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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Comedy Scripts  ›  Peach State Moderators: bert
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MGayles
Posted: April 23rd, 2019, 12:00am Report to Moderator
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anyone else want to give thoughts on my script? ill read yours in exchange!
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AlsoBen
Posted: April 23rd, 2019, 5:28am Report to Moderator
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You can request a script exchange here, or respond to someone else's:

https://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-goose/


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MGayles
Posted: April 23rd, 2019, 10:47pm Report to Moderator
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do you have any thoughts on the plot/themes/characters and how they're developed?
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Colkurtz8
Posted: May 3rd, 2019, 12:18pm Report to Moderator
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Matthew

This began in a promising fashion. It got straight in there, I dug its directness and lack of laborious set up. We meet Savanna and within that first few pages her motivations and goals are established.

However, the more I read, the more I realised that this absence of build up/scene setting also resulted in what eventually became the script main stumbling blocks; underdevelopment, aimlessness, implausibility.

Everything from the macro; dialogue, prose, character, plot to the micro; character dynamics within specific scenes got so muddled and nonsensical I found myself with raised eyebrows more often than not and simply asking ďWhy?Ē.

As I said to you, my page by page notes will highlight these in more detail. There were so many times where I was thrown for a loop, characters seemed to be talking about the wrong things, asking the wrong questions, fixating on the insignificant rather than dealing with the problems at hand.

The various situations that characters find themselves in, specifically Savanna and Josh, are contrived at best but even if we are to let that slide, itís how they work to overcome them which left me baffled at their stupidity/ridiculousness/wrongheadedness,etc. Some of these tight spots couldíve been greatly mitigated if not avoided altogether.

Fundamentally, the premise of a movie producer asking their lead actress to go look for the main star gone AWOL (possibly kidnapped by some rather dangerous people) because she is from the town (despite not having lived there for years) is absurd to begin with. Then the way in which she reacts to being pursued by said dangerous people makes no sense, her decision making to not inform the cops but instead try to make other family member snitch is ridiculous and poorly executed. (What happened Buck after being shot with the prop gun? We never know)

The central relationship between Josh and Savanna had me scratching my head to as I noted probably too many times. Their interactions were forced, unrealistic and again, didnít make a lot of sense. The fractious history between these two was sometimes addressed but often shrugged off like whatever, move on. Overall, I fell Savanna got off way too lightly after what she done to him while Josh was too much of a milquetoast, seemingly ready to forgive her and...become business partners? Huh?

The Wallace family too, and in particular Clayton, werenít near mean and low enough. They often talked too much and just didnít carry the level of intimidation they shouldíve. It was a classic case of their reputation flattering to deceive. This is particularly noticeable in Claytonís introductory scene which, while being tonally jarring (more on that later) is a formidable greeting for this character as he treats some nameless poor bastard like heís hunting game (I was reminded of that scene in The Jackal (1997 version) when Brice Willis does something similar to Jack Black) so Iím thinking this guy is a mean sonofabitch...but he never really capitalizes on that. Instead he turns out to be a rather talky, bland character that carries minimal threat.

Which leads me to my broad, overarching thoughts on the 3 areas of the script that need work...1. The prose. In short: You need more. What you have written is not so bad, itís relatively terse and lean. However, you need to consider what each character is doing in a scene, how they are feeling, what they want, what they are projecting. Film is a visual medium, use your prose to write visually, put us in the scene. Too many times we get a couple of lines at the start of a scene and thatís it. From then on, it just becomes long reams of dialogue. Which helps quicken the read but you sacrifice the readerís immersion in the script and what we are meant to be seeing on screen.

2. Dialogue. Too many times it felt, overly explanatory, padded, clunky and just plain dull. Just not how people talk in real life. It lacked authenticity. Each character seems to use just a few words too many to get their point across. There is very little subtext or suggestion. Pretty much everything a character is feeling is explicitly said, and a lot of time, I struggled to understand why they were feeling that way, why they were saying these words. Now, I have no issue with characters being direct and saying exactly whatís on their minds (Youíll find some people who think ďI love youĒ has no place in a script because its too blunt) but if every character is talking in the same, excessive, literal manner, it becomes tiresome. It lacks wit, humour and spark.

