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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Comedy Scripts  ›  In Search of Hysterical Jesus Moderators: bert
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  Author    In Search of Hysterical Jesus  (currently 2993 views)
eldave1
Posted: January 8th, 2019, 6:30pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from MarkRenshaw
Well done on writing this feature, Dave. It's always an achievement to get FADE OUT done on such a massive effort. Below are the notes I typed as I was reading so you know exactly what my frame of mind was at each page.


Thanks so much for reading, Mark.


Quoted Text
Page 2 - parentheticals (at Booker) there's no one else in the room and Barry is interacting with the dog, I don't think the parentheticals are needed. There's a lot of parentheticals throughout. Personal preference I know, I avoid them like the plague unless absolutely necessary simply because I know actors hate them. This shouldn't affect any screenwriting competition though.


I don't mind parentheticals and try to limit them to physical movements. Here, I wasn't sure if the reader would be confused without it - i.e., they may think he's talking to himself.


Quoted Text
First few pages and I really dislike Barry. Is that intentional? I've no idea why he's being such an ass. Probably these guys deserve it but I don't know why. Page 10, oh, he loves her? Weird.


Barry is supposed to be an ass.  


Quoted Text
If I were giving this script an evaluation and reached page 10, I'm 50/50 if I would carry on. It's well written, but 10 minutes of Barry being a dick and flaunting the fact that the law can't touch him may not be enough for me to want to continue. But I will! Also, I do realise this kind of setup can work perfectly. Bill Murray in Scrooged for example. The thing with that example is everyone expects Scrooge to be nasty.


Don't know what to say. He is supposed to be unlikable - he's literally going to hell. Scrooge is a good example. Melvin in "As Good As it Gets" is another. I think the story doesn't work if he is likeable.


Quoted Text
Page 12 - the dog bowls - This gag, the same one was used in season 1 of the Good Place. Not suggesting you copied it, just that The Good Place is going to be an obvious comparison due to the source material.


I have never seen this show and this came out of my head - but if the scene is similar to mine, that is a real concern. I'll check it out. Much thanks for pointing it out.


Quoted Text
Barry's death scene feels like it's missing something. I'm not even sure what, maybe it's rushed? Dunno, but it's missing something. It feels wrong.


Will take a look at it.


Quoted Text
You can streamline some of the action. For example, page 19 - "Barry reaches in his pocket, retrieves the pack of smokes and hands them to Saint Peter." It reads like giving instructions to an actor robot fashion. Considering the action and dialogue above this, something as simple as "He hands them over." would suffice.


Will look at this.


Quoted Text
I'm enjoying the banter with St Peter. The DMV and IRS lol. I'm just wondering, why Barry is getting personal attention from Peter? Or does everyone entering heaven get their own personal Peter? I see all the workstations are manned by a Peter, so maybe everyone has a Peter with them like a virtual app? It makes the scene so expensive it probably blows most budgets but if you are gonna aim high, aim higher!


It's a dream - sort of - so I didn't really worry about routine logistical issues - pretty much thought I could go anywhere I want.


Quoted Text
The chat with God is a little cliche. I'd suggest giving god form, something ridiculous. Like a turnip. Well, maybe not a turnip but something we don't expect, something that Barry can't take seriously. At the moment it makes zero sense why Barry is being given any special treatment (which maybe is the point) but it would help if we could see that there is something wrong and Barry is maybe in a position to help. What if God had forgotten how to do humour or never had that capability and the only reason he keeps humans around is because they make him laugh but he's incapable of humour, he can just mimic what humans do. It puzzles him and Barry is the conduit of God's attempts to solve the mystery.  Something like that anyway.


In terms of God's form - an interesting area of debate. I had  several ideas on what he would look like and ultimately abandoned them all and went with just a voice instead. I ultimately found it more compelling for the reader to insert any image that suits them.


Quoted Text
The Three Stooges is a funny scene. You could have a lot of fun reimagining bible scenes. Issac Asimov once had this idea to re-write the bible as a sci-fi. He only managed to re-write Genesis before giving up on the project but that's well worth a read if you can find it.


Thanks - I'll look for the Asimov thing - interesting.


Quoted Text
Barry & Jesus. The scene had its moments, particularly when they came across the sentries, but I did find myself drifting quite often with their chatter. It needs more umph, more action, more comedy that isn't relying on Barry's attempts at humour or Jesus misunderstanding him.


Don't agree here - but if people don't find this funny - then - yeah, I've probably failed.


