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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Comedy Scripts  ›  Peach State Moderators: bert
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  Author    Peach State  (currently 788 views)
Don
Posted: April 2nd, 2019, 3:23pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Peach State by Matthew Gayles - Comedy - A washed up actress returns to her hometown to film a movie, but when the lead actor goes missing she becomes the only person who can save him. 115 pages - pdf format

Writer interested in feedback on this work



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AlsoBen
Posted: April 14th, 2019, 6:35am Report to Moderator
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Hey Matthew, are you on the boards? I took a quick look at this based off the simple sounding premise. If you let me know you're interested, I'm happy to read some more and give you my thoughts.

From what I've read, it's very efficient and technically fine. But let's have a look at this opening. Savanna meets Jeff, the Harvey Weinstein type guy, trying to get herself into his next big film. I think this would work so much better if Savanna already knew that it was being filmed in her home town, just for efficiency's sake. So you can pretty much jump right into "she's got the part" and you've got an early hook, that way. Other thoughts - Jeff being  really knowledgeable about random historical facts of the hometown feels odd to me. I thought he was a studio exec at first - you just call him a "big deal" in your desc "- but now, with his level of creative interest, is he the director?

Basically, everything up to the flashback is - as I said - efficient in getting us there for narrative purposes. But it's really on the nose dialogue wise and is too convenient and not really a funny enough hook for a comedy opener. Think about the potential, comedically, for how that could work: you have the director or whatever who obviously wants a REAL southerner for the role, and Savanna - who is at least famous enough that people, take her photo  and she steps out a Benz - who has turned fully L.A but wants the role badly. You've sidestepped the tension!

Also, any particular reason it's set in 2016? Is there going to be some #metoo stuff or are you trying to avoid it entirely?

Anyway, if you're on the board to hear feedback, let me know, or ask Don to make you an account so you can.  What I've said so far sounds hyper critical but I knew I was only going to read the hook today, so I over-analysed.



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MGayles
Posted: April 15th, 2019, 11:46am Report to Moderator
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I wouldn’t mind some extra feedback on my script. Please read the whole thing if you really want.
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LC
Posted: April 16th, 2019, 5:57am Report to Moderator
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Do you like to eat pie after a good movie?

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Matthew, perhaps you might want to do a script exchange with Ben?

Ben has a WIP here:

https://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-workinprogress/m-1555165469/s-new/

And, SS relies on a quid pro quo system - i.e., you offer feedback and get it in return.
Just a thought...

Welcome to SS. Hope to see you get more involved.  


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MGayles
Posted: April 16th, 2019, 4:37pm Report to Moderator
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sounds fair. I read his script and he reads mine. You got it.
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AlsoBen
Posted: April 17th, 2019, 2:41am Report to Moderator
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What I wanted to find out, Matthew, is if you're on the board to take feedback legitimately. SS does rely on everybody being engaged (or no script would ever get read) but there's plenty of scripts on every page of this board marked "writer interested in feedback" to which they never reply.  You don't necessrily have to exchange my read of this for your read of my WIP (thank you, though, LC), but go through the board and constructively write some thoughts on someone's script who interest you.

Since you have appeared from the ether, I will give this a read and comment later tonight or tomorrow.


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MGayles
Posted: April 17th, 2019, 9:26am Report to Moderator
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I already started reading your incest script. Got to the scene with the social workers. Will read more later.
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AlsoBen
Posted: April 18th, 2019, 12:51am Report to Moderator
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Quoted Text
your incest script


Hahaha I love that you've referred to it that way. You really don't fuck around.

As I said, I have some downtime nowish. I'm going to keep reading as much as I can and just give you some thoughts. Good job making an account and getting involved.


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AlsoBen
Posted: April 18th, 2019, 1:27am Report to Moderator
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Pg 6 - Nothing wrong with using V.O, especially for a flashback. But when you V.O something that could be explained on screen like her dad being a preacher, against "sinful" movies, etc, its a bit of a no-no for me. A quick shot of him reading the bible (idk what religious people do), followed by Savanna hiding the tape and the implied belting, plus he V.O "we dont talk much" says more than enough. Also, this is a particularly horrific scene for the first six pages of a comedy.

Pg 7 - Goldman asks what Savannah has done since her show's been off the air when earlier he knows she was in a few indie flicks.