3. Tone. This is tied into everything Iíve mentioned already; dialogue, prose (or lack thereof) characterisation, plotting. I see this is in the comedy section here, and there are some moment of genuine humour as I noted but there is a lot of dark drama here too, gang violence, PTSD, drug abuse. Now, thatís fine, a comedy doesnít need to be wall-to-wall comedy to be successful but itís how these tones are interwoven and compliment or undercut each other that I really had problems with. As I said, this has got a lot to do with the dialogue, characterisation and skeletal prose in particular. There are many scenes and lines where I just wasnít sure if it was done for laughs or deadly serious. Something genuinely troubling would be happening before a character would make some ill-timed quip that felt so out of place it took me out of the read as well.

Other times it seems as though characters are talking about things that should be taken as a joke but there is no indication of it being tongue in cheek or ironic. They appear to be totally sincere so again Iím left confused as to how I should be responding. For example: Southside High, the film-within-the-film is referred to as a ďwonderful scriptĒ by Savanna yet the scenes we get of it make it seem anything but. So I donít know if you genuinely think itís a wonderful script, or if itís being played for laughs...or Savanna just has terrible judgement. Iím lost.

I mean, in general, itís all a bit silly, right? The whole premise...but Iím not sure if you know this. Sometimes I think you do and play to that (the Frank character is an example of this. He is obviously someone so stupid weíre meant to laugh at him. Savanna using a prop gun to take out a good is another) but then other times you play it completely straight. I was just never 100% sure which side we were getting in any given scene.

Anyway, Iím rambling on. Iím genuinely very curious to hear about your intentions with this. I might have been way off and totally misunderstood it.

Col.


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MGayles
Posted: May 3rd, 2019, 11:48pm Report to Moderator
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As for the tone, It's a crime comedy. There are dark parts but i don't want it to be taken seriously. And no, Southside High is not a good script (to me), it's meant to be cheesy and in the style of those high school dramas from the 90's that were so fucking lame (Dangerous Minds, Lean on Me etc). I'm playing it for laughs.

As for the dialog, can you give some more examples of it being too direct?
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Colkurtz8
Posted: May 7th, 2019, 3:42am Report to Moderator
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Matthew


Quoted from MGayles
As for the tone, It's a crime comedy. There are dark parts but i don't want it to be taken seriously.


Fair enough, in that case, I think it needs more comedy. Mixing tones can be difficult and its something I find myself particularly sensitive to, particularly on the page as there is more heavy lifting involved to convey these variations. This is where I think more prose would help. It will clue the reader into your intentions. Or maybe it's just me.



Quoted from MGayles
And no, Southside High is not a good script (to me), it's meant to be cheesy and in the style of those high school dramas from the 90's that were so fucking lame (Dangerous Minds, Lean on Me etc). I'm playing it for laughs.


Ok so Savanna really does have terrible judgement when it comes to choosing her projects? See, I thought that she was a half decent actress who just hadn't been given a fair opportunity at more prestigious films yet. Yes, she is only known for that cheesy sitcom but she subsequently went the independent route to hone her craft so that tells me she cares about the work

Also, would Rachel Morrow, a supposed big actress, be interested in such a terrible script? Yes, Michelle Pfeiffer was a big star then but is Dangerous Minds an the same "So bad it's good" level  as Southside High?


Quoted from MGayles
As for the dialog, can you give some more examples of it being too direct?


I would say most of the exchanges between Savanna and Josh when they start to talk about their past. Clayton, in particularly, rambles on too much when brevity would be far more effective, both as a crime boss and an intimidating character. I also noted several times during my page by page notes where the dialogue didn't read natural, was too long winded or just bizarrely off topic.

However, in light of you saying that this is intended to be more of a comedy maybe this was meant to be part of the humour.

Col.


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MGayles
Posted: May 7th, 2019, 5:35pm Report to Moderator
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The script is terrible to us, the audience. The characters involved in the project aren't aware of it. And bad scripts get made with multi million dollar budgets. Add a big star like Shane Woods and why wouldn't Savanna want to be in it?