Quoted Text
At this point, I still don't root for your protagonist. I don't particularly care if he ends up in the bad place and still don't understand why God is putting so much effort into redeeming him. I agree with all of Peter's comments about Barry.


Don't know what to say - he is suppose to be unlikable.


Quoted Text
I got to page 66 and my lunch break ran out but I've started skimming and drifting. I don't think any more notes from me will be useful. I'm going to call it there and offer the above in the hope that they are useful and helpful. Comedy is very subjective, so take my comments or leave them - they are offered freely.  


Thanks so much for the notes and the efforts. I truly appreciate them. I knew when I did this, it would have a wide range of reactions and am expecting some folks to hate it. It is important that I get all POVs on this. I value yours.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

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Warren
Posted: January 9th, 2019, 1:08am Report to Moderator
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Back to jump into this. Notes as I read. I'm hoping to do it in one sitting.

SPOILERS

Barry quite often comes off pretty stupid, which is a little hard to believe because he can't be a complete idiot if he has managed to forge a successful comedian career, one where he has a HBO gig.


Quoted Text
BARRY
Sharon...?
Peter turns, see what’s got Barry’s attention.
PETER
No - no. Mary of Magdala.
BARRY
How did Sharon get here?


He personally takes on the hard task of adding humour to the Bible, but fails to grasp pretty simple concepts, such as the one above. That might be his character, but for me it just felt a little too dim witted.

There are a few typos and unintentional double spaces. A suggestion if you don't already do it. I know you use Final Draft, I find the read-back feature really good for picking up typos that spell check misses.

Quick example:


Quoted Text
VOICES FROM THE MOB
Stone here! Stone her! Stone her!



Quoted Text
JEWISH ELDER
(holding up the coin)
Is it lawful of not? To pay Cesar
taxes?
J


Spell check isn't going to flag "here", but in the read back it will be pronounced "here" and you will know it's wrong immediately. Likewise with "of" being "or". Sometimes you can read the same incorrect word the same way 100 times, as we all know

Really liked this bit of dialogue, just damn good writing.


Quoted Text
JESUS
Perhaps a win-win. Cesar has a
right to mint coins with his image
and demand the return of those
coins. God has minted the human
soul. Cesar has no claim on that.
Offer your soul to God. Offer every
part of yourself to him as an
instrument of righteousness.


And I'm done.

So I remember from when I read Dark World you preferred I didn't dwell on the nit-picky stuff. So there is a few typos, etc that I haven't mentioned but they are there and need a clean.

Lots of the humour worked for me, the majority I would say, but some of it didn't. For me what didn't work the longer it went on was how idiotic Barry was, he says and does some really stupid things and I feel it takes maybe too long for his few redeeming characteristics to show through.

One other issue for me was that Barry and Jesus' relationship feels like it comes a bit out of no where. For over half the script Barry is screwing around, not taking anything too seriously, and seemingly not learning anything, then all of a sudden (at least that's how it felt to me) he's saying he loves Jesus and he's breaking down at the last supper. I feel their bond is underdeveloped. They do spend a lot of time together, I just think Barry's input should be more meaningful earlier on. This will remedy the two things that stuck out for me, Barry being too idiotic and building a more solid and caring relationship with Jesus.

All in all, its a fun read and a unique idea. The dialogue, as always, is a stand out.

I think with with a little massaging, and a tiny clean up this is going to be another winning script. But what do I know, I'm not the Page finalist

Congrats on another fine feature, Dave!


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Warren  -  January 9th, 2019, 7:33pm
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Dustin
Posted: January 9th, 2019, 2:59am Report to Moderator
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I've only ever read of screenwriting gurus claiming actors don't like parentheticals. The actors I've spoken to couldn't care less. They'll ignore them if they choose to anyway. Just as directors will feel free to ignore large sections of your story, or even 'improve' it in certain ways.

We should write our stories in the way we believe they should be written, not how another writer thinks they should be.

I'll try and find some time to read this. In the meantime, good luck.


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MarkRenshaw
Posted: January 9th, 2019, 3:30am Report to Moderator
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Dustin - personal preference aside I'm quoting actors I've worked with (indie unknown actors I admit) but I've also attended several screenwriting classes run by famous actors in which they go into detail about what they look for in scripts. It's not just actors, but their agents read the script first. Agents know what their actors like and dislike and many scripts don't get to their clients if certain elements are included or missing!