Pg 7/8 - ISIS joke/reveal. Idk. It's a funny concept. I like how you've built up this big "confrontation" whatever where Savannah's gotta beg for the job, and then she just drops this bomb, but it's ruined by the flashback in the middle. Some ideas - build big on Savannah's desperation for the role, and Goldman being set on this other chick. Lots of back and forth. Savannah deseperate, then, when it's clea she has no other option: the reveal. Also, ISIS supporters by default would not be fans of Israel.
The flashback then makes more sense as it happens alongside arrival to hoemtown

Pg 13 - Why does she add "in his penis"? Is she joking? Savannah has literally never made a joke the entire script, plus before your insert of Shane's party she didn't know anything about his ways

Pg 15 - OK. I think I'm figuring out what the underlying "thing" is here that's bothering me. Over and over again, your characters just...say what they gotta say. By that I mean, Savannah approaches the hot shot director and criticizes the filming schedule. For someone willing to either lie or divulge a pretty big secret about someone being an actual terrorist for this role, Savannah lacks any self awareness or timidity.

I'll point out a line that you've written well that serve it's purpose and is FILLED with subtext, from the director: "Before I met Shane, I was making porn in the valley, so I would say yes, I'm living the dream." This is a good line because - it establishes the director as someone willing to do something "shady" to get his career going; it establishes the set's dependence on Shane, and it's a quick quip. But you have a back and forth BEFORE that where the director just SAYS we have to work around Shane. Show us - as you've done - that the star is unmanageable, unworkable, a partier, and show us how it affects the set. Then maybe use one or two lines - like the one I highlighted - to point out the current situation.

"She watches the marathon until she falls asleep." Seconds? Hours?

I'm up to page 21. You've got a scene where Shane is in deep shit, getting robbed, and now I'm with some guy named Josh and he's busted dealing.

Page 24 - tonally, we've way shifted. I don't mind introducing a new set of characters. Oh wait, Josh knows Savannah. And we've shifted tonally back. Again, this whole exchange on pg 26 right after the flashback where Josh straight up says something about his embarrassment at the whole engagement being called off, then Savannah justifies it, back and forth. You don't need this right away! Leave us dangling with their history. We figured Savannah would have someone she knew in town, and you've just told us a huge story in two or three lines. No one so far saves any thought for their internal monologue and there's no subtext. This whole reunion could be done with a "Oh...hey. How's the acting?" "here for a movie. Blah blah" laugh laugh "well guess the NFL didn't work out for me". or whatever

I've read what looks to be the beginning of your second act, so I'll try to finish it. Line by line criticism always looks especially harsh, but you've done a good job, as I said, putting a plot in place. There's some saying about starting a scene a little too late, and ending it a little too early. It's like all your scenes are in the right spots (few exceptions), but they start too early and lead to long exchanges - like Josh and the bartender, or Josh and the cop, or Savannah, and the director - where character literally just say words they are thinking to move plot forward. Treat the reader like they are clever, when it comes to dialogue, because we are all humans and we all know that we don't say exactly what we want, think or remember.

EDIT: I think I just want to "sum up" my key point so far (there's some little stuff to I pointed out, that nbd). As said, the big problem I'm having is your dialogue. And that's not to even to say it doesn't read "as a person would say". Good dialogue in a script doesn't mean that it sounds like a real person would say it. Most real people talk like shit, have no vocab, no expression. Good dialogue in a screenplay does this:

- It isn't "on the nose". This means, like I said, it isn't said just because it's the easiest way to establish a plot or character point. OTN dialogue would be "Jenny's a hoarder". Showing her house filled with crap does the same thing. People watch movies and images are your tools.
- Confusingly, it is also purposeful. I'm guilty of not doing this. I just like writing scenes where interesting people talk. You might have watched some classic movies by particular writers where characters just talk and it's not relevant to the plot. Don't do this, or don't do it for more than one or two lines. Again, all of these are on the provision you can't use visuals to do it, but dialogue should only be used to establish plot, theme, character, or a joke (in comedy). If you can do all of that in one dialogue, great job (I can't). I'm going to think of some examples of great screenplay dialogue for you to read, but in the meantime, I hope this makes sense. Again, as I said, I'm as guilty as you of some of these -- that's why we're posting on a forum on the internet instead of showing our scripts to famous people and hashtagging #metoo.