Also, this entire script (Peach State not Southside High) is going through a massive rewrite. The entire first act is being reworked to focus on character. The opening scene is brand new. Savannas character is getting massive changes. I gave her a manager that works as her lackey and Josh has a daughter (guess who the mother is). And the whole "business partner" idea is being dropped. It never made much sense.

Structurally, the movie is going to be mostly the same in act two and three. I'm ditching the drug dealer and the pill bottle as a plot device. Ray is still the kidnapper, and his brother Clayton is still the main villain of the film.

I'd love to get your thoughts on the changes if you have the time. I'm 45 pages into the rewrite and I'd love to know you guys thoughts on it if you have the time to read it.

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Colkurtz8
Posted: May 8th, 2019, 12:07pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from MGayles
The script is terrible to us, the audience. The characters involved in the project aren't aware of it. And bad scripts get made with multi million dollar budgets. Add a big star like Shane Woods and why wouldn't Savanna want to be in it?


Fair enough.


Quoted from MGayles
I gave her a manager that works as her lackey and Josh has a daughter (guess who the mother is)


The lackey manager might provide some comic relief too by the sound of it.

Re: mother. Ummm, Savanna? Assuming she is, I'd be careful about that. She is already portrayed as a rather self centred and brusque character who cruelly bailed on her fiance and headed west. Add the fact that she abandoned her baby and you got a mountain to climb in terms of getting the audience on her side. Personally, I think it's a bold choice and certainly sets her up as a flawed person, that is far more interesting to me. I'm just saying you don't want to push too far in that direction where it's impossible to come back from.


Quoted from MGayles
And the whole "business partner" idea is being dropped. It never made much sense.


Agreed. Although it was a practical way to suggest that Josh wants her to stick around. At least that was how I read it...but then, given their history, it makes you wonder why Josh would want someone like Savanna back in his life again.


Quoted from MGayles
Structurally, the movie is going to be mostly the same in act two and three. I'm ditching the drug dealer and the pill bottle as a plot device.


The pill bottle plot device could work. It's just the initials were too stupid to be even funny. You could replace them with a symbol/logo or some subtle calling card/indicator. Think Walter White and his blue batch.


Quoted from MGayles
I'd love to get your thoughts on the changes if you have the time. I'm 45 pages into the rewrite and I'd love to know you guys thoughts on it if you have the time to read it.


As I said in the email, I'm a little tied up at the moment with other things. maybe in a couple of weeks. Keep me posted.


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MGayles
Posted: May 8th, 2019, 2:31pm Report to Moderator
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Fyi, I already dropped the jilted fiancee thing. With the dead beat mom added to the mix it was just too much. However the deadbeat mom gives Savanna something to fight with internally. And it make sense since her own mom didn't raise her.
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Colkurtz8
Posted: May 9th, 2019, 5:40am Report to Moderator
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Ok I see, major changes to her then. I hope it comes together for you.


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AlsoBen
Posted: May 18th, 2019, 4:29am Report to Moderator
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Hey Mgayles

I finished this. I don't have much to add that I don't think col touched on.

I agree with a number of things, and re-iterate my initial points. There's a good premise and plot in here, but it's buried in expositional dialogue and characters who say their exact thoughts to advance the plot.

You don't use the visual nature of film to it's fullest extent: again, a reliance on dialogue hinders a plot.

I still don't see the way the more lighter comedy aspects are intertwined effectively with the darker aspects like the crime plots. I don't even fully see the crime aspects as necessity: the protag returning home, having a difficult coworker, and running into the ex she ditched is more than enough conflict and comedy without introducing the crime aspects.

On the plus side, this was very readable and not at all without positives. It sounds like you've already commenced a new draft, which is great, and I think it will be something you can feel proud of.


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ajr
Posted: May 19th, 2019, 8:24pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Matthew, I cracked this open a while ago, and I see that you mentioned you are making wholesale changes to it. I also see where you asked Col for examples of the on-the-nose dialogue.

For me, I couldn't get to the story because I didn't believe your setup. You start with:

SAVANNA
Jeff Goldman?

GOLDMAN
Yeah?

SAVANNA
Savanna Stone.
She tries to shake his hand. He sips his drink instead.

GOLDMAN
I know who you are. You were on
that show about the teenage girl
that was a secretly a pop star and
a superhero. What was it called?