Dave - I didn't hate the script. I see great potential. It is just hard work at the moment when you've been so effective in making the reader dislike the main character. I think with a polish and some tweaks this could be amazing.


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GregoryM
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I read the whole script. I think its very clever in its approach, but I think theres a few issues which can be worked on to make it better.

Most importantly is barrys relationship with jesus. At the moment the script feels very 'surfacey' like the sarcasm and quips of barry are entertaining enough to carry interest through jesus' journey, there isnt enough realism or gravitas to help foster an environment where a real bond can form between the two of them. When he tells god hed rather him die than jesus at the last supper it feels unearned and thus rings false. Like its not that we dont believe him and think hes lying to god just to get what he wants. But it feels like since there was never any threats present or major road blocks which made us feel like barry or jesus wouod fail that their relationship ends up feeling a little one sided in the end.

There was this feeling of impending obviousness to the ending. Everyone knows what happens to jesus. We could all guess what would ultimately happen to barry. Ita difficult to create doubt when the story is so well known so its an uphill battle and a problem thats not easily solved

I think you need create a b story here and figure out a way to get ahead of the reader. Sacrifice some ofnthe humor for darkness and maybe shift the jesis character from being a charicature of himself to beinf something more real. Jesus portrayal feels like a cutout of quotes from the bible which was itself written by other people so many times, that by the time it reaches the script it feels one note and played out.

Solutions: maybe try shortening the time frame which the jesus story takes place in. Lose pages by getting to jesus faster and lose some of the jokes and fluff dialogue (which may seem counterintuitive)

My instinct is that if barry is sent by god to jesus not for barrys benefit but for Jesus' benefit to save jesus from the temptation of satan, then youd have enough for a b plot that adds enough complexity to the story and allows for you to play with irony. Make barry save himself by saving jesus so jesus can save barry by saving mankind. Ditch the i cant take it anymore take me instead revelation and try to find something real in there. Right now it feels stale and barry isnt believable and there isnt enough emotion. Create additional drama and complexity by reimagining jesus as a flawed individual struggling with himself and allow barry to 'find him' by trying to help jesus become the person barry believes he should be.

Just my 2 cents. Apologies for typos this was written on my phone.
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Dustin
Posted: January 9th, 2019, 4:05am Report to Moderator
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The only place I've ever heard of a complaint in this area is from other writers that claim actors believe this. I used to parrot this information too, but in my actual experiences with real actors (not just unknown ones), parentheticals are not an issue at all. It's just words on a page that serve as a guide. They can be ignored. Indeed, the director may even decide to shoot the same scene using a variety of tones. However, as far as I know, the writer's intentions will usually be considered first.


Rejecting scripts due to parentheticals does not make good business sense, so we're better off not working with them anyway. Mate, those classes you paid for are a load of bollocks. Actors, giving lectures on screenwriting? Come on. That would be like me giving a lecture on acting. I can't believe you sucked that bullshit in and paid for it. Why? You're a great writer. Seriously. You don't need to pay for bad advice like that.


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GregoryM
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Regarding parentheticals. I dont understand why they're being discussed in this thread. The script uses them for function and clarity. Who the person is talking to when it might be confusing. Or to clarify sarcasm when it might be missed. And sometimes for pauses in lieu of a beat. Or for brief actions when interrupting dialoue is wasteful. All perfectly acceptable and efficient uses of parentheticals. Id recommend checking out the Godfather script which employs heavy use of parentheticals for action quite effectively.

That being said, id swap 'at' for 'to'

Instead of 'at Booker' make it 'to Booker'

But i dont think it matters either way.
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GM
Posted: January 9th, 2019, 8:34am Report to Moderator
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David

Spoilers!

Something occurred to me: if the story is focused on Barry getting over Sharon, why not have Sharon as Jesus? Sharon and Jesus are alike in their messages such as “letting go and merciful”. It’ll also create some interesting dialogue exchanges.

