauts didn't seem to serve much of a purpose.  The Brits could have been used much better.  Even the scheme they had hatched up did nothing for them in the end.  And the Japanese in the end of the film seemed to serve no purpose to the story at all.  They were just... there.  And it was only because they went through the same thing the American astronauts did.  

I would personally focus more on the Americans who land at the beginning of the story, and stick with them rather than introducing the other factions.  If I was to keep either the Brits or the Japanese, I would stick more with the Brits, but give them more of a point.  Maybe even have them be the main bad guys of the story.  

I thought the other characters were great.  There was some really great dialogue that I could see getting some good laughs with the right actors.  

And just a few points as to the introduction of the characters.  1) You introduce a bunch of OFFICERS on the first page, and I'm assuming one of them is Colonel Mansfield?  You never introduced him by name, just by OFFICERS.  2) On page 5 you have all the astronauts names in capitals during the Newscaster's dialogue, yet none of them are actually on screen until page 6... or are they?  I don't know.  3) You first introduce Kinkle as OLD MAN, then have him introduce himself quite a few lines in, then you write him down as Kinkle from there.  I'd personally just start with him as Kinkle.  4)  On page 55 you introduce the British astronauts, just as MEN and WOMAN... yet they all have names when you have them speaking, or at least two of them do.  

And what is MOS?  You used it a few times and I'm completely baffled as to what it means.  I figure it's something Off Screen, but I can't figure out what the M stands for.  I've never seen it.

Anyhow, that's all I've got for you.  I did find it funny, and I think in the right hands it would be great.  It's something I'd certainly watch.

Good luck with it!

Nolan


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FrankM
Posted: February 25th, 2018, 2:59am Report to Moderator
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Hi Doug!

I liked this off-the-wall story. Nice to see sci-fi that doesn't take itself too seriously

First, some observations on the formatting and presentation.
The first scene is full of on-the-nose dialogue. That gets smoothed out over time with re-writing.

As far as I'm aware, characters are CAPPED when they are first seen or heard, not when they are first mentioned. Putting a bit of dialogue in CAPS indicates emphasis.

The SHEET OF PAPER shot should be INSERT: SHEET OF PAPER (this gives the director some leeway as to what else might be visible, though in this case probably just Dick's hand and the floor). There are a number of other shots that end with BACK TO SCENE, and each should start with INSERT. Some shorter ones might be able to go with just an inline FOCUS, FAVOR or INTO VIEW rather than carve out a sub-scene.

I tried to look up what MOS means, and it's supposed to be an abbreviation for a "silent" scene that might get sound in post-production, but nothing recorded on-set. In context, it seems like you mean that the whispers and so on are indistinct. So long as you don't write what is whispered, it's understood that it's indistinct, and the director should have the actor just go "pst-pst-pst" or "rutabaga rutabaga."

Typo on page 23: "flee" instead of "flea."

On page 29-30, Elliot's explanation should be an actual flashback with Elliot's voice-over. Then Elliot can correct a detail, replaying a bit of the flashback. He can even admit to being fuzzy on a detail or two. Then the Broccoli Incident with the first wife can be shown mentioned as now, or shown as a brief image that speaks to an even sillier coincidence.

Similarly, the Really Bad Day could be shown on page 44.

The combat suddenly got a lot more gory at the "Exit" door on page 51. I'd recommend making the combat more... comical. As it is, it seems like you're intercutting between a comedy film and a low-budget sci-fi action movie.

A slug ending in MINUTES LATER doesn't really mean anything unless there's a clock on the wall, a visible hourglass, burning cigarette, etc. to show roughly how much time has passed. However, it seems pretty obvious in context that only a short time has elapsed without being explicit.

On page 82 (and probably other places I didn't notice), numbers in dialogue should be spelled out. That way the actor knows if you want "nineteen fifty-five" or "one nine five five."

On page 91, you either need a SUPER to indicate that two months have passed, or could try to be more subtle describing a change of season.

Now, about the story.
First, I don't understand comic timing and would not presume to tell you how to make this story funnier. But the physical comedy elements seem to fade away after the crash landing... would have appreciated seeing that keep up throughout the story.

The military generally doesn't allow smoking in operations floors like those shown in the opening scene. If Officer #1 is a general of some sort, soldiers would refer to him as "General" not "Sir."

The ruling of suicide seemed a real non-sequitur even for a comedy. Maybe Krinkle never liked him and, after determining the guilty party to his satisfaction, gives that person a reward.

You can make wine out of radishes. Just sayin'.

I got a bit lost toward the end. I agree with Nolan that the Brits and Japanese don't seem to serve much function other than making energy ribbon landings seem routine. If that's the case, there should be a landing as the Yanks set out on their assault, which they brush off as a distraction. During the intervening two months, of course, other landings occur. These can be lost explorers from history (see if you can be less obvious than Amelia Earhart), and if you'd like to play fast and loose with copyright, Solomon Epstein from The Expanse.

What did Elliot find in the last scene? If that was some kind of reference then I didn't get it.

Hope to see where this goes. Good luck!



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