SAVANNA
"So Savanna".

You describe Goldman as a "Hollywood player", I'm guessing a Weinstein type. So why would Savanna need to question whether it was him? And he, in turn, knows who she is, despite the disparity in Hollywood hierarchy. It smacks of an outsider's view of the business rather than an insider's. I would do something like this:

GOLDMAN
(rolls his eyes upon seeing Savanna)
Jesus, I have to pay that bouncer more.

SAVANNA
Surprised to see me, Jeff?

GOLDMAN
Not really. I knew once the Rachel Morrow news hit the trades -

SAVANNA
She's wrong for it.

GOLDMAN
Yeah, and I suppose you're right for it.

SAVANNA
Did you see my self-tape?

GOLDMAN
Savanna... I think six unreturned calls to your agent would have been the hint?

SAVANNA
ET said I was a comedic genius.

GOLDMAN
Yeah, on a show that can't sell a big budget project overseas... look, if we're done here, I -

SAVANNA
Maybe Rachel is not who you think she is. I know things about our time together on 'So Savanna'. Be a shame to invest forty million and then have to deal with a publicity nightmare...

GOLDMAN
I'm listening.

You cut out the on-the-nose stuff this way, while still delivering the background in the way that insiders would converse.

Hope this helps.

AJR


Click HERE to read JOHN LENNON'S HEAVEN https://preview.tinyurl.com/John-Lennon-s-Heaven-110-pgs/
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Dustin
Posted: May 20th, 2019, 4:55am Report to Moderator
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I second AJR and Col (third then?)... AJR's version deals with the delivery way better. Good example.


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MGayles
Posted: May 20th, 2019, 5:58pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from ajr
Hey Matthew, I cracked this open a while ago, and I see that you mentioned you are making wholesale changes to it. I also see where you asked Col for examples of the on-the-nose dialogue.

For me, I couldn't get to the story because I didn't believe your setup. You start with:

SAVANNA
Jeff Goldman?

GOLDMAN
Yeah?

SAVANNA
Savanna Stone.
She tries to shake his hand. He sips his drink instead.

GOLDMAN
I know who you are. You were on
that show about the teenage girl
that was a secretly a pop star and
a superhero. What was it called?

SAVANNA
"So Savanna".

You describe Goldman as a "Hollywood player", I'm guessing a Weinstein type. So why would Savanna need to question whether it was him? And he, in turn, knows who she is, despite the disparity in Hollywood hierarchy. It smacks of an outsider's view of the business rather than an insider's. I would do something like this:

GOLDMAN
(rolls his eyes upon seeing Savanna)
Jesus, I have to pay that bouncer more.

SAVANNA
Surprised to see me, Jeff?

GOLDMAN
Not really. I knew once the Rachel Morrow news hit the trades -

SAVANNA
She's wrong for it.

GOLDMAN
Yeah, and I suppose you're right for it.

SAVANNA
Did you see my self-tape?

GOLDMAN
Savanna... I think six unreturned calls to your agent would have been the hint?

SAVANNA
ET said I was a comedic genius.

GOLDMAN
Yeah, on a show that can't sell a big budget project overseas... look, if we're done here, I -

SAVANNA
Maybe Rachel is not who you think she is. I know things about our time together on 'So Savanna'. Be a shame to invest forty million and then have to deal with a publicity nightmare...

GOLDMAN
I'm listening.

You cut out the on-the-nose stuff this way, while still delivering the background in the way that insiders would converse.

Hope this helps.

AJR


Yeah it does help but I scrapped this scene a long time ago ... I wish I you guys could read the new 45+ pages  I cranked out. Maybe I can post a link if anyone is interested.

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MGayles
Posted: May 20th, 2019, 6:03pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from AlsoBen


I still don't see the way the more lighter comedy aspects are intertwined effectively with the darker aspects like the crime plots. I don't even fully see the crime aspects as necessity: the protag returning home, having a difficult coworker, and running into the ex she ditched is more than enough conflict and comedy without introducing the crime aspects.



I've seen lots of movies that juggle crime plots with levity and humor. And I never felt the darker parts of the film where super dark (just kidnapping and attempted murder lol). Maybe I'm just a sick fuck. IDK.


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