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AlsoBen  -  April 18th, 2019, 1:47am
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MGayles
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They haven't seen each other since the marriage proposal. I think that's the first thing they would talk about. Maybe that's just me ... idk.

Anyways ... keep it coming.
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MGayles
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so my characters should just shoot the shit for a few lines or something, even though they have nothing to talk about? Your advice is a little confusing. Josh and the cop have nothing to talk about besides, "license and registration, you've got weed in the car, here's the bribe."
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AlsoBen
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Quoted Text
hey haven't seen each other since the marriage proposal. I think that's the first thing they would talk about. Maybe that's just me ... idk.


Maybe we are different people, but if it's really been years (at least long enough for Savannah to establish herself elsewhere), it's odd for it come out the way it did. I'm not doubting it would be at the forefront of the character's minds - "OH SHIT I TURNED DOWN THIS GUYS ENGAGEMENT AND NOW I GOTTA TALK TO HIM" - but it didn't happen yesterday. I run into people from my past that did things to me, or I did crazy shit to them, years ago. Almost all of this time, it doesn't come up as one of the first things said. In a script, you can use a combo of ure flashbacks (if you want to keep them) and some very subtextual lines ("so...how are things in town since..." him: "since when? our last "chat", or when you left?"). Idk that's a shitty example, but your characters are allowed to feel those things, but we can still see them without them expressing it so obviously.


Quoted Text
so my characters should just shoot the shit for a few lines or something, even though they have nothing to talk about? Your advice is a little confusing. Josh and the cop have nothing to talk about besides, "license and registration, you've got weed in the car, here's the bribe."


What character specifically? Characters shouldn't be shooting the shit on screen unless it's relevant. My advice was the opposite of that: it seemed like every conversation and every exchange was fully geared towards plot movements. The cop scene is a hard example, and I'm not able to re-read it at this time, but basically what I'm saying is that you're in some "southern" town full of gossip and histories, rejected proposals - have fun with the dialogue. Even if it's a little stereotypical, isn't the whole "Southern Charm" of saying nothing while IMPLYING a lot very fun to write?

I'm going to link you to a produced script for an example of "subtext", because it's hard to describe. Matthew Weiner, sexual assault rumours aside, LOVED to write dialogue that implies lots but said NOTHING directly:

http://leethomson.myzen.co.uk/Mad_Men/Mad_Men_1x01_-_Smoke_Gets_in_Your_Eyes.pdf

Just in the first scene with Don and the Busboy, and the Busboy's boss. No one says anything remotely racist, or even approaching hostility. But we get an implication of the time's absolute disregard for black people, especially those in white establishments, in a  few key ways:

- the black busboy being initilly flustered by having to engage Don. he doesn't need to say "I'm going to get into trouble" - we figure this out
- Then the black guy's boss, the bartender, says this: "Is Sam here bothering you? He can be a little chatty." First of all, we all know EXACTLY whats going on. "Shut this black service dude up and keep him away from the customers." is the implication. It also helps establish Don's character/attitude towards that he WANTS to speaks to Sam, as early as page four. And not a single character says a word about race! Now that's subtext, and that's how I learned/am learning it - reading it.


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AlsoBen
Posted: April 20th, 2019, 2:51am Report to Moderator
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None of this is meant to be discouraging, by the way. You wrote a feature length screenplay that is technically correct, readable, and engaging. You have a protagonist with a clear conflict established and you've also got an interesting setting. I've read lots of spec scripts on here and elsewhere where people don't do some or any of these things - you're ahead of the curve.

I'm writing line-by-line feedback which, by nature, is not strengths-based. I used to have a boss who told me her theory for providing feedback on the job effectively as "the sandwich method". You sandwich a criticism between two things you liked or didn't see the need for improvement on. I don't have that option for the way I'm reviewing your script, but it doesn't mean it's all crap -- it would just be pointless for me to highlight like "pg. 11 - loved this exchange". etc


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MGayles
Posted: April 20th, 2019, 8:49am Report to Moderator
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lol I just watched that episode of mad men last night on Netflix lol
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AlsoBen
Posted: April 21st, 2019, 12:41am Report to Moderator
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It's a great show, and like I said re: subtext (especially in later seasons), the writer's use it A LOT. To the point of parody.


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