Gabe
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Matthew Taylor
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Hi David

I managed to grab a few more pages at work today.
I have jotted down thoughts and feelings as I have gone, so they may not make sense, or they could be completely wrong lol Who knows

I am up to page 33 - So my notes only cover those

Up to pg 10, I don't hate Barry. He is an arsehole, but he's a lovable arsehole - You can see the good there, loving his dog, his mutually respectful interaction with the police     
Strikes me as a good guy gone astray
     
I really like your dialogue so far, a strong point. The "I still love her" line seemed a little bit, honest, kind of like he is wearing his heart on his sleeve which didn't fit with what I have seen of him so far
     
The Catholics and children joke in his stand up - This joke was met with silence and audience being uncomfortable - In my experience watching stand up, this would be met with laughter followed by "ooo"
I have heard lot's of these jokes on stage, and they are met that way, but not silence - I guess it depends on the make up of the audience and the location of the stand up
Addition to the above - Is this his stand up show? As in, the audience knew who they were buying tickets for. If so, they know what type of jokes he does. Anyone buying a ticket for Frankie Boyle won't be offended by the things he says, as they know it is coming.
Anyway this is a small point and doesn't affect the story any
     
Don't like the description of Saint Peter being a skinny Santa Claus. I'm guessing you mean the face and white beard, but now I keep picturing him in a red Santa suit
     
I find some of the parenthetical unnecessary (a lot of them are necessary) - Ones such as (remembering) and (re:himself) I already get those from the context and dialogue.
     
Pg 18 - randomly a character called ASSISTANT speaks, think this should be Saint Peter
     
The montage could have been funnier I thought - what was he doodling in the bible? What was the comic book, could it have been a seriously inappropriate one?
     
I think I am a little disappointed that you went with the typical fluffy white clouds and pearly gates form of heaven - Was hoping for something different, but that's just me.
     
I like the multiple Saint Peters - and on a plus side, if this gets made, they will only have to hire 1 actor lol
     
I like that the script is littered with characters using God's name in vain - I am assuming this was intentional
     
Two jokes in his test paper killed me - the Able one and the created man before woman one.
     
Character wise - I am liking Barry more and more, seems like the kind of guy who hides his true feelings behind jokes. Hopefully later on, his barrier of jokes is broken down and more about him is revealed, We shall see
     
Getting confused about your God character - at times his dialogue is dry and to the point, then he throws out jokes and sarcasm - can't get a good feel for him.

I am still really enjoying this. Will read more when I get the chance


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Nolan
Posted: January 9th, 2019, 9:51am Report to Moderator
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Dave,

Finished this today.  Overall I enjoyed it.  After reviewing some of the other comments I can reiterate what a few others have said about Barry's redeeming qualities coming through a little late.  

Comedy is subjective, which we all know, so this will work more for some than it will for others.  In saying that, there were definitely some moments where I had a good laugh!  

**Spoilers**

After the introduction of Jesus, and especially when he went back to talk to God a few times, it was quite apparent that he wasn't going to reach his objective and it was obvious that the story was more about his redemption.  When I knew that was coming on, I was able to just enjoy the story and not dwell on him trying to make the bible funny.  Not sure if that was what you were going for, but I have an assumption that it may have been???

Anyhow, as always, well written and I thought it was a fun story.

All the best,

Nolan
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denamckinnon
Posted: January 9th, 2019, 9:52am Report to Moderator
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I love this title. I love this concept.

Before even reading the script, I think this is VERY marketable Dave. Even as a limited series. Netflix and others are gobbling them up in 2019... gonna be a good year I think.

Best of luck with this one!
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eldave1
Posted: January 9th, 2019, 11:46am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Warren
Back to jump into this. Notes as I read. I'm hoping to do it in one sitting.


Thanks for the read, mate - as always - grateful for the time.

SPOILERS


Quoted Text
Barry quite often comes off pretty stupid, which is a little hard to believe because he can't be a complete idiot if he has managed to forge a successful comedian career, one where he has a HBO gig.


Interesting point. A lot of the humor stems from his ignorance. But one can be ignorant without being stupid (hope that makes sense).  So I'll take another look at the dim-witted vs ignorant parts. i.e., the goal is for an ignorant character - not  a dumb one.

Ironically, I am currently working on another draft of this where Barry is really smart (think a cross between Christopher Hitchens and Bill Burr).  Want to write some jokes from that perspective. At the end of the day I will probably end up with a mish-mash of the two.


Quoted Text
There are a few typos and unintentional double spaces. A suggestion if you don't already do it. I know you use Final Draft, I find the read-back feature really good for picking up typos that spell check misses.


Great idea - thanks.


Quoted Text
Lots of the humour worked for me, the majority I would say, but some of it didn't. For me what didn't work the longer it went on was how idiotic Barry was, he says and does some really stupid things and I feel it takes maybe too long for his few redeeming characteristics to show through.


See above response



Quoted Text
One other issue for me was that Barry and Jesus' relationship feels like it comes a bit out of no where. For over half the script Barry is screwing around, not taking anything too seriously, and seemingly not learning anything, then all of a sudden (at least that's how it felt to me) he's saying he loves Jesus and he's breaking down at the last supper. I feel their bond is underdeveloped. The do spend a lot of time together, I just think Barry's input should be more meaningful earlier on. This will remedy the two things that stuck out for me, Barry being too idiotic and building a more solid and caring relationship with Jesus.


My wife had the same issue. The way she put it as they start off as strangers - they need to becomes friends sooner. Will look at it.


Quoted Text
All in all, its a fun read and a unique idea. The dialogue, as always, is a stand out.

I think with with a little massaging, and a tiny clean up this is going to be another winning script. But what do I know, I'm not the Page finalist

Congrats on another fine feature, Dave!


Thanks, Warren and thanks for weighing in.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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eldave1
Posted: January 9th, 2019, 11:47am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Dustin
I've only ever read of screenwriting gurus claiming actors don't like parentheticals. The actors I've spoken to couldn't care less. They'll ignore them if they choose to anyway. Just as directors will feel free to ignore large sections of your story, or even 'improve' it in certain ways.

We should write our stories in the way we believe they should be written, not how another writer thinks they should be.

I'll try and find some time to read this. In the meantime, good luck.


Thanks, Dustin.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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eldave1
Posted: January 9th, 2019, 11:49am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from GM
David

Spoilers!

Something occurred to me: if the story is focused on Barry getting over Sharon, why not have Sharon as Jesus? Sharon and Jesus are alike in their messages such as “letting go and merciful”. It’ll also create some interesting dialogue exchanges.

Gabe


Interesting idea, Gabe - but too much of a stretch in my mind. On the other hand, might be interesting if he looked like Reverend Jackson - although I'd lose some nice Judas jokes


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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eldave1
Posted: January 9th, 2019, 11:53am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Matthew Taylor
Hi David

I managed to grab a few more pages at work today.
I have jotted down thoughts and feelings as I have gone, so they may not make sense, or they could be completely wrong lol Who knows

I am up to page 33 - So my notes only cover those

Up to pg 10, I don't hate Barry. He is an arsehole, but he's a lovable arsehole - You can see the good there, loving his dog, his mutually respectful interaction with the police     
Strikes me as a good guy gone astray
     
I really like your dialogue so far, a strong point. The "I still love her" line seemed a little bit, honest, kind of like he is wearing his heart on his sleeve which didn't fit with what I have seen of him so far
     
The Catholics and children joke in his stand up - This joke was met with silence and audience being uncomfortable - In my experience watching stand up, this would be met with laughter followed by "ooo"
I have heard lot's of these jokes on stage, and they are met that way, but not silence - I guess it depends on the make up of the audience and the location of the stand up
Addition to the above - Is this his stand up show? As in, the audience knew who they were buying tickets for. If so, they know what type of jokes he does. Anyone buying a ticket for Frankie Boyle won't be offended by the things he says, as they know it is coming.
Anyway this is a small point and doesn't affect the story any
     
Don't like the description of Saint Peter being a skinny Santa Claus. I'm guessing you mean the face and white beard, but now I keep picturing him in a red Santa suit
     
I find some of the parenthetical unnecessary (a lot of them are necessary) - Ones such as (remembering) and (re:himself) I already get those from the context and dialogue.
     
Pg 18 - randomly a character called ASSISTANT speaks, think this should be Saint Peter
     
The montage could have been funnier I thought - what was he doodling in the bible? What was the comic book, could it have been a seriously inappropriate one?
     
I think I am a little disappointed that you went with the typical fluffy white clouds and pearly gates form of heaven - Was hoping for something different, but that's just me.
     
I like the multiple Saint Peters - and on a plus side, if this gets made, they will only have to hire 1 actor lol
     
I like that the script is littered with characters using God's name in vain - I am assuming this was intentional
     
Two jokes in his test paper killed me - the Able one and the created man before woman one.
     
Character wise - I am liking Barry more and more, seems like the kind of guy who hides his true feelings behind jokes. Hopefully later on, his barrier of jokes is broken down and more about him is revealed, We shall see
     
Getting confused about your God character - at times his dialogue is dry and to the point, then he throws out jokes and sarcasm - can't get a good feel for him.

I am still really enjoying this. Will read more when I get the chance


Thanks, Matt. You raised a lot of food for thought here. Will definitely look at these in the re-write. I am for sure redoing the opening montage - my mind was just dry there.

Glad you liked what you liked.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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